Noe Valley Voice March 2007

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

THE KIM FAMILY benefit dinner at Incanto Restaurant on Feb. 26, staged by the chefs of Noe Valley, was a resounding success. Ninety people showed up for the gala event, which had been organized by Four Seasons chef (and Sanchez Street resident) Jeremy Emmerson to boost the neighborhood's Kim Family Fund. The fund, created by Artery studio owner Paula Benton and co-sponsored by more than a dozen Noe Valley groups, is primarily for Kati Kim and her two young daughters, who lost their heroic dad, James Kim, while stranded in a snowstorm in Oregon. The Kims live on Randall Street, and own the small Church Street Apothecary.

"We did great," said Benton, when asked about the turnout. "Ninety people came at $175 per dinner, so you do the math." We did do the math--that's a whopping $15,750.

"We had many people from the neighborhood attend, and people came from all over the city," said Benton. "And we received another $6,000 at the silent auction [during the event]. We reached our goal, which will really help the Kim family." The Kim Family Fund now is up to $35,875. (But you can still donate at

The dinner was truly a feast. For starters, Deep Sushi provided dashi-steamed monkfish foie with pickled cucumber, shiso, and Santa Barbara uni. Next came Bistro 1689's bibb lettuce salad with macerated mango and lobster vinaigrette; then Pescheria's duck ravioli, goat cheese, and sage. The entrée was Incanto's braised pork shoulder with rapinis, lemon, garlic, and anchovies (paired with Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, 2003 Monte Schiavo). Dessert was a chocolate trio from Four Seasons' maestro Emmerson: warm chocolate cake, chocolate pot de crème, and white chocolate ice cream. There were breads from Noe Valley Bakery and hors d'oeuvres during the auction from Fattoush and Eric's Restaurant. The flora was courtesy of Flowers of the Valley, and the entire Incanto wait staff was at every diner's beck and call.

"This is just fantastic support from our community," said Emmerson, who should be congratulated along with Incanto owner Mark Pastore for pulling off a spectacular fundraising event.

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CHURCH STREET CHEFS are hot these days. As you rumormongers know, Incanto Chef Chris Cosentino battled with Chef Mario Battali on a Food Channel taping of Iron Chef America last fall. Cosentino says he's not sure when the show will be aired. "They told me it would be broadcast 'in the second quarter' of this year, but they have yet to give me a definite date, so I am just waiting for the word," says Cosentino, "and when I find out, we will post it on the Incanto web site []."

And then there were the rave reviews for Pescheria and its chef, Jerry McGinnis, from food critic Michael Bauer in the Chronicle's Jan. 21 pink section. Writes Bauer: "McGinnis [has] made Pescheria into what may become the best casual seafood haunt in the Bay Area." What really wowed Bauer (in addition to the menu) was that Pescheria has a beverage list that includes 16 tequilas, which is unusual for an Italian restaurant. He also appreciated the "excellent casual service."

Now the secret is out, and the restaurant is packed every night.

There are also rumors that the Mikeytom space, nearby at Church and Day streets, will be taken over by a very popular Eureka Valley eaterie, but no one is talking on the record.

Also in the rumor mill is that the long vacant barbershop on the corner of Church and 25th streets will become a restaurant too, operated by an existing Noe Valley eaterie. We hope to have more on these teases by next issue.

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ANOTHER INVESTMENT in Church Street has been made by Edward Jones (financial specialists). Gary Norman, who is currently at the 24th Street Edward Jones, is opening up a second one at 1772 Church Street, where Sonia's Beauty Salon used to be before it closed at the end of last year.

Riding this wave of popularity, the Church Street merchants have banded together to form the Church Street Professionals Association. The group held a meeting at Lovejoy's Tea Room in mid-January, with Benton (Artery) and Lynn Ingham (Lynn Antiques) and more than 30 merchants and professionals attending.

"We have 90 businesses on Church Street from Elizabeth to 30th Street," says Benton, "and we have found a lot of interest and unity among the merchants along our street." The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 19 at the law offices of Adams and Romer, located at 1189 Church Street.

