Autumn is traditionally the season for Oscar-worthy movies. Seems like the same thing happens in the food world, where the buzz levels are about to peak. Restaurateurs are rushing to open before the holiday season, and publishers want to see cookbooks wrapped up in pretty paper and gifted to family and friends.
Most of this fall's high-profile openings are connected to chefs we all know and respect. Acquerello is one of the last four-stars in town to launch a casual spinoff, which is why the owners' 1760, open any day now, has attracted as much gossip as a Woody Allen film crew. We're curious to see what Los Angeles transplant Adam Tortosa (Ink, Katsu-ya Uechi) does in the kitchen.
Just a short walk from 1760 will be Verbena, the new place from Gather chef Sean Baker and his partners (due in November). For this project, Baker's ditching the pizzas to focus more intensely on root-to-shoot dishes.
Culinary details regarding Daniel Patterson's new Alta CA are still scarce, but the 65-seat Mid-Market restaurant, due in the late fall, is reported to be "fun" and "casual."
San Francisco magazine food editor Sara Deseran tells us, "The restaurant I'm most excited to see is La Urbana. No one in San Francisco has attempted this level of Mexican food." The restaurant is scheduled to open September 4.
Finally, September should bring the Bruce Hill-helmed relaunch of the Fog City Diner. It's now christened Fog City. So 21st century.
Passing the closed Tosca this summer has felt like spotting a smile with a knocked-out tooth; we're awaiting the gap to be remedied under the new ownership of Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield of New York City's The Spotted Pig (bonus: regular access to Bloomfield's cooking).
Speaking of Dogpatch, will Magnolia's ginormous brewpub finally open this October? Dave McLean hopes so, especially because San Franciscans can't stop nagging him about it. "Even the delivery guy from the Thai restaurant I ordered from just asked me if it was open yet," he told us.
"We're rich in local books right now," says Omnivore Books' Celia Sack. Though David Tanis is now a New York Times columnist, Sack still counts the former Chez Panisse chef as a local; his One Good Dish ($26) will appear on her shelves in late October. Chad Robertson's third cookbook, Tartine Book No. 3, will teach readers how to make Tartine's stupendous whole-grain "porridge" breads.
The two highest-glamour cookbooks emerging this fall are David Kinch's Manresa: An Edible Reflection ($50) and Daniel Patterson's Coi ($50). "Like many high-end books, they're more inspirational than instructional," Sack says, "but both authors realized that."
This season's most controversial book may be Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné's The New California Wine ($35), out in November. It's sure to infuriate big-Napa-Cab fans as it trumpets winemakers advancing a more idiosyncractic vision.
Although you'll be hearing a lot about Joyce Goldstein's forthcoming Inside the California Food Revolution ($35), which traces the birth of California cuisine, Sack hopes you'll also look out for Erica J. Peters' meticulously researched San Francisco: A Food Biography ($38).