Management staff have been changing voice mail recordings and reprinting menus at One Market Restaurant to announce the departure of Executive Chef George Marrone as of Thursday, Nov. 12. Chef de cuisine Rabah Abusbaitan will step into Marrone's position. Now that's what I call creative planning ... nothing like a little time off over the hectic holidays in this business.
The corner of 14th and Market streets is suffering growing pains, but to good end. Fans of bar design team Fun Display (Mercury, Backflip, the Red Room) should check out the old after-hours specialist the Bar. It's been reincarnated as the Zodiac Club, a dive in lounge clothing with a gold-glitter-on-black motif. Order a Cancer or a Libra and sample the intriguing menu by chef Kenneth Aldin. Meanwhile, the Boston Market across the street has its windows covered in back issues of the Chronicle -- but that's old news. Who needs limp creamed spinach when you can get fresh comfort at Chow or Opla? And down the way, Mecca is aging well. New chef Mike Fennely is turning out good stuff, and Steve is back behind the bar. Now, if Gene and Kelly can keep the service staff up to Gabriel's standards, we'll all be sitting pretty.
What's up with all the, umm, unplanned staff changes at that well-known music and dinner club at Second Street and South Park? Chef David departed in January. And just this month, general manager Eric walked out the front door. If this really were South Park, would Cartman own the place?
If you want to follow trends, follow the Brothers Young. Blues on Lombard is (finally) getting a makeover: Blues is out, DJs are in. The Leopard Lounge has grown into its own and the hipsters keep comin'. And HiFi is the new bar: Go now before the lines begin.
Mezedes, horiatiki, kreata, psaria, and glyka ... what do these menu items have in common? Up until now, the answer might have been that they're hard to find in San Francisco. But there's no need to catch the next plane to the Aegean Isles -- you can mispronounce everything just as readily at Kokkari Estiatorio, in the 200 block of Jackson next to MacArthur Park, where executive chef Jean Alberti and the owners of Palo Alto's Evvia have just opened their whitewashed shutters. Of course, it's always seemed this town can only support one fine Greek at a time -- look what's happened to Samos at the old Peer Inn. But maybe Kokkari's traditional design by Howard Backen (Il Fornaio, Viansa Winery) will keep the place packed. I say: As long as the retsina is cold and the feta is creamy, I'll hold off booking my flight.
If you want swarthy Italian waiters, delicious nightly specials, and that Scorsese-set feel, Alessandro and Fabrizio -- who also run Bella Trattoria wa-ay out on Geary -- insist nicely that you visit Baraonda on the corner of Green and Larkin streets. Their new space has been a cozy corner since the days of Le Petite Cafe. Now, Harry's never been the type to let anyone lean on him, but I've just got to say I like it.