Not at Luce Ends Lucky for us that Keith Luce, former executive chef at PlumpJack, and his wife Raney ditched their plans to open a country inn in Mendocino: Instead they've opted for something closer to home in the form of Merenda, at 1809 Union. Whispers among local foodies claim it's a chef's restaurant -- i.e., an industry kinda place; it includes its own rosticceria, enoteca, and trattoria (that's roastery, wine bar, and restaurant for you Italophobes). A mere 30 table seats and six barstools keep the vibe cozy; the front take-away counter feeds Pac Heightsians fresh sauces, salad makings, and uncooked pasta. Throw in something from the 40-selection wine list and -- presto! -- gourmet dinner at home.
Theme From Jaws Something fishy is going on at Eastside West. Owner Scott Dammann is shrinking his menu and slashing prices by 20 percent (appetizers now go for $5 to $10 and entrees under $15). At the same time, he's transformed the back dining room into a lounge serving small plates, where diners feed nervously, watched by Dammann's tiger sharks as they circle the 300-gallon tank awaiting their shrimp-and-calamari feasts. Strange that there's no shark sandwich on the menu.
Foodie Philanthropy Cocktails and bowling don't come together often (the sport is more of a Coors-in-a-can thing), but they meshed nicely at the fourth annual Strike Out Breast Cancer event on Oct. 15. The evening fund-raiser, founded by Gail Defferari of Universal Cafe, hosted about 450 guests -- including Cartier store manager Wes Carrol, who decked the Partier Lane in jewels. The benefit raised $240,000, bringing Defferari's four-year donation total to $750,000. ... Gordon's House of Fine Eats continues the giving groove with an art opening on Nov. 3 for the peace-inspired local painter Matt Lamb. All of the proceeds from art sales go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco.