The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
May 16, 2017

This is how you start the night: with an Alfred’s Junípero gin martini. All photos by Blair Heagerty Photography.


The cocktails were flowing, thanks to Anchor Distilling Co.!


Calm in the Alfred’s dining room (just before we took it over!).


Your storytellers for the night: Robert Mondavi Winery’s senior wine educator, Dana Andrus, and the tablehopper!


My party’s table, right in the center of the restaurant.


The highlight: Alfred’s perfectly roasted filet mignon, served with asparagus, red wine demiglace, and brown butter béarnaise.


The evening’s lineup of Robert Mondavi Winery reserve wines.

Last Friday, I can’t believe I got to host my dream throwback dinner: a tablehopper vintage Blue Fox dinner at Alfred’s (click for pics)! It was truly a wonderful evening, with guests arriving in all their finery, and the scene at the ~ALFRED’S~ bar felt like a night out 60 years ago!

It’s a lovely thing to start the evening with an Alfred’s Junípero gin martini, ahhhhhh, and it was fun to turn so many people on to the pleasure of drinking a Martinez! (The pot-distilled Old Potrero 18th Century whiskey also disappeared quickly, no surprise there.) Many thanks to Anchor Distilling Co. for getting the night started in such high style, and for brand development manager Jen Chen giving us some fascinating backstory on the Martinez!

Once we rounded everyone up in the dining room, it was my pleasure to start sharing some of the deep history and stories of the Blue Fox and Alfred’s—the phone calls I had the past week with former owners of both restaurants gave me so many amazing details! It was lovely to have some guests in the room who remember dining at the Blue Fox, and I was honored to read a firsthand account from chef Suzette Gresham of Acquerello, who sent me the most vivid recollection.

We were so fortunate to have Robert Mondavi Winery’s senior wine educator Dana Andrus in the house—did he have some great stories to share! It was also a treat to be serving reserve wines from such a storied California producer this evening. The pairings were a hit.

The menu was all about featuring some Blue Fox and Alfred’s classics. I did some spelunking through some old books of mine and found some vintage Blue Fox recipes, and chef Bryan Baker was able to integrate the peperoni Don Salvatore in the antipasto plate, plus the scampi alla Livornese and spinach gnocchi (which he added beef sugo to).

The absolute showstopper was the perfectly roasted filet mignon, served with asparagus and red wine demiglace, a gorg pairing with the Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Oakville. I loved seeing the brown butter béarnaise served in some original Blue Fox sterling silver sauceboats on some tables! (Not surprising, we ate every last bite.) We finished the night with a classic: Baked Alaska—a first for many—with Robert Mondavi Winery 2015 Moscato D’Oro, Napa Valley.

It was truly heartwarming to celebrate old San Francisco for a night, with its deep restaurant history and its rich Italian-American heritage. I mean, really, how incredible to be able to share a story about Alfred’s being the last place many soldiers had a steak before shipping off in World War II, and it’s still in business (thanks, Daniel Patterson Group!). There aren’t many restaurants left that have stood the test of time, let alone since 1928.

And the mythic Blue Fox? It was a pinnacle of fine dining and elegance, and the source of so many rich memories for so many people, for decades! I had many more stories to share, especially from some past writers who wrote about the Blue Fox, so look for an upcoming podcast from me! (Great idea, Dapper Diner!)

Thanks to Eric Shifrin for playing vintage standards for us throughout the evening, and a round of applause to the Alfred’s staff and especially GM Lisa Robins for pulling this off! As many of you know, Alfred’s has been closed from a fire in the basement a few weeks ago, and they opened just for this event and let us take over the restaurant for one night! Great news: it looks like Alfred’s will be reopening next Tuesday May 23rd! Follow @alfredssteaks on Instagram for updates. Be sure to come by soon and welcome them back—they will be ready for you!

Deep gratitude for all the guests who came out and supported this event. I can’t host these dinners and experiences if no one shows up, so thank you for helping me keep the spirit of San Francisco burning bright. I also couldn’t do this without the support of generous partners like Anchor Distilling Co. and Robert Mondavi Winery, grazie mille!

The talented Blair Heagerty took many fantastic photos that I think really capture the fun and vintage glamour of the night, enjoy the pics! (Be sure to click through on “black & white” if you want to go into the time machine!)

I look forward to hosting more of these vintage dinners in the future. In the meantime, I will keep sharing pics from my extensive collection of vintage restaurant postcards, matchbooks, menus, books, and more on @tablehopper on Instagram with the hashtag #tablehoppervintageseries. (I know, so modern for something so old.) And you can always get one of my tablehopper vintage SF T-shirts! Until next time! Thanks to all. Cheers!


An array of chopped salads at Duna. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.

Well, chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns are morphing and changing things up again. It ends up they will be serving their last bowl of chanko nabe (sniff sniff) as ~MOTZE~ on Saturday May 27th, and after a quick refresh (expect a field- and forest-inspired look) will be reopening in their Mission space as ~DUNA~ on Thursday June 1st.

The new menu will be focused on the flavors of Central Europe, a flavor profile the two of them adore and is very personal to them (Nick was in Budapest during high school, and Cortney grew up in an Eastern European Jewish family), and played a big part in their cooking while at Bar Tartine. (The name, Duna, is the Hungarian word for the Danube River.)

The new all-day menu is designed to be a more fast-casual format, starting with a range of hearty chopped salads, like Summer Chop Salad with Gyulai salami, cheese, and summer vegetables; chicken and avocado with spicy tahini and sprouts; or a Rusa Salad with the flavors of Mexico, with beets, squash, sweet potato, and a green herb sauce, dressed with kvass and lime. You know you’ll want their langos (smoked potato flatbread) on the side to dunk into the sauce in the bottom of your bowl. Heartier dishes will include spaetzle, a soft egg noodle served with chicken paprikas, and cabbage rolls and sauerkraut. There will also be some dinner specials and snacks, breads, and dips, plus desserts like frozen farmer’s cheesecake and frozen custard.

It’s worth noting that Motze may have comebacks in the form of some pop-up/ticketed events at Duna (like on Saturday May 27th—it’s a set menu for $48/person, not inclusive of tax and tip; tickets will become available on the Motze website starting this Friday). But for now, they’re on to their next thing. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-484-1206.


Chef-owner Casey Crynes inside his soon-to-be kitchen. Photo: Casey’s Pizza.


A margherita. Photo: Casey’s Pizza.


Seasonal “peach pie.” Photo: Casey’s Pizza.


“Spring sundae” with Straus vanilla, seasonal fruit, hot fudge, almond puffed quinoa crispies, olive oil, sea salt. Photo: Casey’s Pizza.

From slinging pizzas in 2009 at Proxy to launching SF’s first pizza truck in 2012, ~CASEY’S PIZZA~ is now getting close to opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Mission Bay, just two blocks from AT&T Park. It’s going to be a hip pizzeria, with a casual California style. Chef-owner Casey Crynes says, “It has been a long time coming!” Look for a late June or July opening date.

The new space is going to offer table service and 28 seats, with a wraparound bar/eating counter that has room for 10. The space will feature a Douglas fir slab bar and tables (from Oakland craftsman Lucas Ford), classic schoolhouse lights, and a brick-lined, double-deck Marsal & Sons pizza oven in the open kitchen. There’s also going to be a fun hall of fame photo wall—look for pizza places and people who have inspired him along the way.

The menu is going to expand to eight of his East Coast-inspired, thin-crust Neapolitan pies (the truck usually serves three): classic margherita, pepperoni, bacon kale, arugula pie, rapini, funghi, brunch pie (with Zoe’s bacon and egg), and hot bianca, with rotating specials.

Crynes says his dough has evolved of late—he’s using Central Milling flour with a two-day ferment, integrating a technique inspired by Portland’s Brian Spangler of Apizza Scholls. There will also be seasonal salads and housemade desserts, including a classic pizza parlor sundae, a cookie plate, and pot de crème or butterscotch.

Crynes is a big beer lover and will be offering a hop-focused craft beer list, including selections from Fieldwork, Alvarado Street, Cellarmaker, Field Recordings, HenHouse, Altamont, Moonraker, plus some one-off beer collaborations on tap with breweries such as Black Sands and Harmonic thanks to his close relationships. Look for some pizza-friendly and mostly Californian reds by the glass and bottle (Baker Lane, Fiction, Unti, Banshee, Stolpman) and some other value-driven global selections.

To start, it will be open for dinner Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm, and then lunch will start, making hours run from 11:30am-10pm.

A bonus with this new kitchen is Crynes will be able to migrate his truck’s dough production needs from his commissary kitchen to the restaurant. The truck will continue to operate weekday lunches in the Financial District and weekends in Hayes Valley. (And is still available for private events and weddings.) He’s also looking into delivery to the neighborhood, perhaps hiring their own delivery person. I’ll keep you posted on the opening! 1170 4th St. at Channel.


Pork bao, pork gyoza, and har gow at Dumpling Time. All photos: Michael Ogata.


Tom yum goong xiao long bao (in a beet wrapper).


Assorted dumplings.

Dumpling alert! Opening this Friday May 19th in SoMa is ~DUMPLING TIME~, and I hope they are prepared for the crush of people who are going to want to explore their menu of unique dumplings that span Chinese, Japanese, and “choose your own” fusion options. I mentioned this project a couple of months ago, but after attending a media preview last week, I got a better sense of what they’re offering.

On the menu, there are classic xiao long bao soup dumplings, or you can try a spicy tom yum goong-stuffed version with heritage pork belly, black tiger shrimp, and coconut milk, wrapped in a beet wrapper (I recommend you do). The bao are fluffy and delicate, with fillings like chashu, chicken, or pork and green onion—you can order them steamed or panfried. Gyoza come with a variety of fillings, and things are definitely untraditional with the har gow, filled with black tiger shrimp, cream cheese, and juicy pork. There are plenty of vegetarian options as well.

They are getting in on the giant dumpling madness sweeping New York, with a giant XLB (comes with a straw!) and giant chashu bao (which I don’t really see the point of, but some people gotta go king size!). There is also shrimp toast, some sides like garlicky green beans, and sweet buns for dessert too. There are 10 local craft beers on tap, plus some bottled selections and wines as well.

The restaurant is from Kash Feng (a native of Xi’an, China) and his Omakase Restaurant Group (ORG), which is right around the corner. The dumpling chef is Do Leung, previously dumpling chef at Tai Wu restaurant in Millbrae—he is originally from Zhongshan, Guangdong, China. There is a glass-enclosed “dumpling room,” where dumplings are made from scratch, using quality ingredients. Many of the recipes at Dumpling Time were created or inspired by Feng’s mom, as well as Omakase executive chef Jackson Yu’s mom. Yay, moms.

Aya Jessani designed the space, which seats 70, and includes communal tables, a mural, and pink neon. There will also be patio seating this summer, with room for 20. Daily lunch will be served 11:30am-3pm, dinner Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm and Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm. No reservations. 11 Division St. at King.


Burrata-spring onion dip with dried ramps, sea salt. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


Grilled organic iceberg with Pt. Reyes Blue. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


Ahi crudo with taro root chips. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

Last August, executive chef Anthony Strong departed the Delfina Restaurant Group after 11 years—he was first at Delfina, then opened Locanda, as well as expanding Pizzeria Delfina to its four current locations. Instead of moving on to another restaurant gig, Strong has created his own business model: SF’s first delivery-only restaurant, with no storefront.

Launching in June is Young Fava, a new delivery option that is chef quality-driven, and instead of an afterthought, delivery is the primary focus. Strong has been creating a menu of about 15 “New American classics,” ranging from a burrata and slowly melted spring onion dip with lemon oil and crème fraîche (it’s like your dream Cali French onion dip) to rice dumplings (Korean rice cakes) and mushroom sugo with English peas and pine nuts, plus grilled organic iceberg, with Pt. Reyes Blue, busted radishes (LOL), snipped herbs, and a warm bacon-sherry vinaigrette. Oh, and another guilty pleasure: ’90s-style ahi crudo with ginger oil, wasabi tobiko, sesame seeds, micro cilantro, and taro root chips.

Items will change often but are designed to travel well and offer a level of quality that is like your favorite neighborhood restaurant. He has tested the “travelability” of each item extensively (even with an SF hill test, as mentioned in this SF Chron article).

Some dishes will be perfect for a late dinner at your desk (sorry, I feel you!), while others are built to share if you have people over (like your Netflix and chill date). Plus there will be some fun fancy ones, like caviar service (if you really need to impress). Most entrées will be $24 and below (three are less than $18). He’s also thinking about offering a prix-fixe meal down the road.

Strong thinks it’s an interesting new business model in our challenging SF restaurant climate, and it presents an exciting opportunity as a chef. He says, “I want to give delivery the attention it deserves.” His aha moment was when they were first delivering pizzas at Pizzeria Delfina. Back then, it was some of the best you could get outside of the big delivery names and maintaining delivery quality was something he became obsessed with. (The business name comes from a nickname he had in the kitchen—instead of making his staff shuck, blanch, and peel a huge box of baby favas, he decided to fry them up whole. So in a way, this new service is similarly about working with constraints to come up with something else.)

Strong is going to exclusively start with UberEats and will then roll out with other delivery services in time. He’s working out of Turtle Tower on Larkin (one of his favorite places in the city), so will be going in when they close at 5pm, and then starting delivery by 6pm. The plan is to run Tue-Sun 6pm-11pm. Sign up for his newsletter to keep up with previews, tests, and the true launch. And, of course, I’ll keep you posted.


Photo from Sociale.

After closing on February 17th due to water damage in their kitchen—which required immediate repairs—~SOCIALE~ now has a new kitchen (along with some other upgrades) and plans to reopen on Tuesday May 23rd. Chef Tia Harrison has reportedly made some tweaks to the menu as well. Welcome back!


The blue room at Blue Plate. Photo courtesy Blue Plate.

Some big news over at 18-year-old ~BLUE PLATE~: after holding it down for seven-plus years with Cory Obenour and Jeff Trenam, chef Sean Thomas is moving on. He doesn’t have anything lined up at the moment except a well-deserved vacation in Mexico for a couple of weeks. He looks forward to taking a break and working on some “fun shit” when he returns. (And knowing how he cooks, I look forward to seeing how that manifests.) In the meantime, he’s very grateful for all the memories and the experience working there. He will be missed by many in the Blue Plate kitchen!

Meanwhile, The Absinthe Group has some changes under way. First, chef Ryan McIlwraith of Bellota has been promoted to executive chef for The Absinthe Group (Absinthe, Arlequin Café, Bellota, Boxing Room, and Comstock Saloon). Chef de cuisine Joel Ehrlich will now be overseeing the Bellota kitchen. McIlwraith will be busy leading the transformation of ~BOXING ROOM~ into ~BARCINO~, a Catalan-inspired restaurant later this year. They will also be hiring a chef de cuisine for Absinthe, since chef Adam Keough will be leaving San Francisco this summer after seven years at the restaurant.

Over in the Castro, Steve Dustin is replacing Ryan Scott as the executive chef of ~FINN TOWN~ on June 1st—Scott is just too busy with other commitments and the restaurant needed culinary leadership. Dustin was previously culinary director for Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, The Cavalier, Marianne’s, and Leo’s Oyster Bar). He will be introducing some new summer dishes at dinner, late night, and weekend brunch in early July.


Beer Lands is a happy place. Photo: Tom Tomkinson.


Rich Table’s porcini doughnuts with raclette cheese. Photo courtesy of Outside Lands.


Wine Lands. Photo: Cal Bingham.

Really, SF? Must we completely crush everyone with our sick concert food lineup every year at Outside Lands? Yes. The answer is yes. Especially in their tenth year! This year, there will be 78 restaurants, 40-plus wineries, 28 breweries, and 8 experiences: A Taste of the Bay Area, Wine Lands, Beer Lands, Cheese Lands, Outside Clams [LOL], Choco Lands, Cocktail Magic, and GastroMagic. This year, the festival runs August 11th-13th and a limited amount of 3-Day GA tickets are available. And then there’s A Tribe Called Quest, I mean…yeah.

This year’s curator of A Taste of the Bay Area is restaurateur Anna Weinberg, and Marlowe will be there and featuring its signature Marlowe burger. Also new to the mix: Tartine Manufactory (morning buns, croissants, and iced coffee), Smitten Ice Cream (bringing its cookie dough-pretzel ice cream), Alba Ray’s, Dabba (serving their awesome ethnic confusion tacos!), FOB Kitchen (Shanghai lumpia and sticky wings), Cheese Steak Shop, Izakaya Sozai, Little Star Pizza (Brass Monkey, baby!), Boba Guys, and Fearless Coffee (serving olive oil-fried egg sandwiches and griddled French toast).

Classics like Rich Table’s porcini doughnuts with raclette cheese, Wise Sons Jewish Deli’s pastrami cheese fries, and Azalina’s Malaysian will be there with chicken curry nachos and lamb burgers.

Of course, Dave McLean, founder and brewmaster of Magnolia Brewing Company and Alembic Bar, has put together a beer lineup of 28 breweries. Altamont Beer Works, Alvarado Street, Black Sands Brewery, Laughing Monk, and Oakland United Beerworks will join returning favorites like 21st Amendment, Almanac, Faction Brewing, and Local Brewing Company.

Wine Lands curator Peter Eastlake has added Ehren Jordan’s Failla chardonnay and pinot noir, SLO Down’s “Sexual Chocolate” red blend, Hoxie Spritzer (serving dry wine spritzers), and Japanese sake served on tap with Bushido “Way of the Warrior.” Returning faves include Scribe, Lioco, Idlewild-Ryme-Leo Steen, Wind Gap-Pax, and you can always count on me hitting up Scharffenberger’s bubbles. You’ll also notice this year there’s a special limited-edition reusable stainless steel wine cup that can be purchased. Pretend you’re camping in Golden Gate Park!

Don’t miss a visit to The Back Wine, a sip and putt mini golf area offering wines from Cannonball Wine Company. VIP ticket holders will enjoy the inaugural launch of Palm Bay International’s Rosé All the Way, with rosé wines from around the world.

Cheese Lands will have gooey Swiss raclette “nachos” and more, thanks to Thalassa Skinner of Culture magazine in partnership with Napa Valley’s Long Meadow Ranch. Outside Clams (helmed by Woodhouse Fish Co.) will have Dungeness crab rolls, raw and BBQ oysters (conveniently close to Wine Lands for optimal pairing), lobster rolls, and clam chowder bread bowls. Choco Lands will have plenty of treats for the stoners, while GastroMagic and Cocktail Magic details will be shared in coming weeks. Start planning your layered look now…at least you don’t have to have a Coachella body for this festival, ha.


Twilight at the Presidio. Photo from Facebook.


At 2015 Cochon Heritage BBQ SF. Photo: Gamma Nine/COCHON 555.


Xavier Salomon, executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.

It’s that time of the year again: Off the Grid and Presidio Trust’s Presidio Twilight is back as of this Thursday May 18th. Come by on Thursdays from 5pm-9pm for all kinds of food (like El Sur, Chairman Bao, and the Lobsta Truck), music, games, lantern-lit cabanas, and fire pits. Don’t forget your sweater! Main Parade Ground at The Presidio.

Also returning to town is Cochon555, with five chefs, five heritage breed pigs, five winemakers, five somms, and five bartenders coming together on Sunday June 4th. Magnolia Brewing Company is hosting this global heritage BBQ competition. The five (Dogpatch-heavy) chefs competing are Jordan Keao of Ãina, Eric Nyeste of Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Co., Tommy Halvorson of Serpentine, Chandler Diehl of Piccino, and Trevor Ogden of Park Tavern. Four of the five heritage breed and family farms include Charlie Thieriot of Rancho Llano Seco, Wendy and Duane Massa of Massa Natural Meats, Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch, and TC Gemmell of Walnut Keep Farms.

There will be 30 chef-competitor dishes, plus beef tartare, farmhouse cheeses, a butter bar, and more. Welcome punches feature Buffalo Trace and DRY Sparkling, smoked old-fashioneds with Breckenridge bourbon, The Manhattan Project presented by Poached Jobs, the Tiki Bar featuring Angostura rum, a Courvoisier Cognac “neat” tasting with handcrafted chocolates, and a heritage rum cart. Don’t forget to drink water! Wines include Kosta Browne, Cirq, Silver Oak, Scholium Project, Pax Wine Cellars, and artisanal beer offerings courtesy of Magnolia Brewing Company.

Tickets for general admission start at $125; VIP tickets (early admission at 4pm, exclusive sommelier and cocktail competition tastings) are $200; and Bespoke tickets are $400. A portion of all proceeds will go to Cochon555’s sister charity, Piggy Bank. 5pm, Magnolia Brewing Company, 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.

Kicking off this month is the Global Cuisine Series at ~THE RITZ-CARLTON HALF MOON BAY~, giving attendees the opportunity to enjoy a hands-on cooking class with a rotating roster of chefs. Each month, Maître Cuisinier de France Xavier Salomon, the hotel’s executive chef, will invite a different chef to the property, starting with Claudia Sandoval, winner of Master Chef Season 6 and author of Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico, on May 20th-21st.

Next up is Telmo Faria of Uma Casa June 10th-11th; Charles Phan of The Slanted Door on July 22nd-23rd; Charles Olalia of RiceBar, a pioneer of innovative Filipino cuisine, on August 26th-27th; Evan and Sarah Rich of Rich Table on September 23rd-24th; chef Manish Tyagi of August 1 Five on October 28th-29th; Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade on November 18th-19th; and William Werner of Craftsman and Wolves on December 16th-17th.

The weekend begins with a hands-on cooking class led by the visiting chef, where guests assist in preparing a variety of dishes. You get to enjoy the fruits of your labor at a luncheon showcasing your preparations, which will be accompanied by wine pairings from the global destination the cuisine hails from. The visiting chef will also present two dishes on the Navio tasting menu for Saturday night and will have a dedicated pop-up station at the hotel’s over-the-top Sunday brunch.

There is only room for 14 guests per month. Guest packages including the exclusive cooking class, the luncheon, and a $100 resort credit start at $950 per night, plus applicable taxes and fees. A two-night minimum stay is required. (You can read my write-up of my recent stay there.) To book a spot, contact 650-712-7686 or via email. One Miramontes Point Rd., Half Moon Bay.


Turkish delight at Castro Ice Cream. Yelp photo by Esso A.

A couple of little Mediterranean items of note: now open in Russian Hill is ~TROY~, an extension of the East Bay’s Troy Greek, which I mentioned was opening their first SF location and moving into the former Polker’s. The casual menu includes gyros, souvlaki, soups, salads, and more. Open Mon-Thu 11am- 9:30pm, Fri-Sun 11am-10pm. 2226 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-885-1000.

Meanwhile, there’s another ice cream place that has opened in the Castro, ~CASTRO ICE CREAM~, serving Mitchell’s ice cream, but they’re also serving Turkish breakfast (with simit), all kinds of borek, Turkish coffee and tea (perfect to perk you up before a movie at the Castro Theatre), Turkish delight, and housemade baklava. Merhaba! Open Sun-Thu 9am-10pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. 451 Castro St. at 17th St., 415-757-0853.


Reem Assil of Reem’s California. Photo: Luke Beard.


Golden State Man’oushe with eggs, red pepper tomato sauce, goat cheese, parsley, and tomatoes. Photo: Luke Beard.


A vegetarian man’oushe at Reem’s California. Photo: Luke Beard.

The 510 is crack-a-lackin’ with news, starting with the opening of ~REEM’S CALIFORNIA~, a first brick-and-mortar location for La Cocina grad Reem Assil, who was previously at farmers’ markets. Reem’s opens today, Tuesday May 16th, with a menu centered on her trademark mana’eesh flatbreads baked in a traditional brick oven, as she says, “a quintessential street food of the Levant, the region including Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.”

Assil grew up in a Palestinian-Syrian household outside of Boston, worked for a decade as a community and labor organizer, and then dedicated herself to learning baking. Social justice is an important part of her business, with a strong focus on the community.

In the morning, there’s the Golden State Man’oushe topped with eggs, red pepper tomato sauce, goat cheese, parsley, and tomatoes. You can add sujuk (cured Armenian beef sausage), basturma bacon (fried, cured pastrami), or “a lil’ California love” (tomatoes, arugula, avocado, labneh, or an egg). Breakfast pastries are all made in-house and include sweet and savory pastries such as ka’ak (sesame bread rings) and orange turmeric tea cakes. Local Red Bay Coffee drinks, housemade iced cardamom coffee, and traditional Arab tea are also served.

Later in the day, flatbreads are baked on a traditional griddle called a saj, topped with meats like sumac-spiced chicken or lamb, caramelized onions, roasted root vegetables, and harissa, rolled into wraps and served with green olives and house-pickled turnips. There are freshly made mezze and desserts like orange-blossom shortbread and baklava.

Sunday brunch and dinner service will start in July, with craft beers and wines from the Levant. Open Tue-Fri 7am-3pm and Sat 9am-3pm. Fruitvale Transit Village, 3301 E. 12th Street, Suite 133, Oakland.

A surprising taker for the recently closed Fusebox in West Oakland: Berkeley’s ~IPPUKU~ team, who will finally be launching their long rumored soba restaurant. It’s going to be (confusingly) named ~ICHI SOBA~, with no relation to ICHI Sushi in SF. Scoop reports Ippuku chef Christian Geidemann and business partner Paul Discoe (who is behind Ippuku’s beautiful space) plan to open in August. 2311 Magnolia St. at 24th St., West Oakland.

An update for the Berkeley location of cult ramen shop ~IPPUDO~: Nosh reports the opening is looking like mid to late July. 2011 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley.

Also in Nosh: ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ (they will make their cold brew there), ~STARTER BAKERY~, and two other businesses will be moving into the former Pyramid brewery. Stand by for more tenants as this project takes shape. 901 Gilman St. at 8th St., West Berkeley.

Meanwhile, over in Jack London Square, owner William Lue’s Burmese restaurant ~GROCERY CAFÉ~ has found a new home and is opening Monday May 29th in the former Hahn’s Hibachi location. The menu will feature authentic and home-style dishes, including Burmese tea leaf salad, ohno khao swe (coconut chicken noodle), and monhinga (fish chowder with rice noodles), as well as some new dishes like Burmese-inspired lamb shanks and veal osso buco. Open Mon-Sat for lunch and dinner and Sun brunch. 63 Jack London Square (Franklin and Embarcadero West), Oakland.

Olive oil lovers need to head to the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Festival at ~MARKET HALL FOODS~ in Berkeley this Saturday May 20th. There will be tastings from Market Hall’s extensive and amazing selection (get 10 percent off your favorites) and a chance to chat with experts. And don’t miss the handmade mozzarella from the cheese counter. 1pm-3pm. 1786 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-250-6004.

May 9, 2017

The history of the space where Alfred’s is (and the Blue Fox was!) runs deep. Photo by Alanna Hale.


Alfred’s is not afraid of flaming tableside desserts. Photo by Alanna Hale.


The red dining room at Alfred’s is one of its hallmarks. Photo courtesy of Alfred’s.


There’s a reason Alfred’s is beloved for their steaks—they do it right (and have been doing so for almost 80 years!). Photo by Alanna Hale.


A look at the former Champagne Room at the Blue Fox. (For more details, go here.)


Some of my collection of Blue Fox and Alfred’s ephemera. Photo: ©


Some of the vintage Blue Fox sterling silver sauceboats are in use at Alfred’s today! Photo: ©


Many of you know how obsessed I am with vintage San Francisco restaurant ephemera. I have a rather extensive collection of vintage menus, postcards, restaurant guides, and books, which I have started sharing on Instagram with the #tablehoppervintageseries hashtag. And my collection of tablehopper T-shirts highlight vintage SF restaurant and bar designs.

Since I was a little girl, I have been so fascinated with the Blue Fox. I remember my grandfather telling me about it and am so sorry I never had the chance to dine there before it closed after a 60-year run in 1993. I have collected a Blue Fox menu, matchbook, ashtray, drink tokens, and postcards, and have studied this pantheon of fine and Continental dining for years.

Did you know that the location where Alfred’s is now, on Merchant and Kearny, was formerly the home of the Blue Fox?! Alfred’s was originally on Vallejo Street (when it opened in 1928!), and then Broadway, and moved into the current location in 1997. Alfred’s has also held a special place in San Francisco diner hearts, from the recent Petri Family years to now, with the respectfully updated version under the Daniel Patterson Group.

This Friday May 12th, I am hosting a dinner I have wanted to host for a long time. It will be an homage to both the Blue Fox and Alfred’s, to times gone by, and to San Francisco and Northern California history. We are partnering with Anchor Distilling Co. and Robert Mondavi Winery this evening, so there will also be a dash of Italian-American heritage in this meal as well.

It ends up we will not be in the downstairs private dining room—because we are taking over the upstairs restaurant! As many of you may know, Alfred’s suffered an unfortunate basement fire a few weeks ago, and they are still recovering from it. Fortunately, there was no serious damage to the main restaurant, but some things under the hood need fixing and aren’t working, like their POS system. They tell me they are going to need to remain closed longer than expected to fix things. Tragic!

But this ends up becoming quite the silver lining for us: Alfred’s is going to open for us, just for our event, and will be serving us upstairs in the elegant red dining room! We will have the restaurant to ourselves, and the cocktail reception in the upstairs bar will be just us! I hear the chandeliers upstairs have been restored and cleaned during the closure, so expect things to be extra sparkly!

Eric Shifrin, our piano player, will no longer be playing on the white baby grand piano since it’s downstairs, and that breaks my heart a little, but he will be playing on his keyboard upstairs, so we’ll still be enjoying his swanky tunes, from Hoagy Carmichael to classic songs Frank Sinatra would have sung. You may recognize Eric from playing at the Fairmont!

It is a great honor to be partnering with Anchor Distilling Co. on this event, our local and beloved distillery! For our reception (beginning at 6pm), guests can enjoy a martini or Martinez—we will be featuring Junípero gin, Old Tom gin, and the very special pot-distilled Old Potrero 18th Century whiskey this evening.

Our wine partner for the evening is one of the greats: Robert Mondavi Winery. I was determined to partner with a storied Napa Valley producer for this event, someone you would have seen on the Blue Fox’s and Alfred’s wine lists, and am beyond thrilled we will be pairing wines from this legendary winery and pioneer. One of their senior wine educators, Dana Andrus, will be at the dinner. He has been with the winery for many years and has some great stories to share about the deep Robert Mondavi Winery history and will speak to the wines.

Now, the menu! This is a very special creation, which integrates original Blue Fox and Alfred’s dishes and recipes I tracked down! We’re integrating some new touches as well, thanks to chef Bryan Baker.

First Course
roasted red pepper, pickled celery, crispy artichokes, garbanzo beans, olives, avocado, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh herbs
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 To Kalon Vineyard Fumé Blanc Reserve, Oakville, Napa Valley

Second Course
scampi alla Livornese
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley

Third Course
spinach gnocchi, spring onion, peas, beef sugo
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley

Fourth Course
roasted filet mignon, asparagus, red wine demiglace
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Oakville, Napa Valley

Fifth Course
baked Alaska
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2015 Moscato D’ Oro, Napa Valley

As you can see, this is not an evening you’ll want to miss. It’s going to be a very only-in-San Francisco kind of night. Cocktail attire…start planning your swank vintage outfit now! (No jeans!) I have hired a fab photographer for the evening, Blair Heagerty, so she’ll be documenting everyone in their finery.

The event is $175, inclusive of tax and gratuity—get your ticket here. Your ticket price also includes a tablehopper Blue Fox T-shirt (there is the option to upgrade to an ultra-plush Blue Fox hoodie/sweatshirt instead, ticket price is $190). Thanks to our partners and host, we are able to offer this very unique experience at this special cost (grazie Alfred’s, Anchor Distilling Co., and Robert Mondavi Winery!).

When booking your reservation, please specify any guests you want to be seated with. We are going to have a range of tables and seating options. Reception at 6pm, dinner at 6:45pm.

We are also going to be giving away a couple of really great prizes for guests! Robert Mondavi Winery is giving away two tickets to the Patti LaBelle concert in their 2017 concert series (on July 8th), and we are also holding a social media contest for a tasting for two in Anchor Distilling’s penthouse tasting room!

21 and over, of course. See you May 12th! Cin cin!
Alfred’s, 659 Merchant St. at Kearny, San Francisco


The welcoming and timeless space at Le Marais Bakery in the Castro. All photos: ©


The soon-to-be-stocked bakery counter with its tiled front.


The space is full of windows and light.


Rotisserie chicken with potatoes, arugula, and the awesome Savora-harissa mustard.


A marble-topped table in the window, with eye-catching modern brasserie lighting from Schoolhouse Electric.

The Castro is about to have their dream corner café, bistro, and bakery come to the neighborhood: ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ will be opening in a couple of weeks in the former Samovar location. It’s a sunny corner, and the south-facing space is so inviting, full of windows and light.

I got a walk-through with owners Patrick Ascaso and Joanna Pulcini-Ascaso, and the location is a love letter to all the bakeries they adore in Paris, as well as Copenhagen and Stockholm. It has a timeless, classic look, a bit spare but with European approachability and beautiful finishes. There’s an Italian marble counter at the bakery counter in the back of the space, with a tiled front. There are lots of brass finishes, a dove gray palette (like their Chestnut Street location), and light-stained oak floors. The Formica-topped tables are paired with bistro-style chairs, and some glowing globe lights overhead. Many of the pieces were sourced with Chateau Sonoma, but the vintage 1930s “café” sign belonged to Patrick, and it finally has a home.

There is a back room with a communal table (just like in the Samovar days) that’s perfect for a group. Outdoor seating is also in the works.

There was originally no plan for a full kitchen, but when they discovered a former exhaust path, they decided to get permitted to build out a kitchen (hence the delays). There is a gleaming rotisserie, and like their Chestnut location, they will feature meat plates, salads, and sandwiches, with your choice of prime rib, chicken, and lamb, plus a vegetable option.

The prime rib has a thyme, rosemary, and garlic rub, and you know you want the horseradish cream with it—you can also get it with eggs for a decadent brunch! The Mary’s chicken is brined (with piment d’Espelette) and comes with a Savora mustard (a nostalgic mustard for Patrick), which they add harissa to—I am now obsessed. You can get a quarter or half chicken with potatoes, and they will also be adding something new: sausage, as well as raclette over potatoes and broccoli. Oh, and no ordering at the counter here: they will be offering table service!

The menu will be duplicating Le Marais’s extensive offerings in the Marina, with choose-your-own breakfast bowls, numerous egg dishes, toasts, tartines, salads, sandwiches, and croques (theirs has an unusual spin—instead of using flour for their béchamel, which they found to be excessive when poured over bread, they use pastry cream). Their croques also come with market-fresh greens in a mustardy vintaigrette. They are very focused on using quality ingredients for everything they make, from the butter to the ham to the arugula!

And then there are all the baked goods! It’s a staggering selection of viennoiserie (croissants, pain au chocolat, and I love their ham, Gruyère, and mustard version), classic patisserie (seasonal tarts, macarons), and then there are the handmade breads, like their fabulous crusty levain loaves and baguettes, and cookies! A seasonal Liège waffle is in the works, and croquettes too. Yes, you’re all doomed and ruined.

Coffee service is from Sightglass (wait until you see the gray La Marzocco espresso machine, so chic), plus nitro cold brew, nitro tea (matcha, chai), and there are wines, too, plus beer from Fort Point on tap and more. It will be open 7am-7pm daily. Follow along on Instagram for the opening news since I will be away on vacation! 498 Sanchez St. at 18th St.

Some additional exciting news in the Le Marais world: not only are they working to open a production facility by this August on Sutter, but they are also expanding to Mill Valley! They are opening a bakery and café location in a warehouse on E. Blithedale and plan to start construction in their half of the warehouse in September, with plans to open late 2017.

The 2,000-square-foot space will include 45-65 seats inside and 30 outside, plus parking. They plan to offer early dinner, which will be nice since the neighborhood doesn’t have that many options. I’ll keep you posted on this as well. Le Marais team, I hope you have lots of coffee nearby at all times this year! 250 E. Blithedale Ave. at Sycamore, Mill Valley.

One more thing to note: their original plan for the Le Marais restaurant at Ghirardelli Square is no longer happening, but their pop-up bakery there remains busy as ever.


There’s a full bar at A Mano, serving Italian-influenced cocktails. Photo: Aubrie Pick.


A variety of housemade pasta at A Mano. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

Newly open for dinner in Hayes Valley is Adriano Paganini’s pasta-centric ~A MANO~ (which means “by hand”), featuring pastas made in-house daily that are also affordable, ringing in at $12-$15, like paccheri with eggplant, capers, San Marzano tomatoes, and ricotta salata. (Personally, I can’t wait to try the mostaccioli and braised tripe.) There are also two pizzas and nightly specials.

It’s not all carbs: there are seasonal antipasti as well, with Monterey squid, ceci beans, tomato, and romesco, or a salad of gem lettuce, with fennel, radish, anchovy, ricotta salata, and capers. Chef Freedom Rains (Belga) has also worked at Boulevard, Flour + Water, and Incanto, so seasonality will play a big part.

There is a full bar, with Italian-rooted craft cocktails ($10-$13) from bar manager Matthew Campbell, and an all-Italian wine list. The upscale-casual space was designed by Hannah Collins Designs. No reservations. Lunch and brunch are coming soon. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 450 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-506-7401.


The tuna melt with three-cheese fondue. Photo: Kassie Borreson.


A peek at the counter (during an evening preview party). Photo: ©

Downtown workers have a pretty sweet lunch counter to perch at, ~CITY COUNTER~. I broke the news about the project back in March, and kudos to first-time owner Harper Matheson on getting this project open so quickly. Go ladies (it’s female-owned and designed).

It’s a chic luncheonette in the Standard Oil building, bridging nostalgia for vintage lunch counters with a contemporary and minimalist style (by architectural designer Nicole Huang). The predominantly white and light-filled room features a long (60 feet!) white stone counter—with plenty of purse hooks and matching white stools—along with white subway tile and globe pendant lights. Since the space is elevated above the street, the café tables flanking the row of windows have a nice view. It’s the kind of pleasing design that makes your stress level drop and have happy feelings bubble up.

Sean Thomas (Blue Plate) consulted on the menu, which highlights some updates on classic sandwiches like egg salad (with crunchy vinegar chips) and a tuna melt with three-cheese fondue, plus a clever vegetarian Reuben with smoked beets. There are also salads and sweets. Check out the menu here. And there’s wine! (They will be offering some after-work bites and beers too.)

It’s designed to appeal to the busy schedule of office workers, so expect things to move at a nice clip (there are 30 seats at the counter and 35 at the window benches), and you can order to-go as well. Delivery and catering are coming soon. Open Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. 115 Sansome St. at Bush, 415-844-0633.


Seating and the Market Board at RN74. Photo courtesy of RN74.

News broke last week in the SF Business Times that Michael Mina is partnering with Ayesha Curry to open ~INTERNATIONAL SMOKE~ in the ~RN74~ space (obviously they aren’t too worried about that sinking Millennium Tower). She did a successful pop-up at MINA Test Kitchen last year, and they are opening two more International Smoke locations together: one at The Street, A Michael Mina Social House, in Hawaii, this summer, and then Los Angeles in 2018.

According to a follow-up email from the Mina team, menu highlights will include Around the World Pork Ribs (Korean, St. Louis, and al pastor-style ribs paired with salads and slaws); Thai-style barbecue shrimp chile (coconut broth, toasted peanuts, tofu, peas), served with coconut curry cornbread; and The Royal BBQ Platter (slow-cooked char siu pork shoulder, Sobel Bros. pastrami, pollo a la brasa, spicy merguez sausage), served with purple Peruvian potato salad, braised mustard greens, and double-dipped onion rings. Stand by for updates about when the transition will start and RN74 is closing. 301 Mission St. at Fremont.


Smørrebrød from Kantine at the Saturday CUESA Farmers Market. Photo via CUESA.

Great news: after searching for a location for a long time for her Scandinavian-inspired ~KANTINE~, chef Nichole Accettola has found a location—but she’ll need a change of use permit to convert the Little Hollywood Launderette into a restaurant (Castro Merchants are reportedly in favor). It’s right next door to the Orbit Room in that beautiful Deco building. Anyone who has attended her pop-ups and market stand knows she makes smørrebrød (open-faced Danish sandwiches) on her housemade sprouted rye bread, tasty porridges, and more. Hoodline reports it will be a “600-square-foot dining room with window-front eating counters, reminiscent of Copenhagen.” I’ll keep you updated. 1906 Market St. at Octavia.


The Scooch at Back East Sandwich Shop. Photo courtesy of Back East.


The Instagram-bait birthday cake latte at Home. Photo via Facebook.

There’s a new sandwich stand in The Hall: ~BACK EAST SANDWICH SHOP~ from Baltimore transplant Chris Doiron. He was formerly a landscape designer, and then took over a deli he really loved in Baltimore. After bringing Luigi’s Italian Deli back to life, his Scooch sandwich went on to be a winner. He cares about using quality ingredients, but also keeping things affordable (sandwiches are $12). He is using local purveyors like Acme for bread and Columbus for some of his meats. About that Scooch: it has capicollo and soppressata with Beemster Vlaskaas cheese, roasted red peppers, field greens, and crushed hot cherry peppers in a balsamic dressing. Check out the menu board here.

He is well aware The Hall is closing this October, but thought he’d take advantage of this window of time to fine-tune his concept, build a following, and find a brick-and-mortar location. I’ll keep you updated. He’s ramping up catering too. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. The Hall, 1028 Market St. at Taylor, 443-478-0676.

In March, I mentioned ~THE MEATBALL BAR~ was opening in the sadly closed Shorty Goldstein’s. Hoodline reports they are now open and serving their variety of international meatballs. Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-6pm. 126 Sutter St. at Montgomery.

There’s a new Thai crepe shop in the Upper Haight with the quirky name of ~RROMD~, which reportedly means “good mood.” Awww. The menu has savory crepes like chile paste with dried pork, and sweet ones too, plus fruit smoothies and gelato. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-9pm and Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. 1782 Haight St. at Cole, 415-692-0313.

It looks like the former Mereb Market near Dolores Park got quite the upgrade and is now ~DOLORES OUTPOST MARKET~. SFist reports they carry locally made food and beers, and there’s nitro coffee and kombucha on tap. It’s easy to make “oh, how bougie” commentary about it, but it’s not like that last market had anything charming going on. The bento boxes and other prepared foods will be a sure hit for parkgoers. You can read more about their plans—which include pop-ups—in this post on Hoodline. Open daily 8am-9pm. 698 Guerrero St. at 19th St.

The Outer Richmond just gained a second location of the Outer Sunset’s ~HOME~ café, with avocado toast, Instagram-ready lattes, and a cute style. More on Hoodline. Open Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. 2018 Clement St. at 21st Ave.


The dining room at Aatxe. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

Some closures around the city include ~AATXE~ on May 28th, which is joining the news of the changes regarding Cafe du Nord as well. Eater reports Ne Timeas is potentially looking for another location for the Spanish concept. But for now, that’s it for the plancha fried rice. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez.

Over in Potrero Hill, ~APERTO~ is now chiuso after almost 25 years of business. Scoop reports the closure was due to an ongoing landlord dispute. Owner Chris Shepherd will continue to run Bellanico in Oakland. 1434 18th St. at Connecticut.

Pour out some chile oil for the passing of Henry Chung at 99 ripe years, who is the Henry behind the Henry’s Hunan restaurants throughout the city. Jonathan Kauffman wrote a fascinating piece about Chung’s path to being one of the first chefs to bring Hunanese cuisine to the U.S. with his wife, Diana. Condolences to his family and many friends (and fans).


Choose from a variety of puffy kulchas at Rooh. Photo: ©


Squid and prawn poha at Rooh. Photo: ©


Some of the fab seafood you will find at Uma Casa’s new brunch. Photo: @KatwalkSF.


The breakfast sandwich with tater tots at Corridor. Photo courtesy of Corridor.

Is it unofficial new brunch season? Because there are a bunch of new ones popping up right now. Have fun adding these places to the mix. (And they’re good to consider for Mother’s Day since they’re brand-new and probably not all reserved just yet!)

Ready for your new stylish Indian brunch? On Sundays, ~ROOH~ has an extensive brunch menu that highlights their awesome breads, like warm kulchas stuffed with green pea and goat cheese, or their masala omelette, with tomato, onion, chile, and cilantro, with buttered pao. You can also go savory with a rice dish, like squid and prawn poha, studded with browned onion, peanut, fresh coconut, and cilantro. There’s a full cocktail menu, but the Chennai Colada mocktail with mango, pineapple, passion fruit, coconut water, curry leaves, and soda is bright and refreshing. Sun 11am-2:30pm. 333 Brannan St. at 2nd St., 415-525-4174.

Meanwhile, over in the Mission, the casual and friendly ~DUM~ launched a Indian-inspired brunch, with dishes like an eggs Benedict made with a crispy rice and lentil cake, topped with pork belly, poached eggs, and chile-garlic hollandaise, and bhurji pao with spiced scrambled eggs, onion, tomato, cilantro, and Hawaiian rolls. Check out chef Rupam Bhagat’s creative menu here. Available Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 3111 24th St. at Folsom, 415-874-9045.

I have been waiting for the cheerful and Lisbon-chic ~UMA CASA~ to open for brunch, and boom, it’s on. Chef Telmo Faria’s menu features Portuguese classics, egg dishes, and plenty of chilled seafood, plus the kicker: the Francesinha, a heart-stopping (but what a way to go) sandwich famous in Porto, which comes with linguica, roast beef, ham, and Havarti, with tomato-beer sauce, an over-easy egg, and fries. I can’t believe we get to have one in the city! Just go work out first. And after. Don’t forget about bubbles, Vinho Verde, and mimosas, plus other delightful concoctions by Nora Furst. Open Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-829-2264.

Meanwhile, the party people of Russian Hill have a nice Mobius strip at ~MEZCALITO~: come by on Saturday night for mezcal and tacos, and then come back on Sundays to cure that hangover. The menu features baked farm egg cazuela with saffron sofrito and English peas, or horchata French toast, and the Michelada del Conejo with carrot and jicama sangrita, pasilla de Oaxaca, sal de gusano, and cerveza Negra Modelo should get you feeling right. Or you can start the hurt all over again with bottomless mimosas for $20 per person. Sun 11am-2:30pm. 2323 Polk St. at Green, 415-441-2323.

And last but not least, ~CORRIDOR~ has realized the neighborhood has some needs, so they have folded Corridor Café into Corridor and are offering Saturday brunch (starting at an early 9am-2:30pm; say good morning to the breakfast sandwich with sunny-side up egg, bacon, caramelized onion, maitake mushroom, aioli, and tater tots), weekday breakfast (from 7am-11am), and a full-service dinner menu (perfect for a preshow meal), with plenty of seating. 100 Van Ness Ave. at Fell, 415-834-5684.

May 2, 2017

Yours truly with Jeremiah Tower and director Lydia Tenaglia. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


Campari America cocktails (cosmos and lemon drops!) in the house! Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


Spoon feeding Jeremiah Tower Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar. Mic drop. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


Dear friends, reunited: Jeremiah Tower and Denise Hale. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


The best theater food ever: chef gourmet popcorn, Stars hot dogs, and Negronis! Photo: Eric Wolfinger.


The lemon drop daisy, with Espolòn blanco. Photo: ©


Chef Dominique Crenn and Jeremiah Tower. Photo: ©


Howard Case serving up the Stars-meets-4505 Meats hot dogs! Photo: ©


The antidote to a hot kitchen: Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble and Fort Point Beer. Photo: ©

“Can we bring Denise Hale with us?” When you get an email like that from Gary Danko, that’s when you know Jeremiah Tower should be really happy at your party (especially since we were going to keep her as a surprise). Yes, his swan of Stars was going to float into our event.

Last Thursday evening, it was my great honor to host a chefs-only after-hours party and screening to welcome Jeremiah Tower back to San Francisco. While he was attending many events, screenings, interviews, and Q&As during the week for the release of his documentary, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, I wanted to throw something a little more industry and special for him. I called it The Family Screening, a continuation of the previous after-hours events I have hosted for our local chefs.

The night’s mix definitely needed to balance the old guard of SF chefs and include the ones who knew JT, worked for him (like Dominique Crenn, Jan Birnbaum, Loretta Keller, Rob Lam), were inspired by him, and those who remember having drinks at the bar at Stars (many). But I wanted some up-and-coming chefs the chance to meet him too. It was an intimate night, such a warm reunion with a lot of hugs and laughter. We were in a tiny downtown screening room, so unfortunately I couldn’t make it into a full-blown Stars reunion, with ex-servers, bartenders, and more. (Sorry, gang!)

Sadly, some chefs got stuck in service and couldn’t make it in time for our 10:45pm screening. Such is chef life. But it was a lovely surprise to be able to have an impromptu Q&A with the deeply talented director Lydia Tenaglia (co-founder of the award-winning Zero Point Zero Production) and JT at the end of the film. I think it was around 1am, but fortunately we were on Negroni time!

I couldn’t host these chef events without the ever-gracious and appreciated support of Campari America. They agreed we needed to serve cosmos and lemon drops in honor of what we all drank at Stars back in the day—’80s flashback! Rye on the Road created some updated versions for the party: the cosmo was made with SKYY (celebrating 25 years!), muddled lime, dash of Aperol and Grand Marnier, cranberry bitters, with long lime zest, and the lemon drop daisy was made with Espolòn blanco, pressed lemon, citrus, and vanilla bean oleo sacrum, shaken and topped with splash of prosecco, with a dehydrated lemon and sugar rim. (We made sure to serve everything in a rocks glass so the cocktails would fit in the theater cup holders, heh-heh.)   And it wouldn’t be a chef event without Negronis. There were also some tequila shots that may have happened, but I am not responsible for those. As Jeremiah said at the end of the screening, all movies should be screened with lemon drops! Agree.

Of course there had to be Champagne! Tremendous thanks to Jordan Winery, which provided our guests a sneak peek/advance taste of the Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble. It’s a special bottling of nonvintage brut from Champagne AR Lenoble, which will be debuting on May 13th (you can attend the release party!).

It was also my great delight to hand-feed JT and Mrs. Hale a heaping spoonful of the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai, and then place the jar into his hand and tuck my mother-of-pearl spoon into JT’s pocket, which he should always have there, now that I think of it. I was also gifted a bottle to pour of 2007 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne from Kim Beto of Southern Wine & Spirits (I heard “PJ fleur” was one of JT’s favorites), and he brought it into the theater to share with Denise during the film.

Howard and Kris Case of Casa de Case were huge Stars regulars and credit JT with inspiring and supporting them in their decision to follow their passion and start their Italian import company. They helped re-create the Stars hot dog that used to be served at the bar: Kris made the sauerkraut (with duck fat, white wine, and botanicals), which Howard served over 4505 Meats hot dogs (thanks, 4505—we could only have the city’s best dog at this event). There was also Grey Poupon Dijon, per the original specs.

We were going to have plenty of hungry chefs coming off service, so leave it to Casa de Case’s chef Colin Dewey to completely rock the popcorn service. It was the most gourmet theater food ever, I swear. We had Parm Pop, with 24-month Parm, oregano, and peperoncino, and Fish Pop, with colatura di alici, garlic, lemon, anchovy, chile, and bottarga grated on top. Outstanding. I want this in my life all the time.

We also had cases of cold beers from Fort Point Beer (their refreshing KSA and Villager IPA were there to greet chefs emerging from hot kitchens), and huge merci to Le Marais Bakery, which donated BOXES of cookies, madeleines, and other sweet treats, plus some breakfast viennoiserie for chefs to tuck into their gift bag for the morning. Truly, so sweet.

I want to give a very special thank-you to our other event sponsor, Poached, which really helped me pull this thing off! Couldn’t have done it without them. Their lovely team helped me at the event and also created a fun gift bag, which had some Jacobsen’s travel salt (love it), a Poached hat, and thanks again to 4505, we were able to stuff the bags with their famous chicharrones. It was like the ultimate chef to-go bag.

Huge thanks to publicist John Weaver—who, like me, had fond memories of cosmos and lemon drops at Stars—and agreed that this party needed to happen. Thank you for making it possible! Mwah.

I hope you all enjoy the photo album of the event by the one and only Eric Wolfinger. There are very few photographers who can shoot your event and say, “Almost every chef I staged with in 2004 when I was looking for a line cook job was in the house…Gary Danko, Suzette Gresham, Robbie Lewis.”

When we talked about the image look and feel, I threw out the idea of taking Polaroids there, and damn, did he rock it. I didn’t expect him to show up with just a Polaroid camera, but wow, did the images turn out great. And that’s Eric—not only did he understand the chef dynamics in the room and all the players, but he managed to capture all my favorite moments. On a Polaroid camera. He also said that he will personally send anyone who wants their original Polaroid! What a guy. You can email him here.

(To learn more about Eric, who is one of my favorite local food photographers, check out this SmugMug short film about him and his craft. You’ll also learn more about Dandelion Chocolate. It’s a fab film, and also a touching homage to how to live your life, and there’s insight into how to handle loss as well.)

A few hours prior to the event, I was able to interview Jeremiah and Lydia Tenaglia about the film, San Francisco dining, restaurant design, and more. But that’s going to take some time to wade through the recording and a separate post. So I hope you enjoy this party recap and pics for now—I’m still shaking the Parmesan and caviar out of my hair. Oh, and here’s the Spotify music mix I made, in case you’re in the mood for an ’80s (and early ’90s) party mix. (Always!)

We missed you here in San Francisco, JT, thanks for coming back. Don’t be a stranger. And everyone, see this film. Lydia has created something very insightful and unique. It’s deep.


The exterior of Locanda. Photo by Eric Wolfinger via Facebook.

Last week, I popped into ~LOCANDA~ for an impromptu pasta dinner with a friend (when cacio e pepe calls, I pick up the phone). Was happy to learn Melissa Reitz (previously Bar Agricole, Camino, Zuni Cafe) has been in the kitchen for the past month and is just ramping up some of her touches to the Roman-rooted menu.

Meanwhile, over at ~OCTAVIA~, Sara Hauman has been brought on as Melissa Perello’s chef de cuisine (she was most recently at Mister Jiu’s and previously at Huxley). [Via Scoop.]


Toast toast toast! At the new Nourish Cafe. Photo: Rebecca Kinney.


A look at the soon-to-be-loaded case at Kahnfections! Photo courtesy of Kahnfections.


Bring on the blended margarita at Glena’s. Photo: Sean Jerd.

Last month, I mentioned the 100 percent plant-based and organic/non-GMO ~NOURISH CAFE~ was opening a second location in the former Flour & Co. on Hyde Street in Nob Hill, and boom, it’s open. They are offering all kinds of vegan items; take a peek at the menu here. There are smoothies, Stumptown Coffee espresso drinks, and kombucha on tap as well. Hours are Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-3pm. 1030 Hyde St. at California.

Back in March, I let you know about the bakery opening in the former Green Heart Foods space in the Mission, and now ~KAHNFECTIONS~ is soft opening this Friday May 5th at 6am. Come by for Judy Kahn’s biscuits, croissants, muffins, and scones, plus dessert items and favorites like cookies and carrot cake. Egg sandwiches will be coming down the road too. Hours Sat-Sun are 8am-3pm and then Mon-Fri 6am-3pm. 3321 20th St. at Folsom.

Just in time for Cinco de Drinko, ~GLENA’S~ can finally start whipping up their blended margaritas starting Wednesday May 3rd to go with your tacos. Chef Michael Gaines and partner Stephanie Gaines are working with bar manager and program designer Lachlan Bray (Kin Khao, Tosca). Other cocktails on the menu include a Paloma, El Marinero (mezcal, rhum, Aperol, pineapple, lime), The Federale (Jamaican rum, Punt e Mes, vermouth, Ancho Reyes, bitters), Si Señor (gin, Cocchi Americano, lemon, seltzer), and Baja ha ha (vodka, Suze, ginger, passion fruit, lime); all $12. Hours are Sun-Thu 11am-10pm and Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Arriba. 632 20th St. at 3rd St.

Another menu change is coming to ~CAFE DU NORD~, which is shifting back to being a live music venue and streamlining the food menu. Bye-bye, amazing late-night burger. Hoodline confirmed Ne Timeas and The Bon Vivants are no longer working with owner Dylan MacNiven on Du Nord after the big relaunch they did, although they are still involved with Aatxe and Swedish American Hall. It sounds like there will be some food served; stand by for details on all the changes soon. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez.


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

Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday this year, so you know the city is going to go crazy. I envision lots of hooky playing. Here are five quick ideas on where to go and what to do:

Brunch at ~DON PISTO’S~; their Cinco de Mayo brunch from 11am-3pm will be a rowdy and tasty one

Lunch on the outdoor patio at ~ARGUELLO~ in the Presidio, where you can soak up the sun while enjoying $7 margaritas all day and $12 buckets of beer. Great chips and guac and carnitas and grilled shrimp tacos await.

—The weather is probably going to be gray again on Friday, so head over to Sausalito and enjoy margaritas on the patio at ~COPITA~ and wish them a happy fifth birthday!

—Enjoy hot Latin beats, performances at midnight, and tamales at Juanita MORE’s Cinco de Mayo—House of MORE! fiesta. At the ~OASIS~ in SoMa, 10pm-3am. $10 in advance/$15 at the door.

—And now for some real talk: on Friday, restaurants throughout Berkeley and other Bay Area sanctuary cities will take part in Cocktails for La Causa to raise awareness of deportation and immigration issues and support local organizations providing legal defense. Funds collected from the sale of food or drink specifically created for this event will be donated equally among Centro Legal de la Raza, the East Bay Community Law Center, and the Multicultural Institute in Berkeley. Please check the list to see who is participating in Berkeley, which has been a City of Refuge since 1971!


Tikka masala mac and cheese at Navi Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Preeti Mistry.


The bar at Paradita Eatery. Photo by David Escalante.


Pollo a la brasa at Paradita Eatery. Photo by David Escalante.

Last fall, I mentioned Juhu Beach Club’s Preeti Mistry was opening ~NAVI KITCHEN~ in the Bakery Lofts in the Triangle neighborhood of Oakland and Emeryville, and it’s now softly open and serving breakfast. The menu includes a Mumbai Morning Burger ($8.45), with pork ginger sausage, fried egg, American cheese, pepper cress, and ghost pepper chutney, while the Croque Gadame ($8.45) has brown sugar chai-spiced bacon, fried egg, white cheddar, pickled onions, and tamarind ketchup. There are a couple of vegan toasts, too, plus coffee service (and DIY chai!).

Lunch starts this week (salads, subs, soups, and can we TALK about tikka masala mac and cheese?), and nighttime Indian pizzas are coming soon, I’ll keep you posted. And there’s a patio, sweet. [More on Nosh.] Open now Wed-Sun 8am-3pm. 5000 Adeline St. at 47th St., Emeryville.

Newly open in Public Market Emeryville is chef Carlos Altamirano’s ~PARADITA EATERY~, a fast-casual spot focused on Peruvian street food. (He’s also behind Mochica in SF’s Potrero Hill and Piqueos in Bernal Heights, plus La Costanera in Montara, Parada in Walnut Creek, and the Sanguchon food trucks.) Check out the menu here, which covers organic salads, Peruvian sandwiches (like lomo saltado), grilled anticuchos (meat skewers—bring on the beef heart), pollo a la brasa (Peruvian rotisserie chicken, made with Mary’s organic free-range chickens), a variety of rice bowls, sides and alfajores for dessert, oh you know it. And there are cocktails, including pisco sours. Fun fact: did you know Altamirano founded Alta Farm in Half Moon Bay, dedicated solely to producing the spicy rocoto variety of pepper? He wanted to be able to have it fresh instead of frozen. Dedication! Open daily 11am-9pm. 5959 Shellmound St. at 59th St., Emeryville.

Open in the former Salsipuedes in Oakland’s Longfellow neighborhood is ~THE KEBABERY~ from Camino’s Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain, and partner Brian Crookes, with chef Traci Matsumoto-Esteban leading the kitchen. (It’s inspired by their Kebab Mondays at Camino.) The menu allows you to choose your kebab plate (herby lamb kebab, marinated chicken kebab, spiced king trumpet mushroom kebab, and fried cauliflower kebab, which is also GF) and side salads (carrot salad, mashed beets, sauerkraut salad), plus yogurt, pickled chiles, herbs, and your choice of grilled flatbread or red lentils—or you can have a kebab sandwich. Other specials include a bowl of soup with yogurt and fried spices, one salad, and a grilled flatbread. Chocolate pudding for dessert, and beer and wine. It’s casual, counter service, and they’ve made it easy for takeout. Open Wed-Mon 5pm-9pm. 4201 Market St. at 42nd St., Oakland, 510-922-1601.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that ~ADESSO~ was sadly closing, and to reconfirm, their final day of service will be Saturday May 6th. 

Was also sad to learn that West Oakland’s quirky ~FUSEBOX~ has closed after five years of feeding us. Damn, those wings have left us. You can read more on Nosh.

April 25, 2017

There’s a reason Alfred’s is beloved for their steaks—they do it right (and have been doing so for almost 80 years!). Photo by Alanna Hale.


A look at the former Champagne Room at the Blue Fox. (For more details, go here.)


Some of my collection of Blue Fox and Alfred’s ephemera. Photo: ©


Some of the vintage Blue Fox sterling silver sauceboats are in use at Alfred’s today! Photo: ©


The Owl ‘n Turtle room at Alfred’s. Photo via Facebook.


Many of you know how obsessed I am with vintage San Francisco restaurant ephemera—I have a rather extensive collection of vintage menus, postcards, restaurant guides, and books, which I have started sharing on Instagram with the #tablehoppervintageseries hashtag. And my collection of tablehopper T-shirts highlight vintage SF restaurant and bar designs.

Since I was a little girl, I have been so fascinated with the Blue Fox. I remember my grandfather telling me about it and am so sorry I never had the chance to dine there before it closed after a 60-year run in 1993. I have collected a Blue Fox menu, matchbook, ashtray, drink tokens, and postcards, and have studied this pantheon of fine and Continental dining for years.

Many of you know that the location where Alfred’s is now, on Merchant and Kearny, was formerly the home of the Blue Fox! Alfred’s was originally on Vallejo Street (when it opened in 1928!), and then Broadway, and moved into the current location in 1997. Alfred’s has also held a special place in San Francisco diner hearts, from the recent Petri family years to now, with the respectfully updated version under the Daniel Patterson Group.

On Friday May 12th, I am hosting a dinner I have wanted to host for a long time. It will be an homage to both the Blue Fox and Alfred’s, to times gone by, and to San Francisco and Northern California history. We are partnering with Anchor Distilling Co. and Robert Mondavi Winery this evening, so there will also be a dash of Italian American heritage in this meal as well.

We will be celebrating in the Owl ‘n Turtle private dining room downstairs, complete with a white baby grand piano that Frank Sinatra reputedly played on. We’re going to enjoy listening to Eric Shifrin playing standards throughout the evening, from Hoagy Carmichael to classic songs Frank would have sung. You may recognize Eric from playing at the Fairmont!

It is a great honor to be partnering with Anchor Distilling Co. on this event, our local and beloved distillery! For our reception (beginning at 6pm), guests can enjoy a martini or Martinez—we will be featuring Junípero gin, Old Tom gin, and the very special pot-distilled Old Potrero 18th Century whiskey this evening. (Just wait until you see the vintage bar downstairs.)

Our wine partner for the evening is one of the greats: Robert Mondavi Winery. I was determined to partner with a storied Napa Valley producer for this event, someone you would have seen on the Blue Fox’s and Alfred’s wine lists, and am beyond thrilled we will be pairing wines from this legendary winery and pioneer. A winemaker or veteran wine educator from the property will join the dinner to share the deep Robert Mondavi Winery history and speak to the wines.

Now, the menu! This is a very special creation, which integrates original Blue Fox and Alfred’s dishes and recipes I tracked down! We’re integrating some new touches as well, thanks to chef Bryan Baker.

First Course
roasted red pepper, pickled celery, crispy artichokes, garbanzo beans, olives, avocado, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh herbs
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery fumé blanc reserve

Second Course
scampi alla Livornese
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Carneros reserve chardonnay

Third Course
spinach gnocchi, spring onion, peas, beef sugo
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery pinot noir

Fourth Course
roasted filet mignon, asparagus, red wine demiglace
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery reserve cabernet sauvignon

Fifth Course
baked Alaska
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Moscato d’Oro

Please note we will be finalizing the vintages and selections in coming days. Expect something very special, especially with the cabernet selection.

This is not a night you’ll want to miss. It’s going to be a very only-in-San Francisco kind of night. Cocktail attire…start planning your swank vintage outfit now!

The event is $175, inclusive of tax and gratuity—get your ticket here. Your ticket price also includes a tablehopper Blue Fox T-shirt (there is the option to upgrade to an ultra-plush Blue Fox hoodie/sweatshirt instead, ticket price is $190). Thanks to our partners and host, we are able to offer this very unique experience at this special cost (grazie Alfred’s, Anchor Distilling Co., and Robert Mondavi Winery!).

When booking your reservation, please specify any guests you want to be seated with. We are going to have 5 tables of 10.

I also want to note that, as many of you may know, Alfred’s suffered an unfortunate basement fire a couple of weeks ago. They assure me they are going to be reopening within a week—they’re just cleaning up the smoke damage and fixing the electrical issues—and definitely in time for our dinner. See you May 12th!


New A16 executive chef Nicolette Manescalchi. Photo: Di Desmond.

Congratulations to chef Nicolette Manescalchi, who has been with the ~A16~ group for eight years, most recently as chef de cuisine at A16 in San Francisco; she is now going to be executive chef of the group. A16 executive chef Rocky Maselli, who opened ~A16 ROCKRIDGE~, is going to be moving back to Eugene, Oregon, at the end of May. He will be taking over the reins at Marché for chef-owner (and mother-in-law) Stephanie Pearl Kimmel, who is retiring. Over the next month, he is helping the A16 team with the transition.

Manescalchi was raised baking with her mother and cooking traditional Sicilian food with her father and moved to San Francisco almost eight years ago from Minnesota to work at A16. Not only does she have an English degree from the University of Minnesota, but she also has her culinary degree from the Art Institutes International Minnesota and her sommelier certificate from the International Sommelier Guild. She was so dedicated to learning about Southern Italian food that she even spent her honeymoon in Southern Italy to immerse herself more deeply in the cuisine. She was executive sous chef at A16 Rockridge and helped open it, and one year later took the executive chef position at Le Marais Bakery and opened Le Marais Bistro. She returned to A16 San Francisco as chef de cuisine and is now taking this next step.

A couple of updates regarding both A16 locations: If you have visited A16 SF lately, you would have noted the beautiful pottery in the space, from the pasta bowls to dishes, all by Mary Mar Keenan of MMclay. (Did you know she was originally a server at A16 and made the chile oil containers?) Look for some new ceramics to start making their way to A16 Rockridge…

Also at A16 Rockridge, they are going to be remodeling the private dining room in a couple of months. And here’s a fun thing: A16 is going to have a mobile pizza truck! You may have enjoyed their live fire pizzas at Off the Grid Fort Mason and other events, but now they’re going to have a better oven transport, soon. Will keep you posted.


Fried chicken served in a skillet with pickles at Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Hazel.


Whiskeys and TV screens. Photo via Facebook.

Opening at the end of the week is ~HAZEL SOUTHERN BAR & KITCHEN~ in the former Cadence in Mid-Market. Gone are the elephant tusks, and it’s more like a rec room with cookin’ from your friend’s awesome mom. Owner Jamie Boatner and executive chef Casey Hatwig are pulling Southern recipes from Boatner’s mother’s recipe book, like collard green dumplings (Hazel’s collard greens, cream cheese, served with a spicy peach chutney) and Hazel’s fried chicken, served in a skillet or with waffles. The menu has casual fare, like po’boys and tater tot nachos with pimento cheese sauce, fried okra, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, green onions, and sour cream, plus larger plates like shrimp and grits and sides.

As for the rec room side of things, there are two pool tables, 16 TVs, and a retro ’70s vibe from designer Craige Walters, plus private dining rooms and corporate event options.

You’ll find quite the whiskey selection (more than 170 bottlings) and a refreshingly affordable cocktail list ($9-$11), including some classics like a Sazerac and new drinks like a ginger-pineapple mint julep.

Hours are kitchen daily 5pm-1am, bar until 2am. Grand opening is Friday April 28th. 1446 Market St. at Fell, 415-851-8562.


The cheerful interior at Rincón Nayarit. Yelp photo by Guadalupe E.


The new Boba Guys Potrero Hill. Photo courtesy of Boba Guys.

Fans of coctel de camaron, tostadas, and the like may want to check out the newly opened ~RINCÓN NAYARIT~, which has opened in the Mission. You can check out their extensive seafood menu online, and it looks like breakfast (chilaquiles, omelettes) and coffee service is also on offer. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-10pm, Sat 7am-10pm, and Sun 8am-10pm. 1500 S Van Ness Ave. Ste 100, at 26th St., 415- 654-5413.

Looks like a sushi spot has taken over the former Epicenter Café: ~ZEN IZAKAYA~. Pictures on Yelp include thinly sliced wagyu beef you place on a hot stone, a variety of oysters on the half shell, nigiri, and funky maki. 764 Harrison St. at 4th St., 415-222-9988.

Feeling a little sleepy? Want some fun in your beverage? There’s a new location of ~BOBA GUYS~ that just opened in Potrero Hill. Get your boba on. Open Tue-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 12pm-8pm, and Sun 12pm-6pm. 1002 16th St. at Missouri, 415-967-2622.


Coming up this Friday April 28th is a special event, Hallah & Spice Pop-Up Shop, featuring visiting Israeli baker Uri Scheft (of Breads Bakery in New York and the newly released book Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking) and La Boîte’s spice whisperer Lior Lev Sercarz (La Boîte spice shop, The Spice Companion). ~THE PERENNIAL~ is hosting the duo in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center. The pop-up will feature hallah-braiding and spice-blending demos with Uri and Lior; noshes, coffee, and cocktails featuring La Boîte spices for sale from The Perennial; a pop-up shop from La Boîte spices; and signed books for sale from Omnivore Books—the first 40 Breaking Breads book purchases include a fresh hallah, baked just for you by Uri (trust me, you want this!) and the first 40 The Spice Companion purchases include a special spice blend, blended just for you by Lior! 11am-1:30pm. This is a free event! 59 9th St. at Mission.

This Sunday April 30th is the annual Wok on the Wild Side fundraiser for City College of San Francisco’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies Department. There will be plenty of dishes and wines to try, live and silent auctions with proceeds benefiting student programs (including a sausage class, a BBQ tasting, SF Giants tickets, and bottles, magnums, and cases of wine and spirits, plus hotel and restaurant certificates), music, and more. Alumni who will join the students in serving dishes include May Seto of Grand Lake Kitchen, Sarah Lau of Nopa, Robert Hurtado of Arguello, Ryan Gozinsky of Authentic Bagels, Kathleen Kwuan of State Bird Provisions, and more. 4pm-7pm. Tickets are $75. City College of San Francisco—Statler Wing, Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Ave., 415 239-3152.

Also on Sunday April 30th is the reopening of the Mission Community Market’s new incarnation, La Placita. Come by from 11am-3pm for a block party, with food, music, and more. Check out the event here. Bartlett St. between 21st St. and 22nd St.


Okonomiyaki in a stone pot at Namu Gaji. Photo: ©

So, it’s a foggy Friday night, and you’re like, damn, some ~NAMU GAJI~ ramen and stone pot would really do me right… Well, lucky you, it’s not too far away, because on Fridays and Saturdays, come by ~BEACHSIDE COFFEE BAR AND KITCHEN~ from 5pm-10pm for Namu Gaji’s temporary pop-up. You can enjoy noodle soups, KFC-style chicken wings, smoked brisket with roasted kimchi and cultured butter, okonomiyaki, smoked pork donburi, and more. 4300 Judah St. at 48th Ave.

If you enjoy the wines at ~RESOLUTE~, you’ll be happy to know you can now pair a little more with those glasses of wine you’re chugging, like tarte flambée (Alsatian pizza) with toppings, either a classic (crème fraîche, fromage blanc, mozzarella, bacon, sweet onions, and chives) or artichoke (Fontina cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, and asparagus), plus panini (caprese or grilled cheese with sharp cheddar, Brie, shallots, arugula, and vermouth)—both served with a side salad, and there’s an arugula salad too. 678 Geary St. at Leavenworth.

April 18, 2017

The spacious and updated dining room at Pompette. Photo courtesy of Pompette.


Mussels escabeche at Pompette. Photo courtesy of Pompette.


Baked ricotta at Pompette. Photo courtesy of Pompette.


Waffles from the new Neptune’s in Alameda. Photo via Neptune’s on Facebook.


The spacious patio at Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Arthur Mac’s.

Back in February, I broke the news about the new taker for the former Café Rouge space: ~POMPETTE~ (the name means “a little tipsy”). It’s from chef David Visick, an alum of Chez Panisse and SF’s Cafe Kati, and his wife, Caramia Visick, who worked at Bay Wolf (as well as Oliveto, Zuni, and Stars) before launching her jewelry line (Hotcakes Design) and shop (Favor)—she is running front of house.

As I mentioned, they want to maintain Café Rouge’s rep as an easy place to swing by, no matter the time of day or the extent of your appetite, from a bite and a cocktail to a full-on spit-roasted chicken dinner for two. Take a look at the initial (and highly appetizing) menu here, with French-Cali bistro bar snacks and charcuterie, numerous spring vegetable dishes, and of course a burger.

The space was updated a bit, with even more seating. The restaurant is softly open for dinner starting at 5:30pm Mon-Sat and will be adding lunch in a week or so. As Caramia Visick said, “Customers are happy to get back into their bar seats and try out the new cocktails, wines, and snacks!” Indeed. 1782 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-356-4737.

Another icon is getting an update: the former Fosters Freeze in Alameda has been transformed into the charming ~NEPTUNE’S~, which opened today. I had the serendipitous fortune of dining next to chef Naomi Elze-Harris at an event last night and got to hear about it straight from the horse’s mouth. The daytime menu is Southern through a California lens, with some Filipino and Hawaiian references popping up too; ingredients will be sustainably sourced. The menu includes chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, housemade brioche buns, “Not Zippy’s” chili and rice (a reference to a popular Hawaiian dish), Hawaiian breakfast, a burger, and eventually soft-serve ice cream with special flavors of waffle cones designed to go with it.

There are 80 seats, both indoors and on a back patio they installed surrounded with redwood slats. They will also be launching a walk-up window in a couple of weeks, where you can get your lumpia to go. Peek at their Instagram to get a look at their clean, bright, and natural aesthetic, with colorful tiles, glass globe pendant lights, and it’s sweet how the blue throughout references the former Fosters blue. Open Tue-Sun 8:30am-2:30pm (which means you can start your day and come by for some proprietary Lincoln Rosewood coffee and espresso!). 630 Central Ave. at McKay, Alameda.

More outdoor patio action can be found at ~ARTHUR’S MAC’S TAP & SNACK~ in the Longfellow neighborhood in Oakland from Farm League Design & Management Group (Drake’s Dealership, Westbrae Biergarten, East Bay Spice Company, Tigerlily). It’s right across from the MacArthur BART Station and is part of the MacArthur Annex shipping container complex that houses a variety of artist workspaces and start-ups. It’s a pizza-by-the-slice beer garden designed to be a family-friendly and affordable place. The menu also includes wings and salads; chef consultant Michael Williams (Rivoli and Corso in Berkeley) is behind the menu. There are a number of booths, two fire pits, and a kids’ play area so mommy and daddy can enjoy their beers. Speaking of, there are 16 craft beers, 2 ciders, and 5 wines on tap, plus a house-kegged vermouth spritzer. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm and Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 4006 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at 40th St., Oakland.

James Syhabout (Commis, Old Kan Beer & Co.) just keeps on pushing and is opening a full bar and lounge next door to Commis called ~C.D.P.~ (short for chef de partie). It will served cocktails, snacks, and small plates. Syhabout designed it himself and will have 10 seats at the bar, 24 overall, and is due to open in the fall. [Via Scoop.] 3861 Piedmont Ave. at Montell, Oakland.

