-- Details, May 1999
A Bistro Grows in Berkeley
Harry usually avoids all mention of the ever-so-precious East Bay food scene. OK -- Chez Panisse, Chez Panisse, Chez Panisse -- there, I said it. There is, however, a project under way on San Pablo that's piqued my interest. Mark Zeitouni has finally claimed his own piece of the rock after refining his chops under George Marrone in Miami and S.F. and Reed Hearon at the Black Cat (cough, cough). He's raring to showcase his talents as executive chef of Bistro Viola.
Owners Patrick Bryant and Tom Cone are partnering with Zeitouni on this comfy Cal-French bistro, whose interior will seat 35, with another 40 seats on the patio. The classic menu will feature simple fish dishes, the ubiquitous steak frites, and, of course, yet another contender in the "most genuine creme brulee" competition. Might be worth a sneak over the bridge.
Here, Kitty, Kitty
Yeah, I was going to give it a rest this week, but there are so many ways to skin a dead cat. General Manager Marco Wright, who was ousted from Le Chat Noir, has landed on all four paws at the Greek wonder -- Kokkari. Nice work, Marco -- I hear the Friskies are better in the Aegean Isles.
Harry's Helpful Hints (Part IV or So)
Just wanted to let you know that notice has been served on all the diners who use traffic or parking problems as an excuse for missing their reservation times. Come on, guys, you've lived in this city long enough to know that it always takes longer to get from Point A to B than you think it will ... especially with all of the pre-mayoral election road work going on.
As for parking, if you can't find a spot in front of your house, you're certainly going to have troubles near your favorite restaurant, right? Valet parking is cheaper than a parking ticket, and also saves you the frustration of circling, circling, circling. Oh, and if you're among the clever few who leave their autos at home, be sure to call for a cab well in advance -- in case you haven't noticed, we are experiencing a little shortage. And here's another thought: If you are driving, why don't y'all use that nifty cell phone for something besides a turn indicator and call to let the restaurant know that you planned poorly?
Sign of the Times
There's no doubt that San Francisco is at the top of the food chain. For proof, you need only have read last Sunday's New York Times travel section piece on the five best new restaurants in S.F. Thanks to a worm in the Big Apple, Harry knew the results in advance -- but left it up to you, my somewhat loyalish readers, to guess which restaurants would make the cut. Karin Conn weighed in with four separate lists before our ink had even dried, and one of them was right on the money. The featured grub palaces:
Ms. Conn will dine at Oritalia, courtesy of this column -- Harry highly recommends the sake steamed sea bass.
By Harry Coverte
Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail Coverte@aol.com and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.