The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
October 17, 2017
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Cambria Gallery was the dream fiesta space. Photo: Haven Mastenbrook.

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Hecho en Mexico! Photo: Haven Mastenbrook.

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Texas pulled pork tacos (with queso!) from Villa Montez and Cafe Bravo on housemade tortillas! Photo: Albert Flores.

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Chefs Javier Cancino of Cafe Bravo (Oakdale) and Carlos Villapudua of Villa Montez and 1836 Texas Kitchen (Tyler, Texas). Photo: Cynthia Vega.

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Tasty tostaditas de tinga from El Huarache Loco! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Keeke was keeping the Espolòn Tequila flowing! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The margaritas were tops, thanks to Milagro Tequila and Alberto Soto of El Techo! (The spicy Techo Margarita with Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, and habanero was fantastico!) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Gracias Chambers & Chambers for stocking our wine island with French rosé! Photo: Haven Mastenbrook.

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Cambria’s Heather Mickley and James Stolich of Cook With James at our wine island. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, you guys, we did it! Friday night was our SF ❤️ MX fundraiser for Mexico earthquake relief, and it was all hands on deck! Not only did we sell out of tickets (thank you thank you!), but we also surpassed the $10K goal I had flitting around in my mind. We raised $10,727.56!!!! Ayyyyyyyyiiiiiiiiii!

I am so thrilled we can make such a significant contribution to Omaze and Ambulante’s fundraiser, started by Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal to help Mexico rebuild. One hundred percent of the event’s fundraising is going to this initiative—and if you couldn’t attend our event, you can still donate directly to it! Mexico still needs help! People are sleeping outside in the rain, there aren’t enough supplies and water and medicine, especially in the rural areas. It’s heartbreaking. Any amount helps. Gracias.

There can be some potential cognitive dissonance being at a party when there is so much suffering going on in the world (especially in our backyard), but it was good to get everyone together and do something to help. The feeling in the room was incredible, such a warm and loving group (and seriously good looking, I might add). It was the first time for many guests to visit the contemporary chic Cambria Gallery in SoMa, such wonderful hosts—we could not have asked for a lovelier setting for our event. Thank you to my cohost, Itzel Percival of Cambria, for all her help in pulling this off, and Heather Mickley for the warm welcome.

You guys, the food was over the top. It was a dream SF event. Everyone who participated was so generous with their time and talent. What a fantastic array of handmade dishes from our La Cocina ladies (who were already so busy preparing food for Sunday’s Street Food Fest): Sal de Vida Gourmet (brilliant cochinita pibil mini tostadas with pickled onions), Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas (hand-stuffed vegetable and meat tamales with her incredible salsas), and El Huarache Loco, (mini tostaditas de tinga and mini huarachitos con nopales).

My heart almost leapt out of my chest when I found out chef Carlos Villapudua (Villa Montez and 1836 Texas Kitchen) was flying out from Tyler, Texas, to cook at our event. It wouldn’t have been possible without all the help of his wingman, chef Javier Cancino of Cafe Bravo, who not only cooked with Carlos, but hosted and helped with all the food prep at his restaurant in Oakdale.

Their tacos were such tasty works of art: chile colorado tenderloin tacos with housemade and organic cilantro-corn tortillas and garlic-laced mushrooms; Texas pulled pork tacos with pink organic beet and corn tortillas with Texas queso and smoked pulled pork, roasted green chile salsa, and black bean puree (my favorite); and tacos del jardin with roasted avocado-black bean puree, grilled vegetables, and roasted tomatillo sauce. Tremendous gracias to Cynthia Vega for bringing us all together. Carlos, come back soon! Love you guys!

Everyone was beyond thrilled to see the crowd-pleasing taco tropical from Loló, the elegant flounder ceviche from chef Daniel Tellez of Copita (who was on-site on a busy Friday night with his team!), the spicy albondigas and rich pork tamales from Don Pistos, and the grains & greens salad from Green Chile Kitchen. I know, what a spread.

It would not be a party without bowls everywhere of the perfect tortilla chips from La Palma, matched with SF’s favorite salsa from Papalote. And after alllllll the margaritas (heh heh), the late-night crew got to enjoy nachos doused with queso from WesBurger ‘N’ More. We also sold to-go boxes of chips and salsa for chilaquiles in the morning and a few leftover tamales for the freezer. (The late-night chip and tamale sale was hilarious.)

Our bar was en fuego! We were so fortunate to have three of SF’s best barmen running the show: Alberto Soto (El Techo), Enrique Sanchez (Arguello), and Reza Esmaili (Ananas Consulting). We had five fantastic cocktails (click those links to see the menus!) on offer, thanks to the batching artistry of Rye on the Road (thanks for setting up the bar, Jon Gasparini!) and El Techo!, featuring top spirits from Campari America/Espolòn Tequila, Milagro Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes.

And at the end of the night, the guys handed me a box of cash with all their tips they collected and donated it all to our fundraiser. I mean, come ON. Love you!

We had two huge tubs of ice-cold Mexican cervezas generously provided by Cadillac Bar & Grill—so good to have after everything was all cleaned up—and some of you got to try the brand-new cold-fermented aguas frescas from Hard Frescos (you can find them here).

I saw a lot of you at rosé island, enjoying French rosé donated by Chambers & Chambers. If you want to pick up some bottles of the Petit Bourgeois rosé de pinot noir from the Loire (2016) or the Triennes Vin de Pays du Var rosé (2016), you can find them at Bi-Rite Market, D&M Wine & Liquor, Gus’s Community Market, Plumpjack Wine Shop, Flatiron Wines, Canyon Market, and Haight Street Market. Salud!

The silent auction was a hit! With the generous contributions from so many local businesses, artists, and individuals, we raised $3,309! There were many gift certificates (thanks to Nopa, Nopalito, Flores, Uno Dos Tacos y Tequila, 54 Mint, Montesacro, and Hakkasan); a VIP experience for the San Francisco Street Food Festival from La Cocina; special dinners with wine pairings from Devil’s Gulch Ranch and Locanda; gift boxes and bottles from Campari America, Milagro Tequila, Domaine Chandon, The Terraces Winery, ZD Wines, and Manicaretti; gift certificates from Ginger Rubio Salon; and an ice cream maker AND Le Creuset pan from Joanne Weir.

Plus, we had local art from Rob Delamater and Adam McCauley, and a signed copy of The Art of the Bar Cart! You were all so generous, thank you!

There is no way we could have pulled this all off without the fleet of incredible volunteers who offered their help! They were a blur of activity, from serving food, greeting, keeping the place spotless, to assisting the chefs. (Special shout-out to Willow Blish, who became our ad hoc kitchen manager and ran such a tight ship.) From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for donating your time and skills and hands and running the event like it was your own!

Special thanks to Dominic Philips Event Marketing for the generous donation of serveware and utensils for the event.

And last but certainly not least, this event would have been nothing without everyone who attended, bought tickets, invited friends, bid on the silent auction, tipped heavy at the bar, and bought queso at the end of the night. :) We had such a beautiful, generous crowd! Love you all.

Thanks to all my fellow media folks who helped promote the event, including 48 Hills, Blackboard Eats, and SF Weekly! Mwah!

I will be posting pictures as soon as I have them on Facebook. Unfortunately my camera is on the fritz (it’s stuck on just one focus mode, ugh), and I was only able to capture a few images that were usable. Fortunately a couple of friends showed up with their cameras, thanks!

We are living in a crazy, heartbreaking state of the world right now, with so much loss and disasters and suffering at every turn, but we also have a world full of people who love to help, to give, and come together. We can make a difference. Let’s keep it up. A lot of people need our help right now. Besos y amor!

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Meredith Miller delivering sandwiches: “With my favorite firefighter today, Dave. Taking sandwiches to the helicopters going up with the huge water drops.” Photo via Facebook.

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Napa Private Tours and Taco Addiction have teamed up and are doing a great job feeding first responders and more.

It’s hell on earth in the North Bay, and there is a tremendous, awe-inspiring amount of effort happening in the Bay Area from so many people trying to help, from feeding people to providing shelter and supplies and medical attention, let alone emotional support, to helping animals and livestock. It’s a huge triage situation that’s changing hourly. Some systems are coming into focus, with organizations like Facebook preparing and delivering 5,000 meals at a time. Incredible.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks. Here are places and organizations where you can donate time, money, meals, and more. Even if you can’t help RIGHT NOW, how about next week?

A group of top SF restaurateurs and businesses have banded together to bring food to the North Bay and help care for the community. Whether you’re a chef who wants to cook/prepare food or a volunteer who can help with phone calls and admin and deliveries, please take a look at SF Fights Fire and sign up. (You can also donate to help their efforts.) Since last Thursday, they have delivered more than 15,000 meals, working closely with the Salvation Army, Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol, and small evacuation centers.

Huge kudos to Off the Grid for rallying their vendors and trucks to help feed people. Please support them in their efforts here.

Here’s a page with food needs set up by a nonprofit group in Santa Rosa, Worth Our Weight (see contact info at the top), where you can offer to provide food.

Meredith Miller in Petaluma and her group of #sandwichangels have been feeding sandwiches to first responders and evacuees—she started with 200 sandwiches in her home kitchen and is now up to 2,000 at a commercial kitchen. Here’s how to help financially, and there’s info on how you can volunteer here.

Our friend at Pizzalina brought UndocuFund to my attention, which is bringing fire relief to undocumented workers in Sonoma County (who aren’t eligible for fire relief from FEMA, and have diminished access to other disaster relief services). Please take a look. To add some perspective, an estimated 28,000 undocumented immigrants live and work in Sonoma County.

Our friends at Napa Private Tours have been feeding first responders, evacuees, and volunteers (you can follow their efforts on their Instagram too), here’s how to help them: “We are in for the long run and we need you to partner with us. If you are among those who has asked for a way to give us a tax-deductible donation, we are fortunate and blessed to have an option for you. Our wonderful friends at Feast It Forward have set up a direct account to point money our way and help us keep going as we try to meet the immediate needs of first responders and fire evacuees.”

Can you drive? Copia is looking for delivery volunteers!

Our friends at Heath have this to say: “We’re heartbroken by the devastating impact of the North Bay’s wildfires and all of our neighbors who have been impacted. We’ve been thinking about how Heath can help immediate, critical needs, and believe that the way that we can potentially have the most impact is to support the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB). REFB is providing critical food to shelters for neighbors displaced by fires and working to ensure that those who needed food assistance before the fires are still able to access their help.

“REFB is in dire need of ready-to-eat, nonperishable foods that they can provide to the evacuation centers immediately and for weeks to come. These foods should be easy to open and easy to eat; many shelters do not have kitchens for heating and preparing food. Please do not bring glass containers.

“Feel free to drop off food donations to the Heath SF or Heath Sausalito showrooms. We’ll use our Heath van to deliver donations to REFB on Friday, October 20. And we’ll continue to evaluate our contributions as needs and news evolves.”

“And our friends at Bay Grape have been doing a lot to help (follow on Facebook and sign up for their newsletter); here’s what they recommend:

“1) GIVE MONEY for the long road of rebuilding ahead. The Napa Valley Community Foundation and Sonoma County Resilience Fund are two good options among many.

“2) BUY PRODUCTS FROM AFFECTED AREAS. We cannot overstate this enough. It can feel shallow to just ‘drink a bottle of wine’ and think you’re helping, but you truly are. Your purchase is REAL money going to REAL businesses, families, livelihoods that have been totally decimated by these fires.

“3) VISIT THE AFFECTED AREAS, eat at the restaurants, shop at the stores, drink at the tasting rooms, tip well. Again: REAL money going to REAL businesses, families, and livelihoods. We’ll be majorly amping up our stock of Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa wines at the shop in the coming months as a way to support this effort.”

And from Reeve Wines: “Sonoma-based Reeve Wines, from husband-and-wife team Noah and Kelly Dorrance, has put together an all-star effort for fire relief. Based in Healdsburg in the Dry Creek Valley, Noah and Kelly have called upon friends and family to create an epic raffle event with 100 percent of all money raised going to help fire victims, with a focus on giving to the most vulnerable and those who were uninsured.”

Donors and friends will match dollar for dollar all the money raised (that means this doubles the impact of the gift). All funds raised through the purchase of entry tickets will be divided to three different organizations—the Redwood Credit Union Fund, Redwood Empire Food Bank, and to a local to Healdsburg organization called Corazon. Tickets are 1 for $25, 5 for $100, 15 for $200, 50 for $500. Drawing will be held on Facebook Live at 11am PST, November 1st.

The Absinthe Group is hosting a fundraising event this Sunday October 22nd at ~BELLOTA~ from 3pm-7pm, with 100 percent of ticket sales ($100 per person) going directly to fire relief efforts. The walk-around event will feature food and drink from Bellota, plus dishes from contributing chefs, including Antelmo Faria (Uma Casa), Kim Alter (Nightbird), Jason Berthold (Monsieur Benjamin), Anjan Mitra (Dosa), and more. Tickets and more info can be found here.

And lastly, we could all use a drink. Come by ~THE FRONT PORCH~ tomorrow, Wednesday October 18th, for the Lo-Fi x Front Porch fundraiser—all Lo-Fi drink proceeds will be donated to North Bay fire relief. 5:30pm-8:30pm.

