Though the San Francisco Chronicle's Restaurant Critic and Executive Food and Wine Editor Michael Bauer insists that he takes great pains to maintain his anonymity and hide his face, could it be possible he's got more than one? I ask because, according to his paper's pseudo-society pages, Bauer exposed himself to this year's Chronicle Top 100 honorees (as he has for several years) — basically to all the most notable chefs in town — at an event where he gave a wry toast.
Anywhow, Mr. Bauer also chatted this week with Jonathan Waxman about the two spots he’s opening in Ghirardelli Square. "When historians talk about pioneers of California cuisine," Bauer writes, "the name Jonathan Waxman invariably comes up." He's been a repeated nominee for the James Beard Best Chef New York Award for his famed Barbuto and acted as a mentor to Bobby Flay and Nancy Silverton of LA's Mozza. “It’s such an iconic location,” Waxman says of his coming location. “How can you duplicate it? It’s difficult to have lightning strike twice so I struggle with that process."
Here at SFist, we brought word of the new Cafe du Nord's opening beneath the Swedish American Hall with food from Thomas McNaughton and drinks from the Bon Vivants. We also covered Wexler's, the FiDi California BBQ spot, which has announced its closure. It will remain open for two weeks. In the former Nombe space, Myriad opened its doors this week. The gastropub comes from former Ramblas chef-owner Trish Tracey (also of Thirsty Bear). And Starbucks, we finally learned when they pulled the plug on all 23 of their La Boulange stores, doesn't really care about much except their investors and bottom line.
It also came out this week that Mr. Holmes Bakehouse's Ry Stephen has parted ways with his business partner. The bakeshop will still keep baking, but it's probably a loss. We also learned about Starboard SF, a new pub coming to 16th and South Van Ness from Daniel Hyatt, formerly of the Alembic. Like Tommy's Joynt, it sees itself operating in the historic Hofbrau cafeteria style.
And now we're hearing some more details about barmen Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo cool plan for the interim before they turn the former Ziryab space on Divisadero into Horsefeather. To kill the time — how else, with drinks — they'll host a temporary popup until this fall. That, as we mentioned last week, is to be called Tsk Tsk. Now we know that the limited time only menu will be "scrappy" and "low brow," with rotating slushies like an Electric Margarita, Sweet Tea Mint Julep, and Banana Orgeat Piña Colada. Food will include a burger with pineapple and waffle fries with smoked nacho dust. What's that? So glad you asked, it's ground up nacho flavored Doritos with chipotle powder.
Elsewhere, Eater tells us that chef David Kinch's The Bywater (in the Los Gatos space that once held Tommy's) has snagged its liquor license. New Orleans food, maybe?
You can very soon lap up tea alongside adorable, adoptable cats at KitTea Cafe. It opens next week, the Chronicle reports.
Creamy, flash-frozen ice cream from Smitten is now available at a new California Street location. As the Business Times reports, it's the chain's second San Francisco location but their fifth overall.
Oh, and It seems like the folks behind 24th Street Bar might have changed their minds since back when they claimed they didn't want to open another hipster bar in the neighborhood. Uptown Almanac has the ocular proof.
Pink Zebra is moving out of Tao Yin at the end of the month and seeks a new home, according to Inside Scoop. Another closure, this one reported by Eater, is of tenderloin Japanese curry spot Kare-Ken.
In brew news, newcomer Method Brewing is slated for SoMa, making the neighborhood quite thedestination for craft beer drinkers. As Hoodline has it, the brewpub space will have two floors and lots of seating.
This Week In Reviews
Michael Bauer selected Scoma for his mid-week review. Returning for the first time since his 2006 appraisal, the occasion of the Fisherman's Wharf restaurant's 50th anniversary was enough to lure him back. The critic finds that new Scoma chef Gordon Drysdale has "a way to go to turn the ship around, but the turn is happening." At the Pier 47 location, Bauer also noticed restaurateur Charles Phan who recommended the pappardelle Bolognese. "It speaks to how food was prepared 50 years ago," Bauer writes, "when three cloves of garlic was daring; it’s pleasantly bland." Two stars.
Bauer's Sunday review is up on the Internet, taking us to Melissa Perello's Octavia, the Pacific Heights spinoff of the Castro's Frances. At Octavia, Perello is "blazing a different, but equally exciting, path." Take the "deviled egg" for example. It's the bacon beignets of the new place — a menu staple that people will come to expect. Quoth Bauer: "The description is in quotes because the egg is soft cooked, nestled in the center of a bowl and surrounded by Fresno chile relish and a thick dusting of Marash peppers and other spices. The egg, which has been poached and held in a brine, tastes almost harsh at first, when the dried chile coating hits the tongue, but the sensation blooms like a kaleidoscope as the runny yolk, the soft white and the peppery relish underneath come into play. Clearly, the devil is in the details." As Bauer notes rotating dish after dish, "not a single one I wouldn’t order again," he concludes that the food deserves three-and-a-half stars. The restaurant gets three stars overall.
Fried chicken is trending in the Bay Area in no small part thanks to the contribution of the San Francisco Weekly's Peter Lawrence Kane. The critic went on a grand tour of local offerings in the category, with Rusty's Southern and Buttermilk Southern Kitchen being the new kids on the block. At Rusty's, the "fried chicken sandwich (a sweet tea-brined thigh on pain de mie, $12) is perfectly fried, and in spite of an onslaught of sauce, maintains its structural integrity until the end." But at Buttermilk, "the fried chicken was grievously undercooked, to where the texture was unpleasantly gluey." That said, a mix of asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and chick pea leaves at Buttermilk "was not merely the only nutrition" that Kane ate in a week, "but possibly the best-tasting dish."
For the San Francisco Examiner, Wendy Hector put CheeSpud in the spotlight. The new fast-food spot in the Sunset serves a thing called the Beefy Beefy (potatoes covered with cheese sauce, steak, sausage, bacon bits, corn, mushrooms, sour cream and green onions). "I like this option with a whole potato," Hector recommends, "so there’s plenty of soft mash to mix up with the meats, and the sour cream stirred into the spicy cheese sauce creates a rich texture." And get the garlic fries, she counsels.
Farewell, food folks, and don't forget to celebrate kouign amann day tomorrow!