September 10, 2019

September 10, 2019
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Just wait until you taste the dahi wada (urad dal/black lentil dumplings, spiced chilled yogurt, cilantro, tamarind). Photo: Alicia Fischer.

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The show-stopping Andhra Fish Stew—coconut, local seafood, basil, ginger. Photo: Alicia Fischer.

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The Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, with pani puri water (along with Mount Gay Rum, cilantro, and lime)! Photo: Alicia Fischer.

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At Besharam, they really know how to do a family-style spread! Photo: Alicia Fischer.

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Thanks to sponsor Mount Gay Rum, we’ll be tasting some special pours! Photo via @mountgayrum.

I’m so thrilled to announce the latest tablehopper spirited supper—it has been tooooo long! On Tuesday September 24th, we’ll be dining at ~BESHARAM~ in Dogpatch, with our cohost, Mount Gay Rum! Have you had a chance to visit chef-owner Heena Patel’s soulful and stylish restaurant? It’s a little off the beaten path, which is why I thought it would be a good idea to host an event there because I don’t want you to miss this special place! Maybe you saw my recent pics on Instagram? The saag paneer is pretty unforgettable.

Heena is a La Cocina graduate, and this is her first brick-and-mortar restaurant! She recently became the sole owner of Besharam, and relaunched the menu to really reflect her Gujarati roots and favorite dishes. You won’t find these flavorful and vibrant dishes anywhere else in the city, and Heena brings a California freshness to the menu as well (just wait until you taste the bright dressing on her arugula salad).

The cocktail list also got an overhaul, and features many culinary touches, from beet to turmeric to curry leaves to chaat masala! Get excited to try the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which features pani puri water (along with Mount Gay Rum, cilantro, and lime)! Speaking of pani puri (which are in the first pic in my Insta post), Heena is going to have a station set up during our reception for her drunken pani puri (they’ll have The Botanist gin in them), served street food style! We’re also going to start the evening with a new punch, featuring Mount Gay Rum: GLIF (Good Looking Indian Friends, inspired by a customer!).

We will take our seats by 7pm, and commence our family-style feast. True to Gujarati style, our meal will be almost completely vegetarian, with one spectacular fish dish. And trust me, you won’t miss the meat, and you absolutely will be stuffed at the end! Heena is a feeder.

The menu:
Kanji Wada—tapioca fritters, tamarind chutney
Dahi Wada—urad dal (black lentil) dumplings, spiced chilled yogurt, cilantro, tamarind
Corn Puda—seared corn, chickpea flour pancake
Arugula Salad—chicories, roasted corn, pistachio, fried garbanzo beans, tamarind-ginger vinaigrette
Saag Paneer—spinach, mustard greens, fenugreek, fresh paneer
Andhra Fish Stew—coconut, local seafood, basil, ginger
Paratha, dill butter rice, dips, chutneys

You’ll enjoy some special cocktail pairings and Mount Gay Rum pours with the meal, which includes the GLIF welcome punch, the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the chai-spiced The Last Viceroy, and a gulab jamun-inspired Old Fashioned to go with the shrikand cheesecake for dessert, made with saffron and cardamom-infused strained yogurt and Parle-G biscuit crust. WOW! Rémy Cointreau’s Trent Simpson will be teaching us about Mount Gay Rum, which is the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery (since 1703!)! We’ll taste different expressions and learn all about how they do things at this storied Barbados-based distillery.

Reception, 6:30pm; dinner 7pm. There are just 21 seats! Tickets are $85, all-inclusive (dinner, cocktails, tax, tip), plus a small service fee from Square (total is $88.15). Thanks to Besharam and Mount Gay Rum for hosting us so generously, this dinner is worth so much more.

Since we’ll be consuming alcohol, please use a rideshare service so you get home safely. Besharam is also conveniently located within four blocks of the T Third St. Muni Metro, #48 bus stop, and the 22nd St. CalTrain Station. We are looking forward to seeing you! 1275 Minnesota St. at 24th St.

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The cozy interior of Matterhorn is full of booths and knotty pine. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Another view of the dining room and bar. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Yup, there’s an authentic Swiss gondola you can dine inside! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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You can easily pretend you just finished a day of skiing in the Alps. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A peek at the Rhaetian Railway train scene they’ve set up outside the windows! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s pretty wonderful when a San Francisco classic can transition into new hands, and get the right kind of careful update. This is how things are playing out for the ~MATTERHORN~, a Swiss fondue restaurant that was holding it down on Van Ness for over 25 years. Original owners Brigitte and Andrew Thorpe have passed the fondue fork to another couple, Natalie and Jason Horwath, who are big lovers of Switzerland—they lived there for a while, and Natalie staged at a couple bakeries there, which is why the new name is now ~MATTERHORN RESTAURANT AND BAKERY~.

