Omnivorous On March 26 the Omni Hotel held its official opening party, complete with a red-ribbon cutting by Da Mayor, a lobby performance by Teatro ZinZanni, a selection of martinis, and crab and caviar stations. The night was as festive as the Clift kickoff -- minus the snob factor. But it seemed the word about the Omni was already out: When Harry dropped by after the hotel's quieter February opening, the bar and adjoining Bob's Steak and Chop House were packed with young banker types sucking back expensive wine in pathetically pedestrian red-wine glasses. Sorry, Bob: Cheap goblets may pair with 10-gallon hats at your Dallas haunt, but not in our town. Other patrons were stuffing themselves with huge but unmemorable steaks and wondering what to do with the restaurant's absurd (not to mention phallic) trademark carrot in the center of each plate.
Beard Award Buzz The 2002 James Beard Foundation Awards have been announced, and as usual our fair city's in the game. Adrian Hoffman from One Market Restaurant and Luke Sung from Isa are two of the five chefs nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Given that Hoffman and Sung are friends, when the news broke they got together and toasted. Even more interesting are the journalist nominations: San Francisco magazine Editor Maile Carpenter, who just departed to become food editor for Time Out New York, was nominated under Magazine Feature Writing Without Recipes for her controversial article "Eating in Michael Bauer's Town," and Bauer himself was nominated, for the umpteenth time, under Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique. (Like Susan Lucci, Bauer's long been on a losing streak.) Harry wonders whether the dueling duo will be seated together on May 6 at the NYC awards ceremony. Ah, to be the proverbial fly in the soup.
Crowded House If you thought Luna Park was already loud and crowded, scoot over: Chef Joe Jack and partner A.J. Gilbert recently reconfigured the dining room to make way for three additional booths. The good news is that the new seats have curtains to muffle the dining roar, and one of them can fit up to eight diners. ... Also of note in the neighborhood: Bruno's has started a Tuesday night "endless glass" dinner. For $29.95 you get a three-course meal and unlimited house red or white wine. Is this a new-millennium version of the early bird special?
Glum in Glen Ellen Joseph and Mary Manzare, owners of the city's Globe and Glen Ellen's Mucca, rushed diners in the latter restaurant out on March 11, when fireplace flames spread into the rustic wood dining room. The 140-year-old gristmill suffered severe fire and structural damage. Because it's a historical site, Joseph says it'll be at least a year before the insurance company, owners, and builders can get the go-ahead to begin repairs. Until then, the popular Sonoma County hangout is closed.