This week our buddy Jonathan Kauffman decides to pair up two pop-ups that have taken root in two neighborhoods, in this 2.0 or 2.5 wave of the phenomenon. First there’s Vinyl up on Divis, opened by Saison wine guy Mark Bright and partner Kris Esqueda, which hosts a Sunday Pasta Night pop-up, cooked by a former Saison sous chef, Jonathan deWolf (and in the nature of pop-ups, deWolf is moving on soon and will be replaced). Kauffman notes that while one of the three pasta dishes on offer when he was there “wasn’t much better than what you’d get at Buca di Beppo,” the other two were special, including a potato ravioli “floating in a clear vegetable-stock broth with sweet new peas and charred ramps… [with a] filling was so delicately earthy I wondered whether the potatoes were grown in a bed of feathers.” As for EAT, which holds court on Fridays at The Corner these days, Kauffman finds a couple of dishes “75% excellent,” and finds a salmon dish with leeks and leek ash to be quite extraordinary. But the service left something to be desired for a $45 prix fixe.
And in conclusion, “while the initial buzz around popups has diminuendoed, the inclusive feel has remained, a sense of intimacy that helps make diners feel like participants, not customers.” [SF Weekly, the post-game on SFoodie]
Mr. Reidinger meanwhile heads up to healthy-food café Beautifull (3401 California and 816 Irving), which just so happens to be opening a new outpost at the Gold’s Gym in the Castro. He calls it “a venture in tasty-healthy food that is, in its way, a feed bag for our time” and he delights in the varied applications of turkey on the menu, a meat he calls “flexible and wonderful” which shows up here in a burger, meatballs, and in a “solid red curry.” He calls their roast chicken “wonderful” but says of their dishes’ flavors overall, “mildness rules the day here.” Also, he comments on the mac-and-cheese being served cold, and we’re confused, because he doesn’t seem to mind. [SFBG]