December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

Chef Rob Lam of Butterfly. Photo courtesy of Butterfly.


Bun rieu/Dungeness crab noodle soup with fat rice noodles, rock shrimp, fish cake, fried tofu, Dirty Girl tomatoes. Photo: ©


Array of pork and shrimp skewers, with lettuce, herbs, sauces, and rice paper wrappers. Photo: ©


Canh ga chien/caramel chicken wings française with yuzu shrimp paste. Photo: ©

Did you ever get a chance to attend the two Vietnamese dinners I hosted with Feastly earlier this year? Did all the pictures from our event on Sunday, Jook Joint, make you hungry? Well, if you missed out on chef Rob Lam’s amazing food, or you would love to try some more of his dishes, here’s your chance, because we’re hosting another feast! And we mean feast: we’re gonna stuff ya!

This Friday December 16th, we’re hosting Family Style, a Vietnamese family-style dinner, paired with the restrained and elegant European-style wines from Ernest Vineyards, which are primarily sourced from carefully selected vineyards around Sonoma County. Wait until you taste these beautifully made and food-friendly wines! We did a preliminary tasting and were so happy to see how marvelously these wines paired with the menu. And since we’re partnering with Feastly, we’re going to be dining in a cool location in the Mission.

This Vietnamese feast will be prepared by chef Rob Lam of Butterfly, who is also a dear friend and one of my very favorite people to dine out with. I have been lucky over the years to enjoy some of his home cooking and dishes you won’t find on the menu at Butterfly, so here’s your opportunity to try his seriously delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Rob was born in Vietnam, and when his family moved to Southern California after the fall of Saigon, his mother opened a restaurant called Vien Dong, just outside of Los Angeles, so restaurants are in his blood. And since Rob cares deeply about using quality ingredients, expect things to taste extra-special, with many housemade sauces and more.

During the evening, we have Ernest Vineyards co-founder Erin Brooks and sommelier and wine educator Eugenio Jardim, winner of Sunset Magazine’s 2010 Sommelier of the Year Award, who will be walking us through the pairings and educating us on these exquisite, site-specific wines, from the Eugenia rosé of cinsault (which is going to become your new favorite) to the fresh and floral Edaphos chardonnay, plus a pinot noir and grenache too.

The dinner will begin at 6:30pm, starting with an amuse on arrival (including bo tai chanh/hanger steak carpaccio and tartare). You can view the menu and wine pairings here. There will be three courses of authentic and flavorful dishes—from fried chicken wings with yuzu shrimp paste to bun rieu (Dungeness crab, egg, and tomato noodle soup with fried tofu and shrimp cake)—and the main event will be the bountiful family-style skewers course, served with a variety of pork and shrimp skewers (including some you have never seen before!), sauces, lettuce, herbs, and DIY rice paper wrappers. Get ready to roll up your sleeves.

With each course, you’ll enjoy an Ernest Vineyards wine pairing. There will also be dessert at the end: warm chocolate pot de crème with Vietnamese coffee sauce and matcha chantilly. Mmmmhmmm. No pairing for that one—it stands on its own! We’re planning to wrap up around 9:30pm, but probably closer to 10pm—you know how these things go. Sorry we can’t accommodate vegetarians at this meal since it’s a set menu.

Tickets are available on Feastly for just $80, all-inclusive. Yes, this is a steal, so don’t delay on getting your seat, we only have a few tickets left! We are selling tickets to the bar seats separately, you can nab those here. I can’t wait to see you, especially around a table covered with delicious food prepared by one of my favorite chefs! See you!


The looooooong and loaded counter and case at Jane the Bakery. Photo: Bread & Butter.


Lemon and poppy knot at Jane the Bakery. Photo: Bread & Butter.


Pesto-artichoke flatbread at Jane the Bakery. Instagram photo via @janethebakery.

Newly open and adding a wonderful fresh-baked perfume to the neighborhood (and I’m not talking about the green stuff) is ~JANE THE BAKERY~ in the former KFC/Taco Bell complex, right next to Imperial Spa. This is owner Amanda Michael’s third location, and it’s more of a retail/production bakery than café—and you can watch the bakers at work!

Head baker Jorgen Carlsen (previously Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station and Craftsman & Wolves), executive pastry chef Alex Terazzas, and bakery manager Kellie Slingerland are cranking out an extensive selection of breads, pastries, and baked goods.

