The Eater Wrap: Bong Su Goes Down, East Bay Rises and the Phan Rumor Mill Churns


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, including restaurant openings and closures, jucy rumors, toasty new designs and your usual Yelp idiocy.

1) By now, you've probably heard, but the headline story of the week was the sudden shuttering of Bong Su, SoMa's flashy Vietnamese restaurant. Owners Anne Le Ziblatt and Tammy Huyn pulled the plug due to the crappy economic conditions and ongoing difficulties with the landlord, making for what's probably the most prolific shutter of the new year (apologies to the wonderful Suriya, which also went under this week).

2) But—but!—oddly enough, the month of March has seen many more bright spots than not, with a veritable cornucopia of openings. More and more newcomers seem to be popping up across the bridge. Just this week alone in the East Bay, Thomas Keller pupil John Marquez debuted Artisan Bistro, B44's Daniel Olivella rolled out a new tapas joint called Barlata, and Dopo spinoff Adesso finally opened its doors.

3) One of the most visually-provoking restaurant designs to appear in a while opened last week in the form of Toast Novato, the brainchild of owner Shahram Bijan and starchitect Stanley Saitowitz. For your morning viewing enjoyment, please do take a photo tour of the space.

4) And in unfortunate trends: for a dining scene that likes to think of itself as the polar opposite of, say, Vegas, our fair city sure is starting to have a lot cheesy dinner entertainment. Do we really need Elvis Thursdays, people?

5) As spring nears, it was time to take a look at some big-name projects that have been put on hold due to the recession. Interestingly enough, all three of the profiled restaurants—Urbino, Lafitte and Gary Danko's brasserie—are dealing with the "situation" in different ways. While some have kept their funding and are waiting for an economic uptick, others are racing to raise money with the hope of opening ASAP.

6) Now it just wouldn't be a proper week without some Yelp shenanigans, would it? Also enjoyable: the totally mature responses from Yelp Nation.

7) Finally, the word on Valencia is that none other than Charles Phan is reconsidering the Mission for his next project. He still owns the vacant space that once housed the original Slanted Door, and now the rumor mill is churning that he wants to open a new restaurant in the neighborhood later this year. Stay tuned, would you?

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