November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The Night Creature. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Ceviche de frutas. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The rib-eye. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. Opening this Wednesday November 13th is a new, modern Mexican restaurant called ~SABROSA~, located in the former City Tavern space in the Marina. The restaurant is helmed by chef José Ramos, who was one of the founding chefs at Nopalito and has been at Nido in Oakland until recently. He is joined by partners Andy Wasserman, Hugo Gamboa, and Adam Snyder (of Redford and The Brixton), and San Diego barman Matt Stanton. Their concept this time around is to create a lively bar scene, but keep it grounded with Ramos’s home-style, ingredient-focused cooking. The food will be seasonal, local, and not completely traditional, but is built around recipes from Ramos’s mother, grandmother, and aunt.

The space has been revamped by design team Clinton Miller and Parisa O’Connell, who previously worked on Redford and Corner Store, with a large, 24-seat bar at the back of the room. The dining room has a communal table for 12 in the center, with French doors opening to the exterior and tufted caramel leather banquettes along one wall. The bar is definitely the focus: it’s been backed with hammered brass, and the bar itself is made of eye-catching up-lit golden onyx. One wall has been done in warm walnut, while another wall is lined in subway tile with mirrored elements. Lighting has a Moorish feel to it, with punched iron lanterns in modern shapes, and the floor has white hex tile with a turquoise border. Outside seating will be available on nice days, with 32 seats under heaters.

As for the food, the menu offers small appetizers and snacks to share, including chicharrones; a toasted masa sope with pasilla chile, beef tips, and chickpea; and a very earthy black bean tamal with mushrooms, epazote, crema, and salsa negra. The cold bar section includes several seafood options, including a sweet and sour ceviche con frutas that’s currently made with pineapple, persimmon, and pomegranate, but will change seasonally. You’ll also find a selection of salads, including one with nopales and frisée, and a seafood cocktail. There is an offering of tacos and quesadillas, including a quesadilla de tinga with chicken, chorizo, crema, and epazote. Entrées include home-style stews like the caldo xochitl, a chicken, rice, and squash soup with carrots, turnips, and chipotle. Be sure to check out the rib-eye steak, which is marinated in Mayan spices (one is Ramos’s secret ingedient—he’s not telling) and served with a comforting plantain purée and Brussels sprouts.

The cocktail list, from Matt Stanton, is kept simple to complement the food. An interpretation of the traditional Charro Negro is available, with Milagro Blanco tequila, lime, Mexican Coke, and a spiced salt rim. There’s also the refreshing Pepino Diablo, with jalapeño-infused tequila, cucumber, lime, and salt. For those who like their drinks brown and strong, be sure to check out the Night Creature, with Old Overholt rye, mezcal, Averna, Benedictine, and orange bitters. You’ll find several different takes on a margarita, of course. There’s also a selection of mezcal and tequila available, and five beers on tap: Dos Equis, Lagunitas IPA, Trumer Pils, Hoegaarden, and Firestone Pale Ale. The wine list comes almost entirely from the Spanish-speaking world, including Chile, Argentina, and Spain. There are four white wines available by the glass, five reds, and two bubbly selections, plus an additional 15 wines available by the bottle.

For now, they’re opening for dinner only, but look out for the additional of weekend brunch in six to eight weeks, followed by weekday lunch. For now, hours are 5pm-2am daily. 3200 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-638-6500.


The counter at Merigan. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The roast beef sandwich at Merigan. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The main seating area at Merigan. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. We originally broke the story on tablehopper that Liza Shaw, an alum of A16 and Acquerello, is opening a new sub shop in SoMa called ~MERIGAN~. After some construction and permit delays, the new place is set to open this Thursday November 14th (woo-hoo!). If you are a sandwich lover, pay attention: these East Coast-style subs are not to be missed.

On the menu, you’ll find either hot or cold subs, all served on a sesame roll from Pinkie’s Bakery that is neither too soft nor too chewy. Most of the meats are cured in-house (which involves some serious in-house butchery); ditto all sauces and condiments.

