New Creamery on Cortland Has a Name, but No Opening Date (Yet)

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Since its existence was first revealed here almost one year ago, there hasn’t been much news about the new market and eatery at 800 Cortland that’s going in to the old Bernal Heights Produce store at the corner of Ellsworth.

As you recall, the new place will be operated by the folks from Harvest Hills Market on Folsom at Precita. And since your Bernalwood editor shops at Harvest Hills regularly, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to inquire about the progress of 800 Cortland.

Frankly, we haven’t learned much. We understand that there’s been some construction, and much time has been spent dealing with various City permitting agencies. Some new equipment has been installed, including an ice cream machine.  Still, no word yet on a target opening date, other than soon, hopefully.

Oh, and based on the lettering that appeared recently on the side of the old truck Harvest Hills uses to haul stuff around, the new place may now have a name: The Harvest Cafe and Creamery. Coming soon. Hopefully.

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PHOTOS: Top, 800 Cortland in May 2013. All photos by Telstar Logistics

Let Us Now Celebrate 15 Years of Blue Plate (You’re Invited!)

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We, the Citizens of Bernalwood, are fortunate to live in a land of tasty food plentitude. Yet amid our regular updates on all the deliciousness at our doorsteps, let’s take a moment to celebrate one of Bernal’s most esteemed and old skool eateries, Blue Plate on Mission at Valencia.

Blue Plate was delicious and cozy and local before delicious and cozy and local were cool. The restaurant is marking its 15th anniversary this year, with a series of dinner events scheduled for this week. (More on that in a moment.)

In an interview with Zagat (!!!) Blue Plate co-owner Jeff Trenam provides a capsule history of the restaurant’s run:

Zagat: Blue Plate has defied all logic about the restaurant industry to be open for 15 years – what’s the secret?

Jeff Trenam: I suppose it is a bit illogical to stay in the restaurant biz for 15 years, but when you enjoy your work and the people you work with, the time flies. [Co-owner Cory Obenour] and I have a relationship that is a little yin-yang, or maybe we are both just real yang. Whatever you want to call it, we help each other keep things in perspective. Essentially, we are having a dinner party every night which is supposed to be fun and nourishing, right? Throwing pans and screaming at people doesn’t sound very fun or nourishing or interesting. We try to give everyone a sense of ownership, employees and guests alike, and then have fun with them. Whether it’s the group visiting from Norway that we may never see again, our regulars, our farmers, delivery guys, wine reps or anyone of the great people that work with us, I suppose the secret is we really like the people.

Have there been any hard times or slumps when you wanted to just give up and close?

We have had our share of knocks but for the most part we have been very fortunate. We have a loyal group of supporters that have made tough times much easier to bear. We have weathered all of the tech bubble bursts without even noticing much of a difference. Of course, we are a neighborhood joint and not so trendy, so that helps. We haven’t been showered with riches from the bubble times and we haven’t been wrung out when they burst. Steady Eddy: that is more like us. For sure there have been times when I have wondered if the city really wants full service, independent dinner houses like us to flourish. We seem to bear the brunt of new taxes, labor laws and political crusades while large companies get tax breaks and incentives to move here. But it actually doesn’t matter. We are here and everyone needs a comfortable place to eat with friends.

Mission accomplished! Blue Plate remains a true neighborhood treasure.

Jeff Trenam reached out to us to invite all Citizens of Bernalwood to join Blue Plate’s 15th Birthday celebration this week. He says there will be feature flights from winemakers, along with special food pairings, and the complete details are below:

Celebrate 15 Years at Blue Plate

Bernal Heights Pioneer Blue Plate Celebrates Their 15th Birthday with a Series of Wine Dinners in May

WHO: Blue Plate, the seminal Bernal Heights neighborhood gem co-owned by Cory Obenour and Jeff Trenam.

Blue Plate offers a seasonal menu of New American cuisine and evolved comfort food by Chef de Cuisine, Sean Thomas. Intimate dining rooms inside a cozy San Francisco Victorian, a robust and eclectic wine list, and a secret garden to drink and snack, have made it a favorite of the Bernal Heights neighborhood.

WHAT: Come celebrate Blue Plate’s 15th anniversary by clinking crystal with celebrated wine makers from Palmina Wines, Sean Thackery Wines, and Skylark. Each night Blue Plate will exclusively feature one wine maker who will be on site to mingle and talk with guests. Chef de Cuisine, Sean Thomas will create special menus featuring new dishes and will bring back landmark hits from the past to showcase the wines.

