tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: drink me.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the health nut
take a lap, tablehopper
the bookworm
another place for your nose
the starlet
no photos please

the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

thrillist.com

OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, I am victorious: the cold has been defeated. Vanquished! So I’m back in action. Lock and load. This Wednesday is my kind of hump day: I’m happy to be attending the Food & Wine American Wine Awards, where I will be accepting my award for “Most Improved Wino.” (Kidding.) If you’re looking for some cocktail-related shindigs (which tend to spark subsequent shenanigans), I have another drinkie event listed for you in the socialite, wait, actually, a few. Plus a boozy dinner review in the regular. And some books too. Hence this week’s title.

Oh, and Sunday evening is the upcoming Meatpaper issue one meat and greet party at Slow Club—don’t miss this one, dollinks. There will be all kinds of meatses partses and drinks and tunes and your chance to pick up your very own copy of issue one—it’s spiffy! Like hot coppa.

Meowza, it’s not every Saturday when you find yourself mentioned in the front-page story of the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Journal. The article’s topic of new media writers and contributors accepting free meals has started a flurry of discussion on various food boards—I thought the Accidental Hedonist's post brought up some interesting points, and the SF Weekly chimed in too. Funny, I was still lumped in as a blogger after explaining to the WSJ writer that tablehopper was an e-column and not a blog, but I guess that ultimately wasn’t convenient to her story angle. Don’t let her confuse you—you know what’s what.

It bears repeating that my policy about accepting free meals is clearly outlined on my site. Until I score some investors (hello out there?), this is how I presently can afford to check out so many places—I’m no trustafarian. Oh, and newsflash: new media outlets aren’t the only one accepting comps and attending press dinners—numerous magazines and newspapers have been accepting them for years. I’m just saying… Ahem.

Bottom line: tablehopper is about covering what I think is good around town. If I go somewhere and it’s ultimately not a place I’d recommend, then you won’t see it reviewed here. It’s called integrity. And when a place isn’t up to snuff, I have made a personal choice to not throw tomatoes or hammer nails in the coffin—it’s not my style, and I’d rather dedicate my pixels to what’s good. As many mothers have said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

Grazie to all for the enthusiastic emails the past few days—I appreciate the support more than you will ever know. I’m fired up, so let’s do another giveaway! I have a pair of tickets to WhiskyFest to give away, the boozy event coming to SF on October 23 (read all about it in the socialite). All you need to do is forward the tablehopper newsletter to five friends, and just cc luckyme@tablehopper.com. (I won’t use anyone’s emails for anything—this is just to track how many folks you forwarded it to!). Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday, October 14. I’ll notify the winner early next week!

In sickness and now in health,

~Marcia subscribe


the chatterbox
thrillist.comOCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I have been waiting on this one for months, and now I can talk about it! In the historic 1250 Jones building, ~LE CLUB~ returns to its roost—it was most recently C&L Steakhouse, and before that, Charles Nob Hill. Gina Milano (Bambuddha) and movie producer Todd Traina are opening this reservations-only restaurant and lounge, priming it as a discreet and glam locale inspired by a classic British members club, where guests can dine, drink, and even play games—board games, that is. Or cards. Or chess, whatever your pleasure. There is a green onyx bar, light blue onyx tabletops, and custom furnishings. Here’s a swank detail: both valet and town car service will be offered. The menu is described as seasonal continental cuisine, with dishes like fondue and caviar, available until 1am, and both classic and original cocktails will on the drink menu. You know this place is going to become holiday party central. Look for an early November opening. 1250 Jones St. at Clay, 415-9LE-CLUB.

I know the lower Nob Hill neighborhood has been mourning the impending closure of the John Barleycorn, and then sweet Ahmed closed the ~RED DOOR CAFÉ~ last weekend (he will eternally have a spot in my heart for telling me I laugh like a sailor). Moving into its place is ~OLÈA~, a casual space serving Cal-Med eats for lunch and dinner, and weekend brunch. The name comes from the scientific name for the olive tree (and for the record, it’s not related to the Portland restaurant with the same name, or Olean, or Olestra, ha ha). The restaurant is slated to open October 23, and the chef/owner is Gabriel Amaya from Guadalajara, working with his business partner, Glen Bolosan, who will be handling the front of house. 1494 California St. at Hyde, 415-202-8521.

Moving into the Bistro 1689 space will be ~CLAY OVEN INDIAN CUISINE~, the fifth location of the India Clay Oven family of restaurants. The menu is northern Indian/Punjabi style. The soft opening is slated for the 17th, and the grand opening party will be on the 27th, with drinks and dhol, Indian-style drumming (not to be confused with daal, dearie). There’s room for 50, and there will soon be a spacious upstairs area with room for 40, and a back patio with seating in the next month or so. 1689 Church St. at 29th, 415-826-2400.

The restaurant Vignette in the Orchard Hotel is now ~DAFFODIL~. Executive chef Russell Rummer of Roots Restaurant in the Orchard Garden Hotel, a sister hotel, is now the executive chef of both restaurants. Daffodil’s concept will be a contemporary Euro small plates menu highlighting local ingredients, designed to pair with wines from around the world. Open for dinner Mon–Sun 5pm–10pm. 665 Bush St. at Powell, 415-956-2972.

Some mystery developments along the Valencia corridor: I’ve heard word of a new Afghani or Iranian food venture, ~ZAYTOON~ (?), that will open in the old Bistro Annex space. Anyone have more deets? Drop me a line! 1136 Valencia St. at 23rd.

Also heard word that a café will open in the old ~ADS HATS~ location at 758 Valencia at 19th Street. Anyone know what’s the word?

~HORIZON RESTAURANT & LOUNGE~, the new place I mentioned a few months ago that was moving into the Sake Lab space, is plugging along for an opening at the end of the month (October 27 for now). The menu is based on classic American comfort food favorites, including “have it your way” burgers (you can choose from eight kinds of meat—since Ola Fendert is the chef consultant, I expect the burger to be delish), plus some dishes like braised short ribs, pappardelle, sea bass with chorizo, and natch, some charcuterie. Executive Chef Ivan Tam, formerly of Pres a Vi, will be overseeing the kitchen. Cocktails in effect, and Mark Bright has picked out the wines. There is a lounge with leather couches and low tables, and a dining area, all with a modern look and vibe. Dinner nightly 5pm–2am. (Yes, late night eats in North Beach besides Golden Boy and pasta.) 498 Broadway St. at Kearny, 415-576-1118.

Okay, this made me laugh. So we have Horizons opening up, and just down the street, ~ZEBRA LOUNGE~ at 447 Broadway is now ~CLUB LATITUDE~. Discuss.

One of my fave local pastry chefs, the talented ~CHONA PIUMARTA~, is leaving LarkCreekSteak and is off to be the executive pastry chef at Slanted Door. Congrats! Her last day at LCS is October 17.

More wharf watch for you: Chic’s Seafood Restaurant (looooooved that name) on Pier 39 is now ~FOG HARBOR FISH HOUSE~, offering diners a “quintessential San Francisco waterfront seafood dining experience.” (Does this include snapping rogue seals?) The restaurant comes from the original developers of Pier 39, the SIMCO Restaurant Group. In addition to the views, there is a fireplace, waterfall, full bar, live lobster tank, and a menu with classics like cioppino, chowder, and sourdough bread, plus hand-filleted fresh fish. One thing: beware the sappy piano music on the website—consider yourself warned. Open daily 11am–11pm. Pier 39, 415-421-2442.

The ~INTERCONTINENTAL MARK HOPKINS SAN FRANCISCO~ has a new executive chef, Christophe Depuischaffray (and I thought my last name was challenging). According to the press release, he’s “a seasoned veteran with over 23 years in the hospitality industry… [and is] a native of France [who] started his culinary career in Corsica, France and has worked in hotels spanning the world, including Europe, Egypt, Asia, and the Americas. Prior to joining the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, Christophe was at the Hotel InterContinental Madrid in Spain where he was Executive Chef for over three years.” 999 California St.

Bread alert: ~BOULANGE DE HAYES~ finally opens tomorrow. 7am. Be there. Or be sleeping in bed. 500 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-863-3376.

Since we’re on carb patrol, over in the Castro, moving into the former Philz space on 18th Street and what then became the short-lived “Bean Here, Brew That” café (short sidebar: why do so many cafes and Laundromats use puns for their names? What is up with that?) there is going to be a bread shop called ~URBAN BREAD~. More details on that when the owner gets back to me. 3901 18th St. at Sanchez.

Joining the ranks of brunch spots on Upper Polk, ~BAR JOHNNY~, formerly Tablespoon, is now serving weekend brunch. The “brunch bite” dishes include an onion frittata ($6), a French toast sandwich with goat cheese and fig ($7), and a variety of salads ($7). Of course there’s a burger ($9) and some recovery cocktails. Brunch is served Sundays 11am–3pm, and will start on Saturdays on October 20. 2209 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-268-0140.

In the lower Haight, ~BAGHDAD NIGHTS~ has opened—I’ve heard a couple good reports, and there is the option of belly dancers during dinner parties if you request them in advance. Hips don’t lie. Dinner nightly, lunch starts November 1. 682 Haight St. at Pierce, 415-861-6111.

Today, the new location of ~SULTAN~ opened at 11:30am for a lunch buffet! Dinner will be starting mid next week. Looking forward to eating their food again. 340 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-775-1709.

And now, your Afghani restaurant roundup!

~HELMAND PALACE~ has opened in its new digs on Van Ness, and the $10 lunch buffet (Tue–Fri) is back in effect. I know some of you were missing the pumpkin dish, just in time for Halloween. 2424 Van Ness Ave. at Green, 415-362-0641.

Taking over the much-adored Mediterranean Spirit space is ~DE AFGHANAN KABOB HOUSE~. Open 11am–10pm Mon–Fri, and on the weekend until 11pm. 1303 Polk St. at Bush, 415-345-9947.

Upcoming openings and updates:

In case you were wondering what is up with ~SANGHA~—the Japanese fusion restaurant slated to open at 678 Chenery at Diamond—there were some snags with permits, the custom furnishings, the usual. Look for an opening at the end of the year. Meanwhile, Ric Lopez’s other property, ~P’TIT LAURENT~, seems to be plugging along and pleasing the neighborhood—a tablehopper reader told me about a killer early bird prix-fixe deal that rotates each week: for $19.95 you get three courses, Mon–Thu 5:30pm–7pm. 699 Chenery St. at Diamond, 415-334-3235.

~FISH AND FARM~ is now slated to open next week, not this week. Stand by.

If all goes well, ~FRISEE~, the new healthy joint I mentioned in the Castro is slated to open on the 15th or 16th.

Hey, boozehounds, last call on signing up for the groovy mixology class at ~CANTINA~ in conjunction with La Cocina. Ends up I was given the wrong date: the class is next Monday, the 15th, at Cantina from 6pm–8:30pm. Duggan McDonnell (aka Shotzi) will be walking an intimate group through proper cocktail crafting, and some La Cocina businesses will provide some delish eats. $125 per person. RSVP to caleb@lacocinasf.org. Space is limited to 20 people. All proceeds go to the programs at La Cocina and a portion of the cost can be considered a tax-deductible donation.


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the sponsor

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the regular

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Oyaji
3123 Clement St.
Cross: 32nd Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121

415-379-3604
website

Tue–Thu 5:30pm–10:30pm
Fri–Sat 5:30pm–12am
Sun 5:30pm–10:00 pm
Closed Mon

Small plates $3.50–$14


OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO With the rampant izakaya or izakaya-inspired openings in SF (Nihon, Umami, Hime, Sozai, and the soon-to-open O), it’s time to pay homage to one of the originals, ~OYAJI~, tucked away on a foggy stretch of Clement out in the Richmond. The style of dining is Japanese tavern-style, a place where you get together with friends, eat small plates of home-style food while drinking (often too much) from shared bottles of sake, soju, and Sapporo. This place is one of my favorites to get a good-sized group together, like eight friends or so, who like to do damage with you. A cab is a wise idea, and since Oyaji is almost out in BFE, you might want to share the fare, because tonight, my friend, the odds are good that you are getting tipsy.

