Category Archives: Restaurants

The Captivating August 1 Five

The signature Gol Guppa at August 1 Five.

The signature Gol Guppa at August 1 Five.

 

Ask Hetal Shah, which is harder  — creating advertising technology at Google or running a restaurant — and she doesn’t hesitate to answer:

Operating a restaurant. By far.

Shah, who left her job at Google a year ago, and her husband, who still works in tech, had experience opening restaurants, having established Red Hot Chili Pepper in San Carlos in 2010, the casual take on Indian-inflected Chinese food.

But their next restaurant venture was exceedingly more ambitious, August 1 Five, which opened a little over a year ago in San Francisco’s Civic Center.

The name of the splashy, upscale modern Indian restaurant commemorates the date that India won its independence from British rule.

Conveniently located in Civic Center.

Conveniently located in Civic Center.

The bold interior.

The bold interior.

Although Shah and her husband loved the mom-and-pop Indian restaurants in the United States, they missed the more contemporary fare found at high-end hotels in India. So when she and her husband moved to San Francisco from New York, they decided to do something to fill that void.

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San Jose’s Venerable La Foret Gets A New Lease on Life

Presenting Le Grand Johnnie, named for John Davoudi, the chef-owner who presided over La Foret for 38 years.

Presenting Le Grand Johnnie, named for John Davoudi, the chef-owner who presided over La Foret for 38 years.

 

When Chef-Owner John Davoudi decided to retire this year from La Foret, the San Jose restaurant he had nurtured for 38 years, faithful diners almost went into mourning.

But before they could shed a tear, Davoudi had struck a deal to sell the beloved establishment to Maurice and Giuseppe Carrubba, two brothers with a penchant for taking over old-school establishments to give them new life while still keeping their special spirit intact.

They did so previously with Osteria in downtown Palo Alto, and the Grandview in San Jose.

In late-summer, they took the reins of the historic La Foret, nestled in the trees in the Almaden Valley. The building dates back to 1848, when it housed workers from the surrounding quicksilver mines — the first mining operation established in California.

La Foret in Almaden Valley.

La Foret in Almaden Valley.

Its origins.

Its origins.

Historic marker.

Historic marker.

When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently, it wasn’t the first time I had dined at La Foret. What I always loved about the place was that you felt far removed from the hustle-bustle of Silicon Valley. Off the two-lane road, the restaurant is an oasis of calm. It feels almost like a throw-back to another era when dining out felt special, and French continental cuisine and not molecular gastronomy ruled.

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Mad for Madcap

Kimberly and Ron Siegel in their wonderful restaurant, Madcap.

Kimberly and Ron Siegel in their wonderful restaurant, Madcap.

 

Over his storied career, Ron Siegel has worked for an impressive lineup of chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, and Thomas Keller, the latter for whom he served as the inaugural sous chef for The French Laundry.

But now Siegel is finally working for himself.

In a most splendid fashion, too.

Sign

Madcap, his first very own restaurant, opened in San Anselmo earlier this summer. You’ll find him in the compact kitchen, which he has joked is smaller than the walk-in at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, where he was executive chef for many years. His wife Kimberly, whom he met when she was a server at The French Laundry, runs the front of the house. And when his two teen-age daughters aren’t in school, they often can be found in the dining room, jotting down orders.

The stunning rabbit tortelloni.

The stunning rabbit tortelloni.

It’s a small venue, about 47 seats, yet it feels a bit larger, thanks to the fact that there are two dining rooms. Artist Michael Brennan conceived the warm space, punctuated by dark wood, a marble bar top (where about three people can squeeze in to dine), deep red velvet banquettes, and his own eclectic paintings, including one of Raquel Welch striking an iconic pose from “One Million Years B.C.”

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Of Gourmet Ice Cream, Nuts and Sandwiches

A tower of ice cream sandwiches at Ici Ice Cream. (photo by Tory Putnam)

A tower of ice cream sandwiches at Ici Ice Cream. (photo by Tory Putnam)

Ici Ice Cream Opens Second Berkeley Location

Bay Area fans of Ici Ice Cream — and there are legions — are rejoicing that this artisan shop has just opened a second location in Berkeley.

That means twice the opportunities to get your fix of Honey-Vanilla-Black-Tea, Chocolate-Chocolate Almond Toffee, Pink Peppermint, Honey Lavender-Pistachio, and other fabulous flavors of ice cream and sorbets.

Mary Canales, who spent nine years as the pastry chef of Chez Panisse, founded her original shop 11 years ago on College Avenue in the Elmwood neighborhood. The second shop opened last week in downtown Berkeley.

Since the beginning, Ici has churned organic and sustainable ingredients in its ice creams. They’re made in small batches to ensure freshness.

A special treat just for this time of year: Ici's Bouche de Noel. (photo by Tory Putnam)

A special treat just for this time of year: Ici’s Bouche de Noel. (photo by Tory Putnam)

Everything will continue to be made at the College Avenue location, then transported to the downtown shop. Both places sell scoops, pints, cakes and confections, including seasonal cakes, ice cream bombes, ice cream sandwiches, bon-bons and candies.

It’s a perfect place to stop after a dinner of paella at Oakland’s Duende, owned by Mary’s husband, Paul Canales. Hey, just sayin’.

New Heirloom Reserve Nuts

Just in time for your holiday baking needs, Diamond of California has released a new line of Heirloom Reserve walnuts, pecans and Marcona almonds.

I used the new Diamond Heirloom Marcona Almonds in a salad of green beans, orange segments and fennel. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

I used the new Diamond Heirloom Marcona Almonds in a salad of green beans, orange segments and fennel. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

The century-old producer of nuts is highlighting varietals that have been passed down for generations.

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A Delicious Dose of Dosa

A show-stopping salad at Dosa.

A show-stopping salad at Dosa.

 

At San Francisco’s Dosa, there’s a new chef in town.

One with an impressive pedigree, who isn’t afraid to shake things up, either.

New Executive Chef Arun Gupta, who hails from New York’s legendary Gramercy Tavern, acknowledges that he had never cooked Indian food in a restaurant before this.

But that’s not to say this Manhattan native wasn’t familiar with the cuisine. With a father who is Indian and a mother who is Polish-American, he grew up frying pooris, forming perogis and helping his mom tend her community garden.

As a teen, he spent a summer abroad in France with a host family, where his love of cooking really took hold. So much so that he started cooking for friends in his parents’ apartment.

Chef Arun Gupta, new executive chef of Dosa, at the recent Taste & Tribute event in San Francisco.

Chef Arun Gupta, new executive chef of Dosa, at the recent Taste & Tribute event in San Francisco.

After graduating from Tufts University, he happened to meet Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, who was so impressed with Gupta’s enthusiasm that he hired him. Gupta started at the bottom, and worked his way through every station in that famed kitchen over five years. In 2012, he became the opening chef de cuisine of Maysville, a restaurant started by Gramercy Tavern alums.

His talent caught the attention of Anjan Mitra, co-owner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand-recognized Dosa, who convinced Gupta to move with his wife and young daughter to San Francisco to oversee Dosa’s Mission district and Fillmore district locales.

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