November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

Potato knishes. Photo by Jake Malmberg.


Pastrami heaven. Photo by Jake Malmberg.

Michael Siegel, the chef de cuisine of Betelnut (he’s been there for the past five years, plus time at Bix before that), is going to be leaving the restaurant to open his own Jewish deli concept in the Financial District called ~SHORTY GOLDSTEIN’S~. He’s going to be featuring a variety of family recipes—from his grandmother’s chopped liver to his great-grandma’s potato knish and challah from mom—plus some other pastries. And, of course, there will be his own house pastrami, smoked fish, pickles, and more, like seasonal salads.

Siegel grew up in Tucson, but his family comes from New York and Philly, with Russian and Romanian roots. As for the fun name, it was his great-grandmother’s nickname—ends up she barely cleared four foot ten.

While the deli is going to be primarily a takeout spot, there will be 25 seats. Brunch (hello, smoked salmon platter!) and lunch will be served Mon-Fri to start. He’s hoping for a January opening; he takes possession of the space December 1st, which is when the actual location can be revealed—it’s a secret for now! Siegel is leaving Betelnut in about two weeks—he says chef Alex Ong is very supportive (although of course he’s sorry to lose him!). Am looking forward to starting the new year with this new option on the list.


Pier 5; photo courtesy of San Francisco Waterfront Partners.

Good news for SF’s Embarcadero (and for his many lady fans): chef Michael Chiarello of Bottega (Napa), television, book, and NapaStyle fame is going to be opening a Spanish restaurant in spring 2013 in the former Lafitte space at Pier 5. As reported in the Scoop and one-two punch of press releases, it’s going to be Chiarello’s first property in SF. The Spanish theme will include regional dishes from Madrid, Catalonia, the Basque country, and beyond (Chiarello’s daughter lives in Barcelona, and he was inspired by his many trips there). He’s working with architects Alberto Rivera and Michael Guthrie to transform the Pier 5 space: there’s a main dining room, a glass-enclosed outdoor terrace, and it sounds like there are plans for a tapas bar too. Stand by for more in the coming months.


Exterior of Precita Park Cafe. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©


The view of Piccino’s dining room upon entering. Photo: ©

Some new chefs in the mix. First, Rachel Herbert at ~PRECITA PARK CAFE~ has hired chef Tu David Phu to launch a new dinner menu. Phu has spent the past two years at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, and he’ll be bringing a similar “make it by hand” ethos to Precita Park Cafe, turning out housemade burrata, mozzarella, pasta, and more. Look for dishes like thin-crust pizzas, fresh ricotta gnocchi, and entrées like sausage-stuffed chicken with braised fennel and romesco sauce ($14), and short ribs with polenta fries, braised greens, and crème fraîche ($15), with sweet potato pie ($3.50) for dessert. There’s also a daily happy hour (4pm-7pm) with wine and beer specials, plus music on weekends after 8pm. 500 Precita Ave. at Alabama, 415-647-7702.

~PICCINO~ in Dogpatch has a new chef after conducting quite the search: Jacob Town. He was previously the executive sous chef at RN74, and prior to that he was sous chef at Spruce. He is beginning to roll out new dishes, while the restaurant is also rolling out new hours: lunch hours are being diminished to Fri-Sun only, and Monday dinner service will be starting soon, so that means you can come by for dinner nightly! If you are bummed about lunch, please note that daily sandwiches and box lunches will be available in the neighboring coffee bar, with pizza available soon.

With the departure of chef Christian Hermsdorf from ~CUPOLA PIZZERIA~, Marc Tennison is taking his place—he was previously the sous chef at the restaurant.


The interior at Beacon Coffee & Pantry. Photo courtesy of Beacon Coffee & Pantry.

~BEACON COFFEE & PANTRY~, from cousins Alexis Liu and Christian Chan, opened over the weekend. As previously reported on tablehopper, they’ll be serving Sightglass coffee, plus pastries from Artisan Bakers in Sonoma and some retail goodies too. The duo boasts a pretty impressive background in design, and the space they’ve created is reflective of their prowess. There will be artwork from rotating artists on display, and check out that succulent art piece! They’ll be open Mon-Fri 7am-6pm and Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 805 Columbus Ave. at Mason, 415-814-2551.

Design-forward coffeehouse ~RÉVEILLE COFFEE~ is getting ready to open. According to Eater, their most recent opening date is set for Monday November 26th. The shop is a project by two brothers, Tommy and Chris Newbury, who have been running a coffee truck in Jackson Square for a while now. Check out some pictures and details on their brick-and-mortar location at Refinery29. They’ll be serving Four Barrel Coffee, plus breakfast and lunch, with menu items like housemade sticky buns, grain salads, and sandwiches. Opening hours will be Mon-Fri 6:30am-7pm and Sat-Sun 8am-7pm, though they may change depending on demand. 222 Columbus Ave. at Kearny, 415-789-6258.

