The chicken schnitzel sandwich plate at the new Wursthaus Restaurant & Bierhaus.
When is a bierhaus not just a joint to enjoy a beer and brat?
When J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is involved.
When Lopez-Alt joined forces with Adam Simpson, owner of nearby Grape & Grain craft beer and wine bar, and Tyson Mao, a Lyft project manager, they thought they’d open a low-key, no-big-deal restaurant in the city all three call home.
But Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus, which opens tonight, has drawn unprecedented attention far and wide.
That’s because of Lopez-Alt’s fame and following. The MIT grad is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and managing culinary director of Serious Eats, where he writes the popular “The Food Lab’’ column. His meticulously researched cooking techniques spark passion and discourse across the Internet.
All beers are on tap. None are sold in the bottle or can.
Wursthall is the first restaurant he’s partnered in. “Initially they were looking for just menu consultation,” he explains. “But I wanted to be more involved. My wife and I bought a house here a few years ago. We noticed there was no modern place geared to families in an affordable price range. I had been talking to her about getting more involved with restaurants. But this is way bigger than anything I envisioned. I’m at a point where I don’t do anything for a paycheck. I do only projects I want to put my name on and really get involved in.’’
Miso-glazed salmon, kalo soba and slaw at a taro-centric lunch at Heritage Restaurant and Bar.
When a contingent of Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau officials visit the Bay Area, they always bring a delicious taste of the islands.
Last week, they brought something extra special — a lesson in taro.
Invited media, including myself, were treated to a 6-course lunch at Heritage Restaurant and Bar in San Francisco in which almost every dish featured taro (or kalo, as the Hawaiians call it) in some way, shape or form.
As Kawika Freitas, director of public and cultural relations for Old Lahaina Lu’au and Hoaloha Farms, explains, “We want to make kalo the next Brussels sprouts.”
With an even bigger grin, he added: “Poi to the world!”
Taro illustration by Kawika Freitas.
Indeed, if you only know taro from the pounded luau staple that often gets a bad rap by tourists, then you don’t really know taro.
Lori Baker’s peanut butter-banana dream dessert at Bluestem Brasserie.
Since opening in 2011, Bluestem Brasserie in downtown San Francisco has seen its share of chef changes. But in the times I’ve dined there over the years, I’ve never had a bad meal, no matter who was heading the kitchen. In fact, that’s why I often send folks there if they don’t know where to go eat after a day of shopping on Union Square.
It’s easy to walk to if you’re already in that area. There’s easy parking at the Fifth and Mission Garage or a BART stop steps away. And the two-story restaurant is so large that you rarely have to wait to get a table.
Sweet, savory, and spicy — these aren’t your childhood Cracker Jacks by any stretch.
Juhu Beach Club in Oakland may be shuttered now, but its spirit lives on in “The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook”
(Running Press) by Preeti Mistry with East Bay food writer Sarah Henry, of which I received a review copy.
Mistry has vowed that Juhu Beach Club, which she ran with her business partner and wife Ann Nadeau, will rise again in some form, though details are scarce at the moment.
In any event, you can still enjoy her cooking at her very fun Navi in Emeryville with its unique pizzas, toasts and cocktails.
Born in London and raised in suburban Ohio, Mistry, a former “Top Chef” contestant, is an inventive, inspired cook who is adept at remastering comfort food with bold Indian flavors and flair. On her trips to her ancestral country of India, she fell in love with street food. There’s a playfulness in her food that reflects that.
That’s evident in recipes such as “Shrimp Po’Bhai,” “JBC Fried Chicken & Doswaffle,” “Chai-Spiced Bacon,” and “Bloody Meera.”
Take her “Desi Jacks.” This revved up version of caramel corn is featured at Navi. It’s even free during the daily Happy Hour, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
This is a snack that’s sure to get the party started.
Deviled eggs with crab and caviar at Sabio on Main.
I sheepishly confess that before a couple weeks ago, I had never dined in Pleasanton.
It was a city I merely drove past on the way to somewhere else.
I only felt a little less embarrassed by that after Chef Francis X. Hogan told me that he had been in the same boat. Living in Oakland and fresh off heading the kitchen at San Francisco’s Bluestem Brasserie, he scratched his head when he got approached to open a new restaurant in this city three years ago, which he had associated merely with strip malls and car dealerships.
Chef-Partner Francis X. Hogan.
When he got invited to tour the area, though, he found his eyes opened wide. Surrounded by undulating hills, it boasts a charming, most walk-able downtown full of restaurants, small businesses, and residents who regularly flock to it on weekends.
“I fell in love with the area,” he told me. “It feels like old Sonoma.”