The President’s son was in town for a Nob Hill meet-and-greet
Donald Trump, Jr. — while no fan of San Francisco’s political and cultural tendencies — doesn’t appear immune to the city’s gastronomic charms. The president’s large adult son dined with about 15 others at Pacific Heights restaurant Sorrel this week, following a meet-and-greet fundraiser event on Nob Hill this Wednesday.
Sorrel, which recently received a Michelin star, opened at 3228 Sacramento Street in 2018. There, chef Alex Hong and partner Colby Heiman have quickly made a name for their restaurant: Hong was a 2019 James Beard Award nominee for rising star chef.
According to a representative for the restaurant, the business was unaware of the nature of the recent dinner, which was booked by another attendee, until the day before it took place. The situation highlights the difficulty for restaurants, such as the Red Hen, when caught in today’s political fray. Instead of refusing service, Sorrel employees were given the option not to participate in the dinner, and proceeds from the evening are being donated to charity.
As the Examiner reports, Trump Jr. was in San Francisco to lead a local Trump 2020 fundraiser, for which tickets were $35,000 a person. The bill included Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, ex-wife of Gavin Newsom and former San Francisco first lady turned Fox News commentator. The event, held at the home of Giants part-owner Debby Magowan, was co-hosted by other Trump supporters like local rich person Dede Wilsey, a longtime leader of the SF Fine Arts Museums who recently relinquished her position to spend more time with her Maltese dogs.
Of course, Trump Jr. isn’t the only high-profile political diner fundraising and eating his way through wealthy San Francisco these day. Recently, senator Elizabeth Warren was out at downtown restaurant Ayala, a seafood-focused establishment led by executive chef Melissa Perfit.
Reliable Mission bagel and coffee shop Katz has been temporarily closed over a “severe rodent infestation” turned up during a routine inspection by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The business at 3147 16th Street has been suspended for posing an “imminent health risk” and must address the infestation and call the DPH for a re-inspection, as is routine, before it may reopen to the public.
Known for its large winged bagel sign, Katz is a cash-only cafe and bakery that’s one of San Francisco’s precious few bagel producers. Recently, the city’s bagel landscape has begun to change, with newcomers like Wise Sons Bagel and Daily Driver shaking up the scene. Katz can rejoin the fray when it shapes up its act: Health Department inspectors write that they observed “an accumulation of rat-droppings throughout floor of front and back of facility .... [and] on shelves next to disposable cups, cup holders, bags of coffee beans, and directly on oven where oven door is located where bagels are made.”
In recent months, health inspectors have closed several other Mission District food businesses for rodent infestations. Other culprits have included grocery and sandwich shop favorite Duc Loi and brunch restaurant Mission Beach Cafe: Duc Loi has since reopened, but Mission Beach Cafe’s closure is permanent, with its owner also served eviction papers.
The Hog’s Apothecary wills serve its last sausages and beers at brunch this Sunday, closing in Temescal after a seven-year run. Owner John Streit made the announcement “with an extremely heavy heart” on Facebook this afternoon, thanking customers for their patronage over the years.
“We’ve made so many friends over the years here and to all of you that have made it possible, we want to send a huge thank you,” Streit wrote, encouraging fans to stop by and say goodbye through the weekend.
Streit tells the East Bay Times a number of factors ailed the Hog’s Apothecary, but that ultimately the numbers just didn’t work. Rising rent, minimum wag, and sagging sales were the problems, and difficulty like smash-and-grab car break-ins in the neighborhood may have dissuaded some would-be customers. To Berkeleyside, Streit elaborates that a recent lull in sales prompted the suddenness of the closure.
Local beer fans are likely to remember “the Hog” as an early leader in the Temescal beer scene, and to toast it with a beer and some cured pork belly and beef burgers this weekend.
After the announcement, the Basque Culinary Center hosted a full day of panels in a sustainability-themed symposium with some of the world’s most notable chefs, including Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana to Dominique Crenn. Myint hosted a panel discussing his now award-winning foundation focused on improving carbon emissions in farming. But the most attended panel of the day was the one hosted by Massimo Bottura, Eteko Atxa of Bilbao’s three Michelin-star Azurmendi, Tokyo’s Yoshihiro Narisawa of Les Creations des Narisawa, Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, and Dominique Crenn of Atelier and Bar Crenn here in San Francisco.
The panel was called “Forward Thinking,” a loose collection of ten minute speeches from each of the chefs on their perspective of the impact and power of sustainability, followed by a short discussion and brief Q&A. Anyone who follows international fine dining restaurants closely likely had their mind blown from the star-power of that particular panel, though the five speeches were a little less focused, and somewhat difficult to follow as Atxa and Aduriz spoke in their quick-firing native Spanish, with audience members following along via live translation.
Massimo Bottura speaking at the Basque Culinary Center’s “Forward Thinking” seminar in San Francisco
Massimo was arguably the most charismatic and most famous of the bunch — his World’s 50 Best list-topping restaurant Osteria Francescana featured as the premiere episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table — focused on his main perspective of sustainability: the problem of food waste. Here are some of his best lines from the speech:
On the impact of fine dining establishments: “We discovered that beauty can rebuild the dignity of people. Today, fine dining restaurants are in the spotlight more than ever. Chefs have the responsibility to be a tangible example of sustainability. Chefs have a responsibility to send out that message. To study, research, and apply new ideas and techniques to fight food waste.”
On how thinking like a grandmother makes a big impact on food waste: “We need to break habits, often going beyond what we already know. A grandmother, using an overripe tomato or two-day old bread, is an important cultural approach. It’s about knowledge, vision, the past, and passion. It’s about asking the right ingredients. An overripe tomato can become a beautiful red tomato sauce. Old bread can become a panzanella, or bread crumbs. Sustainability is a mindset.”
Meanwhile, Eteko Atxa focused his speech (translated from Spanish) on introducing healthy eating on institutions, such as a providing a local hospital with recipe books and nutritional guidelines.
On how a simple, local approach can make an impact: “With a healthy cooking book, we created very simple menus with products you can find in a supermarket.”
The rest of Atxa’s somewhat meandering speech touched on the small impact cooks can make on local communities, using humble plans to improve the situation for everyone from diners to farmers.
Massimo Bottura, Eteko Atxa, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Dominique Crenn at the “Forward Thinking” seminar hosted by the Basque Culinary Center
Yoshihiro Narisawa gave a prepared speech in English, starting first with the contrast of Tokyo and the Japanese countryside. Here’s some of the best lines he gave yesterday afternoon:
On Tokyo versus the Japanese countryside: “I love Tokyo and Japan, but I’m a bit worried. Tokyo and the countryside are totally different. When I go to the countryside, there’s no waste. They don’t throw anything away. They even use eggshells and the remaining vegetables for breakfast in different in beautiful ways. This is the beauty of Japan.”
On cherishing what each country can bring to the idea of sustainability: “As a chef, I like to send this message to people through my dishes. Everyone likes yummy food, right? You want to be healthy, right? You want to live long, right? I’m happy with my job because I can use fantastic ingredients to cook delicious dishes. I am sure you love your country. Each country has many good ideas. Countryside and cityside, I hope chefs continue to send good, tasty, happy messages by mixing traditional culture in today’s society for the future.”
Andoni Luis Aduriz’s take on sustainability focused on personal health and the problem of obesity. Here’s some of his best lines:
“Who has teeth implants? Who has progressive glasses?...When you have an implant, it feels weird, you can’t bite [the same]. When I had my progressive glasses the ophthalmologist told me not to drive because I could get sick. When you change something, what happens? It’s when you integrate something that you learn one more time. Your brain needs to learn how to see in a different way, bite in a different way. It’s the same thing here with ideas. To integrate ideas, you’re going to get confused.”
Aduriz related his quest for sustainability with regards to obesity: “According to all indicators at the state, around 36.6% of [Spain’s] population is overweight. Me, for example. 16% of the popular is obese. 13 million people are overweight, 5 million are obese. Lots of people are overweight.”
Dominique Crenn provided perhaps the highest shock value and verve to her talk, which opened with a lengthy montage of various industry folks and friends saying, “wake up,” in an amateur video. Here are some of her best lines:
On the impact of her cancer diagnosis: “I had my wake up call because I had to start thinking about all the smallest details of my life. I gave up coffee. I gave up rosé. I gave up meat, sugar, and most dairy. We only have 12 years to act on climate change, according to the U.N. 12 years is nothing.”
Crenn then related sustainability to her upcoming restaurant and takeaway at the ground floor of the Sales Force Tower called Boutique Crenn:
“We will strive to be zero waste. No to-go bags or coffee cups. I don’t want to see any plastic. Bring your own cup. If you need a bag to carry food home, bring your own. If a guest asks for a bag or coffee, we might lose a customer. I don’t need their money for that. Remember, it’s time to wake up. The fight we are up against is a big one. We need to do dramatic things to move forward. Be ready to piss some people off for their own good.”
This panel concluded with a brief discussion, with notable quotes coming from Narisawa, who said in Japanese: “The public doesn’t share the danger or risk that we need. Everyone has to have the notion of the danger and risks that we are taking as chefs and restaurateurs.”
Photo by Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
Ending a melted cheese drought in September
There’s a rescue underway at San Francisco’s sole Swiss fondue restaurant, the Matterhorn, which closed last year to the dismay of regulars. Longtime owners Brigitte and Andrew Thorpe stuck a long fork in their business last fall, retiring after more than 25 years on Van Ness. But fortunately for lovers of melted cheese, new operators are taking their place, reviving the Matterhorn with an opening planned for September.
Natalie and Jason Horwath are now in charge of the space at 2323 Van Ness, which they’ll run as both a restaurant and a bakery. The married couple are fondue enthusiasts who lived for a few years in Switzerland, and previously ran SF fondue and raclette pop-up Sbrinz.
Right now, the Horwaths are busy making updates to the Matterhorn’s kitchen and dining room, adding an oven in which they’ll bake their own naturally leavened bread for cheese-dipping. They’ll also turn out more baked goods like pretzels and pastries for daytime sales. They’ll source cheeses directly from farms throughout Switzerland and France, and to fill out the menu, they’ll incorporate cuisines from other alpine regions in Europe.
The Horwarths are also making a few aesthetic updates to the space “to create the best and most authentically alpine dining experience possible.” It’s already a fairly immersive chalet experience thanks to the building’s landlord, a Swiss national, who opened the Matterhorn himself in 1987 before turning over operations to the Thorpes. He imported the dining room’s knotty pine wood from Switzerland, building out the walls and booths of the restaurant himself.
Now, to really punctuate that Alpine feel, the Horwaths have purchased a gondola chair, which they’ll treat as a booth at the restaurant. When the Matterhorn reopens this September, hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with morning hours for coffee and pastry from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
They’re now serving silog and more on South Van Ness
Tselogs is now serving its popular array of meat and garlic fried rice plates to Mission District customers. The Daly City-born Filipino food business, which has also delighted late-night SF diners with lechon and lumpia at a hole-in-the-wall Tenderloin location since 2016, has opened the doors to a much larger local outpost at 518 South Van Ness Avenue.
The new Mission Tselogs serves the restaurant’s established menu of assorted silogs, or meat dishes with a side of fried rice topped by a runny egg (which gives Tselogs its logo). There’s chicken sisigsilog (chopped, cast iron-grilled chicken with rice and egg), spamsilog (fried spam with rice and egg), and more varieties, plus noodle dishes like pancit bihon, and dessert like buko pie, a sweet custard with young coconut.
Proprietor Chel Gilla opened the original Tselogs in Daly City in 2008: An immigrant from the Philippines, she arrived in the heavily Filipino Daly City area as a teenager, where she tells KQED she was struck by the prevalence of Filipino foods and ingredients. Before starting her own business, Gilla was on the team that opened the first US location of Filipino fast food phenomenon Jollibee — which was, of course, in Daly City.
The new SF Tselogs location has room for 49 diners, which is far more than typically crowd around the small counter at Tselogs’ Tenderloin outpost. According to Gilla, they’re serving a beer and wine menu on South Van Ness, too.
Current hours in the Mission don’t quite match the night owl heights of the Tenderloin, but they’ll expand: For now, they’re 10 a.m. to 8 p.m Tuesday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and closed Sunday and Monday.
Quinoa bowl-serving Eatsa, closed for purported updates since early spring, doesn’t appear likely to reopen after all. The business, which heralded itself as “the future of restaurants,” allegedly owes more than $24,00 in unpaid rent — funds its landlord demands in a letter posted outside the restaurant at 121 Spear Street.
Eatsa’s owner, Keenwawa, Inc., has five days to pay Hudson Pacific Properties or quit the premises and surrender its possessions to the landlord — presumably items like ordering kiosks and kitchen equipment. Failure to pay rent or deliver possessions “will cause [the] landlord to initiate legal proceedings for unlawful detainer” to recover rent, damages, and attorney’s fees for the cost of the suit, an attorney for the landlord writes.
Eatsa began serving downtown customers at Rincon Center in 2015, offering inexpensive, mostly vegetarian breakfast and lunch bowls in a space-age white interior. Patrons ordered by tapping on iPad kiosks, retrieving their portobello mushroom burrito bowls through small lockers whose high-tech screens lit up with customers’ names.
But Eatsa was never the fully-automated, robotic restaurant for which it was sometimes mistaken. Human workers, though invisible to customers, were nonetheless busy behind the scenes, preparing and packaging breakfast and lunch. Considered historically, as by 99 Percent Invisible’s Avery Trufulman, Eatsa’s “future of restaurants” bore a conspicuous resemblance to the past, drawing comparisons to the once ubiquitous automats of the 1950s and 60s.
Since its 2015 debut, Eatsa expanded operations with two more Bay Area locations, as well as short-lived outposts in NYC and Washington, DC. According to representatives for Eatsa, the company closed those locations to focus on its underlying technology, which it sells to other restaurants like SF mac and cheese business Mac’d.
In February, Eatsa told Eater SF that its Rincon Center location was closed temporarily but would reopen soon. Eater SF has reached out for further updates and will provide them accordingly.