Also for your specialty market radar is the newest location of ~BUYER’S BEST FRIEND~, which is now open in North Beach—I walked by and checked it out last week. This location is officially called the “Mercato” and will be focusing on, but not limited to, Italian products, in a nod to the neighborhood. You’ll find goodies like Stumptown cold-brew coffee (that stuff is potent!), local preserves, and specialty oils and baking products. Plus, they have a sample-everything policy, so you can try out those grapeseed oils before you buy. (I came home with some fabulous new almond soap that smells good enough to eat—however, I stopped myself from sampling it in the store.) Open daily 11am-9pm. 450 Columbus Ave. at Green, 415-223-3912.


Perilla on Geary. Photo from the Richmond Blog.

Great news: ~GITANE~ reopened last Friday after a fire closed it down for about a week. Now the team can get back to launching their new menu: it’s obviously a hot one.

Richmond Blog notes the Outer Richmond’s ~PERILLA~ has morphed into a Cajun crawfish spot (do those places ever stay in business?). Same owners, by the way. 5423 Geary Blvd. at 18th Ave.

Coming to SoMa in December will be 49-seat ~1601 BAR & KITCHEN~ from chef-owner Brian Fernando, according to the Scoop. He comes from San Jose’s upscale Le Papillon, but he will be cooking Sri Lankan cuisine (his father is from Sri Lanka). Look for small plates, including mulligatawny soup and the egg hopper, a street food dish (again, this should be ‘hopper approved). 1601 Howard St. at 12th St.


Hog & Rocks interior; photo from website.

Out shopping and need a pick-me-up? Feeling a little broke with all the holiday spending? Or just too busy to cook? Here are some festive deals to keep you frugally well fed.

If you just can’t resist a good Black Friday buying frenzy in Union Square but the whole experience leaves you needing a drink, head over to the ~BRASSERIE S&P~ at the Mandarin Oriental. From 11am-11pm on Friday November 23rd, they’ll be offering bar bites and glasses of bubbly for $5, plus their excellent selection of gin and housemade tonics.

Beginning Friday November 23rd, ~GRAND CAFÉ~ will be offering a special prix-fixe lunch for only $15 (not including tax and tip). The lunch includes roasted chicken, savory bread pudding, chicory salad, and a choice of dessert or a glass of rosé. Yeah, it’s a steal. It’s available during lunch on Mon-Fri only from 11:30am-2:30pm until the end of the year.

Looking to get some friends together around the holidays, without having to vacuum your apartment? ~HOG & ROCKS~ has you covered, with The Feast menu. The special four-course meal is available for groups of six or more, and you can take a look at the menu here, though it may change. The menu costs $45 per person, not including tax, tip, or beverages (you can add on a whiskey punch bowl for $45). Reservations must be made in advance.


Keep the bounty coming in at the SF and Marin Food Banks with your donation. Photo from Facebook.

The holidays are a fun time to get out and have a good time with all the folks you know and love. But in the middle of all the revelry and consumption, it’s also a good time to remember that there are people in our community who go without. Here are some ways to extend a helping hand to someone in need.

The ~SAN FRANCISCO AND MARIN FOOD BANKS~ is in overdrive this time of year, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s really no better time to help out. Until Thursday November 22nd, all donations (up to $30,000) made to the Food Bank will be matched by FedEx. So between now and Thanksgiving, donate what you can here, and it will double automatically. Double or nothing, people!

So you must have a coat or two in your closet that you no longer wear or fit into, right? Because a bunch of local pastry chefs, helmed by Emily Luchetti of Waterbar, have teamed up with nationwide organization ~ONE WARM COAT~ this winter to keep folks warm. Beginning Monday November 26th, you can drop a coat off at any one of these locations (like Waterbar, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie, and COCO500), in exchange for a special baked treat from their pastry chefs. Various locations and times, check list for details.

During the month of November, anytime you visit a ~LARK CREEK~ restaurant, check out their Sixth Annual Gingerbread Wishes menu option, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gingerbread cookies are served with a decorating kit and candies, which you can either take home or decorate right there at your table. The kit only costs $10, and all proceeds benefit the foundation. Restaurants include Fish Story, The Tavern at Lark Creek, Lark Creek Steak, One Market Restaurant, Cupola Pizzeria, Yankee Pier (locations in Larkspur, Lafayette, and Santana Row in San Jose), and more.


Join in the feast at Dickens Fair. Photo by Raymond Van Tassel, courtesy Dickens Fair.

Wait, is that Ebenezer Scrooge? The Bay Area holiday institution the Dickens Fair is back, and bigger than ever. The Victorian-themed fair, which has been going strong since 1970, takes place at the Cow Palace, and features a variety of activities, most of them involving dancing, drinking, and carousing (and more than 700 costumed players). There’s also a full lineup of holiday Victorian goodies to eat, like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, goose or quail, meat pies, plum pudding, and mulled cider. You can wet your whistle at five different pubs serving beverages that are both kid- and adult-friendly, including Champagne, hot chocolate, hot buttered rum, and, of course, beer.

It all starts on Friday November 23rd, and continues every Saturday and Sunday until December 23rd, from 11am-7pm. Tickets are $25 for adults, $21 for seniors/students/military with photo ID, $12 for children ages 5-12, and wee ones under 5 are free. There are also discounted tickets available until December 5th, and discounts for those arriving after 4pm. Tickets and details can be found here. Parking is $10 per vehicle (charged by the Cow Palace); the fair offers a free shuttle from the Glen Park BART station.


The CRO Café. Photo by Tracey Taylor, courtesy Berkeleyside.

Wow, the East Bay Express has put together quite a list of upcoming bar projects in Oakland, like ~PARLIAMENT~ and more. Check it out here.

One to add to that list is ~THE HOG’S APOTHECARY~, which some folks on Chowhound mentioned will be a new “sausage beer pub” coming to Temescal near Homeroom. Eater uncovers the owners are “Rotten City pizza chef John Streit and Park Avenue Bar and Grill manager Bradford Earle” via the ABC license that just hit the wires. 375 40th St. at Opal, Oakland.

Some more coffee options for you as well. RJ (aka Robert Leimpeter) was the head coffee roaster at Sightglass Coffee for two years, and is now starting a new coffee roastery/bakery/chocolatier business in Oakland: ~TIMELESS COFFEE~. (Their baker has been baking for Bittersweet and Cafe Gratitude.) Look for an opening in early December. 4252 Piedmont Ave. at Ramona, Oakland.

Berkeleyside mentions ~THE CRO CAFÉ~ is serving Sightglass coffee in Temescal Alley Fri-Mon 8am-5pm. 5008 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St. (in one of the alleys), Oakland.


The sign for San Rafael’s Fenix. Photo courtesy Fenix.

Marin is getting a couple of new spots for vittles, music, and more. First up is ~FENIX~, a new live music venue with a full bar and food from Amey Shaw, formerly of Piccolo Teatro. She says they are currently planning to open their doors the first week of December. The new venue will serve dinner Tue-Sun, and they’re planning to add brunch and take-away weekday lunch soon after opening. The menu will change seasonally, but take a look at what they’ll be offering when they open in December here. Both the food and drink menus will highlight herbs and spices, with balanced flavors. They’ll be open Tue-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am, and Sun 5pm-12am. 919 4th St. at Lootens, San Rafael, 855-338-4999.

As previously reported on tablehopper, Dean Biersch is opening a third location of his ~HOPMONK TAVERN~ in the Vintage Oaks shopping center in Novato. The newest spot will be opening Wednesday November 21st (that’s tomorrow!), serving lunch and dinner daily. There will also be a “Hoppy” Hour (sounds like something I’d like) Mon-Thu 3pm-6pm. They will have 15 beers on tap, wine, live music in an adjoining venue, and locally focused pub food. Open daily at 11am, the kitchen closes around 10pm and the bar stays open until about 1:30am. It’s best to call ahead because closing time can change depending on the day. 224 Vintage Way at Highways 101 and 37, Novato, 415-892-6200.


Many of you have been downloading the tablehopper late-night dining app (thanks, glad you dig it!) and now here’s another one in the Know What network of apps you’re gonna want in your iPhone’s arsenal of AWESOME APPS: San Francisco’s Top 30 Taquerias from Yup, the one and only slab-munchin’, mustache-granting, swish-rating Charles Hodgkins is sharing his top picks with you, dear burrito lover. (He’s reviewed more than 950 burritos, so he knows what he’s doing, yo.) Pay $1.99 in the App Store and you’ll soon know the top 30 of the some 150 taquerias we blessedly have in SF that are keeping our bellies a minimum of one pant size too large. (Well, at least mine.) Make those calories count—this app won’t let you eat crap burritos with lettuce in them.

Also worth noting: the biennial Slab Scrum is under way, with places like Papalote and Gordo duking it out for the best burrito title. Follow the 2012 Slab Scrum this November and December!

Also useful: this handy-dandy new website that tells you if ~GOLDEN GATE BAKERY~ is open or not. Right? Love it! Any local can tell you this place can definitely pose challenges for scoring dan tat—in fact, when trying to film my upcoming Hungry In… Chinatown episode, the damn place was closed. Classic. No egg custard tarts for me, or you! 1029 Grant Ave. at Jackson, 415-781-2627.