Cold subs include a looker of a roast beef with horseradish ricotta, provolone, pickled onions, and arugula; an Italian combo with mortadella, salami, prosciutto cotto, provolone, and all the fixings; and an egg salad. In the hot department, look for the Arista, a roasted and braised pork with provolone, hot peppers, and arugula; a meatball with provolone and mozzarella; and the vegetarian panelle with ceci bean fritters, olive salad, tomato conserva, and arugula. All the sandwiches are priced at $6-$10 for half or $13-$18 for a whole, but keep in mind that these are monsters; two people can share a whole and be quite satisfied. There are also sides, including housemade potato chips, soup, and cracklings.

For beverages, you’ll find beer and wine, plus a selection of sodas. Beers on tap are Anchor Lager and Green Flash Hop Head Red, plus additional options by the bottle. For wine, there’s a white and a red on tap; the red in Unti’s Rosso Piccino blend, and the white is Il Campo Giornata. You’ll also find four to five wines available by the bottle, including a Sicilian rosé and half bottles of Roederer Estate. They’ve also got Italian ices made on a vintage Japanese machine; current flavors are lemon, coffee, and almond, but seasonal varieties will also make appearances.

The space seats about 40, but you order at the counter and it’s definitely geared toward takeout. The ceilings are high, and concrete floors and subway tile give it an industrial vibe, but with fun bright touches like vintage institutional chairs from Germany. On the walls are large format photographs by Di Desmond of people enjoying sandwiches in a variety of situations. It turns out all of the photos are of Shaw’s friends and colleagues, including the crew at Unti Vineyards, a dear friend in a wedding dress, and three pooches stealing a picnic on Crissy Field.

Doors open on Thursday November 14th, and hours are Mon-Sat 10am-7pm. 636 2nd St. at Brannan, 415-536-2991.


Chef Casey Thompson (photo via Facebook).

Anyone who watched Top Chef in the early days will remember Casey Thompson, one of the finalists in season three. Well, according to the Scoop, she is going to be opening a 65-seat restaurant called ~AVELINE~ in the La Scene space in Union Square’s Warwick Hotel. The restaurant will be modern Californian, with cocktails in an adjoining bar to be called The European (Adam Wilson of Beretta will be running the show). Look for a spring opening. La Scene is closing on November 17th. 490 Geary St. at Taylor.

Some news in Dogpatch: After an initial blip on Dogpatch Howler a couple of months ago, I have been looking for an update about ~LONG BRIDGE PIZZA COMPANY~, and finally found a contact. Biz partners and good friends Andrew Markoulis and Neal DeNardi have worked for numerous pizzerias and local pizza personalities (including the Pizza Hacker) and are gearing up to open their own place. They said it’s going to be “SF style,” with a sourdough starter, and a bit of a hybrid of New York and Neapolitan pies (they will be cooking in a deck oven, so they’re not out for UPN certification, but it cranks up to 850 degrees)—they will offer both slices and whole pies. The space is the former Oralia’s, which was a deli, so don’t look for a lot of seating—there will be a counter and a few two-tops. The opening is looking like early 2014. As for the name, it’s a nod to the old wooden causeway that used to extend over Mission Bay, from the central waterfront to Bayview, where Third Street is now. 2347 3rd St. at 20th St.

The Castro Biscuit was the first to report on the rumor that the owners of Hi Tops are planning to open a Mexican restaurant across the street in the location of the former Leticia’s, in a new building called The Century. Stand by. 2200 Market St. at 14th St.


The doors will be open soon enough. Photo courtesy of Verbena.

We received a bit of an update on ~VERBENA~, the upcoming project from Berkeley’s Gather crew that’s due to open in the former Marbella/Rex Cafe space. The new target for the opening is mid-December. To recap, chef Sean Baker will be creating a menu of contemporary seasonal California cuisine, and wine director Michael Ireland (previously French Laundry, Quince, Restaurant at Meadowood) will be pairing oh-so-delicious wines (his list is going to be very producer-driven).

The space is 2,200 square feet and will have room for 58, plus 12 seats in the upstairs mezzanine, and eventually (hopefully) room for 16 at outside tables. Abueg Morris Architects (Nopalito, Comal, Hi Lo BBQ, Roam) is behind the renovation. The bar area has been moved; FYI for those who know the space well. Verbena will serve dinner nightly, plus weekend brunch. 2323 Polk St. at Green.


