Side Dish

The Marina Shuffle
Paragon, a Marina stalwart known for friendly bartenders, standard bar music, and hordes of college sweat shirts, wasn't gone for long. The bar/restaurant, which also has a location in Seattle, is moving into grown-up digs in the construction site just across from MoMo's -- giving that SOMA spot some much-needed competition. Now they'll have room for people to sit down while they eat. Oh, and a long-pants-only dress code will be strictly enforced. ... Meanwhile, Paragon's old spot on Scott Street didn't even have time to get dusty -- the Trapdoor Bar & Grill filed for a business license and moved right on in. Same game, different name. Todd Fischer's the local boy on the grill with "eclectic old California tapas." It's a well-priced family-style menu, and shorts are allowed.

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking
If you think your dinner at the Gato Negro is a few fries short of a happy meal, you may be right. Seems a certain manager has the peculiar habit of taste-testing diners' pommes frites before the plates go out to the tables. Harry overheard some underwhelmed waiters sharing their disgust at a North Beach watering hole. Watch out, Reed -- better keep that one on a short leash. Or maybe a muzzle?

Houston, We Have a Problem
Flying Saucer's enfant terrible, Albert Tordjman, has taken a month's sabbatical. Seems the chef/owner was putting a bit too much fuel on his creative fire, and needed a little R&R up Sonoma way. We've all heard about his high-octane temper and other endearing habits -- they're notorious. But the Saucer spins on without him, thanks to the lovely Mrs. Tordjman. Now, about that revolving door policy ....

If at First You Don't Succeed
They're trying it again on Cyril Magnin Street: The corner spot -- which housed the Blue Martini a few years back -- was turned into the short-lived Fume, a cigar bar up top with fine dining downstairs. The restaurant operations burned out after a time and the stogie lounge blew its last puff with the anti-smoking onslaught. Now Frank Klein, who owns Biscuits & Blues, is dusting off this gem of a spot and turning it into First Crush, a wine bar. The theater/hotel district hasn't been the same since our beloved Mason Street Wine Bar shut down, and goodness knows those tourists love the taste of our grape juice. Let's just hope Klein has a concierge or two in his pocket to help get the word out.

Or maybe he could do some late-night tastings for the service types. It worked for Mason Street -- until the cops put a cork in it.

So Old It's Old Again
You've heard the ads on Live 105. Now experience the flashback. Polly Esther's and the Culture Club are bringing them in -- the bridge-and-tunnelers, that is. Just follow the smoke machines and Afro-wigged dancers down to the Tenderloin. Stop when you see all the cops lounging outside 181 Eddy. Convince the doorman that you're almost as important as he thinks he is, and get ready to boogie the night away with the Sweathogs and the Partridges. I guess it's kinda neat if you like that sort of plastic, prepackaged, now-you're-all-having-fun experience, but no number of "rock your boat"s and "dyn-o-mite"s can re-create the fun I had in the '70s. And no, I won't show you the pictures.

Good luck, Polly. You'll need it.

An Apple for Teacher
After a year spent turning culinary students into waiters, Peter Hochman, GM for the CCA restaurants, has left the demo kitchen for good to sign on once again with Bob Puccini and the Kimpton-sanctioned Oritalia expansion. It was Puccini who lured this winning establishment out of the 'hood (well, Pac Heights) and into the downtown scene, and it's Hochman who will replace David O'Malley as director of operations, ensuring that Oritalia makes it through subsequent growing pains without any visible stretch marks. Light another menthol and think about world domination, Peter.

By Harry Coverte

Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail Coverte@aol.com and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.

 
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