May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017
alfreds-diningroom.jpg

The history of the space where Alfred’s is (and the Blue Fox was!) runs deep. Photo by Alanna Hale.

alfreds-flambe.jpg

Alfred’s is not afraid of flaming tableside desserts. Photo by Alanna Hale.

alfreds-maindiningroom.jpg

The red dining room at Alfred’s is one of its hallmarks. Photo courtesy of Alfred’s.

alfreds-steak.png

There’s a reason Alfred’s is beloved for their steaks—they do it right (and have been doing so for almost 90 years!). Photo by Alanna Hale.

bluefox-diningroom.jpeg

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

bluefox-ephemera.jpeg

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

bluefox-sauce.jpeg

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

z-anchordistilling-logo.jpg
z-robertmondaviwinery_NewLogo.png

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.

Did 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.

This 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.

It ends up we will not be in the downstairs private dining room—because we are taking over the upstairs restaurant! As many of you may know, Alfred’s suffered an unfortunate basement fire a few weeks ago, and they are still recovering from it. Fortunately, there was no serious damage to the main restaurant, but some things under the hood need fixing and aren’t working, like their POS system. They tell me they are going to need to remain closed longer than expected to fix things. Tragic!

But this ends up becoming quite the silver lining for us: Alfred’s is going to open for us, just for our event, and will be serving us upstairs in the elegant red dining room! We will have the restaurant to ourselves, and the cocktail reception in the upstairs bar will be just us! I hear the chandeliers upstairs have been restored and cleaned during the closure, so expect things to be extra sparkly!

Eric Shifrin, our piano player, will no longer be playing on the white baby grand piano since it’s downstairs, and that breaks my heart a little, but he will be playing on his keyboard upstairs, so we’ll still be enjoying his swanky tunes, from Hoagy Carmichael to classic songs Frank Sinatra 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.

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. One of their senior wine educators, Dana Andrus, will be at the dinner. He has been with the winery for many years and has some great stories to share about the deep Robert Mondavi Winery history and will 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 2014 To Kalon Vineyard Fumé Blanc Reserve, Oakville, Napa Valley

Second Course
scampi alla Livornese
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley

Third Course
spinach gnocchi, spring onion, peas, beef sugo
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley

Fourth Course
roasted filet mignon, asparagus, red wine demiglace
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Oakville, Napa Valley

Fifth Course
baked Alaska
Paired with Robert Mondavi Winery 2015 Moscato D’ Oro, Napa Valley

As you can see, this is not an evening 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! (No jeans!) I have hired a fab photographer for the evening, Blair Heagerty, so she’ll be documenting everyone in their finery.

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 a range of tables and seating options. Reception at 6pm, dinner at 6:45pm.

We are also going to be giving away a couple of really great prizes for guests! Robert Mondavi Winery is giving away two tickets to the Patti LaBelle concert in their 2017 concert series (on July 8th), and we are also holding a social media contest for a tasting for two in Anchor Distilling’s penthouse tasting room!

21 and over, of course. See you May 12th! Cin cin!
Alfred’s, 659 Merchant St. at Kearny, San Francisco

Lemarais-castro-2.jpeg

The welcoming and timeless space at Le Marais Bakery in the Castro. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

lemarais-bakerycounter.jpeg

The soon-to-be-stocked bakery counter with its tiled front.

lemarais-castro.jpeg

The space is full of windows and light.

lemarais-chicken.jpeg

Rotisserie chicken with potatoes, arugula, and the awesome Savora-harissa mustard.

lemarais-window.jpeg

A marble-topped table in the window, with eye-catching modern brasserie lighting from Schoolhouse Electric.

The Castro is about to have their dream corner café, bistro, and bakery come to the neighborhood: ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ will be opening in a couple of weeks in the former Samovar location. It’s a sunny corner, and the south-facing space is so inviting, full of windows and light.

I got a walk-through with owners Patrick Ascaso and Joanna Pulcini-Ascaso, and the location is a love letter to all the bakeries they adore in Paris, as well as Copenhagen and Stockholm. It has a timeless, classic look, a bit spare but with European approachability and beautiful finishes. There’s an Italian marble counter at the bakery counter in the back of the space, with a tiled front. There are lots of brass finishes, a dove gray palette (like their Chestnut Street location), and light-stained oak floors. The Formica-topped tables are paired with bistro-style chairs, and some glowing globe lights overhead. Many of the pieces were sourced with Chateau Sonoma, but the vintage 1930s “café” sign belonged to Patrick, and it finally has a home.

There is a back room with a communal table (just like in the Samovar days) that’s perfect for a group. Outdoor seating is also in the works.

There was originally no plan for a full kitchen, but when they discovered a former exhaust path, they decided to get permitted to build out a kitchen (hence the delays). There is a gleaming rotisserie, and like their Chestnut location, they will feature meat plates, salads, and sandwiches, with your choice of prime rib, chicken, and lamb, plus a vegetable option.

The prime rib has a thyme, rosemary, and garlic rub, and you know you want the horseradish cream with it—you can also get it with eggs for a decadent brunch! The Mary’s chicken is brined (with piment d’Espelette) and comes with a Savora mustard (a nostalgic mustard for Patrick), which they add harissa to—I am now obsessed. You can get a quarter or half chicken with potatoes, and they will also be adding something new: sausage, as well as raclette over potatoes and broccoli. Oh, and no ordering at the counter here: they will be offering table service!

The menu will be duplicating Le Marais’s extensive offerings in the Marina, with choose-your-own breakfast bowls, numerous egg dishes, toasts, tartines, salads, sandwiches, and croques (theirs has an unusual spin—instead of using flour for their béchamel, which they found to be excessive when poured over bread, they use pastry cream). Their croques also come with market-fresh greens in a mustardy vintaigrette. They are very focused on using quality ingredients for everything they make, from the butter to the ham to the arugula!

And then there are all the baked goods! It’s a staggering selection of viennoiserie (croissants, pain au chocolat, and I love their ham, Gruyère, and mustard version), classic patisserie (seasonal tarts, macarons), and then there are the handmade breads, like their fabulous crusty levain loaves and baguettes, and cookies! A seasonal Liège waffle is in the works, and croquettes too. Yes, you’re all doomed and ruined.

Coffee service is from Sightglass (wait until you see the gray La Marzocco espresso machine, so chic), plus nitro cold brew, nitro tea (matcha, chai), and there are wines, too, plus beer from Fort Point on tap and more. It will be open 7am-7pm daily. Follow along on Instagram for the opening news since I will be away on vacation! 498 Sanchez St. at 18th St.

Some additional exciting news in the Le Marais world: not only are they working to open a production facility by this August on Sutter, but they are also expanding to Mill Valley! They are opening a bakery and café location in a warehouse on E. Blithedale and plan to start construction in their half of the warehouse in September, with plans to open late 2017.

The 2,000-square-foot space will include 45-65 seats inside and 30 outside, plus parking. They plan to offer early dinner, which will be nice since the neighborhood doesn’t have that many options. I’ll keep you posted on this as well. Le Marais team, I hope you have lots of coffee nearby at all times this year! 250 E. Blithedale Ave. at Sycamore, Mill Valley.

One more thing to note: their original plan for the Le Marais restaurant at Ghirardelli Square is no longer happening, but their pop-up bakery there remains busy as ever.

AMano-cocktail.jpg

There’s a full bar at A Mano, serving Italian-influenced cocktails. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

AMano-pasta.jpg

A variety of housemade pasta at A Mano. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

Newly open for dinner in Hayes Valley is Adriano Paganini’s pasta-centric ~A MANO~ (which means “by hand”), featuring pastas made in-house daily that are also affordable, ringing in at $12-$15, like paccheri with eggplant, capers, San Marzano tomatoes, and ricotta salata. (Personally, I can’t wait to try the mostaccioli and braised tripe.) There are also two pizzas and nightly specials.

It’s not all carbs: there are seasonal antipasti as well, with Monterey squid, ceci beans, tomato, and romesco, or a salad of gem lettuce, with fennel, radish, anchovy, ricotta salata, and capers. Chef Freedom Rains (Belga) has also worked at Boulevard, Flour + Water, and Incanto, so seasonality will play a big part.

There is a full bar, with Italian-rooted craft cocktails ($10-$13) from bar manager Matthew Campbell, and an all-Italian wine list. The upscale-casual space was designed by Hannah Collins Designs. No reservations. Lunch and brunch are coming soon. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 450 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-506-7401.

CityCounter_tunamelt.jpg

The tuna melt with three-cheese fondue. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

citycounter-counter.jpeg

A peek at the counter (during an evening preview party). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Downtown workers have a pretty sweet lunch counter to perch at, ~CITY COUNTER~. I broke the news about the project back in March, and kudos to first-time owner Harper Matheson on getting this project open so quickly. Go ladies (it’s female-owned and designed).

It’s a chic luncheonette in the Standard Oil building, bridging nostalgia for vintage lunch counters with a contemporary and minimalist style (by architectural designer Nicole Huang). The predominantly white and light-filled room features a long (60 feet!) white stone counter—with plenty of purse hooks and matching white stools—along with white subway tile and globe pendant lights. Since the space is elevated above the street, the café tables flanking the row of windows have a nice view. It’s the kind of pleasing design that makes your stress level drop and have happy feelings bubble up.

