The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
June 20, 2017
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Oysters and bubbles. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

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The new Caesar salad-inspired deviled eggs at Petit Marlowe. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Sticky Fingers and hand-stiched toile at Petit Marlowe. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Tasmanian trout crudo. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After taking over and massively renovating the former Les Clos space in SoMa, ~PETIT MARLOWE~ is opening this Friday June 23rd. Big Night Restaurant Group’s Anna Weinberg and designer Ken Fulk have created a charming 49-seat wine bar and oysterette, with pale pink leather banquettes, a marble bar, hand-stitched toile wallpaper, and painted black-and-white checkerboard floors. They complete the look with some antique and flea market finds from Paris, like vintage bistro chairs and lamps and paintings. It’s chic, quaint, and where you’ll want to go on a date—and with The Riddler in Hayes Valley, it now brings our city’s truly stylish wine bar count up to two. (Keep it up, SF. Way to finally move away from wine barrels as décor and black leatherette couches.)

Executive chef Jenn Puccio is overseeing the menu of bistro bites and small plates, with three kinds of her brilliant deviled eggs, including a Caesar salad-inspired filling with Spanish anchovy, Parmesan, and bread crumbs, while another has ‘nduja egg filling with brûléed lardo. Oy. There are charcuterie, cheese, and tartare options (like côte de boeuf with porcini oil and lemon) and another of beet with harissa, whipped sheep’s milk cheese, fennel fronds, and seeded toast. Salads and tartines round out the savory picks (like a PB&J of a warm torchon of foie gras with apricot-chile jam).

Chef Henry French (Leo’s Oyster Bar) is bringing his raw bar knowledge over to Petit Marlowe, with eight kinds of oysters (don’t miss the kimchi-like pickled ramp cocktail sauce!), plus clams, scallops, and there are even percebes (gooseneck barnacles) on the menu, which I have only seen in Portugal, so, cool. Shrimp or Dungeness crab cocktail, check, plus crudos, like a silky Tasmanian ocean trout with lemon, capers, and olive oil will also be on offer. For dessert, Emily Luchetti has created a brilliant rosé ice cream with Smitten Ice Cream, made with Scribe’s Una Lou Rosé. Ooh la la.

The wine list assembled by Jennifer Gomez is of course full of bubbles (including their Big Night sparkling rosé from Burgundy), plus some interesting selections you can request a half-bottle of to try instead of having to commit to a full bottle.

Open Mon-Wed 4pm-10pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-11pm, closed Sun. Raw bar only from 4-5pm daily, full menu after 5pm. 234 Townsend St. at Lusk, 415-923-8575.

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Milk bread toast with torched lardo and smoked maple syrup. Photo: Albert Law.

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Salmon belly nigiri with whipped tofu, confit of Japanese tomato, and Thai basil. Photo: Albert Law.

Last summer, I mentioned chef Adam Tortosa’s upcoming sushi restaurant in Hayes Valley, and things are getting very close to opening. It’s now called ~THE ROBIN~ and will be featuring a highly seasonal and NorCal sensibility, from the housemade condiments, like umeboshi and blood orange kosho, to the custom Fireclay Tile mosaic and original artwork by SF’s Ferris Plock.

Tortosa’s background includes 1760, and prior to that, he was at Michael Voltaggio’s Ink in Los Angeles and also spent four years working for master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi, including in the chef position at Uechi’s Kiwami in Los Angeles.

Omakase will be available at the sushi bar, while guests in the dining room can choose omakase or from an à la carte menu. Look for local seafood and creative nigiri, like salmon belly nigiri with whipped tofu, confit of Japanese tomato, and Thai basil; seared A5 wagyu with foie snow, lemon-soy, and Half Moon Bay wasabi; and uni with shiro dashi egg emulsion and Meyer lemon. Some Japanese classics like milk bread toast will be updated with torched lardo and smoked maple syrup, and sesame noodles will come with shaved black truffles and Japanese chimichurri. Seasonal soft-serve flavors for dessert can include green tea with olive oil, sea salt and housemade umeboshi, or sake lees with Cara Cara granita and pistachio.

The beverage list will be assembled by experts Anna Nguyen (a certified sake sommelier who has worked with Kinjo and Liholiho Yacht Club) and Andrew Nelson (Grandes Places Sélections), who will be assembling a list of Champagnes along with German and Austrian varietals. Plus, Hitachino will be on draft.

I’ll share more details about the décor and space in a couple of weeks! 620 Gough St. at Fulton.

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Calm in the Alfred’s dining room (just before we took it over for our Blue Fox dinner!). Photo: Blair Heagerty Photography.

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There’s a reason Alfred’s is beloved for their steaks—they do it right (and have been doing so for almost 90 years!). Photo by Alanna Hale.

Great news, buckaroos. ~ALFRED’S~ is finally reopening this Wednesday June 21st after that nasty fire in the basement back in April. You just can’t keep an almost 90-year-old restaurant down! The space is sparkling clean, and really, the vintage crystal chandeliers got quite the cleaning. (I feel so fortunate we were able to host the tablehopper Blue Fox homage dinner there for one night only last month.)

The menu also got a bit of a revamp. I’m so happy to see chef Daniel Patterson has put a modern interpretation of a classic SF dish on the menu, Celery Victor, plus some other additions to the bar bites menu, like mushrooms stuffed with oxtail, marrow, and smoky crumbs, and you can now get their onion rings and fried shishito peppers to share as well.

An addition that harks back to Alfred’s Italian roots is the debut of housemade pasta on the menu. There are now three kinds: clam linguine with Manila clams, hand-cut noodles, garlic, parsley; gnocchetti with summer vegetables and green olive oil; and strozzapreti with spicy tomato-vodka sauce. And for those who don’t want to partake in Alfred’s glorious mesquite-grilled, dry-aged Flannery Beef steaks, you’ll find some new options, like lamb chops and petrale sole, on the menu. It’s summertime, so grilled peach melba with raspberry sorbet has made its way onto the dessert menu.

See you there. I have one of their burgers (available in the bar only) on my mind, and there are some new seasonal cocktails to try too. New dinner hours: Mon-Thu 5:30pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm; happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm; Thu lunch 11:30am-2:30pm. 659 Merchant St. at Kearny, 415-781-7058.

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Young Fava’s burrata-spring onion dip. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The MF Chicken spread you can enjoy at home. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know chef Anthony Strong’s ~YOUNG FAVA~ started a trial of its delivery service over the weekend.

The official delivery start date is this Thursday June 22nd, and you’ll be able to order truly delicious dishes like burrata-spring onion dip (perfect for a party appetizer) and my personal fave, the chicken lettuce wraps “Parma style” with a Bolognese of Mary’s chicken with pancetta and green garlic, served with Parmigiano crisps. It’s like having restaurant-quality food delivered to your door, all the way down to the exclusive Josey Baker bread Strong is using (called Rustic Blunt, ha-ha-ha). The salads are so good and full of flavor, and everything is built to travel well. Look for more mains and prix-fixe dinners to be added to the menu too. Young Fava is on UberEats for the moment and will be adding Caviar, Postmates, and more, plus pickup is available (at Turtle Tower, 645 Larkin St.). Hours will be Wed-Sun 6pm-10:30pm.

Another addition to the delivery game is ~MF CHICKEN~ from the Tacolicious crew, which just launched last night. It’s all about getting a complete meal of Mexican-style rotisserie chicken with sides, all made with quality ingredients. Extremely juicy Rocky chickens are rubbed with a spicy, tangy ancho chile-based marinade that will get all over your fingers, but fortunately they come with Wet-Naps.

The birds also come with excellent sides: creamy Rancho Gordo black midnight beans, some of the tastiest Mexican rice I’ve had in some time (made with Rue & Forsman long-grain), a stack of fresh La Palma tortillas, and chopped onions, cilantro, curtido (zippy cabbage slaw), and their housemade “orange sauce” inspired by La Victoria in San Jose. You can get a half or whole chicken, for $17 or $32, on Caviar, and here’s my code for first-time users to get $20 off.

Even better: order in the first 10 days (the clock started ticking last night, June 19th!), and MF Chicken will include free delivery plus 30 percent off a whole or half-chicken meal. Delivery service is for dinner-only (for now), 4pm-10pm. Lunch coming soon. Bwok.  

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

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A gluten-free pizza by Booster Foods made with a cauliflower, quinoa, hemp, and almond meal crust. Photo via Facebook.

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The “Llorana” dog from Los Shucos. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

Let’s start with some good news, right? After some permit approval snags, ~LE MARAIS~ in the Castro is now open! You can read my in-depth piece from last month about the menu, dishes, concept, and more. Bring on the almond croissants and key lime pie cream puffs and baguettes and rotisserie chicken. The bakery will be open 7am-7pm daily (although for the next week it’s opening at 8am), while the bistro portion is until 3pm—dinner will come later this summer. 498 Sanchez St. at 18th St.

There’s a new pop-up over at Chile Pies Baking Co. in Nopa. During the week, you can come by for a really healthy lunch by Booster Foods, a creation of GCK owner Trevor Logan and natural chef Wesley Monahan. Look for nutrient-dense food like spreads, salads, bowls, and pizzas that are gluten-free, locally sourced, non-GMO, and clean and whole, plus they come with boosters that are a mixture of seaweed, nutritional yeast, spices, and algae. Boost it, yo!

There’s a beet hummus with a curried coconut and turmeric booster served with housemade turmeric flax crackers; or you can chomp on a seaweed salad with kale romaine mix, sea palm, daikon, cilantro, Bragg liquid aminos, toasted sesame oil, and dulse gomasio booster. Balanced bowls come with ancient grains, fermented vegetables, roasted sweet potato, seasonal greens, herbed Greek yogurt, and a choice of protein (grass-fed beef meatball, tempeh falafel, gingered turkey meatball). There’s even a pizza with grass-fed beef, New Mexican green chile, Gouda, and seasonal greens on a signature cauliflower, quinoa, hemp, and almond meal crust with chile pepper booster. Open Mon-Fri 10am-2pm. At Chile Pies Baking Co. 601 Baker St. at Fulton.

Just in time for the gorg weather, Ghirardelli Square is opening an outdoor beer garden with San Francisco Brewing Co. this Friday June 23rd in the West Plaza (although don’t worry, there are heat lamps as well—you are not a clueless tourist and know how things go here). You’ll find five of SF Brewing Co.’s craft beers, along with two Bluxome Street wines and two local ciders. Hungry? You can order food from nearby Waxman’s and The Pub to bring back to the space and dine at the communal tables. The Stu Tails will perform daily from 1pm-3pm and 4pm-6pm, plus there’s ping-pong, corn hole, Jenga, and a life-size Connect Four. Thu-Sat 11am-10pm and Sun 11am-6pm.

And now, the sad/bad news. After trying to make things work over the past five years and dodging three nearby fires, ~LOS SHUCOS~ is sadly calling it quits, although owner Sofia Keck will keep up her catering business. According to Mission Local, she’s closing on June 25th. We loved your Dirty Dogs, Sofia!

Also in the Mission, according to some folks in the neighborhood, ~FARINA~ has been closed for at least a month, and a tipster sends in this pic mentioning the closure is due to “a technical problem.” A call in to their number connected me to someone at Farina Pizza, who said it’s because of construction and they’ll reopen in a couple of weeks, and why don’t I come over to Farina Pizza instead? But considering the news last year involving unpaid workers and services and shifting LLCs, one has to wonder what’s really going on…

Meanwhile, up on Potrero Hill, ~GOAT HILL PIZZA~ is taking a summer break for some legit construction and upgrades (after 42 years, it’s time to make some updates!). They will be adding additional ovens and reorganizing the interior, plus developing a mobile app. Delivery and pickup from the SoMa and West Portal locations will continue daily from 11am-10pm.

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The new silver dollar pancakes at brunch at The Monk’s Kettle. Instagram photo via @monkskettle.

Some quick updates for you: over at ~MONK’S KETTLE~, they have a new chef, Matt Woods, most recently at Alba Ray’s. He’s doing some updates to the menu, like all fries are hand cut in-house, there’s a smoked trout salad, and the new brunch menu (Sat-Sun 12pm-4pm) includes gravlax Benedict, bananas Foster French toast, tasso hash, chicken and waffles, and more.

Craft beer lovers should also read this recent post about some not-so-savory moves lately by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and may want to come by this Craft Beer Is Caring event this Saturday June 24th at 12pm (although the Mission is going to be getting crazy with the Dyke March, jus’ sayin’). They’ll be pouring local beers, and $1/pint will also go to charity.

Over in the Lower Haight, ~MAVEN~ has new co-chefs Jeremy Browand and Freddie Pacheco (former chef Isaac Miller will stay on as partner and co-owner). Their new menu includes heartier portions and lower prices—we all like that. Dishes include summer squash cavatelli with tomato cream, Parmesan, and parsley purée, and the clams and mussels dish comes with peas, carrots, couscous, bacon, and chermoula.

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

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Sunday means meatballs. Photo courtesy of Adam Zolot.

I know many of you are trying to get your Pride body (LOL) all ready and in shape for a weekend of tight shorts and shirtless shenanigans, but just in case you’re like me and can’t resist the call of things like roast pork, well, here are some events for you. Click through for more details, I am keeping this quick.

This Thursday June 22nd is a roast pork happy hour and garden party at ~THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO~ in the Mission, and the weather is looking gorg! 5:30pm-8pm. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St.

If you aren’t joining Pride festivities on Sunday June 25th, you can get your East Coast Italian vibes on instead and enjoy an old-school Italian Sunday gravy supper, complete with fusilli alla vodka, meatballs, and cannoli. And since my buddy Adam is a friend, he’s styling you guys with a 20 percent off code: GRAVYHOPPER (which is case sensitive, bee tee dubs). Buon appetito!

On Monday the 26th, you can come by Pizzahacker in the Mission (3299 Mission St.) for the latest Through the Kitchen Window pop-up, serving dim sum for dinner. Tickets and details on their site! Seatings begin at 6:30pm.

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The spread at the upcoming Chick’n Rice. Photo via Instagram @eatchicknrice.

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Short ribs at Mockingbird. Photo courtesy of Mockingbird.

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The breakfast sandwich at Loco’L Oakland. Photo: Audrey Ma.

Some quick updates for you in the 510. Fellow chicken rice fans, get ready, because some Thai folks are opening ~CHICK’N RICE~ in Berkeley this August, right across from the UC campus and just in time for fall semester. Details are slim at the moment, but I’ll keep you posted. Bring on the chicken fat. Also on the menu: mango and coconut rice. 2136 Center St. at Oxford, Berkeley.

Back in March, I gave you all the details about the new ~MOCKINGBIRD~ location in downtown Oakland, which is opening for lunch this Wednesday June 21st. A few more updates for you on this welcoming neighborhood spot: co-owners Melissa Axelrod and William Johnson brought on Shirley Brooks and Matt Grippo of cocktail consulting company Bottom of the Barrel, who developed signature house cocktails with many local spirits, such as the Oakland Maid, featuring Oakland Spirits Co.’s Automatic gin and shiso brandy. Look for a food-friendly and accessible wine list by consulting sommelier Arron Sweeney.

Lunch first, Mon-Fri 11am-3pm; happy hour launches Wed June 28th, and dinner service starts after the 4th of July holiday. 416 13th St. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-290-0331.

~LOCO’L~ in Uptown has closed after a year in the former Plum location and has moved into the recently opened Loco’l Bakery in West Oakland. It turns out the lease was up; you can read more in this repost by Daniel Patterson from the team. Congrats on employing more than 100 people this past year and feeding countless others, Loco’l team! Keep on hustling. Loco’l Bakery.Open daily 8am-8pm, 3446 Market St. at 35th St., Oakland. [Via Scoop.]

June 13, 2017
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Alta at the Minnesota Street Project. Photo courtesy of Alta.

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The interior of Alta at the Minnesota Street Project. Photo courtesy of Alta.

The second location of Daniel Patterson’s ~ALTA~ has opened inside the Minnesota Street Project art galleries at 1275 Minnesota Street in Dogpatch. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the menu is designed to be welcoming all day—you can even get coffee and more, to stay or to go. Chef Matt Brimer, most recently at Haven in Oakland, is keeping things market-fresh, but don’t look for a menu that’s a facsimile of the Alta Mid-Market location. Breakfast includes sweet and savory rice porridges, toasts on Della Fattoria bread, and braised pork hash with a fried egg, while lunch has snacks and soup, salads (like smoked trout and endive), sandwiches, and the Alta cheeseburger.

Dinnertime brings table service, and a combination of small and large plates (like grilled levain with a spread of fava beans and fromage blanc, green garlic potato soup, and hand-cut pastas), with soft-serve sundaes for dessert and more. Look for low-ABV cocktails too. There is a no-tipping policy, by the way.

The 45-seat space has a natural, modern style, with a walnut bar and tables, ceramic pendant lights, and an open kitchen. It has a minimalist look but also includes murals by Catherine Wagner. Open daily. Mon-Fri 7am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. 1275 Minnesota St. at 24th St.

And that’s not all: a newsletter from the Daniel Patterson Group mentions there is an Alta coming to the YOTEL in Mid-Market (1095 Market St.).

