Northside SF  

October '09

The Tablehopper
It's a new year with new places to visit
By Marcia Gagliardi

Atelier Crenn (3127 Fillmore Street, 415-440-0460) opened last month in the former PlumpJack Cafe space. Chef-owner Dominique Crenn (previously of Luce) offers a modern French prix fixe menu (three courses for $59, five for $75, and a tasting menu for $95), which allows diners to pick and choose dishes. Nancy Nielsen designed the space with a minimalist sensibility – including custom light fixtures and potted fig trees – with room for 40 in the dining room (there is also a private garden room). Hours are 6–10 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday.

Also in Cow Hollow, The Brixton (2140 Union Street, 415-409-1114) has opened in the former Left at Albuquerque space, with a casual menu of burgers, flatbreads, main dish salads, pastas like gnocchi and a lamb Bolognese, roasted chicken, and a cocktail menu with drinks ringing in under $10. Hours are 11 a.m.–1 a.m.

In the Marina, there has been a big chef change-up at A16 (2355 Chestnut Street, 415-771-2216). Executive chef Liza Shaw has left after being there since it opened in 2004. Shaw is off to do some traveling to a chef event at Seresin Winery in New Zealand and to visit her brother in Switzerland, whom, she said in an e-mail, “lives in Bruson, near Verbier, which is very close to the Italian border, so it will be a good home base for lots of trips.”). Buon viaggio, signorina Shaw. Chef de cuisine David Taylor has been promoted to executive chef.

And five months after his own promotion to executive chef, Ben Cohn at Spruce (3640 Sacramento Street, 415-931-5100) has stepped down for personal reasons and to spend time with his new baby and wife. Mark Sullivan remains in the kitchen, as before, and will continue to be the culinary leader as chef-partner. There is no word at this time about a replacement
for Cohn.

Over on Fillmore Street, chef-owner Kirk Webber is closing Café Kati (1963 Sutter Street, 415-775-7313) in mid-March. Sadly, he is recovering from a terrible disease, necrotizing fasciitis, so has decided to close. A new business will take its place, Roostertail Rotisserie from Gerardo Castillo. And just up the street, Tango Gelato (2015 Fillmore Street) has closed – reportedly a Vietnamese restaurant and sandwich shop is taking
its place.

Not too far away, Bistro SF Grill (2819 California Street, 415-409-6410) has opened in the old Annie’s Bistro. The gourmet burger spot features in-house seasoned/mixed meats made from local and free-range Sonoma meat (except the bison, which comes from Wyoming), and offers everything from jalapeño turkey burgers to patties with chicken, wild salmon, lamb, boar, and venison (all priced $6–$10). Some newcomers on the menu are halal and American Kobe beef options. There are also a few sandwiches, including a grilled chicken, smoked trout, and vegetarian version made with mushrooms, plus a few salads as well. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Wanna perk up? Head on over to Contraband Coffee Bar (1415 Larkin Street, 415-839-7388), a 30-seat cafe in the former John Barleycorn space. They have a Hydra espresso machine and a Versalab grinder, which they use for both their single-origin espresso and blends. The coffee is roasted in the East Bay with their roasting partner, Vincent Virzi. The focus is on fair-trade and organic beans, whenever possible, and they are very attuned to tracing the beans to specific microlots. The space features a communal table for 8–10, window seating, and a European-style walk-up bar. While the focus is primarily coffee, there are also empanadas, peasant pies, and pastries from Mission Beach Cafe, and donuts from Dynamo Donut.

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 first book. Got a hot tip? E-mail .

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