Sean Thomas (Blue Plate) consulted on the menu, which highlights some updates on classic sandwiches like egg salad (with crunchy vinegar chips) and a tuna melt with three-cheese fondue, plus a clever vegetarian Reuben with smoked beets. There are also salads and sweets. Check out the menu here. And there’s wine! (They will be offering some after-work bites and beers too.)

It’s designed to appeal to the busy schedule of office workers, so expect things to move at a nice clip (there are 30 seats at the counter and 35 at the window benches), and you can order to-go as well. Delivery and catering are coming soon. Open Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. 115 Sansome St. at Bush, 415-844-0633.

RN74-DiningRoomwithMarketBoard.jpg

Seating and the Market Board at RN74. Photo courtesy of RN74.

News broke last week in the SF Business Times that Michael Mina is partnering with Ayesha Curry to open ~INTERNATIONAL SMOKE~ in the ~RN74~ space (obviously they aren’t too worried about that sinking Millennium Tower). She did a successful pop-up at MINA Test Kitchen last year, and they are opening two more International Smoke locations together: one at The Street, A Michael Mina Social House, in Hawaii, this summer, and then Los Angeles in 2018.

According to a follow-up email from the Mina team, menu highlights will include Around the World Pork Ribs (Korean, St. Louis, and al pastor-style ribs paired with salads and slaws); Thai-style barbecue shrimp chile (coconut broth, toasted peanuts, tofu, peas), served with coconut curry cornbread; and The Royal BBQ Platter (slow-cooked char siu pork shoulder, Sobel Bros. pastrami, pollo a la brasa, spicy merguez sausage), served with purple Peruvian potato salad, braised mustard greens, and double-dipped onion rings. Stand by for updates about when the transition will start and RN74 is closing. 301 Mission St. at Fremont.

kantine_smorrebrod2.jpg

Smørrebrød from Kantine at the Saturday CUESA Farmers Market. Photo via CUESA.

Great news: after searching for a location for a long time for her Scandinavian-inspired ~KANTINE~, chef Nichole Accettola has found a location—but she’ll need a change of use permit to convert the Little Hollywood Launderette into a restaurant (Castro Merchants are reportedly in favor). It’s right next door to the Orbit Room in that beautiful Deco building. Anyone who has attended her pop-ups and market stand knows she makes smørrebrød (open-faced Danish sandwiches) on her housemade sprouted rye bread, tasty porridges, and more. Hoodline reports it will be a “600-square-foot dining room with window-front eating counters, reminiscent of Copenhagen.” I’ll keep you updated. 1906 Market St. at Octavia.

backeast-scooch.jpg

The Scooch at Back East Sandwich Shop. Photo courtesy of Back East.

homecafe-latte.jpg

The Instagram-bait birthday cake latte at Home. Photo via Facebook.

There’s a new sandwich stand in The Hall: ~BACK EAST SANDWICH SHOP~ from Baltimore transplant Chris Doiron. He was formerly a landscape designer, and then took over a deli he really loved in Baltimore. After bringing Luigi’s Italian Deli back to life, his Scooch sandwich went on to be a winner. He cares about using quality ingredients, but also keeping things affordable (sandwiches are $12). He is using local purveyors like Acme for bread and Columbus for some of his meats. About that Scooch: it has capicollo and soppressata with Beemster Vlaskaas cheese, roasted red peppers, field greens, and crushed hot cherry peppers in a balsamic dressing. Check out the menu board here.

He is well aware The Hall is closing this October, but thought he’d take advantage of this window of time to fine-tune his concept, build a following, and find a brick-and-mortar location. I’ll keep you updated. He’s ramping up catering too. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. The Hall, 1028 Market St. at Taylor, 443-478-0676.

In March, I mentioned ~THE MEATBALL BAR~ was opening in the sadly closed Shorty Goldstein’s. Hoodline reports they are now open and serving their variety of international meatballs. Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-6pm. 126 Sutter St. at Montgomery.

There’s a new Thai crepe shop in the Upper Haight with the quirky name of ~RROMD~, which reportedly means “good mood.” Awww. The menu has savory crepes like chile paste with dried pork, and sweet ones too, plus fruit smoothies and gelato. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-9pm and Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. 1782 Haight St. at Cole, 415-692-0313.

It looks like the former Mereb Market near Dolores Park got quite the upgrade and is now ~DOLORES OUTPOST MARKET~. SFist reports they carry locally made food and beers, and there’s nitro coffee and kombucha on tap. It’s easy to make “oh, how bougie” commentary about it, but it’s not like that last market had anything charming going on. The bento boxes and other prepared foods will be a sure hit for parkgoers. You can read more about their plans—which include pop-ups—in this post on Hoodline. Open daily 8am-9pm. 698 Guerrero St. at 19th St.

