As previously mentioned, chef Anya El-Wattar, born in Moscow and a former cook at Greens, will open Birch & Rye, a new Russian restaurant coming to Noe Valley. Now we have a few juicy updates: She has announced she’ll be working with chef Evan Eisen, who’s coming from Jean-Georges and Public in New York and Aqua and Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco — as well as Amiran Tskhvaradze, the former chef from Bevri Georgian restaurant in Palo Alto, who’s still on board as a sous chef.
Regardless, the menu is moving forward with oozing khachapuri cheese boats, the iconic Georgian dish, as well as “elevated versions” of potato salad, borscht, stroganoff, and other “modern Russian” specialities, featuring fermentation and taking advantage of the wood-burning oven, according to a rep. Brunch sounds particularly nourishing starring rye waffles with sour cherries and hazelnuts, plus a savory roasted buckwheat bowl topped with nameko mushrooms and a jammy egg.
Also news, Jennifer Colliau (currently with Bon Vivants, formerly of the Interval at Long Now) will be consulting on drinks, infusing vodka with everything from florals to horseradish, as well as pouring a range of rare vodkas. The wine list leans Californian, French, and Georgian. Architects II is renovating the former Mahila space at Castro and 24th, and appears to have toned down the bright yellows and reds, so Birch & Rye is a little more serene with neutrals, warm wood trim, and blue banquets and cushions. As it always seems to go, the opening has been pushed back — Birch & Rye is now planning to open in early 2022. Stay tuned for the full reveal.
Popular Filipino-Japanese pop-up is now full service
Earlier in the fall, popular Filipino-Japanese pop-up Ox + Tiger started teasing a new semi-permanent location, and while it’s been soft open for a few months, they’re finally ready for full service. Taking up residence in the former Silog’s space in the Tenderloin, they’re doing six courses izakaya style for only 10 seats. There are just two seatings per night, and they’re only open on the weekends. It’s a big departure from the takeout they’ve been serving most of the pandemic, moving to a full seated experience with yakitori-style fish balls on skewers, seafood doria, and other riffs and mashups of comforting Japanese and Filipino dishes. Catch a reservation if you can.
Inside the San Jose factory making 30,000 tamales this season
It’s also officially a tamales season, and Mercury News takes a tour inside the Tamale Factory, an institution in San Jose for 25 years, where owner Claudia Lopez and her team of women are aiming to fold more than 30,000 tamales for the festive season. [Mercury News]
Impossible Foods is getting into ghost delivery
Redwood City–based Impossible Foods has announced a new “restaurant brand,” which of course is Siliconese for a ghost delivery kitchen, according to Restaurant Business. In eight states, including California, you can now order a plant-based burger or faux chicken nuggets through various nefarious delivery apps.
Chef Jose Andres is the new face of lab chicken
Also in fake meat news, chef Jose Andres is the new face of lab chicken. He’s joining the board for Good Meat, headquartered in San Francisco, and he’s promised to put the cell-cultivated chicken on the menu at one of his restaurants. It’s a partnership that brings to mind Dominique Crenn and Upside Chicken, Traci Des Jardins and Impossible Foods, and other star chefs inking deals with big venture-backed brands.
Update: December 15th, 2021, 3:11 p.m.: This story has been updated to include that chef Amiran Tskhvaradze will be a part of the Birch & Rye team.