This week, SFist covered the Mill's expanding pizza night, the debut of Shiba Ramen in Oakland, and a cool delivery robot spotted "studying" the sidewalks of the Mission District. We also rounded up the 18 best places for an expertly roasted chicken, and posed the age-old question of whether using your laptop at a restaurant was a bad idea, or a really rude and bad idea. Elsewhere, there were more morsels from the food world:
Caffe Sociale in Presidio Heights suffered water damage, its roof reportedly caving in last Friday. According to a note from staff obtained by Eater, the business hopes to open after repairs — to begin ASAP — sometime in mid-March.
Long live L'Olivier, which will shutter after nearly 39 years in business in the Financial District. Hoodline read the writing on the wall, or the note on the door, as it were, reporting that the shutter will go down some time in April and that there are discounts in place for the fine French cuisine until they close.
Doughnut Dolly is closing its West Berkeley location over a rent dispute, Berkeleyside reports. It's been in the Gilman district since 2014, but owner Hannah Hoffman says that negotiations with her landlord broke down. Her locations in Temescal and at The Market on Market Street will remain.
After four years of renovations, the new French Laundry kitchen is open, Eater reports. The Snøhetta-designed facility cost $10 million, and next up, chef Thomas Keller has shared that he hopes to build a French Laundry hotel. Ooh la la.
The Chronicle's Jonathan Kauffman revisited pop-ups nearly a decade in to a craze that's here, he says, to stay. Some interesting observations: "It’s almost expected that every pop-up will include dishes that taste like first drafts," Kauffman writes. "But the rawness, and the promise it seems to hold, is also part of the appeal." Also, he's got a definitive timeline of pop-ups, from Saison to Mission Chinese to Kronnerburger.
Pink Onion is firing up its oven for Sicilian pizza as soon as next week in the Missionaccording Tablehopper. The venture, in, on 14th near Folsom, is a westward expansion from Le Coco's restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley, offering a pared-down version of their menus, which are well-liked for their salads, housemade bread, and of course those handmade pizzas.
Old Bus Tavern, the Bernal Heights brewpub that turned heads with upscale gastropub fare aimed at the gourmand set, is changing gears and temporarily closing to do so. According to Inside Scoop, after losing their opening chef, they're now parting ways with his replacement, current executive chef David Zboray, and scaling back from the fine dining food he's known for. The cheeseburger, chili, cornbread and more items will stay, but Zboray dishes like octopus and white grits are leaving the menu on February 25, when the place shuts down for two weeks to regroup.
The bell tolls for the Taco Bell naked chicken chalupa, which the chain is no longer offering according to Inside Scoop. Sad news for Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer, who penned a love letter to the food item just last month. One hopes he'll provide the chalupa, whose shell was actually a piece of fried chicken, the proper eulogy.
The team behind FiDi wine bar The Barrel Room is staying relatively on-brand with designs for a Marina District wine bar. Eater reports that's unnamed as of now, and bound for the former Scotland Yard space. Barrel Room executive chef Manny Hewitt is developing a menu with Michael Mina Group alum Danny Murcia, and the outside bar patio is getting a raw bar, because duh, says wine director Sarah Trubnick.
After the chain's owner passed away, Bistro Burger's last remaining location has closed, Hoodline learns. The owner, Adrian Bonnar, actually died in 2015, but the last member of the 1993-founded group of casual restaurants, in the Westfield Centre, is no more.
Pie pop-up Revenge Pies, previously at Duboce Triangle bar the Residence, can now by found at the 9th Avenue San Franpsycho storefront. Proprietor Elizabeth Simons reveals to Hoodline that she's now offering homemade ice cream, which can be served mixed up with pie in a dish she calls "pice cream." A grand opening occurs Saturday: Expect music and art including its most refined form, which is pie.
Chinese-food megalopolis China Live is opening to the public next week, at least in part, and threw a big opening preview bash last night. The Chronicle sets the scene as the 30,000 square foot food emporium was setting up for that, making all the last-minute preparations.
This Week In Reviews
For the Chronicle, Bauer took a break from fawning over Taco Bell to convince us he's a regular guy and examined Onsen, the Japanese bath, tea and sake bar, and restaurant that's an unexpected wonder in the tenderloin. At the restaurant — Bauer skipped the bath — "Chef George Meza, who worked at Oro and Ame, rivals his former boss, Hiro Sone, on the soft custard ($8) topped with crab and shiitake mushrooms." The mushroom dumplings deserve their spot as a staple on the menu, and the critic hopes the udon sticks around too. A charred carrot dish and a smoked trout preparation are also noteworthy, though truly, "every plate is carefully considered but simply and artfully presented." Three stars from Bauer, who ends his review with a joke about the dessert being "the best kind of happy ending," which is something an editor thought was fine.
Bauer also took a tour of Napa, as he does, and went on a little trend-spotting trip. Stops are Morimoto, Miminashi, Kenzo, and Two Birds/One Stone, all places that "are turning to Japan, rather than Europe, for inspiration."
The Weekly's Pete Kane popped in to Almanac Taproom, where the beer company has set up shop way down 24th Street. Get the nectarine cobbler sour, says Kane, and in general, be a fan of sours in order to enjoy yourself. Of the space, Kane observes that it's too loud, and he "was legitimately shouting across a two-top. A corollary to this high-intensity atmosphere is that I get the sense people treat table boundaries and personal space more like they would in a bar."
Kane also scouted out Fireside Lounge in Alameda, where Monday night is "surprisingly wacky." Writes Kane: "With trivia night, rockabilly acts, and karaoke, Fireside embodies the soul of a true neighborhood dive — but it’s a respectable cocktail bar, too." And talk about lively: the critic observed "a garrulous party of middle-aged Elks Lodge members celebrating a birthday," at 10 p.m. on Monday.
Chronicle beverage writer Esther Mobley was poppin' bottles at The Riddler, which has embraced Champagne's feminist legacy — Veuve Cliquot, as Mobley remembers, translates to "the widow" Cliquot — and indeed "the very methode champenoise is indebted to her." Writes Mobley: "The Riddler is not only San Francisco’s most Champagne-centric bar, but also its most woman-centric," — its proprietors in fact, are all women, although the staff isn't all female. Addressing, however, the nearly all female clientele, Mobley writes that "I’ll admit I was suspicious. Such conspicuous gender marketing often strikes me as garish, as if adopting the women-only ethos precludes a project from seriousness. Call it the Skinnygirl Margarita syndrome." Fortunately, "I’m happy to report that’s not the case with the Riddler," she writes," where the bottle list and half bottle and glass options aren't the cities best, but are good enough for a solid neighborhood bar. Do make note that there's a Champagne, or rather a Prosecco bong, called a Chambong. That's true class.