Prime Rib Eye with Wafu Dressing at Roka Akor
Yuzu Miso Marinated Black Cod at Roka Akor
The Scoop: In between bartending shifts at Locanda and Local Edition, Aaron London, the young, celebrated former chef at Ubuntu, filled me in (on what he could) about his in-the-works San Francisco project. People have been murmuring about London’s expected new restaurant since he left Ubuntu almost a year ago. And although not much has been said about it over the past few months, London is quietly very excited that he and his two unnamed architect partners have recently made a lot of progress.
It was rumored that the restaurant will be going into Hayes Valley, but London reveals that the restaurant is in the Mission, and he’s hoping they’ll open by summer, although you never know at this stage of the game. The process has been moving slowly because they’re working on a change of use at the address, which he wisely didn’t yet want to reveal, apprehensive that it would jinx the process.
That said, he did pass on some fun details. The restaurant will seat about 30 people in the main dining room, eight of which will be at a chef’s counter. One of the coolest things he mentioned is the planned “sense of openness” to be created in the small 1500-square-foot-space due to a wall of transparent glass going in behind the kitchen. You’ll be able to see straight through to a small courtyard area with seating in back. Now I’ll leave you with a few more clues on the mystery location in the Mission: 1) The building is “dilapidated” and “ramshackle” right now. 2) It is in a former horse stable with an A-frame roof. Any guesses?
Overheard: Akash Kapur of Curry Up Now says his forthcoming Mission brick-and-mortar restaurant is “definitely opening this month.” Remember, this will be a 60-seat spot, serving beer and wine in the one-time pizza place at 659 Valencia Street.
Openings: I had the pleasure of popping in on the menu training session at Stock In Trade, which will officially open tomorrow in the storied former La Barca space on Lombard Street. The owners of R Bar and Wreck Room teamed up with the son of La Barca’s owner, Vance Bernard, to totally redo the menu and décor at the address with the help of Gi Paoletti.
There are slight nods to its former life: The large medieval-looking wrought iron light fixtures have been inverted and hung on chains overhead. The beloved La Barca margarita, served with lime and agave in the original glass, will surface on the cocktail list. But the most compelling thing about Stock in Trade is definitely the 40-seat U-shaped bar made out of one gigantic reclaimed cedar tree.
Wood Tavern’s Max DiMare is consulting on the menu, which Jake Kwan-Rosenbush (Gary Danko, 15 Romolo) will execute for the long haul. Food-wise they’ll be offering pub staples dressed up with fancy ingredients. Think poutine made with sharp white Beecher cheddar curds from Wisconsin, and macaroni and cheese with Bellwether Farms ricotta and mild Italian sausage. The star entrée seems to be the Flinstonian 10 oz. bone-in pork rib chop, which offers way more marbling and flavor than your typical chop.
Fable softly opened on Friday, debuting its slightly retro and whimsical décor to those in the know. Tablehopper has a pretty close look at the interiors: walls are lined with sketched portraits of animal busts wearing human clothes, and antler chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Chef-owner Jon Hearnsberger has put together a refined homestyle menu, which runs the gamut from pork cheeks with apple and kale, to vegan shepherd’s pie, to a twice-baked sweet potato. Pamela Busch is doing the wine list, which includes several on-tap offerings.
Coming Soon: Chef Preeti Mistry has announced that lunch service will begin at her causal Cal-Indian spot, Juhu Beach Club on March 1. Mistry has boldly designed the 50-seat space with monkey wallpaper, bright pink walls and vintage Bollywood movie album covers. “Pink is like the navy of India,” Mistry adds. “The culture just loves color, and we’re reflecting that in the décor.”
The menu will include snacks ($4-8) like Vindaloo chicken wings and samosas, pavs ($5/each) comprising Indian-spiced and braised meats on proprietary Starter Bakery slider buns, and curries ($13-18) with sides of raita, chopped salad and pickles. Dinner will come as soon as the all-powerful beer-and-wine license comes through. Also, Mistry is taking back the Scotch egg.
Closings: Masa’s chef Gregory Short is making a career change, and the restaurant is taking this opportunity to close up and think about rebranding. It’s last day will be Feb. 16. Similarly, Fog City Diner is planning to close, revamp and come back as Fog City. Bruce Hill (Bix, Picco) will create an American menu and the bar will expand.
Chef Changes: The menu at Maven is undergoing an overhaul and a partnership switch. It sounds like the food will be getting heartier once new chef Isaac Miller gets settled in.
Events: 1)This Saturday, Eskender Aseged of Radio Africa Kitchen will be cooking far from his Bayview restaurant: at Macy’s in Union Square. At a demo in the Cellar, Aseged will talk about his background in Ethiopia and make a seven-layer tagine. Find out more info, and buy tickets ($10) here.
2)The Grove is starting happy hour at its Yerba Buena location on Friday. Everyday from 3 to 6 p.m., they’ll have music playing to accompany a special menu of low-priced bites, like three meatball sliders for $5.75 and a giant house-made soft pretzel with beer-cheese sauce for $6.75.
3) A Brooklyn-based “storytelling dinner” concept called Eat Your Heart Out is coming to San Francisco on February 23rd. Five different performers, including comedian Caitlin Gill and writer Isaac Fitzgerald, will entertain diners as they dig into a five-course meal inspired by the creative works. Take a look and buy tickets here.
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