This week, as with all other headlines, local food news headlines were dominated with Charlottesville after it was revealed that an employee at Berkeley-based hot dog chain Top Dog was at the white supremacist gathering in Virginia last Friday and he has since resigned and denied that he's a white supremacist. We also learned that brunch spot Dottie's is changing hands, and Forbes Island is closing, and we ran through all the best dog-friendly eateries around town. Now here's what else is up:
North Beach landmark Caffe Trieste, in business for 61 years and a touchstone for the Beat Generation, is facing a potential closure amidst a rancorous family feud that goes back at least a decade. The Chronicle has that story, and it's a sad one for those that love the cafe, which claims to have been the first espresso bar on the West Coast.
Popular Hayes Valley brasserie Absinthe is currently closed, as you may or may not have noticed, as they undergo an interior refresh. Tablehopper tells us they will reopen with a fresh coat of paint on September 7.
Up in San Anselmo, we get word that former Ritz and Michael Mina chef Ron Siegel has opened his solo project, Madcap, close to his own home. The Chronicle has some details after the restaurant's public debut on Thursday night, and Eater has some photos. You can check out the Japanese-influenced menu here, with entrees in a more Cal-Med style like herb roasted chicken ($28); duck breast with blackberry ($32); and corn ravioli with summer squash and heirloom tomato ($24).
The couple behind Hip Chick Farms in Sebastopol have just opened the world's first chicken nugget tasting room in downtown Sebastopol to help promote their product: 100-percent organic, free-range, local chicken nuggets, available in some grocer freezer cases. CBS 5 has the story, and for now they're only open for lunch, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. See more in the video above.
Back in SF, a small neighborhood sushi spot called Kuma has just debuted on Polk Street. As Eater tells us, the 25-seater at 1040 Polk is the project of longtime friends and coworkers Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson, both previously of Domo in Hayes Valley. The place is fairly budget friendly, with rolls ranging from $5 to $14, and a 10-piece sashimi plate going for $32, with additional omakase options as well.
The Myriad, that food hall at Market and Sanchez/15th, is getting a cookie-dough kiosk Doughp pronounced "dope" opening in September, as Hoodline reports. And this cookie dough is safe to eat, using flax seeds in place of eggs and made with heat-treated flour (so no E coli).
And remember the story about some restaurants in outlying neighborhoods getting a shot at new full liquor licenses they otherwise could never afford? Well, the first five of those licenses go up for grabs in September for a mere $13,800, as Hoodline reports. Applicants have to be in one of seven neighborhoods: Portola, Bayview, Ocean Avenue, Excelsior, Outer Sunset, Parkside, or Visitation Valley. And if the ABC gets more than five applications, which they will, the licenses will be doled out by lottery. State Assemblyman Phil Ting is still trying to pass a bill that would add a total of 30 of these licenses over five years.
After some delays, Portola-based Queen's Louisiana Po'Boy Cafe is gearing up for an early September debut at Pier 33 1/2, as the Chronicle reports.
Fisherman's Wharf landmark Fisherman's Grotto recently went up for sale for $6M, and it's the first time the restaurant will be out of the hands of the family that founded it in 1935 out of a small fish stand. Forbes has the story on the sale, in which local restaurant owner Chris Henry (Tommy's Joynt) had to win over the whole family to seal the deal.
The grocery desert that is the Transbay District don't call it The East Cut is getting its first grocery store next week! Yes, Socketsite tells us that Woodlands Market is debuting in a 9,500-sf space at Folsom and Main, and it's all organic and local and yadda yadda.
And if you've been a fan of grabbing Wise Sons pastrami sandwiches on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Ferry Plaza markets, I've got some bad news. They've stopped showing up at the markets in order to focus their energy on their new brick-and-mortar locations, like one that just opened in Larkspur.
This Week In Reviews
The Weekly's Pete Kane drops in on the reopened Alfred's Steakhouse, calling the steak offerings "good if pricey" but noting that "You won’t feel as deprived as a vegan at a barbecue by skipping beef entirely." He loves the Oysters Rockefeller, the old-school tableside Bananas Foster, and he says the Alfred's steak burger is "like an haute Double-Double on an airier bun, right down to the fries."
Eater's Rachel Levin absolutely loves Robin, much as Pete Kane did before her. She calls it "the kind of sushi experience San Francisco has long lacked: one that’s neither austere nor Ace Wasabi." Giving it a big three stars, she calls it "the perfect sushi night," if a bit expensive.
Michael Bauer makes an obligatory return trip to Jardiniere, where he says (curiously) that the "look is as current as when it opened." He's a big fan of the new chef de cuisine Audie Golder, and he writes, "From start to finish [executive chef Traci] Des Jardins and Golder reveal sophisticated and subtle ways of incorporating various flavors and techniques of other cuisines." And he raves "Some classic restaurants are so visionary and can subtly adapt to the times that they never go out of style." But the star rating seems to be missing from the online version unless he's actually doing away with stars?
There are also no stars on Bauer's return review of Zut Tavern, to which he gave a dismal 1.5-star review two years ago. The tavern from former Yoshi's chef Sho Kamio, who also presides over one of Bauer's faves Iyasare, across the street on Berkeley's Fourth Street, apparently has not improved, and "Service continues to be amateurish." All the food sounds terrible, and Bauer is shocked that his previous negative review did not "serve as a wake-up call."