April 6, 2010

April 6, 2010

Congrats to Traci Des Jardins and her team for getting ~PUBLIC HOUSE~ and ~MIJITA~ open in time for baseball season (and the San Francisco Giants home opener this Thursday the 9th). Public House is being billed as a modern sports pub, with 26 giant televisions; and a hearty menu with organic ingredients, including Thom’s cheesesteak sandwich, Public House burger, artisanal hot dogs and sausages, sliders, jalapeño poppers, hot and spicy chicken wings, mac-n-cheese, fish and chips, a falafel plate, and treats from local purveyors Anthony’s Cookies and Humphry Slocombe ice cream. Fortunately the Acme wedge salad is still on the menu—and I can’t wait for summer, when their BLT with black pig bacon will be available.

But the part that has a lot of folks thirsty is the crazy draft beer and cask ale offerings, one of the largest in San Francisco (Eric Cripe of the Jug Shop helped put together the list). There are 24 beers on tap (eighty percent are local), plus 24 kinds of bottled beer, and three cask ales, plus a full bar.

Speaking of beer, this Wednesday April 7th, they are holding a special event at Public House to tap the house brand cask ale offering and meet the brewer, Dave McLean of Magnolia. The event will run from 5pm-8pm, and along with the tapping of the brew, they will feature special food pairings (pigs in a blanket, lamb sliders, 4505 Meats andouille and German potato salad) that go well with this cask ale. There will also be discounts on tasters of the house brew and special brew pricing (16 oz. $8; 10 oz. $5). This will be a great chance to come on down and check out Public House and Mijita before the Giants baseball season starts.

You’ll also find a bigger patio (facing the Willie Mays statue), plus it now has glass windscreens and outdoor heaters, and an additional patio and outdoor dining space has been added along Third Street at the Mijita entrance. Hours will be 12pm-12am daily, with the kitchen open from 4pm-11pm (the kitchen will be open for lunch during Giants game days).

The other half of the project is Mijita, the second location of the local taqueria. Similar to the menu at the Mijita outpost in the Ferry Building, the AT&T Park location offers a variety of tacos, an al pastor vertical rotisserie, house-made tortillas and some “keep folks happy” dishes like nachos, super tacos, and jalapeño poppers. The restaurant has a stand-alone tequila bar with more than 60 different tequilas. Mijita is open daily from 10am-9pm.

And here’s a tip: patrons of both restaurants can take advantage of the special secret entrance from Public House into AT&T Park without waiting in line. Giants fans can take to-go food from Public House or Mijita and head straight into the ballpark from the restaurants (or back to your office).

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Interior of Lafitte. Photo from Lafitte.

I had the pleasure of checking out the gorg new ~LAFITTE~ at Pier 5 at a test dinner over the weekend, and, wow, what a cool addition to the dining scene. Chef-owner Russell Jackson, who some know through his SubCulture Dining private dinners, finally has his own pier to dock his pirate ship. (And yes, the name refers to the Louisiana pirate, Jean Baptiste Lafitte from the early 1800s.) The restaurant opens for dinner tonight.

The spacious Beaux-Arts building dates back to 1918, and has soaring ceilings and tall windows, punctuated with a visual counterpoint of heavy wood pillars and supports, and quite the view of the water. The room feels like artsy-industrial, with a stunning wood communal table, sealed concrete floors, and a row of stylish barstools that look upon the open kitchen. Michael Guthrie, Riley Johndonnell, and Russell Jackson all collaborated on the minimalist but rustic design, which all feels very considered, from the stemware to the menu design to the flag on the back of the servers’ sweaters. There’s also a secondary indoor-outdoor seating area that is surrounded with windows and topped with a tented ceiling—perfect for a private party.

There’s no menu that I can really describe in great detail: it’s going to be whatever is fresh that day, and Jackson’s culinary influences span from French to Italian to regional Mexican to Japanese. He is committed to using the best ingredients he can find, and prices will range from $7-$26 at lunch, and $8-$32 at dinner. (His sous chef is Patricia Barclay: The Public, Town Hall.) The test dinner included crostini with emergo bean purée and crisp guanciale; a fried artichoke with “boquerones bagna cauda;” and a cod and pork sausage stew (a slight misnomer, I thought—it was quite light) with carrot viché and green garlic broth. I was told tonight’s launch menu may include: asparagus and foie gras; sweet onion and anchovy tart; and pork sausage and pork belly with flageolets.

The wine list by Shannon Tucker (Bar Tartine, Eccolo) will change often, and will consist primarily of uncommon, esoteric wines, largely of limited production, along with several wines exclusive to Lafitte. There’s also a full bar geared toward inventive, ingredient-driven cocktails (I had a couple tastes on Saturday, both were fresh and delicious), and there will be an extensive non-alcoholic beverage menu as well. Hours are Sun-Wed 5:30pm ‘til late, Thu-Sat 5:30pm ‘til later (how’s that for “time will tell?”); lunch will be Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, and brunch will also launch later on.


Another week, another opportunity to hang out over some bevvies and bites, along with some cool tablehopper readers (there is never a shortage of food-and-drink-related conversation, let me tell you). This Thursday April 8th, I will be hosting a drop-in 18 Reasons Event (with bubbly and bites from La Cocina producer Onigilly). I’ll be reading from my book, and I also prepared a special handout, “18 Picks from the tablehopper on 18 People and Places and Things That Bring 18 Reasons’ Values to Life.” It’s also opening night of the Dolores Park Movie Night, so maybe swing by on your way to the park? (You can also check out the new Ebb and Flow for dinner—it’s just across the street.) Event details. 7pm-9pm. $5 members, $10 general. 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St., San Francisco.

East Bay folks, I will be hosting a meet and greet at The Pasta Shop inside Rockridge Market Hall this Saturday April 10th at 12pm. We’ll be grazing on a variety of my favorite pantry items, from honey and olive oil to cheese and olives (we’re calling it a pop-up party)! Free (except for my book, which will be for sale at the event). 5655 College Ave., Oakland.

More details have rolled in from the chefs and bartender teams cooking and mixing at the Hop Dog Happy Hour next Wednesday April 14th from 6pm-8pm at the Ferry Building:
Jamie Lauren will be doing Absinthe’s house-made hot dog with Guinness mustard, chili ketchup, and sauerkraut; paired with Carlos Yturria’s Sea Bean Gimlet with Hendrick’s Gin.

John Clark and Gayle Pirie of Showdogs are grilling house-made lamb merguez with house mustard and slaw, while Scott Baird of 15 Romolo is doing something with Spanish brandy.

Yvonne Long and Natalie McMahon of Da Beef will of course be offering their Chicago dog, while Brooke Arthur of Range is doing a cocktail with Wild Turkey.

Stand by for what the team of Ryan Farr (4505 Meats) and Daniel Hyatt (The Alembic) are concocting—it’s sure to be demented.

It’s only $15, buy tickets here. All proceeds benefit CUESA.

And then next Friday April 16th, let me salve your tax-paying woes with delicious chocolate at my book signing and chocolate tasting at Fog City News, featuring samples from the amazing Xocolatl de Davíd. We’ll be tasting the following chocolates: Almond Pimentón, Salted Caramel (probably the darkest and saltiest caramel bar they sell, 72% dark chocolate base), and my favorite, the Bacon Raleigh bar (nougat, pecans, fleur de sel, 72% dark chocolate, and bacon-infused caramel). 455 Market St. at 1st St., San Francisco. 12pm-2pm, free.

On Saturday April 17th, I will be heading to the East Bay for a book reading and signing at Read Booksellers in Danville. I’m excited because a lot of my family will be there, including my great aunt Mary and uncle Tony, awwww. Blackhawk Plaza, Danville. 2pm, free.

You can take a look at upcoming signings and events here, from The Tyler Florence Shop to Mrs. Dalloway’s.


As I mentioned a while back, the upcoming Pac Heights taco place, ~TACOBAR~, is opening soon (it’s now due to open on Monday April 12th). But as always with new places, call before heading over, because you don’t want to be disappointed if the opening gets pushed a day or two. ¡Ay caramba!


Of course I was excited to learn about a new deli called ~CALABRIA BROS.~, opening this weekend, on Saturday April 10th. Two Italian-American (and Calabrese) friends who were born and raised in San Francisco, Steve Maraccini and Mike Tufo, will be offering a variety of Italian deli sandwiches, a daily fresh-made pasta, and an additional hot entrée, like polenta and sausage, or roasted chicken. They will also be selling imported Italian dry goods, Italian desserts, frozen pastas, house-made focaccia, and pastries in the morning, plus Caffe Roma coffee and espresso.

There are three special house sandwiches: the Calabria Bros. (prosciutto, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, garlic spread, on sour French); the Hot Calabrese (Calabrese salame, hot coppa, pepper jack, and hot garlic spread on a ciabatta roll); and the Forza Verde (roasted peppers and tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic spread, on sweet French). They will be getting their bread from Boudin. Opening hours for now are Mon-Fri 8am-5pm and Sat 9am-3pm. 2249 17th St. at Utah, 415-863-1213.

Well, the sandwich gods giveth, and they taketh away, because North Beach “All In One” sandwich purveyor, ~GIORDANO BROS.~, has withdrawn their 1784 Union Street restaurant proposal. The decision was based on permit opposition from several Cow Hollow residents and conditions placed on the rear patio space by the Planning Commission. Giordano Bros. will continue its search for a second location and the partners would like to have a lease in place by the end of the summer, stand by.


The Sunset’s biggest project of late is about to open, ~SOCIAL KITCHEN & BREWERY~. Yup, they got their brewer’s permit. At the end of last year, I mentioned this new project moving into the former location for the Golden Gate Brewery, Eldo’s Grill and Brewery, and Wunder Brewing Company. The team knows what they’re doing: Rex Tabora (Zebulon) is one of the partners, Rob Lam of Butterfly is consulting on the menu and setting up the kitchen team, and there’s talented brew master-partner Rich Higgins, a consultant and cicerone-about-town, who was formerly at Thirsty Bear (six years), plus Gordon Biersch, and the San Francisco Brewing Company.

Higgins mentioned there will be five flagship beers to start, featuring rare beers for our local scene, like a strong golden Belgian, a table-strength Belgian dark (about four-and-a-half percent), a Kölsch (Cologne-style beer), an Alt beer, and an IPA that isn’t super bitter, using American whole hops. (Higgins also mentioned the beers are made with organic ingredients—he’s primed and ready for when they want to undergo the official organic certification.) The beers will come in both small or large sizes, maxing out at $5. There will be open brew days for people to come in and check it out, special beer dinners, and seminars.

Just in case you’re expecting another pub-grub, meat-heavy menu, you’re in for a surprise: the menu will be 1/3 omnivore, 1/3 vegetarian, and 1/3 vegan. Apps will be under $10, and mains under $16. And a number of the dishes contain beer ingredients, for maximum suds saturation! Dishes on the preliminary opening menu may include apps like the Kolsch Mussels (with grilled bread, pimentón aioli, toasted malt), Beer Battered Sweet Potato Tempura (sweet and spicy malt vinegar), and Celery Root and Fennel Chowder (with toasted malt, chive blossom, hop oil); a variety of salads, including the Beer Lover’s Salad (apples and jicama, Cowgirl Creamery goat cheese, beer nuts, toasted malt, hop essence); sandwiches like the Vietnamese Fried Rock Cod Sandwich (cilantro mayo, pickled onion-carrot slaw, French roll), a Beet Steak Sandwich (arugula, smoked mozzarella, tomato-golden Belgian ale jam, multi-grain bread), and for the naughty ones, a Loco Moco Burger (Spam, pineapple and tomato relish, mushrooms, two fried eggs, onion ring). There are also larger plates, like Liberty Farms duck breast, Prather Ranch short ribs, and a Mushroom and Rye Bread Pudding (tarragon cream, grilled asparagus, little gem salad). Ingredients will be local as possible, including breads from Arizmendi Bakery, produce from the Sunday Inner Sunset Farmers Market, wild-caught Pacific fish, and sustainably-raised meats.

The 120-seat space has a casual and contemporary look, with a wavy bar with room for 24, Edison lamps made from bottles left by the previous owner, communal seating (hey, it’s a beer hall), and a wood ceiling. They will focus on dinner over the first three months, and then lunch and weekend brunch will come later. They’re also trying to get their hours extended past 10pm Thursday through Saturday nights. The soft opening is slated for April 20th for the San Francisco Brewers Guild gathering. Prost!

After a year-and-a-half hiatus, the brothers behind ~MELA TANDOORI KITCHEN~ will be reopening in a new location near Civic Center, in the former Kites space across the street from the old Stars/Trader Vic’s. (Yeah, after driving past that place forever, I’m so glad there’s finally something going in it.) The brothers’ father started the original Mela 20 years ago, but when the lease was up in October 2008, they started their search for a new location.

Right now they’re in the midst of remodeling the space, and when they’re through, it will feature a mezzanine level and around 70 seats total. The brothers— Sohel, Zoaib, and chef Moiz Subedar—plan to continue offering their menu of Northern Indian and Pakistani dishes. They will be open for lunch and dinner, and want to have a late-night service with DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. Look for an opening within a couple months. 536 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness.


If all goes according to plan, ~SUPER DUPER~ will be slinging burgers in the former Pasta Pomodoro space in the Castro on Monday April 12th. The menu will feature five kinds of burgers, fries (regular or garlic), shakes, and soft-serve ice cream. The burgers will be cooked on a chrome flat-top grill, available plain (burger with Super Duper secret sauce); with cheddar cheese; Super Duper style (lettuce, tomato, cheese, thin red onions, and house-made pickles), with bacon (supplied by neighbor restaurant Starbelly), or make it a double. A plain burger will be under $4—no word yet what the beef is, however. There will also be a veggie burger and chicken burger. For dessert, the Straus Family Creamery soft-serve ice cream can be whipped into shakes, or served by the cone or cup; or get it with toppings like strawberries and cream.

This fast-casual restaurant will have a retro look and is the latest project from Adriano Paganini (Beretta, Starbelly, Delarosa) and business partners Edmondo Sarti (Starbelly) and Deborah Blum (Beretta, Starbelly, Delarosa). Open 11am-11pm. 2304 Market St. at 16th St., 415-558-8123.

Eater had some interesting news about a chef changeover at Mission mainstay ~CHARANGA~: “David Leland, formerly of Sutro’s, will be taking over for Chef Gabriela Salas who was in the kitchen for 13 years; and Valerie Hemstreet, formerly of Oregon Thai restaurant, Pok Pok, will be taking over as Pastry Chef. Charanga is also expecting the arrival of its liquor license in June. If the ABC pulls through, Ty Sanders, veteran bartender at the Big Four in the Huntington Hotel, will be overseeing a new cocktail menu.” Yeah, Ty, one of my favorite old-school-and-cool bartenders. Woot. 2351 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-282-1813.


Flickr photo from danmachold.

I was reading on the RichmondSF blog that Louis’ Diner, that little vintage number up the road from the Cliff House, is running into some issues. Here’s more from the post: “The diner, which has been owned and run by the Hontalas family for 73 years, is currently on a year-to-year lease with the National Park Service (the diner technically sits on federal land). The restaurant needs maintenance work and upgrades to be in compliance with accessibility laws, but the family understandably doesn’t want to invest in the repairs with only a year-to-year lease on the property.

“Federal law also requires that the restaurant space be put up for bid, and apparently a couple of prospects already toured the place on March 24. Inside the Outside Lands says that ‘most of the park service personnel out here who know Louis’ want it to stay with the Hontalas family,’ but point out that those making the decision will be members of a federal committee that won’t know much about Louis’ history and standing in the community.

