Heavy Hitters

A new restaurant pinch-hits for Pac Bell Park's Twenty Four

Behind Home PlateHarry's response to the changes afoot at Pac Bell Park's unsuccessful Twenty Four is, "Hang on, boys -- it's going to be bumpy ride." This rookie of a restaurant, which has mostly gone downhill since it opened in spring 2000, is headed into its second loop: It's now closed for minor remodeling and should reopen in mid-March as Acme Chop House. At least this time it brings a celebrated team along for the ride. Overseeing the new menu of wood-grilled steaks, chops, fish, braises, daily rotisserie specials, burgers, and sandwiches are Jardinière chef/co-owner Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière Director of Operations Larry Bain, chef de cuisine/former Le Colonial chef Thom Fox, and bar manager/wine director Booth McKinney, formerly of LuLu, Azie, and Zibbibo. It's true that Acme's neighbors -- MoMo's, Paragon, and Curve -- aren't what one would call a culinary E-ticket; most likely that's ditto for soon-to-open Max's Diamond Grill, just a block away on King Street. But even if Des Jardins et al. can create a thrilling combo of food and atmosphere, there might not be enough local patrons who still care. One wonders whether even these heavy hitters can keep the seats filled beyond home-game days.

Trading TeamsRobert Mollot has landed at chef Bradley Ogden's Yankee Pier in Larkspur as chef de cuisine. Mollot worked with Ogden at Lark Creek Inn in the early 1990s before taking an East Coast break. On this side of the bay, Ghirardelli Square's McCormick & Kuleto's is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and the announcement of its new executive chef, Armen Jeghelian. The 27-year-old previously served as executive sous-chef at McCormick & Schmick's in El Segundo. For what it's worth, Jeghelian is also the youngest person to be named a Certified Chef de Cuisine by the American Culinary Federation.

French ClassTalk about clever ways to raise money in lean times: Masa's Executive Chef Ron Siegel is teaching cooking courses in the dining room. Each three-hour course, limited to 25, costs $75, covers cooking tips and methods, and includes a tasting. The class on Saturday, Feb. 9, covers winter veggies; March 9, fish; April 13, wine and cheese; and May 11, salads. A portion of the proceeds benefits Oakland's Children's Hospital.

Robber ReduxIn his last column ("Reinventing the Meal," Jan. 23), Harry reported on a man who snagged French Laundry sommelier Keith Fergel's Jeep Grand Cherokee from 15 Romolo's valet. Here's an update: The car was found 10 days later, a few blocks away on Broadway -- with eight parking tickets on its windshield. Fergel assumes that the assailant fled the car shortly after Fergel called him on the cell phone Fergel had left in the Jeep and fibbed that the car held a LoJack unit and was being tracked.

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