Side Dish

The Name of the Rose

Nights of Wine and RosesIf Cindy Crawford married bar maverick Rande Gerber for his trendy velvet-rope talents, she might now consider flying the coop for the keener gifts of Jon Gasparini and Greg Lindgren (of 15 Romolo), who are poised to snare the nightlife title with their new bar, Rosewood (732 Broadway). Its metal doors swing open on Friday, Jan. 12, to reveal swank Euro designs, including a suspended 26-piece terra-cotta speaker system (ooh) and lots of leather (ahh), plus walls of -- guess what -- Bolivian rosewood. Anyone dismayed by San Francisco's lack of exclusive bars will appreciate the rules of engagement in Rosewood's 20-person back room: Request a reservation, and if the owners deem you worthy you'll have the privilege of buying booze only by the bottle with the other chosen few. If you do get in, you'll find that status comes more cheaply than at similar trendy scenes in Miami's South Beach or on the East Coast, where a bottle sans mixers or fruit garnishes will cost you $250.

Basque-wordDon't worry if you didn't get the idea behind 7H, which opened with a confused Basque-influenced menu last October at Seventh and Harrison: Apparently no one else did either. That's why owners Barney Brown and Robert Radosta (both from Betelnut) decided to simplify their concept. Chef Brown is still top toque, but now both the name and the game are authentic -- just Basque -- featuring tapas and paprika-peppered entrees. Harry thinks there's room for the festive Spanish cuisine, but he still wonders whether this new angle is for real -- or whether it's just a last-ditch effort to turn around a failing business.

Going PostalWhile the rest of us were swapping holiday gifts, industry insiders were swapping posts. Theaddeus Van Dyke stepped aside as opening general manager at Butterfly, and Maureen Donegan fluttered over (having recently departed Dine) to baby-sit; management, obviously, is looking for a full-time GM. John Jasso, floor manager and sidekick to maitre d' Nick Peyton at both Farallon and Gary Danko, took over as Danko's front man. Aabi Shapoorian traded his position as director of operations for Kimpton Group restaurants (which includes Fifth Floor and Grand Cafe) for more quality time with his family; Umberto Gibin moved up from GM at Grand Cafe to fill the hot seat. With more front men taking timeouts in the name of family, Harry wonders if there's a new millennium trend toward kinder, gentler -- dare we say, more sensitive-- restaurant workaholics, men who seek personal fulfillment outside the dining room doors. More likely, demand (aka more high-end restaurants than folks prepared to work in them) is allowing employees to call the shots, for a change.

The Last of the Big Spenders? Whisperings of recession apparently haven't hit everyone -- or at least they hadn't hit three gentlemen who dined at Fifth Floor over the holidays. After four hours of conversation, wine, and food, the dinner-party host didn't even flinch at the $7,000 bill. The server's reaction was not as calm: A quick peek at the credit card slip revealed a $5,000 tip. And he didn't even have to sit on Santa's lap.

 
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