A few more thoughts on Crust: for all its populist appeal, the orange plastic and formica aesthetic doesn't exactly make for a relaxing meal. Between the bright lights, plastic chairs, and just-the-other-side-of-comfortable sound level, the whole enterprise really seems designed to move units as fast as possible. Oddly enough the patio, despite its vastness, actually looks a lot cozier (it was too cold the night I went to eat alfresco).
But the moist, dense, GIANT slice of carrot cake (from Bleeding Heart) was pretty great.
In other neighborhood news, the BYOB Cosmospolitan opened two weeks ago at 954 N. California, serving Mediterranean-ish dishes for dinner and weekend brunch. Right now they're open relatively late--until 11 PM during the week and midnight Friday and Saturday--which I'm always happy to see, though it's anyone's guess whether, the Continental and the Clipper notwithstanding, that stretch has enough nighttime traffic to sustain it.
After the thoroughly run-of-the-mill meal I had at Il Covo last summer, I wasn't too surprised to hear this week that the place had changed hands. When I asked what the story was, the guy who answered the phone said, "We're now Italian men making Italian food." Dominico Fronteddu and Carol Johnson are handling the front-of-house, with chefs Nino Coronas and Giovanni Carvedda in the kitchen. The name's the same, but the menu's been revamped with a focus on Sardinian specialties (lots of seafood and meat) and handmade pastas. Fronteddu says they're planning to redecorate--just as soon as his parents come from Sardinia and bring him some carpets and stuff.
Some 20 blocks south of Il Covo, Dodo has started serving dinner Monday through Friday; it's also BYO and still cash only. No word on whether you can now get your Japanese pancake fix after 3 PM.