This week on the food beat we learned about synthetic milk made from yeast, we took a look at Nomica's opening menu, we checked out the menus at Nightbird (which just debuted last night), and we discussed the fate of once-private Marianne's. Oh, also, we did a dive into the history of IT'S-IT (that was fun). But plenty more has been going on elsewhere.
Hoodline tells us that pop-up Revenge has comfortably settled in at The Residence several nights a week. An expansion of Revenge Pies, Elizabeth Simon serves pie as well as gourmet bites from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m, Thursday through Sunday.
Speaking of pop-ups, Eater reports that Korean pop-up Junju is doing a one-night affair at Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown, offering a glimpse of former Hog & Rocks chef Robin Song's upcoming solo effort of the same name, which we first heard about last year. Mister Jiu's chef-owner Brandon Jew hopes this is the first of many such late-night one-offs.
And in other pop-up news, Mission D&A the 24th Street pop-up from the chefs of the upcoming Che Fico, Angela Pinkerton and David Nayfeld, are doing a fun menu all next month inspired by "family meal," and the way chefs cook for each other behind the scenes. As Nayfield tells Eater, dish names include "Last Night's Pasta-Salad" and "Menu Change Trifle."
Bar Tartine, meanwhile, just lowered the price of their "Friends and Family" tasting menu to $58, down from $78. The idea, as chef Nick Ball tells Eater, is to make it feel more like a neighborhood spot — something that may have previously been prohibited by high prices. Also, wine pairings are now $32, down from $46.
The sisters behind Osha Thai are planning to expand their empire even further with the forthcoming Lao Table. The Laotian restaurant, Hoodline tells us, is set to open mid-September in what is currently an Osha Thai location at 149 2nd Street in SoMa.
Moving across the Bay, Eater informs us that Berkeley is about to get a legit Neapolitan pizzeria. Lucia’s is set to open this September, and will focus on authentic, perfectly blistered, wood-fired pizzas. The operation is already complete with a Stefano Ferrara wood oven, direct from Naples.
On a different note, convicted purveyor of fake vintage wines, Rudy Karniawan, appears to have inspired a TV show based on his questionable dealings. According to Eater, the show is to be called Connoisseurs, will play on the USA Network, and stars John Cho.
The Outer Richmond's eight-month-old Fiorella just got a new chef. Inside Scoops tells us that Dante Cecchini, formerly chef de cuisine of Marlowe, will not replace current chef Brandon Gillis, but rather that the two will work together. The restaurant will also debut a 25-seat heated patio in September — just in time for Indian summer nights out.
Palo Alto may soon have a hot new spot, with word that former French Laundry master sommelier Dennis Kelly and former French Laundry sous chef Anthony Secviar are teaming up to launch a project currently dubbed Protege Restaurant. Details are light at this time, but Inside Scoop reports that a lease has been signed and the two are hoping for an opening late this year.
Also in the world of fine dining, Forbes takes a moment to consider if Saison is worth the $398 per meal price. The answer? Pretty much, at least for special occasions, anyway.
Looking outward, we see that Michael Mina is expanding his empire west. According to a press release, the renowned restaurateur just opened Stripsteak in Waikiki. As an acknowledgment of the opening, his restaurants around the country will serve "a special cocktail that pays homage to 'island life' " through September 25.
Likewise in Hawaii, Pac Heights' b. patisserie was scheduled to open a new location this week in Waikiki. Inside Scoop tells us that it will call International Market Place home — along with several other San Francisco-based restaurants and shops.
Week In Reviews
For his mid-week update, the Chronicle's Michael Bauer returned to Mason Pacific. Noting that chef Max Mackinnon was hired after a March fire temporarily closed the restaurant, Bauer compliments his refining of the menu and pays special attention to the seasonal vegetable and seafood pairings (the cherry tomatoes and oyster combo shines). The food is clearly inventive, however the critic is uneasy with a "fine-dining mentality" and expensive wine list in a place that aims to be a neighborhood bistro. In the end he gives it two and a half stars.
As for his Sunday review, Mr. Bauer heads north to check out the brand new Two Birds/One Stone near St. Helena, a collaboration between former Cyrus chef Douglas Keane, and Los Angeles chef Sang Yoon (Father's Office, Lukshon). Keane and Yoon became pals a few years ago while appearing on Top Chef Masters, and bonded over a shared love of Japanese cuisine, and here they've teamed up on a restaurant in the renovated, historic Freemark Abbey Winery building which Bauer says feels a bit odd, given the hugeness of the dining room where "every table feels as if it’s floating in the middle of the room." He's a fan of the food overall, especially a version of chawanmushi (warm egg custard) with black truffle, a Korean-inspired short rib dish, and something called "chips and dip" featuring "fried wontons coated with spices and served with a tangy Kewpie mayonnaise." But there are a couple service issues, and he says a few plates don't come together, so, two and a half stars.
The Weekly's Peter Lawrence Kane, meanwhile, heads over to Calavera for a repeat visit. He notes that in his role at the paper he hasn't previously had a chance to revisit a restaurant, and clearly relishes the opportunity to head back to Oakland. The occasion for this visit was the new chef, the Cambodian-American Sophina Uong. Kane notes that her influences on the Mexican restaurant are positive, and that numerous dishes stand out — from something as simple as the guacamole to the "exquisite" flat iron steak. Oh, and he insists you stick with the churrodonas for dessert — it's too good to pass up. Complimenting both Uong and Calavera's ability to artfully "[push] the boundaries of Mexican food," it is easy to imagine that Kane's second visit may not be his last.
In the world of drinks, A. K. Carroll of the Weekly makes a boozy ("very boozy") trip to Pagan Idol. The roughly six-month-old FiDi tiki establishment is part of the Future Bars drinking empire, and Carroll tells us that Owner Brian Sheehy has put the focus on fun. Of course the drinks are not to be scoffed at — the illustrated 16-drink menu consists of classics and new inventions — but the floral leis around bartenders' necks suggest a lighthearted atmosphere. There is a separate back bar called The Island that is popular with those seeking a little alone time in the private grass huts, and Carroll is definitely a fan. Overall, Pagan Idol bills itself as place to have a good time, and that ethos applies to the drinks as well as the decor. Carroll approves.