May 6, 2008

May 6, 2008

Plenty of local folks were upset when ~COCO500’s~ Jen Biesty got cut from Top Chef a few weeks back (I hoped to see her in the final three). More departures are in her future: she is also leaving Loretta Keller’s Coco500 at the end of May, just shy of three years of being there. (Coco500 is celebrating its third anniversary in June, and Biesty was part of the opening team.) She is taking some time off, heading back to NYC for the Top Chef reunion show and will be visiting some family, and then will be lining up some consulting gigs until she decides on her next spot. She said, “Through the show I learned you have to take chances… I want to do more than just be a chef.” So to that end, Biesty has a potential project of her own in the Mission, but nothing is final and it’s all quite TBD right now. In the interim, one rumor I heard is she will possibly be consulting with the upcoming 15 Romolo project (more on that in the lush), but that hasn't been confirmed either. Will keep you posted… Taking her place at Coco500 as chef de cuisine will be Michael Morrison, who was most recently at Fish & Farm before departing in its beginning months. Morrison actually worked at Bizou a while ago (when it was the former incarnation of Coco500, for those of you who haven’t lived here more than three years).

The fine folks behind the ever-popular Street on Polk are opening a second concept called ~CRAVE~, just across the street in the former Teavana space. Owner John Lamkin and his wife, Lynn Ramsey, will be opening a quick-casual and affordable 45-seat spot, serving breakfast, lunch, and an early dinner, all made with seasonal and quality ingredients. The menu will include breakfast faves like egg sandwiches, house-made scones, and breakfast burritos, and lunch will bring some mighty good soups, salads, and tasty sandwiches (I hear a killer Reuben is being discussed) that will highlight slow-roasted meats and fish. Dinner will be heartier, and some vegetarian fare will also be available—dishes will span from New American to Latin flair. An expanded brunch will be coming later, with house-smoked salmon and egg dishes. There will also be organic and biodynamic wines on offer, plus some microbrews as well. You can even swing by late afternoon for a bite of some charcuterie or hummus and a glass of wine at the outdoor seats (there will be 12 or so), or inside at the banquettes and tables. Lamkin, a resident of the neighborhood for the past 25 years, really wanted to create a space where it’s easy for people to get the kind of food they want and how they want it, made with quality ingredients, at a good price. He’s currently talking with some potential kitchen partners, but no one is final just yet. Look for an opening in late July, with intended hours of 7am–7pm or so. They are also discussing curbside service, with breakfast or box lunches to go! 2164 Polk St. at Vallejo.

~LITTLE STAR PIZZA~ fanatics (yup, there are a lot of us), you’ll be happy to know you’ll now be able to get your pizza on during the day on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30pm–3:30pm at the Mission location! The weekend daytime hours started last weekend, wahoo! 400 Valencia St. at 15th, 415-551-7827.

~BEST-O-BURGER~ had its long-awaited opening yesterday (I can hear the communal salivating out there). Took a look at the menu, and it seems the Best-O-Bags are the way to go: you order one to three of the slider-like babies, plus you get “strings and ring-os” in the bag ($5.37 for two burgers). The burgers are made with 100% natural and not-frozen Angus beef (I know, you Michael Pollan readers can ask your probing questions directly to the restaurant), and the burgers are individually seared in cast-iron skillets, and put into fresh-baked buns. The gelato also looks good (there is a nine-ounce gelato shake available for $3.49), plus some cookies, too. You can check out the whole menu on the site, which is supposed to be up this afternoon. The hours for now will be 11:30am–5pm, and there are plans to be opening earlier (and later on the weekends) in coming weeks. 89 Belden Pl. at Pine.

And now, a little service announcement! Restaurateurs, caterers, hash slingers, etc., anytime you have an abundance of leftover food in your kitchen at the end of an evening or an event, please call ~FOOD RUNNERS~ to come pick it up and deliver it to SF’s many homeless shelters who need it. Phone 415-929-1866 anytime, and a Food Runners volunteer will pick up your fresh, edible leftovers either same day or next. Visit to learn more about this organization that’s provided thousands of meals to 300 shelters for over two decades. Or you can contact Karen Solomon, karen [at] foodrunners [dot] org, 415-885-8048.

Okay, back to some news. Cigar smokers will be pleased to hear ~PALIO D’ASTI~ got a tobacco license and has stocked a humidor with all kinds of stogies. For those who wish to indulge on the premises, Palio will set up a table on the back patio, cut the cigars (they come with a chocolate truffle and a book of Palio wooden matches), and people generally choose a grappa, cognac, brandy, or bourbon to enjoy at the same time. Or you can just take one for the road. (A cigar, that is.) They are also doing a “Cellar Spring Cleaning Brunello ’99 Dinner” on Saturday the 17th—the menu and info is on the website. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-395-9800.

I wanted to congratulate tablehopper reader Hunter Manning, who ended up discovering and entering the ~SCOMA’S CRAB CHALLENGE~ recipe contest on tablehopper, and winning! The contest consisted of creating a recipe for Scoma’s that they could use on their menu during crab season. His first place-recipe was for Hunter’s Crab Tower; you can check it out on Scoma’s website–or go there and try it firsthand!

