Digest it for a second: "Gluten-free." Not the most appetizing of terms now, is it? But now diners with celiac disease and/or the related gluten-free diet restrictions are multiplying faster than active yeast. And it's in every restaurant owner's best interest -- be it Michael Mina or Ike Shehadeh -- to consider catering to the gluten-free lifestyle.
I stopped into the newly, and beautifully, refurbished House of Shields yesterday as they were preparing to open for the day (their hours are 3 pm to 2 am). In a city that continues to romance the ideas of drinking in ye olden days, hinting at Prohibition and the Barbary Coast eras, donning pageboy caps and the lot, the House of Shields is the real thing.
The fine old House of Shields happens to be next door to my gym on New Montgomery, so I've been watching the progression of its rebirth from the outside: The original sign has been refurbished and the exterior has gotten a paint job. But today, chef-owner Dennis Leary (of the Sentinel next door, as well as the new Golden West) was standing at the door with some of guys in charge of all the hard labor and he let me take a peak.
It looked a little bit like a church in there this afternoon, all gorgeous wood aglow, now that it's been stripped and refinished. It was also dark, barring a shaft of light coming from the high windows, the sun illuminating the construction site's dust.
I stopped by the House of Shields (39 New Montgomery St.) to get a quick peek inside yesterday. Chef Dennis Leary of The Sentinel and Canteen—who is turning the turn-of-the-century H.O.S. back to its former glory and reopening it as a bar with light bites of food—told me they're months away from opening, while pointing out a ceiling fan opaque with dust. "They operated this place like that!" he said in disbelieve.
Seasonality. It’s is a word bandied about a lot here. “Our menu is seasonally driven …” How many times have you heard a chef say that?
For some reason, tomatoes are the most seasonally sacred of all vegetables and fruits: Should an unwitting chef serve a tomato in January, I guarantee the Chowhounders will log on to vent about the sacrilege. While the average diner might be vague on the seasonality of an artichoke (it has two seasons here: spring and fall) and have no guilt about munching on green beans year-round, everyone knows that a slice of tomato=a slice of summer. (And, for the record, summer ended September 21st.)
Not surprisingly then, last week I went to order a sandwich from The Sentinel, chef Dennis Leary’s tiny sandwich shop, and noticed the note: “No more tomatoes until next summer—sorry.” Then Jessica told me that she was at Tartine and ordered an open-faced sandwich that was listed as having tomatoes on it—only to be told that tomatoes would no longer be served with it because tomatoes are out of season.