“So that’s where you can help. Show your support for the Hontalas family to continue operating Louis’ Diner by signing the online petition, or emailing a story, memory (or even a sentence!). If you prefer, mail in your words of support to: Louis’ Restaurant, 902 Point Lobos Road, San Francisco, CA 94121.

“And mark you calendars - Louis’ will host a community event on April 17th from 10am-2pm. Come out with your family and friends to show your support - there will be free hot dogs!”

For those of you wondering about the whereabouts of chef Jeremy Fox, formerly of ubuntu in Napa, GrubStreet posted this informative interview with him. The net-net: he’s had offers but isn’t wedded to working anywhere just yet; instead, he’s doing a week of guest cheffing nights at Animal in L.A. in May (yup, from borage to bacon), and will be cooking a couple nights somewhere in NYC during the Beards (to be announced). And his cookbook deal is still on. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter here.

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I thought this was clever: ~JARDINIÈRE~ is inviting back their kitchen alumni to cook the $45 Monday night dinners (which include wine parings, by the way) for the month of April. On Monday April 12th, 

Peter Armellino, chef and owner of The Plumed Horse in Saratoga, will be cooking; 

April 19th features chef Deepak Kaul of Serpentine; and 

April 26th 

is chef Nick Cobarruvias of Luna Park San Francisco and Luna Park Los Angeles

. You can follow this page for menu updates.

Springtime is here, and the smoky scent of barbecue will soon be filling the air. Yup, the ~TOWN HALL~ lunchtime outdoor barbecue should be launching on Monday the 12th, with new grills! There are also rumors of new menu additions like pastrami and a house-made sausage sandwich each week, plus pulled pork, and country bacon gravy on a house-made biscuit. There will also be some cold sandwiches made with charcuterie from their new hire, Luis Perez, who is reportedly doing a bang-up job on their cured meats program. Follow their Twitter feed for updates. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm.


~ANA MANDARA~ is celebrating their ten-year anniversary with ten $10 favorite dishes, available throughout April in the Cham Bar and the dining room. The current lineup includes The Hands of the Child (Vietnamese crispy rolls with crabmeat, shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms), Whispering Waves (crispy lobster ravioli with mango and coconut sauce [pictured]), and Blissful Wraps (lemongrass beef, cucumber, carrot, daikon, mint, wrapped in a crêpe roll). 891 Beach St. at Polk, 415-771-6800.

Bargain-hunting diners should know ~APERTO~ has started offering a three-course prix-fixe dinner Monday through Thursday nights for $21, with an optional wine pairing. (The menu will change weekly—you can track it here.) 1434 18th St. at Connecticut, 415-252-1625.

And for the month of April, the ~MAGIC FLUTE~ is celebrating their 29th anniversary by featuring a three-course dinner for only $19.81 (it’s in honor of the year they opened). 3673 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-922-1225.


I’m already a little claustrophobic imagining the crowd at this one: on Sunday April 25th, ~HEART~ is hosting Outside In 4, featuring sixteen street food vendors, and Heart will be pairing wines with each dish. Folks already in the mix: the Crème Brûlée Cart, the Magic Curry Kart, Soul Cocina, Pizza Hacker, and more. You can read the full lineup (including the DJs) on the event’s Facebook page here.


For you self-employed or unemployed types: ~RUTH REICHL~ is going to be speaking at the San Francisco JCC on April 20th during the day (at 11am—darn, wish I could go!). She will be discussing her latest book, For You Mom, Finally, which “examines her mother’s life, giving voice to the painful truth that many women of our mothers’ generation had to sacrifice their dreams.” (It was previously published as Not Becoming My Mother, and has a new afterward.)

An East Bay insider informed me that Rockridge’s ~CITRON~ closed after service on Sunday. 5484 College Ave. at Forest, Oakland.

By the way, that $1 martini offer at ~PALIO D’ASTI~ I mentioned last week is with purchase of two courses at lunch in April, or three courses at dinner all year long—it’s all part of their upcoming July anniversary celebration, when they hit the big 2-0.