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DOWNTOWN NOE VALLEY once again has a title company in residence.

Financial Title has moved into the space on Diamond Street recently vacated by Natural Resources, which moved to much larger quarters at 1367 Valencia, near 25th Street.

Do any of you remember the last time the neighborhood had the services of a title company? That would have been Chicago Title Company, which occupied the space where the west half of Just for Fun is now. They left circa 1987.

It looks as if at least one of the units in the senior housing development where the Lunny house once stood at 3953 24th Street will be occupied by the time you read this. That would be the commercial unit on the ground floor. High Class Nail Salon will vacate its space up the street at 4010 24th Street and move in next to the restaurant Fresca.

As for the rest of the Lunny development, it appears that not one of the residential "senior" units has been sold after more than two years. Phone calls to the developers of the building for Rumors updates have not been returned for nearly two years also (hello, anybody home?). All the "For Sale" signs have been removed, along with the sign of the GMAC Finance Company, which was ready to provide money to qualified senior buyers. Evidently, there are no takers, which is quite sad for our neighborhood.

Something real might be happening soon at the vacant Real Food Company store on 24th across from Bell. The report from our supervisor, Bevan Dufty, is that things are looking up: "I have been informed by Sergio Diaz of Nutraceutical that they will be having a meeting with their architect on the first Friday of March. If everything goes well at that meeting, then they will be submitting plans to the city by mid-March, and the rebuilding of the store will start as soon as approval is obtained." The rumor is those plans will include demolition of the building.

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OH GIVE ME A HOME: Supervisor Bevan Dufty's search for a home in Noe Valley has proved to be fruitless. Says Bevan: "I had really hoped to find a home in Noe Valley, but we lost out on several bids, and it just didn't seem realistic to think we could find the space we needed at the price we could afford."

He and longtime friend Rebecca Goldfader had been looking for a two-flat house since they announced they were having a baby together in April of '06. "I figure that there is a reason we wound up in the Lower Haight portion of my district," Dufty says. "Even though I won't move in for a couple of months, I'm [already] making quite a few city service requests to address litter, lighting, and public safety concerns [in the Haight]....

"However, I am proud to report that my daughter Sidney is still wearing her Friends of Noe Valley T-shirt with a great deal of pride."

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SMOKEY STOVER is the name of Noe Valley 's newest celebrity. This 4-year-old horse is the newest in the stable of DNV icon Harry Aleo, and evidently stirring memories of Lost in the Fog, who won the 2005 Eclipse Award as the country's outstanding sprinter. Lost in the Fog died of cancer last year.

Smokey hit the horseracing headlines on Jan. 27 when he won the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Spring at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. He ran the six furlongs in a little over 68 seconds and now has won five of his last nine starts. Some are touting him as the "fastest horse in the nation."

Smokey's next race will be on Sunday, March 11, at Bay Meadows racetrack. The Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association is organizing a "Day at the Races" and hoping to see Harry and his horse trainer Greg Gilchrist in the winner's circle.

There will be a buffet for a fee, and box seats, so if you want to jump on the bandwagon, contact Small Frys owner Carol Yenne at

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HERE IS A NOE QUIZ to challenge all you history-of-the-Valley buffs. E-mail back your answers to Ready?

1. What was the eclectic Star Magic first called when it opened on the corner of 24th and Noe in 1979?

2. Where did the Noe Theater once stand?

3. What was Herb's Fine Foods called when it first opened in 1943?

4. What is Noe Valley's longest-running business? It opened in 1888.

5. Where was a Bakers of Paris once located in Downtown Noe Valley?

6. This house claims to be the oldest in Noe Valley. When was it built?

7. Where in Noe Valley is the second steepest hill in San Francisco?

8. On which corner in Noe Valley is the house that former San Francisco mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph allegedly built for his mistress located?

9. Where does Upper Noe Valley end and Fairmount begin?

10. Who was Elizabeth Street named after?

That's all, you all. Have a sane and safe St. Patrick's Day.