February 24, 2009

February 24, 2009

Last week I scouted out a couple soon-to-open projects in North Beach. First, I got a tour of the updated ~WASHINGTON SQUARE BAR & GRILL~, which is on target to reopen on March 2nd. The new owners are business partners Liam and Susan Tiernan of Tiernan's Pub in Fisherman's Wharf. They did some major reconstruction, including replacing the floors, putting in an all-new kitchen, making the space ADA-compliant, and much more. The décor will still feel very much the same to those who remember it well (including the presence of some original “ampersand” cocktail napkins at the bar).


But there are also new touches, like portraits by photographer Jock McDonald of local characters on the walls, like Willie, Robert Mondavi, and Ed Moose. Herb Caen’s typewriter is also going to be on display. Most of the original kitchen staff is returning, plus three bartenders (Mike McCourt, Mitch Gilbreath, Mike Fraser), and Leslie Hall will be hosting a few days a week. There will also be piano jazz nightly. The chef is Jacques Rousseau, and his dinner menu includes approachable starters like mussels, a variety of salads, and calamari, plus main-dish pastas, a flatiron steak, roasted chicken breast, a pork rack, and pan-seared sea bass. The Washbag will be open daily 11:30am–10pm for dining, with the bar until 2am. Lunch will be served 11:30am–2:30pm, a bar menu until 5pm, and then dinner from 5pm–10pm. Look for a big block party in April or May. Welcome back. 1707 Powell St. at Columbus, 415-433-1188.

I also pedaled on down Columbus to get a peek at ~PICKLES~, formerly the old Clown Alley that Tom Duffy took over a couple years ago. It has undergone quite the transformation: the outdoor patio is now enclosed, with a retractable roof (when that puppy is open, it has a million-dollar view of the Transamerica building), a fireplace, heat lamps, and comfy booths with dotted upholstery. Inside, there are wood-slat walls and sections of the ceiling that almost feel chalet-like, plus woven chairs, striped glass-globe lights, and booths with a gold circle pattern.

The chef is Matthew Kerley, who was formerly in the kitchen at Myth. The menu sounds, quite frankly, totally delicious: to start, deviled eggs, or a pot of pickles with pork rillette and grilled ciabatta, or grilled asparagus, plus five inventive salads like the sure-to-be-a-hit-with-the-FiDi-crowd slider salad (three Prather Ranch 3 oz. beef patties, petite romaine heart, ciabatta croutons, tomatoes, shaved egg, creamy garlic tarragon dressing, and Grana Padano, for $9). The burgers feature Prather Ranch beef, plus there’s a grilled Rosie’s chicken sandwich, an ahi tuna or vegetarian burger, and Prather Ranch hot dogs, served either plain, Chicago, or taxi-style with chili. You can also get beer-battered Vidalia onion rings, or mini corn dogs on the side, how cute. Save room for dessert, because not only is there actual East Coast frozen custard on offer, but custard sundaes to boot. Alex Fox, who worked with Duffy at Myth, put together the well-chosen wine list, with selections available by the glass, carafe, and bottle. It may be a hamburger joint, but the wine list even includes a few exclusives, like Aviemore Napa Valley cab. Pickles is going to be open for lunch to start, from 10am–4pm or 5pm or thereabouts, and then dinner will kick in on April 1st (no joke), with service until 10pm Tue–Thu, and until 3am Fri–Sat. 42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson, 415-421-2540.

-More North Beach news: found out the former Broadway Joe’s bar (which was later part of Piazza Navona) is going to transform into ~THE VIN CLUB~, a project from Dario Zucconi of Tommaso’s (his family has owned Tommaso’s since 1973). As you can ascertain from the name, it’s going to be a wine bar, serving a number of boutique and artisanal wines, with plans to offer up to 40 selections by the glass. There will also be salumi, a variety of grilled panini, and specialty cheeses. Zucconi is very passionate about wine—he started a wine club at Tommaso’s, and even has his own award-winning wine, VinNostro. There will also be a series of wine classes, called wineED. The space will have a polished look that will include Tiffany lighting and the original mahogany floors—plus there will be a bar top made of branded panels from boxes of high-end wines. The layout will include a lounge area with loveseats, plus a combination of seats at a variety of high tables, a communal table, small tables, and the 15-seat bar. Hours will be Wed–Thu 4pm–11am, Fri 4pm–1am, Sat noon–1am, Sun noon–9pm, and the space will be available for special events on Mondays and Tuesdays. If all goes well, the opening should be in late April or so. 515 Broadway at Kearny.

Just down the street, looks like there are some new owners of the vacant ~CROWBAR~. The DBA says Three Stars Yong De. Huh. Someone in the neighborhood mentioned a restaurant. Time will tell. 401 Broadway at Montgomery.

And now in the totally and completely unconfirmed rumor department, I heard a little buzz about the Beretta boys, Ruggero Gadaldi (Antica, Pesce) and Adriano Paganini (Pasta Pomodoro), making an offer on the former ~RUBICON~ space. Stand by for more. 558 Sacramento St. at Montgomery.

Way out in the Outsidelands, guess who is now open in the previous Feel Real Organic Café space? Hint: ~OUTERLANDS~! Back in October, I mentioned owners (and couple) Lana Porcello and David Muller were opening this café-meets-restaurant, with a menu of good soups, salads, and seasonal/farmers’ market-fresh vegetable dishes, plus house-baked bread—you can read the always-changing menu on the site. There is also wine, beer, tea, and coffee from Trouble Coffee. The space has a rustic-meets-elegant-beach shack-look, made with almost exclusively recycled materials. The owners are excited to offer a community space, building on (and feeding) the scene that nearby Mollusk started with its surf-and-art crowd. It’s a cozy little spot, serving dinner Tue–Sat 5pm–10pm, and Sunday brunch and lunch are coming soon. 4001 Judah St. at 45th St., 415-661-6140.

Just a reminder, ~THE TIPSY PIG~ opens today in the Marina. You can read all the details in the tablehopper from February 10th, and the website (with the menu) is now live. There’s also a sneak-peek video about it that just went live here. 2231 Chestnut St. at Pierce, 415-292-2300.

~DUPONT THAI~ (located on Grant in North Beach) will be opening a second location in the Tinderbox space in Bernal Heights. The opening is planned for three or four weeks out. 803 Cortland Ave. at Ellsworth.

While hanging out with the self-appointed Lord of All Sommeliers (Paul Einbund, a partner in Coi) on Wednesday, I learned the agreement is in place for him and his wife Vanessa to take over a sandwich shop, Jona’s on Hyde, in Russian Hill. Once the investors are all finalized, the Einbunds will be opening ~WARMTH~, a combination café-retail shop-wine bar-yarn store. (You got all that?) And how convenient, the Einbunds live upstairs. There will be around 24 seats, where you can enjoy a Blue Bottle Coffee pulled from what is hoped to be the first brand-new La San Marco lever machine in SF (only vintage lever machines are currently available). There will also be some teas (including pulled Malaysian tea), morning pastries and bread from Pinkie’s Bakery, charcuterie from a local maker. Soyoung Scanlan of Andante will be selecting cheeses for Warmth, whether she is making them or importing them. Oh yeah, and there will be three kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches, plus a few rotating specials. Look for some cheese events, from classes to tastings to visiting affineur meet-and-greets. Neighbors should be pleased with the retail component, since customers can purchase their favorite fromages to bring home. Paul will be selecting the beer and wine, including both a super-delicious yet affordable red and white wine that will be available each month for retail purchase—around $10 a bottle. In the back, there will be a colorful floor-to-ceiling yarn shop. Warmth will be open daily from 7am–7pm. Stand by for an opening date. 1800 Hyde St. at Vallejo.

-Another space takeover: opening in the former Moonstruck Café on Chestnut next Tuesday March 3rd will be the third location of Meg Ray’s ~MIETTE~. The retail bakery and sweet shop will be carrying everything that is available at the Ferry Building location, mixed with a specially selected offering of candy and chocolate bars that is at the Octavia confiserie location (including Mast Brothers chocolate bars, handmade marzipan, French marshmallows, etc.). There will also be a specialty item of chouquette that will exclusive to the Chestnut Street location (made on-site in the tiny kitchen in the back). You’ll be able to pass under the striped awning to get your sugar on from 10am–8pm daily. 2109 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-359-0628.

Out in the Richmond, I heard the transition from Cable Car Pizza to ~CASA HOOKAH~ (warning: the site has music!) is complete. The Middle Eastern ambiance (fabric, bean bags, hookahs) is matched by a menu of tajines, moussaka, kebabs, moussaka, and couscous. Oh, and it looks like there is still pizza, too. Huh. 4724 Geary Blvd. at 11th Ave., 415-387-7300.

A tablehopper reader wrote in to let me know ~MIDPOINT~ in the former Holy Grail on Polk Street has closed up shop—and the phone is disconnected, which is usually pretty telling. 1233 Polk St. at Bush.