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1085 Mission St. exterior photo via LiveSOMA.

There’s a taker for the AQ space on Mission, and it’s chef-owner Chris Bleidorn, who will be opening ~BIRDSONG~ this winter. His experience includes Saison, Atelier Crenn, Benu, and Alinea, and he will be celebrating the Pacific Northwest through a fine dining menu. Think ancient cooking methods (open fire and smoke, dry-aging of meat, and fermentation) and dishes that will highlight cold-water shellfish, wild game (like elk, buffalo, boar), berries, mushrooms, and other seasonal ingredients you’d find in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia.

There will be a 12-course tasting menu, or the option to order à la carte and share large-format dishes with the table, like a whole trout or lamb shoulder. Wine pairings will include European and Pacific Northwest selections, plus plenty of Pacific Northwest craft beers too.

The space is being resdesigned by SAINT, and there will be 10 seats at a chef counter, a main dining room, plus two private dining rooms downstairs. Look for custom ceramic plateware designed by Bleidorn as well—robin’s-egg blue, of course. Dinner will be served Tue-Sat. 1085 Mission St. at 7th St.

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Chopped salads at Duna. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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Winner winner chicken dinner. The spread at RT Rotisserie. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

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A look inside the new RT Rotisserie. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

I have been sharing details about these two projects, but since they both officially opened while I was traveling, I wanted to be sure you had them on your radar. First, the latest project from Nick Balla and Cortney Burns, ~DUNA~, is now open in their former ~MOTZE~ space. Take a look at the Central European menu here, with a fast-casual format that makes it an easy one to swing by for. I’m so ready for chopped salads and flatbreads! Liptauer paprika cheese dip is also going to be a friend, I can just tell.

Open Wed-Fri from 5:30pm-9pm and Sat-Sun 5:30pm-10pm. Lunch service will launch later in the summer. Also, check out their Father’s Day menu (scroll down), it looks great. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-484-1206.

Now open in Hayes Valley is ~RT ROTISSERIE~ from Rich Table’s Sarah and Evan Rich. They’re slinging rotisserie chicken, pork, and cauliflower, with a bunch of sides, all sourced with care and featuring their trademark layering of flavors. It’s perfect to dine in (there are 46 seats) or take out (or delivery—nab it on Caviar, and use my code in that link for $20 off!). I ordered a half chicken and their kickass salad for deadline delivery, and it hit the spot.

Check the menu here, and you can catch up on more details here. They are now open for lunch, so you can easily nab a sandwich (on housemade Dutch crunch!) or salad. Open 11am-9pm daily. 101 Oak St. at Franklin, 415-829-7086.

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Sababa’s falafel sandwich will be back! Photo: Cameron Neilson.

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The new Hook Fish Co. at Ocean Beach. Photo via Facebook.

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Saucy Asian bowl with bulgogi. Instagram photo via @saucy.asian.

There are a bunch of new openings for your consideration, starting with a second location of the completely awesome ~SABABA~, which is softly opening today (Tuesday June 13th). Downtown workers get to enjoy their fresh-baked pita, fresh falafel, chicken shawarma, and one of my faves, their sabik. Enjoy half off the food until the end of the week. Score! There is a larger dining area, and look for a new seasonal salad coming to the menu as well, plus an expanded catering operation. Lunch will be served Mon-Fri 11am-3pm. 554 Commercial St. at Leidesdorff, between Montgomery and Sansome.

Another Med spot to open is ~TAHINI~ in the Mission, as noted by Hoodline. I mentioned last year that this spot from first-time owner Monti Majthoub was inspired because he was disappointed with all the mediocre shawarma around town, so he decided to tap into his family roots, which includes a bunch of Jordanian restaurateurs. Perfect. His menu includes some fluffy and fresh pita sandwiches, stuffed with kebabs or kufta or falafel ($8-$11), plus kebab and falafel plates, and kanafeh for dessert. There are some Mission touches to the menu as well, including some aguas frescas. Open 11am-7pm daily. 2859 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-800-8681.

Now open in the former Cajun Pacific out at Ocean Beach is ~HOOK FISH CO.~. Hoodline notes it’s both a restaurant and a sustainable fish market. Owners Beau Caillouette and Christian Morabito have worked hard to eliminate middlemen and try to buy directly from local fishmongers and fishermen, with many transparent notes about the sourcing too. The menu is inspired by SoCal seafood shacks and includes poke, crab cakes, ceviche, fish and chips, and fish tacos and burritos, plus beer and wine.

