Noe Valley Voice September 2009

Store Trek

By Olivia Boler

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Voice, profiling new shops and restaurants in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a boutique specializing in recycled jewelry, clothing, and art; and a cafe whose chef is adding unique flavors to traditional comfort-food recipes.

Bistro 24
4123 24th Street at Castro Street

The culinary "hot potato" has been tossed into the air once again at 4123 24th Street. After two months as sous-chef at the popular Contigo on Castro Street, Pierre Mangé is now executive chef and co-owner of Bistro 24, which replaced the short-lived City Grill on July 1. Stefano Coppola, who helmed City Grill (and who also owns Lupa Trattoria next door), is a partner with Mangé. The cafe, on 24th above Castro, has a storied history. It was home to Kookez (2006-08), Miss Millie's, and the Meat Market Coffeehouse.

For Mangé, 27, accepting the challenge at Bistro 24 was a no-brainer. He's always wanted his own cafe, and he lives just three blocks from the restaurant. When he heard that City Grill was for sale, he quickly got in touch with Coppola.

"I like the neighborhood a lot," says Mangé. "I fell in love with it when I started working at Contigo. You see your neighbors all the time. It's great." Before Contigo, he worked at Chow in Lafayette and SPQR on Fillmore Street.

Mangé describes Bistro 24's menu as "new American comfort food with a twist." For example, there's a BLT-type sandwich, but it's made with foie gras instead of bacon. Another hearty standby is potpie--made with rabbit.

Mangé cooks with local, organic, and sustainable products, so the menu will change with the seasons, but he promises there will be staples like fried chicken served with sweet corn custard and coleslaw, and baked macaroni and cheese. Small plates are $6 to $11, and entrees top out at $20. Among the latter on a recent menu were pan-seared halibut with squash and local greens, grilled Strawberry Mountain flank steak with fries and heirloom tomatoes, and grass-fed lamb chops with squash, arugula, and gypsy peppers. Smaller dishes included Anson Mills grits, fried green tomatoes, and a fennel salad with strawberries and black olives.

Mangé is also excited about his wine list, which he calls "expansive. There are wines from all over the world--Italy, Spain, France, California--and some that are hard to find in your grocery store." He points out a Verdejo from Spain and a Verdehlos from Portugal, a French Cote du Rhone Bordeaux, and some small California estate wines. He's also working on getting some good local beers on tap.

While the restaurant is family-friendly, Mangé admits that the vibe is geared toward a "younger adult crew." To that end, the interior has been painted in rich chocolate browns, burgundy, and cream. No real structural changes were made, but Mangé and Coppola did add some sconces and removed some of the faux wood paneling. "We've darkened the colors, but we've also warmed the space."

The art on the walls is by local artists and is all for sale. "We're going to rotate the art once a month and host receptions, like a gallery." Mangé encourages artists who would like to show their art to contact the restaurant.

"In a few weeks down the road," he says, the restaurant will start serving weekend brunch.

For now, Bistro 24 is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 or later. Late-night diners are welcome.

Editor's Note: At press time, we got word that Bistro 24 will begin serving lunch and weekend brunch starting Sept. 8. In addition, the restaurant will offer a prix fixe meal from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For $30, diners can choose one small plate, one large plate, and dessert.

Successories in the Button Box
3904 24th Street at Sanchez Street

After a stint inside Lisa Violetto's store, jewelry artist and button collector Pamela Wiston-Charbonneau has put down roots on 24th Street in Rose Quartz' old spot, a few doors up from Sanchez Street. The 200-square-foot space was briefly occupied by the Jewelry Box, and Wiston-Charbonneau proudly points out that she has reused the former boutique's red awning for her own shop.

"We added some decorations and just redid the lettering," she says, pointing out the Successories sign from her previous business, Successories in the Caboose, which was located in Pacifica on Highway 1. (And yes, it was in a little red caboose.) Wiston-Charbonneau still lives in Pacifica with her family, but feels a definite connection to Noe Valley, where she lived for many years.

The new shop, dubbed Successories in the Button Box, carries Wiston-Charbonneau's signature line of jewelry, which she makes primarily from antique buttons. There are button rings, earrings, and pendants, and every piece is set in sterling silver or gold-plated using 22-karat gold. The price depends on the rarity of the button. For example, a Pierrot and Pierrette button ring is $120, while a more common cufflink ring is $58. Engraving is free, and Wiston-Charbonneau will gladly create a custom design.

The store also carries jewelry by local artisans such as Prisca Bonati, who used to own the Designers' Club clothing store on 24th Street. On offer are circular pendants (with depictions of nature) that can double as a place to keep--and not lose--one's reading glasses. Other showcased designers are Dance of the Ancestors, which makes embroidered bags and jewelry, and Shadows.

"I call the store Successories because for many years I've represented underdog designers who have gone on to become successful," Wiston-Charbonneau says.

Customers will find a selection of new and retro clothing, including dresses, jackets, and sweaters--"just in time for back-to-school this fall," jokes Wiston-Charbonneau. Also featured at the shop are bags and carryalls by Lenore, made from woven strips of newspapers. President Obama's smiling visage decorates one bag, selling for $88. Some dresses are works of art pieced from pre-worn fabrics, and a line called Buttons and Cashmere offers fingerless gloves made from the sleeves of repurposed sweaters. Prices for Successories' clothing, jewelry, and "baubles" range from $10 to the low $100s; the average hovers around $65.

Clearly, vintage and reused objects are near and dear to Wiston-Charbonneau's heart. "Everything in the store has been reworked in some way," she says, including the paint she used to create the sky-blue "cloud" enhanced ceiling and walls.

Successories will host a trunk show once a month featuring local designers. Prisca Bonati will be spotlighted in September (check the website or stop by the store for the exact date).

The shop opened its doors in mid-June, but the official grand opening will take place over three days in October, from the 9th to 11th. There will be live music, prizes, and refreshments in the form of "tricks and treats, since it'll be closer to Halloween," says Wiston-Charbonneau. The band Curios has been lined up for Oct. 10, 4 to 7 p.m.

Successories in the Button Box is open every day: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.