The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
October 14, 2014

Exterior photo by Craig Lee.

Exciting (potential) news here: if the ABC license transfer and escrow gods cooperate, it looks like Melissa Perello of ~FRANCES~ will be taking over the recently closed ~BAKER & BANKER~ space in Pacific Heights. Perello was not able to confirm or deny that she is in contract to purchase the space at this time, but based on what I was able to dig up online, it looks like that’s the plan.

Perello has been looking for a second space for some time. In an interview with Haighteration more than a year ago, she said, “I’m thinking about starting to think about Frances #2” and “I’m looking to replicate [Frances] on a larger scale. I’m just contemplating it.” Once Perello can talk about the location, we’ll have to see what her plans entail for her second project. And all of SF (and beyond) will be eagerly listening. 1701 Octavia St. at Bush.


Some news at the upcoming ~THE PROGRESS~, the second project from State Bird Provisions’ Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski that they’re opening next door: they have hired Jason Alexander as the general manager and wine director. He was most recently the GM for Meteor Vineyard and was the wine director for both Gary Danko and Cyrus (yeah, he’s no slouch in the wine department). In a conversation with Brioza, he says they have known each other for a long time, working on events together, and they were happy to herald Alexander’s return to the restaurant world.

One more tidbit: The Progress will be opening in 2014. Yay. While details aren’t really ready to be released yet, The Progress is going to be living up to its name (it’s in homage to The Progress Theatre that was on the site from 1911-1925). Brioza says the name stands for a firm foundation and can also be used in reference to what they’re going to be doing: progressing their dining style (without being pretentious). He says they aren’t reinventing the wheel, they already did that with State Bird—this will be a tribute to the past as they pave their way and look to the future. The food, wine, service style will all reflect progress; he added that they are very excited about their kitchen and front-of-house team. One big motif is the artisan role in what they do and create, so look for a continuation of many handmade elements in this next space. I’ll keep you posted in the coming months! 1525 Fillmore St. at Geary.


The new entrance. Photo by Patrik Argast.


A look into the Champagne bar and lounge. Photo by Patrik Argast.

~QUINCE~ reopened September 20th after closing for renovations in July, and here are some updates on how it looks (yes, it’s swanky!). Local designer Douglas Durkin designed the new space, which includes a private entryway, a new bar and lounge area, two new private dining rooms, a refreshed kitchen with a chef’s counter, and some new art and furniture. The focus of the renovation was on making the dining room feel more comfortable and inviting, with an eye toward both the restaurant’s former home on Octavia and the current space’s architectural past (it was built in 1907).

Metalworker Michael Bondi created the new entrance, a glass and metal structure that carries guests from the street to the dining area. In the dining room, more brick walls have been exposed and offer warmth, and the entryways have been rounded to soften the hard edges. New banquettes keep the seating luxurious. One of the most exciting additions, if you are a lover of bubbles, is the Champagne bar and lounge at the entrance. Wine director Jai Wilson is offering a selection of wines from small producers in Champagne, including many farmer-owner wineries and others that are being imported to the United States for the first time. In addition to the bottles, you can also order à la carte from the tasting menu while seated in the lounge, and an hors d’oeuvres menu will be available, along with caviar service.

They’ve added two more private dining rooms, each with seating for as many as 12 people. There are also two seats at a chef’s counter, for those looking to experience the kitchen firsthand. The renovation has allowed for a private dining room at next-door’s Cotogna, called the Octavia Room. It is situated in the kitchen, if you’re really into seeing the action up close. Quince and the new lounge are open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm.


One of the dining areas at Mochica. Photo by Aubrie Pick, courtesy Mochica.


Another dining area at Mochica. Photo by Aubrie Pick, courtesy Mochica.

As previously reported on tablehopper, Peruvian restaurant ~MOCHICA~ is reopening on Potrero Hill, and it’s happening this Thursday October 16th. Chef and owner Carlos Altamirano has expanded the menu to reflect the additional seating afforded by the new location, and there is also a full bar. Look for small dishes like ceviches and the anticuchos de corazón (that would be beef heart skewers served with crispy potatoes and spicy salsa panchita). As for entrées, there’s a chicken stew in aji amarillo sauce with potato, botija olives, and a hard-boiled egg, or a Peruvian-style paella with seafood and a squid ink base.

As for that full bar, of course you’ll find pisco sours, along with traditional chilcanos, also made with pisco, plus ginger and lime. The space was designed by Keith Morris of Abueg Morris Architects, and it has an industrial feel, with warm wooden panels and hand-painted murals on the walls. There are two dining rooms and a bar area, with seating for groups of different sizes. Dinner Sun-Thu 4pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, weekend brunch Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm, and happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm. 1469 18th St. at Connecticut, 415-278-0480.


The exterior of 1000 Guerrero. Yelp photo.

After changing from Tao Café two years ago, ~COMPANY~ is now becoming ~HOFFMANN’S GRILL AND ROTISSERIE~. Chef Karen Hoffmann, one of the partners from Company, is now the sole owner. The menu will be focused on simple, comforting food that reflects the seasons, with many items made in-house, including bread, pasta, and sausage. Each day will feature a rotating meat special, as well as roast chicken available by the half or whole, and a burger with smoked cheddar and grilled onions. The wine list will include four choices on tap and a selection of bottles from small producers. Hoffman’s will open on Tuesday November 4th, and hours will be Sun, Tue-Thu 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm, closed Mondays. 1000 Guerrero St. at 22nd St., 415-374-7479.

A couple of readers were asking me what was going on at the 24th Street location of ~SUSHI BISTRO~—which has been closed since August—and the owners have confirmed that they sold the location. Things continue as is at their Balboa Street location, where they have absorbed some of the 24th Street staff. A reader tells me the new business moving into the 24th Street space is ~KAZAN~, which will “serve sushi and Japanese tapas,” and should be opening this week. 2809 24th St. at York.


A rendering of Klyde. Courtesy Klyde.


Cuco’s, you’ll be missed. Photo from Facebook.

An all-day café has opened in Union Square, called ~KLYDE CAFÉ & WINE BAR~. It’s inside the Hotel G, though the projects are unaffiliated. The kitchen is run by local Sam Fechheimer, the project’s executive chef, whose previous experience includes Michael Mina, Locanda, and Il Cane Rosso. The menu offers American classics, such as egg dishes like poached eggs with merguez sausage at breakfast, along with pastas, salads, and sandwiches at lunch and dinner. The wine list offers more than 60 bottles from the United States and France, many of them priced around $30. The selection of wines by the glass will rotate regularly. Hours are daily, with breakfast 6:30am-12am (that’s right, breakfast all day), lunch 11:45am-2:30pm, happy hour 3pm-7pm, and dinner 3pm-12am. 386 Geary St. at Mason, 415-654 5061.

As previously reported, San Francisco now has a second location of Los Angeles-based salad chain ~TENDER GREENS~. It opened Wednesday October 8th, according to Facebook, serving meal-sized salads, platters, and soups. Hours are daily 11am-9pm. 266 King St. at 4th St., 415-230-3141.

As we reported back in July, Haight Street burrito joint ~CUCO’S~ was in danger of eviction and closure. After weighing their options and considering legal action, the Campos family, who owns the restaurant, decided to close on Monday October 13th, according to Hoodline. Despite the closure, they may reappear as a pop-up or maybe even a restaurant in the future. Best of luck to them. 488 Haight St. at Fillmore.


Exquisite halibut with fava beans, corn, and little gems, a springtime dish at Nico. Photo: ©

After almost a year in business, Pacific Heights restaurant ~NICO~ will be changing menu formats at the end of this month. Each evening, a three-course menu will be available for $45 and a five-course one for $55 per person. Wine pairings will be available for $30 for the three-course option and $45 for the five-course one. The intention behind the change is to offer a more European-style experience, where guests can relax and let the kitchen take care of them, while continuing to be approachable. Snacks and the à la carte menu will be available at the bar. 3228 Sacramento St. at Lyon, 415-359-1000.

~PLIN~ will be offering weekend brunch as of Saturday October 18th, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am-2:30pm. In addition to an à la carte menu, you can also try a family-style prix-fixe option for $30 per person. Menu items include baked eggs with polenta; French toast with mascarpone and pecans; and eggs Benedict with a choice of sausage and bone marrow, shrimp and basil, ham, or sous vide salmon. Bottomless brunch beverages are also available, and you can catch aperitivo hour from 3pm-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays after brunch. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St., 415-644-8425.


The menu at Tiny Warrior. Photo from Facebook.

There’s a new spot in the Mission for delicious iced coffee, called ~TINY WARRIOR~. It’s a little coffee spot, with a bit of a bar bent: five different flavors of signature iced coffee are blended and shaken to order, with flavors like Moroccan (cardamom, cinnamon, and clove syrup) and Mission mocha (Tcho chocolate and smoked chile). You can add freshly muddled mint or chocolate ice cubes to your coffee too. House coffee, pour-over, and plain iced coffee are also available. Hours are Tue-Sun 7am-5pm, closed Mon. 3376 18th St. at Capp, 510-847-4754.

Observant Yelpers caught the opening of ~SNOWBIRD COFFEE~ in the former Drip’d Coffee Lab in the Inner Sunset. They offer coffee from different roasters on a rotating basis (right now it’s Wisconsin’s Ruby Roasters), including some of their own roasts. Plus, they’ve got a little bit of counter seating and free Wi-Fi. We weren’t able to find their hours, but their Instagram tells us they are closed Tuesdays. 1352 9th Ave. at Irving.


The patio at the Cheese School of San Francisco. Photo from Facebook.

~THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO~ is hosting the annual cheesy fest for the California Artisan Cheese Guild on Thursday October 16th at 7pm, Meet the Cheesemaker. There will be 24 cheesemakers there, with tastes and stories to share, including the fine folks from Achadinha, Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, and Cowgirl Creamery. In addition, catch wine from Herb Lamb Vineyards and beer from Headlands Brewing Co. The event is a fundraiser to help educate and support California cheesemakers, so don’t miss the silent auction. Tickets are $25 for cheese guild members and $35 for the general public. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-346-7530.


The next generation of chefs at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp. Photo from Facebook.

Spark, a national organization that helps middle school students from underserved communities stay engaged in school, is having their annual Sugar Rush on Thursday October 16th at 7pm at the Sir Francis Drake hotel. The event is full of sweet treats and savory bites from local restaurants including Akiko’s, Nona Lim, and Scala’s Bistro, along with wine and beer. Tickets are $85 per person, or $150 for VIP, which includes cocktails, exclusive small plates, 6pm entry, and cooking demonstrations. 450 Powell St. at Sutter.

Support the Bay Leaf Kitchen on Sunday October 26th at ~RED DOG~ for their first annual Kitchen Harvest Dinner. The four-course dinner comes from chef Lauren Kiino along with guest chefs Laurence Jossel (Nopa), Luke Chappell (Luke’s Local), and Kate and Mac Magruder (Magruder Ranch). In addition to the four courses, there will be cocktails from Trick Dog’s Tommy Quimby, wine, and beer, along with live music and seating alongside chefs, farmers, and other producers. The evening begins with a cocktail reception at 5:30pm and runs until 9:30pm; tickets are $125 per person, or $1,000 for a table of six or $2,000 for a table of ten. 303 2nd St. at Harrison, 415-692-0211.

Help a new generation of chefs at San Francisco State University’s Hospitality and Tourism Department’s Taste of the Bay event on Wednesday November 12th. The evening, which is put on by students, takes place at the City View at Metreon and includes food from local restaurants like Café Claude, Hog Island Oyster Bar, and M.Y. China. There will also be lots of local wines and both live and silent auctions. It all raises money for scholarships and activities at the school. Tickets are $100 in advance or $150 at the door, and the party goes from 6:30pm-9:30pm. 135 4th St. at Mission, 415-405-3966.

On Tuesday October 28th, head to ~18 REASONS~ for their Teach a Community to Fish dinner from Bar Tartine’s Nick Balla and Cortney Burns. The menu is heavy on seafood (and looks delicious), and proceeds benefit 18 Reasons’ Cooking Matters program. The evening goes from 7pm-10pm, and tickets begin at $250 per person and include all food and wine pairings from Bi-Rite Market.


Don’t miss the world’s best party mash-up: a book and pizza party at ~TONY’S PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ on Tuesday October 21st from 5:30pm-9:30pm. The evening is a celebration of Tony Gemignani’s latest book, The Pizza Bible, which covers how to make pizzas from regions all over the world, including Naples, Chicago, California, and Rome. Entry to the party is free with the purchase of a book ($29.99) and includes pizza made with recipes from the book, as well as cocktails, beer, and wine. There will also be a photo booth and accordionist (we said it was a party!). Yeah, this is how you do a book party!


Bread fresh out of the wood-fired oven. Photo courtesy of The Growlers’ Arms.

An exciting update for you on ~THE GROWLERS’ ARMS~, the upscale gastropub (yet cozy tavern) from Seamus and Shelley Mulhall that’s opening on Wednesday October 22nd in the former Marzano in Oakland’s Glenview district. The duo will be offering an English-style experience with California sensibility (across the board, from the cuisine to the decor). There will be a 10-seat bar, banquette seating in a deep port color, plus some church pews, with 65 seats, and 15 outdoor seats with heat lamps.

Look for experienced service with those small touches that really make things shine—the team comes from places like Boulevard and Farallon (the Mulhalls are some serious restaurant industry vets, with Danko, Boulevard, La Folie, and Chez Panisse in their collective backgrounds). There will be old silverware (Seamus says they have been polishing it like crazy), and the room has old portraits of California icons like John Muir.

The chef is Brian Ventura, previously A16, who toured 15 Michelin-starred gastropubs in May with the Mulhalls in England and Ireland. Seamus said they were really struck with how strong a role English farming played in the cuisine: “It was just really good country food.” Look for English dishes that will be fun, and reflect and rotate with the seasons. Here’s the first look at a draft of the opening menu, which includes starters like snails on Growler toast with a fennel-parsley salad, scarlet turnips, and herb dressing, and favorites like bubble and squeak. The team is working with whole animals (pig, goat), so they will be making haggis (“not your grandfather’s!”), some terrines, and pâté—plus more goodies in their charcuterie refrigerator. They also got in the last-of-the-season local salmon and made gravlax with St. George Terroir gin. Mains include oven-roasted sole with Brussels sprout champ and Lancashire hot pot with a goat chop bonus. There are a lot of sides, salads, and more to round out the meal.

Miranda, their sous chef, has been practicing baking bread in the wood-fired oven—which is not the easiest thing. She has also been working on traditional English desserts, like spotted dick, but they’re going to opt to call it by its other name, spotted dog, just to nip all those jokes in the bud, okay? Plus there will be seasonal pies (up now: apple pie with English cheddar).

The bar manager is Linda Hare-Touye, who has most recently been at Quince, but many will recognize from her years at Aqua. In addition to classic cocktails, there will be artisan beers, with four beers on tap and ten beers and cider by the bottle. Mostly small, local craft brews with some English ones, and, of course Guinness.

The bar will open at 4pm (with snacks), and the kitchen opens at 5pm. The space will be open nightly until 10pm, closing at 9pm on Sunday. Look for weekend brunch to launch in a month or so (with some blood pudding!). 4214 Park Blvd. at Glenfield, Oakland.


Ordinaire Wine Bar. Yelp photo by Nique F.

As reported in August, you can order pizza from Boot and Shoe Service while enjoying wine at ~ORDINAIRE~ on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:30pm-10pm. Well, turns out you can order dinner from Ordinaire itself Thursday through Saturday from 5:30pm-10pm; Chris Kronner is no longer popping up there (he has a restaurant to open!). The menu is concise and changes regularly; this week, there’s escarole salad, country pâté, and lamb breast. 3354 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland, 510-629-3944.

We tried to get some details on the opening of ~LONGBRANCH~—which is opening in the former Sea Salt—but unfortunately were told to just “follow along on Facebook and Twitter.” The background noise suggested it was open (maybe it was a test dinner), and they are currently holding some special events, but nothing could be confirmed. So call ahead before you go, but even then it might be a gamble. Our original post with a few details is here, and you can take a peek at the space here. 2512 San Pablo Ave. at Dwight, 510-984-0518.

We had a chance to catch up with Matt Burger, who we reported not too long ago is opening ~GRANGE HALL~ in the Barlata space in Temescal. Their timeline has been pushed a little due to patio and liquor licensing concerns. Barlata is still open at the moment, and now Grange Hall is aiming for an early 2015 opening. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.

One of the owners of ~MOCKINGBIRD~ let us know that there’s been an issue with their liquor license (sounds like their landlord may have misinformed them in some way). While they work on sorting that out, they’ve voluntarily stopped serving alcohol. That’s bad news, but the good news is that you are now able to BYO with no corkage or other service fee. 1745 San Pablo Ave. at 18th St., 510-290-0331.

October 7, 2014

The exterior of Mason Pacific. Photo: Nick Vasilopoulos.


The buttermilk fried chicken at Mason Pacific. Photo: Nick Vasilopoulos.


The bar at Stones Throw. Yelp photo by Michael U.


The grilled octopus okonomiyaki at Stones Throw. Photo: ©


The interior at Verbena. Photo by Carmen Troesser.



I am very excited to announce a fun tablehopping night on the town in conjunction with Cover, the clever app that allows you to pay and split your bill at participating restaurants without waiting for your server to bring it to you. (More on that in a moment.)

But first, the event’s details! On Wednesday October 29th, we’re going to explore three hot SF restaurants that all use Cover in one night, a total tablehopping feast! We are going to start the night at 6pm at ~MASON PACIFIC~ in their charming bar area, where we’ll begin the evening with some appetizers (trust me, chef Sean McTiernan’s fabulous buttermilk fried chicken will be on the table) and a glass of wine (either a sparkling rosé, or you can choose from the Copain chardonnay or mourvedre/syrah). We’ll leave at 6:45pm and walk about six blocks to our second destination (ladies, be sure to leave the monster heels at home!).

Next stop: 7pm at ~STONES THROW~, where we’ll get chef Jason Halverson’s fantastic grilled octopus okonomiyaki (have you had this dish yet?!) and a couple of other bites and beverages. Delicious. Look at that, it’s 7:45pm! Time to boogie.

Last stop: a short jaunt to ~VERBENA~, where we’ll go upstairs at 8pm to their private mezzanine for chef Sean Baker’s fabulous dessert course (currently being discussed: the Heretic porter cake with candy cap ice cream, pumpkin juice caramel, and Cascade hops), and a paired nightcap from the bar. Cheers!

It’s going to be a very intimate evening, with room for only 16 diners in all. And here’s the best part: since Cover has you covered, the entire night is only $65, all-inclusive (they’re picking up the rest of the bill). I know, sweet!

So, how do you get to go? First, you need to send an email to me, and please say “Cover Dinner” in the subject line. You can only reserve for two people total—please include one or both names you’d like to put down. We’ll need you to download the app, and once we confirm that we have room for you, we’ll email you and let you know you’re in! Your credit card on file with Cover will be charged $65. The event fee is nonrefundable, so don’t flake! (There is the possibility we can find someone else to go in your stead and buy your ticket if you can’t make it after all, but no guarantees. We can discuss.)

If you think you’d like more than one beverage per place, you’ll have the option to purchase additional glasses of wine or cocktails throughout the evening and pay with Cover. Cheers, you partier.

If you’re vegan, have food allergies, or don’t drink, this may not be the best event for you since we will be dining family style—please consider checking out another tablehopper event in the future that will be able to accommodate you better. Thanks!

Here’s one more bonus: have you been curious about Cover but haven’t tried it yet? Well, Cover is offering tablehopper readers a special code for $25 off their first meal with Cover! (Except for this event, which is a separate thing, you sly fox!) Just download the app and use code “tablehopper” for $25 credit at Cover—participating restaurants like the three at our event, and many others (here’s the Bay Area list of restaurants and here’s the New York list). Dine with a friend and you can experience how easy it is to split the bill and tip your server.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to dining with you on the 29th! Cheers!


The dining room at Marlowe. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.


Pea pancakes at Marlowe. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.


Marlowe’s new bar. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.

Just last week, Anna Weinberg, James Nicholas, and chef-partner Jennifer Puccio got to welcome ~MARLOWE~ into its new home in Loretta Keller’s former Coco500 space (it just moved up 4th Street from Townsend). The space has doubled in size to 80 seats, gained a cute enclosed patio, and now has a full bar.

Another big addition is pastry chef Emily Luchetti, who is now chief pastry officer for the Big Night restaurant group, which includes Marlowe, Park Tavern, and the Cavalier. The COCOcup may be gone, but just wait until you try Luchetti’s chocolate-dipped peanut butter nuggets, rolled in Guittard sprinkles. (Paying homage to Coco500, Marlowe will keep the almond coffee vacherin on the menu.)

You can take a look at chef Jennifer Puccio’s savory lunch and dinner menus, which includes more bar bites than the original location (perfect to go with that cocktail you’re sippin’), like English pea pancakes with smoked salmon and chive crème fraîche, or grilled calamari and chorizo. Classics like the warm deviled egg (with aged provolone, pickled jalapeño, and bacon) fortunately remain. Mains range from pan-seared scallops with bacon-wrapped asparagus, English peas, and wild mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce to that fab burger of theirs (of course).

Designer Ken Fulk has continued with the restaurant’s original “butcher shop” inspiration (the restaurant was named after Weinberg’s great-grandfather’s butcher shop in Boston). There are a variety of seating areas, from the tables with bistro chairs and a tobacco leather banquette to marble tables with brushed industrial-looking chairs (and vintage cookware hanging from an overhead rack). It’s full of tiled surfaces, with a bright and crisp look during the day. At night, the marble bar shimmers, and the clean look reminded me a bit of Schiller’s in New York. The patio is damn cute; try to snag a spot during this warm weather we’re having.

Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner Sun-Wed 5:30pm-10pm and Thu-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. The bar is open with a limited menu Mon-Fri 2:30pm-5:30pm. Coming soon: weekend brunch, and a late-night burger window!


Arguello’s dining room. Photo: ©Henrik Kam 2014.


The bar at Arguello. Photo: ©Henrik Kam 2014.


The patio. Photo: ©Henrik Kam 2014.

Local talent Traci Des Jardins has been busy with the opening of her new restaurant—with the Presidio Trust and with support from Bon Appétit Management Company—in the Presidio, The Commissary, and now there’s her second project opening Wednesday October 8th: ~ARGUELLO~. While Commissary is more Cal-Spanish, Arguello is all about home-style and authentic Mexican cooking, featuring many recipes from Des Jardins’ abuelita (it will be different than Mijita’s menu). You can take a look at the menu here. They’ll even be making tortillas on an outdoor comal.

Like at Commissary, she is joined by Culinary Director Robbie Lewis. There’s also a full bar with craft cocktails from Enrique Sanchez (La Mar, Tres Agaves), with 50 tequilas.

It’s opening in the landmark Presidio Officers’ Club, with 118 seats, plus a heated patio with a fire pit and sheltering wall, so don’t let a windy day intimidate you. You can come by for a sunny lunch (the menu is casual and easy) and things ramp up a bit more for dinner.

Interior designer Laura Cook designed a space that feels modern, but still has many original fixtures, and Studio Terpeluk milled the 125-year-old Douglas fir used for the bar—it was salvaged from a historic Presidio building. And in case you want to brush up on your SF history, the restaurant is named after Luis Antonio Arguello, who served as commander in the Presidio from 1806 until 1822, when he became the first Mexican governor of Alta California. 50 Moraga Ave. at Arguello, 415-561-3650.


The exterior of Tao Yin. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

Fans of chef Jesse Koide (well known at Mission Chinese Food for his ever-present pink zebra headband) will be happy to know they can find him at his new venture, ~PINK ZEBRA~, a restaurant within Tao Yin in the Mission (sound like a familiar setup?). The opening is officially on Friday October 10th, serving dinner from 5:30pm-11pm (Pink Zebra’s hours will be Thu-Mon 5:30pm-10:30pm, and they’ll stay open until 11pm on Fri and Sat nights—look for potential later hours in time). Tao Yin will have five of their own tables and still offer delivery; Pink Zebra diners will have about 40 seats, and there’s a sushi counter inside too (currently with room for five, but it will get new seats with room for eight soon).

They started with a mini service last week, serving yakitori cooked on binchotan, pickles, Mt. Lassen ocean trout oshizushi (pressed sushi), and menchi katsu donburi. While it sounds pretty Japanese, look for some of Koide’s Italian-Mediterranean cooking skills, techniques, and flavors to appear on his menus too (he has also cooked at Bar Tartine, Slow Club, Farina, and the Alembic). He doesn’t want to be constrained to one cuisine—look for some creative and flavorful additions.

The omakase experience at the counter will range from $65-$85, and will be casual but still featuring quality ingredients. There will be nigiri sushi courses balanced with mid-courses, tsunemono, and the like.

The dining room menu will start with eight or so dishes. A couple larger entrées Koide mentioned include a riff on the dish he served at the Pink Zebra pop-up in Copenhagen: thin layers of pork katsu, with Gruyère in between (yes!), and then it’s fried in panko, and served with his spin on a smoky tonkotsu sauce (which has ramps he cured in brown miso and cold smoked). Another entrée is white sea bass with a Sicilian bread salsa, and look for some vegetables on the side, and maybe some ikura on top (again, yes!). Dishes will be less than $20—more in the $14-$16 range, and they are designed for sharing.

These first few weeks are definitely a soft opening—it’s not like a normal restaurant when you have your own kitchen, crew, and storage. They’ll make adjustments as things progress. Koide just wants to cook good food and make people happy, and is excited for this new venture! 3515 20th St. at Mission.


The exterior of Specchio (then Piattini, now Buffalo Club). Yelp photo by Thomas R.

We got a call just in time for today’s column from Scott McDonald, one of the partners of the upcoming ~MISSION BRASSERIE~, which is moving into a former corner store on Mission. The partners on the project are McDonald and Alex Kamprasert (the two own Noeteca together), along with Yulianto Liu. Turns out, they’ve actually had the space for almost a year, but this is a slow process and they’ve only recently been able to apply for their liquor license.

Craige Walters is behind the design (he also did Romper Room, Fable, and Golden Gate Tap Room), and the 2,800-square-foot space will include both bar and table seating. McDonald also mentions plans for small-production on-site brewing, so the bar will definitely have a beer focus. As for the food, they want to keep the feeling like a very authentic, classic brasserie, with most inspiration coming from France and the Alsace region. They hope to open in 2015, though an exact timeline is hard to gauge at this point. We’ll let you know when there are updates! 2146 Mission St. at Sycamore.

Was happy to hear that Irfan Yalcin of ~PERA~ in Potrero Hill is going to be opening his own wine bar and eatery in the Mission, ~L’EMIGRANTE~ (it takes its name from the Italian film). Yalcin has had the idea of opening the city’s most affordable wine bar for some time, so now he gets to do it. He plans to offer 85 percent of the wines on the list at just less than $35, with bottle prices starting at $20 and ranging up to $50. He also mentioned all of their wines will be well rated. There will be 36 in all, including bubbles, whites, rosés, and reds. There will additionally be eight beers on tap. Some food will be served as well, including an array of appetizers, bruschette, salads, sandwiches, and four main dishes.

Renovations are under way (the space was formerly the Corner), and Yalcin hopes to open by the last week of October. The bar will have a rustic look, and there is also a mezzanine and outdoor seating (heated) for 24 guests. Live music will be five or six nights a week, but nothing too loud—think flamenco, violin, and musicians from the Mission. Hours will be Sun-Thu 12pm-12am and Fri-Sat 12pm-1am. 2199 Mission St. at 18th St.

Liquor license activity reveals that the former Specchio/Piattini space on Mission has been taken over by the team behind Tonic and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Reportedly it will be called ~BUFFALO CLUB~, and will offer something different than Dr. Teeth. 2331 Mission St. at 19th St.


Sui jao at Slurp. Photo from Facebook.

The New Fillmore reports that Hayes Valley ice cream shop ~SMITTEN~ is opening a second location on California at Fillmore, next to Pizzeria Delfina. Smitten is known for its nitrogen-frozen ice cream, with seasonal flavors and toppings. 2404 California St. at Fillmore.

~SLURP NOODLE BAR~ is now softly open in the Castro, according to Castro Bubble. The new spot, in the former Fork Cafe space, is serving noodles and dumplings from all over Asia, including laksa, sui jao, pho, and ramen, along with some bites like steamed buns and spring rolls. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 469 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-553-6633.

It looks like French Baguette in the Financial District has morphed into ~CHEZ JULIEN~, a healthy French café, according to Yelpers. The menu includes grab-and-go essentials for breakfast and lunch, including salads, soup, and sandwiches. 100 Bush St. at Battery, 415-399-1816.

As reported last week, there are changes afoot at Second Act Marketplace with the departure of High Cotton Kitchen and Spice Hound. We mentioned that Crêpe La Vie is moving in, and now word comes that the second vacancy will be filled by ~BURMA BEAR~, a Burmese barbecue restaurant from Hubert Lim. Both new spots are aiming to open this month. Congrats, all! 1727 Haight St. at Cole, 415-668-3994.

After Ngoc Mai in the Tenderloin closed, many on Chowhound were saddened by the end of their delicious bun bo hue and banh xeo. But no more tears! Now Yelpers are reporting that it has reopened under the name ~TUYET MAI~, with the same staff, cooks, and owners. Yay. 547 Hyde St. at Geary, 415-931-4899.

Speaking of Vietnamese food, ~URBAN PICNIC~ is getting ready to open their third location this Friday October 10th in SoMa. The new location will have the same menu as previous locations, with fresh, health-concious fare including banh mi, noodle and rice bowls, and big salads. Catering will also be available, and hours are Mon-Fri 7:30am-4pm. 303 2nd St. at Harrison, 415-433-1233.

East Bay gelato company ~LUSH GELATO~ has opened a location on Polk, as we reported back in June. Owner Federico Murtagh makes his gelato completely from scratch, in house (meaning he doesn’t use a Straus base, like many other producers). This gives him more flexibility in creating his flavors and gives customers a chance to watch the process from start to finish. The spot is now open, and you can scope some of the possible flavor choices here. 1817 Polk St. at Washington, 415-444-9750.


The bagel platter at Marla. Photo courtesy Marla Bakery.

Beginning Sunday October 12th, ~MARLA BAKERY~ will be serving brunch on Sundays from 10:30am-2:30pm. Not only can you enjoy their spiced doughnuts and challah French toast on the beautiful patio (could the weather be any more perfect?), but you can also make reservations right here. Take a look at the menu and start planning your trip to the Richmond now. 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave., 415-742-4379.

Michelle Polzine’s ~20TH CENTURY CAFE~ is now open for happy hour Wed-Fri from 6pm-9pm. In addition to a few items from their lunch menu, they’ll be serving snacks like deviled eggs and pickles, along with wines from Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Istria, and Slovenia (starting at the very reasonable $22 a bottle). Yep, we’ll see you there.

Adam Mesnick’s newest foray into the deli scene, ~RYE PROJECT~, is now going to be open on Saturdays, starting this Saturday October 11th. They’re open 11am-3pm, slinging meats on rye and bagel platters to make your weekend fabulous. 180 7th St. at Natoma, 415-552-8984.

Speaking of sandwiches, ~THE COACHMAN~ is now serving a daytime sandwich menu Wed-Fri 11am-2pm with choices like fried chicken or smoked brisket. 1148 Mission St. at 8th St., 415-813-1701.

It sounds like another late-night dining destination has bit the dust in this early-to-bed town. ~KIN KHAO~ has ended late-night service as of Monday October 6th and will now be closing at 11pm every night. Citing concerns about staffing, public transportation, and long shifts, they’ve had to start closing earlier, despite being busy at night. For more on the challenges of San Francisco’s late-night dining scene, read this story I wrote for 7x7 in 2012. Sigh.


Red Door Coffee at 111 Minna. Yelp photo by Cath M.

Founder Eiming Jung of 111 Minna is planning a new location for ~RED DOOR COFFEE~, which he is launching with David Mabry and Michelle Delaney. It’s opening in a new space at 1st Street and Howard, which will include a lounge area and small kitchen. Lunch will be provided by 1601 Bar & Kitchen (tablehopper readers know we’re a fan of chef Brian Fernando).

Visitors to the café will find a designated public space in the building and an open-air plaza where they can sit and enjoy their Four Barrel coffee. There will also be Wi-Fi (and outlets). The Red Door Coffee service at 111 Minna will continue, but when the space is closed for private events, people now have the option to head to this new location. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat 8am-1pm; once their application for a beer and wine license goes through, there will be happy hour from Mon-Fri from 5pm-8pm or so. Look for an opening in mid-October. 505 Howard St. at 1st St.

~NANO CAFÉ~ is now open in the Mission, according to Yelpers. They’ve got espresso, coffee, tea, and pastries, with the possibility of sandwiches coming soon. 564 South Van Ness Ave. at 17th St., 415-203-0362.

Berkeleyside Nosh reports that the sadly closed Sketch Ice Cream space on Fourth Street has become the ~CATAHOULA KAFFEEGARTEN~. It’s the second outpost of Timber Manhart’s Catahoula Coffee Company, a Richmond-based roasting operation. He aims for balance in his roasting and offers both signature blends and single-origin beans. They’re pulling espresso along with coffee, though there isn’t a pour-over option. Right now, there are just pastries and coffee, but the space’s large kitchen may be put to work as a sort of community space for pop-ups and other local business looking for cooking space. 2080 4th St. at Addison, Berkeley, 510-235-0525.


A course from the recent Fortress summer fig dinner. Fig, goat curd, vanilla vin chicories, quail egg, lard croutons. Photo: ©

Don’t miss chefs Eddie Lau and Luis Villavelazquez of Dux at their next Fortress: Solitude pop-up. The next one is on Saturday October 18th, with a dinner celebrating all the bounty of autumn. You can check out the menu here; it looks like a winner. There are seatings at 6pm (only two tickets left) or 9pm, and tickets are $55 per person, with wine pairings for an additional $20. It’s all happening at Naked Kitchen. 945 Valencia St. at 20th St.

Every Saturday morning in October, you can truly rise and shine because you will be able to find Sugarfoot Grits at ~WING WINGS~ from 8am-11am. They’ll be serving Southern breakfast classics, including their delicious grits, with eggs and bacon. And of course there will be coffee! Don’t miss it.


Exterior photo by Craig Lee.


The magical view from the Empress of China (never mind what else may be happening in the bar…). Photo: ©

Last week, I was sorry to learn that ~WOODWARD’S GARDEN~ has closed its sweet doors for good, after more than 20 years of soulful cooking for us. In our previous piece announcing the closure, we mentioned chefs and co-owners Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino will be doing some pop-ups, salons, and more while they search for a new location. We’ll keep you posted. Enjoy the break, ladies, and thank you for all the memories and great dates there!

Lori Baker and Jeff Banker have decided to close their five-year-old restaurant, ~BAKER & BANKER~, reports Scoop. The Pacific Heights restaurant will close on Sunday October 19th. The couple cites multiple reasons for the closure, including a desire to spend more time with their two young children and the challenges of finding enough staff. They’ll be back though: after some time off and a chance to ponder their next move, they hope to be back on the food scene, though it is not clear yet in what capacity. As for what will move into the space, negotiations are under way with a new tenant but no word on who that might be.

Chinatown icon ~EMPRESS OF CHINA~ is closing at the end of this year, according to a report from SF Gate. The five-story behemoth, which opened in 1966 and is most famous for hosting weddings, is being sold, perhaps to make room for office space. Damn, one of my favorite “secret” places for a cocktail with a stunning view is leaving us. 838 Grant St. at Clay, 415-434-1345.

This is a sad story. After an ongoing battle with the National Park Service, it appears that Drakes Bay Oyster Company has reached a settlement and will cease operations at the end of this year. The federal government will then be responsible for removing all on- and offshore equipment from the site. Though the farm is no more, the owners plan to open Drakes Oyster House restaurant in the Tomales Bay Resort in Inverness.


Chefs hard at work at Actions Speak Louder Than Pink 2012. Photo by Zoe Christopher via Facebook.

Breast Cancer Action is an organization that advocates for action against breast cancer (not merely awareness) and demands more transparency and accountability in breast cancer fundraising. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great time to have a thoughtful discussion on the topic. On Tuesday October 21st, they’ll be throwing their fourth annual ~ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN PINK: FOOD FOR THOUGHT~ event at Terra Gallery in SoMa. The four-course dinner comes from chefs like Eric Tucker from Millennium Restaurant, Sascha Weiss and Susanne Stampke from The Plant Café Organic, Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferrari from Hillside Supper Club, and Katherine Toy from Flora. The events goes from 6pm-9pm and tickets are $125 for individuals, or $1,000 for a table of eight.

The National Kidney Foundation is hosting its Annual Authors Luncheon on Saturday October 25th at the Hilton Union Square. Authors include chef Christopher Kostow of Meadowood and non-food authors like Susan Vreeland and Kelly Corrigan, along with Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington. It is all emceed by KQED’s own Michael Krasny. The luncheon is from 10am-3pm; tickets are $135 per person, $1,300 for a table, and table sponsorships begin at $2,500. Proceeds benefit the National Kidney Foundation. 333 O’Farrell St. at Taylor, 415-543-3303 for tickets and information.


Pasta for days at the North Beach Bazaar 2013. Photo from Facebook.

This year is the 95th annual ~NORTH BEACH BAZAAR~, a Columbus Day celebration of Italian culture and heritage. It takes place in the churchyard of Saints Peter and Paul, just across the way from Washington Square Park, on Saturday and Sunday October 11th-12th from 11am-7pm. In addition to lots of fun activities like bocce, batting cages, a salami toss (!!), and Halloween crafts stations, A16 will be there (Shelley Lindgren is a co-chair of the event), serving pizzas out of their wood-fired pizza truck, along with beverages from Rye on the Road and Campari. On Sunday evening from 5pm-7pm, you can get a cioppino dinner from A16 for only $20, including salad and tiramisu. 666 Filbert St. between Stockton and Powell.

On Sunday October 12th, catch the annual ~ROCKRIDGE OUT & ABOUT FESTIVAL~ from 12pm-6pm. The festival includes food and drink from Rockridge Market Hall merchants like the Pasta Shop, the Cheese Counter, and Marin Sun Farms. On the Chef Stage, check out demonstrations like a Parmesan wheel cutting or a dessert demo from A16 Rockridge. There will also be live music, dancing, and autumnal activities for kids like pumpkin pairing and a prize wheel. College Ave. between Claremont and Manila, Oakland.

On Thursday October 16th, enjoy the heat at the ~RED HOT ROUNDUP~ from 5pm-8:30pm. The celebration of spice and fire is happening at Bay Meadows, the former racetrack, and is a fundraiser for the San Mateo Fire Department’s Burn Foundation fund. October is fire prevention awareness month, so go get yourself schooled! You can nab a spot in the Beat the Heat Hellfire Challenge, where you’ll compete against firefighters eating spicy foods. Lots of food trucks will be in attendance, as well, if you prefer to eat like a semi-civilized person. Check out vittles from Red Sauce Meatballs, Little Green Cyclo, and Naked Chorizo, plus beer from Grape and Grain. Tickets are $5 for adults, free for kids, and $20 to participate in the Hellfire Challenge. Paddock Park, Derby Ave. at Baze, San Mateo.


The exterior of the new Woods in Uptown Oakland. Photo courtesy Woods.

La Cocina alum Dionne Knox has opened her first brick-and-mortar location of ~ZELLA’S SOULFUL KITCHEN~ in the Mandela Foods Cooperative, Scoop reports. Knox has been serving her California-style soul food through her catering business and with prepared items at Whole Foods, but now you can find her dishes at breakfast and lunch, with dinner service coming soon. There’s a Beauty’s bagel with cream cheese and biscuit breakfast sandwich at breakfast, and a selection of salads and sandwiches at lunch. Soon, dinner will be added, with a rotating selection of comfort food plates; take a look at the menus here. Current hours are Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat 10am-4pm, evening hours coming later. Inside Mandela Foods, 1430 7th St. at Mandela, Oakland, 510-452-1151.

~WOODS BAR & BREWERY~ is getting ready to officially open its doors on Saturday October 11th. The project, from Jim Woods of Woods Polk Station and Cervezeria in San Francisco, moved into the former home of Rocsil’s Shoes in Uptown Oakland and will offer 12 beers on tap, most of them brewed in small batches on-site plus a few local guests. In addition, they’ve got an enclosed patio with a fireplace and a newly-restored mahogany bar. Hours are Sun-Wed 5pm-11pm, Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. 1701 Telegraph Ave. at 17th St., Oakland, no phone.

~PLANK~, the dining space and event venue in Jack London Square we told you about in August is planning a grand opening for Friday October 10th. The large space offers lots of activities (and room for up to 1,000 people), including bowling, bocce, video games, and an outdoor beer garden, along with a menu of plates designed to share like pizzas, chorizo fundido, and crab cakes. 98 Broadway at Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-817-0980.

East Bay Express reports that Japanese restaurant ~B-DAMA~ has reopened in the Swan’s Marketplace building. They’re serving lunch and dinner, with items like rice bowls, grilled meats, and uncut sushi rolls called gaburi. Hours are Mon-Sat 11:30pm-2pm and 5:30pm-10pm, closed Sun. 907 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland, 510-251-1113.

There is also news from East Bay Express that ~AUNT MARY’S CAFE~ has reopened after moving across the street from their old location. They’re now in the former Clausen House Thrift Shop location, next to Hooper’s Chocolates. They’re still transitioning a bit (no liquor license quite yet, and espresso is on hold due to a machine issue), but you can still pop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Hours are Tue-Sun 8am-3pm, Thu-Sat 5:30pm-9pm. 4640 Telegraph Ave. at 47th St., Oakland, 510-601-9227.

September 30, 2014

At a test dinner. Photo: Luke Andrews.


Chilled lettuce soup. Photo: Charlotte Cleary.

While State Bird Provisions is certainly one of the city’s more challenging restaurants to get a table at, the newly opened ~LAZY BEAR~ was so flooded with reservation requests for its first two weeks of seatings that the reservation ticketing system they’re using (from Chicago’s Alinea and Next) choked. All systems are go again, but scoring tickets—which are first come, first served—is up to luck (until someone figures out a bot to game the system).

Chef-owner David Barzelay has moved from underground suppers at his home into the former Hi Lo in the Mission, which now features two 22-foot elm communal tables, with room for 20 diners at each. Every Thu-Mon, there are two seatings, at 6:15pm and 8:15pm. The prix-fixe menu is around 11 courses for $120, with optional beverage pairings for $50. The Modern American menu is constantly changing, but recent dishes included chilled lettuce soup with Little Gems, summer squash, fried anchovy, parsley; Delta crawfish (cucumber, Delta rice grits, celery); and seared Sun Golds (smoked beef strip loin, basil, amaranth, tomato raisins). Desserts by Maya Erickson (previously at AQ) included ginger milk curd (pluot consommé gelée, pluot, shiso, mint) and a wooden slab of “treats” like frozen s’mores and a mini PB&J meringue.

The evening starts with snacks and optional drinks upstairs on the retro/postmodern mezzanine, and at the end, coffee service is a custom program with Ritual Coffee Roasters. Sommelier Marie-Louise Friedland (previously at Quince) and bar manager Brandon Presbury (Bartlett Hall, Locanda) are in charge of the beverage pairing menus.

Sign up for the Lazy Bear mailing list to receive information about when each month’s tickets will be released (it never hurts to follow along on Twitter and Instagram, too, @lazybearsf). 3416 19th St. at Valencia, 415-874-9921.


Melissa Gugni and Jay Esopenko at Union Larder. Photo Courtesy Union Larder.


Meat slicing at Union Larder. Photo courtesy Union Larder.


The interior at The Hall. Photo by Patricia Change courtesy The Hall.


Cassia at The Hall. Photo by Patricia Change courtesy The Hall.


The spacious patio at Aracely. Photo courtesy of Aracely.

As reported earlier this month, ~UNION LARDER~ was opening in Russian Hill from the team behind Little Vine. Well, they officially opened their doors on September 16th, and now you can get their house charcuterie, glasses of wine, and cheeses. The retail side is also open, offering pantry items, Straus dairy products, and Marin Sun Farms meat. Hours this week are Mon-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, but they should be opening Mon-Sat 11am-11pm in the next couple of weeks. 1945 Hyde St. at Union, 415-272-7567.

~THE HALL~, the Mid-Market gourmet marketplace we told you about in August, is now open in the former Hollywood Billiards building. The building is actually still a work in progress and will eventually be a residential building with retail on the ground floor. While the developer works that out, though, The Hall will be open in the interim, offering food from a variety of vendors including Little Green Cyclo, The Whole Beast, and Fine & Rare. It will also serve as a multiuse events space. 1028 Market St. at 6th St, 415-558-8293.

It looks like there is a new spot for handmade udon in town, in the Kinokuniya Building in Japantown. It’s called ~UDON MUGIZO~. There’s only one Yelp review, and it’s positive; sadly, Gary Soup discovered that they are closed on Mondays, so we don’t have the benefit of his always-thorough feedback. 1581 Webster St. at Post, no phone.

The Outer Sunset has a new spot for sweets—ice cream sandwiches, specifically. ~SWICH~ is now open on Irving, with customized sandwiches made with a variety of cookie and ice cream flavors, along with “toppings” for the sides of the sandwich. 2045 Irving St. at 22nd Ave, 415-592-8091.

Speaking of sweets in the Sunset, Eater caught the news of ~TWISTED DONUTS~. Husband-and-wife team Paul and Joyce Lim offers classics like old-fashioneds and glazed, along with hipper flavor combinations like mango, lemon and blueberry, and maple bacon available as daily specials. They’ve got coffee and housemade croissants too. 1243 Noriega St. at 20th Ave., 415-463-5437.

~CALIBUR~, the burger joint that moved into the former Market & Rye in West Portal, is now open, slinging organic burgers, fries, and shakes made with Three Twins ice cream. 68 West Portal Ave. at Vicente, no phone.

The ~BOBA GUYS~ have opened their second location, according to Chowhound. The new location is in Union Square, near the Stockton Street Tunnel, and to make things even easier for the downtown crowd, you can now order online for pickup. 429 Stockton St. at Bush, 415-967-2622.

And over on Treasure Island, ~ARACELY CAFE~ has now opened there after their move (you may remember them from Potrero Hill, in the Axis Cafe space). Their new island digs include a sweet patio space with bridge views, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, a chef’s garden, and a semi-enclosed courtyard. While they are serving brunch and lunch, it’s also a great event space: they host a bunch of private events (weddings, baby showers, and more), and some public events are coming up, including jazz, blues, music concerts, and wine tasting parties. Hours are Tue-Fri 11am-2pm, and Sat-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm. 401 13th St., Treasure Island, 415-694-0363.


Adam Fleischman (Umami Burger) and Joshua Skenes (Saison) are getting ready to open a new fast-casual Chinese restaurant, ~FAT NOODLE~, this winter. It will be on Second Street at Mission in SoMa, and will offer hand-pulled noodles inspired by Szechuan and Shaanxi cuisine, along with other classic Chinese dishes. The casual service will also be speedy, with a choice of noodles, proteins, and vegetables, all served within three minutes and for less than $10. In addition to serving the lunchtime crowd, they will also offer late-night hours, until 2am. Look for an opening later this year or in early 2015. 92 2nd St. at Mission.

We’ve been tracking this space for a while now, and Eater caught the details on ~BUTTERMILK SOUTHERN KITCHEN~, opening in late October in the Mission. The space, which used to house a laundromat, comes from Miguel De Ocampo and partners, and will offer neighborhood-friendly Southern fare, including lunch, dinner, and brunch all day on Sundays. They’ll have beer and wine, along with some outdoor seating. 2848 23rd St. at Bryant.


Matthew Bousqet at Per Diem. Photo courtesy Per Diem.

~PER DIEM~ has a new chef, Matthew Bousquet, previously of Michelin-starred Mirepoix in Windsor. He’s focused on keeping the food “simple and pure,” with almost everything made from scratch. The menu offers some decadent touches, including a bone marrow dish with escargot in Pernod butter ($12), crispy pork belly with roasted grapes, kale, quinoa, sage-pecan crumble, and Banyuls sauce ($12), and lamb sugo with tagliatelle, braised vegetables, and rosemary butter ($19). The classic bucatini bolognese all’arrabbiata remains on the menu, as well—take a peek at the dinner menu here. 43 Sutter St. at Sansome, 415-989-0300.

Back in July, I heard some rumblings that chef Bill Niles was leaving ~ST. VINCENT~, but when I reached out to confirm, I was told that the rumor was false. Wellllll, it wasn’t: Niles has left the restaurant (for now, he’s going to be working with Chris Kronner at his upcoming KronnerBurger, but that won’t be permanent). Scoop reports owner David Lynch has brought on John Thurmond, Nathan Holden, and Stephen Thorlton, a talented trio known collectively as The Other Guys (they have a pop-up), who will be acting like a kitchen team. This week, the restaurant is running more as a wine bar (read: limited food selections) while the kitchen ramps up, and look for a return to dinner service with their new menu on October 6th.

At Oakland’s ~PICÁN~, chef Robert Sapirman is now running the kitchen after Sophina Uong’s departure, East Bay Express reports. Sapirman, who previously worked at Hotel Valencia in San Jose and Vesu in Walnut Creek, hails from Florida and will continue to offer Southern food with an international bent. 2295 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-834-1000.

Speaking of Sophina Uong, one of her post-Picán projects was consulting on the menu at ~CAPTAIN & CORSET~ in Oakland. However, East Bay Express reports that not only did Uong leave the project in July, but also that the wine bar and restaurant has closed. Apparently, there were some issues with the team and financial arrangements. No word on what may be moving into the space. 2212 Broadway at Grand, Oakland.


The exterior of Tante Marie’s, future home of Parties That Cook. Photo from Facebook.


Nachos from Green Chile Kitchen. Photo from Facebook.

Local businesses are branching out: first up, ~THE AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE KITCHEN~ will be opening a third location in North Beach. Scoop reports they have a letter of intent for a new space at the corner of Broadway and Battery, expect an opening in mid-2015 or thereabouts.

Another ~SUPER DUPER~ will be coming to the El Faro on Kearny, look for an opening in spring 2015. 346 Kearny St. at Pine.

Adriano Paganini will also be busy opening a second location of the Marina’s ~DELAROSA~ in Yerba Buena Lane. The 100-seat space is aiming for spring 2015. 37 Yerba Buena Lane at Market.

Tipster Jason B. let us know there’s a second location of ~DRAGON EATS~ now in SoMa. The menu is similar to the Hayes Valley location, with banh mi, rolls, salads, and bowls. 555 Folsom St. at 2nd St., 415-795-1169.

Big congrats to Bibby Gignilliat and ~PARTIES THAT COOK~, who will be taking over the storied Tante Marie space on October 1st. It ends up Gignilliat is an alum of Tante Marie and is thrilled to have a permanent location for her corporate team-building events, parties, and cooking classes. She says of the move, “When Mary [Risley] called and offered me the keys to her space I was thrilled with the chance to take over the venue. The romantic look and feel of the building is filled with great karma from the culinary legends that have walked through her door. I’m very excited for our new permanent location and for the next chapter of Parties That Cook.” 

Look for an opening later this fall; Tante Marie’s last day in the space is October 1st.

Up in San Rafael, ~GREEN CHILE KITCHEN~ is opening a location in the former Odalisque Café & Grille, and aiming for October. The restaurant will be full service and everything will be made to order. There is a rotisserie, grill, and full kitchen, so GCK Marin will be adding some new dishes to the menu once they open—there won’t be traditional taqueria fare, but they’ll still offer some of the classics. There will also be cocktails! GCK owner Trevor Logan is partnering with Santa Fe native Ted Razatos on the project (Razatos’ family opened the highly acclaimed Plaza Cafe in downtown Santa Fe in 1947, the oldest restaurant in town). Follow along on Facebook for updates. 1335 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Now this expansion is pretty far afield: Chad Robertson will be opening a ~TARTINE BAKERY~ in Tokyo, how cool is that? Scoop reports it’s due to open in April and will feature Japanese grains, plus there will be sandwiches too. There’s also a brewery next door, so there will be some collaboration there as well.


The pastrami sandwich from Wise Sons, now available for dinner. Yelp photo by J G.

It’s officially a (Jewish) new year, and ~WISE SONS DELI~ is celebrating by adding dinner service at their Mission location three nights a week, according to a tweet we spotted on Saturday. Scoop fills in that they’ll be open Thursdays through Saturdays from 5:30pm-10pm, serving sandwiches like their Reuben, all-day breakfast plates, and blue plates like braised brisket or latkes. They’re also offering full table service during dinner for the first time (this is an excellent development), but still no reservations. You can also order delivery via Caviar.

~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ is now offering Saturday lunch from 12pm-3pm. If you need a shopping pick-me-up, perhaps their Champagne julep and a cheese plate is just the thing to keep you going. Take a peek at the lunch menu here. They also have a new Sunday supper menu, served family style every Sunday from 5pm-10:30pm for $40 per person. Each week, a different dish is the centerpiece of the three-course meal, with roasted lamb leg this Sunday October 5th.