Off the Grid at Justin Herman Plaza. Photo from Facebook.


A gorgeous tart from Tout Sweet. Photo courtesy Tout Sweet.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, ~GALLARDO’S~ is moving around the corner from its previous Folsom location. Well, it has officially reopened after the move, according to a jaunty grand opening sign and their Facebook page. Their many fans will be excited to start lining up for their weekend birria soon, no doubt! 3248 18th St. at Shotwell, 415-436-9387.

You might not be ready, but holiday season is fast approaching. Instead of getting too stressed out, celebrate some of the more delightful aspects of the season with a trip to the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center. As of Novermber 10th, every Sunday you can catch ~OFF THE GRID: JUSTIN HERMAN PLAZA~ from 11am-3pm. There will be six trucks, with a mix of sweet and savory options to keep you skating all afternoon. The market will be every Sunday until January 5th, and you get four hours of free parking if you’re skating too. Enjoy! Justin Herman Plaza, Market St. at The Embarcadero.

Trips to the Saturday ~FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET~ just got a little sweeter: as of November 9th, Yigit Pura’s Tout Sweet Pâtisserie has a stand at the market. Look for morning pastries, including the Nutella bun, a smoked cheddar and bacon scone, or a more healthful green energy bar with oats, nuts, and agave. You’ll also find cookies, cakes, tarts, and a seasonal selection of macarons. Saturdays, 8am-2pm, 1 Ferry Building at Embarcadero.

In case you have been wondering about what’s on the menu at ~NICO~, the new French place we mentioned that opened in Laurel Heights, the owners finally got back to us with a menu; take a look. Dinner Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm. 3228 Sacramento St. at Lyon, 415-359-1000.

The former Haig’s Delicacies space in the Inner Richmond has new takers: two of the partners in nearby Chomp N’ Swig (David Heft and Albert Lararodriguez) are partnering with Ender Markal on a new business that should be opening in February 2014 or thereabouts. They are discussing opening for coffee service in the morning, and serving meat pies and empanadas during the day; there’s also talk of ramping up a full kitchen later on (beer and wine looks like a part of the plan too). Everything is a bit TBD at the moment, including the name, so stand by for updates. 642 Clement St. at 8th Ave.

Tablehopper tipster Jason B. alerted us to the announcement on Facebook that ~JUST FOR YOU CAFE~ in Dogpatch is going to be serving dinner as of Friday November 15th. No word on the menu yet, but hours will be Fri-Mon 6pm-10:30pm. 732 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-647-3033.

We also caught word from our tipster Jason B. that the ~WHAT’S UP DOG!~ stand in the Financial District’s Trinity Plaza has been replaced by a ~LIVING GREENS~ juice shop. Here’s more info in a blog post. 28 Trinity St. at Sutter, 415-802-4535.

A tweet from ~SPARROW~ mentions that they are now open for lunch. Lunch hours are Tue-Fri 12pm-3pm, with brunch on weekends from 10am-2:30pm. 1640 Haight St. at Clayton, 415-622-6137.

And lastly, in the totally, utterly gross department, a good friend posted on Facebook last Friday that he found four roaches in his soup terrine (yes, live ones) while dining at ~LERS ROS HAYES~ last week (and nope, it wasn’t the Tenderloin location). Bless him for calling the Department of Health, which shut the place down due to high-risk health violations after an inspection. Scoop reports Lers Roach (as my friend is now calling it) got a pest control steam bath and then earned an all-clear from the DPH, so they have reopened. And this is why it’s important to call the health department if you ever see anything gross or wrong while dining out.


The exterior of Swatdee Thai Cuisine. Yelp photo by Melly C.

Some ABC license activity points to a change of ownership at ~SWATDEE THAI CUISINE~ in Noe Valley, which has been a part of the neighborhood since 1987. I called in last night to speak with owner James Sawatdee, who charmingly said, “I’m 64, lady!” when I asked him about why he was closing the business. Yeah, that’s a strong reason. Ditto the fact his sister-in-law, who is the chef, is 62 and has problems with her back. Sounds like these dear folks need a rest. Unfortunately he had to jump off the phone and couldn’t tell me more about the impending closure and new tenants, and he hasn’t called me back yet either. I’ll update you when I hear from him. 4166 24th St. at Diamond, 415-824-8070.


