November 8, 2011

November 8, 2011

AQ’s open kitchen (and groovy whisk lights). Photo: ©


The view from the dining room toward the front of AQ. Photo: ©

Last week, ~AQ~ opened in SoMa, and let me tell you folks, the space is a looker. At a preview event a couple weeks ago, I admired the brick walls and historic façade, complete with tall windows and ceilings, timber beams, and unique light fixtures from Omega Too Lighting (I loved the one with the whisks). You’ll be able to see chef Mark Liberman working away in the open kitchen (there are 10 seats at the kitchen counter), plus there are two nearby 12-seat tables. The dining room has 60 seats, and the copper-topped bar has 14 seats. The space was designed in partnership with Rebecca Amato of Amato Architecture and Eric Heid of Martin Heid Design/Build (Commonwealth, Serpentine).

The restaurant will change seasonally, which will also be reflected in the décor and staff uniforms. The menu is described as innovative California cuisine, and the dinner menu pricing is set at $9-$13 for starters and $24 for main dishes. You can check out a PDF of the menu here. Lunch is more casual, with salads, sandwiches ($13), and a daily pasta, plus a few dishes off the dinner menu for $18. He’s a talented chef, and has worked for Daniel Boulud, Joël Robuchon, and locally was the chef de cuisine at La Folie.

Beverage director Kristen Capella worked with Master Sommelier Jesse Becker on the extensive wine program, and there are also locally brewed beers and unique imports. Head bartender Timothy Zohn (Alembic) is making some delicious vermouth-based cocktails like the Churchill’s Bain and the Palanquin served in vintage glassware (full liquor will be coming later in the year—and you’ll also find bartender Brandon Josie working there). Dinner Sun-Thu 6pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-12am, lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, brunch soon.


Renkon mochi (lotus root dumpling) and tsukune. Photo by David Pham.


Hot sake service; photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

Due to open tonight is ~IZAKAYA YUZUKI~, a project from first-time restaurant owner Yuko Hayashi in the former Ebb & Flow space in the Mission. Yuko believes that “San Francisco is ready for real, authentic Japanese food.” The chef is Takashi Saito; his menu (you can take a peek here) includes an otsumami section, with smaller dishes ($4-$9) like spicy cucumber with sesame oil and braised beef tendon that are designed to be enjoyed with drinks such as sake. There are also four yakitori choices (like chicken meatballs and wings), plus steamed clams, chawan-mushi with uni, and chicken kara-age marinated in koji. In fact, much of the food at Izakaya Yuzuki utilizes koji, a mold that is fermented on rice (in a background statement about the restaurant, Yuko mentions that koji not only makes food easier to digest, but it’s also tastier). Izakaya Yuzuki wants to be the first restaurant in the U.S. to specialize in food prepared using koji. They make their own tofu, as well.

Seating includes a walnut bar and newly finished walnut tables, with a splash of warm orange paint on the back wall, paintings of vegetables done in the style of Japanese calligraphy on the walls, and a noren (traditional Japanese room divider). Izakaya Yuzuki will serve their hot sake in an earthenware vessel that looks like a teapot, which means no more burning your hands on scalding hot ceramic carafes. Yuko expects to be open tomorrow, and you can make reservations on Urbanspoon. Hours will be Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St., 415-556-9898.


Four Barrel Coffee founder Jeremy Tooker. Photo via Four Barrel’s Facebook page.

Man, my neighborhood just doesn’t quit. Was thrilled to read that Jeremy Tooker of Four Barrel Coffee is going to be opening a café in the former (and rather fabulous) Emblem Market space on Divisadero. But it’s not going to be another Four Barrel—it’s going to have a different name, vibe, and aesthetic (the name is currently TBD), but of course the coffee will be from Four Barrel.

Since it’s such a spacious location, Jeremy is going to have the talented Josey Baker open a bakery in the back. The menu will include a toast bar, featuring Josey’s bread with a variety of spreads, from honey made from bees on the roof to homemade peanut butter. There is also a backyard that can be made into a garden, and possibly an outdoor space for customers. There will be about 50 seats or so in the café. The target date is currently spring 2012. 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton.


The former Le Club bar and lounge; photo from Yelp.

Opening on Wednesday November 9th on Nob Hill is ~KEIKO À NOB HILL~—well, it will be partially open. During the soft opening period, lunch will be served, and half the dining room will be open for dinner (i.e. very limited seating will be available). After the soft opening period wraps up, lunch will be discontinued and both dining rooms of the former Le Club space will be open for dinner.

Some will recognize the owners’ names from their time at El Paseo in Mill Valley (where chef Keiko Takahashi won a Michelin star) before Tyler Florence opened his steakhouse concept in the location. But since chef Takahashi is now in the city, she is going to be offering a more innovative style of Franco-Japanese cooking than what she was doing in Mill Valley. The dining room will offer a tasting menu (priced at $88 for eight courses), while there will be a bar and lounge featuring an à la carte (and more casual) izakaya-style menu as well (click here to view a PDF of the bar menu—it may be “casual” but dishes still clock in at an average of $20 each). Click here for a PDF of the initial tasting menu, which includes dishes like Shigoku oyster gratin and Hokkaido scallop sauté with sea urchin. Owner (and husband) Seigo Takei accumulated quite the wine collection at El Paseo, and guests will have access to 5,000 moderately priced vintage bottles. Opening hours are Tue-Sun 11am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10pm.


Interior photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

Due to open Thursday November 10th is ~SOUTHPAW BBQ~, a Southern barbecue restaurant with a focus on Memphis-style barbecue and cuisine from various parts of the deep South. The three founders (chef David King, GM Elizabeth Wells, and bar manager Edward Calhoun) are all from the South, and want to be true to Southern cuisine. Menu items include dry rub pork shoulder and spare ribs, whiskey-brined chicken, mustard-crusted smoked ham hock, and Delta Grind cheese grits. The meats will be sourced locally, except for some specialty items from the South. There will also be a variety of housemade sauces. The bar program will be focused on American spirits, wine, and beer (there are 12 taps, and a local brewer will be making home-brewed beer on site), plus a number of American whiskeys on the list.

The 49-seat restaurant features a rustic look, with reclaimed materials and found objects, including a bar made of reclaimed claro walnut and light fixtures made out of Belgian beer bottles, chicken feeders, and grain bin metal coils. There are also two flat-screen TVs for game days. Starting hours are Tue-Wed 3pm-12am, Thu-Sat 3pm-1am, Sun 3pm-12am, closed Mon.


Interior photo of Osha Thai’s 2nd Street location from Facebook.

Three new Thai places are capitalizing on the fortuitous 11-11-11 action, starting with the much-awaited opening of ~LERS ROS HAYES~. The Hayes Valley location has comfortable seating, and while the food menu is basically the same, there will be an emphasis on the wine program. Hours will be 10am-11pm. 307 Hayes St. at Franklin, 415-874-9661.

Meanwhile, in the Mission, PorPhol (Paul) Meeriyagerd is opening ~HOUSE 530~. As mentioned previously in tablehopper, his parents are behind Thai House Express—while the menu will include some of the Thai favorites served by his parents at THE, there will also be some California influence and local ingredients. The 80-seat restaurant will offer bar seating and a modern look; takeout will be available. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-11am, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 530 Valencia St. at 16th St.

Eater reports ~OSHA THAI~ will be opening another location in Union Square at 432 Sutter St. at Stockton.


Tanya Holland; photo from Facebook.

Inside Scoop brings word that Mourad Lahlou of Aziza will no longer be opening his second restaurant in the 500 Jackson Street location (most recently Zinnia). In the meantime, he’s going to be busy promoting his brand-new cookbook, Mourad: New Moroccan. You can catch one of his readings on Saturday November 12th at Omnivore Books from 3pm-4pm, and at Green Apple Books on Saturday November 19th at 1pm.

In case you were wondering about the timeline of the second location of ~NOPALITO~ that is opening in the Sunset, the most recent update points to an early 2012 opening. 1224 9th Ave. at Lincoln.

And here’s an update on Oakland’s ~B-SIDE~ from tablehopper intern Daniel Azarkman, which we last mentioned back in June: “By the beginning of 2012, chef/owner Tanya Holland of West Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen aims to have opened B-Side, a new barbecue joint in the former space of Yardie Jerk. The 30-seat restaurant is going for an Old West look with exposed wooden beams, saloon-style bar stools, and even some wall art featuring Tanya dressed up as a cowgirl. The menu will pay tribute to the simplicity of some of the better local barbecue places, with house-smoked hot links, brisket, and pork ribs taking up most of the stage. Expect classic sides like baked beans and potato salad, plus maybe a few of the crowd favorites from BSK. As the neighborhood is one best suited to daytime foot traffic, it’s looking like lunch only at least in the restaurant’s early months.” 3303 San Pablo Ave. at 34th St., Oakland.


Charlie Palmer; photo from Facebook.

SFoodie was the first to note Charlie Palmer seemed to be working on a project at the ~CRESCENT HOTEL~. Inside Scoop got confirmation that he is in fact working with the developer City-Core to open a “chef-driven boutique hotel.” Palmer will be opening a brand-new restaurant concept in the hotel, and fans of The Burritt Room will be happy to know the historic bar will remain open. Renovations are scheduled to begin in 2012. 417 Stockton St. at Bush, 415-400-0500.


Moya’s vegetarian combo. Photo from Yelp via Todd I.

After suffering a nasty building fire months ago, ~MOYA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT AND COFFEEHOUSE~ will be resurfacing in another SoMa location. LiveSOMA says Moya is hoping to reopen by December 1st, and will be serving “locally roasted coffee, tea, pastries, and fresh artisan sandwiches and salads in addition to [their] special Ethiopian selection.” Beer and wine will also be served. 121 9th St. at Minna.

Eater reports ~LA OAXAQUEÑA~ has reopened after their (fortunately temporary) closure back in August. It’s hot chocolate time! 2128 Mission St. at 17th St, 415-621-5446.

A couple more locations of ~THE MELT~ are opening: at One Embarcadero Center and 345 Spear Street, serving new sweet options as well.

SFGate has details on the closure of ~LITTLE BIRD~, a Tenderloin café. 835 Geary St. at Larkin.

Not too far away from Little Bird, Eater reports ~CANDY DARLING~ has shuttered. 798 Sutter St. at Jones.

Grub Street reports the Castro Gold’s Gym location of ~BEAUTIFULL!~ has closed. 2301 Market St. at Noe.

The Richmond blog mentions ~YET WAH~ has closed. 2140 Clement St. at 22nd Ave.

A fired-up reader (or perhaps a friend of the business I’m about to mention) reports having a delicious sausage from ~THE MISSING LINK~ cart downtown. The cart specializes in wild game sausage (elk, pheasant, boar, antelope, bison, boar). Mon-Fri 10:30am-2:30pm. 768 Sansome St. at Pacific.

And starting this Thursday, ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ in the Mission is going to be making TV dinners that you can bring home and warm up. This week it’s brined and roasted chicken breast with maple vinegar sauce, smashed fingerling potatoes from Martin Bournehouse with black olives, pimentón, parsley, and sautéed River Dog Farm rainbow chard with golden raisins. Just $12; available at Pal’s for pickup every Thursday, but there will just be a limited number to start.

Grub Street Los Angeles reports chefs Jeremy Fox and Charlie Parker are heading to Los Angeles to help consult and open ~FREDDY SMALLS BAR & KITCHEN~. The restaurant is the latest from Jeff Weinstein, founder of burger chain The Counter. Fox will reportedly return to the Bay Area, while Parker will remain in LA as the executive chef. Yup, we lost him.

~QUINCE~ and ~COTOGNA~ have a new pastry chef: Devin McDavid. He was formerly at The French Laundry, Per Se, Soho House, and Fleur de Sel.

And for those excited to try the Turkish cuisine of chef Vahit Besir at ~GRILL HOUSE MEDITERRANEAN~ (like me), well, it’s not gonna happen because SFoodie discovers he has departed. 533 Jones St. at O’Farrell, 415-440-7786.


The view at Greens. Photo: ©

Not getting enough greens in your diet? No more excuses now that executive chef Annie Somerville of ~GREENS~ is offering a brunch menu on Saturday as well as on Sunday. Starting on the weekend of Saturday November 12th, brunch fans will have two opportunities to take in views of the Bay while enjoying dishes such as the pinnacles scramble with yellow finn potatoes, poblano and chipotle chiles, scallions, cheddar, and cilantro. And ciabatta French toast with apple quince compote, huckleberries, and warm maple syrup sounds perfect for chilly weather. A menu like this could get you out of your warm bed a little earlier than usual on the weekend. Make reservations here. Brunch served 11am-2:30pm.


Photo from BN Ranch’s Facebook page.

I was a fan of Peter Temkin’s charcuterie program when he was at Spruce, and so I am happy to learn ~SHOW DOGS~ has hired him as in-house charcutier. He has five new specialty sausages on the menu (merguez, wild boar, chicken curry, chicken boudin, and maple bacon), all made with locally sourced meats.

Executive chef Adam Keough of ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ is teaming up with Bill and Nicolette Hahn Niman of BN Ranch to offer a unique dinner on Monday November 14th featuring 100% grass-fed beef and heritage turkey, all raised sustainably, without chemical and drug additives. Here’s the three-course menu as it stands so far. First course: salad of roasted baby beet and quince, goat-cheese mousse, wild arugula; heritage turkey consommé, roasted sugar pie pumpkin ravioli, Brussels sprouts leaves, shaved chives; or BN Ranch beef tartare, violet mustard, green apple, red onion, cornichons, quail egg yolk, crostini. Second course: slow-roasted heritage turkey breast and confit leg, broccoli-cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, cranberry-sweet onion relish, buttermilk onion rings, turkey gravy; or roasted strip-loin of beef, vadouvan-whipped potatoes, chanterelles, Bloomsdale spinach, garlic chips, caramelized onion jus. Third course: huckleberry parfait, yogurt panna cotta, huckleberry meringue, lemon streusel. 5:30pm-9:30pm. $68, excludes beverages, tax and gratuity; wine pairings by sommelier Aaron Wasserman available for an additional $32.

Bring the meatiness on home with the new line of barbecue sauces and spice rubs by ~S&S BRAND~, an SF company from chefs Spencer O’Meara (Paragon) and Sarah Burchard (previously Barbacco). They’ve got three types of authentic, regional barbecue sauces—St. Louis, Tennessee, and Carolina styles—and six flavors of spice rubs for meat, fish, and poultry—4 Peppercorn, Poultry, BBQ Spice, Ranch, Fish, and Jerk, which can be used with or without the barbecue sauces. They also have an all-purpose brine mix, perfect for Thanksgiving. Avail online.


Old World Food Truck.

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Elizabeth Falkner in Iron Chef; photo courtesy of Orson.


RoliRoti chicken; photo from the RoliRoti website.


Photo by Sita Bhaumik from the Cheese School website.

On Wednesday November 9th, Old World Food Truck will host a one-time Eastern European pop-up dinner at ~LA VICTORIA BAKERY~ in the Mission. Guests will move through five courses, each reflecting a unique heritage. Diners will start with gefilte fish, then move to vareniki (the Ukrainian version of pierogi) stuffed with kabocha squash and farmer’s cheese served with caraway spiced sour cream and toasted walnuts. Take a quick jaunt over to Poland to try a classic stuffed cabbage dish called galumpki. The galumpki are salt-fermented cabbage leaves that are stuffed with rice, mushrooms, and bacon, and then baked in tomato sauce. Moving on to the lower Volga region, the dinner will also include braised oxtails and buckwheat with a side of roasted kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnip topped with crème fraîche and dill. Finally, land in Lithuania with a doughnut filled with poppy seed custard accompanied by candied berries. See the entire menu here. The five-course meal includes tax but not gratuity. BYOB (no corkage). Non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here. 7:30pm-10pm. 2937 24th St. at Alabama, 415-630-0205.

Join chef Elizabeth Falkner for an exclusive screening of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs this Thursday November 10th. Watch the show with chef Elizabeth at ~ORSON~ on their digital wall, get the behind-the-scenes info, and dine on hors d’oeuvres inspired by the episode. Orson will be hosting the pop-ups as long as she is competing. Good luck chef! Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. 7pm-10pm.

Also on Thursday November 10th, learn about food trucks at ChromiumForum: A Conversation with Thomas Odermatt of RoliRoti. Would-be food truck entrepreneurs can listen to Odermatt discuss how to build a successful food truck business. Topics will include identifying and seizing opportunities, navigating government regulations, and building a dependable supply chain. Network with other professionals over Odermatt’s famous porchetta and rotisserie chicken (without having to stand in the ever-present long line at RoliRoti!). Tickets are $20. 5:30pm-9pm, ChromiumForum, 440 Brannan St. at 3rd St.

On Friday November 11th, the ~THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO~ is holding their annual Meet the Cheesemaker event. Along with some new cheeses, there will be grilled cheese, goat milk fudge, salumi, cheese art, and music. Guests can mingle with cheesemakers from Cowgirl Creamery, Bellwether Farms, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Cypress Grove Chevre, Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Bleating Heart, Beehive Cheese, Shamrock Chevre, Redwood Hill Farm, Fiscalini Cheese, Marin French, Laura Chenel, Barinaga Ranch, Epicurean Connection, North Bay Curds & Whey, and more. Tickets are $35, and all proceeds go to the California Artisan Cheese Guild. 7pm-9pm, 2155 Powell St. at Francisco, 415-346-7530.


Make your crack pie and eat it, too, when Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar comes to ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ on Wednesday November 9th. Tosi is on tour to promote her cookbook Momofuku Milk Bar, which includes the recipe for the famous pie. You can buy the book ($35) and a slice of said pie ($5.25) at a bake sale to be held at Absinthe. Tosi will partner with Absinthe’s executive pastry chef Bill Corbett in the private dining room where you can choose from assorted sweets, including Corbett’s German chocolate candy bar and oatmeal cream pie. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the San Francisco Food Bank. 12pm-3pm. (Tosi will also be appearing at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ that evening from 6pm-7pm.)


Interior of Origen; photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Now open in the former Locanda da Eva space in Berkeley is ~ORIGEN~, billed as “a farm to fork restaurant” from co-chefs Daniel Clayton and Trace Leighton of The Fig Tree in Pleasant Hill. The menu includes small plates, mains like duck confit sliders with green plum sauce and sweet potato chips, a paella made every hour, and wood-fired thin crust pizzas from the brick oven. Both wine and cocktails are available, and there’s a bar food menu from 3pm-5pm. Open Tue-Sun 5:30pm-11pm, and opening soon for lunch Tue-Fri 11am-3pm. Good luck with that location, guys. 2826 Telegraph Ave. at Stuart, Berkeley, 510-848-9200.