The Chronicle Over Coffee

This week’s San Francisco Chronicle food section is depressing. It features no reviews of San Francisco restaurants, but rather news that two venerable joints are closing up shop. Compared with the heady, waning days of 2007, when restaurants like SPQR and Serpentine made Michael Bauer all mushy, this year seems to be getting off on a stark and sober foot.

The first splash of cold water comes in the form of an interview with Michael Pollan, whose just-released book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” admonishes us to eat more fruits and vegetables, choose locally raised meat and generally be good little eaters. Fantastic advice, but not much fun. [What would Michael Pollan eat?]

Then there’s the Inside Scoop, which carries not only the woeful news of the Washbag’s shuttering, but also tidings of closure for the San Francisco location of Trader Vic’s, that bastion of mai tais and daqueris for City Hall insiders, civil lawyers and anybody else who wanted to loosen the tie an inch or two. Fortunately, the Emeryville and Palo Alto locations remain open. Also, among the depression, comes the hopeful news that the fire-damaged Globe is set to re-open tomorrow. [The Inside Scoop]

Linda Furiya gets, um, “topical,” with a pretty good sounding recipe tied to a, what, three-month-old news hook? Hey, did you know that there was an oil spill in the Bay and that it affected recreation-seekers? Yeah, so did we. [East to West]

And finally, on a comforting, if not terribly exciting note, Taster’s Choice explores the world of hot chocolate. Turns out Trader Joe’s again dings the no. 1 bell, this time with its Conacado Organic Fair Trade Cocoa. You know what Trader Joe’s also sells heaps of? That’s right, booze. And rum goes as well in hot chocolate as it does with depressing news. Perhaps a run to the market is in order. [Taster’s Choice]

The Chronicle Over Coffee