The table set for El Viaje en Mexico. Photo courtesy Tango & Stache.

After his first El Viaje en Mexico dinner in October, chef Joshua Oakley Wilder of pop-up ~TANGO & STACHE~ is back with a second dinner at Naked Kitchen on Tuesday November 19th. This time, he’ll be focusing on the dishes of Jalisco, served over four courses with cocktail pairings. Dishes include a smoked masa sope with Espolón blanco tequila-braised octopus, blistered jalapeño, and crème fraîche, and goat roasted birria-style with salsa de arbol, cabbage, and herbed rice. Cocktail pairings are from Rye bar manager Jen Ackrill, and include one made with Espolon blanco tequila, heirloom pepper granita, jalapeño tincture, Meyer lemon, candied Fresno chile, and smoked masa salt. Take a look at the full menu and cocktails pairings here. There are two seatings, one at 6pm and the second at 8:30pm. Tickets are $95 and include all food and drink pairings. 945 Valencia St. at 20th St.

Also on Tuesday November 19th, catch a surf-and-turf-inspired SF Chefs Dinner Party Project dinner at ~BOURBON STEAK~, featuring lots of guests chefs. Omri Aflalo of Bourbon Steak will play host to Brett Cooper (Outerlands), Bill Corbett (Absinthe), Brandon Jew (the upcoming Chino), Mourad Lahlou (Aziza), and Evan Rich (Rich Table) as they each create a course built around both seafood and meat. For a peek at the full menu, head here; that yellowtail with almonds, tarragon, and chicken skin from Evan Rich looks pretty killer. Tickets are $165 for the tasting menu only, $230 with wine pairings, and Visa Signature cardholders get $10 off their ticket.

~QUINCE~ is celebrating 10 years of business this December, and they are having a serious culinary blowout to celebrate. From December 1st-10th, a different guest chef will join them for a six-course dinner, and you’re invited. It all kicks off on Sunday December 1st with a white truffle dinner from chef Michael Tusk, and then guests like Sean Brock and Frank Sitt on December 3rd; Jonathan Waxman, Nancy Silverton, and Matt Molina on December 5th; Brandon Jew, Evan Rich, Thomas McNaughton, Melissa Chou, Danny Brooks, Chanan Kamen, and Cortney Burns on December 9th (yes, all of them on one night); and a finale from April Bloomfield on December 10th. For the full list of guests, check here and start plotting your visit. The dinners cost $250 per person, with wine pairings for an additional $145, except for the white truffle dinner, which is $490 per person. Prices do not include tip or tax. Reservations are required and can be made online or by calling 415-775-8500.


The pumpkin chocolate tart from Le Dix-Sept Pâtisserie. Photo courtesy Le Dix-Sept.

Thanksgiving can be a handful, and sometimes the best way to have a great meal is to outsource a little—especially if you have a teeny-tiny city kitchen. (It’s okay, we won’t tell.) Here are a few ideas of places that can give you a helping hand (and we’ve even taste-tested some of these fabulous treats—yeah, it’s exhausting).

Are you on dessert duty but looking for a pie alternative? The talented folks at ~LE DIX-SEPT PÂTISSERIE~ have crafted a showstopper of a pumpkin chocolate tart this year, with TCHO milk chocolate ganache and organic pumpkin purée with notes of cinnamon and honey—it’s like a love child of pumpkin pie and a chocolate pudding tart, with pepitas on top. And boy, does it work. It’s available in two sizes: an 8-inch ($40) for 6-8 people (although some people may want to eat the whole thing themselves) or a 9.5-inch ($48) for 8-10 people. And check this magic out: delivery is available the day before Thanksgiving within the city, or you can arrange to pick it up. Orders can be placed by email.

