March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015
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The sign at Aster. Photo from Instagram.

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Smoked trout from a recent test dinner at Coi. Photo from Instagram.

As reported on tablehopper back in September, Brett Cooper has partnered with the Daniel Patterson Group to open ~ASTER~ in the former Beast and the Hare in the Mission. A final opening date has been set for Tuesday March 31st, and though we’ll have menus and photos for you when we return from vacation then, here are some details to feast on in the meantime.

Cooper has assembled his kitchen team, including sous chef Meghan Clark (Delfina, Aziza, Spoonbar, and Kin Khao) and pastry chef Sean Ehland (McCrady’s in Charleston). Unsurprisingly, the restaurant will be impeccably sourcing their seafood, meats, and produce, and the menu will change seasonally. The dishes have a familiar backbone, but often include items prepared in unexpected ways or with unexpected ingredients. Some dishes to look for include potato and nettle dumplings with maitake, peas, and charred scallion, or black cod with chard, miso levain, and smoked cod broth. For dessert, you’ll find a beet crémeux with white chocolate and hazelnuts (beets on dessert menus seems to be a growing trend). To prepare for the restaurant’s opening, Cooper and his team have been hosting pop-up test dinners at Coi, and Chef’s Feed has a cool video from one of them.

Mark Mendoza of the Daniel Patterson Group has developed the wine and beverage list, which focuses on natural and biodynamic wines from international appellations. They’re also going to be using a Coravin system, too, which allows for a large range of options by the glass, including older vintages and more unusual pours. As for the space, which seats 45, designer Scott Kester has created a living garden that is intended to be both casual and elegant. More on that on the 31st. Hours will be Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm. 1001 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.

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The interior at El Capitan. Photo by Jon Whitehead.

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Rock cod frybread taco from El Capitan. Photo by Jon Whitehead.

~EL CAPITAN~, the new project from Jon Whitehead we mentioned earlier this month, is now open in the former Radius space in SoMa. Mark Furr is running the kitchen, and his menu is inspired by Latin and Caribbean flavors. The restaurant is all about hospitality and fun, with food intended for sharing and pairing with drinks. There are lots of small plates, including multiple varieties of ceviche, grilled octopus with a white bean salad, chicken wings with Cholula-ancho glaze, and fry bread tacos with various fillings. In the coming weeks, they will also begin offering family-style platters of large-format meats, including whole fish and an Argentine-style asado. Check out the current menu here.

As for those drinks, right now they’ve got local beer and wine on tap, as well as sangria available by the pitcher and low-proof cocktails. A full liquor license should be landing in late spring too. The newly refreshed space has new paint and new art on the walls and will soon offer a private dining space in “the captain’s room” for groups. Hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, and there is a happy hour every day they are open from 5pm-6:30pm. 1123 Folsom St. at Langton, 415-525-3676.

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The pozole verde from El Pípila. Photo by John Ater.

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Sopes from El Pípila. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s always fantastic news when another La Cocina business gets their own brick-and-mortar space. Or in the case of Guadalupe Guerrero of El Pípila, her own kiosk in ~THE HALL~ in Mid-Market.

Her story is an inspiring one: she left her native Acámbaro, Mexico, in 1998 and had to make the hard decision to leave her two girls behind while she came to work at a taqueria in Berkeley. (Can you imagine?) After working for 12-hour days, six days a week, for two years (alone, in a country where she didn’t speak the language), she was able to send for her girls.

Flash forward to 2005, when she met Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas, a fellow immigrant who told Guadalupe about La Cocina. Guadalupe has been a part of La Cocina since 2012, building her catering business and running a successful stand at Off the Grid Fort Mason (and appearing at the Street Food Festival). Her two daughters, Brenda (25) and Alejandra (28) are helping her with the business, which specializes in Guanajuatan recipes. Her pozole verde is extraordinary—it’s her mother’s recipe, which is made with chicken, tomatillo, hominy, and the brilliant addition of bacon. Trust me, you want this in your life. She also makes sopes, in homage to the street food vendors from home, topped with braised nopales. You’ll find these delicious and authentic dishes and more at her new stand at The Hall.

Guadalupe has come a long, long way. Not only can you help support her in this new venture by visiting her new kiosk, but she is also in the final days of crowdfunding her Kiva Zip loan. She only needs about $2,000 left (it’s a no-interest loan!) to help with equipment and first month’s rent. There are just six days left to help! Even $10, $20, will go far. Even if you can’t lend money, please tell your networks about it! Let’s show this amazing woman some support.

Soft-launch hours for now are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, and every other Saturday. 1028 Market St. at 6th St.

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Breton butter croissants at Un Fil à la Patte. Photo by David Carbonell.

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Pain au chocolat. Photo by David Carbonell.

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Mini baguettes. Photo by David Carbonell.

San Francisco is really lucky with our current bakery game right now, because it’s strong. Due to open late summer in North Beach is ~UN FIL À LA PATTE~ from David Carbonell, a French transplant who has been living in the Bay Area the past five years. His family has been in the bakery business for more than 200 years, because that’s how things roll in France, although he broke from the baking path to study art history, and then to be a journalist and war photographer.

But now the family’s baking roots have tugged Carbonell back. He is inspired by how obsessed San Franciscans are about food, and because he wants to offer baked goods with a real “French taste,” he will only use French ingredients, from the butter to flour. He knows this will be challenging, but he really wants to make it happen.

He will focus on viennoiserie, with speciality pastries, breads, and desserts (he mentions olive bread, cereal bread, and macarons too). Carbonell will also be offering some rare items, like le pain du chat rouge, which means “the bread of the red cat,” a recipe that is more than 300 years old. More than anything, he really wants his bakery to become a daily stop for the people in the neighborhood.

The location was previously a shop, Metis Makers on Grant Avenue, so it will require some permitting hurdles and remodeling. He wants the look to be like a humble “bread depot, where people feel at home, a French corner in the heart of San Francisco.”

As for the name, of course it has roots in the 17th century: it translates as “a string attached at your leg,” which was a reminder to flirtatious married men that they should think before looking at other women. Oh, the French. Look for updates from us this summer. 1314 Grant Ave. at Vallejo.

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2227 Polk Street, the future home of House Rules. Photo from Google Street View.

Russian Hill residents will have two new spots opening on the same block of Polk Street, between Vallejo and Green. First up, the former Interior Visions is being transformed into a (currently unnamed) sushi restaurant from the chef-owner of Saru in Noe Valley, Billy Kong, and the chef-owner of Seiya in San Carlos, Kuo Hwa Chuang. The menu will focus on kaiseki and traditional sushi, so don’t expect yet another place with a menu of spicy tuna rolls with cream cheese in them. There will be a sushi bar and tables, about 45 seats in all. The change-of-use has been a long process, but construction is under way and they hope to open in July or August. There will be more details to release soon, like the name, so we’ll keep you posted. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo.

Across the street in the former Pesce and Uno Dos Tacos will be ~HOUSE RULES~, a new bar from Rick Howard and Noelle Calixto (Eddie Rickenbackers, Campus bar), with Scott Youkilis consulting on the food menu, and Michael Brennan is designing the interior. The opening is looking like mid-April now, so we’ll have more to share in a couple of weeks. 2227 Polk St. at Vallejo.

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The fried chicken biscuit at Rusty’s Southern. Photo from Facebook.

An April opening is slated for the new location of ~FISH & FARM~, which is moving into the former Elephant & Castle location in the Financial District. Fish & Farm, which currently is housed in the Hotel Mark Twain, will close that location on March 31st, according to Barbary Coast News. Then, in April, they will reopen in the new space, which is currently being built out. Look for a New American menu with sustainable seafood and meat, along with a full bar, wine, and beer. 424 Clay St. at Battery, 415-474-3474.

Tokyo ramen restaurant Mensho Ramen is opening its first outpost in the United States in May. Scoop reports that chef-owner Tomoharu Shono will call it ~MENSHO TOKYO~, and the menu will resemble the one currently being served at his Tokyo locations, but with additional small plates. 676 Geary St. at Leavenworth.

Rusty Olson managed the bar at Suppenküche for seven years and is now getting ready to open his own place in the Tenderloin, called ~RUSTY’S SOUTHERN~. Hoodline reports that Olson, a native of the Carolinas, has brought on chef Francis Rubio of Biergarten to run the kitchen. The pair plans to serve Southern dishes like fried chicken, barbecue, and shrimp with okra, along with brunch options. The restaurant is actually opening in the ground floor of The City Hope Community Center, and they plan to partner with the center on community service projects and possibly even a vocational training program in the future. They hope to open in late March; in the meantime, check out their Kickstarter campaign and consider contributing.

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A plate from Square Meals. Photo from Facebook.

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Breakfast tacos from SixFoot20. Photo from Yelp.

The brick-and-mortar location of prepared foods outfit ~LILAH BELLE’S~ on Divisadero is closing, Eater reports, and ~SQUARE MEALS~ is moving in. Lilah Belle’s will remain in operation, but owner Traci Freeman says her customers are more interested in her delivery service than in-store pickup, so she’ll be focusing on online ordering and delivery from now on. Square Meals, in the meantime, is opening as a takeout space today, March 17th, and this summer will add a café similar to their current Polk Street location, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. 1207 Divisadero St. at Eddy, 415-674-1069.

We mentioned a few weeks ago that ~CHEZ MAMAN~ on Potrero Hill is moving from its smaller location (at 1453 18th Street) into the larger Chez Papa Bistrot space on the corner (at 1401 18th Street). Just wanted to let you know the opening is Monday March 23rd! It will have the same menu, with a few additions (and larger tables, of course).

~SIXFOOT20~, the breakfast taco pop-up from chef Raymond Gaston, has secured a brick-and-mortar location and will be opening in late summer, according to Hoodline. He’s been popping up in the Excelsior and other locales around town, with a changing menu of breakfast tacos. Some past manu highlights have included gochujang chicken breakfast tacos, crispy mushroom breakfast tacos, and Dr. Pepper braised pork taco. Gaston will be moving into the former Rising Star Laundry location in the Duboce Triangle, and plans to serve breakfast and lunch both for dine-in and takeout. There will be tacos for breakfast in the morning, and then look for rice bowls at lunch, including a dirty-looking (in the best way) burger on rice with an egg. Gaston is also hoping to roast his own coffee beans in-house, depending on permits. 439 Duboce Ave. at Belcher.

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Xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After years of rumors, it appears that ~DIN TAI FUNG~ is officially coming to the Bay Area with a location in Santa Clara’s Westfield Valley Fair mall. Eater has confirmed that the international chain, which has locations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and Thailand as well as in greater Los Angeles and Seattle, will be opening a large location later this year. According to a Chinese newspaper Eater had translated, the restaurant should open in October and will clock in at about 8,500 square feet with seating for 200 people. And still, get ready for long lines. RELEASE THE XIAO LONG BAO!

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Meatball with tare and egg yolk at Yardbird in Hong Kong. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Coffee shochu from Yardbird. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

During my whirlwind trip to Hong Kong, one of the places I was most excited to check out was ~YARDBIRD~, since chef Matt Abergel’s chicken game is hella strong. I was lucky to have an hour to hang out with Matt, drink some beers, and get the scoop on the Hong Kong culinary scene before dining at the counter at his crazy-busy izakaya/restaurant. While the chicken yakitori list had upwards of 15 different pieces you could try (neck, thigh, heart, and even tail), and it’s what they’re known for, we also dug the corn tempura, ox tongue, and someone had a bit too much of their Stumptown-coffee infused shochu that they shake up like a shakerato, so it makes you want to, uh, have another.

Since I totally buried the lede here, I should probably mention now that Matt Abergel will be doing a Yardbird pop-up/à la carte dinner for two nights at ~IZAKAYA RINTARO~ on Monday April 27th and Tuesday April 28th. Chef-owner Sylvan Mishima Brackett met Matt last year when he came to do a private dinner at 18 Reasons, and Sylvan helped him source ingredients for the dinner. It will be fun night and rare chance to experience Matt’s yakitori and other dishes (and they are bringing the coffee shochu—be careful).

Reservations can be made only by phone (415-589-7022) or email.

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Duck gravy hash browns for brunch at Klyde. Photo courtesy Klyde Cafe & Wine Bar.

Union Square has a new spot for happy hour and brunch. ~KLYDE~ in the Hotel G is now offering happy hour every Monday through Friday from 3pm to 7pm. Select wines are available for $5 a glass or $25 a bottle, with selections from all over the world.

They are also serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 6:30am to 2pm. Dishes include a crab and fried green tomato Benedict ($16), almond brioche French toast with fruit and whipped cream ($9), and bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits ($16); check out the menu here. Of course, Bloody Marys and mimosas are also on offer. 386 Geary St. at Mason, 415-654-5061.

According to a post on Instagram, ~COCKSCOMB~ is now serving happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 6pm and 10pm to 11pm (love that). Specials include $1 oysters and $5 beer, glasses of wine, and negronis. 564 4th St. at Freelon, 415-974-0700.

~1760~ is now open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 2:30pm. You’d best make it a boozy brunch, since their fabulous cocktails will be in full force—check out the brunch drinks here. The brunch menu will change seasonally but currently includes cardamom beignets ($8) and pork belly with kimchi fried rice and egg ($18), along with beverages like the green cardamom fizz (cardamom cream, lime, egg white, club soda, gin, $13) or brunch punch for two (hibiscus, ginger, mint, cinnamon, lemon, club soda, gin or vodka, $25).

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The window display at Epicurean Trader. Photo from Facebook.

According to a friendly spy in Bernal Heights, a new specialty market is moving onto Cortland. Bernal Wood caught the news that ~THE EPICUREAN TRADER~ opened on Friday in the former Red Hills Bookstore, and the owners are husband-and-wife team Holly McDell and Matthew Pond.

In an email, the couple says they want to “create a marketplace for San Franciscans to browse, discover, and learn about new and innovative brands in the small-batch foods. We will be focused on high-quality artisan brands with a unique story, packaging and/or flavor combinations.” In many cases, the products they offer are available in San Francisco for the first time, including chocolate from Maverick Chocolate Company and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters from San Diego. Their inventory also includes cheese, charcuterie, and other pantry items, along with wine and beer. Alex Finberg, who has consulted for many restaurants around town, is heading up the wine selection and should be bringing some great selections to the table. Hours are daily 11am-8pm. 401 Cortland Ave. at Bennington, 415-872-9484.

Both SocketSite and The Bold Italic caught the news of a new market coming to the Mission. It comes from Bobby and Dmitri Vardakastanis of Haight Street Market, the family-owned natural food store in the Haight, and Noriega Produce in the Outer Sunset. Their new location will be at Harrison and 17th Street, in the ground floor of the mixed-use 400 Alabama building. With the opening of the third location, the family will be renaming all three locations ~GUS’S COMMUNITY MARKET~ after their father, Gus Vardakastanis, who took the market over from his father in the 1990s. The new location will offer a deli counter, butcher, seafood, and an outdoor space for enjoying a snack. No word on a timeline at the moment, but we’ll keep you updated. 400 Alabama St. at 17th St.

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Emporio Rulli’s sfingi. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

One thing that definitely does not suck over here is my mail, especially since it sometimes contains edible things for me to try (um, jackpot—well, unless you are trying to eat light, and then it’s pure fricking torture). A week ago, someone from Gary Rulli’s awesome Emporio Rulli baking team showed up with some zeppole (a fried bignè ring, filled with vanilla sponge cake brushed with kirsch, fresh whipped cream, Italian pastry cream, and sour amarena cherries) and my favorite, sfingi (a Sicilian fried cream puff stuffed with homemade ricotta), which they are making in preparation for La Festa di San Giuseppe on Thursday March 19th (just one day only, although the zeppole will be available from Thursday March 19th-Sunday March 21st!). If you know someone named Joe or Joseph, you should buy them one, and make sure you get one for yourself. They are $6.50 each, and they recommend you preorder them by calling 415-924-7478—you can arrange a pickup at one of Rulli’s SF locations.

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Exterior of Café Claude Marina. Photo courtesy of AF&Co.

It appears that ~CAFE CLAUDE MARINA~ is closing permanently, after what was supposed to be a temporary closure and refresh in January. Scoop reports that owner Franck LeClerc says that while they intended to reopen with some new décor and an updated menu, he received some very generous offers on the space while it was closed. Turns out, one was just too good to refuse. No word just yet on what might be moving in, or LeClerc’s next project (he hints he’s up to something). 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.