The Outer Richmond just gained a second location of the Outer Sunset’s ~HOME~ café, with avocado toast, Instagram-ready lattes, and a cute style. More on Hoodline. Open Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. 2018 Clement St. at 21st Ave.

1-aatxe-diningroom.jpg

The dining room at Aatxe. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

Some closures around the city include ~AATXE~ on May 28th, which is joining the news of the changes regarding Cafe du Nord as well. Eater reports Ne Timeas is potentially looking for another location for the Spanish concept. But for now, that’s it for the plancha fried rice. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez.

Over in Potrero Hill, ~APERTO~ is now chiuso after almost 25 years of business. Scoop reports the closure was due to an ongoing landlord dispute. Owner Chris Shepherd will continue to run Bellanico in Oakland. 1434 18th St. at Connecticut.

Pour out some chile oil for the passing of Henry Chung at 99 ripe years, who is the Henry behind the Henry’s Hunan restaurants throughout the city. Jonathan Kauffman wrote a fascinating piece about Chung’s path to being one of the first chefs to bring Hunanese cuisine to the U.S. with his wife, Diana. Condolences to his family and many friends (and fans).

Rooh-kulcha.jpeg

Choose from a variety of puffy kulchas at Rooh. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Rooh-poha.jpeg

Squid and prawn poha at Rooh. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Umacasa-brunch.JPG

Some of the fab seafood you will find at Uma Casa’s new brunch. Photo: @KatwalkSF.

corridor-breakfastsandwich.png

The breakfast sandwich with tater tots at Corridor. Photo courtesy of Corridor.

Is it unofficial new brunch season? Because there are a bunch of new ones popping up right now. Have fun adding these places to the mix. (And they’re good to consider for Mother’s Day since they’re brand-new and probably not all reserved just yet!)

Ready for your new stylish Indian brunch? On Sundays, ~ROOH~ has an extensive brunch menu that highlights their awesome breads, like warm kulchas stuffed with green pea and goat cheese, or their masala omelette, with tomato, onion, chile, and cilantro, with buttered pao. You can also go savory with a rice dish, like squid and prawn poha, studded with browned onion, peanut, fresh coconut, and cilantro. There’s a full cocktail menu, but the Chennai Colada mocktail with mango, pineapple, passion fruit, coconut water, curry leaves, and soda is bright and refreshing. Sun 11am-2:30pm. 333 Brannan St. at 2nd St., 415-525-4174.

Meanwhile, over in the Mission, the casual and friendly ~DUM~ launched a Indian-inspired brunch, with dishes like an eggs Benedict made with a crispy rice and lentil cake, topped with pork belly, poached eggs, and chile-garlic hollandaise, and bhurji pao with spiced scrambled eggs, onion, tomato, cilantro, and Hawaiian rolls. Check out chef Rupam Bhagat’s creative menu here. Available Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 3111 24th St. at Folsom, 415-874-9045.

I have been waiting for the cheerful and Lisbon-chic ~UMA CASA~ to open for brunch, and boom, it’s on. Chef Telmo Faria’s menu features Portuguese classics, egg dishes, and plenty of chilled seafood, plus the kicker: the Francesinha, a heart-stopping (but what a way to go) sandwich famous in Porto, which comes with linguica, roast beef, ham, and Havarti, with tomato-beer sauce, an over-easy egg, and fries. I can’t believe we get to have one in the city! Just go work out first. And after. Don’t forget about bubbles, Vinho Verde, and mimosas, plus other delightful concoctions by Nora Furst. Open Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-829-2264.

Meanwhile, the party people of Russian Hill have a nice Mobius strip at ~MEZCALITO~: come by on Saturday night for mezcal and tacos, and then come back on Sundays to cure that hangover. The menu features baked farm egg cazuela with saffron sofrito and English peas, or horchata French toast, and the Michelada del Conejo with carrot and jicama sangrita, pasilla de Oaxaca, sal de gusano, and cerveza Negra Modelo should get you feeling right. Or you can start the hurt all over again with bottomless mimosas for $20 per person. Sun 11am-2:30pm. 2323 Polk St. at Green, 415-441-2323.

And last but not least, ~CORRIDOR~ has realized the neighborhood has some needs, so they have folded Corridor Café into Corridor and are offering Saturday brunch (starting at an early 9am-2:30pm; say good morning to the breakfast sandwich with sunny-side up egg, bacon, caramelized onion, maitake mushroom, aioli, and tater tots), weekday breakfast (from 7am-11am), and a full-service dinner menu (perfect for a preshow meal), with plenty of seating. 100 Van Ness Ave. at Fell, 415-834-5684.

Related Archives

« May 2, 2017 | May 16, 2017 »