But no matter how wasted you get, it’s hard to top the BAC of the owner, Hideki, AKA the (usually) rather drunk owner who will make comments about your breasts, your date’s balls, or any number of inappropriate topics, all the while drinking your sake (hey, you offered it to him! Wait, or did you? Anyway.) It’s not like you weren’t warned: the name of the place is oyaji, which I was told means “dirty old man.”

Personally, I found the whole thing hilarious the first few times, but the bottom line is the guy has a serious drinking problem, and the “Oyaji Show” (whose rating can veer from PG-13 to NC-17 later in the evening) can be a little much, if not a bit saddening when you step back and think about it. Anyway, don’t bring mom or any prudish friends who get offended easily.

Last time I was here we had a group of eight or so sassy ladies (and our token homo). One of the ladies was designated to keep a close eye on Hideki, alerting us when he was “out of the box” and roaming around. He must have vibed our iron curtain, because Hideki actually let us be. Nary a boobie joke. He even sported us with a bottle of soju—he can be quite generous that way.

When I come here, I actually don’t even consider the sushi—I’m too fired up to try all the other dishes calling me on the menu, from the tame (kani cream korokke: deep-fried crab croquettes with béchamel, onion and egg/$7) to the exotic (kurage su: jellyfish in a tangy vinegar dressing/$4) to the super funky/totally wrong (ika natto: raw squid with sticky, fermented soy beans/$6—I have no plans to repeat this one). It’s the kind of place you can afford to experiment with the outré, because odds are it will only put you back $4–$7 if you don’t like something.

Many tables opt for the Oyaji beef ($10), a saucy version of Japanese fajitas, served with onions and bubbling away on a sizzling platter. There are also at least ten different grilled skewers (“kushiyaki”) you can order, from chicken thighs to pork tongue to duck to veggies ($3.50–$7.50)—extra delish with a hit of the spicy chili miso paste.

One trick when ordering here is to just order a little bit at a time, otherwise everything happens really fast, even if you ask them to take it slow—kind of like a 20-year-old boy. Just know when it’s time to order some more dishes, you practically need to fire off a flare to get the somewhat overwhelmed servers’ attention. This is why you should always have at least one bottle of something to drink in front of you—consider it self-entertainment.

Some pals who lived in Japan invited me along for dinner here one night; they taught me about ordering a bottle of soju, and then you ask for ice, water, and lemon wedges—you fill up each glass with ice and soju, with a splash of water to your taste, and a spritz of lemon. Fab.

Hmmm, I need more to eat. Hello, buta no kakuni (steamed pork belly/$7.50) with spicy mustard, and let’s try some yaki onigiri (rice balls with salmon and bonito/$3.50), which we didn’t love so much. Much better was the gindara kasuzuke (grilled codfish in sake lees/$10), or the ankake dofu (deep-fried tofu with thick ankake sauce/$5.50). Actually, vegetarians can have some fun here, from burdock a couple ways to mushrooms to at least five different deep-fried numbers.

Here’s the shocking thing: if you have a large enough group, you totally feast, and still walk out of there spending $40 or less. I don’t know how it happened last time, but it did. Magic. I think it’s the sushi that can jack things up quick. Speaking of the bill, you’ll want to give it a once-over, no matter bow bleary you are: every time I’ve been here something is wrong, either being overcharged or even undercharged (yes, we told them they forgot to charge us for our second bottle of soju—mama raised us right).

So, let’s recap: go in a group (make reservations in advance or you’ll never get a table), take a cab, be adventurous, and keep a watchful eye on the drunk guy, or he might slip a live freshwater crab down your friend’s shirt (true story).

* Follow-up from a star tablehopper reader: “Oyaji does not exactly mean "dirty old man". It means "father" in a more informal sense, but in some cases they are one in the same, so your sources were partially right.

