This week saw the surprising and abrupt closings of Volta and Citizen's Band, brought news of The Mill aiming to do nightly dinner, and we found out that popular New York Indian spot Babu Ji is expanding to SF. Here's what else that's been going on:
Topping the new Friday is that The Morris, the new Potrero Flats spot we previewed last week from Frances/Octavia wine master Paul Einbund, will not be opening Monday as was reported by Inside Scoop and others this week (but the opening menu is embedded at that link). The team sent word today that it will be at least a week delayed due to plumbing issues, which means October 11 or later.
Over on the Mission/Bernal border (a.k.a. La Lengua) we have news of the new chef hired to take over the kitchen at one-year-old Old Bus Tavern. Eater reports that former Mourad sous chef David Zboray will be the new executive chef, and his food will debut October 9, in time for a debate viewing party.
Capricorn Coffee, a local roastery that's been in business in SF for 53 years, is closing up shop at 353 10th Street and relocating to Petaluma. Hoodline has that item, and it's all because their building was sold.
Hoodline also has word that Merchant Roots, a restaurant and "craft grocery," is headed for 1365 Fillmore Street. Chefs Ryan Shelton and Madison Fraser have already been doing pop-up dinners, and they have an Instagram, and the plan is to do casual, grab-and-go style food during the day, along with selling some pantry items, and then transform into an intimate, prix-fixe restaurant each night with two seatings of eight people each. They don't yet have an opening date.
Top Chef Masters competitor Suvir Saran, who as of two years ago was set to open a restaurant at the base of the NEMA on mid-Market called American Masala, scrapped those plans after various delays, and he writes a blog post this week in which he basically celebrates the fact that they never opened, despite money lost, because of how the restaurant economy in the neighborhood has tanked.
A former tech guy is opening a Middle Eastern sandwich shop in the next few months on Mission Street called Tahini, in the former Torta Sabrosa space between 24th and 25th. Mission Local has some of the details, and former software engineer Monti Majthoub promises falafels and shawarma on freshly baked pita bread, which he says is the most essential ingredient.
Customized salad chain Sweetgreen, which opened their first Bay Area location in Berkeley earlier this year, and which we heard was headed to SoMa back in August, just announced via Hoodline that they'll be opening their first SF location at Second and Natoma on October 11.
Fans of Solbar up in Calistoga may be sad to learn that chef Brandon Sharp is departing after nine years. Inside Scoop has the news, and says that Sharp is moving his family back to his home state of North Carolina, where he will be taking over the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.
And also in Napa County, downtown Napa is getting a Blue Note Club, as Inside Scoop reports, on the first-floor of the Napa Valley Opera House. Former Angele chef Christophe Gerard will be in charge of the food, and that opens on October 25.
This Week in Reviews
Both Chronicle critics Anna Roth and Michael Bauer revisited some long-standing, highly touristy SF mainstays this week, both of which opened in the '90s. First off, Roth headed to The Stinking Rose in North Beach, which might be a bit pricier than her usual cheap eats finds, but she finds that for all its cheesiness, there are some clear reasons why it's been an enduring success, 25 years on. She can whole-heartedly recommend the 40-clove garlic chicken, as well as the meatballs and the garlic-roasted prime rib, but she says you can skip the bubbling bagna calda of garlic, which just leaves you with way too much garlic breath. Also, she insists, this place remains a cut above Italian chains like Buca di Beppo and Olive Garden and despite perception, it has one sole spinoff location in LA, and that's it.
Mr. Bauer meanwhile goes back to AsiaSF, where he admits he bestowed a three-star review back in 1998 and that alone made me do a double-take. But he insists that, unlike now, the food was not an afterthought to the floor show back then. Now, not so much, and while he still enjoys the trans performers atop the long red bar he notes that back in the 90's they were called "gender illusionists," but they've all fully transitioned now, and we don't use that term anymore he says "most visitors to AsiaSF will remember the performers, not the food." The cocktails sound disgusting, but he still manages to give the place two stars.
Bauer's Sunday review is of Playa in Mill Valley, the new upscale Mexican spot from Bill and Vanessa Higgins, partners in places like Bar Bocce and Zero Zero, and Peter Schumacher, with whom they also own Buckeye Roadhouse and Bungalow 44. The chef is Omar Huerta, who had been in the kitchen at Copita in nearby Sausalito, but "Something must have inspired him at Playa," Bauer says. "He was good at Copita, but the food never came together as it does here." It's an all-out rave, with special shout-outs to the Tijuana Caesar salad, and the beef cheek enchiladas. The verdict: three stars.
Peter Lawrence Kane at the Weekly says he "not sold on" on the fine-casual dining experience at Barzotto, in the former St. Vincent space on Valencia. He's underwhelmed by the small portions of pasta that he says amount to less than half a meal, "More like 40 percent, really." He likes the strozzapreti puttanesca, but he says "The overall format... is the hardest thing to get past," having to get up and get back in line if you want a second glass of wine, for instance which is not the case at places like The Corridor and Little Gem which are also experimenting with this format.
And Josh Sens at SF Mag becomes the latest critic to rave about In Situ at SFMOMA (see SFist's review here). He finds little to complain about and much to love about Corey Lee's restaurant-as-museum, saying, "Cooking this eclectic risks becoming disjointed. But In Situ proves it’s a risk worth taking." He finds it mostly unpretentious, and only complains that a couple dishes aren't really worth the price, like some chicken nuggets available in the lounge, and $38 bowl of udon noodles with Wagyu beef that is "more notable for price than flavor." All told: three and a half stars.