August 4, 2015

August 4, 2015
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The interior at Gardenias. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Socca cake with roasted kadota figs and corn. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Gardenias anti bowl. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Looking out to the patio. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The front of Gardenias. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I’m thrilled to report that ~GARDENIAS~ is softly opening this week for some trial dinner service, starting Wednesday August 5th. Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino of Woodward’s Garden (it was theirs for 22 years!) have transformed the former Roostertail into quite the beguiling space, one that will be perfect for a few bites and a glass of wine in the early evening, or a full dinner date, and eventually lunch on their back garden patio.

The ladies are positively giddy over all the additional space—it’s like moving from a Tokyo-sized studio into a full flat—but don’t fret, all the charm and coziness of Woodward’s is still there (even a few décor items made their way over, like the chandelier). They have also been having fun installing new items, like little French door signs they picked up long ago. It’s like decorating a new house.

There is ample bar seating at a counter facing the open kitchen (partially obscured by frosted glass, but you can still see who’s in the kitchen—say hello to sous chefs Nick Fields and Ana Cabrera), and there’s a counter in a sunny nook by the front windows. Wood tables have comfortable space around them, outfitted with vintage silverware, fresh flowers, and classic bistro napkins. The walls are a calming Prussian blue—all the better to offset the vintage framed images of ladies and eclectic but deliberately chosen artwork and soft lights in the glass globes.

The tranquil back garden patio is enclosed with wood slats, umbrellas, and blooming vines, with three tables that can seat six comfortably. It will be quite the coveted place to sit, especially on our warm Indian summer nights (although heat lamps are going to be installed in time, because San Francisco).

The menu (which you get to see first, dear tablehopper reader!) is designed for whatever your appetite demands or the occasion calls for, starting with small bites like gougères with blue cheese and pink peppercorn, and chicken liver crostini with pickled cherries to go with a couple of aperitifs on the menu. Just look at that antipasto plate, with Olympia Provisions capicola, Parmigiano, cauliflower, Castelvetranos, olive oil, and chile.

“Beginnings” are more appetizer-sized, tempting plates like socca cake with shallots, corn, and roasted kadota figs and a summer minestrone. Mains include quality meats coming off their rotisserie (lamb, chicken) with seasonal sides (the lamb is paired with smoked eggplant, zhug, spiced carrots, fingerlings, za’atar), plus seafood (like steelhead with corn and favas with quinoa and salsa verde) and a vegetarian selection. And somehow nothing is more than $26, even though they use such beautifully sourced ingredients.

Save room for dessert, because saffron ice cream with spiced pluots and olive oil cake with kadota figs, anise seeds, and labneh await (plus coffee and espresso from Scarlet City).

They enjoyed sourcing quality wines for their taps, and succeeded admirably. On the list, you’ll find a Macon chardonnay, plus local selections from Skylark and Broc, and a list of affordable wines in bottle, again with many food-friendly California selections, peppered with some international picks too.

Hours to start are dinner Wed-Mon, starting at 6pm. Happy hour is coming quite soon. Weekend brunch and lunch are in discussion. Welcome to your new and lovely space, Woodward’s ladies! 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore, 415-621-7122.

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The bar at Black Sands. Photo courtesy of Black Sands.

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Battered cod at dinner. Photo courtesy of Black Sands.

By Dana Eastland. As of Saturday August 1st, ~BLACK SANDS BREWERY~ is fully open and operational in the Lower Haight. Last time we reported on the project, they were softly open in the mornings serving coffee and breakfast, but now the entire operation is up and running. What does that mean? Well, Black Sands is first and foremost a brewery, with a focus on education and transparency. In addition to their own in-house brewery, they run a home brew supply store next door and will share their expertise and recipes with anyone who is interested.

To that end, they have also focused on keeping things simple. As they say in a press release, “Beer is getting complicated these days, and we don’t think it has to be.” They are also offering their signature SMASH series of beers, which is an acronym for “single-malt and single-hop beers,” which are simple, minimal, and allow you to taste the specific malts and hops. This way, drinkers can learn about how each individual malt and hops taste, as well as learn more about their palate and what they enjoy drinking.

In addition to their beers, they also have a full bar with cocktails from bar director Nicolas Torres, whose previous experience includes Lazy Bear and the Hideout at Dalva. The drink list is approachable, with a focus on using spirits produced with the same care they are putting into their beers. Look for drinks like the Quinine ‘n’ Pine, with genepy, amontillado, lime, cherry pine shrub, bitters, and tonic, or the Fiddy-Fiddy, with gin, Brown Label vermouth, and apricot.

Chef Eric Ehler is offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are both pared-down affairs, with only a few dishes offered at each meal. At breakfast, check out the DFT torta, with housemade chorizo, Tapatio, cilantro, avocado, egg, paprika mayo, and pickled red onions. For lunch, there’s a Korean fried chicken sandwich and a kale salad, along with rotating daily specials. At dinner, it’s all about refined pub food that pairs well with beer. There’s a burger on the menu (duh), as well as fried chicken with farro, corn, and cashews. You can check out all the menus here.

Currently, hours at the café are Wed-Sun 8am-2pm, with breakfast available 8am-2pm and lunch from 11am-2pm. The brewery and bar are open Wed-Sun 5pm-12am, and the kitchen is open for dinner 6pm-11pm. 701 Haight St. at Pierce, 415-534-5194.

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The exterior of ‘Wichcraft. Yelp photo by Luis C.

With the closure of the ‘Wichcraft location in the Westfield San Francisco Centre in June, it was only a matter of time before we were going to hear an update from Perbacco and Barbacco’s Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje on their plans for the space. While earlier rumors pointed to a potential Scandinavian project (Terje is from Sweden), it ends up the project is going to be a modern European brasserie serving primarily contemporary French cuisine, with a few Scandinavian dishes making appearances on the menu; both lunch and dinner will be served. Scoop reports the project will be called ~VOLTA~ (Latin for “turning point”), and Cass Calder Smith (CCS Architecture) is designing the 7,200-square-foot space. Look for an opening around late fall. 868 Mission St. at 5th St.

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The escarole Caesar from The Keystone. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Cranberry bean gratin with peppers. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Pickle assortment. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A preview by Dana Eastland. Back in July we mentioned the new plans for the former Annabelle’s space in the Mosser Hotel. The space has been revamped as ~THE KEYSTONE~, a modern American tavern, and a new team has been brought on to run the show.

The overhaul takes the restaurant back to its roots, while also modernizing it for contemporary diners. Even the name is a nod to history, as the hotel used to be known as The Keystone. Zack Freitas, the new chef, is looking back to distinctly American food traditions with the menu, which means lots of classic American dishes, of course, but also the addition of preserved items like pickles, jams, and more. A selection of snacks opens the menu, including chicken wings with Parmesan, ranch, and celery; oyster shooters with mignonette, lemon, and hot sauce; and carbonara fries with egg yolk, bacon, black pepper, and pecorino (whoa, nelly). The flatbreads from their pizza oven, with seasonal toppings, are ideal for sharing. There are some modern takes on common dishes, like a Caesar salad made with escarole and brioche croutons, and a mussel chowder instead of the usual clam offering. Naturally, there is a burger on the menu, and additional meaty entrees including a Berkshire pork chop and grass-fed rib-eye. Vegetarians will also find options, like the asparagus tart with English peas and goat cheese.

The menu is perfectly set up for the after-work crowd, with selections that will appeal to everyone and lots of easy-to-share dishes. There are also plans to offer happy hour specials on many of the snacks. They will offer a daily lunch menu with selections for $10, $13, or $15, and a lunch box special for $25 that includes a half order of salad, soup, and a sandwich. The dessert menu comes from pastry chef Jenny Yang and is heavy on the seasonal fruit desserts, which on the opening menu includes a stone fruit crostata with feta and basil, and a rose almond cake with apricots, coffee liqueur, and pistachio. For chocolate lovers, be sure to check out the Fiend Brownie (it’s actually on the “morsels” menu), with toffee, nuts, and chocolate chunks.

Kelly Naughton is the bar manager, who keeps the classic American vibe going with a cocktail list that includes the Keystone Cup, a riff on a Pimm’s cup, with house-infused “Pimm’s,” lemon, seltzer, and seasonal garnishes. There is also a Porcini Negroni, made with porcini mushroom-infused gin. (They are still working out the details of the wine list.)

As for the space, it’s been redesigned by D-Scheme Studio, and the bar is still the anchor of the main room. They’ve opened up the space, though, and now offer seating on both sides of the bar as well as a chef’s counter up against the open kitchen. There is also a private dining room with AV capabilities for groups. They’ve kept the tile on the floor and added wood and copper touches to the bar. There are new light fixtures, leather banquettes, and all-new furniture. The opening is currently slated for Tuesday August 18th. Hours are daily 11:30am-12am, with happy hour from 4:30pm-6:30pm and again from 10pm-12am. 68 4th St. at Mission, 415-777-1200.

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Chef David Kinch, from his book Manresa: An Edible Reflection.

David Kinch, the chef and owner of Manresa, and his partner, Andrew Burnham, are opening a more casual restaurant this fall called ~THE BYWATER~, just down the street from the original. The new project takes its name from a neighborhood in New Orleans, which is appropriate, since they’ll be serving food inspired by that great city. Chef David Morgan of August in New Orleans and Cyrus in Healdsburg has been brought on to run the kitchen. While Manresa is a much more formal affair, the Bywater will be much more low key, “the kind of place where I would want to go after work or hang out on my day off,” says Kinch. Eaton Hall Architecture of San Jose and San Francisco-based designer Robert van Horne are creating a comfortable space with a 10-seat bar, a dining room for 30, and a back patio. There will be plenty of accents inspired by the Big Easy, including neon lights, shutters, and a bright color palette.

As for the food, look for plenty of New Orleans, French, and classic Southern dishes, including fried green tomatoes, po’boys, and a raw bar. Chad Arnholt and Claire Sprouse have been brought on to run the bar, and they are planning to offer a selection of drinks on tap. The drink list will be heavy on the New Orleans-style beverages, including a Sazerac, gin fizz, and milk punch, along with some lower-proof selections like spritzes. 532 N. Santa Cruz Ave. at Thurston, Los Gatos.

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Coi. Photo by Maren Caruso.

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A housemade charcuterie plate at Kuleto’s. Photo via Facebook.

Some big news from the Daniel Patterson Group regarding ~COI~: chef and owner Daniel Patterson has decided to step down from his role as executive chef, and Matthew Kirkley (previously of Chicago’s L20, where he earned two Michelin stars) will be the chef, starting January 12th, 2016. In a personal note on the Coi website, Patterson shares that after nearly 10 years of 90-hour workweeks, he wants to step back a bit to have more time with his family (especially since things are also heating up with Loco’l, his joint project with Roy Choi). The Daniel Patterson Group will continue to own, operate, and support Coi (in addition to the group’s other restaurants: Alta CA, Plum Bar, Haven, Aster, and Kim Alter’s upcoming restaurant).

Another big piece of news: after 28 years at ~KULETO’S~, chef Bob Helstrom has decided to leave. (Seems the latest ownership/management company is a bit too focused on cutting expenses, and it didn’t jibe well with Helstrom’s commitment to quality.) He is now enjoying working with a firm doing commercial kitchen design and consulting. Good news: he reports his salumi-making skills are in demand, so even though we won’t be able to swing by for a plate of his excellent salumi at Bar Norcini, I’m glad his talents are still being put to good use!

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Tacos from La Alteña. Yelp photo by George Z.

After a tragic fire destroyed their space in January, ~TAQUERIA LA ALTEÑA~ has reopened just across the street. Mission Local reports that they’ve found a new home adjacent to Cava 22 at the corner of 22nd Street and Bartlett. The taqueria is actually owned by Ramon Valle, who opened it in the late 1980s, and Cava 22 is owned by his brother Samuel Valle, so the merging of the two businesses into one space makes a lot of sense. In addition to taqueria classics like tacos, burritos, tortas, and menudo on weekends, you can also order a margarita from Cava 22 to enjoy with your meal! 3239 22nd St. at Bartlett, 415-642-7224.

As of last Monday July 27th, downtown’s ~MOURAD~ is serving lunch Monday through Friday. The lunch menu includes many of the dishes from the dinner menu, minus the family-style large-format plates, and also offers some new items, including avocado toast with albacore, grapefruit, cress, and marash ash, as well as a chicken dish with fregola, mushroom, olive, berbere cream, and citrus. There is also a selection of lunch cocktails. Hours are Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm. 140 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-660-2500.

According to Yelpers, there is a new boba tea and snack café on Irving, called ~IRVING CAFE~. There is a large menu of drinks, including rose tea and several different jelly options for your drink. There are also snacks like egg puffs with various toppings, and rice bowls. 716 Irving St. at 8th Ave., 415-664-1366.

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The future home of George and Lennie. Photo from Instagram.

The Tenderloin is about to get a new coffee shop from a Four Barrel alum, Hoodline reports. It’s called ~GEORGE AND LENNIE~, which may ring a bell for readers familiar with the Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. Owner Brett Walker decided to name the shop after his favorite book, since it’s the realization of a longtime dream, not unlike the never-realized ranch the novel’s characters speak of at length.

The shop will be opening in the next few weeks on the ground floor of the Lofts at Seven building, a new complex with residential units above. There will be some food options that Walker is still figuring out, and he’s also applying for a beer and wine license. He’ll be using both Four Barrel and De La Paz beans for the coffee too. 277 Golden Gate Ave. at Hyde.

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A po’boy from Brenda’s Meat & Three. Photo from Facebook.

The Castro location of ~A.G. FERRARI~ has closed, according to Hoodline. The company’s other five Bay Area locations remain in operation, though, despite some financial hard times for the local chain. 468 Castro St. at 18th St.

Back in July, we reported that Iza Ramen had filed for the ~SQUAT & GOBBLE~ space on Fillmore in the Lower Haight. Hoodline is reporting that the location is now permanently closed, but there’s no word on when Iza might be moving in. 237 Fillmore St. at Haight.

We’ve been tracking Brenda Buenviaje’s po’boy shop on Fillmore Street since 2012, but sadly it looks like that project is now dead. According to The New Fillmore, Buenviaje has decided not to move forward with the project. Though she declined to say why, the ongoing construction delays surely had a part to play in the project’s dead end. However, ~BRENDA’S MEAT & THREE~ is still offering many of her signature sandwiches, so you can still get them there. 1406-1408 Fillmore St. at Ellis.

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A stage and the crowd at Outside Lands 2011. Photo via Facebook.

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Photo of the 2009 SF Street Food Festival via Facebook.

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Don’t miss the food and cocktails at Eat Drink SF. Photo by Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine Photography via Facebook.

Yup, the GastroMagic stage returns to Outside Lands this weekend, with the return of the Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia & Brenda’s Soul Food, karaoke with Morimoto, World Pizza Cup Champion Tony Gemignani spinning dough to DJ MoPo, and more. (Kudos to partner ChefsFeed for the pairing of Karl Denson and Guittard Chocolate Company for Sexual Chocolate.) There will be a variety of performances and acts each day, and some will even offer tastes from the show. Seats are complimentary and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 10 fans to arrive before that particular performance; details will be released via the Outside Lands mobile app.   

Nearby, you’ll find some adult beverage fun with Talk Like a Pirate Bar, Uh-Oh It’s Magic, Let’s Get Fizz-ical, and Mission Agave, featuring bartenders from Bon Vivants, 15 Romolo, The Boxing Room, and Nopa. And don’t get lost in BaconLand.

The San Francisco Street Food Festival (on August 15th) just announced a few updates for this year’s gathering, starting with a new and expanded beverage program. Mission Bowling Club, Cafe du Nord, Odd Job, Smokestack, Third Rail, Locanda, and Sweets Collection will making cocktails (tasters are $8, large drinks are $12). The Whole Foods Market Hops & Crafts Beer Garden will serve brews from Magnolia, Goose Island, Anchor Stream, Calicraft, 21st Amendment, Stone Brewery, and Fort Point. There are also some general bars that will offer well drinks, wine, and a selection of beers. And good news: you won’t be relegated to the beer/cocktail garden this year—guests can cruise and eat with their beverages.

The Whole Foods Market Live Cooking Stage will include demos from Anthony Strong of Locanda, pie secrets from Three Babes Bakeshop’s Lenore Estrada, and more. Don’t miss a visit to the Maker’s Market, highlighting winners of WFM’s regional Small Producer Grant program, offering packaged food and crafts from vendors.

Eat Drink SF is August 20th-23rd, and has announced their main stage lineup and consumer classes. On Friday August 21st, Elizabeth Falkner and The Slanted Door’s Charles Phan will be in the house during the Grand Tasting, while Saturday August 22nd’s afternoon Grand Tasting will have Ryan Scott and former Olympian Brian Boitano, Tony Gemignani, and Chris Marchino of Cotogna and Michael Tusk of Cotogna and Quince on stage, with Michael Chiarello of Coqueta, Wesley Shaw of Presidio Social Club, and Master Beer Sommelier Marc Stroobandt of Stella Artois during the evening Grand Tasting.

While you’re at the Grand Tastings, be sure to take a look at the San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom, with workshops including Bubbles, Bubbles, & More Bubbles; Que Syrah Syrah; Wines Around Sicily; and Cabernet Is King. The Grand Tastings will be at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center.

There will also be some consumer classes, from cocktails to beer pairing. On Saturday August 22nd, yours truly is going to be emceeing the Classic Cocktail A-Game: The Art, Stories, and Up the Sleeve Tricks with Leilani Vella for Sipsmith Gin. You’ll learn the fundamentals of constructing a cocktail, techniques that turn a good cocktail into a great cocktail, and more—I hope to see you there! Get 15 percent off the class with promo code SIPGIN. 2pm-3:15pm. Ticket prices start at $30 for the consumer classes. The consumer classes will be at the Firehouse at Fort Mason Center.

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The exterior of Nabolom Bakery. Yelp photo by Tina J.

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The pastry case at Crispian Bakery. Photo from Facebook.

The second restaurant from John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, the pair behind Comal, is officially opening Friday August 7th. It’s called ~THE ADVOCATE~ and marks a departure from Comal’s Mexican cuisine. They’ve brought on chef John Griffiths, who hails from Michigan and previously worked at Truffles and was the opening chef at Larry Forgione’s An American Place in St. Louis, followed by The Kitchen in Sacramento. The menu will be firmly rooted in California style, with influence from North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Matthew Campbell is coming over from Comal as bar manager, and the drink list will offer twists on classic cocktails, by using local products and housemade bitters and infusions. Corin Weihemuller is the wine director, and the wine list will offer 40 to 50 selections, mostly from California winemakers. And music and sound geeks, The Advocate will also feature Meyer Sound Laboratories’ Constellation acoustic system (Comal was the first restaurant install), while the sound dampening Libra panels will be printed with images from antique postcards of Berkeley. Hours are Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. Brunch coming in the fall. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley, no phone yet.

~NABOLOM BAKERY COLLECTIVE~ in Berkeley is closing after almost 40 years of business, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. The bakery, which is well known in the Elmwood neighborhood for their challah, morning buns, cinnamon twists, and blueberry cheese Danishes, seems to be shutting down due to financial issues, though the specifics are unclear. 2708 Russell St. at College, Berkeley.

One bakery closes, and another opens. We’ve been tracking ~CRISPIAN BAKERY~ in Alameda, and they’ve officially opened their doors! This is the brick-and-mortar location for Beth Woulfe and Christian Fidelis de Goes, who met working at Bouchon in New York and have been selling their goods at the Alameda farmers’ market. They are selling bread from Fidelis de Goes, and Woulfe runs the pastry side of things. They’ve got croissants, seasonal fruit cakes, cookies, loaves of bread, and more. The small space offers seating for about 10 guests, and of course you can take your goods to go. Hours are Tue-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 7am-3pm. 1700 Park St. at Buena Vista, Alameda, 510-239-4751.

~LOS CILANTROS~ is now serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday, according to those ever-watchful Chowhounds. Hours are Tue 10am-2pm, Wed-Sun 10am-2pm and 5:30pm-9pm. 3105 Shattuck Ave. at Woolsey, Berkeley, 510-230-7350.