Kitchen 2 Kitchen, Part 1: San Francisco

We had the most perfect weather imaginable last weekend in the Bay Area, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I spent the whole glorious weekend inside — and I wasn’t even sick! I happily gave up the sunshine to attend two fantastic food and wine “inside the kitchen” events.

The first took place Friday evening in the kitchen of one of my fav restaurants — Hawthorne Lane. After 12 years of working as a restaurateur (please note people – there is no “n” in the word- about 90% of the population mispronounce this:), David Gingrass has decided it’s time to make some changes.

1. He will be closing H.L. at the end of the year and morphing the space into a Cal/Global/Mediterranean restaurant, that will reflect a more comfort food, Casual Friday feeling.

2. The new restaurant will be named TWO. Why TWO? Maybe because it’s David’s second restaurant; the address is 22 Hawthorne Lane; David is enthusiastically returning to his culinary roots and taking his place in the kitchen next to Executive Chef Bridget Batson so there will be TWO chefs collaborating; or maybe simply because it will be TWO times more fun.

3. After speaking with David, it was hard not to take a nap, since just observing his energy level can be exhausting. He was bubbling over with plans for TWO. Just a few of his ideas include having a massive family dining table. The menu will feature some outstanding handcrafted breads, pizzas, housemade charcuterie, and homey rustic desserts which will also be available TWO-go There will be a new value-oriented wine list, which should pair nicely with the $25 menu of the day.

Which brings me to Friday’s dinner. David had a very clever idea to hold a series (sorry-all sold-out) of Dinners it the Kitchen where 12 of us gathered at the family table to eat, drink, discuss, debate, and in general give our Two cents worth on proposed dishes for the new menu. We had a blast writing our comments, and filing out forms that even included which menu type and descriptions we preferred. David was either cooking in the kitchen or perched on the corner of the table, sipping a glass of wine and intently listening to our feedback.

Our tasting consisted of:

Spicy fish soup, rouille, grilled bread
Poached pear, arugula salad, candied walnuts, St. Agur cheese
Duck liver and apple pate, fig toast
Braised escarole pizza, home-made pancetta, eggs

Grilled Dungeness crab, chili lime butter
Grilled kobe beef tri-tip, sweet and sour onions
Potato and garlic puree
Caramelized broccoli, slivered garlic, lemon

Ice cream sundaes

My feedback: the soup and three appetizers had incredible flavor and I checked them all on the “would definitely order” column. However, the unshelled crab was presented in unwieldly pieces which were impossible to dip in the flavored butter; the Kobe beef was not very flavorful, and the broccoli was been there-done that before. The housemade ice cream made a whimsical finish with it’s toasted caramelized rice crisp topping. My general feeling is that I for one, am excited about the arrival of Two.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of Kitchen 2 Kitchen…

By Janice Nieder, AKA Dining Diva

Posted by Janice Nieder on November 03, 2006 in Food

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