When we weren't drinking and stuffing pastry in our faces to deal with the horror show that is reality, we reveled in the price chop of a stupid juicer, detailed Super Duper Burger's plot to take over the world, welcomed an upcoming Dunkin' Donuts to South SF, got ready to book a stay at Thomas Keller's as-yet-unbuilt French Laundry hotel, prepared for the opening of new Korean street food spot Saucy Asian in the Castro, and brought you the latest in Zeitgeist's and Lefty O' Doul's real estate woes. But there was plenty of other movement in the biz of dining and drinking this week, let's take a look:
Inauguration Day protests snarled traffic today. Assuming you're not out there marching, a nice hunker down with some friends and a meal might be the way to wait out the delays. Both Eater and Hoodline have nice lists of local joints offering inauguration day specials as well as plans to donate funds to organizations our new President likely dislikes (civil and women's rights, etc).
Namu fans take note: In a press release we learn that Namu Noodle, the spinoff of Namu Gaji destined for a Dogpatch location, will be popping up on January 25, from 5 to 10 p.m., at Beachside Coffee Bar and Kitchen in the Outer Sunset. Chef Dennis Lee will be serving up his famous KFC wings, as well as three kinds of ramen: Chicken Ramen, Braised Oxtail Shoyu Ramen, and vegetarian Mushroom Udon.
Who's closing this week? Well, there's North Beach bakery Le Chat Rouge, which only made it seven months before a rent dispute with the landlord used up all its nine lives. Their $13 (not a typo) baguettes, Hoodline speculates, might have contributed to its demise.
Also shutting their doors is Crogan’s Sports Bar and Grill, a 39-year-old Walnut Creek standby that was plagued, as Inside Scoop reports, by public nuisance calls to the police. Their farewell party is Sunday, and promises to be a rager.
In openings, Tato SF, a Mexican restaurant from All Good Pizza owner Kristin Trahan, is expected to open in the Bayview this August. Hoodline describes it as "an indoor experience featuring a contemporary twist on authentic Mexican cuisine," and quotes Trahan as saying that ”Nothing on the menu will be more than $10."
Then there's Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen, expected to open in the (cursed?) area of Mid-Market next month. Inside Scoop says it will offer "soul food spot with old school recipes" at price points between $15-$24. Will home cooking with tickets like that fly in the notoriously challenging area? We'll see.
Riding the bar-inside-a-bar wave,Over Proof opens inside ABV next week. Lest you think this is some dive where you just plop down and order a Coors like a barbarian, Inside Scoop reports that the spot is reservations-only, and will serve "a new drink concept each quarter focusing on a single spirit category." This month's concept, Eater informs us, is Flip Flop "a rum-focused, tiki-infused bar with creative cocktails and paired bites," charging $80 for for six courses of food and drink through April 20. SF Weekly's Peter Lawrence Kane got a peek at the tiki-ness, and says "it feels as though ABV is mostly looking to upstage Trick Dog." Watch this space for details on the May-July concept, something to do with whiskey.
We also have a couple expansions to contend with this week. Asian Box, the Vietnamese chain with locations throughout California, from Union Square to Irvine, will be opening yet another spot on Chestnut Street, in the spot that once housed Tacolicious. Inside Scoop reports they're also opening in Burlingame and San Jose, a success owners attribute to a willingness to "“Keep it tight, keep it lean, and be prepared to hustle."
In addition, Deccan Spice, which you likely know from their Valencia Street location, is opening a location in the year+ empty A.G. Ferrari space at 468 Castro Street — welcome news, Hoodline reports, for those frustrated by the blight the vacant space has brought to the neighborhood. Deccan Spice (which, based on their website appears to be a franchise) also has locations in New Jersey, Virginia, Chicago, and Virginia, and promises several more — including one on Eddy Street in SF — in the near future.
Neither an expansion nor an opening, the Chron reports that floating bar/restaurant Forbes Island returned Thursday to the waters off the Embarcadero, after a disappearance and closure of "unscheduled repairs." No one's sure if it's open yet, but I'm assuming that the owners didn't charter a tugboat to drag it back out into the water just for fun.
And in a grab bag of news, it's worth noting that (as Hoodline did) that Smitten is teaching ice-cream making classes this and next month, that 1995 Chron "Rising Star" Lance Dean Velasquez has returned to the cooking game after a long hiatus and will be slinging has at The Gastropig, and that tourist fave Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has been listed as a historic asset on SF's legacy business registry.
This Week In Reviews
Renzell, a restaurant ratings company that claims to be a “Michelin competitor," has released its preliminary ratings for SF, Eater reports, "using the opinions of hundreds of locals that do not have media or industry ties to anonymously rate restaurants (on their own dime) through a 60-question survey that takes biases into account." Then again, looking at the list (which leans heavily toward fancy-pants standards) maybe they just typed "best restaurants sf" into Yelp and wrote down the first ten they got. Nothing would surprise me, these days.
Michael Bauer, knowing full well that we cannot get enough of how his brain works, has thrown out some contenders for the 2017 Top 100. I can't help but think that the inclusion of Original Joe's Westlake was due to some pressure from Food & Wine section editor Paolo Lucchesi, long a champion of the recently-revived joint.
Bauer's update review is of Albona Ristorante Istriano in North Beach, "the only restaurant in the city to serve the tapestry of dishes from Istria." Opened in 1988, was on their Top 100 for eight years back in the day. Bauer seemed to think everything there was...fine, which suggests that its Albona Ristorante Istriano's far stronger competition (and a lack of evolution) that's kept it off the list. Two stars.
His Sunday review is of Motze, the new semi-temporary Japanese-esque concept by Bar Tartine kids Cortney Burns and Nick Balla, which Bauer disappointingly calls "more food lab than enjoyable dining experience." He also says it's "a bold endeavor" with "a bare-bones feel," and the "dishes are unlike just about anything you’ll find elsewhere." And, weirdly, despite talking about dishes he really liked, such a version of a spicy, green Hungarian fish stew that Balla has made at Bar Tartine, he says, "there wasn’t a single dish that I’d hoped would be on the menu next time." In the end: one and a half stars.
When Kane wasn't rumming out at Flip Flop, he was in Rockridge to judge Duchess. Describing the month-old restaurant as one whose aspirations are neighborhood-plus, Kane says "there’s enough personality to the food that it’s clear this kitchen wants to be appreciated beyond the immediate environs." Appreciating that Duchess cures all their own meats and makes all their own bread and pastries, Kane gives nods to their friend chicken sandwich, their Dungeness crab fries, and a foie gras chocolate chip cookie, concluding that they "know how to take good care of you."
Also at the Weekly, Ali Wunderman returns to Lazy Bear after an apparently embarrassing drunken review. Gently mocked by Chef David Barzelay on her arrival, Wunderman was hardly dining incognito (but who does, really?) when served a rave-netting scrambled egg shooter and "almost-raw trout." The "efffing great" Lazy Bear, she says, "deserves recognition for reviving the dying art of communal dining, operating under a high concept while delivering an authentic experience."