tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: wingin' it.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met

the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals

the sponsor
this round is on me

Restaurant Connection

bella concierge

APRIL 15, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO So are y'all looking good with a little sun-kissed color? Weekends like the one we just had are moments when I seriously relish my convertible, and give thanks that we live so close to the coast—I actually hit the beach both days.

Another thing I give thanks for is the sometimes incredible edible mail I get. So much better than just bills and credit card applications, let me tell you. (I know, I know, now you really hate me.) But I do end up discovering some great products this way. One of them became a winning snack for me and my beach buddies this weekend: the new flavors of popchips (sea salt and vinegar and salt and pepper). I am not really into chips (my waistline is challenged enough) and I am definitely leery of low-cal products made with ingredients I don't recognize. Not to sound like an infomercial, but I had to share! These taste seriously good, are all natural, and are a shockingly low 4g of fat or so for an entire bag. Extra awesome with an ice-cold beer (sand not included).

A couple other delicious things I've recently discovered:
~I tried the Harvest Song preserves from Armenia at the Fancy Food Show a couple years ago (apricot is so good, ditto on walnut, and peach!), and have been hooked ever since (I pick 'em up at Rainbow). They just came out with a gorg plum preserves version, been delish on my morning toast! No preservatives, or pectin. Just fruity goodness.

~I was eating a bit too much of the Marin French Blue from Marin French Cheese Co./Rouge et Noir this weekend, a super creamy (try triple crème, hello) Brie and mild blue that was deliciously soft after I let it sit out for a bit. A blue that acts like a Brie, which is already the company's champion cheese. Wicked with some wine (I was tossing back some syrah).

~Oh, and I just have to say I recently enjoyed the best darned eggs ever, from Soul Food Farm in Pleasant Valley near Vacaville—I picked up a dozen from the Fatted Calf retail shop at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, and yes they were $7, and yes, the yolks reminded me of the eggs I used to get in Italy. I cherished each and every fried and poached egg I made for those two weeks, worth every penny.

And hey, thanks to all of you who entered the Comedy for Kids contest—I know that was a hot ticket. Congrats to Ken A. who won the pair o' tickets! I'll be doing more giveaways soon!

Catch ya on the flip side,

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox
Restaurant ConnectionAPRIL 15, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO ~ANCHOR & HOPE~, the upscale fish shack from the Town Hall and Salt House crew is opening next Tuesday, April 22. To recap, the warehouse space will have 75 seats, and a 35-foot-long zinc counter. Sarah Schafer's menu reads like a seafood fantasy: brandade, chowder, smoked trout, fried Ipswich clams, Portuguese-style clam stew, and of course lots of raw seafood and a killer lobster roll ($21). There are also some pork ribs, stuffed guinea breast, and a hanger steak for the fans of the non-finned. You can drool over the menu here. I'm intrigued with the warm sea urchin, and crayfish ravioli. Lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–2pm, dinner Sun–Thu 5:30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm. 83 Minna St. at First, 415-501-9100.

I had a reader asking me about the new wine bar, La Vinoteca, opening up on Union Street. For the record, I have to make the announcement that I refuse to cover, mention, or promote any businesses run and owned by ~LUISA HANSON~. I've heard too many horror stories, and after what happened to the John Barleycorn, well, 'nuff said. She buys too many buildings in the City and puts in incredibly mediocre businesses, often squeezing out establishments that were important to the neighborhood. The latest I've heard is she is taking over the building where ~CAFÉ MARITIME~ is located, so owner Mark Mitcheltree will be out. Thankfully it's still a ways off (like two and half years), so he'll continue to offer his tasty seafood, fresh shellfish, and late-night hours—a lot of folks in the industry who work in that area appreciate the late hours (until 1am), and the full bar. Mitcheltree will eventually look for another place to locate the business (at least he has some time), but man, he's put a lot of work into building his business on that stretch of Lombard. It's a shame to have to pick up and move elsewhere, but he's optimistic about finding a good spot when the time comes. For now, the lobster rolls, late night specials, and Fernies remain in full effect. 2417 Lombard St. at Scott, 415-885-2530.

So after ten years of business, some freshening up is happening at ~MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY~ in the Upper Haight: the restaurant will be getting a brand-new bar and tabletops, all built from reclaimed Douglas fir from the old Levi Strauss building on Valencia Street. They're also repainting, fiddling with some light fixtures, giving the booths a makeover, and adding a new beer board. (Mmmmm, beer.) Plus a new logo is en route. Magnolia will be closing for a little bit in mid-May for the repairs and changes, stand by for actual dates. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

Over in the Fillmore, Zao is officially closed as of last week, and ~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ will now be able to begin construction. They are hoping to be open in July. 2406 California St. at Fillmore.

Another switcheroo: if all goes according to plan, ~HENRY'S HUNAN~ will be opening their fifth location, with this one going into the former Pescheria space. Henry's Hunan has been around since 1974—ever had Marty's Special? Like, yum. They will need to convert Pescheria's Italian kitchen into one that's wok friendly, so look for an opening in the beginning of June or so. 1708 Church St. at 29th.

A tablehopper reader wanted me to be sure I knew about ~MURACCI'S JAPANESE CURRY & GRILL~ in FiDi: here's what he said, for the benefit of us all: "It's a Japanese lunch place that specializes in Japanese-style curry. You have probably tried Japanese curry before, and know that it is a bit different than Indian curry. I will keep this brief, but just wanted to let you know that this place is truly authentic, with a team of three Japanese people behind the counter taking orders and making meals to-order, using homemade recipes from the shop's proprietors. In addition to really good Japanese curry (chicken, beef, salmon, katsu, etc.), they also have teishoku (set lunches) with fish, chicken, etc., rice and miso soup. The next time you are in the FiDi, or just have a hankering for some homemade curry, give this place a try." (Thanks Josh!) Mon–Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 11am–5pm. 307 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-773-1101. 

This weekend I went to the ~CHOCOLATE SALON AT FORT MASON~ (for all of 15 minutes—it was too packed, so they promise to get a bigger space next year) but the intrepid Bunrabs managed to brave the crowds, get some pics, AND some retail scoop. The swell ~COCO-LUXE CONFECTIONS~ folks are opening a retail shop this summer in the Upper Haight, with an expanded line (perhaps some caramels), and a hot cocoa bar. There will be a few bar stools, and some standing bar space as well. I heart the truffles (German chocolate ganache, anyone?) and the cute packaging and designs always make these chocolates a great gift. 1673 Haight St. at Cole.

I just had to mention the tasty lunch I had at ~BONG SU~ last week for a Friday meeting. It's hard to beat the "power lunch" special, for $17, which gives you the choice of one dish each from four first course and second course dishes. Of course I had to have my favorite, the shrimp cupcakes, followed up by the equally messy bun cha noodles. Bong Su has a chic atmosphere, and is a great spot for a quieter lunch scene. 311 Third St. at Folsom, 415-536-5800.

I know, tax time, no fun. If my write-up a few weeks back on ~O IZAKAYA LOUNGE~ got you hungry, or curious, well, tonight's the night to check it out. They will be offering the happy hour menu all night long (normally offered Mon–Thu 5pm–7pm). Happy hour drinks are only $3 (draft beer, house sake, well drinks), and the shichimi fries are $3, spiced chicken wings are $5, and yakimono is $1.50 per skewer. Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St. at Laguna, 415-614-5431.

Then, the day after, on April 16th, Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen is hosting their second annual ~THE DAY AFTER–$5 GLASSES NIGHT~. No, horn rims are not going to be available—it's about some vino, darling. I say stick around for dinner, too. 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

Happy birthday to ~NOPA~, which turned two on April 11. Bless them for their little gem salad, their pork chop, their grilled broccoli, and serving us such good eats and drinks until 1am. Every. Darn. Night.

Here's a little something that came across my desk: "In a gentle form of protest to the government of California making every effort to devalue the public education system through budget cuts and proposed mass layoffs of teachers, Lark Creek Restaurant Group has called for a ~TEACHER APPRECIATION MONTH~ throughout May at all of their San Francisco Bay Area restaurants (One Market Restaurant and LarkCreekSteak in San Francisco; The Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur; Lark Creek Walnut Creek; and Yankee Pier in Larkspur, SFO, Lafayette and at Santana Row in San Jose). Every teacher who presents his or her teacher identification card will receive $10 off his or her bill. If multiple teachers dine together, the bill will be reduced by $10 for each teacher. There is no limit to the number of times a teacher can receive the discount, nor is there a minimum amount they have to spend."

I was fortunate to actually win a pass to the ~TASTE3 CONFERENCE~ last year thanks to Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, who donated the pass for the annual Menu for Hope fundraiser. It's an inspiring event, presented by Robert Mondavi Winery at COPIA, in Napa, and is running this year from July 17–19, 2008. It attracts a very tapped-in audience from the food and wine industries, like restaurateurs, sommeliers, chefs, retailers, media, designers, scientists, academics, foodies and wine enthusiasts. (Previous speakers include Thomas Keller, Drew Nieporent, Eleanor Coppola, and others.) Some people can afford it, but for those who can't, a limited number of fellowships are available, which will cover all registration costs for the conference (transportation and lodging, however, are the responsibility of the recipient). Applications will be reviewed by a panel and fellowships awarded in early May 2008. To apply for a fellowship, please answer the below and email (not as attachment but in the body of the email) to mia@taste3.com by April 25, 2008. Awardees will be notified on or before May 15, 2008. Good luck!

1) What is your passion; what inspires you in your life?
2) Tell us about yourself and your background.
3) Why do you want to attend Taste3?
4) What would your participation bring to the Taste3 community?

Here's another big tryout happening: casting for ~TOP CHEF 5~! Bravo is coming to San Francisco on Monday, April 21st, to hold an open casting call at Postrio (545 Post St.) from 10am–2pm. They want dynamic chefs from all backgrounds to come by and meet with them. They are looking for "chefs with a passion for food, creativity, a knowledge of cooking techniques and trends, and oodles of charisma." They continue, "We're excited to meet everyone. All interested candidates should come to the open call whether or not they have started their application package. Please know, however, that it is to your advantage to get your submission elements in right away; you'd be ahead of the game if you brought your application video and completed application to the open call." Download the application and learn more at www.BravoTV.com/casting.

Ever wanted to try to master paella? Here's your chance: on Sunday, April 27th, California Table is hosting a ~PAELLA PARTY~ for their monthly food event. The plan is to have all 60 guests participate by following some recipes and making two–three tapas, while their four-foot paella pan is cookin' up the good stuff! California Table has a space in Bernal with a large and comfy inner studio space as well as a spacious backyard where they will have the paella pan. Sangria and wine will be flowin', plus some aguas frescas. You can read more at going.com/paella. $65. Starts at 1pm.

I totally had fun checking out the Passover dinner at ~DELFINA~ last year. It's coming up again, running April 19–25, when Delfina will offer special dishes inspired by Passover. It's not a seder, but a weeklong, a la carte menu celebration of the holiday, featuring special seasonal dishes that will change throughout the week. Menus may include: Watson Farms abbacchio with fava beans; brisket a few different ways; carciofi alla giudea; poached bass with gelatina and walnut sauce; veal tongue dolce-forte; risi bisi (if there are peas), rigatoncini with luganega meatballs; artichokes and green olives and an edible seder plate (you'll see). They'll have matzoh ball soup every night (with walnuts in the middle—a Stoll family recipe), matzoh ribollita, and Passover matzoh crostini, along with their usual dishes too. As the Delfina folks say, "Keep in mind that it's not kosher and we make no claims as to authenticity—only to deliciousness and fun. Hope to see you there!" Call 415-552-4055 for reservations.

So, I mentioned last week that ~KOLIN VOZZOLER~ of Restaurant Gary Danko was moving to a restaurant in the Peninsula: now I can reveal that he will be the executive chef of Marché Restaurant, beginning May 1. He'll be putting seven years of culinary experience from working at Restaurant Gary Danko to work, five years as a sous chef and three years as the executive sous chef. 898 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-324-9092.

Over in the East Bay, there are a couple projects brewing on Shattuck. First, Wendy Brucker and Roscoe Skipper of Rivoli are opening ~CORSO TRATTORIA~ on May 7th in the former Phoenix Pastificio space. The 50-seat restaurant will be a casual Italian trattoria, specializing in Florentine cuisine, with pizza, a full bar, and an all-Italian wine list. Elaine Rivera is the chef de cuisine under Brucker—she was formerly at Oliveto. Dinner to start (only large groups can make reservations), then lunch kicks in one week later, and weekend brunch a week after that. 1786 Shattuck Ave. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-848-7100.

And then practically across the street, coming later this summer will be ~CIOCCOLATA DI VINO~, a dessert and wine café. Owner Rebecca Bernstein is putting together a menu that is based around desserts and wine, but some small plates will be offered as well. Pastries will be served in the morning (baked by Bernstein), and the menu will morph into some lunchtime-apropos and evening offerings. Look for an Italian focus on both the food and wine; dessert wines, port, and specialty hot chocolates will also be served. The vibe will be casual yet chic, with a living room style, but not bohemian (read: not hippie). 1801 Shattuck, Suite C, at Delaware, Berkeley.


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

 
the regular

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San Tung
1031 Irving St.
Cross: 12th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122

415-242-0828

Thu–Tue 11am–9:30pm
Closed Wed

Apps $6–$14
Entrées $7.95–$25

APRIL 15, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO See that large group of people hovering outside that restaurant? Yeah, that's exactly where you're headed: ~SAN TUNG~, AKA where chicken wing lovers go to eat. And being the Sunset, you'll be able to enjoy a nice wind tunnel while waiting outside. Brrrr, fabulous.

Don't even think about coming here on the weekend—unless you feel like battling a sea of families and rowdy packs of young ones out on the town and fired up on Tsingtaos. Go midweek in the late afternoon if you can.

If you are driving, work as a team, yo: drop someone off to scribble a name on the whiteboard while the poor driver circles around for parking (it can be a beeyotch out there, bring your parking Buddha and all the "car-ma" you can muster). Stick near the door so you hear your name. In fact, keep an eye on the dry-erase board if you can—the order can get "complicated" really quickly (foul play? hmmm…).

Finally, something like 45 minutes later, you get seated. I know, you're like, this better be worth it. Have a bite of the complimentary kimchee (this place is a Korean-Chinese hybrid) and at last, it's time to order up. Sure, what's not to like about shrimp and leek dumplings ($7.25), or fried potstickers ($6.50)? Neither are the most stellar examples of their category, but they're an okay way to get the ball rolling—they still manage to scratch that dumpling itch.

Let's get to it. The real reason you're here is the original dry fried chicken wings ($9). You can get diced chicken, or wet, but for your first time out, dry wings is the correct answer on this multiple-choice exam—you can do diced next time (unless you're in a larger group and are there to feast, order up!). The wings are deep fried in crack, and then glazed in a sticky-sweet sauce that's garlicky, gingery, a touch constarchy, and cracky. I can't even imagine how many wings the kitchen blazes through a night. It's mind-boggling. KFC has nothing on this joint.

A close second on the consumption chart are the dry sautéed string beans ($7.50), flash fried and tossed in a garlicky sauce with some awesome Chinese pickles (try it, you might like it). You'll see this dish on every table.

The menu is extensive, and you can try things like a refreshing and springy starter of jellyfish with cucumber ($9), or perhaps some sizzling rice soup (we warmed up instead with the pork with mustard greens and homemade noodles, $8). Because you can order homemade noodles, if you are into chow mein, this is the place to do it.

Everyone has his or her favorites here (Dry fried beef! Hot and sour soup! Five spice beef noodles! Peanut noodles! Black bean sauce noodles!). Truth be told, nothing really dazzles me on the menu once I sink my teeth in the wings. It's like GAME OVER for everything else. Thank you for playing.

I know, why am I feeding the hype? It only raises the expectations of these wings even more. But whatever, it's an SF culinary rite of passage, like a Gibraltar from Blue Bottle, or a carne asada super burrito from Cancun.

The staff here is usually quite polite, especially when you consider the chaos ("Things fall apart, the center cannot hold"). It's pretty clean. A group of four can eat plentifully and drink a few beers for $20 each. And if you live in the neighborhood, aren't you lucky, you can order take-out. Doh! Did you forget it's closed on Wednesday? Don't fret, you can go next door to Yummy Yummy for din din.

 
the sponsor

Restaurant Connection

Restaurant Connection is today's solution for recruiting and employment in the restaurant industry. Our mission is to bring together "Restaurants & Qualified Personnel."

Whether you are an employer or a jobseeker, we cater specifically to the restaurant industry, front and back of house. With more than 25 years of restaurant experience, the Restaurant Connection team understands the value of finding the right person for the job, as well as the right job for the candidates. As industry insiders, our staff uses a vast network of contacts to uncover the "story behind the résumé." Our clients include established restaurants and hotels, as well as new openings and ground floor opportunities.

For more information on our full range of employment solutions, call Karen at 415-575-1962. (Be sure to tell her you saw Restaurant Connection on tablehopper.)

 

 
the lush

bella conciergeAPRIL 15, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Yesterday was full of cocktail competitions. At Conduit, there was a great turnout for the ~USBG NORTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL COMPETITION~ (guests munched on lamb burgers, soft pretzels, and foie gras crème vanilla profiteroles). First place was Carlos Yturria ("Voluptuous"), second place was Collin Clark ("Clarkwork"), and third place was Tony Devencenzi ("Thyme Out"). Best technical performance: Joe Parilli ("The Reza-Rection"). The USBG national competition will be in Long Beach May 2–4. Congrats and good luck to all!

Over at Cantina, the battle was on for the best Averna cocktail! The top 10 semi-finalists who were competing at the ~AVERNA HAVE COCKTAIL COMPETITION~ included Jacques Bezuidenhout, Shaher Misif, Neyah White, David Shenaut, Jeff Hollinger, Thomas R. Waugh, Manny Hinojosa, Ronaldo Colli, Francesco Lafranconi, and Victoria D'amato-Moran. The cocktails, using Averna as a base ingredient, were judged on their taste, presentation and originality. The two winners were Jeff Hollinger and Thomas Waugh, who will be joining two winners from New York and one from Miami on a trip to Sicily to compete in the finals at the Averna distillery. The grand-prize winner will receive a $1,500 American Express gift card. Bravi, ragazzi!

On April 28th, Duggan McDonnell, AKA Shotzi, from Cantina is teaching a cocktail class, ~FROM SPICY TO SWEET~, with La Cocina. He will lead attendees in a class designed to pair Latin-style cocktails with a variety of sweet and spicy foods from Central to South America. All participants also get a handful of recipe cards and useful information, just in case you forget some of the recipes on the way home. Isabel Pazos from El Buen Comer and Dilsa Lugo of Los Cilantros will be providing the vittles. Tickets are $120 for drinks, dinner, and a chance to get behind the bar. And a large portion of your ticket is tax-deductible. E-mail caleb@lacocinasf.org or sign up at Brown Paper Tickets. 6:30pm–8:30pm. 580 Sutter St. at Mason.

Sunday, April 20th, there is a ~PIEMONTE WINE TASTING SEMINAR~ at Ottimista Enoteca-Cafe. Wine director Don Jost will lead an in-depth tasting and discussion on the region of Piemonte, covering the basics of Piemonte's history, geography, cuisine and native grapes as you taste six different Piemontese wines paired with a variety of traditional dishes. Cost: $55/per person, includes educational materials, wine tasting, and small plates. 3pm–5pm. To sign up, call or email melissa@ottimistasf.com. 1838 Union St. at Octavia, 415-674-8400.

Attention singles: Parties That Cook and Crushpad announce the launch of ~COOKING CRUSH~, an evening of wine tasting and cooking for singles. The official kickoff event will take place Thursday, May 1st, at Crushpad's state-of-the-art winemaking facility in San Francisco. You'll get a tour of the winery, an explanation of key steps in the winemaking process, try some comparative barrel tastings, and then have a cooking lesson. Singles will be split into coed teams to work on an array of dishes designed to pair with the wines (yes, you get to eat them when you're done preparing them). After the event, copies of the recipes, digital photos, and email address aliases will be sent to the group. Can't make this one? Cooking Crush events will be offered on a monthly basis in San Francisco. Visit the site or call 1-888-907-2665 to purchase tickets to Cooking Crush. Tickets are $95 per guest, space is limited. 6pm–9pm.

 
the sponsor

bella concierge

Have you ever said, "I wish I just had a couple more hours in the day?" Have you ever felt frustrated when the weekend comes around and you're out running errands instead of enjoying time with family and friends? Isn't it about time you let someone else step in so you can have more time for yourself and the things you enjoy most?

~ bella concierge ~ has a wide variety of services to help you get back to enjoying what means most to you. Whether you need help with daily errands and shopping or help managing a house project, I will be there for you.

Please contact me as soon as you're ready to enjoy more time for yourself!  

I look forward to working with you. —Kristen, bella concierge

 
the socialite

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TASTE 2008
Thu., April 17, 2008

3175 17th St.
Cross: South Van Ness
San Francisco, CA

415-863-7668
website

7:30pm–10:30pm

VIP ticket: $150
Regular ticket: $75 pre-sale/$100 at the door


APRIL 15, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Root Division is hosting ~TASTE 2008~, an evening celebrating the beauty of art and food in San Francisco. TASTE 2008 will feature 8–10 acclaimed local chefs and over 15 visual artists for a night of food, drink, music, and art. Proceeds benefit local emerging artists, as well as Root Division's free after school art classes for Bay Area youth.

Participating restaurants and chefs include Andalu; Bar Bambino; Brick Restaurant & Bar; Cook Club; El Buen Comer & La Cocina; Maverick; Ozumo; and Zazil Coastal Mexican Cuisine.

Other offerings at the event include treats by Kara's Cupcakes, Ritual Coffee Roasters, and Trumer Pilsner, as well as a silent auction of gift certificates from over 30 Bay Area restaurants, spas, salons, and other venues, plus small artworks by local emerging artists.

A limited number of VIP tickets will be available, offering a private and advanced opportunity to experience TASTE 2008 at its fullest. In addition to early access (6pm) to appetizers, artwork, and specialty cocktails, each VIP ticket includes a special musical performance by Leyna Noel, a limited edition screen-printed bag by Rickshaw Bagworks filled with goodies and gifts from various venues around town.

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Dine Out for Life
Thu., April 24, 2008

Various locations

website


APRIL 15, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO ~DINE OUT FOR LIFE~ and 25% of your food bill will benefit the HIV prevention programs of the STOP AIDS Project, a non-profit organization providing services to those living with HIV/AIDS. Choose a restaurant and dine out with your friends this Thursday! Whether you're in the mood for fancy French dining or a homey Italian meal, there are options for everyone, with a little something for every taste and budget. Some participants include Delfina, Foreign Cinema, Maverick, and Rubicon (you'll find tablehopper reviews for these places in "the regular"). 

Wherever you go, be sure to check out the raffle envelopes at the restaurant. If you can't attend, you can still participate through the raffle by buying tickets online here.
 
 

All content © 2008 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.

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