Ice cream is in, yogurt is out

A long line of bundled-up customers welcomed Salt * Straw on its opening day.

A long line of bundled-up customers welcomed Salt & Straw on its opening day.

FROZEN YOGURT IS DEAD on Fillmore Street. Long live artisan ice cream.

Today is the final day of business for Fraiche, the upscale frozen yogurt shop at 1910 Fillmore that brought Apple founder Steve Jobs’ favorite yogurt plus pour-over Blue Bottle coffee to the street for the past seven years. That follows by a few weeks the closure of Yoppi, another frozen yogurt shop, at 2208 Fillmore.

But the neighborhood will not long for frozen treats. Yesterday, just across the street from Yoppi’s now-papered windows, Salt & Straw opened its new shop on the corner of Fillmore and Sacramento — and was promptly greeted by a long line of customers waiting to try its unusual flavors: cinnamon ancho and cajeata, cascara shrub with candied hibiscus, and teranga baobab juice and coconut, among more than a dozen others.

“We’ve crafted a menu of seasonal delights to serve as an introduction to our scoop style and let us get to know and collaborate with local artisans,” says the company, promising to “shake up our flavors every month.” A single scoop is $5; a double $7.

Salt & Straw is a block north of Smitten Ice Cream, at 2404 California, which has been serving up its made-on-the-spot flavors over the past year.

Still the best value: Miyako Old-Fashioned Ice Cream, a few blocks south at 1470 Fillmore, where Tom Bennett has been scooping up Dreyer’s and Mitchell’s ice cream, and all sorts of other sweets, for decades.

Shell station won’t have a garage

Construction continues on the new Shell station at California and Steiner.

Construction continues on the new Shell station at California and Steiner.

AS THE demolition, excavation and reconstruction of the Shell gas station on the corner of California and Steiner proceeds, it has become apparent it will no longer include a garage when the station reopens this summer with more gas pumps and a Loop convenience store.

Neighbors rallied to save the garage, which had been on the corner for decades, when new owners of the station proposed to replace it with twice as many gas pumps and a massive grab-and-go store offering soda, snacks and more food options, including a sushi bar.

Before giving its go-ahead, the Planning Commission reduced the number of additional gas pumps, limited the size of the store and directed the owners to rebuild the garage.

But soon after its renovation plans were approved in June 2015, Au Energy evicted the mechanics who leased the garage and shut it down. It remained empty until demolition began earlier this year.

As construction began, the general counsel for the company said “I don’t know” whether a garage would be included. He said the project “turned into a full rebuild” and was expected to take at least five months, with the station reopening “at the end of May at the earliest.”

EARLIER: “Shell gets go-ahead, garage gets the boot

Carol Field tied tradition to captivating stories

Carol Field at home in her kitchen on Washington Street.

Carol Field at home in her kitchen on Washington Street.

By MARK FANTINO

My introduction to Carol Field came in the spring of 1997, in the weeks preceding the release party for her book In Nonna’s Kitchen. An informal dinner was planned with dishes from the book, which was at least one part investigative journalism into the secrets and traditions of Italian grandmothers.

The dinner was to be held at Vivande Ristorante in Opera Plaza, and all of us cooks were to page through the house copy of In Nonna’s Kitchen and select recipes that spoke to us. I chose Tuscan Chicken Liver Pâté (Crostini di Fegatini), which was a bewitching concoction of soft-cooked onions, capers, anchovies and chicken livers, all moistened with Vin Santo.

I remember testing a batch. My coworker peered into my pot, squinched up his face and declared: “That’s everything I hate all mixed together.” I disagreed. But livers, like anchovies, will forever fall firmly into two dividing camps: those who think it must be an acquired taste and those, like me, who insist it is instead a required taste. It remains one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken livers, though difficult to talk about without causing some kind of reaction.

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Fire at the Elite

Elite

IT WAS A sunny Friday morning, and it looked as if the historic neon sign fronting the Elite Cafe would at last be fully lit. Then suddenly a swarm of fire trucks was on the scene.

“We finally found the part to fix the sign to light both sides,” says owner Andy Chun, “and the sign guys somehow caught the thing on fire when they were installing it.”

Chun says the extent of the damage and how long repairs will take are both unknown at this point.

elite_fire

London Market takes a spirited turn

Kyle Nadeau in the rebuilt corner store that is now Corbeaux's London Market.

Kyle Nadeau in the rebuilt corner store that is now Corbeaux’s London Market.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD LOST another of its corner groceries last year when the century-old London Market at Divisadero and Sacramento closed. This weekend it is being reborn as the sleek and modern Corbeaux’s London Market, a wine and spirits shop.

It’s the brainchild of Kyle Nadeau — who worked at D&M Liquors on Fillmore Street for nearly a decade — and his partner Evan Krow, both of whom live nearby.