In the better news department, today is ~MARDI GRAS~! Sorry to say Town Hall has sold out their annual party, but I hear Orson is doing N.O.L.A. in S.O.M.A., with all-night $5 drink specials, featuring Hurricanes and more, plus Big Easy bar snacks all week, like house-made andouille and hush puppies, chicken and waffle bites with cane syrup, and jambalaya. The MenuPages blog has a round up with a couple more ideas for Mardi Gras-celebration spots. And if you want to try something different, Ozumo Restaurant in Oakland will be hosting an “East Meets West” Mardi Gras celebration, with live drummers and samba dancers and Fat Tuesday Brazilian drink specials. There will be no cover charge, and no reservations are required. The party begins at 5pm. (P.S. Ozumo is now open for lunch on weekdays from 11:30am–2pm.) 2251 Broadway at Grand Avenue, Oakland, 510-286-9866.

Congrats to chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza, who is the next local chef to compete on the Food Network’s show ~IRON CHEF AMERICA~. He will be competing against Cat Cora, with Marty Cattaneo (chef de cuisine at Ubuntu in Napa) and James Syhabout (former chef de cuisine at Manresa, now working on his own place in Oakland, Commis) backing him up. It all goes down on Sunday March 1st—tune in.

Time for an Italian meal deal... and how shocking, it’s not on a Sunday or Tuesday night. ~JOVINO~ in Cow Hollow is hosting a spaghetti feed every Saturday night from 6pm–10pm. You’ll be able to get a bowl of spaghetti, Niman Ranch meatballs, and a glass of their house vino, all for $9. Uh, yeah—that’s a price that’s hard to argue with. Parties of six or more are encouraged to call for reservations. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.

More deals: Zagat’s just released a ~SAN FRANCISCO DINING DEALS GUIDE~ for $5.95. It’s handy to have a fair amount of cheap eats places all listed in one place, and it’s pretty up-to-date, and it even has lesser-known places like Good Frikin’ Chicken, but I also found some of my ethnic faves were missing (what, no Turtle Tower?).

Swing by Omnivore Books on ~OMNIVORE BOOKS ON FOOD~ on Saturday March 7th from 3pm–4pm to hang out with Joyce Goldstein, who will talk about her many wonderful books, including Mediterranean Fresh and Italian Slow and Savory. She will bring food she has made from these books for all to sample. And then there’s Peter Reinhart (the bread man, the bread meister!), on March 8th, and Flo Braker, fabulous author of Baking for All Occasions on the 14th. Check out the entire line-up of authors and times here. 3885A Cesar Chavez St. at Church, 415-282-4712.

Sunday March 8th is the ~YBCALIVE!: EAT-IN WITH SLOW FOOD NATION~ to celebrate the closing of The Art of Slow Food Nation installation. Here’s more from the press release: “An Eat-In is a group of people in a public space sharing a home-cooked meal. Consider it a “political potluck”: we gather around the table to eat with old and new friends and we start talking about what we can do to bring more people good, healthy food. This “Sunday Supper” Eat-In will feature activists, artists, gardeners and community leaders hosting conversations about traditional foodways and new ideas for community-based food systems. As it’s a public potluck, your “ticket” to the event will be the food you bring to share, which should reflect your ancestral culture and community; bring something your grandmother would have brought. Please bring your own plate, cup and silverware, too. Then sit down, introduce yourself and let’s eat!” 1pm, free. YBCA Grand Lobby, 701 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-978-2787.

Opening any day now is ~ADESSO~ from Jon Smulewitz of Dopo in Oakland. The space is being described as an Italian sports bar, complete with a foosball table and flat-screen TV. But no Buffalo wings here: look for antipasti, salumi sliced on a Sirman slicer, panini, piadine, and an all-Italian wine list ranging from affordable to expensive. And it gets better: there is also a full bar, with a cocktail menu of around 15 cocktails that were put together by Jay Kosmas of Employees Only in New York (he came out with one of his business partners to train the staff). The sleek space has a silver and red color scheme, 49 seats, and hours are TBD: 5pm–midnight, and possibly until 1am or 2am on the weekends. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, 510-601-0305.

And now, the surprise pile o’ birthday/anniversary wishes I received yesterday from my friends and colleagues... Much love and sincere thanks to you all—now excuse me while I go turn the color of my car. Yes, very very red.

