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Side Dish 

Wednesday, Jan 20 1999
Make 'Em Beg
Just last year, Val 21, a stalwart on Valencia Street for eight years, underwent some major changes after being sold to a pair of its employees. These gals up and added meats and fish to the previously 100 percent vegetarian menu. Looks like that wasn't the answer to the problem of a dwindling clientele. But "a dwindling clientele" is the answer if you ask why the place closed down. Strange that in the midst of the much-ballyhooed Mission Restaurant Renaissance, a beautiful dining room with unique cuisine has bitten the dust -- though last time I went in the food and service were lackluster. Maybe that's why the owners were fighting in the kitchen?

The Other Other White Meat
I'm no stickler for punctuation, as I'm sure you've all noticed, but editing out a mere comma would have prevented a lot of explaining last week at Scala's. Seems the menu scribe added an errant little mark between "hedgehog" and "mushroom" in a list of pasta ingredients. Is that legal in this country?

Light My Fire
Everyone's got a gimmick nowadays, and this new bar is no exception. Look for Tesla coils, Jacob's ladders, and other shocking devices amid the beakers and test tubes of Broadway's latest experiment -- Fuse. Christian and Ray are the mad scientists who've brought this monster to life in the space formerly occupied by the short-lived Mambo. The room is now very blue -- a new favorite shade around town -- but I assure you, this blue room will be more fun than the pricey one across the street. Harry's always game for a new watering hole, but ya'll better watch yourselves: You wouldn't want to pass out in the lab and wake up short a kidney.

Logging On
I love e-mail. It's so clean, so simple, so secret. My online mailbox reveals that Derek Burns, Inside Scoop's little heartthrob, has resurfaced at Elka Gilmore's Oodles down on Bush. Maybe this tall-dark-and-handsome will settle down someday, if he finds his perfect match. In the meantime, enjoy his noodles and the view. And write soon.

Have a Rice Day
There are so many killer sushi joints in this town that it's a real drag when you choose a bad one. Fuku (pronounced "fuck you") Sushi in Japantown is now to be lumped in with the bad. The fish is very fresh; it's the way you're treated that stinks. After the disdainful hovering of the do-you-want-anything-else sushi chef and the false promises of the hostess, my last time there will be my last time there. I guess you need to be famous with your damn name on the wall to deserve good service in this joint. Harry ain't famous -- yet -- but Fuku is now infamous.

It's All Aboveboard
Bill and Chip -- Kimpton and Conley, that is -- are playing Monopoly on our city streets again. Last time the dice rolled, Chip's Joie de Vivre ended up with the venerable Kabuki Hot Springs. Now it's the Kimpton Group's turn. Bill's rolling the dice ... he's moving the top hat ... he's bought another hotel! This time it's the Californian at Taylor and O'Farrell. Don't land on his square if you hope to save any of your funny money.

Sweet Charity
OK, foodies, it's time to reach for your wallets again. For a good cause and some great food, check out the Ronald McDonald House benefit at the BMW showroom on Jan. 29. Also coming up is the Bon Appetit benefit for Make a Wish and Meals on Wheels on Feb. 26. Rules of the road for events like these: Don't all rush the caviar table at once. Hit the better wine stations first, 'cause you know that Far Niente stuff goes fast. Don't beg for more. Don't ever ask anyone to "supersize it."

The San Francisco Treat
San Francisco is home to a number of tasty libations -- Skyy, RedRum, and delicious Anchor Steam. Move over, guys, and make room for another: Pearl Vodka, made from the juice of soft winter wheat, just found its way down from the Canadian Territories. You can get a taste at such diverse spots as the Bus Stop, Lion Pub, and the aforementioned Fuse, for starters. I'm sticking with Manhattans for now.

From Harry C. to Harry D.
Hope you mend fast. I can't keep all those pretty dates occupied by myself.

By Harry Coverte

Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.

About The Author

Harry Coverte


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