May 1, 2012

May 1, 2012

Comal interior; photo by Tara Blazona.


Comal bar; photo by Tara Blazona.

As mentioned in tablehopper a while back, ~COMAL~ is opening in Berkeley on Friday May 4th, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Owner John Paluska, formerly manager for the band Phish, and chef Matt Gandin, previously chef de cuisine at Delfina, are focusing on handcrafted regional Mexican cuisine in their new downtown digs. The Bon Vivants are charged with the bar program.

The menu will present modern interpretations of traditional dishes from regions like Oaxaca and its coastal neighbors—often as small and medium plates to share and explore—with many items cooked on a wood-fired hearth or custom comal (a comal is a flat, cast iron or earthenware griddle) in the open kitchen. Expect “exceptional masa” and local, seasonal ingredients. I would also expect chef Gandin’s lifelong interest in Latin American culture and cooking and time spent in Michoacán to shine through. Eater mentions: “masa-based items that will be cooked on the comal, along with more familiar quesadillas, enchiladas and tacos,” “small plates ($7-15) including seafood crudos, albondigas, and … grilled artichoke with ancho and epazote buerre blanc,” and “sharable meats … such as a whole roasted chicken and whole grilled fish.” The kitchen and bar were designed by Alec Bauer.

The bar program springs from The Bon Vivants, Scott Baird and Josh Harris. The focused cocktail list will feature a curated collection of tequilas and mezcals. Seasonal sangritas will also be available: at the last SF Chefs, I had two shots of tequila at their table, just so I could follow up with their sangrita! Operating Partner and GM Andrew Hoffman (previously at Chow, Eccolo) will oversee the wine and beer offerings, which will include an Arnot Roberts 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc and an exclusive grenache from Wind Gap, both on tap.

Abueg Morris (Nopalito, Roam, Prather Ranch) is responsible for the project’s architecture and earthy, modern design. The one-story 1920s building still has its original Douglas fir beams and flooring, but has a new façade from Trachtenberg Architects featuring COR-TEN steel, and custom steel doors and windows by Ferrous Studios. The 3,000-square-foot interior and 2,500-square-foot patio will make room for 140 guests and two bars, one in, one out. Though it won’t be open right away, the patio-bar-combo (landscape design by Garden Architecture) will be partially covered to make outdoor dining possible all year. Berkeleyside has more details and photos here.

Dinner nightly starting at 5:30pm, with weekend brunch in a few months. 2020 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley.


Copita exterior. Photo: ©


The bar at Copita. Photo: ©


Copita’s rotisserie oven. Photo: ©

Last week I was invited to a media preview dinner at ~COPITA~, the new Mexican restaurant in Sausalito from culinary personality Joanne Weir, who partnered with restaurateur Larry Mindel (Il Fornaio, Poggio) on the project. The chef de cuisine is Edgar Sierra, a native of Mexico, who will be working closely with maestra de cocina Joanne, as well as sous chef and organic gardener Dilsa Lugo, a La Cocina alum. The California-influenced menu highlights spit-roasted chicken cooked in a wood-burning rotisserie, all-organic masa made with non-GMO corn, carnitas, and an array of ceviches, tacos, and more (my dining partner and I enjoyed the chopped salad with pepitas and the spicy albondigas). There’s also a list of tequila cocktails, sangrias, wines on tap, beers, and aguas frescas. (Weir is a huge lover of tequila, and author of Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites.)

Copita opened in the former Piccolo Teatro space on Bridgeway, with an airy indoor-outdoor vibe (there’s an outdoor patio, and large floor-to-ceiling doors that open into the 47-seat dining room). Anthony Fish of Arcanum Architecture is behind the cheerful design—I enjoyed the tiling, bright colors, woven fabric on the banquettes (my friend and I called it the Bottega Veneta weave), and eye-catching rotisserie that is the heart of the restaurant. There are also 10 seats at the mahogany bar, and quite the wall o’ tequilas. Open daily at 11am. 739 Bridgeway at Anchor, Sausalito, 415-331-7400.


The future home of Pig and Pie; photo courtesy of Mission Mission.

According to a Facebook post, it looks like ~PIG AND PIE~ is planning to open this month, serving handmade sausages and homemade pies. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, it’s the spot opening in the Discolandia space in the Mission. A menu on the restaurant’s blog lists a breakfast sausage (pork spiced with rosemary, fried egg, and sriracha), hot Italian (pork with spices, braised greens, spicy tomato sauce, and pickled red onions), and a boudin blanc (chicken and herbs, shallot confit, arugula, mayo, and preserved lemon). I know, tasty! Pies listed include spiced pecan and shaker lemon. Beers on the list include Burning Oak Black Lager (Linden Street Brewery), and Scrimshaw Pilsner and Le Merle Saison (North Coast Brewing). Look for more details about the opening in coming weeks. 2962 24th St. at Alabama.


Pickled items at FuseBox; photo from East Bay Express.

I can’t wait to cross the bridge to check out the upcoming ~FUSEBOX~, opening this Thursday May 3rd. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, this West Oakland Korean-American restaurant is from chef Sunhui Chang, a “kkochi-gui pub/sojubang” (kkochi-gui is Korean for grilled skewers), serving affordable dishes in an izakaya format.

This piece in the East Bay Express mentions a preview dinner of “pork-butt udon soup, the bacon-wrapped mochi with pickled mustard seeds, the cubes of house-made tofu crusted in rice flour, the spicy-sweet fried chicken, and the array of pickled things (shitake mushrooms, sparkler radish, bok choy, etc.).” (If you’re way into pickles, be sure to read more about the pickled items in this story on Bay Area Bites.) The story also mentions plans for an upcoming outdoor patio, a soft-serve machine, and grill. For the next two weeks, FuseBox will be open for lunch at 11:30am on Thursdays and Fridays, and then expanding hours later on, plus adding dinner hours. 2311A Magnolia St. at 24th St., Oakland, 510-444-3100.

East Bay Express also mentions the comeback of ~KITCHEN 388~, reopening this week after chef-owner Joseph Dunbar struggled with a month-long hospital visit. It will reopen for dinner service Wed-Sun, starting this Wednesday May 2nd. Look for a concise menu, and beer and wine are available, plus table service. Sounds like summer is the target for launching breakfast and lunch. 388 Grand Ave. at Staten, Oakland, 510-893-3005.


Flywheel Roastery; photo from Yelp by Chris T.

I have been trying for months (unsuccessfully) to get details from a contact at ~PA’INA~, the new Hawaiian restaurant and lounge opening in the former Sundance Kitchen space in Japantown. Well, now it’s open, according to this post on Eater, which mentions a “lengthy menu of Asian fusion and Hawaiian cuisine concocted with the help of chef Glenn Kimura.” Pics on Yelp reveal Spam musubi, spicy tuna poke, and Kalua pig cheese fries. Sounds like the place was totally reformatted to make room for a stage since there will be live music as well. 1865 Post St. at Fillmore, 415-829-2642.

The Upper Haight has a new (and spacious) café called ~FLYWHEEL ROASTERY~ next to Whole Foods. SFoodie mentions Flywheel will be roasting their own beans on site soon, and there are also housemade baked goods. Uppercasing mentions: “The back of the building, under the loft, will have seating, and they’ll also have a patio out back. In the meantime, there are plenty of benches and tables, as well as some chairs on the sidewalk out front, for optimal Golden Gate Park people-watching.” 670 Stanyan St. at Haight.

After breaking the news about Jeremy Tooker and Josey Baker’s upcoming café and bakery on Divisadero, Baker just revealed the name on his blog: ~THE MILL~. Construction is underway—look for a July opening. 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton.


The exterior of Paul K. Yelp photo by Liz S.

After 12 years of business in Hayes Valley, ~PAUL K~ has closed, according to Grub Street. As you may remember, taking its place is ~RICH TABLE~, a new restaurant from Evan and Sarah Rich. Congrats to the two of them for having their Kickstarter funded—the page shares more about the concept: “to offer the same fine-dining cuisine but in a casual, convivial atmosphere,” “plates will range from raw items such as oysters and crudos, to pastas and meat dishes, and they will be drawn from a wide variety of cuisines. The menu will change daily, and inspiration will come from a number of cuisines all based on the combined experience of the chefs, including but not limited to Japanese, Italian, French. The result is a refined, fresh, and uniquely San Francisco cuisine.” Expect more updates soon—they hope to open within the next six months. 99 Gough St. at Oak.

After lease negotiations failed to work out, ~GORDON BIERSCH BREWERY RESTAURANT~’s lease expired on April 28th—the brewery closed over the weekend after 20 years in the Hills Brothers Coffee Building. No word about their new location yet. Inside Scoop mentions: “Meanwhile, there’s no word on what will become of the now-dark 10,000 square foot, two-story space. A conversion into office space has been rumored.” 2 Harrison St. at The Embarcadero.

A real estate announcement I received yesterday announced ~CHOUCHOU~ in Laguna Honda is up for sale. 400 Dewey Blvd. at Laguna Honda, 415-242-0960.


Flickr photo by yipe.

A couple quick notes: SFoodie mentions ~PRATHER RANCH AMERICAN EATERY~ in the Ferry Building Marketplace is no longer serving breakfast in order to focus more on lunch service. Weekend brunch will continue. New hours are Mon-Fri 10am-6pm and Sat-Sun 8am-4pm. 32 Ferry Building, 415-391-0420.

Up in Mill Valley, ~HAWK’S TAVERN~ is launching brunch service this weekend (May 5th), under new chef Joe Waggoner, previously chef de cuisine at Wayfare Tavern. On the menu: yeast-risen waffles, housemade yogurt and granola, smoked salmon hash, and more. Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. 507 Miller Ave. at Reed, Mill Valley, 415-388-3474.


Photo of Happy Girl strawberry jam from event website.

Between the gorgeous weather and the beautiful produce coming in at the farmers’ markets, you’re bound to be inspired to capture some of that goodness—these classes will help.

This Friday May 4th, get ~JAMMIN’ WITH HAPPY GIRL~, and learn how to make strawberry Meyer lemon jam and mixed berry jubilee in the CUESA Kitchen. Happy Girl Kitchen founder Jordan Champagne will teach the fundamentals of making jam to students, who will get hands-on and get to take home two jars of their newly jammed goods. $64 (sliding scale pricing, based on need, available).

Wednesday May 30th is a chance to learn how to make your own Greek-style yogurt and kefir with ~FIZZ, TANG, AND FAT~, also in the CUESA Kitchen. Louella Hill, aka The Milk Maid, will lead the class, then send participants home with a starter kit including culture, recipes, butter muslin, and more. $54.10 (sliding scale pricing, based on need, available). 1 Ferry Building at Embarcadero and Market.

On Monday May 7th, ~FIFTH FLOOR~ is hosting Opposites Attract, a sweet and savory dessert demonstration with pastry chef Francis Ang (Food & Wine’s West Coast “People’s Best Pastry Chef 2012”). You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant, and learn how to integrate both sweet and savory into dishes at home, as in black olive madeleines with saffron ice cream. There will be samples, of course. 6pm-7:30pm. $25.

Join author Andrea Nguyen for a Handmade Tofu Workshop at ~18 REASONS~ on Tuesday May 29th. Learn how to choose soybeans, make fresh soy milk, and cook with your silken or firm creation. Dishes include homemade tofu pudding, Sichuan-style savory tofu pudding with assorted garnishes, and pressed tofu and peanuts in spicy bean sauce. 7pm-9pm. $25 members, $35 general admission.


The weapons of mass destruction. Photo from TRES.

A few more Cinco de Mayo items for your radar: the fine folks at ~DELISE~ are cooking up some special treats for the holiday: chorizo scones; chipotle cheddar gougères, devil’s chocolate cupcake with dulce de leche frosting, Mexican hot chocolate sorbet (cinnamon and cayenne), avocado lime frozen yogurt, and margarita sorbet (with Cabo Wabo tequila). Swing by and say, “arriba!” 327 Bay St. at Powell, 415-399-9694.

Meanwhile, the ~CANTINA~ crew will be opening their doors an hour early this Saturday at 4pm, and, as they put it, “will be shaking up and pouring out mucho mezcal this weekend. We figure that mezcal, the rustic forebear to the ever popular tequila, deserves some attention. We also think that mezcal is the sexier of the two agave distillates and we aim to share that with our audience as well. So, all of our drinks—including margaritas—will be shaken with mezcal on Cinco de Mayo.” Drinks will be $6, and there will also be $3 tacos. DJs kick in at 6pm. 580 Sutter St. at Mason, 415-398-0195.

Since it’s the 150th Cinco de Mayo this year, ~TRES~ is going big this year, celebrating Friday through Sunday: there will be luchadores, LIVE 105, and a launch party on Friday; freshly butchered Marin Sun Farms lamb, pig, and goat roasted on a spit, as well as tequila and cocktail offerings on Saturday; followed by a “recovery brunch” on Sunday. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Details here.

Over in the East Bay, ~BOCANOVA~ will be serving up three crispy fish tacos and a house margarita for only $12 on Saturday during dinner. But here’s the catch: fans will have to watch Bocanova’s Twitter feed to get a password to order this off-the-menu deal.

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