Carnelian Room closing; the latest affordable eats (sorry, no view)
By Marcia Gagliardi
The Carnelian Room (555 California Street, 415-433-7500), the old-school restaurant known for its mega views (and Grand Marnier soufflés) at the top of the Bank of America building, will close after almost 40 years in business. The restaurant is serving its last Caesar salad on December 31, 2009. Best of luck to the staff, many of them long-term employees.
Another shuttering: Based on permit changes, I discovered the that Argentine steakhouse in North Beach, El Raigon (510 Union Street, 415-291-0927), is closing. The location will become the casa for Don Pisto’s (Don Pisto’s was previously trying to take over the vacant North Beach Lobster Shack space). It looks like El Raigon will close in October, and they have hopes of reopening elsewhere, perhaps in wine country.
How about some promising news? Big 4 (1075 California Street, 415-771-1140) in the Huntington Hotel has reopened for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays only. Nob Hill ladies who lunch – rejoice! Lunch is served between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The bar is open all day on those two days as well – convenient for fans of two-martini lunches.
Another opening: a new dessert cafe in the coming weeks, Delise (327 Bay Street). I’m especially excited about this project because Dennis and Eloise Leung are behind it – they used to run the pastry kitchen of Bong Su in SoMa before it closed down, and they are wicked talented. The site mentions “healthy gourmet pastries and frozen desserts that are lovingly handcrafted in small batches daily. We only use the highest quality ingredients, which are organic, sustainable and sourced from local producers whenever possible.” I also heard they will serve coffee from Four Barrel and gourmet ice cream. I’ll keep you posted on the opening date.
And now, some tidbits in the Financial District. First, there’s a new taco truck in the mix: look for Kung Fu Tacos parked at Sansome and Jackson during the week, doing up Chinese tacos with fillings like char siu (BBQ pork), mu shu vegetable and duck, stuffed in La Palma tortillas. They usually serve Monday–Friday from 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. (or until they run out). Follow their Twitter feed (twitter.com/kungfutacos) for other locations, new menu items, and other news.
More FiDi bites: Batter Bakery (you may know these treats from Blue Fog Market and Stable) opened a kiosk in a former flower stand (555 California Street, 415-706-8076). There are breakfast treats (muffins, scones, quick breads, coffeecake) and desserts (lots of cookies, brownies/bars, cupcakes, biscotti, shortbread); flavor varieties change weekly. They also plan to do some fun, ready-made mixed boxes for people to pick up for office breakfasts or meetings. Hours are Monday–Friday from 7 a.m.–4 p.m. to start.
A few affordable bites around town: Let’s Be Frank (3318 Steiner Street, 415-675-6755) in the Marina offers beers for $2 on Mondays when you order a dog from 4 p.m. until closing. And don’t forget, on Tuesdays you get any two dogs for just $8, all day. But Wednesday is the day I really want to swing by because they have an Alsatian Dog, a family-farmed pork bratwurst with house-made choucroute (a blend of sauerkraut, roasted onions, bacon, juniper, bay, and allspice simmered in wine and beer). Woof.
And just across the street from SPQR, Fraîche Yogurt (1910 Fillmore Street, 415-674-6876) from Palo Alto opened in the other half of the space next to Woodhouse Fish Co. You can choose from house-made and organic fresh or frozen yogurt, plus soy yogurt, and there’s hand-shaved Callebaut chocolate as a topping. Be sure to check it out for breakfast, when you can get start your day with fresh yogurt, French press coffee, and steel-cut oats.
With the weather turning to fall (or if you live in the Sunset, you’re always ready for comfort food), you might want to consider checking out the newish 99-seat Parkside Tavern (1940 Taraval Street, 415-731-8900). It has a pressed tin ceiling, lots of mahogany and brass, and a warm and cozy feel that was intended to continue the space’s legacy as a welcoming neighborhood joint. Larry Doyle (who was the chef at Johnny Foley’s Irish House in Union Square) has put together a menu of “San Francisco pub food,” as he’s calling it, with items made from scratch and sustainably sourced. You can eat apps like a trio of mini Tavern hot dogs with herb chicken, spicy lamb and British banger ($8); smoked salmon and boxty pancake with dill cream and scallions ($8); a soup of the day and a couple salads; a variety of pies, like Niman Ranch beef with a mashed potato crust ($12) or traditional chicken pot pie, and there’s even a vegetarian version with quinoa and a cheddar-mashed potato crust ($10). The seafood in the fish and chips is sustainable, and there are some steaks from hormone- and antibiotic-free beef. There’s also a happy hour from 3–6 p.m., with $5 appetizers like chili-crusted calamari, Irish cheddar mac ‘n cheese, Anchor Steamed mussels, and Buffalo chicken wings, plus $3 domestic draft beers. There’s weekend brunch, too!
Marcia Gagliardi also writes a popular weekly e-column about the S.F. dining scene; subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.