December 19, 2017

December 19, 2017

The main event: the extraordinary beef Wellington at Maybeck’s! Photo courtesy of Maybeck’s.


A lineup of some of the Bruichladdich Scotches we’ll be tasting! Photo: ©


The private lounge space where we will be gathering at Maybeck’s. Photo courtesy of Maybeck’s.



Got your attention there, didn’t I? Nothing says holiday feast like beef Wellington, and the version they make every Wednesday at ~MAYBECK’S~ is truly fantastico. Chef de cuisine Blake Askew (previously Petit Crenn) has mastered this terrific trinity of tenderloin, mushroom duxelles, and puff pastry, and let’s not overlook the charred shallot jus it comes with either! And creamed spinach. And at our event, a glass of Bruichladdich Octomore neat will also be paired with the Welly, the most heavily peated whisky in the world. It’s going to be a magic tasting moment, of that I am sure.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up for a second. In the past, I have thrown some really fun holiday dinners in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’d love to do it again! Let’s keep the holiday spirits flowing! On Wednesday December 27th, 25 of us (there are just three tickets left!) will be gathering for this special tablehopper and Bruichladdich holiday dinner at Maybeck’s in the Marina, featuring three courses of a festive, throwback menu thanks to our hosts, Erik Lowe and Aaron Toensing. The evening will start at 7pm, with the first course served at 7:30pm.

We’ll begin with a welcome cocktail (the Welcome Laddie, with Lillet, sparkling wine, and Bruichladdich Classic Laddie) and Welsh rarebit on toast, and then sit down for our first course: Star Route Farms salad of baby lettuces with Waldorf dressing (celery, apples, raisins, and candied walnuts, with a hint of orange in it)—and a Blood & Sand (made with Bruichladdich Port Charlotte)! You know all about the main event (beef Wellington and Octomore for the win!), and for dessert, we’ll have baked Alaska (chocolate cake and brandied cherry ice cream) with the perfect closing nightcap: the Rockefeller, with Bruichladdich 2010 Islay Barley (voted #9 Whisky of 2017 by Whisky Advocate!), Alessio di Chinato, and allspice dram. Yay to all of this.

This classic meal will be served family-style (the preferred tablehopper way to dine!) and we will all be seated together in our own private lounge area at Maybeck’s. We’ll learn a bit about the history of the dishes, and Trent Simpson, the Western Regional Single Malt Whisk(e)y Ambassador for Bruichladdich and Westland Distilleries, will be educating us about the pairings (and offering some additional and special neat tastes throughout the night, hubba). We’re also going to be hosting a holiday raffle with some very nice prizes, and proceeds will go to the SF-Marin Food Bank. Cheers to that.

This holiday event is only $100 (including tax and tip, Happy Holidays to you from us!), and tickets will move quickly (there are just three spots left!), so hop to it.

Special deals on Bruichladdich bottle sales for attendees will be available through order forms provided by our friends at the Whisky Shop for in-store pickup or to ship nationwide!

21 and over. And it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: please don’t drink and drive, especially tonight, thank you.


Exterior of Farina. Photo courtesy of Farina.


At Pizzeria Delfina. Photo: ©

Well, this is unexpected news: both ~DELFINA~ and ~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ are closing for two weeks in January (1st-14th) for some much-needed kitchen renovations. Instead of going dark for two weeks, they’re keeping their staff gainfully employed and doing a one-week pop-up at the former Farina location (at 3560 18th St. at Dearborn), Delfina in Movimento. Kind of brilliant.

There will be special guest winemakers and somms and bartenders (cocktails!), classic Delfina dishes, pizzas, and some surprises too. And even though they are just taking reservations for dinner at the moment, walk-ins will be welcome (depending on space, of course).

The pop-up is running from Thursday January 4th-Thursday January 11th, and the current lineup includes top wineries like Scribe, Hirsch, and Robert Sinskey, with bartenders like David Curiel and Ian Adams (15 Romolo). It’s all subject to change as they secure more wineries and bartenders. The best way for guests to get the latest up-to-date info is via Instagram: @delfinasf and @pizzeriadelfina.


The festive décor at Poggio Trattoria. Photo via Facebook.

Christmas Eve falls on Sunday December 24th, and there are some great options for special holiday meals out there! The Italian half of my family has always celebrated La Vigilia, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and I’m happy to see some restaurants offer their own spin on the meal.

A couple of restaurants that are keeping things a bit traditional are ~A16~ and ~A16 ROCKRIDGE~, each offering a set five-course, family-style menu for $105, complete with some baccalà and Dungeness crab! Email for reservations at either location.

Over at ~LOCANDA~ (which created that awesome image with the octopus!), the annual Feast of the Seven Fishes meal is a four-course family-style menu with way more than seven types of fish! Two seatings: 5pm and 7:30pm. Tickets and menu here. $156, all-inclusive.

~COTOGNA~ will be open and serving a special Sunday Supper menu in addition to the restaurant’s regular menu, with dishes like Dungeness crab and fennel soup, spaghetti with sea urchin and caviar, and charcoal-grilled spot prawns with Meyer lemon and Prosecco. Meow.

Not so into fish? ~DUNA~ is serving a Slovak Christmas Eve Supper, a three-course menu with halouski dumplings, chopped salad, and Slovak Christmas kapusnica. $48 plus tax and gratuity. Seatings here.

How about noodles? ~NAMU GAJI~ is hosting their annual Christmas Eve noodle night. Bring on the rich and hearty stocks. There will be four noodle options: an oxtail ramen, a wonton mein, mushroom udon, and another special noodle dish. Reservations on OpenTable are highly recommended but walk-ins are welcome. They will also have their dinner menu available.

~COCKSCOMB~ has a good lookin’ holiday menu: it’s a four-course family-style menu for $85 per guest. There’s a Feast of the Seven Fishes Salad with scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, tombo, salt cod, and salmon roe; and Dungeness Crab Puttanesca with rigatoni, tomato, anchovy, black olive, and capers. Seatings are available for 4pm-5:30pm and 7pm-8pm. Please call 415-974-0700.

Planning to sleep in that day? ~FINN TOWN~ in the Castro will have extended brunch hours, running from 10am-5pm. On the menu: fried chicken and pumpkin waffles (cornflake-crusted chicken, bourbon maple syrup) and more.

Another place running extended brunch and a dinner menu, with some holiday additions, is ~BLUESTEM BRASSERIE~, open from 11am-11pm. They are also offering an extensive Dickens Christmas-inspired cocktail menu, including The Ghost of Christmas Past (whiskey, rosemary-cranberry syrup, mint, rosemary, and cranberry) and Aunt Chrystl’s Hot Punsch (Stroch Austrian rum, red wine, fresh OJ, cinnamon, and cloves).

If you’re looking for a cozy location, ~POGGIO~ in Sausalito is warm and inviting. There’s a three-course dinner featuring prime rib for $85. À la carte specials will include wood fire-roasted Dungeness crab; chitarra lobster roe pasta with Dungeness crab, preserved Meyer lemon, fines herbes, and scallions; and cotechino, a traditional dish of lentils and sausage.

Over in Oakland, ~DESCO~ has a three-course prix-fixe menu for $54 (plus tax and gratuity), including Dungeness crab and mascarpone-filled pasta with blood orange and olio nuovo, whole cuttlefish stuffed with seafood risotto and a spicy tomato caper sauce; and warm doughnuts with quince jam and pastry cream. Seatings from 4pm-9pm. Their regular à la carte dinner menu is also available. 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland.

Here are more options on OpenTable, including Alfred’s Steakhouse, Maybeck’s, and Perle Wine Bar in Montclair.

Christmas Day

Wondering where to go take Santa for dinner? The new and stylish ~VILLON~ at the SF Proper is open for Christmas Day dinner, serving a family-style menu, which includes their fantastic Hawaiian bread with chicken liver mousse; roast beef, creamed leeks with horseradish, roasted kuri squash, and more; with a buche de noel to finish. $90 per person. 5:30pm-10:30pm.

~MKT RESTAURANT~ at the Four Seasons is open from 12pm-8pm, serving a four-course prix-fixe menu ($120 for adults, $60 children ages 5-12). Menu and more here. They are also open on Christmas Eve (6pm-10pm).

There are plenty of options for dim sum that day, but just FYI, ~DUMPLING TIME~ will be open for lunch and dinner. Bring on the tom yum goong xiao long bao! (They will also be open on New Year’s Day.)

Another option is ~ROOH~, serving progressive Indian. Choose a three- ($65) or four-course menu ($75), which include three small bites to start.

Also in SoMa, ~RED DOG~ is serving Christmas dinner at 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm. The five-course menu is $75 per person ($25 for kids 13 years and younger). Check out the menu and reserve your spot here.

Here are more options on OpenTable, and don’t forget you can always call and see if a restaurant can get you in.


The Hakkasan bar. Photo courtesy Onelove Photography.

There is no shortage of New Year’s Eve dinners and events going on, but here are a few that caught my eye for various reasons (there are also a bunch more for you to look at on OpenTable).

Leave it to ~STATE BIRD PROVISIONS~ and ~THE PROGRESS~ to pull out all the stops. They’re doing a Feast of 18 Dishes, with the first act taking place at State Bird for hors d’oeuvres (like foie gras ham on sauerkraut cracker, California sturgeon caviar, and smoked trout pancakes) and bubbles, and then heading over to The Progress for an epic feast (aged and smoked squab with wild mushroom farro and Périgord black truffles; Japanese A5 Wagyu with barley miso, fava greens, and “the best” potatoes). Tickets are $250; 6pm-1am. Or you can just come over to State Bird for all-you-can-eat hors d’oeuvres (it’s a standing reception/party) from 10pm-1am; tickets are $75.

One of the sexier restaurants in the city, ~HAKKASAN~ is hosting a special menu with two seatings: the first seating (before 6:30pm) is $138, while the second seating is $188 (starts at 7pm) and includes complimentary Champagne. For more information and to book a reservation, call 415-829-8148.

~PICCINO~ is switching gears and making a Szechuan-inspired feast, with 10 dishes, such as black trumpet mushroom dumplings, dan dan duck spaghetti, mapo tofu, and tofu ginger panna cotta. Break out the riesling. 5pm-9:30pm. Tickets are $70/person (before beverages, tax, and gratuity). There’s even space for a few large groups (up to 10 people).

If you want to take a step back from all the decadence, ~YUZUKI JAPANESE EATERY~ will be serving toshikoshi soba, which is traditionally eaten in Japan before the New Year. The restaurant’s regular menu will also be available. 5:30pm-9:30pm.

Not only does ~TAWLA~’s New Year’s Eve feast look fantastic, but the price is right too! They are serving an abundant menu for $69, with some assuredly lovely wine pairings that will be available as well.

~COMSTOCK SALOON~ is hosting a saloon-style New Year’s celebration, with live jazz from 8pm-10pm followed by burlesque dancers from 11pm into the New Year! The kitchen closes at midnight, but the party will keep going. No cover, but you can book a reservation.

Have you always dreamed of eating the timballo in Big Night? I know the feeling. ~PALMENTO A DOPO~ in Oakland is serving a slice as part of their menu, which includes a crudo, hot antipasti, chicory and citrus salad, and chocolate zeppole. Two seatings: 6pm and 8pm. $50 (plus tax and gratuity); $25 gets you an optional Sicilian wine pairing. Cin cin! Call 510-652-3676 to reserve.


New Year’s Day brunch at El Techo is here to save you. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

I feel so sorry for anyone working on New Year’s Day. As if brunch service wasn’t tough enough. Be nice, everyone. It’s on Monday January 1st, so running a Monday brunch service is extra unusual. Here are a few brunches that have crossed my desk. I will update this post in the coming weeks, so feel free to check back!

~NAMU GAJI~ will be open, offering full table service during the day! Loco moco, okonomiyaki, gamja fries, Bloody Marys—they’ve got you covered. Open 10:30am-4pm. Reserve here.

~VICTORY HALL~ in SoMa will be doing their brass and brunch (which is also a celebration of their four-year anniversary). Brunch runs from 10am-4pm. Follow their Instagram for updates.

Need some fresh air? And how about a view? ~EL TECHO~ will be open for brunch, ready to greet you with a Latin American-inspired menu and plenty of adult beverages, starting at 11am. The windscreens, heaters, and retractable roof means it will be open rain or shine.

More fresh air will be on the patio at ~4505 BURGERS AND BBQ~, which will be serving specials like their maple bacon breakfast sando, usually available on weekends only, and hoppin John (a New Year’s Day classic!). Open 10:30am-10pm.

You know, a Cubano or medianoche from ~MEDIA NOCHE~ in the Mission sounds like the perfect thing. Come by starting at 11:30am on New Year’s Day for their usual menu of pressed Cubanos, rice and bean bowls, and picadillo empanadas.

The fine folks at ~HOG & ROCKS~ will take care of you, serving the same brunch menu as served on weekends. Cocktails. Outdoor tables. Fresh air. Whew. 11am-3pm.

~ABSINTHE~ will be open, serving restorative dishes like oxtail soup with roasted garlic chapon and poutine (fried cheese curds, crispy braised beef, poached egg, and mushroom gravy). 11am-4pm (last reservation at 2pm).

You have some friends staying downtown? ~MKT RESTAURANT~ at the Four Seasons is hosting a New Year’s Day brunch buffet from 10am-2:30pm, with savory and sweet stations. $45 for adults, add entrée for $20; $21 for children ages 5-12.  


SFO is going to be featuring some major flava in 2018. Photo via Facebook.


Sesame loaf from Tartine Bakery. Photo via Facebook.

How’s this for a massive new project? Due to open at the San Francisco International Airport in mid-2018 is the ~MANUFACTORY FOOD HALL~, a 3,200-square-foot space with three restaurants led by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine, Gabriela Cámara of Cala, and Pim Techamuanvivit of Kin Khao. It’s due to open near boarding area A in the International Terminal. There will be a full-service bar, grab-and-go options, and some retail too.

Tartine will offer an experience somewhat similar to the Manufactory, including full service (think warm sandwiches, salads, and soups) as well as a bakery counter (bring on the morning buns). Tartine’s Coffee Manufactory (led by Chris Jordan) will also offer a full coffee bar, grab-and-go coffee, espresso drinks, and whole beans.

Techamuanvivit will be developing a fine-casual menu, with Thai rice bowls, noodles, and vegan options too, all designed for portability.

Cámara is pulling inspiration from her daytime Tacos Cala and is planning to offer tacos, tostadas, and breakfast tortas, as well as main-course salads.

They are partnering with SSP America (“a leading operator of food and beverage brands in travel locations worldwide”), and since quality is going to be of supreme importance to this trio of operators, they will be handling their own day-to-day operations instead of third parties. Stand by for more. With everything Tartine has going on in Los Angeles, it’s a good thing Prueitt and Robertson have access to a lot of coffee (and even Coffee Manufactory is expanding!).


Old Bay egg salad on griddled brioche at Serpentine. Photo: Kristen Loken.

Now that ~SERPENTINE~ is up and running with its updated interior and menu, they are making a few service tweaks. Starting on Saturday January 6th, they will be serving brunch Thu-Sun 10am-2:30pm (take a look at the menu here, which includes honey fried chicken and enchilada frittata) and discontinuing lunch Mon-Wed. Dinner service will continue unchanged Mon-Sat.

And then in February, chef-owner Tommy Halvorson is going to begin a new series of Sunday Suppers on the first Sunday of every month.The first Sunday Supper (on Sunday February 11th since the Super Bowl is on February 2nd) will be inspired by Louisiana, and the bountiful, family-style menu will be $40. You can get your tickets to this one if you like to plan ahead. Each Sunday Supper menu will be $35-$40 per person for the equivalent of three courses. I’ll keep you posted on others.

Meanwhile, ~ALMANAC TAPROOM~ has launched weekend brunch, including a burger Benedict (ruh-roh), breakfast ribs (confited local pork spareribs, fried and finished with a breakfast glaze of maple, coffee dry rub spice, crema, cured egg yolk, and showered in crispy bacon bits), special beer brunchy creations (IPA michelada, beermosa), and coffee too. Click through the pics here to see the menu. Brunch runs Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. And there’s that outdoor patio! 2704 24th St. at Potrero.

Feeling a bit beat-up with all the eggnog and cheese platters? You can give your body a break with the new dinner service available at ~BOOSTER FOODS~, which is located inside Chile Pies in NoPa. Their specialty is nutrient-dense, clean, and healthy food, and the expanded menu now includes sesame chicken spring rolls, sesame chicken salad, and wild mushroom cauliflower-crust pizza. Hours are now Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm. And you can order delivery on Caviar (use my code for $20 off your first delivery!).

Pie lovers, don’t worry, Chile Pies is still open for its regular hours (Mon-Fri 3pm-10pm and Sat-Sun 12pm-10pm), but it’s now only offering sweet pies during the week. Savory items will be available (in addition to sweet pies) on Saturday and Sunday. 601 Baker St. at Fulton.

Over in Oakland, ~DOÑA TOMÁS~ is now offering lunch service every Tue-Fri 11am-2:30pm (in addition to brunch and dinner). Counter service includes a wide range of meat and vegetarian tacos, burrito bowls, and a crunchy gem lettuce salad with avocado, radish, pumpkin seeds, and cumin salt. You can hit the margaritas or perk up with coconut-horchata iced coffee. 5004 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.


The private dining room at Babu Ji. Photo: Katie Newburn.

Last week, a friend let me know that New York import ~BABU JI~ was closing after a year in business here in SF and becoming a delivery-only business. Delivery starts tonight (December 19th). You can also still book private dining and other large-party reservations. Not sure who will serve you or how long this odd arrangement will continue, but according to a post on Facebook, owners Jessi and Jennifer Singh are “heading south and we’ll keep you posted on our exciting Southern California happenings soon!” We’ll see if L.A. cares about their reputation that was tarnished with two past wage and labor lawsuits—it obviously didn’t fly so well here in SF. And everyone likes to say that location is cursed. And of course restaurants are damn hard to run in SF. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St.

Some other closures to report: ~CREPEVINE~ at 216 Church Street, after 18 years (a rent hike is to blame). [Via Hoodline.]

And in the East Bay, chef Donato Scotti is closing ~DESCO~ in Old Town Oakland after New Year’s Eve service on December 31st (they’re offering an amuse-bouche, a choice of two antipasti, porcini and cheese tortellini, a choice of rabbit or swordfish, and a chocolate tart for dessert, $68, FYI!). Scotti says the closure is a result of an “inability to come to a long-term agreement that would allow us to make updates to the restaurant space and concept.” He goes on to say, “While Desco is doing very well, we have decided to focus our attention on Donato & Co., our two restaurants in Redwood City, Donato Enoteca and Cru, as well as a new venture planned in San Francisco.” I’ll keep you posted. 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland.