Epic Roasthouse and Waterbar, which were constructed together on the waterfront and opened in 2007 under the design and management of local restaurant hero Pat Kuleto, have been sold with the agreement that Kuleto and his team, along with chefs/partners Parke Ulrich, Jan Birnbaum, Pete Sittnick and Mark Franz, will all stay on for the foreseeable future according to a press release. What that means for the future of both restaurants is not clear, and the new owners, San Francisco-based private real estate investment co. Zaber Corp., aren't really saying, as the Business Times reports.
Whitechapel (600 Polk at Turk), the much anticipated gin bar from Martin Cate (Smuggler's Cove) and Alex Smith is now slated for late June, and Martin Cate just gave an interview to Eater about it.
In other bar news, Empire Room, the new cocktail bar with a kitchen from the team behind Oddjob/SRO and Jones, will be opening its doors on April 30 in the former Stars/Trader Vic's space 555 Golden Gate most recently home to the short-lived Maestro. We first heard about it last year, and now as a press release promises we know there will be "a bar and lounge in the main space and a tucked-away bespoke cocktail parlor near the back" kind of like SRO is to Oddjob. Also: "grand chandeliers, plush lounge seating areas, and an elevated VIP room." As for the kitchen, it's going to serve as a commissary kitchen of sorts for rotating food truck vendors, so the food offerings will be ever-changing.
Over on Divis, Tsunami Sushi is expanding next door, moving into just shuttered Cafe Abir space at Fulton and Divis, as Hoodline reports.
There's a new wine bar/wine shop called Torfino Wines which just opened up at the busy intersection of Geary and Masonic, as Inside Scoop reports.
On Claude Lane, the Cafe Claude folks are taking over the Festoon Saloon space (9 Claude Lane) and opening a new bar of their own later this year, per Inside Scoop.
And Oakland’s beloved Dopo, on Piedmont Avenue, is switching things up menu-wise after almost ten years and going all Sicilian, becoming Palmento al Dopo. As Kayta Smulewitz, wife of chef John Smulewitz (whose grandmother was Sicilian), tells Inside Scoop, "It’s a way for us to explore deeper into Sicilian cuisine. It’s also a way to kind of set ourselves apart from all the other Italian restaurants in the Bay Area."
And finally, at least part of the upcoming season of Top Chef is going to be filmed back here in the Bay Area, in SF and Oakland, as NBC Bay Area reported. They're actually going to move all over California for the season, also hitting Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, and San Diego. This marks a return for the show, which shot its very first season in SF back in 2006.
This Week In Reviews
Mr. Bauer’s mid-week update review is of Rose Pistola, which he notes opened to huge acclaim way back in 1996, winning the James Beard Award for best new restaurant in the country for then chef Reed Hearon's Ligurian food. The menu has stayed slightly the same over the years, with various tweaks, and now under former Corso chef Steve Walker. He finds some excellent pizza, good pasta, and he's thrilled with the whole grilled branzino. But he's less than thrilled with the dessert, and the service toward the end, and he gives the place two and a half stars.
And for his Sunday review, already online, Bauer hits up the new dim sum spot from the Koi Palace crew, the curiously named Dragon Beaux (5700 Geary Blvd). Orders get kind of screwy with the check-mark forms, and he more than once got things he didn't order. He's less than happy with the soup dumplings and some of the other dim sum items, but he's enamored with the fun duck burrito, and the beef brisket stew rice crepe roll, which isn't really a roll, but apparently delicious. All told: two stars.
Over at the Weekly, Pete Kane says that "the presentation is as fastidious as the name is casual" over at Aaron London's new spot, AL's Place. He raves that "virtually everything" is a success, and he loves the jowl ham as much as he does the fregola with pickled pea broth and goat gouda.