Castro/Safeway Heights: Shanghai, the latest effort by restaurateur Francis Tsai to revive the Mecca space at 2029 Market Street, is still on schedule for mid-August. Possibly August 15, even. [Eater, Earlier]
Oakland: Umami Mart, which started as a blog, is becoming a full-fledged kitchen store, specializing in barware, and Japanese cooking tools. They’re opening in Old Oakland at 815 Broadway next Friday, August 3. [Scoop]
Berkeley: Café V (2056 San Pablo Avenu), is now open doing Vietnamese-inspired fare. [Tablehopper]
Mill Valley: Preston Clark, the opening chef at El Paseo whom Tyler Florence imported from NYC, is leaving and moving back to New York. No replacement has yet been named. [Scoop]
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Mikey Dollar Bills does a re-review of RN74 this week and he begins “to question the value” after swallowing two big checks. He says, “Don’t get me wrong – the food on its own is excellent…[but] It seems as if RN74 is losing its unique personality; it feels trendy but a little rote. Like a great wine, it’s missing that indescribable quality that makes me long to return.” It’s bumped down to 2.5 stars overall. [Chron]
The Kauffinator goes mainstream at The Melt and Umami Burger: two “nascent chains…doing it with Earth-huggy claims…good ingredients, compostable cutlery — but also with tech-geek-worthy backstories.” At The Melt he finds fresher flavors in the soups than the melts: “It’s a grilled cheese, all right, but a sterile one.” And at the first outpost of LA-based Umami Burger, he finds “the city’s most attractive burger restaurant” serves up burgers with “swagger” that are “quite good,” but sides are lackluster, and for the price “there are juiced up beefy burgers in town to rival it—Serpentine’s, Zuni’s and Heirloom’s come to mind. [SF Weekly]
Untz Untz takes the party to Trace at The W Hotel where Aqua/Oliveto alum Paul Piscopo‘s “ingredient-driven cooking is some of the best in The City at surprisingly moderate prices.” Despite the “ineptly lit W dining room,” his “cooking is so lush, earthbound and legitimately exciting it triumphs over its relentlessly uncomfortable surroundings, making Trace patrons remember they’re in San Francisco, after all.” [Examiner]
THE ELSEWHERE: The third Chron review of the week has hearty a 2.5 stars for Napa’s Cielito Linda, another contender in the recent Wine Country boom in Mexican restaurants; The Merc finds a stylish Walnut Creek Thai restaurant in Kacha Bistro, The Marin IJ says Larkspur’s Tha Siam will please a range of palates, and EBX comes around to new Alameda hot dog restaurant Doggy-Style.
Pearl’s is now set to open in mid-October.
Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers is getting close to opening their second S.F. location at the colorful and lively corner of 6th and Market (in the former home of our favorite lumpia/Chinese food/burrito joint, Market & 6th Food Corner). Owner Sylvia Park informs us that final inspections are happening next week, and there should be a firm opening date quickly to follow, as soon as all the finishing touches are complete. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Umami Burger (2184 Union Street) is getting set for their October 7 NorCal debut, and the Feast got blessed with a dish preview. Check out all their fine photos here, including some enticing “smushed” potatoes. [Grub Street, Feast]
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THE MARINA – Umami Burger, the wildly popular LA burger chain is set to take over the bay next. It’s moving into the old Noodle Theory spot on Scott Street and judging by how much people in LA love it, it’s sure to be crazy popular in SF. Cause, you know, people here actually eat. JOKE, LA! Please don’t come up here and do plastic surgery on my face as payback! Or do. [ISSF]
BERKELEY – Birdland, north Berkeley’s Friday night multi culti underground eatery and jazz joint might have to go legit. That’s on account of it currently being illegal. They plan to run through Friday, December 17th of this year, and the future in 2011 is unclear. Let’s hope they keep on keepin’ on because it sounds fresh and I’d like to check it out. [Berkeleyside]
THE MISSION – Not the crafty type? Well, never fear, you can find goods to pass off as your own at tonight’s La Cocina’s Gift Fair. It runs from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Mission Cultural Center (2868 Mission Street) and there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone. Even the Grinch. Awww. Afterwards, check out the Mission Holiday Block Party! [SFoodie]
Birdland Sign [Photo: Erik Arnold / Berkeleyside]