July 10, 2013

July 10, 2013
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The dining room. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

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The downstairs bar. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

We have previously covered details in a hardhat piece of ~ROKA AKOR~, the new modern Japanese robata restaurant that just opened in Jackson Square (in the former Cypress Club, for you fellow old-timers). Here are a few more details for you: the opening menu is online, featuring a wide range of Japanese-inspired dishes with local ingredients. I’m looking forward to trying dishes from chef Roman Petry, like the Mendocino uni with lime, daikon sprouts, and chicharrones; lobster and abalone miso soup; Wagyu beef and kimchi dumplings; and Madagascan tiger prawn (er, not local, heh) with yuzu koshu chile and lemon. There are also prime steaks, plus nigiri sushi and maki rolls, and the lunch menu has some specials too. There is a robata-driven bar menu served late, like Japanese-style fried chicken with smoked aioli.

You’ll also find a creative beverage program from the talented Daniel Hyatt (including infused shochus, top-notch whiskeys, and of course his one-of-a-kind cocktails—check ‘em out here), desserts from pastry chef Alexander Ruiz (Redd and Redd Wood), and Kiet Le (Luce) is the GM.

To recap, design firm Arcanum Architecture is behind the modern look, including the robata grill encircled by a shou-sugi-ban counter made of charred birch wood finished by hand, and Concrete Works created the concrete art wall inspired by the bamboo forests of Kyoto in the dining room.

Hours are lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. The Roka bar hours are Mon-Thu 3:30pm-12am, Fri 3:30pm-2am, Sat 5pm-2am, Sun 5pm-12am. 801 Montgomery St. at Jackson, 415-362-8887.

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Tacolicious, North Beach edition. Photo courtesy Tacolicious.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously announced on tablehopper, Joe Hargrave’s taco mini-empire ~TACOLICIOUS~ has a new outpost in North Beach. The newest member of the family is complete with their signature touches, including dramatic tile (it’s black and white this time, and just as stylish as the previous versions), a long bar, and outdoor seating. The space—which they took over from Caffe Maria after the owner retired—has been opened up quite a bit in front, with lots of windows letting plenty of light in. The bar is warm wood, and the walls are brightly painted, giving the whole place a welcoming vibe. There’s seating for 49, and all the tables are bistro height, including the banquettes along one wall, which lends to the casual, bar-like atmosphere.

The menu is similar to the other locations, with seasonal and well-prepared tacos that include their housemade salsas, plus lots of appetizers and side dishes; take a look at the full menu here. Of course, they’ve also got their full array of cocktails available by the glass or pitcher, including their Paloma and the delicious margarita picante. That said, this location is just as kid-friendly as the others, so bring the little ones too. They’re open straight through lunch and dinner, so it’s an easy spot to stop midafternoon for a beverage and a taco snack, plus they’ve got a television at the bar if you need a stylish place to park it during the baseball game. Open daily 11:30am-12am. 1548 Stockton St. at Union, 415-433-1800.

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The counter at 20th Century Cafe. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Seating at 20th Century Cafe. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, Michelle Polzine, the former pastry chef at Range, has opened her own project in Hayes Valley, called ~20TH CENTURY CAFE~. It’s open softly for now, with some limited menu choices like her delicious knishes, bagels, raspberry plum coffee cake, and ice cream in three flavors: peach leaf, chicory, and vanilla. The menu will expand more in the coming weeks, especially in the savory department. They’ve got Blue Bottle espresso and coffee to go along with the pastries too.

Inspiration for the project comes from the cafés of the “Danube region” of Europe, including cities like Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, and this is reflected not only in the food but in the space as well. It definitely has a charming, European feel to it, with marble-topped café tables, classic Thonet chairs, a green stone floor, and antique-style brass light fixtures. The front counter is made of pressed metal and marble, and the copper espresso machine still operates with handles, which is a rarity these days. Current hours are 10am-6pm daily, closed Mondays. Like the menu, hours will likely expand in the coming weeks. 198 Gough St. at Oak.

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The interior at Sparrow. Photo courtesy Sparrow (photographer unknown).

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The back deck at Sparrow. Photo courtesy Sparrow (photographer unknown).

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As mentioned on tablehopper in January, the former ~BIA’S~ on Haight Street is now ~SPARROW BAR AND KITCHEN~. The new project comes from Veronica Lopez and Marc Diebold, with consultation on the menu from Ola Fendert of Oola. They officially opened last night for dinner. Brunch will start next weekend, and lunch should be coming soon. The space, which is larger than it appears from the street, seats 45 in the main dining room and has spectacularly high ceilings, with a mezzanine level that seats 15. In the back is additional seating for 12 at the communal table, which can be reserved for large groups. Last but definitely not least is a pretty fantastic patio that seats 40. Wisely, they’ve made sure to have plenty of patio heaters on the plank deck, and there is seating for both groups and smaller parties.