~LUKE’S LOCAL~ can help you out with a variety of Thanksgiving options, whether you choose à la carte (they have a bunch of great side dishes) or an entire meal, which includes smoked and brined BN Ranch turkey from Jablow’s Meats; pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies from Black Jet Baking Co.; sides like tasty green beans from Luke’s Local; shrubs from Bar Jars (hey, you need something to drink); and bread from Josey Baker and Bread SRSLY (gluten-free bread). What I really loved in their list of options is the carafe of “The Prescription” from SoW Juice—totally genius and so perfect for the day after. Luke’s even offers a Thanksgiving bouquet of flowers for the table. Delivery is available Wednesday November 27th from 4pm-8pm in San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula (or you can pick your order up).

The online shelves at ~GOOD EGGS~ are loaded with Thanksgiving options, from a pumpkin pie from Three Babes Bakeshop to biscuits (or biscuit dough) from Batter Bakery to heritage turkeys.

If you need a great bird for your oven, be sure to check out the turkey roti from ~OLIVIER’S BUTCHERY~ in Dogpatch. This beauty is deboned, stuffed, tied, and ready to roast in the oven. Details and ordering instructions here. 1074 Illinois St. at 22nd St., 415-558-9887.

Look for more Thanksgiving updates in tablehopper soon, but we thought we’d start with this for now!


The dining room at Osmanthus. Photo: ©


The patio at Trabocco. Rendering from Facebook.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, ~OSMANTHUS~ is the latest to join the list of new Rockridge restaurants—it just opened in the former Nan Yang spot. I was on College Avenue last week and decided to stop by and take a peek. The candlelit room has a sultry feeling, and there’s an intimate bar in the back.

The “modern-classic Asian” menu from chef Julia Klein (previously at Terra in St. Helena) spans Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian dishes, with an array of small plates (like two kinds of chicken wings, dry-fried green beans, mapo tofu, short ribs with kabocha and five spice), plus larger plates like Asian cioppino (sounds intriguing). The fried rice dishes also sound great, like one with Cantonese sausage and another with smoked trout, fried garlic, and ginger. You can read some initial Yelp reports. And there’s a full bar to boot. Open for dinner Tue-Sun. 6048 College Ave. at Florio, Oakland, 510-923-1233.

Ohgane’s new offshoot, ~COPAN~, is now open in the former Sura in Temescal, according to East Bay Express. The Korean-Japanese restaurant from Ohgane’s Micha Oh (with chef Eddie Joo) is serving small plates like scallion pancake, bibimbap, stews, and soups—check out EBX’s scan of the menu. Lunch and dinner daily, 11am-10pm. 4869 Telegraph Ave. at 48th St., Oakland.

I have been tracking the opening of ~KINGSTON 11~ on Facebook for some time now, and it looks like their soft opening period is launching this week (Thursday November 14th)! This Jamaican restaurant—from owners Adrian Henderson, Nigel Jones, and Andre King—started as a pop-up at Guerilla Café in Berkeley and is now launching their long-awaited brick-and-mortar location in Uptown Oakland.

The Jamaican menu (made with organic ingredients) includes small bites like salt fish fritters ($7), plantains with black bean sauce and sour cream ($6), black pepper tofu ($8), and spicy grilled shrimp ($8); larger plates include jerk chicken with rice, peas, and plantains ($14), slash and burn snapper with fried dumplings and green salad ($13), and oxtail stew with white jasmine rice and plantains ($15). There’s also a rum bar with cocktails, plus other spirits, wine, and beer. Dinner service to start Tue-Sat at 5pm, with lunch and Sunday brunch coming in mid-December. 2270 Telegraph Ave. at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-214-2311.

As previously mentioned, ~TRABOCCO~, a new Italian restaurant, is opening in Alameda. We have word now that the new spot is opening on Monday November 18th with dinner service. To recap, the project comes from husband and wife team Giuseppe Naccarelli and Christine Naish Naccarelli and will offer housemade pastas and bread, plus wood-fired pizzas, salads, and roasted meats. You can take a look at the menu right here. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. In a couple of weeks, they’ll be adding lunch and weekend brunch, as well. South Shore Center at Shoreline Dr., Alameda, 510-521-1152.