The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
October 25, 2016

It’s that time of the year, when Michelin releases the latest meteor shower of stars around the Bay Area. You can read the complete list of 54 winners here. The highlights: Quince now has three stars, joining Benu, Saison, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Manresa, and The French Laundry in the three-star club. Lazy Bear earned two stars this year, and the new one-star additions are Hashiri, Ju-ni, Mister Jiu’s, Mosu, and The Progress in SF, Madera in Menlo Park, and Adega in San Jose.

Big congrats to all the winners. The Michelin Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country goes on sale tomorrow (October 26th), and the entire selection is also available on the Michelin Restaurants app available for free download.


Chefs Cortney Burns and Nick Balla. Photo by Chad Robertson via Facebook.

I know I’m not going to be the only one bummed over the news that Cortney Burns and Nick Balla are no longer going to be taking over the ~BAR TARTINE~ space and turning it into their restaurant, Crescent. It sounds like a deal couldn’t be reached, so they will be moving on after their last service on New Year’s Eve (December 31st). Scoop reports they will still try to find another location for the concept, ideally in the Mission. In the meantime, the duo will also be going full tilt on their new project, Motze, which is due to open on Valencia very very soon, possibly this weekend.

No word on what Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt have in mind for the space just yet, although they will be keeping it—and it has that monster oven still in there, so this should be interesting.


The fried chicken sandwich at The Bird. Yelp photo by Stephanie T.

Folks are lining up for lunch each day to try the new fried chicken sandwich at ~THE BIRD~ in the FiDi (the project is from Adriano Paganini). The fried chicken sandwich (regular or spicy thigh meat) is dressed with celery, housemade Fuji apple slaw, mayo, and pickles for $8. A few more details: the chicken is free-range, and it’s a berbere spice blend that gives it that extra oomph. The bun is also made every morning by a local baker. There are also curly fries on the menu. Open Mon-Fri 11am-10pm (or until they sell out). 115 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-827-9825.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a casual Filipino pop-up called ~ELENA UNA~ was coming to the Marina, and the opening is happening right on schedule, this Thursday October 27th. Tue-Sat 8:30am-2pm and 4:30pm-9pm. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.


The main room at Marla Bakery. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.


Fable’s mohair banquette, plus animal portraits. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


The cozy dining room at MINA Test Kitchen. Photo via Facebook.

There are some changes in kitchens around the city, starting with ~MARLA BAKERY~ in the Outer Richmond. Co-owner and baker Amy Brown is taking over the savory offerings (instead of being so focused on the baking side of things). Her chef de cuisine is Max Newman (formerly of Zuni and Black Jet Bakery). New dishes include city ham and pea greens flatbread (from their oven) with leek cream, provolone, and cherry bomb chile paste;
 and whey-brined roasted half chicken with citrus-glazed sweet potatoes and carrots, pasilla cream, nora pepper butter, and pea greens.

Sean Ehland, most recently the pastry chef at Aster, has also returned to Marla and is now a partner overseeing the bread program, and Nicole Walsh (formerly of Mission Pie) runs the pastry program, adding desserts like the strawberry bay parfait, with layers of dark fudge cake and strawberry-bay leaf gastrique topped with bay nut cream. 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave.

Some changes at ~FABLE~ in the Castro: chef-partner Jon Hearnsberger let me know he has sold his share to his business partner Erik Rhoades and is no longer involved with the restaurant. Stand by to see what Hearnsberger does next; he hopes to have a new place in the coming year, after taking a much-needed break. 558 Castro St. at 19th St.

The ever-changing series of dinners at ~MINA TEST KITCHEN~ continue. Up next (launching November 12th) is Postcards from La Costiera, a concept featuring coastal Italian cuisine. Chef Adam Sobel’s menu will highlight seafood like crudos, shellfish, pastas, and whole fish. Sobel and Mina are currently touring Italy with Livio Colapinto, hitting 23 destinations, from Cetara to Catania, so expect plenty of inspiration. The five-course, family-style menu is $59, classico wine pairings are $30, $40 for the riserva. Italian-inspired cocktails by Brian Means are also available. Tue-Sat dinner. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.  


The sunny dining room at Yuzuki. Photo courtesy of Yuzuki.


Celebrating Diwali at Dosa in 2012. Photo via Facebook.


Pulling the noodles at M.Y. China. Photo courtesy Creative Mint.

Loosen that belt, it’s going to be too tight after this lineup of deliciousness.

~PERBACCO~ is turning 10 and is hosting a fancy dinner tonight (Tuesday October 25th), but you can also dine throughout the week (until Saturday October 29th) and enjoy a selection of exceptional wines for $10 a glass. They will also be gifting each table at lunch this week with a complimentary appetizer as a token of their gratitude.

On Wednesday November 9th, help ~YUZUKI~ celebrate their fifth anniversary with a special modern sushi kaiseki dinner. $100, including a complimentary beer or glass of sparkling wine. Sake pairings will also be available for an additional $50. Make your reservation or call 415-556-9898.

You can celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, at a couple of locations in the Bay Area. ~DOSA ON FILLMORE~ is hosting their annual Diwali Celebration on Sunday October 30th, from 5pm-11:30pm, with a special menu ($55), housemade Diwali sweets, music from DJ Nix, complimentary henna art, and more. Reservations are filling up; book online or call 415-441-3672.

~AJANTA~ in Berkeley is celebrating on Sunday October 30th and Monday October 31st—with party decorations in effect. They are offering a special $42 prix-fixe lunch and dinner menu that will include paired wines by the glass. (A vegetarian version of the menu is $39.) All guests will be served complimentary mithai, which are traditional Indian sweets during Diwali days.

There’s a Chengdu Food & Cultural Festival coming to SF November 10th-18th, thanks to chef Martin Yan. Chengdu is considered the culinary capital of the Sichuan province and is also Asia’s first UNESCO city of gastronomy. Unfortunately we can’t attend the gala at City Hall featuring a team of Sichuan’s finest chefs, but five restaurants are also taking part with special Sichuan-themed culinary events hosted by chef Yan and the visiting chefs, who will be working closely with the staff in each venue. Release the heat!

On Friday November 11th, ~KOI PALACE~ is hosting a dinner from 6:30pm-9:30pm, $128 per person, call 650-992-9000. ~M.Y. CHINA~ is featuring a special Chengdu-inspired menu November 12th-30th, and ~CRYSTAL JADE~ is hosting their dinner on Wednesday November 16th from 6:30pm-9:30pm, $188 per person, or call 415-399-1200.

Other dinners include Chef Chu in Los Altos (Nov. 13th, $100 per person) and China Stix in Santa Clara (Nov. 14th, $65 per person).

October 18, 2016

Concord grape and fior di latte soft-serve at Tartine Cookies and Cream. Photo via Instagram.

After plying us with all things bread and baked at ~TARTINE MANUFACTORY~, now it’s time to release the ice cream and more with Liz Prueitt’s Tartine Cookies and Cream. It has a separate counter in the Manufactory where you can order.

A highlight is the soft-serve action coming off the top-of-the-line Italian Carpigiani machines, made with local water buffalo milk blended with Jersey cow milk (from Double 8 Dairy), and it’s eggless. The opening flavors are fior di latte, Askinosie dark chocolate ice cream, Ethiopian Yukro-infused coffee ice cream (of course featuring coffee from Coffee Manufactory), and Concord grape sorbet. $3.50 for a small cup, $5 for a medium cup (includes one topping), and $5.75 for a cone (includes one topping). Toppings include pistachio streusel, salty caramel, and more (75 cents each).

And the gluten-intolerant will be happy to see there’s even a blue corn cone, and the ice cream piecrusts are wheat-free as well. About those ice cream pies: right now you can get rocky road, peanut butter and jelly, and lemon ginger ($16/small, $40/large). There are also ice cream sandwiches: the current flavor is ginger-spice fior di latte ($5 each).

Look for more things to be added in time, from dairy-free ice cream to popsicles and more. (Via Inside Scoop.) Hours are daily 11am-5pm for now. 595 Alabama St. at 18th St.


Custom-made bamboo wicker chandeliers at Lao Table. Photo via Facebook.


Sashimi at OzaOza. Yelp photo by Tetsuro O.

A few months ago, I mentioned ~LAO TABLE~ was taking the place of the SoMa Osha Thai (same owner, Lalita Souksamlane), and it’s now open. Some sample dishes on the menu include roasted organic chicken with turmeric and jaew sweet chile dip; and smoked river tilapia relish with Lao’s anchovy, grilled chile, and shallots with a basket of greens. The location was given a nice update, take a look at some pics here. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm, Sat 5pm-10pm. 149 2nd St. at Natoma, 415-872-9219.

There is a new and traditional kaiseki restaurant that just opened in Japantown called ~OZAOZA~, from owner Tetsuro Ozawa and his wife, Gana Nergui. The multicourse dinner features a set menu ($100), you can take a look here. It’s a small and cozy place: there are only nine counter seats. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. By reservation only. 1700 Post St., Suite K, 2nd floor, at Buchanan, 415-674-4400.

Dogpatch modern Hawaiian outpost ~‘AINA~ is launching dinner service, starting tonight, Tuesday October 18th, in addition to their popular brunch. Chef Jordan Keao’s dinner menu includes pupus like squid ink shrimp chips 
$5) with smoked trout furikake, and Spam bao (

) with Portuguese sweet bread, housemade pork spam, yuzu kosho aioli, and smoked trout roe
. Small kine (starters) feature kiawe wood-smoked BBQ char siu pork ribs (
$13), which are binchotan-grilled with a char siu glaze, with pickled red cabbage and Thai basil
, or there’s ahi limu (red seaweed) poke ($16) with inamona 
(kukui nut) ahi tuna, Hawaiian hearts of palm, smoked sesame oil, shiso, and salicornia

Kau kau (entrées) include Portuguese butter bean cassoulet 
($28) with Stone Valley Farm Portuguese sausage, Iacopi butter beans, edamame cream, pistachio brown butter panko
. No shortage of creativity here; check out the menu online for the full, hunger-inducing lineup.

There are also some low-ABV cocktails and wine, beer, and sake will be available. Dinner service is Tue-Fri 5:30pm-10pm. 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.

On again, off again…and on again. That bonkers landlord Les Natali has thankfully extended ~ZAPATA~’s lease for 10 months, just as it was about to expire. Literally. That poor owner Jorge Perez, talk about making things difficult for his staff—according to a Facebook post, they are scrambling to staff up again. Anyway, the tacos will continue. 4150 18th St. at Church, 415-861-4470. (Via Hoodline.)


Sajj wraps. Photo courtesy of Sajj.


Mediterranean bowls at Sajj. Photo courtesy of Sajj.


Recipe testing: a meaty medianoche. Photo courtesy of Media Noche.

While the city has been crying into its hands over the closure of ~MERIGAN SUB SHOP~, the SF real estate market keeps on chugging. Merigan’s Liza Shaw mentioned she had a taker for the location, and the new tenant is ~SAJJ STREET EATS~. I spoke with one of the partners (they are from Jordan, Palestine, and India!), who explained it’s a Mediterranean fast-casual concept, and this will be its fourth location (other locations are in Menlo Park, San Jose, and Mountain View), with a couple of trucks that launched the whole concept three years ago as well.

It’s based on a Chipotle model, where guests come in and can choose from a variety of proteins (chicken or steak shawarma, falafel, pomegranate chicken, kebab specials, and their hybrid: the popular shawafel, a combo of falafel with shawarma), and a format (a sajj wrap, pita, salad, or rice bowl), and then a variety of add-ons, from sumac onions to feta cheese, hummus, pickled cabbage, fresh mint, and spicy tahini. Check out the entire menu here.

You can also order side dishes, like hummus and pita chips, and complimentary lentil soup is served with the main items. It’s all made in-house and ingredients are sourced fresh daily and locally—they care a great deal about consistency and freshness. The proteins are halal, and while the chicken isn’t organic, it’s antibiotic-free and never frozen. There are some house drinks as well, like mint lemonade.

Since there is very little that needs to be done with the space, they plan to open within the first couple of weeks of November. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-3pm or so, with plans to see how things go before potentially expanding their hours into the evening. They said they are proud to be in the Merigan space and look forward to meeting the neighbors. 636 2nd St. at Brannan.

Back in September, I broke the news about a new fast-casual Cuban counter coming to SF, called ~MEDIA NOCHE~, specializing in medianoches, those marvelous sandwiches with layers of roast pork, ham, mustard, Swiss cheese, and dill pickles pressed inside sweet egg bread that is not unlike challah. The team (Madelyn Markoe and Jessie Barker)—who has been working with culinary consultant Telmo Faria—just revealed they will be going into the former Radish location. If all stays on schedule, they are slated to open in winter 2017. Follow along on Instagram and get excited. Read the previous post for more. 3465 19th St. at Lexington.


The interior of Pacific Standard Taproom & Growler Station. Photo: Paul Kirchner Studios.


A look at the interior of Saha Berkeley. Photo via Facebook.


Fried chicken Benedict at the new brunch at Revival. Photo via Revival’s website.

There are a bunch of 510 updates for you, so let’s dive in. Am excited for ~JUHU BEACH CLUB~’s chef-owner Preeti Mistry and business partner-wife Ann Nadeau, who are opening a second business, ~NAVI KITCHEN~. Navi is Hindu for “new,” and this casual spot is opening in the spring in the Bakery Lofts in the Triangle neighborhood of Oakland and Emeryville. It will be a counter-style and all-day spot, with Neapolitan-style pizzas with Indian-inspired toppings like chaat masala frying peppers and fenugreek-marinated shallots (take THAT, Zante’s!), plus rotisserie chicken with burnt masala brine in the evening, and sides like tikka masala mac and #grateful stuffing, a daily seasonal curry and rice tiffin, pressed cheese sandwiches, seasonal salads, and even a kid’s menu. Of course, the farmers’ market and seasonality will play a big part in the menu. Brunch will be in the works too. There will also be outdoor seating, a chai bar, coffee, and milk shakes made with Straus soft serve. 5000 Adeline St. at 47th St., Emeryville.

There’s a new Burmese spot, ~THARAPHU BURMESE STREET FOOD~—take a look at their affordable and appealing menu here and here. 2037 Shattuck Ave. at Addison, Berkeley, 510-356-4860. (Via Chowhound.)

Earlier this year, I mentioned craft brewer Half Moon Bay Brewing Company was going to be opening ~PACIFIC STANDARD TAPROOM & GROWLER STATION~, a taproom and bottle shop in downtown Berkeley, and it opens tomorrow (October 19th). There will be 16 to 24 local and regional beers on tap, with up to 50 percent of the beer sourced from the on-site brewery at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, plus ciders and NorCal wines. Executive chef Federico Godinez has assembled a menu with locally sourced meats, cheeses, and produce to complement the taproom’s local beer, wine, and cider. Open Sun-Thu 11am-11pm and Fri-Sat 11am-12am. 2055 Center St. at Shattuck, Berkeley.

Mohamed and Marmee Aboghanem’s Yemenese/Arabic fusion ~SAHA~ has opened in its new Berkeley location. Initial hours are dinner only, Tue-Sun, starting at 5:30pm, and brunch is coming soon, Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm. 2451 Shattuck Ave. at Haste, Berkeley. (Via Nosh..)

The folks at ~REVIVAL BAR + KITCHEN~ let us know they are serving brunch, with oysters, a fried chicken Benedict, cocktails, and more. Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm. 2102 Shattuck Ave. at Addison, Berkeley, 510-549-9950.

~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~’s third East Bay location, in downtown Berkeley, is now open. You can check out your espresso being made on the sleek Modbar system, and food and pastries are available too. Daily 7am-7pm. 2011 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley. (Via Nosh.)

Things are ramping up at cousins Iso Rabins’ and Matt Johansen’s ~FORAGE KITCHEN~, with the opening of Pal’s Take Away from Jeff Mason in the Forage Kitchen Café (take a look at the menu of sandwiches here), served Mon-Sat 11am-5pm. You can also see a list of the first members/incubator businesses here—just scroll down. More coming soon (and chefs, artisanal food purveyors, and hobbyists are welcome to apply to use the facilities!). Look for Family Meal, a dinner series on second Sundays. 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

~4505 BURGERS AND BBQ~ is opening a location in the East Bay, taking over the vintage Glenn’s Hot Dogs in the Laurel District (the owners were ready to retire). Owner Ryan Farr will be adding barbecue to the menu, and ultimately the menu will mimic 4505’s Divisadero location. Look for some outdoor seating and a freshened-up interior, though Farr wants to preserve the old-school vibe. The article in the Chron also mentions Farr’s shift away from whole animal butchery, although he uses humanely raised meats from sustainable ranches. One more piece of news: the end of this month will mark the end of the 4505 stall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market after seven years of slinging their amazing burgers—it sounds like it was the right time to pull back. 3506 MacArthur Blvd. at 35th Ave., Oakland.

There’s a new restaurant on the water, ~EVE’S WATERFRONT RESTAURANT~, in the former Rusty Scupper, with a modern American grill menu and seafood by chef Bruce Paton, with local beer pairings and cocktails. Open Thu-Fri 4pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. 15 Embarcadero West near Oak Street, Oakland, 510-827-1248.

And get ready, the official launch of the new CUESA-run ~JACK LONDON SQUARE FARMERS MARKET~ is on Sunday October 30th, with the Jack London Square Farmers Market Harvest Festival. There will be apple cider pressing, a pie contest, mini pumpkin decorating, harvest-themed cooking demos, Halloween costumes, and more. 9am-2pm. Water Street at the base of Broadway in Oakland.

October 11, 2016

Making narezushi. Photo: Pete Lee.


Making narezushi. Photo: Pete Lee.

The ~BAR TARTINE~ team of Cortney Burns and Nick Balla have been hosting a Monday night series since August called Motze Mondays, where they have been exploring more Japanese-influenced dishes in a family-style format. It has also been a way for them to recipe test their new restaurant concept, ~MOTZE~, which they are going to open in the former Herbivore on Valencia.

This sequel restaurant is going to have a short-term lease, just 1 1/2 years, so they are avoiding sinking too much into the space for this self-funded and handmade project. It will have 40-something seats, and it’s going to have high energy and feel lively and experimental.

They have lined up a great team and are excited about putting forth a fusion-y menu that has more Japanese influences, with a rustic and spicier profile than Bar Tartine (as Balla says, “more heavy metal!”). It will integrate family influences from how and where they grew up, which will include input from their sous chef from Laos. Balla explains further: “It’s the food we really like to eat—especially on the couch at 2am after a couple beers.” Expect lots of tastes, flavors, textures, and yay, good value.

When they launched Motze Mondays, the initial family-style menu included a range of bites like salmon belly in chrysanthemum sauce and black koji and flaxseed crackers with salmon roe, followed by larger dishes like chicken fat dumplings with egg and shiso, and eggplant with rye shoyu, plus some sweets (like quince steam cake). Of course the menu has been been evolving each month.

Like we previously mentioned, the name isn’t a spin on matzoh: the name is in honor of a fifth-century Chinese philosopher, Motze.

The plan is to be open five nights a week, expanding to seven, and they are considering daytime too. The opening should be within the month, I’ll keep you posted. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St.


This is what won’t be happening (fried chicken!) but it should give you an idea of what RT Rotisserie will feel like. Photo via Instagram.

I have been wondering who would move into the closed Mandarin Villa space in Hayes Valley, and it’s Rich Table’s Sarah and Evan Rich—their primary restaurant is conveniently just a block away. They will be opening a casual rotisserie chicken restaurant, ~RT ROTISSERIE~, in early 2017. (We all hoped it would be “Sally ‘Sarah’ Hurricane’s” fried chicken, but this is probably better for the longevity of all of us.)

There will be an approachable menu, with the kind of food you’d be happy with any night: rotisserie chicken and sides, soups, big Cali salads, and sandwiches, plus some oysters for good measure. And wine. It will be an unpretentious spot, designed by Fine Root. Hours will be 11am-9pm, with an all-day menu. Stand by for updates. 101 Oak St. at Franklin.


The updated dining room and booths at Elite Cafe. All photos: ©


Chicken jambalaya.


Muffaletta chopped salad (keep in mind this was a family-style serving).

Just before I left town, I had the chance to check out a preview of the updated ~ELITE CAFÉ~, and let’s just say you should be pretty pleased that they are now open!

The 78-seat space is all spiffed up, with a fresh gray-blue paint job on the historic mahogany booths (which were extremely weathered), lots of Carrara marble tabletops (reminiscent of classic New Orleans eateries), a new penny tile floor (which is more like how it originally was in the 1920s), and plenty of shiny brass. Everything has a crisper look, instead of the previous tones of brown.

I have covered a lot of details in past pieces, but let’s talk about the menu from chef Chris Borges, a New Orleans native. It’s full of flavor and fun touches, like vadouvan with the lightly fried okra, and there’s a muffaletta chopped salad with ham, mortadella, salami, smoked provolone, Gruyère, giardiniera/house pickled vegetables, and Little Gems. There are plenty of classics, like a crawfish étouffée made with plump Louisiana crawfish and uni butter, and a duck gumbo with a pleasing thickness and house-smoked duck sausage. Stewed okra makes for a fab vegetarian dish, but meat lovers will be pleased with the house-pickled pork and grilled andouille in the red beans and rice. And there’s Southern fried chicken, oh yes (it’s buttermilk-soaked Mary’s chicken).

The bar program got a nice update from Kevin Diedrich (Pacific Cocktail Haven/P.C.H), with a spirituous spin on a Sazerac (made with Cognac). You’ll be tempted to walk out the front door with the frozen Irish coffees and Hurricanes in their plastic go-cups, but don’t do that, you’re in SF.

Hours are Mon-Fri 5pm-10pm, with a bar menu that’s served through midnight; the bar is open until last call (or 2am, if the party doesn’t want to stop). Brunch starts at 9am Sat-Sun and just keeps going into dinner. Welcome back to the Fillmore! 2049 Fillmore St. at California, 415-346-8400.


The tiffin thali meal at Dakshin. Yelp photo by Judy H.


The new look at Spices. Photo courtesy of Spices via Yelp.


Bowls at Sweetgreen. Photo courtesy of Sweetgreen.


Café seating at Foundry & Lux. Photo by Nader Khouri.

There are some new openings around town, starting with ~DAKSHIN~, a fast-casual South Indian spot in the former Batter Bakery space on Polk in Russian Hill. Take a peek at the menu in this pic, which includes a thali plate, dosas, uttapam, and curries, like a prawn curry, Mangalore chicken, and more. A previous Eater post mentions the owner is Pradeep Paniyadi of Sangeetha in Sunnyvale. Open Wed-Mon 11am-10pm. 2127 Polk St. at Broadway, 415-400-4906.

Fans of ~SPICES! AND SPICES!II~ and the amazing numbing spicy beef tendon should know there is now just one ~SPICES~ (the exclamation point has been sadly dispensed with). The 6th Avenue space has received quite the update (the 8th Avenue location is closed). The menu still has all the favorites, plus some new additions (including iron pot—a dry pot without the broth used for hot pot), and the beers got an upgrade. Open daily 11am-11pm. 291 6th Ave. at Clement, 415-752-8885.

New Yorkers and Angelenos are familiar with ~SWEETGREEN~, a fast-casual shop known for its salads and grain bowls and more, made with seasonal, fresh, and local produce, with everything made from scratch (they are very committed to sourcing locally). They are opening their first SF store in SoMa today, Tuesday October 11th. There are also warm grain bowls and fresh, locally sourced vegetables. Check out the menu here. One nice touch: 100 percent of opening day sales will be donated to CUESA. Open Mon-Sat 10:30am-9pm. 171 Second St. at Natoma.

Garaje in SoMa has a little brother open, ~GARAJITO~, in the former Cafe Clementine. It’s more of a grab-and-go operation, with just eight seats, serving zapatos (a burrito that spent some time getting flattened by a panino press), tacos, sandwiches, and salads—no burger, take note. Have a peek at a pic of the menu here. No beer and wine, but breakfast and coffee are coming soon. Cash only. Mon-Fri 11am-2pm (for now). 257 3rd St. at Tehama, 415-644-0838.

Tenderloin fried chicken and waffle slinger ~SOUL GROOVE~ has opened a second location in the restaurant space at the Cova Hotel, formerly Mr. Crave. Owner Jason Fordley is happy to offer sit-down dining, while the original location (422 Larkin St.) will be more about takeout, delivery, and catering. Hoodline reports the expanded menu has lots of egg dishes, mac and cheese, cheesy grits, and more, plus dishes like the Jamaican-Me-Waffles: plantain sweet corn waffles with coconut-lime butter and a choice of regular or vegan jerk chicken. A beer and wine license is in effect, with TVs for watching games, and parties will be coming soon. The admirable (and much needed!) goal is to eventually be open 24-7, but for now, hours are 6:30am-3pm (and until 7pm very soon). 655 Ellis St. at Larkin, 415-771-3000.

Congrats to Howard and Amanda Ngo for getting ~DUC LOI’S PANTRY~ open in the Bayview, providing the neighborhood with a full-service and affordable 14,000-square-foot grocery store selling meat, fish, and produce, plus household items, beer, wine, and spirits. There is also a deli serving banh mi sandwiches, and there will be a coffee kiosk from Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Hours will be 8am-8pm. Read more in Hoodline. 5900 3rd St. at Carroll Ave.

Folks closer to South San Francisco should know about ~FOUNDRY & LUX~ from Bon Appétit Management Company at The Cove. They will be serving morning coffee and more, while lunch and dinner include items from the wood-burning pizza oven, rotisserie meats, sandwiches, and salads made with fresh produce from the on-site garden. All ingredients are sustainable, humanely raised, and seafood meets Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines. Plus, there’s a bar, a pool table, bocce, fireplaces, and more. 151 Oyster Point Blvd., South San Francisco.


The sign at Elena Una. Photo via Facebook.


Juanita More! Photo: Aubrie Pick.

This column is already getting toooooo looooong, so I’m just going to give you some quick updates, and you can click through to the original sources for more details if you’re interested. Okay? Okay!

The short-lived Gipsy Darling in the Marina will be replaced by a casual Filipino pop-up called ~ELENA UNA~ from chef Janice Lazaga and her wife, Kaye Otbo. Look for some updated Filipino dishes; Eater reports they plan to open October 27th. Tue-Sat 8:30am-2pm and 4:30pm-9pm. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed local performer, promoter, and activist Juanita More! mentioned in her newsletter that she wanted to open a restaurant in the Tenderloin, Compton’s, inspired by Gene Compton’s Cafeteria (the site of the seminal Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in August 1966, one of the first recorded transgender riots and revolts against police harrassment in the U.S.). Just this year, at the conclusion of the San Francisco Trans March, a new street sign was unveiled, renaming the 100 block of Taylor Street as Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Way—the cafeteria used to be at 101 Taylor.

Hoodline followed up on the story: her proposal is to open an LGBTQ-centric restaurant in Group i’s development at 950-974 Market St., instead of the proposed Magic Theatre project, in an attempt to preserve the queer history of this part of the Tenderloin—several gay bars used to be where the new development is going in. (Read the comments in the Hoodline piece to understand more of the controversy behind it all.) The San Francisco Planning Commission hearing takes place on Thursday October 27th at noon, City Hall, Commission Chambers (Room 400) and is open to the public.

A Korean fried chicken place is coming to the Tenderloin, ~THE BRIM~, from Min Choe (Tamashisoul and Sushi Hon), partnering with Nathan Choi and Jae Jung of food truck Kokio Republic. The plan is to open in early 2017. 711 and 715 Geary St. at Leavenworth. [Via Hoodline.]

Bayview-based distillery and brewery Seven Stills (which makes whiskey from craft beer) has taken over ~LAWTON TRADING POST~ in the Outer Sunset and will be opening a beer taproom, with some food offerings too. 3645 Lawton St. at 43rd Ave. More in Hoodline.

A Middle Eastern sandwich shop called ~TAHINI~ is coming to the Mission from first-time owner Monti Majthoub, who has had enough of the mediocre shawarma around town. Go on! His plans are to just serve shawarma, kebab, kanafeh, and french fries, with bread made in-house and falafel fried to order. Look for an opening in summer 2017. 2859 Mission St. at 25th St. [Via Mission Local.]

There’s a proposed microbrewery and American restaurant from North Beach’s Cafe Delucchi going through the SF Planning Commission right now, which would turn Delucchi Sheet Metal into a 3,989-square-foot restaurant and outdoor area, serving brunch and dinner. (Owner Richard Jones is losing his Cafe Delucchi lease soon, so he’s trying to keep his business in the neighborhood.) Delucchi Sheet Metal Works would remain as a tenant and continue to work at the location, but in the basement and on the second level. 1526 Powell St. at Green.


The roast beef sandwich at Merigan. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Chicken Parm at Merigan. Photo: ©


Citizen’s Band, photo by Jennifer Yin.

I originally wrote this last week and posted it on social media since I was dark for the week, but to recap, here’s the unfortunate news (along with some other sad news):

I am really unhappy to report on the closure of one of my favorite places in SF: ~MERIGAN SUB SHOP~ closed at the end of service on Saturday October 8th, after almost three years of business in SoMa. I don’t like to think about an SF without the terrina sub, let alone a Giants game without one.

Owner Liza Shaw is heartbroken to close the shop, after so much hard work, but she said it just didn’t work out. She said she could blame a lot of things, from the cost of food to the labor shortage. Even though the shop was near the ballpark, it’s seasonal business, and it’s a bit of an odd neighborhood (a bit too far for some to visit). She didn’t want to cut corners either—her whole animal butchery program and using only quality products were too important to her.

There is a buyer for the space (to be announced soon), so she’s going to let it go. Shaw plans to take a much-needed break and will be doing some travel, plus consulting on some projects in the near future.

Thanks for all the excellent Italian combos and eggplant Parms with a burrata supplement, damn! Best to you, Liza. Thanks for all the subs made with so much care and love!

Another SoMa sub shop closure: Adam Mesnick has decided not to renew his lease for ~RYE PROJECT~ (180 7th St.) and closed the shop. Eater says Mesnick’s other sandwich shop, Deli Board at 1058 Folsom St., will be taking on some of Rye Project’s Jewish dishes, and he has extended its hours to include Sun 11am-3pm.

More disheartening closures in SoMa: SFGate reports that both ~CITIZEN’S BAND~ and ~PINKIE’S BAKERY~ have closed (damn it, no more of Chris Beerman’s amazing burger, and Pinkie’s made the bread for Merigan, so it’s all just sad). Multiple reasons were cited, from tech company dining rooms snatching diners with free meals to the high cost of doing business in SF. Fortunately, Pinkie’s will continue on with its location in Bernal.

My friends at the Marina Times (where I write a monthly tablehopper column) tipped me off that the ~LIL’ MAMA’S~ project, the spin-off of the popular Mama’s that was trying to open in the vacant Piazza Market, won’t be happening. Scoop followed up on the tip, confirming that the Sanchez family decided to look for a location elsewhere in the city—the endless red tape and costs of opening in this location ultimately weren’t worth it. Cole Hardware is now going to be taking over the space. 627 Vallejo St. at Columbus.


Recipe testing at Onsen: sweet potato and mushroom dumplings with dill, scallions, and bok choy in a mushroom broth with dill oil. Photo: Grace Sager.


A preliminary look into Onsen’s restaurant space (furniture is coming soon). Photo: Raquel Venancio Photography.


Ivy-draped wall at The Garden at Del Popolo. Photo: Eric Wolfinger Photography.

Here are some updates at places around town, starting with a look at who is going to be cooking at the upcoming ~ONSEN~, a Japanese-inspired bathhouse opening in the former City Automotive building in the Tenderloin. While it’s primarily about a soaking pool (in the former mechanic’s pit), sauna, steam room, treatment rooms, and more, there will also be a casual 20-seat restaurant area (open to anyone, not just bathhouse guests). Chef George Meza, previously the executive sous chef at Oro in Mint Plaza, will be at the helm. Expect NorCal, seasonal, and Japanese influences in his dishes, which you can check out on Instagram. Look for an opening at the beginning of November; dinner will be the initial focus, then lunch. Sake, beer, and wine will also be served. 466 Eddy St. at Hyde.

FiDi workers have already been enjoying lunch at the Middle Eastern ~SABABA~, and now chef Guy Eshel has launched dinner as well (it’s the same menu, with freshly made pita). Luckily for all of us, you can also order it for delivery on Postmates. Hours are Mon-Fri 5pm-9pm. 329 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-800-6853.

You know who else is serving dinner? ~NUTE’S~ is, on Saturday evenings, in their 903 Cortland space. A post on Facebook mentions “ramen and Thai noodles, along with our tasty small dishes and lots of Japanese craft beer selections.” Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. 903 Cortland Ave. at Folsom.

If you’re looking for a private dining space, ~DEL POPOLO~ has opened an outdoor garden area with room for 32 (seated) or 40-45 (standing). It can be tented (and heated) since the weather is tending toward the wintry now—plus each seat has tartan blankets. There’s also an outdoor grill. 855 Bush St. at Taylor, 415-589-7940.

Fans of beef Wellington will want to check out Wellington Wednesdays at the newly named ~MAYBECK’S~ in the Marina (formerly Spaghetti Bros.). A whole beef tenderloin (prime, dry-aged) from Flannery Beef will be sliced and served until sold out. $24 per person; it comes with a side of creamed spinach and black truffle jus. Starts at 7pm. 3213 Scott St. at Lombard, 415-400-8500.


Blue Bottle’s kiosk at Heath. Photo from Facebook.

A couple of coffee closures around town: Blue Bottle Coffee has decided to close its four-year-old kiosk in the Heath Ceramics building—the last day will be Sunday October 16th. (I kind of wondered how long it was going to be there with the opening of the Tartine Manufactory just next to it.) Eater’s report says, according to Blue Bottle, it has “simply outgrown its 250-square-foot environs and is ready to make the leap to a larger space.” Meanwhile, things are getting closer for Blue Bottle’s 2 South Park location in the former Jeremy’s (sniff sniff). November 4th is the opening date.

Castro residents have probably noticed ~ARTÍS COFFEE ROASTERS~ (at 506 Castro St.) closed about a month ago, while their Hayes Valley location (at 537 Octavia St.) remains open. ~EUREKA! CAFE~ also closed (at 451 Castro St.), so it seems the Castro coffee scene is a bit tough. [Via Hoodline.]

September 28, 2016

A look into the dining room at The Morris. Photo: Leo Gong.


The smoked duck. Photo: Leo Gong.


Chef-partner Gavin Schmidt (left). Photo: Leo Gong.


A beaming Paul Einbund. Photo: Leo Gong.


Test dinner at The Morris. Photo: Leo Gong.


Exterior of the iconic building. Photo: Leo Gong.

Paul Einbund has been planning and plotting his own project for years, while sharing his talents as a sommelier at top SF places like Frances, Octavia, Slanted Door, and Coi (and building up his collection of rare wines and spirits as well). He’s also had his chef and partner lined up for five years, Gavin Schmidt, who he met when they were both working at Coi (Schmidt was chef de cuisine). Schmidt has also worked at Elisabeth Daniel, Campton Place, Blanca Restaurant in San Diego, and trained under Laurent Gras. He enjoys whole-animal butchery and reportedly has quite the hand with charcuterie. (I even hear he’s working on a country ham, Cali style, swapping out the Virginia molasses for other ingredients—stand by for more on that.)

And now, it’s time for Einbund to open the doors to ~THE MORRIS~, which, as I see it, is a neighborhood restaurant from people who know their shit. It’s opening in the former location of the ultimate neighborhood restaurant, the Slow Club, which Erin Rooney opened back in 1998 in the Media Gulch/Potrero Flats. It still has that great Slow Club DNA, but the update from architect Charles Hemminger and designer Scott Kester has given it a new and fresh feeling. The vibe is meant to be playful and comfortable, backed up with skilled service and quality products.

The dining room tables, from Earl Gonzalez, are now topped with white ash that was whitewashed, and the bar stools are by furniture maker Fyrn. There is a clever divider from the bar to the dining room made of mother-in-law’s tongue plants that you can still peep through. They took a lot of care to install sound-dampening materials since the room was notoriously loud (even the slats on the ramp to the dining room actually help diffract sound). Einbund’s wife, Vanessa Yap Einbund, is known for her crafty design ways; she made some denim coasters and even the wine list has a denim cover, with a fun neck tag (like on a shirt) that says Booze & Stuff. San Francisco designer Evan Kinori designed the uniforms.

Looking at Schmidt’s menu, there are some fun nibbles like shrimp toast and chicken and foie dumplings (sold by the piece), and I can totally see myself posted up at the bar for some of his charcuterie (rabbit terrine, pâté de campagne, tête de cochon, fennel salami) with some cocktails. There’s also a selection of cheeses, and score, they have Tartine bread on the menu (great neighbors to have—they wheel over their wagon each day to pick some up). Schmidt’s food is dialed to be full of flavor and seasoning, the kind of food you want to drink with.

The opening menu has seasonal picks like tomato salad with melon, almond, and burrata, and blistered wax beans with grilled squid and chile lime. Four mains include lingcod, grilled Berkshire pork, and sausages, all $28 and under. And then there’s the sure-to-be-a-showstopper smoked Muscovy duck with pomme rosti and roasted root vegetables, which Einbund says is an abundant dish (half $48, whole $96), inspired by their desire to have something iconic on the menu, like the Zuni chicken. Dishes are easy to share, but you can easily have a meal for one if you want to go that route too.

Of course, the wine list is a major focus here. On the back of the dinner menu, Einbund will be listing his preferred wines of the moment, whether it’s sparked by a selection that goes particularly well with something on the menu, or something he’s excited about (which happens often—like being fired up over four domestic chenin blancs that he said taste like French chenin). Take a look at the biodynamic calendar and lunar cycle notations on the menu—yup, extreme geekery here. Einbund explains, “Over the course of my career, I have learned everything affects wine. Some taste better when the moon is full. I like to consider when to drink a delicate old wine that is fragile. We are paying attention to everything.” So for those of you who like to geek out, you can see if it’s a leaf, root, fruit, or flower day. And if you like to drink wine out of Zaltos (and not everyone does), there’s that option too.

House wine is an important thing to Einbund—he’s known for implementing the “pay only for what you drink” practice (measured by the centimeter) at Frances, which is also how they will charge here. He is a big proponent of California wines that are young, fresh, and affordable. But if you are looking for something old world, or aged, or you really want to splash out or do some spelunking, then you’ll want to ask for the main list, which is deep, with some real finds tucked in there. Madeira is another one of Einbund’s passions.

As for the eight-seat bar, Einbund is known for his love of Chartreuse, and you can bet it’s on the cocktail list, namely in the form of a Chartreuse slushy ($10). He worked with some mighty talented folks in the biz (who prefer to remain nameless) on fine-tuning the classic cocktail recipes. He wants the list of seven drinks to remain pretty set, so they can continue to tweak the cocktails until they hit a Japanese level of execution, with one exception: look for the slushy to get swapped out for a hot toddy in the cooler months.

The Morris (named after Einbund’s father) is due to open on Monday October 3rd. Hours will be Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. Look for Sundays and weekday lunch to be added, plus brunch and later hours are possible too. 2501 Mariposa St. at Hampshire, 415-612-8480.


Babu Ji’s yogurt kebabs in a stunning sauce of beet and ginger. Photo: ©


The dining room at Babu Ji in New York. Photo: ©

One of my favorite meals while in New York was at ~BABU JI~, offering an inventive and updated version of Indian cuisine. So I was beyond happy to learn the unexpected news (originally via a tweet from Zagat) that owners and husband-and-wife team Jennifer and chef Jessi Singh are coming to SF! (The restaurant first opened in Melbourne.)

Their NYC tasting menu was full of outstanding dishes, like their jaw-droppingly beautiful yogurt kebabs, the abundant thali plate, and some of the best tandoori chicken I’ve had in ages. They will reportedly be taking over the Nostra space on Valencia; stand by for more details soon. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St.

Another Indian import is coming, this time to Civic Center: ~AUGUST 1 FIVE~. Owner Hetal Shah, a partner in Red Hot Chilli Pepper in San Carlos, is bringing over chef Manish Kumar Tyagi, previously at the acclaimed Rasika in Washington, DC, and Taj Hotels and Resorts. The restaurant is due to open this fall, and the menu will be inspired by Northern Indian regional cuisines and feature seasonal influences and modern techniques. Don’t look for the usual suspects of tikka masala and butter chicken, however—they will be introducing other dishes beyond the typical curries. There will also be cocktails and a global wine list. Craige Walters (Black Cat, Hecho) is redesigning the 90-seat space (previously O3 Bistro & Lounge), which will be refined but inviting. The name is in reference to the date of India’s independence from British rule. 524 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister.

As for what will be moving into the former Betelnut, we previously mentioned Adriano Paganini’s restaurant group, Back of the House, was taking over the space, and now they have revealed it’s going to be a contemporary Mexican restaurant.

The menu will feature traditional dishes from Mexican states spanning the Gulf to the Pacific (so, um, that’s a lot of ground, but we’ll see what they focus on). Family recipes, masa ground on-site (by hand!), and roasted meats by the pound (carnitas) are mentioned, plus small plates like sopes and crab tostadas, as well as other starters, salads, mains (whole-roasted fish), and more. Chef-partner Luis Flores of Uno Dos Tacos has been playing a big part in the concept, taking several trips to Mexico with Paganini. There will also be traditional and craft cocktails, with a focus on mezcal and tequila (of course), and pitchers. Always dangerous. Stand by for more on timing and the name soon. 2030 Union St. at Buchanan.


The Big Easy at Powder, with Vietnamese coffee snow, toasted almonds, chocolate sauce, and sweet milk glaze. Photo: ©


The cheerful Powder shop. Photo courtesy of Powder.

There’s a new frosty and fluffy treat for you to try on Divis, ~POWDER~. Previously serving their NorCal version of Taiwanese shaved snow at Off the Grid, owners Mimi Hanley and David Chung now have a cute brick-and-mortar shop.

They freeze their premium ingredients (filtered water and organic Straus Family Creamery dairy) into ice blocks, and then shave them off to order and serve with toppings of your choice. You can get light and fluffy ribbons of their trademark black sesame flavor (SO GOOD), Vietnamese coffee, horchata, and strawberry, with toppings like TCHO chocolate crumbles, mochi, seasonal fruit, local honey, and traditional sweet milk glaze (condensed milk), which is housemade. They’re happy to make suggestions in case you can’t decide which combo to get (check out their S’nome Picks). And even though it looks like a lot, it’s really light, with about half as many calories as ice cream (thanks to the high water content). The sizes are regular ($4.50) and large ($5.50), with toppings that range from 50-75 cents.

The airy space is petite, but there’s the parklet just outside (they share it with neighbor Repose coffee shop). Open Tue-Sun 12pm-10pm. 260 Divisadero St. at Haight.


Some of the brunch gorgeousness at Gardenias. Photo via Facebook.


The Perfect Storm at The Lunchpad: over-easy egg, Swiss, caramelized onions, spinach, and chipotle remoulade on pain de mie. Photo: ©


The Lunchpad. Photo courtesy of The Lunchpad.

The ladies at Lower Pac Heights’ ~GARDENIAS~, Dana Tommasino and Margie Conard, have launched weekend brunch! The menu (go ahead, take a look) will shift up a bit weekly, but the recent version includes a soft scramble with tarragon, chives, and Fontina (um, heaven), and pork pozole verde with a fried egg. And then there’s the socca cake with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, roasted fennel, tatsoi, herbed tahini, shaved Parmesan, and a poached egg, because that’s how they roll. Some toasts, salads, and sweeter options like a mixed grain porridge complete the story, and a grilled burger and even more light (low-ABV) cocktails will be coming soon.

They are serving Sat-Sun 10am-2pm, and don’t forget that lovely back patio with flowers and vines, a little oasis of peace and quiet. 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore, 415-621-7122.

Hayes Valley’s ~THE LUNCHPAD~—the lunch spot from biz partners Adam Hubbell, Mark Hubbell, and Chris Snowden inside of Noir Lounge—have zhooshed up their brunch service with booze and a dedicated bartender. Serving Sat-Sun 11am-2:30pm, there is a full bar, where you can snag The Brunchpad Bloody (complete with a piece of their candied habanero bacon). On the weekend brunch menu: huevos rancheros, a breakfast biscuit (a housemade cheddar jalapeño biscuit), and biscuits and gravy. You can also order their sandwiches, from their Green Eggs & Ham to their Teamster (roasted turkey, pastrami, Swiss, Dijon sweet and slaw, garlic aioli, and Grandpa’s pickles)—I could only finish half that monster when I took it to the beach. Football fans: there are big-screen TVs to watch sporting events (there’s also a private room available for rent with an oversize screen). 581 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-522-6647.

~BARZOTTO~ just started serving daily lunch specials, which includes a meatball sandwich on a crusty baguette with provolone and housemade giardiniera ($10), their porchetta on sourdough with peperonata and mustard ($12), a chicken sandwich on sourdough with Green Goddess dressing, pickled onions, and bacon ($11), and squash tartine on six-grain loaf with delicata squash, crescenza, and balsamic radicchio ($10). Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11am-3pm.

And now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s worth noting that ~SAISON~ is now open on Monday evenings, 5:30pm-9:30pm (via Eater). 178 Townsend St. at 5th St., 415-828-7990. 


The center of Volta’s dining room (with such fantastic tile). Photo via Facebook.

Damn it, I hate hearing when a place from good operators closes, and in this case, it’s the nine-month-old ~VOLTA~, the French and Scandinavian beauty from Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje. Scoop reported they closed on Sunday September 25th.

A note on Volta’s Facebook page states: “We thought our unique concept and sleek design could counter some of the innate challenges of operating within the current San Francisco restaurant climate but the numbers tell us we were wrong. Ultimately, the financial reality of operating a business in a still-evolving urban location overshadowed the incredible talent and hard work of our tireless team. We appreciate all the support and understanding as we put this magnificent restaurant to rest. Through this challenging time, we are more thankful than ever for the success we have found at our other restaurants, Perbacco and barbacco, and hope you will come visit us there sometime soon.” Seems sales dropped precipitously in the summer, starting in August, down 70 percent. Oof. And so the myriad challenges of opening a restaurant in the Mid-Market neighborhood continues.


Don’t miss Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent at the Mill Valley Film Festival.


At 2015 Cochon Heritage BBQ SF. Photo: Gamma Nine/COCHON 555.

Unfortunately I won’t be in town to have a table at Litquake’s Eat, Drink, and Be Literary event this year, but you should totally swing by to listen to and meet a variety of food writers, chefs, personalities, and more, including Novella Carpenter, Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove, and the delightful Margo True of Sunset Magazine. There will also be some food and beverages to taste, signings, and more. It all happens Sunday October 9th, 11am-5:30pm. $40. (Read more about Litquake here.) The Chapel, 777 Valencia St. at 19th St.

There are some pretty cool films that involve food at the Mill Valley Film Festival (October 6th-16th), including Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, Paris Can Wait (by Eleanor Coppola), and Theater of Life (about Italy’s Massimo Bottura).

Brady Lowe returns to SF with his Cochon 555 on Sunday October 16th, which features five SF and Oakland chefs in a heritage whole hog culinary competition, plus five additional chefs serving some barbecue, from Korean to African braai to asador. It’s going to be a street fest on 22nd Street, hosted at Magnolia Brewery and Smokestack, with music (including DJ Kool Keith), cocktails, cheeses, a pie pop-up, and boutique wines. General admission tickets start at $100, with early admission VIP tickets for $150 and music-only tickets for $50. Magnolia Brewery in Dogpatch, street closure on 22nd between 3rd and Illinois. 3pm for VIP, 4pm for general admission, and 7pm for music only.

There is also a warm-up to the main event on Friday October 15th, Cochon 555 Asian Speakeasy, with Tu David Phu, formerly of Gather; Shawn Naputi of Prubechu; Francis Ang, formerly pastry chef at Dirty Habit; Tim Luym of Buffalo Theory; and Jacob Kwan-Rosenbush, formerly of Stock in Trade. There will be six courses of Devil’s Gulch Ranch pork, wine from Silver Oak Winery, and cocktails. It’s a charity dinner to raise money for Piggy Bank, a farm-in-the-making benefitting heritage breed pig farmers and culinary schools. 8pm. $85. The Tradesman. 753 Alabama St. at 20th St.

September 20, 2016

Imagine yourself on this patio on what is going to be a SUNday, Negroni in hand. Photo: ©


Did you see the weather forecast for this Sunday September 25th, the day of our SF AMATRICE event? No? It says APERITIVO WEATHER, people. That’s right, it’s going to be 81 degrees as we’re on the ~54 MINT~ patio drinking Aperol spritzes, Americanos, and Negronis courtesy of Campari America and Rye on the Road.

We’ll also be enjoying arancini all’amatriciana from Delfina, squid ink noodles with bottarga from Octavia, tramezzini from A.G. Ferrari, pinsas from ~MONTESACRO~, and pasta all’amatriciana from chef Mattia Marcelli of 54 Mint. Yeah, it’s going to be amazing and you really should be there. (The event was previously going to be at Montesacro, but we moved it a block over to 54 Mint!)

The turnout of donors has been incredible, but what we need is a turnout of ticket BUYERS. That’s why I’m talking to YOU. I know, $75 isn’t cheap, but this is a fundraiser, with 100 percent of proceeds being donated to the Comune of Amatrice to help them rebuild after the horrific Central Italy earthquake, which completely leveled their city. Can you imagine? Yes, we can. Which is why we want to sell this event OUT!

Let’s break this down, shall we? For $75, you have two hours of unlimited Italian cocktails from Campari America, more beautiful wines than you’ll know what to do with, and Peroni beer, plus coffee from Caffè Umbria. If you were at a bar, drinking and hanging out for two hours, that would easily be $65, before tax and tip.

