The San Francisco food and drink world was abuzz this week with news of the abrupt shuttering of Pasta Pomodoro's 15 Bay Area locations, and the transformation of Mr. Bing's into something a lot less divey and divily charming, not to mention Quince's use of iPads as plates and Quince chef Michael Tusk's subsequent defense of this. Meanwhile, Cafe Flore was sold to new LGBT owners who say they'll keep it mostly the same, the 32-year-old original Lori's Diner location is closing, and we told you the best spots to go for brunch on New Year's Day where you hopefully won't have to wait. Here's what else happened:
The new champagne bar we told you about earlier this year, The Riddler, is getting close in Hayes Valley. They missed the chance to be popping corks for NYE, but Hoodline reports that they will open sometime in the first half of January and will serve caviar, cheese, and charcuterie in addition to plenty of bubbly. (Disregard the 12/31 opening announced in the New York Times Magazine.)
Meanwhile over in Nob HIll, a new coffee and breakfast spot by the name of Milkbean is open and serving customers. According to Hoodline, the pastries are baked on site and the shop, in the former What a Grind space at 881 Post Street, is open seven days a week.
There's another bar-within-a-bar concept being added to the offerings at ABV. Eater reports that, under the name Over Proof, the place is now offering a food and cocktail tasting menu of at least five courses, in the upstairs mezzanine area, for $80.
Union Square's Sushi Boat, which has been in operation for close to 30 years, will close on December 31. Hoodline tells us that the landlord is planning on remodeling the building and then significantly increasing the rent when it reopens and this appears to be connected to the closure of Lori's Diner around the corner in the same building.
Luke's Local, an online meal and grocery delivery service, opened up a physical location in Cole Valley. The Chronicle reports that the 3,000-square-foot market opened this week inside of what used to be Alpha Market.
The Dogpatch just lost Poquito, a tapas spot that had been in the neighborhood for six years. Hoodline tells us that the restaurant shut its doors on December 22.
According to Inside Scoop, Almanac San Francisco Taproom will officially open its Potrero Avenue doors tomorrow. However, we learn via owner Jesse Friedman that the bar is actually having a soft opening today — so feel free to head on over to sample the locally brewed offerings.
Speaking of closures, Inside Scoop did a roundup of all the big restaurant losses of 2016. Big names on the list, as you likely know by now, include Range, Cadence, Bon Marche, and Oro.
Lazy Bear is launching a cocktail bar spinoff that is slated to open in May, and Eater does us the favor of scoring some details. The as of yet unnamed bar will open up in the former Tradesmen and will have an extensive cocktail list.
The bar guys behind the group that includes Bullitt, Tonic, Dr. Teeth, etc., have brought in new manager Matt Schweitzer from Seattle's Marrow Kitchen & Bar and Hilltop Kitchen to take over two of their properties, Divisadero's Wild Hare, and Cow Hollow's Lightning Tavern, which is now being rebranded as Hollow Cow. Both have undergone big changes,as Eater reports, with new menus, and Schweitzer explained his philosophy to the publication. “The crux of our whole operation is capitalizing on the difference between service and hospitality, making people feel warm, welcome, invited, and delivering people an experience that’s maybe slightly elevated from what they’re used to having outside of a fine dining restaurant."
This Week in Reviews
The Weekly's Peter Lawrence Kane hit up a San Francisco favorite this week, chowing down at the 10-year-old Front Porch. He heaps praises on the fried chicken, and notes that the menu has some legit vegan offerings (although, unsurprisingly, he doesn't sample them). Kane enjoys the blue crab hush puppies and blackened catfish, but calls the fried chicken "the star." "Stunningly", the ten-piece bucket comes in under $30 — which pleases the critic greatly. The cocktails aren't bad either, with a mezcal, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, lime, and grapefruit bitters mix serving as the perfect aperitif. All in all, Kane finds that the Front Porch is still doing what it does best, and that that is enough to get him through the door time and time again.
Kane next makes his way to August 1 Five, a modern Indian restaurant that serves up a turmeric-infused fruit lassie complete with rum. He finds it creative and enjoyable — a sentiment that mostly extends to the food. The pappadum and chaats both earn high marks, while the pepper chicken leaves something to be desired. That is more than made up for by the lamb shank, which Kane says "appears to have marinated in tomato and onion since the Mughal Empire." Sounds flavorful.
San Francisco Magazine's Josh Sens gives us his take on The Morris, the restaurant that now occupies what was once Slow Club. Owner and sommelier Paul Einbund hits it out of the park with the duck, he says, adding that the skin is "as bronze as a Saint-Tropez sunbather." The foie gras dumplings are also of note, and the crab porridge gets high marks. The rock cod was a letdown, but we imagine offerings from the 61-page wine list made up for that. Sens, who appears to not like leaving his own neighborhood, says a trip to The Morris is definitely worth it — even if only for the sunbathing duck. The verdict: three stars.
Anna Roth of the Chronicle takes readers on a tour of some of the better Russian eateries in the city, and it is no surprise that she starts with Cinderella Bakery. The Inner Richmond bakery has long been a go-to location for many seeking Russian food in San Francisco, and the pork-filled pelmeni washed down with kvass are clearly a favorite. Roth next calls out Red Tavern and Katia’s Russian Tea Room, suggesting an a-la-carte crawl of sorts. Royal Market on Geary and 18th Avenue gets a mention for stocking Russian staples, and Roth is clearly excited about the surfeit of options for someone seeking authentic Russian delicacies. Readers would be wise to follow in her footsteps.