tablehopper
table of contents   This week's tablehopper: hi lo—a tale of two bars.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the regular
it's about time we met
the wino
in vino veritas
the lush
put it on my tab

the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the starlet
no photos please



 

APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Can you hear my liver crying? The weekend was like surviving the high seas, which included a torrent of beer while at this week's entry in fresh meat. Actually, this week's installment features a couple write-ups from my visits to two bars around town: one was for beer and sausages, and one for crustaceans. (You thought I was gonna say bourbon, didn't you.)

So this is completely non-food related, but I have to do a shout-out for a dear friend Pete who creates some of the most jaw-dropping interactive art pieces for Burning Man, each one outdoing the last. They're like enormous surreal zoetropes. He's got a big one in store for this year, Homouroboros, and is trying to raise money for it—take a peek at some of his past works and maybe you'll feel like supporting him on this one. I know Pete would appreciate anything you can do to help fund him in this huge undertaking.

Speaking of support, the best way you can support tablehopper is to tell your friends about it—please think about forwarding it to your pals, thanks and meow.

~Marcia subscribe


the chatterbox
APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO While it seems Laurent Manrique's Alley project in Yerba Buena Lane is running into some delays, Vijay Bist's third location for ~AMBER INDIA~ is proceeding along (the other two locations are in Mountain View and Santana Row). The 5,000-square-foot restaurant is slated to open at the end of August, with space for 130. The multi-level space will have three dining rooms (one is a private with room for 35) plus a bar and lounge area. There will be some artistic elements, including a glass sculpture of Ganesh, and they are also commissioning some contemporary artwork. The menu will include northern classics, plus some modern variations with dishes using local produce and herbs, and less butter, cream, and oil. In fact, Bist was just in India sourcing a few additional cooks for the kitchen. They will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with brunch on the weekends. 13 Yerba Buena Lane.

Out in the Richmond, Bistro Clement will be morphing into ~B STAR BAR~, an offshoot from Joycelyn Lee, the owner of Burma SuperStar just down the street. They are planning to offer small plates of Asian fusion with a few dishes from the Burma SuperStar menu, like noodles, salads, and rice plates to accompany an array of beer, wine, and soju and sake cocktails. The vibe will be comfortable and easygoing. B Star Bar will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with plans for brunch soon. There is also an outdoor patio they plan to utilize. 127 Clement St. at 3rd Ave., 415-933-9900.

Just to let you know, I spoke with the folks moving into the ~AURA SPACE~ in Bernal Heights, and they want to sit tight for now on information. The earliest something will be opening is June. Once I get the go-ahead to mention the news, you'll see it here, promise.

~PIQUEO'S~, the contemporary Peruvian restaurant from Carlos Altamirano of SoMa's Mochica is opening this Friday. The restaurant moved into the former Moki's space in Bernal Heights—and yes, they hope to get that patio open soon. Altamirano and his wife traveled all over Peru to research the specialties of different regions. The menu will be based on piqueos, or shared appetizers, that will integrate some California perspective in the way of seasonality and local ingredients. There will also be sangria and wine available. Dinner hours are 5:30pm-10pm, nightly. 830 Cortland Ave. between Gates and Ellsworth, 415-278-0480.

I know I'm not the only one who is going to be happy with this news: looks like Mohamed is one week out from reopening ~TAJINE~ in his new location! It should be open by Monday or Wednesday of next week. Let the basteeya-fest and Merguez munching begin. 1338 Polk St. between Bush and Pine, 415-440-1718.

Many folks are surprised and (supremely) bummed with the news that ~MARIQUITA FARMS~ is leaving the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. Here's a note from Andy and Julia explaining why… They do have plans to host some u-pick events in the future. We'll miss you guys (and your wonderful, unique produce).

In case you smell something really stinky in SoMa, and you’re sure it’s not from a homeless encampment, this could be why: ~MATTHEW MINA~, the pastry chef at Bong Su has started working with the Durian fruit. It's native to Southeast Asia and just smells like sheer and utter hell but is supposedly quite delicious and supple. Mina will soon have it on Bong Su's dessert menu with white chocolate in either a crème brûlée or a pudding dish.

~TADD CORTELL~ is resigning as GM of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen and taking a short break while mulling over some new business opportunities. While no longer participating in the day-to-day management of CAV, he is going to maintain his equity position in the restaurant. He says, "I am immensely proud of what CAV has become, and my relationship with Pamela [Busch], who has become a good friend and mentor, will continue." Good, no drama.

After serving many gyros, falafel, and dolmas to the Cow Hollow neighborhood, ~WILBUR'S~ has sadly closed. A couple years ago there was a tragedy that befell the family that runs it, and they just couldn’t keep the business going. Best of luck to them. 2211 Filbert St. between Fillmore St. and Steiner St.

Those kooks at ~MAVERICK~ are hosting their infamous Southern Fried Night on Tuesday, April 17th. As they put it, "Let's just say almost everything goes in the fryer, except lettuces, to create a really fun night of food and drink. The old classics like Pan Fried Catfish and Country Fried Steak will be back, along with a few new items and as always some surprises. Y'all come down now ya hear!"

Got a hot tip? You know I'd love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

 
fresh meat

Gestalt Haus

Gestalt Haus
3159 16th St.
Cross: Albion St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

415-560-0137

Sun-Wed 5pm-12am
Thu-Sat 5pm-2am

Brats $4.50
Beer $4-$8

APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I can often be found riding my bike, Peach One, around town. (And no, it’s not a fixie.) Granted, I also adore my car (Peach2), especially when I'm sporting some sassy high heels for the evening, or when picking up bubbly from K+L, or if it's raining out. But otherwise, the bike is the shiznit—it's often faster than driving, good for the booty, and the world is practically your parking lot.

Before I started riding in the city, I was totally intimidated about "the rules," so I asked my pal Spider (yes, his real name) to accompany me on a spin so I could learn how to navigate the streets without totally endangering my life or losing my front teeth. So it was only fitting to go check out ~GESTALT HAUS~ with him, a new-ish Mission outpost whose tagline is "Beer, Brats, and Bikes."

As soon as you walk in, there's a big double-decker bike rack where you can rassle your bike into place, praying you don't knock over anyone's De Rosa because odds are good they are playing pool at the table in the front, and will totally shank you. There's something to be said for going to a place where the "one pant leg up" look is de rigueur, and everyone has red cheeks (from the beer, or the ride?) and is schlepping some bulky bag with all their crap in it. Mountain bikes, Bianchis, whatever, everyone is welcome. Even pedestrians. There’s also something to be said for liters of beer for $8. Yes, hic.

This hipster beer hall from Anthony LaVia and Carl Shultz is in the former Café La Onda space, with a pretty stripped down ersatz German hofbrau décor: some taxidermy and deer antlers on the black walls, wood tables with mismatched chairs, the aforementioned pool table, and a jukebox (cool, there is some Zeppelin on there). You can totally tell some straight guys designed the place because the ceiling is covered with rows and rows of white Christmas lights (doubling as a night sky?). The single bathroom, which is already covered in graffiti, is gonna have a traffic problem with everyone slugging down liters of beer, but oh well. Let's hope it never goes on the fritz.

The bar has 20 taps, with everything from local to some German brews, from wheat to porter to lager. No PBR—this joint is more about drinking some premium beer and all for the same price (all pints are $4, half-liters are $5, liters are $8)—if they put PBR in the mix, you know people would say they were getting ripped off.

Everyone behind the bar is genuinely nice, and Murphy in particular is a total beer evangelist, happy to give you some tastes and education on what they're pouring before you commit to a monster liter of anything. It would be really easy for the staff to cop some serious 'tude, especially with all the bike mojo floating around, but ya know, it's the exact opposite.

So, the brats (well, the ones you can eat). The Gestalt crew is so dedicated to the brand they use for the pork, beef, and lamb ones (Sonoma Sausage) that they actually drive up to the wine country each week to get them. You'll find organic hot links, Italian, chicken jalapeno, and a whole bunch of other kinds. The ones we had were pretty juicy. There are also some vegan ones so no one is left out.

The setup is pretty bare bones: a soft bun from Bay Bakery, a helping of sauerkraut, and mustard and/or ketchup. That’s it, dude. Munich-style, so it’s muy simple. (So don’t ask for lemon for your Hefeweizen either.) No Rosamunde-esque array of toppings here, nor is there the open grill (Gestalt grills theirs on a panini-maker and the vegan snausages on a George Foreman). On the major plus side, I also don’t have to carry my brat next door to Toronado for my beer and some crappy and totally uncalled for beer snob bartender attitude—I don’t care how good the beer selection is there, it’s just rude.

Don't miss the delish German potato salad ($2)—it's served warm, and made with chicken stock and comes with little bits of bacon in it. No mayo. Fully scrumptious.

I left slightly tipsy, full, and happy to know the names of a couple of the folks working there since I am sure I will be back. A few fun facts: they serve food until closing (so that means late); they have Mexican Coke (the kind in the bottle—for the other stuff, you have to go down the street to the BART station); they plan on opening at noon on the weekends, probably in May or so; and if all goes well, come summer the patio in the back will be open, with room for 20-30 folks. Also, queer ladies: there is a ladies night on Wednesdays, with $1 off on pints or you can get a pint and some hot sausage (the kind you like) for $6.

 
the regular

Farallon

Farallon (Oyster Bar)
450 Post St.
Cross: Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

415-956-6969
website

Sun 5pm-10pm
Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm

APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO The last time I was in ~FARALLON~, it was for a big vendor lunch, back in my advertising days. Three hours, icy conical towers laden with fruits de mer, magnums of Veuve, yeah, it was a good time. Blurry. Ahhh, the nineties.

Farallon has installed a new oyster bar in the front of the restaurant, and I have to say, it was fun to return to the "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Goes Glam" theatrical vibe of the place. $37 entrées are one thing (and not necessarily my thing), but sitting at the bar, you will find dishes that are more in the $15 range, so your bill won't make you totally seasick.

Tried a sparkling fresh Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche ($15) served charmingly on the scallop's deep purple shell—although the lobster claws were also tempting ($16). The bread service includes cheesy breadsticks and butter topped with Hawaiian sea salt, thankyouverymuch. Oh, and let's just talk about the super-cute shuckers, shall we? Basically, the oyster bar is relatively easy on the eyes, and the pocketbook.

Oysters are $2.50 each, and include some harder-to-find little buggers, like the rare Olympias (I've only seen them at Foreign Cinema before), plus some Chesapeake Bay Yorks and Stingrays (from the Rappahannock River bottom in Virginia, the oldest oyster bed in the U.S.)—sometimes it's good to take a break from my treasured Hog Island Sweetwaters. Difficult, but necessary.

I'm not a fan of Tabasco on my bivalves (that is not meant to sound dirty but oh my god that is just wrong) but anyway, they have some tangy homemade hot sauce that Jan Birnbaum and Douglas Bernstein (a sous from Texas) whipped up as a Christmas gift from the kitchen a few years back. Personally, what I thought paired perfectly with the oysters was the refreshing Mariner martini ($10) with black peppercorn-infused vodka, Manzanilla dry sherry, and a cucumber slice. Nice work. A couple of those and you can become a drunk and most likely surly sailor.

It would be a fun spot to meet up with a friend after work or a day of shopping—you can debate how much drawn butter is appropriate to pour on the luxe Maine lobster roll ($18) that actually comes on a round of brioche, or take patient turns dunking your frites in the piping hot Staub cocotte filled with huge plump mussels and smoky house-made chorizo ($15).

Would also be an easy "getting to know you" initial date spot. (Points for the flattering lighting and swanky vibe.) Although I wouldn't come here to pick someone up—unless tourists are your thing. Note that the oyster bar opens half an hour before dinner service, so you can slip in there early, and you can actually order off the dinner menu at the bar if you so desire (or if your date is going that well).

 

 
the wino

The Wino

APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Mauro Cirilli of Perbacco hails from Padova, Italy, where he was introduced to the joys of wine at an early age, when he would visit his grandfather's vineyard in the Colli Euganei and join in the process of making wine for their friends and family. Mauro received his Sommelier Diploma from the prestigious Italian Association of Sommeliers in Firenze and worked as a sommelier at several renowned restaurants in Northern Italy. Shortly after moving to the United States in 2001, he worked as Lead Sommelier at Aqua. Eager to return to his Northern Italian roots, Mauro joined the opening team of Perbacco in October 2006.

I'll never forget the first time that I tasted an older bottle of Barolo. It left its mark in my memories—a balance of texture, elegance and complexity.

Barolo and Barbaresco are very distinctive wines. Both come from the land of Langhe in the heart of Piemonte region, in the northwest of Italy, a land of deep traditions and one of the world's major wine areas. They take their names from the towns of Barolo and Barbaresco. The grape they have in common is Nebbiolo, which by law cannot be blended with any other varieties. Documents from the 13th-century refer to this grape already well established in the Langhe.

Historically, Barolo was the wine served on the table of the noble family and since has been called "The Wine of the Kings and the King of the Wines". Barbaresco, however, comes from more humble beginnings and for many years was referred to as the little brother. Fortunately, things have changed and now both receive great respect.

Barolo is a masculine, full-bodied, complex and powerful red. Barbaresco tends to be more elegant, finer, less tannic and more approachable; however, some from the top vineyards can easily rival Barolo in power. The differences between the two stem from a number of reasons including the slight difference in temperature between the two towns, the soil components and the aging requirements (Barolo must age at least three years before release and Barbaresco, two years). The vineyard designations are extremely important for both wines, and thanks to the different microclimates, we can appreciate different characteristics.

The olfactory profile of these two wines is probably the most exciting and unique aspect. The aromas can vary from blackberry fruit, plum, and blackcurrant, to more floral like roses and violets, then dry herbs, tobacco, licorice and dark chocolate. With evolution, the wines show earthy and savory notes of truffle, mushrooms, and then tar and incense.

On the palate they have remarkable intensity and persistency, marked by the tannins, acidity and alcohol, which lends the wines a warm feeling. Especially in a younger Barolo, the astringent and aggressive tannins can jeopardize the wine's balance, which is a crucial factor of the wine's success. A Barolo from a top vineyard and good vintage can easily age for up to 40 years.

These two wines are difficult to understand for beginners, so I suggest having them while you are dining, as they are best suited to be enjoyed with food. They both call for robust and earthy flavored food, like the ones from the Langhe: white truffle risotto, Brasato al Barolo, and cheese.

I always suggest to decant both wines, even when they are young, and they should be served in large glasses with a fairly broad bowl that narrows at the top. Aeration is of fundamental importance to appreciate the qualities of Barolo and Barbaresco. I also suggest to my guests that they wait for a few minutes, and let the wine breathe so it can show all its beauty.

Salute! 

 
the socialite

Whiskies of the World Expo

Whiskies of the World Expo
Sat. April 14, 2007

The Palace Hotel
2 Montgomery St.
San Francisco

888-748-2400
website  

5:30pm

$115


APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Attention whiskey lovers: the annual ~WHISKIES OF THE WORLD EXPO~ is returning. Thank God these people took the event off the boat and have moved it to terra firma this year. Celtic music will be in effect. And some food to help counter the effects of all those tastings. What will be poured? Here's what they say:

The ultimate collection of super premium single malt whiskies, boutique bourbons and unique high end, specialty distilled spirits from Scotland, Ireland, the U.S. and numerous places around the world will be gathered for the eighth consecutive year! Hundreds of superior aged distilled spirits will be poured for sampling, some being exhibited for the first time. The Expo prides itself on exhibiting truly handcrafted artisan spirits presented by their creators as well as the best from the most well-known brands worldwide. 

Wines of Portugal

Wines of Portugal
Thu. April 12, 2007

Palace Hotel
2 Montgomery St.
San Francisco

Reservations:
800-871-9012 ext. 24552#

Trade 2pm-5:30pm
Public 5:30pm-8pm*

*Suggested donation $25


APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO You'd think I have it in for your liver or something. Coming up is a ~WINES OF PORTUGAL~, a first-time tasting with over 48 Portuguese wine producers and more than 400 wines.

Press and trade can attend the tasting during the day, and the public tasting (with food and wine) in the evening will benefit Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation. (100 percent of the door proceeds will benefit the charity.) For those eager to sharpen their knowledge of Portuguese wines, the "Keys to Understanding Portugal's Major Grape Varietals" seminar will take place from 6pm-6:30pm. 

 
the starlet

APRIL 3, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO More Tiffani from Top Chef sightings: she was at The Mix in the Castro, and spotted at NOPA as well.

A tablehopper reader was at the 2nd floor of the XYZ Bar at the W Hotel Friday evening, and the model Fabio was there. (There was some sort of health/fitness expo going on at Moscone Center, so perhaps he was involved with that.) Rawr!

Curtis Stone, the star of Take Home Chef, was spotted in front of Neiman Marcus, laden with Union Square shopping bags and lookin' cute.