Selby’s is opening July 23 with steaks, martinis, and caviar
Bacchus Management, the team behind upscale restaurants like Spruce and the Saratoga, is set to open in the tony town of Atherton on July 23. Selby’s is the group’s interpretation of a “continental American” restaurant, dripping with indulgent decor and serving a menu to match.
Atherton isn’t recognized as a dining destination; it’s better known as a bedroom community to Silicon Valley where executives and their families live on tree-lined streets. The restaurant space where Selby’s will open has served as the community’s main hangout for years, starting out as Johnny’s in 1938, followed by Barbarossa, and then Chantilly, which closed in 2017 after 43 years. Now in 2019, the building at 3001 El Camino Real is largely surrounded by commercial property and residences, not as part of “downtown” development.
“That’s the challenge,” says Bacchus CEO Tim Stannard, who also lives in Atherton. “You end up needing to be a lot of different things to a lot of different people.”
“How do you create a restaurant that can simultaneously host somebody that’s on a casual date night with their wife and six feet away somebody is celebrating their 50th wedding and then others are having a business dinner and celebrating an IPO?”
The answer is a menu from chef Mark Sullivan that jumps from chilled jumbo prawns with cocktail sauce ($19) and a classic wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese dressing ($15) to a dry-aged roast crown of duck for two ($98) and a black label burger with Époisses and Australian black truffle ($50). Steaks range from an eight ounce butcher ‘s cut ($31) to the 40/40 porterhouse ($165). (Check out the full menus below.)
The list of “house cocktails” sticks to the classics, too, like Aperol spritzes and the Brown Derby No. 2 with bourbon, grapefruit, lemon, honey and bitters, all for $15. In a nod to the dining room theatrics of the ‘40s, a martini cart will deliver what the menu calls “the coldest martini on the West Coast,” as well as a classic Vesper.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition: retro glamour embedded the land of technology and Soylent. Will that crowd buy in to the charms of a braised rabbit vol-au-ent with sauce allemande?
“We’re not believers in trends, we don’t chase what’s the newest, hottest hippest trend,” says Stannard of his restaurant group. “All our restaurants are built around more classic sensibilities. There’s a reason things become classic: Because they’re really good.”
It’s the first wine country restaurant for the prolific chef
Chef Michael Mina has been expanding his collection of restaurants across the company, significantly growing the empire he started with his Michelin-starred San Francisco fine dining flagship, Michael Mina. Now he’s heading to wine country for the first time with the opening of Wit & Wisdom Tavern at the Lodge at Sonoma.
It’s set to open in 2020 in what was previously the Carneros Bistro; the entire resort is undergoing a remodel. The concept itself isn’t new: Wit & Wisdom first opened in Baltimore in 2012, serving a “modern American” focused on wood-grilled meats and seafood. It closed in 2018.
According to Mina’s team, the menu in Sonoma will be similar, with dishes coming from a Josper charcoal oven, a pizza oven, and wood-burning stove. The name and concept come from SF’s own American hero Jack London, whose collection of personal writings shares the name. The design of the restaurant will somehow reference those writings; there’ll also be an outdoor terrace for dining and and a bocce ball court in accordance with the unwritten law that wine country restaurants include winsome recreational amenities.
Mina has several other projects in the works in the Bay Area, including a Bourbon Pub at Tahoe’s Northstar resort, a restaurant in the Guaymas space in Tiburon, and a Bourbon Pub at SFO; elsewhere, Pabu is planned to open in Nashville, and International Smoke — the restaurateur’s collaboration with Ayesha curry — has opened in Houston, San Diego, and Miami.
Its original Hayes Valley location closed late last year
Sauce on Belden will close after seven years, just months after its older, Hayes Valley sibling shut its doors.
In an email announcement, Sauce’s owners, brothers Nathan, Matt, and Trip Hosley and chef Ben Paula, wrote that they’ve chosen not to renew the restaurant’s lease, with plans to close on July 26. That means just nine more days for fans of Sauce, which is closed on the weekends.
The original Sauce (131 Gough Street) closed in September 2018 after owners chose to sell the building and close the restaurant and nine-room hotel, Sleep Over Sauce, within it for $3,825,000.At the time, chef/partner Ben Paula told Eater SF that they were lucky to have the option to sell the space to a new owner, who will lease it to a yet unknown restaurateur.
That leaves San Francisco sans Sauce entirely, though the four owners also have properties in upstate New York that they say will continue to operate per usual. There could also be other projects in the work from the foursome, who hinted to Hoodline in 2018 that they’d like to open some fast-casual spots around SF.
Fans of the restaurant’s ebullient brand of comfort food — think a bowl of bacon, crab rolls, chicken parm, and portabello mushroom fries – stop by 11:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for a last taste.