The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
July 28, 2015
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Chef-partner Ron Pei. Photo courtesy of Chino.

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Fresh housemade tofu with fried garlic, shallots, and chile oil. Photo courtesy of Chino.

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Taiwanese fried chicken with fried herbs. Photo courtesy of Chino.

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Ron Pei with his father. Photo courtesy of Chino.

Some big news over at 16th Street and Guerrero: ~CHINO~ has gone dark for a couple of weeks, and when it reopens on Monday August 10th, there will be a new chef-partner, Ron Pei, and a new menu too. There will also be an updated kitchen and some interior design tweaks too.

It’s funny how things work out: Pei worked as a sous and eventually as chef ​at Laiola (where Tacolicious is now) back in 2009, and owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran talked about opening a dumpling-driven restaurant with him. But when Laiola closed and the first Tacolicious took off, Pei ended up moving to the East Coast, where he worked at Blue Hill Stone Barns and Commis in New York, and José Andres’s minibar in DC. But Pei recently came back to SF, and the timing was now perfect to bring him on to change the course of Chino (especially since Chino is Pei’s nickname from Laiola’s Spanish-speaking cooks).

Pei has cooking in his blood: his family is originally from Shandong, and after emigrating to the U.S. from Korea, his parents opened restaurants in the Midwest and eventually California—they ran Cafe Yulong in Mountain View until seven years ago. Pei says his father, who started cooking when he was 17, was his inspiration to become a chef. And even though pop is 70, Pei is getting him back into the kitchen and working with him to improve the dumplings and handmade noodles. He says, “I wouldn’t do it without him! He is my Chinese compass.”

As for the new incarnation of the menu, almost everything will be all-new. Pei explains there will be Shandong roots and flavor profiles in the dishes, but it will also be market-driven, with some Californian creativity. Pei also mentioned his travels will come into play, whether it’s inspiration from Taiwanese night markets to his Midwest background to skills he learned in New York. Pei has been thinking about this concept for years and is looking forward to having some fun with it.

Noodles will be made with wheat instead of rice flour (which is southern), and Pei will be using his dad’s recipe for some water-boiled dumplings (plus some other family recipes). Some dishes he mentioned include an updated version of clams with fermented black beans in a ham-hock jus with jalapeños—it will come topped with a scallion pancake made with bacon fat, mmmmhmmm. Another will be a larger family-style dish of slow-braised lamb shoulder mu shu, with seasonal plum salad, housemade plum sauce, green onion, and cucumber. Look for a Taiwanese beef noodle soup, made with quality boneless short rib, shank, and tongue too. Summer radishes with charred scallion dressing and tomato-orange salad with shiso, cabbage, and crispy rice were also featured on some test meals. A couple of Chino classics that will remain are the xiao long bao (although those are being tweaked too) and a version of the matcha soft-serve.

Some additional news: bar manager Danny Louie is also being brought on as a partner in Chino. Fun history: Louie’s father worked at Cecilia Chiang’s Mandarin and so did Pei’s father. How about that?

Founders Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran “intend to step back ​(a little) ​and let these two be the true A team, [and] we ​are personally ​funding the makeover because we believe in this restaurant.” I know I am not the only one looking forward to seeing what Ron Pei has in store for us—it’s gonna rock.

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The future home of Wise Sons’ bagel operation and commissary bakery. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.

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Construction at Wise Sons Bagel and commissary. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.

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The exterior of Wise Sons bagel space on Fillmore. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.

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Bagels! (And a very happy Leo.) Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.

Like a phoenix rising from some tragic flames earlier this year, the ~WISE SONS DELI~ duo, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, have some great news to share: they found a new commissary location to replace the one they lost in the January Mission fire. And they’re going to be opening a bagel shop!

They reached out to me last week, letting me know they are currently gutting a space that dates back to the 1920s in the Fillmore, right across from State Bird Provisions. Not only will the 2,200-square-foot space (with 26-foot ceilings!) be a commissary bakery for their production of bagels, rye bread, their famed babka, challah, and rugelach, but they will also be setting aside 300 square feet for a retail section, Wise Sons Bagel. They look forward to keeping the space open and visible so people can see the baking operation, which is going to be pretty big. Good thing they salvaged their special bagel-forming machine.

As for the shop, you’ll be able to order at a counter, choosing from toasted bagel sandwiches (New Yorkers can go ahead and groan, just get it out), schmears, and sliced pastrami by the pound. They also plan to roll out some sable, lox, and sturgeon, plus other items will be in the grab-and-go case, all so your brunch spread at home will rock. There will be 10-12 seats for those who want to hang out, plus some seating outside and potentially 8-10 seats on the mezzanine. Coffee and espresso service will also be offered. The operation will be open daily, from the morning to the early afternoon.

Are they out to re-create New York’s Russ & Daughters? No, Bloom says that while Russ & Daughters is a wonderful and amazing place, that’s their thing, and Wise Sons Bagels will be different. Kind of like what the Bay Area is doing out here in regards to bagels. The New York Times piece “Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?” from the weekend was, in my mind, a bit off, with a headline that bordered on a Buzzfeed clickbait tone. The headline should have read “Why Local Bakers Don’t Give a Shit About Making a Facsimile of a New York Bagel in the San Francisco Bay Area?” Because that’s the real story.

Maybe it’s because our local bakers like to make bread products that are naturally fermented and full of flavor? I have been thoroughly enjoying our city’s NorCal, artisan, hand-rolled spin on bagels at places like Nopa, Marla Bakery, and 20th Century Cafe (I wrote an article about this more than a year ago). The East Bay’s Montreal-style Beauty’s Bagel Shop, Authentic Bagel Company, and Baron Baking are all making great product too. And then there’s the classic (since 1962!) House of Bagels on Geary, which has a dedicated local following. That’s fine, everyone keep complaining (especially you, New Yorkers) while many of us continue to enjoy all these rather excellent handcrafted bagels.

The article almost set Bloom and Beckerman up like they are going to save the day with their upcoming bagel operation and are here to fix THE SITUATION, obliquely dismissing these other bagel makers—which couldn’t be further from the scenario (hello, they serve Beauty’s bagels on the weekends at Wise Sons Deli). All our local bakers just want to do things their way, which is pretty much how the boys have run their deli from the beginning. (Thank you, don’t change a thing about your matzo ball soup!)

When asked about their bagels, Wise Sons say they will be traditional: “They are proofed for 36 hours and boiled with malt and baking soda so you get a chewy crust with those little ‘fish eye’ bubbles and a depth of flavor that doesn’t just taste like a white roll.” (And you know they are still going to hear all kinds of comments—just like they have from day one.)

Anyway, the bigger and more important point is that we’re going to have a new shop dedicated to bagels. And based on the quality of the other items Wise Sons make, that’s exciting. We deserve this.

It’s interestingly a full-circle kind of scenario for the neighborhood, which Bloom tells me used to have kosher butchers and other shops where SF’s Jewish community would come to do their shopping since so many synagogues were/are nearby. Bloom and Beckerman are looking forward to uncovering more history of the neighborhood as they research even further.

Bloom also wanted to express their profound gratitude to Bi-Rite Market, which has allowed Wise Sons to use their commissary space during this challenging post-fire transitional time and have been instrumental in helping them keep things going. If their projections are correct, they’ll hopefully be baking in the new space in October and probably starting the retail operation soon thereafter.

With future neighbors like ~BLACK BARK~ from 1300 on Fillmore, and the upcoming po’boy shop, ~BRENDA’S ORIGINAL PO’BOYS~, from Brenda Buenviaje and Libby Truesdell, this section of Fillmore keeps making me really happy I have my gym right there too. 1520 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell.

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The interior of Fine & Rare. Photo courtesy of Fine & Rare.

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Fine & Rare’s crab roll at an Off the Grid event. Yelp photo by Jenny Q.

We reported in June that the ~FINE & RARE~ team (Scott Peterson and Ted Wilson) found a permanent location in the former Stars space. They are now open Monday through Friday, serving sandwiches and salads featuring their impeccably sourced seasonal seafood and produce.

The menu is tight, with just a few sandwiches that can also be made as salads, like the cold-smoked salmon pastrami and grilled skirt steak, all served on housemade bread. There are also a handful of sides, like carrot ginger kale chips, and watermelon, cucumber, and tomato salad. There are several wines available by the 8-, 12-, or 25-ounce pour (easy, tiger), including two whites, two reds, and a rosé.

The space has been refreshed, with a new coat of paint, but the cool ceiling and exposed brick remains. Vintage educational posters adorn the walls, with handcrafted wood tables and benches. You order at the counter and can then dine at one of their 35 seats or take your food to go. Hours are Mon 11am-3pm and Tue-Fri 11am-8pm, and you can still find them at Off the Grid events if you’re looking for them on a weekend. The hours will be especially handy if you’re looking for a bite before going to the opera or symphony. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness, 415-297-3980.

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Dipped cones with almonds and sprinkles from Twirl and Dip. Yelp photo by Julia K.

Back in June, we reported that the Marina location of Udupi Palace had closed, and a new restaurant called ~KOBANI MEDITERRANEAN GRILL~ would be moving in. According to Yelp it is now open, and a great story on Berkeleyside Nosh explains even more about the project.

It’s from owner Emin Tekin, a Kurd who was born in Turkey and immigrated to the United States in 1999. The restaurant is named for a Northern Syrian city that’s been in the news a lot lately, and is a nod to his heritage. In addition to the Marina location, Tekin has also opened another location in Berkeley and is planning a third in San Francisco in the coming months. He is also helping his brother reopen Hayes & Kebab, which closed last year but will reopen in 2016. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-872-9911.

Meet new ice cream shop ~TWIRL AND DIP~, which opened in Potrero just in time for a little heat wave this week. This is the first brick-and-mortar location for the ice cream truck, and they’re whirling up organic soft serve with a housemade TCHO chocolate hard-shell dip. They’ve also got a fun selection of toppings, including fruit sauces, honeycomb candy, and toffee pieces. Hours are Tue-Sun 12pm-8:30pm. 1717 17th St. at Carolina, 415-205-8261.

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Plating at a recent Uma Casa pop-up. Photo from Facebook.

On Sunday August 2nd, catch another fab pop-up from chef Telmo Faria’s Portuguese Uma Casa at Merigan Sub Shop. It’s happening from 6pm to 9pm, and no tickets or reservations are required. This week, the menu includes caldo verde, pasteis de bacalhau, salada de polvo, and a francesinha (I AM SO THERE), plus port, Madeira, and sherry cocktails from Nora Furst. 636 2nd St. at Townsend.

Celebrate our warm weather on the gorgeous patio at a garden party at ~STEM~ next Thursday August 6th from 4pm to 8pm. Several restaurants will be popping up in the outdoor space, and Stem will also be serving food and drink specials. There will be bocce ball, gardening demonstrations, and local CSAs will also be in attendance. The Commissary, Sea Star, and Public House will all be participating, along with Nomad Gardens and West Oakland Woods Farm. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St., 415-915-1000.

Don’t miss a fried chicken feast picnic party at ~STARBELLY~ on Tuesday August 11th. It’s happening on the back patio and includes fried chicken plus picnic classics like pasta salad, four-bean salad, corn bread with maple butter, and peach cobbler for dessert. Tickets are $45 including all food, and beverages will be available for purchase as well. Seatings are at 6pm and 8pm. (September 15th is a BBQ Ribs Summer Patio Picnic, and October 6th is A Whole Pig Picnic on the Patio.) 3583 16th St. at Market, 415-231-6267.

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The bar scene at Urchin Bistrot. Photo from Facebook.

A couple of closures to report: ~URCHIN BISTROT~—the restaurant in the former Slanted Door/Wo Hing space on Valencia from Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani—is closing after service this Friday July 31st. (Via Scoop.) 584 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-861-1844.

Meanwhile, Eater reports ~TAPS SOCIAL HOUSE AND KITCHEN~ has closed, and according to ABC records, a chain from Southern California, Killer Shrimp, is moving in. Huh. That’s, uh, interesting. Curious to hear where the talented chef Michael Lamina ends up next. 1516 Broadway at Polk.

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East Bay Express reports that ~TROUBLE COFFEE~ now has a location in West Oakland. The tiny, original Outer Sunset location of Trouble Coffee kicked off the $4 toast trend and received national media attention for owner Giulietta Carrelli’s fascinating personal story. This is the third outpost for the shop, which added a Bayview location in 2013 in addition to the original. In Oakland, there is no posted menu, so you have to talk to your barista (and yes, the Yelp page offers a wide range of opinions on that choice), and it’s an electronics-free zone, so no computing or pic-snapping. 1545 Willow St. at 16th St., Oakland, 510-735-9214.