And then we’re adding in antipasti, cheeses, salumi, pasta, pinsas, dolci, and even ice cream from Humphry Slocombe—yeah, it’s quite a spread! Abbondanza!

See, you get a lot for $75. I know, it makes you want to buy some tickets, doesn’t it?

We also wanted to make this easy to swing by, even if you already have plans that day. The event runs all day from 12pm-8pm, and since we’re selling tickets in two-hour time blocks (12pm-2pm, 2pm-4pm, 4pm-6pm, 6pm-8pm), you can take your pick. There will be different restaurants serving at each time slot, so you don’t have to worry about food running out!

Here are even more precious restaurant donors taking part: 54 Mint Il Forno, Acquerello, Palio d’Asti, Piccino, Rose Pistola, and Zero Zero, and partners Bi-Rite Market, Cheese Plus, Emporio Rulli, and Josey Baker Bread! Pasta is being donated by Rustichella d’Abruzzo and Manicaretti, plus cases of tomatoes and cheese from Casa de Case (and a leg of prosciutto!) and Lettieri & Co.

The generous vino donations from Casale del Giglio, Cherio, Fiorella, Folio Fine Wine Partners, Full Circle Wine Solutions, Scuola di Vino, Siena Imports, and Uva Enoteca are fantastico!

Even if you can’t attend, please consider a donation! Or please, just spread the word! Every post counts! (Here’s the event on Facebook to share.) Can you print out this flyer and display it in your shop, restaurant, or place of work?

Everyone is donating their time, products, and labor for this event in order for us to be able to donate 100 percent of the ticket price to earthquake relief! Grazie, tutti!

We look forward to seeing you. PLEASE help spread the word. Post/share on Facebook, tweet/RT, like and repost on Instagram, email your friends.

Any help with donations (Italian food, products, a barista to help with coffee, extra hands to help serve and clean, promotion) is so very appreciated! Contact Marcia of tablehopper! Baci! See you there! And don’t forget, spread the word! I look forward to hugging you on Sunday!

Guests must be 21 and over. Invitation is nontransferable.



The classic Elite Cafe sign. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux Photography (via Faebook).

After running our little teaser about ~THE ELITE CAFÉ~ reopening very soon, it ends up that they are targeting October 3rd for the opening. To recap, Andrew Chun of Schroeder’s (Sidecar Hospitality) took over the 35-year-old restaurant space earlier this year.

The chef is Sidecar’s executive chef and NOLA native, Chris Borges. He’s going to stay true to the place’s New Orleans roots, with dishes like duck gumbo and crawfish étouffée (available in two sizes), and of course oysters on the half shell, with seasonal Gulf oysters. The famous Meetinghouse biscuits will remain on the menu (I heard from their creator, Joanna Karlinsky, that she was over there teaching the team how to make them). You can get them with jam, and there will be biscuit sandwiches featuring fried chicken, ham hocks, and blackened catfish (two for $12). Some salads, include a kale salad with smoked onions, figs, and pecans dressed with a satsuma vinaigrette, and a muffuletta chopped salad with Little Gems.

Brunch will be served, starting at 9am on the weekend, with New Orleans eggs rancheros and bananas Foster French toast.

Bar director Kevin Diedrich (Pacific Cocktail Haven/P.C.H) has added a frozen drink machine for frozen Irish coffees, and his version of a Sazerac, Hurricane, and other spins on classics. Beverage director Mauro Cirilli (Press Club) will oversee the wine list.

The interior got a refresh from BCV, but the mahogany booths and crown molding from the place’s 1928 origins are still there to be honored, so don’t worry. There’s a new bar top and booth tabletops crafted from Carrara marble, and there are three brass-topped communal tables now too. There’s also a 70-inch television for big games, but otherwise it’s hiding behind a mirror when not in use.

I’ll keep you posted on more as the opening arrives. 2049 Fillmore St. at California, 415-346-8400.


At Waxman’s Pizzeria: prosciutto, ricotta, balsamic, arugula pizza. Photo via Facebook.


The counter at the newly open Scullery. Yelp photo by Jason L.

Some openings around town include ~WAXMAN’S PIZZERIA~, which opened next to Waxman’s restaurant in Ghirardelli Square. The menu includes some fried apps and some main dish salads. There are also sandwiches like the JW chicken salad sandwich (which includes Jonathan Waxman’s famous chicken), a meatball sandwich, and some appetizing pizzas, like chicken, corn, cherry tomato, Fontina; shrimp, Grana, salsa verde, chile; and Nueske’s bacon, potato, Grana, aioli. There’s also a kid’s menu and wine for mommy. Plus, a patio. Open Tue-Sat 12pm-9pm, and Sun 12pm-5pm. 900 North Point St., Ste B-201B, at Polk, 415-226-1244.

A cute, new, and little coffee shop has opened up in the Tenderloin, ~SCULLERY~, featuring coffee from Sightglass, plus cold brew and nitro coffee, toast from The Midwife and the Baker (topped with avocado, or cream cheese, or spicy PB&J, or Welsh rarebit with McQuade’s chutney), and some pastry goodies from Jane, like a sausage croissant. Menu here. Open Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. 687 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-440-4497.

~CHERIMOYA 2~, a Vietnamese café, is open in the Sunset, serving banh mi, spring rolls, garlic noodles, bowls, and more. The original is in Burlingame. Open Wed-Mon 11am-7pm. 2110 Irving St. at 22nd Ave. 415-650-3009.

There’s a new Korean spot in the Excelsior/Mission Terrace, ~HWARO~, with a playful menu like Korean quesadillas and hangover soup, along with some classics (jap chae, seafood pancake). Open for lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, dinner 5pm-10pm, Sat 4pm-10pm, and Sun 4pm-9pm.4516 Mission St. at Harrington, 415-859-7111.


A kamayan feast at Pampalasa. Photo via Pampalasa.

Some closures to report on, starting with ~ PAMPALASA~ in SoMa. Back in May, we mentioned owner Jennifer Villamin was going to have to move (the rent is too damn high), and it looks like it’s closing any day now. Here’s hoping she finds another location for her Filipino kamayan dinners. 1261 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-590-3251. (Via Scoop.)

Also sad: Les Natali won’t extend ~ZAPATA MEXICAN GRILL~’s lease in the Castro, so it’s closing next month. (Via Hoodline.)

~VALENCIA ST. KEBAB~ is closed. (Via Mission Local.)

A tablehopper reader reports: “Marina update: ~GIPSY DARLING~ has been closed for over a month, it’s only available for private events. ~SCOTLAND YARD~ has also been closed for a month or so.”


For those who like to think about their food and drink, you won’t want to miss this next installment of La Cocina’s F&B: Voices From the Kitchen, which is all about Brains. The storytelling event includes Jessica Koslow of LA’s Sqirl, Kat Kinsman (senior food and drinks editor at Extra Crispy and founder of Chefs with Issues), Barb Stuckey (president and chief innovation officer at Mattson), and many other brainy folks.

It all happens on Friday September 30th at Swedish American Hall. Check out the full lineup, get your ticket ($45), and see you there! There will be cocktails, making this a no-brainer. 6pm-8:30pm. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez.