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September 2008 Archive

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Want to know who's doing what in your city? Gayot has the restaurant news you want to read on openings, closings, special events, and more. Learn everything you need to know about the restaurants in San Francisco here.



Society insiders Vintage 415, owners of the Marina's Mamacita among others, and Gian-Paolo Veronese are set to open new Jackson Square restaurant, bar and social club Taverna Aventine in October. Focused on elegant, Barbary Coast-style excess and featuring two full bars, the restaurant's lunch and dinner menu of Cal-Italian bites (the space is named for Rome's Aventine district) may be eclipsed by indulgent details such as the private basement "parlor" of personal liquor lockers for members. Décor will juxtapose Gold Rush-era San Francisco (antique maps and photos, maritime elements---parts of the actual space date back 150 years) with Vintage 415's cutting-edge, modern energy. The location at the junction of North Beach and the Financial District is sure to attract a sophisticated post-work clientele. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Sat. Taverna Aventine, 582 Washington St., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-981-1550.
Clock Bar photo by Ramona D′Viola Michael Mina's elegant new Clock Bar, located next to his eponymous restaurant in the lobby of The Westin St. Francis hotel, has gained a strong following of travelers and executives looking for seasonal cocktails and high-end nibbles from Mina's kitchen. Open since this summer, the bar's lead mixologist Marco Dionysos concocts classic and signature drinks using fresh, seasonal ingredients; bar bites include Mina's well-known tuna tartare, lobster corn dogs and other surprises such as black truffle popcorn. The cocktail lounge is Mina's first. Clock Bar, The Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-354-2735.
Craig and Anne Stoll's second Pizzeria Delfina opened September 22 on California Street at Fillmore, bringing the eatery's signature, blistered Neapolitan pizza to Pacific Heights. Wait times for the no-reservation pizzeria are already upwards of one hour, and well-heeled crowds are willing to spend that time and more on the sidewalk, glasses of en vrac Italian wine in hand, for a seat at the counter or casual table within the 40-seat space. Frenetic cooks man two wood-burning ovens and antipasti stations behind the counter, and hip servers bustle under the modern space's bright lights. The restaurant is one of many stylish winners to arrive to the Fillmore District this year, with several more (Dosa, Out the Door, Woodhouse Fish Company) slotted for the coming months. Lunch & Dinner daily. Pizzeria Delfina, 2406 California St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-440-1189.
The long-awaited opening of the new, ultra-green California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park in late September brings with it two newsworthy dining projects from two of San Francisco's star chefs. Chef Charles Phan, owner of San Francisco's Slanted Door, has created an international smorgasbord of high-end food stations for the museum's casual Academy Café, from "Noodles" (featuring Phan's famous Vietnamese fare as well as Med pasta preparations) to "Slow Cooked" and "Sizzle," with quick, savory items such as curried chicken, Lebanese lamb plates and imperial rolls. There's even a "Taco Man" to prepare fresh tacos and quesadillas. The café features counter service and modern seating at stainless tables alongside a room-length aquarium. On a lower floor, Coco500 chef Loretta Keller's hushed, elegant and eco-friendly dining enclave The Moss Room features sophisticated, seasonal Cal-Med cuisine under executive chef Justin Simoneaux, who worked under Keller at Coco500. The restaurant's focus on sustainable ingredients includes a 3,500-bottle wine list favoring organic and biodynamic choices; a 40-foot "living" wall of mosses and greenery provides appropriate ambience. Lunch & Dinner daily. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118, 415-379-8000.
Nob Hill's The Stanford Court, A Renaissance Hotel is undergoing a $35 million renewal, and has announced that Aurea, its new restaurant and lounge, will open in October. Aurea will be located on the lobby level of the hotel, and some design elements include a Tiffany-style dome, plus sculptures, chandeliers and a glass-encased, floor-to-ceiling "wall of wine." The restaurant will seat up to 130, with "cocktail cubbies" that will function as work areas or dining nooks, plus there are communal tables, and there's an alfresco dining area in the courtyard. The chef is Jeffery Surprise, who was the hotel's sous chef in 2007, and also worked at Quince. Surprise will be sourcing the majority of produce and meats from within a 50-mile radius of the hotel. The wine list will focus on organic and California wines, featuring 40 wines by the glass, plus handcrafted cocktails made with fresh ingredients and locally produced small-batch spirits. Aurea, 905 California St., San Francisco, CA 94108, 415-989-3500, 888-236-2427.
The Jewish Community Center in San Francisco (3200 California St.) is launching a gourmet food court in the former deli space under the guidance of Joanna Karlinsky (formerly of Meetinghouse fame) and her business partner, Victoria Smiser. Featured will be Jo-Jo-To-Go, selling cold and hot gourmet prepared foods for either dine-in or carry-out service; Confections, a full-service bakery offering a daily selection of freshly prepared baked goods, cakes, pies, cookies and chocolate; Lucky Dawg, an upscale ice cream and frozen yogurt bar; Lulu Drinks, pouring fresh juices, coffee, espresso drinks and wine and beer; Pressed, hot pressed sandwiches to order using local artisanal cheeses; and Emma Peel's Pizza Pie, providing on-site or delivery gourmet pizzas with upscale add-ons. The Meetinghouse will be attached to full-service catering and the online Meetinghouse Biscuits catalogue will continue to ship biscuits nationwide. The projected opening date is November 15.
Another gastropub will be joining the Bay Area-wide lineup; this one will be Martin's West, from Michael Dotson (most recently at Sens, and the former executive chef at Evvia from '01-'06), Moira Beveridge (recently the private events manager at Sens), and Derek Smith (bar manager for close to a decade at Rudy's Pub). The opening is slated for early 2009 in downtown Redwood City in a brick building that was originally constructed in 1896 as the Alhambra Theater (the space has been vacant since 2001, when a fire gutted it). There will be a dining area and a bar area, each with about 60 seats. The menu will showcase high-quality local ingredients in dishes strongly influenced by the culinary traditions of Great Britain, with dishes like house-made black pudding, Monterey sardines, charcuterie (country duck pate, rabbit terrine, duck liver mousse), poached pheasant, a peat-grilled lamb T-bone, and fish and chips. There will also be a smaller, limited menu in the bar. Martin's West, 831 Main St., Redwood City, CA 94063, no phone available.
Ottimista Enoteca-Café will soon have a sister business opening just down the street, Spuntino. Spuntino, which means snack in Italian, will offer cheeses, gourmet groceries, prepared foods and take-out that come from Ottimista's kitchen. No details on how many cheeses, but look for a rotating menu of take-out panini and prepared salads, plus some Ottimista favorites, like pizzas and the famed olives to warm up at home. There will also be some tastings and classes held at night at the large communal table (which is to be used for events only). The space was formerly a jewelry shop, so if everything proceeds well with permits, the opening date should be around the end of September. Hours will be Tue.-Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on the weekend. Spuntino, 1957 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123, no phone available yet.

News Bytes

On Your Honor
In a revolutionary expression of trust between restaurant and guest, sophisticated Fifth Floor Restaurant & Lounge is offering something very special within its adjoining lounge: six wines, handpicked daily by master sommelier Emily Wines, available for customers to pour and pay for at their own discretion. Written note cards from the well-known somm will suggest flights, perhaps a wine-based cocktail recipe, or relay trivia from her extensive knowledge on that evening's choices. The wine's suggested value and an honor bucket are also provided for guests to pay as they please. It's almost too good to be true. The "Honor Bar" is on offer each day from 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Fifth Floor Restaurant & Lounge, Hotel Palomar, 12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-348-1555.
Brunch at the Barracks
In what could be a new city favorite, the Presidio Social Club has started serving brunch on weekends. The natty restaurant and bar's airy Presidio location in old military barracks offers views of the Palace of Fine Arts, bay waters and surrounding park land---ideal for a sunny Sunday morning (even better on the new, 30-seat outdoor patio). Creative brunch options include oxtail red flannel hash with poached eggs, cream biscuits with sausage gravy and eggs, brioche beignets and rum-soaked challah french toast. The menu of eye-opening drinks is equally compelling, ranging from mimosas and Bloody Marys to the pink elephant, a mix of Campari, egg whites, lemon and sugar. The restaurant also features that San Francisco rarity---a parking lot. Brunch served Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Presidio Social Club, 563 Ruger St., San Francisco, CA 94129, 415-885-1888.
Serpentine Munch-a-Brunch
Serpentine in Dogpatch is now serving brunch Sat.-Sun. from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Some menu items include red flannel hash with braised beef brisket and poached eggs, summer vegetable succotash with baked eggs, whole-grain pancakes with fresh berries, savory bread pudding, and their Prather Ranch hamburger and fries. Breakfast cocktails are also on offer. Parties of six or more can make reservations. Serpentine, 2495 Third St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-252-2000.
Tomato Nirvana
Ubuntu is offering a special Tomato Tasting Menu, celebrating the current bounty of summertime "love apples." The menu is as follows (please note the starred items represent items from Ubuntu's biodynamic garden): cherry tomatoes with local chevre and nori marinated in No. 209 Gin juniper, *New Zealand spinach pesto, black bread; slow-roasted  *zucchini hummus, panisse, *eggplant caponata, olive caramel; consommé enriched with *piquillo tears, confit of *garlic, *basil, Benziger's okra and shell beans; gently cooked broth *ficoide glaciale, toasted bread and *shiso dumplings, *bronze fennel oil; three-day sofrito, slow yolk, *alliums, smoked *torpedo tops with *borage, Deanie's brioche; candied and iced cinnamon custard, *nasturtium, red plum, and to finish, tomato-vanilla bean jam and fennel pollen Linzer cookies. The cost is $85 for the menu only, or $135 with wine pairings. Ubuntu, 1140 Main St., Napa, CA 94559, 707-251-5656.
Spend Sunday Alfresco
Romantic nook Chez Spencer has started serving dinner on Sundays, from 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. (Just in time for Indian summer on their much-adored patio). Chez Spencer, 82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-864-2191.
Beyond Bar Food
Yoshi's in San Francisco has launched an izakaya Japanese pub menu, available at the bar, in the lounge, and the club. The menu includes 20 new items priced at $3-$8, including yasai korokke (vegetable and potato croquettes), grilled whole sardines, bacon-wrapped asparagus, Kurobuta pork sausages and soy-marinated whole grilled squid. A DJ will spin classic and current jazz-influenced music beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Yoshi's, Fillmore Heritage Center, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-655-5600.

Chef Shuffle

Chef Robbie Lewis and wine director Mickey Clevinger have both left bacar restaurant in SoMa to pursue other opportunities. Taking Lewis's place as executive chef at the wine-focused restaurant is bacar's chef de cuisine Morgan Mueller, who also worked with Lewis during his four-year stint at Jardinière. Sommelier Haley Guild will take over the wine program. Mueller plans to maintain bacar's relationship with local farmers and to keep the restaurant's cuisine predominantly Cal-Med. He will also continue the menu of house-made charcuterie. bacar, 448 Brannan St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-904-4100.
Cortez Cortez, the California-Mediterranean cuisine dining spot near Union Square, has introduced Jenn Puccio as the restaurant's new executive chef, with her husband, Ed Puccio, joining the team as general manager. Puccio, now 34 years old, is a native of Maine and graduated from the New England Culinary Institute. Early in her professional career she worked with James Beard award winner Ana Sortun at Casablanca in Cambridge. Most recently, Puccio was the executive chef at Ramblas in San Francisco, and has also spent time at Ubuntu in Napa, Rivoli in Berkeley and Elizabeth Daniel in San Francisco. New seasonal small plates include pan-seared black cod with St. Simon oysters, green olives, Early Girl tomatoes and samphire; and a tasting of duck and plums with duck rillette, pate, foie terrine and plums three ways. Large plates have been added as well, like seared sea scallops with corn, potato risotto, house-made pancetta, Super Sweet 100 tomatoes and mache. Cortez, Hotel Adagio, 550 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-292-6360.
Paul K restaurant in Hayes Valley has a new chef in place, Shawn Bayless, who has also revamped the menu. He was a sous chef at Incanto for the past two years, and was also at Troya, and Alan Wong's restaurant in Hawaii. He was also the executive chef at Fly Trap for a year, and has worked at One Market, Farallon, and more. Some new items on his menu include a meze of lamb riblets and kebabs, and starters like seared albacore crudo with pickled Fresno chilies, radish and orange oil; pan-fried summer peppers with lime salt; and Little Gems with fried chickpeas, avocado and Niçoise olives. Mains include a seafood tagine; eggplant and spinach moussaka; and Syrian spiced-duck breast with spelt, roasted figs, hazelnuts and watercress. Paul K, 199 Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-552-7132.


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