On Monday August 3rd, chef Paula McDade is doing a pop-up at Juhu Beach Club called k.pop! There are two seatings for the dinner, one at 5:30pm and another at 8pm. The four-course prix-fixe includes dishes like pork belly “tacos,” octopus pancake, and braised short ribs. Tickets are $55 and include food but not drinks or gratuity. 5179 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland, 510-652-7350.

Uptown Oakland is getting an ice cream shop, Scoop reports. It’s called ~LITTLE GIANT~ and is from owners Kevin Best and Neil Rideout. The pair is making all their ice cream on-site, with lots of unique flavors. Most ice cream shops purchase a base from creameries like Straus, but Little Giant is working with their own pasteurizer so that they can customize their ice cream from the very beginning. This also means they can alter the base for boozy flavors, like Negroni and old-fashioned. Their creamery will be walled off with glass, so you can check out the action while licking your scoops too. They’ll be serving scoops out of a trailer in front of the shop on Friday August 7th at Oakland’s First Friday event, giving out free samples and offering tours of the shop, and will open the shop a couple of weeks later. 1951 Telegraph Ave. at William, Oakland, no phone.

On Tuesday August 11th, ~UMAMI MART~ is celebrating their third annual birthday with a bash, Matsuri (which means “festival” in Japanese). They’ll be taking over their back parking lot with food from the likes of Hopscotch, J-Shack Truck, and Casa de Kei, and there will be Japanese beer on tap from The Trappist. There will also be fun activities, including a live taiko drumming performance from Emeryville Taiko, J-Pop music from DJ Chungtech, and screen printing from Team Print Shop. The party runs from 6pm-9pm and is free to attend. Food and drink available for purchase. 815 Broadway at 8th St., Oakland, 510-250-9559.

July 21, 2015
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The exterior of Kyu/Fujiyoshi Ramen. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

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Chef Nori at the James Beard Awards. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

ABC license activity can be such a fascinating thing! I was so intrigued when I saw this one ripple across the wires, a project that mentioned Kraft & Hitachino as the name and Noriyuki Sugie, aka chef Nori, whom some of you may remember from his days cooking at Nombe. (You can read more about chef Nori’s background here—he was previously in LA doing a pop-up ramen night at BreadBar a few years ago.) Of late, he has been cooking in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and most recently helping out a friend in New York.

We caught up with chef Nori, who shared some details about the project, which will be called ~KRAFT & HITACHINO~ (they will also use the kanji symbol for the word craft). Sugie’s connection to Hitachino is an established one: the Ibaraki-born chef (which is the prefecture where the Kiuchi Brewery—who brews Hitachino Nest—is located) has been collaborating with them for the past eight or nine years and even created a menu for the Hitachino Brewing Lab (a bar and home-brewing classroom) in Tokyo. Sugie says this next project was a natural evolution of their relationship.

They are going to be opening a craft beer bar, only serving Hitachino beers on tap from kegs, so it will be extremely fresh. There will also be some exclusive San Francisco brews made with special flavors. Guests will be encouraged to sample many of them, so look for plenty of specially sized tasting glasses.

As for the menu, diners will be able to come by for snacks or a full meal. Sugie says he will be doing a yakiniku-inspired format, but instead of diners having individual grills at their tables, it will be grilled for you at the kitchen counter. He wants to showcase authentic Wagyu beef from Japan, and of course there will be plenty of local vegetables featured too. Some of the other dishes will be a bit izakaya-like in style—we’ll update you as the concept takes shape in the coming months.

As for the location, the Lower Nob Hill space was Kyu Sushi, where the Fujiyoshi ramen pop-up and subsequent shop is located. (It’s a cool Deco building.) They are going to be working with a designer from Japan, who will integrate some of the stylistic elements from the Kiuchi Brewery, and there will be two counters: one for the bar and one long grill counter for guests. They are targeting a fall opening. 639 Post St. at Taylor.

As for Fujiyoshi, according to a post on Facebook, they will be moving, location TBD.

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The major burger at Old Bus Tavern. Photo by Karl Mollohan.

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Chili at Old Bus Tavern. Photo by Karl Mollohan.

A report by Dana Eastland. Last week we mentioned that Bernal brewery and chili spot ~OLD BUS TAVERN~ was getting ready to open with a series of test dinners, and now we’ve got an opening date: Thursday July 23rd.

The project, from partners Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky, and Bennett Buchanan, is part brewery, part bar, part restaurant. The space, which seats 49 in 2,000 square feet, was designed by Sarah Greenwood Design out of New York, with Thomas Pippin of Lifebox Studios. Their aim was to bring together the warmth and hospitality of a residential space (kind of like being at a party at your coolest, most design-forward friend’s house) and the cool, industrial feel of an active, functioning brewery. There is a 16-foot standing bar in front of the brewing space, so that beer lovers can check out the action, and a 22-foot bar for drinking and dining. The space is rendered in neutral colors in order to showcase a collection of colorful Navajo rugs from the 1970s. Along with some retro-chic accents, the vibe is rather American road trip, which is appropriate given the team’s beginnings in a 1971 Volkswagen bus. Speaking of that bus, they plan to have it up and running as a mobile beer and food business later this summer.

As for beer, they’re serving a selection of their own, along with 11 guest taps (all sourced from within 50 miles of San Francisco) and 12 bottles. House brews to look for include the chili porter, made with fresno and habanero pepper, and the lemon basil saison, brewed with Meyer lemon zest and basil.

The cocktail list focuses on three spirits—whiskey, tequila, and mezcal—with cocktails from bar consultant Christina Cabrera (previous projects include Novela and 15 Romolo), featuring full, fruity, spicy flavors. The spicy OBT margarita is made with tequila, orange curaçao, housemade poblano pepper syrup, and firewater tincture, while the Kerby Lane is bourbon, sherry, strawberry, fennel, and lemon. The bar will also offer two shandies made with Old Bus beers and five different shot-and-a-beer combos, like the Coal Miner’s Daughter (Irish whiskey with chili porter). Take a look at all the beverages right here.

As for food, the Cincinnati-style chili ($15) is a highlight of the small menu. It’s slow-cooked with beef chuck and pequin chiles, and you’ll probably want to order it with a side of buckwheat cornbread ($8) too. And of course we have to mention the burger ($18) with housemade bacon and fried onions (just LOOK at that bad boy). There are also bar snacks, like the pickled quail eggs ($8)—also with fried onions—and chicharrónes with black beans, scarlet turnip, and grilled roses ($8). Check out the full menu here.

Also worth noting: all menu prices include tax and service, so there is no need to tip. As they say on the menu and website, “Our revenue-sharing system allows us to pay our entire staff a living wage.” Old Bus Tavern hours will be Wed-Sun 5:30pm-12am, brunch coming later this summer. 3193 Mission St. at Fair, 415-843-1938.

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Hummus laffa at Middle’terranea. Photo by K. McCullough.

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Smoked salmon at Middle’terranea. Photo by K. McCullough.

Last month we covered the impending opening of the ~MINA TEST KITCHEN~ in the former Café Claude Marina space, where Mina Group chefs will be hosting pop-up dinners while exploring cooking styles from around the world and experimenting with new techniques.

The first pop-up series, Middle’terranea, is with Adam Sobel (RN74) and is all about the food Mina (who was born in Egypt) and Sobel grew up eating. Dishes will span from eastern Mediterranean cuisine to ingredients and flavors of Israel, Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon, with a California influence, of course. You can look at the menu here.

Dinner begins this Thursday July 23rd, and you can get a ticket to the multicourse dinner (served family style) for $45—exclusive of tax and gratuity—on Resy (link is on the site). The optional beverage pairing ($30) will feature a selection of beer, wine, mead, and cider. Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday, and the series will run for the next three months or so. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore, 415-310-8371. 

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The dining room at Lord Stanley. Photo by Robin Stein.

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The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

We reported in February about an Italian restaurant changeup in the Outer Richmond. At the time, neighborhood staple ~MESCOLANZA~ closed and Luna Rossa opened in its place. We mentioned that Mescolanza had secured a new location in the former Ichiraku in the Inner Richmond, and Eater reports that the new location is now open. The menu is the same as the previous incarnation, and initial Yelp reviews from neighborhood regulars are positive. 3750 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave., 415-668-2221.

Starting this Saturday July 25th, Carrie and Rupert Blease of ~LORD STANLEY~ are starting their new lunch service. For now, it will only be on Saturdays, but will eventually be on Fridays as well. The clean and airy room will make for a perfect lunch destination. The format will be a prix-fixe menu ($45 for three courses, price includes service), with a choice from two starters, two mains, and two desserts. All the dishes are new and won’t cross over with dinnertime dishes. There will also be a limited wine menu and two mixed drinks, a wine spritz and a spicy heirloom michelada with the Reality Czeck pilsner. You can only make a reservation via OpenTable; tables are available from 12pm-1pm. 2065 Polk St. at Broadway, 415-872-5512.

There’s a new Filipino food game in town, called ~FOB KITCHEN~. There are currently a couple of ways to get in on the action. They’ll be at Excelsior bar Doctor’s Lounge every Wednesday in July for dinner from 6pm to 10pm, and then on Saturdays they’re doing brunch at Cease & Desist from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

Do you love lasagna? Well, you will not want to miss the North Beach Neighbors first ever Lasagna Day Competition and Dinner on Wednesday July 29th at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in North Beach. Hoodline reports that the feast is a family-style dinner with salad, antipasto, lasagna for both meat lovers and vegetarians, wine, coffee, and dessert. Plus, a panel of five will judge the entrants and crown one the winner. Participating restaurants include Alimento, Da Flora, The Italian Homemade Company, Marcella’s Lasagneria, Sodini’s, and Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for kids, and can be purchased by email or by calling 415-307-8034.

Fab tipster Jason B. sent us a note about a new popsicle shop on Polk Street, which should come in handy as the warm weather continues. It’s called ~BLISS POPS~, and it’s a tiny little spot for popsicles in lots of flavors like mango, strawberry, peanut butter banana, and cookies and cream. The business started with carts at events, and they still cater, but now you can check out the offerings at the brick-and-mortar too. **UPDATE: WE JUST SPOKE WITH THEM AND IT TURNS OUT THE STOREFRONT WAS TEMPORARY. BUT YOU CAN STIL FIND THEM AT SPECIAL EVENTS AND MOBILE FOOD PODS. FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER TO FIND WHERE THEY ARE. Oh, and did you know the popsicle originated in the Bay Area? Check out this food history on Bay Area Bites for some cool stories about the origins of the frozen treat. 1475 Polk St. at California, 650-549-4323.

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The dining room at BDK. Photo: Douglas Friedman.

It sounds like all is not well at ~BDK~, the restaurant managed by Kimpton Hotels in the Hotel Monaco that opened earlier this year. Apparently, the hotel is no longer managed by Kimpton and is now going by the name The Marker. According to Scoop, there are even more changes afoot.

The original team—which included chef Heather Terhune, general manager Marc Peyer, and local barman Kevin Diedrich—has all left, and it sounds like it all happened rather suddenly. The Marker, meanwhile, is being managed by Destination Hotels, a company based in Denver. Right now, BDK is open as usual, with no word on who is running the kitchen or the bar. As for BDK’s former staff, we’ll let you know when we hear more on their plans for the future. For now, I spotted a retaliatory/eff you pop-up at Wingtip on Friday for their friends and fans—#POPUPFORABARTHATWONTBEMENTIONED—email for more details if you want to attend. The guest list caps out at 100 people, so RSVPs are mandatory. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-0101.

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Bites at 2013’s Luckyrice Festival. Photo by Richard Patterson via Luckyrice.

The Luckyrice Festival returns to San Francisco on Friday August 7th with a feast of Asian flavors, presented by sponsor Bombay Sapphire East. The sixth annual party is hosted by none other than local chef and restaurateur Charles Phan and takes place from 8pm to 10pm at the Bently Reserve (VIP ticket holders gain entry at 7pm). Some of San Francisco’s best bars and restaurants will be participating, celebrating the many flavors and techniques of Asian cuisine, including Ichi Sushi, Azalina’s, Hawker Fare, Butterfly Kitchen, and Hakkasan. The cocktails will be flowing, with special drinks from Dirty Habit, Hopscotch, and Benjamin Cooper. Check out all the participating bars, restaurants, and their offerings right here. As for the feast, tickets are $88 for general admission of $150 for VIP. Bently Reserve, 301 Battery St. at Sacramento.

In addition to the festival, check out the new television series from founder Danielle Chang on CAAM. The schedule and more information on the series can be found right here.

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Tamales from La Borinqueña. Photo from Facebook.

In news we’re not at all happy to report, Oakland Mexicatessen ~LA BORINQUEÑA~ is closing after 71 years in business, Scoop reports. The shop and restaurant has been family-owned since 1944, when Natividad Ramos’s parents founded it. Now, Natividad’s daughters, Tina Ramos (of La Snackeria) and Isabel Esquivil, are retiring from the business, in order to help take care of their mother and take some well-earned time off. We’re terribly sad to see this wonderful business go, but we’re wishing the Ramos family all the very best. La Borinqueña closes Friday July 31st, so head in soon before it’s gone forever. 583 7th St. at Jefferson, Oakland, 510-444-9954.

~KITCHEN 388~ is now under new ownership, according to a note on their website and Yelpers. There are some additions to the menu, and they are working on bringing outdoor seating back, but otherwise it remains similar to the previous incarnation. They’re open for brunch Tue-Sun 9am-2pm. 388 Grand Ave. at Staten, Oakland, 510-893-3005.

Berkeleyside Nosh reports that ~THE LIBERTINE~ is now open in Oakland. The bar, from owner Aric Yeverino, who also owns The Dirty Bird in Hayward, is serving a tight list of drinks including a Moscow Mule, Last Word, rum punch, and shot-and-a-beer specials. Initial Yelp reports are positive and mention that cocktails are $9, which somehow seems like a steal. 3332 Grand Ave. at Mandana, 510-537-2201.

One more piece of surprising news: East Bay Express broke the news that the Berkeley’s ~PYRAMID ALEHOUSE~ is now closed after 18 years in business. The EBX post further states: “According to a press release sent out by Rochester-based North American Breweries, the company decided to close its Berkeley facility in order to prepare the building for sale—‘after an extensive evaluation process.’ ‘We have made the decision to focus our West Coast production in our Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington locations,’ CEO Kris Sirchio said in the prepared statement.” 901 Gilman St. at 7th St., Berkeley.

July 17, 2015
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Aperitivo means Aperol Spritzes and Negroni Sbagliatos. All photos: Ryan Robles PR.

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A classic piadina at The Italian Homemade Company.

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Rye on the Road knows how to rock the bar.

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Housemade tortellini pasticciato!

Last night, I cohosted my first event with EatWith, Aperitivo Time in Rimini, at ~THE ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY~ in North Beach. Campari America and Rye on the Road made sure we got into an aperitivo frame of mind quickly, with plentiful Aperol spritzes (click these links for recipes!), Negronis, Negroni Sbagliatos, and their fantastic summer Negroni. (I love seeing a room full of red and deep orange cocktails.) Here’s the complete photo album on Facebook!

The Italian Homemade Company in North Beach is a casual spot run by some bona fide Romagnoli (which would be people from the region of Emilia-Romagna)—we feasted on a classic piadina (a flatbread filled with tangy stracchino cheese, prosciutto di Parma, and arugula), followed by a cassone (a hot, stuffed sandwich that is like a calzone made with piadina dough—we tried a traditional cassone with spinach, potato, and mozzarella), and my personal favorite: piping hot housemade tortellini pasticciato (the sauce was made with Bolognese and a ton of béchamel!). Mamma mia! No carb left behind! Plus we had some tiramisu made fresh that morning, which made me adore that dessert all over again.

I broke out my vintage tablecloths to cover the bar tables (mom’s old Vera tablecloth from the ’70s, represent!), and to match, I put together this Italian playlist on Spotify, Aperitivo a Rimini with some Italian classics (you can listen to it here)—when the kitchen starting singing and dancing along, I knew I had made a good one. Such a fun night!

If you didn’t make it to our little festa last night, you can always swing by The Italian Homemade Company for lunch or early dinner (the portions are hefty!), or do takeaway of their freshly made pastas.

You should also take a look at the many events listed on EatWith—it’s a global platform for unique dining experiences, and a great way to discover home restaurants and pop-ups, locally and around the world, from Alsatian Flavors of Texas to Moroccan feasts to summer grilling with chef Jonnatan Leiva. Bonus: tablehopper readers can use an extra-special first-time user discount code: use code EatWithMarcia for 15 percent off from now through August 31st!

Mille grazie to EatWith, Campari America, The Italian Homemade Company, Rye on the Road, and all our fabulous guests for such a special North Beach night! Baci!

You can check out the complete photo album on Facebook.

July 14, 2015
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The future location of Little Gem, photo via Facebook.

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Goods on display at The Spanish Table. Photo courtesy of The Spanish Table.

We have a bunch of quick updates for you on some projects around town, starting with ~LITTLE GEM~, coming to Hayes Valley this fall from Thomas Keller Restaurant Group vet Eric Lilavois and partners John DiFazio and Dave Cruz (former chef de cuisine of Ad Hoc). This “quick Californian” project will have 75-plus seats, counter service, and the farm-driven menu will also be gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free. (Lilavois is sensitive to gluten and dairy, so the inspiration to create this restaurant comes from experience.) Diners will be able to choose from California-raised beef flat-iron ($14) or king salmon ($15), accompanied by a grain or potato ($5) or a selection of vegetables ($6). There will also be soups, salads, wraps, and more during the day, all featuring seasonal produce and well-sourced ingredients. Wine, beer, smoothies, and coffee will be available. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch will be served. Boor Bridges Architecture is designing the space, which features large windows, marble, reclaimed American elm, and locally crafted furniture. We’ll keep you posted on their opening this fall. 400 Grove St. at Gough.

Meanwhile, some details have been released about what will be opening in the former Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro, which we mentioned was being reinvented after 30 years in The Mosser Hotel. The new name for this American tavern is ~THE KEYSTONE~, an ode to the location’s history as the Keystone Hotel. Chef Zack Freitas (most recently at Game) is leading the kitchen, working along with general manager Aric Sandoval and beverage director Kelly Naughton (assembling a large selection of whiskeys, rye, and Scotch, and creative cocktails, like a Porcini Negroni with porcini-infused gin). The new look will feature tufted leather banquettes, white marble flooring, and exposed brick walls, plus an open kitchen, communal table, and a long bar. Look for an opening in mid-August. Hours will be 11:30am-12am nightly, with not one but two happy hours (4:30pm-6:30pm and 10pm-12am). 68 4th St. at Market.

This morning we got a call from Ryan Cole of the Hi Neighbor Restaurant Group (the group behind Stones Throw, the newly opened Trestle, and Fat Angel, with chef Jason Halverson, Jason Kirmse, Tai Ricci, and Cyrick Hia), letting us know about an upcoming project coming to the new 100 Van Ness residential building, formerly the AAA office building (it’s from real estate developer Emerald Fund). The Hi Neighbor team is taking over two street-level spaces and will be the only food and beverage business in the building. Cole says, “While we aren’t able to share too many details just yet, I will say that we’re taking certain aspects and attributes from all three current restaurants-Trestle, Stones Throw and Fat Angel-and bringing them to the new spaces in some fashion, plus implementing new ideas and offerings for today’s on-the-go customer.” Stand by for more details in coming months. 100 Van Ness Ave. at Fell.

Not too long ago, we noted some license activity for pop-up ~IZA RAMEN~, which looked like it was going to be moving permanently into Dante’s Table in the Castro, but now they have filed for the Squat & Gobble Lower Haight location instead. Stand by for more details soon. 237 Fillmore St. at Haight.

Chef Manny Torres Gimenez and his wife Katerina De Torres of The Palace Steakhouse have taken over the former Savanna Jazz location in the Mission and will be opening ~COCO FRIO~ in its place. From the website: “Coco Frio is cuisine based on the food from Margarita Island, Caribbean island off the Venezuelan coast. Chef focuses on fresh seafood and Venezuelan flair to amuse your palate.” It sounds like both a tasting menu and bar menu will be available, with cocktails to pair with the food as well. Stand by for more once we hear back from the team. 2937 Mission St. at 25th St.

One more piece of exciting news: locally loved Spanish grocery store and wine shop ~THE SPANISH TABLE~, which has locations in Berkeley (for 14 years) and Mill Valley (10 years)—and Seattle—is going to be opening an SF location on Clement Street! The new location size will fall in between their other shops and will include a small deli that will serve Spanish and Portuguese cheeses cut to order and meats like chorizo and jamón. Owners Andy and Tanya Booth also hope/plan to serve bocadillos, seasonal dishes like gazpacho, and offer coffee service too, including café con leche and cortados. They’re busy converting the former jewelry shop and aim to open in September or October. 130 Clement St. at 3rd Ave.

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The delicious burger from the Burger pop-up. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

So hopefully all you burger fans are well acquainted with the completely and utterly insane burger from ~CAUSWELLS~ and their weekly Monday pop-up at Cease & Desist in the Mission, Burger. Adam Rosenblum (Causwells chef) and Alvin Garcia (Causwells partner) have been looking for a brick-and-mortar location for their burger concept, and they are just about to sign a lease on a 2,000-square-foot space near 6th Street and Market (and no, it’s not Dottie’s). Garcia says it’s going to be a complete buildout, so we’re looking at the first quarter of 2016 on this one. It will be a quick-service format (order at the counter, and they’ll bring your burger to your table), and there will be beer and wine too. This should be the first location of what they hope to be many more. Lucky us. In the meantime, you can keep enjoying their Monday pop-up at Cease & Desist, 2331 Mission St. at 19th St.

More burgers: I’ve been hearing good things about the griddle-steamed (à la White Castle) slider pop-up in the Marina, ~SEL’S OLD-FASHIONED SLIDERS~, happening on Friday and Saturday nights at Lucky Dogs. According to their Yelp profile, they’re “serving the all-American classic cheeseburger in all its original glory, using the perfected method of griddle-steamed cooking introduced in 1921. Made with 100 percent all-natural, source-verified Angus beef from Creekstone Farms, nestled between Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls (flown in direct from the East Coast), with griddled onions, American cheese, and pickles. Crinkle-cut fries are also available with a house-made natural cheddar cheese sauce.” Seriously, where do I sign? See you there. Fri 9pm-1am, Sat 12pm-1am. Follow along on Facebook for updates on Sel’s hours, which change. Lucky Dogs, 2211 Filbert St. at Fillmore.

Another favorite around town is the burger at ~ABV~, and in honor of their one-year anniversary, and 10,000th burger sold (whoa!), they are offering a great deal for the month of July. You can come in for a burger and a pint of Moonlight beer (or a glass of wine) for $10. Score. Available every day Monday through Friday from 2pm to 1am and during brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11am. Happy Birthday, ABV!

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The counter at Ino. Yelp photo by Jenny Q.

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The iconic exterior of Grubstake. Yelp photo by トモ T.

We noticed an ABC license transfer for Japantown’s ~INO SUSHI~ (one of SF’s most notorious sushi Nazis), and after some sleuthing it looks like the new owners are none other than Ayumi and Kiyoshi Hayakawa of ~KOO SUSHI~. Perhaps Ino-san (and his poor frazzled wife) are finally retiring.

We reported on the license transfer application at Koo last month with Koo’s potential new owners, and it looks like this is the follow-up to that, with a little do-si-do to Ino’s space. The new application for the Ino space says it will be called An Sushi. We have reached out numerous times to Koo but no one will call us back with details, so that’s all we know for now. We’ll hopefully hear back from Ino soon as well, and will keep you posted. 22 Peace Plaza, Suite 510 at Buchanan, 415-922-3121.

We noticed a liquor license transfer application for late-night powerhouse ~GRUBSTAKE~ yesterday, and then this morning Scoop shared some details. The new owner is Nicholas Pigott, who owns Mayes Oyster House and calls himself a real estate developer on his LinkedIn page. Despite that résumé, though, he tells Scoop: “We’re going to take over and run it as is…Nobody is going to notice a difference. We’re going to maintain the status quo.” So everyone can breathe a big sigh of relief. In fact, the space won’t even close when ownership officially changes later this summer. Current owners Fernando and Linda Santos are ready to retire, and we’d say they deserve some time off. Hopefully the caldo verde will remain! 1525 Pine St. at Polk, 415-673-8268.

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The line for Hometown Creamery. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The bar at Hecho. Photo via Facebook.

After picnicking and enjoying Flower Piano in Golden Gate Park, my friend and I walked to Snowbird Coffee for an afternoon shakerato (we needed to wake up after being in the sun, drinking rosé, and stuffing our faces with Merigan subs). Walking down 9th Avenue, we saw a long line (yes, lines are mandatory in every neighborhood in San Francisco) and realized ~SF HOMETOWN CREAMERY~ was now open and serving ice cream.

The business opened in the former Hotei, and you’ll still see some wood counters and beams from the building’s previous incarnation. We didn’t join the line, but a look at the ice cream flavor board included chocolate fudge and peanut butter, strawberry-balsamic, fresh mint chocolate chip, and rosemary-lemon, all served in homemade cones. There are also milk shakes, root beer floats, tea, and ice cream sandwiches. You can read more about the owner-brothers Adar and Saadi Halil here; it turns out that they are even pasteurizing their own milk, making the ice cream truly from scratch. 1290 9th Ave. at Lincoln, 415-682-4977.

We spotted this new Uighur restaurant on Yelp, and of course wonderful Chowhounds managed to find out even more details. The restaurant is called ~UYGHAR TAAMLIRI~ and is located in the back of Chug Pub on Lincoln Way in the Sunset. The restaurant is run by a man named Carl and his father and specializes in the cuisine of Central Asia—specifically, Western China, with influences from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. That means lots of lamb, hand-pulled wheat noodles, and spices like cumin and pepper, with dishes like the laghman, a hand-pulled noodle dish with your choice of lamb, beef, or chicken, cooked with garlic and served with a large assortment of vegetables. There is also şorpa, a lamb stew with onion, potatoes, carrot, and parsley, which looks like the perfect dish for a foggy day or groggy head. Hours are daily 11am-2pm and 4pm-10pm. 1849 Lincoln Wy. at 20th Ave., 415-242-9930.

In advance of their grand opening in the former El Patio space in a couple of weeks, brewpub ~OLD BUS TAVERN~ has been hosting some test dinners Wed-Fri, with a limited menu and pouring a variety of guest draft beers (their own brews aren’t ready just yet). A tablehopper reader forwarded chef Max Snyder’s test menu, sharing that the steak fries feature beef salt, which is “dried beef tongue, paprika, etc., mixed with salt. Ummmm, yeah.” There are also pickled quail eggs with fried onions, chili with slow-cooked chuck, and onion spaetzle with maitake mushrooms, mustard seeds, and kohlrabi. And, of course, there’s a mighty sick burger, with housemade bacon and more fried onions. Stand by for news on the official opening and more details soon. 3193 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-843-1938.

On the evening of Saturday July 11th, a fire broke out in the kitchen at ~HECHO~ and quickly spread to the wall the restaurant shares with ~BREWCADE~. It happened around 7:30pm, and both locations had to be evacuated. Fortunately no one was hurt and neither business seems to have sustained major damage, but Brewcade will be closed until Wednesday or Thursday of this week for repairs (UPDATE: BREWCADE IS NOW OPEN). Best of luck to everyone, and we’re so glad everyone is okay! 2200 Market St. at 15th St.

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The interior of Black Sands. Photo from Instagram.

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The second La Capra location, photo via Instagram.

Back in December of 2013, we reported on Lower Haight brewery and café ~BLACK SANDS~. It is now softly open, though just serving coffee and pastries. They are pouring De La Paz coffee and offering pastries from Jane, plus a few small food items like a chorizo and egg breakfast torta and granola. Plus, there’s a bottle shop too! Perfect for picking up a tallboy as you pedal the Wiggle home. Their beers are still in the process of fermenting (SMASH Nelson, Son of Man black IPA, and Empire saison), and the kitchen isn’t quite ready to offer lunch yet (from a kale salad to a fried chicken sandwich!), but all that should be coming very soon—they’ll be adding kitchen service a few nights during the week and pouring from the full bar too. Naturally, we’ll keep you updated. 701 Haight St. at Pierce, 415-534-5194.

Brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal must be out to win the busiest brothers award this year: opening tomorrow is a second location of their ~LA CAPRA COFFEE~ in SoMa. To recap, they partnered with Hanna Suleiman of Caffè Greco to create their own Italian-inspired roast, and this will be their second café. This location is a bit more spacious, with an open kitchen and additional seating.

The format is the same: baked goods and pastries from Starter Bakery in the morning, and for lunch, you can pick up salads (like smoked duck, quinoa, or a Cobb) and sandwiches (including egg salad, roast beef, and smoked salmon). Since this location has a type-two hood, look for some additional sandwiches and hot items in the future, like Cubanos and tartines. In a month or so—once their beer and wine license kicks in—there will be some mezes to pair with too. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-6pm. 360 3rd St. at Harrison.

Thanks to tipster Jason B., we learned that Inner Richmond café ~RO CAFE~ has moved from its original location at 5th Avenue and California to a spot on Geary Street in Laurel Heights that used to house Nani’s. According to Yelpers the new location still serves owner Havin Gavgasi’s famed salads and strong Turkish coffee, just with some additional elbow room. 2739 Geary St. at Wood.

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Le Charm in SoMa. Yelp photo by Espana S.

French bistro ~LE CHARM~ in SoMa is closing on July 31st after 20 years in business, but it’s not going away completely. As Hoodline reports, owner Lina Yew has brought on one of her front-of-house staff members, Mathilde Gravel, as partner. They are renaming the restaurant in her honor, calling it ~MATHILDE~, and making some changes to the space. The space will become more airy and casual, and they’ll be serving lunch, brunch, and dinner. Le Charm’s last day is July 31st, and Mathilde should be opening its refreshed doors in mid-August. 315 5th St. at Folsom, 415-546-6128.

Mission Local reports that the brick-and-mortar location of the ~CRÈME BRÛLÉE CART~ is closed indefinitely. Founder Curtis Kimball says that they are trying to decide what to do with the location moving forward, but there’s no word, exactly, on what’s gone wrong. In the meantime, stand by for more information on what’s happening with the space. 3338 24th St. at Mission.

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The margherita pizza at Uva Enoteca. Photo by Jen Siska via Uva Enoteca.

There’s a new brunch game in town, from Japanese restaurant ~YUZUKI~. The menu is built around noodles, with many dishes offering a choice of udon or soba, including options like the Oyako with fried chicken and egg, or the Kakiage with fried shrimp and vegetables. There is also tenzaru soba with cold dipping sauce. Sake, wine, and beer will also be available. Brunch is served Sat and Sun 11am-2pm.

The newly opened ~MYRIAD GASTRO PUB~ in the Mission is now serving weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3pm. The menu includes a Taylor ham and egg sandwich, Mayan hash and eggs, and zeppole with cardamom ricotta filling (um, yes). There are also brunch cocktails. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-525-4335.

We got a note from owner Boris Nemchenok that Lower Haight’s ~UVA ENOTECA~ is now offering weekday lunch three days a week. The menu offers a $12 special with a green salad and either a margherita or salami pizza, along with panini, special salads, additional pizzas, and antipasti; take a peek at the menu here. You can make a reservation to dine in, order pickup, and place delivery orders on Caviar (that link will get you $15 off your first Caviar order, by the way). Lunch is served Wed-Fri 11am-2pm. 568 Haight St. at Steiner, 415-829-2024.

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Heirloom tomatoes at Bix. Photo by Kristen Loken via Bix.

The ~BIX~ Killer Tomatoes Cart is back in business this summer, as of Wednesday July 15th. You can get heirloom tomatoes from Mariquita Farm and the Peach Farm prepared tableside and served with either Di Stefano burrata or house-pulled mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. The cart experience is available at dinner nightly and at lunch on Fridays.

There’s a new tasting menu format available at ~AL’S PLACE~ in the Mission. The eight-course tasting menu starts with a variety of snacks and then a series of dishes follows. The tasting menu can be prepared to accommodate many diets, with four different preparations available: omnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan. The tasting menu costs $85 per person and changes seasonally. The regular à la carte menu is also still available. 1499 Valencia St. at 25th St., 415-416-6136.

French bistro ~NICO~ is now offering a “carte blanche” menu option in addition to their regular dinner menu. You choose between five courses for $55 or three for $45, and then chef Nicolas Delaroque will create a meal for you. Wine pairings are also available for $45 for the five-course pairing or $35 for the three-course option. In addition, Maz Naba has added an even larger selection of rosés to the wine list, many of which are prominently featured on each night’s tasting menu. 3228 Sacramento St. at Lyon, 415-359-1000.

~MILLER’S EAST COAST DELI~ has made some changes to the their menu, according to a blog post. They’ve eliminated some items that weren’t selling well, added some new deli staples from around the country, like Cincinnati chili, a Chicago-style Italian spicy beef sandwich, and Nashville spicy fried chicken, and even lowered prices. They’ve also closed their San Rafael location. 1725 Polk St. at Clay, 415-563-3542.

Sri Lankan restaurant ~1601 BAR & KITCHEN~ is making some adjustments to their menu. Chef Brian Fernando has been cooking at 1601 for two years and is adjusting the menu to include more dishes that are influenced by the food he grew up with. There are 10 new items, including a halal goat stew for two with beets, chévre mousse, and red basmati, as well as a black curry-crusted bavette steak with rapini, tamarind-date chutney, and bacon. There are also some new wines to pair with the menu’s new direction.

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The patio at Presidio Social Club. Photo from Facebook.

There’s a new executive chef at ~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~, taking over for longtime chef Ray Tang. Tang is still the founding chef-owner, but is just stepping out of running the kitchen day to day and focusing on his new venture, Presidio Palms Café, which also has a catering component.

Chef Wes Shaw, a Texan, worked at PSC in the past, and after a few years working in the Pacific Northwest (Poppy and Jack’s BBQ), he has returned, bringing some new dishes to the menu. Also back: the Weeknight Suppers, available Sunday through Thursday. Sunday is the PSC pig roast night; Monday is prime rib; Tuesday is Latin night; Wednesday is a fried whole bird night, ranging from chicken to duck; and Thursday is barbecued beef ribs, smoked for 12 hours in a central Texas barbecue style.

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Live music on the lawn at Long Meadow Ranch. Photo from Facebook.

Outside Lands is going to be a blast this year, and of course the food lineup is always pretty exciting. Get ready for all the fun with the annual Summer Pairings Series between now and the main event on August 7th through 9th. First up, catch a wine and food pairing party at Bluxome Street Winery on Friday July 17th from 5pm to 9pm. Nombe will be on hand, serving a variety of snacks to pair with wines from Bluxome—tickets and the menu can be found here. It’s $25 per person to attend, including three tastes of wine with pairings, plus live music from The Rusty String Express. Additional food will be available for purchase. 53 Bluxome St. at 4th St., 415-543-5353.

On Sunday July 19th, head to Napa’s Long Meadow Ranch for a concert with The Travelin’ McCourys, a progressive bluegrass band, along with tastes of Long Meadow Ranch wines and a sample of Cheese Lands cheeses. The doors open at 2pm, the show begins at 3:30pm, and tickets are $35 in advance or $45 at the door.

Keep the Outside Lands spirit going on Wednesday July 22nd from 7pm to 9pm at La Urbana, where 21st Amendment will be pouring beers to pair with modern Mexican bites like sopes carnitas and the La Urbana chorizo platter. Reservations can be made via Sosh or by calling the restaurant.

~SUTTON CELLARS~ is hosting their annual Chili Cook-Off on Sunday July 19th from 12pm to 4pm. The cook-off will take over Sutton Cellars in Dogpatch, as well as the neighboring Smokestack and Magnolia Brewery, and you get to taste (and judge) all the chili you can handle. Come hungry, because participating restaurants include Alembic, Comstock Saloon (the defending champions), The Half Orange, Hillside Supper Club, Magnolia, Smokestack, and even more. The winning restaurant gets a $1,500 check to donate to the charity of their choice. Tickets are $45 per person and include all the chili you can eat, two drink tickets, and a ballot to cast your chili vote. 601 22nd St. at Illinois, 707-874-9466.

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Daikon cakes from the previous night market at Rice Paper Scissors. Photo by Andria Lo via Facebook.

On Friday July 24th, ~RICE PAPER SCISSORS~ is hosting a Summer Night Market at Brick and Mortar Music Hall with Vietnamese restaurants from around the Bay Area, inspired by the outdoor night markets of Southeast Asia. Participating restaurants represent both modern and old-school takes on Vietnamese food, including Bicycle Banh Mi, SUP!, and Turtle Tower.

Check out the menu here, and get your tickets early! They are $16 in advance or $20 at the door, and include one bite from each vendor. Vegetarian tickets are also available, and additional items from Rice Paper Scissors will be available for purchase as well as drinks. 1710 Mission St. at Duboce, 415-231-6267.

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Corned beef breakfast sandwich from Authentic Bagel Co. Yelp photo by Simone F.

~AUTHENTIC BAGEL CO.~ has now opened a café in Oakland, serving their East Coast-style bagels. There are bagel sandwiches, including bacon and cheese, lox with cream cheese, and corned beef on rye, as well as a selection of flavored cream cheeses and coffee from Roast Co. 463 2nd St. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-459-1201.

Last month, we reported that Shotaro Kamio was taking over Zut! on Fourth Street in Berkeley, and now Scoop reports that it is open. Kamio hasn’t changed the restaurant’s name or concept very much: he’s calling it ~ZUT TAVERN~ and is still serving Mediterranean food with a French and Italian influence. They’re open for lunch and dinner daily. 1820 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-644-0444.

After 40 years in business, the folks behind ~BAY WOLF~ will be closing on August 30th after celebrating their 40th anniversary. Scoop reports that the owners, founder Michael Wild and partner Larry Goldman, are looking forward to retiring from the restaurant (Wild turns 75 this year) and taking a well-earned vacation. From August 25th through the 30th they’ll be hosting an entire week of their famed Double Duck dinners and celebrating the restaurant’s long run. 3853 Piedmont Ave. at Rio Vista, Oakland, 510-655-6004.

The team behind Rotten City Pizza has opened a new bar in Emeryville called ~BRANCH LINE~, Scoop reports. The bar’s main draw is the selection of drinks on tap, made with in-house elements, so that the bartenders can serve high-quality cocktails quickly. Cortney Logue created the drinks list, which includes classics like the Vieux Carré (Old Overholt rye, Hennessey, Carpano Antica, Benedictine, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, brandied cherry) and originals like the Happy Accident (Sailor Jerry infused with yerba maté, housemade tiki bitters, splash of Sprite). There is also a menu of higher-end bar snacks, like a warm cheese plate of Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam with fig, maitake and oyster mushrooms, fried alliums, port, and balsamic. 5885 Hollis St. at 59th St., Emeryville, 510-547-9000.

June 30, 2015
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The classic piadina (at The Italian Homemade Company). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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You know the Negroni recipe, right? Photo courtesy of Campari America.

You ready for another tablehopper evening, where you’ll be well fed and served delicious aperitivi with fun people? I thought so. It’s Aperitivo Time in Rimini! For this event, I’m happy to announce that I’m partnering with EatWith, which is a global platform for unique dining experiences—it’s a great way to discover home restaurants and pop-ups, locally and around the world.

First, I have to ask: have you ever had a piadina? If you have visited the Italian beaches in Rimini, you will fondly recall these warm, flatbread-like sandwiches, classically filled with tangy stracchino cheese, thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, and peppery arugula. And there is now (finally!) a place in San Francisco where you can find them: The Italian Homemade Company in North Beach, run by some bona fide Romagnoli (which would be people from the region of Emilia-Romagna), Mattia Cosmi and the aptly named Alice Romagnoli.

So here’s your chance to try a piadina, or revisit one, as we explore the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna over some classic aperitivi made by Rye on the Road, like an Aperol spritz, Negroni Sbagliato, and more. Mille grazie to Campari America, who is helping us host this special night in North Beach.

On Thursday July 16th, Italian Homemade will be open after-hours so we can host this casual affair: imagine your dream cocktail party, with passed piadine, cassoni (a hot, stuffed sandwich that is like a calzone made with piadina dough—they’ll be serving a traditional cassone with spinach, potato, and mozzarella), and tortellini pasticciato (the sauce is made with Bolognese and béchamel!). Plus some tiramisu! The chefs will be telling us about each dish too.

It’s a casual space (it’s like a deli), so come as you are. It’s really about having a chance to hang out after work, meet fellow tablehopper readers and EatWith fans, and learn about the food of Emilia-Romagna (and aperitivi)! We’ll be pouring some red wine as well.

And be forewarned: you’ll probably see some Italian products on the shelves you’ll want to bring home, or maybe a little something fresh from the pasta case!

The event is on Thursday July 16th, beginning at 6:30pm, and will run until 8:30pm or so. Tickets on EatWith are just $39, and tablehopper readers can use an extra-special first-time user discount code: use code EatWithMarcia for 15 percent off. You’ll enjoy passed aperitivi and cocktails, appetizers, pasta, and dessert. We look forward to seeing you—and eating with you! 716 Columbus Ave. at Filbert.

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Chubby Noodle North Beach. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

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The famed Chubby Noodle pork tacos. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last month we mentioned Pete Mrabe (Don Pisto’s, Chubby Noodle, and more) and Nick Floulis were going to be moving the ~CHUBBY NOODLE NORTH BEACH~ pop-up out of Amante and into the former Pisto’s Tacos space (at 1310 Grant), with chef Alex Ong consulting on the opening menu.

Well, Nick Roberto and Colby Thompson of VerSacrum Design (formerly with Bon Vivants Design+Build) cranked on the design, and the space is now open. Every square inch is mapped out, with plenty of booths for you and your posse and a bar in the back. There is also some sound baffling so things aren’t louder than they need to be.

The menu will continue to feature some Chubby Noodle flavor-packed favorites—like the fried chicken, ramen, tuna poke, spicy garlic noodles, and Korean pork tacos—but will be taking more of a creative izakaya approach to the menu. Mrabe is rotating dishes like mustard wings and a bunch of skewers on the grill, ranging from meatball skewers to chicken with avocado to swordfish with lemon togarashi.

The party will be fueled by their sake cocktails on tap (similar to Chubby Noodle Marina), plus sake, beer, and wine on tap too. There are 24 taps in all, and one is extra special since it features Bushido (“Way of the Warrior”), a premium junmai genshu from Japan. The Chubby Noodle team has been trying to get a Japanese sake on tap for the past couple of years, and Chubby Noodle Marina starting pouring it first, making it the first restaurant in the U.S. to have Japanese sake on tap.

Soft opening hours are Tue-Sat 6pm-10pm, which will expand to nightly after a month or so. Look for lunch and brunch to come in time as well. 1310 Grant Ave. at Vallejo, 415-296-9600.

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The interior of Dirty Water. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

The Twitter building has another ground-floor project open as of yesterday, Monday June 29th. It’s ~DIRTY WATER~, from former Press Club general manager Kristian Cosentino. (Commence confusion with Dirty Habit in 3, 2, 1…)

As reported on tablehopper last year, the larger space has a full bar, extensive wine list (with many wines available by the glass due to their Coravin system), beer brewed on-site, and food from chef Jarad Gallagher. Gallagher, who previously received a Michelin star during his tenure at Chez TJ, has crated a menu focused on “primal” dining, meaning large cuts of meats cooked over open flame and intended for sharing, served family-style, along with individual-sized portions; check out the menu here. Bone broth, check.

The cocktails are from Zachary Taylor, previously of Ziryab, and they’re trying to make sure there’s something for everyone. Cocktails include the 140 Characters (get it?) with Zu vodka, Ancho Reyes, lime, and egg white, or the King of the Carrot Flowers, with Hendrick’s gin, carrot, ginger, verjus, dry vermouth, kummel, and absinthe. There are more than 52 beers on tap, including Chimay red, white, and blue, and three beers brewed on-site. As for the wine, there are more than 100 options available by the glass. Because they’re using the Coravin system, they’re able to pour that many selections without worrying about bottles deteriorating.

The industrial space was designed by Arcsine, and it’s decidedly masculine, with 1970s-style amber glass, leather couches and banquettes, and lots of wood. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 10am-10pm. 1355 Market St. at 9th St., 415-792-5108.

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The interior of The Spice Jar. Photo: Dana Eastland © tablehopper.com.

By Dana Eastland. As reported on tablehopper earlier this month, the former Local’s Corner space in the Mission is now home to ~THE SPICE JAR~. Owner Ryuichi Hamada has made some updates to the corner space, including adding a hood to the small kitchen so that they can use a stove and oven. It’s still comfortable and close, with the same open kitchen, counter, and furniture. They’ve added some cute crafty touches, like a light fixture made with a manzanita branch, pipe shelving, and live plants on the tables.

Hamada calls the food home-style pan-Asian comfort food, and it definitely reads as a trip across Asia via California. The menu starts with a selection of small bites, including edamame hummus served with crackers and vegetables, six-hour braised spareribs served with steamed bao and pickles, and albacore carpaccio. There is a seafood cast-iron “fondue” on the menu, made by cooking shrimp, calamari, and funky Thai shrimp paste in olive oil, and then serving it with toasted bread cubes for dipping. A small selection of salads includes a spicy calamari salad with red curry vinaigrette and vermicelli. Multiple Asian countries are represented in the noodle and rice section, like a tonkotsu-shoyu ramen with pork broth and short rib in place of chashu. There is also laksa and fried rice with roasted garlic, spinach, and egg. Though it all sounds a little fusion-y, Hamada isn’t trying too hard—it’s more like he’s being eclectic and creative without feeling especially bound by traditional preparations.

There are four beers on tap, including Lagunitas IPA, Kirin Ichiban, and Magnolia pale ale. Bottle selections range from a one-liter can of Asahi Super Dry to Hitachino Nest white ale to local Anchor Steam. There are three white wines and three reds, all available by the glass, carafe, or bottle, and nine sakes. They’ve even got a jalapeño-infused plum wine they are serving over ice with a splash of soda, kind of like a Japanese aperitivo.

The Spice Jar opens today, Tuesday June 30th. Hours are Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm. For the first few weeks, they may adjust the hours a bit, so it’s not a bad idea to call ahead and make sure they are there. 2500 Bryant St. at 23rd St., 415-829-3668.

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Isabel Caudillo of El Buen Comer. Photo by Kassie Borreson/Haus Fotografie.

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Plates of Caudillo’s food at a recent test dinner. Photo by Kassie Borreson/Haus Fotografie.

It’s always thrilling to hear when one of La Cocina’s alums is opening their own place, and the latest is Isabel Caudillo, who will be opening her own brick-and-mortar restaurant. It’s called ~EL BUEN COMER~, just like her catering business and Noe Valley farmers’ market stall. It will be located on Mission Street in Bernal.

Caudillo has been a permanent fixture at the Noe Valley farmers’ market for years, serving cuisine inspired by her upbringing in Mexico City. She’s been offering guisados del día, or daily specials, alongside her street food-style snacks and breakfast items. Her tostadas de tinga are a particular favorite, and her chilaquiles are very popular. She is also currently producing all the breadsticks for the Delfina Restaurant Group and runs a catering business with her husband, Juan Carlos Caudillo.

The backstory is very much “all in the family”: Isabel discovered La Cocina through Verónica Salazar, chef-owner of El Huarache Loco in Larkspur. It ends up Isabel babysat Verónica’s kids while she was running an informal restaurant out of her Mission living room—when she saw Verónica appear on Univision to talk about her business, she was inspired to join La Cocina as well.

As for the new restaurant, it will be open for lunch and dinner and should be up and running in October. The space was previously an office, so it will take some work to convert it to a functional cooking space. Debra Resnik, who previously worked on developing the 331 Cortland marketplace, is helping with the buildout. Caudillo has been trying out new dishes at the farmers’ market to feature on the menu, including a mole verde de pato over beans and rice, and enchiladas verdes, hand-rolled using her housemade tortillas. Her tamales, braised meats in housemade sauces, and tostadas with seasonal toppings are also a highlight.

If you just can’t wait until October (we understand) to get your fill of Isabel Caudillo’s wonderful food, consider booking one of her EatWith dinners. There are a few spots left for one tonight, and the next one is on Tuesday July 7th, with more planned in the coming months. She’ll also be running some crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo and Credibles, which we’ll be sure to update you on. Congratulations, Isabel, and we can’t wait to see your new place! 3435 Mission St. at Kingston (near 30th St.).

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The future home of Gardenias. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Curious what’s in store at the upcoming ~GARDENIAS~? This new Lower Pac Heights restaurant from Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino (previously Woodward’s Garden) in the former Roostertail space is due to open in mid-July, and here’s a little more about their plans. Dinner will be served six nights a week, and weekend brunch (and possibly even lunch!) will follow later on. For those of you who enjoyed some of their past special events, with talent like Rebecca Solnit and Cheryl Strayed, those kinds of special evenings will continue!

While the ladies adore and pay homage to seasonal California produce, they are also going to be putting that mega rotisserie to work, with birds, pork, fish, and even whole herb-stuffed goat and lamb—all served with meze-style side dishes. They are going to be offering small plates as well as traditional entrées, so you can come by for a casual bite or a full sit-down experience. Now that they have more space, they’ll be doing wines on tap and plan to work with wineries to make their own Gardenias blends. Just imagine yourself on the back patio, enjoying a glass of rosé and some seasonal dishes….yup, it’s where you’ll want to be. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear a firm opening date. 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore.

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Master cicerone Nicole Erny. Photo by Jon Weber.

Here’s a quick update on ~SESSIONS~ in the Presidio, the beer-focused restaurant we told you about in February. Michael Bilger and Evin Gelleri of the former Georges restaurant are the owners, and they’ve brought on master cicerone Nicole Erny to select the beer. Erny is one of only nine master cicerones in the world (she was the fourth person to receive the certification) and the first woman. She has previously worked at The Trappist in Oakland and as a consultant to various bars and restaurants.

Erny will have 24 taps to play with, offering a rotating selection of beers, along with some ciders. In addition, there will be a signification bottle list with an emphasis on larger-format bottles designed for sharing among groups. As for the opening, construction has hit some snags, and they are currently targeting August. 1 Letterman Dr. at Lombard.

Coming to SoMa is ~METHOD BREWING~, also targeting an August opening. Hoodline shares a bunch of details about this new project, a restaurant and brewery from Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant, which has partnered with “two neuroscientists and two software engineers who say they’re creating ‘beer made with science.’ ” Look for a range of ever-changing and really experimental brews, about six to eight at a time (like a 51 percent oat stout with Vietnamese coffee, yes!). The two-level space has been vacant for some time and is going to feature room for 50 on each floor, plus a sunny roof deck and beer garden with room for 30. A full kitchen will be serving food daily, with brunch on the weekend. We’ll keep you posted. 326 1st St. at Folsom.

According to some ABC license activity, there is a taker for the vacant Abbot’s Cellar space on Valencia: ~BRASSERIE SAINT JAMES~, which is potentially an expansion of the brewery and brasserie based out of Reno, Nevada. We have reached out a couple of times but have heard no reply (yet), so file this news tidbit under “developing.” 742 Valencia St. at 18th St.

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The future home of Fine & Rare. Photo courtesy of Fine & Rare.

Scott Peterson and Ted Wilson of ~FINE & RARE~ are opening their very own brick-and-mortar location in July. Scoop caught the news and notes that the space they are moving into is actually the home of the former Stars (and Maestro). As you may recall, Empire Room took over the building’s bar space, and now Fine & Rare is moving into the adjoining café/kitchen location.

The café seats 35 and will serve sandwiches, salads, and soups in a casual setting. You’ll order at the counter, and can then take your food to go or sit in the dining room. As has been the case at their stall in The Hall and their Off the Grid appearances, all ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced. On the menu, look for the wild king salmon pastrami Reuben, as well as a “San Francisco cheesesteak” with grass-fed bavette steak, Fiscalini cheddar, and chimichurri sauce. The plan is to open on Wednesday July 15th, and hours will be lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and dinner Mon-Fri 5pm-9pm. After 9pm, patrons at The Empire Room will be able to order a selection of small bites too. Their Off the Grid appearances will continue. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness.

As reported on tablehopper earlier this month, Michael Mina took over the Café Claude Marina space with plans to turn it into a sort of incubator concept. Well, details have emerged: it’s called ~MINA TEST KITCHEN~ and will serve as a place for Mina Group chefs to experiment with new techniques and explore cooking styles from around the world. The first pop-up dinners have been announced, from Mina himself and chef Adam Sobel.

The series is called Middle’terrenea and is all about the food Mina (who was born in Egypt) and Sobel grew up eating. The multicourse dinners will be served family-style Wednesday through Saturday, beginning Thursday July 23rd. Tickets are $45 per person, and optional beverage pairings will be available. For updates on when tickets become available and more, follow along on Twitter or join the mailing list here. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.

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The façade of Galette 88. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

One of the Financial District’s tastier deals, ~GALETTE 88~, is sadly going to be making its last lumberjack galette when it closes in September. I connected with partner Erin Rooney (Slow Club, Serpentine), who confirmed the sale and said, “It was a really hard decision. We have awesome regulars and a great crew, but we (my business partner and I) are spread too thin!” Owners Rooney and Céline Guillou are waiting for the liquor license to transfer in September, so it’s business as usual for now. The space is still available for private events in the evenings, by the way.

They are selling to David Kurtz, who will be opening a project named ~HOMAGE~. Kurtz was the opening chef at Maven and has an extensive background in both the front and back of house. While he can’t comment on anything at the moment, we’ll let you know when he can! 88 Hardie Pl. at Kearny.

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The awesome meat case at 4505 Meats Butcher Shop. Photo from Facebook.

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A famous Giordano’s all-in-one sandwich (photo via their website).

Here’s some bummer news: ~4505 MEATS~ butcher shop in the Mission is closing. According to Scoop, owner-butcher Ryan Farr says they ran into some issues with their commissary kitchen, which the shop needs in order to function. Fortunately, the shop will remain open until July 26th, so you’ll still be able to get your Independence Day cookout meats there, and then some.

The silver lining is that another quality butcher shop is moving in, from Belcampo Meat Co. Belcampo, which has three other locations throughout the Bay Area, will keep this one to just retail sales (no restaurant) and plans to make minimal changes to the space. They’ll reopen the doors August 1st. And of course, you’ll still be able to get your fill of 4505 goodness at their Divisadero restaurant, and the retail hot dogs and chicharrones will continue to be available throughout the Bay Area. 1909 Mission St. at 15th St., 415-525-4239.

According to Scoop, the North Beach location of Pittsburgh-style deli ~GIORDANO BROS.~ is serving their last all-in-one sandwich and closing today, June 30th. Reportedly, they lost their lease and decided to focus on their larger location in the Mission. The hope is to reopen a second location elsewhere eventually. 303 Columbus Ave. at Broadway, 415-397-2767.

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You’ll just have to wait to get your hands on the Italians salumi platter at La Nebbia. Photo: desogos.com.

Financial District workers, there’s a new salad bar in the Rincon Center called ~THE SALAD SPOT~. The grand opening was last week, and they are now offering a buffet with not just an extensive salad bar but also housemade soups, hot entrées, and prepared salads for those in a rush. Everything is $7.50 per pound. 121 Spear St. in the Rincon Center at Howard, 415-926-5678.

While you are enjoying summer, the fine folks at ~LA CICCIA~ and ~LA NEBBIA~ will be enjoying theirs too. From now until Wednesday July 22nd, both locations will be closed for summer vacation. They’ll reopen Thursday July 23rd for business as usual.

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The fried chicken with coleslaw and biscuits from BDK. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.

~BDK~ in Union Square is now open for weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 2pm. The menu is classic American, with French toast, pancakes, eggs Benedict, omelets, and fried chicken with coleslaw and biscuits. There are also some fun twists on the basics, like ham and Brie “pop tarts.” Check out the full menu here. The bar opens at 10am, and there is a selection of brunch cocktails too. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-0101.

From now until August 31st you can check out a new Ling Ling menu at the bar at ~HAKKASAN~. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s basically a happy hour menu celebrating the restaurant group’s newest property on Mykonos, called Ling Ling. You can only get it at the bar from 5pm to 6pm daily, but it’s a pretty sweet deal: for $45 per person you choose between two menus, meat and seafood, or fish and seafood.

The meat and seafood menu includes the hopper-approved crispy duck salad with pomegranate, smoked short rib, stir-fry scallop with XO sauce, and spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond. On the fish and seafood menu, you’ll find crispy pumpkin salad with mountain yam, grilled sea bass with Chinese honey, steamed Chinese chive dumpling, and stir-fry asparagus with lotus root. Both menus include a selection of macarons and a sample of the Ling Ling Collins, a new signature cocktail that will be served in the Mykonos location.

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Chef and author Joyce Goldstein. Photo via Perbacco.

Author, chef, and fantastic human being Joyce Goldstein is turning 80, and her many colleagues from Square One and beyond are getting together to throw her a truly memorable party. On Sunday July 26th, ~PERBACCO~ will be hosting the evening, with chefs Anthony Strong (Delfina, Locanda), Staffan Terje (Perbacco, barbacco), Wendy Brucker (Rivoli), Mourad Lahlou (Mourad, Aziza), Gary Woo, Gerald Gass (McEvoy Ranch), Barbara Haimes, Derek Burns (Surf Spot), Eskender Aseged (Radio Africa Kitchen), Jennifer Millar (Sweet Adeline Bakery), and Amaryll Schwertner (Boulettes Larder, Boulibar). That’s a pretty amazing list of people that have been touched by this truly remarkable woman.

They’ll be preparing five courses inspired by her long career, including aushak, a Middle Eastern ravioli with ricotta and leeks, served in two different sauces, as well as a Moroccan fish dish in chermoula with couscous. Wine pairings will be selected by master sommeliers Evan Goldstein and Peter Granoff too. The dinner begins at 6pm and tickets are $250 each, all-inclusive.

Proceeds benefit Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, an organization that has been of great assistance to Joyce’s grandson, Antonio. Only four tickets were left at publication time, so don’t miss your opportunity to celebrate this wonderful woman.

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Oysters on the half shell and seafood at Gaspar Brasserie. Photo courtesy of Gaspar Brasserie.

It’s time to storm ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ for Bastille Day on Tuesday July 14th. Chef Hubert Keller will be in attendance, preparing a très French five-course dinner (with California influence, of course) with chef Chris Jones. The evening begins at 6pm with a reception where you’ll be served Veuve Clicquot Champagne and oysters on the half shell, followed by a sit-down meal. Dishes include Niçoise olive-crusted king salmon and braised Wagyu beef cheeks with lemongrass and ginger. You can check out the menu here.

After dinner is over, you’re invited to the after-party at Hawthorn, where Keller will DJ an evening of dancing and celebration. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Ecole Notre Dame des Victoires, as well. Tickets are $225 per person and include all food, French wine pairings, gratuity, and the after-party.

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Photo from Sushi Ran.

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Village Sake exterior; photo via Instagram (@villagesake).

A big change over at ~SUSHI RAN~: executive chef Scott Whitman has departed after 15 years and is opening his own izakaya in Fairfax. The team at Sushi Ran says, “We greatly appreciate all Scott’s contributions over his long tenure at Sushi Ran. He will be missed, but we enthusiastically support Scott in pursuing his dreams and wish him tremendous success.” No word yet about a replacement for him.

We tried to reach Whitman to find out more details on the project, but didn’t hear back. We did, however, find this Kickstarter about the project, Village Sake, which mentions he is partnering with local firefighter Scott Porter; additional team members are Darrin Sander of Eat Drink Works for operations and sous chef Rogelio Newcomb (Sushi Ran and Morimoto Napa). Jim Maxwell of Architects II will be creating a “relaxed but refined atmosphere” for the historic location. They hope to open in August; you can follow their progress on Facebook. 19 Bolinas Rd., Fairfax.

Meanwhile, Sushi Ran’s executive sushi chef Takatoshi Toshi won the Global Sushi Challenge championship in Chicago last month and will represent the U.S. at the world sushi competition in Tokyo in November. The national champions from Japan and 13 other countries will vie for the Global Sushi Challenge world championship. With Sushi Ran approaching its 30th anniversary in 2016, this could be an extra-special win. 107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, 415-332-3620.

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A chicken plate and appetizer at Mistura. Photo from Facebook.

Remember back in 2012, after the SF Underground Market was shut down, Iso Rabins launched all those fundraising campaigns for his next venture? Well, there’s finally an update from East Bay Express on where the project will be reemerging. It’s headed to a warehouse in Uptown Oakland, and will be called ~FORAGE KITCHEN~. It will be similar to other incubator/commissary kitchen hybrids, but Rabins has also borrowed some ideas from “co-working spaces.” The word maker is being used a lot, for starters, but it goes beyond that. Would-be chefs can join for a monthly fee, and Rabins also hopes to bring people in for workshops, like an “Ask a Lawyer” night where people can ask for legal advice and share the cost. He is partnering with his cousin, Matt Johansen (one of the founders of Biergarten), and the plan is to open in September—we will of course let you know when things are close. 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

East Bay Express reports that a new Peruvian restaurant has opened in Oakland, called ~MISTURA~. Owner Daniel Luna is an Oakland native of Peruvian heritage and is serving a small, tight menu with a couple of potato appetizers and salads, plus lomo saltado and rotisserie chicken. Hours are lunch Sun-Fri 11am-2:30pm, dinner daily 5pm-9pm. 3858 Piedmont Ave. at Rio Vista, Oakland, 510-652-1439.

As part of their summer series highlighting the regional cuisine of Mexico, ~DOÑA TOMÁS~ is serving a special dinner inspired by Mexico City on Wednesday July 1st. The dinner consists of three small courses, followed by a main dish and dessert. The menu includes ancho chile stuffed with seared foie gras, and mole madre in the style of Pujol. Dinner is $55 per person including food; an optional drink pairing will also be available. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 5004 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland, 510-450-0522.

June 23, 2015
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The bar at Cafe du Nord. All photos courtesy of Cafe du Nord.

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The bar.

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The stairs to the bar.

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Seating and the smaller bar in the Viking Room.

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A live band plays at Cafe du Nord’s opening party.

We finally got some images, so let’s take a look at the newly reopened ~CAFE DU NORD~, whose building dates back to 1907. To recap, The Bon Vivants and Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (flour + water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria, and Aatxe) are behind the project, and while it isn’t the live music venue it used to be, there will still be some live performances (more on that in a minute). The team also really wanted to honor the long legacy of the iconic space, which was designated a San Francisco Historic Landmark in 2015.

The design of the subterranean space is now more Deco than Victorian bordello—Ne Timeas partner David White drew design inspiration from the Cafe du Nord of the 1930s and ’40s (you’ll note wood wainscoting, vintage wallpaper, Deco light fixtures, and more).

There are two rooms: first, the bar, with 20 stools and an area with café tables (also room for 20). Farther back into the 4,500-square-foot space is the Viking Room, with a 5-seat bar, 30 seats for guests seeking a full-service dining experience (you can make reservations), and a stage for musical acts, which will highlight local artists nightly. Look for jazz, blues, and cocktail piano—so, no more punk, sorry. As a reminder, Noise Pop Concerts is behind all the music performances in the Swedish American Hall, which is just upstairs.

Chef and partner Thomas McNaughton’s menu (view it in its entirety here) is a salute to classic American dishes, so you’ll find raw oysters (which are just $1 after midnight, to go with the Champagne, you see), broiled oysters Kilpatrick (with bacon and Parmesan), shrimp cocktail, beef tartare, cioppino, chicken al mattone, and a rib-eye steak. And, naturally, a burger. There are also some bar snacks, although you can order off the entire menu throughout the bar area.

The Bon Vivants definitely gave the cocktail list an upgrade, highlighting spins on drinks from the past century, but with new ingredients. The list (all drinks are $12) includes the Södermalm (Rittenhouse rye, Punt e Mes vermouth, Cherry Heering, and Cafe du Nord Fika bitters), the Martini du Nord (Ford’s gin and oyster shell-infused Noilly Prat vermouth), the Golden Era (George Dickel rye, maple sugar, and fig leaf bitters), and the Diggers (Tequila Ocho plata, Chablis, peach, zaatar, and lime). See, it helps to know your SF history to understand the names of a few of them. Look for a long list of Scotch and American whiskey too.

Ne Timeas Restaurant Group wine directors Geno Tomko and Samuel Bogue are behind the wine list, with a special focus on Champagne and the wines found throughout that region, ranging from Grande Marques houses to small grower-producers. Best of all: all bottles of Champagne will be half-price after midnight, seven days a week. I KNOW. So let’s say cheers to what sounds and looks like a thoughtful renovation and upgrade to a beautiful and beloved venue.

Open nightly 5pm-2am. Food served until 1:30am. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-471-2969.

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The Ghirardelli Square Apartment House, where Le Marais Bistro & Bakery will be opening its new location. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

Some exciting new tenants are coming to Ghirardelli Square (now owned by Jamestown, a real estate investment trust), including a project from chef Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto in NYC) and a second location of Le Marais Bistro & Bakery. Waxman’s project is a homecoming of sorts—he was born in Berkeley and, like a good Berkeley-born chef, has culinary roots at Chez Panisse. He will be opening a sit-down brasserie and a fast-casual café (currently unnamed) in the Square’s Mustard Building in the Upper Plaza, dating back to 1899, serving his seasonal and Italian-inflected cuisine (let’s not forget where Domingo Ghirardelli came from). The Chronicle mentions the opening is slated for the fall.

Meanwhile, Ghirardelli Square’s Apartment House will be the home of Le Marais Bistro & Bakery, which will have 116 seats in this two-level location. Husband and wife Patrick and Joanna Ascaso will be serving their artisan-made breads and exquisite array of viennoiserie (croissants, pains au chocolat, carrés, and Danishes), as well as pâtisserie selections (tarts, macarons, choux, and entremets). There will also be a bistro component, with dishes inspired by the French coastal regions, and cocktails. The historic location, which dates back to 1916, has a fantastic view of the water and Alcatraz, and fortunately there is an outdoor terrace where you can can really take it in. The look will include leather banquettes, classic bistro mirrors, cream-painted cabinetry, and penny tile floors. Look for early 2016 on this one, we’ll keep you updated. 900 North Point St. at Polk.

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Fab neon at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Photo courtesy of Aaron Caddel.

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La Boulange West Portal. Photo by David Vegne, courtesy La Boulange.

Last week, our local bakery scene was hit with some pretty crazy news. First up, there was a sad split over at ~MR. HOMES BAKEHOUSE~: pastry savant and co-owner Ry Stephen, the Willy Wonka of all that tasty madness, has departed (via SF Mag). And no one is talking about what happened, but you can bet it’s complicated. Stephen’s (now former) business partner, Aaron Caddel, appears to still be running the ship (Instagram remains full of cruffin pics), and there are plans to expand to Highland Park in Los Angeles in March 2016 (check out the Craigslist ad here).

Stephen is currently in France, baking at Chez Papou, a boulangerie and pâtisserie in Le Lavandou in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France (nope, one of the hardest working bakers I know didn’t even take a break) and will be back in SF in July. I’ll keep you posted on what he’s up to next. You can’t contain his level of creativity and expertise for long.

Badass designer and (also former) co-owner Aron Tzimas—the man behind their insanely cool branding and more—has reportedly left the creative brain trust over there as well, but he’s already cranking on a new and cool project, SF x SF. And the lines outside Mr. Holmes continue to stretch around the corner. 1042 Larkin St. at Sutter.

From the artisanal to the massive: the other wave of news that crashed through the city while we were all busy watching the Warriors win on Tuesday night is that Starbucks is closing all 23 of its ~LA BOULANGE~ bakery cafés by September of this year (and the Evolution Fresh location) after the company “determined La Boulange stores are not sustainable for the company’s long-term growth.” Pascal Rigo, creator of La Boulange, sold the company to Starbucks in 2012 for $100 million (in cash!) and was partnering with Starbucks on elevating its food offerings in all its U.S. and Canada locations, offering items under the La Boulange brand.

Rigo has now left the company as well; a press release from Starbucks additionally states, “Now that the rollout of La Boulange products within Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada is complete, Pascal will move on from Starbucks to continue his passion for food in San Francisco while dedicating more time and resources toward his nonprofit ventures in an effort to supply quality food to schools with underprivileged children and bring innovative after-school clinics to help children with learning disabilities.” Go Pascal.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is going to try to place as many employees as possible and help with their transition. And then you have a quote in the Business Times noting that all these prime locations are going to inspire a “feeding frenzy”—although in a piece on SFGate, Rigo alludes to having plans for a few of the locations. We’ll have to see how this all shakes out. (This article in the Business Times says Starbucks made the decision to close the locations after Rigo left.) AdWeek has an article that wonders if Starbucks just did it for the recipes—it’s interesting to think about. (Especially when they experienced a 16 percent jump in food sales in the most recent quarter—imagine how that translates when we’re talking about 12,000 locations.)

Say what you want about the brightly colored spots that were practically in every neighborhood in SF—they did provide a comfortable space to grab a sandwich, enjoy a café au lait, have a meeting, and hang out. There’s even a petition to save them. When the very first Boulange opened on Pine Street, it provided a taste of France that many of us were looking for (which sadly got watered down with each location that opened). I know we all look forward to see what Rigo does next and are wondering what is going to happen to all those locations. Stand by.

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A rendering of the upcoming CAW Pacific, courtesy of Craftsman and Wolves.

I know, many folks who live north of Market Street are wondering when the second SF location of ~CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES~ is opening in Russian Hill, and we wanted to provide you with a little update. Permits have been secured and construction is starting, so the latest target is now August 2015.

When it opens, it will be a café and pâtisserie, with a small number of seats available. The space will have a “moodier” design, with a washed granite counter, waxed white-oak wood tables, and a motorcycle parts art installation (vroom!). As far as edibles, the ever-changing menu will include breakfast pastries, confections, confitures, cube cakes, and other desserts, as well as lunch and grab-and-go items. And yes, you’ll be able to get the Rebel Within. We’ll keep you posted. 1643 Pacific Ave. at Polk.

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The Cat Zone at KitTea. Photo from Facebook.

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A very happy visitor to the Cat Zone at KitTea. Photo from Facebook.

A report by Dana Eastland. Well this is just the most purrrrrfect news (sorry): cat café ~KITTEA~ is opening in Hayes Valley tomorrow, Wednesday June 24th. After successfully crowdfunding the project last year, they’ve finally opened after lots of construction and permitting. The café has partnered with local cat rescue organizations like Give Me Shelter and Wonder Cat to provide the cats that live in the café’s “Cat Zone,” where visitors can visit with cats while enjoying their tea. All the cats are available for adoption through the organizations, and proceeds from the café will go to providing homes for even more cats.

The café has a pretty specific structure: it’s divided into two spaces, the main tearoom, where food and beverages are prepared, and the separate “Cat Zone,” where you can actually hang out with cats. A reservation in the Cat Zone is $25 for an hour and includes a bottomless pot of tea. Reservations for the Cat Zone can be made here. Anyone can come into the main room of the café at any time, but there won’t be any cats roaming there, just to be clear.

As for the tea, it’s all sourced from the same tea farm in Japan, and varieties include a matcha green tea as well as a genmaicha with toasted rice. There is also a food menu with snacks like cheesecakes in flavors including matcha, strawberry, and banana cream pie; macarons; doughnuts; and pastries from Native Baking Company, including the special calico bar. For more answers to questions about the cats, their comfort, and health, check out the FAQ page on KitTea’s website. Hours are daily 11am-8pm, and reservations can be made for the Cat Zone on their website, though please note that due to their insurance policy, no children under 12 can enter the Cat Zone. 98 Gough St. at Page, no phone.

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The mega spread at Fogo de Chão in San Jose. Yelp photo by Tammy L.

Brazilian steakhouse ~FOGO DE CHÃO~ is opening a location in San Francisco, Scoop reports (based on some ABC license activity). The international chain appears to be moving into the former Chevys location at Third Street and Howard, making this the first San Francisco location for the group. In the tradition of Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouses, diners pay a flat rate for their dinner and then receive all the meat, salad, and side dishes they can manage. The nearest location, in San Jose, offers dinner for $55 per person and lunch for $35. 201 Third St. at Howard.

We previously mentioned that Jason Fox (of Commonwealth) and Timothy Felkner (of Vigilante Hospitality and formerly the general manager at Zero Zero) are planning to open a new restaurant in Mint Plaza later this summer. The name has been revealed: it will be called ~ORO~, named after the gold coins that used to be minted in the building during the Gold Rush.

The casual California-style restaurant will have a menu built around sharing and whole animal butchery, including housemade charcuterie. Some items will be available by the single piece, in the style of oysters, like salt cod croquettes or grilled spot prawns. Smaller shared plates include charcuterie like coppa di testa, and larger dishes are designed for two people, like a grilled rib-eye with smashed potatoes and sprouting broccoli. There will also be the option to order a family-style tasting menu. Fox will be working closely with chef de cuisine Travis Day, formerly of Central Kitchen and Yoshi’s. Randy Mariani, whose previous experience includes Foreign Cinema and Tupper & Reed, will serve as bar manager, while Kelly Evans, who previously worked as head sommelier at Saison, is the wine director. The whole thing is set to open in late summer; we’ll keep you updated. 8 Mint Plaza at 5th St.

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Donuts from Pinkie’s Bakery. Photo from Facebook.

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Noodle making on an Edible Excursions tour in Japantown. Photo from Facebook.

A couple Bernal-residing (and hawk-eyed) tablehopper readers have written in asking about why “Pinkie’s Bakery” is now showing up on their receipts from Mutsumi Takehara’s ~SANDBOX BAKERY~. We reached out to Cheryl Burr, co-owner of Pinkie’s (with Chris Beerman), who confirmed the news but couldn’t share details at the time.

