December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015
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The classic two-olive martini at the just as classic Bix. Photo: Kristen Loken.

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Ho ho ho! The #LetsHolidayy SKYY Vodka Limited Edition Holidayy Sweater Bottle will keep you toasty. Photo: Ashley McLaughlin, Edible Perspective.

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Bix’s famed potato pillows with caviar and crème fraîche. Photo: Kristen Loken.

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Live music and the looooong bar, both hallmarks of Bix. Photo via Bix’s Facebook page.

THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT, THANKS EVERYONE!

Okay folks, the holidays are here, so it’s time for some cheer—and cheers! Yes, the boozy kind. I am so excited to announce I am hosting a two-martini lunch at the one and only ~BIX~ on Friday December 18th. Is there a better place for a swanky-retro holiday lunch? No, sir! No, ma’am! And this may be my last event before I leave for New York for six months, so I do hope you can come!

We are going to be hosting the event with San Francisco’s own SKYY Vodka. (Is there anything cuter than that SKYY Vodka Limited Edition Holidayy Sweater Bottle? I die.) For the gin martini purists, you can opt to have yours made with Bulldog London dry gin. I drank many vodka martinis at the long Bix bar when I moved to San Francisco in 1994, so I am happy to continue the tradition, especially with a vodka that got its start here in SF in 1992. Ah, the ’90s! Blurry memories.

We are also going to have some fantastic entertainment: the fabulous chanteuse Veronica Klaus will be entertaining us with some holiday tunes, while the captivating Tammy Hall will be tickling the ivories.

As for the menu, we’ll start with martini number one at the bar with some passed appetizers (including the famed potato pillows with crème fraîche and caviar, plus black truffle and caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwiches and Bix’s famous steak tartare). Chef Emmanuel Eng will ensure we have a great start to the festivities!

Then we’ll make our way upstairs for the sit-down portion of lunch and martini number two. You can choose from a butter lettuce salad with smoked trout or the soup of the day, and for the main course, there’s petrale sole dore with Bloomsdale spinach, chanterelle mushrooms, and beurre blanc; Bix chicken hash; or my favorite cloth napkin burger in the city, the Bix classic cheeseburger. Decisions, decisions.

Dessert includes your choice of vanilla crème brûlée, their famed warm chocolate brioche bread pudding (uh-huh), or the sorbet of the day. Coffee or tea are included, and some of you may need it more than others.

You are going to waddle and weave out of there—this is what happens in the Barbary Coast—so please don’t drive (or have any important afternoon meetings). And anyone drinking more than two martinis is responsible for purchasing any additional ones (and will be held responsible for their behavior, ha-ha!). Because remember, as Dorothy Parker said: “I like to have a martini, two at the very most—after three I’m under the table, after four, I’m under my host.” We’ll see about that.

When you buy your ticket, feel free to note if there are guests you want to sit with! We’re going to have tables of four to eight guests each and will be doing our best to seat friends and colleagues together—or you will make some new friends!

The reception at the bar will start at 12pm, with the seated lunch beginning at 12:30pm. Tickets for the entire fandango are $80, all-inclusive (two martinis, lunch, tax, and tip). As the fine folks at SKYY are saying: #LetsHolidayy (and follow the @SKYYVodka Twitter account for fun holiday recipes). See you in a few weeks!

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A pic of the in-process mural at Matador. Image courtesy of Matador.

A fun project is coming to the former Sugar Café called ~MATADOR~, which will be a taco bar and tequileria. Sugar owner Keith Goodman has brought in Miriam Lipton (Tender) and Kris Esqueda (Huxley) to create, design, and operate the venture.

Chef Juan Martinez, a longtime sous chef from Tres, will be offering nine varieties of tacos, a selection of appetizers, and salads. Take a look at the menu here, which includes queso fundido, lamb albondigas, esquites, and pozole rojo. Taco options include carnitas, New York strip, Negra Modelo battered shrimp, and the queso with griddled Oaxaca cheese, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, cactus, and Anaheim chile.

Adam Chapman (Plum, Chez Papa) is consulting on the bar program, which will include frozen margaritas, a variety of tequila, mezcal, and whisky cocktails, and beer and sangria by the pitcher. Two brothers are heading up the bar (and are working with Chapman on the program): Joselino and Edgar Solis, who have both worked for many years at La Mar, where Joselino was the bar manager and oversaw the cocktail program.

The space was refreshed to have a clean, natural, and open feeling. White oak was used for a built-in banquette (with leather cushions), the bar, and the large back bar; the front of the bar features old-world encaustic tile (decorative tile made of cement) and will be a focal point in the room. It ends up the entire team has Mexican ancestry (some a lot, some a little), so they will be displaying some old family photos (even from the construction team!). There will be about 50 seats, and there is also covered seating on the patio for about a dozen.

They are hoping to open the first week in January (maybe on the 4th)—we’ll keep you updated. Matador will be open daily for lunch and dinner, and eventually they plan to serve until 2am on the weekend.

It’s sure to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, considering it will be one of the few Mexican restaurants (with tequila!) serving Union Square, Lower Nob Hill, Downtown, and the Tenderloin. 679 Sutter St. at Taylor.

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Exterior of CAW Pacific. Photo via CAW’s Instagram.

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The barista station at CAW Pacific. Photo courtesy of CAW.

At long last, the Russian Hill location of ~CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES~ is opening this Friday December 4th. It’s conveniently where a bunch of neighborhoods intersect: Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, and Cow Hollow are all close, so folks on that side of town no longer need to trek to the Mission for chef-founder William Werner’s inventive creations.

The café and pâtisserie will serve breakfast items like their frittata breakfast sandwich (you should really try that amazing thing) and pastries, while lunch will include sandwiches, salads, and savory tarts. You can pick up baguettes, other breads, and of course, desserts like caramel-walnut-mandarin tarts. Plus, some holiday treats will be available this month, such as smoked ginger molasses and shortbread wreath cookies; bûche de Noël with hazelnut, gingerbread, and toasted hay buttercream; and panettone with candied Buddha’s hand and Meyer lemon, pistachios, and cocoa nibs. Gah, commence the cravings! It’s also a great place to pick up some gifts from their retail section, like their matcha milk jam.

Coffee service is from Oakland’s Highwire Coffee (plus you can order their Howling Wolf nitro cold brew), and tea lovers will find a variety of quality Taiwanese oolong teas from Naivetea. And then there’s Valrhona sipping chocolate and warm salted butter caramel when it gets chilly outside.

The space is dark and dramatic—yet full of natural sunlight. MAK Studio is behind the eye-catching and minimal design, which includes a 20-foot pastry case made of “flamed and bush hammered stone” inside a bleached wood paneled box lined with blackened steel. And then there’s the 1950 Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle that Werner dismantled and suspended on a main wall. It’s time for rugged pastries! There is seating for 18 at both high- and low-top tables.

Open Mon-Thu 7am-6pm, Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 8am-7pm, and Sun 8am-6pm. 1643 Pacific Ave. at Polk.

Two more exciting notes: CAW will also be opening a smaller shop and café out in Bayview, next to their commercial kitchen, called ~THE DEN~. It will be grab and go, providing breakfast and lunch items for neighbors and neighboring businesses, plus coffee and tea. Look for a late January opening on this one. Corner of Yosemite and Keith.

Lastly, CAW Valencia is hosting a cookbook launch party for chef-owner Zachary Golper of Bien Cuit this Friday, with treats, bubbles, and talk. 6pm, tickets here.

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Nojo’s dining room. Photo from Facebook.

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The iconic Roosevelt Tamale Parlor sign; Yelp photo by Marina N.

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

Back in October, we mentioned that ~NOJO~ was back open for a few months, and now it has closed again as it transforms into a “brand-new ramen izakaya concept in early January” (per the website). We’ll keep you posted on AP Company’s new project. The website hints, “Soft opening dates will be available in December with a sneak peek menu and limited seating.” Scoop reports “[previous owner Greg] Dunmore will not be involved in the future ramen shop, but says he may consult for the company in the future. He is currently working on his Japanese products importing company.”

Sorry to share the news that Aaron Presbrey and chef Barry Moore have decided to close ~ROOSEVELT TAMALE PARLOR~ at the end of this week. Their closure note is a heartfelt one, so I thought I’d just reprint it verbatim here:

“Due to a combination of factors including personal health issues and a shrinking restaurant labor pool which has fueled unsustainable wage expectations, we have been forced to close the brick and mortar location of the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. This decision was in NO way influenced by our landlord who has been nothing but reasonable and fair with us.

“Although this may seem sudden to you, that is only because we have had to keep this agonizing decision making process private in order to ensure that we didn’t prematurely eliminate any options. For those of you who crave the house gravy or the table salsa, we do hope and plan to bring you many of the flavors you have come to love in jars at retail in the near future.

“We would like to thank all of you who supported us and communed with us as we steered this Grande Dame through her golden years. We would also like to think she was as great at her passing as at any other point in her illustrious, long and full lifetime.”

Best wishes to the gents, and I will keep you posted of any news regarding retail sales of their tasty salsa and sauces. You can also keep up with them on their Facebook page. 2817 24th St. at York, 415-824-2600.

And wow, it’s hard to believe the surly pirate has left the ship, but ~SINBAD’S~ has officially closed. I’ve been following their updates on Facebook—including some winning pics of seafood with broccoli and pilaf on the side and a Coors Light (in a bottle) proudly and unironically sitting in the background—and was surprised to finally see a post about their closure. Arrrrrrr! And now the Port of San Francisco can start construction on the new ferry terminal. Pier 2, 141 The Embarcadero.

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Brunch at ABV. Photo via ABV’s Instagram.

There are some changes at ~ABV~, with chef Kevin Cimino, maker of the insane pimento cheeseburger, moving on. We contacted him about what’s next, and he says, “helping out friends with various projects/openings.” Assuming the role as chef is Collin Hilton, who has worked at ABV as a sous since day one and collaborated on many dishes. Hilton will gradually update the menu over the next couple of months and says that since he really respects the standards of delicious set by the current dishes, when he subs in a new dish, it will really rock.

Just added to the menu is a beef tongue Reuben, with the tongue corned and smoked and sliced, served with sauerkraut, mustard, and Thousand Island dressing on thickly sliced bread that is like pain de mie-meets-pullman, but made with rye flour and caraway. He also mentioned a breakfast bratwurst, with ginger, parsley, and sage in a sweet potato hot dog bun, and then there’s the avocado toast with a sesame-trout crudo on top, with the flavors of a poke (and this comes on Tartine’s country loaf).

He’ll be keeping dishes bar-friendly and utensil-free, although you will need a little spear to spike the Brussels sprouts with XO sauce (they make it with prosciutto) and cheese curds (which makes perfect sense when you learn he’s an Indiana boy, and his sous chef, Nick Salazar, is also from the Midwest).

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Salads at Heyday. Yelp photo by Uli B.

By Dana Eastland. Hoodline reports that there is a taker for the former Samovar space in the Lower Haight. Chef Brad Roth (previously of Bistro Central Parc and Epic Steak) is moving into the space, with a café called ~REVELRY BISTRO~. They will serve coffee, tea, and pastries during the day, and brunch items via counter service in the mornings. Then, in the evening, they’ll switch to table service with a full, bistro-style menu. Right now, the opening is planned for early 2016. 297 Page St. at Laguna.

Downtown’s quality lunch options are growing, with the addition of a second ~HEYDAY~. According to Facebook, the second location is now open and serving breakfast items and daily lunch specials including salads and sandwiches. There is also an espresso bar for all your caffeine needs. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-7pm. 555 Mission St. at 2nd St., 415-659-6868.

