Fans of Ceri Smith and her popular Russian Hill wine shop, Biondivino, have been anxiously awaiting the opening of her new enoteca/wine salon, Et Al. (2255 Polk Street, 415-655-3155). It’s just around the corner from Biondivino and is close to being finished. The classically European space (with a cheeky twist) is decked out in navy blue and white, with white leather chairs and bench seats made of sailboat material, a jaunty striped awning, and vintage Paul Iribe prints from the 1930s on the navy and white paneled walls.
Smith also had a huge custom chandelier made of wineglasses that look like they are falling to the ground from the high ceiling and that pick up the sparkle of the plastic Kartell stools, plus there are small industrial globe lights. The wide-plank wood floor was set in an eye-catching chevron pattern, and there’s a burl-wood table in the front window niche with room for six to eight (the other tables are Carrara marble). The grown-up space feels casual yet elegant, and the only flaw I can find is that it’s going to be so dang popular that it’ll always be full. It’s gawjus.
Because the space will be open all day (7 a.m.–midnight), you can start by ordering some espresso (from famed roaster Gianni Frasi of Giamaica Caffè) off the Faema E61 at the illuminated onyx bar. In addition to wonderful teas from Bellocq in New York, there will be hot drinks like the Torinese bicerin (a layered drink of espresso, chocolate and whole milk) — great complements to those decadent bakery treats, canelé de Bordeaux!
Known for her extensive wine knowledge and excellent palate, Smith will be doing a list that extends far beyond Biondivino’s Italian focus. The list will include Sherries, Madeiras, Rosés, a large selection of Riesling, Champagne, Georgian wine (served in the classic piala ceramic bowl), and Italian wines as well. There will be tasting-size glasses to go with particular dishes, too.
You’ll be able to choose from a variety of hand-sliced meats (like prosciutto and pata negra) and cheeses both from and selected by Soyoung Scanlan of Andante Dairy. Amaryll Schwertner and Lori Regis of Boulette’s Larder will also be putting together some savory bites to complement the wines. Dishes being discussed include crespelle with wild mushrooms and burrata, a custard sformato with meats or vegetables, brandade with crostini, and you can order both frico and a chickpea socca (with herbs and sea salt) off the unconventional crêpe griddle. Also, of course, boulettes (meatballs) of lamb or pork in warm jus.
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Looks like the MacNiven brothers (of Woodhouse Fish Co. and West of Pecos) will be opening Woodhouse Fish Co. on Marina Green — if they get the necessary city approvals. The space is the historic Marina degaussing station, which demagnetized ships to avoid triggering mines, and has a smashing view of the Golden Gate Bridge (and hello, the upcoming America’s Cup races). Some chowder on the outdoor patio sounds mighty fine. Stand by to see if they clear all the hurdles to get this going. (Read more details on this from the October 2012 issue.)
Speaking of the Marina Green, it’s time for an update on the Dynamo Donut and Coffee kiosk I mentioned a while back. Permits were finally approved in August, so an opening before the new year is planned. The location is just off Baker Street at Marina Boulevard on the Marina Green.
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Hot off the roaster: North Beach is getting a new cafe, and it looks like an especially cute one — Beacon Coffee & Pantry (805 Columbus Avenue, 415-814-2551) is ready to open this fall. The project comes from Alexis Liu and Christian Chan, cousins with a colorful background in design. The space is about 1,000 square feet, with 12-foot ceilings. It is designed in one open space, but features two distinct components: the café and the pantry. The café will have coffee from Sightglass and both savory and sweet baked goods. The pantry will feature specialty, grocery-type items, like pastas, grains, candy, chocolates, preserves, and snacks, most of them from local producers. There will also be an indoor succulent wall with more than 1,300 plants. The cousins want the space to inspire creativity and will feature a “Beacon Spotlight” in the storefront, with rotating local artists. They’ll be open Monday–Friday 7 a.m.–7 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Nearby in Chinatown, Lai Hong Lounge (1416 Powell Street, 415-397-2290), the dim sum spot that took over the Lichee Garden (RIP) space, is a branch of the fab Hong Kong Lounge on Geary. Yup, gotta check it out!
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The number of new bakery projects just keeps on churning — due to open in Lower Nob Hill in spring 2013 will be Flour + Co (1030 Hyde Street) from Emily Day (most recently the director of operations for La Boulange). It will be a modern American bakery featuring classic baked goods, from savory to sweet, but with “ingredients making the statement.” There will be coffee service, plus a simple breakfast and lunch menu. Stand by for more in the coming months.