tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: star power

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the health nut
take a lap, tablehopper
the starlet
no photos please

the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

7x7

NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Whoa, Vegas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cranes in my life—it was like a cross between Berlin and Dubai. I'll be doing a jetsetter recap soon, but one highlight was attending the Michelin launch party and meeting the charming (and three star winning) Joël Robuchon—here’s a pic with yours truly plus Jean-Luc Naret, the Director of Michelin Guides. The party was a who’s who—even Thomas Keller was there. Another highlight: our four-hour (plus) dinner at Guy Savoy was so memorable—and chef was actually in the kitchen that night. What an experience, but I am officially on a strict diet (and a budget) for the next month. Random star sighting: a slightly scruffy Luke Perry at Planet Hollywood (where I was staying).

The chef-star sightings continued—an hour after landing at SFO, I got home, dropped of my bags, and hopped on over to the AIWF (American Institute of Wine and Food) dinner for Anthony Bourdain at E+O Trading Company. The tall and skinny cowboy-booted surly-talking Tony was actually seated at our table (lucky us) so we got to listen to him riff and rant on some topics ranging from why he won’t go to Burma (refuses to support the country while it's under its current regime) to life as a newly non-smoking dad while we scarfed on some dishes, like stuffed pig trotter. Sharon Nahm (E&O), Alex Ong (Betelnut), Chris Cosentino (Incanto), and Tim Luym (Poleng Lounge) prepared the family-style feast, with a spread of desserts by Boris Portnoy (Campton Place). Guess who made the trotter?

Speaking of feasts, for those of you still deciding what to drink with your Thanksgiving dinner (and I imagine there are some of you will mostly drink your dinner), I wanted to link to this wino article Carl Grubbs wrote last year. Cheers.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving—I adore this holiday for so many reasons. I am very grateful for so many things, and one of them is your support (and kindness and enthusiasm). I thank you, and wish you all the best.

Warmly,

~Marcia subscribe

P.S. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a week without the latest addition to “Hi Helens”/heavy upper arm jargon. This came in from a reader: prosciutto arms.

the chatterbox
7x7NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO BIG news over in Ghirardelli Square: the deal has been finalized for ~GARY DANKO’S NEXT RESTAURANT~, slated to open in June. I can’t mention the name yet because of some trademark legalities in the mix, but for now it looks like it will be a 200-seat space offering a casual brasserie-style of dining. The space is 7,000 square feet, with big beams and brick walls, and is being designed from scratch. Danko is currently in Austria, so more details will be revealed in coming weeks.

Had a chance to hit the opening party of ~BAR JULES~ on Sunday night. This newest addition to Hayes Valley is a sweet little restaurant that moved into the former Don't Call It Frisco Laundromat space, right next door to Suppenkuche. The owner is Jessica Boncutter, whose background includes time at Zuni, and she opened Hog Island Oyster Company at the Ferry Building Marketplace. Even April Bloomfield of New York’s Michelin-starred Spotted Pig was in town for the opening—they met when Jessica staged at London’s River Café. Also in the kitchen is Carol Bever, Boncutter’s mentor, whom she met at Zuni five years ago, and has been in the Zuni kitchen for 20 years. Her mom helped fund the restaurant, and it’s named after Boncutter’s ten-year-old Bassett Hound.

The menu is inspired from some European and Latin America travels, featuring organic and sustainable ingredients. A peek at the test dinner menu included escarole hearts with fennel, pomegranate, and a Parmesan salad ($9), and yellow fin tuna with vegetables and an anchovy lemon sauce ($26). Blue Bottle French press coffee was also listed. The menu is designed to be limited and highlight what’s fresh and in season, so don’t expect ten choices for your appetizer. The walls are painted in bright robin’s egg blue and an olive drab/mustard color, with walnut tables and flooring that are all made from the same tree from the Central Valley. There are classic bistro-style woven chairs and bar stools direct from Paris, with a display of olive branches at the bar that overlooks the open kitchen. The vibe is modern and a bit sparse but personal. Bar Jules opens next Tuesday, and will be open Tue–Sat for dinner, and Sun for brunch (running late into the day), with plans to open for lunch in January 2008. Since it’s closed Sunday night, it will make a great space for private events. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-621-5482.

I heard some word about what’s opening in the new development across from Tsunami Sushi and Sake Bar: it will be ~CANDYSPACE~, a combination sweets and wine concept, featuring local art. If anyone knows how to get in touch with the owner (his name is Tan?), please send him my way! I’m not having much luck tracking him down. 1335 Fulton St. at Divisadero.

Sadly ~POWELL’S PLACE~ served its last fried chicken wing last week. Emmit Powell couldn’t keep up with the hefty rent, and now eight months behind, he is being evicted. Numerous community representatives, plus the NAACP, are rallying to see what can be done to save this San Francisco soul food institution—The Fillmore Center, the owner of the building, rejected a last-minute offer. I hope we hear some good news soon. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore, 415-409-1388.

Cocktailians, you’ll find ~CAMBER LAY~ picking up a few shifts at Tres Agaves through the holidays, and I will let you know where else she turns up.

Kurt Niver, a well-known GM who has worked at places all over town (including Butterfly, Cortez, Postrio and Perry’s), is taking over the ~MAGNET LOUNGE~ space in North Beach at Grant and Green. Niver will be mostly leaving things as is from now through the holidays (well, he is going to make things a little more wine-friendly and add some vinos to the mix), but look for actual changes in ’08, like a new paint job, potentially a new name, and maybe even some bar bites. Swing by and wish him congrats on his new digs—he just took early possession this past week. 1402 Grant Ave. at Green.

Random news bit: some folks have been wondering what is going on at ~BUCA DI BEPPO~, which has been under construction for a while. No, nothing new is moving in. The ten-year-old place now has a brand new kitchen, with fresh plumbing, and other things have been freshened up. Opens in time for (last resort?) holiday parties on December 1. 855 Howard St. at 4th St., 415-543-7673.

Everyone is in place at ~CAMPTON PLACE~. The new executive sous chef de cuisine, Srijith Gopinath, has arrived from the Taj Exotica Resort Maldives; he is working with executive chef Gavin Schmidt, who was promoted a few months ago from sous chef. Look for some Mediterranean influences with French execution on a menu rich with local ingredients. You’ll also find Richard Dean, master sommelier, who came over from Silk’s and is on the floor nearly every night of the week. 340 Stockton St. at Sutter, 415-955-5555.

More on the basket-toting and hat-sporting ~MS. WATERS~: I was told she will also be signing her new book, The Art of Simple Food, at The Gardener stores on Saturday, November 24. There will be copies available for purchase, and only after purchase will she sign ‘em. She'll be at the Ferry Building location from 11am–1pm, and then at the Berkeley store from 3pm–5pm. For more information, call Mon–Fri 9am–5pm 888-509-8484.

A little more detail on what is moving into the former ~KAPE~ café space: the window says, “coming soon Caffe d’Amore.” So, Italian coffee is in the neighborhood’s future. I’ll share whatever I hear when I learn more. 3463 16th St. between Dehon and Sharon.

Over in North Beach, a big project is moving into an even bigger space: the former Rossi Market is being transformed into ~PIAZZA MARKET~, a grocery store that will also offer food for take-out, catering, and there will also be a casual dining area for self-service dining. Diners can choose from a number of hot and cold buffet-like stations, serving items like pastas and salads, plus dishes like stuffed bell peppers—everything will rotate daily from an overall list of 300 items. There will also be a large array of specialty foods, and a wine shop featuring Italian and Californian wines. Behind the project is Sal Chiavino, who has been a partner in Pier 39’s Swiss Louis since 1966, and Wines of California. His partner in Piazza Market is Tiffany Pisoni. Look for a January opening. Hours will be 11am–10pm. 627 Vallejo St. at Columbus.

Lastly, you know that new ~FRAUDULENT EVENT BOOKING SCAM~ I mentioned last week? Well, I’m glad I mentioned it, because it helped avert a potential scamming of a tablehopper reader, check it out:

“I read about the whole fraud thing in the hopper last week and wanted to let you know we were the victims of fraud this week. Someone who said they were from Sun Microsystems called us to say that she wanted to book an event. Then she said that she said the money was going to be wired to us so we gave our bank account and routing number. The person that was wiring us the money was from the U.K. And whoever it was, was pretending to be a person who actually exists at Sun. Because of what we read in the hopper, we put it together and froze our account in time before any money was drawn from it. So thanks.”
 
It’s the holiday season, so be careful with those event bookings out there.


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

 
fresh meat

image

B*Star Bar
127 Clement St.
Cross: 2nd Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94119

415-933-9900

website

Mon-Thu 5pm–9:30pm
Fri–Sat 5pm–10m
Closed Wed

Thu-Tue 11am–3:30pm
(lunch/brunch)

Apps $4–$8
Entrées $8.50–$18
Desserts $6.75

 


NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO It was a rainy night (as opposed to a dark and stormy night, because that would mean I am Snoopy) and a couple good friends wanted to scoop me up for a last-minute dinner somewhere new. Oh yeah, and it’s Saturday, 8pm. And we don’t have reservations anywhere. Bleak, no?

Not quite. I suggested the new-ish ~B STAR BAR~, just a few blocks down from the original Burma Superstar, and was shocked when we were able to snag a table over the phone, especially considering the usual interminable waits at Burma Superstar. “Can you be here in 15 minutes?” Hells yes. Fortunately, the parking fairy helped us meet our commitment. Score.

This casual restaurant opened in the former Bistro Clement space about six months ago, and is so well lit you really can’t miss it. Beam me up, Scotty. There are a number of bright globe lights suspended from the ceiling that have a vintage-y institutional look and cast an even glow on the room—our table was divided on whether we liked the warm brightness.

The look is kind of Shaker-meets-Asian, or perhaps Pier One bistro goes to the flea market in Philly, with Americana elements like wood banquettes and tables, a wood plank floor that had a lovely patina, old fashioned desk/banker chairs, a clever coat hook made with shoe trees, and a blackboard above a rustic hostess desk, all paired with a quirky modern floral display, some Asian statuary, bright green chopsticks on each table, and Mondrian-esque mirrors that are best described as Asian-industrial.

The menu reflects this same fusion/cross hybridization approach. You’ll find a few Burma Superstar favorites, like the tea leaf salad ($8.50) and a variety of noodles dishes, but then you’ll also find flank steak salad ($11), figs n’ pigs ($11), prosciutto-wrapped figs with blue cheese, and “beer-fed” pork belly with white beans and bok choy ($13.50). Burmese bistro?

The menu is all over the map, but this is why it’s a cinch for group dining: I’d wager almost everyone would find something they would like, especially good for those tricky meat-eater and vegetarian mixed groups. Plus most of the dishes are affordable, and easy to share.

There were a couple big parties seated in the back, on the upper level of the dining room, which did make for some noise. Thank god the (ugly) flat screen TV above the bar had the volume off—I am so tired of seeing TVs in non-sports bar restaurants. We were seated in the front lower section, which shielded us a bit from the group roar, but also made for rather sporadic service. Our servers were definitely friendly, just a bit forgetful. A few times we almost heard crickets at our table, cheep cheep.

We started with the recommended kabocha croquettes ($6), three piping hot panko-breaded balls that featured a whisper of curry, with scallion scattered on top, and a soy-based sauce drizzled on the plate. Big hit. Crunchy meets creamy. We also couldn’t resist the fish and chips ($8), a pile of fried baby smelts under a blanket of house-made potato chips. We took turns dipping the crispy little fries with eyes into the sides of curry aioli and malt vinegar, but my favorite way was to just eat the little buggers plain.

I’m nuts about eggs, I would eat them every day and on everything, so we had to order the deviled tea eggs topped with tobiko ($5). Four egg halves were plated on a bed of red cabbage (the cabbage was also a base for the croquettes). I fully embrace spicy, I think I have at least eight hot sauces in my fridge, but the sriracha aioli just obliterated any nuance from the tea smoking.

It was a chilly night, so we couldn’t wait for our bowl of vegetarian samusa soup ($9.50) to show up. Food comes out here fast and furious, so we didn’t wait long. In fact, tell your server you’ll want your food coursed after your appetizers, otherwise everything may come out at once—our mains showed up way too early and ended up sitting and cooling while we were just getting started with our soup. But what a soup it was: rib-sticking thick, tangy, and spiced (one friend broke out in a sweat), with satisfying chunks of potato, crunchy chunks of falafel, lentils, and cabbage. The serving was quite big, but just right for three–four people (I wouldn’t order this as my own dish—too much of one thing).

We continued on the hearty tip, ordering the kau soi coconut chicken noodles ($11), described as border-town food from Burma. This sloppy (well, maybe I am sloppy—I splashed some sauce not once but twice on my shirt) and seasoned dish was full of flavor and texture, with ground chicken, hard-boiled egg, pickled mustard greens, crunchy bean spouts, cilantro, and crisp won ton chips. Good rainy night food, but it might be a mess of too many flavors for those who prefer simpler flavors and dishes.

We also dug into the yellow bean vegetarian ragu ($8.50), a spicy number made with lentils, tomato, zucchini, and almonds, accompanied by almond-topped rice. Nothing earth shattering, and the lentils were a touch undercooked, but it was savory nonetheless. For you vegetable-heads, there are all kinds of vegetarian options on the menu, like wild rice salad ($8.50), at least three noodle dishes, and ten of the 14 appetizers are vegetarian as well.

I counted 16 mains in all, with many choices that sounded interesting, like a green curry salmon potpie ($12), or Prather Ranch oxtail with a parsnip mash ($16.50). The most expensive item is the 10–12 oz. grilled rib eye ($18), so dinner won’t bleed you dry. Small note: they will hopefully start using Prather Ranch for the rib eye, so I imagine the price will go up a smidge.

Desserts include an affogato and warm chocolate cake, but we opted for the black rice pudding ($6.75), with coconut cream, strawberries, and coconut ice cream—we scooped up every bite of this refreshing finish. We also ordered some Vietnamese coffee, but the condensed milk that was mixed in was so cold it made the coffee lukewarm.

Is this perfect food? No, but it’s easy and what I call Monday night food (as in “I don’t feel like cooking”) and “get together with friends” food. I like how cheeky the menu is, with little bits of humor and personality throughout.

We were fired up that the food-friendly Chimay Tripel was offered on tap—we ordered a 48 oz. pitcher for $25 (no, that was just not for me), and there is also Pilsner Urquell (another fave with food), Hefeweizen, and Peroni on draft too. The tight wine list includes Navarro and Ridge, so that’s commendable, and there are soju cocktails as well.

Shhhh, secret time: there is a spacious patio in the back. No, it’s not really the season for it, but the enclosed patio is well heated, and even on a rainy night was quite cozy. I can imagine it being an ideal lunch spot in the summer, and they also serve brunch on the weekend.

 

 
the sponsor

7x7

7x7 Eat + Drink Awards
 
It's time to let your inner restaurant critic loose. Now through November 30, 2007, you can nominate your favorite restaurants around town, and let the world know where the best drinking and dining is to be done in SF. Most importantly, we want you to tell us why these spots are so great.
 
Go to 7x7sf.com’s reader’s survey and write a compelling sentence—or write a manifesto—about your favorite places. We’ll handpick the gems and publish them in 7x7’s February 2008 issue, where the winners will be announced.

 
the socialite

image

Delfina Anniversary
Tue., Nov. 20, 2007

Delfina
3621 18th St.
Cross: Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

415-552-4055

website

NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Happy birthday Delfina! They are celebrating their ~NINE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY~ with a Piemontese-inspired menu featuring tartufi bianchi (not the most plentiful this season, so this is a treat), and offering guests a complimentary glass of prosecco. The festivities started last night (Monday night), but are also going on tonight, too.

They have put together an a la carte menu featuring truffle-friendly dishes and an expanded by-the-glass selection of Barolos, Barbarescos, and the like. Menu items will include hand-chopped Niman Ranch carne cruda with truffled celery root, “fried” farm egg with wilted spinach and burro fuso, kuri squash sformatino with fonduta Val d’Aosta and chestnuts, risotto al Barolo with radicchio and bone marrow, Massachusetts day boat scallops with Belgian endive, and carnaroli rice pudding for dessert.

These dishes can be ordered on their own or blanketed with white truffles: $43 for five grams.  

Raise a (complimentary) glass of prosecco to their amazing staff and to Delfina, as they say, “a restaurant that has become much more than the sum of its parts and much more than we ever dreamed it could.” Auguri!

image

Piccino Meets Biondivino
Mon., Dec. 3, 2007
Mon., Jan. 21, 2008

Piccino Café
801 22nd St.
Cross: Tennessee St.
San Francisco, CA

415-824-4224
website

$90 per person (with an additional 15% gratuity)
cash preferred

6pm

NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO This looks like a can’t-miss event to me: Piccino Café is pairing up with Biondivino wine shop for a couple ~UPCOMING WINE DINNERS~. The five-course prix-fixe menu will feature Piccino’s trademark simple, Italian-inspired food, paired with special artisan-made, highly individual wines from Biondivino.

And because this joint special event is limited to just 24 seats total for Piccino and Biondivino customers, they are going to offer two dates to dine.

To reserve advance tickets, please phone Sheryl Rogat at 415-298-9535 or Margherita Sagan at 415-407-0019.

 
the health nut

image

NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I am so fired. I missed class on Tuesday because I had to get ready (read: find a cute dress or two) before my departure to Vegas the next morning, and then missed class Thursday and Saturday because I was still in LV. I schlepped my tennies to Vegas, but did I even go for a walk? No. Did I do any sit-ups? Uh, no. This is why I need a trainer. Tuesday=back on track.

 
the starlet

NOVEMBER 20, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Vicente Fox, the ex-president of Mexico, and his wife Marta were reportedly spotted at Hog Island Oyster Bar at the Ferry Building.

And since we had all that Jake and Reese spotting last week, I’m going to break my usual “SF ONLY” news rule and share this little saucy tidbit. While they were in one of The Homes at The Carneros Inn in Napa, they obviously had something else on their mind, because they cancelled an in-room massage and didn't order any room service. Well. In fact, they were never seen outside of their Home. Now, if this was a celebrity like, say, Lindsay, you could only wonder what kind of sordid partying was going on.

And this, well, I couldn’t resist! “You'll probably be getting a few [Anthony] Bourdain sightings this week. I ran into him yesterday at the Mi Grullense taco truck in Fruitvale at 30th and International.”

Tracy Chapman was spotted having some weekend brunch at Slow Club (one of my favorite brunch spots as well).

 
the matchmaker

Magnolia Pub & Brewery, a busy neighborhood restaurant just celebrating its 10th year on the corner of Haight Street and Masonic, is looking for a Sous Chef with a passion for the authentic pub experience. Our dynamic menu seeks to be farm fresh, local and sustainable, and crafted to celebrate our unique history and community, as well as our house-brewed beers. We offer our Sous Chefs a chance to be expressive in a creative environment, with additional opportunities available in the future, excellent starting wages, and health benefits.

It's an exciting time to be on Haight Street, come join us! Email resumes and replies to dave@magnoliapub.com. You can also fax a resume to 415-864-7875.

.........................................................................

Erin Hunt Communications is looking for an intern/PR assistant to cut their teeth in a small, but rapidly growing public relations business specializing in wine, spirits and food. Founded in 2006 by New York PR executive Erin Hunt, EHC is a sole proprietorship working with national consultants and partners, serving clients ranging from South African wines, spirits from Holland, Brazil, and the US to national publishing groups and authors. Great opportunity to work closely with a seasoned pro on national and international accounts.

Designed as a part-time, unpaid internship for students needing “work-for-credit” experience, EHC will also consider qualified candidates for part-time paid (hourly) positions. Rate dependent on experience. Contact: 415-359-0559 or erin@erinhunt.com.

.........................................................................

CONDUIT seeking professional line and pastry cooks

CONDUIT, a dynamic 120 seat restaurant opening at 280 Valencia is seeking motivated and professional line and pastry cooks. Candidates must have 2+ years fine dining experience. Work hard, be clean, and most of all have a passion for learning.

Send resumes to conduitrestaurant.sf@gmail.com.

 

All content © 2007 Marcia Gagliardi. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.To subscribe to this list, please visit http://www.tablehopper.com/lets_talk/subscribe.html

To unsubscribe from this list, send a blank email to %%email.unsub%%