May 5, 2015

May 5, 2015
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The dining room at Trestle. Photo courtesy Trestle.

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Little Gem salad with bacon, egg, and Dijon vinaigrette. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Garganelli. Photo courtesy Trestle.

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Strawberry and rhubarb pavlova. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

As we keep hearing about luxury tasting menu-only restaurants pushing our credit card limits, it’s refreshing to be able to write about a restaurant featuring a prix-fixe tasting menu that is just $35, for three courses. Yes. You can pay $10 for an additional pasta course, and guess what, you’re gonna be stuffed.

The Hi Neighbor restaurant group (Stones Throw, Fat Angel) have just opened ~TRESTLE~ in Jackson Square in the former Great Hunan—you won’t even recognize the space (it’s right where Chinatown, North Beach, and the Financial District converge). The 1911 building had some beautiful bones, with dark brick walls, and Apparatus Architecture did a stellar job opening the space up. There are touches of rusticity, like the wide-plank oak floors and ash tabletops, and modernity, too, in the artwork and the sinuous shape of the chairs. The wood beams create an eye-catching element. The music is upbeat. The pace of the meal is brisk, so you can get on with your night and go grab a cocktail nearby.

Like Stones Throw, the team is comprised of executive chef Jason Halverson, Ryan Cole, and Tai Ricci (all Michael Mina alums), plus partners Jason Kirmse and Cyrick Hia. Halverson’s dishes will rotate often and have roots in comfort dishes, but they are elevated with some modern techniques, lightened up with fresh Cali produce, and beautifully plated. You’ll have a choice of a couple of dishes in each section, and partner Cole wants people to be excited to make dessert a part of their meal again. The place hits that SF tone we like so much: casual but quality, with good service, wines, and design details.

On the opening menu, my guest and I started with a Little Gem salad with meaty pieces of bacon lardons and a sunny-side up egg, and marinated calamari and roasted fingerling potatoes and Calabrian chile aioli; we had to supplement our meal with the hearty garganelli Bolognese, with a spoonful of burrata on top; and the main event was a short rib “pot roast” with potato gratin, and pan-roasted salmon with farro and an orange-sherry vinaigrette. You can also request bread, and you’ll get some Firebrand bread with burrata (I KNOW).

For dessert, a strawberry and rhubarb pavlova, and a warm chocolate brownie sundae, with some amazing elderflower ice cream that Humphry Slocombe made. Our meal would have been $45, and overdelivered in quality, portion, and taste. They’re on to something here.

Value is also a big part of Jason Kirmse’s wine list. You’ll find a list of bottles for less than $50 (like a 2013 Château Thivin “Côte de Brouilly” gamay from Beaujolais for $42), and some quality picks by the glass ($9-$15), but the real big-name bargain hunters will want to check out the bottles for $100 and more, which will only have a markup of $40 per bottle (instead of the industry standard of 200-300 percent). Yeah, there’s some Krug for $201. And a Moreau “Les Clos Grand Cru” from Chablis for $119. So if you want to still blow some cash, you’ll be handsomely rewarded. And of course the beer list totally rocks (you know, that Fat Angel connection), with over 25 bottled selections from around the world.

Dinner nightly. 531 Jackson St. at Columbus, 415-772-0922.

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A KronnerBurger with a side of marrow. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Fries with cheese curds and beef cheek gravy. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The earth burger. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Definitely save room for dessert: the orange creamsicle sundae. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The dining room at KronnerBurger at a test lunch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The exterior of KronnerBurger. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Has there ever been such a burger that was so hotly anticipated to return to our culinary scene? Well, I know I am not alone in my happiness that ~KRONNERBURGER~ is finally opening this Wednesday May 6th for lunch in Oakland’s Piedmont district. Chef Chris Kronner has been known for his burger—a rare, salty, aged beef master concoction—for quite a while. I remember that bad boy five years ago when he was cooking at Bar Tartine, with its cheddar mayo and optional add-on of bone marrow. Fortunately those building blocks of his burger construction have remained in place as he has fine-tuned it over the years at his many pop-ups.

His brick-and-mortar location is right on Piedmont Avenue, in a quirky and charming flatiron-style building that used to house J’s Mexican-American restaurant (did you know it was once a trolley depot?). Kronner worked with architect Wylie Price on the 40-seat space, one that is quite airy and very stylish. When was the last time you went into a burger joint with a Deco-esque rose quartz counter? Exactly. The room is full of artisan craftsmanship, from the communal stand-up tabletop made in cottonwood (sourced via Evan Shively) by Kelly Best (he also did the wood pieces at The Progress). You’ll notice some chic Asian/Deco metalwork by Luigi Oldani, most of the woodwork and metal work by Andrew Poyner, custom ceramic pendant lights from Peter St. Lawrence, and even the ceramic plates were made by partner and GM Ashley Hildreth with Jessica Niello, and another batch by Travis McFlynn. The overall light tones of the room are counterpointed with punches of navy-cobalt blue.

The test opening menu included a wedge salad, a creative chopped salad (with savoy cabbage, broccoli di cicco, pickled chile, and smoked coconut), and one of the tastiest asparagus dishes I’ve had in some time, with fondue, rye bread crumbs, and nepitella. A couple more items you’ll find in the “Apps Bro” (LOL) section include chicken wings that come anointed with a funky fermented chile you will want to put on everything, and expertly fried fries with curds and beef cheek gravy. Oh hi, onion rings.

As for the main event, there’s the famed Kronnerburger, which now comes on a housemade bun by Betty Frank (previous Box & Bells), who will be doing all the baking for the restaurant (just wait until you taste her biscuit at brunch, I’m warning you). Wood-fired grill, check. Right now, the patty is made from a combination of beef sourced from Mindful Meats and Marin Sun Farms. Kronner is actually going to be getting whole sides of beef from Stemple Creek Ranch in Marin, which will clock in at 600 to 700 pounds; he expects to go through two a month. The burgers are going to feature quite the combination of cuts, and the dining room will also benefit with very affordable steaks. It’s quite an undertaking, ending up in zero waste.

A new entry on the menu is the Mangalitsa pig burger, made from whole pigs from Winkler Farms, which Kronner says is some of the best pork he has ever tasted. It comes with smoked and pickled onion, pickled rinds, and white barbecue sauce.

I’m just gonna tell you: the patty melt is going to rock your world. Our table went loopy over this magical combination of onion confit (it made me think of the best French onion soup), hot mustard, and mixed milk cheese (sheep and cow cheddar). Get it.

Vegetarians, you will be well taken care of with the earth burger, a savory and vegan patty (mostly mushrooms, tofu, sweet potato, and cabbage) topped with yuba “bacon,” red onion, and lettuce (you’ll be able to get it in a gluten-free bun).

Brunch and dinner service will feature some additional dishes, which we’ll highlight and talk about in next week’s tablehopper! Assisting Kronner in the kitchen is Bill Niles (previously St. Vincent, Bar Tartine) and Christa Chase (Duende, Pizzaiolo). Save room for some of Betty Frank’s desserts, like an orange creamsicle soft-serve sundae with date caramel and pecans.

Did you know there’s going to be full liquor here? Yeah, and the talented Alex Phillips (Locanda, Al’s Place) will be overseeing the menu full of drinks like a fantastic margarita. More on this soon. We’ll also be sharing the wine list by Bradford Taylor of Ordinaire, which will feature many old-world selections. Sayre Piotrkowski (Hog’s Apothecary) is behind the beer list, so you know it will rock. There’s a patio in the back, with room for 20, perfect for our impending warmer weather.

Lunch begins Wednesday May 6th, open 11am-3pm, and then brunch begins this weekend, running Sat and Sun 10am-3pm. On Thursday May 14th, dinner service will kick in, with hours moving to Sun and Wed-Thu 11am-10:30pm, Fri 11am-12am, Sat 10am-12am, and Sun 10am-10:30pm. Closed Mondays. 4063 Piedmont Ave. at 41st, Oakland.

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The Twitter building at 1355 Market Street. Photo courtesy San Francisco Business Times.

As reported more than two years ago, Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman of Mercer Restaurant Group (AQ, TBD) are opening an ambitious new restaurant in Market Square. This new project is called ~BON MARCHÉ~ and is a large one, clocking in at 7,500 square feet. The idea is for the space to feel open and “bustling” all day long, with inspiration from Paris and, specifically, the Marais neighborhood.

The large space allows for several different experiences, including a bar that serves oysters and drinks, a lounge area, a coffee shop, a flower shop, a full-service restaurant dining room, a private dining room, and a brewery. The restaurant’s executive chef is Matthew Sieger, whose menu is focused on French classics, including salade Lyonnaise, côte de boeuf, and moules frites. At lunch, look for tartines and other lighter options; you can also enjoy oysters and shellfish from the raw bar. There will be a selection of housemade charcuterie like roulades, terrines, and pâtés, as well. On the sweet side, pastry chef Rikki Garcia will be sticking to the classics, with a chocolate soufflé, housemade ice cream, and fruit tarts.

There are several components to the beverage program, and they pulled together quite a team to make it all happen. Rich Higgins is developing the beer side of things, including on-site brewing and guest taps. Allegra Angelo is running the wine show, with close to 100 different options to choose from, all of them intended to be approachable and food-friendly. As for cocktails, Eric Quilty is creating a list of drinks inspired by the seasons and designed to pair well with the food.

As for the design, they’ve looked the Art Deco era for inspiration, and added warm, hospitable touches that encourage people to sit and linger. Think leather banquettes, brass fixtures, and penny tile. The floor-to-ceiling windows take advantage of the space’s soaring height, offering lots of natural light. The current plan is to open the doors in June. 1355 Market St., Suite 120 at 10th St., 415-802-1700.

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Kouign amann at b. Patisserie. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

The somewhat cursed space on the northeastern corner of Divisadero and California has a new taker, and it’s a good one: none other than Belinda Leong of neighboring ~B. PATISSERIE~. Hoodline reports that the new project is called ~B. ON THE GO~. Leong and Michel Suas, who is her business partner and baker, plan to open the new location on June 1st.

They’ve run out of room at b. Patisserie, and having additional kitchen space will free up the original location. In fact, b. Patisserie has been so busy and crowded that Leong hasn’t had the opportunity to start serving wine, despite the fact that she’s had a beer and wine license for almost two years. The new space will change all that. They will be baking in the satellite kitchen, in addition to preparing new items like sandwiches and snacks to go. The plan is to open on June 1st. 2794 California St. at Divisadero.

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The future home of Orson’s Belly. Photo courtesy Cem Salur.

A quiet stretch in the Outer Richmond is going to have a café and neighborhood hangout come this summer called ~ORSON’S BELLY~. Owner Cem Salur has a background that includes hospitality, food, and film, so he said it’s really no wonder he came up with this concept for a café with a cinematic theme. He calls the Richmond his home and thought Balboa could really use a nice spot to hang out.

The 50-seat café will open in the morning at 7am for pastries and coffee service from De La Paz, and then lunchtime will bring open-faced sandwiches (he mentions they will be California style, like crème fraîche with figs and honey) served on housemade bread (loaves will also be for sale), housemade quiche, and more. Look for locally sourced ingredients and an affordable price point. In the evening, some cheese plates and bar bites will be served to go with the beers and wines, which will be all local (Salur loves Northern California wines), plus some ciders too.

The location was a dive bar (Homers) that closed something like 10 years ago, and the space has been vacant since. Cem is going through building permits and applying for a beer and wine license, and really hopes to be open in time for Outside Lands. He hopes to have a parklet too.

As for the cinematic theme, you’ll see lots of original film posters (also for sale!) and will be curating old 16mm silent films to play as well. He also mentioned wanting to screen kids’ movies while the parents enjoy an adult beverage. We’ll keep you posted on this café’s premiere. In the meantime, you can follow along on Twitter (and get some fun film tips too). 1737 Balboa St. at 19th Ave.

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The spring rolls from Native Juice Co. Yelp photo by JazzMarie C.

We reported in late March on the new location of ~NATIVE JUICE CO.~ in the Financial District, and according to Yelp it is now open. To recap, the juicery closed their location at 250 Montgomery earlier this year and have now opened shop at 168 Sutter Street. There are juices, smoothies, and food items on the menu, including a kale salad, spring rolls, and vegetarian quinoa sushi rolls. Hours are Mon-Thu 7:30am-5pm, Fri 7:30am-4:30pm. 168 Sutter St. at Kearny.

There is now a place to satisfy your Filipino food cravings in SoMa, called ~PAMPALASA~. Owner Jennifer Villamin says it also has the distinction of being one of the first “kamayan-optional” restaurants in San Francisco, meaning eating with your hands is encouraged. They’ve even installed a sink in the dining room to wash up before and after meals. The menu is still being finalized, but they will offer rustic Filipino cuisine for lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on weekends, and are pouring Ritual coffee.

The grand opening is Tuesday May 19th, but they are throwing a special soft opening Saturday and Sunday May 16th and 17th from 10am to 3pm with 15 percent off while they work out their recipes; RSVP here. 1261 Folsom St. at 9th St., no phone yet.

We are always on the lookout for delicious barbecue, so when a chef friend mentioned this new pop-up, well, it’s now officially on the radar! Native Sons BBQ will be popping up at Triple Voodoo Brewery on Friday May 8th, from 5:30pm until they sell out. On the menu is brisket, pork ribs, and sides. 2245 3rd St. at 19th St.

On Wednesday April 29th, there was a fire at ~LIVERPOOL LIL’S~ around 7:30am, SFist reports. The restaurant suffered some smoke and water damage, but luckily, according to a post on their Facebook page, no one was hurt and the damage to the restaurant was not serious. They are currently closed, but only for a short while. Our thoughts go out to everyone at Lil’s, and we’re wishing you best of luck getting back up and running! 2942 Lyon St. at Lombard.

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An affogato from Sightglass’ brand new Affogato Bar. Photo from Instagram.

There are few things in the world as perfect as the affogato, and now you can get an especially artisanal one at ~SIGHTGLASS~ in SoMa.They’ve partnered with Portland’s own Salt & Straw ice cream for the new Affogato Bar, where you’ll have a choice of three ice cream flavors and three different single-origin espresso shots. Currently, the ice cream flavors are Dick Taylor single-origin chocolate, blood orange olive oil, and sea salt with caramel ribbons, and different options will rotate in as well. 270 7th St. at Folsom, 415-861-1313.

There is now a ~PHILZ COFFEE~ in Dogpatch. The new location is actually in their office headquarters, and includes a training bar for new staff (a sign behind the bar proclaims it “Philz University”). Hours are daily 6am-6pm. 1259 Minnesota St. at 24th St., 415-423-1474.

After 11 years at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays, ~BLUE BOTTLE~ will be pulling espresso from their kiosk for the last time on Saturday May 30th, according to a tweet. Of course, you’ll still be able to get your morning market caffeine fix at their indoor Ferry Building location, but this still the end of an era for the company. In a lovely letter on the Blue Bottle blog, founder James Freeman cites the company’s growth as the reason, mentioning that the spirit of the market is as an incubator for new producers, and Blue Bottle no longer really fits in that mold. In that same spirit, they will be donating their proceeds from the last day to charity. Ferry Building Plaza at Embarcadero.

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Stuffed and fried squash blossoms at Seven Hills. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The upstairs dining room at Gaspar. Photo by R. Brad Knipstein Photography.

For their latest dinner with Marin Roots Farm, ~SEVEN HILLS~ has a special five-course dinner chock-full of springtime dishes. Think halibut crudo with radish top pesto, mustard greens, and lemon, or a standing rib roast with Tokyo turnips and greens. Check out the menu here and remember that the dinner includes a CSA box of produce from Marin Roots. The dinner is happening Tuesday May 12th, with reservations available from 5:30pm-9:30pm. Be sure to make your reservation through Reserve and use code “MARINROOTS20” when booking, for $20 off. With the discount, the dinner is $75 per person, not including tax, tip, or beverages. 1550 Hyde St. at Pacific, 415-775-1550.

~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ is celebrating their one-year anniversary on Saturday May 9th with a big dinner party. The six-course Parisian feast commences at 6:30pm with passed Champagne and appetizers, followed by a seven-course menu that includes truffled custard eggs, leg of lamb, and foie gras sausage. If you can’t make the dinner on Saturday, they’ll be serving the anniversary special all week, from May 12th through the 17th, including the consommé de homard ($14), with spring vegetables; and Bombe Ceylan with griottines, a dessert of frozen chocolate with coffee, rum, and brandied cherries ($10). There will also be a special French 75 made with Cognac at the bar.

Tickets to the dinner are $95 per person, with wine pairings available for an additional $55. tablehopper readers can get 15 percent off their ticket using code “tablehopper” at checkout. There are 20 discounted tickets available; get yours now!

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Tacos from León, the new project from Jose Ramos and Elizabeth Tinajero. Photo from Indiegogo.

Husband-and-wife duo Jose Ramos and Elizabeth Tinajero are getting ready to open a farmers’ market stand based in the East Bay, and they need your help. The stand will be called ~LEÓN~ after the major city in Ramos’s home state of Guanajuato. Ramos was the opening chef at Nopalito, and then served as executive chef at Sabrosa, before working at Nido. Tinajero attended the Culinary Institute of America and grew up cooking regional recipes with her mother. The pair plans to use heirloom and local ingredients in all their cooking, and will make all of their menu items from scratch, including grinding their own corn for tamales.

They’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to help them raise money for a taco cart, griddle, and fryer, and other necessary equipment to start their business. They only need to raise a modest $9,000 to meet their goal, and a mere $20 donation gets you a trio of tacos once they are up and running!

An ever-intrepid Chowhound caught the liquor license application for another location of ~PHO AO SEN~ (careful: that link is going to make some noise). The East Oakland pho favorite is opening a third location in Albany, in a former Sizzler. 665 San Pablo Ave. at Portland.

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