This week in restaurant news, we have a major chef change at one of the Marina's most popular eateries; a new adult playland, complete with skeeball, opening near Union Square; and the expansion of Smitten Ice Cream.
First up, the big news of the past week was the announcement that longtime Betelnut chef Alex Ong has decided to depart the restaurant and go off on his own. The news follows on a rocky six months in which the Real Restaurants Group (which also owns Fog City Diner, soon to be rechristened Fog City, Bix, and Zero Zero) decided to overhaul the restaurant and rename it Hutong, with Ong's help, adding more of a street food theme. But fans of the original, including Michael Bauer, didn't dig the change, and they quickly reverted back to Betelnut. A short while ago they hired chef de cuisine Mario Tolentino, and he'll be taking over for Ong as executive chef. Here's hoping that Ong will find a home for his Beggar's Chicken and other excellent food soon. [KQED, Tablehopper]
Now softly open in Union Square, across the street from the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, is Golden Gate Tap Room, in the former Golden Gate Grill space that was once home to the S.F. Press Club. The vast, double-height space has been transformed by Lori's Diner owner Man J. Kim into a bar and restaurant with a ton of arcade games, pool tables, two shuffleboard tables, 20 flat-screen TVs, and three skeeball ramps. There's a menu of a 100 beers to choose from, as well as some wines, and sports-bar-friendly food. [Eater]
As you may have heard, Virginia Ramos, the famed Tamale Lady, has been disallowed by the Health Department to keep her mobile, rolling-cooler-based business as is, and she's now got a little over a month to raise to $155,000 on this IndieGogo campaign so she can open her own brick-and-mortar shop. At age 60, she probably shouldn't be hauling that cooler around bar to bar anyway. [Tablehopper]
Smitten Ice Cream, which found its first home in the Proxy development in Hayes Valley, has just announced that they are expanding to Rockridge in Oakland, and down in Los Altos. [Inside Scoop]
Also, there's a new chef at Fish Story up in Napa; a Hawaiian restaurant in Alameda, Hang Ten Boiler, is now fusing Hawaiian and Cajun food; and Michael Bauer is sounding pretty positive about the new menu at Poggio in Sausalito under new chef Benjamin Balesteri.