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Jeremy Fox & crew leave Ubuntu!

wow! I wonder what happened? From Inside Scoop Chronicle:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

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  1. I am so kicking myself that I never made it to Ubuntu!

    2 Replies
    1. re: oysterspearls

      This is so tragic! Looks like a press release is forth-coming: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

      1. re: megek

        "Tragic"? Really? Disappointing, perhaps, but far from tragic.

    2. No idea what happened. The pastry chef apparently left a month ago, but when we coincidentally ate dinner there last Saturday the desserts were almost the best part. All in all, we had a great meal with no hints of any trouble. Too bad. I hope he moves to San Francisco - a restaurant like Ubuntu would be mobbed in SF.

      1. dining room was never empty when I was there...

        Ubuntu was getting better each time I ate there, and I think Fox is very talented.

        anyway, sad news, hubby was just telling a friend and sister Chowhound last night how much he loved the place and how much he was looking forward to taking me back there for my birthday...and since hubby tends to dislike most mid to high end restaurants, this was high praise indeed. Guess I have to re-think the birthday plans :-(

        6 Replies
        1. re: susancinsf

          Trimming back the hours of server would tend to say otherwise . . .

          Nothing yet from Chef Fox directly, his last message was about displaced Mugaritz staffer.
          http://twitter.com/jfoxubuntu

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            It's true; my experience may have been contrary to the norm. I did notice the last time I went to make reservations on Open Table that they were offering 1000 points at 5:30 and 6 p.m., which I remember struck me as odd given that I've always seen them full.

            1. re: susancinsf

              Yeah, that's a sign of a restaurant in trouble (when it's a relatively small restaurant) -- I knew that Aqua wasn't doing well when it had lots of 1000 point reservations on Open Table.

              I hope that Fox resurfaces somewhere soon; I didn't love my meals at Ubuntu as much as a lot of people did, but I enjoyed them, and I'd love to try his cooking again.

              1. re: JasmineG

                I'd be hesitant to jump to a conclusion based on that, considering the time of the year. It isn't tourist season, and when I think fresh, exciting vegetables, I gravitate towards the warmer months. Then again, that area may grow everything year-round anyway.

          2. re: susancinsf

            We were thereon a weeknite after New Years and it was only half filled. They are only open
            5 nights a weeks,short hours, an weekend lunch. Not easy to make it on so few hours and not tourist season, no matter how good the food maybe. The clue was the specialized dinners for groups. I wish them all well but they are not the only ones hurting.

            1. re: celeryroot

              I think they limit the tables on opentable, perhaps to the extent that it hurts their business. I went with a friend last Saturday and the only available table for 2 was at 6 PM, yet there was tons of space at the communal table that never filled up.

              They should take a hard look at seating arrangements and the reservation system to maximize covers per night even if it means rejecting large groups.

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. I am so so very sad. I love this restaurant and his cuisine. And yes, I agree. Move to SF or Oakland and it will alway be full.

              18 Replies
              1. re: happenstance

                "Sources tell The Inside Scoop that as of 3 a.m. chef Jeremy Fox and most of the staff came to the agonizing decision to leave Ubuntu"

                That's like Tiger leaving his house in the middle of the night. Something is wrong. Probably doesn't have anything to do with lack of customers. I'm sure The Scoop will be following up.

                1. re: rworange

                  Exactly...sounds like something went horribly awry.

                  1. re: happenstance

                    I didn't see this post and posted a seperate message. Here is my post:

                    This is truly sad. I had been meaning to go back to Ubuntu for a while but hadn’t made it yet this year. With this news the Bay Area loses it’s most innovated and vibrant upscale restaurant. In terms of upscale food, all we are left with is good but run-of-the-mill Alice Waters/Thomas Keller inspired places that rehash the same dishes (rare duck breast, butter saturated risotto, 3 scallops on a plate maincourses, etc.) Is it just me or is this getting boring? I will miss Ubuntu.

                    1. re: Ridge

                      You clearly haven't been to Coi, Manresa, Meadowood, or Commis lately. The loss of Ubuntu is significant but there is lots of excellent creative food left in the area.