If you’re looking to, ahem, jazz up your Sunday brunch, check out the new live music from Gaucho at ~BOXING ROOM~ every Sunday from 11:30am-2:30pm. The brunch menu is served 11am-3pm, and reservations are available.

Looking for a new happy hour? ~FERRY PLAZA SEAFOOD~, which recently reopened in North Beach, is now offering happy hour specials Monday through Friday from 3:30pm-6pm (with last call at 5:30pm). The menu choices will change regularly, but you’ll find options like oysters ($7 for a half dozen and $12 for a dozen), cups of clam chowder ($4), salmon rillettes ($10), and grilled half artichoke ($4). Selected glasses of wine are $5, beer $4. 653 Union St. at Columbus, 415-274-2561.

Sadly, with their new locations coming to Tokyo and the Heath Ceramics building, ~BAR TARTINE~ will have to stop offering lunch. Chad Robertson will be using the space during the day for menu and recipe development, according to Eater. Weekend brunch will remain, though. Whew.


The iconic sign at All Star Donuts. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

We were very sad to learn that 24-hour mainstay ~ALL STAR DONUTS~ in the Marina closed on September 22nd after 28 years of business, according to Scoop. A note in the window states that they’ve lost their lease, though reportedly they may reopen in a new location. As for what will be moving into the corner space, Scoop reports that chain ~GLAZE TERIYAKI~ will be opening their second San Francisco location there in 2015. From glazed doughnuts to Glazed. 2095 Chestnut St. at Steiner.

Last month, Hoodline reported that ~HAYES & KEBAB~ would close at the end of September to make room for a large mixed-use construction project that includes residential units, a parking garage, and retail space. They served their last kebab on September 28th. The good news, though, is that they’ll be moving into the ground-floor space in 2016 when the building is completed. In the meantime, they’re planning a food truck at Proxy and even eyeing a space on Valencia at 20th Street. 580 Hayes St. at Laguna.

Speaking of late-night bites, it looks like ~ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK~ has closed their Castro location. Their other five locations remain open, and Marcello’s is still slinging slices up the street. H/t Scoop. 508 Castro St. at 18th St.

Hoodline notes that there are some changes afoot at Second Act Marketplace on Haight. ~HIGH COTTON KITCHEN~ has moved to a space in Oakland, and ~SPICE HOUND~ has closed because the owner, Tammy Tan, is expecting a child and will now be focusing on online and wholesale sales. Of the two spots left vacant, one is being filled by Hayes Valley-based catering operation ~CRÊPE LA VIE~ from Emilie Le Pessot, Hoodline reports. The menu will offer eight to ten options, half of them savory crêpes made with buckwheat flour (galettes in the maison!), and the other half sweet ones made with unbleached pastry flour. Toppings will change with the seasons, but look for ham and cheese, smoked salmon, salted caramel, and chocolate with orange; you can see Le Pessot’s current menu here. The plan is to open in October. 1727 Haight St. at Cole.

Over in Oakland, East Bay Express reports that ~UME~ is no more, after taking over the Plum space only four months ago. The Daniel Patterson Group has, well, regrouped yet again, and the space will essentially become an extension of next door’s ~PLUM BAR~. The sense seems to be that a casual, less expensive option will be a better fit for the neighborhood, despite Ume’s good reviews. 2214 Broadway at Franklin, Oakland, 510-444-7586.


The bar at Hecho. Photo via Facebook.

Just a couple of things to note in your brain files: first, after a public outcry and offense over the name “Bandidos,” the newly opened Mexican restaurant on Market Street has now changed its name to ~HECHO~. (Yes, there used to be an Hecho downtown, where Gaspar is now, but this new one is not related.) You can read a statement from the owners about the name change on their Facebook page. Now, let’s eat some short rib quesadillas. 2200 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-926-5630.

Next, the upcoming project from Brett Cooper and Daniel Patterson Group in the former Beast and the Hare location in the Mission will be called ~ASTER~. Scoop reports they are aiming to open at the end of the year. 1001 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.


The Gaggia at Iron & Steam. Photo from Facebook.

Some coffee news for you around town because, hey, caffeination is important. We have mentioned ~PINHOLE COFFEE~ before, and they are now open in Bernal. The owner is JoEllen Depakakibo, previously of Blue Bottle, and Bernalwood reports she is using Linea Caffe beans. You can read more on Sprudge here. Rainbow stripes! Hours are Mon-Fri 6:30am-5pm and Sat-Sun 7:30am-5pm. 231 Cortland Ave. at Bonview.

Over in Dogpatch is the new ~DIGNITÀ~, which opened in the Invention Hub coworking space—people seem fired up on the seating options. There are also a variety of goodies available, from cookies to quick breads. In case the name seems familiar, this is the same café that is opening in The Hall as well. 2225 3rd St. at 19th St.

Was sorry to read on Chowhound ~IRON & STEAM ESPRESSO BAR~ and their gorgeous Gaggia machine have packed up and are no longer operating out of the Hi Lo Club’s window on Polk. 1423 Polk St. at Pine.


Massimo Battura. Photo from Facebook.

The crush of fall book releases is upon us, with all kinds of cookbooks and restaurant vanity books to keep us well fed, inspired, and informed in the coming months. ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ just released their list of upcoming fall events, packed with visits from locals like Thomas McNaughton (Flour + Water has their new book out) and Alder Yarrow talking wine, and Tony Gemignani talking pizza. There will also be some great visitors, from Renee Erickson (from Seattle restaurants like The Whale Wins) to Alexander Lobrano, whose second edition of Hungry for Paris was a great resource on my recent trip. Oh yeah, and there’s a party for Yotam Ottolenghi!

One more Omnivore event to note: next Thursday October 9th, ~TOSCA CAFE~ is hosting a party for Italian chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana to celebrate his new cookbook, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef. The party is 5pm-8pm; a $55 ticket includes wine, cocktails, and passed canapés inspired by recipes in the book (but please note it doesn’t include the book, you gotta get that separately).

There’s also quite a lineup of chefs coming to speak at INFORUM, including Flour + Water’s Thomas McNaughton with MythBusters host Adam Savage on October 6th, Mario Batali with Tyler Florence on November 1st, and Marcus Samuelsson with Nikki Silvestri on November 3rd.  


The front window of the upcoming La Snackeria. Photo from Facebook.

East Bay Dish has the story on the new project from Tina Tamale, who has been running Tina Tamale Catering. It’s called ~LA SNACKERIA~ and will offer “Chino Latino” food, like quesadillas with Oaxacan cheese and char siu-style pork, and boba frescas, or aguas frescas with tapioca. There will also be a large selection of salads made with local produce, and desserts and snacks from other local spots like Tart! Bakery. The project was partially funded by a Kiva loan, and after she opens the shop, Tina hopes to become a loan trustee and endorse loans for other small local businesses. Rock on, Tina! 815 Washington St. at 8th St., Oakland.

~A16 ROCKRIDGE~ is now offering an early morning and afternoon café service, with coffee from partner roaster Scarlet City Coffee Roasting. During breakfast and lunch, you can get Italian-style coffee and espresso, along with savory and sweet pastries like sfogliatelle, zeppole, and pizzas for takeout or dine-in. Free Wi-Fi will be available, as well. The café set-up will be offered Mon-Fri 7am-3pm and Sat-Sun 9am-3pm.

We’ve been tracking this one on Facebook for a while now, and it looks like it’s going to open this Friday October 3rd. ~DIVING DOG BREWHOUSE~ from owner Rob Bailard is a microbrewery opening in Oakland. With 30 taps, they will be serving their own beers plus many from other breweries. In addition, they’ve got a cool workshop element: groups will be able to come in and brew beer on-site using a variety of customizable recipes. After fermenting for a couple of weeks, you come back, bottle your beer, label it, and take it home. There isn’t a kitchen, just snacks, plus all that beer. 1802 Telegraph Ave. at 18th St., Oakland, 510-457-1148.

September 5, 2014

Blue Jay Cafe exterior. Photo via Facebook.


Brenda’s famed fried chicken. Photo: Libby Truesdell.

For years, I have wondered who and what would take over the lusterless ~BLUE JAY CAFE~ on Divisadero. The place has such great bones (love that horseshoe counter SO MUCH) and there’s even a patio out back. All it was missing was some real soul, which it’s going to be getting in spades, because the fabulous Brenda Buenviaje and her partner Libby Truesdell of ~BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD~ (and Libby Jane Café) will be opening ~BRENDA’S MEAT & THREE~ at the end of this year. They haven’t bought the business from the current owners, André and Jennifer Larzul, but they are now majority/part-owners of the business, and the concept is theirs.

So, let’s discuss. First, the place is going to be a classic Southern diner concept, but not limited to New Orleans—Brenda has visions beyond beignets and gumbo. Breakfast will be served, with some standard and new items, ranging from johnnycakes to a one-eyed jack (i.e., toad in the hole) inside of one of Brenda’s famed cream biscuits, with creamed gravy and “city ham steak.” She’s also working on a version of callas, a fritter you don’t see much anymore, even in New Orleans: it’s a creamy but crisp rice pudding fritter, which will be served with brown sugar and a buttermilk glaze. Whoa.

Lunchtime means blue plate specials, from red beans and fried chicken on Wednesday to an amped-up fried baloney sandwich. Bring it on.

Dinner is when the diner’s name will make the most sense: you’ll be able to choose from five or six proteins, like fried chicken (yes, Brenda’s delicious fried chicken will be in the 94117!), oxtail, fried catfish, and country ribs. And then it’s time for three sides, with up to 15 in all, like bacon fat fries, smothered green beans, mac and cheese, creamed biscuits, and some seasonal sides too. The meat and three combos will range from $18-$22. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or just trying to eat more vegetables, there will be plenty of sides for you to make a good meal. There will also be appetizers and salads. Oh, and beer and wine too.

It will be open daily, except for Tuesdays. The remodel starts Monday, with lots of cleaning, painting, and more. The hoped-for reopening will be mid-November. I’ll be (happily) giving you progress reports. As for Brenda’s Fillmore project, Brenda’s Original Po’Boys, that continues to move at a “snail’s pace,” as she put it—that’s definitely looking like 2015. 919 Divisadero St. at McAllister.


The bar at Doc Ricketts. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Doc Ricketts. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The dining room at Doc Ricketts. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The venue stage at Doc’s Lab. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. The former Purple Onion space in North Beach has officially reopened as ~DOC RICKETTS~, as of Wednesday September 3rd. As previously reported on tablehopper, the owner is Christopher Burnett of Darwin Café, and he’s done quite a number on the historic location. The three-level space has been divided into two areas: Doc Ricketts, the restaurant, and Doc’s Lab in the lower level. The basement is where Purple Onion used to be, and it is still a performance space, with a full lineup of acts including comedy, music, and other acts.