Marcia! It has been a pleasure to participate in the journey that is tablehopper. Meatpaper is indebted to you for helping us get the word out. Your passion for the restaurant business and your respect for the talented people behind it always shine through in your words. Happy birthday, dear e-column!
Sasha Wizansky, Meatpaper

Marcia, congratulations on three years of hopper success! You have always been so thoughtful of others and keep us all in the SF loop. Looking forward to years to come.
Ryan Farr, Ivy Elegance

Let's see, what can I say about the James Brown (the hardest working woman in the food business) of the SF dining scene. Marcia, thank you for your hard work, dedication and true passion for delivering all the news that’s fit to eat for your hungry readers. More importantly, thank you for being such a wonderful friend. Happy third birthday! You don't look a day over two.
Alex Fox, sommelier-at-large

Happy Anniversary Marcia! We are all so proud and happy for this special moment. You're a true testament to following your heart and dreams! Cheers and keep the bubbles flowing!
Jonnatan Leiva, Executive Chef, Jack Falstaff

Marcia, I remember when this was all one big secret idea that you somehow managed to keep completely quiet. What a delightful surprise it was. Lady, you are one of the hardest workers out there and I admire you greatly. tablehopper is my sugar rush on Tuesday afternoons.
xxoox

Brigid Finley, Wagstaff Worldwide, Inc.

Found on About.com: "traditional” 3rd anniversary you get leather; “modern version” you get crystal. Combine the two and you get a real tablehopper celebration. Mazel tov and congratulazioni Divine Ms. M. Â
Joan Simon, Full Plate Restaurant Consulting

Marcia,
Congratulations on three years of tablehopper! Eating and drinking (vicariously along with you) is always entertaining, enlightening, and ultimately delicious!
Meow and many kisses,

Bruce Cole, Edible San Francisco

For the dear Marcia who combines one part passion with one part wisdom and one part stamina and three years later, poof! You rock it girlfriend!!! With all best wishes for many more hours of hopping,Â
Faith Wheeler, Faith Wheeler & Co.

Me: Hi Marsha.
Her: It's Marcia.
Me: These two penguins walk into a bar...........
Congrats on 3 years and thank you for your continued support.

Laurence Jossel, Nopa

In honor of the third anniversary of tablehopper, here are 3 reasons I adore it and Marcia:
1. Her totally appetizing way of writing that makes you feel as if you're sitting there with her. She's a hoot!Â
2. Her ability to thread popular culture throughout her reviews which demonstrates her worldliness beyond food.
3. Her total commitment to the livelihoods of all of us crazy folks who live and breathe food/wine/the good life everyday and work damned hard.

Kimberly Charles/Charles Communications Associates

Marcia,
Congratulations on your three-year anniversary! Meow to my favorite kitten. You have put this tasty e-column onto center stage, and your fans appreciate the wonderfully delicious and informative read every Tuesday. You are a true delight.

Jerry Cooper, Swirl on Castro

Marcia, happy big 3rd! I schedule a 10-minute break every Tuesday afternoon with the tablehopper to get my fix. You have brought the SF restaurant community together in a way that no one thought of before.
All the best,

Bruce Hill, Picco Restaurant, Pizzeria Picco, Bix Restaurant

PEACH! tablehopper keeps getting better, stronger, and faster over the years and you continue to make the rest of us look lazy in comparison. It seems pretty obvious that all this time spent "on vacation" in "Tahoe" is when you're recuperating after a visit to the bionics clinic for some upkeep. (Can I get your surgeon's number?)
Camper English, Alcademics.com

Happy Birthday Marcia. Is it just three years? We can’t imagine our world without tablehopper. You are a true friend and fearless supporter of keeping our restaurants full and the dining public in the know. Thanks for all you do – now let’s go celebrate with a beer at Schroeder’s.
Love,

Andrew and the team at AF&Co.

Marcia, thanks for doing something different that helps everyone. I know how hard it is to build a business and I admire your creativity, tenacity and passion. I just feel sorry for cities that don't have a tablehopper.
H, Elixir

Happy third birthday, Ms. Hopper!
Scott Hocker, San Francisco Magazine

I first met Marcia through an email I sent her, telling her I really liked her reports. We've gone on to become great friends.

Ravi Kapur, chef de cuisine, Boulevard

Marcia,
You my dear are so full of vibrant color—you light up every room you walk into, every conversation you engage in, and every page you write. Congratulations on your 3rd beautiful year!

Ceri Smith, Biondivino

TH—Thanks for taking my head out of the sand. You make Tuesdays rock. Your faithful servant... GH

Pamela Busch, CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen