March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

Trou Normand. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The back room and communal table. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Menu design and postcards. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Mural by Ebecho Muslimova, piece on the right by Lizzy Marshall. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The bar and seating at Trou Normand, including art pieces. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. As mentioned on tablehopper more than a year ago (back when it had a different name, even), Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole has a new spot in the works. It’s called ~TROU NORMAND~ and is now open in the beautiful Pacific Telephone Building at 140 New Montgomery. It’s an all-day bar and restaurant, serving breakfast in the morning straight through until dinner, with drinks and food available anytime. The idea is a little old-fashioned, not unlike old-school establishments from a bygone era that encouraged lingering at any hour of the day.

The space is a looker for sure, with soaring ceilings and windows to match. Boor Bridges (The Mill, Sightglass on 20th) designed the space, and they’ve kept the feeling contemporary without sacrificing or hiding the building’s great bones. The floor and all the cabinetry is dark oak, and all the tables as well as the impressive bar were made with reclaimed marble that was pulled out of the building’s elevator lobbies and honed to a matte finish. The walls were plastered and painted a clean white, and the ceiling was left unfinished, giving the space the feeling of an artist’s loft. Angular steel light fixtures (that match the bar’s foot rail and purse hooks) keep the space feeling tailored, and soft, tufted leather banquettes in a rich brown hue prevent it all from feeling too cold and hard.

A back room adjacent to the kitchen has a huge walnut butcher’s table, and the space can be used either as an additional prep space for the kitchen (it’s been used to butcher whole hogs recently), or as a private dining room for large groups. That’s not the only space that does double duty: the back of the entry has a sliding wall panel that opens to reveal some additional handicapped seating and a café counter for morning coffee.

Off the back is a huge outdoor patio that will feature a glass and steel canopy with integrated heaters, making the outdoor space usable year-round, rain or shine. Seth Boor, the architect on the project, reports that the building lit up at night is dramatic and quite gorgeous, and hopes that the patio will be installed in two months.

A great deal of attention has been paid to the interior design of the space, as well. Two graphic artists from New York, Erin Knutson and Grace Robinson-Leo of Study Studio, did all the art direction for the restaurant. That means that they’ve essentially “curated” a selection of art for the walls, all of it by women artists. They wanted to look at the cliché of the female nude in old-school bars through a contemporary lens. Particularly, they were looking to reexamine the 1960s bar culture, especially in France. To that end, they commissioned artist Ebecho Muslimova to design a female nude for behind the bar. It was painted by local New Bohemia Signs from a specially mixed paint made from raw milk, which gives it a more aged, matte look. Muslimova also created some humorous nude line drawings for the entryway (be sure to take a look at them) that offer a sassy take on the female nude (and charcuterie, wink).

There are also works from Allison Katz, Lizzy Marshall, Heidi Hahn, and a collective called Fort Makers. The art feels more considered than that found in many restaurants, and gives the space an almost gallery-like feeling. Fortunately, the art is playful enough that you won’t feel the need to whisper, but it does lend a cosmopolitan sophistication to the handsome space.

Knutson and Robinson-Leo were also thorough in their graphic design. The pair was responsible for crafting the menus, which are printed in classic type and then secured to slabs of glossy white acrylic and blond wood. They also created postcards that evoke a 1960s photographic pastiche, including a childhood photo of Thad Vogler. In the back, a walnut communal table can also be used for large parties (the room doubles as a private dining room).

As for the food and beverages, the cocktail list will include Armagnac, Cognac, and Calvados, much of it sourced directly from Europe. The name, Trou Normand, was inspired by a buying trip Vogler took to Normandy—it’s a tradition to throw back a shot of Calvados in preparation for or during a big meal to make room (“a Norman hole”).

You’ll see it all over the cocktail menu (all drinks $11), from the Bombay (brandy, sweet and dry vermouth, curacao, absinthe) to the Zamboanaga (Armagnac, pineapple gum, lime, maraschino). The house old-fashioned is made with Cognac, along with two types of bitters. There is also a wine list, dominated primarily by French and Italian selections. Two sparklers are available by the glass, as well as a rosé, four whites, and five reds.

The food is grounded in the charcuterie offerings, from chef Salvatore Cracco. His résumé includes Adesso and the butchery at Bar Agricole, and he’s apparently got quite the operation going on here too. He’s using Mangalitsa pigs from Devil’s Gulch Ranch to create at least 40 different varieties of cured meat, which will be available all day.

As for the rest of the menu, you’ll find breakfast items including sandwiches in the morning, while in the evening the menu focuses on larger entrées intended for sharing, like a red wine-braised pork shank ($50) or a halibut with salsa verde ($45). Sides are available as well, including choices like grilled spring onions ($7) and asparagus with brown butter and lemon ($9). For dessert, it’s ice cream ($7) only, or of course you could opt for another cocktail. Here’s the menu.

Hours will be 8am-1am eventually, but right now they’re opening at 5pm for dinner only. 140 New Montgomery St. at Natoma, 415-975-0876.


The counter and pizza oven at Il Casaro. Photo: ©


A pizza margherita at a test dinner. Photo: ©


The exterior. Photo: ©

Last week I swung by the brand-new ~IL CASARO~ in North Beach, which was running friends and family dinners and was softly open. The project is in the former Steps of Rome on Columbus, a second project for Francesco Covucci (the chef) and Peter Fazio of Vicoletto (which is just a few blocks away on Green). The Calabrese duo are offering a menu of authentic Neapolitan pizzas (yes, from a Stefano Ferrara wood-fired oven) with some classic Italian toppings ($12-$18), and I recognized the pizzaiolo previously at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Salvatore DiStefano.

The concept behind the menu is doing “cibo da strada,” the late-night street food you find in Italy, like arancini (Il Casaro’s have beef inside), fried cod, and crocchette (potato croquettes), all at a reasonable price point. There will also be pizza dough sandwiches (panuozzo) stuffed with either broccoli rabe, Italian sausage, and scamorza, or one with ground pork, pepe rosso, fennel seed, and french fries (uh-huh). Nope, there isn’t any pasta on the menu (for a change!), showing it’s not just another place geared at capturing tourists—Covucci really wants Il Casaro to appeal to locals. You can look at the opening menu here.

A highlight on the menu are the cheeses available (casaro means “cheesemaker”), which ranges from housemade fior di latte mozzarella to burrata to the rarely seen raspa dura, a cow’s milk cheese (young Lodigiano) that is shaved off the wheel and then served in a cone. Nope, no one is doing that in the city. There will also be some salumi plates too.

The space has a combination of regular tables and high-tops in the back, plus there’s a long L-shaped counter around the pizza oven. It has a simple and casual look, with lots of wood, and one fun flourish is on the wall, where Covucci had an artist paint some Italian sayings.

The wine list features all Italian wines (Campania is well represented, with falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, and Taurasi on the list, and of course I’m happy to see the Calabrese gaglioppo from Statti on there), and naturally there’s some Peroni on tap. Hours are Sun-Thu 12pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 12pm-12am. 348 Columbus Ave. at Grant, 415-677-9455.


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. As we covered last July in tablehopper, NoPa is getting a brewery and restaurant. It’s called ~BARRELHEAD BREWHOUSE~, and it comes from owner-brewer Ivan Hopkinson, who previously was the assistant brewmaster at Park Chalet. The new spot is currently softly open.

The huge space at 1745 Fulton is the former home of Fulton Street Bar (which has been vacant for soooo long), and they’ve spent months working on it. Hopkinson and his team of builders, including Kieran O’Donoghue and Gerard Murphy, have made some majors changes to the space. They took out most of a loft that created a second floor, and now have a mezzanine that looks down into a main dining room with high ceilings and brewing equipment on display.

The mezzanine will be available to rent out for large groups, and there are two communal tables, one upstairs and one down. The space has some nice, personal touches, including a woodstove in the dining room and personal trinkets embedded into the lacquer on the reclaimed wood slabs.

The bar is under the mezzanine, and there are 43 beers on tap. The taps are fitted into a big, honking torpedo for a little rocket man charm. While we’re talking about beer, Hopkinson is still getting his own brewing operation up and running. Eventually, he’ll be able to offer his own brews along with some guest handles. For now, though, they’re all guests. Look out for options from breweries like Ballast Point, Ninkasi, and Goose Island. Once Hopkinson has his own beers going, he wants to offer a broad range of selections. There will be traditional, popular styles, as well as more adventurous ones.

The food menu comes from chef Tim Tattan, who previously worked as the sous chef at Monk’s Kettle. He’s already got a signature dish, the mini Cristo (that’s a deep-fried, miniature Monte Cristo), and his menu offers lots of pub-friendly food, like fish and chips, a burger, and smoked meats. Right now, they’re just serving snacks and dinner, but look out for brunch in the future. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-2am, Sat-Sun 10am-2am, kitchen open until 1:30am (but they’re still working all that out—might be a good idea to call ahead and make sure they’re open before heading over). 1785 Fulton St. at Masonic, 415-416-6994.


Chef Melissa Perfit. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Funny how things can sometimes go full circle. Talented chef Melissa Perfit, who has most recently been running the show at ~HARD WATER~, is now back at ~BAR CRUDO~—she was back in the Crudo kitchen as of last Tuesday. I spoke with partner Tim Selvera, who said that since his brother-partner-chef Mike is busy getting their Guerneville project—Seaside Metal—ready to open, they wanted to have a qualified chef to lead at Bar Crudo. Perfit will be overhauling the menu, although classics like the chowder and lobster salad will remain. Will be nice to see you back in the neighborhood, Melissa!

Last week I checked in with partner Lana Porcello of ~OUTERLANDS~ to see how their expansion into the space next door was coming along (they’re about a month out), and she had some much larger news to share: “I also wanted to let you know of a significant change in the restaurant: after a difficult decision-making process, we have decided to part ways with chef Brett [Cooper]. As you can imagine, this was a tough choice, but one that we feel will be the best for both the restaurant and to support the growth of his career moving forward. We are currently restructuring aspects of our service and look forward to sharing our vision for the next phase of the restaurant’s direction and growth.”

Wow, I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t see that one coming. Stand by for news on who snaps up the talented Cooper—I’ve been a fan since I met him when he was cooking for Stuart Brioza at Rubicon (he has also worked at Coi and Saison). As for Outerlands, I’ll keep you posted as the reopening nears.


View of Wo Hing from the mezzanine. Photo: ©

I heard some rumors that Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone (Ame, Terra, Bar Terra) were taking over Charles Phan’s closed ~WO HING GENERAL STORE~ space on Valencia, but when I got in touch with Doumani for confirmation, all I got was “Can’t talk swamped by tax work. Rumors are generally rumors or outdated.”

Not that outdated, actually, and I guess someone got her taxes done since the Scoop ran the news that they are in fact taking it over just four days after I got in touch. Phan will still own the building, but Doumani and Sone have bought the liquor license. Look for an opening in July or August; details about the concept and design are slim for now.


Sammy’s ahi tuna poke bowl (with an egg!). Photo courtesy of Sammy’s Aloha.

The to-go window at ~BUTTERFLY~ has morphed from Pan Grill (we previously mentioned it here) into Sammy’s Aloha, under the watchful eye of Sammy Kong Kee, a two-time ahi poke recipe contest winner both here and in Hawaii. The kitchen is still stuffing the same awesome housemade milk buns, but now the menu is doing more of a farm-to-table Hawaiian vibe, with the Porky Boy ($8, kalua-style pork, hoisin barbecue sauce, and kimchi), Ono BBQ Chicken Sandwich ($8, Kewpie mayo, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, fried onions), and a burger ($8, teriyaki glaze, sriracha rémoulade, and caramelized onion jam)—all the meat and poultry is natural. Well, except if you see some Spam on the menu, and you know it’s from Hormel.

There are also some rice bowls (ahi poke and loco moco, oh, you know it), noodle bowls, salads, bao, and more: check out the menu here. Check out the Spammy Fries ($5), with fried sushi rice and salmon roe. Fun fact: the rice is from the famous Ikeda’s market up in Auburn (both Yumegokochi white rice and black Thai sticky rice). Swing by the takeout window on the south side of the restaurant from Tue-Sun (11am-3pm). Pier 33, The Embarcadero at Bay, 415-864-8999.


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

A Twitter tip from Cafe Flore tipped us off to some changes at recently opened ~BRASS KNUCKLE~, and a call to the restaurant revealed some details. It turns out that Brass Knuckle has been bought by Tina Zamacona, and original owner Shellie Kitchen is no longer there (though she does still own a small percentage of the business). Zamacona has made some tweaks to the recipes, brought on a new chef, and added some decorative changes to the space, including a mural on the wall. 749 Larkin St. at O’Farrell, 415-567-2233.

It looks like Shellie Kitchen is the new chef at ~CAFE FLORE~, according to their Facebook page. She also seems to have a new pop-up called Shot Gun that may or may not be popping up at Cafe Flore; unfortunately we weren’t able to get any information from either party, but we’ll let you know when we hear anything! 2298 Market St. at Noe, 415-621-8579.

~THE CORNER STORE~ is now serving brunch six days a week, Tue-Sun (they’re closed Mondays). The new menu includes items from their weekend brunch menu, as well as some of their lunchtime favorites. The biscuit stack, chicken and grits, and burger are just a few of the items to keep your lipid levels elevated. 10am-3pm Tue-Sun.

As previously reported on tablehopper, there have been some changes at the Outer Richmond’s former Fredy’s Ocean Beach Deli. Owner Fredy sold the business to longtime employee David Nottage last year, and Nottage and his wife Joanne have reopened it as ~KAWIKA’S OCEAN BEACH DELI~. The Nottages have kept many of the hallmarks of the deli intact: they’re still making their own sourdough bread, roasting turkey and beef in-house, and many of the beloved daily specials remain. They’ve added a few Greek items to the menu, and you’ll also find beer and wine available for dine-in or takeout. Hours are currently Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-5:30pm, though they’ll stay open until 7:30pm in the future. 734 La Playa St. at Cabrillo, 415-221-2031.

Chowhound has news that there is a new Xi’an-style restaurant in the Outer Sunset, called ~TERRA COTTA WARRIOR~. The restaurant specializes in the food of Shaanxi province, with hand-pulled noodles, a variety of cold dishes, and lamb roujiamo (kind of like an awesome burger). For an in-depth look, check out Gary Soup’s review at Full Noodle Frontity, and check his Flickr page for menus. 2555 Judah St. at 31st Ave., 415-681-3288.

Driving around in SoMa, I noticed a huge banner announcing the arrival of ~CHANTAL GUILLON~ at 1309 Howard St. This popular maker of macarons is moving their kitchen in SoMa to this bigger location—seems there has been a high demand at their Hayes Street and Palo Alto stores. Guillon is still in the process of deciding if she will have a storefront at this location as well, in addition to the new kitchen, so stand by for an update from us if that’s going to happen. 1309 Howard St. at 9th St.

There’s a new pie to check out at Tony Gemignani’s restaurants, including ~CAPO’S~, ~TONY’S PIZZA NAPOLETANA~, and ~TONY’S OF NORTH BEACH~. They’ve been working on it for six months, it’s called the sausage and stout pizza, and the dough is made with Guinness (who we are currently loving for dropping their sponsorship of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because of the parade’s rule barring LGBTQ groups from participating). Anyway, the pizza also has housemade sausage, caramelized onions, fontina, green onion, and a Guinness reduction. Yep, that’s a pie to hork. There are only 23 made each day, so claim yours early.


The counter at Andytown. Photo courtesy Andytown.

As previously reported in tablehopper, husband-and-wife team Michael McCrory and Lauren Crabbe are bringing ~ANDYTOWN~, a new coffee roaster and café, to the Outer Sunset. We’ve been tracking them for some time, and the pair are getting ready for their grand opening this Saturday March 22nd (hurrah!), after some pretty major construction delays. McCrory is roasting their coffee on a small roaster, including an espresso blend named after the neighborhood in Belfast his father is from.

On the food side of things, many of McCrory’s family recipes will be used to make pastries and bread in-house. There’s soda bread cooked in cast iron, served with preserves, as well as bread and cookies. Hours are Tue-Thu 7am-12pm, Fri 7am-3pm, Sat 8am-3pm, Sun 8am-12pm. Eventually, they plan to open daily 7am-7pm. 3655 Lawton St. at 43rd Ave., 415-753-9775.


The Tavern at Lark Creek. Photo from Facebook.

Eater reports (via Bernalwood) that ~903 CORTLAND~ by Matsumi Takhara (of Sandbox Bakery) has closed in order to focus more on the catering side of the business. It sounds like the evening pop-ups (Kinfolk, Nute’s Noodle Night) will continue for now, and 903’s sandwiches and more will be on the to-go menu at Sandbox Bakery. 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

This one’s a bummer. According to a post on their Facebook page, the ~HAPA SF~ truck has closed up shop. Chef-owner William Pilz says he has started working at The Moss Room at the Academy of Sciences and is serving Hapa’s dishes on Thursday nights. He is hoping that more Filipino cuisine will make an appearance on the menu there moving forward too. Best of luck, William, and we can’t wait to keep eating your food wherever you go!

~THE TAVERN AT LARK CREEK~ suffered a fire in the kitchen on Saturday morning. No one was hurt, thank goodness, though the restaurant will be closed for an unspecified amount of time while repairs are made. Hopefully they’ll be back up and running soon! 234 Magnolia Ave at William, Larkspur. 415-924-7766.


Photo medley from a previous Bay Cuisine & Cocktails pop-up (via Facebook).

Chef Jonnatan Leiva, who is back from his five-year tour of cooking in New York and gearing up to open ~BAY CUISINE & COCKTAILS~ here in SF (it’s going to be in SoMa), is hosting a second pop-up on Monday March 24th at ~THE CORNER STORE~. Leiva has most recently been cooking at Penrose in Oakland, and has left the kitchen there to focus on his own project (he is partnering with Khalid Lahlou and Chris Wright on Bay). Bay just launched their Kickstarter campaign; check it out and you can learn more about the restaurant concept.

So, the pop-up. Guests will be seated simultaneously, either at 6pm or 8:30pm. You can read the four-course menu here, hearalding the coming of spring. Each of the four courses will be paired with a handcrafted cocktail (created by Chris Wright and Tomofei Osipenko) or a glass of wine. $75, all inclusive. Get your tickets here.

It looks like Michael Black, of the recently shuttered Sebo, is going to be popping up at ~LOCAL’S CORNER~ on Sunday nights for a while. He’ll be preparing super-fresh, super-local plates, not unlike his chirazushi lunch plates currently available at Local Mission Market. The rice, fish, vinegar, and miso are all from California. He’ll also include some of Sebo’s non-fish specialties on the menu, like pork leg with kimchi. Look for salads with Japanese produce from Mariquita Farm too. Reservations can be made here. (H/t Scoop).


The end of an era: the Tasting Tent at SF Chefs, now Eat Drink SF. Photo © Gamma Nine Photography.

San Francisco’s celebration of all things comestible, SF Chefs, has changed its name to Eat Drink SF, and moved from its Union Square location to Fort Mason. The move comes about because the festival has become so well attended that it had simply outgrown the smaller Union Square location. Look out for more chefs participating, as well as more culinary tours and dinners happening all around the city.

The festival will continue to be focused around the tasting tent, though now it will be called the Tasting Pavilion. You’ll still find chefs serving bites, and great wines and spirits on offer, and of course lots of special dinners and demonstrations. Tickets to the event, which is happening this year from July 27th-August 3rd, will go on sale May 15th. Don’t miss out! Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd. at Laguna.


The stylish interior of Molina. Photo: Gamma Nine Photography.

There’s a stylish new spot in downtown Mill Valley ~MOLINA~ from chef-owner Todd Shoberg, who has worked in kitchens for the past 20 years at places like Town Hall Restaurant and Liberty Café (alongside Julia McClasky); he also helped Ed Carew open the Cottage Eatery. Most recently he was the executive chef at Piatti Mill Valley and culinary director for the Moana Restaurant Group.

This project is an intimate one, and very chef-driven: the space was originally a house and is centered around a historic Alan Scott) oven (the name, Molina, is a reference to someone who manages a mill). The menu very much reflects our local aesthetic: casual, farm-driven, wood-fired, and California coastal. The daily menu will highlight what’s freshest; take a look here.

The wine list was assembled by Jason Ruppert (sommelier and estate educator for Littorai Wines), highlighting local, small-production, and family-owned wineries.

The 55-seat space was designed by Claro, and it’s meant to have a welcoming, homey feel—there are some Nordic design elements (Shoberg is Norwegian and Finnish) mixing with a Northern California vibe. Open nightly for dinner 5pm-10pm. 17 Madrona St., Mill Valley, 415-383-4200.


A pizza fresh from the new oven at Cugini Manzone. Photo from Facebook.

We first mentioned this project back in November, and now it’s open, according to Diablo Dish. ~CUGINI MANZONE~ is from owner Giuseppe Manzone, with his brother Michele and sister-in-law Leslie. They’ve installed a wood-burning oven from Italy, and will be using it to prepare wood-fired pizzas. The menu also offers salads, antipasti, and larger entrée dishes, as well. They are open for lunch, dinner, and in between for spuntino, when smaller snacks will be available. Hours will be Mon-Sat 11am-10pm and Sun 11am-9pm; right now, they’re opening at 5pm Mon-Sat and 4pm Sun. 2930 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley. 510-649-8600.