The third location of ~ELEPHANT SUSHI~ that we mentioned more than a year ago is now open. Hoodline reports that the newest Tenderloin location of the small chain is focused on omakase and is quite tiny: there are only 12 seats at the counter, and all seating is first come first served. Hours are Wed-Sat 1pm-3pm and 6pm-11pm. 705 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-374-7186.

Ready for serious food exploration on your television screen? Then don’t miss director Grace Lee’s latest, called Off the Menu: Asian America. The documentary follows Lee as she travels across the United States, seeking out stories of Asian Americans and food, culture, and community. Stories range from Wisconsin’s Sikh community to New York City’s Fung Tu restaurant. The film is a project from CAAM Media and is premiering on PBS on Tuesday December 8th; check local listings for times. For even more smart takes on the topic, check out this great review of the film and the current state of Asian-American cuisine and the question of authenticity from The New Yorker.

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The pint-sized Coffee Mission. Yelp photo by Juliana O.

By Dana Eastland. There’s yet another spot in the Mission for coffee. This one is called ~COFFEE MISSION~ and is serving Verve Coffee, in both pour-over and espresso form. Yelpers report friendly service, good coffee choices, and well-made espresso from a La Marzocco machine. Apparently the space is small, without much in terms of seating, so it’s more of a takeout spot than a still-life-with-laptop place. Hours are Mon-Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 7am-6pm, Sun 8am-6pm. 3325 24th St. at Osage, 415-874-9419.

The ~PHILZ COFFEE~ empire just won’t quit. A new store in the ground floor of the Hyatt on Market Street is softly open today, so you can get your mint mojito fix there as of, well, right now. The new location will be accepting orders from OrderAhead if you’re not into lines, and there is ample outdoor space in front. It’s also worth noting that another downtown location is planned for 300 Folsom Street; that location will hopefully open by the end of the year. 5 Embarcadero Center at Market and Embarcadero.

The brand-new ~BLUE BOTTLE~ kiosks are currently open at the Ferry Building—and without a line, notes Hoodline. Ferry Building Plaza at Embarcadero.

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The bar and dining room at The Dorian. Photo courtesy of The Dorian.

By Dana Eastland. Recently opened Marina restaurant ~THE DORIAN~ is now serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3:30pm. The menu includes some pastry options like huckleberry scones (two for $5) and cinnamon sticky buns with whiskey caramel sauce ($7), as well as a grilled shrimp chop salad ($17) and a classic toad in the hole ($12). There are also plenty of cocktails, and the raw bar will be in full swing. 2001 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-814-2671.

~ALTA CA~ is hosting a special pop-up brunch for two weekends only: this Saturday and Sunday December 5th and 6th, and then again on the 12th and 13th, from 10am to 2:30pm. It’s called Holla! and is a celebration of challah, in many forms. The menu includes challah French toast, of course, as well as eggs Benedict on toasted challah, with pastrami and dill brown butter hollandaise. There are also special cocktails available for the occasion.

There’s a new brunch pop-up at ~TSK/TSK~, called Broderick’s. It’s from chef Ryan Chinchilla of Foreign Cinema and Blue Plate and includes a comforting American menu with options like sunny-side up eggs atop polenta with maitake mushrooms ($12), or try the chicken nuggets with chipotle ketchup, Thai barbecue sauce, and aioli ($10). Oh, and there’s a burger ($12) too. Peek at the whole menu here. Broderick’s brunch is served Saturdays from 11am-4pm. 528 Divisadero St. at Fell, 415-522-0800.

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Light in the darkness. Flickr photo by Len Radin.

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Shorty’s bagels. Photo courtesy of Shorty Goldstein’s.

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You know you want it: the new bagels at Shorty Goldstein’s, here with schmear and gravlax. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hanukkah begins at sunset on Sunday December 6th, and lasts until Monday December 14th, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate with light, fried foods, and more.

First, ~SHORTY GOLDSTEIN’S~ is celebrating the season with some Friday night dinners this month, on December 4th, 11th, and 18th. Each of the evenings will feature a seven-course tasting menu, with what owner Michael Siegel calls “fancified Jewish food” (so, not their usual deli fare, though pastrami will make an appearance), along with wine and beer pairings. You can check out the menus right here, including a fun “Jewish Christmas,” Chinese food-inspired menu on December 18th. Seatings are at 8pm, and tickets are $96 per person, including food, beer, wine, and a service fee.

Also, news flash: Shorty’s is also serving freshly baked bagels every morning (you lucky FiDi workers, you!). The bagels are pulled out of the oven at 8am and are available with schmear, gravlax, or as breakfast sandwiches (there’s one with pastrami, cheese, and egg, in case a holiday party put the hurt on you). You can get all the classic flavors (plain, poppy, sea salt, everything, sesame), but what’s unique is how he’s doing the onion bagel—instead of the onion getting burnt on the top of the bagel, Siegel mixes it in with the dough (and now the top and bottom halves are both delicious). Look for more flavors coming soon, like caraway and pumpernickel.

There is a limit of six per person, but you can order 24 hours in advance if you want to style your office with some really flavorful, chewy, golden bagels. Siegel has been working on them for the past three months, and you can really taste his handiwork on these!

And last but not least, don’t forget that Shorty’s offers Hanukkah catering options to make the holidays just a tad easier. 126 Sutter St. at Montgomery, 415-986-2676.

~COMAL~ is hosting two “Oaxanukkah” dinners during Hanukkah, on Monday December 7th and Tuesday December 8th. They both begin at 6:30pm, and the menu includes dishes inspired by both Oaxacan and Jewish food traditions. Look for braised brisket with ancho chile adobo, carrots, and raisins, and buñuelos with bitter orange marmalada. Tickets are $70 per person and include food and tip; beverages will be available for purchase.

Chef Jeff Banker is offering a few special Hanukkah classics at ~BLUESTEM BRASSERIE~, available only on Thursday December 10th. You’ll find latkes and braised brisket on the regular menu, as well as matzo ball soup.

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By Dana Eastland. The ~MUSEUM OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA~ is hosting a supercool dinner on Tuesday December 8th. It’s in partnership with their first-ever chef-in-residence, Bryant Terry, and The People’s Kitchen. Terry is preparing a menu that celebrates and reflects on the culinary resistance and resilience of the African diaspora. Dinner will be served family style in an interactive and “unapologetically political environment” and will include live music, storytelling, and an after-dinner dance party. Tickets are $100, and the dinner runs from 7pm-10pm. 685 Mission St. at 3rd St.

Glide, the Bay Area Professional Women’s Network, and Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant have partnered for a special holiday toy drive and brunch on Saturday December 5th from 11am to 4pm. Drop off new, unused toys at Local Kitchen anytime they are open between now and the event, and then attend the buffet brunch there on Saturday. You’ll get $10 off your ticket with code SANTA, and you’ll be helping children in need this holiday season.

Tickets are $35 for brunch with your choice of one beverage (coffee, tea, or mimosa) or $45 for brunch with bottomless mimosas. The event is kid-friendly, and Santa will be in attendance for photos. 330 1st St. at Folsom.

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Breads on display at Firebrand’s brand-new location. Yelp photo by Vittorio L.

~FIREBRAND ARTISAN BREADS~ has opened in their brand-new location in The Hive in Uptown Oakland. The new location serves wood-fired breads from baker and founder Matt Kreutz, as well as pastries from Colleen Orlando. There are also sandwiches at lunch from Pal’s Takeaway and coffee from Highwire Coffee Roasters. The bakery is open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm, and Pal’s is serving Mon-Fri 11:30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 2343 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-594-9213.