This week in the food-o-sphere, we got our first taste of The Halal Guys via delivery, both Mister Jiu's opened in Chinatown and Bar San Pancho debuted in the Mission (in the former Chino space), and we got the exclusive word that the Viking Room at Cafe du Nord has closed temporarily, with the menu getting a revision and becoming a bit more drinks-focused. Here's what else has been going on.
Probably the biggest news item of the week is that Dairy Queen, a.k.a. DQ, is looking to open 200 more stores in Northern California, and as the Business Times reports, some of those will be in San Francisco proper. The chain, which is now 76 years old and owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway firm, already has 98 locations in California, and they're looking to open possibly 400 more in the long term. Get ready to be able to enjoy a Blizzard on Fisherman's Wharf whilst eating an In-N-Out burger.
Reverb, the one-year-old replacement concept for Verbena the SF spinoff of popular Berkeley spot Gather which opened in December 2013 has called it quits on upper Polk Street. As Inside Scoop reports, operating costs and staffing issues played into the decision, but it also seems like neither Verbena nor Reverb enjoyed the kind of steady success that Gather has. The owners say that they're in the process of transferring the liquor license to new owners, but who they may be we do not yet know.
SF appears to be catching up to a larger trend reviving the popularity of poke after its most recent trend wave in the '90's and early aughts, and I'a Poke continues that, opening in the wee former Chile Pies location at 314 Church Street. Hoodline catches the news of the new fast-casual, Castro-adjacent dinner option, whose menu offers create-your-own poke bowls, as well as sushi burritos. This follows on the recent opening of Poki Time in the Sunset.
Going into the former Local Mission Eatery space on 24th Street will be a first brick-and-mortar location for Indian "soul food" truck Dum, as Inside Scoop has it. Known for his great chicken biriyani, kati rolls, and chaat, chef-owner Rupam Bhagat, plans to expand the menu with kebabs and larger format dishes. He's hoping to open in mid-May.
And though a year ago chef-owner Sachin Chopra tried to replicate the success of his high-end San Mateo Indian restaurant All Spice in the former Masa's space on Nob Hill, he appears to have given up on the space, where he previously had opened the short-lived Game. As Eater reports, the closing happened pretty quietly, and an OpenTable diner who booked a reservation a week ago was then informed the place had "permanently closed."
Over in Oakland, Itani Ramen, the ramen spinoff of Hopscotch from chef Kyle Itani that we first heard about over a year ago, is finally set to open on May 2. As Inside Scoop tells us, Itani plans to feature multiple styles of ramen from different regions of Japan, including different types of house-made noodles, and the core ramen menu will change four to five times a year based on seasonality.
Coming shortly in North Beach are both a French bakery called Le Chat Rouge, and an unrelated French dip sandwich shop called DIP, as Hoodline reports. Both are currently under construction.
And as reported last year, LA-based buffet/cafeteria chain Lemonade is taking over six former La Boulange locations, and now Inside Scoop has the opening dates for four of them. The first one arrives soon, on May 5, at Yerba Buena Gardens, at 781 Mission Street. Later in the year look for two more coming to the Sunset (1266 9th Avenue) and West Portal (16 W Portal Avenue).
A crowdfunding campaign has launched to try to save ailing but well loved Inner Sunset diner Howard's Cafe (1309 9th Avenue), whose owners say it has "fallen under financial hardships." According to Hoodline, they're hoping the $50,000 influx will help them spiff the place up.
This Week In Reviews
The Weekly's Pete Kane is a big fan of Fiorella, the new Richmond pasta and pizza spot which he says "punches above its weight" and makes a shining example of cacio e pepe. He's also a fan of the pizza, in particular a mushroom and Fontina number called The Alamo.
Michael Bauer drops into Hog & Rocks to assess the work of newly installed head chef Pierre Tumlin, who recently got named one of the Chronicle's 2016 Rising Stars though Bauer might not have wholly agreed with that decision. He's a fan of some of Tumlin's ideas, like an asparagus salad with avocado-tofu cream, and a mushroom and radish toast that was a nightly special. But he says that Tumlin needs to do more editing and is still "settling in," and the local market fish, for instance, could have done without the smoked almond brodo. The verdict: two and a half stars.
Mr. Bauer dedicates his Sunday review this weekend to the revamped Alfred's Steakhouse, which reopened in February following a two-month remodel at the hands of new owner, the Daniel Patterson Group. Former Haven chef Charlie Parker is manning the kitchen now, and Bauer was impressed with the hard sear on his New York strip steak, as well as a double-baked potato, and many of the vintage elements of this old-school spot including the Martinis and Manhattans served with their shakers, with plenty left for a refill. He's also impressed with chicken under a brick and the tableside showmanship of the Bananas Foster, but he's a little disappointed with a few things, like the creamed spinach. All told, two and a half stars, with three stars for service and atmosphere.
Meanwhile, on the cheaper end of things, Anna Roth is wholly pretty impressed with Black Bark on Fillmore Street, the new effort by 1300 on Fillmore chef David Lawrence. She says, with the help of Memphis Minnie's pitmaster Lance Nicholson and consulting chef Edith Cheadle (a 20-year Dallas barbecue vet), Black Bark is making "some of the city’s best brisket, pulled pork and spare ribs, all with an admirable 'black bark' that forms a seal to trap in the meat’s juices." She's a bit less impressed with the chicken and the hot links, but loves the mac and cheese and yams, too.
And drinks gal Esther Mobley checks out High Treason, the new Richmond wine bar from a pair of former fine-dining sommeliers, Michael Ireland (Meadowood, Quince) and John Vuong (Gary Danko, Ame). Mobley's impressed by the 45-item-long by-the-glass list, and says that "customer demographics appeared to run the gamut," from old to young and everything in between. And she likes the wine-friendly snacks, including some jamon serrano croquettes.