April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014
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A look into the new Souvla. Photo: Jen Pelka.

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The communal table with a picture of my new hero on the wall. Photo: Jen Pelka.

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Souvla time! Photo courtesy of Souvla.

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The fantastic fries. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week I was happy to attend a preview party for ~SOUVLA~, a brand-new souvlaki place in Hayes Valley. You may remember when I wrote about the concept a couple of years ago, when Greek American chef-owner Charles Bililies was still looking for investors and a location. Isn’t it great when ideas come true? Especially when souvlaki is involved—something this city has been sorely lacking (sorry, the gyro places with mystery meat don’t count).

He is definitely doing a Bay Area spin on things: the spit-roasted meats (the “souvla” is literally the rotisserie rod/roasting spit) are all-natural, hormone-free meats (the chickens are Rocky Jr. from Petaluma, the lamb from a collective of Northern California farms, and the pork is from Homestead Farms). Each souvlaki ($9-$11) has its own combo of ingredients, from feta or mizithra, and sauces like harissa-spiked yogurt or minted yogurt. There’s also a vegetarian version with roasted vegetables. The pita is notably soft and pillowy—it’s their proprietary recipe made especially for them by a South Bay bakery specializing in flatbreads and pitas, delivered fresh daily.

Here’s the opening menu. There are some crazy-delicious fries you will need to order—they’re tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and topped with mizithra cheese (a salty sheep’s milk cheese from Greece). Oh yeah, and there are also fries with the drippings. Yup. For dessert, there are some different toppings you can get on frozen Greek yogurt ($4-$5), like baklava crumbles, sour cherry syrup, or Greek olive oil and flaky sea salt. There are Greek wines on the list, plus some Greek beer too (opa!).

It’s a fast-casual setup (you order at the counter), with 35 seats in all. Bililies ended up taking over the former Sebo location, and the room feels completely different, with light coming in from the skylight, a couple bars made of white oak with custom-aged copper trim, and Carrara marble penny tile. There is a communal table (with a copper top, the same as the high-top bar tables). To complete the airy feeling, the front windows open up to the sidewalk. There’s a wraparound bar with three outdoor bar stools, plus a counter with stools both in and outside. Be sure to check out the hanging pots, which are vintage pieces from his grandfather’s Boston restaurant.

Hours are Tue-Sun 11am-10pm. 517 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-400-5458.

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The UP sign with some golf balls and putters. Photo: Kristen Loken.

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Chef Dane Boryta in front of the Duck Shoot Hole. Photo: Kristen Loken.

It’s about that time to check in on ~URBAN PUTT~, which has set an opening date of May 5th. Here are the latest details on what will be San Francisco’s first miniature golf course (with 14 holes!), two bars, and a restaurant. To recap, this upcoming Mission project is from Steve Fox, previously editorial director of PC World, editor in chief of InfoWorld, and editorial director of CNET. The location was previously Driscoll’s Mortuary, and has been vacant since 1999 (hopefully one of the spots on the mini golf course is a creepy crypt, bwah ha ha!).

Back in January, we mentioned that the chef is Dane Boryta, most recently at Bottle Cap in North Beach. It’s a full-service restaurant called UP at Urban Putt (it’s upstairs), and will be offering “comforting Americana cuisine,” with dishes like a wedge salad with blue cheese; six kinds of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza; and poutine with duck confit, hand-cut fries, cheese curds, and peppercorn gravy. Entrées include slow-roasted baby back ribs with heirloom cannellini beans, jambalaya, and braised artichokes with mushroom and English pea filling. Take a first look at the menu here.

You’ll also be able to get some Fairway Bites while on the mini golf green, like corn dogs, pretzel twists, and fried chicken and waffle skewers. Or if you’re hanging out at the bar, the Bar Bites menu will include fried chicken thighs, a burger, pulled pork sliders, grilled cheese and tomato soup, and more. There are also two private dining rooms, with room for 14 people upstairs and 25 in the salon downstairs.

The bar was originally going to be run by the Bon Vivants, but it looks like it’s just beer and wine for now. Colin Carroll has been named the bar manager—his background includes Elixir Saloon and Paul K Restaurant, plus some Portland locations—and he’ll be highlighting some local brews (including a custom beer from the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company) and concocting some low-proof cocktails until Urban Putt gets its full liquor license. There’s a bar upstairs at UP (with the restaurant, it comes to 70 seats total) and another bar downstairs, with room for 35.

The course itself is going to be pretty high tech, and they have assembled quite the team of local designers, robotics engineers, welders, and artists to make it a really cool experience. San Francisco architect Matt Hollis (who also designed Mission Bowling Club) is behind the design of the space. Look for custom ironwork, and other touches like wood and copper bar tops and Victorian-style light sconces.

Urban Putt will be open seven days a week, offering dinner every night, plus weekend brunch. Snacks, beverages, and appetizers will be available at the bar whenever Urban Putt is open. Mini golf will be available throughout operating hours. No one under 21 years of age will be admitted after 8pm. 1096 South Van Ness Ave. at 22nd St.

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

As spring ramps up, there are some new places to get your lunch on. First, ~TROU NORMAND~ in the Financial District has added lunch hours as of Monday April 7th. The menu includes sandwiches, along with smaller bites for sharing, like arancini, a housemade charcuterie plate, and salt-and-vinegar potato chips. Hours are 11am-2:30pm, and breakfast hours are coming soon too. 140 New Montgomery St. at Natoma, 415-975-0876.

~A16~ San Francisco in the Marina is now open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm. The menu includes pizza, pasta dishes, and a broad selection of smaller dishes, including a tuna conserva panzanella. There is also a $20 tasting menu on offer, which includes three courses with choices that change regularly. Call for reservations.

~HAKKASAN~ has added a selection of affordable lunch dishes to their menu, and all of them are priced at only $5.50 each. Choices include braised pork trotters in ginger and soy sauce, or stir-fry roasted duck with chile in Szechuan sauce; check out all the choices here. And it’s a pretty gorg location for lunch, so enjoy.

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Get your eggs Benny from Slow Club any day of the week. Photo from Facebook.

Looking for a new brunch spot? Well, ~SLOW CLUB~ has long offered weekend brunch, but now it’s going to be available during the week too. Starting on Monday April 14th, you can get their eggs Benedict, fried egg sandwich, and frittata any day of the week. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm.

On Sundays, you can now enjoy brunch with live jazz at ~CAMPTON PLACE RESTAURANT~ from 11:30am-2:30pm. The menu offers a blend of traditional dishes, like smoked salmon with bagel and cream cheese, or items with a stronger Indian influence, like the appam: a fermented-rice crêpe with eggs and curry sauce. In addition, they’ve got a broad selection of bubbles by the glass, plus brunch cocktails. From 12pm-2:30pm, the George Lacson Trio will keep things jazzy with live music.

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A hot slice from Josey Baker. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Have you had a chance to hit the Monday night pizza party by Josey Baker at ~THE MILL~? Not yet? Well, lucky you, because they decided to make it a permanent thing! Yes! And they’re working on a preordering system for those of you coming in for an entire pizza. Also in the Josey department, his book (Josey Baker Bread) is being released this month! There are all kinds of cool events around the launch, including a pizza party at The Mill on Monday April 14th (with taco pizza!) and a special event at State Bird Provisions on Tuesday April 22nd. Check it all out here.

More local people rocking it: at the 30th Annual International Pizza Expo in Vegas, ~CAPO’S~ chef Matt Molina and ~TONY’S PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ chef Laura Meyer both received first place in their divisions (Matt won American Pan, and Laura won Nontraditional). Matt Molina also won the ultimate title of “World Champion Pizza Maker of the Year.” Go on!

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Hi Lo’s exterior. Photo by Nader Khouri.

As previously reported on tablehopper, ~HI LO~ is now closed. In its place, look for the brick-and-mortar from David Barzelay of the Lazy Bear pop-up.

It looks like ~DIXIE~ in the Presidio has closed. Eater reports that they are not longer taking reservations, and a visit to the restaurant revealed a quiet, locked space, and it looks like their website is down. No word yet on exactly what happened or what future plans for the space might be. 1 Letterman Dr. at Lyon.

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

To celebrate the beginning of Giants baseball season, Show Dogs will be serving a special menu at ~SLOW CLUB~ until Friday April 11th. The menu offers a special dish at lunch, happy hour, and dinner. At dinner, check out a charcuterie plate with pâté, duck liver mousse, and basturma (totally delicious dry-aged beef), or a cassoulet with boar sausage, ham hock, and duck confit. Yowza. Lunch served Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, happy hour 5pm-6pm, and dinner Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm.

According to Yelp and liquor license activity, Tara Restaurant on 2nd Street is now ~NORTH INDIA~. The menu includes lots of Northern Indian staples, including tandoori choices, and they’re offering free delivery citywide and a lunch buffet. 123 2nd St. at Mission, 415-348-1234.

The Bayview Underground Food Scene Community Market is now happening every Thursday at Pier 70, starting this Thursday April 10th. It’s from 5:30pm-8pm, and you’ll find food from Radio Africa, Fox & Lion Bread, Auntie April’s, and All Good Pizza, as well as beverages from Gratta Wines and SF Mead. You can also check out local artists, kid’s activities, and live music. Pier 70, 20th St. at Illinois.

The other day I noticed the windows of the recently opened ~NEW CENTRAL CAFE~ were papered over. I checked in with the owners and was sorry to learn the chef, Gustavo, was ill and needed to get off his feet. Alas, the amazing chorizo burger is gone (for now). Stand by for something new to reopen in the space in May. Get better, Gustavo! 301 S. Van Ness Ave. at 14th St., 415-722-0601.

Fabulous Oakland shop ~UMAMI MART~ has been popping up at The Perish Trust in San Francisco for a while now. Well, now they are here to stay, and that means it’s time to celebrate. They’re throwing a block party with their neighbors on Thursday April 10th from 6pm-9pm, with taiko drumming from Emeryville Taiko, 1970s Japanese funk music from DJ Spaziale, Japanese street food from Casa de Kei, and brisket from 4505 Meats. The event is completely free, with all food and drinks available for purchase. 728 Divisadero St. at Grove, 510-250-9559.

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Chicken nanban, a Miyazaki-style dish at Izakaya Roku. Photo from Facebook.

Hoodline reports that ~IZAKAYA ROKU~ has a new chef. Well, actually, two new chefs: it turns out that owner Jay Hamada made friends with a pair of brothers from his hometown in Miyazaki, Japan, and now the pair is running the kitchen. They’re still in the process of tweaking the menu, and have been testing out country-style dishes from Miyazaki to see what gets the best response. 1819 Market St. at Pearl, 415-861-6500.

~JOLT ‘N BOLT~, the café in Dogpatch from Mary and Gerhard Michler, has a new chef running the show: Allison Owens. She’s put together a menu of dishes entirely from scratch, with many specials that change daily. Check out the café’s Twitter feed for the day’s specials; some recent selections included Thai green curry with chicken, a Cajun turkey burger, and country frittata with vegetables. Hours are Mon-Fri 7:30am-4pm. 948 Illinois St. at 20th St., 415-863-8761.

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The delightful Azalina Eusope. Photo by Tim Benson.

Here’s a trio of folks who could use your help in getting their projects off the ground, please take a look! All the projects come with some great perks, so please read about them and give what you can!

First, the lovely Azalina Eusope of ~AZALINA’S MALAYSIAN~ is gearing up for her first brick-and-mortar location, in the Twitter building, this September, but in the meantime, she has sadly lost access to the very important commercial kitchen space she uses for catering, wholesale, and her packaged goods. She found a space to lease and build her own kitchen that’s big enough for all her needs, but she really needs some help to get it built. Here’s her MoolaHoop campaign—please be sure to watch her video!

~MARLA BAKERY~ will be launching their new brick-and-mortar bakery in the Outer Richmond on May 31st, and want to create a garden space in the back (for guests can enjoy) in addition to fruit trees, an herb garden, and more, all designed by Paxton Gate. Here’s their Kickstarter; you’ve got until May 1st to contribute. 3619-21 Balboa St. at 37th Ave.

Lastly, any of you gluten-free folks should take a look at the new magazine that Erika Lenkert will be launching in Fall 2014, Gluten-Free Forever. It will be beautifully designed and photographed, and as a lot of us know, launching a magazine isn’t cheap. Here’s their Kickstarter.

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Chef David Wilcox of Soused. Photo from Facebook.

This month at ~VINYL~, check out the Soused pop-up from chef David Wilcox, who got a lot of buzz while he was at Mill Valley Beerworks, and was previously at Gjelina in Los Angeles. The pop-up is vegetable-focused, with an emphasis on marinated, pickled, and “drenched in sauce” (or soused) preparations. A sample menu mentions turkey legs with charmoula, and cured trout with avocado toast, though the menu is subject to change. Currently, you can book a seat for Saturday and Sunday April 12th and 13th, and seatings are at 6pm, 8pm, and 10pm. The dinner costs $40 per person, and proceeds benefit Ida B. Wells High School. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, but you can email for reservations for parties of six or more. 359 Divisadero St. at Oak, 415-621-4132.

For a spring evening outdoors, check out Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Dinner on Saturday April 19th at Devil’s Gulch Ranch. Chefs Omri Aflalo, David Bazirgan, Jason Halverson, Laurence Jossel, and William Werner will each create one of the evening’s five courses. Each course will be paired with a cocktail from Adam Reaume, featuring Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel whiskey. Tickets to the event are $150 each, and proceeds benefit Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center in the Tenderloin. The dinner is from 6pm-9pm, but if you arrive at 4pm you can tour the ranch too (it’s included). Parking is at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company starting at 5:30pm for dinner, 3:30pm for the tour. 5300 Nicasio Valley Rd., Nicasio, 310-721-1403.

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The new signage at Doukkala. Photo from Doukkala’s blog.

Tanjia in Oakland has changed names and concepts, and is reopening on Wednesday April 16th as ~DOUKKALA~. The new concept has a California-Moroccan menu and a new chef, Eric Lanvert (previously at SF’s Rue Saint Jacques), according to East Bay Express. On the menu, there are two versions of quail pastilla, as well as a lamb couscous with oxtail, merguez, duck, and vegetables. Take a look at the menu here. Hours are Tue-Sun 5pm-10:30pm, closed Mondays. 4905 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland, 510-653-8691.

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Guisell Osorio serving at the market. Photo courtesy La Cocina.

La Cocina alum Guisell Osorio has been making superlative empanadas, alfajores, and other South American specialities for years now (she was La Cocina’s very first business!), and now she’s opening her very own brick-and-mortar location. ~SABORES DEL SUR~ is opening in Walnut Creek on Thursday April 17th, in a former La Salsa chain location. The café, which will also serve as her operation’s bakery, will be serving Osorio’s empanadas, classic alfajores, sandwiches, and pastel de choclo, a meat and vegetable pie made with corn. Brava! 3003 Oak Rd. at Wayne, Walnut Creek, 925-954-8300.

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