The grand opening will come later this month, but it’s “softly open” as of this weekend. “We’ve had a lot of desire from people in the neighborhood wanting to get in here,” says Nadeau.

Still to come: a gourmet deli in the back offering cheese, charcuterie and caviar. It will be operated by the owners of the new Greenbox takeout shop that just opened a block south at California and Divisadero.

In Vino veritas no more

After 20 years, Vino closed on New Year's Eve.

After 20 years at 2425 California Street, Vino closed on New Year’s Eve.

By CHRIS BARNETT

On New Year’s Eve, when most wine and champagne purveyors were tallying up their holiday sales receipts, Vino at 2425 California Street closed its doors forever after a 20-year run — the victim of a potential $1,000 a month rent hike, shrinking profits and a retailing strategy that no longer works in the neighborhood.

Unpretentious, with decor fashioned mostly out of wooden shipping boxes and paper tubes, and resembling a ground level wine cellar without the chill, Vino was known for its straight talk on wines, good values and its 350-bottle inventory of mostly eclectic imports.

Actually, Vino’s owner, seasoned wine retailer and wholesaler Alan Pricco, decided to pull the plug even before the property manager hit him with a  $12,000 a year rent increase. “I called him and said we’re leaving,” Pricco says.

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Triumph of the new Elite is its bar

Photographs of the new modern Elite Cafe for John Storey.

Photographs of the new modern Elite Cafe at 2049 Fillmore by John Storey

SALOONS | CHRIS BARNETT

For months — long past its supposed July opening — the windows were papered over, thwarting sidewalk squinters who wanted a peek at the new Elite Cafe, wondering whether the new owners would preserve all that magnificent mahogany, the private booths, the historic bar and the New Orleans influenced menu.

In early October, the paper came down and the 35-year-old eatery made its latest debut. The Elite Cafe has been reborn as a sleek, sophisticated midtown Manhattan restaurant with a revived slate of French Quarter offerings, but only faint traces of its Art Deco past.

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Boulange Fillmore may finally reopen

There's a new awning, but nothing more at 2047 Fillmore.

There’s a new awning, but nothing more at 2043 Fillmore.

It’s been over a year since Pascal Rigo reclaimed the space at 2043 Fillmore he’d sold to Starbucks as part of a $100 million deal.

Since then, even as he reopened a reinvented Boulangerie around the corner on Pine Street, the windows on the Fillmore cafe have remained papered and the French blue paint has faded. Now Rigo says he’s finally ready to roll.

“It’s going to be a slightly different Boulange,” he says. “No open face, because they are all going to be available at Pine. But great fun sandwiches in a different type of bread and a lot of beignets, as well as soft serves.”

Much of Rigo’s recent attention has been focused on baking for Trader Joe’s and Costco in the massive production bakery he reacquired from Starbucks.

‘Pacific Nights’ at the Lion Pub

A stained glass window at the Lion Pub at 2062 Divisadero.

A stained glass window at the Lion Pub at 2062 Divisadero.

LONGTIME LOCAL business owner Kelly Ellis has died after a long illness and his Lion Pub at 2062 Divisadero is now closed after 48 years.

The Lion Pub holds a storied place in the city’s gay history, tucked discreetly off the beaten path in a jungle of greenery at Divisadero and Sacramento. More recently, it catered to a mixed neighborhood clientele.

In a 2015 bar column headlined “Pacific Nights,” the Bay Area Reporter recalled the Lion Pub as one of three gay bars in the neighborhood. In the 1980s, it was “the domain of that now rare commodity known as the sweater queen.” But after the onset of AIDS, “The decline of the gayborhood in Pacific Heights and environs was remarkably swift.”

lionpub1

MORE: “Pacific Nights: The Lion Pub and other lost gay dens

Cocktails with artistic flair

Design by Michael Schwab

SALOONS | CHRIS BARNETT

Eternally preppy saloon impresario Perry Butler’s landmark joint at 1944 Union Street is a museum of all things newsworthy in San Francisco for the last 47 years, with nary a square inch of empty wall space. But he’s long felt something was missing. “I’ve always wanted a poster,” he says, “A simple, clean, classic illustration of our signature cocktail.”

Perhaps Butler was listening to his inner adman. After all, his dad was a Madison Avenue heavyweight whose newly minted Dartmouth grad son had a brief fling in the hard-drinking agency world of the 1960s. He didn’t like it.

Two years ago, Butler approached San Anselmo graphic designer Michael Schwab, possibly the Bay Area’s most prolific and passionate poster artist. Schwab turned him down, saying he was too busy. Schwab’s style — strong, simple, retro images in warm, bold colors reminiscent of the ’20s and ’30s — makes even Alcatraz look inviting. The Golden Gate National Park Conservancy, which runs The Rock, has enlisted Schwab to produce a series of posters capturing the various places in the national park the conservancy oversees.

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