November 27, 2018

November 27, 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 Saratoga has fun with their doughnuts. Photo: Karey Walker.

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We’ll be taking over the swank downstairs room at The Saratoga. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey gang, I’m so excited for this Sunday December 2nd’s boozy holiday brunch with Westland Distillery at ~THE SARATOGA~ in Polk Gulch, which has one of San Francisco’s best brunches going on right now.

We have SOLD OUT of tickets with the main group, but we decided to open six seats at the bar so more of you can join us! You won’t be seated with the main tables, but you’ll be very, very close (a couple feet away), and won’t miss any of the action! Also: I really adore that beautiful bar.

We’re gathering at 12pm, and we’re going to be seated in the chic downstairs dining room, complete with mohair walls and beautiful vintage art from Lost Art—it has such a swank supper club vibe.

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Westland Distillery on the 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 four (!) different cocktails for the brunch:

Welcome Cocktail: Bramble Royale
Prosecco, Marionberry Liqueur, Thyme

First Course: 4-Point Buck
Westland Sherry Wood, Persimmon-Clove, Lemon, Ginger Beer

Second Course: The Lily of Killarney
Westland Peated, Yellow Chartreuse, Benedictine, Egg, Cinnamon, Nutmeg

Third Course: Central Perk
Westland American, Roast Co. Coffee, Demerara Sugar, Aztec Chocolate Bitters, Whipped Cream

And you’re going to be getting three neat pours of Westland’s whiskies (the American Oak, the Peated, and the Sherry Wood), so, yes, it’s going to be a boozy brunch. Drink your water. Please.

Now, about the vittles. Chef Francisco Baca puts on quite a brunch every weekend (maybe you were drooling over my recap in Table Talk a couple weeks ago?), 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, featuring some awesome bottles of whiskey, some groovy Westland swag, some tablehopper t-shirts, and more. I’m also happy to announce the kind folks at The Clift Hotel have donated a $100 gift certificate to be used on drinks and food at the new Redwood Room Decompression Hour! So generous!

We’ll be selling raffle tickets for $5 each, 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 four 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!). We look forward to having some holiday cheer and cheers with you!

The Saratoga
1000 Larkin St. at Post

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The Marlowe burger. Photo courtesy of Big Night Restaurant Group.

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

Now open from Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas of the Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Petit Marlowe, Leo’s Oyster Bar, Park Tavern, The Cavalier, and Marianne’s) is ~COW MARLOWE~ in Cow Hollow, in the former Eastside West.

Chef-partner Jennifer Puccio and chief pastry officer Emily Luchetti have put together an expanded menu, with new dishes like grilled furikake green beans with smoked egg yolk, caviar, and truffle aioli, and exclusively for the late-night menu is Cow Marlowe poutine, featuring Kennebec fries with braised beef short ribs, cracklings, Caesar aioli, and Parmesan cheese. There’s an entire section dedicated to bar bites, including the trademark crispy Brussels sprout chips and their warm deviled egg, made with aged provolone, pickled jalapeño, and bacon. 

Chef de cuisine Steve Dustin also has an entrée of warm Brussels sprout and chicory Caesar with Spanish anchovies, and seafood-stuffed petrale sole with diver scallops and bay shrimp, celery root, spinach, smoked paprika, and sunchoke chips, and the favorite poulet vert. For dessert, Luchetti offers some playful spins on American classics like the orange creamsicle sundae with bourbon and caramel-soaked oranges, vanilla bean ice cream, orange sorbet, and candied almonds, and Key lime cheesecake with wild blueberry sauce.

The bar program features a new menu from Mike Anders of Marianne’s and Leo’s Oyster Bar, and expands on the classics from the original Marlowe. There are some fun new additions exclusive to the location, like the Lululemon Drop (hahahahahhaha) with Tito’s Vodka, Acqua di Cedro, lemon, and thyme, and Brad & Chad (also, hahahhahhaha), made with Avion Reposado Tequila, gin, and green Chartreuse. 

Seems like a good idea to go have Jennifer Puccio’s burger and soak in the always-fun style from Ken Fulk. Ken Fulk Inc.’s senior designer, Tiffany Kramer, installed a bar and communal table made of Sodalite blue granite in cobalt blue that looks a bit like a beautiful lapis. There are leather banquettes, vintage Thonet-style chairs, Carrara marble tiles, and of course some snazzy wallpaper.

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-10pm and Thu-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. The late-night menu is served 11pm-1am, and the bar is open Mon-Wed 4pm-12am, and Thu-Sat 4pm-1:45am. 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-508-5898.  

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The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy-delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The har gow with black truffle at Pushcart Fare. Instagram photo via @pushcartfare.

