Side Dish

Low Tide and Small Swells
I've been hearing a lot of rumblings from the Waterfront through the past year. First there were the contractors' liens against the restaurant -- and City Hall involvement because the place is built on city land. Then there was some management juggling, but the reviews and the views have remained consistently good. But now I hear that Bruce Hill, who left Oritalia to run the kitchen on the bay, has been asked to step aside from his cooking duties and don a consultant's hat instead. It's slow-lob softball, but it's a major demotion nonetheless. Bruce made that menu as excellent as it is. Why is he being pushed out?

Beam Me Up
Are Elroy's and its parent company, Boulder Concepts, finally wising up? I doubt it, but owner Graham Kos made a move in that direction when he showed first the empty tables and stools, then the door marked "EXIT" to managing partner Mike Plutino. ... There's also a new chef -- Mark Valiani, late of LuLu. His predecessor, Daniel DeLong, is taking a stab at Stars.

Location, Location, Location
The following is a short quiz to test your restaurant knowledge: Which restaurant/bar closed after a fruitless run at the corner of Ninth and Folsom streets?

a) Stardust
b) Icon Byte Bar
c) Limbo
d) Toledo Lounge
e) Billboard Cafe

If you chose "f) all of the above," you are absolutely right -- though you should spend less time gazing out the window as you fly down Folsom and keep your eyes on the road.

Oh well. Some spaces are just cursed. Usually there's no way of knowing about the hex until you open your doors to the public. Unless, of course, the previous four tenants had to close.

Extra Credit: Put the above restaurants in chronological order starting with the most recently deceased and e-mail them to Harry for fabulous prizes -- or some of Dog Bites' castoff home decorating magazines.

Pickin' Up the Soap
And I thought I'd covered it all in last week's brewery rundown ... not so fast, tough guy. Yet another homey place to drink fresh brew is opening just down from Rainbow Grocery -- which now sports its own excellent beer and wine section -- on the corner of 14th and Folsom. That's three so far this year and still counting.

And apparently, San Francisco brewpubs are hot all over the country, as evidenced by the success of the Alcatraz Brewing Company. Sort of. Boasting five locations, including one in Indianapolis, these theme restaurants are just great if you're in the mood for some Assault & Battered Onion Rings with a Lifer's Sport Mug of Lights Out Stout to wash 'em down. One more travesty to trigger reckless shoplifting at Pier 39 and tourist attractions everywhere.

Do Do That Voodoo
If the city's hippest nabe is bugging the crap out of you, you don't need to walk far to find a place that isn't so damn, well, hip. Sacrifice -- on South Van Ness just down from Whiz Burgers -- offers friendly bartenders, a very fast mirror ball, and schlocky movies on the telly. So shake your booties down to this spot for some Creole/Caribbean food at a nice price.

Nosing Around
Helen Turley -- who was named one of San Francisco magazine's "top 60 ones to watch" -- has made Turley Wines some of the most sought-after bottles around. Helen was making French Rhone-style vintages before any of the Valley's shakers caught whiff of that movement, and now she's consulting for a number of tony wineries.

In other wine news, the Buena Vista and Haywood labels -- along with other properties in the Racke Wine Group stable -- have proven drinkable and popular on local shelves and wine lists. No wonder the bosses at Young's Market were so irate when the whole bunch of 'em jumped ship for a sweeter deal at Southern Wines.

The din from the marketplace battle between the two dominant distributors of liquor in California is usually kept to a dull roar, but not in this case. Driven by emphatic voice mails from angry higher-ups, scared salesmen are scrambling to replace those placements with something comparable from their books, even hinting that they'll buy back bottles from the renegade wine group. Isn't this business fun?

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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