July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014
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Cured hamachi with lemongrass, avocado, pumpernickel. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Huang Photography.

File this one under intimate and intriguing: this fall, Charles-C Onyeama is going to be opening a 15-table restaurant in the Noe Valley/Bernal Heights area, ~CHARIN~, that will only operate approximately one weekend per month. Diners will make reservations online, and a seven- to eight-course tasting menu of haute cuisine will be served. (Each weekend will be designed as a unique experience; the menu will be posted ahead of time on the website.) Wine pairings will also be available.

Onyeama, a self-taught chef, worked as a private chef for three years and then staged at top places like SPQR, Benu, and Manresa (for up to six months at each). He’s a California native, but has spent more than 10 years living in Japan, exploring the culture and cuisine. His team also has experience in top local restaurants, like Saison, Coi, Baume (Palo Alto), and Atelier Crenn.

The space will feature “custom conceptual design pieces” designed by Franc Zamudio (Mod Timber). You can sign up on the waiting list for a spot, which will be confirmed once the opening date is set (reportedly around the end of August or early September). Since there are just 15 tables, reservations will primarily be for parties of two; four-person tables will be available on a limited basis. Stand by for more in the coming weeks.

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Oysters, crab and shrimp cocktail, and mussels at Ferry Plaza Seafood’s previous location. Yelp photo by Tracy T.

As previously reported on tablehopper, after ~FERRY PLAZA SEAFOOD~ left the Ferry Building last year, they found a new location on Union Street in North Beach. We got word that the new space is officially opening its doors on Monday July 28th.

The restaurant has a new team after the move, with an expanded menu and new oyster selections. In addition to fresh seafood, there’s a new beer and wine list designed to pair well with the food. Local beer selections include Fort Point Manzanita and Fort Point Park, as well as Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo and Anchor Steam. In the coming weeks, they will also begin offering happy hour specials, with a menu of small bites like a prawn cocktail, mini crab cakes with heirloom tomato sauce, and crab salad with avocado and micro-mustard green salad. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-10pm and Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Closed Sunday. 653 Union St. at Columbus, 415-274-2561.

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A peek into the new Le Marais Bistro space, which flanks the bakery (at left). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Fruits de mer. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Whipped burrata with Armenian cucumber, fried olive, and fennel pollen. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Saffron sciallatielli with clams, mussels, scallops, and tomatoes. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Panna cotta with plum cardamom sorbet. Photo courtesy Le Marais.

A report by Dana Eastland: Last week I had a chance to check out the new menu coming to ~LE MARAIS BISTRO AND BAKERY~ in August. As previously reported on tablehopper, the bakery in the Marina has expanded to include a kitchen and additional seating, and will be serving a bistro-style dinner menu starting within the next few weeks. They’ve brought on a new team in the kitchen, with Nicolette Manescalchi as executive chef, Emily Riddell on pastry, and Ty Mecozzi as head baker.

Mecozzi and Riddell have already been working with the bread and pastry at the café, while the kitchen ramps up for dinner service, which should begin in August. The menu is small and elegant, and Manescalchi is taking inspiration from the many different food traditions along the Mediterranean. She previously worked at A16, where she was immersed in the food of Southern Italy, and told me she has really enjoyed learning more about food traditions from a broader geographic region. There are touches of North African spice, as well as influence from Southern France, and, of course, it all has California’s seasonality and flair.

They’ve got an oak wood grill in the kitchen, which is allowing them to cook over open flame. You can look at the current menu here, but it will be changing regularly. Of course, the produce will change seasonally, but the meat and seafood selections will also shift constantly. Because they are butchering most of their meat in-house from whole animals (and the place is quite small), it’s likely that one protein will be featured prominently on the menu until it’s gone, and then a new animal will show up. In fact, almost everything on the menu will be made in-house, including the pastas, cured fish, and, of course, the bread.

I started my meal with the fresh fruits de mer, with house-cured anchovies and dukka (an Egyptian spice blend with nuts), smoked and fresh oysters, and a Lake Tahoe crawfish crudo. The oysters are smoked by sous chef Leslie Miller-Dancy (she’s the kitchen’s unofficial “smokemaster,” according to Manescalchi) in their liquor and at a very low temperature to preserve their delicate flavor and texture. Other starter-size dishes include the whipped burrata with fried olive, fennel pollen, and cucumber. I was skeptical about whipping burrata, since the texture is so specific and such a part of the burrata experience, but it totally worked.

There is a small selection of pasta on the menu, including the saffron scialatielli with clams, mussels, and scallops. This dish is based on the “celebration” pastas from the Amalfi coast, which are prepared for special occasions. They’ve added saffron to up the ante, too. Manescalchi has a light touch with seafood, and you’ll see it popping up all over the menu, from the fruits de mer to the anchovy croutons on the salad to the salmon en papillote.

Riddell has already been working on pastries at the bakery, as well as some ice creams and sorbets to serve with plated desserts. A plum sorbet with cardamom totally rocked, and there are delightful edible flowers sprinkled all over her creations, so pretty. Again, the focus seems to be on using bold flavors and seasonings, but with a light, delicate touch for balanced results.

Le Marais Bakery and Bistro will open for dinner sometime in August (of course we’ll let you know the exact date), and hours will be Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. The bakery, which is currently open daily 7am-7pm, will begin closing earlier once dinner service begins. 2066 Chestnut St. at Mallorca, 415-359-9801.

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Wrecking Ball coffee. Photo from Facebook.

Local duo Nicholas Cho and Trish Rothgeb of ~WRECKING BALL COFFEE~ now have their own space in Cow Hollow, Eater reports. The pair, who have been working out of Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal, are opening their very own stand-alone shop in the former That Takes the Cake space on Union Street. Mission residents will still be able to get their coffee at the Kitchen Communal, though—they’re not moving out of that space. Rothgeb will serve as the roaster, while Cho will run the barista and brew side of things. Marla Bakery will provide the pastries, and there will be a bar where customers can sit and watch their coffee being made while talking with baristas about the process. They will also have a retail space to sell their beans, as well as Kalita brewing supplies from Japan. Right now, they plan to open Friday August 1st (so soon!), pending inspections. 2271 Union St. at Steiner.

Just can’t get enough coffee? Don’t miss CoffeeCon on Saturday July 26th, a special one-day festival of all things caffeine and coffee. It offers a chance to taste coffee from all over the world, explore different roasting techniques, and learn about different brewing techniques. It’s happening at Terra Gallery from 9am-4pm, and tickets are $20 per person. 511 Harrison St. at 1st St.

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Roli Roti’s famed porchetta. Photo via Facebook.

Some great news for Thomas Odermatt, the CEO of Roli Roti (aka the Maestro of Rotisserie, LOL): after an extensive search, he has found a new (and much larger) commissary in Oakland. What does this mean for us? Odermatt is going to be able expand Roli Roti’s catering service and product lines later this fall, and you’ll be able to get some products at your local grocery store. He’s planning to create small versions of porchetta, offer unique and different cuts of chicken (he’s working on a version of a small chicken porchetta right now, bring it on), and marinated chicken cuts. He will also be serving more salads and sides at the farmers’ markets too. Odermatt has come a long way since his company launched in 2002—Roli Roti now has six food trucks that hit 38 farmers’ markets in the Bay Area. Congrats on your well-earned success, Thomas, and we look forward to more of your delicious and carefully sourced and crafted food.

Looking for a classy brunch spot? The recently reopened ~BIG 4~ is now offering Sunday brunch from 10:30am-2:30pm. The menu has some seriously hearty egg dishes, like eggs in the hole with short ribs, polenta, and jus, or fried with milk-braised pork, cranberry beans, and salsa verde. And who can say no to smoked trout with cucumbers, watercress, pistachio, and crème fraîche? Of course, brunch cocktails will also be available. Take a look at the menu and drink list here.

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Villa Romana. Photo from Facebook.

After almost 60 years in the Inner Sunset, Italian restaurant ~VILLA ROMANA~ has closed, according to Inside Scoop. The family-run business is owned by Antonio and Giulia Accardo, who are both in their 70s and ready to retire, so this is a bittersweet end to the restaurant (the vintage interior is pretty amazing—I wish someone would just come in and keep the space exactly as it is). Their last day was Sunday July 20th, and the Accardos are looking to spend some time with their family. 731 Irving St. at 9th Ave.

~CUCO’S~, the homey Mexican-Salvadorean restaurant in Lower Haight, may have to close. According to Hoodline, Domingo and Carmen Campos have been served with eviction papers and will have to vacate the space within 30 days. The couple’s daughter, Judy, says that they are going to do all they can to either stay where they are or find a new location. In the meantime, stop by and get one of their famed plantain burritos while you can. 488 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-863-4906.

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Uncle Brother’s fried chicken. Photo by Wes Rowe.

Oh boy. There’s now another place where you can stuff your face with delicious crispy-fried chicken. Wes Rowe of WesBurger and his brother Walker Rowe are going to be serving fried chicken at their new pop-up, Uncle Brother’s Chicken, every Tuesday evening from 6pm-10pm at The Residence. The first one is actually tonight, July 22nd, and will continue regularly from now on. The menu will change weekly, featuring different fried chicken styles from around the world (not unlike the WesBurger concept). This week’s menu features Southern-style fried chicken, with pimento mac and cheese and fried okra. 718 14th St. at Church, 415-797-8866.

On Friday August 15th, ~LA COCINA~ will be gearing up for the San Francisco Street Food Festival on Saturday August 16th (you’ve got it on your calendar, right?) with a Friday Night Fried Chicken Family Meal. It’s all happening from 6pm-10pm at the SoMa STreat Food Park, and promises to be a cluckin’ good time. Here’s how it works: when you arrive, you receive a basket and a full, refillable flask. You walk around, visiting various vendors, and fill your basket with lots of fried chicken goodness. Oh, and maybe nip on that flask a little too. Fried chicken purveyors include the likes of Hopscotch in Oakland, the long lost Korean fried chicken from To Hyang, and Feirinha Gastronomica (hailing from Brazil!). There will also be a ton of delectable sides to check out, like a mac and cheese bar from Baia Pasta and cheese biscuits. Drinks will be from Rye on the Road and Campari. Tickets are on a sliding scale, starting at $50 (includes one drink ticket and unlimited chicken). There are also $75 (two drink tickets) and $125 (open bar) options—get ‘em while you still can! 428 11th St. at 13th St.

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On the half shell at OysterFest 2012. Photo from Facebook.

On Sunday August 24th, ~WATERBAR~ is hosting their sixth annual OysterFest on their bayside patio. As you may know, Waterbar has the largest and most eclectic selection of oysters in San Francisco—the event will only feature sustainable oysters. Look for plenty of bites from Waterbar, EPIC Roasthouse, Farmer Brown, Farallon, Fish, and Blue Island Oyster Farm, plus Napa Valley wines and beers (including Anchor Steam, Trumer Pils, and Speakeasy). Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The San Francisco Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans and beaches. 12pm-3pm. $70. Nonrefundable tickets go on sale on Thursday July 24th here.

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It’s lumpia o’clock. Photo provided by Savor Filipino.

Calling all lumpia lovers, we have a couple of cool events for you to consider. First up, did you know that the chef de cuisine of Spruce, John Madriaga, is Filipino? So who better to learn how to make some delicious dishes from (besides your auntie, of course)? On Saturday August 9th, Madriaga is leading a Flavors of the Philippines Cooking Class. The class will be demonstration style, and will feature Madriaga’s favorite Filipino-inspired pork preparations, with a whole pig from Stone Valley Farm. After class, you’ll sit down for lunch with wine pairings. The menu includes sizzling sisig, lumpia, longanisa de Eugenio (with fried Jidori egg), pork adobo, and crispy pata (deep-fried trotters with pickled green papaya). Tickets are $135. Class begins at 11am.

Mark your calendar for Saturday August 30th, which will be the inaugural Savor Filipino event at Justin Herman Plaza. Did you know Filipinos comprise the second-largest Asian immigrant group in the U.S., second only to the Chinese? One more fact you may or may not know: the Bay Area is home to the highest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines, so you can bet this event will be well attended. The event is free, and will feature chef and author demos, a beer garden (with local beer, wine, and Filipino-style cocktails), music, and of course plenty of ways to get your Pinoy vittles on.

There will be different pavilions serving many specialties, like the Garden Pavilion, with vegan and vegetarian options (like ginataang sitaw, local long beans sautéed with organic coconut milk); a Street Food Pavilion (there will be balut!); a Fiesta Pavilion, featuring party food like lechon baboy (roasted pig) and lumpia; and the Carinderia (“restaurant”) Pavilion will have chicken adobo and kare-kare. There will be plenty of desserts too. A really cool component to the event: all food served will feature humanely raised proteins, sustainable seafood, and organic, local produce. You can read the upcoming list of food items that will be served here. 10am-6pm. Justin Herman Plaza.

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Love eating kimchi and Japanese tsukemono and pickled mustard greens? Then maybe you should learn how to make some of your own. Local author Karen Solomon has a new cookbook out, Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves, and you can join her at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ for her release party on Wednesday July 30th, from 6:30pm-7:30pm. She will make a short presentation, and of course there will be plenty of pickles to taste. Click here for more local events planned around her book launch.

Have you ever thought about how to produce small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate? Coming up in August is a one-month Chocolate Intensive Course (from August 2nd-August 30th) at the ~FOOD CRAFT INSTITUTE~, designed specifically for entrepreneurs and budding artisan chocolate makers. You’ll learn from a variety of local instructors, $475; payment plans and financial aid available.
 65 Webster St. at Embarcadero West, Oakland.

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Fried cheese curds sandwich at The Half Orange. Photo from Yelp.

~THE HALF ORANGE~ in Fruitvale opened a couple of weeks ago, but just for lunch. Now that they’ve got their bearings, hours have expanded to 11:30am-8pm, Mon-Fri. You can check out the menu here. They’re still waiting on a liquor license though. 3340 E. 12th St. at 33rd Ave., Oakland, 510-500-3338.

Berkeleyside Nosh reports that ~TOWNIE~ is now open in the former Caffe Venezia. Initially, this one had a liquor license for Monarch Trading Co., but it looks like there is an entirely new team now. Owner Nima Shokat runs the Missouri Lounge and is aiming to offer “a neighborhood bar where people can just come by for a drink and hang out, but also get some exciting food.” To that end, chef Dana Ryan (RN74, Gather, State Bird Provisions) has been brought on to run the kitchen. They’re currently in soft open mode, which means a limited menu is being served, along with cocktails from 5pm until midnight or they run out. 1799 University Ave. at Grant, Berkeley, 510-356-4903.

For those of you looking to put some sushi away at a reasonable price, check out Sushi Monday at ~OZUMO~ in Oakland. From 5pm-9pm every Monday, you can order all-you-can-eat sushi while at the sushi counter for $40 per person. The menu includes some non-sushi options, too, like fried chicken and pork ribs. 2251 Broadway at Grand, Oakland, 510-286-9866.

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