February 4, 2014

February 4, 2014

Dave McLean, like a proud papa in front of Smokestack’s two Little Red Smokehouses. Photo: © tablehopper.com.


The custom grills (which are rotisserie-ready!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.


The future meat counter (the smokers and grills are in the back of the kitchen). Photo: © tablehopper.com.


A peek at the in-progress dining room (looking toward 3rd Street), with the bar to the right. Note the high ceiling. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week I headed over to Dogpatch to check out Dave McLean’s shiny new Magnolia Brewery, and to take a look at the upcoming ~SMOKESTACK~ restaurant space. The brewery is mighty impressive—a 30-barrel setup instead of the previous 7—which will yield about 5,000 barrels of beer a year (versus the previous 1,000-barrel production), and that’s only using about 25 percent of the space’s current capacity. But it’s not only about stepping up production: McLean explained that since shifting to the new system, he now has room to make some smaller batches of experimental and seasonal beers at the Magnolia Haight location. The team is brewing at Dogpatch about two or three times a week, and the taste I shared with Dave of their Proving Ground was a sweet moment: he said the way the beer tastes right now is the way he always envisioned it. Aptly named, that beer.

So, the restaurant! To recap, it’s a barbecue concept, led by Namu Gaji’s chef Dennis Lee. The name, Smokestack, is in fact a reference (which any Deadhead will know) to the song “Smokestack Lightning.” Kevin Landwehr and Devin Becker of the New York design firm Nothing Something are behind the very custom and thoughtful design, which has a lot of texture and unique elements; they want the place to feel warm and like it’s been there for some time. But this definitely isn’t just another study in reclaimed wood/Edison bulb/subway tile, no sir. If you have four minutes, I’d watch this video about their design process, since it offers a good peek at the brewery and restaurant spaces (and the brewery’s first batch of beer!).

The 80-seat space is going to have an airy BBQ joint-meets-brewpub feeling. When you enter from 3rd Street, there will be nook-like seating areas to the right and left, and farther back to the left will be a bar with seats for 20, and cool custom metal shelving. There will be a brass panel tap unit, a spot to hand-carve ice (the bar will have a Clinebell unit to make crystal-clear ice), and the bar will be topped with quartzite.

In the back right will be the meat counter, where you’ll place your barbecue order, and it will then be cut on a large cutting board and weighed. The kitchen is pretty tricked out, with two custom grills (plus there’s a motor rotisserie, which can be used for porchetta), and there are two Little Red Smokehouses by J&R Manufacturing in Mesquite (the same folks behind the behemoth smoker at Hi Lo)—McLean said they can run each smoker with different woods.

You’ll also be able to order off an edited list of a few beers (like Magnolia’s Kölsch and IPA) and a whiskey cocktail on tap. Otherwise, once you have your meat, you’ll have to then head to the bar area to get your drinks lined up. (Or you can just divide and conquer if you go with a friend!)

Since it’s open seating, you can find a spot at the three communal tables, and there is talk of having overflow seating in the loading dock area, which will also double as a space for private dinners. Brewery dinners are imminent! Wood barrels and cords of wood for the smoker and grills will be stashed there too.

An interesting note about the tables: they will be made of black acacia, and come from a tree that used to be in front of Dave’s office on Haight Street. The city was cutting the tree down due to a root issue, and the team managed to salvage the wood to mill it for the tables. Dave said the tree was like an old friend, and he’s glad a piece of the Haight will be with him in the Dogpatch.

Additional details about the menu, cocktails, and more will be revealed soon—the opening is timed for about five weeks out, so let’s say March for now! 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.


To the right is a pinto, a Thai tiffin (on the beautiful sycamore bar). Photo: © tablehopper.com.


The dining room has large windows that look out onto Mason and Ellis. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week, I swung by the upcoming ~KIN KHAO~ for a sneak peek. If all goes well with final inspections, this exciting Thai restaurant from owner and Bangkok native Pim Techamuanvivit will be soft opening around February 17th-18th (I will let you know for sure!). While you can enter the restaurant through the Parc 55 Hotel, an easy way to access it will be through the entrance on Mason and Ellis (there are large windows that look out onto this corner).

The space has a capacity for 75 diners and a clean look, with handmade wood tables by the local collective Woodshop (there’s also a large group table made of elm and the bar is made of sycamore), a backbar of Heath tile, walls painted with soft tones of gray, and seating includes banquettes and two kinds of chairs (Pim wanted to keep it from looking monotonous). There is definitely some whimsy with the lighting: Pim describes the Artemide light above the group table as a cubist dragon, while the curvy ones in the dining room look like rice noodles.

