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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bay Area Restaurant News

There have been several interesting news items lately regarding the Bay Area restaurant scene.   Here are just a few of the stories that caught my attention:

Asia de Cuba:   Chef David Yeo, formerly with the company behind Straits Café, has taken over as executive chef at Asia de Cuba, the fusion restaurant located in the Clift Hotel.   He has already started modifying the menu, which includes such items as Cuban Chicken with Avocado Fruit Salsa and Tamarind Sauce and Asian Spiced Pork Spare Ribs with Roasted Corn.   I have dined at the restaurant a few times over the years, and I have never been all that impressed – either with the food or with the atmosphere.   I'll be curious to see whether Yeo is able to bring the food, at least, up a notch.

Tra Vigne:   This once-glorious wine country restaurant seems to have fallen off a bit in recent years, with what some might say is poor attention to detail and a lack of focus.   Perhaps in an effort to rectify this, the restaurant has just recently named a new executive chef – Eric Torralba.   Torralba earned positive reviews during his tenure some time ago at Domaine Chandon, but reactions to his now-closed Sausalito restaurant Antidote were more mixed.   There, Torralba pushed boundaries by serving soup in test tubes, oysters with an eye dropper filled with blue vodka to be squirted into the mouth, and other dishes with aromatic powders on the side that were meant to be sensed but not eaten – demonstrating why he has been described as a disciple of cutting-edge food innovators such as Ferran Adria of Spain's El Bulli.   It will be interesting to see whether Torralba is able to inject some of his creativity into the well-worn formula of Tra Vigne, or whether he will have to keep those impulses locked away for the time being.

Thomas Keller:   The legendary chef who reached incredible heights with The French Laundry and then subsequently expanded into three more restaurants, a line of porcelain, and a line of knives is taking on yet another project.   Thomas Keller has inked a multi-million dollar deal with Vintage Estate Hotels, owner of the Vintage Inn and Villagio Inn & Spa in the Napa Valley.   Keller will be "overseeing" the catering for all on-site special events at the hotels, for which menus will be constructed from the cuisine of Jeffrey Cerciello – the executive chef at Keller's Bouchon restaurant in Yountville.   Although it sounds like Keller's day-to-day responsibilities for this new venture will not be that great, anything that further dilutes his ability to focus on the finer points of The French Laundry cannot be good for its future.   Time will tell.

Tartare:   As noted in a recent post, Tartare chef and owner George Morrone is planning to relaunch his financial district restaurant soon with a new name and a revamped menu.   His famous Ahi Tartare will remain on the new menu, and I am glad to report – after a conversation with Morrone himself at the restaurant yesterday evening – that he also plans to retain the Truffled Foie Gras Pasta, a personal favorite.   So the plate a friend and I shared last night thankfully will not be our last!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for passing along this info, especially about Tartare, one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I love this blog!!

August 21, 2005 1:34 PM  

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