November 13, 2018

November 13, 2018
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Mole flautas at The Saratoga. Photo: Karey Walker.

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The eggs Benedict at The Saratoga comes with house-smoked ham on a pretzel bun…and béarnaise! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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You’ll be tasting through the trio of Westland Distillery’s whiskies (American Oak, the Peated, and the Sherry Wood). Photo courtesy of Westland Distillery.

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The famed Jenga tots at The Saratoga. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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I know, some time has passed since we had a tablehopper gathering, so let’s kick off December with a boozy holiday brunch with Westland Distillery! We’re going to be gathering on Sunday December 2nd at 12pm at ~THE SARATOGA~ in Polk Gulch, which has one of San Francisco’s best brunches going on right now. We’re going to be gathering in the chic downstairs dining room, complete with mohair walls and beautiful vintage art—it has such a swank supper club vibe.

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Westland Distillery on this event—this Seattle-based distillery is known for their single-malt whiskies that use ingredients from the Pacific Northwest to craft a uniquely American single-malt. You’ll get to taste through three expressions: the American Oak, the Peated, and the Sherry Wood. Western Regional Whiskey Ambassador Trent Simpson will be leading us through a tasting and educating us about Westland’s philosophy, process, sourcing, and bringing a few surprises as well.

The Saratoga’s barman and partner Brandon Clements is a wizard with cocktails, and he’s going to be creating three different cocktails for the brunch: expect a citrus cocktail, a Pacific Northwest Irish coffee, and egg nog—I’ll be sharing more details on the actual cocktails soon. And you’re going to be getting three neat pours of the whiskies (the American Oak, the Peated, and the Sherry Wood), so, yes, it’s going to be a boozy brunch. Drink your water.

Now, about the vittles. Chef Francisco Baca puts on quite a brunch every weekend (maybe you were drooling over my recap in Table Talk this week?), and our three-course affair is going to be no exception. The family-style brunch will begin with some canapés; followed by their famed Jenga tots; mole flautas with braised chicken; fried chicken Caesar; eggs Benedict (with soft-poached eggs, house-smoked ham, pretzel bun, English peas, béarnaise); billionaire’s bacon with molasses and whiskey; the killer coffee cake with walnut streusel and vanilla bean gelato; and mimosa doughnut with strawberry glaze and Pop Rocks. Yeah, it’s abundant—bring your fat pants!

Since it’s the holidays, we’re going to have a raffle for charity, with some awesome bottles of whiskey, some groovy Westland swag, some tablehopper t-shirts, and more. We’ll be selling raffle tickets for $5, so please bring cash. Let me just say, you’re going to want to make it rain—these raffle items will in high demand. All proceeds from the raffle will be going to the SF-Marin Food Bank, which could use some support as they keep everyone fed this holiday (every dollar can provide up to four meals).

Not only does your ticket include all three cocktails, but you also get three neat Westland whiskey pours, an abundant three-course brunch, and tax and gratuity are included. Woot woot! The entire ticket price is just $70, all-inclusive (Happy Holidays to you from us!). Seating is very limited (just 23 spots!), so jump on these as soon as you can. We look forward to having some holiday cheer and cheers with you!

The Saratoga
1000 Larkin St. at Post

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The whimsical new design at Indian Paradox from Lorena Zertuche. Honk honk! Photo: Grace Sager Photography.

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The colorful and patterned new look (and nooks) at Indian Paradox. Photo: Grace Sager Photography.

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One of my favorite dishes: the sundal with warm garbanzos and unripe mango. Photo: Grace Sager Photography.

One of the first things people think of when they think of India is bright color, and walking into the newly updated ~INDIAN PARADOX~ on Divisadero, you’re going to get a blast of color, along with bold patterns, new lighting, and design whimsy. Owner and wine director Kavitha Raghavan worked with artist and interior designer Lorena Zertuche (co-owner of the vibrant Loló) to update the three-year-old space, and she has infused the wine bar with her trademark visual energy and clever use of materials.

Anyone who has traveled to India will immediately recognize the truck mural and artwork on the wall, an homage to the over-the-top adorned trucks you’ll see all over India, complete with a humorous “Blow Horn,” but leave it to Zertuche to add colorful milk crates which form a visual truck bed of wine shelving. It made me chuckle.

There are now upholstered and patterned banquettes in the window nooks, bright pillows, a checkered pattern under the bar, repurposed woven Indian floor mats that adorn the walls, and don’t miss the colorful turban installation above the doorway. So many playful touches and things to catch your eye.

There’s nothing like a new look to inspire some other changes, like new glassware to showcase Kavitha’s wine pairings. She’s so passionate about pairing wine with her region-hopping menu of Indian street food dishes, and now with chef Maribel Palomo, they have created a new tasting menu to take things to the next level. With the new four-course menu, you can sit back and enjoy the chaat experience for $35 per person, or go for chaats with four half-pour/2.5 oz. ($55) or four full-glass/5 oz. ($75) pairings for each course, which include both New and Old World wines.

Some sample pairings include the can’t-miss sundal (warm garbanzos with mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafetida, shredded coconut, and unripe mango) paired with a Hannes Sabathi 2017 sauvignon blanc from Austria. Another fun one is the dahi sev puri (semolina puffs filled with jaggery and mint chutneys topped with yogurt, sev, and cilantro) paired with the Ciu Ciu, 2013 sangiovese from La Marche.

I love coming in on a whim here (it’s a no reservations kind of joint), grabbing a seat at the bar so I can chat with Kavitha, but the new window seats are definitely going to be the hot ticket for date night.

Have you had Indian Paradox’s fab Saturday brunch yet? I’m obsessed with the egg akuri (soft-scrambled eggs cooked with Parsi masala, ginger, garlic, turmeric, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, served with buttered toast). Who can say no to something called disco fry eggs? (You shouldn’t—just say “yes.”) The place is going to be so cute in the daytime. And starting January 20th, 2019, they’ll be extending brunch service to Sundays too (11am-2pm).

Dinner served Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. Come on by for some color therapy. 258 Divisadero St. at Haight.

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You lookin’ for some big bottles of amazing wine? These guys can help. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A peek at the new “field guide” to Lazy Bear’s 1,000-wine-label list. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The upstairs mezzanine will now be The Lazy Bear Den after 9:30pm. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week, ~LAZY BEAR~ hosted quite the kick-off party to celebrate their new wine list and late-night mezzanine experience they’re launching in December. Beverage director Matthew Dulle has been working for the past two years on accumulating a cellar that will offer one of the country’s deepest collections of old, historical California bottlings, including over 60 different labels from Ridge Vineyards alone. And now it’s time for the unveiling. You’re going to have fun scouting through the red, cloth-bound, vintage-style book. 

Dulle, an Advanced Sommelier, decided to let taste and quality drive his choices, and even though you’ll find some big game Napa cabs and the like, there are also some hidden gems from under-appreciated regions and vintages as well. You can dive deep with a rare bottle of Bordeaux from the 1920s, or try something from a current, small producer. The result is a 1,000-label wine list, which you can peruse before your dinner reservation if you want, or enjoy through pairings (the standard $95 or reserve $175 pairing) curated by Lazy Bear’s sommelier team.

But you won’t have to buy a ticket to the full dinner experience to access it. Starting December 1st, guests will be able to head up to the cozy midcentury mezzanine for The Lazy Bear Den (not to be confused with WesBurger’s Den around the corner on Mission). You’ll have access to the new wine list (as well as cocktails and spirits), along with a limited à la carte menu of dishes that you can pair with the wines. You can take a peek at chef David Barzelay’s preview/sample menu, which includes flavorful bites like their miso-cranberry bean soup (with miso they have been fermenting for the past year), ham and biscuits, and then there’s their tableside campfire section, with burnt ends of wagyu ribeye from Miyazaki with smoked beet BBQ sauce and bone marrow-infused tater tots. Yeah, that.

For dessert, you can have fun with the grill-your-own s’mores, with redwood marshmallows, dark chocolate, and graham crackers. Expect things to change—of course that creative kitchen will be working on new bites inspired by the season’s offerings and new flavor discoveries, through the lens of the wild and outdoors.

While it will mostly be about ticketed reservations on the mezzanine (via Tock, $25 deposit per guest to hold, and redeemable on food and drink), they plan to reserve a few tickets to be released day-of (or close to it) so diners can experience it without always having to reserve a month in advance. Tickets go live on Tock Thursday November 15th at 10am. The Lazy Bear Den will be open Tue-Sat 9:30pm-late. 3416 19th St. at Mission.

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Calm in the Alfred’s dining room (just before we took it over for our Blue Fox dinner!). Photo: Blair Heagerty Photography.

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Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu at the entrance of their new restaurant location. Photo: Andria Lo.

Some fantastic news for my fellow ~ALFRED’S STEAKHOUSE~ fans: after mysteriously closing over the summer, the 90-year-old steakhouse (SF’s oldest steakhouse!) will be reopening December 1st, and former owner Al Petri and his family will be involved once again. Daniel Patterson took over the restaurant from the Petris three years ago—Al Petri is coming out of retirement and he will be the majority investor, but Patterson will remain an investor.

When Patterson took the space over, it got a light update, and with it came a menu upgrade with quality and seasonal products, grass-fed beef, à la carte menu options, and…higher prices. The new format back under Al Petri will offer a fixed-price menu: guests choose which cut of beef they want, and it will come with an appetizer platter for the table; a choice of a Caesar salad, heart of romaine salad, or prawn cocktail; and two sides ($39-$68). Stand by for more updates on the exact opening. 659 Merchant St. at Kearny, 415-781-7058. [Via Inside Scoop.]

In the last tablehopper issue, I broke the news about the changes at Nomica (and chef Hiroo Nagahara’s departure), and a few more details have been released. The new name will be ~IZAKAYA SUSHI RAN~, and will offer “a casual and inviting pub atmosphere, with small, sharable plates, classic izakaya-style ‘tapas’ and a sampling of Sushi Ran’s most popular rolls, selected raw fish, and favorites from the hot kitchen.” They want to offer “neighborhood-friendly prices” and a fun, casual space where guests can swing by for a drink and a bite or more. Sushi Ran’s executive chef Seiji (Waka) Wakabayashi will be overseeing the new menu, which will launch in late November. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez.

Boom: ~HARBORVIEW RESTAURANT AND BAR~ is now open. It’s the new Chinese restaurant from Kinson Wong, a founder of Chinatown’s popular R&G Lounge, that took over the former Crystal Jade on the Embarcadero. There’s no menu posted yet, but look for dim sum and classic Cantonese dishes (some R&G dishes will be coming over). It’s open for lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm and Sat-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm; dinner is served nightly 5pm-9:30pm. Happy hour is also every day from 3pm-7pm. 4 Embarcadero Center, 628-867-7350

And now some unfortunate news: our dear Rice Paper Scissors ladies, Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu, just announced they unfortunately had to pull the plug on their Folsom Street/Mission location after working so hard to bring their first brick-and-mortar Vietnamese restaurant to fruition the past year and a half. In a post on Instagram, they state: “We experienced some major, unforeseen complications in the restaurant opening process in the last five months and are heartbroken to report that we’re no longer able to open a restaurant at Folsom and 22nd.” You can read more in the post. For now, they ask: “Please reach out to us for any lunch, event or holiday catering, and we encourage you to continue to support local business (like the ones at West Coast Craft this weekend, where we’ll also be—and especially ones run by rad women). We hope to see you soon.” So, do that. Best wishes to them both, they have a lot of fans who are here to support!

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The Mission’s new ramen shop, Ramenwell. Instagram photo via @ramenwellsf.

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San Diego’s Rakiraki is now in SF. Instagram photo via @rakirakiramen.

Okay ramen lovers, you have two new places to fill up with and enjoy a face steaming: now open in the former Ken Ken Ramen space is ~RAMENWELL~ from Chicago’s Harold Jurado (Yusho, Chizakaya).

You’ll find a variety of broths (a 20-hour pork tonkotsu, chicken, or vegetarian, which includes a mushroom-based broth and a spicy tantanmen broth). The chicken options include chicken tantanmen (a spicy broth made with ground chicken and ground turkey) and tori paitan with turkey chashu (instead of chashu made of braised pork belly, interesting!). Meanwhile, for the pork lovers/eaters, their pork chashu belly is smoked by 4505 Burgers and BBQ after being cured and marinated for two days—special! Bowls are $14-15, and there are some apps as well (like hamachi, a house salad, and the wagyu carpaccio looks amazing), with soft-serve for dessert (matcha-taro!).

The space was completely gutted and now has a sleek and minimalist look, with plenty of counter space for you to slurp in peace at. Beer, wine, and sake are available. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. 3378 18th St. at [Via Eater.]

Now open in Bernal Heights in the former Ichi Sushi is ~RAKIRAKI RAMEN & TSUKEMEN~, an import from San Diego and this is its fourth location. Tokyo-born, chef-owner Junya Watanabe is offering Hakata-style tonkotsu and Tokyo-style tsukemen, along with kimchee ramen, vegetarian miso, plus there are some special edition ramen bowls too (like black or red; peep the menu here). The bowls/ingredients get a little torching on top before they are served. You’ll also find some Yokohama jumbo gyoza, some pretty awesome-looking chicken karaage, sushi rolls, takoyaki, and more.

Inside, there’s a combination of counter seating and two-tops, with lots of plants and a very simple look. Soft-opening hours: daily 5pm-10pm. 3282 Mission St. at Valencia. [Via Eater.]

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Of course there is some fun tile happening at Cow Marlowe. Instagram photo via @annaweinbergmarlowe.

~COW MARLOWE~ from the Big Night Restaurant Group (Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas) opens tonight for dinner in Cow Hollow (in the former Eastside West). Seems like a good idea to go have Jennifer Puccio’s burger, and soak in the always-fun style from Ken Fulk. Lunch and brunch begin Saturday December 1st, as well as Sunday dinner service and an all-day menu. For now, hours are Mon-Wed 5:30pm-11pm and Thu-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. (I’ll have pics and more details in the next tablehopper issue, the PR team didn’t have anything in time for our deadline over here.) 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.

Meanwhile, Hayes Valley’s ~LITTLE GEM~ is going to be opening a second location in the former Umami Burger on Union. Co-founder Eric Lilavois and chef David Cruz will continue to offer their clean cooking, which is gluten-free, dairy-fee, and refined sugar-free. Eater adds on Inside Scoop’s story that the opening is slated for spring 2019. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore.