A lot went down this week in the world of San Francisco's food scene, and we did our part to hip you to the history of brunch, the best places to find soup dumplings, the two new SoMa restaurants from an LA "hunter-gatherer chef," and the welcomed news that Burma Superstar is expanding. Believe or not, there's more, so let's get to it.
We mentioned Horsefeather's imminent (though delayed) opening last week, but this week we got a look at cocktail bar's new menu via Inside Scoop, and also learned that the Divisadero spot will open this coming Monday and serve food (think sharable plates) until 1 a.m.
Also, Divisadero is set to get just a little bit sweeter with the opening of Powder. Hoodline reports that the Taiwanese shaved snow shop has a rough targeted opening date of this summer, and owners David Chung and Mimi Hanley will use Three Twins ice cream as their base.
Set to open next week in North Beach is Barbary Coast, a gastropub which Hoodline tells us took over the former Bocce Cafe. Owner Jonathan Tourzan told the publication the location will be managed by Tommy Cummings.
Headed in the other direction, Bean There Cafe had a going-away party on Wednesday. According to Hoodline, the cafe found out its lease would not be renewed after 21 years.
After three years of work, the team behind Absinthe and Boxing Room is set to open a Spanish restaurant by the name of Bellota this May, as Eater reports. Located at 888 Brannan Street (a.k.a. the Gift Center, a.k.a. Airbnb HQ), the restaurant will focus on jamón Ibérico de Bellota, and chef Ryan McIlwraith (formerly of Coqueta) has plans to roast entire animals inside the restaurant. And there will be Spanish-leaning cocktails from Comstock guy Johnny Raglin. Oh yeah, and tapas. There will be mucho tapas.
Antoinette, the brasserie at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley from celebrity chef Dominique Crenn, is, like its namesake, soon to be part of history. Inside Scoop reports that the pricey French spot is closing after only two months, and suggests that less than favorable reviews might have had something to do with it. Also, Crenn is washing her hands of the affair.
If news of the closing of a pricey East Bay French place has you down, may we suggest some free fudge? Hoodline tells us that Cioccolato is having a grand reopening party on April 9, and owner Mike Zwiefelhofer will be giving out free fudge. Free fudge.
After announcing the end to the long tradition of free Sunday BBQ, Capp Street Crap tells us that Bender's Bar & Grill is now set to offer a Sunday brunch menu from Counter Offer. Starting this weekend, from 2 to 6 p.m. you can get drunk while you munch on eats like a box of bacon (seriously, that's what it's called).
Portola Porter, a retail home brewing business, opened its doors this week according to Portola Planet. The San Bruno Avenue store will also have a tap room at some point in the near future, as the brewing equipment was delivered last weekend.
The Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold was in town to promote a new documentary titled City of Gold. He took some time to speak with Eater, and in the process dissed Mission burritos and the Chronicle's Michael Bauer. Oh, and (shocker) he likes Chez Panisse.
After being shut down by the Health Department in February, Hoodline informs us that new owner Jesus Kavil-Rivas is hoping to reopen Morty's Delicatessen within the next few months. Although he intends to clean the popular Golden Gate Avenue lunch spot up, Kavil-Rivas tells the publication that the menu won't change.
Brannan Street is getting a new Indian Restaurant by the name of Rooh, reports Hoodline. Interestingly, this will be the first US location for the Indian casual dinning chain Good Times Restaurants which has nine other locations scattered across India.
If you're in the mood to get your celebrity chef on, Eater tells us that Charles Phan of Slanted Door, Roland Passot of Le Folie, and Michael Tusk of Quince and Cotogna will all be cooking for the Stones Throw charity guest series.
Brew Bros, which moved into the former Russian Hill location of Chameleon, has developed a bit of bad blood with neighbors who, according to Hoodline, believe that owner Joseph Hinn had something to do with Chameleon losing its lease. Hinn says he had nothing to do with it, and is working hard to become a neighborhood hangout. He's going for slightly upscale cafe food, and so far the most popular item is the breakfast burrito.
Todd Shoberg is heading to San Francisco to run a pop-up at 20 Spot, reports Inside Scoop. The chef is known for Mill Valley's Molina (a Bauer fave as of last year), and with the forthcoming pop up Shoberg will match plates to a vinyl playlist in the former record store.
This Week In Reviews
The Weekly's Peter Lawrence Kane spent some serious time eating at chef David Lawrence's Black Bark BBQ, but despite the fact that he seemed inclined to eat "virtually everything on the menu," Kane writes that the Fillmore spot merely earns a B+ in his book. The sweet potato fries are "delicious," the beer list "respectable," and "the Fred Flintstone-sized ribs are clearly the best." So why no "A" from Kane? He finds fault with the "airport-boring" atmosphere that "[looks] like every other type of restaurant everywhere else," and adds that the compost bins aren't high enough — both crucial components of a good BBQ spot, obviously.
For his mid-week update, The Chronicle's Michael Bauer heads back to Commis after five years away. He finds a lot to like, and his review reads as if he just realized how little time he has left in his life and how much he's squandered by not frequently eating at Commis. The bread, along with basically everything on the monthly changing $125 prix fixe tasting menu, elicits a judgement of "ethereal" from the Chron's food scribe. The restaurant's signature slow-poached egg meets with approval, and Bauer appears to delight in "[celebrating] what is clearly Oakland’s best, most ambitious restaurant." After being a bit cold to the place all those years back, he now gives it three and a half stars.
Mr. Bauer next makes his way over to Chinatown’s Z & Y, a restaurant that he tried out based on the recommendation of the Mandarin's former owner Cecilia Chiang. The Sichuan restaurant is helmed by chef-owner Li Jun Han, and Bauer notes that after four or five trips he wasn't close to sampling even half of the 150 items on the menu. The critic compliments Han's handling of vegetables, and calls out the bitter melon appetizers as being one of his favorites. He gives it two and a half stars, and it very much seems like he might (one day) very well make it through all 150 items on that menu.
The Weekly's A. K. Carroll spent some time at SoMa's Okane, and calls the food "exquisite" while simulatenously highlighting how affordable it is when compared to some of the other pricier Japanese spots in the Bay Area. Okane is the work of Kash Feng and chef Shin Aoki, and Carroll delightfully calls the result of their collaboration "legit Japanese fare for epicures of the 99 percent." The selection of sake goes well with Carroll's favorite dish of sake-lees-cured Alaskan cod, and the 46-seat dinning room gives you a chance to intimately drink and eat to your heart's content.
Josh Sens of San Francisco Magazine, meanwhile, makes a trip to David Kinch's Bywater. When he reviewed it earlier this month, Bauer practically waxed poetic about the New Orleans-style restaurant's po boy, and it appears that in general Sens agrees, noting Kinch "applies precision to unpretentious cooking." Notably, however, Sens makes no mention of the po boy and instead suggests that the shrimp boil is "the Creole equivalent of a cleanse." In the end, it becomes very clear that Sens is a fan, and he gives it two and a half stars.