Northside SF  

October '09

The Tablehopper:
Things are looking up for Financial District and Northside restaurants

By Marcia Gagliardi

After lots of local speculation and rumors about who was moving into 101 California Street, the former Atrium, details have emerged. It’s another project by Mark Weiss of the Whisk Group, called Brasserie Lille. And get ready for this: it will be a 7,638 square feet. Nope, it’s not petite. The brasserie will include a pâtisserie, full bar, and outdoor seating, and is planned to open the first quarter of 2011. The Johnson Studio in Atlanta will design it, with construction set to begin in the fall (Traci Des Jardins’s Manzanita was another Johnson Studio client). Further details, such as the executive chef, general manager and menus, will be announced later this year.
Michael Mina’s plans for The Westin St. Francis on Union Square have been announced: since he’s moving Michael Mina to the former Aqua location, he will open Bourbon Steak (335 Powell Street) in its place. Restaurant Michael Mina will close mid-September (it’s due to reopen late October on California Street); after a quick remodel, Bourbon Steak’s opening is set for Oct. 7. While this will be the fifth Bourbon Steak location, Mina stresses he plans to have the San Francisco location really highlight California products, producers and farms, like All-Star Organics, Hamada Farms, White Crane Springs, Dirty Girl Farms, and Iacopi Farms. And yes, the beef will also be from California: Brandt Farms in Brawley, which raises hormone- and antibiotic-free beef. About that beef: Mina’s technique is slow poaching the cuts in butter and herbs for several hours at a low temperature and then roasting the meat (pure evil.) Of course there will be a stellar wine list assembled by Rajat Parr emphasizing Burgundy, Rhone and California, accented with selections from Bordeaux and Spain. Handcrafted cocktails will also be available in the 42-seat bar and lounge. Dinner will be nightly from 5:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; bar open at 5 p.m. Reservations may be made beginning Sept. 22 by calling 415-397-3003.
Dennis Leary’s Golden West (8 Trinity Place, 415-392-3246) is officially open in its tiny alley location. The take-out bakery and sandwich spot will start slowly and carefully, adding an item or two to its repertoire each day (there will also be some hot dishes). Some sample breakfast items off the provisional menu include brioche with Nutella ($2), a bear claw ($3), a ham biscuit ($3), and ratatouille or pork and beans with egg ($4 and $5). For lunch, it looks like there will be a short rib sandwich ($8.50), spicy chicken salad ($8.50), a BBQ eggplant sandwich ($8), a croque-madame ($8.50), and pho to go ($8.50) featuring ginger broth with brisket, noodles, chili, and cilantro. As a reminder, all items are to go. (Desserts are TBD.) You’ll also be able to perk up with double-strength coffee from Mr. Espresso. Hours will be Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–3 p.m. — just look for the glowing Au sign (the symbol on the periodic table for gold).
Some chef changes in the Northside: over at Spruce (3640 Sacramento Street, 415-931-5100), executive chef Mark Sullivan is promoting his chef de cuisine, Ben Cohn, to executive chef. Sullivan will remain busy and involved with Spruce as chef-partner, in addition to continuing to oversee The Village Pub in Woodside and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto. I caught up with Sullivan, who said while he’s been busy helping with the 10 Bacchus Management Group’s businesses, Cohn really rose to the occasion and has been doing an amazing job at Spruce, so they wanted to honor his efforts. Kudos.
Chef Amy Glaze, who recently did a short stint at Le Club, is now working at Circa (2001 Chestnut Street, 415-351-0175) in the Marina. She was originally brought in as a consulting chef, but since there hasn’t been an executive chef in place since Erik Hopfinger left, she has assumed the title. Sure, it’s a big stretch from Le Bernardin and Guy Savoy in Paris — but let’s see what she puts together over there. Glaze says she is creating a California bistro menu with a seasonal and sustainable focus, highlighting the purity of ingredients.
Over in Russian Hill, liquor licenses announce the new tenant for 1550 Hyde as Seven Hills, listing Alexander Alioto as a partner. The restaurant will be “classic, straightforward Italian with seasonal focus,” and the plan is to open by October (they take possession Sept. 1). It ends up Alioto, a 30-year-old chef, has been staging in Italy for two years, so he’s fired up to offer as many as five kinds of fresh pastas daily. (Even though the name refers to the Seven Hills of Rome, it doesn’t sound like it will be a Roman-focused menu.) Alioto’s brother-in-law and partner, Alexis Solomou, will run the front of house, and Alioto will get assistance on the wine list from his father, Nunzio Alioto (it helps when your pop is a master sommelier).
There’s a new Indian restaurant that recently opened in the Marina, Viva Goa (2420 Lombard Street, 415-440-2600). Dishes on the menu include pork vindaloo; rechardo pomfret stuffed with red spice paste; chicken cafreal or xacuti curry; and bebinca for dessert. (There also appears to be a lunch buffet for $8.99.)
Over in the Fillmore, the new Baker & Banker Bakery (1802 Bush Street, 415-351-2500) is now open. The project is from husband-and-wife team Lori Baker and Jeff Banker, and is just around the corner from their restaurant. On the menu: Four Barrel drip coffee and espresso drinks, one or two daily sandwiches, and, of course, baked goods. Morning offerings will include scones, muffins, breakfast breads, and sticky buns, and bakery items will rotate daily and include layer cakes (such as the snickerdoodle cake), a variety of cookies, two to three types of cupcakes (like chocolate salted caramel), brownies, blondies, lemon bars, seasonal crostadas, individual panna cottas, and puddings. There will also be sweet and savory house-made breads available to go, from challah to cinnamon-cherry swirl. Got a party coming up? Whole layer cakes may be ordered by 4 p.m. one day prior to pickup. Hours will be Tuesday–Sunday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
And not too far away, Restaurant Cassis (2101 Sutter Street) closed on August 1 after three years in the location. According to a letter on the Cassis website, a new restaurant called Sweet Maple will be moving in, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week.

Marcia Gagliardi also writes a popular weekly e-column about the S.F. dining scene; subscribe for free at where you can also find her new book. Got a hot tip? E-mail

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