As for the restaurant, it’s on the main floor and seats 32, with room for 8 at the bar. There is booth seating along the wall, with raw slab tables and glass light fixtures. The restaurant is named after Doc Ricketts, a marine biologist who inspired a character in John Steinbeck’s novels, and there is a touch of the maritime in the decor. One wall has a large vintage educational marine biology poster, and a painting of an octopus appears in another corner. Ricketts’ photo even appears over the bar. In the coming weeks, they will also be adding sidewalk seating.

In the kitchen, which is on the second floor, is chef Justin Deering (previously of 15 Romolo). His menu is focused on straightforward ingredients, carefully prepared with layers of flavor and texture to create something exciting and complex. The small plates selection is focused on vegetable and seafood dishes, including a cauliflower dish ($11) that sounds simple but includes three kinds of cauliflower, all prepared differently, and served with housemade vadouvan yogurt and vinaigrette made with sultana raisins. There is also a selection of housemade charcuterie ($7.50 each or $24 for a plate)—there’s a curing room on-site.

As for the main dishes, they are heartier, with choices like a pork chop with mustard, maple, and spaetzle ($26). There is also a burger made with short ribs and served with fries ($14), and a roasted chicken with liver toast, fingerling potatoes, and broccoli rabe ($22). Since a version of the menu will also be served in Doc’s Lab, there is a section of the menu devoted to snacks (all $6), which will also be nice at the bar. Take a look at the current menu here.

Speaking of the bar, it’s a small one, but they have a full liquor license and are serving classic cocktails (nope, not “with a twist”) like a Martinez (gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino, orange bitters) and a Vieux Carré (rye, Cognac, vermouth, Benedictine, bitters). The drinks are all pleasantly priced, at $9-$11. The wine list is small with five whites, one rosé, and six reds, all intended to pair well with the food. There are four beers on tap, as well: North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner, Big Daddy IPA, Anchor Liberty Ale, and Eel River Porter, plus a few more choices by the bottle. Here’s the beverage list. Charlie Brown, who was the restaurant manager at Prospect since it opened, is in charge of operations.

Doc’s Lab will offer a limited version of the menu when it opens on Friday September 12th, and also has its own bar. The calendar is booked for the next month already, including some literary events in partnership with nearby City Lights Bookstore, along with music, comedy, and even a magic show.

Restaurant hours are Sun-Wed 5:30pm-10pm, Thu-Sat 5:30pm-12am. Doc’s Lab will be open for events. 124 Columbus Ave. at Montgomery, 415-649-6191.

September 3, 2014

A rendering of the chef’s table and dining area. Courtesy of Engstrom Design Group.


Rendering of the service counter. Courtesy of Engstrom Design Group.

There’s a new waterfront restaurant coming to Mission Bay, near the upcoming Warriors event center and Mission Rock, that’s due to open in late fall 2014. It’s called ~STEM~ and is from Bon Appétit Management Company, which is behind Public House at AT&T Park, SeaGlass at the Exploratorium, and the Commissary in the Presidio.

The cuisine will be Mediterranean in style, serving casual breakfast (smoothies, eggs, plus a juice bar), lunch (panini, soup, salads, flatbread pizza, plus larger entrées), happy hour (you’ll find small plates and charcuterie in the bar), and dinner. Per BAMCO’s company policy, all the ingredients will be sustainable and humanely produced, with local produce figuring prominently. There will also be local coffee, cocktails, craft beer, and wine on tap.

It’s a spacious location, with 158 seats, views of the bay, heated outdoor seating, an edible garden with raised beds and planters, fire pits, and complimentary bocce ball. The location is 499 Illinois Street, within Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ science and technology campus. Engstrom Design Group is behind the design, which will be modern yet full of natural touches. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St.


A dish from a Californios dinner at Naked Kitchen: Yerba Buena Fruit Cup Under the C. Photo: ©

After experiencing a Californios pop-up dinner by chef Val Cantu last year, we’ve been tracking his next steps, which now includes opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant called, you guessed it, ~CALIFORNIOS~. He’ll be opening in the former Panchita’s 3 (and the short-lived Manos Nouveau) on 22nd Street.

Val’s background includes cooking at Uchi in Austin (he’s from Texas) and locally he was a sous at Sons & Daughters. His cuisine is a unique and modern version of Mexican cuisine, taking inspiration from the history of Californios here in SF and Alta California (you can read more here). There will be three menus ($45-$75): an omnivorous 4-course, a vegetable 4-course, and an extended 7- to 10-course menu. Dinner will be served Tue-Sat.

So, the space. It’s going to have 25 seats, with 7 at a chef’s counter, looking into the open kitchen. Val’s wife, Carolyn Cantu, will be designing the interior. She was most recently a designer at Ken Fulk, and once the design duties are wrapped up, she will be the maître d’. Charlotte Randolph, previously a server at The French Laundry, will be running the front of the house and the wine program. Look for an opening in November. 3115 22nd St. at Capp.


Just next door to Cantina, in the neighborhood bordering Nob Hill and Union Square will be ~HOGWASH~, a craft beer hall and restaurant (the space was previously Crackers Grill, Persimmon, and J Tu Cafe). The team is Nick Rothman, who you may recognize as the owner of Zeki’s Bar, and Paula Thompson, a hospitality veteran.

They are going to be offering gourmet sausages (made in-house), pretzels, and other dishes with locally sourced ingredients by Morgan Hamm (the owner of Le Beau Market, who is known for his sandwiches). The craft beer list—30 on draft—will be well rounded and represent many styles of beers (Rich Higgins is assembling the list). Thompson, who is currently trying for her cicerone certification, will also be closely involved with the beer program. And…there will also be some very creative beer milk shakes and floats!

Lauren Geremia (of Geremia Design) is behind the laid-back but well-designed look, which will have handmade plaster tiles that line the walls, a bar area, and there will be custom-made communal tables (from designer Alexis Moran). The look will be more on the California modern tip than German, and it’s designed to be a social place where people can get together and hang out.

Hours will be determined (lunch may be added), but happy hour and dinner hours are certain. Look for an opening this fall. We’ll keep you updated. 582 Sutter St. at Mason.


The bar at Hecho. Photo via Facebook.


The fajitas at Bandidos. Photo from Facebook.

~BANDIDOS~, the Mexican restaurant and bar from Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim of Hi Tops, opened in the Castro Tuesday September 2nd. It’s in the former Leticia’s space in The Century building. They’ve got a full liquor license, along with a menu of traditional Mexican dishes with a modern edge from consulting chef Jamie Lauren (of Top Chef fame).

The dinner menu includes small plates like a barbacoa quesadilla with beef cheeks, or queso fundido with rajas or chorizo. There are plates of two tacos in a wide variety of choices, including fried avocado and duck mole, and entrées like a fried whole fish and fajitas. At brunch, there are egg dishes including fideos (noodles) with chile sauce and eggs, along with chilaquiles and scrambles.

As for beverages, the cocktail menu has margaritas, of course, along with other cocktails (Sipcraft consulted on the menu), and a selection of tequila and mezcal (and sangrita!). (Order the Guns a Blazin’ if you want to get that cute guy’s attention at the bar.) A small wine list includes three reds, three whites, and two rosés available by the glass or bottle. Beers are mostly Mexican imports (think Corona, Bohemia, and Victoria), along with Lagunitas IPA.

C Walters Design is behind the design of the 3,000-square-foot space, which includes geometric tile, rough-hewn reclaimed wood tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an impressive shelving situation behind the tiled bar. There is also an open kitchen, so you can watch the action, and leather booths. A pet-friendly patio coming soon means you can (eventually) bring your cute Frenchie while you enjoy your albondigas and an agua fresca. Hours are Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 11am-12am, and Sun 10am-11pm. 2200 Market St. at 15th St., 415-926-5630.


Housemade coppa. Photo courtesy of Union Larder.


The exterior of the soon-to-open Union Larder. Photo courtesy of Union Larder.


A peek at the in-progress space. Photo courtesy of Union Larder.

We broke the news earlier this year about ~UNION LARDER~ coming to Russian Hill from the Little Vine duo, Melissa Gugni and Jay Esopenko. If everything pans out as planned, they should be opening their doors within a couple of weeks. The 30-seat space is looking great, with a zinc bar, custom-fabricated barstools with comfy upholstered seats, and there’s a hand-cranked meat slicer too. And then there’s all the light that comes in from the huge windows.

We have some project updates for you, starting with the hiring of their chef, Ramon Siewart, who was previously at Quince, Bourbon Steak, and The Cavalier. He will be making all their charcuterie in-house, and they’re building an aging room downstairs for salami and prosciutto (but we’ll have to wait awhile until we can taste the prosciutto—that takes some time). Look for some fantastic charcuterie, ranging from pâté (including sea urchin pâté!) to pork rillettes, ciccioli, duck liver mousse, and cured meats like mortadella, coppa, and lonza. Esopenko also says Siewart’s blood sausage is the best he’s had anywhere! (Noted!)

Another key hire is Kristi Bachman, the buyer at the Cheese School of SF, who is coming over to work for them. She’ll be the cheese director (there will be close to 100 cheeses, whoa, with a focus on artisanal American cheeses), and she will be organizing cheese and wine pairing classes and events too. There will be 30 wines by the glass, including 5 sparklers (I love to hear that). Like we said in our previous post, the inspiration for this place was a cava and jamón bar Esopenko frequented while living in Barcelona 20 years ago. So yes, jamón Ibérico de Bellota will be en la casa. The meat-and-cheese boards will be something really special here: you’ll be able to choose from 30 cheeses and 15 meats. Also on the menu: oysters, housemade boquerones, raclette, fondue, sandwiches, and salads.

The retail side will have Straus milk, Marin Sun Farms meats, and dozens of other grocery items from small producers. Follow along on Facebook for opening updates since tablehopper is going to be dark through September 30th! 1945 Hyde St. at Union.


The exterior of El Zocalo. Yelp photo by Ed U.

Last week a reader tipped me off to some news that ~EMMY’S SPAGHETTI SHACK~ was going to be moving, and before I could figure out where to, some ABC license activity revealed all: ~EL ZOCALO~. I know, our trusted late-night pupusa joint—yes, the one that makes it feel like forever until your pupusas arrive, but whatever, you’re drunk and hungry and those things are handmade and the service was never that great to begin with, but damn—is sadly leaving us. Sigh. Eater got more details on the change: El Zocalo has been open since current owner Victoria Reve’s mother opened it in 1965, but now Victoria is ready to retire (after serving how many drunk people?!) since she started running it in the ’70s.

The good news is that the space is going to a neighbor, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, which has been in the neighborhood for 13 years and is another female-owned business at that. Emily Kaplan is reportedly planning to move Emmy’s to the more spacious digs in November. With the move, hours will run later, there will be more wines, and more to-go options too. As far as the original location, it sounds like it will function as an annex until they determine what they want it to be. And this means I need to go tie one on soon and come in for a loroco con queso and a revuelta at 2:15am before El Zocalo sadly leaves us. We called to get an official date on the closing but unfortunately no one at the restaurant could confirm for us. 3230 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-282-2572.


The back counter and retail area. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Cho.


The custom pour-over station with built-in scales and a special drain board. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Cho.


The 16-foot bench where you can perch and enjoy your coffee. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Cho.

Fans of Wrecking Ball Coffee (you may have encountered it at Firehouse 8 or Marla Bakery) will be pleased to know the opening date has been set for their very own café this Friday September 5th in Cow Hollow. Partners Nicholas Cho and Trish Rothgeb both have some serious chops behind them—Rothgeb has been roasting, buying, and in the coffee world for 25 years, and Cho will be rocking the retail and barista side (he has 12 years under his belt). They’re excited to be opening a neighborhood coffee shop, a place with a bit of feminine style (cute pineapple wallpaper made in SF, check, and stylish aprons by studiopatró, you’ll find that too). As Nick says, “We wanted a shop to be proud of.”

But it’s not a place to bring your laptop. There’s a long 16-foot bench inside where you can sit next to some neighbors, and there’s a small counter where you can sit in front of the pour-over station and geek out with your barista, almost like a chef’s counter (both owners are big on education). They plan to get some outdoor seating soon, but they’ll have to get that permit first.

The duo has been working on finding a balance of flavors in their coffee drinks. For example, Cho says they have found using 2 percent milk for their cappuccino offers more flavor and balance (although you are more than welcome to order your capp with whole milk, they’ll have that too). Look for some creative drinks, effervescent drinks, and a chocolaty number to come when the weather gets a touch cooler. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-8pm. 2271 Union St. at Steiner.


The 555 Golden Gate exterior, when it was Maestro. Photo: ©

There’s a new taker for the storied former home of Stars (and Maestro, most recently), according to Scoop. Actually, there are two takers: Jordan Langer (formerly at Big) and Pete Glikshtern (from Jones), who opened Oddjob together and have been running Pier 70 lately. They’ve signed a temporary three-year lease on the space (it’s going to be demolished, eventually). They’ll be calling the new project ~EMPIRE ROOM~, and it will feature different “social spaces” to take advantage of the large building. The main dining room will become a bar and nightclub, while the private dining room is going to be a smaller, higher-end cocktail bar.

As for the kitchen, it will function as a commissary for food trucks, who will also serve food in the bar. There will be several different trucks on the roster, rotating on different evenings. Because the space is so temporary, they won’t be doing any major construction, just some visual updates. Besides, they like how it looks—it’s a San Francisco classic. The plan is to open by November. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness.


Front booth action, and yes, that’s Simon on the shelf. Photo courtesy of Chino.

Over at the ever-poppin’ ~CHINO~ in the Mission, the team has just brought on consulting chef Justine Kelly, who hails from the Charles Phan empire—she initially started working with the Slanted Door in 1996 and was a key figure with the group until she moved on to The Battery as executive chef of their restaurant, 717B. She is now going to be working closely with Chino executive chef-partner Telmo Faria and chef de cuisine Dale Arcalas—partner Joe Hargrave tells me the team is adding around two new dishes a week. They aren’t going to be massively changing the menu—it’s more about fine-tuning and the pursuit of excellence. They want to dial the food at the restaurant to be great and are excited to have Justine on board to help drive it. Also in the works: the team is going to be taking a trip for inspiration to Vancouver.

About a month ago, we mentioned the upcoming brewery and beer incubator ~CITIZEN FOX~ that’s coming to the Mission (it’s now due to open early 2015). They have just announced a consulting chef: Tanya Petrovna, the founder and past president of the vegan café company Native Foods. So yes, it will be a vegan menu, but not “hippie vegan”—it will be designed to appeal to everyone. After getting the menu in place, she’ll be updating it seasonally and adding new dishes. If you want to meet her, she’ll be leading a demo at the CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this Saturday. 2205 Mission St. at 18th St.

Some changes are afoot at ~OUTERLANDS~: the chef who was brought on to replace Brett Cooper, Greg Kuzia-Carmel, has also been let go after four months. Pastry chef Brooke Mosley, who is also a big part of the savory side of things over there, will be collaborating with sous chef Bayani Inclano; it sounds like another chef will be brought on to work closely with the team. We’ll see where Kuzia-Carmel lands next.


A peek into the new Le Marais Bistro space, which flanks the bakery (at left). Photo: ©

~LE MARAIS BISTRO AND BAKERY~ is getting ready to launch its bistro dinner menu on Wednesday September 10th. We wrote about the details of the new menu in July, so check out all the details there. To recap, they’ve expanded into a larger space and added bistro-style dinner service from chef Nicolette Manescalchi. You can look at the bistro menu right here. The café and bakery will now be open daily 7:30am-4:30pm, and the bistro open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. 2066 Chestnut St. at Mallorca, 415-359-9801.

~A.G. FERRARI~, the local deli and gourmet shop, will be closing its three San Francisco locations for a makeover on Monday September 8th. The shops, which were purchased by investment firm Murano Group last year, will have new menus from chef Ira Meyer, a new wine selection, and a new design to their interiors. After the renovations, look for a grand reopening later this month. 468 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-255-6590; 3490 California St. at Locust, 415-923-4470; 688 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-344-0644.

The owner of Bean Bag told me awhile ago that the (permanently under construction) space next to Bean Bag on Divisadero would potentially be a casual Mediterranean spot, and Hoodline confirms the news. The new spot, which is still unnamed, comes from Chris Totah, owner of Zaytoon in the Mission. This new location will cater more toward dining in, though they will still offer takeout options, with a menu of items made from fresh ingredients. Though there have been a lot of construction delays, Totah hopes to open in the next couple of months. 605 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

~NOODLES & COMPANY~, a Colorado-based chain of fast-casual restaurants, has opened a San Francisco location in the Metreon, and another location in the Market Center is opening on Monday September 29th. The menu offers noodle and pasta dishes with internationally inspired flavors, along with salads, soups, and sandwiches. Hours for both locations are Sun-Thu 10:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-10pm. Metreon, 135 4th St. at Mission, 415-979-0793; Market Center, 575 Market St. at 2nd St., 415-543-5700.

Now you’ve got an extra day to nab pastrami and matzo ball soup. ~WISE SONS DELI~ on 24th Street in the Mission is now open on Tuesdays, from 8am-3pm. They’re still closed Mondays, though—you’ll have to go to the Contemporary Jewish Museum location for a Monday fix.


Feasting at CUESA’s Sunday Supper last year. Photo ©Drew Altizer Photography via Facebook.

CUESA’s 12th Annual Sunday Supper is coming up on Sunday October 5th from 6pm-9:30pm. The evening begins with a reception on the main floor of the Ferry Plaza, with oysters, Champagne, appetizers, and cocktails. Then, you’ll head upstairs for a four-course dinner prepared by some of San Francisco’s best chefs, including Evan and Sarah Rich (Rich Table), Michelle Polzine (20th Century Cafe), and Dennis Lee (Namu Gaji, Smokestack). All of this will be accompanied by wine pairings, of course. There will also be a silent auction with local gourmet experiences, like a farm dinner for 20 with Paula LeDuc Fine Catering. Tickets are $275 per person; VIP tickets are $350, which includes entry to the reception at 5:30pm, specialty cocktails, and a gift bag. The evening is a benefit for CUESA’s Foodwise Kids program.

~MILLENNIUM~ is celebrating 20 years of business this month, and of course they’re toasting this anniversary with a special fête. It’s on Thursday September 25th, and there will be lots of passed appetizers, a full bar, and live music. Reservations can be made for either 6pm or 8pm, and the party is $50 per person (not including tax and tip), with a portion of the proceeds going to Farm Sanctuary. Reservations can be made by calling 415-345-3900 ext. 10.

For a special evening in Half Moon Bay, check out the Husk to Harvest Farm Dinner from the Half Moon Bay Chamber of Commerce on Sunday September 28th from 5:30pm-9pm. The five-course dinner will be held at La Nebbia Winery in Half Moon Bay, with many local chefs and bakers making the magic happen in the kitchen. La Nebbia and Trojak-Knier Winery will be pouring wine, along with beer Highway 1 Brewing Company and Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. and spirits from Half Moon Bay Distillery. Plus, everyone will receive a special gift basket full of fresh produce and other local products. Tickets are $150 per person. 12341 San Mateo Rd., Half Moon Bay.

~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is toasting to its 15th birthday this year, and they’re throwing (what else?) a quinceañera to commemorate the occasion. Actually, it’s officially called the Quintessentially Quixotic Quinceañera and is happening Thursday September 18th from 7pm-11pm. The fiesta includes a whole roasted suckling pig, handmade tortillas, a ceviche bar, and all the fixings for excellent tacos. Cocktails from Kevin Dowell will be shaking all night long, as well. Heklina, Trannyshack, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will also be in attendance, keeping the festivities faaaaabulous with live performances. Tickets are $100 per person and include food, wine, and drinks. Proceeds benefit LYRIC and the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.


theLab’s inviting exterior. Photo from Facebook.

After their unfortunate closure in May due to permit restrictions, Recchiuti’s Dogpatch cafe ~THELAB~ has reopened as the ultimate pop-up destination. They’ve shaken up the concept a bit, and turned it into a space for events like their new Taste Project series. Each evening will offer an experience along with dinner, usually involving beverage pairings. On Friday and Saturday September 12th and 13th at 7pm, they’ll team up with Dogpatch’s own Sutton Cellars for a dinner with wine pairings. Future events include a sugar- and glassblowing demonstration along with dinner, an evening with Almanac Brewing, and an evening on the science of salt and bitters; check here for upcoming events. Tickets are typically $95 per person. The space is also available for private events, with special menus tailored to fit your group’s needs and interests.

The fine folks at Mattarello will be popping up at Gourmet & More on Saturday September 6th from 1pm-4pm. Their ravioli San Domenico will be available (they look totally insane), along with tagliatelle and pappardelle and a variety of sauces; check out all the choices here and be sure to preorder! 141 Gough St. at Oak, 415-874-9133.


Thirsty? Here’s the Juju at Bar Dogwood. Photo via Dogwood’s Facebook page.

The owner of ~BAR DOGWOOD~ and ~STAG’S LUNCHETTE~, Alexeis Filipello, is not only busy with the upcoming ~DARLING’S~, which we told you about earlier this year, but she also has another project in the works: ~THE LODGE~. She is partnering with Matt EIseman on this project, which will mostly be a bar with classic cocktails and some top-notch bar food/small plates. Bay Area classics will figure prominently, like oysters on the half shell, plus fish fries, crudo, chowder, and salads. We can’t announce the space juuuust yet (it’ll be a month or so before we can say anything), but it’s pretty fantastic, with a nice lodge setting and a patio; there are about 60 seats in all. We’ll keep you posted!