The menu has something for everyone, starting with snacks like olives ($6) and popcorn ($5) to small plates to share like roasted beets ($10) and salads. They’ve got a burger that’s available with a beef or vegan patty ($13), and the menu is definitely vegetarian-friendly. There are also several gluten-free choices, so bring all your friends without fear. They’re making ice cream and sorbet in-house for dessert, and the brunch lineup includes chicken and waffles ($14) and several different egg dishes.

You’ll find 14 beers on tap, including offerings from Old Rasputin, Pacific Brewing Laboratory, and Linden Street. The wine list is focused on food-friendly pours, and all wines are availabe by the glass or bottle—you’ll need it after an afternoon of shopping and navigating tourists. 1640 Haight at Clayton, 415-622-6137.

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The six-spice chicken at Asian Box. Photo by Sonya Yu via Facebook.

As reported in the Scoop, Peninsula outfit with the racy name ~ASIAN BOX~ is opening a San Francisco location in Macy’s Union Square. Partners Frank Klein, Grace Nguyen, and Chad Newton opened in Palo Alto in 2012, and this is their first venture northward. The new spot will be moving into the former Wolfgang Puck space in the Macy’s basement marketplace, offering fresh rice bowls to hungry shoppers; check out the menu here. Look for an opening later this summer. 170 O’Farrell St. in the Macy’s Marketplace.

A second ~SALUMERIA~ from the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen) will be opening in the Hamm’s Building in September. On offer: a lineup of their house sandwiches, salads, soups, antipasti, plus wine and beer (available to drink on-premise only) and espresso drinks. There will be a larder with some take-home items, but not as extensive as the original location. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, with a happy hour as well. 1550 Bryant St. at Alameda.

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Artesano. Photo by @TasteTV via Twitter.

We broke the news back in April that Jeff Gambardella and Douglas Mathieux of Rigolo Café were opening ~ARTESANO~ in Laurel Heights. We just got word from the team last night that this casual South American concept—offering Latin American comfort food from countries ranging from Brazil to Peru to Argentina—is opening this Friday July 12th. You can peek at the menu here, featuring dishes at a wallet-friendly price point, like ceviche, salads, sandwiches, some larger plates like braised or oven-roasted chicken, and more. They’ll be open for both lunch and dinner: Sun-Thu 10:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-10pm. 3415 California St. at Laurel, 415-221-5500.

The fine folks of ~CITIZEN’S BAND~ are giving you another opportunity to indulge in their insanely good burger since they are now open for service and dinner service on Mondays. Lunch hours are 11:30am-2pm and dinner 5:30pm-9pm (dinner will have a slightly shortened dinner menu, à la Sunday nights).

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Getting ready to serve you at Public Bikes in South Park. Photo courtesy of Saint Frank’s Twitter feed.

Coffee and bikes is always a strong and winning combo. If you swing by the ~PUBLIC BIKES STORE~ in South Park, you’ll find a new coffee bar area on the front porch, with service from Saint Frank Coffee (which is due to open its own shop in August on Polk Street). And to encourage you to head on over and check it out, Public is offering all customers and friends a free coffee drink through July 20th (just mention “Honduras”). 123 South Park at Center.

Was happy to return home and see that ~CAFE ST. JORGE~ has opened in Bernal. As we mentioned earlier, this Portuguese-inspired café is from Andrea de Francisco, serving vittles (like sandwiches, pastries, and more—check out the menus here) and Stumptown Coffee. Open Mon-Wed 7am-3:30pm, Thu-Sat 7am-8pm, Sun 8am-3:30pm. 3438 Mission St. at Kingston, 415-814-2028.

And in the Mission, Los Angeles import ~TIERRA MIA COFFEE~ has opened its first NorCal café, which we mentioned earlier this year. You can come by for more traditional coffee drinks, or check out the Latin-inspired beverages, like a Cubano con leche or horchata frappé. Open 6:30am-10pm daily. 3188 Mission St. at Valencia.

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Canteen’s interior. Photo courtesy Charles de Lisle Workshop.

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The exterior of Tokyo Go Go (photo courtesy of Tokyo Go Go’s Facebook page).

Was sorry to hear the news that Dennis Leary is going to be closing ~CANTEEN~ at some point in late August or early September. Inside Scoop shares that with Leary’s upcoming projects (Cafe Terminus at 10 California Street and the Trocadero Club in the former RJ’s on Geary), it seems something had to give. So make your reservation for a farewell meal. I am going to miss those Parker House rolls, damn it. (But since Leary has one year left on his lease, some one-off dinners are still possible in the space after it closes.) Stand by for confirmed details on Canteen’s closure, and more on the new projects (which Leary is doing with business partner Eric Passetti) in coming weeks.

While I was away in Brazil, a reader asked me what was going on with Mission stalwart ~TOKYO GO GO~, which appeared to be closed. Looks like Eater investigated the same thing—with the disconnected number and website down, it all points to dunzo. And so ends another little piece of my early SF memories—I totally remember when that space was hot (back when tartares were cool, heh). Awww. 3174 16th St. at Albion.

Also noted in Eater: ~SELLERS MARKETS~ in FiDi has closed. 595 Market St. at 2nd Ave.

The New Fillmore reports coffee stalwart ~ROYAL GROUND COFFEE~ has closed after 25 years on Fillmore; a steep rent increase is what spelled the funky little café’s demise. 2060 Fillmore St. at California.

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The Nombe interior. Yelp photo by Claudine C.

If you just can’t wait for Outside Lands, which is coming to the city August 9th-11th, you’re in luck. You can catch one of the Summer Pairings series between now and the festival, which pair music, food, and wine together, albeit on a smaller scale than at the main event later this summer. First up is an afternoon at Longmeadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead in St. Helena on Sunday July 14th at 2pm. The Easy Leaves and Langhorne Slim & The Law will be performing live, and you can tour the ranch and enjoy their wines. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door, and include one wine tasting. 738 Main St. at Charter Oak, St. Helena, 707-963-4555.

Then, on Sunday July 21st, catch a sake and food pairing party at ~NOMBE~ along with “Ode to Sir Paul” (as in McCartney, the festival’s headliner) karaoke. The four-part menu includes pork belly, Japanese fried chicken, and a ramen burger (hint: the bun is made of ramen noodles), all paired with Oregon’s Momokawa Saké, which will be one of the vendors at Wine Lands. The event starts at 6:30pm and costs $40 per person; reservations can be made by calling Nombe at 415-681-7150.

On Sunday August 4th, there will be a final event in the lead-up to the festival, with ~MAGNOLIA BREWERY~ and ~NAMU GAJI~. Details will be released soon!

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Photo from Oliveto.

~OLIVETO~ is continuing their tradition of special dinners built around exceptional ingredients, this time with their 12th annual Oceanic Dinners from July 9th-July 12th (yup, right now). You can still catch three nights of these suppers, which feature à la carte seafood options including a raw bar, pastas, appetizers, and a “bella vista” array of whole fish that can be selected and cooked using a variety of preparations. Take a look at the menu here. The special menu is available during dinner service, from 5:30pm-9pm Wed-Thu and 5:30pm-10pm Friday. Reservations (which are recommended) can be made by calling 510-547-5356.

Chef Adam Sobel at ~RN74~ has launched a Cochon-inspired menu on Sundays (he was recently crowned the “Prince of Porc” at last month’s Grand Cochon event at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic). I can see why—I was really impressed with his dish at the San Francisco event—what a rocking medley o’ bites. The three-course prix-fixe seasonal menu (which changes weekly) is $39 per person, with dishes such as sweet corn velouté with ham hock-stuffed gougère, lemon verbena, and baby corn, and spicy braised pig cheeks with Vietnamese crêpes and pickled vegetables. 

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Pastas from Mattarello. Photo from Facebook.

Saturday July 13th should go on your calendar right now, because handmade pasta mavens Mattarello will be popping up with their exceptional wares at ~BIONDIVINO~ from 3pm-6pm. They’ll be hawking tagliatelle (including a parsley-garlic version), squid-ink spaghetti, pappardelle, and tortellini, to name just a few. Orders can be placed in advance by email. 1415 Green St. at Polk, 415-673-2320.

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Umami Burger Oakland. Photo courtesy Umami Burger.

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Off the Grid Emeryville. Photo from Facebook.

Now Oakland has its very own ~UMAMI BURGER~, which officially (soft) opened Monday July 8th. The new location has its own “signature burger,” the queso fundido, with a gut-busting combo of chile con queso and chorizo fundido sauce on top of a burger patty. It’s open daily 11am-11pm. 2100 Franklin St. at 21st St., Oakland, 510-899-8626.

The ~COMAL~ team is looking to open a second restaurant in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood (in the Wright’s Garage space). It will be focused on Northern California cuisine and cocktails. Nosh has the details on the potential project—the team will have to get some approvals first, starting with a change of use. Stand by for updates soon. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley.

~OFF THE GRID~ has started a new pod in Emeryville on Wednesdays from 11am-2pm. The new market happens behind Emeryville’s City Hall and will include four or five different trucks every week. Last week started with Mayo & Mustard and Hapa SF; check out the latest trucks on their Facebook page. Haven St. between Park and 40th Ave.

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