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The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif., Cuisine Scene Column

July 30, 2008

By Leslie Harlib, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Jul. 30–Leslie Burnside loves comfort food and good times so much, she bought the Flatiron Bar & Grill sports bar at 724 B St. (on Second) in downtown San Rafael.

“It was a random thing; it kind of happened by accident,” said the San Rafael chef who has owned Theresa & Johnny’s on Fourth Street for the past five years.

The routine was getting to her, she said; she was looking for a new challenge.

A longtime customer, San Rafael resident Bob Glass, had expressed a desire to open a bar as did his son, Sean. After seeing on craigslist that the Flatiron was for sale, “I went to the Flatiron the next day, and called Bob and Sean. Now we’re all in this together. Bob’s the bar guy, Sean’s the sports guy, I’m the food girl,” Burnside said.

The partners closed the deal July 1 with a five-year lease.

Her plan is to bring the Flatiron back to what it used to be — “I want to serve a lot of big bar food.”

What that means to Burnside is commercial waffle fries with eight toppings made in-house and calamari four or five ways, pulled pork, house-smoked baby back rib and assorted burgers using Meyer’s natural Angus beef. One of the most offbeat items is an 8-ounce hot dog from Nathan’s. “They’re crazy. They go in a 12-inch roll and fill every inch of that roll,” Burnside laughed.

Flatiron’s nine televisions will still be going strong, playing every type of sport. Happy hours are a key part of the new formula and take place daily from 4 to 7 p.m., with cocktail-of-the-day promotions

and $1 off appetizers with the drink special. Draft beers on tap will be expanding from 10 to 16.

Burnside will start serving lunch Aug. 4. When football season starts, she’s planning an Irish breakfast served from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. From her description, it’s something that would satisfy a linebacker: A plate of Irish bangers (mild sausage), grilled bacon, grilled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, fried eggs, fries, Irish soda bread and baked beans.

For more information, call 453-4318.

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Fairfax resident Kylee Darcy, 19, won $1,000 last month for her innovative two-minute documentary film, “King Corn Takes Over the World.” The UC Berkeley student’s clip played off a longer documentary called “King Corn,” made by recent college grad filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney and that aired on PBS’ weekly series “Independent Lens” earlier this year. The longer film was a dramatic look at what happens to corn grown by agribusiness and where it ends up in our culture, our bodies and our health system.

Darcy entered her film in a contest, “Filmocracy,” sponsored by Independent Lens, which encourages innovative, experimental independent and dramatic filmmaking.

To answer Filmocracy’s question, “If you are what you eat, than what are you made of?,” Darcy used stop-motion animation interspersed with film clips from “King Corn.” She spent hundreds of hours hand-drawing an ear of corn opening like an alligator’s mouth to spew out hundreds of items representing what agribusiness corn ends up as: hamburgers, plastic bottles, soda cans, paper goods, junk food.

“I filmed for about five hours to get a two-minute film,” explained Darcy, who said she’s excited and surprised to win the contest. “I entered it because I liked the sound of it. It was more a fun project for me. When I found I had won, I’d almost forgotten there was even a contest to begin with.”

To view Darcy’s film, go to www.pbs.org/independent lens/filmocracy.

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Take a trip to Tuscany by stopping by Piatti in Mill Valley on July 31 for “A Tuscan Summer Night, ” a fundraising dinner Marin Organic. The meal will feature Marin’s seasonal bounty, including Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, RedHill Farms lamb, Clark Summit Farm pork and Drakes Bay Family Farm’s beef. In keeping with the theme, Marin-grown wines will be served as well. Tickets are $90; 25 percent of the proceeds will go to Marin Organic. For reservations, call 380-2525.

Leslie Harlib writes about food and restaurants on Wednesdays. Dish with her on her blog, Leslie Harlib: Savoring, at http://blogs.marinij.com/savoring. Write to her at the IJ, P.O. Box 6150, Novato 94948-6150; call 382-7340; fax 884-1478; e-mail lharlib@marinij.com.

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To see more of The Marin Independent Journal or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.marinij.com/.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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