May 11, 2010

May 11, 2010

After a two-week break from my book tour, I will be at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley this Saturday May 15th at 4pm. There will be snacks provided by their charming neighbor, the Elmwood Café, so come on by for an afternoon hang-out! 2904 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley.

And then next Thursday May 20th, I will be taking part in the Appel and Frank Chic Summer Soirée Event, which most women who love to shop know ALL about. There will be all kinds of vendors, from clothing to bags to jewelry, plus cocktails, wine, and more. And I will be there as well, signing and selling books (and giving out free recommendations!). Use the discount code “TABLEHOPPER” for 50% off the $10 fee. *RSVP in advance here. Otherwise all tickets are $10 at the door. 5pm-9pm. Regency Center, Sutter Room, 1270 Sutter St. at Van Ness.

Next Saturday May 22nd, I will be up in Sonoma at Readers’ Books for a signing and reading at 4pm. And don’t be surprised if I have some sort of beverage for you to enjoy (the event is free). 130 E. Napa St. at 1st St. E., Sonoma.

See you soon. For more upcoming tablehopper signings and events, click here.


“Daddy, gimme the sandwich!”

At the tablehopper Sandwich Social on Saturday, we had an audience participation moment, when everyone shouted out their ~FAVORITE SANDWICHES IN THE BAY AREA~. I promised to compile a list for everyone, so here’s the rundown: the BBQ pork bánh mì at Y & Y Vietnamese Deli on Clement; the Norman at Miller’s East Coast West; the lamb shoulder sandwich at Local Mission Eatery; the pastrami sandwich and the croque-monsieur at Tartine Bakery; the meatball sandwich at Saigon Sandwich; the oyster po’ boy at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland; the PB&J at Mission Street Food; the veggie muffuletta at Estela’s in the Haight; the egg salad sandwich at Il Cane Rosso; the Saigon salmon sandwich at Fish. in Sausalito; and the breakfast sandwich at Jimmy Beans in Berkeley. Now I’ve added a few to my to-try list, how about you?


The lovely bar at Heirloom Café. Photo: ©

I had a chance to swing by and get a peek of the brand-new ~HEIRLOOM CAFÉ~ over the weekend, and what a lovely addition it is to this quiet part of Folsom Street. The charming corner location dates back to 1900, with fifteen-foot ceilings and original Douglas fir wood floors. The location sat vacant for 35 years, so it was quite the transformation. The simple room has a classic European style, with a William and Morris bird and vine wallpaper print in cream and gold, banquettes flanking the walls, wood tables, and an elegant floral display upon entering the room. There are 48 seats, with two communal tables that will be reserved for walk-ins—one seats eight, and the other up to twelve. There’s also a marble bar overlooking the (very) open kitchen, with four to five seats.

The owner is Boston-born Matt Straus, a recent transplant from Los Angeles, who has a serious passion for wine. His background includes working at Campanile as a server for two years, and as a wine director at Grace and at Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica for three years. He moved to San Francisco in 2008, and has worked as a sommelier and server at Jardinière, and a server at RN74. He went to cooking school for nine months, and is acting as the executive chef—he’ll be overseeing the menu, and working closely with his kitchen staff of four. The affordable and pared-down menu is simple and straightforward, meant to counterpoint the significant and deep wine program. Bistro-ish items include PEI mussels, roasted tomatoes, shallots, and sherry ($10); orechiette with sausage, rapini, yellow eye beans, and Parmesan ($14); and New York steak, long-cooked broccoli, and pine nuts ($18). There is also a three-course prix-fixe menu available for $50, and Urban Daddy reveals an off-the-menu (and limited quantity) burger topped with Epoisses.

Straus has been collecting wine for the past eight years, obsessively building a cellar that will now be (partially) shared with the rest of us. Heirloom will have 150-200 labels, with 21 available by the glass. But if you are game to explore deeper, what you’ll want to do is request his list of older wines. Hello, verticals of Qupe, Havens, and Hanzell, plus six vintages of Vieux Telegraphe. There are also lots of Burgundy and Bordeaux selections—but he’s holding some bottles from the 2005 vintage for at least another five years, so don’t ask.

Hours are Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm, and lunch will start the following week, on Fridays from 11:30am-2pm, and Sat 9am-2pm. Heirloom is scheduled to open tonight (Tuesday).

After eight years of pool parties (I even threw some with my disco associate there, five long years ago) and bachelorette blowouts and all kinds of mayhem, the ~BAMBUDDHA LOUNGE~ at the Phoenix Hotel has closed. I spoke with Bambuddha’s Gina Milano, who said it was just time to end its run. She mentioned Chip Conley and Joie de Vivre are looking into new tenant options for the restaurant and hotel, so stand by…


Photo from Pica Pica.

It’s time to get your arepas on: ~PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN~ is opening their first San Francisco location this week, in the former Mi Lindo Yucatan in the Mission. Have you ever tasted the delicious arepas from their location in the Oxbow Market in Napa? Well, it’s time. Owner Adriana López Vermut, who is working alongside her father, will be plying you with a menu of authentic Venezuelan street foods, like arepas, cachapas (imagine a corn pancake quesadilla), and maize’wiches (grilled corn breads stuffed or layered with meat, cheese, and vegetable fillings). There will also be empanadas, yucca fries, and sweet plantains, plus soups and salads. The sunny corner location has 30 seats, and will offer beer, wine, and sangria, plus coconut lemonade, and Guarapita, a Venezuelan daiquiri-style drink. The walls are covered in orange tiles and zebrawood veneer, with wood benches of dark-stained walnut, and pendant lights overhead. Hours to start are 11am-10pm daily (and ‘til 12am Fri-Sat). The opening is slated for this coming weekend; call first before heading over.

Thanks to the wonders of liquor licenses, now we know the location of Anthony Mangieri’s upcoming ~UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ in SoMa: 200 11th Street at Howard. As for timing, GrubStreet mentions July. Now I just need to get the man’s phone number.

Bonbon Patisserie is now ~FLEUR DE SEL~, a gourmet delicatessen from Stephane Gregoire, the former chef of Chapeau! and Pisces (from the AQUA restaurant group). The day will start with natural, organic, breakfast items like freshly baked croissants, muffins, and Greek yogurt parfaits with seasonal fruit. Lunch and early evening options will always includes a soup, a salad, an appetizer, a pasta dish, a risotto, a meat dish, and a dessert (and at least one of the dishes within this selection will be a vegetarian option). The prepared meals can be eaten there or available as take-out in compostable containers.

The opening menu includes asparagus soup with Parmesan croutons; organic mixed greens with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and caramelized red onions; quinoa salad with fennel, shiitake mushrooms, artichokes, and green asparagus; fresh tagliatelle with braised Colorado lamb, swiss chard, pine nuts, and capers; and vegetarian risotto with fava beans, green peas, baby carrots, and spring onions. The menu will be seasonal and local, and Stephane makes his own fresh pasta with organic semolina flour and slow braises his meats sous-vide. There will also be organic, certified fair-trade coffees, hot chocolates, Numi teas, and chocolates Stephane has created himself. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-7pm. 308 Kearny St. at Bush.

white interior.jpg

Photo from American Cupcake.

~AMERICAN CUPCAKE~, the new place that opened in the former Joji’s House of Teriyaki, is now a chic, modern soda fountain, complete with go-go-boot white patent-leather tufted banquettes and bar seating, and 150 LED “gumball lights,” which cast an ever-changing day-glo aura on the restaurant’s all-white interior.

The name may say Cupcake, but there’s actually an all-day menu from chef Carina Lampkin (previously of Bar Crudo and Absinthe), featuring retro-Americana cuisine, like pulled-pork sliders with Jack ‘n’ Coke BBQ sauce, Riverdog Farm organic asparagus soup, an albacore tuna melt, tangy mac ‘n’ cheese with Indonesian long pepper, and a backyard BBQ “skinny dip” salad. More snacky items include truffle-Parmesan popcorn, tater tots with curried ketchup and wasabi aioli, and caramel and candy apples. For your sweet tooth, there are Whoopie pies, banana Nilla pudding, house-made cotton candy, and giant “cupcake splits” (featuring house-made caramel, chocolate, and strawberry sauces). There’s also beer, wine, champagne, and other concoctions. Hours are Tue-Wed 10:30am-8pm, Thu-Sat 10:30am-12am, Sun 10:30am-5pm. 1919 Union St. at Laguna, 415-896-4217.

I’ve been happy to receive news of restaurants extending their hours: ~KOKKARI~ is now open Sunday evenings from 5pm-10pm. I know, cool! And ~THE CORNER~ in the Mission is now serving lunch from noon-3:30pm every day. And then ~SUSHIRAN~ has started serving Saturday lunch from 11:45am-2:30pm for the warmer summer season, for the first time in 24 years (although Monday lunch has been discontinued). And lastly, ~CYRUS~ in Healdsburg is starting lunch service this Saturday, with reservations from 11:30am until 1:30pm—the menu will be the same as in the evening, with guests selecting either a five- or eight-course Chef’s Tasting Menu or Vegetarian Tasting Menu.

~DUCCA~ restaurant at The Westin San Francisco is moving away from its market-fresh, chef-driven, seasonal Italian offerings, and will be moving to more of an approachable, inexpensive, standard hotel restaurant format. Chef Erica Holland-Toll is still in command (for the moment).

The Art Institute of California-San Francisco has opened ~BISTRO 10UN~, a seasonal and affordable student-run restaurant in conjunction with their International Culinary School. Students from the school’s two culinary-specific degree programs will be managed under the direction of culinary instructor Kimball Jones. For $15, you can choose three courses, from a variety of salads to rabbit terrine to start; main dishes like a Berkshire pork chop with Rancho Gordo lima beans or a Fulton Valley Ranch chicken breast with mac ‘n’ cheese; plus dessert. You can view the seasonal menu here. Hours are Thu-Fri 12pm-2pm. 10 United Nations Building at 1130 Market St. at 7th St., 415-276-4048.


Just in time for slimming down this spring, Andrew Swallow’s book, Mixt Salads, is out. He’ll be at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ on Sunday May 16th from 3pm-4pm. Here’s more: “In his new book, the co-founder and executive chef of San Francisco’s beloved boutique salad joints [Mixt Greens] shares his inventive, flavor-forward creations. This bold collection of more than 60 recipes for voracious omnivores and vivacious salad lovers features unusual and dynamic ingredient pairings that take salads to a whole new level.”

And then on Monday May 17th, Kim Severson will be at Omnivore from 6pm-7pm to discuss her brand-new book, Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life. Here’s more on this book I can’t wait to read: “In this frank confessional memoir, Severson, food writer for The New York Times since 2004, attributes her culinary confidence to the tutelage of eight maternal figures, from the legendary to the not-so-famous.”

In the “only in San Francisco” category, here’s an upcoming dinner called ~BEAN-OUT~ on Sunday May 16th. Organizer Mark Gravel is a major advocate for beans as a cheap, delicious protein source, so he’s putting on a Bean-Out at the lovely Mission shop, Gravel & Gold (no relation). For $20, you get a five-course dinner: homemade cheese on toast, Little City salad, chilled bean soup, grits and greens, and cake and cream. There are two seatings at 6pm and 8pm, and it’s BYOB. You can RSVP and buy a ticket for your spot here.

Many meat-loving locals are excited about the visit of Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver of London’s acclaimed St. John Restaurant. They will be at ~INCANTO~ tonight, May 11th, offering a four-course $65 dinner. While reservations are no longer available for this dinner, they have set aside a portion of their seating to accommodate walk-in diners. Doors open at 6pm. They will also be at ~CHEZ PANISSE~ this Wednesday May 12th, preparing a $100 menu. Call 510-548-5525 for any availability.

And then on May 22nd and 23rd at a secret location in San Francisco’s Dogpatch, Dave the Butcher and chef Stephanie will join forces to present two evenings of butchery and dining. Chef Stephanie will prepare a five-course meal of dishes celebrating the goat, a demonstration of the lost art of butchery by Dave the Butcher, and locally brewed beer pairings by Pacific Brewing Laboratory (wine also available). $100 per person, including beverages. Order tickets here.

As a local, I confess I never tire of the view from the ~TOP OF THE MARK~ at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins (surprisingly, many locals have never been). And with this new Dinner & Cocktails With A View offer, it’s kind of hard to resist. For $80 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity), you can have a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and a three-course dinner at ~LUCE~, two classic martinis at the Top of the Mark (along with complimentary access to Top of the Mark, which can often run about $20), and a voucher for transportation via taxi from Luce to Top of the Mark or vice versa.

The experience is available Wednesday through Saturday nights. You can start your night with drinks and then move to dinner, or vice versa (personally I’d look to see what night some jazz or swing would be playing at the Top of the Mark and time it accordingly). Seating at Luce is available until 9pm nightly, and reservations at Top of the Mark are available until 12:30am on Friday and Saturday evenings, and 11:30pm Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Reservations are required. Call Luce at 415-616-6566, or Top of the Mark at 415-616-6916.

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