The Tablehopper

Laurel Heights gets a new Cal-French restaurant; sandwiches take over the City

Coming to Laurel Heights: Chez Nico (name subject to change) at 3228 Sacra-mento Street in the Blu clothing store space, with an anticipated opening in early 2013. The restaurant operators are Nicolas and Andrea Delaroque; French-born Nicolas has worked at Manresa, Atelier Crenn and Coi, in addition to the more casual Le Garage in Sausalito and L’Appart in San Anselmo. Cuisine will be contemporary Cal-French, featuring local, seasonal and foraged ingredients and modern cooking techniques. The restaurant will have 40 to 46 seats, a private dining area, and a small rooftop garden. The couple plans to apply for a beer and wine license. Dinner only to start. Stand by for more details as things progress.

Firehouse 8 (1648 Pacific Avenue) is a new project opening in a 1917 firehouse that has been vacant for 30 years: San Francisco Landmark #188 in Russian Hill. The first floor will be mixed retail and coffee from Contraband Coffee (serving coffee, muffins and empanadas). The second floor will be a community assembly space available for rental; it will also accommodate hosted events with local talents, artists, chefs, musicians, photographers, speakers, and writers. Owners Gavin Jefferies and Teresa Nittolo (of the shops Molte Cose and Belle Cose on Polk), who have been working on the project for six years, also plan to find a restaurant operator for the first floor.

Now open after its seven-week renovation (by designer Tonya Beluschi), E&O Trading Company is now E&O Asian Kitchen (314 Sutter Street, 415-693-0303) plus a new look and refreshed menu (chef Sharon Nahm collaborated with chef Arnold Eric Wong on the dishes). New items include Asian “gnocchi” with beef filet, cabbage and rice sticks topped with spicy soybean sauce; dan dan noodles; crudo on a Himalayan salt block (currently wild salmon); and lapsang souchong deviled tea eggs with Chinese bacon. Lead bartender Carlos Yturria has revamped the drink menu, with Asian-inspired cocktails like the Sutter Punch with Pisco, pineapple, sherry, mezcal, and lemon. Guests will notice the larger lounge area; a new color palette of earth, gray and golden tones; and a new live music program.

Now open in Union Square is The Mortimer (550 Geary Street) in the former Cortez and Bar Adagio space in the Hotel Adagio, which just finished a multimillion dollar renovation. The hotel dates to 1929, so look for elements of its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture to be revealed, like the 16-foot-high Moorish-influenced windows (design firm Parker-Torres is behind the hotel’s new look). The bar and lounge features an LED-lit bar and some communal seating. The menu is good for a pre- or posttheater bite, and it includes a range of items, from cheeses and Wagyu sliders to larger plates like filet mignon and wild salmon, plus dessert. The cocktails range from classics with a twist, like a blood orange bourbon sour, while La Bella Vita features basil-infused vodka with coconut water, sparkling wine grapes, agave nectar, and fresh lime. There are also punch bowls for groups.

Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building Marketplace is expanding: Amaryll Schwertner and business partner Lori Regis are taking over the former Culinaire space next door and will be opening Bouli Bar. Look for 50 seats, lunch and dinner, and a wood-burning oven (yes, there will be pizza). The targeted opening date is February 2013. Boulettes Larder will also close in January for a month of freshening up.

Sandwiches continue to take over the City: owner Pete Mrabe of Don Pisto’s and The Chubby Noodle in North Beach will soon have a third place: a deli. Though he can’t announce the actual location just yet, he said he plans to open it within the next three months. The deli will feature house-made meats (like pastrami and beef tongue) and lots of house-made items such as pickled chilies and more. He also said there will be a huge selection of cold cuts, hot and cold sandwiches, plus some prepared foods and salads. I’ll keep you updated.

New Orleans native Brenda Buenviaje of Brenda’s French Soul Food and her wife-partner Libby Truesdell plan to open a po’boy shop in the Lower Fillmore. Brenda’s Original Po’Boys will have a menu of 15 different po’boys, a counter, outdoor seating, plus beer and wine. Stand by for the location; look for a January 2013 opening.

Now open on Geary is Men Oh Tokushima Ramen (4014 Geary Boulevard, 415-387-1378) part of a Japanese ramen chain known for house-made noodles and extra-rich Tokushima-style, tonkotsu-shoyu broth.

And a sad bit of news: the old-school Caesar’s Italian Restaurant (2299 Powell Street) that has been at the corner of Bay and Powell since 1956, closed Aug. 31.

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Marcia Gagliardi is a contributing editor to 7x7 magazine, writes a popular weekly e-column (subscribe for free at, and is the author of The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. E-mail hot tips to [email protected].