October 10, 2017
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Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas. Photo: John Ater.

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Happy hour will be special with Espolòn Tequila cocktails by Rye on the Road. Photo courtesy of MADE PR.

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El Huarache Loco is going to be serving mini huarachitos con nopales. Photo: John Ater.

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One of the five cocktails we’ll be serving are El Techo’s classic margaritas. Photo: Aubrie PIck.

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Chef Daniel Tellez of Copita will be at our event serving ceviche. Photo: Copita.

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The Hechos in Mexico portfolio with Milagro Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes will be en la casa!

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Loló is going to be serving a version of their incredible taco tropical! (The best.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Cochinita pibil from La Cocina’s Sal de Vida Gourmet—we’ll be having tostaditos! Photo: Sal de Vida Gourmet.

I know the recent quakes and horrific damage in Mexico seem far away considering all the terrible disasters our planet has suffered the past few weeks, but there are still many people and places in desperate need who will benefit from our assistance. There are so many people now homeless and living in shelters or sleeping outside, people who need food, volunteers who need help. Villagers left with nothing. Sadly, a lot like what is happening here in ravaged Northern California, but with less resources to get back on their feet.

I hope you can support the happy hour-style fundraiser I am hosting with the wonderful folks at Cambria Gallery in SoMa. We’re calling the event SF ❤️ MX and will be serving a bunch of delicious dishes and craft cocktails this Friday October 13th for Mexico earthquake relief (100% of the proceeds will be donated!).

Even if you can’t attend, can you please help spread the word? See below! Thank you so much.

I have some exciting updates to the lineup, including the news that we have three La Cocina businesses joining us (gracias, damas!), and chef Carlos Villapudua and his brother Mundo of Villa Montez and their new 1836 Texas Kitchen in Tyler, Texas, are flying to SF to cook at our event. Amazing!

There will be abundant bites from Loló (taco tropical), Sal de Vida Gourmet (cochinita pibil mini tostadas with pickled onions), Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas (vegetable and meat tamales), El Huarache Loco (mini tostaditas de tinga and mini huarachitos con nopales), Copita (ceviche), Don Pistos (tamales and albondigas), WesBurger ‘N’ More (queso), and others, including Green Chile Kitchen, who will be serving their grains & greens salad with chipotle vinaigrette (vegetarian). There are some other vegetarian options too (please look above).

If you want to contribute anything sweet, please get in touch! Thank you to everyone who is so generously providing food for the event.

The bar will be shakin’ with fantastic cocktails courtesy of Rye on the Road and El Techo, featuring top spirits from Campari America/Espolòn Tequila, Milagro Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes. We have some awesome bartenders donating their time and expertise.

Mexican cervezas will be generously provided by Cadillac Bar & Grill and Hard Frescos (they are a new brand, making cold-fermented aguas frescas!). Many thanks to Chambers & Chambers for donating cases of French rosé wine for you to enjoy! It will be #roséoclock.

We also have a fantastic silent auction, with gift certificates and more (thanks to Nopa, Nopalito, Flores, Uno Dos Tacos y Tequila, 54 Mint, Montesacro); gift boxes from Campari America, Milagro Tequila, and Manicaretti; gift certificates from Ginger Rubio Salon; and an ice cream maker AND Le Creuset pan from Joanne Weir. Plus, we’ll have local art from Rob Delamater and Adam McCauley.

La Cocina is offering a VIP experience for the 2017 San Francisco Street Food Festival, which includes an open bar, vouchers for five booths, and a personalized walking tour of the new event venue by executive director Caleb Zigas for up to four guests. This isn’t something even usually offered, so it’s really special.

And Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch is donating a tour of the ranch and dinner (or lunch) for four people, featuring meats and wines from the ranch, plus Marin County vegetables and cheeses.

We need a few more volunteers to help serve food and keep the event tidy! And my camera is on the fritz (ugh!)—it would be amazing to have a photographer there, gracias. Please get in touch if you can help in any way!

Special thanks to Dominic Philips Event Marketing for the generous donation of serveware and utensils for the event.

This event will be a 100 percent donation to Omaze and Ambulante’s fundraiser, started by Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal to help Mexico rebuild. Click the link to read more about this thoughtful and legit fundraiser.

Tickets are on a sliding scale ($35-$150+, ALL INCLUSIVE)—all we ask is that you please pay what you can afford to donate, gracias. Most importantly, we just want you there!

Even if you can’t attend, if you can please help spread the word, we’d so appreciate it. Here is the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for liking and sharing!

And here is the event flyer you can link to, download, and share! (And here is a version in Spanish!)

Another way you can help: we are processing our tickets with Square, which kindly gifted our Mexico fundraiser with no processing fees for $750 of transactions, but that’s going to disappear quickly. If you can please sign up for a Square account (it’s free!), we will get $1,000 of free ticket processing! And so will you. :) Which means every cent that is spent on tickets will go to Mexico. Gracias! (And thanks to the person who signed up last week, we really appreciate it!)

See you this Friday October 13th! 6:30pm-9pm. 21 and over. Cambria showroom, 1045 Bryant St. between 8th and 9th streets.

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“Smoke and Fire.” Photograph by Gaetan Caron, Mendocino County, Northern California. Used with permission.

I know everyone’s Facebook pages are swirling with info on angel friends driving supplies to shelters, drop-off points for donations, food deliveries, and many more ways to help all these poor people who have lost everything in Northern California from the fires. You are all amazing, way to rally. Look for the helpers!

I wanted to share a few initial ways to help that have crossed my desk, thanks for any support you can show! And please read the note at the bottom of this post for tips about donating clothes and more, thank you!

Our friends at Charles Communications have started this GoFundMe fundraiser that “for now will provide DIRECT relief to evacuees of the communities of west county in Sonoma. Found an organization networked to 10 other shelters who are taking in evacuees. We are identifying a similar charity in Napa, where the devastation has cut communications. The goal is to raise money so we can go and buy supplies for the 10 shelters (sleeping bags, cots, diapers, kids pajamas, nonperishable food, hygienic items). Our team will be driving a load up this Thursday. Please contribute what you can.”

You want to help? Donate? Need realtime info? This detailed page for Sonoma donations, volunteering, evac site needs, and more is AMAZING. There’s a timestamp so you can see when it was last updated.

There are also some drop-off points for clothes, supplies, and more:

-From noon-close now through Friday night (at least), ~THE ALEMBIC~ in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood will be a donation drop point for food, blankets, clothing, medical supplies, pet food (domestic and livestock). Chef Rachel Aronow will take donated items up beginning on Saturday morning. Aronow grew up in the North Bay and sadly the farm where she was raised, in the Fountain Grove area in Santa Rosa, was wiped out by the fires along with about 70 horses. (So so sorry to read this, chef Rachel. The mind reels. Love to you.)

-~RESOLUTE~ wine bar is going to be donating all beverage sales all night this Wednesday October 11th. They will also be accepting canned food (dog/cat food in particular) and toiletries to be delivered up north that following Thursday morning.

-~LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB~ is accepting donations through Friday at 11am. “We have direct contacts on the ground ready to accept these donations and we will personally deliver them. NEEDED unused, non perishables such as: toiletries, pet food, diapers, blankets, underwear, clothes etc. Chef and crew will also be preparing food and delivering it to those in need, in shelters and wherever requested. PLEASE DROP OFF DONATIONS ANYTIME AFTER 10am—if prior to business hours, ring yellow buzzer—WE ARE HERE! Now is the time for us all to show up!”

-~THE STUD~ in SoMa will be receiving supplies for North Bay today after 5pm and every day until further notice! They are also accepting monetary donations, which will be dispersed to several local funds. (And they are also receiving large luggage for Puerto Rico.) Keep up with their help and needs on Facebook. Here’s what is currently needed: baby food, canned food, diapers (baby and adult), inhalers, toiletries (toothbrush, paste, toilet paper), dog and cat food and litter, other pet supplies (water and food bowls), water and juice, clothes (all ages and sizes), new underwear in package, new pillows in package, and clean blankets.

~MAUNA LOA~, at 3009 Fillmore at Union, will have bins out as of tomorrow 10/11/17 for food and clothing.

-~FORT POINT BEER~ is now a drop-off point: If you are looking to donate supplies to those affected by the North Bay fires, our brewery (644 Old Mason Street) is now acting as a drop-off location. Donations can be made this week through Monday 10/16 from 6am-8pm—our trucks will be making deliveries to the shelters. Our hearts go out to our family, friends and community in the North Bay. Read more on what is needed here.

-In wake of the devastating fires in Northern California, we wanted to share that The Morris will become a drop-off site for supplies this Thursday, 10/12 through Saturday, 10/14 between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m at 2501 Mariposa St (Mariposa & Hampshire).

-~THE MORRIS~ team will collect supplies from Thursday 10/12 through Saturday 10/14 (from 1pm-4pm) at 2501 Mariposa St. at Hampshire. They will then bring supplies to Fort Point Brewery, who will deliver everything to shelters on Monday October 16th. The items in highest demand include:
— Tents
— Air Mattresses and cots
— Pillows
— Phone Chargers
— Dry and Canned Pet Food (dog, cat, kitten)
— Animal crates and carriers small and large
— Dog Bowls (any bowls for food and water)
— Other pet supplies (litter, bedding, leashes, collars)
— Diapers
— Baby Strollers
— Baby Carries
— Personal Protection Equipment (masks, latex gloves, etc.)
— Boxes
— Duct Tape

In the East Bay, ~BAY GRAPE~ in Oakland is accepting donations. Please look at their Facebook page for the latest updates/needs/tips and more.

Just got this from my friend at Extrafood.org: Spent the past 2 days working at Marin’s main emergency shelter, incredible. A small city sprang up in no time, housed 500 people Monday night. More shelters are springing up and ExtraFood.org is getting food to them.

Key messages to people wanting to help: - People fleeing the fires are welcome at the Marin Veterans’ Auditorium shelter, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Small pets are welcome.
- Marin Humane Society, 415-883-4621, is providing emergency boarding for animals.
- Don’t bring food or other donations to the Marin Veterans’ Auditorium.
- Sign up to volunteer at volunteer.cvnl.org - If you work in a Marin business that has food to donate, contact ExtraFood.org
- People wanting to post they are safe can do so at safeandwell.org
- Watch for updates at marincounty.org

I read this post by Abby Leutholdt on Facebook and found it to be full of excellent and helpful information, please look this over before you donate clothes and other items.

“After the devastating Valley and Rocky fires, I spent weeks working in the evacuation centers. Mainly, I assisted in sorting and separating the mountain of donated clothes and supplies. I was overwhelmed by the people I met and their stories but also in the amazing generosity of strangers.

But…in the coming days and weeks, as you consider helping and begin to sort through things you’d like to donate, stop and truly look at what you are giving. If it is new or ‘lightly used,’ please give it to those who need it.

If it is torn, missing buttons, stained, tattered or smells like cat pee (yes, I sorted through several bags), please do not add to the misery of this disaster by offloading your less than desirable belongings to those in need.

In a matter of minutes, many people lost everything today. Everything.

Clothes, shoes, warm coats, sports equipment (yes, cleats matter to kids who just want normal), school supplies, tools, gift cards, hotel vouchers are all needed. If you donate shoes, tie the laces or rubber band them together. If you give a belt or accessories, put them in a ziplock. Label the bags with a Sharpie. Separate your donations into smaller bags or boxes, label the boxes. (Toddler clothes and shoes, sizes 2T-4T, Women’s Work Clothes, sizes 8/10/12, Men’s Casual Clothes, sizes XL and Pants sizes 36-38, etc.). This will help more than you know.

In the coming weeks and months, people will need your help. These fires have stolen homes, cars, belongings, places of employment (which means that people have lost jobs too), hopes, dreams, memories. Now is the time to open up our hearts, homes, and wallets.

And, as someone who lost everything once in a fire, sometimes it’s the little things that really matter. A phone call, a shared meal, unexpected bags of groceries or even a memory album. Go through pictures, put together photo albums for your friends. You don’t have to give it to them yet, but when you do, it can bring so much peace.

Once donation pages are announced, consider keeping the funds local. Look to the local churches, charities, and credit unions that will be setting up and managing funds.

Volunteer. Serve meals, help sort donations, read to kids. If you are qualified, help people with legal and financial advice. Go to fundraisers, bid on auction items, support our communities by being an active member. It’s so easy to be wrapped up in our own worries, fears, and lives. Now is the time to help others. Please help in any way you can.”

Thank you, Abby, and thank you everyone for all your support, concern, time, and helping hands and open hearts. Keep it coming. You are all incredible.

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The red booths and collage artwork at Foxsister. All photos courtesy of Foxsister.

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Get your Korean snack on.

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The fun, divey style of Foxsister.

Newly open (as of last night) on 24th Street in the Mission is ~FOXSISTER~ from chef-owner Brandon Kirksey and his partner Kristina Farino. Kirksey’s background includes working at Flour + Water, The Slanted Door and Jardinière and opening Girin Ssam Bar in Seattle, where Kirksey was deeply inspired to explore Korean cuisine further (plus travel in Korea).

His creative Korean project is meant to have dive bar DNA, with a low-key yet high-energy vibe. The menu is inspired by “anju” (Korean drinking snacks that are spicy and crunchy) and family-style dishes (like bo ssam) for your posse to enjoy. The menu includes handmade noodles and rice cakes, spicy fried chicken (three kinds), ribs, bulgogi, savory pancakes, and hot pots.

There are fun dishes, like squid jerky, kimchi nacho cheese dip (sign me up), and other stoner-friendly bites, like dumplings. Ingredients are made in-house and by hand, like his signature spicy miso paste (ssamjang) and fermented vegetables, including various kimchis and more. There are also some vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.

Drinking options include soju cocktails, plenty of beer (local and Asian), wines, and more. The space has a fun design, including punchy tomato-red booths, a glitter bar top, and local artwork inside and out, including a full-wall wheatpaste collage by Seattle street artist Cheyenne Randall. Music will also figure prominently, with guest DJs spinning old-school hip-hop to punk.

Open Sun-Wed 6pm-10pm and Thu-Sat 6pm-11pm. 3161 24th St. at Shotwell, 415-829-7814.

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

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New lunch options at Fiorella. Photo: Blair Heagerty.

Some snacky news for you: Kantine Smørrebrød has returned to the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for the fall season—look for Nichole Accettola’s Scandinavian-inspired open-faced sandwiches and grain porridges (only served from 8am-10:30am) and sprouted rye bread to bring home. They will rotate each week. 8am-2pm, south driveway. In the meantime, things are moving ahead for Kantine to open at 1906 Market Street next year.

If you could also use some caffeine, Red Bay Coffee has joined the Ferry Plaza on Thursdays! You can enjoy their single-origin, fair-trade coffees and beans, all roasted in small batches in Oakland.

Looking for a new lunch spot? Outer Richmond’s ~FIORELLA~ is kicking off lunch on Fridays from 11am-2pm. There are pizzas and pasta, new salads, and sandwiches (including an eggplant Parm, Italian hoagie, and meatball sub), plus you can snag the new Tuesday burger on Fridays for lunch. There’s also a new list of low-ABV cocktails by Patrick Poelvoorde (Benjamin Cooper and Burritt Room + Tavern), perfect for the back patio. 2339 Clement St. at 23rd Ave., 415-340-3049.  

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The pozole verde from El Pípila. Photo by John Ater.

Last week, ~THE HALL~ closed in order to start making way for development of the space into mixed use (residential and retail). The temporary space (it was open for three years) housed a variety of small businesses, from Back East Sandwich Shop to El Pípila (who I heard going to be opening in a new location next year!). In the meantime, El Pípila will be doing lunch deliveries—gotta keep Guadalupe’s pozole verde in our lives! Also heard tenant Farming Hope will continue to expand with dinners and more presence at the Civic Center Farmers’ Market. 1028 Market St. at Golden Gate.

A reader let me know there has been another casualty at Ghirardelli Square: the café location for ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ has also closed.

Over at the ~FERRY BUILDING~, Boccalone will be closing at the end of the month (on October 29th). And not just the shop, but the entire charcuterie company. Owner Mark Pastore told Inside Scoop that shop sales have been in decline, and the artisan charcuterie business has become a more crowded space. Stock up on their ibericollo while you can.

And another nail in ~FARINA~’s coffin: Mission Local reports the business was officially evicted (the notice was dated September 20th).

And just because we haven’t seen enough destruction from fires (dear lord, make it stop, please), ~CAFFE PUCCINI~ in North Beach sadly suffered a fire last night. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to track down the story and details before post time on how extensive the damage is—I will update this post when I can. [UPDATE: Hoodline’s report and pics are so sad, the place is totally and tragically gutted.] 411 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo.

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Donato and Gianluca plating bites of the ricotta tortelli with spicy amatriciana sauce. Photo: Nadia Andreini.

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The dining room at the new Donato & Co. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The busy bar at last Friday’s Donato & Co. pre-opening party. Photo: Nadia Andreini.

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Housemade pitina salume at Donato & Co. Photo: Nadia Andreini.

As many of you know, last Friday I helped host the preopening party for ~DONATO & CO.~, the contemporary Italian restaurant opening in Elmwood from Donato Scotti (of Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City and Desco in Oakland) and his chef-partner in this and future projects, Gianluca Guglielmi, who came from Italy to open Donato & Co.

Grazie to everyone who bought tickets to the party and came out to welcome Donato and Gianluca to the neighborhood! The event was also a fundraiser for The Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP)—the duo generously donated $2,000 to BORP! It’s an impressive nonprofit organization that works to improve the health, independence, and social integration of people with physical disabilities through adaptive sports, fitness, and recreation programs, and it is based in Berkeley.

It was one heck of a party—Donato and Gianluca put out quite the apericena spread, from housemade salumi (check this out) to quail lollipops to roasted pig! It was a great way to check out some of the dishes they’ll be serving—the housemade ricotta tortelli with spicy amatriciana sauce were fantastico. And hello risotto with oxtail.

Check out the menu here. Dishes are going to be rotating often, but you can see the different sections. I’d pay particular attention to items coming off the grill, a highlight feature of the open kitchen, which includes rotisserie chicken. The pricing is also very neighborhood-friendly—they want to see you often.

The bar was busy pouring prosecco and making spritzes all night, and I can vouch for the fab Negroni I had late at night at the end of the event. Ahhhhh. That bar is not only spacious, but also well stocked. Enjoy it.

The space looks great (Anna Klint of Iron Skirt designed it)—it includes a 20-foot bar and seating for 120 guests in the main dining room. There are booths and comfortable chairs and lots of wood and huge images of Donato’s hometown, Bergamo. And then there’s that state-of-the-art Constellation and Libra acoustic system from Berkeley’s renowned Meyer Sound, which makes for the best dining room acoustics. Hours are Mon-Thu 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm, and Sun 5pm-9pm. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley.

A few other quick tidbits of East Bay news for you:

Open today (October 10th) on Piedmont Avenue is ~BELOTTI BOTTEGA~ from Michele Belotti of Belotti Ristorante e Bottega in Rockridge. It’s more of a takeout/quick-serve concept. “Fresh pasta, sauces, and appetizers will be available for purchase during the soft opening. Full capacity menu and online ordering will be available shortly!” 4001 Piedmont Ave. at 40th St., Oakland.

—This is the opposite of good news: a taker for one of the spaces that was formerly occupied by beloved and old-school Genova Delicatessen will be a ~NOAH’S BAGELS~. No word who is taking over the second space yet. [Via Eater.]

I’ll have more news for you next week on new projects!

October 3, 2017
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Our poor world right now. I know we have all been feeling powerless watching the horrific aftermath of all these disasters recently. So much suffering and loss. So let’s do something! After the most recent quakes in Mexico, I partnered up with the wonderful folks at Cambria Gallery in SoMa to hold a happy hour-style fundraiser, SF ❤️ MX, serving bites and drinks for Mexico earthquake relief on Friday October 13th.

There will be bites from Loló (taco tropical), Sal de Vida Gourmet (cochinita pibil mini tostadas with pickled onions), Copita (ceviche), Don Pistos (tamales and albondigas), WesBurger ‘N’ More (queso), and others, including Green Chile Kitchen.

If you can contribute food, please get in touch! And we still don’t have anything sweet! Thank you to everyone who is so generously providing food for the event.

The bar will be shakin’ with fantastic cocktails courtesy of Rye on the Road and El Techo, featuring top spirits from Campari America/Espolòn Tequila, Milagro Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes, plus cervezas generously provided by Cadillac Bar & Grill and Hard Frescos (they are a new brand making cold-fermented aguas frescas!).

We also have a fantastic silent auction taking shape, with gift certificates and more (thanks to Nopa, Nopalito, Flores, Uno Dos Tacos y Tequila, Campari America, Ginger Rubio Salon, and Joanne Weir/Copita)!

We are accepting donations of any kind to help with this event, from dropping off a dish to being there to serve your dish to silent auction items—everything and anything would help! We really need wine donations! And we’d love to have live music.

We need volunteers to help serve food, experienced folks to shake and pour batched cocktails behind the bar, and a few general helpers! Please get in touch if you can help!

This event will be a 100% donation to Omaze and Ambulante’s fundraiser, helping Mexico rebuild.

Tickets are on a sliding scale ($35-$150+), all we ask is you please pay what you can afford to donate, gracias. Most importantly, we just want you there!

Even if you can’t attend, if you can please help spread the word, we’d so appreciate it. Here is the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for liking and sharing!

And here is the event flyer you can link to, download, and share! (And here is a version in Spanish!)

Another way you can help: we are processing our tickets with Square, which kindly gifted our Mexico fundraiser with no processing fees for $750 of transactions, but that’s going to disappear quickly. If you can please sign up for a Square account (it’s free!), we will get $1,000 of free ticket processing! And so will you. :) Which means every cent that is spent on tickets will go to Mexico. Gracias!

See you on Friday October 13th! 6:30pm-9pm. 21 and over. Cambria showroom, 1045 Bryant St. between 8th and 9th streets.

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Manila clams cooked in hay. Photo: Alison Christiana.

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An array of dishes at Gibson. Photo: Alison Christiana.

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Smoked trout with farmer cheese and cucumber on rye. Photo: Alison Christiana.

Back in August, I mentioned chef Robin Song was going to be opening ~GIBSON~ in the soon-to-be-renovated boutique Hotel Bijou in the Tenderloin, and boom, it’s opening this Thursday October 5th.

Song’s menu is contemporary American and will be driven by live-fire cooking. You can start with charcoal-grilled sourdough bread with seasonal accompaniments, like curried currant and cauliflower, duck liver mousse, or cultured goat’s milk with seaweed and trout roe. There are bites like charred cucumber with uni bagna cauda, or you can go for a caviar service from The Caviar Co. There’s also a dish of carrots cooked in embers with sunflower, Medjool date and Moorish spices; another vegetarian dish is potato dumplings from the oven with broccoli, pine nut, and fermented peppers.

Larger, meaty mains include Sonoma duck ($23) smoked over the grill with beetroot and blackberry, and grilled heritage pork ($19) with young turnip, kohlrabi, and apple. True to their word, dishes are affordable but not sacrificing quality and sophisticated technique. Song’s culinary background spans Bay Wolf, Plum, Ame, Central Kitchen, and most recently Hog & Rocks.

Beverage director Adam Chapman (formerly of Daniel Patterson Group) has put together an intriguing and culinary-driven cocktail menu, full of unique picks like the Clarified Japanese Bloody Mary (sochu, aged sake, heirloom tomato water, vinegar, spice) served in a ceramic pitcher. And of course, there are plenty of variations on the classic Gibson cocktail, such as the Sea (nori gin, liquid kelp, sake, and sea bean) and the Garden (French oak gin, herbed dry vermouth, green peppercorn, and radish fromage). Radish fromage? To be investigated. Mark Nevin of Tofino Wines is behind the wine list, with wines exclusively from California and France.

The 90-seat restaurant has an Art Deco-inspired style by Oakland-based Mister Important. There’s a bar and lounge, open kitchen, and ceiling mural by Italian artist Marco Battaglini, plus a private dining room and deep turquoise leather banquettes.

Open nightly 5:30pm-10:30pm. 111 Mason St. at Eddy.

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The dining room at Barnzu, with 100-year-old brick walls. Photo via Facebook.

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Barnzu’s royal rice cake with sirloin steak. Photo via Facebook.

Last week, I ran a preview of the about-to-open ~THE SALZBURG~ in North Beach, and co-owner Jay Esopenko has confirmed it’s opening this Wednesday October 4th. Here’s a look at the menu, which is going to get you thirsty and hungry. Hours will be Tue-Wed 4pm-10:30pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sun 4pm-10pm. 663 Union St. at Columbus.

There’s a new contemporary Korean spot from the folks behind the Kokio Republic fried chicken food truck called ~BARNZU~ in the TenderNob. It’s soft open right now, with a variety of dishes like jeon (savory pancake), sweet potato noodles with mushrooms, kimchi fried rice, stonepot, and three different kinds of fried items, including their trademark KFC. Beer, wine, sake, and soju round out the menu. Open Sun and Tue-Thu 5:30pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 711 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-525-4985.

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Hot, glazed doughnuts at Johnny Doughnuts. Photo via Facebook.

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The tempting counter at Les Gourmands Bakery. Yelp photo by D.D.

Many ~JOHNNY DOUGHNUTS~ fans have been waiting (im)patiently for the first SF brick-and-mortar location to open in Hayes Valley, and it’s now softly open as of this past weekend. Take a peek at the main menu to see how truly doughnut-obsessed these folks are—they are not just making the same old, same old here. There’s even their “wheat-free fritter thang.” Daily hours are 7am-4pm (or until sold out). 392 Fulton St. at Gough. [Via Eater.]

Whoa, there’s another European bakery in SoMa, ~LES GOURMANDS BAKERY~, focused on French pastries, viennoiserie, and brioches, all made from family recipes. Fifth-generation baker Sylvain Chaillout is working with his parents, Catherine and Serge, and they just opened in the Mosso apartment complex. The menu includes croissants (including almond) and pain au chocolat, and then there’s almond pain chocolat (whut). You’ll also find chaussons aux pommes, chouquettes, brioche, and a variety of sablé cookies (including coconut, white chocolate, and raisin). Can’t wait to check it out. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm and Sat 8am-7pm. 280 5th St. at Folsom. [Via Hoodline.]

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Do you have your ticket for La Cocina’s Street Food Festival on Sunday October 15th? I hope so. Because it’s wonderful to have it back. And there’s even more planned this year to add a more thoughtful layer to the experience besides stuffing your face with delicious foods made with love by all the participating La Cocina entrepreneurs and food businesses, plus friends of La Cocina too.

This year, they are offering special guided walking and learning tours throughout the day so you can get an insider’s view with back-of-tent access, connect with the makers, and hear some amazing stories. You get to skip the lines. And yes, have some incredible tastes and bites!

Some of the tours include Small Business, Big Change (led by Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture Fellow Shakirah Simley, with Reem’s, Sariwa, Bini’s Kitchen, Los Cilantros, and Tu David Phu); Latinx Foodways (led by Sal de Vida chef and cookbook writer Adriana Lahl, featuring Sabores del Sur [Chile], El Mesón de Violeta [Chile], Estrellita’s Snacks [El Salvador], Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas [Sinoloa], Los Cilantros [Cuernavaca], El Pipila [Guanajuato], El Huarache Loco [CDMX], and Delicioso Crêperie [CDMX]); and Bay Area Natives (with San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef and Bay Area native Fernay McPherson, featuring Peaches Patties, Mission Boricua, Smelly’s Creole & Soul Food Catering, Yvonne’s Southern Sweets).

The tours are just $30 and include admission to the Street Food Festival. La Cocina has even offered a special code that gets you a $5 discount on the tours (and on the “La Cocina T-shirt and ticket package”)—use code: tablehopper. So, book one!

And one more thing: I wanted to make sure La Cocina’s F&B: Voices from the Kitchen storytelling series is on your radar. On Thursday October 19th, it’s returning for the fifth installment examining “refuge” at the Swedish American Hall (6pm-8:30pm). And then on Friday October 20th, F&B heads to the San Jose Museum of Art for the very first time. All proceeds from the events benefit the work of La Cocina.

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Kyoto-style spaghetti with duck, ginger, Parmigiano, and sansho pepper. Photo courtesy of Cibi Cotti.

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Tortelli neri with salt cod, ‘nduja, and celery hearts. Photo courtesy of Cibi Cotti.

After former Locanda chef Anthony Strong tried and then bagged his Young Fava delivery concept, I’ve been waiting to see what’s next from this talented chef. He’s currently entering lease negotiations on a space for a brick-and-mortar concept—more on that soon—but in the meantime, he really wants to be cooking and testing dishes. Starting this weekend is Cibi Cotti, his pop-up dinner series that runs Friday through Sunday evenings. For $75 per person (plus service), 24 guests can enjoy a multicourse Italian dinner served family-style. And it’s going to be abundant, like 9-10 courses. Yeah, he’s a feeder.

Don’t expect “traditional” Italian dishes—Strong is having fun, doing his own style and playing around. But he knows all about delicious, so it should rock. The name means “cooked food,” and that’s what he’s excited to be doing again—just cooking up some food. And he wants it to feel like a party.

You can get tickets on Tock for this weekend now, and they will be selling the second round early next week—sign up for the mailing list for a heads-up when they go on sale.

It’s BYOB (but you can also order wine from Local Mission Cellar at the event, which is just a couple of blocks away, and they will get it for you). Bring enough to share! Dinner is Fri-Sun at 7pm. 2670 Harrison St. at 23rd St.

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The vegetarian barbecue platter at The Perennial. Photo courtesy of The Perennial.

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Salmon carpaccio at Whitechapel. Photo courtesy of Whitechapel.

You know when Sunday evening rolls around and you’ve got a mad craving for a pinsa from ~MONTESACRO~ and you couldn’t do anything about it because they were closed? Well, no longer! Montesacro is now open on Sundays starting at 4pm. Mangia!

There are a couple of new chef posts to report, starting with Michael Andreatta as co-chef with Anthony Myint at ~THE PERENNIAL~—he was a sous chef at Commonwealth years ago. With Myint back in the kitchen, look for a more playful, collaborative, experimental style to come to the menu—and more guest chefs. There’s a vegetarian barbecue platter with smoked kale rib, barbecued onion, carrot steak, black rice, beluga lentils, and chimichurri broth—but you can add on some crispy bits of barbecued meat as a condiment if you’d like. Look for an expanded housemade pasta selection made with sustainable grains too.

Co-founder Karen Leibowitz will oversee bread production and share responsibility with Myint and Andreatta for dessert creation. Opening chef Chris Kiyuna is helping with the transition and will be exploring interests outside the food world. 59 9th St. at Mission, 415-500-7788.

Meanwhile, over at ~WHITECHAPEL~, there’s a new chef, Michelle Matthews—she was at 15 Romolo for four years, plus Gitane and Café Claude. Her new menu includes beetroot and gin-infused salmon carpaccio with fennel pollen, Devonshire cream, salmon roe, pomegranate, and basil oil ($14); and wild foraged mushroom flatbread with chanterelle, lobster, and nebrodini mushrooms, roast garlic purée, burrata, arugula, and lemon ($16); plus a new spin on the fish and chips beer batter and some other tweaks. There’s also a “Roast Beast” large-format shareable feast if you’re with a group. Full menu served until 10pm nightly, and a bar bites menu is offered until closing. 600 Polk St. at Turk.

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Hakkasan’s chile crab dumpling for Golden Week. Photo courtesy of Hakkasan Group.

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There are some fun special dining events and menus coming up, including the current Golden Week limited menu at ~HAKKASAN~, which is fortunately running for more than a week (from now through October 22nd). The menu is a collaboration between Hakkasan Group’s executive chef Tong Chee Hwee and chef Dabiz Muñoz, owner and executive chef of StreetXO in Mayfair (London), who has a reputation as the “enfant terrible of Spanish gastronomy,” so look for an intersection of Cantonese and Spanish influences. Even the bar team is in on the menu with the Oriental Frontera (Belvedere vodka, plum sauce-infused fino sherry, pink grapefruit, chile, and Hakkasan sweet and sour). Dishes include hot and sour soup with foie gras; lamb dumpling, chocolate, and mint; chile crab dumpling, black sesame sponge, soft-shell crab; Spanish tortilla dim sum, truffle, quail egg; stir-fry rib-eye beef, gnocchi, and lily bulb; enoki mushroom noodle; three-ways crispy egg fried rice with paprika; and Naranja Cheng, with calamansi curd, orange and tarragon sorbet, tomato crémeux.

In case you ever get a craving for an English breakfast, you can now find one at ~LORD STANLEY~! Owners Carrie and Rupert Blease are launching it this Sunday October 8th, and if it goes well, they will plan to continue doing English breakfast every first Sunday of the month. The Full English is $25 and includes fried eggs, toast, baked beans, black pudding, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, bacon and sausage, and brown sauce. Draft beers, wine, coffee, tea, and fresh juice are available. It’s a later breakfast service, served from 11am-2pm. And what a beautiful room to brunch in. See you there?

Underway at ~HOG & ROCKS~ on Tuesdays is Southern Fried Night, which some of you may remember from Maverick (RIP). It features the infamous Maverick fried chicken (half for $30 and two fixin’s or whole for $50 and three fixin’s) with Southern-inspired fixin’s such as cornbread stuffing, charred green beans, mashed potatoes, collard greens, and mac and cheese. You also get B&B pickles, biscuits and waffles, burnt honey syrup, and Youk’s Hot Sauce. You have until December 19th to come by.

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The interior of Vicoletto in North Beach. Stand by for a reconcepting. Photo via Facebook.

I have a couple of closures to report around town thanks to reader tips. First, ~VICOLETTO~ in North Beach closed two weeks ago. I got in touch with co-owner Francesco Covucci, who said they are reconcepting and will be opening something else in the space—he’s just a little busy with getting his plans for the Pantarei space lined up first. 550 Green St. at Stockton.

Tablehopper reader Lisa B. let me know that ~BRASSERIE 398~ in Union Square was papered over and closed. At least we can still find chef Glen Schwartz’s tasty vittles over at The Douglas Room. 398 Geary St. at Mason.

And just when we thought Vietnamese restaurant ~MAU~ in the Mission was closing, they are back from the brink. Tablehopper reader Gina P. came into the restaurant to have a last meal and there was a sign on the window saying they worked things out with their landlord and will be reopening at the end of October/early November, after they regroup. Call it a comeback! 665 Valencia St. at 18th St.

September 26, 2017
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The swank seating at Cold Drinks Bar. All photos: © tablehopper.com (except where noted).

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The main room at Cold Drinks.

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The elegant and residentail foyer at Eight Tables by George Chen. Photo courtesy of China Live.

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Another look at the foyer (and family pictures).

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Bar director Anthony Keels with his stunning bar cart and cocktail nook.

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Two of the eight tables.

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The jiu gong ge (nine essential flavors of Chinese cuisine) course.

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The Four Seas dumpling (with caviar service).

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The delightful black cod course, wrapped in banana leaf.

The next stage of China Live’s rollout has been completed, so it’s time to head up to the second floor. Although it has been soft open for the past couple of weeks (there are reservations currently available on OpenTable), ~EIGHT TABLES BY GEORGE CHEN~ is officially opening on Tuesday October 3rd.

I was invited for a preview dinner last week, and I highly recommend stopping by the new upstairs bar beforehand, Cold Drinks Bar. It’s pretty much the city’s sexiest bar right now, a bit hidden away with its aboveground Chinatown location, so chic and featuring just the right touch of vintage Shanghai glamour. AvroKO does it again with this unique and captivating design. Try heading in there before sunset so you can experience the changing of the evening light in there.

Former beverage director Duggan McDonnell is behind the inventive Scotch-driven cocktail list. Start your evening with the Nothing Sacred or Shanghai Mai Tai while admiring the groovy (baby) mustard leather chairs, handsome bartenders outfitted in their jackets custom made by North Beach’s Al’s Attire, and futuristic details like the gleaming conduit and lighting above. And yes, Mr. McDonnell has sadly moved on to another gig that is going to allow more time for him to be with his family—he is going to be missed. I loved having his cocktails and picks for sherry and wines back in my life.

So, it’s dinnertime. You’re actually supposed to enter Eight Tables from the back alley (Kenneth Rexroth Place) and head upstairs in an elevator, which will then open into a foyer that feels like you stumbled onto a set from In the Mood for Love. There’s a vintage stereo console (you know the kind: a big cabinet with integrated speakers), and we had Miles Davis playing on the record player. There’s a shimmery brushed velvet couch and chair with a Stremaline Moderne vibe, family photographs, and other personal effects that really make you feel like you have been received in George and Cindy Wong-Chen’s home.

You’ll saunter by the wine display, which is getting even more stocked up by the day, and then there’s a little bar nook where bar director Anthony Keels will work his cocktail magic (there are actually bar carts, so expect some mobile moves as well). He was previously the bar director at Saison for three-plus years, and this evening, he wowed us with his smooth house martini, featuring vodka infused with wok-grilled rice, and the Lily Pond, a gin-based cocktail with clarified cucumber water, sorrel, peppercress, and nasturtium. My guest and I had fun hanging out in the two chairs opposite the bar area at the end of our meal for a nightcap. It really built the residential feeling, hanging out like that, but with quite a bit more theater (most people don’t have liquid nitrogen in their home).

The dining room is made of eight nooks for the namesake eight tables, and everything is in a soothing taupe and shell and other natural colors. There are curving booths, and soft lighting, and comfortable chairs made from Northern Chinese elm with woven backs. Since there aren’t any windows, you really feel like you are tucked away in a private space upstairs in some building, and you’re not even sure where or which country. There is a luxurious amount of space and privacy between all the tables, ideal for business meetings or assignations. Your secrets are safe here. There is also a chef’s table in the kitchen ($300, with an optional beverage pairing for $200).

The menu is inspired by shifan tsai (private chateau cuisine), a historic Chinese culinary style that is currently being revitalized in cosmopolitan cities in China like Hong Kong and Shanghai, and even in private homes in Los Angeles. The 10-course, banquet-style menu here ($225) is overseen by George Chen, with chef de cuisine Chi-Feng (Robin) Lin. They will be integrating both ancient and modern techniques with a San Francisco approach, keeping a close eye on seasonality (featuring produce from their close farm relationships and their rooftop garden!) and luxury ingredients as well.

You start with the charming jiu gong ge (nine essential flavors of Chinese cuisine) course, with nine tastes that exhibit flavors from sweet to salty to ma la (numbing/tingling) to bitter, presented in beautiful little colorful dishes. Courses following range from a very subtle Gulf prawn consommé to the intriguing black cod in banana leaf, with little surprises like lotus root and fermented Armenian cucumber/white melon.

A particular highlight for me was the trifecta of Peking duck skin topped with keluga caviar and a sip of my 2011 Louis Roederer rosé Champagne, just wow, and the spoon-tender red-braised pork was also exquisite and cooked to perfection. Like downstairs, pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez is behind the modern/Western desserts.

This is meant to be a preview piece and not a review, but I have to say a few of the dishes left me wanting more wonder and pop, and a touch more finesse at that price point. But I know this is just the very beginning, so I’m looking forward to see how it will evolve in time and what George Chen has up his sleeve. San Francisco has been needing a Chinese fine dining option for too long, and I really want this experience to push the envelope and blow our collective minds. (I know George wants to do that too.)

There are some very thoughtful touches (which I don’t want to give away), and this gold-loving girl got a kick out of the chopsticks holder and many of the beautiful porcelain plates, which were custom made for the restaurant. Lots of elegance in the house.

You can opt for wine and cocktail pairings ($125), with service by sommelier Anthony Kim, most recently of Asia de Cuba. We had a couple fun pours, like Valdespino’s Ojo de Gallo palomino fino and the pét-nat chenin blanc by Haarmeyer Wine Cellars. Starting the meal with J. Lassalle’s 2009 Cuvée Angéline was a fabulous place to begin. (I was pushing for them to add an all-Champagne option, one of my favorites with Chinese food.) The list has some definite baller bottles for those who want to splash out, just check your credit limit before heading over if that’s how you want to roll.

Open for dinner Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. 8 Kenneth Rexroth Lane, at the corner of Columbus and Vallejo. The entrance to Cold Drinks is via a staircase adjacent to China Live (644 Broadway, between Columbus and Stockton), 415-788-8788.

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Meet your new wine chalet, right in the heart of North Beach. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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The custom redwood facade, with two benches out front.

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The booths are tricked out with birch “wallpaper” on their exterior.

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The walnut bar and back bar made of redwood (meant to look like lathe).

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The back patio (which is in progress)—it will soon have pebbles around the edges and more seating.

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Another point of view.

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SF, are you ready for this beautiful new wine bar that feels as if an Austrian chalet was dropped into North Beach? Your jaw is gonna drop. Owners Jay Esopenko and Melissa Gugni (Union Larder, Little Vine) are hoping to open next Tuesday October 3rd, pending inspections. They are opening in the former Cinecittà space, and you won’t even recognize it. You’ll now notice the massive wood facade and huge door, crafted from redwood with little trademark diamonds you’ll see repeated as a design motif within.

After you swing open the big door, you’ll notice the soaring ceiling with stained Douglas fir beams—to the left is a standing area and a smooth walnut bar with resin diamond inlays and 10 seats (which are round padded barstools upholstered in a nubby wool fabric from Knoll, in a vintage green that will remind you of the ’60s and dive bars). There are six booths on the right with high bench seats for four guests (also upholstered), 24 seats in all. There is a marvelous birch bark that is like a wallpaper, tufts of moss included, under the bar and on the exterior side of the booths. Each of the booths have charming little lights with antlers, and the floor is made of French oak, the individual pieces forming a pattern that is like woven wicker—they were ordered from a French company that is more than 400 years old. They’re getting stained this week and are quite beautiful.

Behind the bar, the wall is covered with thin slats of redwood that look like lathe, and Esopenko stained by hand—along with the exposed brick. It all feels like a chalet that was unearthed—all these natural and wood elements create such a European woodsy feeling.

He worked with 8inc again on this project, who helped design Union Larder, and he did the majority of the work on his own (hours and hours and hours). The beautiful woodwork (the bar, booths, tables, kitchen counter, and facade/front door) was all done by Michael Bermosk, who has done a lot of work for Peter Doolittle, who is known for his woodwork at Nopa, Tartine Manufactory, Little Gem, and more.

Head to the back and you’ll find a patio complete with a fire pit and tables, with room for 35. It’s well shielded from the wind, and with the heat from the fire pit, it means we should be able to enjoy it well into the winter. Esopenko grew up in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and always loved that après-ski time, that warm and cozy feeling you have over a beer and the fire after a day of skiing. It wasn’t too much of a leap to apply our foggy nights to that same vibe, and how nice it would be to enjoy a glass of riesling, a sausage, and a fire.

So, yeah, let’s get to what you’re going to be enjoying! Esopenko has curated a wine list that celebrates the wines you’d find around the Alps, from regions like the Jura to Valle d’Aosta and Slovenia. It’s a chance to highlight riesling, his favorite and a total passion, and you’re going to find some California producers as well, like Tatomer and Matthiasson, with bottlings of gruner veltliner, riesling, and more. There will be 45 wines by the glass (!), with some on tap, including their exclusive white (green Hungarian) made for The Salzburg by Sandlands, and a red (a blend of zweigelt, blaufränkisch, and dornfelder) made for them by Trail Marker winery—and they’re just $10-$11 by the glass! The wine bottle list will be released in a month or so—they want to focus on the by-the-glass program first. There are four beers on tap, with many more in the bottle.

Chef Ramon Siewert will now be overseeing The Salzburg’s and Union Larder’s kitchens and menus. The menu here is structured around small plates that you can share, with some Alpine heritage, but not direct facsimiles of classic dishes, like flammenküche, fondue, beef goulash, spätzle stroganoff, a schnitzel sandwich, and the very cleverly named Salzburger. And then there’s the jäger pommes, which sounds like Alpine poutine: french fries, wild mushrooms, gravy, and Gruyère. Sign me up.

A main highlight are the housemade sausages: käsekrainer (a classic, made with pork and Emmentaler cheese), bratwurst, kaninchenwurst (rabbit), and meeresfrüchte wurst (shrimp seasoned with chorizo spices), and Esopenko says they have mastered the perfect snap. Siewart is moving his housemade charcuterie production to the basement space here and will be supplying all three of their businesses. Their epic cheese and charcuterie boards will be on offer here as well.

I’ll keep you posted next Tuesday if they passed all their inspections as planned and will be opening. Hours will be Tue-Wed 4pm-10:30pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sun 4pm-10pm. They plan to launch brunch a month later, and then lunch is being discussed too. 663 Union St. at Columbus.

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Oh you know there will be cheese. All photos: Nadia Andreini.

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These two pazzi Italian chefs can’t wait to feed you (Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi).

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Killer apps.

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The vino will be flowing (and trust, you’ll be getting much bigger pours than these tastes).

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A man and his pig.

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THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT, THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Hello 510 friends! Thanks to all of you who have already been buying tickets for my first tablehopper party in the East Bay, next Friday October 6th! It’s going to be a very special event, Apericena (more about what this means below). I will be cohosting this opening party for ~DONATO & CO.~, the new, upcoming contemporary Italian restaurant from Donato Scotti (of Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City and Desco in Oakland) and his chef-partner in this and future projects, Gianluca Guglielmi, who is coming from Italy to open Donato & Co.

In case you remember the news from my original post about this (or not!), Donato & Co. is opening in the former The Advocate space in Elmwood. It’s a big space, so this is going to be quite a festa. Thanks for spreading the word to your friends! The more the merrier!

I don’t know if you’ve ever attended any of chef Donato’s events and parties, but they are legendary for their fantastic wine and food—like a true Italian, he loves to put out a great spread! You’ll be the first to taste some dishes off the upcoming Donato & Co. menu, from housemade pasta to meats off the rotisserie and live fire—I hear there will be quail lollipops and we’re going to have a roasted pig! There will also be salumi, plenty of antipasti, and vegetable dishes aplenty. Gianluca, who used to be the executive chef at A.G. Ferrari Foods, is also known for his sweet tooth and skill with desserts, so expect some dolci as well. (Yay.)

The party name is Apericena, in honor of a trending style of eating in Italy: a dinner (cena) comprised of antipasti and ample bites and small plates (which is what you find during aperitivo time). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat, and it’s something Donato and Gianluca will be encouraging and bringing to life at Donato & Co., especially since they have that full bar. Consider this your first apericena!

To accompany all those tasty bites at the party, we’ll also be pouring some wines (prosecco, white, rosé, and red) and a couple of cocktails, including an aperitivo cocktail, probably something on the spritz side of things.

Donato and Gianluca are excited to be a part of the neighborhood and will be making a donation to our charity partner for the evening, The Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP). It’s an impressive nonprofit organization working to improve the health, independence, and social integration of people with physical disabilities through adaptive sports, fitness, and recreation programs, and it is based in Berkeley.

Tickets are only $45 (plus a ticket service fee), which will get you three drink tickets and access to all the delicious food! (Additional cocktails/wine will be available at a very affordable price.) And a donation will be made to charity partner BORP! Apericena will run from 6pm-9pm. Get your tickets now, we have sold more than half!

I’m having fun putting together the playlist that we’ll be running on the state-of-the-art Constellation and Libra acoustic system from Berkeley’s renowned Meyer Sound they inherited with the space. You may have an Italian accent by the end of the evening (if you don’t already)!

See you on Friday October 6th! Festeggiamo!

2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley. @donatoandco

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BSK’s impeccable waffles. Yelp photo by Pei K.

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Native Co.’s Caitlin and Nicole shopping at the Crocker Galleria Thursday farmers’ market. Photo courtesy of Native Co.

Some news tidbits for you, starting with the news that Tanya Holland of West Oakland’s ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN~ is going to be opening a location in San Francisco: in the Ferry Building! She will be taking over the former Il Cane Rosso location and opening ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN COUNTER~. Stand by for details on timing and more. [Via Scoop.]

The popular ~NATIVE CO.~, known for their well-made, healthy, market-fresh meals in the Financial District at 168 Sutter Street (and both the Oakland Grand Lake Farmer’s Market and San Rafael Civic Center Farmer’s Market, where they got their start) are expanding to SoMa with a second brick-and-mortar location. Owners Caitlin Meade and Nicole Fish are planning to open on Monday October 9th in the former Tava space.

They will be serving their menu of mostly plant-based dishes, which includes breakfast, lunch, and beverages, like made-to-order smoothies, juices, salads, toasts, and soups. They are dedicated to healthy fats, truly sustainable and organic ingredients, and everything is made in-house daily. They are also very eco-conscious in their practices. And committed to delicious! There will be both indoor and outdoor seating options. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-4:30pm. 163 2nd St. at Natoma.

There’s a new fast-casual spot in the TenderNob called ~CHISME CANTINA~chisme means “gossip” in Spanish. Ray Shlimon, a Chicago native, is behind this Mexican-inspired cantina, serving creative tacos that put vegan options first, like one with fried plantain, black beans, seasonal greens, mango salsa, and coconut ranch, or another with jackfruit, seasonal greens, nori, mint verde, and sweet cabbage. Meaty options include a taco with skirt steak, caramelized onion, peanut mole, guacamole, and queso. You can peep the menu here. There’s also an extensive list of sides, plus beers and nonalcoholic drinks. Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am, Sun 11:30am-11pm. 882 Sutter St. at 415-370-7070.

Looking for a new lunch spot? You can do it the Italian way and have pasta for pranzo at the new ~A MANO~ in Hayes Valley, which is launching lunch this Thursday September 28th! The menu will feature some antipasti, their tasty salads, and handmade pasta like their summery paccheri with cherry tomato, Early Girl pomodoro, eggplant, capers ($12) and bucatini all’ amatriciana ($15). They have also added a couple of panini: prosciutto cotto, provolone, arugula, grain mustard ($12) and heirloom tomato, fior di latte, basil ($10), plus a selection of pizzas ($12-$16). Get that one with summer squash, zucchini blossoms, stracciatella, Vidalia onion, lemon ($16) while you can. And low-ABV cocktails have also been added. Now you just need to score one of those outdoor tables. Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30am-3:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-5pm. 450 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-506-7401.

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You gotta love how quickly the restaurant industry rallies to help people in distress, and San Francisco is rallying hard right now for Mexico after that horrific earthquake last week. Here are a few fundraisers around town that can use your support, and stand by for details on a happy hour fundraiser from tablehopper this month too! Please reach out to me if you’d like to be involved, from making a food donation to volunteering! We’re just nailing down the details and date right now. Gracias!

Tonight (Tuesday September 26th), ~LOLÓ~ in the Mission is hosting a Taco Tuesday fundraiser with guest chef Luis Barocio. Doors open at 5:30pm.

This Wednesday September 27th, swing by all five ~TACOLICIOUS~ locations, which will be donating 100 percent of profits to UNICEF Mexico in support of earthquake relief. It’s a huge gesture, and thanks to their vendors La Palma Mexicatessen, Parkview Produce, Rancho Gordo, Bassian Farms, El Silencio, El Tesoro, and Modelo Negra for supporting them in this fundraising effort.

I also received a flyer for a Tacos for Mexico fundraiser at ~WING WINGS~ in the Lower Haight next Tuesday October 3rd from 5pm-9pm, with guest chefs, beats, and more.

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The Saucy Awards totally deserved a Saucy cocktail (thanks to Campari America). Photo via Facebook.

On Monday November 6th, The Saucy Awards will return to celebrate the best of the Bay Area’s restaurant and hospitality community, and you are an important part of the nominations! You have until October 1st to nominate people for categories like Manager of the Year, Exceptional Non-Brick & Mortar Restaurant of the Year, Sous Chef of the Year, and more. There is also a People’s Choice Award presented to the public’s favorite restaurant of 2017.

Nominations are open to all eligible establishments—Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) members or otherwise—within six Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma) that can nominate themselves and/or one another. The Saucy Awards Steering Committee, formed of a group of industry luminaries, will narrow the field to four final nominees for each category. Restaurant members of the GGRA and all nominees will be provided a ballot to vote for the final winners. To ensure unbiased and fair results, an independent accounting firm will tally and process the votes.

You can look at the full list of last year’s winners on the GGRA’s website. And mark your calendar for The Saucy Awards gala on November 6th—see you there!

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Mau’s bar seating. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

Some closures to report around town, starting with the affordable Vietnamese restaurant ~MAU~ in the Mission. They have decided to close after five years in business, citing a rise in rent and operational costs. 665 Valencia St. at 18th St. [Via Eater.]

After 20 years in North Beach, ~ CAFFÈ ROMA~ is closing Saturday September 30th. Hoodline reports rising rent as the main culprit, but mentions daughter Irene Azzolini also needs more time to take care of her ailing father, Sergio, who was one of the founders. The two other locations of Caffe Roma (885 Bryant St. in SF and 143 S. El Camino Real in Millbrae) will remain open.

And here’s a late-breaking update from Hoodline: new owners will be opening ~GYPSET CAFÉ~ in its place. They will keep Roma open as is through the end of the year, and then close for renovations and start to work on their all-day European/Mediterranean café and wine bar concept. 526 Columbus Ave. at Green.

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The colorful interior at Juhu Beach Club. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Khao mun gai from Hawker Fare. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After running last week’s piece about ~NYUM BAI~ opening in The Half Orange space in Fruitvale, I was able to connect with chef-owner Nite Yun for more details. She said she’s going to be offering a bigger Cambodian menu than at her Public Market Emeryville stand, with one-plate lunches and noodle soups, and for dinner, there will be a family-style spread of dishes. There are also plans to offer breakfast through the takeout window, like porridge, buns, and sticky rice in banana leaves, plus desserts, coffee, and tea. She is renovating the dining area to have a clean and modern look, while integrating her nostalgia for ’60s-’70s Cambodian music and design; she is hoping to open in early January 2018. If the timing is right, it will be just as her lease ends at Public Market Emeryville. Thanks to La Cocina for helping her secure this new location! 3340 E. 12th St., Suite 11, at 34th Ave., Oakland.

In a surprise piece of news, and just when the Juhu cookbook is coming out, ~JUHU BEACH CLUB~’s Temescal location (and liquor license) are up for sale. Chef-owner Preeti Mistry and her wife Ann Nadeau assured Eater that Juhu isn’t going away, but will be reappearing in another format. Stand by for what this all means, and when it’s officially closing, and in the meantime, you can grab one of their Indian pizzas and tikka mac and cheese at their new Navi Kitchen in Emeryville.

And the East Bay gets all the chicken rice right now. Coming soon from James Syhabout is ~HAWKING BIRD~, a fast-casual spot centered around chicken that will include his popular khao mun gai/Hainan chicken rice (poached chicken served with rice and broth, with plenty of chicken fat in the mix), plus other dishes. Hawking Bird will be opening in the Blackwater Station space in Temescal. Don’t expect a new Hawker Fare (RIP), but there’s a full liquor license, so one can hope for a lively spot. He takes possession of the space October 1st. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland. [Via Scoop.]

Now open in Berkeley is ~SHIHLIN TAIWAN STREET SNACKS~, an international chain offering classic street food dishes like ji pai (a monster-sized deep-fried chicken cutlet), oyster mee sua (oyster vermicelli soup), and some meat and rice combos. East Bay Express also reports there will be a number of Taiwanese drinks like lemon aiyu jelly and Taiwanese root beer. Open daily 11:30am-9pm. 2521 Durant Ave. at Bowditch, Berkeley, 510-529-4166.

September 19, 2017
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We’ll start the party with beautiful canapés and cocktails! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Salli par eedu baked eggs with spicy potato straws, tomato, and cheese. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Chicken 65 on onion uttapam. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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An array of Rooh’s beautiful cocktails. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Haji Ali mango cream tart. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The colorful semi-private dining area at Rooh. Photo courtesy of Rooh.

This event is SOLD OUT! Thanks everyone, see you there!

Hello there! I wanted to let you know there are just two tickets remaining for the tablehopper brunch this Saturday September 23rd at 11:30am at ~ROOH~!

Have you had a chance to visit this stylish and unique Indian restaurant that recently opened in SoMa? It’s quite fab—award-winning chef Sujan Sarkar has a contemporary and innovative style, which integrates California seasonality and a global sensibility, and his dishes are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Rooh recently launched Saturday brunch service, and I want to be sure you all have this special place on your radar. This Saturday’s tasting menu was created especially for this event, and thanks to event sponsor Anchor Distilling Company, we’ll have some fantastic cocktail pairings featuring No. 3 London Dry Gin.

Rooh’s cocktails are inventive and playful, inspired by the six rasas of Ayurvedic wisdom (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent), while highlighting Indian ingredients, homemade shrubs, and artisanal spirits. We have put together a special lineup of daytime-friendly cocktails for our brunch featuring No. 3 London Dry Gin.

We’re going to be serving Chai Punch to start (which will highlight the cardamom pods used in making No. 3 London Dry Gin), followed by Rooh’s spectacular Banaras Sour with cucumber and basil (I love this cocktail), plus their aromatic Hyderabad Tonic with fresh turmeric and grapefruit tonic. And wait until you try the Summer Breeze, with guava, citrus notes (which work well with the Spanish orange peel used in No. 3 London Dry Gin), and some fizz from prosecco. It’s going to be quite the tour. We’ll also have folks from Anchor Distilling who can share some background about No. 3 London Dry Gin and talk about the history of India and gin, as well as hear from Rooh’s bar team on their process and inspirations.

Our event will begin with a reception at the bar at 11:30am, with elegant passed canapés like dahi puri and potato-samosa cornetti. When we sit down at 12pm, you can choose from the cauliflower or chicken 65, a savory and textured bite served on onion uttapam, with lemon sour cream and peanut chutney.

We’ll then have an egg course served family style, with their salli par eedu (baked eggs in a cazuela with tomato, cheese, and spicy potato straws on top) and their fried duck egg on tandoori mushrooms, with toasted brioche and chile jam. You’ll also get to try an array of their stuffed kulchas, one of my favorite things on the menu, with fillings like green pea and goat cheese, and pulled duck with apricot and bacon. Uh-huh.

I couldn’t let you leave without experiencing their paneer makhani with garlic naan—the sauce is exquisite, with fenugreek and crème fraîche. You’ll be mopping up every last bite.

For dessert, chef has prepared a special dessert inspired by a famous Mumbai location, Haji Ali, with mango cream, mango sorbet, pistachio kulfi, fresh mango, frozen raspberry, and honeycomb, a delightful mango cloud inside a phyllo cup.

It’s going to be such a special event, and we will be in our own section of the restaurant. We’ll be doing some family-style tables and taking over some booths, too, so you’ll be making some new friends as well. Solo diners, we got you!

Tickets are only $68 (plus a small service fee), including cocktail pairings, tax, and tip, which is an extraordinary deal considering the menu, and cocktail pairings are worth well over $100. We’re going to send you out the door on cloud No. 3, so be sure to arrange for a rideshare—no driving! Space is limited, so hop to it. Only two tickets remain!

When purchasing your ticket, please specify if you are vegetarian—we will be able to take care of you! Please get in touch about any allergies—we may be able to accommodate you, but since this is a set menu, we can’t make too many substitutions. Thanks for understanding.

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Oh you know there will be cheese. All photos: Nadia Andreini.

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These two pazzi Italian chefs can’t wait to feed you (Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi).

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Killer apps.

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The vino will be flowing (and trust, you’ll be getting much bigger pours than these tastes).

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Apericena is all about tasty bites.

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A man and his pig.

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Well, it’s about time for yours truly to be hosting a tablehopper party in the East Bay, right? Looks like it will be my turn to cross the bridge on Friday October 6th, and I hope you can join me for a very special event, Apericena (more about what this means below). I will be cohosting this opening party for ~DONATO & CO.~, the new, upcoming contemporary Italian restaurant from Donato Scotti (of Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City and Desco in Oakland) and his chef-partner in this and future projects, Gianluca Guglielmi, who is coming from Italy to open Donato & Co.

In case you remember the news from my original post about this (or not!), Donato & Co. is opening in the former The Advocate space in Elmwood. It’s a big space, so this is going to be quite a festa.

I don’t know if you’ve ever attended any of chef Donato’s events and parties, but they are legendary for their fantastic wine and food—like a true Italian, he loves to put out a great spread! You’ll be the first to taste some dishes off the upcoming Donato & Co. menu, from housemade pasta to meats off the rotisserie and live fire—I hear there will be quail lollipops and we’re going to have a roasted pig! There will also be salumi, plenty of antipasti, and vegetable dishes aplenty. Gianluca, who used to be the executive chef at A.G. Ferrari Foods, is also known for his sweet tooth and skill with desserts, so expect some dolci as well. (Yay.)

The party name is Apericena, in honor of a trending style of eating in Italy: a dinner (cena) comprised of antipasti and ample bites and small plates (which is what you find during aperitivo time). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat, and it’s something Donato and Gianluca will be encouraging and bringing to life at Donato & Co., especially since they have that full bar. Consider this your first apericena!

To accompany all those tasty bites at the party, we’ll also be pouring some wines (prosecco, white, rosé, and red) and a couple of cocktails, including an aperitivo cocktail, probably something on the spritz side of things.

Donato and Gianluca are excited to be a part of the neighborhood and will be making a donation to our charity partner for the evening, The Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP). It’s an impressive nonprofit organization working to improve the health, independence, and social integration of people with physical disabilities through adaptive sports, fitness, and recreation programs, and it is based in Berkeley.

Tickets are only $45 (plus a ticket service fee), which will get you three drink tickets and access to all the delicious food! (Additional cocktails/wine will be available at a very affordable price.) And a donation will be made to charity partner BORP! Apericena will run from 6pm-9pm. Get your tickets now, these are gonna fly.

I’m having fun putting together the playlist that we’ll be running on the state-of-the-art Constellation and Libra acoustic system from Berkeley’s renowned Meyer Sound they inherited with the space. You may have an Italian accent by the end of the evening (if you don’t already)!

See you on Friday October 6th! Festeggiamo!

2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley. @donatoandco

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The exterior of the former Mason Pacific. Photo: Nick Vasilopoulos.

Auguri to Claudio Villani, the owner of Cole Valley’s popular Italian enoteca, InoVino, who is taking over the former Mason Pacific and will be opening ~ALTOVINO~. Villani says he’s only making some cosmetic changes—like lowering the bar and making it cozier, and replacing the front room’s high seating and tables with banquettes and normal height seating—so he hopes to be open before Christmas.

He’s going to have InoVino’s chef, Nick Kelly, who has been with him since last December, leading the kitchen. The concept will be neighborhood seasonal and regional Italian—they want to be authentic to Italy’s regional cooking, but not limited to just one area. They will be bringing over some of their top appetizers, like their Tuscan chicken liver pâté and foie gras, and adding 7 or 8 pasta dishes, both fresh/handmade and artisan dry pasta as well—it ends up there is quite the prep room downstairs. With a winter opening, expect some buttery and mushroomy and truffle-y dishes! They will be using quality ingredients, but he doesn’t want prices to skyrocket, so look for pasta dishes costing $16-$20 or so.

Villani, who is Tuscan and grew up in Florence, is also excited to be bringing some tableside dishes to the dining experience, and top of his list is to offer a bistecca alla fiorentina, served off a little cart medium rare and a minimum of a kilo! (He already has some vintage carving knives lined up.) He also wants to offer seasonal risotto for two and is thinking of another dish as well, probably whole fish. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be formal, but he does want to have some fun with tableside service, something he learned during his time in Florence and also at Bartolotta in Vegas. There will be other main courses as well, some featuring some Northern Mediterranean flavors, with plans to have them at $30 and under.

As for the wines, it will definitely be an all-Italian list, with the exception of Champagne, and while he is focused on volcanic and Alpine wines at InoVino, at AltoVino, he’s excited to build up a list with some wines from Tuscany, too, where he first learned about wine, and is excited to offer some beautiful classics.

Another fun thing that will be developed is the bar: they will be offering some aperitivi and 12 vermouths, served as spritzes, cocktails, and more, plus Nick makes some pretty great shrubs, so they’ll be playing around with that as well. With the renovation of the bar area, there will be new shelving added, which will be storing many of the wines and more, with 6 or 7 seats.

I’ll keep you posted on the opening and am so pleased the charming Mason Pacific space is in such good hands. 1358 Mason St. at Pacific.

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Open-faced sandwich with figs and goat Brie. Photo: Daniel Dent, San Francisco Proper Hotel.

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Beet salad with burnt ricotta. Photo: Daniel Dent, San Francisco Proper Hotel.

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A peek into the chic dining room. Instagram photo via @knucklesamwick.

Looking for a swank new hotel lounge, or spot for a breakfast meeting, or a lunch date, or bite for dinner after work? The first food and beverage concept in the San Francisco Proper Hotel in Mid-Market, ~VILLON~, has opened. It’s an all-day restaurant and lounge, under the direction of executive chef Jason Franey (Campton Place, Eleven Madison Park, Canlis, Restaurant 1833) and a beverage program by Josh Harris and Morgan Schick of BVHospitality (Trick Dog, The Bon Vivants).

