From its humble beginning on 24th Street in San Francisco's Mission district, Philz Coffee has expanded to 14 cafes around the Bay Area in just over a decade. Now, the baristas are ready and pouring one cup at a time at the newest Philz, located in South San Francisco's Westborough Square Shopping Center. Philz is best-known for the wide spectrum of beans it roasts, covering all sorts of flavor profiles accompanied by tasting notes like fine wine. The Ether is dark and oily with charcoal tones, while the New Manhattan medium-light roast has a "winelike" taste. The mint mojito iced coffee is the best-seller, whether its 90 degrees or 40 degrees, but don't ask for a cappuccino -- it's only drip coffee here. There's free Wi-Fi and pastries, cookies and bagels from Oakland's Starter Bakery and San Francisco's Goody Goody Bakery and The Bagelry. 2248 Westborough Blvd., South San Francisco; (650) 829-2435.
Coinciding with the recent news that Blue Bottle Coffee will be opening its own cafe in Palo Alto, the city just lost one of its only two cafes that served drinks from Blue Bottle beans. Ground Up closed its doors on Halloween because of slow business at its location in the AOL Building (citing the free coffee in the AOL offices as one big reason). The cafe was a joint business venture of AOL and Stanford Student Enterprises.
At LB Steak in Menlo Park, owner Roland Passot has a new chef de cuisine: John Gurnee, most recently the chef de cuisine at Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. After a month running the kitchen, Gurnee has revamped the menu with his own concepts. This being a steakhouse, there are 10 cuts of steak on offer with sides and sauces. However, Gurnee has transformed the place into an all-around destination restaurant as well. Autumnal highlights include a salad of beets and Sainte Maure ash-rind goat cheese with pistachio granola and roasted-pear vinaigrette, as well as the maple-glazed pork belly starter on a sweet potato pancake with apple butter. You'll even find uni butter joining an entree of pan-seared scallops and Maine lobster risotto. 898 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park; (650) 321-8980.
On Saturday night, the Rosewood Sand Hill is hosting a special three-course dinner for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Chefs on hand for the Toque of the Town dinner include Mark Sullivan of San Francisco's Spruce (a Crohn's disease survivor), Peter Rudolph of Madera at the Rosewood, Dmitry Elpern of Woodside's The Village Pub, and Kayvon Jordan from Mayfield Bakery and Cafe in Palo Alto. The evening also includes a wine tasting from local vineyards. Tickets are $200 a person.2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park; (415) 356-2230; tickets at online.ccfa.org/toqueofthetown.