September 19, 2017

September 19, 2017

We’ll start the party with beautiful canapés and cocktails! Photo: ©


Salli par eedu baked eggs with spicy potato straws, tomato, and cheese. Photo: ©


Chicken 65 on onion uttapam. Photo: ©


An array of Rooh’s beautiful cocktails. Photo: ©


Haji Ali mango cream tart. Photo: ©


The colorful semi-private dining area at Rooh. Photo courtesy of Rooh.

This event is SOLD OUT! Thanks everyone, see you there!

Hello there! I wanted to let you know there are just two tickets remaining for the tablehopper brunch this Saturday September 23rd at 11:30am at ~ROOH~!

Have you had a chance to visit this stylish and unique Indian restaurant that recently opened in SoMa? It’s quite fab—award-winning chef Sujan Sarkar has a contemporary and innovative style, which integrates California seasonality and a global sensibility, and his dishes are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Rooh recently launched Saturday brunch service, and I want to be sure you all have this special place on your radar. This Saturday’s tasting menu was created especially for this event, and thanks to event sponsor Anchor Distilling Company, we’ll have some fantastic cocktail pairings featuring No. 3 London Dry Gin.

Rooh’s cocktails are inventive and playful, inspired by the six rasas of Ayurvedic wisdom (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent), while highlighting Indian ingredients, homemade shrubs, and artisanal spirits. We have put together a special lineup of daytime-friendly cocktails for our brunch featuring No. 3 London Dry Gin.

We’re going to be serving Chai Punch to start (which will highlight the cardamom pods used in making No. 3 London Dry Gin), followed by Rooh’s spectacular Banaras Sour with cucumber and basil (I love this cocktail), plus their aromatic Hyderabad Tonic with fresh turmeric and grapefruit tonic. And wait until you try the Summer Breeze, with guava, citrus notes (which work well with the Spanish orange peel used in No. 3 London Dry Gin), and some fizz from prosecco. It’s going to be quite the tour. We’ll also have folks from Anchor Distilling who can share some background about No. 3 London Dry Gin and talk about the history of India and gin, as well as hear from Rooh’s bar team on their process and inspirations.

Our event will begin with a reception at the bar at 11:30am, with elegant passed canapés like dahi puri and potato-samosa cornetti. When we sit down at 12pm, you can choose from the cauliflower or chicken 65, a savory and textured bite served on onion uttapam, with lemon sour cream and peanut chutney.

We’ll then have an egg course served family style, with their salli par eedu (baked eggs in a cazuela with tomato, cheese, and spicy potato straws on top) and their fried duck egg on tandoori mushrooms, with toasted brioche and chile jam. You’ll also get to try an array of their stuffed kulchas, one of my favorite things on the menu, with fillings like green pea and goat cheese, and pulled duck with apricot and bacon. Uh-huh.

I couldn’t let you leave without experiencing their paneer makhani with garlic naan—the sauce is exquisite, with fenugreek and crème fraîche. You’ll be mopping up every last bite.

For dessert, chef has prepared a special dessert inspired by a famous Mumbai location, Haji Ali, with mango cream, mango sorbet, pistachio kulfi, fresh mango, frozen raspberry, and honeycomb, a delightful mango cloud inside a phyllo cup.

It’s going to be such a special event, and we will be in our own section of the restaurant. We’ll be doing some family-style tables and taking over some booths, too, so you’ll be making some new friends as well. Solo diners, we got you!

Tickets are only $68 (plus a small service fee), including cocktail pairings, tax, and tip, which is an extraordinary deal considering the menu, and cocktail pairings are worth well over $100. We’re going to send you out the door on cloud No. 3, so be sure to arrange for a rideshare—no driving! Space is limited, so hop to it. Only two tickets remain!

When purchasing your ticket, please specify if you are vegetarian—we will be able to take care of you! Please get in touch about any allergies—we may be able to accommodate you, but since this is a set menu, we can’t make too many substitutions. Thanks for understanding.


Oh you know there will be cheese. All photos: Nadia Andreini.


These two pazzi Italian chefs can’t wait to feed you (Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi).


Killer apps.


The vino will be flowing (and trust, you’ll be getting much bigger pours than these tastes).


Apericena is all about tasty bites.


A man and his pig.


Well, it’s about time for yours truly to be hosting a tablehopper party in the East Bay, right? Looks like it will be my turn to cross the bridge on Friday October 6th, and I hope you can join me for a very special event, Apericena (more about what this means below). I will be cohosting this opening party for ~DONATO & CO.~, the new, upcoming contemporary Italian restaurant from Donato Scotti (of Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City and Desco in Oakland) and his chef-partner in this and future projects, Gianluca Guglielmi, who is coming from Italy to open Donato & Co.

In case you remember the news from my original post about this (or not!), Donato & Co. is opening in the former The Advocate space in Elmwood. It’s a big space, so this is going to be quite a festa.

I don’t know if you’ve ever attended any of chef Donato’s events and parties, but they are legendary for their fantastic wine and food—like a true Italian, he loves to put out a great spread! You’ll be the first to taste some dishes off the upcoming Donato & Co. menu, from housemade pasta to meats off the rotisserie and live fire—I hear there will be quail lollipops and we’re going to have a roasted pig! There will also be salumi, plenty of antipasti, and vegetable dishes aplenty. Gianluca, who used to be the executive chef at A.G. Ferrari Foods, is also known for his sweet tooth and skill with desserts, so expect some dolci as well. (Yay.)

The party name is Apericena, in honor of a trending style of eating in Italy: a dinner (cena) comprised of antipasti and ample bites and small plates (which is what you find during aperitivo time). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat, and it’s something Donato and Gianluca will be encouraging and bringing to life at Donato & Co., especially since they have that full bar. Consider this your first apericena!

To accompany all those tasty bites at the party, we’ll also be pouring some wines (prosecco, white, rosé, and red) and a couple of cocktails, including an aperitivo cocktail, probably something on the spritz side of things.

Donato and Gianluca are excited to be a part of the neighborhood and will be making a donation to our charity partner for the evening, The Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP). It’s an impressive nonprofit organization working to improve the health, independence, and social integration of people with physical disabilities through adaptive sports, fitness, and recreation programs, and it is based in Berkeley.

Tickets are only $45 (plus a ticket service fee), which will get you three drink tickets and access to all the delicious food! (Additional cocktails/wine will be available at a very affordable price.) And a donation will be made to charity partner BORP! Apericena will run from 6pm-9pm. Get your tickets now, these are gonna fly.

I’m having fun putting together the playlist that we’ll be running on the state-of-the-art Constellation and Libra acoustic system from Berkeley’s renowned Meyer Sound they inherited with the space. You may have an Italian accent by the end of the evening (if you don’t already)!

See you on Friday October 6th! Festeggiamo!

2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley. @donatoandco


The exterior of the former Mason Pacific. Photo: Nick Vasilopoulos.

Auguri to Claudio Villani, the owner of Cole Valley’s popular Italian enoteca, InoVino, who is taking over the former Mason Pacific and will be opening ~ALTOVINO~. Villani says he’s only making some cosmetic changes—like lowering the bar and making it cozier, and replacing the front room’s high seating and tables with banquettes and normal height seating—so he hopes to be open before Christmas.

He’s going to have InoVino’s chef, Nick Kelly, who has been with him since last December, leading the kitchen. The concept will be neighborhood seasonal and regional Italian—they want to be authentic to Italy’s regional cooking, but not limited to just one area. They will be bringing over some of their top appetizers, like their Tuscan chicken liver pâté and foie gras, and adding 7 or 8 pasta dishes, both fresh/handmade and artisan dry pasta as well—it ends up there is quite the prep room downstairs. With a winter opening, expect some buttery and mushroomy and truffle-y dishes! They will be using quality ingredients, but he doesn’t want prices to skyrocket, so look for pasta dishes costing $16-$20 or so.

Villani, who is Tuscan and grew up in Florence, is also excited to be bringing some tableside dishes to the dining experience, and top of his list is to offer a bistecca alla fiorentina, served off a little cart medium rare and a minimum of a kilo! (He already has some vintage carving knives lined up.) He also wants to offer seasonal risotto for two and is thinking of another dish as well, probably whole fish. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be formal, but he does want to have some fun with tableside service, something he learned during his time in Florence and also at Bartolotta in Vegas. There will be other main courses as well, some featuring some Northern Mediterranean flavors, with plans to have them at $30 and under.

As for the wines, it will definitely be an all-Italian list, with the exception of Champagne, and while he is focused on volcanic and Alpine wines at InoVino, at AltoVino, he’s excited to build up a list with some wines from Tuscany, too, where he first learned about wine, and is excited to offer some beautiful classics.

Another fun thing that will be developed is the bar: they will be offering some aperitivi and 12 vermouths, served as spritzes, cocktails, and more, plus Nick makes some pretty great shrubs, so they’ll be playing around with that as well. With the renovation of the bar area, there will be new shelving added, which will be storing many of the wines and more, with 6 or 7 seats.

I’ll keep you posted on the opening and am so pleased the charming Mason Pacific space is in such good hands. 1358 Mason St. at Pacific.


Open-faced sandwich with figs and goat Brie. Photo: Daniel Dent, San Francisco Proper Hotel.


Beet salad with burnt ricotta. Photo: Daniel Dent, San Francisco Proper Hotel.


A peek into the chic dining room. Instagram photo via @knucklesamwick.

Looking for a swank new hotel lounge, or spot for a breakfast meeting, or a lunch date, or bite for dinner after work? The first food and beverage concept in the San Francisco Proper Hotel in Mid-Market, ~VILLON~, has opened. It’s an all-day restaurant and lounge, under the direction of executive chef Jason Franey (Campton Place, Eleven Madison Park, Canlis, Restaurant 1833) and a beverage program by Josh Harris and Morgan Schick of BVHospitality (Trick Dog, The Bon Vivants).

Come by for breakfast (here’s the menu), and you’ll find eggs Benedict made with speck (the Italian smoked ham); a croissant sandwich with Taylor ham; ricotta pancakes; a smoked salmon dish with socca bread, avocado, and ranch labneh; and then there’s breakfast pho with beef broth, poached eggs, short rib, pork belly, and rice noodles.

It then transitions into an all-day and seasonally driven menu, where you can really see Franey’s contemporary American style, with clever bites like “everything” Hawaiian bread with cultured butter, nectarine preserves, and strawberry chicken-liver mousse; scallop ceviche; and mushroom dumplings with pickled chanterelles, mushroom broth, brown butter (all $8-$16). There’s steak tartare ($14) with yuzu, nori cracker, and furikake; grilled Little Gems ($12) with Sherman potato, pancetta, smoked egg yolk; and baby beet salad ($13) with burnt ricotta, pumpernickel streusel, and plum.

Larger dishes include squid ink tagliatelle ($22) with uni, bottarga, Parmesan; tai snapper ($25) with Beluga lentils, yogurt, garbanzo beans; and for the table, whole duck ($110) with Brussels sprouts and duck bacon, plum chutney, vadouvan-glazed carrots, crispy sunchokes, soubise, and duck jus.

Now, you look thirsty. Crack into Harris and Schick’s playful “7x7” cocktail menu, with seven thematic categories of seven cocktails each, like “7 x Hotels” (invented in famous hotels), “7 x The Bay” (invented or made famous in the Bay Area), and “7 x The Book” (featured in novels). You have your work cut out for you—49 drinks in all, just like our square mileage. And then the rooftop bar (Charmaine’s) will be open in a month…

Villon is in the lobby of this historic building, with a fun style by designer Kelly Wearstler. The salon has 32 seats, featuring one-of-a-kind art and furnishings arranged into living room vignettes, plus a 44-seat dining room and a 14-seat private dining room.

Hours are Sun-Thu 7am-10:30pm and Fri-Sat 7am-11pm. 1100 Market St. at Jones.


Looking good with new glass and paint at Newkirk’s. Photo via Facebook.


The classic BEC. Here’s one of the in-progress egg on a roll sandwiches they’re developing at Newkirk’s. Photo courtesy of Newkirk’s.

I get truly happy when I hear about someone with East Coast roots who wants to bring the BEC (bacon, egg, and cheese; i.e., egg on a roll, fried egg sandwich) to San Francisco, plus classic subs, and since we’re in SF, offer some big, well-made salads too. You with me? Ryan Blumenthal has lived here for 17 years, but grew up in Vermont and Pennsylvania (just ooutside Philly), with family in New York too, and he has been missing these East Coast classics. He got lucky and found a space with a hood that is right across from SF General, so he’ll be able to fry up eggs the way he intended. It’s time to meet ~NEWKIRK’S~.

His BEC is going to feature a custom-made kaiser roll (he found a baker in the Richmond who was also a New Yorker, and they have been perfecting their recipe), and he has really honed his bacon technique to hit that chewy-crispy balance. He’s going to be using quality organic eggs, but in a true nod to tradition, American cheese will be on offer. Yes! (It’s the right move.) Although there will be another variation, probably with some cheddar.

He’s also working on 6 or 7 subs, including a cheesesteak he has really been tweaking and perfecting. I was also pushing for an Italian combo, which he’s keen to offer, so yay. Ends up he worked for some New Yorkers who opened a deli in Colorado when he was living there, so he learned some true NYC deli ways. Instead of flying out Amoroso or parbaked rolls from the East Coast, he wants to have a locally made French loaf that is East Coast style but doesn’t use preservatives, so he’s finding the best baker for that right now too.

He’s also going to offer some vegetarian subs, and he’s working on a vegan tuna melt, inspired by his five years working at Gestalt in the Mission (he was behind the sandwich menu development there). And sometimes, all you want is just a big salad, so he’s going to offer two or three kinds, simple but satisfying, like one with kale and romaine, and you can add protein to them. (Ryan also mentioned offering fried chicken later in the game, always wicked on a salad.)

As for the name, Newkirk was his New York grandma’s maiden name, as well as his middle name, so there you have it. He’s going through inspections right now and is targeting mid-October for the opening. I’ll definitely keep you posted, but you can follow along on Instagram for now.

When they open, hours will be Mon-Sat 7am-4pm, so you’ll be able to come by for breakfast and some Ritual Coffee on your way to work, or order in 20 BECs to be delivered for your office meetings (he’s going to be on some apps).

The location was New Aux Delices II, a Vietnamese restaurant for almost 30 years before they closed three years ago. Before that, he has reason to believe they sold fried fish based on the sign he found in the walls during construction. The building dates back to 1901, so he’s excited, although the remodel has been quite a big endeavor. He’s looking forward to being a part of the neighborhood. 1002 Potrero Ave. at 22nd St.


The former South Park Cafe. Photo via Facebook.

Wow, it’s the end of an era. A friend let me know that a beloved icon of South Park, ~SOUTH PARK CAFE~, is closing this Friday September 22nd after 32 years in business. What a run. How many pig salads and grilled hanger steaks and glasses of rosé have I consumed there over the years? And you? It was one of the city’s steadiest bistros, just right for so many occasions. For a lovely photo homage, check out this post from a few years ago by Julia Spiess.

Tremendous thanks to chef Ward Little, who was ALWAYS there in his grubby apron, and now gets to enjoy some immensely deserved time off. Same goes for GM Marty Berg, who is off to Europe for a vacation. Hoodline confirmed the bistro’s owners have sold the restaurant to their landlord, who has plans to renovate the space, so we’ll have to see what comes next. Thanks for all the fond memories! 108 S. Park St. at Jack London Alley, 415-495-7275.


Last week, I announced that ~CASEY’S PIZZA~ was soft opening for business, and now I want to share a couple more things with you, like a peek at the space and the menu.

You’ll see a couple of salads, plus five pies (for now!), like the Kale Pie (roasted lacinato kale, mozzarella, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, chile flakes; $22) and the Bianca (mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, fresh basil, chile flakes; $22), all in Casey’s trademark East Coast-meets-thin-crust Neapolitan style. (“Strong bake, lots of char, simple fresh ingredients, and a long proofed dough.”) Be sure to check out the wine and beer selections, too, with six on tap.

The truck is only open for private events until everything gets under control at the restaurant, stand by. No delivery plans at this time but customers can order online at their website for pick up. Hours are still Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm for now. Lunch will start later this year, with hours running from 11:30am-9pm. 1170 4th St. at Channel, 415-336-1368.


Nyum Bai’s chicken curry with nom pachok. Photo via Facebook.


The Periodic Table is now open at Public Market Emeryville. Photo: ©


Khao mun gai at Chick’n Rice. Photo via Facebook.

Unfortunately I was not able to get in touch with Nite Yun of ~NYUM BAI~ in time for my column for details, but according to ABC license activity, it appears she will be opening her permanent brick-and-mortar location in the recently closed The Half Orange space in Fruitvale. Her homey Cambodian dishes and noodle soups have been a hit during her temporary run in the La Cocina incubator space in the Public Market Emeryville, so it’s great to see she will be able to spread her wings and fly into this new perch of her own. We look forward to hearing ’60s Cambodian pop songs and rock ‘n’ roll at the new spot! Stand by for an update as soon as I connect with her. 3340 E. 12th St. Suite 11, at 34th Ave., Oakland.

Speaking of the Public Market Emeryville, last week I swung by for some ramen at Shiba Ramen and got a peek at the new ~THE PERIODIC TABLE~, their taproom and sake bar. Husband-and-wife team Jake Freed and Hiroko Nakamura have selected a wide range of craft brews sourced from the Bay Area and beyond, sake and distilled spirits from Japan, craft cocktails using Japanese spirits, and some bar bites too, including a burger, or Shiba wings and chashu pies from next door. It’s also a bottle shop, so you can take home your favorites. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 11am-8pm. 5959 Shellmound St. #11 at 59th St., Emeryville.

Nosh mentions who is opening in the former Adesso space: it’s ~CHAI THAI BAR~, which is soft open now. It’s from the Chai Thai Noodles folks in Oakland and Hayward and will feature Thai-inspired cocktails with a small menu of Thai and Laotian dishes. Looks like they will be open again this Friday September 22nd (5pm-1am). Follow along on Instagram for updates. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, Oakland, 510-601-0305.

I have been waiting for some pics to share of the new ~CHICK’N RICE~, but let’s just get to the details. This new Thai fast-casual restaurant is all about the simple but magical dish of khao mun gai, juicy and tender poached chicken that is sliced and served with fragrant rice cooked in rich broth (read: chicken fat), a side of rich chicken broth, and a piquant sauce of ginger, garlic, chiles, and soy that you’ll want to eat far too much of on everything. It’s one of those ugly-but-delicious dishes that is also the ultimate comfort food—here’s a pic of a place I visited in Thailand.

It’s from the founding partners of Umai Hospitality Group, UC Berkeley alums Jason Wang, Shawn Tsao, Vince Cao, and John Keh, who were not only behind food delivery app Caviar, but they also own The Halal Guys franchise in the Pacific Northwest Region. John Keh partnered up with Chavayos (Bob) Rattakul of Tenyuu Restaurant Group in Bangkok to find the best versions of khao mung gai in Thailand and brought their version to the U.S. (yes, they have plans for expansion).

You can order the classic version, but there’s also fried chicken and braised pork on the menu, all served with rice, cucumbers, cilantro, sweet and sour sauce, and a side of chicken broth soup. A vegetarian option is available and option add-ons include a soy-marinated egg. For dessert, you can order coconut milk ice cream with sticky rice, and there’s Thai iced tea, coconut water, and juices like guava, lychee, and mango. Open daily 11am-10pm. 2136 Center St. at Shattuck, Berkeley.

Looking for something to do this weekend? It’s the ninth annual Eat Real Festival, a three-day celebration (Friday to Sunday, September 22nd-24th) at Jack London Square, with street food, demos, tastings, and more, all celebrating local, artisan, and small businesses and sustainable ingredients. The festival is free to attend, and all street food is $10 or less. Plus there are plenty of adult beverages too. Check out the schedule of events here, and since Eat Real is presented by the Food Craft Institute, you’ll be able to learn about how to make things like kombucha, sausage, and fermented pickles, plus there’s plenty for the kiddies, and music and entertainment too.