The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
December 7, 2021

The newly expanded bar area at Sorella, with a standing rail and partition dividing the bar from the dining room. Photo: Hardy Wilson.


The dry-aged beef timballo. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

After hitting a pandemic-related snag (they’re behind every corner, I swear), ~SORELLA~ is finally opening tomorrow, Wednesday December 8th. I broke the news about this new project from the Acquerello team last month, but here are a few updates, including links to the dinner menu (dishes include warm Parmesan budino, striped bass with Manila clams in fennel and potato broth, all kinds of housemade pastas, comforting dishes like pumpkin minestrone, and a show-stopping, dry-aged beef timballo AKA fancy lasagna with tomato, dry-aged beef, Comté), cicchetti at the bar (Kusshi oysters with sea bean mignonette, zucchini fritti, potato-leek focaccia, sausage-stuffed and fried Calabrese chicken wing), and Italian-inspired cocktails. The wine list is also fabulous (certo), with a focus on Piemontese and Toscana wines.

Sorella chef de cuisine Denise St. Onge (Greens, Atelier Crenn, Prospect, SPQR) leads the kitchen team, working closely with Acquerello Group culinary director/Acquerello chef de cuisine Seth Turiansky (who happens to be her husband), and managing partners Suzette Gresham (Acquerello executive chef/owner) and Giancarlo Paterlini (Acquerello founder/owner), plus general manager Sean Talley (The Cavalier).

Tava Lloyd of Portland-based Harbour Creative is behind Sorella’s update—the 50-seat dining room and 30-seat bar area now have a curved, handmade cane-and-maple partition crafted by artisan woodcraftsman Jessi Davis, and there’s also a standing rail and amber-tinted glass. Loving the sassy new neon sign. Open Wed-Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm. 1760 Polk St. at Washington.


The dining room has a dramatic, sweeping style. Photo: ©


Make sure the Cold Snaps in on your holiday spirits list. Photo: ©


Don’t miss the trumpet mushroom and squash skewers, really. Photo: ©

Last week, I attended a friends-and-family test dinner of the newly opened ~THE MADRIGAL~ from Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group (Trestle, MAMA, The Vault Garden, The Vault Steakhouse). The former Corridor has been transformed into a stylish-yet-comfortable cocktail bar and restaurant, with a curving banquette in the dramatic and high-ceilinged dining area, a spacious bar with an eye-catching arched and illuminated back bar, plus an upstairs mezzanine that will be great for private gatherings or dining room overflow. Designer Carly Rose of Rose Design added a number of visual extras (terrazzo floors, blinged-out wallpaper in the restrooms) and textures, from velvets to soft walnut.

The Madrigal is just across Van Ness from the Symphony and Opera, and the Jazz Center and Orpheum are very close-by, setting itself up as a great spot for a cocktail and a bite before or after a performance. The menu and vibe is more of a modern cocktail bar than a traditional restaurant format, with sharable dishes from Hi Neighbor director of culinary development Joe Humphrey that are designed to accompany cocktails, whether you’re coming in for a dinner date or drinks with friends. Tables can be reserved, while bar seats will remain open seating.

Some highlights on the menu included the spicy grass-fed beef tartare ($18) with smoked oyster cream and Nashville hot fried oysters (so good), and succulent, charred quail tikka masala ($24) with steamed basmati rice, which would be great to share. Salads are just better with duck skin cracklings, especially candied yam and satsuma ones ($12). There’s a Liberty duck smash burger ($15) with Fontina cheese, crispy duck confit, and black truffle mayo, and the unexpected sleeper hit was the trumpet mushroom and squash skewers ($23) with green harissa, the most pillowy warm flatbread, and Mt. Tam fondue (uh huh).

There are 16 well-crafted cocktails ($14-$16) from Mike McCardle on the engagingly designed menu, including my new favorite spin on a Negroni Sbagliato, The Bowie (Cynar, Aperol, cava, sea salt). Get into some holiday spirits with Fancy Pajamas (bourbon, Nonino, spiced quince, black tea, lemon) and the awesome Cold Snaps (vodka, Mr. Black espresso, vanilla, chocolate whip, almond dust)—it’s perfect to have before seeing a show so you stay awake. Many feature nice details and touches—have fun working your way through the menu! The wine list by Lucas Bierbower includes a page of by-the-glass selections (mostly Old World, with a couple California picks) that are all priced at $14 per glass, plus four local beers on draft. Open Tue-Sun 3pm-close (kitchen is open 4pm-9pm, with a limited late-night menu from 9pm-11pm). 100 Van Ness at Fell.


A selection for breads at the new Automat. Photo: ©


The stylish and uplifting design of Automat’s dining room. Photo: ©


Interior of the newly opened Camino Alto. Yelp photo by Audrey W.


The former Farallon’s dining room.


The entrance to Sushi Aoba in the former Kiss Seafood. Photo via Instagram @sushiaoba.


A mangonada from La Snackería de la Mission. Photo courtesy of Snackería.


Yogurt soup from Soupchu. Photo courtesy of Soupchu.

After trying to do a quiet soft-opening run for the Western Addition/Nopa neighborhood last week (ha-ha, good luck, not in this town), ~AUTOMAT~ abruptly closed since the demand exceeded what they were planning on about five times over. SF, you cleaned the shelves! After taking a quick breather, they are opening for daytime service for reals and dinner starting this Wednesday December 8th.

Partner Matthew Kirk is formerly of Lazy Bear (and working with David Barzelay on this project), so expect some soigné touches on things like the California hot fried chicken sandwich I ordered for takeout on day two: it had a seaweed aioli and the flavors of the coleslaw with pumpkin seeds was a cut above, plus it was on a housemade milk bun ($15).

Breakfast and daytime items range from two next-level breakfast sandwiches ($9-13) and inventive pastries (maple-y candy cap custard toas, $7), plus a veggie dip sandwich ($14). All the breads are made in-house, and you’ll be able to take home a loaf of honey-tahini-whole wheat sourdough, Baker St. sourdough, garlicky pretzel focaccia, and more ($10-14). There’s also coffee, tea, or me (kidding), and wine. Dinner service has a casual prix-fixe with sides they automatically include (we’ll see how that goes in our control freak town) and à la carte options as well, plus a big and little kids menu (cute—maybe the crispy beef tacos are a remembrance of the former Green Chile Kitchen?). Menus for everything here.

Love the airy feel and cheery design, with punchy colors and materials (terrazzo counters!) and textures, and a mural by Madeleine Tonzi. You can tell a lot of thought and good taste went into all the design touches, even the water glasses look cool. (You can see more pics in my Instagram post.) Open Tue-Sun 8am-3:30pm and 5pm-10pm; takeout window only from 3:30pm-5pm. Closed Mondays this December. 1801 McAllister St. at Baker.

Chef Matt Russell of Scopo Divino tipped me off to the recent opening of ~CAMINO ALTO~ in the former Pane e Vino in Cow Hollow. The chef-owner is Jason Copeland, who has put together a seasonally driven and edited menu that includes homey, NorCal-style dishes like local halibut with cannellini beans and braised escarole; wood-oven Japanese sweet potato with California romanesco; Klingeman Farms pork shoulder with Larry’s beans, Josh’s tortillas, and avocado salsa; and a half pastured chicken with morita salsa, celery root, market greens, and Josh’s tortillas again (these dark masa tortillas accompany a number of dishes). Brunch includes blueberry masa waffles and fresh-squeezed OJ. The wine list focuses on natural wines, with a couple skin-contact selections from Austria. The dining room has a clean, minimalist look. Open for breakfast Thu-Mon 9am-2:30pm and dinner 5pm-10pm. 1715 Union St. at Gough.

Here’s an incredible comeback story: the former owner of Takara, 91-year-old Lena Turner, just opened ~SUSHI AOBA~ in the previous location of Kiss Seafood, which closed during the pandemic. It doesn’t stop there: the sushi chef is Sachio Kojima, the OG chef from Kabuto A&S on Geary, who left for Shasta and later returned to SF to work at Hecho in 2012. Read about their $165 omakase offering and take a peek at the menu and more in this uplifting KQED piece. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. Call 415-517-1339 for reservations. 1700 Laguna St. at Sutter.

The former Farallon in Union Square is now ~ULA MEDITERRANEAN DINING & COCKTAILS~ from owner Krishan Miglani (Zingari). If you were sad you didn’t get to say goodbye to Kuleto’s underwater fantasy restaurant, well, the décor is still pretty much intact. The chef is also no stranger to Farallon: Ryan Simas, who has created a Gems of the Sea menu with seafood like oysters, ceviche, and calamari, plus Maine lobster, Louisiana prawns, and Alaskan salmon, and some Mediterranean dishes. The restaurant is open nightly 4pm-10:30pm, with the bar open until midnight, and a new weekend brunch 10am-2:30pm. There’s also live piano music in the evenings. 450 Post St. at Powell.

Our prince of Papalote and sultan of salsa, Victor Escobedo, decided he just wasn’t busy enough and has opened a new Latinix snack spot called ~LA SNACKERÍA DE LA MISSION~ in the Mission (thanks to a tablehopper reader for the tip-off). Escobedo saw a space on 24th Street was available, and says, “I didn’t want to see a Starbucks there to further dilute the Latino presence in the Mission District, especially the very heart of the Mission District, so I decided to open a concept that would feature the foods that my Latino friends and family like to prepare and share with their friends. I want to preserve and share my culture through drinks and tasty treats!” Here for it!

The soft opening is currently underway, with items like mangonada (a sweet and spicy type of mango smoothie), ceviche, aguachile, esquite, aguas frescas, and gelato and sorbetto by Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato, including a flavor he created as a tribute to Frida Kahlo. They’re finalizing some items on the menu (including tortas and salads) and hope to open fully in a couple of weeks. For now, you can swing by 11am-7pm, although they close at 6pm on the weekend. 3325 24th St. at Osage (near Mission).

Now open in Polk Gulch is ~SATO OMAKASE~, the latest restaurant in the Mins Group trio of projects on Polk and Post. The 10-seat bar seats diners for an omakase menu of top-notch seafood—they’re keeping it at $135 for now to offer a more-affordable omakase experience (but still high-quality) since the local economy hasn’t quite bounced back. (I’d prefer we have more places keep it around that price anyway.) There’s also a new somm from The French Laundry and Quince, Richard Yeager, so perhaps you’ll want to consider the $65 pairing as well. Open Tue-Sat, with seatings at 5:30pm and 8pm. 1113 Polk St. at Post. [Via Eater]

Turkish chef Hazet of Sumac Istanbul Street Food is behind ~SOUPCHU~, a new Russian Hill concept dedicated to soups (and toasts), made from scratch and designed for takeout and delivery. It’s the perfect time for chicken couscous soup, green lentil soup, and collard soup, plus stews, salads, and toasts. Check out the menu here—it operates out of Sumac’s location. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm. 1096 Union St. at Leavenworth.


Detail shot behind the bar near the taps. Photo courtesy of Key Klub.


One of the Klipsch La Scala speakers. Photo courtesy of Key Klub.

The folks behind the six-year-old Bodega in North Beach are soft-opening ~KEY KLUB~ in Lower Nob Hill’s former Hopwater Distribution this week, starting Friday December 10th. Bodega partners Lalo Luevano and Paria Sedigh are known for their natty wines and neighborhood-friendly focus, and have brought on Cellarmaker’s Sean Halpin to spearhead the beer program and some operations. Key Klub will primarily be focused on natural wines, with some hard-to-find selections joining the list, but they’re excited to have some fresh, unique, and local beers on draft as well (but they won’t have as many taps running as Hopwater used to, focusing more on freshness instead of quantity).

Like Bodega, there will be some of their quality charcuterie and cheese offerings and tasty small plates, but they’re also going to be expanding the kitchen offering here, serving more-substantial dishes like a flat-iron steak au poivre with frites. During the pandemic, they did a bunch of pop-up takeout dishes at Bodega, and will be putting some of them into play here. More shareable and family-style dishes will be coming in the new year with the grand opening—they’re just warming up the engine this month since it’s a funky time to open a new business.

The original Key Klub dates back to the 1950s (it closed in 1987), with a vintage neon blade sign out front. Crossroads of the world! The team has replaced the sign’s surrounding bulbs, but don’t plan on restoring the neon part, although they did create a Key Klub neon sigh for inside. You’ll see a bunch of the original brick, and they kept the copper top bar. You’ll also see some rabbit art, paying homage to Harvey the Herder, an extraordinary rabbit that used to be a regular at the Key Klub, profiled in Life magazine in 1954. You can’t make this shit up.

They really invested in the sound, and installed a couple Klipsch La Scala speakers, the kind you’d find in a hi-fi bar—the sound is reportedly incredible. With the expansive space, there will be more room here for people to hang out and have dates and find a more-intimate vibe, or have friends swing by and join their table. The owners didn’t want to completely overhaul the space, however, and opted to just add some modern finishes because their lease is a limited run: the building is going to be demolished to make way for condos in about four years or so. Sniff. But they’re excited to be part of this unique neighborhood pocket of businesses, and have been looking to expand for a while. The grand opening will be in January, come by for the soft opening for now. Hours are Tue-Sat 4pm-11pm. 850 Bush St. at Taylor.


Chocolate-gingersnap pudding from Yes Pudding. Instagram photo via @yespudding.

Here’s a quickfire round of some coming soon projects. I was thrilled to see the news on Instagram that ~YES PUDDING~ is opening a spot in the Ferry Building Marketplace—bring on the savory and sweet custard puddings! Congrats to owner Quanisha Johnson on this great news; the grand opening is Friday December 17th, get your ticket (and special deals) to support the opening.

Congrats to the ~QUEENS~ superette team (Clara Lee and Eddo Kim) on their upcoming Korean-Chinese restaurant called ~HOTLINE~, targeting an opening in February in the Outer Sunset. 3560 Taraval St. at 46th Ave.

The Mister Jiu’s team is opening ~SOON AND SOON SOUVENIR SHOP~ on December 18th, selling souvenirs, coffee, and snacks from Melissa Chou/Grand Opening on Saturdays. 731 Grant Ave. at Sacramento.


The dining counter at Delfina. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

Over on the ‘gram, ~DELFINA~ announced they have closed their parklet for the winter and are looking at reopening it in March. In the meantime, they’e embarking on a major remodel, working with architect Sarah Fucinaro and Roy Design to combine Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina into one space. When it’s finished, it will be Delfina with pizza…and cocktails! I remember speaking with Craig Stoll about these changes at an event that past spring, and am happy to see them pushing forward with this idea. Considering the restaurant is 23, the timing if great for a refresh before her 25th birthday. In the meantime, the kitchen will remain open for takeout and delivery, serving their pizzeria menu, plus a few Delfina favorites.

Just a few blocks away, ~PRUBECHU~ has announced they’ve opened their indoor space as a drink and snack bar, serving snacks inspired by what they grew up on from mom-and-pop stores in Guam. Come on by for a glass of natural wine, or the new Temescal Beer pastry stout inspired by their coconut candy ice cream (it’s on tap!). This will be the first time they have opened their indoor space since they took the location over two years ago. Cheers to making it this far in a goddamn pandemic, team!

Over on Valencia, I was happy to read the news that owner Eileen Rinaldi of ~RITUAL COFFEE ROASTERS~ is working on converting the company into an employee-owned business, with any employee who has worked for Ritual for a year or more owning a share. Her goal is to have things in place by the end of 2022. [via Mission Local]

In the previous tablehopper column, I broke the news that ~FLOUR & BRANCH~ was opening their first brick-and-mortar bakery in SoMa, and after some issues with their oven, they have opened. Release the cookies and kouign-amann! Hours are Mon-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat 10am-6pm, with hours extending later as they ramp up. 493 3rd St. at Bryant.

November 23, 2021

The tablehopper 15-year anniversary tote.


The Blue Fox tablehopper t-shirt.


Pot d’Huile’s hemp CBD olive oil. Photo: Meghan McNeer.


My Fat Miilk phin filter in use with their full-bodied Blue Roast ground Robusta beans. Photo: ©


Dial down the frazzle with Goldmine Adaptogen Powder. Photo: ©


Black Food cookbook.

The holidays are here, whether you can believe it or not (yeah, it was 66 degrees yesterday, but let’s put the tree up and have pumpkin spice everything!). I know some of you are going to be looking for ideas of awesome gifts for your favorite food-lovin’ folks, so let’s do this.

First off, one of the best gifts you can give is a restaurant gift certificate! It helps support our local industry as they try to get back on their feet, and who wouldn’t love a free lunch or dinner somewhere?

Charitable donations on someone’s behalf are also so thoughtful, like SF New Deal, the SF-Marin Food Bank (give by midnight on 11/30 to have your gift matched!), and 18 Reasons (where $18 supplies a family in their Cooking Matters program with a full bag of healthy groceries!). You could also help support organizations like La Cocina, or gift a membership to 18 Reasons.

You can show your support to yours truly by purchasing a tablehopper 15-year anniversary tote bag! Carry allllll your goodies in this oversized, sturdy, natural cotton canvas fifteenth anniversary tote (this isn’t one of those flimsy cotton totes—and the gusseted bottom means it won’t tip over, even after a couple drinks, ha-ha!). Limited quantity! When it’s gone, it’s gone.

I also still have some limited stock of tablehopper vintage SF restaurant and bar tees, from t-shirt designs of the famous Blue Fox to the sassy Players Club. Thanks for showing your tablehopper love on your sleeve.

Let’s pop into my kitchen, shall we? I have been obsessed with Reem’s Spice Blends from Burlap & Barrel, and while two of the trio are sold out, the khalta hara remains, a chile spice blend I love to shake on my eggs, avocado toast, and any dips I’m munching. Magic! B&B’s site is full of awesome spices and chef collabs and gifts, check it out.

I have been loving my new sturdy cheese grater from Italy from Garrett Wade—bye bye, messy box grater that likes to eat my knuckles. Their site has all kinds of unique gifts, from vintage French paring knives (these are wonderful for trimming fruit and slicing up salumi), to all kinds of classic kitchen gear, to garden tools.

Many of you know what a dedicated espresso lover I am (read: fanatic), but I have been having such a good time taking out my phin filter and making myself a Vietnamese coffee in the afternoon, thanks to Fat Miilk (I recently brought my phin on the road for a perfect coffee in my hotel room—have phin, will caffeinate). Fat Miilk uses Robusta beans that are organic, directly traded, and ethically sourced—and Robusta reportedly has two times the caffeine and antioxidants of most beans, so get ready to launch. I have personally enjoyed their bold Blue Roast the most in their cheerful phin filter (they come in four colors!), but you can check out which roast level appeals the most, and if you want it ground or in whole beans.

Over the years, I have recommended gifting a bottle of olio nuovo (“new oil”) since it’s such a fabulous, seasonal treat (Market Hall in Rockridge usually has a great selection—and they have some fantastic holiday food gifts). But the harvest from Tuscany this year is greatly diminished, let alone any likely shipping snags and delays, so you may want to consider domestic and local olio nuovo from top producers like Séka Hills or McEvoy Ranch (preorder is limited!).

Or, you can order some well-made hemp CBD-infused olive oil from Pot d’Huile, which is beautifully packaged and on special right now! They also make Sessy sesame oil, Loud Grandma chile crisp, and Hot Sloth hot sauce, all favorites in my pantry and for chilling out. (Full disclosure: I did some website writing for them. But I really love love these products.)

Whenever I’ve had someone over to my place for drinks or a meal (or both), I’ve had fun pouring a taste of the trio of California-inspired amari from Brucato Amaro. From the chartreuse-like Chapparal, to the orangey-spicy Orchards (perfect for holiday vibes), to the dark fruity-bitter Woodlands, I love having these around for a fun tasting after dinner. Pick up a bottle (or all three) at these local stockists.

You have a friend who is stressed out (aren’t we all)? Gift them a jar of Goldmine Adaptogen Powder to dial down the UGH and be sure to point them to the awesome recipes, too. (You can also book them for a one-on-one mymilligram cannabis consultation with yours truly: 20 minutes for $40, and I’ll help suggest tailored products for sleep, pain, anxiety, and good times.)

Every bookshelf needs Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora [A Cookbook], edited by Bryant Terry. “In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. With contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe, the book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork.” Find it at Green Apple Books, Omnivore Books, and other local booksellers. Or, the evil Amazon, if you really have to go that route.

Not Food, But Friends
I wanted to give a shoutout for a few more gift ideas from my fab friends:

My dear friend of 30-plus years, Andrea Scher, has her first book coming out at the end of the month: Wonderseeker: 52 Ways to Wake Up Your Creativity and Find Your Joy, which is exactly the kind of book we need right now to help cultivate daily joy. I can attest that she is someone who can really make you see things differently.

My dear disco genie and brother from another mother, local designer Basil Racuk, just launched this new collection of four exquisite candles at his two shops in Noe Valley. Will it be Marrakech or Late Night Sessions? Magic Garden or Purple Room? Pay a sniff visit (3980 24th St.) and find out.

Just Because
And lastly, since I have to transition from caftans to PJs for my work-from-home style for the winter, I want to do a mention of my favorite leopard sleep set from Printfresh. (I adore my Royal Palms PJ set, too.) They’re made with the softest, stretchiest cotton, with pockets, piping, and a comfortable waistband, all the details that count. Here’s my link for $15 off! Their nightshirts are also fab.


The new California Gold cocktail at Bluestem Restaurant & Market. Photo: Kelly Puleio.


Baja fish taco from Cholita Linda. Photo: ©


The new Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Cafe at the Ferry Building Marketplace. Photo courtesy of Tsar Nicoulai.


Some of the delicious dishes from chef Sean Thomas at Buddy. Photo courtesy of Buddy.

After being closed for the duration of the pandemic, Stacy and Adam Jed’s Bluestem Brasserie is returning as ~BLUESTEM RESTAURANT & MARKET~, with a new menu focused on California coastal fare and a flexitarian style, an all-day retail market (grab pastry chef Lori Baker’s cinnamon crunch babka muffins, or products for dinner later—plus locally made items), new cocktails (including a cioppino cocktail made with tequila, mezcal, salted tomato water, lime, serrano pepper, and a splash of clam juice), wellness drinks, and some renovations to the space. The market is open now (Tue-Sat 9am-8pm), and meal service launches at lunch on Friday November 26th (attention shoppers!) from 11:30am-2:30pm and is available Tue-Sat moving forward (the shrimp and crab roll awaits)—dinner and weekend brunch will come soon.

Over at the Ferry Building Marketplace, ~CHOLITA LINDA~ has finally opened in the former Mijita. The Oakland food stand became famous for its fish tacos at farmers markets, and has two locations in the East Bay (Oakland and Alameda), and now, SF. The menu has other kinds of tacos, plus sandwiches (like a Cubano, lechon), salads, and plates with picadillo, chicharron, and fried fish. Owner Vanessa Chavez has a Cuban-Mexican father and Peruvian-Chinese mother, so you can see these various influences all over this California-born chef’s menu, where tortilla chips and plantain chips are both equally at home. Open daily 8am-10pm. [Via SFist]

The Ferry Building Marketplace is seriously buzzing with new openings, because the ~TSAR NICOULAI CAVIAR CAFE~ is finally open as well. Although this is actually a return: the sustainable caviar producer originally had an outpost at The Ferry Building over 10 years ago! The Instagram post mentions housemade blini, bubbles, and, of course, delicious caviar from the first and oldest sturgeon farm in the country (founded in 1984). There are Champagne and caviar flights, smoked sturgeon and salmon, and bites like deviled eggs with paddlefish roe—plus bagels with smoked salmon and caviar on the weekends. Hubba. Walk-ins only; to-go options are available, so swing by and stock up for the holidays (or before you come see me, ha!). Open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 9am-6pm, and Sun 11am-5pm.

Looks like ~VICO CAVONE~ in the Castro is doing some trial service (the next round is this weekend). This new Italian restaurant is opening inside the former Firewood, and will be taking advantage of the wood-burning oven and is serving pizza, as well as pasta and hot dishes. Hoodline originally reported the owners are Alessandro Raimondi (who is from Naples), Sanaa Hams, and Giancarlo Esposito (a master pizzaiolo). The grand opening is set for Sunday December 5th. Follow their Instagram for updates. 4248 18th St. at Diamond.

Just a little update since my last piece that ~BUDDY~ bar and café has now opened in the Mission. You can peep the menu here, with cocktails made by an all-star team, well-chosen wines, and sure-to-be-delicious snacks and dishes from chef Sean Thomas, like gougères with smoked trout roe and bay leaf labneh, and roasted trumpet shrooms with truffle honey, French feta, and walnut salsa macha. Sign me up! The former Californios space has been given a more-casual look, although the tobacco leather banquettes remain. Outdoor seating launches this weekend. Hours for now are Wed-Thu and Sun 4pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 4pm-11pm. Check out their Kickstarter to help get them through this opening push and enjoy some perks. 3115 22nd St. at S. Van Ness.

~PROPOSITION CHICKEN~ will be moving its flagship location from Market Street to Laurel Village, opening Monday December 6th. On offer: fried chicken, flipped (rotisserie) chicken (both use Mary’s Organic Chickens), or fake (crispy BBQ tofu) as a sandwich, salad, or entrée. There are also wings, chicken strips, and sides (including brown sugar Brussels sprouts, homemade bone broth, and matzo ball soup). Pssst: come by on Saturday December 4th from 1pm-3pm for their pre-opening celebration, with free sandwiches. Open 11am-9pm. 3465 California St. at Locust.


A selection of cookies from Flour & Branch. Photo courtesy of Flour & Branch.


A cross-section of the Salty Sombitch. Photo courtesy of Flour & Branch.


The Hold My Beer bun. Photo courtesy of Flour & Branch.


Both sweet crêpes and savory galettes will be available at Grande Crêperie. Photo: Grande Crêperie.


Slanted Door’s spring rolls. Photo: ©


Rendering of The Madrigal by Carly Rose, Rose Design.

It’s always uplifting to hear about new openings, and when dessert is involved, even better! Coming to SoMa in the former Picnic on Third space is the first brick-and-mortar storefront for ~FLOUR & BRANCH~, a baked goods and gifts company from owner Lauren Arnsdorff. She was launching her business just before the pandemic struck, and pivoted to become a commercial catering kitchen, offering delivery throughout the Bay Area, and shipping nationwide through her online shop. She launched on Election Day, 2020, and was fortunate to be accepted to Goldbelly’s roster within a month.

But now, after many pandemic-related and bureaucratic delays and snags, she’s ready to greet you in person, and watch your eyes widen over an array of creative cookies, cakes, and bakes like stuffed French toast, plus café items, espresso service, and a market and gifts section (this will expand in time—the “branch” part of the business name is a reference to flowers, as well as hospitality).

Her cookies are soft-baked but thick and crumbly, and made with quality ingredients. There are stuffies, with Nutella inside, or The Hopper—which I obviously need to try—and tastes “like your favorite minty cocktail got down with cookies and cream.” Oh my. There’s The Chipper, a Food Network favorite, with chocolate chips, espresso, and s’mores; The Brookie: “a brownie, a cookie, and a peanut butter cup all in one”; and The Salty Sombitch, which is like “butterscotch reinvented.” Super fun.

There are a couple kinds of decadent stuffed French toast, “hold my beer” buns, a floral & Prosecco trifle (made with layers of sponge cake drenched in a Prosecco glaze, Prosecco and vanilla bean custard, house strawberry rose compote, and salted brown butter streusel), marshmallow treats, and more. Her head baker is Paul Abuan, who makes kouign-amann, pastries, and other Viennoiserie. Lauren has been baking since her 20s, and has been on a quest to make the best cookies (this project has been in the works for the past ten years), but was previously in marketing and financial services, working for companies like eBay.

The space will have seating at four café tables, plus a few other additional seating options. The target was to open this Friday November 26th, but Tuesday November 30th is looking more likely due to oven shenanigans—I’ll keep you posted on Instagram. Hours will be Mon-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat 10am-6pm, with hours extended later as they ramp up. Can’t wait to check this sweet spot out! 493 3rd St. at Bryant.

Coming very soon to the Ferry Building Marketplace is ~GRANDE CRÊPERIE~, a French crêperie from Patrick Ascaso and Joanna Pulcini-Ascaso of Le Marais Bakery fame. This project will pay homage to the authentic crêperie experience found in Brittany, where Patrick spent his childhood, the home of the crêpe! There will be naturally leavened sweet crêpes and savory buckwheat galettes using local ingredients (and from other Ferry Building merchants), designed to be enjoyed on-site or rolled to go. There will also be a special crêpe cone filled with local Straus Milk’s organic soft-serve ice cream.

Ascaso is working with famed French master baker Gontran Cherrier to develop the recipes and menu, which will also feature Breton pastries, such as kouign-amann, Far Breton fruit (prune) flan, gâteau Breton butter cake, caramel meringue chocolate fondant Baulois, and famous Breton cookies, like Gavottes and Breton butter biscuits to go with their special dark French roast blend from Wrecking Ball. Le Marais Bakery’s executive chef Emmanuel Pradet will be developing seasonal salads to round out the menu, with family-style brunches and dinners to-go coming soon. Evenings will feature French cider on tap and cider and Champagne cocktails. Catering and delivery will also be offered. The space will have 6 indoor seats and 36 outdoor seats, with large glass windows overlooking the Bay Bridge and the back Ferry Plaza. Hours will be daily 8am-8pm. Suite 46, Ferry Building Marketplace.

Since we’re over in that neck of the woods, you should know ~SLANTED DOOR~ is confirmed to reopen—SF Business Times ran the news that chef-owner Charles Phan signed a 10-year lease extension, and plans to reopen in mid-2022 after renovating the space with original architect Olle Lundberg. Great! He’s also working on a springtime project in Napa at 1650 Soscol Ave.

The Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group (Trestle, MAMA, The Vault Garden, and The Vault Steakhouse) are going to reopen the former The Corridor space as ~THE MADRIGAL~ this December. It’s going to be a modern cocktail bar (that takes reservations!), as well as a place for a full meal. Since it’s right by City Hall, the Symphony, Opera, Jazz Center, and Orpheum, it will be designed to be ideal for a pre-show dinner or late-night cocktails.

Director of Culinary Development Joe Humphrey will offer cocktail-friendly dishes, like a pull-apart style bread service with fermented black garlic bread, plus a Liberty duck smash burger with Fontina cheese and black truffle mayo, with main dishes like a risotto with Monterey Bay squid and shaved porcini mushrooms. There’s also going to be a late-night breakfast sandwich special with a housemade breakfast sausage patty, over-easy egg, Kennebec potato hash brown, and cheddar cheese, on a griddled Martin’s potato roll (oh yeah!). I’ll have more details when it’s opening time in December. 100 Van Ness at Fell.


The new Miette in Montclair Village. Photo via Miette.

I heard one of the more disheartening pandemic landlord stories recently from Meg Ray of ~MIETTE~, who relayed why they had to move Miette from their Jack London Square location. When all their locations were closed during the pandemic and they couldn’t pay their rent, Miette negotiated a rent reduction with their JLS landlord, CIM Group. Their space could then potentially be taken over by another tenant, a risk they had to take. But it didn’t happen, and Miette reopened and they were able to pay their rent again. But the renegotiation actually triggered a change in their lease terms, and it ends up CIM could relist their space in perpetuity, something Miette didn’t realize. Sure enough, CIM found a new tenant who could pay more rent (Timeless Coffee), and instead of moving this new tenant into one of the empty spaces at JLS, they in essence evicted Miette from their bakery space they have been in since 2009. CIM even tried to sell Miette’s space with their equipment (but Miette didn’t let that happen)! And they only had 60 days to vacate. A wonderful way to treat one of your starting tenants.

But, now the sweet news: Miette ended up finding a location in Montclair Village, the former Batch Bakery. They were barely able to fit their bakery equipment in, but they worked it out, and they now have a retail storefront up and running, offering cakes, cookies, candies, macarons, holiday treats, and a special selection of after-school treats, too. Sourdough bread is coming soon! (Their Hayes Valley, Ferry Building Marketplace, and Marin County Mart locations are all open.) Hours are Mon-Sat 9am-6pm and Sun 11am-4pm. 2220 Mountain Blvd., Montclair.


The cozy dining room at Venticello. Photo courtesy of Venticello.


The awesome mural inside the restroom at Dosa by Dosa. Photo: ©

This part of my column is always a bummer. Some closures to report include the 29-year-old ~VENTICELLO~, which has been closed throughout the pandemic (their business relied on tourists staying in nearby hotels). Sibling owners Christina and Michael Deeb will continue to run the nearby Nob Hill Cafe. 1257 Taylor St. at Washington.

The chef hangout ~HALU~ (a tiny yakitori izakaya in the Inner Richmond) and the historic ~U.S. RESTAURANT~ in North Beach (it has been in the neighborhood since the 1890s) have both closed. [Via Chronicle]

~MELA TANDOORI~ in Civic Center posted about their decision to close, although they hope to reopen elsewhere. 536 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness.

A tablehopper tipster let me know the short-lived ~EL COREANO~, which was at the corner of 23rd and Bryant, “appears to be done—windows papered over, menus taken down. It’s sad as Mission Local just featured an article on the manager, Fidel, and he really was a sweetheart.” 2848 23rd St at Bryant.

After seven years in the Castro, ~RÉVEILLE COFFEE~ has closed this location. Their other locations in the nearby Lower Haight, Russian Hill, Mission Bay, and Berkeley remain open. According to their site, they have a Marina location coming this winter. 4076 18th St. at Castro. [Via Hoodline]

I was sorry to read in Nosh that the last Dosa location has closed, ~DOSA BY DOSA~ in Uptown Oakland. Sigh. 2301 Broadway, Oakland. [Via Nosh]

And lastly, while this isn’t a restaurant, ~FOG CITY NEWS~ was a big part of our local culinary culture, with one of our city’s best chocolate selections. Read more about their upcoming closure in their heartfelt note here. 455 Market St. at 1st St.

November 10, 2021

The dining room at 1760. Photo by Daniel Morris Photography.

Some exciting news from the Acquerello team: they’re transforming the former ~1760~ on Polk into ~SORELLA~, which means “sister” in Italian (it’s like Acquerello’s little sister who is chic and fun). Look for cocktails, cicchetti (Venetian snacks and bar bites), and an Italian menu from Acquerello’s team of chef Suzette Gresham and Giancarlo Paterlini (and chef de cuisine Seth Turiansky), chef Denise St. Onge (formerly Greens), and Sean Talley, with Gianpaolo Paterlini consulting on the wine list. You’ll be able to graze on a variety of Italian snacks, like arancine, polpettine, grilled octopus, spiedini, and other bites at the bar (they’re also working on a fried pizzetta!), or sit down in the dining room for a more substantial meal, with pasta and lots of vegetable dishes.

They have brought on Manhattan Zodiac, a woman-owned and operated cocktail consultancy from Yana Nogid and Katya Skye to develop the cocktail menu, which will feature unique Italian spirits and speciality amari (I look forward to trying a Sorella Sour). The bar was extended three feet and will be easier to hang out at, plus there will be other updates to the room, including a fun neon sign of the charming Sorella logo.

The plan is to open around 5pm during the week (they’re thinking Wed-Fri), and serve a delicious brunch on the weekend (plus offer evening service), with an early Sunday supper. Look for an opening Wednesday December 1st—follow their Instagram for updates and I’ll share more in coming weeks. 1760 Polk St. at Washington.


Chunjang-glazed pork ribs. Yelp photo by Cathy L..

After avidly following Corey Lee of Benu’s latest project on Instagram for months (and he shared the idea for it years ago), I was so happy to see the email announcement when reservations were finally open for ~SAN HO WON~ (if you follow @tablehopper’s Instagram Stories, you would have gotten the jump on the news—all the reservations are waitlist-only for now, with some seats at the counter available for walk-ins, good luck! I’ll be dining there in a few weeks and can’t wait to post about it.).

This new, minimalist, Korean charcoal barbecue restaurant is in the former Blowfish in the Mission, offering a casual and convivial dining experience, with a menu that “is rooted in home cooking and traditional flavors but embraces local ingredients and modern techniques.” Lee is collaborating with Jeong-In Hwang on the project, who has been working with him since 2016 and is leading the menu development. Throughout the pandemic, they were testing dishes and offering a variety of monthly menus for takeout, pretty much one of the few bright spots during those dark days. And now, guests will be able to enjoy grilled meats fresh off their central BBQ stove—like center cut prime beef tongue, house double-cut galbi (short rib), and chunjang-glazed pork ribs—grilled over solid lychee wood charcoal produced specifically for the restaurant.

You can make your way through a variety of appetizers, specialty banchan, soups and stews (it’s not all traditional—I can’t wait to try the kimchi jjigae pozole with pork belly, hominy, avocado, radish, and cilantro), gamasot rice dishes (cooked in the traditional Korean cast-iron pot), large-format dishes, and there’s also a tasting menu for $88 if you just want to be in their hands. Check out the menu here. Eater took some images of the space here. I’d sign up for San Ho Won’s mailing list for reservation updates and expanded hours (starting November 17th, they’ll be open for dinner Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm and until 10pm Fri-Sat). 2170 Bryant St. at 20th St.


The retro and vibrant style of Hilda and Jesse. Photo: Timofei Osipenko.

Congrats to chef Kristina Liedags Compton and co-owner Rachel Sillcocks on getting their first brick-and-mortar breakfast restaurant open, ~HILDA AND JESSE~, after popping up for months, fundraising, hand-delivering and selling their trademark Pancakes without Boundaries (a double stack of fluffy pancakes topped with delightfully smoky seasonal fruit) at Bi-Rite Market and Nighthawk…it has been a journey and a hustle. But now, their uniquely styled, retro-inspired diner (designed by Noz Nozawa of Noz Design) is open on the corner of Union and Powell in North Beach with an all-day menu, an international brunch tasting menu (three courses for $45), a list of sparkling wines, and low-ABV cocktails, including a fun spin on an espresso martini.

The menu is much more than what it seems at first glance: the “avocado toast” has a base of a tempura-fried sweet potato topped with sour cream and onion dip, finished with dill and horseradish, while the steak and eggs will feature dry-aged ribeye from Cream Co., served with herbaceous soft-scrambled eggs and finished with a tomatillo-mustard jus. Take a peek at sample menus on their site. There will also be fun vintage plateware, family portraits of Hilda (Compton’s grandmother) and Jesse (Sillcocks’ grandfather) created by artist Daisy Patton, and more unique touches.

The brunch tasting menu is available Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday nights (brunch for dinner!). À la carte is available on Fridays and for walk-ins Saturdays and Sundays. Open Fri-Sun 9am-2pm, Mon dinner 5:30pm-9:30pm. The space will also host future pop-ups and can be rented for community or private events in the evening. 701 Union St. at Powell.


Radio Africa & Kitchen exterior. Photo: Daisy Chow. ©


Son’s Addition interior. Yelp photo by Xteethx B.

After being closed for the duration of the pandemic, chef-owner Eskender Aseged has reopened the dining room of ~RADIO AFRICA KITCHEN~ in Bayview. During the pandemic, Radio Africa cooked meals for the community with Great Plates Delivered and SF New Deal, as well as offering takeout family meals, but now his neighbors and regulars can come in for lunch in person Tue-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm! 4800 3rd St. at Oakdale.

Thanks to a tip from a hawk-eyed tablehopper reader, I learned that Anna Sager Cobarruvias and Nick Cobarruvias have closed their 24th Street location of ~SON’S ADDITION~ after five years in the neighborhood. They’re looking for a new location where they can have full liquor, stand by for updates. In the meantime, they’re busy with their latest venture, Otra, a popular and oh-so-delicious Mexican restaurant and bar in the Lower Haight.

I’m happy to report ~TOMMASO’S~ in North Beach (since 1935, people!) has reopened after a kitchen fire last month. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but they did have to close for a few weeks while waiting for materials. They also had to rebuild their outdoor Shared Space last September after a fire truck hit it, so they’ve had an extra-rough go this pandemic. Come by and show some support for this SF classic—they extended their annual Mushroomfest to run through November, with specials like lasagne with porcini and pizza quattro funghi. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 1042 Kearny St. at Broadway.

A longtime tablehopper reader let me know ~KEIKO À NOB HILL~ has closed. The hidden-away, Franco-Japanese restaurant from chef Keiko Takahashi originally opened in 2011, and owner (and husband) Seigo Takei’s extensive wine collection was a favorite of many of the city’s vintage-bottle chasers. 1250 Jones St. at Clay.


A falafel pita from Hummus Bodega. Photo: ©

Some quick opening updates for you, starting with ~FLORI’S~ in Russian Hill, serving Salvadoran and Mexican dishes, ranging from pupusas to ceviche, mole, tacos, and burritos, plus beer, wine, frosé, and sangria. Open Tue-Thu 12pm-9pm, Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat 2pm-10pm, and Sun 12pm-8pm. 2360 Van Ness Ave. at Green.

The awesome ~HUMMUS BODEGA~ I love their falafel pita sandwiches) has opened a second location in SoMa in the Frena Bakery and Cafe (they are sharing the space), offering indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Mon-Thu 11am-8pm. 132 6th St. at Minna.

The former Coin-Op space in SoMa is now ~THRILLER SOCIAL CLUB~ from Kingston Wu (Wilder, Westwood), with a variety of vintage midway games, a playful menu from Stag Dining Group (think BBQ pulled pork deviled eggs, a butter and bacon lobster roll, and some creative pies will be coming out of the wood-fired pizza oven, including a CPK-inspired Peking duck pizza!), and cocktails to help get your Skee-Ball swerve on. Open Wed-Sat 4pm-close. 508 4th St. at Bryant.

There are some new Japanese spots opening around the city, including ~SUSHI SATO~ from the Mins Group (Sushi Hon, Tamashisoul, BarnZu, Sushi Hakko) in the former Bitters, Bock, and Rye space in the Tenderloin. The Hoodline piece mentions they’re offering a variety of hot and cold dishes, as well as à la carte sushi or tasting menus, plus there’s going to be an on-site beer brewing program from Dave McLean (the founder of Magnolia Brewing) and a full bar, Bar Kuro. Open Tue-Wed 5pm-11pm and Thu-Sat 5pm-12am. 1122 Post St. at Polk.

Over in Mission Bay, ~MACHIYA~ is serving sushi and skewers grilled on Japanese charcoal, with sake and beer. Open Mon and Wed-Sat 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm. 570 4th St. at Brannan.

And in the Mission, there’s ~ICHI NI SAN SUSHI~ serving a variety of saucy maki rolls and pretty straightforward nigiri, plus bento boxes and appetizers. Open daily 11am-9pm. 3230 22nd St. at Mission.


Oliveto’s sign. Photo via Oliveto.


The bar at The Lodge in Oakland. Photo: The Lodge.


Fowl + Fare’s fantastic Indian butter fried chicken sandwich. Photo: ©


Fowl + Fare’s chef Will Allen with one of his masterpieces. Photo courtesy of Fowl + Fare.


Step right up to the new Stinky’s Bar. Photo courtesy of Stinky’s Bar.

Last week, a good friend let me know something was up at ~OLIVETO~ in Rockridge, and a couple days later, Nosh broke the news that co-owners Bob Klein and Maggie Blyth Klein have decided to retire after 35 years (although Bob will continue his Community Grains project). Oliveto has been such a seminal part of our local Cal-Italian culinary scene, with so many notable chefs who have come up and out of that kitchen. The Kleins are reportedly planning to go full-tilt until the end of the year, with truffle dinners, a “destination Oceanic Dinner,” and more—they have a huge community of neighborhood regulars, so it’s going to be quite the ongoing send-off. Best wishes to the Kleins for everything they did to make it through the pandemic. Stand by for more announcements and be sure to book a reservation for a farewell meal.

Any of you who follow @tablehopper on Instagram have heard me crowing about the over-the-top delicious fried chicken sandwiches from Will Allen of Oakland-based pop-up Fowl + Fare. When I interviewed him about his sandwiches and business a month ago, I was dismayed to hear about the many constraints and limitations he was dealing with. He mentioned he was on the hunt for a location that he could turn into more of a home base, and after introducing him to Alexeis “Lexi” Wolff Filipello of ~THE LODGE~ on Piedmont, they found a fit and he’s going to start cooking out of their kitchen December 1st!

Will is going to be open during the day for takeout (he’s thinking 11am-3pm), and then serving food for bar patrons five or six nights a week, something like 5pm to midnight or so. This will be all fine-tuned in coming weeks, but he’s thinking of launching with his classic citric hot chicken and lemon pepper fried chicken sandwiches, Fowl fries, and will be coming up with some bar bites to start. Delivery will also be added, and, of course, he’ll be offering new specials in no time because he can’t stop, won’t stop (he has 57 international fried chicken combinations, and counting). The Lodge is open Sun-Wed 5pm-12am and Thu-Sat 4pm-2am. 3758 Piedmont Ave. at West MacArthur, Oakland.

He’ll be popping up at Deli Board (1058 Folsom St.) this Thursday November 11th from 6pm-9pm or until sold out, which will happen, so preorder your sandwich here! And then he’s back in Oakland serving his birria tacos (yup, he makes those too) and his sandwiches and more for lunch Sat-Sun 11am-2pm. (His last day of service in Jack London Square will be Sunday November 28th, FYI.)

Will has also been popping up at AltoVino in Russian Hill in SF (here’s the birria fried chicken sandwich he made on a recent appearance) and will be there Tuesday November 16th. Follow his Instagram for menu updates and more, he’s good about posting his whereabouts until he lands permanently at The Lodge.

Meanwhile, Filipello has been busy transforming her other beautiful downtown Oakland bar, ~DOGWOOD~ into a new concept and vibe to reflect the changing times. Honk your clown nose, it’s time to meet ~STINKY’S BAR~. Filipello has collected all kinds of clown memorabilia, robots, vintage toys, musical bears, and other quirky and circus-themed items for years, and is excited to trot them out to help create an energetic, engaging, and unique atmosphere at the bar, which we could all use a dose of right now. She wants to foster a “fun queerdo vibe, with no mean people, and no mimes.” Ha!

There will be theme nights with music, variety shows on Sundays, and there’s going to be a 25-seat theater in the back room in early 2022! She and her husband want the Dogwood Theater to be a community space where local filmmakers can screen their work and have viewing parties without having to over-pay a cinema to do so. They will also screen B movies, documentaries, BIPOC- and queer-made films, and more. Guests will be able to enjoy free popcorn while sitting in some amazing vintage green velvet theater chairs with a cocktail, it sounds like a blast.

Stinky’s bar menu will be keeping some Dogwood cocktail classics on there, with seasonal slushies made with fresh fruit and good booze, and tasty grilled cheese and other sandwiches. Stinky’s should be opening around Thanksgiving, follow their Instagram for updates and hours. 1644 Telegraph Ave. at 17th St., Oakland.