Most important in our food world this week, SFist brought you our carefully considered Best New Restaurants of 2016. But we also learned of a Sumo Stew pop-up, and a fight by Zeitgeist to block a planned high-rise that stands to block sunlight from their beer garden for most months of the year. Here's what else has been happening.
Bi-level Union Square wine bar and restaurant First Crush has closed after 18 years in business on Cyril Magnin. As Hoodline reports, the space has been undergoing a remodel and may be reopen as a Chinese restaurant as soon as December 31.
Cow Hollow is getting a new neighborhood pizza and pasta spot called Contrada (2136 Union Street between Webster and Fillmore, the former La Cucina), with chef Jason Tuley (TBD, Parlour, Picco) heading the kitchen. Eater has the opening menu, and notes that the most exciting aspect of the space is a picturesque 40-seat deck that's being called the "wine garden." Contrada's opening day is January 4.
Exciting news for fans of Vietnamese food and the former Ana Mandara in Ghirardelli Square: Chef-restaurateur Khai Duong has an under-the-radar, upscale Vietnamese spot set to open next week, on December 28, at 655 Townsend Street. It's called Khai, and Inside Scoop has a sample menu, with each evening featuring a single 10-course, $95 tasting menu, and two seatings, at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Duong calls the opening a "homecoming" and like having "a second child," after running Ana Mandara for twelve years and shuttering it two years ago.
Korean BBQ chef Deuki Hong (chef at popular NYC spot Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong), who can count Anthony Bourdain, Corey Lee, Tyler Florence, Danny Bowien, and David Chang among his fans, is relocating from New York to San Francisco, and will be giving us the first taste of his food via a Sunday pop-up at the new Boba Guys space at 1522 Fillmore. As Eater reports, it's called Sunday Bird, and will feature Hong's famed fried chicken, using all parts of the bird, paired with pickles, as well as fried chicken skin snacks, and vegetables roasted in chicken fat. That will start up in February, and further down the line Hong is working to secure a space elsewhere on Fillmore that will become a Korean BBQ spot with a fermentation lab.
There have been chef changes at a pair of restaurants. There's a new executive chef at Dirty Habit, per Inside Scoop, a few months after the departure of longtime chef David Bazirgan (who also worked in the space when it was still Fifth Floor). Thomas Weibull is taking the helm, via stints at Plouf and the Redwood Room, and he's expected to maintain the small-plates-focused menu. Also, Dirty Habit has a new bar manager, Raul Ayala, who rose up the ranks from barback.
And Mason Pacific, which suffered a fire immediately after its winter opening, forcing it to close for four months and reopen over the summer, has lost chef Max Mackinnon, and no new chef hire has been named, according to Eater.
In the Castro, Slider’s Diner is expanding into the next-door space that was most recently home to Eureka! coffeeshop. As Slider's owner Mike Duong tells Hoodline, the expansion is the landlord's idea, and a new owner for the burger spot is likely taking over with a name change probably coming down the line as well. It's unclear when Slider's may close for the expansion, or for how long.
You will find Souvla's Hayes Valley location closed for the first ten days of the new year for a remodel and restroom update, as Hoodline tells us.
And if you're seeking out Chinese this week of Christmas, it should be noted that Mission Chinese will not be open to serve you. The restaurant will be closed from today, December 23, through January 4, as Eater tells us.
Well loved, healthful cafe Green Heart Foods on 20th Street in the Mission closed its doors this week, largely because the owner already rents space south of the city for a commercial kitchen and most of their revenue comes from catering, as Hoodline reported.
ABV is giving up on brunch, as Eater tells us, though they will be doing one last brunch blowout on New Year's Day.
Elsewhere in the Mission, sports bar Big Rec Taproom is back open on 24th Street, as Hoodline reports, following a brief closure and an ownership change. The new owners are Barry Smyth, Michael McCloskey, Jason Perkins, and Pedro Villegas of the Crafty Fox Ale House on Division, with Villegas serving as head chef at both burger-and-beer spots. Do note: Almost all the burgers are under 10 bucks.
And this week Eater spoke to the owners and chef-owners at 13 restaurants that have all survived over the last 10 years, all of which opened in 2006, including Nopa, Coi, Perbacco, Bar Tartine, La Ciccia, Alembic, Dosa, Salt House, Farmer Brown, and The Front Porch. Several owners say they don't think their restaurants would have survived if they had to open in the current economic climate in SF.
This Week In SF Food
The Chronicle's Michael Bauer is impressed with the $75 price tag for a 15-item omakase at Sushi Hon in the Mission, and in his latest review he discusses how the omakase trend has brought so many expensive options to SF. He says it "may not compete" those pricier spots, but Sushi Hon is "still satisfying and worth a visit." But he sounds even more impressed with the non-sushi, a la carte items from chef Sun Kyung Jang, like some great chicken karaage, and a seared black cod dish seasoned with rice vinegar and served with dashi broth. All told: two and a half stars.
Finally, as with our own list, Kane is a fan of The Saratoga, which he's given a full review. His thesis is that the club is not the stuffy upscale steakhouse it might appear to be at first blush: "Don’t let the dapper doorman, the dozens of single malts, or the chandelier that looks like it was made out of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude fool you. This is a ‘toga party masquerading as an exclusive club." His advice: Stay for desserts that "embody what The Saratoga’s all about." Those include "A plate of reimagined Ho Hos made with frosted-chocolate roulade, vanilla cream, and sugared pralines" in a Hostess nod, and "the Scotchy Scotch Scotch pudding ($9) was in another league. A humble jar of pudding topped with Black Label caramel, it was creamy to the nth degree, probably the best dessert I’ve had in all of 2016."