It has a surfer/coastal vibe, with reclaimed Douglas fir throughout, and many friends and neighbors helped out on the remodel. There’s a kitchen counter and communal table, and sidewalk seating is coming soon. Hours are daily 11:30am-9pm. Looking forward to checking this place out after a summer beach walk! 2542 Irving St. at 47th Ave.

Last year, I mentioned the former Fly Bar was getting new owners and was going to become ~MILLER’S REST~, and Hoodline now has the details on the opening. Mark and Terry Miller have given the space some cabin design touches (it was inspired by Mark Miller’s childhood lake cabin, called Miller’s Rest). The bar menu has five specialty cocktails ($10), and bites include smoked trout brandade, a trio of flatbreads, lake house chili, and fried chicken. There’s also a parlor room you can reserve for private parties. Hours: open daily at 11am onward. 1085 Sutter St. at Larkin, 415-441-4232.

Back in January, I broke the news about ~SAUCY ASIAN~, a fast-casual place in the former H Cafe in the Castro, serving Korean-inspired “super fusion” street food, and it’s now holding its soft opening.

You can check the menu here, which includes burritos, tacos, sandwiches (banh mi, cheesesteaks), bibimbap, and poke bowls. You’ll choose from meats like bulgogi, garlic shrimp, spicy pork, soy-garlic chicken, plus tofu and shiitake mushrooms. And a bunch of sauces, oh you know it. Owner Andrew Shinn has designed it to be takeout-friendly (delivery service to Dolores Park will be coming soon), but there are indoor and outdoor seats as well. Hours are 10:30am-3pm and 5pm-9pm daily, which will expand once things ramp up. Beer and wine are also coming. 3801 17th St. at Sanchez.

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Duck soup at The Morris’s new lunch service. Photo courtesy of The Morris.

There are plenty of new service updates for you around town, starting with the debut of lunch service at ~THE MORRIS~ in Potrero Flats. Yup, you can get that insane off-menu hamburger, and there’s also a Muscovy duck noodle soup with burnt orange and habanero broth ($16). Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm. And no one will raise an eyebrow if you order the Chartreuse slushy.

More lunch service can be found at ~THE DOUGLAS ROOM~, actually all-day service! It’s a bar with food from Benjamin Cooper’s Mo Hodges and Brian Felley in The Tilden Hotel, remember when I told you about it? Chef Glen Schwartz has put together quite the menu: here’s lunch (I really have to check out that Italian hoagie) and here’s dinner. Open 11am-2am, with food served until 1am. 345 Taylor St. at O’Farrell.

Sadly, ~ASTER~ is no longer serving their awesome brunch. Wah. One other tweak: chef Brett Cooper’s dinner menu is now a set four-course menu, with choices for each course, for $75. [Via Scoop.]

There’s a new happy hour at ~TAWLA~ called loukmat, which is Arabic for “bites.” Come by daily from 5:30pm-6:30pm and you can enjoy a selection of bites like their fab housemade bread, muhammara, baharat-spiced chicharrones, butter bean salad, meatballs, sujuk, marinated kalamata olives, and candied wild pecans, served on their Turkish coffee trays. It’s $13 per person, and you’ll find some $10 wines too. Snag a seat on their sweet back patio and you’re set.

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The new Ritual Coffee Castro. Photo via Facebook.

~RITUAL COFFEE~ is taking over the former and tiny Wildcraft Espresso Bar space at Market and Noe in the Castro, just by the vintage streetcar turnaround. It will be Ritual’s sixth café, and co-founder Eileen Hassi Rinaldi is well aware of the density of cafés in the area, but tells Hoodline that Ritual has its own personality. Indeed. (And she lives in the neighborhood, so is excited to be there.) Hours will be 7am-2pm to start, and in order to offer swift morning service, they will only offer batch-brew coffee, not pour-over (for now). Look for pastries, baked goods, and some of their fun coffee drinks (iced horchata latte for the win). 2299 Market St. at Noe.

Over in Pacific Heights, ~BLUE BOTTLE~ has opened its latest location in the former Tully’s and Juicy News spaces on Fillmore, previously Shumate’s Pharmacy, and you’ll see the original tiles spelling Shumate. The airy location was designed by Wade Design Architects and Blue Bottle’s Store Design Manager Dana Nishimura Bryan. The space features ’70s modernism design references, with vintage Pioneer speakers, cork wood floors, and a textured onyx stone counter. Open daily 7am-7pm. 2455 Fillmore St. at Jackson.

I have been trying to figure out what was going into a former music studio on Potrero Hill, and Eater reveals it’s ~PARKER CAFÉ~, an all-day café and restaurant from owner Fredic Fuchet (previously at Chez Papa and Papito). You’ll find Sightglass Coffee drinks, and the menu features French-style tartines, hearty salads, and wine and beer. Open Mon-Fri 7:30am-9pm (breakfast is served until 11am), Sat-Sun 8am-9pm. 1399 18th St. at Missouri.

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The welcoming and colorful entrance at Fénix. Photo via Fénix’s website.

And just like that, whoosh, Matt Semmelhack’s last remaining SF restaurant in the Mercer Restaurant Group, ~FÉNIX~, has closed. (AQ and Bon Marché closed previously.) Hard times out there. Enjoy some quality time with your daughter, chef Mark Liberman (and we’ll see where he lands next). 1077 Mission St. at 7th St. [Via Scoop.]

Another closure is the inscrutable ~JAI YUN~, known for chef Chia Ji Nei’s spendy preorder tasting menu, which has left its Clay Street location; he is reportedly operating out of New Sun Hong Kong. You can still preorder a multicourse meal for $98 or $168 a person—just call the restaurant to make a reservation a few days ahead. New Sun Hong Kong: 606 Broadway at Columbus, 415-981-7438. [Via Hungry Onion and Scoop.]

I’ve heard some buzz about a potential taker for the 680 Clay Street space, stand by for now.

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Wake up and smell the Coffee Manufactory. Instagram image via @coffeemanufactory.

Some big news coming out of Jack London Square: ~COFFEE MANUFACTORY~ (as in Tartine’s coffee roasting arm) will be locating their 5,000-square-foot headquarters there, and in the fall, ~BELCAMPO MEAT COMPANY~ will be opening one of their sustainable butcher shops and restaurants there too. Coffee Manufactory will also be opening a pop-up coffee bar, serving coffee and espresso drinks, plus some pastries and baked goods.

And, as mentioned previously in tablehopper, Burmese ~GROCERY CAFÉ~ will be opening mid-June in Jack London Square. 63 Jack London Square (Franklin and Embarcadero West), Oakland.

Some big news out of the kitchen at ~CHEZ PANISSE~: chef Cal Peternell is leaving the restaurant on July 5th, after 22 years there. While his next steps are TBD, Scoop reports he has a third cookbook coming out, plus his new Cooking by Ear podcast. He’s also considering starting a cooking school to address the current cook shortage “that could offer scholarships that could help the applicants live in the Bay Area while learning from industry veterans.” Love that kind of thinking.

A couple of closures/moves to report: Uptown’s ~PICÁN~ has closed, but it sounds like they are remodeling their current hefty space to be a more manageable size, with plans to reopen in the fall. Or it may move elsewhere, it’s a bit unclear at the moment. The San Francisco Business Times (which I learned via Nosh) reported Picán’s space and the vacant Ozumo are being rejiggered into four smaller spaces, with ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN~ and Jack London Square’s ~BOCANOVA~ moving into two of the spots (Bocanova will be closing in its current space in the transition). 2251 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland.

Japanese fried chicken fans will want to head over to the former Stag’s Lunchette (now Ironwolff), where they’ll find pop-up ~ABURA-YA~ Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. You can sit down and enjoy fried chicken and seasonal izakaya sides. 362 17th St. at Webster, Oakland.

Fans of herring should know this weekend is maatjesharing (aka New Dutch Herring or New Catch Holland Herring) at ~SAUL’S RESTAURANT & DELI~. You’ll be able to taste buttery maatjes New Holland Herring with onion and pickle, St. George’s gin or vodka straight, or Trumer Pils. Sat-Sun June 17th-18th, 11am-2pm. 1475 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, Berkeley, 510-848-DELI.

May 16, 2017
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This is how you start the night: with an Alfred’s Junípero gin martini. All photos by Blair Heagerty Photography.

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

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Calm in the Alfred’s dining room (just before we took it over for our Blue Fox dinner!). Photo: Blair Heagerty Photography.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A margherita. Photo: Casey’s Pizza.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Assorted dumplings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo from Sociale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wine Lands. Photo: Cal Bingham.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twilight at the Presidio. Photo from Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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