Folks in Elmwood are lucky to be gaining a location of SF’s ~ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY~, which will be opening in the former AG Ferrari. They will be serving their piadine sandwiches, housemade pastas, and more. 2905 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley. [Via Nosh.]

In case you missed this fascinating New York Times article on ~LOCOL~’s mission to offer a quality $1 cup of coffee, check it out.


The classic counter at The Castro Fountain. Yelp photo by Steven B.


Let them eat cake! Get a slice (of classic yellow cake, that is) at The Castro Fountain. Yelp photo by Simi J.

The long-awaited ~CASTRO FOUNTAIN~ is now softly open—it’s from Juliet Pries of the retro-vintage Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley. She has much bigger plans for this ice cream parlor and soda fountain, but thought she may as well soft open for now after countless delays. For now, you can come by for their housemade and organic ice cream (check out the flavors here), plus ice cream bars, sandwiches, and some house-baked desserts (Hoodline reports they are serving cakes, pies, brownies, and cookies). Sundaes, milk shakes, and sodas will be added soon.

Down the road, they hope to get a liquor license to serve their “remedies” and more, but that’s another mountain of bureaucracy, so let’s just swing by, order a cone, and welcome The Castro Fountain to the neighborhood! Limited hours for now (today is 2pm-6pm, and they are running some Tax Day specials), and then Thu 6pm-10pm, Fri 7pm-11pm, and weekend hours are TBD. Again, it’s a soft opening! Follow along on Facebook for updates! 554 Castro St. at 18th St.

There is yet another location of ~MIXT~ opening, its ninth location, at 51 Yerba Buena Lane on Wednesday April 19th. In addition to their trademark fresh and choose-your-own-adventure salads, they are introducing a new menu option called Mixt Market Plates, exclusively at this location. Diners can choose from herb-roasted, free-range chicken, or grilled grass-fed steak or steelhead, with sauces and sides ($10.95-$13.95). Here’s the menu. Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-8:30pm and Sat-Sun 11:30am-8:30pm. 51 Yerba Buena Lane at 4th St.


Malasa’s combo silog with tapa, longanisa, and tocino. Photo by Malasa via Yelp.


The tortilla bocadillo at Champaneria Kharma. Photo courtesy of Champaneria Kharma.

I’ve got a random little mix of openings for you, starting with a new modern Filipino brunch that is popping up at Crawstation in the Sunset: ~MALASA~. The name, which means “tasty” in Tagalog, translates into dishes like silogs (garlic rice plates), including tocilog (cured pork served with a fried egg on top of garlic fried rice and pickled vegetables), kare-kare (oxtail in a rich peanut sauce), and more. They are using quality ingredients, including organic, cage-free, pasture-raised eggs and locally sourced ingredients. Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm. 1336 9th Ave. at Irving, 415-682-9980.

Another pop-up that caught my eye is Champaneria Kharma, featuring Spanish-inspired bites at ~BLOODHOUND~, on Wednesday April 26th. Founder Samantha Kharma went to Barcelona last October and visited a place called La Champaneria (a standing-room only, counter-only restaurant with cava and tapas). She was so inspired by it that she decided San Francisco needs one, too, and is currently hoping to open a brick and mortar in a year and half—she’s targeting the Mission. In the meantime, you can get your bocadillos on at this pop-up (she is getting her bolillo-style roll from a local bakery in South San Francisco she grew up with called Panadería Hernandez).

The featured sandwich will be jamón con pepinillos y queso (ham with pickles and cheese), and take a look at the tortilla española con queso y pimento. There will also be lomo con queso y pimento, and cordero con menta y tamarindo. With every sandwich you purchase, you will get a ticket that is good for a glass of prosecco for $5 instead of $8, and there are plenty of cocktails and local beers on draft as well. 6pm-10pm. 1145 Folsom St. at 7th St.


The stylish and sunny Streamline. Photo courtesy of Streamline.

Now open in the Outer Parkside/Sunset, practically at the beach, is a new and sunny corner café, ~STREAMLINE~. The trio of partners (Brent Willson, Dion Garcia, and David Quinby) have turned a former restaurant and office space into a spacious café with plenty of seating and a gallery (Willson is also a painter, so he wanted to be able to have an art component to the business). They have been ramping up with staffing, always the issue these days—today is just day six for them.

The menu features house-baked scones, muffins, cookies, and a gluten-free oat bar, plus a frittata is available. There are also tartines: a mushroom and herb tartine with Comté, and a ham and Comté version. Expect more salads, sandwiches, and more as they hire additional food prep and bakers, and they also have beer and wine. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 7am-1pm, with plans to expand to weekends ASAP. They are also hosting a show opening this Sat from 6pm-10pm with Gallery 66. (Follow on Facebook for updates.)

They are using Nomadic Ground for their coffee; they have their own blend for their espresso and house drip, plus a single-origin and organic pour-over, and cold brew. They should have approval for outdoor seating any minute, so the next time you’re at the beach, here’s a new place to enjoy a brew. 3560 Taraval St. at 46th St., 415-504-7000.

You can wake up and smell the coffee at the new ~FLIGHTLESS COFFEE AT JAXSON~ coffee window. The owner, Kevin Lopata, is from Houston, and Flightless features Houston’s Boomtown Coffee. You can find a variety of espresso drinks and pour-over, plus cold brew, and he’s working on a specialty drink for the summer. He also stocks some baked goods from Mr. Holmes, including their croissant and a sweet pastry, but those go fast. Open Mon-Thu 7:30am-4pm, Fri 7:30am-2pm, and Sat 8:30am-2pm. 3231 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 713-584-5119.


The bar at Hecho Cantina. Photo via Facebook.

A couple of upcoming closures to note include the beleaguered ~HECHO CANTINA~ in the Castro, which will be closing in a few months after two and a half years of business (and a couple of iterations). They have an offer on the space, and Hoodline has noticed that Andale Management Group (behind the popular Mezcalito on Polk) has filed for a liquor license transfer at the address. Owners Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim will continue to focus on their sports bar, Hi Tops. 2200 Market St. at 15th St.

This fall, the temporary food hall ~THE HALL~ is closing, as it was intended to—although it’s a year past when it was expected to close. It ends up they are timing it with The Hall’s three-year anniversary, during the last week of September. The space will then begin its next stage of development, and we’ll have to see where some of the vendors will land. [Via Scoop.] 1028 Market St. at Taylor.

One more item to note: AG Ferrari is refocusing their business on their national CPG product line and is closing their four retail store locations in Montclair Village, Piedmont Avenue, Laurel Village, and SoMa on May 1st. Their growing product line will remain available online and in grocery stores nationwide, and they’ll be offering discounts on their inventory until closing (excluding fresh foods, grab and go, and refrigerated beverages). The brand plans to release more products later this year.

April 11, 2017

Grab a spoon, Salt & Straw ice cream is here. Photo: Leela Cyd.


Cold udon at Kagawa-Ya Udon. Yelp photo by Kat C.

Ice cream fanatics, your time to enjoy Portland’s ~SALT & STRAW~ ice cream is now. Well, almost: Friday is go time for their Fillmore shop, the first in San Francisco. The shop is founded by Kim Malek with her cousin, Tyler, and their ice cream is known for its artisanal and handmade approach—they will also be working with local makers and purveyors for flavor inspiration. Their flavors will fall into three categories: SF classics (only available in SF); SF seasonals (only in SF, but for a limited time); and Crossover classics (available at all S&S locations, which are also in Los Angeles).

You can look at the initial menu here and start pining for flavors like cinnamon ancho and cajeta, or olive oil and lemon custard (yum). Trust me, the roasted strawberry and tres leches is soooo good. Hours will be 11am-11pm. Open Friday April 14th. They will also be at Off the Grid Fort Mason on Fridays. Their second location, in Hayes Valley (580 Hayes St.), will be opening in the summer. 2201 Fillmore St. at Sacramento.

Now open in Mid-Market is ~KAGAWA-YA UDON NOODLE CO.~, a quick-service, 40-seat spot serving Sanuki-style udon (it has a square shape and flat edges, famous in the udon-crazy Kagawa Prefecture in the Shikoku region of Japan, hence the restaurant’s name). I mentioned this spot last month, but here’s the menu—there are many options, including some accompaniments to the udon, and it’s meant to be fast. Open Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. 1455 Market St. at 10th St., 415-703-0995.

Late-night denizens and SoMa partiers, you should know there’s a new pizza place open called ~ANTON’S PIZZA AND DELI~ in the former Citizen’s Band (RIP, sigh), and it has some handy hours for pizza (no slices just yet) and sandwiches (peep the menu here). Open Mon-Wed 10am-12am, Thu-Sun 10am-3am. 1196 Folsom St. at 8th St.

One more little neighborhood opening: ~TEKKA HOUSE~ has opened in the former Tataki in Glen Park and is serving some pretty straight-ahead/give the people what we think they want sushi (i.e., there are wacky rolls). They also have ramen on the menu. Open Mon-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm, Sun 5pm-9pm. 678 Chenery St. at Diamond.


The exterior of Nourish. Photo from Facebook.

ABC license activity points to a sequel for the 100 percent plant-based and organic/non-GMO ~NOURISH CAFE~: the Inner Richmond café is moving into the former Flour & Co. on Hyde Street in Nob Hill. Eater followed up with chef Brighton Miller and partner Sarah Bacon (she has thought about a name change, I am sure), who will be offering all kinds of vegan items, from salads and sandwiches (and wraps, of course) to vegan baked goods, grain bowls, acai bowls, and smoothies to start your day. They will also be adding Stumptown Coffee espresso drinks and kombucha on tap. They are targeting an early May opening. Hours will be Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-3pm. 1030 Hyde St. at California.


Some of the new sunny seating at Aina. Instagram photo via @ainabrunch.

Just in time for spring and more sun, the charming ~AINA~ in Dogpatch has added outdoor seating. It should help cut down on wait times, especially for their popular brunch, and you can bring your furry Fido to sit on the sidewalk with you while you enjoy your malasadas. 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.

If you’re looking for a place to perch and enjoy bar bites like spicy yam cake and shio koji beef tongue, ~YUZUKI JAPANESE EATERY~ is offering their version of a bar food/small plates menu (“otsumami”) meant to pair with sake. It’s available Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, and to coax you to come in, they’re offering a 20 percent discount on the restaurant’s fab selection of 720ml bottles of sake. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St., 415-556-9898.


A truffle and sea urchin dish at Mosu. Photo via Yelp by Dan H.

The spendy (I’ll just say it, crazily overpriced at $195 for the odd experience) ~MOSU~ is closing this month. Eater writes that it’s not for financial reasons, but because chef-owner Sung Anh is moving back to Korea to be with his wife and children and to open Mosu Seoul in the fall. However, it sounds like he does hope to return to SF at some point. 1552 Fillmore St. at Geary, 415-735-7303.

Longtime ~RISTORANTE UMBRIA~, which has been holding down the corner of 2nd Street and Howard for 20-plus years (since 1995!) with its trademark awnings, is closing May 1st. Scoop reports they are losing their lease. 198 2nd St. at Howard, 415-546-6985.