They definitely fell in love with fondue while they lived there, and are lovingly going to showcase it in three kinds at the restaurant: Fondue Moitié-Moitié (traditional fondue made with two cheeses from Switzerland: 12-month aged Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourgeois); Fondue Emmental (a non-traditional fondue made with three cheeses from Switzerland: 18-month aged Emmental, L’Etivaz, and Vacherin Fribourgeois); and Meat Fondue (spice-rubbed beef tenderloin cooked at the table in a beef and red wine stock, served with dipping sauces, pickled vegetables, and rösti potatoes). I got a whiff of that bubbling stock and let me tell you, it’s the stuff. The first two fondues will be served with housemade (and naturally leavened) bread, pickled vegetables, and potatoes. I got a peek at their walk-in, and was blown away with the huge 200-pound wheels of Emmental and Gruyère they had imported. Natalie is so committed to their sourcing, it’s admirable and exciting.

There will also be serving three kinds of melted-to-order raclette (Swiss, French, or American), served with pickled vegetables and potatoes. (You’ve seen raclette melty magic before, yes?) Like the fondue, you can even order a single portion! (I can easily see swinging by the bar on a rainy night for a glass of wine and a raclette, oh yes.) There will be American and European beers (on tap and in bottle), and the wine list leans Old World, with careful consideration being paid to what will pair best with all the cheesy dishes.

The menu also features a charcuterie or Swiss cheese board (served with housemade pretzels), Swiss potato rösti (a heavenly dish of grated and skillet-fried potatoes, with your choice of three toppings, like bacon, ham, egg, Chällerhocker cheese, roasted mushrooms, or tomato); veal Zürich-style with housemade spätzle and vegetables; and since they have a child, there’s also a thoughtful kid’s menu. Desserts will include some pastries and treats from the bakery. They are making everything by hand and with such attention here.

The space looks great—there’s all that original knotty pine, and plenty of booths and cozy tables with custom pillows made from Swiss Army blankets. They painted the space, installed a new chandelier of antlers, and lugged back drapes from Switzerland, and there’s even a real Swiss gondola you can reserve to dine in (it will have a set menu). They worked with a Swiss artist on Swiss decoupage in the entryway, and wait until you see the cow that is going to greet you at the entrance. And then there’s the entire Rhaetian Railway train scene installed outside the back of the restaurant, which you can see through the windows. Everyone’s inner child will be awakened, it’s marvelous. Other fun touches include themed bathrooms (one pays homage to Freddie Mercury at Montreux, complete with a purple glitter floor), mugs that they brought back from the Montreux Christmas market, cuckoo clocks, and much more. It all looks so great.

They’re going to be hosting a few friends and family/test dinners September 11th-13th and the 17th-21st. Go ahead and direct message them on Instagram (@matterhornsf), tell them you saw this post in tablehopper, and they’ll send you a link to tickets (it will be an affordable price). They plan to open Tuesday September 24th. Start planning your holiday gathering here! Hours will be Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 2323 Van Ness Ave. at Vallejo.

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The former South Park Cafe. Photo via Facebook.

These are definitely interesting times in San Francisco. A star tablehopper reader (love ya, Luke!) has been updating me on things happening at ~SOUTH PARK CAFE~, which closed last year after 32 years (I miss you, pig salad!), and would you believe a credit card startup, Brex, has reopened the restaurant? Brex has been valued at, uh, $2.6 billion with a B, and opened a members-only lounge above the restaurant earlier this year (dubbed the “Oval Room”). And now Business Insider reports Brex’s 20-something co-CEOs Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi decided to renovate and reopen the beloved bistro, which is open to everyone. (The article has pics of the updated space.)

Chef Peter Mosqueda was previously on the food team at Stripe for the past four years, so he’s no stranger to the intersection of credit and cuisine. Dishes are reportedly on the simpler side, like cured trout with olive oil, chives, and capers with crème fraîche; arugula and farro salad; gluten-free fried chicken with collard greens and a summer corn relish; lamb meatballs; chorizo and mussels; and koji-rubbed steak with brandied mushrooms. They are also open for coffee/espresso service in the morning, serving Four Barrel Coffee (interesting choice).

