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James Beard loves San Francisco, Chalkboard reinvents the Cyrus space, and more news and scuttlebutt from the Bay Area food scene.

Chalkboard at Hotel Les Mars
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Abbot Cellar's new crispy cauliflower
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Sonoko Sakai with finished noodles
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Muka in progress
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Awards Season
First off, a big congrats to the local James Beard Foundation Awards winners, announced last night at New York’s Lincoln Center. We had an especially good turnout, after getting stiffed last year. State Bird Provisions won Best New Restaurant (Yes, that’s best in the whole country!), Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien nabbed the Rising Star Chef of the Year, Christopher Kostow of Meadowood took home the Best Chef: West award, and Michael Mina was induced into the Who’s Who in Food and Beverage. Further applause is in order for Mandarin cuisine pioneer Cecilia Chiang, who won the lifetime-achievement award, and Sebastopol’s Merry Edwards Winery for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. 

Openings, Revamps, and Evolutions
The list of new Healdsburg food-and-wine businesses (Pizzando , Taverna Sofia, Bravas Bar de Tapas, Shed, Partake) keeps getting longer with the opening of Chalkboard (29 North Street) today in the Hotel Les Mars. Chalkboard marks the next chapter in the saga of Bill Foley’s hotel restaurant—a story that went through a rocky period last year when Foley and former tenant, Michelin-two-starred Cyrus Restaurant, parted ways after several eviction notices and lawsuits. As you can see in the picture above, the trappings of fine dining are totally gone from the space. The new décor, designed by Catherine Macfee, includes an open kitchen, washed white oak floors, a communal table made out of old oak and a chalkboard menu. Chef Shane McAnnelly, last seen at Va de Vi, will oversee a menu of casual small plates driven by Sonoma-grown ingredients—many of them from Foley’s Chalk Hill Winery estate. Fried squash blossoms ($9), roasted trout ($14) and warm donut holes ($8) are all on the opening menu—a far cry from the caviar parfaits and birthday bongs of yesteryear. Chalkboard is open for dinner service to start with lunch coming in July.

Muka dessert lounge  (370 Grove Street) is moving forward on its total revamp of The Blue Muse in Hayes Valley. Owner Jean-Luc Kayigire’s liquor license was just activated, but it looks like construction is still a way off from completion. There’s already a Muka in the Tenderloin area at 1345 Bush, but this Hayes Valley edition will have the added bonus of its strategic position right by the opera, symphony and ballet—so you can drop in for a drink and some sweets or a cheese plate after the show. Watch Facebook for updates.

Matt Cohen keeps diving deeper and deeper into his Off the Grid street food phenom. His latest creation? Off the Cove, an AT&T park food party created in partnership with the SF Giants. Billed as “the ultimate pre-game tail-gate,” the new event launches today with 13 vendors (Alicia’s Tamales, El Sur, Hapa SF, Kiyaa, Koja Kitchen, Los Mayas, Onigilly, Pacific Puffs, Sanguchon, Senor Sisig, The Chairman, The Crème Brulee Cart, The Rib Whip, Sam’s Chowder Mobile) and an outdoor beer garden. You don’t even have to go to the game to experience Off the Cove, but there is a special ticket package with lots of extra goodies. Find more details here.

William Werner’s 11-month-old Craftsman and Wolves continues to evolve this month with the addition of beer and wine and more savory options. There’s also a new market stall at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market which started this past weekend, right by MarketBar. Due to the new list of alcoholic options, the café will stay open until 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. A few of the new savory items rolling out this week are an angus beef and oyster mushroom sloppy joe on a miso potato bun ($11), a house ricotta and vegetable whole wheat lavash tart ($8), carnitas and manchego mac n’ cheese ($11), and ocean trout verrine with preserved lemon and pancetta ($6).

Two last things
Abbot’s Cellar has a new “At the Bar” menu, available from 5:30 to 7 p.m. every night. This week, chef Adam Dulye is offering meatballs, duck rillette and crispy cauliflower, all priced under $9

Japanese food guru and writer Sonoko Sakai is in town for just about another month doing demos and collaborative dinners around town. She’ll be making a soba dish at a dinner with Nick Balla at Bar Tartine on May 28. (Call the restaurant for reservations.) Then there’s an udon noodle-making class at SF Cooking School on June 2 (more here), and a workshop on soy and tofu at the Japanese Community Center (more here) on June 1.

 

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