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Side Dish 

Wednesday, Mar 17 1999
Under Yer Kilt
Just in time for St. Paddy's, it's a new Irish pub and restaurant. No, it's not out on Geary with all the others -- it's located at 530 Jackson (near the Cypress Club), and it's named Kells. Paul McAlwese is the proprietor of this, the southernmost outpost of a family-owned chain. The other three locations are in Seattle, Portland, and Corvalis. Paul left the 'rents and four siblings (all in the family business) behind and ventured down to the Golden State to seek his fortune. The result of his journey is a splendid mix of the traditional and the modern. His chef of eight years, Shji Vithayathil, has put together an eclectic menu, while the basement will feature live music of the Celtic persuasion.

Be Seen and Be Bop
Stopped by Le Colonial the other Friday for a Saigon fix -- haven't seen so many people in the upstairs bar since the night of Steven Oliver's Christmas party. That evening was a blast, but this time around there was live music. The comfortable French/Viet restaurant and lounge kicked off its Sunday night jazz series at the beginning of the year, and it's been so popular that Le Colonial has expanded it to Fridays. GM Howard Cummins just can't get over the success. There's nothing like live music to bring 'em in and keep 'em there. (Sure beats a mention in Pat Steger's column, eh, Howard?)

Wish Upon a Star
Jack's on Sacramento Street -- whose opening hoopla wore off faster than a hit of nitrous -- is playing its retro trump card with full-page ads featuring a black-and-white of Herb Caen with Alfred Hitchcock. (Oh, you know, he did the original Psycho.) So: A lot of celebs used to eat at the old Jack's. And I'm sure a lot of regular Joes used to go there to watch them eat. But not anymore -- the days of martinis and gabardine are past. It does make my thoughts go out to the recently departed Albert Pollack, a great restaurateur from the glory days of dining. Now that guy knew how to run a house. Hey, Jack's: Maybe a shot of Joltin' Joe sipping a coffee'll do the trick.

Get a Job
The W Hotel, yet another New York transplant, has been in town staffing its fancy new flophouse next to SFMOMA. I doubt there are as many glamour-puss models and actors out here as in the Big Apple -- or maybe the beautiful people in our city already have jobs. This isn't an interview -- it's a casting call. Break a leg ....

Meanwhile, Back at the Pyramid ...
The place may have an offshore landlord after the Transamerica sale, but that doesn't mean it's going to be an all-Edam menu at Nancy Mootz's Vertigo. There's a new chef and new food and everyone's in a dizzy tizzy over it -- and rightly so. Jon Hearnsberger has done a great job with the kitchen. The fare has a more casual tilt than previously, with an emphasis on comfort food, but don't think the restaurant is backing away from the cutting edge: Vertigo is still one of the best places to eat in this town.

Mea Culpa
Awhile ago, Harry passed on a few rumors about the dear departed Val 21. Well, he was wrong: Nidal Nizal was the full owner of the place right to the end. The restaurant, which was known for its vegetarian fare, also offered fish and meat. And, according to Nizal, he closed for personal -- not financial -- reasons. Any way you slice it, Val 21 is missed ... and Nizal is looking for a buyer. I wish him the best in his ventures.

By Harry Coverte

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

About The Author

Harry Coverte


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