It's the slow season in restaurant land, which is why they have Restaurant Week with all those (sometimes worthwhile) discounts. It's also the kickoff of Beer Week starting with tonight's gala at Fort Mason, and we hunkered down and rounded up the Bay Area's best ramen spots for your winter-warming needs. But here's what else has been happening.
Michelin-starred Ame, which Inside Scoop calls "one of the more important restaurants to open in San Francisco in the last decade," is shutting its doors for good at the end of February. The much loved restaurant opened 10 years ago along with the St. Regis Hotel, and its departure means a prominent SoMa restaurant space comes up for grabs. The menu began with the inspiration of a mix of Italian and Japanese cultures from owners Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone, who will be completely departing the SF scene with this closure after the shuttering of Urchin Bistrot last year. They will now just concentrate on Terra and Bar Terra, their side-by-side restaurants in St. Helena.
The Upper Haight has just gotten a new Vietnamese option, DragonEats. As Hoodline tells us, this is a third location for the outfit, which already has fast-casual storefronts in Hayes Valley and SoMa. They take over the former Sunrise Deli space at 1671 Haight Street, and for some reason they spell banh mi "banh my."
And some exciting news in SoMa: The team behind breakout Japanese hit of last year Omakase have just opened a new izakaya, Okane, at 669 Townsend in what was their Origami Market. And as Eater points out, in addition to casual, Japanese share plates, they're also doing sushi here, and the sushi tasting may just be a steal at $80, given that these are Omakase-trained chefs, and the Omakase menu is $150.
After its big opening last week, mid-Market sustainability-focused restaurant The Perennial gets a feature from Jonathan Kauffman on Inside Scoop all about its "revolutionary" bar program from Jennifer Colliau, formerly of The Interval.
And as Hoodline tells us, the Causwells guys, who are getting ready to open a burger spot in the Warfield Building on Market called Popsons, are already considering opening a second Popsons over by Caltrain, in the space that was Marlowe and Marlowe Burger on Townsend. There's no opening timeframe nailed down for either location, but the second Popsons at 330 Townsend would only live as long as that building does, since it's slated for demolition in the next year or two.
In food business news, Pascal Rigo, the owner of La Boulangerie de San Francisco (the mini chain formerly known as La Boulange), is mixing up ventures as he buys the former bakery facility he was using in South San Francisco prior to getting bought out by Starbucks. As the Business Times reports, the facility will now house both baking operations for the La Boulangerie chain, but also be a production facility for Munchery, where Rigo now serves as Chief Customer Experience Officer.
And one more closing: Embarcadero Center's Gaylord Indian Restaurant has closed, and according to Hoodline they owe $9,500 in back rent.
This Week In Reviews
Though it opened in the midst of the holiday rush and has therefore been a bit buried, coverage-wise, Volta is nonetheless a "spectacular restaurant" according to Pete Kane at the Weekly. From the herring plate to the mussels (which he says "were among the best I've had"), Kane is in love with the new venture from the Perbacco team, and he concludes it's "destined to show up on the pages of glossy magazines buzzing about San Francisco at the peak of the boom, and it deserves all the attention it's going to get."
Michael Bauer revisits Spruce this week for his update review, giving it four stars for atmosphere and saying the design "still feels current" and it's a "restaurant that perfectly reflects the tenor of its Presidio Heights neighborhood." Prices are high, but he still loves the burger and the cauliflower soup, and says the duck breast entrée is "one of the best versions I’ve had." All told: three big stars.
And for his Sunday review, Bauer visit Shed in Healdsburg, which just started serving dinner in November under the helm of former Etoile chef Perry Hoffman, who comes with many past accolades of his own. Bauer says that this new casual environment, within the large retail complex that is Shed, "seems to have drilled deep into [Hoffman's] well of creativity," and "already, it might be the best restaurant in Sonoma County." He loves a salad with sea urchin and kumquat, and the whole poussin (head and feet included), as well as the garden tableaux Hoffman creates on every plate. The sum total: three stars, with three and a half for food.