Restaurant News 7/18

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New place for San Mateo: 31st Union just opened in San Mateo in mid-June 2012. Executive Chef Paul Burzlaff, hired by owner and Director of Operations David Hunsaker, will present a small plate format menu showcasing American comfort food prepared with seasonal ingredients, primarily obtained from California sources. The venue was previously home to Bollywood Indian Cuisine.

The name of the restaurant is derived from California being the 31st state to enter the Union, combined with the commitment to sourcing ingredients and libations almost exclusively from within state lines.

Among the notable offerings that will be found on the 31st Union opening menu will be such small bites ($4.00 to $8.00) as Grilled Baby Artichokes and Trio of Deviled Eggs. Among the larger bites ($8.00 to $15.00) will be Lamb Meatballs, Smoked Duck Tacos and Fish & Chips. For dessert, diners can enjoy a house made Ice Cream Sandwich or a Beer Float.

31st Union is located at 5 South Ellsworth Avenue, at the corner of Baldwin, in San Mateo, California. The restaurant will open initially for dinner only, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight.


More small plates, this time Old Oakland in the locale. District Oakland is located at 827 Washington Street, at the corner of Ninth Street. It has been created by restaurateurs Jon D’Angelica, Chris Vance, and Ryan Vance (opened District San Francisco in 2007 and Ironside in 2009 = both places I like a lot) working with Wine Director and Sommelier Caterina Mirabelli and Executive Chef Bob Cina.

Expect: including mushroom pate en croute, braised oxtail sombreros and chèvre stuffed peppadew peppers, apple wood smoked trout, spinach and fontina arancini and Moroccan spiced lamb meatballs, plus pizzettas.

The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to close and on Saturday beginning at 5:00 p.m. (closing times range from midnight to 2:00 a.m.). The daily happy hour from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. (5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays) features $1.00 oysters. Visit District on the Web at Call (510) 272 9110.


I’m most excited about the coming of Shanghai, which will open in San Francisco in mid August, in the location previously home to Mecca on Market Street. It will provide the city with a new dining option showcasing modern Shanghai cuisine prepared with seasonal, locally sourced, and/or organic ingredients. Leo Gan, best known for his work as the opening chef for Shanghai 1930, will head up the kitchen.

The proprietor of Shanghai is Francis Tsai. A native of Shanghai, China, Tsai, now 83 years old, began working in the hospitality industry at age 18 and his eclectic career has included stints as a ballroom dance instructor, running the food division of Pan American Airlines, creating the first discotheque in Hong Kong, and operating Wu Kong Restaurant in San Francisco’s Rincon Center.

Probably 15 years ago, Francis Tsai and I hung out and drank cognac and ate duck tongues. He was the epitome of a gentleman.

Shanghai will be serving dinner Tuesday through Sunday (with a prix fixe option), a dim sum brunch on Saturday and Sunday (service to begin about a month after the restaurant opens), and a late night small plate menu. A specialty of the house will be their private dining and special function capabilities showcasing authentic traditional Shanghai dishes.

The full bar at Shanghai will offer classic, contemporary and original cocktails, the wine list will be international in scope (including Chinese wines), and there will be late night Happy Hour service and a bar bites menu.

Shanghai will be located at 2029 Market Street, between Dolores and 14th Streets, in San Francisco, California.


DINE 7/18

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Mayflower 6255 Geary Boulevard San Francisco (415) 387-8338 Overview:  I am a long-standing customer of Mayflower Restaurant on outer Geary in SF. Not that I go there all the time, but I have been there a half dozen times. One memorable meal, I had geoduck sashimi, served on a plate of ice covered with plastic [...]

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COOK 7/18

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Several years ago, I solicited recipes from the top chefs in the Bay Area, mostly in San Francisco for a unique cookbook. The title was 86 Recipes San Francisco. My job was to get the recipes, edit them, and make sure they worked and were home-cook friendly. The collection was on cards, with the recipe [...]



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On the recent Mission Tour, we enjoyed the fabulous Maple-Bacon-Apple donuts (among others) at Dynamo Donuts. In a block or so, we passed Pop’s, a hipster bar on the corner of 24th St. and Bryant. Outside there was a sign advertising their famous Bacon Bloody Marys. Who knew? Well, it suddenly turned into the bacon [...]


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The CONTEST 6/29/12

On July 1, the sale and production of foie gras will be outlawed in California.

Can you name five countries that have banned the production of foie gras? Deadline is Saturday at midnight.

The prize for the correct answer is the cookbook, Sunday Brunch by Betty Rosbottom, ISBN 978-1-4521-0535-2/ Chronicle Books.

Answer: We had a slew of entrants with the correct answer: The force feeding of animals for non-medical purposes, essential to current foie gras production practices, is explicitly prohibited by specific laws in six of nine Austrian provinces, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Great Britain and Turkey.

The winner, chosen by lot, was Barbara Greaves from San Francisco. I actually know her personally, from when she worked in the Catering dept. of the Fairmont. She received the Sunday Brunch cookbook.


Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.

What actress played Mrs. Teasdale? Name the film.

The prize for the correct answer is the cookbook, Sunday Brunch by Betty Rosbottom, ISBN 978-1-4521-   0535-2/   Chronicle Books.  They sent me another one! (Reviewed this time.)

Deadline is 7/21/12 at midnight.


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In this issue, I have a terrific piece from Betty Teller, and a recipe from my book. I will review three places and rant about another. There’s a cookbook review and some restaurant news. I have two terrific drink recipes and a wine review.  Of course a contest, the tour schedule and pics.




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me and bev

TOURS 7/18

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Here is my schedule: North Beach 7/28, 8/18, 9/1 Eve Chinatown tour    8/4 All my walking tours encompass history, food and culture plus lunch. I can accommodate up to 24 weekdays and I have a 10 person minimum. Beverly and GAW Dear friend and Where To Guide blogger, Beverly Dubrin and her husband Gene [...]

The Starbucks Effect 7/18

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One of my sublime pleasures in Novato is driving a short distance to La Boulange, in the nearby Hamilton shopping center and enjoying a coffee, an almond croissant and the New York Times. Since the center opened, maybe three years ago, the café has provided the Marin Independent Journal and the New York Times, wrapped around long wooden dowels.

A couple of weeks after the sale of the La Boulange chain to Starbucks, the New York Times disappeared and the only paper available was the San Francisco Chronicle.

I emailed the La Boulange founder, Pascal Rigo, now working for Starbucks, and he said he would look into it.

A few days later I got this forwarded message:

“The NY Times daily subscription was renewed for Hamilton and Danville.  Hamilton will start receiving delivery tomorrow, and Danville will start July 14.”

I went to Hamilton July 17 and no New York Times. Phooey.



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CONTEST ONE Last issue the question was: She cooked the very first dinner at this famous East Bay restaurant, left to open a terrific deli, and then became an award-winning cookbook author. Name her. Lorien Smyer of El Cerrito won the prize, the great new book by Anne Willan, The Cookbook Library. She correctly identified [...]