Northside SF  

October '09

The Tablehopper
The Dow is on the rise and so are restaurant openings
By Marcia Gagliardi

Some of the biggest news is Michael and Lindsay Tusk’s Quince (470 Pacific Avenue, 415-775-8500) is now open in the former Myth space. The look is chic, elegant, spacious, and inviting. Sample menu items include Paine Farm squab with Tropea onion, fig and licorice; pappardelle with suckling pig, wild fennel and black cabbage; rabbit porchetta with farro, escarole and grape; and duck “tagliata” with quince, turnip and Barolo Chinato sauce. (I am also looking forward to the à la minute risotto that will be offered – just in time for fall.) In addition to à la carte dishes, there will also be five-course ($85) and eight-course ($115) tasting menus available. Dinner is Monday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with bar and lounge service starting at 5 p.m. Speaking of the bar: Scott Baird and Josh Harris of 15 Romolo/Bon Vivants Consulting are behind the drink program, which features “elegant, light and very articulated cocktails.” How timely – quince is in season, so there will be some quince bitters (the drinks will highlight farm-fresh ingredients). I am also getting ready to buckle up before cracking open the wine list from wine director David Lynch, who came to us from New York. And so a new chapter begins for one of San Francisco’s most adored restaurants.
In other Myth-related news, San Francisco has lost an amazing restaurateur and local personality, Tom Duffy, who recently lost his long battle with cancer. Tom was mostly known for his popular restaurant Myth, but his background in the restaurant scene was incredibly extensive. I had the honor of interviewing him a few years ago, and it was definitely one of the more colorful interviews I’ve done – colorful like his ties and handkerchiefs. I know so many people are tipping their caps and raising their glass to this one-of-a-kind talent, a San Francisco original who will be missed. Rest in peace.
A while back I mentioned Jeff Banker and Lori Baker were opening their restaurant in the (now former) Quince space. A few more details have emerged. First, the name will be Baker and Banker (1701 Octavia Street). The concept is a New American neighborhood place, but with Banker’s French and Italian cooking background, expect some influences from those countries, plus elements of Southeast Asian cooking, Japanese and more. Most items on the menu – like quail, sweetbreads and squab – will be around $20–$25, but expect spendier cuts like a New York steak or lamb to ring in at a little more. They also just hired Doug Johnson as the wine director and manager – he was most recently at Postrio for four years – and he will be putting together a strong wine program, with many fantastic bottles under $100. Michael Brennan is redoing the interior, which will feature a timeless look, one that’s warm and full of wood. Another exciting tidbit: the plan for downstairs is a bakery to really serve the neighborhood. And by serve the neighborhood, we’re talking about Four Barrel French press coffee (and eventually espresso), breads, sandwiches, cakes, and dessert, all from a counter and pastry case for easy ordering and pickup. Permits are still underway, and if everything goes well, they’ll meet their November targeted opening date.
More in the Upper Fillmore and Pacific Heights area: Out the Door (2232 Bush Street, 415-923-9575) has opened its latest location. And wait until you hear about the breakfast service: there are both American (soft scrambled eggs) and Vietnamese dishes (pâté chaud with pork or chicken, beignets and Vietnamese coffee), then there’s this: braised beef brisket with farm-poached eggs, caramelized onions and crispy potatoes, meow. OTD is open continuously for lunch and dinner, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends. Dinner has appetizers like grilled meatballs ($10) with vermicelli and pineapple-anchovy sauce that you wrap in red leaf lettuce, plus some classic entrees like chicken claypot ($13) and the cellophane noodles with Dungeness crab ($16). And pastry chef Chucky Dugo whips up his sweet magic. A few more details: there’s local wine on tap, and the space designed by Olle Lundberg has a long counter, black slate floors, subway tile, and a baker’s table used as a communal table.
Even more Upper Fillmore activity: SPQR (1911 Fillmore Street, 415-771-7779) has reopened after closing for a refresh and ramp up of the new menu from recently hired chef Matt Accarrino (formerly Craft Los Angeles, Per Se). The updated look now includes banquettes, and the floors, walls and countertops have been redone. You can also now make a reservation via OpenTable (but a portion of seats will be left for walk-ins). As for the menu, Accarrino continues to offer rustic and Roman-inspired dishes, although I hear dishes are more composed, showcasing a bit of a refined touch. He also added a spuntino and snacks category, with dishes like friarelli peppers, Meyer lemon, smoked salt, and chili aioli ($9); griddled pecorino with quince, dandelion and fried chestnuts ($9); and crispy pig ear with pickled jalapeño and cherry tomatoes ($8). (Fear not, the Brussels sprouts are still there!) Pastas include a ricotta raviolo, gnocchi and spaghetti carbonara, while mains feature oxtail and grilled short rib, or farro and date-stuffed quail, with nothing over $20.
Ready for dessert? There’s a new dessert cafe from Dennis and Eloise Leung (they used to run the pastry kitchen at Bong Su) called DeLise (327 Bay Street, 415-399-9694). The small space is open in the morning, serving muffins and breakfast scones (both sweet and savory, like a tomato-basil scone), plus Four Barrel coffee and espresso, hot chocolate and chai lattes, in addition to teas from Red Blossom. There are also cookies made with healthful ingredients like whole-wheat flour. I look forward to trying the ice creams and sorbets made with Asian flavors, including toasted rice, sesame and pandan, plus vegan/soy-based ice creams as well. You can get ice cream in a cup or pint – and house-made cones are coming soon. There’s talk about sandwiches coming later as well. Opening hours are weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and weekends 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (tentatively) – so call first before heading over.

Marcia Gagliardi also writes a popular weekly e-column about the S.F. dining scene; subscribe for free at Additionally she writes for
San Francisco magazine, Edible San Francisco, and the weekly San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau blog, Foodie 411. Got a hot tip? E-mail

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