There are always some inventive touches, like mini cookies in peanut butter tahini or chocolate sourdough. There are many favorites, like their cookies and banana bread and cinnamon rolls, plus a full range of breads (walnut fig; olive, lemon, and thyme; ancient grains; baguettes) and braided challah on Fridays only, plus vegan and gluten-free options too.

Savory items include a spicy sausage, red pepper, and provolone croissant, and a pesto-artichoke flatbread (follow @JanetheBakery on Instagram for flavor updates!). You’ll also find grab-and-go salads, soups, and sandwiches.

Full coffee service is available (espresso, pour-over, cold brew), using their house blend, “Bread and Butter,” and there’s also a new line of housemade teas, house-pressed Juicy Jane Juices, hot chocolate, housemade chai, iced matcha, kombucha, and more.

There is limited seating, but you may get lucky with a space in the parking lot out front (score). Open daily 7am-6pm. 1881 Geary St. at Steiner, 415-658-7971.


How they roll at Les Clos. Photo via Facebook.

The Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Leo’s Oyster Bar, Park Tavern, The Cavalier) can’t stop, won’t stop. Up next is ~PETIT MARLOWE~, which they are opening in Mark Bright’s Les Clos space. The concept is to open a neighborhood wine bar and “oysterette.” Good news: they will be keeping Bright on as wine adviser, so fans of his sick cellar stocked with Burgundy, well, you aren’t getting cut off. Chef Jennifer Puccio will be rolling out quite the raw bar, plus steak tartare, charcuterie, cheeses, salads, egg dishes, and more, while pastry chef Emily Luchetti will be doing her dessert magic.

The 50-seat space is getting an old-world glam revamp under Ken Fulk, with flea market finds from Paris, plus maroon banquette seating, a Carrara marble bar, brass cocktail tables, crystal chandeliers, and mirrored ceiling panels (ooh la la). Look for an opening in March. Hours will be Mon-Wed 4pm-10pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-11pm. 234 Townsend St. at 4th St.


A classic slice from Slice House. Photo courtesy of Slice House.


Feta cheese- and green olive-filled sambusak at Taboon Bakery. Photo via Facebook.


The counter at Taboon Bakery. Photo via Facebook.

This news definitely made me happy since it’s just a 15-minute walk away: Tony Gemignani’s ~SLICE HOUSE~ is now open in the Upper Haight, and expect some neighborhood influences on the shop. It ends up the space was originally Ron and Jay Thelin’s Psychedelic Shop (via Scoop), the first head shop in the West, and while you won’t be able to order a magic mushroom pizza, there will be some special pies and more on the menu that pay homage to the neighborhood, like the Purple Haze slice. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 1535 Haight St. at Ashbury, 415-552-2520.

Newly open in SoMa right in the thick of things at 6th Street and Minna, is ~TABOON BAKERY~, the city’s first kosher bakery. I have been tracking this place since Hoodline mentioned the project quite awhile ago, which has three Israeli partners. They are focused on making traditional baked items, and partner Avi Edri tells me they have four different ovens to handle all the different kinds of dough Yanni (no last name) the baker is making (a “taboon” is a classic type of oven typically found in the Middle East).

The menu looks fantastic, from fluffy pita to sweet braided buns to rugelach, plus savory breads like onion and tomato sauce pizza, garlic bread, focaccia, and cheese burekas. And there will be sufganiyot, just in time for Hanukkah. There are also special dips they are making, and they use imported spices for maximum authenticity. They expect to ramp up with even more items soon. There are also some gluten-free items. Open Sun-Fri 8am-8pm. 132 6th St. at Minna, 628-444-3666.

Lower Pac Heights residents have a new sushi place near Japantown, ~AKIRA JAPANESE RESTAURANT~. Take a look at the lunch menu and dinner menu, which look pretty straightforward. Open lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. 1634 Bush St at Franklin, 415-800-8498.


Serpentine photo via Facebook.

Restaurant owner Erin Rooney sold Slow Club to Paul Einbund last year, who recently opened The Morris, and now she has sold her other iconic restaurant, ~SERPENTINE~, to Tommy Halvorson, who is the new chef-owner (Rooney will now be a silent partner). His background includes Foxtail Catering (currently), plus Bix, Chez Panisse, and The Phoenix Supper Club. Scoop reports that Halvorson will not be making many big changes, just some tweaks to the menu and the space, and he may be integrating some of his Southern background into some dishes. The revamp is happening from now into February—the restaurant will not be closing for any of the changes. It’s also going to be turning 10, so the time is right for a new haircut.