Speaking of Oyaji, the next time you go, ask if they have grilled hamachi cheeks available. It's not on the menu, but sometimes it pops up as a special. It's fabulously rich and you get so determined to pick off every bit off the bones.”
 
the socialite

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Little Black Dress Wine Club Launch
Wed., Oct. 10, 2007

The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
150 Stockton St.
Cross: Geary St.
San Francisco

website

6pm–8pm
$60 in advance ($45 for tablehopper readers)
$75 at the door



OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Wondering what to do tomorrow night? An event launching the ~LITTLE BLACK DRESS WINE CLUB~ from Bottlenotes is happening at the Rotunda, with proceeds of the event benefiting Dressed for Success. Boutique wines will be poured, with passed hors d'oeuvres to keep you from getting too toasted. Attire: little black dresses, of course, and “business chic” for the gents.

Tablehopper readers get a $15 discount on the ticket price: simply use TABLEHOPPER as the promo code at checkout for a $15 discount. If you can’t make it to the event, but don’t want your $15 gift certificate to go to waste, you can apply it toward a Little Black Dress starter kit instead! Cheers, darlings.

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Islay Malt and Oyster Festival
Thu., Oct. 11, 2007

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
398 Hayes St.
Cross: Gough St.
San Francisco, CA

website

6pm

$50 per person

Tickets: call Vanessa Harris at 415-551-1453 or email

 

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WhiskyFest San Francisco
Tue., Oct. 23, 2007

Hyatt Regency
5 Embarcadero Plaza
San Francisco, CA

website

6:30pm–10pm

$105 per ticket
$145 for VIP admission (1 hour early entrance)

Advance ticket sales or call 800-610-MALT


OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO There is just so much whisky flowing through the city right now, so I thought I’d combo up the events. First is ~LITTLE FEIS ILE~ this Thursday, Absinthe’s first annual Islay Malt and Oyster Festival. You’ll be able to taste up to 20 Islay drams and a slew of oysters in the private dining room. Consider this your kick-off for the big guns below.

On Tuesday, October 23, ~WHISKYFEST SAN FRANCISCO~ will be going off, the largest independent whisky event in the U.S. From the release:

The event is sponsored by America's leading whisky publication, Malt Advocate magazine, and is part of the Triple Crown of American Whisky Events. WhiskyFest is the largest and most comprehensive whisky event in the United States and has sold out for ten years running in New York City and eight years in Chicago.

More than 200 of the world’s finest and rarest whiskies will be available for sampling, featuring premium single malt and blended Scotch whiskies, the best bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys, top of the line Irish whiskeys, Japanese whisky (!) and the best from Canada.

Many companies will be debuting their new releases for 2007/2008 at WhiskyFest San Francisco, like the new release of Evan Williams Single Barrel, not going into circulation until 2008, some new Glenmorangie finishes, and the new Buffalo Trace 2007 Antique Collection.

This is a "Meet Your Maker!" event: the focus is on education, and many well-known distillery managers and distillery representatives will be on hand at the pouring booths to explain how the whiskies are made. Whisky seminars by leading distillery managers and master blenders from all over the world will take place throughout the evening. Some notable guests include Tom Bulleit, Founder, Bulleit Bourbon; Richard Paterson, Master Blender, The Dalmore; and Parker Beam, Master Distiller, Heaven Hill.

Click here for a full seminar and participant schedule.

A gourmet buffet will be available the entire evening, and there will be a chocolate and Scotch pairing with John Scharffenberger of Scharffen Berger Chocolate and Simon Brooking, Master Ambassador, Master Ambassador for The Dalmore and Laphroaig Collections. A portion of the event’s proceeds benefit the San Francisco Food Bank.

 
the health nut

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OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Time for another update in the health nut—you thought I was slacking, didn’t you? I was actually too sick to make the first Titan Fitness Fit Camp training session, but I have since enjoyed two evening sessions, one in Dolores Park and the other in Kezar Stadium, and one Saturday day session. It’s been fun to work out with a couple tablehopper readers who joined with me—we can bond over food, and now, over challenging leg exercises!

