If burgers are what your heart desires, then listen up. Checkers and Rally's, a Tampa-based chain that's made up of those two previously separate entities, is eyeing the East Bay for, count 'em, 40 new franchise locations according to the Business Times. Anyone out there a fan? Notably this comes in addition to other burger chains Sonic, Five Guys, Smashburger, and Habit Burger Grill have all been making inroads in the Bay Area, so we've pretty much hit peak burger.
The Company opens up shop this week, and Inside Scoop had word on the newest phase of Michael Mina's Test Kitchen incubator in the Marina. The cooking is Indian, the place has a liquor license now, and diners can opt for seven, nine, or 11 courses from guest chef Vikrant Bhasin. Eater also had the wine menu from Mina's right hand man Rajat Parr.
Bluestem Brasserie is expecting a new chef in the kitchen according to Inside Scoop, and that's John Griffith, formerly of the Advocate in Berkeley. Jeffrey Banker, once of Baker & Banker, has been at the helm for a year, and Griffith will take over from him with a new menu in mid-May. Banker meanwhile will be pursuing "a number of unspecified consulting projects."
Cupola Pizzeria, a Westfield Mall joint, has abruptly closed according to Inside Scoop. They're not sure what will be taking over the space from the pizza spot that most agreed was very good. This is the second closure there on the mall's fourth floor for Lark Creek Restaurant Group which just shuttered Lark Creek Steak next door in January.
Eater reports that Nabolom Bakery is back at it in Berkeley, and now it's even better than ever because it's got pizza courtesy of new co-owner and Cheese Board alum Julia Elliott. The four-decades old collective closed last summer, but now you can get cinnamon twists, challah and all your favorites again.
The Yard by the ballpark returns this month, but instead of the Whole Beast, Belcampo Meat Co. is stepping in according to Inside Scoop. Expect burgers and Philly cheesesteaks there, right next to Anchor's beer bar. Meanwhile, the butchery headed by founder and CEO Anya Fernald will be opening their eighth location in Oakland’s Jack London Square, the East Bay Express reports.
North Beach local and owner of Maykadeh and Mo’s Grill Mahmoud “Mo” Khossoussi was "bored" so he's opening a new spot, as Tablehopper has it. Dip, a sandwich shop, will have au jus sandwiches like, you guessed it, a French dip.
According to some permits dug up by Hoodline, North Beach's former Crow Bar might become a hotel and sushi joint. "We intend to maintain the upstairs use as it is," said Architect Tom Zhang on behalf of building owner Joy Fu, "and just use the vacant space on the ground level to make the storefront more attractive."
Sweet Woodruff, the casual Sons & Daughters spinoff, will close after four years in business on Lower Nob Hill, per Inside Scoop. Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara called the decision difficult but plan to focus on their other operations which include The Square in North Beach and their own farm, Dark Hill in the Santa Cruz mountains.
As Jonathan Waxman’s aforementioned Ghirardelli Square place approaches, he's going full Kanye according to Hoodline, renaming it from Brezza Emporio and Pizzeria to simply Waxman's. "It never really rolled off our tongues," said the Berkely-born chef's partner of the Brezza name, "We never really liked it." Waxman's is now set to open in three weeks.
This Week In Reviews
The Chronicle's incessant food critic Michael Bauer declares in his mid-week review that the Bay Area's best Indian restaurant is Rasa in Burlingame. SFist nodded when the restaurant received a Michelin star last year, an accolade which Bauer neglects to mention, but he's all praise nonetheless. Chef Vijay Kumar, formerly of Dosa, has been steadily improving Ajay Walia's 2013-opened restaurant, where he "shines when he interprets the food with a local sensibility." For example, "the fennel and spinach dosa ($16) showcases the freshness of the organic vegetables," and don't miss the Bombay sliders ($11) which are, haha, "the Marlowe burger of Indian food." Three stars.
In San Francisco magazine, Josh Sens says he is big into Little Gem, the fast-casual Hayes Valley spot that "works deftly under self-imposed constraints" (it's dairy- and gluten-free, and you might remember that Bauer was a fan too). The all-day spot with a trend-food name comes from Eric Lilavois, formerly of the Thomas Keller Group, and chef Dave Cruz, previously of Ad Hoc. "Meats and fish at Little Gem come perfectly prepared," writes Sens," Slabs of succulent pork shoulder serve as tender tribute to the power of slow roasting, while a seared five-ounce flatiron steak punches well above its weight." But one dish, now off the menu, merited some fun-poking. The Little Vegan entree "would come perilously close to the off-campus co-op cooking at Oberlin or Reed," Sens quips. Two stars.
SFist found the chef's menu at Cadence, from chef Joey Elenterio at this Maven spin-off, to be commendable, and Peter Kane for the Weekly agrees, writing "Get the chef's menu." In the mid-Market digs that had Kane thinking "Kubrick-esque by way of Tokyo's Expo '70 world's fair," the critic was "totally gaga for a fettuccine with turnip beurre fondue with cocoa nibs and rye bread." He also recommends the rib-eye, and observes that "the milk chocolate crémeux and passion fruit sherbet had none of the visual boldness, but the flavor was spectacular..."
Agreeing to disagree, Bauer penned a take-down of Cadence in the Chronicle. "The Cadence menu ends up feeling like a patchwork quilt waiting to be sewn together," he writes, and clearly not a fan of the interior, where the "dining room seems to prize flash over function" and took him "back 25 years." Mr. Bauer has been reviewing restaurants at the Chronicle for longer than that, so he would know! OH, and that "spectacular" crémeux, by the way? It "was mostly represented by three truffle-sized dots of slightly rubbery pudding." Two stars, and noise was a "BOMB."