A post just hit the wires on Bernalwood with the details: Pinkie’s is, in fact, now serving its American/comfort classics in Bernal Heights. In an email, Burr says, “I’d like to bring many of my signature Pinkie’s pastries over to Cortland, and I’m keeping a lot of Mutsumi’s products as well, but many of the Japanese items are gone because I feel like those were really specific to her and her vision of the bakery. We are also bringing in artisan breads, cakes, and a lot of afternoon treats. We do a lot of wholesale bread and are using the kitchen overnight for our production as well. I’m excited to serve the neighborhood and meet all of our neighbors. I have a four-month-old, so I really like the family vibe of Bernal; kid-friendliness and family was a big part of Mutsumi’s bakery and I definitely won’t be changing that as it becomes Pinkie’s Bakery.” 833 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

Culinary tour company Edible Excursions is celebrating 11 years in business, and you can get in on the party with a special discount on all tours this summer. Between now and the end of August 2015, all tours are 30 percent off with discount code CELEBRATE (not including private tours and packages). Current tours include Craft Cocktails, Mission 18th Street, and Japantown Eats and Spa Treats, which includes a massage! There are also East Bay tours available; check them all out here.

Cow Hollow has a new spot for Indian food, called ~LASAN~. It’s from the same team that ran Indian Oven in the Lower Haight, and this time around they are offering an extensive menu of staples. The menu includes a large selection of flatbreads from their tandoor oven and also calls out some of their ingredients, like Mary’s free-range chicken. 3145 Fillmore St. at Pixley, 415-346-4900.

After Guddu de Karahi closed recently, a new restaurant has already moved in. It’s called ~A DESI CAFE~ and is serving Northern Indian food. 1501 Noriega St. at 22nd Ave., 415-759-9088.

Financial District workers now have a new place for lunch. It’s a panini shop called ~PRESSED~, with a menu of sandwiches, salads, and lasagna, plus coffee and breakfast items. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-6pm and Sat 10am-3pm. 3 Embarcadero Center at Sacramento, 2nd floor, 415-781-0302.

~GRUB~ on Valencia has reopened, this time under the same management as Toast. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a menu of American diner-style classics. The breakfast and lunch menu includes omelets, egg combos, Benedicts, and waffles, as well as salads, sandwiches, and burgers. At dinner, look for entrées like fish and chips, Cincinnati-style spaghetti, and meatloaf. Hours are breakfast and lunch daily 7am-4pm, dinner Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 758 Valencia St. at 19th St., 415-431-4782.

And just a small housekeeping note for you: in case I got you fired up to eat at ~CALIFORNIOS~, they will be temporarily closed from June 28th to July 7th. During the break, they are remodeling the bar to allow for a more comfortable dining experience, plus installing carpet to “add another layer of luxury for our guests.” When they reopen, the menu will also be slightly longer and set at a higher price ($97 for the menu and $65 for pairings), but guests will be able to have their tables for the entire night. So get ready to sit back and have a leisurely meal in July.

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The “brekkie” sandwich at The Richfield. Photo from Instagram.

According to a small mention in The Chronicle, local coffee roaster ~BLUE BOTTLE~ is going to discontinue their wholesale operations entirely over the coming months. That means no more Blue Bottle beans anywhere other than their own cafés, or from Blue Bottle at Home, their subscription service. The move, apparently, is about being able to control each drink to their very specific standards.

Speaking of Blue Bottle, as reported on tablehopper in March, it appears they might be moving into the former Tully’s space on Fillmore, and a neighborhood tipster says they are going into the neighboring space as well, formerly the home of Juicy News (before it moved). Blue Bottle wouldn’t confirm the news, but James Freeman would say that “Blue Bottle Coffee is pursuing a new café on Jackson and Fillmore streets in San Francisco. There are still many steps that need to take place in order to make it a reality, but we’re very excited about the prospect of joining the community.” So we’ll file that one under “developing.” 2453-2455 Fillmore St. at Jackson.

There is a new café in the Inner Richmond, according to Yelpers. It’s called ~THE RICHFIELD~ and is reportedly a sister café to Snowbird Coffee in the Sunset. In addition to coffee and espresso, they are also serving a limited menu, including Korean fried chicken wings, avocado toast, and a breakfast sandwich with egg, cheddar, bacon, and sauce on King’s Hawaiian toast, called the “brekkie.” 195 5th Ave. at California, no phone.

Darling Castro coffee stop ~CAFE SOPHIE~ has closed temporarily, according to Hoodline. Their building is undergoing a two-month seismic retrofit, but they hope to reopen in two months (sounds a bit TBD). They recently got their beer and wine license, so hopefully they will reopen soon, with more hours and offerings. 3463 16th St. at Sharon, 415-529-2972.

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The Dunmore Cobbler cocktail at ABV’s brunch. Photo by Melissa Chow.

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Breakfast sandwich at ABV. Photo by Melissa Chow.

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Avocado toast at ABV. Photo by Melissa Chow.

Mission bar ~ABV~ is now offering weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm. They’ve been trying the new menu out, and now it’s ready for some action. Their wild breakfast sandwich deserves some attention, which involves a gougère, breakfast sausage, egg, and cheddar Mornay sauce, mon Dieu. There’s also chicken karaage with cheddar chive biscuits and chicken butter, and their pimento cheeseburger makes an appearance too. Of course there are brunch cocktails, as well as cold-brew coffee and fresh fruit juice. Take a gander at the whole menu here. Note that brunch is served 11am-3pm, so the regular/daytime menu has been pushed back an hour to 3pm—but there’s plenty on the brunch menu to keep you happy.

Chicana-style pop-up ~CHICA~ is popping up at ~CEASE & DESIST~ on Sundays from 10:30am to 4pm. This bottomless brunch is “Chicana style,” which means a blend of Mexican and Californian culinary styles. Think dishes like cochinita pibil hash with fried eggs, or baked eggs over polenta in a smoky tomato sauce with cotija cheese. The menu changes every week, and you can get bottomless mimosas, cocktails, and more to go with your brunch. Register here for drink specials, discounts, and the menu. 2331 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-906-5571.

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Pig on the spit at the San Francisco Cheese School. Photo from Facebook.

~THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO~ has been offering their Cheese Makes Me Happy Hour on Wednesdays for a while, and now they are making it all the more happy on the first Wednesday of the month with a special menu. Starting Wednesday July 1st, chef Jocelyn VanLandingham will be roasting a whole pig in their wood-fired hearth oven, along with mac and cheese, salads, biscuits, and other side dishes. Tickets are $45 per person and include your first glass of wine plus the piggy buffet. In August, look for a paella night, and then there will be a wood-fired pizza evening in September. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-346-7530.

Everyone likes burrata, right? Right. But how cool would it be to learn how to make it? Check out this casual burrata-making class and dinner at ~PRECITA PARK CAFE~. It’s on Saturday July 11th and includes a sit-down class on making fresh burrata, interspersed with a three-course dinner with wine pairings. You’ll also get to take your handiwork home with you, score. The class is $75 per person; tickets and menu here. 500 Precita Ave. at Alabama, 415-647-7702.

June 19, 2015
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Now that’s a party. A dream box of kouign amann from B. Patisserie to celebrate National Kouign Amann Day. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The killer porchetta at B. on the Go. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The two Not for Sale beers from Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Photo via Facebook.

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The social scene at the Masak | Masak pop-up at Biondivino. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Nasi ulam at the Masak | Masak pop-up at Biondivino. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Paula Wolfert shopping in Marrakech, 1973. Archival image by William Bayer.

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Paula Wolfert and Emily Kaiser Thelin. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

Did you know that Saturday June 20th is the very first National Kouign Amann Day? You can thank local pastry wunderkind Belinda Leong and ~B. PATISSERIE~ for making that happen. So how to celebrate the glorious butter cake from Brittany? Well, Belinda and crew are unleashing a massive array of flavors that you can try on Saturday: black sesame, vanilla bean, pistachio strawberry, chocolate hazelnut, speculoos cookie, coffee, maple bacon, peanut butter and jelly, cinnamon sugar, and a really decadent one with lemon lime custard in the middle. There is also the classic one, a spiral one, and kouignettes. Oh yeah, and kouign amann ice cream.

You can get the entire box of 12 flavors for $56 (make sure you have some friends to share with, okay?) or you can buy them piecemeal. I was really damn lucky to preview the flavors (I know, I know), and my favorites were the black sesame, coffee, and the maple bacon for breakfast was downright amazing. Go nuts, because 10 percent of all proceeds will be donated to Family House San Francisco. It’s a TKO with the KA! And don’t forget to tag #NationalKouignAmannDay.

Also in Belinda news: the plan is to open ~B. ON THE GO~ tomorrow as well (Saturday June 20th). You can read the earlier tablehopper piece here. So here’s your plan of attack: pick up a porchetta sandwich at B. on the Go, and then get your KA kitty-corner at B. Patisserie! Hours at B. on the Go will be Tue-Sun 11am-4pm. 2794 California St. at Divisadero.

Here are two beers you’ll want to track down for your next picnic or party: the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. has partnered with San Francisco-based nonprofit Not For Sale on two beers, with proceeds going toward curbing human trafficking worldwide.

They just released the Not For Sale Saison (trust, you want this farmhouse ale in your life), which the press release tells us “is made using a Peruvian herb called cat’s claw, which is ethically sourced from a region in Peru where Not For Sale manages social programs to combat human trafficking, as well as honey, ginger, a Belgian saison yeast, and hibiscus flowers, which give the beer its peach color.” It’s a beaut.

And then for dessert, the Calf-eine Coffee Milk Stout, brewed with 15 gallons of Guatemalan medium-roast cold-brew coffee supplied by Dignitá, a coffee bar in the Dogpatch. The Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. is donating $25,000 per year until Saison and Calf-eine sales exceed $1 million, then 2.5 percent of its gross sales after that. You can find them at the brewery, select bars around the Bay Area, and in 22-oz. bottles at many retail locations—keep your eyes peeled.

And one more thing to note: Not For Sale has launched a new “Throwdown” campaign, which fights human trafficking with the help of local CEOs and professional athletes who donate a day’s pay to the nonprofit “so that others may become free for a lifetime.” San Francisco Giants relief pitcher, Jeremy Affeldt, is one. But really, anyone can donate a day’s pay. Check it out.

If you love wine and culinary adventuring (and I think you do, because you read tablehopper), you should mark off an upcoming Wednesday night on your calendar and attend the Masak | Masak pop-up at ~BIONDIVINO~. A few weeks ago, I was so utterly charmed by the eclectic vibe and communal experience. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted with a warm and friendly atmosphere, with people sitting at the little café tables inside and crowding around the communal table, talking and eating and laughing over glasses of wine. I immediately felt like I had walked into such a great discovery—it had the feeling of some of my favorite European cafés and wine bars.

The details: every Wednesday evening, Kuala Lumpur-born Emily Lai (she used to work in New York at Fatty Crab and Tailor) serves a short and rotating menu of her heartfelt and homey Malaysian dishes. On the night I was there with friends, we shared curry yong tau foo (tofu puffs, shrimp, long bean, chile, scallion, coconut, mantou), chawan mushi, my favorite dish of the night, the fragrant and vibrant nasi ulam (rice, kaffir, shallot, myoga, betel leaf, Vietnamese coriander, mint, okra, shrimp, sambal belacan), plus bebek bengil (duck leg, ginger, galangal, turmeric, rice, sambal matah) and ice cream pudding with pandan for dessert. It’s remarkable how much work she does ahead of time to make these dishes, and what she does with the tiny counter space at Biondivino.

Ceri will brilliantly pair wines with your meal, and if you don’t have time to hang out, you can bring to-go containers and bring the goodies home with you. (But really, you should hang out.) Subscribe to the Biondivino mailing list to keep up on upcoming menus (and Emily’s occasional nights off). 5pm-10pm. 1415 Green St. at Polk.

And last, but certainly not least: anyone who loves to cook Mediterranean dishes (and is drawn to the flavors of Morocco) probably has a book from cookbook author Paula Wolfert on their shelves. Three years ago, this fiery and trailblazing woman was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and she is now known for being as much of an Alzheimer’s activist as an author. And now, some well-respected folks in our food community want to publish a biographical cookbook on Paula Wolfert through crowdfunding: Unforgettable: Bold Flavors from Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life

Please, take a couple of minutes to read this page about Paula, the book, the mission, the players, and the plan, which is aiming to double the print run of this small-batch publishing book. It’s incredible to see how food writer Emily Kaiser Thelin, cookbook author Andrea Nguyen, photographer Eric Wolfinger, and Toni Tajima (former designer at Ten Speed) banded together to honor Paula’s legacy with this project. 

All kinds of folks have backed it, from followers, friends, and colleagues to Ruth Reichl, Harold McGee, and Dorie Greenspan. There are also chef and restaurant pledge premiums from people like Daniel Patterson, David Kinch, Mario Batali, April Bloomfield, and Pim Techamuanvivit. Buy one for yourself (just $35) and buy one for your favorite cook in your life (just $65 for two), but be sure to look at all the amazing benefits and gifts. Thank you for showing this campaign your support!