Welcome back to our partnership with Eater. For this weekly Friday column, Eater editor Paolo Lucchesi gives his report on all the restaurant news that's fit to print, including the game-changing exit of Frank Bruni, Thomas Keller contests, kitchen gossip, and the neverending chronicles of Luisa Hanson.
1) To ring in the summer (and also new the Ad Hoc breakfast service), Eater is holding a very special contest: conceptualize the next Thomas Keller restaurant. The more creative and wacky, the better. But what's a contest without some juicy prizes? The winner gets two meals in Yountville, courtesy of the judge and jury for this little experiment: Lord Keller himself. Boom.
2) The big, apolocalyptic news of the week exploded on the national level yesterday, when the New York Times announced that Frank Bruni would be stepping down from his mantle as the paper's food critic, aka the most powerful man in food media. Already, the country is abuzz with talk of who will replace The Brunz, and you know there are some local critics on the shortlist.
3) Luisa Hanson has long been one of the most polarizing figures in the dining scene. In the last two years or so, she's uprooted several business—none more beloved that the John Barleycorn—to open her own projects, to much protest from the community. Well, nothing ever opened in the Barleycorn space and it's now up for lease. Down in Cow Hollow, Hanson is also cutting bait on her ill-fated winebar/pizzeria on Union Street. Are we witnessing the fall of the House of Luisa?
4) Speaking of sinking ships, Aqua has been mired in financial problems recently and it came out that a mass exodus of sorts has gone down in its kitchen.
5) But it's not all bad news, see. The last seven days have seen all kinds of notable openings, from Flour + Water in the Mission and 5A5 Steaklounge to Ebisu's return in the Sunset and all the way to Redwood City with Martins West.
6+7) And there are more still more hot newcomers on the horizon. Next week will see the debut of 54 Mint, the chic, marble-laden Italian joint going into Mint Plaza. Then, in a few weeks, Pizzaiolo's Charlie Hallowell will roll out another Oakland venture in his new pizzeria.