Come by for breakfast (here’s the menu), and you’ll find eggs Benedict made with speck (the Italian smoked ham); a croissant sandwich with Taylor ham; ricotta pancakes; a smoked salmon dish with socca bread, avocado, and ranch labneh; and then there’s breakfast pho with beef broth, poached eggs, short rib, pork belly, and rice noodles.

It then transitions into an all-day and seasonally driven menu, where you can really see Franey’s contemporary American style, with clever bites like “everything” Hawaiian bread with cultured butter, nectarine preserves, and strawberry chicken-liver mousse; scallop ceviche; and mushroom dumplings with pickled chanterelles, mushroom broth, brown butter (all $8-$16). There’s steak tartare ($14) with yuzu, nori cracker, and furikake; grilled Little Gems ($12) with Sherman potato, pancetta, smoked egg yolk; and baby beet salad ($13) with burnt ricotta, pumpernickel streusel, and plum.

Larger dishes include squid ink tagliatelle ($22) with uni, bottarga, Parmesan; tai snapper ($25) with Beluga lentils, yogurt, garbanzo beans; and for the table, whole duck ($110) with Brussels sprouts and duck bacon, plum chutney, vadouvan-glazed carrots, crispy sunchokes, soubise, and duck jus.

Now, you look thirsty. Crack into Harris and Schick’s playful “7x7” cocktail menu, with seven thematic categories of seven cocktails each, like “7 x Hotels” (invented in famous hotels), “7 x The Bay” (invented or made famous in the Bay Area), and “7 x The Book” (featured in novels). You have your work cut out for you—49 drinks in all, just like our square mileage. And then the rooftop bar (Charmaine’s) will be open in a month…

Villon is in the lobby of this historic building, with a fun style by designer Kelly Wearstler. The salon has 32 seats, featuring one-of-a-kind art and furnishings arranged into living room vignettes, plus a 44-seat dining room and a 14-seat private dining room.

Hours are Sun-Thu 7am-10:30pm and Fri-Sat 7am-11pm. 1100 Market St. at Jones.

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The classic BEC. Here’s one of the in-progress egg on a roll sandwiches they’re developing at Newkirk’s. Photo courtesy of Newkirk’s.

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Looking good with new glass and paint at Newkirk’s. Photo via Facebook.

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I get truly happy when I hear about someone with East Coast roots who wants to bring the BEC (bacon, egg, and cheese; i.e., egg on a roll, fried egg sandwich) to San Francisco, plus classic subs, and since we’re in SF, offer some big, well-made salads too. You with me? Ryan Blumenthal has lived here for 17 years, but grew up in Vermont and Pennsylvania (just ooutside Philly), with family in New York too, and he has been missing these East Coast classics. He got lucky and found a space with a hood that is right across from SF General, so he’ll be able to fry up eggs the way he intended. It’s time to meet ~NEWKIRK’S~.

His BEC is going to feature a custom-made kaiser roll (he found a baker in the Richmond who was also a New Yorker, and they have been perfecting their recipe), and he has really honed his bacon technique to hit that chewy-crispy balance. He’s going to be using quality organic eggs, but in a true nod to tradition, American cheese will be on offer. Yes! (It’s the right move.) Although there will be another variation, probably with some cheddar.

He’s also working on 6 or 7 subs, including a cheesesteak he has really been tweaking and perfecting. I was also pushing for an Italian combo, which he’s keen to offer, so yay. Ends up he worked for some New Yorkers who opened a deli in Colorado when he was living there, so he learned some true NYC deli ways. Instead of flying out Amoroso or parbaked rolls from the East Coast, he wants to have a locally made French loaf that is East Coast style but doesn’t use preservatives, so he’s finding the best baker for that right now too.

He’s also going to offer some vegetarian subs, and he’s working on a vegan tuna melt, inspired by his five years working at Gestalt in the Mission (he was behind the sandwich menu development there). And sometimes, all you want is just a big salad, so he’s going to offer two or three kinds, simple but satisfying, like one with kale and romaine, and you can add protein to them. (Ryan also mentioned offering fried chicken later in the game, always wicked on a salad.)

As for the name, Newkirk was his New York grandma’s maiden name, as well as his middle name, so there you have it. He’s going through inspections right now and is targeting mid-October for the opening. I’ll definitely keep you posted, but you can follow along on Instagram for now.

When they open, hours will be Mon-Sat 7am-4pm, so you’ll be able to come by for breakfast and some Ritual Coffee on your way to work, or order in 20 BECs to be delivered for your office meetings (he’s going to be on some apps).

The location was New Aux Delices II, a Vietnamese restaurant for almost 30 years before they closed three years ago. Before that, he has reason to believe they sold fried fish based on the sign he found in the walls during construction. The building dates back to 1901, so he’s excited, although the remodel has been quite a big endeavor. He’s looking forward to being a part of the neighborhood. 1002 Potrero Ave. at 22nd St.

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Farewell, beloved bistro. Photo via Facebook.

Wow, it’s the end of an era. A friend let me know that a beloved icon of South Park, ~SOUTH PARK CAFE~, is closing this Friday September 22nd after 32 years in business. What a run. How many pig salads and grilled hanger steaks and glasses of rosé have I consumed there over the years? And you? It was one of the city’s steadiest bistros, just right for so many occasions. For a lovely photo homage, check out this post from a few years ago by Julia Spiess.

Tremendous thanks to chef Ward Little, who was ALWAYS there in his grubby apron, and now gets to enjoy some immensely deserved time off. Same goes for GM Marty Berg, who is off to Europe for a vacation. Hoodline confirmed the bistro’s owners have sold the restaurant to their landlord, who has plans to renovate the space, so we’ll have to see what comes next. Thanks for all the fond memories! 108 S. Park St. at Jack London Alley, 415-495-7275.

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Last week, I announced that ~CASEY’S PIZZA~ was soft opening for business, and now I want to share a couple more things with you, like a peek at the space and the menu.

You’ll see a couple of salads, plus five pies (for now!), like the Kale Pie (roasted lacinato kale, mozzarella, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, chile flakes; $22) and the Bianca (mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, fresh basil, chile flakes; $22), all in Casey’s trademark East Coast-meets-thin-crust Neapolitan style. (“Strong bake, lots of char, simple fresh ingredients, and a long proofed dough.”) Be sure to check out the wine and beer selections, too, with six on tap.

The truck is only open for private events until everything gets under control at the restaurant, stand by. No delivery plans at this time but customers can order online at their website for pick up. Hours are still Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm for now. Lunch will start later this year, with hours running from 11:30am-9pm. 1170 4th St. at Channel, 415-336-1368.

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Nyum Bai’s chicken curry with nom pachok. Photo via Facebook.

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The Periodic Table is now open at Public Market Emeryville. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Khao mun gai at Chick’n Rice. Photo via Facebook.

Unfortunately I was not able to get in touch with Nite Yun of ~NYUM BAI~ in time for my column for details, but according to ABC license activity, it appears she will be opening her permanent brick-and-mortar location in the recently closed The Half Orange space in Fruitvale. Her homey Cambodian dishes and noodle soups have been a hit during her temporary run in the La Cocina incubator space in the Public Market Emeryville, so it’s great to see she will be able to spread her wings and fly into this new perch of her own. We look forward to hearing ’60s Cambodian pop songs and rock ‘n’ roll at the new spot! Stand by for an update as soon as I connect with her. 3340 E. 12th St. Suite 11, at 34th Ave., Oakland.

Speaking of the Public Market Emeryville, last week I swung by for some ramen at Shiba Ramen and got a peek at the new ~THE PERIODIC TABLE~, their taproom and sake bar. Husband-and-wife team Jake Freed and Hiroko Nakamura have selected a wide range of craft brews sourced from the Bay Area and beyond, sake and distilled spirits from Japan, craft cocktails using Japanese spirits, and some bar bites too, including a burger, or Shiba wings and chashu pies from next door. It’s also a bottle shop, so you can take home your favorites. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 11am-8pm. 5959 Shellmound St. #11 at 59th St., Emeryville.

Nosh mentions who is opening in the former Adesso space: it’s ~CHAI THAI BAR~, which is soft open now. It’s from the Chai Thai Noodles folks in Oakland and Hayward and will feature Thai-inspired cocktails with a small menu of Thai and Laotian dishes. Looks like they will be open again this Friday September 22nd (5pm-1am). Follow along on Instagram for updates. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, Oakland, 510-601-0305.

I have been waiting for some pics to share of the new ~CHICK’N RICE~, but let’s just get to the details. This new Thai fast-casual restaurant is all about the simple but magical dish of khao mun gai, juicy and tender poached chicken that is sliced and served with fragrant rice cooked in rich broth (read: chicken fat), a side of rich chicken broth, and a piquant sauce of ginger, garlic, chiles, and soy that you’ll want to eat far too much of on everything. It’s one of those ugly-but-delicious dishes that is also the ultimate comfort food—here’s a pic of a place I visited in Thailand.

It’s from the founding partners of Umai Hospitality Group, UC Berkeley alums Jason Wang, Shawn Tsao, Vince Cao, and John Keh, who were not only behind food delivery app Caviar, but they also own The Halal Guys franchise in the Pacific Northwest Region. John Keh partnered up with Chavayos (Bob) Rattakul of Tenyuu Restaurant Group in Bangkok to find the best versions of khao mung gai in Thailand and brought their version to the U.S. (yes, they have plans for expansion).

You can order the classic version, but there’s also fried chicken and braised pork on the menu, all served with rice, cucumbers, cilantro, sweet and sour sauce, and a side of chicken broth soup. A vegetarian option is available and option add-ons include a soy-marinated egg. For dessert, you can order coconut milk ice cream with sticky rice, and there’s Thai iced tea, coconut water, and juices like guava, lychee, and mango. Open daily 11am-10pm. 2136 Center St. at Shattuck, Berkeley.

Looking for something to do this weekend? It’s the ninth annual Eat Real Festival, a three-day celebration (Friday to Sunday, September 22nd-24th) at Jack London Square, with street food, demos, tastings, and more, all celebrating local, artisan, and small businesses and sustainable ingredients. The festival is free to attend, and all street food is $10 or less. Plus there are plenty of adult beverages too. Check out the schedule of events here, and since Eat Real is presented by the Food Craft Institute, you’ll be able to learn about how to make things like kombucha, sausage, and fermented pickles, plus there’s plenty for the kiddies, and music and entertainment too.

September 12, 2017
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The Banaras Sour at Rooh. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Salli par eedu baked eggs with spicy potato straws, tomato, and cheese. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Duck egg with tandoori mushroom. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Chicken 65 on onion uttapam. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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An array of Rooh’s beautiful cocktails. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Haji Ali mango cream tart. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The colorful semi-private dining area at Rooh. Photo courtesy of Rooh.

Have you had a chance to visit the stylish and unique Indian restaurant that recently opened in SoMa, ~ROOH~? It’s quite fab—we’re lucky to have this exciting restaurant from the Good Times Restaurants group, who chose to open their first restaurant in the U.S. here in San Francisco. Award-winning chef Sujan Sarkar has a contemporary and innovative style, which integrates California seasonality and a global sensibility, and his dishes are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Rooh recently launched Saturday brunch service, and I want to be sure you all have this special place on your radar—I included them in my recent brunch roundup of 10 new places to try.

Take out your calendar and get ready to check it, because we’re going to be hosting a tablehopper brunch on Saturday September 23rd at 11:30am. The tasting menu was created especially for this event, and thanks to event sponsor Anchor Distilling Company, we’ll have some fantastic cocktail pairings featuring No. 3 London Dry Gin.

Rooh’s cocktails are inventive and playful, inspired by the six rasas of Ayurvedic wisdom (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent), while highlighting Indian ingredients, homemade shrubs, and artisanal spirits. We have put together a special lineup of daytime-friendly cocktails for our brunch featuring No. 3 London Dry Gin.

We’re going to be serving Chai Punch to start (which will highlight the cardamom pods used in making No. 3 London Dry Gin), followed by Rooh’s spectacular Banaras Sour with cucumber and basil (I love this cocktail), plus their aromatic Hyderabad Tonic with fresh turmeric and grapefruit tonic. And wait until you try the Summer Breeze, with guava, citrus notes (which work well with the Spanish orange peel used in No. 3 London Dry Gin), and some fizz from prosecco. It’s going to be quite the tour. We’ll also have folks from Anchor Distilling who can share some background about No. 3 London Dry Gin and talk about the history of India and gin, as well as hear from Rooh’s bar team on their process and inspirations.

Our event will begin with a reception at the bar at 11:30am, with passed apps like dahi puri and potato-samosa cornetti. When we sit down at 12pm, you can choose from the cauliflower or chicken 65, a savory and textured bite served on onion uttapam, with lemon sour cream and peanut chutney.

We’ll then have an egg course served family style, with their salli par eedu (baked eggs in a cazuela with tomato, cheese, and spicy potato straws on top) and their fried duck egg on tandoori mushrooms, with toasted brioche and chile jam. You’ll also get to try an array of their stuffed kulchas, one of my favorite things on the menu, with fillings like green pea and goat cheese, and pulled duck with apricot and bacon. Uh-huh.

I couldn’t let you leave without experiencing their paneer makhani with garlic naan—the sauce is exquisite, with fenugreek and crème fraîche. You’ll be mopping up every last bite.