Chef de cuisine Michael Gaines (Manresa, Central Kitchen) has been cooking Thai food with Pim for the past year. We linked to the sample menu in a previous post on tablehopper, and mentioned that a big twist is the very authentic dishes will feature high-quality and many local ingredients—almost everything will be handmade, from the sauces to the curries. Pim said the two things the kitchen won’t be making are fish sauce and fermented shrimp paste (for now—knowing Pim, this could change).

At lunch, you’ll be able to have a complete meal with a variety of small plates, almost like a bento box, except they will be served in Thai tiffin-like serving bowls (called pinto) that stack up.

There will be cocktails by the Bon Vivants (currently in development) and a small, focused wine list, with five whites, five reds, and two sparklers. Also look for some aperitivi and digestivi.

Hours will be lunch 11:30am-3:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-11pm or so, with the bar opening at 5pm for cocktails. Bar bites and cocktails will be served until 2am. Stand by for an update on the official opening date!


We broke this story after we published the Tuesday column last week, so we wanted to be sure to include it in this week’s column!

I know I am not the only one who has been waiting for the day when Sylvan Brackett (Peko Peko) would announce the location of his upcoming izakaya! And lucky for my fellow 415-ers, it’s not in Oakland! Brackett will be opening his izakaya (the name has not been released yet) in late summer in a location near Mission Street and 14th Street. They just signed the lease. Stand by for more details about the location and name in coming weeks!

In preparation for the opening, he will be holding a series of regular (and weekly!) pop-up dinners at Peko Peko HQ in Oakland. Be sure to sign up for their mailing list to keep up with future events, including a pop-up this Friday February 7th—seatings are at 6-ish + 8:30-ish. For reservations, email here. Congrats, Sylvan!


The front of 2293 Mission St. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

The ~HAPA RAMEN~ team (Richie Nakano, Tobi Stuart) has been pointedly secretive about not wanting to reveal the exact location of their upcoming restaurant on Mission Street, only posting a few cryptic pictures and a video of the space online (oooh, the suspense!). But after following up on a vague tip and putting a few details together (all those years of reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys come in handy, let me tell you), let me reveal that the location is 2293 Mission at 19th Street.

The 2,400-square-foot space was previously a 99-cent store, and neighbor Marco Senghor (Baobab) was looking to lease it around four years ago to open an art gallery. It looks like it’s still going to be a ways out: there was a complaint filed last October (“work beyond scope of permit; illegal change of use”); a change-of-use application was then filed in November, a process that isn’t known for being speedy (or a sure thing). Looks like time will tell (and keep on slipping slipping) on this one. 2293 Mission St. at 19th St.


Brandon Jew. Photo from Facebook.

Brandon Jew and the Tacolicious team have a big announcement: Brandon is no longer the chef of ~CHINO~the upcoming Cal-Chinese restaurant in the former Andalu—and they have amicably parted ways as of today. In a statement about the change, Tacolicious’ Joe Hargrave says, “Brandon has taught us so much and is so passionate about Chinese cuisine, but his Chinatown restaurant project is in need of his attention. Ultimately, Brandon and I had to make a difficult but essential business decision. We feel it will behoove both of our businesses if he can focus more intently on the restaurant concept he started before Chino came into the picture. This was a tough decision for both of us.”

Hargrave and Tacolicious/Chino chef and partner Telmo Faria will continue to lead the project, and their concept to offer a Cal-Chinese restaurant with a menu focused on dumplings, noodles, and strong cocktails remains unchanged. The team just returned from a research trip to Taipei, and are as fired up as ever.

In closing, Hargrave says, “We look forward to Brandon’s restaurant opening, and we will be there to support it when it does. Similarly, we expect to see him at Chino, with a shot of baijiu in his hand.”


Matt McNamara and Teague Moriarty at The Square. Photo by Alanna Hale via The Square.

Remember when we told you back in November that the Sons & Daughters team (Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara) were taking over the former Bottle Cap location on Washington Square? Well, now some details have emerged about their plans for the space, as well as the name: ~THE SQUARE~ (website is under construction).

They want the new restaurant to be neighborhood-oriented and lively, much like when it was home to the Washington Square Bar & Grill back in the 1970s. To keep the scene communal and fun, the classic American menu will offer a variety of items, including bar snacks and large plates to share. Some possible menu items include pickles with bresaola, baby back ribs, chicken-fried quail, and a burger. Yup, it’ll be much more straightforward than S&D, but still using quality ingredients.

As for what’s happening at the bar, they’re developing a full list of cocktails, most of them takes on classic drinks (think twists on the the 7 ‘n’ 7 and French 75). The wine selection is being developed by Amy Racine, the beverage director at Sons & Daughters. She’s working on a 65-bottle wine list from California and Europe. As for beer, they want to offer a wide range, from low-end to higher, with both domestic and imported choices.

Right now, the aim is to open March 1st. The 3,000-square-foot space will offer seating for 90, and one-third of the restaurant will be saved for walk-ins each night. They’ve also got some great late-night hours: hours will be Wed-Sun 5pm-1am. (H/t to Scoop.) 1707 Powell St. at Union, 415-525-3579.


The interior of New Central. Photo: © tablehopper.com.


The chorizo burger with sweet potato fries at New Central. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

The corner of 14th Street and South Van Ness has seen a number of businesses come and go over the years (Los Rosales, Estrellita’s, New Central Cafe) and now the paper is off the windows to reveal its latest incarnation as ~NEW CENTRAL CAFE~. (Some will recognize it as a location in Blue Jasmine.) The space was renovated but is still casual, with a fresh paint job, a beautiful wood communal table, and some will recognize the stools from Waiheke Island Yacht Club, the pop-up that closed in January.

New Central Cafe is now one part taqueria and one part healthy Californian joint. The chef, Gustavo, who was previously at La Oaxaqueña, also has some healthy options on the menu. The place is very neighborhood-friendly: nothing is more than $8, from a quarter rotisserie chicken to a fried chicken torta to fish tacos (which are gluten-free—they’re made with garbanzo flour) to a very tasty New Central burger, complete with housemade chorizo, a fried egg, sautéed kale, roasted squash, and cilantro mayo, plus sweet potato fries. Oh, and I also tried the quesadilla California (yeah, be sure to check that baby out, she’s a looker) with kale, butternut squash, sautéed onion, refried beans, fried sweet potato, and sour cream, which is sometimes just the thing you need. Don’t miss the side of fried plantains ($4). It’s also worth noting that the tortillas are housemade.

On the weekend, there are breakfast burritos (only $4), chilaquiles and huevos rancheros (both $7), and birria. Get this: there’s even organic coffee for $1. And true to the space’s original agua fresca counter, they are making an excellent fresh-squeezed juice with beet, carrot, orange, apple, and lime for $5—Victor, who runs the juice counter, will hook you up. Hours are 7am-6pm, and they are launching some catering options too (just email). You can also take over the side room for private parties. 301 S. Van Ness Ave. at 14th St., 415-722-0601.

As reported in tablehopper last month, the former ~ROXY’S~ has been taken over by Shawn Naputi and Shawn Camacho. The new spot is called ~PRUBECHU~ and offers traditional recipes from Guam, where both Shawns hail from. Naputi will act as the executive chef (he previously worked at Incanto, Salumeria, and Roxy’s) and Camacho will run the front of house (he previously worked as the general manager at The Palace). They open for business today, Tuesday February 4th, and are accepting reservations by email or phone. 2847 Mission St. at 24th St., 415-952-3654.


The Snoop Dogg from Brass Knuckle. Yelp photo by Earl G.

Thanks to a tip from a reader, we learned local food truck chef Shellie Kitchen (who is also a contestant on the current season of ABC’s The Taste) has opened a brick-and-mortar location in the Tenderloin, called ~BRASS KNUCKLE~, just like the food truck. The menu has a musical bent, with menu items like the Snoop Dogg (that’s a bacon-wrapped hot dog with Asian-style slaw, furikake, and radish sprouts), the Fryin’ Maiden (fried chicken sandwich), and the Notorious P.I.G. (a Cubano on a rosemary waffle). 749 Larkin St. at O’Farrell, 415-567-2233.

~RICE PAPER SCISSORS~ also has a new brick-and-mortar home, at Brick and Mortar in the Mission. They’ve done a few pop-ups there already, and are preparing for a soft opening on Monday February 10th. They’ll start out with lunch service Mon-Wed 11am-2pm, with weekend brunch coming soon. The lunch menu includes a vegan curry with seasonal vegetables, pho, and savory pies, as well as Vietnamese coffee and ginger beer; take a look at the menu here. 1710 Mission St. at 13th St., 415-878-6657.

As mentioned in December, the former K*Pop Korean restaurant in the Castro has been replaced by ~GYRO XPRESS~. Castro Biscuit reports that they have a grand opening planned for Saturday February 8th. They’ve also got some details on the owner’s plans, including late-night hours: apparently they’ll be open daily 11am-3am, so let that 2am falafel help you from feeling awful the next day. 499 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-554-0352.


The espresso counter at Réveille Coffee in the Castro. Photo courtesy Réveille Coffee Co.

As previously reported on tablehopper, brothers Tommy and Christopher Newbury have opened a second location of their fashionable ~RÉVEILLE COFFEE~ in the Castro. The new space is on 18th Street, and includes a large front patio, an open kitchen, and lots of blonde wood touches. They’ve also added dinner hours and a dinner menu, with seasonal flatbreads and staples from their lunch menu, like a kale salad with turkey and sandwiches. And of course you’ll find espresso, pour-over coffee, and tea. The interior was designed in collaboration with Jeff Burwell, whose work also appears at Namu Gaji; the space is sleek and modern, but also welcoming. And then of course there’s the patio, which will offer an excellent spot for catching some sun and watching the neighborhood go by. Hours are 7am-9pm daily. 4076 18th St. at Hartford, 415-789-6258.

And it looks like the Castro is also set to get another coffee shop, reports Castro Biscuit. ~HEARTH COFFEE ROASTERS~ is moving into the former Sun Days Tanning Salon on 17th Street. The shop is from the same folks who ran Brown Owl Coffee in the Sunset, but there’s no word yet on their plans for this location. Stand by! 3985 17th St. at Market.

~PEET’S COFFEE~ has a new flagship in the Marina, and San Francisco Business Times has the details. Reportedly, the new shop will be the first of several higher-end shops around the country, with details like marble countertops and leather chairs. It’s also clear that the space is designed with local décor proclivities in mind, like reclaimed wood, industrial lighting, and a living wall. 2080 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-931-8302.

And here’s some major money news in the coffee world: San Francisco Business Times also caught word that ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ has some major new investors. Evan Williams of Twitter and Kevin Systrom of Instagram were just two of the investors in this round of funding (led by Morgan Stanley), which raised more than $25 million for the company’s expansion efforts. Yowza.


Carnitas tacos from La Urbana. Photo from la Urbana newsletter.


The door to the upcoming Belcampo on Polk St. (Photo courtesy of a reader.)

Here is a most excellent weekday brunch to hit up the next time you’re playing hooky. ~NAMU GAJI~ is now offering brunch Wed-Sun, with a menu full of comfort classics like loco moco, kimchi fried rice, and challah French toast; here is the menu. You’ll also find mimosas, Bloody Marys, and micheladas. Brunch hours are Wed-Fri 11:30am-4pm and Sat-Sun 10:30am-4pm.

~LA URBANA~ is now offering a wallet-friendly Taco Tuesday special. Every Tuesday in the Mercado, you can get two street-style tacos and a beer for $7; with a shot of house mezcal, it’s $10. Yeah, that’s hard to beat.

A tablehopper tipster alerted us that ~BELCAMPO MEAT CO.~ is opening a location on Polk Street, and it seems to be coming right along, with a sign on the door and everything. They’re also hiring, according to their website, for the San Francisco location, as well as in Southern California and Palo Alto. The PR team isn’t releasing any details of the new spot, but it looks like it’s chugging along. 1998 Polk St. at Pacific.

According to the intrepid folks on Chowhound, ~MING KEE~ is now open in Sunnyside. The Hong Kong-style barbecue restaurant is famous for its roasted meats, including goose, duck, and pork. This is their original location, which closed for renovations, and was temporarily in the Sunset. The early word from Chow is that the serving sizes are large, the prices reasonable, and the service bare-bones. Hours are daily 11am-8pm. 1548 Ocean Ave. at Capitol, 415-337-8198.

And in the new name department, Jacky and Michael Recchiuti are changing the name of their Dogpatch café from Chocolate Lab to ~THELAB~. The name change reflects the restaurant’s shift toward a more savory menu, or at least a menu that equally reflects savory and sweet options. With the addition of Santé Salvoni in the kitchen, you’ll find a fuller menu of dinner options, in addition to the superlative dessert selection.

The Noe Valley Blog caught a change at the former ~CAFÉ PONTE~. It has been sold to a new owner who will be calling it ~DIAMOND CAFÉ~ and serving crêpes, omelets, and other café standbys at breakfast and lunch. 751 Diamond St. at 24th St.


Bagel, lox, and schmear from Russ & Daughters. Photo from blog.russanddaughters.com via Facebook.

~MARLA BAKERY~ is hosting a six-course dinner on Sunday February 9th at their Kitchen Communal. Owners Amy Brown and Josh Wolf will be working along with Rachel Sillcocks (chef de cuisine at Range) on the food. Chris Deegan (former wine director at Nopa) will be providing wine pairings. We haven’t heard from Deegan in awhile: turns out he’s been making wine with Radio-Coteau and traveling since leaving Nopa last year. (Here’s a wino piece from Deegan on sherry, too—it’s a good read! Look for another piece on tablehopper from him soon.) The evening’s seasonal menu includes pickled herring with creamed kohlrabi and seeded rye and roasted quail with a winter bread salad and turnips; here’s the full menu and pairings. The dinner is from 5pm-9:30pm and tickets are $125 per person, including pairings. 613 York St. at 18th St., 415-824-2253.

It’s a debate that rages on: is it possible to get a good bagel in San Francisco? For those purists who say the only real bagel is a New York bagel, be sure to head to ~DEAR MOM~ on Saturday February 8th for a very special Eastside Bagels pop-up from Sonya Haines and Wes Rowe, featuring Russ & Daughters bagels shipped via overnight express. The menu includes plain or everything bagels, with a choice of schmear, or as open-face sandwiches with options like pastrami and poached egg, or schmear and lox. You can get it from 11:30am-3pm. 2700 16th St. at Harrison, 415-625-3362.

Burger hounds, rejoice! To celebrate SF Beer Week, ~THE ABBOT’S CELLAR~ is hosting a special dinner on Monday February 10th. From 9pm-11:30pm, five guest chefs will offer a signature burger, and cellar master Christian Albertson will pour IPAs to pair with them. The guest chef lineup is pretty serious: Laurence Jossel (Nopa), Telmo Faria (Tacolicious), Liza Shaw (Merigan), and William Werner (Craftsman & Wolves). Each burger is $15, and proceeds go to The Cooking Project.


Joe Obegi digs in at Joe’s Cable Car. Photo from Facebook.

Eater reports (via CBS) that Joe Obegi of ~JOE’S CABLE CAR~ has decided to retire and will close his restaurant in March. The Excelsior icon has been slinging burgers since 1965, and has garnered quite a following over the years. Obegi, who has reportedly received a few offers for the restaurant, has decided to close rather than see the burgers change (he was a bit of a stickler that way). The last day of service is Sunday March 16th, and right now there’s no news on what might be moving in. Here’s to a relaxing retirement, Joe! 4320 Mission St. at Silver, 415-334-6699.

According to an announcement on their Facebook page, ~MIRTILLE~ in the Tenderloin has closed. No word on why, but it does look like there’s a new taker for the space: ABC license activity points to a spot called ~MJ’S CAFÉ~ from owner Chu Xia Mo. 87 McAllister St. at Leavenworth.


Blue Bottle’s new home: the historic W.C. Morse building on Broadway. Photo via Blue Bottle’s Facebook page.

Due to open Thursday February 6th is an exciting new ~BLUE BOTTLE~ Oakland location. To recap, it’s opening in the historic W.C. Morse building, which dates back to the 1920s. Not only will this be the largest Blue Bottle location (2,000 square feet), but it will also be a home espresso machine showroom (they are selling five kinds) and repair shop too. We’ll have more details and pics in next week’s column, but for now, the hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sun 8am-6pm. 4296 Broadway at 42nd, Oakland.

James Syhabout’s ~HAWKER FARE~ has undergone a little menu changeup. Instead of offering individually portioned rice bowls and plates at dinner, the menu is now focused on family-style dishes for sharing, alongside rice. Here’s a look at the new dinner menu, from Syhabout and chef Manuel Bonilla, and the new dessert menu here.

Along with the new dinner choices, they’ve also revamped the cocktail list. Box & Bells’ bar manager, Christ Avialiotis, has created a new cocktail menu of punches and tiki cocktails, inspired by Oakland’s history of tiki bars like the Bali Hai and the original Trader Vic’s. Punches will be available either by the glass or in large-format bottles for groups (again with that family-style service). Take a look at all the new choices here, along with new spirit options. The lunch options will stay the same, with a continued focus on individual rice bowls. (Hat tip to Scoop.) 2300 Webster St. at 23rd, Oakland, 510-832-8896.

~ADESSO~ is now offering pastries and coffee in the morning. From 8am-11:30am Mon-Sat, you’ll find espresso, Italian pastries, and a selection of salumi. Because, hey, anytime is a good time for cured meats. They’ll also have free wireless. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Grand, Oakland, 510-601-0305.