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Tea leaf salad at Beyond Burma. Yelp photo by Hiromi N.

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Grilled pork with vermicelli at Pho 335. Yelp photo via business owner.

Hayes Valley should be pretty stoked with the addition of an ~ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY~ location that just opened. There are many housemade pastas to choose from, but their tortellini—one of the few places in town to make it with traditional mortadella and pork—in pasticciata sauce (bolognese with béchamel, mamma mia), lasagna, and piadine sandwiches are especially delicious—and affordable. Open Tue-Sun 11am-11pm (thanks to Eater for the business hours). 1 Franklin St. at Page, 415-757-0877.

IHC are also busy taking over the former Caffe Roma location in North Beach (which closed after close to 30 years in business). Eater reports they are busy updating the building and hope to open another Italian Homemade location in spring 2019. 526 Columbus Ave. at Green.

I’ve been following the Instagram account of a new dim sum place in the Mission that just opened and looks fun: ~PUSHCART FARE~. According to a post on Yelp, they are also behind the Hongry Kong and Wokitchen food trucks.

They’re serving some updated dim sum classics, like har gow (shrimp) with black truffle and charcoaled lava salty egg yolk bun (built for Instagram), plus siu mai, BBQ pork buns, and more—you can order three pieces or dim sum boxes. There are also some fun snacks like Taiwanese popcorn chicken and mushu chicken tacos.

Their butter egg custard tarts look really good. They also offer a variety of teas. Check out the menu on their site. Open Tue-Sat 11:30am-8:30pm and Sun 11am-3pm. 3224 22nd St. at Bartlett, 415-957-1688.

A new Burmese restaurant is serving dinner and weekend brunch in the Elmira Rosticceria location in Civic Center. It’s called ~BEYOND BURMA~, and has a menu of tea leaf salad, Burmese ramen, mohinga (catfish chowder), samosa soup, Shan noodles, many curry and rice dishes, and more. According to their site, they like to add some creative twists and updates to their dishes, and they like to offer healthy and vegetarian options too. Open Tue-Fri 4pm-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-2pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm. 154 McAllister St. at Hyde, 415-364-8425.

Castro residents will be happy to hear there’s a new Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood: ~PHO 335~ has opened, serving pho ga (chicken) or pho bo (beef) noodle, plus some apps like spring rolls and cha gio (fried imperial rolls), vermicelli bowls, and some rice plates. Open daily 11am-9pm. 335 Noe St. at 17th St., 415-829-2789.

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The cheerful exterior of Stones Throw. Photo courtesy of Stones Throw.

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Rendering of the bar at The Vault.

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Rendering of the dining room at The Vault.

Over on Russian Hill, the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group will be closing ~STONES THROW~ on January 1st, 2019, after five years in the location. They decided to close after the City mandated a seismic retrofit, which would force the restaurant to be inoperable for months.

You can swing by for a four-course, prix-fixe menu of signature dishes (of course, the squid ink conchiglie are on there) for $40 from now until they close. Sunday brunch is also happening. And, obviously, their New Year’s Eve dinner will be a blowout ($130). 1896 Hyde St. at Green.

Good news for the staff, however: they will be able to retain their team, including executive chef Robin Song, as they prepare to open their new project in the Financial District: ~THE VAULT~. It’s going to be a fine-dining project, and “the menu will emphasize exciting and elevated takes on classic Americana dishes.” Fine wines and spirits will be a highlight, and there will be private wine and liquor lockers for the building’s tenants (which include Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley employees—paging Gordon Gekko).

It’s opening at the base of the 555 California Street high-rise building, clocking in at 4,800 square feet (there will be a 60-seat restaurant with private and semi-private dining for 25, a 60-seat lounge, and 15-seat Carrara marble bar). D-Scheme Studio is behind the design. Look for a spring opening. Lunch and dinner will be served. 555 California St. at Kearny.

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Tacos dorados from La Taqueria. Photo by Blair Heagerty Photography.

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Two kinds of shakshuka are at Oren’s Hummus for breakfast. Photo courtesy of Oren’s Hummus.

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The Magnolia breakfast sandwich. Photo: David Martinez.

Everyone can exhale, your carnitas burritos and tacos dorados are safe: fortunately ~LA TAQUERIA~ owner Miguel Jara Sr. was able to bid and buy the location for $1.7 million, after an inheritance dispute with his siblings threatened the famed taqueria’s future. You can read more in the Chronicle here. 2889 Mission St. at 25th St.

A couple reopening reminders: ~IZAKAYA SUSHI RAN~ is opening in the former Nomica on Friday December 1st (2223 Market St. at Sanchez), and ~ALFRED’S STEAKHOUSE~ is taking reservations for after December 3rd. You can read a past tablehopper recap here if either of these stories are news to you! 659 Merchant St. at Kearny, 415-781-7058.