For dessert, chef has prepared a special dessert inspired by a famous Mumbai location, Haji Ali, with mango cream, mango sorbet, pistachio kulfi, fresh mango, frozen raspberry, and honeycomb, a delightful mango cloud inside a phyllo cup.

It’s going to be such a special event, and we will be in our own section of the restaurant. We’ll be doing some family-style tables and taking over some booths, too, so you’ll be making some new friends as well. Solo diners, we got you!

Tickets are only $68 (plus a small service fee), including cocktail pairings, tax, and tip, which is an extraordinary deal considering the menu and cocktail pairings are worth well over $100. We’re going to send you out the door on cloud No. 3, so be sure to arrange for a rideshare—no driving! Space is limited, so hop to it. Only a third of tickets remain!

When purchasing your ticket, please specify if you are vegetarian—we will be able to take care of you! Please get in touch about any allergies—we may be able to accommodate you, but since this is a set menu, we can’t make too many substitutions. Thanks for understanding.

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A margherita. Photo: Casey’s Pizza.

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A peek at the new Casey’s Pizza. Instagram photo via @caseyspizza.

Back in May, I released the details of the first ~CASEY’S PIZZA~ brick-and-mortar location, and it’s having its soft opening this Thursday September 14th!

Chef-owner Casey Crynes launched SF’s first pizza truck in 2012, and now he’s upgrading to table service at the Douglas fir tables (there’s also a slab bar). The 28-seat space will be serviced with a brick-lined double-deck Marsal & Sons pizza oven, which means the menu will expand to eight pizzas instead of the truck’s three: classic margherita, pepperoni, bacon kale, arugula pie, rapini, funghi, brunch pie (with Zoe’s bacon and egg), and hot bianca, with rotating specials.

I’ll have more details to share next week, but wanted to let you know about the opening now since many of you have been patiently waiting!

This week, it will be soft open Thu-Sat 5pm-9pm while they work out the kinks. Dinner will eventually be Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm, and then lunch will start later, with hours running from 11:30am-10pm. 1170 4th St. at Channel, 415-336-1368.

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Chef Parke Ulrich.

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So. Much. Beer. At City Beer Store. Photo via Facebook.

Coming to Treasure Island’s Great Lawn this fall is ~MERSEA~ from chef Parke Ulrich (Waterbar, EPIC Steak) and co-founder MeeSun Boice. The menu will be “elevated comfort casual” and span a range of cuisines, from pozole verde to clam chowder to a pork roll and egg sandwich with kimchi, aioli, and arugula, plus a double-stacked Wagyu cheeseburger and a tuna melt.

I am so happy to see they are partnering with the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative and member organizations Toolworks and Bakeworks, providing job training and opportunities for low-income and formerly homeless individuals. (You’ll see some breakfast pastries by Bakeworks on the menu.)

The entire restaurant is made out of recycled shipping containers (it’s created by Mavrik Studio). There will be some pretty stunning views from the spacious patio—actually from anywhere you sit, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The name is Old English for “island oasis.”

Meanwhile, I noticed an ABC license transfer for our beloved ~CITY BEER STORE~, which is moving to the former The Coachman space in SoMa (Charles Phan’s late-night restaurant). I reached out to the owners for more details, but it has since been confirmed that it’s true, and they’re going to be adding more of a food component to their business (TBD on what that is for now). The move is a good one since not only were they running out of room, but their rent was raised and finances got tough, so now they’ll have more space for their extensive retail selection and more. No word on when the 1168 Folsom Street location is closing, and the target is spring 2018 for the new spot, hopefully in time for their 12th birthday. 1148 Mission St. at 8th St.

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Tamarind soup at Esan Classic. Photo courtesy of Esan Classic.

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Breakfast sandwiches and burgers at Bandit. Yelp photo via Alba B.

The latest project from Lers Ros owner Tom Silagorn, ~ESAN CLASSIC~ has now opened in the former Olive on Larkin. We hilariously and finally got an email back from, oh, 2015, when we first inquired and wrote about the project. The menu is focused on Northeastern Thai (Issan/Esan) and Laotian cuisine—take a look at the lunch and dinner menus here from Silagorn, who is working with chef Chanon Hutasingh. Bring on the larb, fermented pork sausage, raw shrimp salad, tamarind soup, and Massaman curry! Open Sun-Thu 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-2am (closed from 4pm-5pm daily). 743 Larkin St. at O’Farrell, 415-800-7979.

Great news: ~MONG THU~ has reopened a few months after making some updates to the kitchen (thanks to city assistance via SF Shines for the upgrades). Owner Kim Nguyen has been running the café for more than 20 years (since 1993!), and now has an expanded menu (including bún mắm, a “Vietnamese-style gumbo soup,” via Hoodline). Open Tue-Sun 7am-4pm. 248 Hyde St. at Eddy

Over on Geary, the newly opened ~BANDIT~ is getting rave reviews for their breakfast sandwiches (six kinds!) and American Wagyu burgers on brioche buns, which are reportedly full of flavor and the price is right (nothing over $12). There are also chicken and vegetarian options. Plus there’s “butcher’s cut bacon,” which is gaining all kinds of friends and fans. I know where I’m getting my next breakfast out! 683 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-658-7780.

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The spread at Tilak. Photo courtesy of Tilak.

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Parigo’s Little Gem salad with goat milk feta, crispy Parma ham, quail eggs. Photo courtesy of Parigo.

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Ribs, brisket, and more at Hardwood Bar & Smokery. Photo via Facebook.

Over in Bernal Heights, the former Spicy Bite is now ~TILAK INDIAN CUISINE~, and the new owner, chef Tilak Gurung, is reportedly making things even tastier (he previously cooked at Apple and Dropbox), and the interior got a refresh. Open for pickup only Tue-Sun 11:30am-2pm, dine in nightly 5pm-10pm. 3501 Mission St. at Cortland, 415-647-4036.

Folks in the Marina have a new wine bar, ~PARIGO~, now open in the former Bin 38/Scotland Yard space. Barrel Room owner Sarah Trubnick has brought on chef de cuisine Danny Murcia, who is bringing the business’ name to life, which means “pairing”—each course features two wines, one that complements the food and one that contrasts. Or you can come by for selections from the raw bar and bar bites and a glass of whatever you want—there will be more than 50 wines available by the glass and half glass. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut.

Cow Hollow is the new home and first neighborhood location for the latest fast-casual ~MIXT~, opening Wednesday September 13th. You can come by for salads, grain bowls, and their new market plates for lunch and dinner, plus there’s a kombucha bar, cold brew, and iced nitro chai—and outdoor seating. Open daily 11am-9pm. 3130 Fillmore St. at Filbert.

Over in SoMa, ~HARDWOOD BAR & SMOKERY~ has moved in to the former Blueprint Tap Room by Zynga, serving barbecue, a bunch of bar bites, cocktails, beer, and some boozy pops, in flavors like pineapple daiquiri and French 75. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-11pm, Fri 11:30am-12am, Sat 4pm-12am. 680 8th St., Ste. 170 at Brannan, 415-796-2437.

And over in Rincon Hill, there’s a new taqueria, ~FISTFUL OF TACOS~, serving tacos, burritos, and burrito bowls, with a pretty straightforward selection of carnitas, carne asada, pollo, and sautéed vegetables. Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-8pm and Sat 11am-6:30pm. 201 Harrison St., Suite C2, at Beale, 415-400-4780.

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A peek at the new chairs, counter, lighting, and artwork at State Bird. Instagram photo via @statebirdprovisions.

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Old Bay egg salad on griddled brioche at Serpentine. Photo: Kristen Loken.

A bunch of SF restaurants took advantage of the Labor Day holiday to close for some refreshes and updates, and here’s the reopening report. ~STATE BIRD PROVISIONS~ was closed for a bit more than the holiday. If you manage to snag a table (they totally jammed OpenTable when they reopened their reservation books!), you’ll note new surfaces, artwork, lighting, seating, and more.

Another big refresh was at Dogpatch’s ~SERPENTINE~, which just reopens today (September 12th) after a month-plus of demo with a new look—you’ll note larger windows letting in more light, a larger dining room, a new bar, and more. The new chef-owner Tommy Halvorson’s menu features some Southern references (he’s from Kentucky), from pimento cheese to honey fried chicken. Sign me up for the Old Bay egg salad on griddled brioche for lunch. And cochinita fritters with a cocktail. Speaking of, the cocktails look great, and there is more attention on the craft beer list on tap as well. Hours are Mon-Fri 10:30am-2:30pm, dinner Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, and weekend brunch 10am-3pm.

Over on Russian Hill, ~BELCAMPO~ reopened their restaurant and butcher shop, featuring an all-day menu of their signature burgers, including the Fast Burger, the Belcampo Burger (with white cheddar, caramelized onions, butter lettuce, and house sauce), and the 100-Day Dry-Aged Burger (with raclette, caramelized onions, and whole-grain mustard aioli—that funky enough for ya?). At the counter, you’ll find some grab-and-go items (soups and stocks, ready-to-cook meats, salads, and meal kits). The restaurant is open daily 11am-8pm, and the butcher shop is open 10am-8pm. 1998 Polk St. at Pacific, 415-660-5573.

Just so you know, ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ is also back open with a refreshed space.

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A KronnerBurger with a side of marrow. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some fun pop-ups are happening at ~TRICK DOG~, starting with a visit from Oakland’s ~KRONNERBURGER~ tonight from 5pm-1am, serving burgers (duh), his patty melt (my fave), an Impossible Burger (and Impossible chili-cheese fries!), hot chicken wings, tomato salad with oyster vinaigrette, his awesome chopped salad with cashew-coconut dressing (so good), and more. He’ll also be back 9/24 and 9/25!

Meanwhile, David Nayfeld of the upcoming ~THEORITA~ with Angela Pinkerton and Matt Brewer (at 834 Divisadero) will be previewing their menu next Sunday and Monday (9/17 3pm-1am and 9/18 5pm-1am), with a BLT salad, Belgian waffle with braised oxtail, fried chicken sandwich, and more—like pie! And then Joey Elenterio will be doing a vegetarian menu on Wednesday 9/27 5pm-1am. 3010 20th St. at Florida, 415-471-2999.

Fans of the tasty Cubano and more at ~MEDIA NOCHE~ in the Mission will be pleased with the news that the shop is now open daily (they used to close on Tuesdays). You can come by and check out how the new chef Casey Rebecca Nunes is doing with the croquetas and pressed Cuban sandwiches. 3465 19th St. at Lexington.

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A cheese plate at the Cheese Fest. Photo via Facebook.

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Don’t miss the Real Food Real Stories’ first annual benefit Story Slam: Salty & Sweet.

There are a bunch of dinners and food events this month, so consider this a quick-fire round, and click through for more info.

This Saturday September 16th is the third annual SF Cheese Fest from the California Artisan Cheese Guild, featuring more cheese than you can imagine, plus some other tasty bites, and brews, ciders, and wine. Tickets are $84 each and include all food and beverage sampling and live jazz. 6pm-9pm. Social Hall SF, 1270 Sutter St. at Van Ness.

Come by ~TAWLA~ on Thursday September 21st (or the 28th!) for their latest “Tawla Does…” family-style dinner, as they make a pit stop in Provence. There will be ratatouille! Tickets are $96, inclusive of service and tax.

On Sunday September 24th, seven of the Bay Area’s foremost French chefs, in association with the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France organization, are teaming up to serve a six-course, wine-paired dinner with proceeds donated to the Justin J. Watt Foundation to aid in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. $175. 6pm. Tickets can be purchased by emailing here. Piperade, 1015 Battery St. at Green, 415-391-2555.

On Wednesday September 27th, come to Airbnb HQ for the Real Food Real Stories’ first annual benefit Story Slam. The storyteller lineup (speaking on the theme of salty and sweet) includes Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast, Keba Konte of Red Bay Coffee, Laurence Jossel of Nopa, Nik Sharma of A Brown Table, Rebecca King of Garden Variety Cheese, Pim Techamuanvivit of Kin Khao, Yoni Levy of Outerlands, Dilsa Lugo of Los Cilantros, and Margo True of Sunset magazine.

A local food night market, an auction, and some bites (like Coletta Gelato and Nana Joes Granola are partnering to serve a yogurt gelato and strawberry sorbetto topped with vegan and g/f granola) will round out the evening. The event is a fundraiser to continue RFRS’ pro bono storytelling-coaching program for food changemakers to bring eaters the authentic stories behind our food. 6:30pm-9:30pm. Tickets are $75 and up.

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The side dining room. Photo courtesy of Waxman’s SF.

Things didn’t quite work out for Jonathan Waxman over at Ghirardelli Square. Seems his recently opened chicken spot ~JBIRD~ has closed, and the restaurant ~WAXMAN’S~ will not reopen after all.

Meanwhile, over in Noe Valley, ~CASKHOUSE~ (3853 24th St.) has closed, and owner John Dampeer is now focusing all his attention on his newer bar and restaurant, ~HAMLET~ (1199 Church St. at 24th St.).

A reader let me know that after five years of taking care of surfers, day-trippers, beachgoers, and fire pit-lovin’ locals, the ~SURF SPOT~ in Pacifica has closed. 4627 Coast Hwy. 1, Pacifica, 877-625-2929.