Since we’re over in the Wharf, and talkin’ recipes, did you know the ~FRANCISCAN RESTAURANT~ is offering a free recipe book? All you have to do is email comments [at] franciscanrestaurant [dot] com, request the book, and send them your address. Be sure to tell them you saw it on tablehopper! Soon you’ll be all set to make crab enchiladas. (Call me.)

This Thursday, ~AVEDANO'S HOLLY PARK MARKET~ in Bernal is hosting a release party (and “let’s raise some money because printing magazines is expensive” party) for the spring issue of Out of the Kitchen, the cool new quarterly magazine started by the folks at Maverick. There will be food and wine, and they will be selling the spring issue of the magazine and subscriptions. The space is small, so please let them know you will be joining so they can be prepared! RSVP at otk [at] sfmaverick [dot] com. Thursday, May 8th, 6pm–9pm. 235 Cortland Ave. between Bocana and Bonview.

Saturday, May 10th, is ~KFOG’S 15TH ANNUAL KABOOM~ (when dogs across the City have a communal freak-out) and Waterbar Restaurant is hosting a party from 7pm–10pm. Tickets for the event are $65 per person, and include all-you-can-eat appetizers, such as oysters on the half shell, prawn cocktail, pizzas, gougère sandwiches, artichoke crab crostini, risotto fritters, salt cod fritters, gravlax, ceviches, tartare, and mini meatballs. Full cash bar (i.e. you pay for your drinks). The fireworks display is at 9pm. A limited number of tickets can be purchased on the Waterbar site at, or by calling 415-284-9922. The Embarcadero will be closed to traffic during this event and they anticipate heavy foot traffic, so plan accordingly. 399 The Embarcadero between Folsom and Harrison.

Sunday, May 11th, is ~MOTHER’S DAY~, and while you can check out OpenTable for the big ole list o’ places to eat, one fun option is A16, because they are only open for brunch one day out of the year! A16 will be open from 10:30am–3pm for its annual Mother's Day brunch: Festa Della Mamma. There will be a variety of egg dishes like pigs in a blanket with eggs, a potato and sausage torta, chestnut polenta, pizzas, and Bellinis. 2355 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-771-2216.

~SPRUCE~ is also doing a special one-off brunch: a multi-course prix-fixe menu from 11am–3:30pm for $60 per person, and a prix-fixe dinner featuring loin of lamb from 4pm–8pm for $75 per person. 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.

Remember the ~BOURBON & BACON DINNER~ I mentioned that is coming up at Orson on Thursday, May 15th? Since they had such a good response from last week’s tablehopper (you bacon lovers, you), they’re going to open the books and offer the pig menu to the whole restaurant, and not just one seating at 7pm. 508 4th St. at Bryant. Reserve at 415-777-1508 or email lissa [at] orsonsf [dot] com.

Another pig dinner coming up will be at ~PICCINO~, on Sunday, June 22nd at 6pm, called Piggy Pig Pig with Marin Sun Farms. In collaboration with Marin Sun’s David Evans, they’ll be celebrating all things pig, with a special menu built around a range of pasture-raised, whey-fed pork cuts, each prepared in a way designed to enhance everything from suckling to sow. Kind of like the last tablehopper supper I threw there, Piccino will close the restaurant on a Sunday night, gather a limited group, pair up some interesting wines, and settle in for a lively food and conversation-filled night! Other Piccino events to put on your calendar: Sunday, July 20th, 11am-7pm is the Rosé and Pizza Festival, when they will open their doors, crank up the ovens, and chill a wide variety of French and Italian rosés selected to complement their thin-crust pizzas and salads. Sunday, August 17th, 6pm, is A Dinner with The Fatted Calf, and Sunday, September 23rd, 6pm, is A Dinner with Italian Wine Specialist Summa Vitis. The price for the Sunday dinners? Figure somewhere around $110–$120, depending on the event. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Ready to get your bake on? Or get those knife skills extra-sharp? Let ~SHUNA LYDON~ of Eggbeater show you the way. On Saturday, May 24th, is Chocolate: Techniques and Desserts for Baking with Cocoa & Chocolates; Sunday, May 25th, is Knife Skills Class; and Saturday, May 31st, is Seasonal Fruit Desserts: Strawberries, Cherries & Rhubarb. Here is the announcement link and further information about times, dates, location, and cost. You can check back at this link for updated information about these classes and more classes to come in the summer.

Over in Alameda, this Friday, May 9th, is a book-signing party at St. George Spirits to celebrate the release of ~ALICE MEDRICH'S NEW COOKBOOK PURE DESSERT~. There will be a small sampling of desserts from the book (some featuring St. George spirits!), light snacks, and a specially designed cocktail by Alice herself! $15 admission fee, $10 of which can go towards the purchase of the book! 5pm–8pm, 21 and over. Get your tickets by calling the tasting room at 510-864-0635. 2601 Monarch St. at Alameda Point (the old Naval Air Station).

Some Chowhounds have the word on a new restaurant, ~SPICE MONKEY~, serving “international cuisine,” plus coffee and breakfast pastries in the morning. It opened in the former Sabina space, just a few blocks from Lake Merritt. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Mon–Fri at 9am, and dinner only on Saturday (for now). Weekend brunch will start in about six months or so. 1628 Webster St. at 17th, Oakland, 510-268-0170.

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