April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017
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There’s a reason Alfred’s is beloved for their steaks—they do it right (and have been doing so for almost 80 years!). Photo courtesy of Alfred’s.

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A look at the former Champagne Room at the Blue Fox. (For more details, go here.)

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Some of my collection of Blue Fox and Alfred’s ephemera. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Some of the vintage Blue Fox sterling silver sauceboats are in use at Alfred’s today! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Owl ‘n Turtle room at Alfred’s. Photo via Facebook.

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Many of you know how obsessed I am with vintage San Francisco restaurant ephemera—I have a rather extensive collection of vintage menus, postcards, restaurant guides, and books, which I have started sharing on Instagram with the #tablehoppervintageseries hashtag. And my collection of tablehopper T-shirts highlight vintage SF restaurant and bar designs.

Since I was a little girl, I have been so fascinated with the Blue Fox. I remember my grandfather telling me about it and am so sorry I never had the chance to dine there before it closed after a 60-year run in 1993. I have collected a Blue Fox menu, matchbook, ashtray, drink tokens, and postcards, and have studied this pantheon of fine and Continental dining for years.

Many of you know that the location where Alfred’s is now, on Merchant and Kearny, was formerly the home of the Blue Fox! Alfred’s was originally on Vallejo Street (when it opened in 1928!), and then Broadway, and moved into the current location in 1997. Alfred’s has also held a special place in San Francisco diner hearts, from the recent Petri family years to now, with the respectfully updated version under the Daniel Patterson Group.

On Friday May 12th, I am hosting a dinner I have wanted to host for a long time. It will be an homage to both the Blue Fox and Alfred’s, to times gone by, and to San Francisco and Northern California history. We are partnering with Anchor Distilling Co. and Robert Mondavi Winery this evening, so there will also be a dash of Italian American heritage in this meal as well.

We will be celebrating in the Owl ‘n Turtle private dining room downstairs, complete with a white baby grand piano that Frank Sinatra reputedly played on. We’re going to enjoy listening to Eric Shifrin playing standards throughout the evening, from Hoagy Carmichael to classic songs Frank would have sung. You may recognize Eric from playing at the Fairmont!

It is a great honor to be partnering with Anchor Distilling Co. on this event, our local and beloved distillery! For our reception (beginning at 6pm), guests can enjoy a martini or Martinez—we will be featuring Junípero gin, Old Tom gin, and the very special pot-distilled Old Potrero 18th Century whiskey this evening. (Just wait until you see the vintage bar downstairs.)

Our wine partner for the evening is one of the greats: Robert Mondavi Winery. I was determined to partner with a storied Napa Valley producer for this event, someone you would have seen on the Blue Fox’s and Alfred’s wine lists, and am beyond thrilled we will be pairing wines from this legendary winery and pioneer. A winemaker or veteran wine educator from the property will join the dinner to share the deep Robert Mondavi Winery history and speak to the wines.

Now, the menu! This is a very special creation, which integrates original Blue Fox and Alfred’s dishes and recipes I tracked down! We’re integrating some new touches as well, thanks to chef Bryan Baker.

First Course
antipasto
roasted red pepper, pickled celery, crispy artichokes, garbanzo beans, olives, avocado, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh herbs
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery fumé blanc reserve

Second Course
scampi alla Livornese
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Carneros reserve chardonnay

Third Course
spinach gnocchi, spring onion, peas, beef sugo
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery pinot noir

Fourth Course
roasted filet mignon, asparagus, red wine demiglace
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery reserve cabernet sauvignon

Fifth Course
baked Alaska
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Moscato d’Oro

Please note we will be finalizing the vintages and selections in coming days. Expect something very special, especially with the cabernet selection.

This is not a night you’ll want to miss. It’s going to be a very only-in-San Francisco kind of night. Cocktail attire…start planning your swank vintage outfit now!

The event is $175, inclusive of tax and gratuity—get your ticket here. Your ticket price also includes a tablehopper Blue Fox T-shirt (there is the option to upgrade to an ultra-plush Blue Fox hoodie/sweatshirt instead, ticket price is $190). Thanks to our partners and host, we are able to offer this very unique experience at this special cost (grazie Alfred’s, Anchor Distilling Co., and Robert Mondavi Winery!).

When booking your reservation, please specify any guests you want to be seated with. We are going to have 5 tables of 10.

I also want to note that, as many of you may know, Alfred’s suffered an unfortunate basement fire a couple of weeks ago. They assure me they are going to be reopening within a week—they’re just cleaning up the smoke damage and fixing the electrical issues—and definitely in time for our dinner. See you May 12th!

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New A16 executive chef Nicolette Manescalchi. Photo: Di Desmond.

Congratulations to chef Nicolette Manescalchi, who has been with the ~A16~ group for eight years, most recently as chef de cuisine at A16 in San Francisco; she is now going to be executive chef of the group. A16 executive chef Rocky Maselli, who opened ~A16 ROCKRIDGE~, is going to be moving back to Eugene, Oregon, at the end of May. He will be taking over the reins at Marché for chef-owner (and mother-in-law) Stephanie Pearl Kimmel, who is retiring. Over the next month, he is helping the A16 team with the transition.

Manescalchi was raised baking with her mother and cooking traditional Sicilian food with her father and moved to San Francisco almost eight years ago from Minnesota to work at A16. Not only does she have an English degree from the University of Minnesota, but she also has her culinary degree from the Art Institutes International Minnesota and her sommelier certificate from the International Sommelier Guild. She was so dedicated to learning about Southern Italian food that she even spent her honeymoon in Southern Italy to immerse herself more deeply in the cuisine. She was executive sous chef at A16 Rockridge and helped open it, and one year later took the executive chef position at Le Marais Bakery and opened Le Marais Bistro. She returned to A16 San Francisco as chef de cuisine and is now taking this next step.

A couple of updates regarding both A16 locations: If you have visited A16 SF lately, you would have noted the beautiful pottery in the space, from the pasta bowls to dishes, all by Mary Mar Keenan of MMclay. (Did you know she was originally a server at A16 and made the chile oil containers?) Look for some new ceramics to start making their way to A16 Rockridge…

Also at A16 Rockridge, they are going to be remodeling the private dining room in a couple of months. And here’s a fun thing: A16 is going to have a mobile pizza truck! You may have enjoyed their live fire pizzas at Off the Grid Fort Mason and other events, but now they’re going to have a better oven transport, soon. Will keep you posted.

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Fried chicken served in a skillet with pickles at Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Hazel.

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Whiskeys and TV screens. Photo via Facebook.

Opening at the end of the week is ~HAZEL SOUTHERN BAR & KITCHEN~ in the former Cadence in Mid-Market. Gone are the elephant tusks, and it’s more like a rec room with cookin’ from your friend’s awesome mom. Owner Jamie Boatner and executive chef Casey Hatwig are pulling Southern recipes from Boatner’s mother’s recipe book, like collard green dumplings (Hazel’s collard greens, cream cheese, served with a spicy peach chutney) and Hazel’s fried chicken, served in a skillet or with waffles. The menu has casual fare, like po’boys and tater tot nachos with pimento cheese sauce, fried okra, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, green onions, and sour cream, plus larger plates like shrimp and grits and sides.

As for the rec room side of things, there are two pool tables, 16 TVs, and a retro ’70s vibe from designer Craige Walters, plus private dining rooms and corporate event options.

You’ll find quite the whiskey selection (more than 170 bottlings) and a refreshingly affordable cocktail list ($9-$11), including some classics like a Sazerac and new drinks like a ginger-pineapple mint julep.

Hours are kitchen daily 5pm-1am, bar until 2am. Grand opening is Friday April 28th. 1446 Market St. at Fell, 415-851-8562.

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The cheerful interior at Rincón Nayarit. Yelp photo by Guadalupe E.

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The new Boba Guys Potrero Hill. Photo courtesy of Boba Guys.

Fans of coctel de camaron, tostadas, and the like may want to check out the newly opened ~RINCÓN NAYARIT~, which has opened in the Mission. You can check out their extensive seafood menu online, and it looks like breakfast (chilaquiles, omelettes) and coffee service is also on offer. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-10pm, Sat 7am-10pm, and Sun 8am-10pm. 1500 S Van Ness Ave. Ste 100, at 26th St., 415- 654-5413.

Looks like a sushi spot has taken over the former Epicenter Café: ~ZEN IZAKAYA~. Pictures on Yelp include thinly sliced wagyu beef you place on a hot stone, a variety of oysters on the half shell, nigiri, and funky maki. 764 Harrison St. at 4th St., 415-222-9988.

Feeling a little sleepy? Want some fun in your beverage? There’s a new location of ~BOBA GUYS~ that just opened in Potrero Hill. Get your boba on. Open Tue-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 12pm-8pm, and Sun 12pm-6pm. 1002 16th St. at Missouri, 415-967-2622.

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Coming up this Friday April 28th is a special event, Hallah & Spice Pop-Up Shop, featuring visiting Israeli baker Uri Scheft (of Breads Bakery in New York and the newly released book Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking) and La Boîte’s spice whisperer Lior Lev Sercarz (La Boîte spice shop, The Spice Companion). ~THE PERENNIAL~ is hosting the duo in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center. The pop-up will feature hallah-braiding and spice-blending demos with Uri and Lior; noshes, coffee, and cocktails featuring La Boîte spices for sale from The Perennial; a pop-up shop from La Boîte spices; and signed books for sale from Omnivore Books—the first 40 Breaking Breads book purchases include a fresh hallah, baked just for you by Uri (trust me, you want this!) and the first 40 The Spice Companion purchases include a special spice blend, blended just for you by Lior! 11am-1:30pm. This is a free event! 59 9th St. at Mission.

This Sunday April 30th is the annual Wok on the Wild Side fundraiser for City College of San Francisco’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies Department. There will be plenty of dishes and wines to try, live and silent auctions with proceeds benefiting student programs (including a sausage class, a BBQ tasting, SF Giants tickets, and bottles, magnums, and cases of wine and spirits, plus hotel and restaurant certificates), music, and more. Alumni who will join the students in serving dishes include May Seto of Grand Lake Kitchen, Sarah Lau of Nopa, Robert Hurtado of Arguello, Ryan Gozinsky of Authentic Bagels, Kathleen Kwuan of State Bird Provisions, and more. 4pm-7pm. Tickets are $75. City College of San Francisco—Statler Wing, Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Ave., 415 239-3152.

Also on Sunday April 30th is the reopening of the Mission Community Market’s new incarnation, La Placita. Come by from 11am-3pm for a block party, with food, music, and more. Check out the event here. Bartlett St. between 21st St. and 22nd St.

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Okonomiyaki in a stone pot at Namu Gaji. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

So, it’s a foggy Friday night, and you’re like, damn, some ~NAMU GAJI~ ramen and stone pot would really do me right… Well, lucky you, it’s not too far away, because on Fridays and Saturdays, come by ~BEACHSIDE COFFEE BAR AND KITCHEN~ from 5pm-10pm for Namu Gaji’s temporary pop-up. You can enjoy noodle soups, KFC-style chicken wings, smoked brisket with roasted kimchi and cultured butter, okonomiyaki, smoked pork donburi, and more. 4300 Judah St. at 48th Ave.

If you enjoy the wines at ~RESOLUTE~, you’ll be happy to know you can now pair a little more with those glasses of wine you’re chugging, like tarte flambée (Alsatian pizza) with toppings, either a classic (crème fraîche, fromage blanc, mozzarella, bacon, sweet onions, and chives) or artichoke (Fontina cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, and asparagus), plus panini (caprese or grilled cheese with sharp cheddar, Brie, shallots, arugula, and vermouth)—both served with a side salad, and there’s an arugula salad too. 678 Geary St. at Leavenworth.

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