January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013

Counter seating at the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Photo from Facebook.


The entry and menu at American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. Heidi Gibson of grilled cheese fame has opened a second location of ~AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE KITCHEN~ (with Nathan Pollak) in the former Café Gratitude space in the Mission. The new spot serves breakfast and lunch for now, and will add dinner service in the coming months. For lunch there are a bunch of cheesy options, with soups and salads for variety; check out the full menu here. At breakfast, try one of the grilled cheese sandwiches with an egg, or choices like granola, or biscuits and eggs. Housemade pastries are available throughout the day. The coffee is from De La Paz, and the Mission location is adding espresso to its drink roundup too. There are also housemade sodas, a handful of quality beers on tap (like Firestone IPA and Pale Ale), and wine by the glass or bottle.

The space is approachable, with warm wood floors, a counter with stools, and banquettes along one wall. The ceilings are high, and the television at the bar doesn’t distract too much from the cozy, old-fashioned vibe. For now, it’s open Wed-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, closed Mon-Tue. In the future, it will be open for dinner daily as well. 2400 Harrison St. at 20th St, no phone.


The bar at Wine Kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.


The interior of Wine Kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. Divisadero has a new spot for a casual glass of wine and a snack. ~WINE KITCHEN~ opened January 10th and is now serving its full menu, with a wide selection of international wines (you can check out a PDF of both here). Co-owners and chefs Gregory Faucette and Jason Limburg have worked at Bar Tartine, Commonwealth, and Spruce before starting their own place, so the food should be worth looking out for. The spot is casual and not heavy on design elements; it kind of feels like you’re hanging out at a friend’s place, right down to the Ikea-esque leather couch. There are some nice air plants in wooden frames in the front of the space, and the candlelight makes for a warm, cozy vibe (and a good “let’s meet up for the first time” kind of spot).

There are more than forty wines on the list, including four on tap, plus beer, tea, and soda. The prices are pretty reasonable compared with some of the other wine bars around, though the lowest you’ll see by the glass is $9. In the food department, you’ll find improved bar food, like pulled pork belly sliders with chicken skin and cucumber, boquerones on toast, and sweetbreads with hot sauce and ranch. The bar is open Mon-Sat 4:30pm-11pm, and the kitchen is open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 507 Divisadero St. at Fell, 415-525-3485.


Marbella interior. Photo: Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

With the closure of Marbella (previously Rex Cafe) on Polk Street, the new takers have arrived: Ari Derfel, Eric Fenster, and chef Sean Baker of ~GATHER~ in Berkeley. While the project doesn’t have a name yet, Eater has some additional details: Abueg Morris Architects is redesigning the 64-seat space, and as far as the format, chef Baker will continue Gather’s whole animal program, with a simultaneous focus on vegetables (look for some house-cured meats as well). Michael Ireland (previously Meadowood) is consulting on the wine and cocktail program. Look for an opening in the summer. 2323 Polk St. at Green.


Oysters at Mission Street Oyster Bar. Yelp photo by Sophie C.


The bar at Zoe’s. Yelp photo by Yina M.


Nabe communal table. Yelp photo by Steve R.


Tacos at Toma. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

Some openings around town: as previously mentioned on tablehopper, ~MISSION STREET OYSTER BAR~ from Fredy Gamez, previously at Anchor Oyster Bar, has opened on Mission Street. The menu focuses on San Francisco classic seafood, and there’s a happy hour with $1 oysters and $2.50 beer until 6pm. Open daily 3pm-10pm. 2282 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-621-6987.

Also new in the Mission is ~ZOE’S BAR & RESTAURANT~. A tipster emailed to tell me the chef is from Nigeria and she cooks French bistro cuisine. The kitchen is handily open until midnight, serving burgers, poutine, and truffle fries. The Art Deco space was previously El Mexicano, so there’s full liquor. Open nightly. 3088 24th St. at Folsom, 415-817-1972.

Also in the Mission, the café at ~DANDELION CHOCOLATE~ is officially opening this Wednesday January 16th. There are daily pastries by Phil Ogiela, like a fudge brownie with orange and cacao nibs rather than nuts, topped with a whipped ganache and organic cocoa crispies; and a chocolate cake spiced with the Morrocan spice blend, ras el hanout. Yeah, duuuude. There are also a variety of hot chocolates, cacao fruit smoothies, Tisano cacao husk tea, and Four Barrel coffee. Hours are Wed-Sun 11am-6pm (or until they sell out). 740 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-349-0942.

