Welcome to our exciting new partnership with Eater. For this weekly Friday column, Eater editor Paolo Lucchesi gives his opinionated report on all the restaurant news that's fit to print...and then some.
1) Well, so much for that whole Ghirardelli revitalization. Marche on the Square shuttered in January, and now O'Neill's has gone under too, with plenty of ominous legal documents taped to the front door to boot; nothing ruins your day like an eviction notice with a headline that reads "You are being sued." Gary Danko's project there, by the way, is still en route.
2) Speaking of the shutter, Napa Valley staple Mustard's Grill suffered a fire last weekend and is down for the foreseeable future. Early reports said that the restaurant hoped to be back and running in a week or two, but with the estimated damaged reaching $100,000, it wouldn't be surprising to see Cindy Pawlcyn extend the hiatus.
3) At long last, Padma, Tommy C and company crowned a new Top Chef, as the fifth season of the reality cooking show came to its (terrible, awful, painful) conclusion. The best chef didn't win ... nor did the most likable chef ... nor did Jamie Lauren. Harrumph, grumble, grumble.
4) The hot topic of the last few days has been a little map on Eater SF, listing a handful of restaurants that can be considered recession-proof. Now, it's undeniable that the economy has made it a very difficult time for most restaurants across town, but if you think that the recession means that you can score a last-minute table at, say, the Slanted Door or A16, you'd be incorrect. Bonus: Sam's Chowder House chimed in as well, citing that their 2009 numbers are actually ahead of '08.
5) The week saw a pair of major restaurant openings. Up first, Tipsy Pig debuted on Chestnut Street in the Marina; on Thursday the gastropub was already quoting 2.5 hour waits. Elsewhere, FiDi burger joint Pickles reemerged from its self-imposed winter hibernation with a fresh, clowns-free look.
6) Meanwhile, the big bad Bauer review of the week elevated Aziza to the precious 3.5 star plateau, just in time for Mourad Lahlou's appearance on Iron Chef America this coming weekend. Coincidence? I think not.
7) Last but certainly not least, the Crystal Pepsi Award for the curious brainstorm of the week goes to chef, restaurateur and now author Charlie Palmer, who is currently putting together a book featuring "blood, animal parts, and beautiful Scandinavian girls." One photo shoot involved two twins in a slaughterhouse in Denmark. No, really.