Following close on the heels of Jen Biesty's departure from Top Chef: Chicago earlier this month came news that she'd also be leaving her chef de cuisine spot at SOMA California cuisine favorite COCO500 (500 Brannan at Fourth St.) after nearly three years. In her stead comes another talented local chef, Michael Morrison (Fish & Farm, Ame), who worked with owner Loretta Keller and Biesty at COCO's earlier incarnation as Bizou. While Biesty's absence presents a rather high-profile name change for the roster, general manager Clay Reynolds swiftly puts down any speculation about equally high-profile changes to the menu. "There's an umbrella style to this restaurant, which is Loretta Keller's style: pure food, simply done, using high-quality ingredients and California organics," Reynolds says. "Michael tends to have more of an Italian feel for things. That's his background. And while we've always had Italian influences, I think you'll begin to see a little bit more, but Michael's influence will be very subtle, so there won't be any dramatic change in appearance. It could be more simplistic, minimalist, where Jen was a little more multilayered."
Despite a minor misstep in seating arrangements at upscale waterfront newcomer Epic Roasthouse (369 Embarcadero), chef Jan Birnbaum's expansive menu saved the day for SF Weekly's Meredith Brody - specifically when it came to main courses, which come in portions to match Epic's big prices. The juicy prime rib (10-ounce $33, 14-ounce $44, available until 8 p.m. nightly) with fresh horseradish and crème fraîche sauce was a revelation, inspiring nothing less than complete adoration. Same story for the Ultimate three-quarter-pound Roasthouse Burger ($25, with Gruyère or cheddar), a "mammoth beauty" served with greens, ripe tomato, house-made pickles, giant potato wedges, and a side tray of bacon bits, corn relish, grain mustard, sautéed mushrooms, and aioli. Catch Brody's complete review in the latest issue of SF Weekly, on newsstands Wednesday.
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