March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015
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The table is set for The Family Meal at The Progress. All photos by Eric Wolfinger.

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A triumvirate of cocktails (thanks Campari America!).

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Magnums of Louis Roederer Brut Premier were poured all night.

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Oysters in kimchi mignonette for days.

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The mind-blowing uni guacamole.

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Nicole Krasinski lighting up the night’s flaming island.

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Hooray!

Last December, before the holiday season kicked in, I co-hosted The Family Meal, a chefs-only after-hours spaghettata with Sosh at Locanda, which was a blurry night of Negronis, caviar and SKYY vodka shots, foie gras on gingerbread, mountains of spaghetti, and a showstopping croquembouche for dessert. Yup, the Turtle Tower chicken pho in the gift bags saved more than a few people the next day.

So when Sosh came to me in the new year about planning a sequel, it begged the question: how do you follow up one of the coolest events you have ever thrown? Well, for starters, you throw it at the city’s hottest restaurant (insert Stefon voice here): The Progress, created by two of the city’s most beloved creative forces, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. Fortunately they agreed it was a great idea.

At 10pm on Tuesday February 24th, chefs started rolling into the bar area at The Progress, greeted by the smell of savory pancakes (with Gruyère and grated Périgord truffle) that Stuart was making on a griddle in the back corner of the bar. Thanks to sponsor Louis Roederer, we were also pouring Brut Premier in magnum all night, which you know went swimmingly with the sweet little Kumamotos in kimchi mignonette.

The fine folks from Campari America helped everyone break in the new bar at The Progress, featuring a cocktail menu highlighting their fantastic umeboshi Negroni, plus SKYY martinis with smoked Castelvetrano olive juice, a margarita (made with Espolón reposado tequila, Aperol, guava, fresh lime, bitters) that went down way too smoothly, and our special house drink, the Shark Tail, with Appleton Estate V/X rum, allspice dram, lime juice, ginger, and bitters (thanks to bar manager Bryan Hamann for concocting that tasty little number).

After 11pm, it was eventually time to get everyone seated in the dining room. Chefs got to choose where they wanted to sit, from the spacious side booth tables to the large wood tables in the middle of the restaurant. On each table there were opened bottles of wine from Bedrock and Bodegas Ponce “Reto,” and yes, each table also had their own magnum of Brut Premier. Good times. Let’s do this.

And then the night’s theme of Oceanic Treasure Chest really came to life. Tables were hit with waves of deliciousness, in only the way Stuart and Nicole and their team know how to do it. Family-style plates of uni layered on top of guacamole (with black rice chips) were a undeniable favorite of the night (fingers crossed it ends up on the menu), plus yuba with turmeric-kohlrabi pickle, smelt tempura with lime pickle, the playful papiers des fruit de mer. And then it was the main event: huge platters of seafood curry accompanied by their famed roti (our table was scooping up the curried octopus tentacles with the hot roti right off the plate).

After cleaning up our paws with wet towels, we were greeted by Nicole bearing a blowtorch, setting afire our dessert of Linden Alley jasmine blossom flaming island. Someone also put bottles of Averna on each table. (Okay, okay, it was me.) The night went late for some of us, and really late for others, who shall remain nameless. (Okay, yeah, it was me again.)

Tremendous thanks to The Progress team for letting us host such a special event so soon after their opening—you are amazing! Such pros. It was fantastic for a bunch of chefs to be able to come in and check it all out. The kitchen crushed it! And we know, no pressure having 40 of the city’s best chefs in your dining room all at once, like Melissa Perello, Roland Passot, Dominique Crenn, Thomas McNaughton, Evan Rich, Traci Des Jardins, and Massimiliano Conti—it was also great to see some newer chefs on our local scene hang out and make new friendships.

As our star photographer of the night, Eric Wolfinger, said to me: “Tonight was full of great food and drinks. And lots of hugging.” Seriously, the room was hugging it out all night.

We had another fun gift bag, this time with a jar of furikake-quinoa crunch—I keep getting texts from chefs about dishes they’re shaking it on—plus your dream hair of the dog cocktail from Rye on the Road (The Family Meal Spritz: Campari, SKYY vodka, grapefruit cordial, and rosato), and thanks to Sosh, some Advil. Yesssss.

I have so much gratitude and thanks to Sosh, The Progress, Campari America, and Louis Roederer for enabling me to throw another over-the-top party. It’s an honor to be able to feed and spoil so many chefs who work so hard to feed our city, night after night. And it’s important to bring people together, to sit back, relax, and break bread—it’s hard to build community when everyone is so busy toiling away in their kitchens.

A donation was made to CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), our local organization championed by many of the chefs in attendance.

Want to see more? Here’s a photo album of the night on Sosh’s Facebook page (pics by Eric Wolfinger), and the invite. Until next time!

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The luxurious interior at Dragon Beaux. Photo from UrbanDaddy by Michael David Rose Photography.

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The xiao long bao at Dragon Beaux. Yelp photo by Dan B.

The former Video Cafe space on Geary has a new taker, and this time it’s the Ng family, who also owns the Koi Palace restaurants in Daly City and Dublin. This new project is called ~DRAGON BEAUX~ and is rather ambitious. Scoop reports that co-owner Willy Ng wants the restaurant to be more creative than the usual dim sum standby. Inspired by the creative cooking in Hong Kong, he’s been working with younger chefs and even some consultants from Guangzhou to create a menu that isn’t held back by the classics. There are plenty of familiar items of the menu, but you’ll also find squid ink dumplings and frog legs. Cue the weekend lines now.

At dinner, the tables transform into hot pot stations, with a selection of five broths and several different meat and vegetable options. There is also a premium beef menu, which includes Kobe beef from Japan. There are well-considered wine choices; John Vuong, former wine director at Ame, consulted on the wine list. The interior has been extravagantly decorated, too, with multiple dining rooms, each with a distinct look. One room features plum leather seating, while another has cherry blossom wallpaper. Light fixtures are distinct, and there is also a curtained seating area. Hours: dim sum lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and Sat-Sun 10am-4pm, hot pot dinner Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm. 5700 Geary Blvd. at 21st Ave., 415-333-8899.

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Exterior photo from the now-closed Café des Amis (photo via Facebook).

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Chef Mark Furr. Photo courtesy El Capitan.

The Bacchus Management Group (of Spruce and The Village Pub) is opening a restaurant in the Saratoga Hotel building, Scoop reports. The neighborhood, in the Tenderloin/Lower Nob Hill, is unusual for the group—they’ve typically opened shop in places like Pacific Heights, the Marina, and Woodside. We have been tracking the space for over a year, and there are some additional details over at Eater, where they’re reporting that the group is still waiting on a conditional use authorization from the Planning Department that includes a restaurant and bar with seating for 72, in a 4,200-square-foot space. They aren’t divulging any additional details at the moment, though it may be called The Saratoga (which is the name of the building’s hotel). Time will tell. 1008 Larkin St. at Post.

Speaking of Bacchus Management, we previously mentioned their former Café des Amis space was scooped up by local restaurateur Adriano Paganini (Beretta, Starbelly, Super Duper, Lolinda). Eater now has an update on his plans for the space, which is still unnamed. It’s going to be a Belgian brasserie, with a California sensibility, of course. Think moules frites and steak frites, along with salads, sides, and sausages smoked in-house in a wood-fired oven. Right now, they’re working on renovating the space. They’re opening it up, creating a lighter, airier space, with natural wood and gray tones. The current opening date is set for May 1st. 2000 Union St. at Buchanan.

Jon Whitehead has a couple of new projects coming to SoMa this month. The first is ~EL CAPITAN~, which is moving into the former Radius space. He’s brought chef Mark Furr onboard to run the kitchen, which is exciting. We’ve been fans of his excellent barbecue since the Smoke truck days and his stint at Broken Record, and it sounds like he’s getting ready to have some fun at El Capitan.

The menu will draw inspiration from Latin America and the Caribbean, with lots of small plates for sharing, like ceviche, grilled octopus, and fried plantains. The convivial attitude is reflected in the main dishes, too, which are also intended for sharing. Large groups will be able to order large-format dishes like whole fish, suckling pig, and an Argentine asado, to enjoy family style. They are still working on refreshing the space, but should open in mid-March. A full liquor license is in the works. 1123 Folsom St. at Langton.

Then, in the neighboring former Radius Cafe spot, Whitehead is opening ~CARAFE~ tonight, Tuesday March 3rd. Instead of functioning as a café, Carafe will be more of a wine bar (our previous mention here). 1127 Folsom St. at Langton.

Scoop is reporting that Jay Bordeleau and Kate Bolton of Maven are opening a new restaurant on Market called ~CADENCE~, right next to the upcoming Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio. Joey Elenterio (Wayfare Tavern, Chez TJ) has been brought on as chef and will be creating a menu of progressive American dishes. The space will seat 90, with a more traditional service format than Maven’s cocktails-with-food style. The current timeline has them opening this summer. 1446 Market St. at Polk.

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The mushroom and leek empanada from Frog Hollow. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow.

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Blue Bottle at the Ferry Building, with its new look. Instagram photo by Laurel Touby.

The ~FROG HOLLOW~ café in the Ferry Building has made some exciting changes, launching Tuesday March 10th. To start, they now have a beer and wine license and will be serving two beers (Jagged Edge IPA and Hefeweizen Bavarian Wheat), along with two white wines (Bloomfield chardonnay and viognier) and two reds (both from Cline Cellars).

They will also be offering an after-hours menu Monday through Saturday from 5pm to 7:30pm, with special snacks. The menu includes a seasonal pizza, soup, and a housemade cookie plate. They’ve been growing barley on the farm for the last year or so, for Thirsty Bear Brewing, and the barley also shows up in the seasonal soup. To accommodate happy hour diners, they’ve also added some new seating, with sturdier tables and chairs, more planters for ambiance, and even new heat lamps so you can enjoy the view when the fog rolls in. They are also improving the seating in the interior and adding some new double doors to the patio, but that is an ongoing project. Ferry Building, at Embarcadero, Shop #6, 415-445-0990.

According to an announcement on Twitter, the Ferry Building ~BLUE BOTTLE~ is now done with its remodel and is open for business. The space has been designed to help customers order more easily and to increase the speed at which baristas can prepare drinks. Lookin’ good, guys! Ferry Building at Embarcadero, Shop #7, 510-653-3394.

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The Fresno chili chicken sandwich from Dusty Buns Bistro. Photo from Facebook.

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The exterior of Nourish. Photo from Facebook.

Dustin “Dusty” Stewart and his wife, Kristin, who own local food trucks and a Fresno restaurant, are opening their first San Francisco brick-and-mortar, ~DUSTY BUNS BISTRO~, in the former Source space. Eater caught the news that they are now open. The specialty is sandwiches on freshly baked, soft buns, with options like the bistro burger, a Fresno chili chicken sandwich, and daily specials. In addition, look for soups, salads, and pastries, as well as some new vegetarian and vegan choices. For now, hours are Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, but they plan to add more, including for brunch, in the coming months, along with beer and wine. 11 Division St. at King.

There’s a new health-focused café in the Inner Richmond. It’s called ~NOURISH~ and comes from a group of three friends who met at fitness boot camp and wanted to bring vegan and vegetarian food choices to the neighborhood. The menu offers salads, sandwiches, açai bowls, and toast, along with beverages like smoothies and juices. They also have coffee from Ruby Roast, and tea. Hours are Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-3pm. H/t to Scoop. 189 6th Ave. at California, 415-571-8780.

~DOÑA MAGO~, home of tasty chilaquiles and daily special soups, has moved. They are now residing at the corner of 14th Street and South Van Ness, just a couple of blocks from their previous location. You’ll still find classic Mexican food on the menu, and hours are Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-5pm. 301 South Van Ness at 14th St., 415-573-8586.

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The patio at Trou Normand. Photo from Facebook.

You can now get weekend brunch (and delicious cocktails, of course) at ~TROU NORMAND~. They’re serving it on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 2pm, with dishes like coppa, soft-boiled egg, asparagus, and mizuna ($12) and brown rice porridge with duck confit and poached egg ($15). The full charcuterie menu is also available, and seating on their glass-enclosed back patio is sure to be pleasant.

~HRD COFFEE SHOP~ in SoMa has expanded their hours to include dinner service on weekdays. They’ll now be open for dinner five nights a week, serving their Korean-inspired cuisine. In addition, chef David Yeung is offering two weekly dinner specials; this week it’s a short rib bibimbap and loco moco. They have also applied for a beer and wine license, which should be coming soon. Hours are now Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, 5pm-8:30pm, Sat 10am-4pm (closed for dinner), closed Sun. 521A 3rd St. at Taber, 415-543-2355.

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The sign at Sinbad’s. Yelp photo by Ed U.

~SINBAD’S~, the old-school and kind of scruffy seafood place on the water behind the Ferry Building, is closing. I know, fans of the bar (that view!) will be bummed to lose it. According to Scoop, they are in a bit of a dispute with their landlord (the Port of San Francisco) regarding when they will vacate the space. It could be as early as March 21st, though the restaurant is saying they intend to stay until 2016. Because with a name like Sinbad’s, you don’t go down without a fight. 141 The Embarcadero, at Pier 2, 415-781-2555.

In December, Ruchi in SoMa closed, so that the owner could spend more time raising her two children. However, it has reopened under new ownership, and apparently the new owners are calling it ~RUCHI’S~ (with an “s”). In a note on her website, the original owner expresses her concerns that the name was chosen without her permission, and expressly against her wishes, in order to benefit from her reputation. Since she wants to reopen someday after her children are more independent, this is particularly important. Yelpers have already let the restaurant have it, so we’ll see what happens moving forward. 474 3rd St. at Bryant, 415-543-3800.

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Over at ~ONE MARKET~, chef Mark Dommen is getting ready to start his popular Weekly Beast series again, and the first one on Friday March 6th will launch with a whole new beast: water buffalo. The series will also include lamb, duck, goat, and more from local farmers, running until April 24th and 25th, when it all wraps up with rabbit from Devil’s Gulch Ranch; you can check out the lineup here. The three-course prix-fixe menu is available for $49 and features dishes that utilize unique cuts of meat from the whole animal (although please note the water buffalo menu is four courses for $59). You can also add wine pairings from local wineries.

It’s that time again: the ~OLIVETO~ Whole Hog Dinners will be from Tuesday March 3rd (that’s today) through Saturday March 7th. The menu includes charcuterie, appetizers, pastas, and even desserts, all using the whole animal. They are also offering a special dish each evening, including saucisson en croûte on Thursday March 5th and bollito misto on Saturday March 7th. Reservations are recommended.

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

Fruitvale restaurant ~THE HALF ORANGE~ will now be open seven days a week, as of Sunday March 8th. Their new hours are Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm and Sun 12pm-8pm. They’re also adding a breakfast sandwich to the weekend menu, and given owner Jay Porter’s skill with housemade sausage and meats, it’s sure to be a tasty one. Oh, and hot tip: parking in the BART parking lot across the street is free all day on weekends. 3340 East 12th St. #11 at 34th Ave., Oakland, 510-500-3338.

It looks like old-school late-night staple Giant Burger has reopened, at least temporarily, as ~SPACE BURGER~. According to Scoop, the new owners have only gently updated the space, but are keeping the menu and fab retro architecture. They are no longer open 24 hours, but do offer late-night hours on the weekends. Unfortunately, though, the whole building is being torn down in 18 months to make room for a condo high-rise. The current owner, Ambessaw Assegued, reports that they have been offered a spot on the ground floor when the high-rise opens, so Space Burger will at least be able to stick around. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am, closed Sun. 2150 Telegraph Ave. at 22nd St., 831-588-7470.

As previously reported on tablehopper, ~MILLENNIUM~ is closing in April. Chef-partner Eric Tucker and general manager Alison Bagby are hoping to reopen a vegetable-focused restaurant in Rockridge soon. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to open the new space, with pledges starting at $25.

At least one of the owners of San Francisco’s Izzy’s Steak & Chops, Sam DuVall, is opening a location in Oakland. East Bay Express reports they’ve taken over the former Vo’s Restaurant space, and liquor license activity says the new spot will be called ~CUBA LIBRE~. There aren’t a lot of details, but it does sound like it will be a Cuban joint. 59 Grand Ave. at Webster, Oakland.

One more little sudsy swig for you: based on this post on Chowhound, we learned the ~FIELDWORK BREWING COMPANY~ tasting room is now open in Berkeley, currently pouring five of their own craft brews, and they have a growler program too. The post mentioned friendly folks, and there are meat and vegetable pasties from The Pie Shop in Oakland in case you need a nibble. You can read more here about the brewery and team (led by head brewer Alex Tweet, previously of Modern Times Beer in San Diego). Open Thu-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-9pm. 1160 6th St. at Harrison, Berkeley.