About six months ago, The Restaurant at Meadowood and its pastry chef, Boris Portnoy, quietly parted ways. Soon thereafter, Portnoy, who has received praise for his cerebral desserts at places like Winterland and Campton Place, decided to take a trip to Georgia (the country, not the state.) Upon return, he began work on his next project: Satellite Republic, a Chechan street food outfit run largely from a moped fitted with a tandoor oven. That's right: tandoor-and-moped-powered street food. After a San Francisco launch event in the park on Sunday, Portnoy is ready to start talking about what's in store: namely, many more breads and snacks indicative of Georgia and its surrounding regions.
Portnoy was exposed to this "exotic" fare as a boy growing up in Moscow, but he says he really got into creating specific breads for various courses during his time at Meadowood. It's a theme he'll enjoy exploring further by making breads to-order for the sandwiches from Satellite Republic. "The only place you can get made-to-order bread for sandwiches is Subway," says Portnoy. "Now we're doing it too."
Now about that moped: it was outfitted with a custom tandoor by Lynn Mahon, the same potter who made some of the plate ware for Meadowood. Impressively, it's mounted on a turkey fryer and heated by propane.
Since Portnoy splits his time between San Francisco and Napa, he's just getting off the ground in both places. This Wednesday, you can sample his latest when the bike cruises into No Shop (389 Valencia St.), the vintage consignment store right next to Four Barrel, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The menu includes a Georgian lamb sadwich with garden parsley and tkemali, a sour plum sauce from the region. Milk chocolate sesame halva will be served for dessert. Look out for another appearance coming up at Chase Cellars in Napa later this month. Facebook should have details soon.
Satellite Republic won't be morphing into a restaurant in the near future. Portnoy wants to explore breads and sandwiches of Uzbekistan and the cities bordering the Caucasus Mountains, among many other regional styles. He may even teach bread classes, and see where things go naturally from there. There's also a charitable arm to the project: Portnoy will donate 10% of profits towards an after-school art program for children of the refugees from the Chechen War now living in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.
If you go this week, do drop a line below or over the tipline and let Eater know what you think.
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