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Newsom Evaded Recall, But the Election’s Biggest Winner Was Probably French Laundry

Plus, another Bay Area county announced an indoor vaccination mandate and more intel

President Biden Campaigns For California Gov. Newsom In Recall Election Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Welcome to a.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

The recall election is officially over, having ended emphatically Tuesday night with Governor Gavin Newsom successfully defending his office against a slate of challengers, including Larry “Trump is God-sent” Elder and John “enemy-of-bears-everywhere” Cox. But perhaps the biggest winner of the night wasn’t Newsom at all, but rather chef Thomas Keller? If you recall (pandemic time being what it is), Newsom’s dinner at Keller’s Yountville fine-dining destination way back in November 2020 was the proverbial spark that lit the fire that became the historic recall effort. But any press is good press, as they say, and the French Laundry has certainly been on everyone’s lips.

In recent weeks there’s been plenty of speculation about whether or not Newsom would have found himself in such hot water — as to require some of the Democratic party’s biggest names (including the President himself) to put their political weight into the effort to keep his office — had he simply not attended the now-infamous French Laundry dinner party. “If Gov. Gavin Newsom had been spotted on the patio of a tiny neighborhood bistro just after urging California residents to stay home last November, we might not be blogging about a recall today,” New York Times’ California critic Tejal Rao pondered on election day. And you can bet social media personalities didn’t miss the opportunity to make ample jokes about where Newsom might want to celebrate his big victory:

In other news...

  • Contra Costa County is the latest Bay Area county to announce an indoor vaccination mandate, which will go into effect on September 22, according to ABC7. But not everyone is happy about it; two restaurant owners expressed concern to the television station about having to enforce the mandate and turn away regular customers who haven’t been vaccinated yet. [ABC7]
  • SFGate reports New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde was in Northern California recently and stopped in at Humboldt Brewing Company in Arcata, taking time to post a review of the brewery’s onion rings on her formerly anonymous review account @onionringsworldwide. (In case you’re curious: she found them to be “nice and crunchy” and awarded three of five stars.) [SFGate]
  • If you didn’t know, your new favorite cocktail is a “briny, ‘coastal martini,’” or at least, that’s what the SF Chronicle’s Ester Mobley is here to contend. In a column, Mobley not only coins the term “coastal martini” — martinis blended with ingredients that express the terroir of Northern California — but also crowns it “San Francisco’s favorite new cocktail.” [SF Chronicle]
  • And finally, here’s a friendly reminder that San Francisco’s Metreon shopping center has a ramen vending machine, for which at least one Reddit user is grateful: