March 31, 2009

~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ is due to open their Ferry Plaza Marketplace café this Thursday April 2nd (it’s going into the former Oak Hill Farm spot). Now, while it’s not going to be as swish as the Mint Plaza location, it’s going to be a step up from the kiosks for sure. There will be a few stools to sit on, but not a bunch. And of course there are going to be some killer machines, namely a lever machine (the Idrocompresso by Kees van der Westen—you can geek out more on this beauty of a machine here) and a paddle wheel machine by La Marzocco. The outdoor kiosks will also remain on Tuesdays and Saturdays—the whole idea is to have shorter lines all the way around. There will be a few snacks and bites, and Caitlin Williams, formerly of Miette, will be makin’ cookies! Hours will be Mon–Fri 7am–7pm, Sat at 6am (farmers and vendors rejoice), and Sun 8am–5pm.

More coffee-related news: ~RITUAL~ will be offering baked goods from local artisans, all located within three miles of the cafe. Starting tomorrow April 1st, there will be buttery and flaky croissants to keep your morning cappuccino company, courtesy of Sandbox Bakery (the bakery I mentioned that is opening in Bernal). You can also find 4505 Meats' chicharrones (if you want to eat them for breakfast, it’s entirely up to you), and salted chocolate chip cookies from Gillian Shaw (formerly of the Liberty Bakery). 1026 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-641-1024.

~BUSHI-TEI BISTRO~, the casual sister restaurant to Bushi-tei is opening tomorrow (April 1st) in Japantown. Both lunch and dinner will be served, closed Tuesday. 1581 Webster St. at Post, 415-409-4959.

Now open in the revamping Parc 55 Hotel is a restaurant called ~cityhouse~, with a bar called cityhouse bar; the hotel will complete its $30 million renovation in June. The executive chef is Brian Healy, previously the sous chef at the Terrace Restaurant at Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, with training at the CIA in St. Helena. The menu features dishes like an appetizer of pan-seared day boat scallops with orzo pasta risotto, Dungeness crabmeat, and shimeji mushrooms ($13), and a main dish of clay pot sea bass with clams, fennel, onion, tomatoes, olives, and Pernod-saffron broth ($26), plus some offerings from the grill and rotisserie. I also learned that all of the desserts are made in-house, including the ice cream. (You can look at the menus here.) The bar offers both cocktails and bites and is decorated in “plush wine colors and rich, textured leather furniture.” The design firm Gensler is behind the look. One drink that was mentioned to me was the Bella Ruffina (some of you might recognize it from Scott Beattie’s Artisanal Cocktails book), with braquetto d’Aqui, Carpano Antica vermouth, Fee Brothers’ orange bitters, and amarena cherry ($10). Hours are breakfast 6:30am–11am, lunch 11am–2pm, and dinner 5pm–10pm. 55 Cyril Magnin St. at Eddy, 1-800-595-0507.

I was on a walk in my ‘hood last week, and noticed ~JANNAH~ is moving into the former Gabin space. The sign proclaims “Middle Eastern California Cuisine.” Will let you know timing and menu details once I hear back from the owner. Here’s hoping the sketchy scene of this location’s previous two tenants is no more. 1775 Fulton St. at Masonic.

Also up the street on Fulton, Fruitful Grounds is finito, and moving into the space is ~GAMBRINUS~. From what I could gather, it’s going to be a spot offering a variety of beers and affordable eats. The beer part would make sense, since King Gambrinus is the unofficial patron saint of beer (it’s about all I could get from the Russian man I spoke with, who pointed to a beer stein). He mentioned there are other locations in other cities, which made me wonder if it’s related to this one in Redondo Beach. Anyway, I’ll have more on this one as it develops. 1813 Fulton St. at Masonic.

Further clarification on the noodle place I mentioned last week that is moving into the former ~SUKHOTHAI~ space: according to permits, it’s called ~SOI GOW THAI NOODLE CAFÉ~. A little online sleuthing taught me that soi gow/suey gow are like pot sticker wrappers specifically for soups. No idea on the opening date, however. 1319 9th Ave. at Irving.

Starting Friday or Saturday, ~PICKLES~ kicks off their evening hours, open Tue–Sat until 11pm or so (exact hours TBD at press time). I also heard their frozen custard is now on the menu! 42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson, 415-421-2540.

And for those who remember ~CAFÉ PRAGUE~ on Pacific Avenue, it has reopened in the Financial District on Merchant Street, in an alley spot. You can get Czech classics like goulash and beers, plus standards like soup, salad, and sandwiches. Thrillist posted a copy of the menu here. Hours are Mon–Fri 7:30am–10pm, Sat–Sun 9:30am–10pm. 424 Merchant St. (between Washington and Clay) at Battery, 415-627-7464.


