August 14, 2012

August 14, 2012

Ravi Kapur cooking for Liholiho Yacht Club during its stint at State Bird Provisions. Photo via Facebook.

Very exciting news for fans of chef Ravi Kapur (Liholiho Yacht Club) and ~PICCINO~ in Dogpatch: starting the week of August 26th, Kapur is going to stand in as guest chef for the months of September and October. I know, win-win! The partners are currently deep in discussion with a new candidate for the executive chef position, and they hope/plan to make another announcement in November.

In the meantime, partner Margherita Stewart Sagan shares, “We have known Ravi since the old days of ‘little Piccino’ (as we redundantly and lovingly call the previous location!) when Ravi and Stuart Brioza dazzled our customers in one unforgettable guest appearance in which the two of them cooked together! He is a wonderful human being besides being a very talented chef and we anticipate a lot of delighted customers at our tables!” Indeed.

As for changes to the menu, Kapur adds: “The menu is seasonally driven, so naturally I will change dishes as determined by our local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. There will definitely be some twists in the menu offerings. But as far as the food goes, there’s no way I will jeopardize what they’ve built. The ownership has such a strong presence in the neighborhood and a loyal following and I admire that.” It’s been almost a year since he’s been outside of a professional kitchen, and he’s looking forward to the day-to-day of the restaurant.

In the meantime, you can catch Kapur at the next installments of his Liholiho Yacht Club pop-up at ~STATE BIRD PROVISIONS~ on Sunday August 19th (12 family-style courses for $50 per person, plus beverages and tip) and the Scoop mentions he’ll be doing an à la carte menu (“pupu style”) on Monday August 20th at ~MISSION BOWLING CLUB~. Bonus: “Kevin Diedrich of Jasper’s will also be there slinging island cocktails.”


The entryway, with roses and a carved wood screen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


The ground floor dining area and bar. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

A report by Dana Massey-Todd: Another week, another enormous new restaurant opens in the Mission. This week it’s ~LOLINDA~, the latest project from Adriano Paganini of Starbelly, Delarosa, Super Duper, and Beretta. As previously reported on tablehopper, the new spot takes over the previous Medjool space and, yes, the roof deck will be happening—but not for a few months. In the meantime, the restaurant is open, with a focus on everything Argentine. It seats more than 200 on the ground-floor and mezzanine levels. Each level has its own full bar, with wine, beer, and a solid selection of cocktails. In the wine department, look for Argentine bottles, of course, as well as pours from Chile, Portugal, and Spain. Cocktails will be from bar manager Lane Ford, who is coming over from Beretta to create both traditional and creative options.

As mentioned above, the space is huge, and the décor fits with the Argentine theme. The tables are large, with rough-hewn wooden tops and bases of wrought metal that have the look of barn equipment or wagon wheels, as do the light fixtures. Turns out the table bases are indeed salvaged from factory equipment, so it is all muy auténtico. The high ceilings and mezzanine level add to the feeling of being in a fancy barn. But the gaucho rusticity is also sophisticated, with dim lighting, a tango-influenced soundtrack, and a sleek aesthetic. A mural of a bull, painted by local artist Shawn Feeney, covers one wall. Tufted leather banquettes are a cozy spot for a hot date, but there’s plenty of space for groups too.

The food, developed by chef Alejandro Morgan, sticks to classic Argentine dishes. At the opening party, there were empanadas of beef, corn, or chicken, ceviches, and a variety of skewered grilled meats. They are also serving choripán, the classic sandwich of chorizo and chimichurri on a crusty roll. The focus, of course, is on various cuts of grilled beef (seven cuts, all grass-fed and grain-finished), and they’ve got a few offal offerings too (hello, tripe). You can look at the menu here (along with the cocktail and wine list). Hours are Sun-Thu 5:30pm-12am and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-1am. 2518 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-550-6970.


The front of Tao Café. Photo courtesy Noe Valley Local blog.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, ~TAO CAFÉ~ at Guerrero and 22nd Street has closed down. There is now word on the next chapter for the location! Original Tao owner Thuy Nguyen is opening a new venture in the space, called ~COMPANY~. According to Nguyen, the neighborhood spot “will feature seasonal, Mediterranean-influenced California cuisine, great wine, and craft beers in a warm, inviting atmosphere.” Karen Hoffmann and Jason Poindexter, formerly with Four Seasons Hotels, are signed on as chefs and co-owners. The opening date is currently set for early fall, so stay tuned as details become available. 1000 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.


The new red exterior of Sugoi Sushi. Photo via Mission Local by Liz Melchor.

Good news for the Castro: chef Jon Hearnsberger of Woodhouse Fish Co. (for the past three-plus years) and Anchor Oyster Bar is now opening his own place in the former Luna space. The still-unamed restaurant will seat 30-plus inside and eventually 25-plus outside on that awesome covered garden patio. The food will be New American with a local/seasonal focus, served in a comfortable and relaxed space. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge; the opening is projected for November. Hearnsberger says, “I wish Dylan and the Woodhouse family continued success in their future endeavors. I am appreciative of the opportunity they provided me at WFC.” 558 Castro St. at 18th St.

Mission Local mentions a sushi restaurant is moving into the former Spork and Rice Broker space called ~SUGOI SUSHI~. On the menu: sushi, small plates, and grilled items off the robata. A reader writes in with this news: one of the partners (and the sushi chef) is Roy Lui, formerly of Tsukiji in Mill Valley. The soft opening is slated for this week; lunch and dinner will be served daily. As for those impending condos, time will tell. The article mentions, “the earliest that groundbreaking could happen on the project is the spring of 2013.” 1058 Valencia St. at 21st St.


The bar area. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


The open kitchen, with a view of the dining room. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


The future home of the outdoor patio, with heat lamps and planter boxes. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

A report by Dana Massey-Todd: Up on Geary and Masonic, the former Hukilau space has been taken over by a new project, called ~CORNER STORE~, from partners Ezra Berman and Miles Palliser, formerly of 330 Ritch. The new spot will be a “loving homage to the classic corner store,” says Palliser. There will be comfortable spaces, unpretentious food, a full bar, and a soda fountain. The space has room for 36 diners, plus an extra 13 seats at the bar. On sunny days, the front patio can hold an additional 40 diners. The neighborhood spot is housed in a sunny yellow building and is set to open in the next couple of weeks. The space is cozy and warm, with a compact open kitchen in the middle of the action. There are high windows, communal tables, and some counter seating. The barstool seats are salvaged from a tree that was struck by lightning at an investor’s home in Kenwood. Talk about a hot seat!

In keeping with the corner store idea, there will be some retail offerings to take home, which should expand to include some of their own jarred products. For the time being, look for unusual sodas, coffee beans, and other smaller dry goods. The location has an off-premise liquor license, so they’ll be selling some of their wine and beer to take home.

For now, they will be open for lunch and dinner, with brunch on weekends. Breakfast should be coming soon too. The menu will be from chef Nick Adams, formerly of Salt House, with a focus on expertly executed American classics. Adams promises “one of the best burgers in town” and a small menu that will change seasonally, plus daily and weekly specials to keep it lively.

Desserts will be limited for now, though the full soda fountain should satisfy most sweet-toothed visitors. The soda fountain will feature housemade syrups and tonics for blending custom sodas, and will also provide the backbone for the cocktail program, which is being developed by Hans Hinrichs of Twenty-Five Lusk. There will also be old-fashioned milk shakes and cream sodas, some with a boozy bent. In the cocktail department, look for creative cocktails with a retro bent, like the “Noble Buck,” a drink of locally-aged Cyrus Noble Bourbon with lime, pineapple-ancho chile syrup, and housemade ginger beer. The wine and beer offerings will mostly be from Northern California, and many of the wines will be on tap and available by the glass, carafe, and half carafe.

No word yet on a concrete opening date, but preview receptions are beginning next week, so it’s definitely close. They haven’t worked out their exact closing time yet, but they have the option of keeping the bar open until 2am, depending on demand. Until those details are worked out, hours will be lunch Tue-Fri from 11am-2:30pm and dinner from 5:30pm-late. Sat-Sun brunch from 9am-2:30pm, then dinner from 5:30pm-late. Between lunch and dinner, the bar will remain open with snacks for afternoon munchers.


Soul Groove’s fried chicken and waffle sandwich. Photo courtesy of Soul Groove.

Soft opening this week is ~SOUL GROOVE~, a brick-and-mortar location for chef Jason Fordley’s pop-up. Yeah, the guy who does the fried chicken and waffle sandwich. Maybe you have experienced it at Duc Loi? Anyway, the new location is in the Tenderloin in the former Krave, and will be open for lunch to start, eventually serving breakfast, special dinners, and hosting other events (he will also continue to do catering). The menu is going to expand to what Fordley is calling international soul food, like chile verde in a masa waffle, or a Vietnamese spin with a “bowl” made from a rice flour waffle, with Vietnamese meatballs, cilantro, and daikon. Nope, no shortage of creativity here. His late-night pop-up appearances will be narrowing, so follow him on Twitter for updates on that front. 422 Larkin St. at Golden Gate.


Espresso heaven. Photo from Contraband via Facebook.


The lab-like setup at Front Café. Photo from Yelp via Deny K.


Blue Bottle’s kiosk at Heath. Photo from Facebook.

A few pieces of caffeinated news for you around town: it looks like the café that is moving into the ~FIREHOUSE 8~ project (read details in a past tablehopper issue here) will be a second location of Contraband Coffee! They will begin serving coffee, muffins, and empanadas. This weekend is a soft opening (Sat-Sun 11am-6pm) and then they will close for a week and then be back the following weekend to begin permanent hours. This weekend there will also be some food trucks (IZ IT is confirmed for Sunday). 1648 Pacific Ave. at Polk.

A beer and wine license posted many moons ago for a place called ~FRONT CAFÉ~ in Potrero Hill, and now it appears to be open (thanks to Jason B. for the tip!). Yelp reveals a few details: it’s a speciality café in a converted garage, serving both espresso and drip coffee with a Chemex using house-roasted beans. But the real catch sounds like the cold-brewed coffee served with hand-sawed ice. Is this where coffee and cocktails are intersecting? A post also mentions: “For now it’s just coffee, but there are plans to put in a kitchen, and talk of a beer and wine license and some tables and chairs either out front or in the alley (city permitting).” Here’s your next distraction while waiting for a table at Plow. 150 Mississippi St. at Mariposa.

Now open in the new Heath Ceramics Factory and Showroom store in the Mission is the latest ~BLUE BOTTLE~ kiosk. Yup, cappuccinos in Heath cups, nice. Plus drip coffee, and granola from the Blue Bottle Kitchen in Oakland. They’re also using milk from Saint Benoît—check it out! Open Mon-Fri 7am-6pm and Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 2900 18th St. at Alabama.


The Korean steak sandwich at Rhea’s Deli. Photo: ©

Fans of ~RHEA’S DELI~ monster truck sandwiches will be happy to know they plan to open a second location, Rhea’s Cafe, in the former Deli-Up Cafe space at 20th and Bryant. Mission Mission also mentions there will be seating available—and the potential return of the delicious katsu sandwich. 2200 Bryant St. at 20th St.

Things are looking grim for ~TU LAN~: the Scoop reports the Department of Public Health revoked the restaurant’s permit due to Tu Lan’s “extensive history of health violations.” The only way owner Anthony Nguyen can reopen is if he makes a final appeal to the city Board of Appeals. (Maybe he needs to bring some bún cha gió to the appeal.) 8 6th St. at Market.

In the phoenix rising from the ashes department, Chowhound reports the ~INTERNATIONAL FOOD COURT/CENTER~ is back open after being closed for years due to an electrical fire. Downtown workers can get their pho and sushi and lumpia groove back on for lunch. Corner of Bush and Kearny.

Over at 18th Hour Cafe, the Thursday night party (every week 6pm-10pm) at ~18 REASONS~, things continue to get more dialed: John Lee, an 18 Reasons instructor and cook, has taken over the menu planning and management of the cafe night. The menu changes weekly but always includes a rotating charcuterie plate, cheese platter, and an assortment of Tartine bread with Vella butter. In previous weeks, they’ve had a variety of salads, crostini/bruschette, and sometimes baked goods like empanadas (take a look at last week’s menu here). In August, the menu is focused on Iberian cheeses and wines, while September will feature cheeses from the Pacific Northwest.

A tablehopper tipster let me know ~FULL MOON THAI BISTRO~ is now open in the Inner Sunset, complete with a modern look and groovy LED light system, plus an outdoor patio that’s coming soon. 1220 9th Ave. at Irving, 415-242-1780.

As previously reported, North Bay cupcake sensation ~SIFT~ is taking over the former Dumplings and Buns space at 2411 Fillmore at California. Official opening is Wednesday August 22nd, so get ready for combinations like “Pink Champagne,” a raspberry cupcake with Champagne frosting.


Jake’s dining room photo via Eater by Molly DeCoudreaux.

There’s some shuffling in the Castro this week: ~JAKE’S ON MARKET~ has brought on Joshua Feliciano, formerly of Nombe, AQ, and Delfina, as chef. He is replacing Erik Hopfinger, who left to become the private vacation chef to the British Royal Family. Well then. The menu will stay focused on seasonally driven American classics, and Feliciano will be running specials to keep things interesting. They are also now offering lunch instead of late-night dining. Here are the new hours: lunch from Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm, dinner every day 5pm-10pm, and brunch Sat-Sun 10am-4pm.

Downtown, ~PERBACCO~ has a new pastry chef. Laura Cronin of Zero Zero and Thorough Bread and Pastry has taken over, and as of August 15th the dessert menu should be all new. Her menu items will be focused on seasonality, with particular attention paid to herbs and spices. Offerings include a pesche ripiene, or stuffed peaches filled with amaretti, toasted Marcona almonds, honey caramel, and verbena gelato.


SF FoodLab sets the stage for lots of popping up. Photo from Facebook.

SF Foodlab and A Temporary Offering have paired up to bring a bunch of cool pop-ups to their space on the ground floor of the Renoir Hotel. There’s something every day and something for everyone, so don’t forget to periodically check it out if you’re looking for something new.

Seven days a week Caffe Moda will be serving breakfast 6am-10am. Menu items include egg dishes, waffles, and breakfast sandwiches. There will also be coffee, smoothies, and tea.

Weekdays Onigilly will be serving lunch from 10am-2pm. Items will include Japanese rice balls, tofu noodle salad, and miso tuna salad. Later in August, they plan to open a permanent location, so this should be a cool sneak peek.

Weekdays Jablow’s Meats will be serving lunch from 10am-2pm. There will be Argentine-style beef sandwiches, their excellent pastrami, and roast pork carnitas.

Every Friday in August, Bueno Eats will be serving dinner from 5pm-10pm. Each week, a different chef will take on Latin cuisine. On August 17th, Oscar Martin will be offering Peruvian Cuisine. Then, on August 24th, Alison Batten’s Puerto Rican menu will be the star. Last but not least, August 31st will feature Mexican cuisine from Mikey Agundez.

Every Saturday in August, Crepe-Madame will be serving brunch from 10am-2pm. There will be savory buckwheat crêpes, with various fillings like shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese. There will also be sweet crêpes with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Every Saturday night in August, Zenbelly will be serving dinner, with seatings at 5:30pm and 7:30pm. All the food is gluten-free and predominantly Paleo, so your inner caveman will love it! Tickets should be purchased in advance and cost $32 for three courses.

Then, on Sunday August 26th, the amazing ladies of Three Babes Bakeshop will be teaching a class about pie and dessert. It will be all about pie, including in-depth lattice lessons, and tickets are $75. 1106 Market St. at 7th St.


A melee of oysters at Boxing Room. Photo: ©

Here is a trio of deals on nice things like oysters and bubbly. First, you can swing by ~BRASSERIE S&P~ in the Financial District during the month of August and try a variety of offers, from a half-dozen oysters and half-bottle of Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne for $45 (whether that’s for one or two people is up to you, hic). Or you can order a dozen oysters and a bottle of Argyle Brut 2008, Oregon for $50, or pony up for a bottle of PJ (Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne 2004) for $198.

Over in Hayes Valley, ~BOXING ROOM~ will be offering $1 oysters Monday-Friday from 11:30am-4:30pm, starting August 20th. You can add a glass of Avinyó Cava for only $5, though if you’re more into beer, Abita Amber, Jockamo IPA, and Turbodog will also be $5. They are also kicking off a plate lunch special, Monday-Friday, from 11:30am-3pm. The plate will include a main course that changes daily, plus a salad, drink, and dessert for $15.

At ~GRAND CAFÉ~ from now until the end of September, you can order the “Bubbles and Fries” deal at the bar. It includes a cone of truffle fries and two glasses of sparkling wine for $10. To share or not to share, that is the question. The special is only available at the bar, but you can get it anytime they are open.


One of Alicia’s tamales, in the stuffing stage. Photo by Lauren Atkins.

Are you mystified by the magic of tamales? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, there is hope. ~LA COCINA~ and Evernote Food are pairing up to host a Tamale Cooking Class on Saturday August 25th, taught by Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas and Maria del Carmen of Estrellita’s Snacks. These wonderful ladies will be guiding attendees through the entire process, from making masa from scratch to proper wrapping technique. The class will be topped off with a family-style meal, including the tamales made during the class and some additional Mexican and Salvadorean dishes made by the teachers themselves. The class will be held at La Cocina from 6pm-9pm, and tickets are $45, including dinner. 2948 Folsom St. at 25th St.

Starting in September, ~18 REASONS~ is holding a cool series of classes by Michelle McKenzie, called Unsung: Autumn Vegetables. Classes will be held weekly, starting Monday September 10th from 6:30pm-9pm. Each week features two vegetables (and a fruit!) that don’t get enough love. Find out how to cook these vegetables so they are delcious, not overlooked. Here’s the schedule: September 10th, kohlrabi and fresh figs (in unusual savory preparations); September 17th, cauliflower stems and chicories; and September 24th, celeriac and sunchokes.

Tickets for the whole series are $180 for the general public, and $150 for 18 Reasons members. Classes can also be taken individually for $65. 3674 18th St. at Dolores.


The patio at Presidio Social Club. Photo from Facebook.

Didn’t make it to the Cape this year? Or maybe hard times have forced you to sell your cabin in Maine? Not to worry, you can still get your New England-style summer on at ~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~. On Sunday August 19th, they’ll be throwing their third annual good old-fashioned clambake, with corn on the cob and lobster rolls, as well as beer and Cape Codder cocktails (think cranberry). Then, every Monday evening, they’ll be featuring their Clambake Supper menu, which will include Yankee classics like Boston and Bibb lettuce salad, steamed clams, and mussels with half of a lobster, corn, and potatoes. Boston cream pie finishes it off. (What, where are the Boston Baked Beans? I kid.) The prix-fixe menu is $38, from 5pm until closing, every Monday until October. Reservations can be made through the restaurant’s website.


The Dolly’s doughnuts, paper-wrapped and ready. Photo courtesy Doughnut Dolly website.

(Softly) opening Wednesday in Oakland’s Chinatown is ~SOBO RAMEN~ from Gabriel Cole and Stella Loi. (Yes, ramen is the new pizza.) Their 24-hour broth uses organic pork bones from Llano Seco Rancho and organic chicken bones from Mary’s Free Range chicken, served with organic noodles custom-made by Yamachan Ramen in San Jose (there’s also a vegetarian broth made with mushrooms). Toppings include chashu, pulled chicken, poached egg, and more. There are also some side dishes like karaage, sweet potato, or beef skewers. You can check out the menu here. Hours are lunch daily 11am-3pm and dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 388 9th St. #186 at Franklin, Oakland, 510-832-7626.

Grubstreet reports that ~DOUGHNUT DOLLY~ will open Wednesday (that’s tomorrow!) in Oakland. Hannah Hoffman, the chef-owner, is making delicious yeast-raised doughnuts that are filled to order. She’ll open at 8am, and close at 3pm or when the doughnuts sell out. 482B 49th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

Seems ~COCINA POBLANA~ has changed its name to ~LOS MOLES~ (hey, it’s what they’re known for), and it appears chef Lito Saldaña is still running the show. 1320 65th St. at Hollis, Emeryville.