A short week means fewer moves in SF's food scene, but that didn't mean nothing happened: A Mano's Asparagus pizza got raves, Tartine And Belcampo Meat Co. announced plans to open in Oakland's Jack London Square, Trademark and Copyright opened in SoMa, Chris Bleidorn's Birdsong will move into AQ's old space next winter, and Julius' Castle might rise again. Here's what else is afoot:
Eater took a long look at The Charter Oak, which will open June 5 in Napa Valley. From Restaurant at Meadowood guys Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn, Charter Oak is a more casual turn, with Inside Scoop promising family-style dishes.
The Grid, a self-described "speakeasy" inside SoMa arcade bar Coin-Op Game Room (508 Fourth Street) opened this week to a great deal of attention, likely because its look is inspired by the movie Tron. The use of "speakeasy" to describe this bar within a bar also spurred the SF Chronicle's Esther Mobley to rail against the appellation, blasting The Grid (and others) for bars that "send out press releases and post endless photos on Instagram" but pretend to be hidden, secret places to have a drink.
La Boulangerie (aka La Boulange 2.0) continues to rise from the ashes of an abortive Starbucks acquisition with the news of three more openings in coming months. Per Inside Scoop, the 2.0s will open at 655 Montgomery Street and 588 Mission Bay in SF, and 5500 College Avenue in Oakland. None of these spots were homes to La Boulanges in the past, which founder Pascal Rigo (late of Munchery) says is good as it gives them a chance to test out new areas and configurations. Expect all to open by September.
A couple weeks ago we told you about Duna, Cortney Burns and Nick Balla's gear shift from Japanese-concept Motze to the food of Eastern Europe located at 983 Valencia Street. It opened last night, Eater SF says, with a menu heavy on chopped salads, flatbreads, and cabbage rolls.
Also changing gears upon reopen is the former Matrix Fillmore (3138 Fillmore Street), infamous in the 90s and aughts for everything bad about 90s and aughts nightlife (and for being partially owned by then-SF-Mayor Gavin Newsom). Now it's simply Matrix, and has traded the smokey mirrored paneling for tile, wood, and (scroll down to the fourth picture in this Hoodline report) oddly unmatched barstools. The reopening is soft for now, with food and a "manicured" back room on the horizon.
This Week In Reviews
SF Weekly's Peter Lawrence Kane heads to Dumpling Time, the xiao long bao of which he terms "irresistible." He's also a fan of the other items on their menu, including "gyoza with skins thinner than any presidential crybabies, hand-tossed noodles, and lots of steamed or pan-seared buns." The star of the mean is the "King-Dum," a soup dumpling you use a straw to consume, which he says is "a mutant blob of deliciousness."
The Chron's Michael Bauer spent not just his mid-week update review but its accompanying blog post chewing over the prices at Monsieur Benjamin. When his $246 bill arrived, Bauer says, "I questioned whether I’d spend my own dime there." That said, while the cassoulet wasn't up to his standards until it had become leftovers, the trout roe tartlet got high praise and Bauer says "I was satisfied even if the meal wasn’t memorable." The food dropped to 2.5 stars from its initial 3, while the service rose to 3 from a previous 2. All told: 2.5 stars.
And for his Sunday review, Bauer hit up Hitachino Beer & Wagyu, which Pete Kane was previously nonplussed by. Bauer similarly calls it "one of the most confusing restaurants I’ve reviewed," talking about how there are far too many options, menu-wise, for such a tiny place, including a nightly tasting menu and a la carte options. He's a fan of the spicy sesame ramen with ground beef, and he likes the skewer of beef tongue, but he writes, "I liked much of what I had at Hitachino, but getting to the point of enjoyment was a challenge." The verdict: 2.5 stars.