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Wednesday, Nov 15 1995
Power of Tower
If you can't get enough of Jeremiah Tower, then you'll be pleased to know he's opening yet another restaurant. This one is called J.T.'s, and, starting in February, it will occupy the space formerly filled by Stars Cafe (which moved around the corner and became much more brasserie-like -- and expensive).

Tower is something of a conquistador among local celebrity chefs. He has colonized the area around the original Stars, and he has hoisted his flag in the wine country, at Stars Oakville Cafe.

But a march down the Peninsula has ended in grief. Tower's venture in Palo Alto still bears the name Stars, but Dish hears that Tower no longer has anything to do with it beyond licensing the name. Dish's in-the-know moles in the South Bay also say that service at the Palo Alto restaurant can be maddeningly slow.

As for J.T.'s, the mood "will be more intense and romantic than Stars or Stars Cafe," Tower says. "The color scheme I have selected is red and gold."

What about the food? "I plan to serve new, experimental dishes at J.T.'s," Tower says, carefully avoiding use of the dread "interesting." If you want "old favorites" (what could these be at a brand-new place?), you'll be able to get them, too.

Dine Line
Taking a page from 1-800-DENTIST, an outfit called the Camelot Guide Line offers tips and recommendations about the city's restaurants and clubs. Dial 777-3344, and you will connect to an automated menu that sorts restaurants by category ("romantic and elegant" and "for kids," among others, though no "romantic for kids") and food type.

Dish was curious about the vegetarian restaurants. It couldn't be ... but yes! Their top recommendation is that weary warhorse Greens, with its bay view.

The "new and trendy" places are Rubicon, Cypress Club, and Moose's. Huh? The service's recommendations are "updated regularly" -- once every few years or so, apparently.

Smashing Pumpkins
American images of the pumpkin are not glamorous. The big orange squash figures in Thanksgiving pies and breads no one wants to eat, and as the remains of shattered jack-o'-lanterns in the gutter the morning after Halloween.

But chef Sergio Giusti, of Firenze by Night in North Beach, uses pumpkin in his gnocchi, the Italian dumplings traditionally made with potato. Pumpkin behaves like potato in the chef's hands, Giusti says, but adds its distinctive sweet-nutty taste in addition to its smooth texture. Dish wonders what Giusti can rescue next? The fruitcake? The overcooked turkey? It's that time of year.

By Paul Reidinger

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Paul Reidinger

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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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