This week at the SFist food desk we checked out Media Noche, a new cuban counter service spot in the Mission, had word of a $900,000 class action settlement between Tacolicious and workers who alleged they had been denied overtime and legally mandated breaks, and broke bad, not sweet news of Doughnut Dolly's shutdown. We also covered new Brass Tacks owned and adjacent cocktail bar Anina, opened today in Hayes Valley, Fort Point Beer Co.'s Ferry Building expansion effort, and the sudden closure of Speakeasy Ales and Lagers. We also mulled the wise words of billionaire Rainforest Café/Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurateur and TV persona Tilman Fertitta, who criticized San Francisco's restaurant regulations like healthcare mandates. Gotta hear both sides. Inevitably there were more dining scene goings on about town:
Eater had more on a forthcoming Hayes Valley seasonal omakase sushi restaurant now calling itself Robin. Chef-owner Adam Tortosa (Akiko’s, 1760) got served a cease and desist order regarding his original name, The Starling, but had already fallen in love with the logo they'd gotten for themselves. Hence, Robin, which was originally looking to open last December but is now under construction at 620 Gough and hopes to take roost in May.
SF-native siblings Jody Harris and Gingy Harris Gable run the Napa vintner Cultivar Wine and tell Inside Scoop they're bound for Chestnut Street in the Marina. “We wanted to bring the Napa Valley experience to people in the city without having them cross the bridge,” Jody Harris told Inside Scoop. They hope to have the space open for wine flights this month.
168-year-old Boudin Bakery and its famous sourdough starter were granted Legacy Business status according to the Examiner. As a legacy business, Boudin will receive a $500 grant for each full-time employee per year. Boudin's bakery headquarters are at 10th Avenue in the Richmond.
South, the bar and restaurant at SFJAZZ from Slanted Door restaurateur Charles Phan is closed after four yeas in business according to Hoodline. With Phan out, the space is being renovated for a new concept that could be open as soon as mid-April.
Shorty Goldstein's, a new school Jewish deli in the FiDi, closed yesterday after four years on Sutter Street according to Inside Scoop. “The business environment in San Francisco, and especially the Financial District, has changed dramatically," owner Michael Siegel told the Scoop. "It has become unsustainable for us to operate a small independent restaurant in San Francisco... We wish to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the years. Please support your local Jewish deli."
Starting Sunday, March 19, The Presidio Trust and Off The Grid's Presidio Picnic, is bringing lawn games and food vendors to the Presidio Parade Ground. Inside Scoop had the whole lineup for the fifth season of outdoor feasting. Off The Grid is also back for a seventh season of Friday nights at Fort Mason.
Ryan Pollnow will be the new executive chef of the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (Flour + Water, Aatxe, and Cafe du Nord). Eater reports that founding chef Thomas McNaughton will become the group's CEO and Culinary Director.
Kash Feng, who owns the Omakase Restaurant Group (Omakase and Okane) announced plans to open a new nearby beer and dumpling restaurant, Dumpling Time. Inside Scoop writes that Dumpling Time will have more than 70-seats and observes that Feng, a Xi’an, China native, thinks its high time for dumpling and beer. — “I think the city is ready for what we’re trying to do,” he tells the Scoop.
Namu Noodle, a spinoff of Mission District Korean spot Namu Gaji, has a new pop-up destination in the Outer Sunset. They'll be at Beachside Coffee Bar and Kitchen with braised oxtail shoyu ramen, okonomiyaki, and KFC-style chicken wings — the K for Korean — from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for "the next few weeks," according to a press release sent by the restaurant.
Eater has a run down on the most anticipated spring openings of the year to look forward to. The list includes casual Meadowood spinoff Charter Oak in St. Helena, a forthcoming rum bar from Thad Vogler (Trou Normand, Bar Agricole), and a casual Divisadero Italian restaurant, from Eleven Madison Park chefs Che Fico.
Saucy Asian, bound for the Castro on 17th Street, has revealed a finalized menu of Korean-California fusion food to Eater. Former Morimoto chef Jericho Hutchison has a "Chipotle-style" setup in mind — choose wrap, bowl, taco, or poke-style at the counter. The team is busy building out the space, and hope it will be open by mid-April.
The SoMa space formerly occupied by Citizen's Band and Pinkie's Bakery is now Anton's Pizza & Deli, reports Hoodline.
Judy Kahn, formerly of Sandbox Bakery in Bernal Heights, has a new bakery, Tablehopper reports. Kahnfections will be confecting biscuits, croissants, scones, and more on 20th Street at Folsom.
Me & Tasty is opening for Thai brunch and dinner later this month, Hoodline writes. "Me & Tasty" are husband-and-wife team Sunsanee Charoenyothin and Chauwalit Srivarawong.
Kagawa-Ya, from chef Sean Lim and wife Katherine Chiao, will be serving the udon noodles you crave next month according to Inside Scoop. The noodle spot will be quick-service in format with hot and cold udon, rice bowls, and more.
Sister owners Saskia and Petra Bergstein are opening a retail outpost and tasting room for The Caviar Company at 1954 Union Street, Eater reports. The Bergsteins also intend to use the space for private tastings.
Finally, Eater's got your cookbook reading list covered with a a roundup of new cookbooks from Bay Area restaurants like Nopalito, Tartine, and Burma Superstar.
This Week In Food Reviews
San Francisco magazine food critic Josh Sens did a double review this month, sampling two new northern Indian restaurants, August 1 Five and Babu Ji. "What they share is a cheeky attitude toward tradition and an endearing openness to adventure," Sens writes. "Although both stay largely faithful to familiar flavors, they are also unabashed about tweaking time-worn dishes or thrusting ingredients into surprising roles." In the end, it was three stars to August 1 Five and two-and-a-half to Babu Ji. "Where August 1 Five leans toward understatement, Babu Ji cheerfully flouts convention."
Chronicle drinks writer Esther Mobley visited what she suspects is the Bayview's only commercial garage winery, Gratta Wines. "Linger at the tasting bar, open Thursday through Sunday, and it’s easy to forget you’re still in San Francisco," writes Mobley. "The whole room smells like sweet, wet bread dough and feels much less like a winery than like a small-town bar, only with much more sophisticated merchandise."
The Weekly's Pete Kane dined at former Tacolicious chef Telmo Faria's Uma Casa, a Portuguese restaurant in the former Incanto space, and it's got him asking how we did without it in the first place. Kane calls the space "romantic... beautifully lit, and as tiled as downtown Santa Barbara." The caldeirada, a stew of sea bass, shrimp, mussels, and potato in a saffron-tomato broth, "was flat-out excellent, partly because saffron is like a wormhole to deliciousness, partly because the flaky sea bass absorbed its essence, and partly because of the reappearance of the wonderful bread from earlier, to scoop up the residual broth."
Kane also popped some bottles at new Hayes Valley champagne barthe Riddler. "In all my boozing, I’ve never found a place that mixes highbrow and lowbrow quite like this," Kane bubbles. "It could very well restore your faith in SF."
Oakland's Nido got Chronicle critic Michael Bauer's renewed nod of approval this week: "In four years, with its quirky decor and homey Mexican food that springs from the memories of a first-generation immigrant, Nido has become an integral part of the Oakland community," Bauer writes. The project of Silvia and Cory McCollow, "Silvia’s food has a quality missing in many Mexican restaurants where the expected offerings of tacos, enchiladas and chile rellenos often feel generic," according to the food critic. "The menu is executed by Jose Ramos, one of the original cooks at Nopalito, but it continues to reflect Silvia’s origins," Bauer reports, citing carnitas "where the bone is still attached, and the hunks of meat are strewn with streamers of pig ears," and pollo asado "where the chicken is rubbed with guajillo, blackened from the grill, and smothered in a rich barbecue-like sauce." He says, indeed, this is a three-star experience.
And for his Sunday review, Bauer headed to new Polk Street sushi spot Kinjo, which comes to the city via former Sushi Ran chef Takatoshi Toshi, and which opened in early January. Bauer writes, "In the last month, I’ve been to seven sushi restaurants, and what sets Kinjo apart is not only the careful sourcing but the way Toshi uses simple ingredients a sprinkle of salt, three drops of lemon juice or a delicate sansho pepper leaf bring out nuances in fish I never knew were there." He's doubly impressed with a cold-smoked course of three pieces of nigiri, placed under a glass dome with smoking cherrywood chips, of which he says, "While each fish benefits from the smoky sweet infusion, each is distinctive because of the different seasonings and textures of the fish." And, despite it seeming like we're reaching a saturation point when it comes to expensive omakase-style Japanese spots, Bauer says "when one distinguishes itself as Toshi has done at Kinjo, there’s always room for one more." All told: three stars.
For his final course of this week's reviews, Bauer also revealed something of a sweet tooth, highlighting a few desserts he's enjoyed recently such as a rhubarb and elderflower custard tart at Frances.