Congrats to all the GGRA Saucy Award winners—unfortunately I received the list after my deadline. Take a look here and see who won—there were a bunch of great categories. Congrats to all.

Michelin has also released their list of 2019 Bib Gourmand restaurants, with eight new additions of affordable restaurants that serve high-quality food like East Bay faves Dyafa, Nyum Bai, Teni East Kitchen, and El Molino Central in Sonoma. The star selection will be announced this Thursday November 29th. (The Guide will go on sale Tuesday December 4th.)

Looking for a new breakfast spot? Love shakshuka? Uh huh. ~OREN’S HUMMUS~ in SoMa has launched breakfast, with both traditional or green shakshuka (made with spinach and kale cream sauce), Israeli breakfast, challah French toast, hash and eggs, and more. Served Mon-Fri 8am-11am and Sat-Sun 8am-2pm. 71 3rd St. at Jessie.

Also in SoMa: ~ALX GASTROPUB~ has kicked off Sunday brunch service, with duck confit croquettes with blue corn “Jessie” cakes (executive chef Jessie Lugo’s play on “Johnny cakes”); duck eggs Benedict with a miso English muffin and foie-llandaise sauce (it’s like they’re trying to kill you!); and a brioche French toast Monte Cristo with prosciutto and Monterey Jack. (Just be sure to check the prices on the website menu before heading over—it’s a bit steep, even if the ingredients are on the luxurious side of things.) There are cocktails, mimosas with freshly squeezed juice, Bloody Marys, and more. Sundays 11am-3pm. 680 Folsom St. at Hawthorne.

One more brunch option: ~MAGNOLIA DOGPATCH~ brewery and restaurant is also serving weekend brunch, Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. The menu includes a Magnolia breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs, hash browns, frisée, sambal chili mayo, chives, and choice of bacon or sausage; croque madame; and a breakfast flatbread: choice of bacon or sausage, sunny-side-up egg, hash browns, caramelized onion, Parmesan, and arugula. They also started weekday lunch service (11am-4pm) and happy hour (3pm-6pm daily). 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.

Looking for a new lunch spot? The Jamaican ~KAYA~ in Mid-Market launched weekday lunch service, served Tue-Fri 11am-2pm. Chef Nigel Jones is offering sweet plantains with black bean sauce and sour cream; pulled-oxtail hash with a sunny-side-up egg: curry vegetables with rice, peas, and plantains; and a jerk chicken sandwich. They added some non-alcoholic beverages, although you can go for a boozy rum drink if that’s how you roll. 1420 Market St. at Fell.

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Elan and Brett Emerson when they were first opening Contigo. Photo via Facebook.

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Moya’s vegetarian combo. Photo from Yelp via Todd I.

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A look inside Little Taqueria in the Inner Richmond. Photo via Facebook.

This section is never fun, especially when there are a bunch of closures to announce. Gah. First, beloved ~CONTIGO~ has closed after 10 years in Noe Valley. Owners Brett and Elan Emerson decided to close the restaurant to focus on their upcoming project, Barceloneta, which is opening in Santa Cruz. Be sure to read their sweet goodbye note—that cozy little spot will be missed.

Tipster Jason B. was back in town, and clued me in to what’s happening at ~MOYA~ in SoMa, the heartfelt Ethiopian restaurant from Fana Alemayehu, which has been open since 2010. It ends up she’s closing the restaurant this Friday November 30th, and will be transitioning to a catering business only. Be sure to read her farewell note on Instagram. And if you need some catering, please support this female-owned business! Her dishes use spices prepared by her mother in Ethiopia! 121 9th St. at Minna.

Moving in to the location will be a second location of South San Francisco’s Big Belly Deli, with sandwich names that pay homage to mobsters, like the Capone.

Old-timer ~ALBONA RISTORANTE ISTRIANO~ is closing after 30 years in North Beach, the only Istrian restaurant in SF. Inside Scoop reports the last night will be December 31st. Owner Samuel Hernandez and his wife Beatriz took over the restaurant in 2008 from original owner Bruno Viscovi and are reportedly retiring. Regulars, head in for a final dish of rabbit while you can. 545 Francisco St. at Mason.

Some other closures: ~THE MEATBALL BAR~ in Hayes Valley has closed after eight months. The downtown location remains open. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna. [Via Hoodline.]

Also in Hayes Valley: ~MINAS BRAZILIAN~ has closed. 41 Franklin St. at Oak. [Via Hoodline.]

And in the Inner Richmond, ~LITTLE TAQUERIA~ in the Inner Richmond has closed after two years of business. 200 6th Ave. at Clement. [Via Hoodline.]