Side Dish

Food Is War
Contrary to reports in another paper (hint: it sponsors a big race), Mark Valiani's split with LuLu --- and the termination of his long partnership with Jody Denton -- was not amicable. Mark had been talking about leaving later in the year to pursue his own project. But it seems his old friend Jody felt betrayed when he learned Mark was even thinking about hitting the road -- so Jody shoved him out with nary a warning. Now I know why they like designer Cass Smith to use so much tile in their restaurants: It's easy to hose the blood off.

Resume Builder '98
Seems like he never left -- er, I mean, came back. Five days after an unfavorable, though not scathing, review, chef Lance Dean Velasquez, once the bright light of the San Francisco scene, left his spot running the kitchen at this year's hot-flash restaurant, Jack's. For those who haven't been following this particular drama, here's a brief chronology:

1) Lance makes his name at Moose's.
2) Lance opens the eponymous LDV across the bay.
3) Lance works for one day at Lark Creek in Walnut Creek.
4) Lance works up north and abroad for a bit.

5) Lance returns for a short run at Epicenter, winner of 1998's Shortest-Lived award.

6) Lance heads to Jack's.
Sorry if I missed anything. Come back (again) Lance -- all is forgiven.

Next Stop the Castro
The lucky winner of our Most Obviously Named Bar on Castro contest is ... the Bar on Castro. It manages to take over where the second most obviously named bar, Castro Station, left off. TBOC is owned by partners Morgan Gorrono -- who used to manage the Cafe (there's another creative one) -- and Greg Bronstein, who also runs Pozole. The new bar has a clean, woody, and very masculine look that's somewhat reminiscent of Castro Station, but in a less boot-campy way. And despite the ever-so-manly feel and tightly white-T'd staff, women are welcome.

BTW: The Muni-striped Transfer down the way takes the runner-up title in the Most Obviously Named competition.

Like ... Butter
The greasiest greasy spoon I've ever set foot in in this town is changing its oil to ... butter.

White-trash chic will find a permanent home in the trailer park and blacktop decor of Butter, a new bar and restaurant opening in March in the Bee's Kitchen space at 11th and Folsom streets. Carlton and Chris Solle -- they're brothers, not married -- are behind all this. You may know them from the "Sugar Shack" parties they've thrown at V/SF.

Loft-living neighbors have been assured that the DJ will spin background music only, and that the soundproofing will be extreme. I guess those muffler shop guys across the street will miss their Bee's -- I could never make it far enough in to get to the counter, let alone place an order.

She's a Grand Old Dame
After serving the Bay Area and the Widow (Vueve) Clicquot for five years, Kathleen Meek has left her coveted regional manager post for more rewarding opportunities. Meek, known by all in the restaurant community for her generosity and her vast repertoire of classic -- and sometimes tasteless -- jokes, parted ways with Clicquot after putting in many grueling hours and realizing she'd advanced as far as the company would let her. This from the world's first female-run champagne house?

But at least the debate over the Clicquot label's color -- orange or yellow? -- has been resolved. They're changing it to a sad, sad blue.

Last Load
Brain Wash was "fusion" before the term ever referred to food genres: Where else could you get a sudsy latte and a foamy spin cycle under one roof? Susan Schindler guided the place through its formative years, a devastating fire, a CD-spawning music series, and multitudinous dryer malfunctions.

Why the teary eulogy? Brain Wash is for sale.

By Harry Coverte

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

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