September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015
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The bar at Bon Marché. Photo courtesy of Bon Marché.

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The dining room. Photo courtesy of Bon Marché.

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Duck au poivre with preserved cherries. Photo by Spencer Brown, courtesy of Bon Marché.

A report by Dana Eastland: As previously covered on tablehopper, the latest project moving into Mid-Market is ~BON MARCHÉ~. It’s from Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman of Mercer Restaurant Group (AQ, TBD) and is a big and ambitious project, with 7,500 square feet of space and all-day hours. Bon Marché is inspired by the Marais neighborhood of Paris and offers various sections in the restaurant with different specialities. There is a raw bar, as well as a coffee shop, dining room, brewery, lounge, private dining room, and even a flower shop.

In the dining room (which offers full service), Matthew Sieger is the executive chef, and his menu is all about French classics (with a seasonal, California twist, obviously). Think duck au poivre with preserved cherries, chilled watercress soup with smoked trout roe, steak tartare, and of course a bistro-style burger. They are also making pâtés and terrines in-house, and the raw bar serves oysters as well as shellfish and crudo. Check out the dinner menu here.

There is also a full bar from bar manager Eric Quilty, and the cocktails are all inspired by French films. If you’re feeling bourgeois, there’s the Discreet Charm, made with aged rhum agricole, pear liqueur, sesame-infused honey, and sparkling pear cider, or try the Love at Sea, with carrot-infused Campari, Benedictine, and Dolin dry vermouth.

As for that brewery, local cicerone superstar Rich Higgins consulted with the team on developing their beers, and they will offer two rotating selections inspired by French brewing. Look for L’Ouvrier, a French farmhouse beer, and Le Mistral, a Provençal-style pale ale. There are also guest beers—check out all the choices here.

Of course there is also plenty of wine—about 100 options, in fact. Allegra Angelo, an advanced-level sommelier, has created the list and organized it by price, region, and how it will pair with the space’s many food options. Oh, and there is that floral shop! It’s from the sister design duo Tango & Foxtrot, so you’ll never be without floral romance at dinner again.

Bon Marché is now open (their doors officially opened August 28th), and hours are Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm, Sat 4pm-12am. 1355 Market St. at 9th St., 415-802-1700.

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The bar at Sessions. Photo by Kingmond Young.

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The private dining room, plus the larger dining room in the background. Photo by Kingmond Young.

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Panela cheese dumplings with cilantro-chile pesto, corn, and pepitas. Photo by Kingmond Young.

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The pork rib eye confit on polenta with broccoli di cicco. Photo by Kingmond Young.

A report by Dana Eastland. The large new project in the Presidio, ~SESSIONS~, which we updated you on in June, officially opened its doors on Monday August 24th. The bar and restaurant comes from partners Michael Bilger (who is executive chef) and Evin Gelleri, the general and business manager. The pair has brought on Nicole Erny, a master cicerone, to develop the beer list and educate the opening staff, and Jordan Spaulding, a certified cicerone candidate, to manage the beer list day-to-day.

The bar has an extensive beer list, with 100 options available, including 24 on draft. The bottle list will offer some larger-format selections for sharing among groups, as well as a selection of five session-style ales. They are also offering a daily bottle pour available by the glass, which will offer a chance to try more unusual beers without having to order the whole bottle, and there are daily rotating flights too.

The wine list will include 30 bottles, along with 12 by-the-glass selections and 10 wines on tap. There is also a cocktail list from Peter Ziegler (Urchin Bistrot), made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Their liquor license will also allow them to offer wine for off-premise sale (meaning retail, essentially), and they plan to sell wines from Skywalker Ranch in Marin for both in-house and off-site consumption. Take a peek at the full bar list here.

As for food, Bilger’s menu offers hearty, seasonal food built around their relationship with local farms, especially the one at Skywalker Ranch. There is an ample choice of small plates, again with a focus on sharing, including a charcuterie platter of housemade meats with cheese and their own “brewed” bread ($16/$29), freshly shucked oysters (A.Q.), and panela cheese dumplings with cilantro-chile pesto, corn, and pepitas ($10/$18). For main dishes, it’s California style, with seasonal influences, such as rye pappardelle with smoked beets, pea sprouts, preserved lemon crème fraîche, and poached egg ($19), or meatier options like the pork rib eye confit with mustard fruit, stone-ground polenta, and broccoli di cicco ($30). This being a beer place, there’s also a burger, of course, available “straight” with just pickles and fries ($15), or “chef’s style” with the addition of Wagon Wheel cheese and bacon-Anchor jam ($18). Check out the full menu here.

The space is large, clocking in at 3,500 square feet, with seats for 150 in the dining room, plus an additional 50 on the patio. There is also a private dining room with space for 16. Lundberg Design conceived the space, incorporating an acrylic and steel sculpture into the entry. It’s also worth noting that Sessions won’t be accepting tips, but will add a 20 percent service charge to every check. Hours are Mon-Fri lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, limited afternoon menu 2:30pm-5:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-10pm; Sat-Sun brunch 11am-2:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-110pm. 1 Letterman Dr. at Lombard, entrance at the Chestnut Gate at Lyon, 415-655-9413.

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The former garage at 834/838 Divisadero Street. Photo from Google Streetview.

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A rendering of the restaurant by dmarc Studio (via Hoodline).

This morning, both Scoop and Hoodline percolated with the news that there is a taker for 838 Divisadero, formerly an auto body shop. David Nayfeld and Matt Brewer will be opening ~CHE FICO~, a rustic Italian restaurant in spring 2016—the two-level space will also have a full bar. dmarc Studio will be designing the 115-seat restaurant (which will be on the second floor)—it sounds like the ground floor will have a patio and bike parking.

Bay Area native David Nayfeld has most recently been in Los Angeles (Fifty Seven), and his background includes four years at Eleven Madison Park in New York with Daniel Humm (he was a senior sous chef) and Cru.

He has partnered with Matt Brewer, who has worked both front of house (the Hogsalt Hospitality Group: Au Cheval and Bavette’s, both in Chicago) and back of house (L20, also in Chicago). Look for a lot of the produce and meat to come from the Brewer family ranch in Glen Ellen. Also on the menu: housemade charcuterie and pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and seasonally driven dishes. We’ll keep you posted as this develops. As for the name, it’s an Italian expression for “how cool,” kind of like this project! 838 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

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The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Fans of the fantastic piadine and tortellini pasticciata (a bolognese with béchamel) and lasagna and all the other amazing housemade pastas at ~THE ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY~ in North Beach will be happy to know they have expanded to a location on Union in Cow Hollow (the former American Cupcake space). Yeah, carbs, they gonna get you!

Hoodline reports there are 45 seats, with table seating and a counter (the stools are made from Italian scooter seats, cute). You can also get pasta to go, and look for some new items to come onto the menu. Hours for now are Tue-Sun 11am-9pm; looking for morning hours to start soon. 1919 Union St. at Laguna.

Hoodline also notes owners Mattia Cosmi and Alice Romagnoli are potentially expanding their Columbus store into the space next door; we’ll see how negotiations go. (They’d love to open a full restaurant and pour wine and beer.)

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The newly refreshed interior of Mathilde. Photo from Facebook.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the former Le Charm Bistro in SoMa is home to a slightly different concept from (mostly) the same team. To recap, the new project is called ~MATHILDE~, and Le Charm owner Lina Yew partnered with one of her longtime staff members, Mathilde Gravel, to refashion the space and reopen it. The chef is Thierry Clement (Yew’s husband) of L’Ardoise, and the menu is classic French bistro fare, with some California influence. Their Facebook page mentions that they are now open for lunch too. 315 5th St. at Folsom, 415-546-6128.

Back in July, we reported on the upcoming ~COCO FRIO~, which is moving into the former Savanna Jazz space on Mission. The new spot is opening today, Tuesday September 1st, after being softly open for a bit. To recap, it’s from Manny Torres Gimenez and his wife Katerina De Torres of The Palace, who are bringing an island vibe to San Francisco.

The restaurant takes its inspiration from Torres Gimenez’s childhood visits to Isla Margarita, a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. The idea is that happy hour will actually be happening anytime the restaurant is open, with drink specials and small plates priced from $5-$10, or opt for the three-course tasting menu for $29.99 (or, um, just think of it as $30). Dishes are inspired from island street food and include arepas and lots of seafood. There is also a full bar, with tropically inspired cocktails including the signature Coco Frio ($15) for two, with rum, coconut rum, coconut water, and lime, all served in a fresh coconut. The menu will change daily, but you can check out a sample menu here. Hours are Wed-Sun 4pm-10pm. 2937 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-375-1185.

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The counter at Ino. Yelp photo by Jenny Q.

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The window at the Crème Brûlée Cart shop (photo via Facebook).

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Photo courtesy of La Boulange.

Whooooosh, you ready for a bunch of news about closures? First up, stinky tofu HQ ~SPICES!~ has reportedly closed (thanks to Chowhound for the news). Fortunately, Spices II (291 6th Ave.) remains open, but here’s hoping they get some of their luster back—things have been slipping a bit there lately. (You can read our past review of both places here.) 294 8th Ave. at Clement.

We broke the news a couple of months ago that there was an ABC license transfer under way for ~INO SUSHI~, with Ayumi and Kiyoshi Hayakawa of ~KOO SUSHI~ apparently taking over the space with a project listed as An Sushi. Sadly no one from Koo will confirm our queries, so the project details are TBD for now. But back to Ino: Ino-san and his wife are in fact retiring and closing the restaurant (Eater confirmed the closure is this week)—numerous people have been visiting to say farewell to Ino-san’s superlative ankimo. And now the city loses another one of its infamous culinary Nazi/control freak types. 22 Peace Plaza, Suite 510 at Buchanan, 415-922-3121.

Fans of the neighborhood-friendly ~MINAMI~ in the Outer Richmond will be sorry to hear it has closed its doors—reports on Yelp state the nice owners have retired. 1900 Clement St. at 20th Ave.

Hoodline filed a report of the closure dates of the 23 ~LA BOULANGE~ locations throughout the Bay Area this month and also floated the rumor that Pascal Rigo is potentially taking over the leases of some of the locations. Nothing is confirmed for now, so we’ll wait to hear from Rigo on what’s next.

Looks like the folks at Big Night Restaurant Group realized they can make more money using the ~MARLOWE BURGER~ location as an event space, so they have stopped service and it’s now a private dining space (Marlowe @330). You can book it for a cocktail party reception, a burger party, or a seated dinner, with room for up to 60 guests (standing).

Another space change: Curtis Kimball listed his brick-and-mortar location in the Mission for his ~CRÈME BRÛLÉE CART~ business, stating that his business was better suited for the evening, and the area is more of a daytime vibe. Looks like he got a taker for the space, starting today, September 1st. Best to Curtis, who will continue with his carts, and doing catering and special events (here’s another ad he’s running for help). 3338 24th St. at Bartlett.

Brunch mainstay on Valencia, ~BOOGALOOS~, has suffered a crazy rent increase, and now the space is listed on LoopNet. They’ve been in that location since 1994, what the hell. A comment on Facebook from the restaurant says, “Boogaloos lovers! We are not dead yet. Stay tuned for updates as we search for a new location. In the meantime…Order Up!!” Eater reports GM Peter Hood is going to remain open “as long as we can for our employees. Our main concern is keeping our current staff employed and helping them find new jobs.” 3296 22nd St. at Valencia.

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The SFPD Blue burger at Papa Mak’s. Yelp photo by Michael A.

Looking for an after-beach burger? You’re in luck because ~PAPA MAK’S BURGERS~ has opened today, Tuesday September 1st, just a few blocks from Ocean Beach in the Outer Sunset. The menu includes a lamb patty, chicken sandwich, and even a duck burger, with lots of toppings. Of course, there is also a classic beef option. You can also opt for one of their specials or build your own. Initial Yelp reviews are positive and call out the burgers, as well as fresh salads and good fries. Hours are daily 11am-9pm. 3755 Noriega St. at 45th Ave., 415-340-3171.

Yelpers also caught the opening of ~PAO JAO~ in the International Food Court in the Financial District. The lunch spot serves a mash-up of ramen and Korean-style dumplings (both thick-skinned pao and thin-skinned jao)—initial reviews are mixed but mention the king dumpling as a winner, and the price is right. 380 Bush St., Suite 6, at Kearny, 415-781-0201.

If you think the problem with your dining experience is having to deal with actual people, never fear. A new restaurant called ~EATSA~ is here to spare you that pain, with a completely server-free experience. Misanthropes, here’s your spot! Eatsa has developed an automated ordering system, cubby system for pickup, and an automated pay station. All the bowls are quinoa-based and vegetarian, and cost $6.95 each. You can add extras, order additional sides, and there is also a selection of house beverages. Check out the menu here and start speculating about what’s next. Delivery via Google self-driving car, perhaps? 121 Spear St. at Market.

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The patio at Arguello. Photo: © Henrik Kam 2014.

We’ve got a bunch of quick updates on hours at Traci Des Jardins’ projects in the Presidio, mostly about service hours. Ready? First, ~THE COMMISSARY~ is no longer serving lunch, but you can catch dinner Mon-Thu 5:30pm-9pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. Mon-Fri, they also open at 5pm for light bites and drinks. 101 Montgomery St. at Sheridan, 415-561-3600.

~TRANSIT~ has expanded its hours to include Saturdays. You can find them Mon-Fri 7:30am-5:30pm and Sat 9am-5:30pm. 215 Lincoln Blvd. at Graham, 415-561-5300.

And last but not least, ~ARGUELLO~ is now open for lunch on Tuesdays. Hours are now Tue lunch only 11am-4pm; Wed-Fri lunch 11am-3pm, bar menu 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; Sat brunch 11am-3pm, bar menu 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; and Sun brunch only 11am-4pm. 50 Moraga Ave. at Graham, 415-561-3650.

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One of the many cases of meaty products at Belcampo Meat Co.’s new Mission location. Photo courtesy of Belcampo Meat Co.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the 4505 Meats shop in the Mission has closed, and a new location of ~BELCAMPO MEAT CO.~ has moved in. Their latest location is now open, just as a retail shop (no restaurant). They are selling their meats, sausages, stocks, and other meaty culinary building blocks, as well as grab-and-go meals to reheat at home. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm and Sat-Sun 10am-7pm. 1909 Mission St. at 15th St., 415-914-0637.

When mega cheese mothership ~GOURMET & MORE~ in Hayes Valley closed, many in the neighborhood were worried it might be gone forever. Well, not quite, according to Hoodline. Gourmet & More owner Laurent Recollon has sold the business to two friends, married couple Shirley Ng and Phithak Resakual, who have been supplying cheese to Recollon for years. They have more than 30 years of cheese experience between the two of them.

The new project will be called ~SAN FRANCISCO WINE & CHEESE COMPANY~ and will continue to offer gourmet cheese, though they may shift away from the mostly French focus and offer more local choices. There will also be wine available by the glass, as well as sandwiches and some meats, plus they’ll be adding local chocolates to the lineup. The space has a nice back patio, where they will serve tea and house-roasted coffee. They plan to reopen in the next few weeks. 141 Gough St. at Oak.

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Volunteers sort bell peppers at the SF-Marin Food Bank. Photo from Facebook.

We’ve talked about food insecurity before on tablehopper, and it always bears mentioning that even as our beautiful city becomes a bastion of good food and good drink, many in our community are struggling to put food on the table. In fact, as San Francisco becomes more expensive, it’s even more challenging for many families to get by.

To bring attention to the challenges of eating on a very strict budget, the SF-Marin Food Bank is participating in Hunger Action Month this September. In addition to its major push as kids head back to school and families get ready for the holidays, the food bank will be working to match a pledge from Riverbed Technology for $100,000, matching every dollar they raise in September. For more information on how to donate, head here.

You can also participate by joining the Hunger Challenge from Monday September 14th through Friday September 18th. You’ll be challenged to eat on just $4.50 a day, the food stamp average. The Food Bank will provide recipes on their website and will moderate a conversation on Twitter about the experience.

While you take the challenge, tweet what it’s like, and share with them at @SFMFoodBank. Encourage your community to think about hunger with the Hunger Challenge in a tweet: can you live on $4.50 a day? Take the #HungerChallenge and share your experience with @SFMFoodBank.

You can sign up for the challenge right here, and don’t forget to continue the conversation on Twitter!

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The dining room at Ajanta. Facebook photo by Marty Snortum.

I know people deserve their retirement, especially folks in the restaurant industry, because it’s like dog years. But still, it’s tough to learn about folks like the kind Lachu Moorjani of ~AJANTA~ leaving us! (He opened the restaurant in 1993.) I noticed an ABC filing, and reached out to Lachu, who confirmed that the owner of Taste of the Himalayas, Rajan Thapa, is buying Ajanta, along with partner Al Satake. The sale is not final at this time—it’s contingent upon transfer of all the licenses and the lease. The guess is that it will probably take about month and a half for all the transfers.

The good news is, the buyers want to keep everything exactly the way it is and have asked Lachu to stay for a while (the man is a font of recipes and special dishes!). He will be working with them full time for about 15 days after close of escrow and has committed to work part-time for at least 6 months thereafter. After that, he says, “My wife and I are both very fond of travelling and we want to travel as much as we can, before both of us are too old. I am so looking forward to doing that.” And they so deserve it. Thank you, Lachu and Shanti, for everything you have done to promote beautiful eating and cooking! This just means we’ll all need to cook more from their book, Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India.

Another retirement: the team behind ~BAY WOLF~ has closed the restaurant after 40 years. We mentioned the closure was imminent a couple of months ago, but we wanted to be sure you saw the farewell letter from Michael Wild, Larry Goldman, and Michael Phelps. Enjoy your vacations, gents! 3853 Piedmont Ave. at Rio Vista, Oakland.

One more retirement to hit the 510: Amelia Bucci, Paul Camardo, and Les Julian of ~BUCCI’S~ in Emeryville will be closing the much-adored restaurant on September 30th, after serving more pasta and meatballs than anyone could possibly count (since 1988!). You can read more in the Mercury News. Again, enjoy your well-earned vacation and travels! 6121 Hollis St. at Doyle, Emeryville, 510-547-4725.