After my hot dog recap last week, I’ve been receiving some emails with the unfortunate news that after three seasons at the ballpark, ~LET’S BE FRANK~ has been “benched” and won’t be operating their hot-dog cart near Acme Chophouse at AT&T Park this season. Word on the street is Giants management made the decision after some concessionaires inside the park complained, leaving some folks are wondering if the grass-fed dogs pose a threat to Hebrew National (a subsidiary of Con-Agra). I know I am not the only one with an arched eyebrow.

Here’s more from another tablehopper reader and her husband (Terry Diggs and Barry Helft), “With its authentic cart and carefully wrought dogs, Let's Be Frank at AT&T Park reminded many of us of the America we go to the ballpark to look for—an admittedly imagined place when we could believe for just an afternoon that neither the dogs nor the hitters were chemically modified. Baseball has always been the 9-act ballet America wrote for itself; it's our shared loss that Frank won't be there this year playing the overture.”

Will let you know what I hear next… I can imagine a lot of Let’s Be Frank fans are not going to be happy eating industrial meat at the ballpark this season.

It’s time for some meal deals, yo!

~JOVINO~ is now running a $9 nightly dinner. Here’s the line-up: Sundays—meatloaf and cheddar mashed potatoes; Monday—vegetable curry rice bowl; Tuesdays—chicken cacciatore and polenta; Wednesdays—lasagna (your choice of meat or veggie); Thursdays—beef stew with carrots, potatoes, and peas; Fridays—fried chicken and mashed potatoes; and Saturdays mean spaghetti and meatballs with a glass of house vino. Just $9, my friend. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.


I know some of you are fans of ~COZMO CARDS~, the restaurant discount cards. Each restaurant's CozmoCard gives you a $15 discount when you spend $50 or more. I was just informed tablehopper readers can get 10% off the 2009 deck. The individual decks are $30 each, or you can customize your 52-card deck and take your pick of just your favorites (i.e. you can pick multiples of just one place, like ten Destino cards) for $65. There are definitely some good restaurants in there, like Metro Kathmandu, Farina, and Uva Enoteca—you can check out all the participating restaurants here. Just be sure to use the code "TH2009" when purchasing your deck.

I think the tablehopper Festa del Pesto inspired ~FARINA~ to offer another similar special on pastas. Every week for the month of April, two of chef Paolo Laboa’s handmade pastas will be offered at $10 each, and a select wine by the glass for $5. 3560 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-565-0360.

Now, this is what I’m talkin’ about: for the month of April, ~SPQR~ is going to be featuring some wines and dishes of Calabria. Break out the chili pepper and the gaglioppo (I recently tried a magliocco from Librandi and it was love, sweet love). The following dishes will be available alongside their regular menu: insalata di polipi (Calabrian octopus salad with calamari, shrimp, and mussels with garlic, parsley, and red wine vinegar); rigatoni alla pastora (rigatoni with fresh ricotta, lamb sausage, and pecorino); fettuccine ccu ri sarde (fettuccine with sardines, currants, and parsley); zuppa di cipolle (Calabrian onion soup with chile and tomato, thickened with bread, finished with pecorino); pesce stocco bruschetta (stewed salt cod with potato, olives, and tomato over bruschetta); braciole calabresi (pork braciole with pecorino, garlic, and parsley); and alalunga in agrodolce (tuna cooked in onion and vinegar). I already have a napkin tied around my neck. 1911 Fillmore St. at Bush, 415-771-7779.

Speaking of Calabria, a fellow food-lovin’ friend has been living there for a little while, and just sent me this latest tidbit about ~’NDUJA (SPICY PORK) GELATO~! I say move over bacon, now there’s something spicier!

On Tuesday April 14th, ~DELFINA~ will be celebrating the food and wine of Le Marche with guest winemaker Luciano Landi. He will be pouring the latest vintages of his wines, including the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba “Gavigliano,” along with other fantastic blends, and Delfina's longtime favorite, the Lacrima passito dessert wine. There will also be some dishes inspired from the Marche, which may include: brodetto di pesce (with 11 different kinds of seafood!), fregnacce with Louisiana white shrimp, lasagna vincigrassi, and rabbit in pottacchio. 3621 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-4055.

Just like Bix, ~AQUA~ is now hosting Friday lunch service. 252 California St. at Battery, 415-956-9662.

Speaking of the French (and fish), ~LEFT BANK RESTAURANTS~ will be celebrating Poisson d’Avril this Wednesday April 1st at all of their Bay Area locations (Larkspur, Menlo Park, Pleasant Hill, San Jose, and San Mateo) and La Folie. “Poisson d’Avril” is traditionally celebrated in France and goes something like this: you try to trick your friends by sticking a paper fish onto their backs (better than a real one, which would be stinky, and challenging). When they find out, the prankster yells “poisson d’avril!” (Oh, the French.)Â So this Wednesday, the Left Bank restaurants will be featuring CleanFish’s Icelandic Char as their “Poisson du Jour.” When the “Poisson du Jour” is ordered on April 1st, part of the proceeds with go to benefit the Marine Science Institute, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on marine science experience to Bay Area students.

On Sunday April 5th, the inaugural and Italian-themed ~FESTA DI PRIMAVERA~ is going to be from 4pm–7pm in the upstairs Grand Hall of the Ferry Plaza Marketplace Building. There will be a variety of food stations, each accompanied by wines specially chosen to pair with each featured food. Participating merchants will include Acme, Boccalone Salumeria, Ciao Bella Gelato, Cowgirl Creamery, Far West Fungi, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, I Preferiti di Boriana, McEvoy Ranch, Miette Patisserie, Prather Ranch Meat Co., Recchiuti Confections, and San Francisco Fish Co. Here’s the line-up of featured wines: Estate Wine Imports, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Graziano Wines from Mendocino (a Gagliardi family favorite), Hatcher Winery from the Sierra Foothills, and Italia Wine Imports. There will be music by The Hot Frittatas as well. Advance tickets: $25 per person; same-day tickets: $30 at the door. Tickets can be purchased and picked up at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant inside the Ferry Building, Shop 23. Tickets are limited. Oh, and here’s a hint on how to get a discounted ticket: olive oil. (I shouldn’t link directly to the site with the discount info, so the rest of the sleuthing is up to you.)

Small reminder about the upcoming ~MOVEABLE FEAST~ that is next Tuesday April 7th at One Market, with chef Mark Dommen and The Lark Creek Inn guest chef Erica Holland-Toll, who are collaborating with (the very cute, I might add) David Retsky of County Line Harvest. The evening’s menu will include spring garlic soup, marinated Liberty duck breast, rainbow Swiss chard ravioli with a porcini mushroom emulsion, crispy skin steelhead salmon, and candied fennel fritters. Tickets to A Moveable Feast can be purchased online. The dinner is $80 per person, or $100 including wine, inclusive of tax and gratuity, and begins at 7pm. A percentage of each ticket cost will benefit CUESA. 1 Market Plaza at Steuart, 415-777-5577.

(Please note: the third dinner in the series will be held at Picco in Larkspur on Tuesday May 5th with chef Bruce Hill and chef de cuisine Chris Whaley, both of Picco, and Greg Dunmore of Ame, with guest farmer David Evans of Marin Sun Farms.)


~POGGIO~ is hosting their second annual Spiedo Misto della Pasqua festa from April 7th–11th. Spiedo Misto will focus on the spit (spiedo), featuring young pig, rabbit, and goat, all spit-roasted in Poggio’s wood-burning rotisserie oven. You get the trifecta of meat, plus traditional polenta and fagioli all’uccelletto, all for $19. There will also be some special antipasti and house-made pastas available: piccione (squab), often found on the spiedo, may be made into a rich sugo for tagliatelle, while quail, another traditional spiedo component, will appear in spiedini as an antipasti. Stinging nettle and green garlic sformato with fresh spring peas is another likely addition. 777 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415-332-7771.

~DELFINA~ is hosting their tenth annual Passover week, from Wednesday April 8th–Monday April 13th. The menu features special dishes inspired by Passover (please note it’s not a seder, nor is it kosher—it’s a week-long, Ã la carte, daily-changing menu). Dishes may include: brisket, carciofi alla giudea, poached bass with gelatina and walnut sauce, veal tongue dolce-forte, risi bisi, Passover ribollita, an edible seder plate, and matzoh ball soup made in the Stoll family tradition. Delfina will also be celebrating Easter on Sunday April 12th (think spring lamb, local spring vegetables, stracciatella, and more). 3621 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-4055.

This just in: for those who don’t want to deal with a formal sit-down Easter brunch, ~4505 MEATS AND FATTED CALF~ are coming together to host a Bunny BBQ at Bloodhound on Sunday April 12th. For $30, you get a rabbit sausage, grilled rabbit, and Taylor's smoked ham, all the sides (like green salad, Taylor's tasty pot of beans, chicharrones, bacon-peanut butter brownies, and other goodies), and a seasonal harvest beer. Grills will fire up around 1pm, and the little bunny foo foo feast will be available from 2pm–7pm. RSVP at info [at] bloodhoundsf.com since space is limited to 100 spots! 1145 Folsom St. at 7th St.