New openings for two classic SF standbys, ravioli to die for, and a bad-ass brunch-o-rama.
The iconic Fog City Diner has finished its transformation into FOG CITY (1300 Battery, SF. www.fogcitysf.com ), a more contemporary, less diner-y, all caps version from chef-owner Bruce Hill (Bix, Picco, Pizzeria Picco, and Zero Zero) and founders Bill Higgins and Bill Upson of Real Restaurants, with Erik Lowe as chef. The original location opened in 1985, and coming up with a new look and menu was a great call. The spacious spot has 145 seats, with a triangular Flatiron-type shape, and a huge bar with room for 30. The menu is what they're calling San Francisco cuisine, with lots of bar bites — try the pickles and ranch, and the deviled eggs are, er, devilishly good (sorry) — while the main menu is divided into vegetable, seafood, and meat selections. At a preview dinner, I really dug the oysters with barrel-aged hot sauce, a fab grilled beef tongue dish with mustard greens, and spicy smashed pole beans (a total flavor bomb). For dessert, you'll want to order the "frozen custard" using Straus Family Creamery milk and French crullers made every 10 minutes, uh huh.
Over in the infamous "Triangle" in Cow Hollow, you'll find a newly opened second location of Café Claude (2120 Greenwich, SF. www.cafeclaude.com ), and boy, is she a looker, ooh la la. The swankified space has damask wallpaper, gilded mirrors, burgundy leather, and quite the sexy bar. No cocktails, however, but there are aperitifs, and plenty of wines to choose from. It'll be great for a date, and I foresee lots of ladies enjoying themselves here for girls' night out. Chef Doug Degeeter's menu of classic bistro fare includes a smoked trout salad, steak tartare, a Niçoise salad, and a burger. Brunch and lunch will be coming soon.
This town sure loves brunch. And as long as we keep lining up for it, new options will continue popping up. Let's get crackin': Namu Gaji (499 Dolores, SF. www.namusf.com ) just started weekend brunch (Sat–Sun 11:30am–4pm), serving food coma–worthy items like a Hangtown Benedict (proceed carefully), bourbon challah — holla! — French toast, an egg sandwich, and a slow-cooked egg with kimchi and a choice of chicken thigh, pork belly, or vegetable tempura. The soju-based Bloody Mary should also cure what ails you.
If you're in need of a stronger fix, there's the new Bad Ass Brunch (Sat–Sun 11am–2:30pm) at Jasper's Corner Tap, with a whole line-up of brunch cocktails (including a mint julep made with bubbly), and inventive dishes like a poblano relleno with egg, and a potato sausage with soft egg, king trumpet bacon, wild mushrooms, and parsley sauce. Bad. Ass.
At the brand-new 1760 (1760 Polk, SF. www.1760sf.com ) on Nob Hill, chef Adam Tortosa wasn't particularly fired up to include a couple pastas on his menu. But when your restaurant is affiliated with the family and group behind Acquerello, it's kind of a given that pasta is going to make its way onto the menu. And whaddyaknow, one of my fave dishes on the menu was his ridonkulous corn ravioli ($18). Seven very plump, round ravs were resting in a flavorful stock made from baked potatoes steeped in water, plus some butter that spent some time sous vide with roasted potato skins. Mmmm, potato-y.
Once you plunk the entire pillow in your mouth — your choppers sinking into the delicate pasta — the creamy filling is like liquid gold in your mouth. I felt rainbows shoot out of my eyes. Alas, I hear the corn was JUST swapped out with butternut squash (fall, why are you here already?), but I am quite confident this version will be just as terrific, especially with the sweet potato broth and sage-brown butter it comes with. Purr.