San Francisco has seen a welcome influx of new Indian restaurants in the last few months, with more on their way. In the Mission, New York City expat Babu Ji has struck a trendy, flavorful note with diners. August 1 Five, in the Civic Center, offers modern, upscale Indian dining that draws from many influences, including street and home cooking from northern and central India. And coming to a new South of Market complex at 333 Brannan is Rooh, a modern lounge and kitchen featuring ""progressive Indian cuisine.""
After almost exactly two years since we learned that Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee Roasters would open its first coffee shop in San Francisco, the Castro location is finally set to open on February 13. Founders Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr almost opened in SF to start with— now they’re debuting their ninth cafe here, following four locations in Santa Cruz, three in LA, and one in Tokyo. A Kees van der Westen espresso machine, handcrafted in the Netherlands and bringing that retro spaceship vibe, will provide the espresso drinks, in addition to pour-overs, brewed coffee, juices, and more. Breakfast and brunch will include delights from Manresa Bread, the Los Gatos bakery from three-Michelin-starred chef David Kinch and head baker Avery Ruzicka. It’s a partnership made in heaven for the two companies given the bakery’s close proximity to Santa Cruz, where all roasting operations remain. The 1,200 square-foot space was the former home of Veo Optics at Church and Market (2101 Market St). Now it’s undergone a serious renovation by LA design firm Design, Bitches; the design will “give a nod to the breezy naturalism shared among iconic artists and architects along the Northern California coast in the 1960,” according to a press release."
It’s been about six months since three-decade-old Chron critic Michael Bauer has compared a Japanese tasting menu to a warm bath, so here he is at the “simply sublime” Kenzo in Napa, “where everyone looks as if they just had a day at the spa and a skin-smoothing facial.” The restaurant is the downtown Napa showcase for video game tycoon Kenzo Tsujimoto’s $100 million Kenzo Estates winery, and thus Tsujimoto brought in chef Hiroyuki Kanda of the three-Michelin-starred Kanda in Tokyo to create a wallet-pummeling $225 kaiseki menu.
Despite the price, Bauer is “enamored by the purity of the experience,” which is certainly cheaper than a flight to Tokyo and, in our critic’s opinion, just as good if you need to recalibrate your palate toward a more Eastern sensibility. The “less-is-more aesthetic” shows through in dishes like a cube of tofu studded with walnuts and covered in dashi gelee, tuna cold-smoked in straw, or the chawanmushi with so much uni “that it feels like it might be the last indulgent request of dying man.” Aside from some of the best pears he can remember, the rest of the menu gets much more perfunctory descriptions from Bauer (wagyu here, yuzu there, etc) but the “choreographed” and “ceremonial” service is enough to elevate the two-and-a-half-star food to three stars overall.
The building that houses two-month-old Single Thread, one of the most highly anticipated openings of 2016, is facing some legal woes.
According to The Press Democrat, contractors who worked on the project filed papers earlier this week at the Sonoma County recorder’s office to put liens on the property, which is located in Healdsburg.
In the paperwork, general contractor Mike Behler, of Santa Rosa-based Behler Construction Co., claims that New York real estate developer, Tony Greenberg, who handled the development for the property, along with Healdsburg winemaker Pete Seghesio, who runs the company that owns the building, failed to pay Behler and 13 subcontractors a total of nearly $400,000 in back payment for final construction costs. The restaurant’s owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton are not involved in the dispute.
Greenberg provided the following statement to Inside Scoop:
As of yet, there is no legal action, just a mechanics lien although all options are on the table for ownership. We are not withholding payments from Mr. Behler. He filed the lien before any of the final billing information was sent to us and we’ve yet to see any supporting documents that we’ve requested. That said, once the lien was filed, ownership immediately agreed to post and segregate over $400,000 of cash collateral to ensure that 100% of whatever final payments Behler owes each and every subcontractor is covered. We implore Mr. Behler to pay all of his subcontractors in full or release the lien and allow us to pay them directly."
Chef Ryan Scott of Top Chef fame has opened a new restaurant on Market Street in the Castro. Called Finn Town, the venue is modeled on the classic American tavern, with a nod to San Francisco’s history during the Gold Rush. Finn Town, 2251 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94114, 415-626-3466.
