Side Dish

Foot Docs and Fêtes

Surprise PartyWhen 40,000 orthopedic surgeons besieged our town for a convention and overbooked our restaurants on the first weekend of March, a stampede of hungry diners put newly revamped Black Cat in North Beach to the test. Tables were packed and the bar was alive with foot docs wielding the $6.25 house specialty drink, the "minimum wage" (Stoli plus any mixer). By 10:30 p.m. a good portion of the menu items were sold out (or, as we say in the kitchen, 86ed). Management sat patrons until 11 p.m. rather than the usual 12:15 a.m. and made do with menu stragglers. Harry stuck to his diet of Manhattans and remembered that in a pinch the Cat borrows grub from not-as-busy neighbor Glow. Glow GM Gary Obligacion tells Harry that though the folks at Cat prowl their kitchen in good faith, he sometimes has to drop a reminder in order to get his goods back.

Glowing Words of ContradictionSpeaking of the yet-to-be-luminous Glow, Harry wonders what inspired Chronicle Food Editor Michael Bauer's change of heart on that eatery. In his Restaurant Reporter column in the April issue of Bon Appétit, Bauer lists Bacar, Le Bistrot, and Glow as the three new must-see restaurants in San Francisco. The accompanying snippet says Glow chef Mark Zeitouni's "braised short ribs with young turnips and horseradish onion purée please one and all." But Bauer's Chroniclereview on Feb. 11, 2001, slighted the very same dish, calling it "another oddity." His words: "A grainy onion and horseradish puree covered the bottom of the plate. ... It looked and tasted like a first attempt at a dish that needed a unifying element to pull it together." Harry knows that national magazines like Bon Appétithave long lead times (especially as compared to daily papers), which makes it chronologically impossible for the restaurant to have "pulled it together" in time for the magazine's review.

Hail MaryAs reported, after 29 years as one of the original SOMA eateries, wild and S.F.-wacky Hamburger Mary's at 12th and Folsom streets has been sold. New owner and gay-friendly-restaurant advocate Paul Langley comes from Harvey's on 18th and Castro, named in tribute to Harvey Milk, and a new addition, also called Harvey's, at 1507 Polk St. Langley will close escrow on April 16 on the local landmark; he plans to maintain the interior's integrity, though he will change the menu to reflect his other locations' American diner cuisine. Mary's former owners, Rose Christesen and Amy Schloss, are retiring, but not before an open-to-the-public farewell party on April 15 at the restaurant. Harry wonders if Rose will miss customers who ask for the nonexistent Mary or claim to know her. Langley plans to reopen the spot on April 20 as -- you guessed it -- Harvey's.

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