Wine flights will cost $15 each night and will include five glasses of wine. Menu items will be listed a la carte.

Reservations available at www.blueplatesf.com or call 415-282 6777

WHEN: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 5:30 PM -10 PM Steve and Chrystal Clifton of Palamina Wines

Friday, May 2, 2014, 5:30 PM – 10: 30 PM Sean Thackery of Sean Thackery Wines

Saturday, May 3, 2014, 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM John Lancaster of Skylark

WHERE: 3218 Mission Street (at Valencia)
 San Francisco, CA 94110

Congrats to Jeff and Cory, thanks for all the yum, and BIG CONGRATULATIONS on 15 delicious years.

PHOTO: Blue Plate’s iconic neon sign by Erik Wilson

UPDATED: Paulie’s Pickling on KQED’s “Check Please, Bay Area” Tonight

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It’s showtime! Cortland’s Paulie’s Pickling, which may be Best Jewish Deli in San Francisco, will be the focus of tonight’s exciting episode of KQED’s Check Please, Bay Area.

Neighbors Paul and Liz, the soft-spoken proprietors of Paulie’s Pickling, didn’t give us the heads-up about this. No, we heard it from the street, in the Jweekly:

CHECK, PLEASE: A “Check, Please! Bay Area” episode featuring Paulie’s Pickling will debut at 7:30 p.m. April 24 on KQED-Channel 9, with many replays to come. Also, the show will air on KQED radio (88.5 FM) at 6:30 p.m. April 27.

“Check, Please!” features three Bay Area residents giving their opinions after sampling three local restaurants (each recommended by one of the participants). Paulie’s Pickling, a Jewish-style deli counter in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights, will be the first segment.

“I have no idea who nominated us,” said Paulie’s co-owner Liz Ashby, who was raised Orthodox in Newton, Mass. “But when the producers called and asked if we wanted to be on the show, I said, ‘Of course!’ Who would say no?”

Over a two-month period, the “mystery diners” came in to eat, and on two occasions, the KQED crew came by to do some filming and interview Liz and the other owner, her husband, Paul.

Neighbor Liz is right. Who would say no?

One quick P.S. about the whole “Best Jewish Deli in San Francisco” thing. There’s this. And there’s also this:

For Passover earlier this month, your Bernalwood editor had two actual Jewish grandmothers over for dinner. One Jewish grandmother was raised in Brooklyn; the other in Jersey City. With two actual Jewish grandmothers at the table, your Bernalwood editor did not want to run the risk of screwing up the traditional Passover brisket. So I asked Neighbor Liz from Paulie’s if I could order a few pounds of her rather amazing brisket instead, to serve to two actual Jewish grandmothers. Neighbor Liz said no problem, and it came with some wonderful gravy, and I heated it all up, and dayenu it was incredible. But you don’t have to believe me when I say it was dayenu incredible. Two actual Jewish grandmothers at our Passover table certified that the brisket from Paulie’s Pickling was dayenu incredible. They were very impressed.

So there you go.

Keep that in mind as you listen to whatever the mystery diners have to say on “Check Please, Bay Area” tonight. In your Bernalwood editor’s house, Paulie’s Pickling is Jewish Grandmother Tested and Jewish Grandmother Approved.

UPDATE: It’s live!

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

New Red Hill Station Seafood Restaurant Coming to Cortland

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Alongside the planned perma-Kinfolk, EaterSF brings the news that Bernal Neighbors Taylor Pederson and Amy Reticker plan to open a new seafood restaurant at 803 Cortland, in the soon-to-be-former Blue Star Elephant space:

The new restaurant will be taking over from Thai spot Blue Star Elephant, which will shutter at the end of this month. Named for the Bernal neighborhood’s nickname of ‘Red Hill’, the new spot will be seafood-focused, with a raw bar (think oysters and clams) plus a rotating menu of seasonal, California-style cuisine. Pederson will helm the kitchen, and hopes to focus on sustainably-sourced seafood.

The new space will also serve as a fish market of sorts. Reticker, who’ll be running the front-of-house operations, says they hope to open at 4pm daily with an offering of market fish so that people can drop in, learn cooking tips from the seafood pros and take home something to prepare for dinner themselves.

In the meantime, Red Hill Station has planted flags on the Twitter, the Facebook, and the Interwebs. There’s a late February Facebook post which says:

we are excited and pleased to announce the birth of “Red Hill Station”!

we will be a small, 28 seat neighborhood place

there will be a raw bar, oysters, clams, mussels, tartares, in addition to an 8 item menu which will change daily…we plan on doing brunch saturdays and sundays.

It’s Official: Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar Is One of the Hottest Sushi Restaurants in the Galaxy Right Now

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Bernal Heights is already, and officially, the hottest neighborhood in the entire solar system. Now we are an order of magnitude more hot, because Eater National just anointed the tasty new Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar on Mission Street as one of the Hottest Sushi Restaurants in America.

Hotness.

Truth be told, this comes as no surprise. Your Bernalwood editor has eaten at the new Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar many times since we first announced its glamorous re-opening in the new space in February. We haven’t written about it since, however, because (shameful confession) we didn’t want to have to compete with you for a table. In true Samuel Brannan style, the hypertastiness of the new Ichi+Ni is just a little something we’ve been keeping to ourselves.

Well, now the word is getting out.

Anna Roth at SFWeekly said:

The new [izakaya] space is still coming into its own, but once it establishes its own identity, Ni Bar is bound to become not only a staging ground for the sushi bar’s omakase, but a destination in its own right.

Critic Jonathan Kaufman reported that the sushi remains amazing as always, while the new izakaya-style zone in the back of the new space takes things in a rather delicious new direction:

Your resolve to hold out for sushi may be whittled away by the sanbaizu sunomono ($7.50)–pink commas of shrimp with pickled cucumber and frilly, crunchy tremella (white fungus)–and crisp-skinned fried chicken wings ($9.50), first cooked sous-vide with yuzu juice until the flesh is as tender as a ripe peach.

If you want to preserve your omakase aspirations, don’t order the clams ($8.50), which come with ground pork in a ridiculously savory miso broth swirled with black garlic oil.

Because you may have to order seconds.

I’ll second that. The Miso Asari Clams & Pork are mind-blowing. In fact, yes, I actually do get two orders of it, because it’s just that insanely good.

We’re in good company, because the Michael Bauer says the miso clams are one of his favorite dishes as well.

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More of this sort of gush is likely to follow, because this week Eater National added Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar to their list of The 19 Hottest Sushi Restaurants In the US Right Now:

ICHI SUSHI + NI BAR
Already a favorite on San Francisco’s sushi scene, ICHI Sushi only got better earlier this year when it reopened in a new, bigger space. Eater SF took a look inside the new 30-seat sushi bar with an omakase counter, table seating, and an izakaya named Ni Bar serving booze and other izakaya-style plates.

Big congratulations to Ichi owners (and Bernal neighbors) Tim and Erin Archuleta.

If you haven’t already eaten at Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, get thyself there quickly, because it won’t be long before you’ll have to compete with every foodie in the United States to get a table. You have been warned.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Chef Tim, by Telstar Logistics. Below, Miso Asari Clams & Pork at Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar; photo by Inside Scoop

Kinfolk to Convert from Popup to Permanent Inside Former Pizza Express

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Well, the rumors turned out to be true. Our foodie fwiendz at Inside Scoop confirm that Kinfolk, the Cortand popup restaurant launched by Bernal neighbor Greg Lutes, will open a permanent location inside the former Pizza Express space at 919 Cortland:

For the last several months, Kinfolk has been popping up regularly for brunch and dinner at 903 Cortland. Well, it’s moving up.

The chef-owner behind the project is Greg Lutes, and he’s finally found a permanent location — and as it turns out, it’s just a few doors down from 903.

Lutes has inked a deal to take over 919 Cortland Avenue, which was most recently home to Pizza Express, though it’s currently home to a dirt floor. After a full build-out, Kinfolk is hoped to open this summer, with 40 seats — double the size of its set-up at 903.

Elsie Street Library Opens Mysterious Main Branch

STEUER-mainbranch1 Neighbor Sharon found a secret public library tucked away along a leafy portion of Elsie Street north of Cortland. She has no idea how or when it got there:

I’ve always thought of Bernal as “Brigadoon” — a small town atop a hill in a city where even San Francisco residents ask “where is that?” when we mention it.

So whether, like Brigadoon, the Elsie Street Library Main Branch has always been there, or just appeared on certain days, to certain people, I can’t say for sure.

I walk the street all the time. I’m always looking at the houses and the flowers, seeing the paint colors and street plantings. I can’t tell you for sure when the elves set up this library, but we’ve never seen it before. I love it!

PHOTO: Neighbor Sharon