Monday Six: Dungeness Crab Season (Kinda), an Eatsa for Burgers, New Chefs at Spoonbar

Plus Fiddler's Green reopens, New York's controversial Chick Fil-A closes, and a look at how farm-to-table dining happens in dark, chilly Alaska.

[jump] Dungeness Crab Season Not Altogether a Flop
On Saturday evening, I ate dinner at a restaurant in Alameda where Dungeness crab was served. “It's from Washington!” the server exclaimed, unprompted. Turns out, the season isn't totally a wash. While Northern California is off-limits — including the crucial fishery centered on Monterey Bay — fishing season has opened in Washington and even into Oregon. Additionally, the Chronicle reported on New Year's Eve that certain sections of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, south of Piedras Blancas, have tested free of the neurotoxin that causes acute suffering in humans up to and including death. El Niño's warm waters are the chief culprit, having generated an unfortunate plankton bloom, but you can't rule out an assist from anthropogenic climate change, either.

New Chefs at Healdsburg's Spoonbar
Inside Scoop's Paolo Lucchesi reports that Louis Maldonado has left Healdsburg's Spoonbar after four years. Additionally, we found that in his place come, husband-and-wife duo Patrick and Casey Van Voorhis, who have done stints at Acquerello and at Jane Bakery and Quince, respectively. (Both worked at Cotogna, too.) They'll be updating the menu with items such as roasted Knoll carrots with prosciutto, toasted walnuts and brown butter egg yolk; rye gnocchi wit caramelized cabbage and pumpkin seeds; and buttermilk fried quail with ragusa squash, charred onion, and purple cabbage.

Fiddler's Green to Reopen 
The 25-year-old Irish bar at the northern end of Columbus Avenue closed in October, but Hoodline's Geri Koeppel caught that a new company is coming into the former Fiddler's Green space to do a total remodel, quite likely under the same name, and hopefully in time for a certain mid-March holiday.

A Robo-Restaurant for Burgers?
Eatsa, the quinoa-based downtown eatery with virtually no visible human presence, opened last year to much acclaim (and a little dystopian angst). Now, Hoodline reports that a startup called Momentum Machines wants to open up at 680 Folsom Street with a device capable of cooking 360 customizable burgers per hour (or one every 10 seconds). Let's hope it does better than the aggro ketchup robot.

Agriculture in Alaska
The Mat-Su Valley north of Anchorage is shielded from a truly arctic climate by mountains, and combined with extra hours of sunlight in the summer, it's capable of supporting agriculture in spite of a short growing season. The New York Times digs deep on how farm-to-table dining happens in the not-quite-frigid north, where fresh produce can be a rarity. Spoiler alert: It involves a lot of hydroponics, but stuff still freezes on the tarmac. 

Ewww: New York's Only Chick-Fil-A Closes Over Filth
The Manhattan Chick-Fil-A that was subject to lots of protests over its CEO's antigay stance — please, please, let that company try to come any closer than Novato and Walnut Creek — has shuttered because of 59 violations, including flies, improper food storage, and “soiled wiping cloths.” Tragicomically, instead of improving after its first failing grade, things got worse. Although scheduled to reopen for breakfast this morning, the Midtown location remains closed.

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