Hours for now are Mon-Fri 8am-2:30pm for coffee, 12pm-2:30pm for lunch, and they tell me dinner is coming soon. 108 S. Park St. 
at Jack London Alley.

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Belga’s dining room. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

According to a liquor license transfer that just hit the wires, Corey Lee (Benu) is opening a project in the former Blowfish. He confirmed to the Chronicle that it’s going to be his long-awaited Korean restaurant, possibly by next summer, stand by for more! Can’t wait. 2170 Bryant St. at 20th St.

Big changes at the former Belga on Union Street, which is pivoting to become ~WILDSEED~, a plant-based restaurant and bar opening this month (September). This will be Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group’s twelfth concept, and is designed to serve the health-conscious needs of the neighborhood (not unlike the changes currently happening at The Greenwich, formerly Cow Marlowe) and the larger plant-based movement happening in food and wellness.

Paganini states in a press release, “I am very passionate about this project and have been working on this concept for the past year, including spending time in LA doing research and working with a dietitian on my own personal health journey. I wanted to create this restaurant because I work across the street and this is a concept that I felt was missing in this neighborhood. Our hope is that this will be a restaurant that people can eat at several times a week, myself included.”

Chef Blair Warsham will be overseeing the menu of seasonal, healthy, flavorful, satisfying dishes, with some global influences—more on that soon. The cocktails will also be freshened up, with fresh juices, herbs, housemade extracts, shrubs, and tinctures in the cocktails. In a commitment to keeping a minimal carbon footprint, all wines will be local, vegan, organic, and biodynamic. 


It’s a great location, full of light and with a fun sidewalk scene, and is fortunately going to offer all-day service. Hannah Collins of ROY Hospitality Design Studio is behind the update. Lunch and dinner will be served Tue-Sat, with weekend brunch coming. 2000 Union St. at Buchanan.

Congrats to chef Shotaro “Sho” Kamio of Iyasare in Berkeley, who will be opening a restaurant in Salesforce Park above the Transbay transit center with his partner Josh Sigel. In a statement to the Chronicle, he says, “We seek to bring a style of food that is not imported from Japan but created here for the Bay Area with an appropriate level of originality and innovation that makes the concept feel unique yet surprisingly familiar. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we cannot wait to share it with everyone.” Stand by for more on this new restaurant and lounge next year.

I spotted some ABC license transfer activity that involved the Original Joe’s team, which showed John and Elena Duggan moving into the former Paradise Pizza in West Portal. I reached out for details but didn’t hear back, so here’s the article from the Chronicle on the backstory of ~LITTLE JOE’S PIZZA, PASTA, PARMIGIANA~. Stand by for more on this casual neighborhood restaurant. 393 West Portal Ave. at San Fernando Way.

Coming to the Financial District this October is ~TACOLICIOUS CHICO~, a quick-service and to-go spot specializing in tacos de guisado (braised fillings), an homage to some of the Tacolicious crew’s favorite spots in Mexico City. There will be meat, vegetarian, and vegan options, six in all, like tinga, pork chile verde, lamb barbacoa, corn-and-peppers, and greens n’ beans, all inside organic, made-to-order corn tortillas. It’s designed to be super-quick, whether you want to snag a little patio table or head back to your desk. 685 Market St. at 3rd St.

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Winner winner chicken dinner. A fine spread at RT Rotisserie. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

A second location of ~RT ROTISSERIE~ from the Rich Table team opened next to Falletti Foods just at the end of August. Taking over the former Delessio Market & Bakery space, you’ll now find 45 seats where you can enjoy their awesome rotisserie chicken, pork ribs, sandwiches, salads, soup, and killer vegetable sides (I am so obsessed with their cabbage and almond side), and don’t forget the rotisserie fat rice. Speaking of that magic rice, this location has an exclusive rice bowl packed with goodies (with your choice of meat and sauce), and there’s also a crispy pork belly off the rotisserie if you’re feeling decadent.

It’s a bit more spacious than their Hayes Valley location, plus there’s outdoor seating in the works. If you want to order for delivery, you can find them on Caviar (that link will get you $10 off your first two orders), and this new location will be able to service the western side of the city better. Hours are 11am-9pm daily. 302 Broderick St. at Oak.

I reported back in January on a new location of ~THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA~ coming to Polk Street (in the former Myconos) and according to their Instagram, it should be opening this week! Track the very latest at @thelittlechihuahua. 1431 Polk St. at California.

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Chubby Noodle North Beach. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

A tablehopper reader (thanks again, Luke!) let me know ~PETE’S~ bar in North Beach had a “closed for renovation” sign in the window, and the Chronicle has this follow-up story that owner Pete Mrabe is moving his North Beach location of ~CHUBBY NOODLE~ in there. And there’s that full liquor license, how perfect. Sounds like he’ll close Chubby in mid-October—the Marina location will remain open. 570 Green St. at Stockton.

According to an ABC transfer, ~BEYOND BURMA~, an evening pop-up in the Elmira space near Civic Center, is moving into the former Borobudur space in the TenderNob. I wrote about this restaurant (and their awesome mohinga) last year, and am happy to see them find a permanent location. The Chron reports they’re going to keep a couple Borobudur dishes on the menu (the owners are retiring—they’ve been holding it down since 1991!). What a sweet thing to do for their regulars since the city is losing one of its few Indonesian restaurants (probably at the end of September). 700 Post St. at Jones.

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Assorted dumplings from Dumpling Time. Photo: Michael Ogata.

Okay, dumpling lovers, you have some new options to explore. First, the Omakase Restaurant Group has closed Udon Time, and opened ~DUMPLING TIME EXPRESS~ in its place. (The group’s popular Dumpling Time is just around the corner.) You can come in for an edited menu of quick bites of dumplings (and watch them being made at the long counter), and they’re still going to offer a couple udon dishes. Dumping Time Express is currently open from 11am-2:30pm and will open for dinner from 5pm-11pm soon. 55 Division St. at Rhode Island.

~DUMPLING ALLEY~ has opened in the Outer Richmond, serving an array of classics and what caught my eye is the fried donut with shrimp. Open Tue-Wed 5pm-9:30pm and Thu and Sun 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm, and Fri-Sat until 10pm. 2512 Clement St. at 26th Ave.

Further out, ~NEW DUMPLING KING~ has opened in the former Kingdom of Dumpling—you can peep their menu on their site. Open Wed-Mon 11am-9pm (closed Tue). 3319 Balboa St. at 34th Ave.

A tablehopper reader tipped me off that ~DUMPLING HOUSE~ has replaced the short-lived Pho 335 in the Castro. Honestly, the initial pics don’t inspire me to run right over, but if it was in my neighborhood, sure, I’d pick up some shu mai and spicy wontons. Open daily 11am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm (open continuously Sat-Sun). 335 Noe St. at 16th St.

Okay, we’re taking off the dumpling feedbag now—there’s a group of neighborhood food vendors at a new food truck park, ~BAYVIEW BISTRO~, which also has picnic tables in their sunny lot. The three local vendors serving food right now are Soul Bowl’z, Big H BBQ (his barbecue chicken looks so good), and Yes Pudding—check out their menus on the site! Come by Wed-Fri 2pm-5pm, and they’re also open on the first and fourth Saturday evenings of the month (5pm-8pm). Follow @bayviewbistrosf or Facebook for updates and support these food entrepreneurs, with hopefully more to join them. 4101 3rd St. at Hudson. [Via Chronicle.]

There’s a casual Korean place in the Haight called ~PURPLE RICE~, serving customizable plates and bowls of rice, barbecue meat or non-meat options, and vegetables, along with noodle bowls and soup. Bring on the banchan. Open daily 12pm-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm (until 10pm Fri-Sat). 509 Haight St. at Fillmore.

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Some of the booth seating at Finn Town. Photo: Alana Wolens.

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The farewell sign at Victor’s. Yelp photo by Justin M.

Oof, there is just way too much closure news going on. So sorry for all the operators who couldn’t make it work. Personally, the one that I JUST CAN’T GET OVER is ~GREEN CHILE KITCHEN~, which is closing on Sunday September 15th, after 14 years of feeding us! I can’t believe we’re losing our neighborhood standby. Heartland taco salad is my jam! And those breakfast burritos, they have truly saved me.

Thanks to owner Trevor Logan for the commitment to using such healthy and fresh ingredients all these years, and for hiring such a nice staff—I swear, Melesio in the kitchen has been there for YEARS. Anyway, I’m sorry SF is such a nightmare, and delivery ended up killing your biz. One consolation: you can still pick up their green chile apple pie at Chile Pies Baking Co. in Guerneville. 1801 McAllister St. at Baker.

Another fast-casual place that didn’t make it was Piri Picante, formerly ~PIRI PICA~, from founder-CEO Khalid Mushasha and Uma Casa chef-owner Telmo Faria. Eater reports the Portuguese chicken place just wasn’t doing the sales volume it needed to survive. 590 Valencia St. at 17th St.

Also on Valencia, I noticed owner Christopher Totah has closed ~ZAYTOON~, the Mediterranean fast-casual spot, but the newer location on Divisadero seems to be thriving (I love their lamb and chicken platter, you can get two meals out of it!). 1136 Valencia St. at 22nd St.

And we knew this was coming, but on September 1st, ~MISSION PIE~ closed, after being in business since 2007. You can read their farewell note on their site. 2901 Mission St. at 25th St.

Noe Valley’s ~CHEZ MARIUS~ from owner Laurent Legendre (who also owns Le P’tit Laurent in Glen Park) has shuttered the restaurant. 4063 24th St. at Castro. [Via Hoodline.]

Over in the Castro, partner Rick Hamer was sad to close ~FINN TOWN~ at the end of August, but is now operating the location as a private party venue, pop-up location, and commissary kitchen until he can find a new owner. Check it out if you’re looking for a place to cook. 2251 Market St. at Sanchez. [Via Bay Area Reporter.]

An old-timer has shuttered in SoMa: ~VICTOR’S~, the friendly Mexican standby that has been in business since 1985 (!!) has closed. Known for calling customers “guapo” or “guapa,” their farewell sign is a heartbreaker. The owners have reportedly retired. 210 Townsend St. at 3rd St.

Tony Gemignani’s ~SLICE HOUSE~ in SoMa has closed after four years—a post on Facebook says, “Due to increasing rent prices, road and sidewalk construction, and a noticeable change in neighborhood foot traffic, as of August 23 we have officially closed the doors at our Slice House on 2nd Street location.” Fortunately, there are multiple locations around the city where we can still score his awesome slices. 680 2nd St. at Townsend. [Via Hoodline.]

And the saga behind the closure of ~COOK SHOPPE~ (formerly Chow) is almost too strange to believe. When I originally interviewed “Mark White” about the project he was opening across the street, Gramercy Park—and the site is now private, hmmmm—I got the strangest vibes off him. He was cagey, and didn’t want to talk about his restaurant experience and background in New York. In the interim, he was suddenly involved in helping to reopen Chow as Cook Shoppe, reportedly acting as a consultant and investor. And whaddya know, Mark White isn’t even his real name.

You have to read the entire sordid mess in this detailed post on Hoodline. They got busted by the ABC for serving alcohol without a license and allowing people to BYOB; one of the owners Lawrence/Laurence Tonner is now in jail (for the ABC infraction and unrelated outstanding warrants in New York); and according to a post on Yelp, they are potentially stiffing employees (“Yelp keeps deleting my review!!! do not support this business!!!! the owner mark white is using and taking advantage of workers and refusing to pay. bounced checks and continuous lies. very hostile and sketch. local people from the community who need their paychecks to survive aare not getting paid their hard earned money they worked for. do not support this business and habitual liar mark white.”). File under “not surprised.” And what a damn shame for the people who worked there—many were Chow employees, so this is great insult to injury. Hopefully this band of shady carpetbaggers from New York has realized SF has no time or place for them. 215 Church St. at Market.

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A seasonal (and always vegetarian!) spread at Greens. Photo: Nader Khouri.

I really can’t type anymore, I am so wiped out, but I wanted to be sure you had these events on your radar—click the links for all the details:

The ~GREENS~ 40th Anniversary Acclaimed Chef Dinner Series features a distinguished lineup of lauded chefs, including: Suzette Gresham (Acquerello: this Wednesday September 11th!), Kim Alter (Nightbird: October 7th), Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen: November 4th), and Pam Mazzola (Prospect: December 11th).

On Thursday September 12th, San Francisco’s top bakers and pastry chefs will be at ~BLUESTEM BRASSERIE~ for the second Bake the World a Better Place, with tables full of sweet and savory goodies to benefit CUESA’s Foodwise Teens. 5pm. Full details and tickets here.

~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is turning 20 (!!) on Thursday September 19th, and you know they’re going to throw one helluva bash! It will be inspired by Federico Fellini; proceeds will be donated to Mission Neighborhood Center, 826 Valencia, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Tickets/details.

The 11th annual Eat Real Festival is Saturday September 21st-22nd in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It’s like a state fair, street-food festival, and a block party, with food vendors, craft cocktails, beer, and wine, entertainment, culinary classes, demos, family-friendly activities, and more. Check out all the great partners and happenings.