July 30, 2019

July 30, 2019
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The elegant exterior of Selby’s. Photo: Ed Anderson.

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The limestone fireplace (with original artwork by Rob Delamater). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The inviting style of the downstairs dining room. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The swanky bar at Selby’s (with green mohair underneath). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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One of the three golden arches, containing rare Scotch, eau de vie, and Chartreuse. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The upstairs Balcony room. Photo: Ed Anderson.

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Hokkaido scallop and Kaluga caviar. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The magnificent roast crown of duck for two. Photo: Ed Anderson.

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The fabulous midnight chocolate cake. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

The Bacchus Management Group (The Village Pub, Spruce) has really done it this time: now open in Atherton is their latest project, ~SELBY’S~. Open in the former Chantilly, the location has been home to fine-dining restaurants since 1937, and the swanky style feels like a throwback to that era. The group spent over two years on the project, and it shows in all the exquisite details.

Interior designer Stephen Brady, who designed Spruce, took inspiration from Hollywood’s glamorous dining scene of the 1930s and 1940s. The 10,000-square-foot space has two levels, with room for 48 in the main dining room, and 40 in the bar and lounge. There’s also a private card room, with room for 8 (you can dine in there and then a felt topper for the table comes out when it’s time to play cards—they can also hire a dealer for you); the balcony room seats 40, and there’s additional seating for up to 70, with many private dining options.

Walking through the original doors, you’ll note luxurious touches like forest green mohair walls (they provide great acoustics, and founding partner Tim Stannard tells me they have bought all the green mohair that exists in the world, for the moment), tobacco saddle leather chairs, black paneled wainscoting, and some stunning lighting, including a custom chandelier by Magnus Schevene. The welcoming design is eclectic, both modern and vintage, and is meant to make you feel like you want to linger. The Bacchus team is known for their top-notch service, only adding to the desire to stay awhile.

The bar is such a looker—I felt like I was having a cocktail in Manhattan—with three arches inlayed with gold foil, a white Carrara marble bar top, and wraparound leather chairs and bar chairs. There are over 110 American whiskies, and ask about their Blanton’s barrel reserve. There’s also an extensive selection of eau de vie from Austria, and select Chartreuse too.

The artwork is a seminal part of the décor, featuring original artwork by Rob Delamater of Lost Art Salon, who also curated over 175 pieces of vintage and contemporary artwork, hung salon-style throughout the space (I particularly fell in love with the large pieces by Bay Area abstract expressionist Jack Freeman hanging by the dramatic white marble staircase).

Many of you know what a fanatic I am for vintage restaurant history, menus, and ephemera, so I was pretty smitten with the entire dining experience they have crafted here. Bacchus executive chef Mark Sullivan really enjoyed researching vintage dishes, and has updated them with a California seasonal lens (and lightness). I’m calling it Cali-Continental, and it’s elegant without being fussy, luxurious without being gauche. Some media outlets have fussed over the Black Label $50 burger (with Époisses and black truffle), but I think that’s missing the point of the menu. (And, by the way, if you want a burger, the Selby’s burger is just $21, served with Comté.)

Starters include a lobster consommé with seafood mousseline ($19); a Russian salad (based on the recipe for salad Olivier, which dates back to the 1860s at the Ermitage in Moscow), lightened up with seasonal vegetables from SMIP Ranch and a creamy dill dressing, $17; and if you feel like splashing out with a friend, get the cured Hokkaido scallop with Kaluga caviar and cream with verjus, shallot, and yuzu ($75), perfect with a glass of their Champagne from Sanger, an exclusive here in California.

I was happy to see carpaccio Cipriani ($22) on the menu (prepared tableside)—when was the last time you had carpaccio? Some burnished Gruyère popovers will hit the table, hang onto one until the end of your meal so you can surreptitiously scoop up sauces like beurre rouge. Oh, and the china! The Ginori porcelain dishes are so beautiful, what a treat to dine off of such lovely china.

Mains include an elegant and lightly cured halibut ($41) adorned with little scales of thinly sliced potato, and you’ll want it with a side of Robuchon potatoes (there is nothing creamier on this earth), $17.

The duck is what got chef de cuisine Jason Pringle the job—here, it’s dry-aged for 17 days, and served tableside as a roast crown of duck for two ($98)—the exterior has a fantastic seasoning. Order the La Tur Robiola ravioli ($19) to share on the side, they were charmingly inspired by Lucca Ravioli (RIP). You’ll also see a variety of prime steaks from Holstein cattle, dry-aged exclusively for Selby’s by Flannery’s Beef. Plus sauces (bring on the béarnaise)!

Dessert from executive pastry chef Janina O’Leary (previously Per Se and Del Posto) is fantastic—the midnight chocolate cake ($13) with salted caramel and fudge sauce is best in class (she uses Valrhona chocolate, and there’s also olive oil in it). I’d travel here just for it and eat a slice at the bar, I’m not kidding. Beautiful mignardises at the end of the meal, like peach Bellini bonbons!

Of course wine and spirits director Andrew Green has pulled out all the stops with Selby’s. The cellar has one of the most substantial opening wine lists in the United States, including 3,000-4,000 wines from first-class producers around the world, and focusing on vintage Italian, Spanish, French, and California wines. (They’re gunning to acquire their third Wine Spectator Grand Award.)

There’s also some really fun tableside action with their Martini Cart (you can see it in action in my post on Instagram), serving two variations of “The Coldest Martini on the West Coast,” a classic martini and Vesper (they use frozen spirits only, without shaking or stirring, so it’s potent!).

Enjoy more pics here and here. Dinner nightly 5pm-10pm. Book your table soon (yes, even if you live in SF, you’re going to want to come down to the Peninsula for this experience!), and hey, tech bros, leave the Patagonia at home for a change, would ya? 3001 El Camino Real at Selby, Atherton, 650-546-7700.

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The dining room at Tosca. Photo by Sonya Yu via Tosca.

Big news from over the weekend: North Beach’s ~TOSCA CAFE~ closed after service Saturday night. Eater reports chef-owner April Bloomfield is keeping the bar open for a bit, but no word for how long. In a follow-up statement to Eater, Bloomfield states, “Tosca Cafe will close temporarily as I prepare to transfer this iconic restaurant to new management. The conversation is still in-progress, so I can’t comment further, but I expect the restaurant to return to full operation in the near future.”

According to Eater, it sounds like Tosca has had financial troubles of late. Shame that Bloomfield and Friedman didn’t transfer it to chef Josh Even and Dana Katzakian when they made an offer. But, I’m glad there’s new management taking over—here’s hoping they bring armloads of sage to smudge the fuck out of that place, which I haven’t had much of a desire to return to since Isaac Shumway was let go back in 2015. I’m glad this treasured location will stay with us, but hopefully the next operators will do right by it, and our city that loves it so.

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San Francisco’s beloved champion of Italian wine, Shelley Lindgren. Photo: Frankie Frankeny. © FrankenyImages.com.

Some big news over at ~SPQR~: managing partner Shelley Lindgren, who co-founded the Fillmore restaurant in 2007, has divested ownership in it. She will continue to focus on A16’s SF and Rockridge locations, and A16 is going to have an upcoming location in the Oakland airport. She is also busy researching and writing “The New Italian Wine,” with Kate Leahy, coming out with Ten Speed Press in spring 2021.

Executive chef Matthew Accarrino, who has been in that role since 2009, will be assuming more oversight of the restaurant operations.

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A corner of the dining room. Photo courtesy of Coffee Manufactory.

SF is losing a talented chef: executive chef Christa Chase is leaving ~TARTINE MANUFACTORY~ on August 20th. She helped open the restaurant in 2016, and became the exec in 2017. She says she’s going to enjoy a break (so well-deserved), and will be part of a new project by the end of the year in Oakland (no details to share yet, but at least she isn’t going too far). Thank you for feeding us such fresh, flavorful, craveable dishes!