~NABE~ is now open in the Inner Sunset, serving sukiyaki, shabu shabu, and the like. Open nightly 5pm-10pm. 1325 9th Ave. at Irving, 415-731-2658.

Scoop has details on ~HRD SMOKIN’ GRILL~, which is an offshoot of cult classic HRD Coffee Shop in SoMa. Favorites like the Mongolian cheesesteak sandwich and spicy pork kimchi burrito are on the menu. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-10 pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 532 Green St. at Grant.

According to ABC action, the Marina has a new Mexican spot, ~TOMA~. Yelp mentions classic taqueria picks, plus handmade tortillas and good sopes. Check out the convenient late-night weekend hours: open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am, Sun 11am-9pm. 3318 Steiner St. at Chestnut, 415-921-8662.


The fried chicken sandwich from Naked Lunch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Over in North Beach, business partners Ryan Maxey and chef Ian Begg made the decision to close ~TXOKO~ on New Year’s Eve, but they are moving their neighboring Naked Lunch sandwich shop into the space. They are also adding a burger and fries, and some other straightforward dishes. There’s that handy full bar, plus some new pool tables and TVs. The new, extended hours will be Tue-Sun 11:30am-late, with the kitchen closed 2pm-5pm. 

Over in Mint Plaza, Scoop announced the closure of ~CHEZ PAPA RESTO~.

A Twitter follower let me know that ~JOHNNY ROCKETS~ on Fillmore had closed, and according to ABC permit action, Glaze Teriyaki is moving in. Stand by for more. 1946 Fillmore St. at Pine.

Eater announced ~780 CAFE~ on Valencia has closed. 780 Valencia St. at 19th Street.

A couple of Upper Haight closures: Upper Casing mentioned the last hookah has been puffed at ~KAN ZAMAN~, which shuttered on January 5th. I read on Eater that ~GIOVANNI’S PIZZA~ will no longer be operating inside Club Deluxe. We’ll see if Giovanni will find another location soon.

Fellow caffeine hounds: ~THE MILL~ is going to be closed to finish up construction, and is reopening on Wednesday January 30th. (Maybe it’s good for me to have two weeks away from the damn toast.) 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton.


A peek at the under-construction Spiro Coffee. Photo from Spiro.

Some new cafés are coming to our local scene. James Stolich of Cook with James is consulting on a new café opening on Van Ness, ~SPIRO COFFEE~. He’s consulting for Mike and Roger Abuyaghi of R&M Automotive (located around the corner on Ellis)—in a funny connection, they have worked on James’s cars in the past and are now working with him on this project. It’s a new buildout and has a natural-modern and Italian-contemporary look, with Carrara marble, walnut tables and cabinets, and a wood-slat ceiling. It will be open for breakfast and lunch, serving Sightglass coffee. The menu is in development, but Italophile Stolich is taking some inspiration from Due Fratellini in Florence, serving delicious panini like La Quercia prosciutto with mozzarella, sea salt, and olive oil, or mild salami with fennel, soft goat cheese, and olive oil. There will also be salads (but none with balsamic—you have to read James’s awesome rant on ingredients he’s over), plus some desserts and breakfast items. Look for an opening in a month or so. 826 Van Ness Ave. at Ellis.

Meanwhile—thanks to a tip from Michele Mandell—the former Top o’ the Hill Market is morphing into ~LA PALOMA CAFÉ~, a project from the folks behind the nearby Le Beau Market. There will be espresso from Weaver’s Coffee in San Rafael (the roaster previously worked for Peet’s), plus soups, sandwiches, salads, gelato, and more. Look for an opening within a month. 1096 Union St. at Leavenworth.


Chef Michael Rotondo. Photo courtesy of Parallel 37.

It’s a new year, with some chef shuffling happening around town at places with alphanumeric names. Over at ~PARALLEL 37~, they have found a replacement for Ron Siegel, who is now at Michael Mina. Taking the helm is Michael Rotondo, who was most recently executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago (Trotter called Parallel 37 personally to recommend Rotondo). He worked at Trotter’s for eight years and received the “Most Promising Chef” award from Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller in the United States Bocuse d’Or in 2008. His new menu will be in place in a few weeks, although he just launched an eight-course P37 tasting menu as a preview to what he’s working on.

Over at ~BIN 38~, I received word from owner Don Davis that chef Arnold Pulido is the new chef after Caleb Jones’s short stint in the kitchen. Pulido was most recently the executive chef at Metro Lafayette, and he was also at Va de Vi in Walnut Creek for nearly five years. His new menu should be in place in early to mid-February.


Prime rib; photo courtesy of Alexander’s Steakhouse.


The bollito misto cart; photo courtesy of Poggio.

Looking for some new menu offerings and deals? Well, check it out. First up, I was pretty blown away with the prime rib I tasted at ~ALEXANDER’S STEAKHOUSE~ a couple of weeks ago, and it ends up they have a nice special on it: Prime Rib Sunday. You get the Angus-certified prime rib, a choice of a side dish (the macaroni and cheese is really, really good), and their famed hamachi shot, all for $35 (the prime rib is normally $39). You can dine at the bar or in the dining room; available until it runs out. (Psssst, you can also get the deal Mon-Sat from 5:30pm-7pm in the bar.)

Next: the annual bollito misto cart is making the rounds at ~POGGIO~ in Sausalito, running Mondays-Wednesdays until the end of March. You get up to six different slowly simmered meats, including housemade cotechino sausage, beef brisket, oxtail, tongue, and capon. The meat is sliced and served tableside with five sauces. At $19 per person, it’s a unique (and belly-warming) offer to check out on these chilly nights.

~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ is turning 15, and running specials through the month to celebrate, with six wines by the glass (like Huët Vouvray Petillant Loire, France) that are all from 1998 (plus some bottles, too). Through January 20th, there’s a bouillabaisse ($30) on offer, and cassoulet ($28) will be available January 22nd-February 3rd, plus Absinthe birthday cake (milk chocolate mousse, pressed coconut, candied pecans).

~THE ICE CREAM BAR~ in Cole Valley is turning one, with daily specials to celebrate! On Monday January 21st, buy a junior scoop, get one free ($2.95)—limit is one per person. That Tuesday January 22nd, buy a Russell’s sassafras root beer, get one free ($6), dine-in only. Wednesday January 23rd, buy any size scoop, get a free topping (housemade hot fudge, butterscotch, caramel, marshmallow fluff, or toffee). Thursday January 24th, buy a hot chocolate or hot butterscotch, get one free (value: $4.50). And on Friday January 25th, buy an Angostura phosphate, get one free ($9)—21 and over for that one, sweeties.

Looking for a new happy hour deal? ~MISSION ROCK RESORT~ is now serving 99-cent oysters, $4 drafts, $5 glasses of wine, and $6 happy hour cocktails, Monday-Friday from 3pm-7pm.


All very important. From the Healthy Spirits Facebook page.

Some news in the marketplace (har) around town. First up: the Cal-Divis Market (previously Blue Fog) has closed; taking its place is ~THE ABUNDANT MARKET~, due to open around February 10th. 2792 California St. at Divisadero.

SFoodie mentions ~BUYER’S BEST FRIEND~ (with locations in North Beach and the Upper Haight) has opened in the Ferry Building. 1 Ferry Building Plaza.

Coming to the Inner Richmond is a second location of ~HEALTHY SPIRITS~, with its swell selection of whiskeys, craft beers, and more, according to Haighteration. Keep up on the opening on Twitter. 1042 Clement St. at 12th Ave.


The Good Food Awards podium. Photo from Facebook.

The Good Food Awards are back, acknowledging not just talented, innovative, and hardworking food professionals, but also those who are trying to make our food system more sustainable, accessible, and responsible. You won’t want to miss out on the festivities, from the gala to the marketplace. It all takes place at the ~FERRY BUILDING~, and you can take a look at the finalists here.

There are a few different ways to join in the celebration: you can attend the ~GOOD FOOD AWARDS GALA RECEPTION~ on Friday January 18th. The gala includes food and drink from many of the nominees, as well as other local food stars, like Sarah and Evan Rich of Rich Table, and William Werner of Craftsman & Wolves. Tickets are $95.

On Saturday January 19th, check out the ~GOOD FOOD AWARDS MARKETPLACE~, where you can purchase the award-winning products in conjunction with the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market from 9am-2pm. Winning spirits and beer producers will be pouring their products at the ~BEER & SPIRITS GARDEN~, too, so don’t miss out. Tickets to the garden are $15, and entry to the marketplace is free, though there is a suggested donation of $5 per person. If you don’t like crowds, you can also purchase an early-entry ticket for $15 to get into the marketplace at 8am.


The State Bird dim sum cart. Photo via Commonwealth Club.

Catch some local chefs talking about the DIY restaurant trend at ~THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB~ on Wednesday February 13th. The panel discussion will include Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, and Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine. The chefs will be discussing the benefits and pitfalls of the current inclination among chefs to do everything in-house, including farming, raising animals, and crafting décor. The event is at 6:30pm at the Commonwelath Club, and tickets are $20 for the public, $12 for members, and $7 for students. 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, at 2nd St., 415-597-6700.


The Duende sign, fabricated by Jim Rizzo from Neon Works. Photo via Facebook.


Loring Cafe’s atmospheric interior. Photo via Facebook.


El Gusano. Yelp photo by Michael S.

Oakland continues to be en fuego, starting with the much anticipated opening of ~DUENDE~ from Paul Canales (previously Oliveto) and business partner-GM Rocco Somazzi. The 4,000-square-foot space is really catching people’s eyes, starting with the gorgeous Art Deco facade of the historic Floral Depot Building (Flora and Xolo are just next door). The menu is primarily Spanish, featuring smaller tapas-like dishes, larger entrées, and family-style shared dishes, like paella and fideos. Canales is known for excellent sourcing, so look for quality ingredients. The wine list (assembled by Somazzi and wine director Gerard Maristany, formerly the wine buyer for the Spanish Table) will feature a selection of Spanish wines and sherries, and there’s also a full bar—look for some sherry-based cocktails from Troy Bayless.

It’s a spacious, multilevel spot. To recap, there are 84 seats, with a lounge, bar area, and adjoining bodega, which includes a wine shop, gallery space, and coffee bar that is open in the morning, serving Verve coffee. There are some commissioned art and murals, and there will music on the mezzanine (look for upcoming live performances, like forward-looking jazz)—the loft area will also be available for private parties. Arcsine Architecture is behind the design, which includes some raw elements (raw and polished woods, exposed ducts, and brickwork) and an artistic sensibility. You can check out a number of images at Eater and Grub Street. The restaurant is open Sun-Mon and Wed-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; the bodega is open Sun-Mon and Wed-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-11pm.

Now open on Grand Avenue is the San Francisco location of ~THE LORING CAFE~, which, as previously mentioned on tablehopper, is an import from Minneapolis. Look for a New American menu (that is also touted for being affordable), all-day hours, and a bohemian look that features exposed brick walls, a timbered ceiling, steel beams, unique brickwork, Corinthian columns, and tile. There are a number of unique and eclectic flea market finds, and live music will also be featured. Open Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm. 37 Grand Ave. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-839-3700.

The latest business to join Miss Ollie’s in Swan’s Market is the Oakland location of ~ROSAMUNDE~, with its trademark sausage and craft beer offerings. Open Sun-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Sat 11am-11pm. 911 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland, 510-338-3108.

According to Chowhound, ~EL GUSANO~ has opened in the former Tatuyo Tequila N Tapas Lounge. Eater has additional details: the owners (Erin Brooks and Michael Sopher) are behind Tropisueño in the city. During the day, look for a casual taqueria format, and at night it’s more of a restaurant vibe, with servers. There’s also a full bar (mezcal en la casa!). For now, hours are Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. 1015 Clay St. at 11th St., Oakland, 510-444-9676


Off the Grid on McCoppin Street. Photo from Facebook.

You can never really have enough street food, and to prove it, ~OFF THE GRID~ will be starting two new pods this month. On every Thursday and Saturday, head to Pier 29 for food truck eats and America’s Cup spectating from 11am-2pm. Each event will feature four different trucks; check the Facebook page for details on who will be there each week. Pier 29, Embarcadero at Sansome and Chestnut.

Then, on Fridays beginning January 25th, the Oakland Museum of California will be hosting Off the Grid trucks. There will be a wine and beer garden, half-price admission to the museum, and live music from 5pm-9pm. 1000 Oak St. at 11th Street, Oakland.