This week at the SF Food desk there was word of two SoMa restaurant closures, the first in the well-loved, five-year old AQ, which will be seeing the shutter soon and the second in LuLu, which has already closed after 24 years in the biz, the last of them perhaps not so glorious as the first few. We also learned popular Oakland pizza spots Boot & Shoe Service and Pizzaiolo will be getting a Berkeley sibling in time. Cafe Flore's new owners talked about eventual plans to add cannabis to the menu, there was much back and forth over a look at the now drinks-focused Hecho Cantina. In other food news...
The French Laundry will be closed temporarily until February 18 when it reopens, still under construction, as it continues a serious overhaul. Eater says that it looks like the kitchen — the chefs had been operating out a temporary collection of shipping containers — is done and that the renovations are now coming for the dining areas and courtyard.
The Embarcadero standby Butterfly is closing after 15 years. Tablehopper writes that chef-owner Rob Lam's lease is up and he's calling it quits. “We bore witness to our beloved city’s growth as one of the finest epicenters of this great American culinary movement," Lam writes. "We’ve shared many bowls of garlic noodles and countless shots of Fernet together. So it is with extreme pride that we can say we were a part of this San Francisco dining scene.”
The Asian fusion steam bun concept Bao Down which has three pots in Vancouver is headed our way, Hoodline reports. That's going in at the former space of Masa's in the Executive Hotel Vintage Court of Lower Nob Hill, with a bar to sling an array of rum cocktails.
A highly anticipated opening that we learned of way back in December 2015, Uma Casa from chef Telmo Faria, the former chef of Tacolicious, has opened in the Incanto space in Noe Valley. The very personal project is the city's only Portuguese restaurant and it opened last night according to Eater, who have a look at the menu of seafoods, stews, and piri piri sauce.
Souvla, the hit fast-casual Greek restaurant, is opening on Valencia on the 16th of this month according to Hoodline. There was a sort of upscale San Francisco inevitability around Souvla's expansion to the Mission, which we learned of in September, and now the Valencia spot, in the former Grub space, is nearly ready to go.
Fattoush is shuttering in Noe Valley, the neighborhood insiders of Noe Valley blog report. According to Inside Scoop, taking its place will be Sasa’s Pizza, about which not much is known aside from the fact they've filed a permit application to add a new, $6,000 wood-fired pizza oven.
The Chronicle has word on upgrades to Woori Food Market in the Fillmore. It's an interesting peek inside one of just two Korean groceries in the city, where a sizable commercial kitchen is typically busy pickling and preparing foods.
A venture called Hazel will replace the quickly shuttered Cadence on Market Street, Hoodline has learned. Hazel plans to serve Southern food in a “very casual communal" atmosphere, with televisions, pool tables, etc.
Hoodline reveals that Morac, the Mediterranean restaurant concept that Nidal Musleh of popular Bite Me Sandwiches introduced several years ago and then soon shuttered in the Mission, will now open in the Castro. That's bound for Bite Me's upstairs space, currently unused, at 4230 18th Street, but unlike the first Morac, there won't be hookahs. Sorry kids.
The Back of the House group led by Adriano Paganini — the folks behind Beretta, Delarosa, Starbelly, Super Duper, and more —might buy the space formerly occupied by and built out by La Urbana (which closed abruptly in November) or so Hoodline has word. No more intel on the plans there, and, if I may say so, I doubt what the neighborhood needs is another Super Duper.
El Valenciano is for sale according to a listing on Craigslist sleuthed by Capp Street Crap. The Spanish restaurant and dance club is asking $525,000 for the approximately 4,500-square-foot business, which launched in the '90s. between 22nd and 23rd Streets.
This Week In Food Reviews
Peter Kane of the Weekly checked out Finn Town. the big Castro opening from Chef Ryan Scot of Top Chef fame. Judging the place by its brunch and it's ability to get one boozed up, Kane says Finn Town works, and dinner is a success, too. "Finn Town threw the dart and landed it right where it should," he writes, and recommend "the Fanny Farmer rolls ($7), a plump pixie ring of dough that approached monkey-bread levels of satisfaction even before slathering it with maple-bacon butter. It’s a wow." Overall, the place plays it safe, and it's a safe bet for a good meal, it seems.
The Chronicle's Michael Bauer's latest review is of The Saratoga, which is coming off of plenty of year-end praise, our own included, and Bauer agrees that the team from Spruce has a winner with this new Tenderloin spot. "Spirits are king at the Saratoga," he writes of the restaurant, which is named for the old hotel space it occupies, "yet the food is as carefully conceived and executed as the drinks." If none of this sounds too innovative to you, Bauer agrees: "The bar/restaurant concept isn’t new — just about every place now seems to emphasize cocktails — but the Saratoga takes it to a higher, more sophisticated level." The hamburger is "one of the best to be found" and the dry-aged New York steak, "rightfully listed as being smothered in Cognac peppercorn sauce," is another hit. On that front, though, Bauer says chef Mark Sullivan might take a "less-is-more philosophy," pointing to too much sauce, but "both the meat and the sauce were superb," so who cares, I guess. The noise-level, a Bauer hobbyhorse, is "BOMB," and it sounds like the whole experience is, too. Three stars.