Bacchus Management Group (Spruce, The Village Pub) has opened The Saratoga at 1000 Larkin in the Tenderloin. The restaurant and bar showcases the group's signature touch of vintage glamour, with library shelves and mohair walls offset by brick and steel accents and period art. Food evokes an early-1900s rustic sophistication, including dishes such as dry-aged Flannery New York steak au poivre and chicken paillard, and more playful fare like a high-end burger and hot dog plates from chef de cuisine Jason Wittek. Brandon Clements oversees the bar and cocktail program, which is heavy on Chartreuse, Pimm's, Fernet and Benedictine, as well as bourbon, Scotch and rye. Look for the Boothby Bowl cocktails for groups. The Saratoga, 1000 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94109, 415-932-6464.
The Morris is located in the former Slow Club space on Mariposa Street, near Potrero Hill. The bistro is an interesting one for industry and other folks in the know --- it's the debut restaurant of Paul Einbund, a favorite local sommelier, current beverage director at Frances and former sommelier and partner at Daniel Patterson's Coi. Chef is Gavin Schmidt, previously chef de cuisine of Coi, as well as executive chef of Campton Place, San Diego's Blanca and Walnut Creek's Corners Tavern. Despite its lofty leadership, the dinner-only spot, named for Einbund's late father, aims to be a "warm neighborhood restaurant" focused on community. The Morris, 2501 Mariposa St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-612-8480.
State Bird Provisions, with its dim-sum-style carts filled with New American bites from chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, won over San Francisco (and foodies everywhere) the minute it opened on New Year's Eve 2011. Five years later, the restaurant has an adjacent, family-style restaurant (The Progress), private events space called The Workshop and a cookbook on the way. State Bird Provisions, 1529 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-795-1272. "
Bar Agricole has made some significant changes to its hours. The open, modern space now serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m., and has also moved to a nightly dinner format (it was formerly closed Sundays). Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Check the website for bar hours, which usually begin a little earlier than dinner service. Bar Agricole, 355 11th St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-355-9400. "
Joining a growing number of omakase-only Japanese sushi restaurants, 15-seat Ijji on Divisadero Street, opened in early 2016, has changed its menu to feature an exclusive, 19-course menu per night ($135 per person, exclusive of beverage, tax and gratuity). Chefs and co-owners Billy Kong (Saru Sushi) and Kua Chuang (Seiya) source ninety percent of Ijji's fish from Japan. Seven of the restaurant's seats are along the sushi bar, eight are at tables. Beverages include saké, wine and beer. Dinner Wed.-Sun..
Ijji, 252 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117, 415-658-7388.
Along with its weekday happy hour (Tuesday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., featuring dollar oysters and half-off full bottles of rosé and Champagne), The Dorian has a Thursday ""night owl"" series of specials. Beginning at 10 p.m., guests can enjoy ""old-fashioned drinks at old-fashioned prices,"" including martinis, old fashioneds and Champagne cocktails for just $5 each until 2 a.m. The Dorian, 2001 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123, 415-814-2671. "
A rash of restaurant closures hit the Bay Area as 2017 arrived, with surprises among both the old and new guard. In the Mission, standouts Range and Bar Tartine have both shuttered, to the distress of longtime fans. Kuleto's in Union Square closed its doors after 30 years on January 2, and SoMa's Restaurant LuLu shuttered abruptly in the new year after roughly 24 years. Relative newcomer, five-year-old AQ Restaurant & Bar, known for its changing seasonal décor and notable modern American cuisine, closed after dinner service on January 14, joining already-closed neighbor Show Dogs. And on the Embarcadero, Butterfly's chef-owner Rob Lam announced the restaurant's impending closure after service on January 7, saying goodbye to 15 years of Asian fusion in the event-friendly bayfront space.
First Crush restaurant and wine bar near Union Square has closed. The two-tiered restaurant on Cyril Magnin was first opened by Frank Klein in 1998, and was a consistent, wine-focused go-to for locals and travelers for the duration of its run. First Crush, 101 Cyril Magnin St., San Francisco, CA 94102, no phone.
Petit, Parisian-style bistro Le Zinc has closed after 15 years in Noe Valley. From their website, "We hope everyone in the neighborhood finds another place to cherish and create great memories...Merci." Le Zinc, 4063 24th St., San Francisco, CA 94114, no phone.