Root on the home team
Season 16 of Bravo’s Top Chef premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on Bravo with two Bay Area chefs competing for the title in Kentucky. Michelle Minori, the former executive chef of Mission pasta spot Barzotto, and Brandon Rosen, a San Mateo-based private chef, will both bring some formidable fine dining experience to the equation. Minori used to be the executive sous chef and culinary director of the Ne Timeas restaurant group (Flour & Water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria) and also held stints at Il Cane Rosso, Acquerello, La Folie, and Aqua. Meanwhile, Rosen’s Michelin-starred resume includes the French Laundry, Eleven Madison Park, Benu, and Redd.
Free stuff for restaurant seekers
San Francisco restaurants are offering freebies to ChefsFeed app users via augmented reality for the holiday season. Basically, anyone with the app can scan ChefsFeed window stickers or logos printed on menus at participating restaurants (including Tacolicious, Smitten Ice Cream, Media Noche, Alba Ray’s, Rooh, and more) and receive gifts, like dining credit or a bump of caviar.
Wintry fine dining
Abstract Table, the permanent dinner series inside Oakland’s the Gastropig, will unveil its second art-influenced exhibit tomorrow night. Dubbed Blizzards, the new menu merges Japanese and Scandinavian cuisines to the theme of winter, with each course including some sort of snow or ice element. The interior, too, is getting refreshed, with new art pieces and wintry decor. A five-course meal goes for $50 and seven courses for $70.
Island flavors to the East Bay
Another Bay Area location of Matiki Island BBQ & Brew has opened in Berkeley, following the Southern California restaurant’s expansion into San Jose. It takes over the former Daily Pint space at 1828 Euclid Avenue with simple Hawaiian lunch plates loaded with kalua pork, kalbi, rice, and macaroni salad.
Fresh Mediterranean to Silicon Valley
Caspian Restaurant is now open at 1910 El Camino Real, Suite D, replacing Kabobs & Pupuseria in Mountain View. The new spot focuses on a dozen kebabs and other dishes from the owner’s native Iran.
Holiday dinners at Doña Tomás
Temescal Mexican restaurant Doña Tomás is serving a few holiday specials throughout the month of December. There’s cuchara de oro, a cocktail made with Por Siempre Sotol (an unusual spirit made from flowering plants related to asparagus), roasted pineapple vanilla syrup, cilantro, and lime; chiles rellenos en nogada, a roasted poblano stuffed with cheese and yams, covered in walnut cream sauce; and quesadillas de huitlacoche, stuffed with mushroom fungus, cheese, and corn.
More happy hours in wine country
Napa’s Angèle Restaurant & Bar just launched happy hour, offering a slew of new French bites to pair with wine or cocktails at the bar from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays.