The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
December 14, 2017
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The main event: the extraordinary beef Wellington at Maybeck’s! Photo courtesy of Maybeck’s.

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A lineup of some of the Bruichladdich Scotches we’ll be tasting! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The private lounge space where we will be gathering at Maybeck’s. Photo courtesy of Maybeck’s.

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Got your attention there, didn’t I? Nothing says holiday feast like beef Wellington, and the version they make every Wednesday at ~MAYBECK’S~ is truly fantastico. Chef de cuisine Blake Askew (previously Petit Crenn) has mastered this terrific trinity of tenderloin, mushroom duxelles, and puff pastry, and let’s not overlook the charred shallot jus it comes with either! And creamed spinach. And at our event, a glass of Bruichladdich Octomore neat will also be paired with the Welly, the most heavily peated whisky in the world. It’s going to be a magic tasting moment, of that I am sure.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up for a second. In the past, I have thrown some really fun holiday dinners in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’d love to do it again! Let’s keep the holiday spirits flowing! On Wednesday December 27th, 25 of us will be gathering for this special tablehopper and Bruichladdich holiday dinner at Maybeck’s in the Marina, featuring three courses of a festive, throwback menu thanks to our hosts, Erik Lowe and Aaron Toensing. The evening will start at 7pm, with the first course served at 7:30pm.

We’ll begin with a welcome cocktail and Welsh rarebit on toast, and then sit down for our first course: Star Route Farms salad of baby lettuces with Waldorf dressing (celery, apples, raisins, and candied walnuts, with a hint of orange in it)—and a Blood & Sand (made with Bruichladdich Port Charlotte)! You know all about the main event (beef Wellington and Octomore for the win!), and for dessert, we’ll have baked Alaska (chocolate cake and brandied cherry ice cream) with the perfect closing nightcap: the Rockefeller, with Bruichladdich 2010 Islay Barley (voted #9 Whisky of 2017 by Whisky Advocate!), Alessio Di Chinato, and allspice dram. Yay to all of this.

This classic meal will be served family-style (the preferred tablehopper way to dine!) and we will all be seated together in our own private lounge area at Maybeck’s. We’ll learn a bit about the history of the dishes, and Trent Simpson, the Western Regional Single Malt Whisk(e)y Ambassador for Bruichladdich and Westland Distilleries, will be educating us about the pairings (and offering some additional and special neat tastes throughout the night, hubba). We’re also going to be hosting a holiday raffle with some very nice prizes, and proceeds will go to the SF-Marin Food Bank. Cheers to that.

This holiday event is only $100 (including tax and tip, Happy Holidays to you from us!), and tickets will move quickly, so hop to it.

21 and over. And it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: please don’t drink and drive, especially tonight, thank you.

December 12, 2017
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The Carrara marble case at Noon All Day will have plenty to tempt you. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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Cauliflower-potato fritters with fermented green tomato aioli.

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The long counter (made of Austrian oak).

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Your new dream breakfast treat: the Holy Mole (with housemade mole, Fontina cheese, and an egg inside).

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The meatball pocket sandwich (made with pizza dough and Piccino’s famed meatballls).

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The braised squash salad with sunflower seed brittle and Medjool dates.

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An array of desserts from Sarah Hipwell (including a really delicious cookie).

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The spacious outdoor patio at Noon All Day.

Earlier this year, I reported on the upcoming ~NOON ALL DAY~ project opening in Dogpatch from the Piccino team (owners Margherita Stewart Sagan and Sher Rogat and director of operations Kerry Glancy), and now it’s time to look around, because they are officially opening their doors on Monday December 18th (although they are soft open now)! (Fun fact: Piccino first opened on December 18th in 2006, so that’s pretty darn special.)

The sunny space features an all-day menu, perfect for breakfast on the go or if you want to grab a table, all the way to lunch and early dinner. Chef Carlo Espinas, who was the original chef at the very first, teeny tiny Piccino, has created a menu that is very flexible, whether you want to graze or have a more substantial plate, or perhaps some bites to go with your wine; the vegetable-centric menu also has plenty of meaty add-ons. His dishes hit notes of Mediterranean flavors, with Cali seasonality, some Italian lineage, and a little bit of Asian flair thrown in there too. Their beautiful vegetables are coming from their own little but mighty farm up in Healdsburg, which is also supplying Piccino.

The salads are well thought out and satisfying, from a kale salad ($12) with radish, yuba, tahini, and togarashi to a perfect fall-winter salad with braised squash ($10), golden beets, ginger, Medjool dates, sunflower seed brittle, and pomegranate. You can easily add a poached egg ($3), or maybe you want half an avocado ($4), and then there’s the braised Stemple beef, with sauerkraut, baby turnips, and caramelized onion ($9).

There are some delightfully homey dishes, like the chicken soup stracciatella ($9) with nettles and whisked egg (it’s Margherita’s recipe), which you’re going to want delivered to you the next time you’re sick, trust me. The braised butter beans on toast ($13) was everything I want on a chilly or rainy day, with sautéed greens, fermented chile, and a poached egg.

Sandwiches feature beautiful sesame bread from Pain Bakery (like a glorious grilled cheese with Fontina, nettles, and sauerkraut), and there are pocket sandwiches made with pizza dough from Piccino, perfect for holding the Piccino meatballs ($14) with crushed tomato and Grana Padano. If you’re a fan of bitter greens, the Noon style ($12) comes with a poached egg you break inside the pocket and have it meld with the greens and curtido (and a little zip of chile oil).

I can also see myself coming up with excuses to head over for a glass of wine so I could eat the Scotch olives ($6), diabolically delicious fried and stuffed Castelvetranos with housemade sausage and fromage blanc inside, with crushed tomato sauce you dunk them into. Gah! So good. There are cauliflower potato fritters ($5) that are fluffy and crunchy and magically gluten-free (they’re made with potato flour and flakes). And hummus gets a serious upgrade with their kabocha squash version ($11). It’s love.

The team definitely wanted to cater to the neighborhood, which includes the many doctors, residents, patients, and visitors to the nearby UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital—whether you’re a nurse getting off work in the morning, or visiting a patient and want to bring them some food, or you just happen to be hungry at 3pm and craving meatballs, you are set. Everything is designed to be portable (and to hold up too).

And we haven’t even ambled over to the pastry case! Pastry chef Sarah Hipwell (who is also running the show over at Piccino—she started in July of this year) is doing some serious magic. Her background spans Lucques in L.A., Birch and Barley in Washington, D.C., four-plus years at Lafayette in New York, and she is very inspired by the work she has done on organic farms, from Australia to Hawaii. She likes to use all natural colors, so the purple you see in her stunning taro-coconut danish is from taro root powder.

Bring on the laminated dough! You’ll want to make your way through the case and come back each morning, for the kimchi danish with Fontina cheese (so good) to the Holy Mole with an egg in the center and Fontina cheese to the charcoal mushroom danish with goat cheese filling. Plus a seasonal danish with a ricotta filling, currently topped with paper-thin zucchini.

For dessert, there’s a spiced chocolate mousse verrine with cinnamon cream, Earl Grey cake, Straus vanilla soft-serve with toppings, and a wicked cookie made with Valrhona Dulcey chocolate that has a marvelous cakey texture. You’ll find a full lineup of coffee and espresso drinks, courtesy of Sightglass Coffee.

The light-filled space is full of windows and sliding doors, with 24 seats inside and up to 52 outside. There is a sunny patio which flanks the Dogpatch Arts Plaza, a dead-end street converted into an arts-focused public pedestrian plaza (at 19th and Indiana) by Build Public, a local nonprofit committed to designing and developing more public spaces. Noon All Day is also just across from Esprit Park, so you can grab a bench when the weather is nice and enjoy your coffee while watching dogs run around.

There are seven taps, with beer and wine, from local brewers like Harmonic Brewing, and there is a special pinot noir from Tatomer that is their own—there will be some half bottles of wine and bubbles too.

The space is just 1,100 square feet and is bright and airy, and even though the room is full of windows, the design by Sagan Piechota Architecture is warm and welcoming. The tables and counter are made by Sea Level Woodworks, from an Austrian oak used throughout (also on the slatted ceiling), and there is some Carrara marble too (they even chose their slab!). The herringbone floor in black and white concrete tile is lively and electric and works well with the modern, Edison-inspired suspended bulbs that feature laser-cut glass, with LEDs inside. The look made me feel like I was in Milano—zippy and chic.

It’s a fine-casual experience, and a concierge at the entrance will manage the line and facilitate your order. Food will be brought to your table via food runners and some groovy technology (no table signs here). There will also be delivery on Caviar soon. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, and Sat-Sun will be coming soon. (If you want to work at Noon All Day, here’s their ad!) 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.

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Exterior of Farina. Photo courtesy of Farina.

The shenanigans just continue: first at ~FARINA~, and now ~FARINA PIZZA & CUCINA ITALIANA~, which just got evicted by U.S. Marshals. Seems the group doesn’t like to pay rent (which they hadn’t paid since 2015!), vendors, wages, and other bills.

And now there’s a, er, misguided concept that wants to take over the former Farina space on 18th Street: ~YASS~, a members-only, LGBTQ co-working and social club from Brian Tran. The problem is the project is backed by Peter Thiel’s firm, Founders Fund. Yass, actually, no, the local LGBTQ community isn’t too keen on Trump-supportin’ Thiel, and that includes his money. How about starting an LGBTQ club with investors that are more in line with the right values? A lease reportedly hasn’t been signed yet, so let’s hope this concept goes back to the drawing board. And someone needs to burn some palo santo in that space stat, get some good juju flowing in there. 3560 18th St. at Dearborn. [Via Eater via The Guardian.]

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Rice Paper Scissors pop-up inside Mojo Bicycle Cafe (photo by Patrick Kawahara).

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The coffee and tea gear you can try out at Fellow. Photo courtesy of Fellow.

Some unfortunate news for Western Addition/Nopa peeps: ~MOJO BICYCLE CAFE~ is closing on Friday December 22nd, after 10 years of business. Earlier this year, owner Remy Nelson closed the bike shop in the back, and now we’re losing the entire café. Wah. And Mojo was also home to some incredible pop-ups, like Wes Burger and Rice Paper Scissors. Thanks for all the bike work and gear and espresso shots over the years, Remy! [Via Hoodline.]

Also on Divis, the two-year-old ~REPOSE COFFEE~ has closed and will be replaced by ~NATIVE TWINS COFFEE~, a first-time café from identical twin sisters from Marin who have a granola business. They will be adding more food options, and Hoodline reports they will be open in a couple of weeks. 262 Divisadero St. at Haight.

An SF longtimer has sadly closed: ~BRAINWASH~. The combination café, laundromat (which is sadly becoming as endangered a species as the dive bar), and open-mic comedy spot has closed after nearly 30 years in business in SoMa (Susan Schindler opened it in 1989). The construction of the condos being built next door really messed with BrainWash’s walk-in business, and now another funky SF spot is gone. 1122 Folsom St. at Langton. [Via Hoodline.]

On Valencia, there’s a new shop from ~FELLOW~, where you can try out their coffee and tea products (including pour-over kettles, drippers, and glassware). There is also a “playground” where you can try them out—the hands-on area has four brew stations. You can take a look at the mural that details different tasting notes and see how your pour-over coffee is tracking. Coffee from five local roasters (like Linea Caffe, AKA Coffee, and Andytown) are currently featured, but they will be curating beans from five different roasters around the world each month for customers to brew in store or purchase for home. There’s some wooden stadium seating for people to sit on with their coffee, and for classes and educational events. Look for weekly classes from baristas, roasters, and growers. Open Mon-Sat 11am-7pm and Sun 12pm-6pm. 820 Valencia St. at 19th St.

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Get your holiday tamale fix at Mijita. Photo courtesy of Mijita.

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The quite perfect matzo ball soup at Wise Sons. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s the time of year when my inbox is utterly flooded with holiday meals, events, and more. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! :) I’m just going to put together a quick cheat sheet for you here, have fun out there!

Events:
This Thursday December 14th, ~BUFFALO THEORY~ is hosting an event to collect toys for The San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program. All guests will have the opportunity to have a photo op with Santa Claus while enjoying complimentary appetizers. Those who donate an unwrapped new toy will receive a raffle ticket for each toy they donate for a chance to win prizes! 5pm-9pm. 1735 Polk St. at Washington.

If you’re doing some holiday shopping downtown, Off the Grid is hosting their annual Winter Walk every day through December 31st from 8am-9pm. Come by for seasonal food and drinks (yes, with alcohol!), pose for #awkwardfamilyphotos, and check out special holiday performances and interactive holiday experiences. The pedestrian plaza runs a two-block stretch of Union Square on Stockton Street (between Ellis and Geary). Check out the lineup of events and food vendors here, which includes Johnny Doughnuts, Del Popolo, RoliRoti, and more.

Up in St. Helena, ~ACACIA HOUSE~ by Chris Cosentino at Las Alcobas Napa Valley is hosting an amazing holiday series (from December 18th-24th) with stellar guest chefs: Feast of the Seven Cultures. The guest chefs include Roland Passot (La Folie, San Francisco) representing France; Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière, San Francisco) representing Mexico; Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo (Fat Rice, Chicago) representing Portugal; Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Big Star, and most recently, Publican Anker, Chicago) representing Germany; Jamie Bissonnette (Toro, Boston) representing Spain; Staffan Terje (Perbacco, San Francisco) representing Italy; and Chris Cosentino (Acacia House, St. Helena) representing California. Each chef will create a one-night-only tasting menu featuring both plated and family-style dishes. Click here and scroll down to see each menu, they are incredible. Did someone say sweetbread schnitzel?

Dinners are $190 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) with an optional beverage pairing for $95. Two seatings are available at 5pm-6pm and 7:30pm-8:30pm. A portion of proceeds from the dinners will go to Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. And you should seriously consider staying the night so you can just amble to bed after dinner. 1915 Main St., St. Helena, 707-963-7004.

And don’t forget to save the date for the tablehopper holiday dinner, featuring beef Wellington and Bruichladdich at ~MAYBECK’S~ on Wednesday December 27th! Details coming to @tablehopper on social media ASAP!

Holiday Treats: 

It’s Hanukkah, which means it’s time to get your latkes on. You can avoid the oil fry-up if you want and pick some up at Bi-Rite Market, Luke’s Local, and Market Hall Foods in the East Bay. Also: don’t forget the brisket. Or get the Wise Sons latke kit on Good Eggs. And ~WISE SONS DELI~ also has sufganiyot!

There’s also a holiday-inspired pastrami taco at ~TACOLICIOUS~, featuring pastrami courtesy of Meat by Pete!

And don’t forget, every year ~DELFINA~ has special Hannukah dishes on the menu (December 12th-20th), including duck fat-fried latkes!

For the entire month of December, Traci Des Jardins will be selling her famous tamales at ~MIJITA~, a holiday tradition. You can order roasted pork, or grilled poblano peppers with Oaxacan cheese, both served with guajillo sauce. Each tamale is $5, and get one free tamale with each dozen purchased. Place your order here and pick up at Mijita!

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The interior of Hawking Bird. Yelp photo by Xica D..

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Pizzaquiles at Drake’s. Photo: Chelsea Holifield.

Now open in the former Blackwater Station is James Syhabout’s fast-casual khao mun gai spot, ~HAWKING BIRD~. For $12.95, you get khao mun gai made with free-range, organic, vegetarian-fed chicken from small and local family farms. The poached chicken (cooked in a rich broth) is served with chicken fat rice, cucumber, cilantro, and a ginger and fermented soybean sauce on the side. There’s a fried chicken sandwich made with a thigh (and there’s a fried tofu version), or you can get it over chicken fat rice or salad. Plus, there are a bunch of side dishes, from fried tots to garlic noodles to an egg you can add to your KMG—and chicken broth, which here is being sold as an extra. Fortunately, nothing is more than $12. Tue-Sat 11:30am-3pm. According to the EBX, look for extended hours and beer and wine in the new year. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.

Dosa has expanded to Oakland, and on Friday December 15th, Anjan and Emily Mitra are opening ~DOSA BY DOSA~, a fast-casual and all-day spot with cocktails, chai, and espresso drinks (they are using Mr. Espresso) in The Hive. Look for a menu of their signature dosas, tandoori kebabs, and salads (like a tandoori lamb kebab salad); they are serving breakfast (until 11am) to dinner daily. I’m also happy to see they are serving freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, a refreshing treat I fell in love with in Mumbai. Nora Furst (Uma Casa) is the bar manager and has created new cocktails for the location, including slushies.

The 3,600-square-foot space (with room for 112) has a marketplace feel, with high ceilings and a lot of light, plus vibrant murals and a view into the busy open kitchen. There are communal tables and outdoor seating. Look for upcoming events with local musicians, DJs, and more. Open daily 8am-10pm. 2301 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland.

Also at The Hive: the folks at ~DRAKE’S DEALERSHIP~ are having fun with their new Wake + Drake weekend brunch service (served Sat-Sun 10am-12:30pm). The menu includes The Duck ‘n Syzurp ($16), a savory Belgian waffle topped with duck confit, candied orange, pistachio butter, and maple syrup (add a duck egg for an additional $2), and Pizzaquiles ($13), a breakfast pizza with braised short rib, enchilada sauce, cotija cheese, poached duck egg, and crispy tortillas. There’s Red Bay nitro cold-brew coffee on draft, plus bottomless beermosas (OJ plus beer), micheladas, and Brass Monkeys (made with Drake’s 510 malt liquor). 2325 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-833-6649.

And lastly, you can help ~NYUM BAI~ with their brick-and-mortar plans; check out owner Nite Yun’s Kickstarter here, which has some nice Cambodian food rewards for you! Pledging just $30-plus, you’ll get lunch, which includes a bowl of her Phnom Penh noodle soup and a beverage! She plans to open in early 2018.

December 5, 2017
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Barvale’s dining room and a section of the main bar. All photos: David Martinez.

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A selection of cold tapas.

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Tempranillo-braised oxtail and mashed potato.

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A selection of daily pintxos.

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Pulpo with fingerling potatoes, olives, pimentón.

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Cocktails include the Arencia Highball, Salty Spaniard, and Valenciana.

Opening this Thursday December 7th is ~BARVALE~, the latest project from Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group, its 22nd restaurant, but their first Spanish tapas bar concept. They are opening in the former La Urbana, right at the corner of Divisadero and Grove.

As mentioned earlier in tablehopper, Patricio “Pato” Duffoo is the executive chef, who is making most items in-house and will be utilizing the grill a great deal. His menu features two sections: cold and hot tapas. Cold tapas will be available for $6 per portion, or 3 for $15, served with grilled bread. Some examples include boquerones (cured white anchovies, spicy Iberian sauce); tortilla de patata, pimento aioli, frisée; and garbanzo and pimentón purée, piquillo, grilled bread, mint (their house version of hummus).

Some hot tapas include charred cauliflower, romesco, grilled lemon; grilled sardines, shallots, guindillas (small yellow pickled Basque peppers), olives; gambas (olive oil-poached prawns from the Gulf of Mexico), grilled bread; and tempranillo-braised oxtail, mashed potato, mirepoix. In a fun twist, you’ll be able to order paella (shrimp, mussels, clams, aioli, lemon) by the portion instead of having to commit to an entire pan. It will come out every 30 minutes.

Over at the bar, you’ll find three daily pintxos (bite-sized and served on a skewer)—since they are designed to be accompaniments to their cocktails, sherry, and wine, you’ll find them at the bar only.

Jessica Everett is behind the cocktail list, which will have four gin and tonics, including one on tap, which you can order by the carafe. Jessica and her team tasted more than 40 different gins and worked with gin’s aromatics and tonic’s bitter quality before landing on the four flavor profiles that will be represented in the gin and tonics. One of them (No. 4) features infused Bols genever with pink peppercorn, saffron, and cardamom. She also has a strong eco focus and does what she can to make sustainable choices for sourcing and storage, eliminating as much plastic wrap as possible (bless) and only using eco straws.

There’s the La Urbana, an homage to the previous tenant, with mezcal, apple brandy, palo cortado sherry, and housemade banana liqueur. Or you can go for a low-ABV drink like the Arencia Highball, with dry and sweet vermouths, manzanilla, soda. I’m looking forward to the Salty Spaniard, a spin on a Bamboo, with gin, fino sherry, dry vermouth, orange bitters. Cocktails are $12 and under and designed to be approachable and beautiful; check out the menu here.

There is also a complex wine and sherry list, featuring rare bottles sourced from friends in Spain, special wines (with a focus on certified organic and biodynamic wines), sherries, and ports. Two domestic Spanish-style wines from California are available on tap only and a bottle of completely natural and biodynamic txakolina is available as well.

The space is designed by Hannah Collins of Hannah Collins Designs, her 10th Back of the House restaurant. The spacious bar (with room for around 24) is the anchor of the restaurant, with a mural of a flamenco designer painted above the bar from local creative design studio Wall and Wall. There is also a communal table to the right, on decorative cement tiles (the original ones from La Urbana have been replaced). In the 65-seat dining room, there are punchy tomato red metal chairs, handmade pendant lights suspended with white rope, and tobacco banquettes.

In the former “Garaje,” the garage roll-up doors have been replaced with real walls and contained to create The Pintxo Room, which will be opening in early 2018 (end of Jan/early Feb). There’s a central bar, high-top communal tables, red terra-cotta walls, and art featuring a bull—all of which will create a dark, sexy space for large groups and private parties.

Open for dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. They will only take reservations for parties of six or more. 661 Divisadero St. at Grove.

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Chef Joshua Skenes. Photos by Bonjwing Lee.

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Wine director Mark Bright.

I have been following up with Joshua Skenes of Saison for the past month about some rumors I have been hearing about him opening a project in the former Chaya space (at 132 The Embarcadero), and today his PR team has finally released some details.

Chef Skenes and wine director Mark Bright partnered with Terra Venture to form the Saison Hospitality Group in 2016, and their next project is to open ~ANGLER~, an American raw bar and grill. They will be opening in the former Chaya space on The Embarcadero, which has fantastic views of the bay, and in Los Angeles. (According to Eater, the L.A. location will be in the Beverly Center, although Saison’s PR won’t confirm that detail.)

Each restaurant will each have a capacity of approximately 100 seats, with space for private parties. Here’s more from the press release on the look and style: “Both outposts will evoke a rich maritime setting, with rusted steel beams, exposed brick, elements of copper with a saltwater patina, mermaid tiles, and natural materials such as American walnut. Each will feature an entry room with a fireplace, full bar, and an inviting salon for diners to gather before and after their meal—or just stop in for a glass of wine, cocktails, and a quick bite. Angler will have an elegant and warm environment with an expansive and diverse wine cellar with a focus on Burgundy, Rhone, and Loire Valley.”

Skenes is known for his dedication to cooking on the hearth, and Angler will feature a massive 32-foot hearth with eight different zones for the various types of live-fire cooking Saison has developed over the years. Live tanks will hold local fish and shellfish sourced by Saison’s fisherman that will be cooked simply and carefully to highlight the products’ natural flavors and peak taste.

The à la carte menu’s sample dishes include raw bar items like oysters and clams; Mendocino sea urchin on grilled bread; cured rockfish with Meyer lemon; simple salad of lettuces and herbs; spot prawns grilled over a bed of seaweeds; California king crab steamed with drawn butter from their cows; Hopi cornbread baked with wild boar fat in a skillet near the fire; elk T-bone roasted over the embers with coffee beans and chiles; and for dessert, wild strawberry soup, and ember ice cream and espresso granita.

The targeted opening is summer 2018 for San Francisco, while Los Angeles will be fall 2018.

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The former Chiaroscuro location. Photo via Google Maps.

Back in 2015, it looked like ~QUINCE~ was going to be taking over the former Barrique, which was just across the street—the Tusks were planning to open a Spanish-inspired and casual spot (Bar Ventresca). That project didn’t pan out, but now an ABC license application shows the Tusks potentially starting a project in the former Chiaroscuro at 550 Washington, just a couple of blocks away from Quince and Cotogna. The name on the transfer is Verjus—we’ll have to wait and see when they are ready to talk about their plans. It’s a space that housed Daniel Patterson’s first restaurant (Elisabeth Daniel) and George Morrone’s Tartare (I’ll never forget the arched ceiling and dramatic soup bowls that looked like a manta ray). The space flanks Hotaling Alley, so let’s hope they get to have some outdoor tables. 550 Washington St. at Montgomery.

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Chile cheese toast for Saturday brunch at Indian Paradox. Photo courtesy of Indian Paradox.

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Disco fry eggs for Saturday brunch at Indian Paradox. Photo courtesy of Indian Paradox.

I’m always happy to have some new brunch options in the mix, and when it’s Indian brunch, then I’m downright stoked. Starting Saturday December 9th, Kavitha Raghavan of ~INDIAN PARADOX~ on Divis is going to be serving brunch from 11am-2pm. (Sundays are possible down the road.)

There will be six new street food dishes on the menu, like chile cheese toast ($9), with warm whole-grain white bread generously topped with a green chile, bell pepper, and garam masala cheese blend, and then grilled to golden brown goodness (sign me up); a masala omelet ($11); and egg akuri ($10.50), a soft-scrambled egg cooked with Parsi masala, ginger, garlic, turmeric, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, served with a buttered toast. And then there’s disco fry eggs ($12), which is almost like a savory Indian (French) toast—the eggs and brioche buns pressed with onions, chiles, cilantro, chaat, and garam masala, exclusive only to the streets of Mumbai. Yum, see you there! 258 Divisadero St. at Haight.

Over in Bernal, ~OLD DEVIL MOON~ is also kicking off weekend brunch on Saturday December 9th. Chef Sarah Duncan (previously The Broken Record) is behind their new Black Magic Brunch, with $13 dishes like huevos rancheros, loco moco, shrimp and griddled grits, cheddar biscuits and gravy, and more. Most dishes include a side of smashed potatoes, fruit, or a side salad, and they are happy to offer some vegetarian options of some of the dishes. Here’s the menu. They’ll be serving Sat-Sun 11am-3pm.

You’ll also find mimosas, Bloody Marys and Marias, a michelada, a Pimm’s Cup, mai tai spritz, Negroni spritz, and Grandpa’s Coffee with Red Whale nitro cold brew, Irish cream, and a nip of Old Grand-Dad bonded bourbon. 3472 Mission St. at Cortland.

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The classic two-olive martini at the just as classic Bix. Photo: Kristen Loken.

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My last pizza margherita at Una Pizza Napoletana. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s that time of year again! ~BIX~ is the perfect setting for a holiday lunch, which is why they are open every weekday for lunch through Friday December 22nd. If there was ever a time for a two-martini lunch, well, this is it.

On the flip side, it’s the time of the year when ~LA TAQUERIA~ in the Mission takes a break from making us taco dorados and closes for a winter break. This year they will be closed Monday December 18th-Wednesday January 10th.

And then there’s the spot that is taking THE BIG BREAK. As you know, ~UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ is closing after almost eight years of business because proprietor Anthony Mangieri is moving back to New York and opening a location in the Lower East Side. I went in for a farewell margherita last Friday, and they said they’d be open for one or two more weeks, but definitely closing before Christmas. And you’ll also want to head in early—at 7:45pm, they were counting down the final dough balls for pizzas that night. Open Wed-Sat.

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The new weekend brunch at Donato & Co. includes crispy potato and cheese frico cake with poached eggs and salsa bernese. Instagram photo via @donatoandco.

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Perle Wine Bar’s French spin on chicken and waffles, with a Liège waffle. Instagram photo via @perlewinebaroakland.

The 510 has a bunch of new brunches for you to check out, starting with ~DONATO & CO.~ in Berkeley, serving ciambellone, assorted pastries, and Italian-style egg dishes, including scrambled eggs with guanciale, and a potato-and-cheese frico cake with poached eggs. Chef Gianluca Guglielmi is making all kinds of breads, from ciabatta to tigella to focaccia. Available Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. (They are also serving lunch during the week 11:30am-3pm and apericena from 3pm-6pm.) Take a peek at all the menus here. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley.

Over in Montclair, chef Rob Lam has launched Sunday brunch at ~PERLE WINE BAR~, with food coma-inducing dishes like foie gras French toast and a duck rillette croque-madame. Don’t forget the Lipitor. (There are also lemon soufflé pancakes and an egg white and avocado frittata, so don’t fret.) Check out the menu. You’ll have plenty of bubbles to choose from, and cocktails like the Bix Bloody Mary and a French 75. Saturday brunch will launch in the new year. Sat 11am-3pm. 2058 Mountain Blvd. at Antioch Ct., Montclair.

Lastly, ~ALAMAR KITCHEN + BAR~ in Oakland has launched an all-day Sunday brunch from 11am-6pm. The rotating menu features new items each week, plus staples from chef Nelson German, such as braised oxtail hash with poached egg and black pepper hollandaise sauce, and Dominican eggs Benedict (think oxtail or crab on a bed of mofongo—garlicky mashed green plantains—instead of an English muffin). There’s a boozy coffee and a special cocktail inspired by a popular Dominican beverage, Morir Soñando. Chef Nelson says, “My all-day Sunday brunch pays homage to the New York City trend of late brunches where you can recover from a hangover and still roll out of bed in the afternoon without the fear of missing brunch.”

You should also know they’ll play Oakland Raiders games if they coincide with the timing of brunch. (Whether you find that to be a bonus or not is entirely up to you.) There’s also a dog-friendly patio with heaters. 100 Grand Ave. #111 at Valdez, Oakland.

November 28, 2017
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A Wharf classic: crab cioppino. Photo: William Pruyn.

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The back area of the dining room (with an incredible view). Photo courtesy of Lisa Robins.

