Exciting news at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton (600 Stockton Street, 415-773-6168): after 20 years of a fine-dining format, the esteemed location will close to undergo a makeover and a total reconcepting. The new space will be more approachable, contemporary and less formal; the publicist for the property emphasizes the feeling will be warm and comfortable. Chef Ron Siegel – who has been leading The Dining Room since July 2004 – will create a new dining experience that will offer more flexibility, modernity and simplicity (more details on the menu format soon).
One big change will be the addition of a bar and lounge area in the dining room featuring handcrafted cocktails and small plates designed to appeal as much to locals as to visitors. The plan is to create a lively and prominent bar, with a fun environment that will spill over a bit into the actual dining room. A chef’s table and a glassed-in private dining room are also planned. (When all is said and done, there will be 146 seats total.)
There will be two entrances to the restaurant, either a direct (and more prominent) entrance from the porte-cochere or through the lobby. Speaking of the lobby (and lobby lounge), those two spaces are slated for some upcoming renovations down the road as well.
The redesign will begin after Sept. 15, and the reopening should be before year-end. Note: in honor of Siegel’s groundbreaking salt-and-pepper tasting menu, it will be available once again from Aug. 9 through Sept. 15.
Over in Cow Hollow, there are changes underway in the kitchen at Café des Amis (2000 Union Street, 415-563-7700): Bacchus Management Group has brought in chef Mark Sullivan (chef-partner of Spruce and The Village Pub) to overhaul the menu, while partner Gordon Drysdale is now overseeing the company’s Pizza Antica restaurants. Sullivan expects the menu to really reflect substantial changes in October.
The Marina has two new projects on the horizon: first is Cedar Hill (3242 Scott Street) from chef Jon Rietz and Emily Lai, opening in the former Noodle Theory space. The Southern menu will include classics like brisket and pulled pork, and there’s talk of curing their own bacon and smoking fish. The 50-seat space will offer counter service during the day with table service in the evening, and there will also be a few sidewalk tables as well so people walking by can see you chowing down on smoked pork chops. The current targeted opening date is reportedly around Labor Day.
I’m beginning to imagine a huge burger mother ship over the City, beaming down its progeny into each neighborhood. The next burger outpost will be zapped into the Marina, with Super Duper (2001 Chestnut Street) opening another location in the Johnny Rockets space.
Fans of the salads and sandwiches from Blue Barn Gourmet will be able to actually sit down to enjoy them at a second location the Blue Barn crew (chef Sam Josi, Nate Valentine and Stryker Scales) will open in the Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen space (2237 Polk Street) on Russian Hill. There will be 30 seats inside, and they hope some outside as well. Menu offerings will expand – they plan to add rotisserie chicken. Timing is contingent on the ABC, so it could open the beginning of October, or it could take all the way to 2012. I’ll keep you posted.
Sandwich lovers should know Cotogna (490 Pacific Avenue, 415-775-8508) is now making boxed lunches to go during the week. On offer is a sandwich and salad (or soup) combination, like Tuscan fried chicken sandwich with Calabrian chile and pickled fennel slaw, along with fusilli salad (with cherry tomato and mozzarella), and there’s also a porchetta sandwich that has been on rotation. Available Monday through Friday for $12, limited quantity (about 50 a day), so when they run out, they run out!
One more sandwich for you: over in the Inner Richmond, Cafe Bunn Mi (417 Clement Street, 415-668-8908) opened in the former Java Restaurant space, serving duck banh mi, along with pho, rice plates and more.
Please note yours truly will be taking a dream trip to Turkey in September, so I won’t be writing an October column for you. Don’t cry too hard – I will see you in November!
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular weekly dining e-column at www.tablehopper.com and has a book about dining and drinking in San Francisco. Her new website, www.deepdishing.com, highlights the City’s best dishes. E-mail hot tips to email@example.com.