By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
Nazar's prices are bodega-cheap, and the service is very friendly and helpful. Need a unique cut of meat for some special occasion? A butcher will hand-carve whatever you want. Don't like the look of the baby eggplant in the cooler? Maybe there's something better in the back. Anti-sprawl activists claim that places like this are being forced out by the machinations of chain businesses and big retailers -- but here's Nazar, smack in the middle of the problem and doing fine.
What's more, while looking for Nazar, I found another market that just went into the Food Stop at 1370 South Parker -- a gas station/convenience store in a deep strip mall filled with nothing but mechanics and auto body shops. This one is more Indian than Middle Eastern, and while it has no meat counter, it does have a small produce section with apples, potatoes and Persian cucumbers, plus three aisles of groceries where spices, chile sauce, bagged henna powder and chickpeas all share space on the shelves with cans of Dinty Moore stew and beef jerky.
Less than a block from the Food Stop, Andrey's Pizzeria has taken over a space next to the Little Siam sushi bar and attached to one flank of the Russia House. Odd, because a few blocks to the west, in Russian Plaza, the California Bakery -- which makes the best pirozshkis in the city and is the least Californian place I've ever seen -- also started serving pizzas about six months ago. The pies must be popular with ex-pats. Around the corner from Siam/Andrey's/Russia House, on Parker and Mississippi, is another local grocery -- the Black Sea Market -- that's been serving the transplanted Russian community for some time now, and just down the street from that is yet another new business, the Mongol Nest, advertising its grand-opening specials of "bar food, $3 pitchers and Jäger shots."
So tell me again why sprawl is bad? Quince, sushi, pirozshkis and Jägermeister sounds like a pretty good combination to me.
Leftovers: Chef Kevin Savoy has been booted from Agave Underground. He's the guy who -- very briefly -- helmed the kitchen at Flowbefore Duy Pham stepped in, then bounced to Opal as a sous chef before stepping onto the line at Agave, which opened late last year in the old home of Bistro Adde Brewster.
Kirk Bliss of Seven 30 South is now running Agave's kitchen and "doing double duty," according to Scott Holtzer, owner of both Agave and Seven 30. Bliss is tweaking Agave's menu back into shape, focusing on a "kinda fish-heavy Mexican-Latin concept," Holtzer says. Agave's lunch service is also suspended, but dinner's still on, as is a happy hour that runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Gone for good is Full Measures Bakery. Owner John Stamperis out of the retail biz but will still do private parties.
In the February 19 Bite Me, I referred to Opus's Mike Long as "a deconstructionist, a culinary anarchist" and one of the smartest cooks I know. Proof positive: his menu for the "Opus Night at the Cinema" dinner, which he hosted a few days later. The kitchen pulled out the stops for the $69 prix fixe, all-night affair, putting together a six-course sampling of every line dog's favorite flicks. There were champagne cocktails with "peppers and sausage for Pantangeli," from the Godfather, Part II; "Big Paulie's lobster spaghetti with very thin sliced garlic," from GoodFellas; Doctor Lecter's favorite, pan-roasted foie gras over fava beans with a nice Chianti (sauce); a "Timpano for Louis Prima," with veal polpettini, pancetta, egg and spinach à la Big Night; and a dessert of chocolate tickets wrapped in gold leaf inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Long has another theme dinner coming up March 15: the "Ides of March Roman Feast," featuring soothsayer soup, a seafood triumvirate, insalata"Et tu, Brute" with (and I love this) hearts of romaine in a pool of tomato-basil dressing, and a Cleopatra panna cotta of almond-steeped milk and honey custard over spiced dates in blood-orange sauce. The price is $69 at the door (not counting tax and tip); for reservations, call 303-703-6787.
See you at the movies.