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Hotel California 

The new Clift Hotel swings open July 31

Wednesday, May 2 2001
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Clift Hanger Hip hotelier Ian Schrager's publicity has been hush-hush about his Clift Hotel renovations, but Harry's long assumed that the new owner would replace the old hotel's fancy French Room with oh-so-fashionable Asia de Cuba, the New York-based chain that also dishes out Asian-Latin cuisine at Schrager's L.A. property, the Mondrian.

Now the suspicion has been confirmed: The whole joint will swing open its doors on July 31, unveiling the Phillippe Stark- designed eatery as well as the renovated Redwood Room. Harry is looking forward to raising a fork at the restaurant's infamous communal table (it seats 36) and will keep his fingers crossed that we can still recognize the historic redwood bar, which many locals fear will have been stripped of its classic San Francisco charm.

Hot Plate Any foodie worth his gourmet sea salt knows that the annual Meals on Wheels benefit, rolling its way to Steuart Street on Sunday, May 6, is a must-attend. Hosted this year by Master of Ceremonies chef/TV show host Joey Altman, the swank evening will include an auction, live music by the Back Burner Blues Band (comprised of Altman, Gordon Drysdale of Gordon's, Scott Warner of Black Cat, Keith Luce of PlumpJack, and Andre Chapital of LuLu), pourings from 30 wineries, and food from seven Financial District dining rooms and 19 celebrity chefs. The roster includes Ron Siegel of Masa's, Fifth Floor's George Morrone, and Boulevard's Nancy Oakes. Tickets are $250 -- Harry has already broken the piggy bank -- and you can call 920-1234 for more info. Time to dust off the black tie.

Curve Ball Move over MoMo's and Paragon: New restaurant/bar Curve will have more than just bats swinging around the ballpark. Previously Bay Cities Bar & Grill on Third Street, the new hot spot -- owned by the flirtatious and charismatic restaurant veteran Johnny "Love" Metheny and his childhood pal Michael "Mickey V" Voisenat -- should lure fans of both baseball and sport-dating when it opens on May 7 (the Montreal Expos). After bumping into Metheny and pocketing his business card, Harry couldn't help but wonder when the lads will lose the boyish nicknames (which appear in quotes on the card). He also wonders whether the locally famous Love can hit a home run even though he's entering the game during the second inning of the "SLOMA" slump. Nearby Azie, which just turned off the lunchtime open sign, is further proof that those high-tech expense accounts have gone the way of Giants games at Candlestick.

Low Tech Speaking of hungry dot-commers, Postrio manager Toby Peach couldn't believe it when on Sunday, April 22, two well-heeled young women feasted their way through the menu, then asked for the manager and requested a discount (since they had recently been laid off). Though they paid full price, the miserly maidens shouldn't be hard-up for cash for long: Harry figures that anyone with that kind of nerve will have no problem landing on two feet.

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Harry Coverte

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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

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    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

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