                      1. re: Paul H

                        Obviously, it is at least partly a matter of taste, but while I was dining at Commis I thought to myself that Ubuntu was much more interesting and that I'd rather be there. (and I'm definitely not a Coi fan, but part of that is the vibe and service. then again, the service was stellar the last time I was at Ubuntu.)

                        I will conceed that the carrot dish I had at Commis (an appetizer, and my favorite dish of the meal) was similar in concept but better than the carrot dish I had the last time I dined at Ubuntu (which was the only dish of that meal that didn't wow.)

                        That said, while there were perhaps small flashes of genius (not even sure I'd go that far but can't come up with a better word) in my dinner at Commis, as a whole it wasn't at all engaging and certainly not vibrant or exciting. My last meal at Ubuntu definitely was.

                        Actually, I am not sure it makes sense to compare the restaurants, even based on personal taste. I guess my point is to agree with Ridge in that I found Ubuntu to be the most compelling (in the sense that I left thinking "ooh, I want to go back SOON") of all the higher end restaurants I've tried in the bay area.

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          I found Ubuntu quite reminiscent of Manresa. It was a great and interesting meal, but I can handle that kind of meal maybe once every 3-6 months tops.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I haven't been to Manresa...but your comment may have moved it further up the list for me.. :-)

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Fox was one of Kinch's early Sous Chefs -- it is not surprising that dining at Ubuntu reminded you of Manresa.

                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                Fox was the charcuterie guy at Manresa and later chef de cuisine.

                            2. re: susancinsf

                              Actually it IS easy to compare the two restaurants: the chefs both cut their teeth together at Manresa, are very close friends, and one was even the other's Best Man. It is not surprising to see them sharing recipes and to find similarities at their respective restaurants.

                            3. re: Paul H

                              I’ve been to Coi, Manresa and Commis. You can read my reviews (mostly good) in the following threads.

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/495013
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633013
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/491377

                              I don’t want to disparage any one restaurant, but the Bay Area fine dining scene has become boring for me (just my personal opinion). >95% percent of the time we go out these days we eat Asian/ethnic food. Alice Walters was a true food pioneer and changed the way we eat and thought about food. Her influence was/is monumental and profoundly good. Thomas Keller also was a great influence. But to me, the fine dining restaurants in the Bay Area these days stick too close to the same old Walters/Keller influenced cuisine with the exception of a place like Manresa which has the El Bulli influence thrown in. This staidness was now where more apparent to me that at a recent visit to newly opened Frances restaurant. The food was good to great but kind of the same old rehashed shtick. Ubuntu was refreshing because the food was different. We need more restaurants where the chefs are willing to take risks and not serve the same old, same old. Maybe I'm misguided but that's my $.02.

                              1. re: Ridge

                                Alice Waters was a pioneer only in bringing traditional food that was ubiquitous in France and Italy to the US. That was a huge accomplishment but not one that can be repeated, except for other cuisines.

                                Generally, I prefer one of the classic dishes that have been polished by generations of Italian and French grandmothers to a new dish some creative chef came up with last week that will be forgotten next year. Ubuntu's sunflower seed "risotto" was amazing but not something I need to eat twice.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Robert, do you also feel the same way about the cuisine at Manresa? Or Commis? And of the places that do these classic dishes really well, are there any standouts?

                                    1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                      I like to eat that kind of Frenchy, chef-driven food maybe 2-4 times a year, and I may never order a tasting menu again.

                                      I'm eager to try Commis, but after eating at Ubuntu last month it'll probably be a while.

                                      Except for Lers Ros and Ohgane, the restaurants on my favorites list are all more classic than innovative.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Are Lers Ros and Ohgane really "innovative" -- or are they just less familiar cuisines?

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          I agree... Lers Ros is classic, classic regional Thai (and authentic, e.g. like Bangkok or Chiang Mai or...). I think by "innovative" Robert meant that for a Thai restaurant it is innovative to do real Thai as opposed to US shopping mall Thai.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            Lers Ros and Ohgane don't make either innovative, chef-driven Frenchy food or classic Italian / Cal-Italian / Cal cuisine.