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The dining area, with booths, new yet retro seating, and black walnut tables. Yelp photo by Alisson M.

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The timeless look of the updated dining room, with wood tables and oak floors. Photo courtesy of Lisa Robins.

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Seafood Cobb salad. Photo: William Pruyn.

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Don’t let just the tourists enjoy the chowder in a seafood bowl. Photo: William Pruyn.

Some big news regarding one of the Wharf’s most beloved stalwarts: ~FISHERMEN’S GROTTO NO. 9~ has reopened under new owner Chris Henry. It has had quite the thoughtful remodel, thankfully keeping its fabulous vintage style intact, just refreshed and gently updated.

Henry bought the historic property back in October 2016 (it was the first full-service, sit-down restaurant in the Wharf when it opened in 1935) from the Geraldi family, who have owned the Grotto for three generations, but with no one in the family’s next generation taking it over, they decided to sell and retire. (You can read more about the deal in this in-depth piece in Forbes.)

Henry recently took over another SF icon, Tommy’s Joynt, and understands the importance of keeping the nostalgia of these places preserved and intact while giving things a gentle polish—he says, “I want to bring things up to today’s standards for diners, but it’s important to preserve the rich history of the Wharf.” He’s also the owner of Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito and Dawn Patrol in Santa Barbara.

The upstairs restaurant is The Grotto, and all the original woodwork was stripped and repaired and repainted white, from the panels to the beams—it now has such an airy and light feeling. The view remains as spectacular as it always has—there are two sides of windows looking out on the boats and the bay. The former fisherman carpet has been replaced with blonde oak floors with wavy planks (inspired by the bar), and some bronze fish, crabs, and starfish have been inset as well—there is some ocean-inspired carpet that has been installed in the back section of the dining room. There’s also quite the carpet on the staircase, with an octopus on it!

There are banquettes and blue booths along the wall (that are slightly elevated), plus some round tables down the center too. The white tablecloths have been swapped out to reveal the wood tabletops, although there are some fabric runners on the table that tuck into two slots on each end. The black walnut tables were handmade by Eastern European craftsmen Henry has been working with for more than 20 years. There are also some postmodern-inspired chairs, in two retro styles (one is more upholstered), that add to the vintage-yet-modern look.

The menu (here’s an initial peek at the daytime menu) continues to offer the kind of seafood dishes people expect from the Wharf, from chowder to cioppino to crab Louie, but everything has been given a bit of a lighter, fresher presentation. Heidi DiPippo is the corporate culinary director, and Paul Bruno is the executive chef. Sustainability is highlighted, and they have added some fun seafood plateaus from the new raw bar (it’s where the restaurant’s dining room bar used to be—you can still sit there). There is also an herb garden and a beehive on the roof deck garden.

The dining room has a staggering 240 seats. I spoke with GM Lisa Robins (previously at another vintage SF favorite, Alfred’s!), who said it’s quite the marathon each day. She updated the wine list, with wines by the glass that are all from California and from kegs. Both discriminating locals and chard-happy tourists will find plenty to love.

They have reopened the crab stand downstairs, with some total pros running it—you can order cracked crab, seafood cocktail, fish and chips, and some of the Wharf’s best chowder (made fresh two or three times a day). And yes, you can get it in a sourdough bowl. It’s a grab-and-go situation, but there are tables where you can sit (unlike the other stands). The crab stand is open daily from 11am-6pm and it closes a little later Fri-Sat.

The downstairs casual café—which they are calling No. 9—will reopen next (they are targeting March 2018). They are busy preserving the Venetian look of the room, from the jaunty striped poles to the charming booths that were totally falling apart. I’m so glad they are being restored! Some of the amazing blue barstools from upstairs will have a second life at the downstairs bar as well.

Speaking of the bar (the Fireplace Lounge), which was one of the finest retro time capsules in the city, it’s now the Sinatra Bar. The beautiful undulating bar is still there, along with the funky gold medallions on the walls, the diamond-patterned wall paneling, the herringbone ceiling, and more. They even got the fireplace working. A jellyfish tank is coming soon, and you can come by and enjoy some piano playing Sat-Sun afternoons from 1pm-3pm. Tuesday evenings will also be happening.

Behind the stick, you’ll find the talented Ken Furusawa (previously 1300 on Fillmore, Ichi Sushi, Range, Saison, and La Folie), who has gently updated the cocktails but nothing too crazy—classics done right, all of them $13. Frank would approve of the Ol’ Blue Eyes, made with Jack Daniel’s (his favorite) single-barrel whiskey, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, bitters, and a brandied cherry.

The iconic vintage signage remains intact—you’ll easily find the restaurant because of it. And you can just guess where I want to throw my next tablehopper vintage dinner!

Another little tidbit: some ABC license-transfer activity reveals Chris Henry is buying Tarantino’s Restaurant as well. I’ll keep you posted on that too—I should have something to share in a few weeks. Open Sun-Thu 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm. 2847 Taylor St. at Jefferson, 415-673-7025.

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The welcoming and timeless space at Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The charming entrance to Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

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Chef Michael Siegel’s famous brisket and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. Photo courtesy of Michael Siegel.

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A previous family-style fundraiser dinner at Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

WE ARE SOLD OUT, THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT! Hey everyone! Okay, Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to think about brisket! This Thursday November 30th, I am cohosting a fundraiser dinner with ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ in the Castro, which is generously donating their charming space and event support. We’re calling the event Comfort Food: A Benefit Dinner for Wine Country Relief, and we have chef Michael Siegel, previously of the dearly departed Shorty Goldstein’s in the Financial District (RIP) cooking us a heartfelt, homey dinner. Yup, he’s going to be making his famous family brisket! Michael is a Sonoma County resident and wants to do everything he can to support his neighbors, so we put our heads and hands together to host this event!

It’s going to be a family-style dinner, cozy and friendly, a midweek meal that won’t have you out too late, but you’ll come home with a full belly and warm heart. The Le Marais Bakery Castro location is so inviting, have you been yet? It’s a happy place.

There are a lot of people who are not in a happy place right now, due to the horrific fires that ripped through Wine Country, leaving more than 100,000 people displaced and 9,000 homes destroyed. So much loss, so much devastation. Forty-two precious lives were taken. It’s hard to fathom, but fortunately the outpouring of support has been a bright light in all the darkness. Everyone has been so generous, with time, supplies, money, food, fundraisers, helping hands, spare bedrooms, and hugs. But we have to keep doing more, giving more, and showing up for our beloved Northern California friends. We have a long road ahead of us to assist in rebuilding, and every dollar is needed.

It’s the week after Thanksgiving, so let’s continue with that feeling of gratitude as we sit at communal tables with 60 of our neighbors and friends and break bread (like Le Marais’ wonderful levain)! Maybe you didn’t get to see your friends over the holiday, so why not invite them to get together at our fundraiser?

Michael’s fall-inspired three-course menu is as follows:

-Arugula salad with Fuyu persimmon, toasted almonds, chèvre, and preserved Meyer lemon vinaigrette

-Pot-roasted brisket (kindly donated by Newport Meat Company), creamy garlic mashed potatoes, watermelon radish and baby carrots, veal demiglace

-Mini fall tarts and cheesecake from Le Marais

We will also be pouring some lovely donated (and local!) wines with the dinner, including Pomebandit 2016 albariño (sustainably farmed in the Sierra Foothills—you may recognize the name from Duna’s wine list!) and Artesa’s 2014 Los Carneros pinot noir!

We will be hosting a silent auction as well. We have some fantastic auction items, including tastings for four at the following wineries: Repris, Texture, and Pangloss Cellars, plus Seven Stones Winery in Napa and a magnum of Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013, Napa. We have a $60 gift certificate from Little Star Pizza and a pair of tickets to this Saturday’s sold-out Fine & Rare crab feed!

We also have copies of perfect-for-the-holiday books: two copies of the brand-new Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way by Rolando Beramendi and the new book by Robin Sloan, Sourdough. Karen Solomon kindly donated copies of her books, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Asian Pickles. And we have some 2017 olio nuovo and honey from Séka Hills. Thank you to everyone who has contributed!

All proceeds from our dinner will be going to the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund, which will be directed to North Bay community foundations, service providers, and government partners supporting the low-income communities hit hardest by the fires. Their approach has three phases: relief (3 months), recovery (3-9 months), and rebuild (4-12 months). You can read more here, and if you can’t attend, please consider donating!

Dinner is at 6:30pm, and tickets start at $50, all-inclusive of food, wine, service, and tax. We want everyone to be able to attend, but if you could possibly afford to buy a higher-tier ticket, please do! We want to raise as much as we can! Tickets are also listed at $65, $75, $95, and $150. We only have three tickets left!

If there is another amount you’d like to pay, please let me know! To repeat, it’s a 100 percent donation to Tipping Point’s Emergency Relief Fund. If you need to make your donation tax-deductible, do NOT buy a ticket on Eventbrite—we will need to make special arrangements ahead of time. (Just get in touch.)

Thanks everyone. We know there are a million fundraisers and holiday events to consider, but we’d so love to see you at our table! Let’s chow down on some brisket!

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Photo by Maren Caruso.

This was some pretty crazy news: after landing three Michelin stars, it ends up chef Matthew Kirkley was no longer at ~COI~ and was training for Bocuse d’Or, which takes place in Lyon, France, in January 2019. Eater reveals chef de cuisine Justin Mauz was an interim chef, who has since left, and now Erik Anderson (formerly of Nashville’s lauded Catbird Seat) is the executive chef. Look for a new menu in January. But until then, Daniel Patterson is back in the kitchen through the end of the year—take a look at some of the Coi classics he’s bringing back, plus new dishes too.

~DOSA~ has a new executive chef, Arun Gupta, who was previously at New York’s Gramercy Tavern and Maysville. His background is Indian and Polish, and he has always had an affinity for gardens and market-fresh ingredients. He is enjoying the Bay Area bounty and has reportedly added a modern touch to many of Dosa’s signature items. He has also added dishes like spiced carrot soup (yogurt, orange, candied pistachio) and South Indian goat biryani (dough purdah, basmati rice, squash, kale, pomegranate raita). The pumpkin masala dosa with sweet onion chutney and toasted pumpkin seeds also sounds like a winner.

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The awesome location for Pentacle Coffee while it was still under construction. Instagram photo by @pentaclecoffee.

I’ve been tracking the opening of ~PENTACLE COFFEE~ on 6th Street in SoMa, and owner Bobby Valentino Sanchez just opened the shop! It’s in the former San Francisco Barber College location (such cool signage) but it was quite the extensive renovation and restoration (oh, old buildings—you can read more in this Hoodline piece). Let’s just say there’s a lot more light in the place. You may recognize Bobby from Four Barrel Coffee Roasters, and after 12 years in the Bay Area coffee biz, he is so happy to be opening his own place. He’s going to be focusing on Central American single-origin coffees and looks forward to forming relationships with farmers so they can improve and adjust growing practices for better beans. He’s also going to be offering some Latin-inspired desserts from Dave and Mauro’s Famous Farm and pastries from Neighbor Bakehouse. Sanchez is also going to be serving some Mexican queer realness and has created a welcoming space for everyone. Open daily 7am-7pm. 64 6th St. at Jessie, 415-508-6258.

If everything gets approved, Russian Hill residents have a shot at having a ~PHILZ COFFEE~ open in the former Russian Hill Bookstore on Polk and serve up their fully caffeinated cawfee. Socketsite notes: “But with 43 locations worldwide, including 13 stores and a mobile truck in San Francisco alone, and Formula Retail restrictions in place for the Polk Street Corridor, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will have to approve a Conditional Use application to allow Philz’s move.” 2230 Polk St. at Green.

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The Good Food Awards podium. Photo from Facebook.

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Some mighty fine lookin’ steak and eggs. Photo courtesy of The Saratoga.

The finalists for The Good Food Awards have been announced (after a blind tasting of 2,057 entries!), and the winners will be given their awards on Friday January 19th, 2018, at a gala (tickets: $165) in the historic San Francisco War Memorial, followed by the industry-only Good Food Mercantile (tickets: $35) on Saturday January 20th and the open-to-the-public Good Food Awards Marketplace (tickets: $5) on Sunday January 21st.

Coming up this weekend is a visit from Rolando Beramendi, founder of Manicaretti Italian Food Importers, who just released his cookbook, Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way. This Saturday December 2nd, he’s hosting a book signing and tasting at Rockridge Market Hall, and if you RSVP, you get a bonus gift (free). You will get to sample pantry ingredients, learn about authentic Italian products, listen to Beramendi tell stories about his culinary finds, have your book signed, and enjoy a pantry and holiday pop-up. 2pm-4:30pm. 5655 College Ave., Oakland.

You can also visit ~A16 ROCKRIDGE~ for dinner from 5pm onward (also on Sat Dec 2nd), which will be featuring dishes from the book, from crostini misti to the “greenest pasta,” with winter greens, pine nut, and olio nuovo. Reserve for dinner to enjoy the Autentico-inspired menu.

Looking for some brunch options this weekend? Don’t forget, starting Sunday December 3rd, ~THE SARATOGA~ is starting Sunday brunch service (11:30am-4:30pm).

And also on Sunday December 3rd, ~LORD STANLEY~ is hosting their monthly English breakfast, $25, 11am-2pm (details and a pic of last month’s here). One more note: during the month of December, Lord Stanley will be open on Mondays!

Saturday December 2nd, the ~SAN FRANCISCO COOKING SCHOOL~ is hosting a Holly Jolly Bake Sale, with all proceeds donated to No Kid Hungry in support of fighting childhood hunger. Imagine a roomful of treats created by some of the Bay Area’s top pastry talent (from Avery Ruzicka/Manresa to Nicole Krasinski/State Bird Provisions)—and you’re given a pastry box to fill! You’ll also enjoy a cup of Guittard cocoa and a goodie bag full of other sweet surprises. Plus there’s an awesome raffle. Tickets are $75, 9am-11am. 690 Van Ness Ave. at Turk.

Next week marks the beginning of Dandelion Chocolate’s fifth annual 12 Nights of Chocolate, which is also a fundraiser in support of the SF-Marin Food Bank (last year’s event raised enough money to pay for more than 65,000 meals!). Guest chefs and pastry chefs come in for various nights, serving both sweet and savory dishes and more. Take a look at the amazing lineup, which sadly includes some that are sold out (wish they would update the website accordingly), but there are still plenty of great nights to choose from.

The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is hosting a series of December pop-ups, starting with a Zahav Hanukkah Dinner at The Alembic on Thursday December 14th (with chef Mike Solomonov—yes, you get his insane hummus, menu here), a Federal Donuts Pop-Up at Hanukkah Shabbatikkah FRYday on Friday December 15th (4pm), and the Federal DUNA: Lángos, Coffee, and Book Signing pop-up event on Saturday December 16th (10am-1pm). Read more here. Bring on the doughnuts.

November 14, 2017
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The welcoming and timeless space at Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The charming entrance to Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

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Chef Michael Siegel’s famous brisket and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. Photo courtesy of Michael Siegel.

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A previous family-style fundraiser dinner at Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

It has been a month since the horrific fires ripped through Wine Country, taking 42 precious lives and leaving over 100,000 people displaced and 9,000 homes destroyed. So much loss, so much devastation. It’s hard to fathom, but fortunately the outpouring of support has been a bright light in all the darkness. Everyone has been so generous, with time, supplies, money, food, fundraisers, helping hands, spare bedrooms, and hugs. But we have to keep doing more, giving more, and showing up for these precious people and our beloved Northern California. We have a long road ahead of us to assist in rebuilding, and every dollar is needed.

On Thursday November 30th, I am cohosting a fundraiser dinner with ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ in the Castro, which is generously donating their charming space and event support. We’re calling the event Comfort Food: A Benefit Dinner for Wine Country Relief, and we have chef Michael Siegel, previously of the dearly departed Shorty Goldstein’s in the Financial District (RIP) cooking us a heartfelt, homey dinner. Yup, he’s going to be making his famous family brisket! Michael is a Sonoma County resident and wants to do everything he can to support his neighbors, so we put our heads and hands together to host this event!

It’s going to be a family-style dinner, cozy and friendly, a midweek meal that won’t have you out too late, but you’ll come home with a full belly and warm heart. The Le Marais Bakery Castro location is so inviting, have you been yet? It’s a happy place.

Our dinner is the week after Thanksgiving, so let’s continue with that feeling of gratitude as we sit at communal tables with 60 of our neighbors and friends and break bread (like Le Marais’ wonderful levain)! Maybe you didn’t get to see your friends over the holiday, so why not invite them to get together at our fundraiser? (We’re swapping the turkey with some brisket!)

Michael’s three-course, fall-inspired menu is as follows:

-Arugula salad with Fuyu persimmon, toasted almonds, chèvre, and preserved Meyer lemon vinaigrette

-Pot-roasted brisket (kindly donated by Newport Meat Company), creamy garlic mashed potatoes, watermelon radish and baby carrots, veal demiglace

-Mini fall tarts and cheesecake from Le Marais

If there are any purveyors who can donate product to our dinner (menu above), please get in touch, thank you so much!

We will also be pouring some lovely donated (and local!) wines with the dinner, including Pomebandit 2016 albariño (sustainably farmed in the Sierra foothills—you may recognize the name from Duna’s wine list!) and Artesa’s 2014 Los Carneros pinot noir!

We will be hosting a silent auction as well. If anyone would like to donate a gift certificate, wine, gift basket, book, product, anything, please get in touch! Thank you! Everything helps!

We also need some extra hands for service! If you can donate your time as a server, we’d really appreciate it!

All proceeds from our dinner will be going to the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund, which will be directed to North Bay community foundations, service providers, and government partners supporting the low-income communities hit hardest by the fires. Their approach has three phases: relief (3 months), recovery (3-9 months), and rebuild (4-12 months). You can read more here, and if you can’t attend, please consider donating!

Dinner is at 6:30pm, and tickets start at $50, all-inclusive of food, wine, service, and tax. We want everyone to be able to attend, but if you could possibly afford to buy a higher-tier ticket, please do! We want to raise as much as we can! Tickets are also listed at $65, $75, $95, and $150. We have sold half the tickets so far!

If there is another amount you’d like to pay, please let me know! To repeat, it’s a 100 percent donation to Tipping Point’s Emergency Relief Fund. If you need to make your donation tax-deductible, do NOT buy a ticket on Eventbrite—we will need to make special arrangements ahead of time. (Just get in touch.)

Thanks everyone. We know there are a million fundraisers and holiday events to consider, but we’d so love to see you at our table!

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A Thanksgiving spread from Luke’s Local. Photo courtesy of Luke’s Local.

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An array of the beautiful pies from Three Babes Bakeshop. Photo courtesy of Three Babes Bakeshop.

Whether you’re attempting to host a Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) meal at your tiny apartment, or perhaps you’re a guest and need to bring something but you can’t cook to save your life (I am not judging, just here to help!), here are some ideas of how to round out your holiday table. Pro tip: you can even order some of these items so you can enjoy leftovers and turkey and stuffing sandwiches all week. Or pie for breakfast (the best). Ask me how I know.

Our friends at ~LUKE’S LOCAL~ do a really nice job with their Thanksgiving options, from their house-smoked BN Ranch Turkeys to sage sausage and spinach stuffing (you want this), and they deliver all over the Bay Area! They sent me a preview kit and I’ve been eating turkey and stuffing sandwiches all week with their spiced cranberry sauce on Starter Bakery Parker House rolls, and let me tell you, my lunch has rocked.

You can also get all kinds of vegetable sides, a Black Jet pumpkin pie (mmmhmmm!), and they even have a lovely bouquet from Flowers by Carra to grace your table (or someone else’s). There’s even a complete Thanksgiving kit for $199. Or come to their Cole Valley market (960 Cole St.) in person to do your shopping.

The fine folks at ~BI-RITE~ (who are also kindly sponsoring the tablehopper newsletter this week, thanks for the support!) have all kinds of options for you, from a small “Friendsgiving in a Box” for 4-6 guests to full meals for bigger groups, as well as plenty of their kitchen’s awesome side dishes—all made with quality ingredients. And don’t forget the pie…or pumpkin cheesecake ice cream! And you know they will hook you up with the best wines to pair with your meal. 3639 18th St. and 550 Divisadero St.

CUESA will be hosting a special pre-Thanksgiving Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Wednesday November 22nd, where you can pick up heritage turkeys from Mountain Ranch Organically Grown and seasonal desserts from Three Babes Bakeshop, Crumble & Whisk, and Marla Bakery.

If you’re in the East Bay, of course ~MARKET HALL FOODS~ has your back, from meal kits to awesome sides—and pie! And truffles, if that’s how you roll. All orders must be placed by 3pm on Saturday November 18th.

Want to take a break from the turkey? You can order a smoked duck from ~THE MORRIS~, half ($40) or full ($80), and it comes with roasted root vegetables and potatoes in a honey-espresso duck jus—you roast it at home. For Thanksgiving pickup on November 22nd, please place your order by today, November 14th. For Christmas Eve pickup, please place your order by December 15th. Pickup before Christmas Eve is available upon request with adequate notice. (Please note that The Morris is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.) 

Pie pie pie! Not the easiest thing to make. Here are some of the best pies in town:

The pies from the Three Babes are legendary, which is why they’ll be making more than 4,000 pies Thanksgiving week out of their little kitchen in the Bayview! Incredible. Their classic pumpkin is best in class, such a great crust, and the filling is so custardy, but if you happen to be gluten-intolerant, there’s a sour cream pumpkin. And then there’s bourbon pecan, salty honey walnut, bittersweet chocolate pecan, and even blackberry crumble, also available in vegan and g-f versions! And there’s delivery, whew.

Of course ~TARTINE BAKERY~ has all kinds of treats, from pumpkin pie to country bread, you’ll want on your table (just don’t fill up!).

~MISSION PIE~ is here for you, with all kinds of pies available for preorder and pickup.

Need a vegan pie? ~CHILE PIES~ has you covered. Plus they have pumpkin, pear, and others.

Want to learn how to make your own pie? Join pastry chef Lori Baker of ~BLUESTEM BRASSERIE~, who is hosting a pie-making class as part of an Airbnb Experience this Friday November 17th and on Friday December 8th, 3pm-5pm. You’ll learn how to make a perfectly flaky dough with a rustic yet impressive crust, plus you will enjoy some bites and a cocktail, and bring home a personal 6-inch pie.

You a fan of the ~FRANCES~ lumberjack cake? Uh-huh. You can order it for Thanksgiving! $40.

Want to try something a little kooky? Leave it to the creative minds at ~SALT & STRAW~ to go into overdrive with five new Thanksgiving ice cream flavors: sweet potato casserole with maple pecans, persimmon walnut stuffing, salted caramel Thanksgiving turkey, spiced goat cheese and pumpkin pie, and the kicker: buttered mashed potatoes and gravy. Whoa. Bonus: Salt & Straw will donate a pint of one of the Thanksgiving flavors to Food Runners for every Thanksgiving pint purchased. Available through Wednesday November 22nd at both their SF locations.

And if you’re looking for a place to dine out with the family, here are five spots I’d consider:

~NOMICA~ will be open on Thanksgiving, and they are offering a special dinner all week (November 20th-25th). Chef Hiroo’s Thanksgiving dinner includes 9-10 family-style dishes broken up into four courses, like koji brined and slow-poached turkey breast and crispy confit leg with shiso chimichurri-turkey essence, dashi no. 1 mashed potatoes, and more (details on their website). $75 per person.

~THE CAVALIER~ has an $85, three-course, prix-fixe menu, 11:30am-8pm.

~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~ is offering a family-style Thanksgiving dinner for $65 per person. They also have pies you can preorder and bring home, like chocolate bourbon pecan.

The spread at ~MKT RESTAURANT-BAR~ includes an appetizer buffet table and a choice of entrée, such as Willie Bird organic turkey with all the fixings or rib-eye with Yukon gold potato purée. And of course, there’s a dessert buffet table. $115 for adults, $55 for children ages 5-12. 12pm-7pm.

It’s tough to beat the cozy interior of ~POGGIO~ in Sausalito, which is hosting a three-course Thanksgiving prix-fixe dinner; $60 for adults and $25 for kids (not including tax and tip). 5pm-9pm.

Need more dining out ideas? Check and see what’s available on OpenTable. And check the reservation apps, like Resy.

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving meal, no matter where you are (and even if the turkey is dry!).

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Focaccia awaits at Giovanni Italian Specialties. Photo via Facebook.

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Torraku’s curry chashu ramen. Photo via Torraku.

Now open in North Beach is ~GIOVANNI ITALIAN SPECIALTIES~ from Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. This Italian shop and grocery store is stocked with housemade pasta, focaccia (with toppings), Italian meats, piadine (a type of sandwich made with flatbread—it’s like Italian pita), pantry items, and some cookware. Open daily 12pm-7pm. 629 Union St. at Stockton.

Fans of ~MAU~ in the Mission will be pleased to know it has reopened after sorting through that raised rent snag. Mission Local reports that most of the employees came back, as well as the chef, Khai Dang, who just returned from Vietnam with some new ideas and dishes. 665 Valencia St. at 18th St.

There are some new ramen spots that have opened, starting with ~TORRAKU RAMEN~ at the base of Potrero Hill. It was originally a food truck, and now they have a brick-and-mortar location (in the former Tavares). There are five kinds of ramen (including tonkotsu and seafood), plus vegetarian and vegan options. You can also go for some rice bowls (donburi), side dishes, and small plates. Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 300 Deh Haro St. at 16th St., 415-937-4357.

The short-lived Katea tea shop has pivoted into ~USHIO RAMEN~, serving small plates like drunken clams and gyoza, and the main event, a variety of ramen bowls, from tori paitan (rich chicken) to spicy miso. The owners care about using fresh and housemade ingredients, so no MSG here, and they created their own soup base, according to an older piece from Hoodline. Beer and wine and a few sakes are also available. The later hours on the weekend will come in handy. Open Mon and Wed-Thu 5pm-10:30pm, Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-12am, Sun 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-10:30pm. Closed Tue. 3128 16th St. at Albion.

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Una Pizza’s classic margherita. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The infamous Hux Deluxe at Huxley. Photo via Facebook.

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The crazy delicious lamb taco at Dabba. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I’m not too stoked to be writing this post, to be honest. After almost eight years of slinging one of our city’s finer Neapolitan pizzas, Anthony Mangieri is closing ~UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ in late November/early December and going back to New York. Eater reports he’s partnering with Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske Valtierra of Contra and Wildair and is going to open a location in the Lower East Side (at 175 Orchard Street). It will reportedly be named Una Pizza Napoletana, and in a switch from the austere menu in SF, this location will feature small plates, cured meats, and cheeses from Stone and Von Hauske Valtierra. (Which is good. I always wanted a salad on the menu.) The new spot will have 70 seats and a bar and is targeting a spring 2018 opening. Grazie for all the badass pizzas, Tony.

Another bummer: ~HUXLEY~ in the Tenderloin is closing after brunch service this weekend (on Sunday November 19th). I checked in with owner Kris Esqueda, who is moving to Nashville after 12 years in SF. We’re gonna miss you! No word yet on what is happening to the space, but Esqueda says, “We do have someone who has purchased it and most likely will become fast-casual.” Such is the SF dining trope right now. Go get your last Hux Deluxe while you can, and we’ll see where chef Manfred Wrembel ends up next.

Over in the Marina, the vegan and gluten-free ~SEED + SALT~ is closing on November 28th. Owner Mo Clancy is going to reformulate the business (the space is just too small and limiting their growth).

Moving in will be a second location of the extremely delicious ~DABBA~ from chef Walter Abrams and CEO Andy Mercy, known for their Indian- and global-inspired bowls, burritos, wraps, and more. And Dabba is inheriting the Seed + Salt staff, so that’s a nice transition. Stand by for an opening date. 2240 Chestnut St.

One last closure to report: a longtime tablehopper reader let me know the divey ~TEE OFF BAR & GRILL~ in the Outer Richmond was closing this past weekend. I know a bunch of folks are going to miss that place. 3129 Clement St. at 33rd Ave.

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The spectacular poke at Aina, part of their new tasting menu. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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Hawaiian onaga (snapper) course. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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Aina’s cured, smoked, and aged wagyu on a beef tendon chicharron. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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Smoked brisket tots available late night at WesBurger ‘N’ More. Photo: Wes Rose.

I have already written about how utterly fantastic brunch at ~AINA~ in Dogpatch is, as many folks know, and chef Jordan Keao does one hell of a dinner menu too. And now, the team has just launched their new Mo’olelo tasting menu experience at the chef counter, available Wed-Sun, with two seatings (6pm and 8pm) for six lucky guests each. It’s a six-course tour de force of stunning dishes, featuring Hawaiian ingredients and modern preparations with some California lightness, finesse, creativity, and complexity.

Keao is really pushing with this menu (along with his chef de cuisine Chris Yang; they have been thinking about it for a year!), and it’s a frigging steal for $66.90 (plus gratuity and SF surcharge). Book in advance on their site. There are a couple of supplemental courses you can add on as well, like a hamachi course. If you see hand-pounded taro root poi, go for it. It’s a game-changing rendition of poi.

I also tasted a poke that made me like the stuff again—it was just barely dressed with smoked sesame and white shoyu and featured real Hawaiian ahi tuna and roasted kukui nuts. Ingredients like a chicharrón made from pounded taro root, sea grapes, fermented koji mushroom steamed barley, Massa Farms heritage pork belly kalua, and candied macadamia nuts like you have never tasted are just a few of the fun things you’ll encounter. You’ll have plenty of chef interaction and will learn so much about the complexity behind the beautiful dishes, each with its own story. Book this, and enjoy the wine pairings by Rai Calma ($20-plus) and the warm hospitality of this absolute gem of a restaurant (say hello to Keao’s wife and co-owner Cheryl Liew). 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.

Late-night eats—we never have quite enough options in this town. Luckily, Wes Rowe of ~WESBURGER ‘N’ MORE~ is looking out for us, and bringing a brisket sausage corn dog into our lives on Fri-Sat nights from 10:30pm-3am. Yeah, you read that right—3am! You’ll be able to order special late-night dishes only available during that time, including a double smash burger, Nashville chicken and tot skewers with bite-size Nashville hot chicken pieces, dill pickles, and tots on a stick, and the kicker: smoked brisket tots with BBQ brisket, queso, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and goat cheese. Damn son!

You can order and eat in The Den next door, complete with its jungle theme and lava lamps. You’ll also find Lo-Fi Aperitifs-based drinks, Lone Star beer, and cans of Funaguchi, an aged sake (that’s neither pasteurized nor blended). Cheers and chow down. 2240 Mission St. at 18th St.

Another change happening out there: after 10 years in business, ~MONK’S KETTLE~ has decided to celebrate with lowering their prices, and they’re launching a new food and drink menu that reflects this. Yeah, that’s refreshing. Even though wages are 53 percent higher now than when they opened, and there are many other costs they have been forced to grapple with, the creeping prices of everything is not where they wanted to be as a gathering place for the neighborhood. Draft pint prices will drop, the menu is simplified, and sandwiches are offered à la carte (fries/mixed greens are optional). Cheers, gang!

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Saturday, it’s a sausage fest at The Den with Meat by Pete. Photo via Craftsman and Wolves.

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Martinis with a little something-something from The Caviar Co. at Belga? Yes! Photo courtesy of Belga.

Local charcutier Peter Temkin (Show Dogs, Spruce, Nopa) is ramping up his own line of sausages and other meaty products, Meat by Pete, and you can taste some of his handiwork at a pop-up this Saturday November 18th at ~THE DEN~ during their brunch in Bayview. He’ll be out front grilling his superlative sausages, like boudin blanc (my fave), merguez, and some Nuremberg brats, all with special toppings and in custom buns made by Craftsman and Wolves. They’re $9-11 and will be available with some other brunchy dishes and sides. This Saturday-only pop-up will run through Saturday December 9th. 10am-2pm. 1598 Yosemite Ave. at Keith.

You ready for happy hour? You will be, when you hear what ~BELGA~ is doing this Thursday November 16th when they kick off their new $5 happy hour menu (normally available Mon-Fri 3:30pm-6:30pm). In honor of the occasion, they are throwing a party, with complimentary bites—like cucumber and caviar, and waffles with smoked salmon mousse and trout caviar—featuring caviar from neighbors The Caviar Co. There will also be a vodka martini with a special caviar burst—sign me up. Click here to get on the list (it’s free). 4pm-7pm. 2000 Union St. at Buchanan.

And just in case you feel like some double trouble, just next door, ~FLORES~ also has happy hour, with $3 tacos (carnitas, colorado chile-braised beef, pollo pibil, and fried avocado), totopos, and a $7 margarita or a Tres Amigos for $10 (1-ounce shot of blanco tequila, sangrita, and a draft beer). Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm (bar only).

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Bluestone Lane is coming to SF! Photo via Facebook.

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Sip Tea Room. Yelp photo by Naomi Y.

San Francisco is staying perky with all these coffee shops and businesses that keep on opening. Coming to San Francisco are a couple of locations of the Australian-inspired ~BLUESTONE LANE COFFEE~, which are located in New York. I really enjoyed their espresso drinks while I was in New York (and they make a mean flat white); they also roast their own coffee.

Their first West Coast location is now open in the Embarcadero Center (227 Front St. at Halleck) in the Financial District. They are serving their menu of coffee drinks and healthy, Aussie-style café fare (i.e., their famous avocado toast, open-faced sandwiches, and bowls), with plenty of items to grab and go. There are also wellness lattes, made with matcha, beet, or the turmeric-based golden latte. You can snag a seat inside at the round marble tables (there will be plenty of natural light through the large windows) or on the benches outside.

The second location will be opening in December in The Monadnock Building at 685 Market St. (aka Uber HQ). I’ll keep you updated on timing!

Meanwhile, in the Lower Haight, Christopher and Tommy Newbury of ~RÉVEILLE COFFEE CO.~ plan to open their fourth location in the former Bean There mid-December. I’ll keep you posted on timing and their offerings, which will include beer and wine and a full menu of things to eat, similar to their Mission Bay location. 201 Steiner St. at Waller.

And just in case you’re looking for a spot to enjoy a cuppa tea now that the rainy season is here, ~SIP TEA ROOM~ is open in the Inner Sunset in the former Secret Garden location, according to Hoodline. Owners Paula Dinnell and Shannon De Leon make everything in-house (like soups, sausage rolls, scones, and preserves) and serve premium, loose-leaf teas for their tea service—there’s even a children’s tea available. Open Tue-Sat 11am-5pm and Sun 11am-4pm. 721 Lincoln Way at 9th Ave., 415-683-5592.

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The bar at Les Arceaux. Photo: Kelly Puleio.

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A sampling of dishes at Les Arceaux. Photo: Kelly Puleio.

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The welcoming and warm interior of Les Arceaux. Photo: Kelly Puleio.

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Cauliflower fritters and millet with okra and sweet potato at Juanita & Maude. Yelp photo by Ariane O.

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Oakland will be getting its Roam burger on by the end of the year. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

Your new all-day café and wine bar is here: ~LES ARCEAUX~ is now open in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, a stylish and well-appointed space from owner Mikha Diaz and chef Alana O’Neal (previously of San Francisco’s Two Sisters Bars & Books). A lot of the inspiration is from O’Neal’s year in Montpellier in the South of France—the name means “the arches,” a reference to the location of a favorite farmers’ market under an old stone aqueduct.

The menu includes breakfast dishes (served until 3pm), including housemade English muffins and eggs and porridge. Lunch is seasonal and is where you can see the French influence more prominently, with dishes like pistou with fresh shelling beans and olive bread croutons, and a quiche of bacon, chard, and Comté in whole-wheat pâte brisée, plus a fun spin on a salade niçoise—it’s chopped.

Happy hour is from 3pm-5pm, with bites like fried socca batons with harissa aioli, plus draft beers for $4.25 and some wine selections for $7.50 by the glass.

The evening wine bar service features many small plates, plus some heartier ones like mussels poached in white wine with fennel and baby turnips, socca flatbread, chicken drumsticks in mustard and white wine sauce with purple potato paillasson, and a Marin Sun Farms bavette, which is the costliest item at $22.50. Seasonal desserts are also in the mix.

There’s coffee and tea service (featuring Intelligentsia Coffee and Kilogram Tea), a selection of more than 25 wines by the glass, three beers on tap, and house spritz cocktails

The 49-seat space was designed in collaboration with Mikha Diaz and Rocket Restaurant Supply and Turn Key Builders. There are soft wool banquettes in a punchy teal, a cherrywood bar and front counter with a white, hammered-tin bar face, Carrara marble countertops, and brass light fixtures. It’s the kind of look that works for everything from a breakfast meeting to a dinner date. Open Tue-Sat 7:30am-10pm (breakfast 7:30am-3pm, lunch 11am-3pm, happy hour 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-10pm). 1849 Shattuck Ave. at Hearst, Berkeley.

I mentioned not too long ago that ~THE KON-TIKI~ was opening in the former Longitude in Oakland, and cheers, it’s now open. To recap, it’s from Christ Aivaliotis (of SF’s Holy Mountain) and Matthew Reagan, with food from Manuel Bonilla, previously at Hawker Fare Oakland. Tropical drinks and bites and kitsch galore, check it out. Open Tue-Wed 5:30pm-12am, Thu-Sat 5:30pm-1am. 347 14th St. at Webster, Oakland.

East Bay folks, you want to get in on some burgers and BBQ from SF’s ~4505 BURGERS & BBQ~ before they open in the Laurel District this spring? Yeah, because that’s a way off. Thanks to Caviar, you can enjoy a 4505 delivery pop-up until the Oakland location opens, with dinner delivered Thu-Sat (5pm-9pm) to Oakland residents. You can order their special/secret menu Big Mac (double cheeseburger with a Frankaroni), or Roger Style (add a quarter pound of sausage to any meat sandwich, oy), or you can stick with their brisket, chicken, pork (plate or sandwich or large format), sausages, classic sides and sauces, and Frankaroni. First-time Caviar user? Use my code for $20 off your first order!

A reader tells me Albany residents are happy with the dinner service at the new ~JUANITA & MAUDE~ from Scott Eastman (previously Corso). His seasonal menu has Mediterranean and European influences, and he practices whole animal butchery as well. Plus, craft cocktails! Open Tue-Thu 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri 5:30pm-10pm, Sat 5pm-10pm. 825 San Pablo Ave. at Solano, Albany, 510-526-2233.

Looking for a new brunch spot? ~HONOR KITCHEN & COCKTAILS~ in Emeryville is now serving brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2:30pm. Chef Christian Adlawan’s menu includes ricotta beignets, fried chicken and bacon-stuffed waffles, smoked pastrami hash, mushroom frittata, Honor eggs Benedict, a Maine lobster roll, and the Honor burger. And warm bacon biscuits with honey butter—don’t miss those. The bar will have plenty of eye-openers for you, and wines too. 1411 Powell St. at Hollis, Emeryville, 510-653-8667.

And a few things to look forward to:

~ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS~ is expanding to Uptown Oakland this December at 1951 Telegraph Avenue, offering their burgers, sides, shakes, and sodas.

Opening next door to ~CLOVE & HOOF BUTCHERY AND RESTAURANT~ in Oakland will be ~THE FOUNTAIN AT CLOVE & HOOF~, an old-fashioned ice cream and soda fountain! Think milkshakes, sundaes, cones, phosphates, and soda. Clove & Hoof’s building was once a pharmacy and soda fountain, so it was kind of meant to be. They’re hoping to open by the end of the year. 4001 Broadway at 40th St., Oakland.

~C CASA~ taqueria at Oxbow Public Market in Napa will be opening a location in Public Market Emeryville. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails will all be available (from huevos rancheros to rotisserie duck tacos)—look for an opening in January 2018.

November 7, 2017
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The welcoming and timeless space at Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The charming entrance to Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

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Chef Michael Siegel’s famous brisket and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. Photo courtesy of Michael Siegel.

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A previous family-style fundraiser dinner at Le Marais Bakery Castro. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

It has been a month since the horrific fires ripped through Wine Country, taking 42 precious lives and leaving over 100,000 people displaced and 9,000 homes destroyed. So much loss, so much devastation. It’s hard to fathom, but fortunately the outpouring of support has been a bright light in all the darkness. Everyone has been so generous, with time, supplies, money, food, fundraisers, helping hands, spare bedrooms, and hugs. But we have to keep doing more, giving more, and showing up for these precious people and our beloved Northern California. We have a long road ahead of us to assist in rebuilding, and every dollar is needed.

On Thursday November 30th, I am cohosting a fundraiser dinner with ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ in the Castro, which is generously donating their charming space and event support. We’re calling the event Comfort Food: A Benefit Dinner for Wine Country Relief, and we have chef Michael Siegel, previously of the dearly departed Shorty Goldstein’s in the Financial District (RIP) cooking us a heartfelt, homey dinner. Yup, he’s going to be making his famous family brisket! Michael is a Sonoma County resident and wants to do everything he can to support his neighbors, so we put our heads and hands together to host this event!

It’s going to be a family-style dinner, cozy and friendly, a midweek meal that won’t have you out too late, but you’ll come home with a full belly and warm heart. The Le Marais Bakery Castro location is so inviting, have you been yet? It’s a happy place.

Our dinner is the week after Thanksgiving, so let’s continue with that feeling of gratitude as we sit at communal tables with 60 of our neighbors and friends and break bread (like Le Marais’ wonderful levain)! Maybe you didn’t get to see your friends over the holiday, so why not invite them to get together at our fundraiser? (We’re swapping the turkey with some brisket!)

Michael’s three-course, fall-inspired menu is as follows:

-Arugula salad with Fuyu persimmon, toasted almonds, chèvre, and preserved Meyer lemon vinaigrette

-Pot-roasted brisket (kindly donated by Newport Meat Company), creamy garlic mashed potatoes, watermelon radish and baby carrots, veal demiglace

-Mini fall tarts and cheesecake from Le Marais

If there are any purveyors who can donate product to our dinner (menu above), please get in touch, thank you so much!

We will also be pouring some lovely donated (and local!) wines with the dinner, including Pomebandit 2016 albariño (sustainably farmed in the Sierra foothills—you may recognize the name from Duna’s wine list!) and Artesa’s 2014 Los Carneros pinot noir!

We will be hosting a silent auction as well. If anyone would like to donate a gift certificate, wine, gift basket, product, anything, please get in touch! Thank you! Everything helps!

We also need some extra hands for service! If you can donate your time as a server, we’d really appreciate it!

All proceeds from our dinner will be going to the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund, which will be directed to North Bay community foundations, service providers, and government partners supporting the low-income communities hit hardest by the fires. Their approach has three phases: relief (3 months), recovery (3-9 months), and rebuild (4-12 months). You can read more here, and if you can’t attend, please consider donating!

Dinner is at 6:30pm, and tickets start at $50, all-inclusive of food, wine, service, and tax. We want everyone to be able to attend, but if you could possibly afford to buy a higher-tier ticket, please do! We want to raise as much as we can! Tickets are also listed at $65, $75, $95, and $150.

If there is another amount you’d like to pay, please let me know! To repeat, it’s a 100 percent donation to Tipping Point’s Emergency Relief Fund. If you need to make your donation tax-deductible, do NOT buy a ticket on Eventbrite—we will need to make special arrangements ahead of time. (Just get in touch.)

Thanks everyone. We know there are a million fundraisers and holiday events to consider, but we’d so love to see you at our table!

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Nothing succeeds like excess! Bloody Mary add-ons for the win at The Saratoga. Photo courtesy of The Saratoga.

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Some mighty fine lookin’ steak and eggs. Photo courtesy of The Saratoga.

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Baca’s Billionaire’s Bacon, baby! Photo courtesy of The Saratoga.

Well, this is going to be a hot brunch spot. Starting Sunday December 3rd, ~THE SARATOGA~ is starting Sunday brunch service (11:30am-4:30pm), which means if you hang out long enough, you can slide right into dinner at 5pm. (I’m also thinking that instead of getting together with friends for holiday lunches and dinners and cocktails, why not do a holiday brunch? And they take reservations!)

The menu from chef de cuisine Francisco Baca is divided into “Snack,” “Sweet,” and “Hearty” sections (you’ll find me there), with dishes like his mom’s mole flautas (made with braised chicken, red cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema); eggs Florentine; steak and eggs; and The TL Omelet, with Taleggio cheese and melted leeks. Hmmm, will it be a breakfast sandwich or the Saratoga burger?

There’s also Baca’s Billionaire’s Bacon, which is thick-cut, house-cured, smoked, and lacquered with a sweet-savory glaze of molasses, rum, and maple syrup. Ka-ching. Over in the “Sweet” section, Texas French toast is made with thick-cut buttery brioche, bourbon syrup, and bacon powder, and the Killer Coffee Cake can be topped with vanilla gelato or St. George NOLA coffee liqueur (good morning).

Of course, barman-owner Brandon Clements has all kinds of options in a new brunch cocktail menu, divvied up into “Bloody,” “Frothy,” “Fizzy,” “Hot and Boozy,” and “Boothby Bowl.” There are three Bloody Mary recipes (classic, root, and verde), and you can get rilly crazy by adding a fried pickle, housemade jalapeño poppers, brisket beef jerky, fried chicken, and more. (And you haven’t even started drinking!) There’s the Cereal Milk Punch, made with toasted corn flake-washed milk, bourbon, brown sugar, and cocoa Krispies! Or gather your friends around a large-format Corpse Reviver No. 2.

One more item of note: Monday November 20th is The Saratoga’s first birthday, with a party in the downstairs bar from 5pm-10pm. It includes free passed appetizers, birthday cake, and half-price specialty cocktails, with 100 percent of proceeds going to Project Open Hand. 1000 Larkin St. at Post, 415-932-6464.

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The second Native Co. is now open in SoMa. Instagram photo via @nativecosf.

We’re about to kick into holiday gear soon, so it’s a good thing we have a couple of new and healthy spots opening that can help counterbalance the excess. This week, the popular ~NATIVE CO.~ has opened their second location (in SoMa!). Owners Caitlin Meade and Nicole Fish are known for their well-made, healthy, market-fresh meals in the Financial District at 168 Sutter Street (and both the Oakland Grand Lake Farmers’ Market and San Rafael Civic Center Farmers’ Market, where they got their start).

They opened their second location in the former Tava space and are serving mostly plant-based and high-energy dishes, which includes breakfast, lunch, and beverages, like made-to-order smoothies, juices, salads, toasts, and soups. (I love the Beet Down, with beet, carrot, orange, lime, ginger, and cilantro.)

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 deliciousness! There are both indoor and outdoor seating options. Open Mon-Fri 7am-4:30pm. 163 2nd St. at Natoma.

I was driving through the Mission last week and noticed signage up at the former McDonald’s on 16th Street for ~KITAVA~. Eater fills in the details on this new health-focused spot, featuring dishes that are gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and also free of dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, refined sugar, and oils. Ingredients are also pasture-raised, grass-fed, and wild-caught. You can take a peek at the menu here.

They were formerly a delivery service (Mealmade), and you can still get their food delivered, although the minimalist space is pretty cute and worth a visit. A far cry from what was there before, that’s for damn sure. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9:30pm. 2011 Mission St. at 16th St.

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Guest chef Telmo Faria’s “Bifana” Cubano at Media Noche, available this month. Photo courtesy of Media Noche.

Fellow Cubano fanatics, you’ll want to check out the new Chefs Cubano series at ~MEDIA NOCHE~, with guest chefs creating a new Cubano on the menu each month, and available daily. The first one is from Telmo Faria of Uma Casa, launching today (Tuesday November 7th) and running for the month of November—his “Bifana” Cubano is a riff on a traditional Portuguese sandwich, with marinated pork loin, sweet pepper and onion sofrito, and arugula ($12.50).

Ryan Pollnow (Ne Timeas Restaurant Group) will be on deck in December, and Liza Shaw (formerly of Merigan’s Sub Shop) and Evan Rich (Rich Table, RT Rotisserie) are coming in early 2018. Ten percent of the proceeds of each sale of the featured chef’s Cubano will be donated to a charity of the chef’s choice; proceeds from sales of Telmo’s Cubano will go to No Kid Hungry. 

Here’s a fun one: Caviar, the food delivery service, is bringing Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken to the East Bay this week, from Thursday November 9th to Sunday November 12th. On the menu: a variety of sandwiches, including the acclaimed Original Fried Chicken Sandwich with fried chicken strips, candied jalapeño mayo, and crunchy slaw; sides like pimento mac and cheese; and fried chicken strips with honey butter or housemade dipping sauces. You can order for delivery anywhere in the East Bay region and/or pick up from the Caviar Commissary in downtown Oakland (478 25th St.), 5pm-10pm. First-time Caviar user? Use my code for $20 off your first order!

On Monday November 13th, prepare for a fun party at ~MISTER JIU’S~ to celebrate the release of MUNCHIES’ very first cookbook, MUNCHIES: Late-Night Meals from the World’s Best Chefs. Brandon Jew (Mister Jiu’s), Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions), Daniel Patterson (Daniel Patterson Group), Gabriela Cámara (Cala), and Maya Erickson (previously Lazy Bear) will be cooking, and drinks will be flowin’.

Tickets are $60 and include a copy of the cookbook as well as food and open bar. Sweet! Plus $5 from every ticket will be donated to Farming Hope. 7pm-10pm. 28 Waverly Place.