June 3, 2014

June 3, 2014

The welcoming and light-filled dining room. Photo: Wes Rowe.


The Vegetable Garden; photo by Eric Wolfinger.


The bar of The European. Photo: Wes Rowe.


The back lounge of The European. Photo: Wes Rowe.


The dining room at Aveline. Photo: Wes Rowe.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful ~AVELINE~ and its neighboring bar and lounge, ~THE EUROPEAN~, which are opening this Friday June 6th in the former La Scene in The Warwick San Francisco. It’s a fantastic downtown location, one that will especially appeal to theatergoers, industry folks who work in the area, and Union Square shoppers and workers. Chef Casey Thompson, who many of you will recognize from the early days of Top Chef, is overseeing Aveline, while The European is bar industry vet Adam Wilson’s baby (his 20-year background spans Australia, New York, Vegas, and most recently, Beretta).

The hotel (completed June 15th) and these two spaces were just massively renovated by the Dutch strategic design consultancy, UXUS. You’ll note Aveline has a lighter design sensibility, with a neutral and calming palette. There are two seating areas (one is closer to the open kitchen) with 60 seats in all (with four at a chef counter), two illuminated wine walls, tufted banquette seating in caramel, two kinds of chairs (including a very comfortable padded gray chair), and softly glowing teardrop pendant lamps and artwork (from Sarah Atkinson and Patrick Wright) that adorn the walls. There are also eye-catching honeycomb patterns in the marble tile and the woodwork above the wine walls. It’s stylish and visually interesting, and the Beaux Arts building itself is classically pretty, with arches and lots of light (the architect, Arthur Brown Jr., also designed Coit Tower).

Texas-born Thompson (she opened Shinsei in Dallas) has been living in Napa since her Top Chef appearance (her partner makes wine), and she has really enjoyed getting into the Wine Country lifestyle, cooking at wineries with gardens and pizza ovens (she says, “What’s not to love about being here?”). Thompson’s very personal cuisine style is New Californian, but she says it’s more travel-influenced than trend-influenced, and will highlight her relationships with local farms, artisans, and more (her French training and Southern roots will also be apparent). Thompson is 36, and as she puts it, she’s “hitting my culinary stride.” Her plating is elegant and dishes will be served on a variety of beautiful plates in different shapes, colors, materials, and textures. You can look at the creative menu here, which includes dishes like abalone with wood ear mushrooms ($27), succulents, and pepperoni, and fried chicken ($26) with kimchi powder and pickled vegetables.

Or you can sit at the kitchen counter, which won’t have a menu (chef’s choice!) and will feature cocktail pairings. There will also be a bar menu in The European, and while there is a burger, it won’t be your usual bar food, with “chips ‘n dip” of chicken skin “chips” with charred onion, smoked eggplant, and trout roe. It’s not all serious, though—there’s also housemade “Spam” with black grape jelly on Texas toast.

Since we’re talking about the bar menu, let’s jaunt across the hotel lobby to The European, which has a darker and slightly edgier look, and one that’s sophisticated too (it almost looks like a black lacquer box). There’s a concrete bar (with 14 seats), smoky glass, sturdy aluminum stools, and dramatic lighting (including some netted globe lights overhead)—if you count the seating in the back lounge, there are 35 seats in all. The back lounge features burnt orange tufted banquettes, gray tufted love seats, ottomans, patterned wallpaper, and neoclassical three-legged tables topped with black glass. It feels like a swanky study, with handsome touches like herringbone-patterned wood floors and filament sconces—you can pull the velvet curtains closed to block it off for private parties.

As for the cocktails, Adam Wilson is going to be serving cocktails expatriate Americans would have found in Europe during Prohibition (with a bit of an update), plus some other gems he has discovered in some rare books. Be sure to check out the “Now & Then” pairing, which features a contemporary cocktail served alongside a taste of the original drink in its vintage form. There will be some original concoctions as well, plus a number of lower-proof cocktails and aperitifs, and it ends up there will be a lot of Champagnes, including some special half-bottles. Here’s the cocktail list.

Aveline is open Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. Weekend brunch is set to start in late summer from 11am-2pm. The European is open Sun-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1am. 490 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-6430.


Khao soi at Kin Khao. Photo: © tablehopper.com.


The smoked salmon mille crêpes at Gaspar. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

If you’re looking for some new lunch options around town, well, you’re in luck. Let’s start with ~KIN KHAO~, which has reinstated lunch service Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm. You can look at the menu here, which includes the delicious pretty hot wings ($8), khao soi gai ($15), and the pork bowl ($15), with flat rice noodles, crispy belly, braised shoulder, and a runny-yolk egg in a pork broth.

~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ is now offering lunch service as well, starting Wednesday June 4th. They’ve got a selection of cheeses, as well as a charcuterie plate, lots of soups and salads, the gorgeous smoked salmon mille crêpes, and larger dishes like a burger and steak frites; here’s the menu. Plus you can enjoy one of their lighter Champagne cocktails and not end up totally blotto at 1pm. (Unless you’re having a Don Draper kind of day, then go for it.) Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm.

SFoodie noted ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~ is offering lunch specials. Right now there’s a buttermilk- and koji-brined fried chicken sandwich that sounds pretty amazing, and it’s only $10, with your choice of a Tsingtao, Coke, or ginger beer included. Score. Look for other specials coming soon—ramen is rumored.

~TWENTY FIVE LUSK~ has a new weekday lunch service, offering a $15 special each day. Mondays are braised short ribs with truffled tater tots and a syrah reduction; Tuesdays bring a smoked duck tartine with bacon, fig mostarda, wild arugula, Fontina cheese, and Portuguese bread; Wednesdays are grilled prawn soba noodles with mint, asparagus, and hoisin barbecue sauce; Thursdays it’s Fried 38 North Chicken with salt-roasted new potatoes, sausage gravy, and cucumber salad; and on Fridays, you can get a Dungeness crab roll on buttermilk pain de mie, with drawn butter and wild arugula. Lunch is Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm.

Just a little reminder that ~CHINO~ is now running with continuous hours, from 11:30am-1am, so you can come by for lunch.

And downtown, ~SCHROEDER¹S RESTAURANT~ is now offering lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am -2pm. You can check out chef Manfred Wrembel’s menu, with dishes like spaetzle (with corn, tomato, ricotta, poppy seeds), duck pastrami salad (a mix of cabbage, rye croutons, and mustard vinaigrette), and a krautburger (caramelized onions, cheddar, sauerkraut, mustard aioli, caraway fries). You can view the menu here.


Mary Risley in her element. Photo via Facebook.

Last night as I was typing away at this column, an email came in from ~TANTE MARIE’S COOKING SCHOOL~, announcing the closure of the cooking school on Francisco Street at the end of September. I know, a bunch of us have taken excellent cooking classes there, and founder Mary Risley is such an important part of our local food scene. Bless her heart for founding Food Runners in 1987, an organization that picks up excess food from businesses and delivers it directly to agencies feeding the hungry in San Francisco.

She opened the school 35 years ago, and has been teaching cooking in San Francisco for 40 years. In a way, she is going back to her roots by cooking out of her home kitchen again (it’s where she first taught her cooking classes). People will be able to book her home kitchen (it’s wonderful, complete with a beautiful garden out back) for private parties, weekend classes, and more. She has had a private group that has been coming to her home every year for 10 years straight, and she has been enjoying teaching some 10-year-olds how to cook in an after-school program (you kids don’t know how lucky you are!).

if you have a gift certificate or a credit from Tante Marie’s Cooking School, there are plenty of classes for you to take this summer before they close the school at the end of September. The lease is up for the school’s location, and Risley said there are a couple of interested parties talking to the landlord. She said she will be selling the kitchen equipment and dishes (but to be clear, she is not selling the business).

Mary, enjoy having a little more free time (but we’re glad we still have access to your encyclopedic cooking brain and skilled hands), thank you for everything you have done to make us all better cooks, and you better keep making sassy videos!


Alexander Alioto. Photo via Facebook.

Chef-partner Alexander Alioto departed Seven Hills at the end of last year, and he has a new solo project in the works, ~PLIN~, due to open in the Mission in late July. He’s moving into the former Conduit/Another Monkey space on Valencia, and will be highlighting Italian seafood and handmade pasta. A fourth-generation chef and now restaurateur, Alioto—whose family opened Alioto’s in 1925—will be recruiting the family to help with the restaurant. He says, “I’m excited to have a larger kitchen now to allow for different cooking techniques and to incorporate my family—my mother is overseeing Plin’s design and my father is lending his expert wine knowledge.” 

The menu will include his famed “raviolo uovo” (hopefully without the truffle oil this time around), as well as some namesake agnolotti dal plin stuffed with organic chicken, lemon zest, brown butter, and crispy chicken skin. Some seafood highlights include black bass carpaccio with mussel cream, lemon segments, Espelette pepper, and bread crumbs, and grilled Spanish octopus (almost a mandatory menu item these days) with confit tomatoes, bone marrow, crispy Italian butter beans, lemon juice, and sage.

The wine program will be under the direction of Master Sommeliers Nunzio Alioto Jr., Alexander’s father, and Chuck Furuya—look for some special reserve wines from Nunzio’s own cellar. Since there’s a full liquor license, bar manager Daniel Federico of Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles will be creating cocktails with fresh juices, housemade infusions, and herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the kitchen.

The restaurant is getting quite the makeover by Architects II. The gay-prison design (as a friend hilariously called the dining room’s style) will be no more—Scoop reports the conduit that was installed by designer Stanley Saitowitz is (finally) coming down. There will be 100 seats, with booths, banquette seating, a communal table, and a private dining room (for 12). Alioto’s mother, Joanne, will be integrating some elements that play on earth and sea themes, so look for walnut tabletops, a color palette with shades of blue, and some custom art pieces and unique light fixtures.

Dinner will be served Tue-Sun 5pm-11pm. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St.


A deep-dish slice from Patxi’s. Photo by Rebecca Feder.


North Beach Gyros. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Local Chicago-style deep-dish pizzeria ~PATXI’S~ is celebrating their 10th anniversary on Wednesday June 4th. To commemorate the occasion there are a lot of specials, including a free pizza party that afternoon from 3pm-4pm at every Patxi’s location. There will be pizza, beer, wine, cake, and a toast for all (anyone wearing a Patxi’s T-shirt to the party will receive a complimentary $20 gift card). Any child present who is 10 and under and has a birthday on June 4th will receive a complimentary pizza (or gift certificate for a free pizza). Space is limited, and the event is first come, first served. They’re also doing a “golden ticket” special with all deliveries on June 4th, with prizes and discounts. There are four locations in San Francisco: Fillmore, Hayes Valley, Irving, and Noe Valley. One more thing to note: Patxi’s has donated more than $315,000 to local nonprofit organizations dedicated to education and children’s health and welfare through their 52 Weeks of Giving program. Keep up the great work!

As previously reported on tablehopper, ~GREENBURGER’S~ in the Lower Haight has closed. Hoodline reports that there are actually two new tenants for the project. The first is a one-month-only pop-up called Cool Beans, from chef Tim West and business partner Derek Proudian, which will be in the space until the end of June to test out recipes for their future permanent restaurant. Then, in July, the space will be taken over by Sun Hee Lee, who owns Nara Sushi on Polk, though it doesn’t sound like the new spot will be sushi. 518 Haight St. at Fillmore.

As reported a couple of weeks ago, Mountain View ramen restaurant ~SHALALA~ is coming to Japantown. The new location is now open very softly while they get their staff and recipes up to snuff, and we had a chance to catch up with chef and partner Nobu Iwahashi to get some details. He says that the San Francisco location will be a bit different, with a new ramen broth recipe. His new recipe, he says, will eschew most of the chicken in favor of all pork bones, for a more authentic tonkotsu broth, as well as different varieties of ramen than those found in Mountain View, including the possibility of kuro tonkotsu. The grand opening will be in the middle of June. Hours are Mon, Wed-Fri 11:15am-1:30pm for lunch, 5:30pm-9pm for dinner, Sat-Sun 11:15am-9pm, closed Tue. 1737 Buchanan St. at Sutter, 415-757-0552.

It looks like there’s a new gyro place in the former Campanula space in North Beach. We spied a sign for ~NORTH BEACH GYROS~, and initial Yelp reports say that they’ve been open a for a couple of weeks, serving platters, gyros, and kebabs. 701 Union St. at Columbus, 415-655-9665.

According to Yelp and liquor license activity, the former Taishan Cafe has moved into the former Cali Pho Nia (what a name) space on Clement, and changed their name to ~THE CLAYPOT HOUSE~. The specialty is indeed claypots, along with soups and other tasty-sounding dishes. 1000 Clement St. at 11th Ave., 415-668-0838.

As previously mentioned, former 903 Cortland tenant Kinfolk is getting ready to move into a permanent home in the former Pizza Express. They’ve decided to change the name to ~3RD COUSIN~, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the new project. 919 Cortland Ave. at Folsom.

More gelato is coming our way soon, this time from East Bay maker Federico Murtagh and his ~LUSH GELATO~. We spotted the launch of his Kickstarter campaign, and Scoop added some additional details. They make their own gelato base, using Straus cream and produce from lots of local farms, and are hoping to open in August. 1817 Polk St. at Washington.


Grand Café. Photo from website.

Yet another downtown hotel restaurant has switched up their concept, and this time it’s Kimpton’s ~GRAND CAFÉ~ that’s making the shift. They’re closing after dinner service on Thursday July 31st, and will close for a full renovation and new concepting. The front part of the restaurant will become the new bar and restaurant, while the large main dining room will become a ballroom, which was actually the space’s original function. They’re staying mum for now on the incoming concept, chef, and design of the new space, but are looking to reopen in late 2014. Hat tip to Scoop.

The Richmond Blog reports that after 16 years on Clement, ~Q RESTAURANT~ is closing on Sunday June 29th. Owners Andrew Gillen and Brinn Riley have decided to close to focus on their health, and take a break from the incredible demands of restaurant ownership. Currently, there is no word on the new taker for the space. Farewell, tater tots! 225 Clement St. at 3rd Ave., 415-752-2298.


Lorenzo Petroni with wines from his winery. Photo from North Beach Restaurant website.

We were very sad to read in Scoop that Lorenzo Petroni, the owner of ~NORTH BEACH RESTAURANT~ and Petroni Vineyards, has passed away after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was an icon in North Beach, where he opened North Beach Restaurant in 1970 with partner Bruno Orsi. Many noteworthy locals were regulars and friends, including Herb Caen (who affectionately called him “il padrone” in columns) and restaurateur Michael Chiarello. Our thoughts are with all his family and friends through this difficult time. And in the words of Mr. Petroni himself, “Life is too short to drink bad wine…so salute!”


One of the tablehopper’s vintage-style T-shirts. Photo: © tablehopper.com.


Some of the newest inductees to San Francisco Heritage. Photo collage from Facebook.

Legacy Bars & Restaurants, the very cool history guide that launched last year to help commemorate and celebrate San Francisco’s oldest and most iconic establishments, has announced their final round of inductees. They include The Ramp (1950), Café Du Nord (1908), Hi Dive (1916), and Roosevelt Tamale Parlor (1919). All establishments involved in the project have been open for 40 years or more, contribute to the cultural history of their neighborhood, and feature distinctive architecture or design, so you know they’re all worth checking out.

They’ve also launched a nifty pocket guide, which is ideal for sharing with out-of-town guests (or, hello, Father’s Day walking tour!).

As many of you know, the history of San Francisco’s bars and restaurants is near and dear to the hopper’s heart, so we love this project. And hey, we’ve even got a line of vintage San Francisco bar and restaurant T-shirts that include actual logos and art from some of San Francisco’s iconic old establishments, including the Blue Fox. They’re all locally screenprinted on soft, flattering shirts, too, making them a great gift for a friend, loved one, or, hey, yourself! There’s also a cozy Blue Fox hoodie that will get you through our SF “summer.”


Azalina’s chicken curry nachos. Photo: © tablehopper.com.


Big Chef Tom’s Banh Baby, Banh burger, from last year’s Outside Lands. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

This is San Francisco, so obviously people are just as excited (if not more so) for the food, wine, and beer vendors as for the music lineup at ~OUTSIDE LANDS~ this year (August 8th-10th in Golden Gate Park). Tickets to the show are sold out, but if you’re going, it’s a good idea to target ahead of time what you’re going to want to eat. As my family says, strategery!

Like last year, there’s a mega list of food vendors. Yeah, you’ll have more than 200 food and drink options, with new additions like Chino and AQ. Returning vendors (and dishes) to look for include Del Popolo’s pizza, Nojo’s spicy chicken wings, and Wise Sons’ pastrami cheese fries. Vegetarians, you’ll want the fried plantain and black bean burrito from The Little Chihuahua. Everyone wants Rich Table’s porcini doughnuts.

Another bonus: Blue Bottle Coffee Co. will be there to perk you up, along with lots of dessert vendors at Chocolands including Humphry Slocombe and Sharona’s Chocolate Shop. Five La Cocina alumni and culinary talents join A Taste of the Bay Area this year; these include El Huarache Loco, Azalina’s, Sabores Del Sur, Endless Summer Sweets, and Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas. Cheese Lands? Cheese Lands! Sadly, though, hopper favorite Outside Lambs is no more; that lamb poutine rocked.

Beer Lands is also awesome; with Dave McLean (Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery and Alembic Bar) curating the lineup, you know you’re in good hands. There will be 30 breweries pouring 64 beers, including Calicraft Brewing, Magnolia, and Pacific Brewing Laboratory. Look for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Outside Lands Saison again, too. And of course there’s Wine Lands, led by Peter Eastlake (a Food & Wine magazine “Sommelier of the Year: 2013”) overseeing 37 winemakers pouring 120 wines, including Sean Thackrey, Paperboy Wines, and Olivia Brion.

On Saturday June 7th, check out Chipotle’s Fourth Annual Cultivate San Francisco festival. The festival is all about sustainability and food, with cooking demos from chefs, live music, and lots of food and wine to sample. Many local chefs will be participating, including Cortney Burns and Nick Balla (Bar Tartine), Sarah and Evan Rich (Rich Table), and Dennis Lee (Namu Gaji and Smokestack). It runs from 11am-7pm in Golden Gate Park’s Hellman Hollow and is free; check out the music lineup here.


The apricot rosemary tarts from Le Dix-Sept. Photo from Facebook.

Delectable pastry makers Le Dix-Sept will be popping up at Whisk on Sunday June 8th from 11am-3pm. The courtyard space will be a beautiful setting for their gorgeous, French-inspired pastry, including brioche, an apricot rosemary tart, vegetable quiche, and the “Paris-SF” cream puff. Four Barrel coffee will also be on hand. 1217B Fell St. at Divisadero.

For a classic American pop-up experience, head to ~WISE SONS DELI~, also on Sunday June 8th. They’ll be joined in the kitchen by guest Amanda Freitag of New York City’s Empire Diner for a Diner Meets Deli dinner from 5:30pm-9:30pm. Look for their take on classics like the patty melt, banana split, and a wedge salad. All items are available à la carte.

The Fortress pop-up from Eddie Lau is back on Saturday June 14th, this time at Naked Kitchen, with a “Vintage to Modern Cocktail Dinner.” All of the dishes and cocktails will be an interpretation of San Francisco’s past and present; here’s the menu. The dinner runs from 6pm-8:30pm and is followed by an evening social with cocktails and bites from 9pm-11:30pm. Tickets to the dinner are $70 including pairings and gratuity, $30 to just the social, and $95 for both. 945 Valencia St. at 20th St.


High on the Hog 2012. Photo © GammaNine Photography via Facebook.

To celebrate the new book, The Carnivore’s Manifesto, on sustainable meat practices and eating, ~AMERICANO~ is throwing a meat-tastic party with author Patrick Martins on Thursday June 12th. The evening includes a reception and live music, followed by a four-course dinner prepared by chef de cuisine Josh Perez with heritage-breed meats including chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. The reception goes from 5pm-7:30pm, and dinner goes from 7:30pm-10pm. The dinner costs $75 per person, or $110 with wine pairings, and reservations can be made here.

On Saturday June 21st, head to ~EPIC ROASTHOUSE~ for their sixth annual High on the Hog party, happening from 1pm-4pm. The porky event will feature food from multiple restaurants, including Waterbar, Southpaw, and One Market, along with pinot noir from Sandhi, MacPhail, Flowers, Pisoni, and Joseph Phelps. The event is raising funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and they’ll be bringing some puppies to meet and play with (awwww, puppies!), plus there will also be live music and games. Tickets are $65 per person.


Caesar popcorn at The Dock at Linden Street. Photo from Twitter.

East Bay Express reports that James Syhabout’s newest venture next to Linden Street Brewery, ~THE DOCK AT LINDEN STREET~, is opening this week, possibly even as early as Tuesday June 3rd (that would be today), depending on inspections. We mentioned the project back in September, and here’s a recap: Syhabout has paired up with Linden Street Brewery’s Adam Lamoreaux to create a beer-friendly restaurant. There are two parts of the space, the Beer Shed and the Dock. The Beer Shed is a casual beer garden with communal seating both inside and out, and very limited bar snacks on the menu, while the Dock is a full-service restaurant offering a wider range of dishes.

Both areas will be serving beer selected by Lamoreaux, as well as two seasonal cask beers, with beer-friendly food from around the world. All the dishes are designed for sharing, and many don’t even require a knife and fork. There will be Caesar salad-flavored popcorn, jerk chicken wings, and a marinated cucumber salad with avocado and furikake. They’ve also got a full liquor license, with shot-and-a-beer selections and punch bowls for groups. Hours at the Shed are Mon-Fri 4:30pm-close, Sat-Sun 11:30am-close (closing times are still flexible—call first!), and the Dock is open Tue-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. 95 Linden St. at 3rd St., Oakland, 510-338-3965.

Chowhounders caught the opening of the new ~DUMPLING EXPRESS~ in Berkeley. The dumplings are all made fresh to order, and initial reports on both Chowhound and Yelp are positive, citing fresh flavors and nice, thin wrappers. Also note that it’s takeout and cash only. 2328 Bowditch St. at Durant, Berkeley, no phone.

After plans to raise funds for Pi Dan Noodle House after the death of owner Allison Chen stopped, the restaurant’s space in Uptown Oakland suddenly became available. Though new owners Stacy Tang and Willy Wang are not associated with the previous ownership, their concept is similar: it’s a Taiwanese noodle house called ~TAIWAN BENTO~, the Scoop reports. Their focus will be on fast-casual for the local lunch crowd, and the industrial, modern interior will remain largely the same. They’re hoping to open as soon as July, serving lunch Mon-Fri. 412 22nd St. at Franklin.

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