There’s really something to be said for working out in a park, and not in a gym—especially with the crisp fall early evening air. Then again, you also get to have friends at an afternoon birthday party in Dolores Park make fun of you while you’re doing crunches, and they’re drinking sangria. Grrrrrreat.

Instructors Jeremy and Patrick do a nice job of pushing you, but not so much that you totally strain yourself silly. I dig the range of exercises they have us do—pretty creative stuff that really works individual muscles and groups, and since there aren’t a lot of us, you really get good individual attention—not the kind that’s like, “Hey, so tell me where you grew up” but more like, “Marcia, clench your butt more.” I definitely work harder for them than I would ever do on my own, let alone even work out, you know? When you have a class, you HAVE to show up.

One quick note about a change to the format, which is convenient: Titan decided to open enrollment, rather than running six-week blocks. So instead of purchasing six-week sessions, members can purchase credits—but to maintain a level of commitment, these packages expire in eight weeks. This way you can start at any time, and if you have a business trip or whatever, no matter, you can make up the classes later, within the eight-week timeframe. Got it? Great. Now gimme ten.

 

 
the bookworm

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OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO When I was in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail event, I met some swell swillers, James Waller and Ramona Ponce, over an artery-clogging breakfast and then attended their seminar on wine-based cocktails. They had great schtick. Super cheeky and campy. So I was excited to check out Waller’s Drinkology series, which includes ~DRINKOLOGY: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF THE COCKTAIL~(with contributor Andrew Miller); ~DRINKOLOGY: EATS: A GUIDE TO BAR FOOD AND COCKTAIL PARTY FARE~ (with Roberta Ponce); and ~DRINKOLOGY WINE: A GUIDE TO THE GRAPE~.

These books make me laugh. Out loud, even. They are informative, covering everything from proper spitting technique at wine tastings to making the perfect Bellini to party ideas, like the four-martini tea, but are never too serious. And the compact books are cute—friendly little books I like seeing on my shelf, and offer easy reference. All three qualify as perfect host gifts, bathroom reading, and upcoming holiday presents for your gourmand pals.

Drinkology: The Art and Science of the Cocktail
by James Waller and Andrew Miller

Drinkology EATS: A Guide to Bar Food and Cocktail Party Fare
by James Waller and Ramona Ponce

Drinkology WINE: A Guide to the Grape
by James Waller

 
the starlet

OCTOBER 9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Kat Von D from LA Ink reportedly got all snuggly with her honey at Impala Restaurant and Lounge. They had a shot of tequila, Diet Coke, and shared a cheese quesadilla and tortilla chips, tipping $50 on an $18.28 bill. (Based on that bill, I am guessing the tequila shots were comped?)

 
the matchmaker

Pizza Antica
We are looking for qualified and energetic service professionals to work at Pizza Antica in Mill Valley. 

Pizza Antica serves freshly prepared hearth-baked pizza, home-style pastas and salads in the authentic Italian style, with an upscale twist.

We believe in creating a fun and inviting atmosphere for our guests as well as our staff. We prefer to hear from applicants with casual to fine dining experience, but look forward to receiving applications from those who are dedicated to excellent customer service.

Please email resumes to melissa@pizzaantica.com

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Fork and Spoon Productions
Fork and Spoon Productions, a boutique catering, floral and event design company, is seeking strong production and event chefs. Applicants must be skilled in all facets of cooking, have knowledge of various cuisines, and have sharp knives! Pastry are welcome to apply as well.
 
No calls please.
Please send cover letter and resume to: jonathan@forkandspoonproductions.com  
 
To learn more about our company please visit our website: www.forkandspoonproductions.com

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Sens Restaurant
Sens Restaurant is looking for a few good line cooks to be part of our busy kitchen. We serve lunch and dinner M-F and can be flexible with school or other work schedules. Rate is $11-$14 hourly based on experience.

We are also seeking an Assistant Manager. Previous experience in fine dining, extensive knowledge of wine and Micros a plus.
 
We offer competitive salary based on experience and fantastic opportunity for learning from a tight, well-seasoned management team.

Fax 415 362.0346, or email your resume to chef Michael Dotson misha.sens@gmail.com