Over at ~COI~, chef Daniel Patterson is taking the helm once again (he left the kitchen in 2016). Over the weekend, chef Erik Anderson announced his departure in an Instagram post, and alludes to a new project in Northern California, so he isn’t going far.

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

I’ve been hearing from multiple sources about changes happening at the eight-month-old ~COW MARLOWE~ in Cow Hollow, and got an update from Big Night Restaurant Group’s Anna Weinberg. They’re making some updates to the kitchen, and decided to lighten up everything overall, which includes the menu, cocktails, and interior from Ken Fulk (Anna sent me a pic of the in-progress paint job, and it’s looking much more airy).

Cow Marlowe is due to be closed until August 22nd, I’ll keep you posted on the changes and timing. 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.

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The BLT at the new Seven Stills Mission Taproom. Photo by Seven Stills via Yelp.

After the closure of Almanac Tap Room in the Mission, local brewer (and distiller) ~SEVEN STILLS~ has moved into the space and is now open as a taproom.

You can check out the tap list, and there’s a rather extensive and affordable menu of snacks that includes Padrón peppers, deviled eggs, roasted garlic hummus, a BLT, fried chicken sandwich, and, of course, a cheeseburger.

Brunch includes loco moco, a masa waffle, and special brunch drinks/low-ABV cocktail options. The space got a bit of a refresh, with a new mural, and don’t forget there’s that awesome back patio. Hours: Mon-Wed 5pm-10pm, Thu 12pm-10pm, Fri 12pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-9pm. 2704 24th St. at Potrero, 415-658-7661.

North Beach residents were dismayed with the closure of Tamarind Hall, their sole Thai restaurant, but a new Thai place has opened, ~NEW THAI ELEPHANT~, with a menu of Thai standards, from apps to rice plates to noodle soups and dishes. This is their second location, their first is in San Mateo. Open daily 11am-9:30pm. 393 Bay St. at Mason, 415-818-8999.

Downtown’s ~HOMAGE~ has opened a second location in the FiDi, offering breakfast, coffee service, lunch, and twilight/happy hour service. There’s housemade bread, seasonal soups and salads, and well-chosen wines and vermouths. Check the site for menus. Open Mon-Fri 7am-9pm. 214 California St. at Front, 415-658-7732. ​

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Tiffani Faison and Shangela on the GastroMagic stage in 2018. Photo: Cal Bingham.

This Thursday August 1st, over 70 Bay Area restaurants and bars are taking part in a fundraiser called Abort the Ban, the first annual Bay Area Fight for Abortion Rights event! Womxn’s reproductive rights are under attack, and a team of womxn working in the Bay Area restaurant industry want to do something about it! Their goal is to raise $40,000; all funds will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Please consider dining at participating restaurants this Thursday, whether you’re picking up bagels at Daily Driver to checking out the new AL’s Deli. (Many thanks to the sponsors who are helping to make this happen.) You can also visit their CrowdRise page for donations. Follow them on Instagram for more at @bayareafightforabortionrights.

I can’t believe Outside Lands returns next weekend (August 9th-11th), where did the summer go? Do you have your food and drink hitlist lined up? Take a look at my post from last month about what’s new, and now the GastroMagic programming has been announced. This year, they’re partnering with Bon Appétit as a curating stage partner, who is bringing a bunch of their staff (including editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport, and super cutie senior food editor Andy Baraghani).

We’re also getting some L.A. talent up here: Jessica Koslow of Sqirl and Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Too Hot Tamales (she’s even donating her time and performance fee to The Los Angeles LGBT Center). Local talent will include returning guests Brenda’s French Soul Food (beignets and bounce!), Rich Table (porcini doughnuts!), and Chris Cosentino, with new appearances from Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz, Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philly, rapper CupcakKe, and more.