tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: eating in the ’burg.

the chatterbox
the word on the street

the jetsetter
get outta dodge
the lush
put it on my tab
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

Ghirardelli Square

Wattle Creek Winery

JUNE 10, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Wow. Wow. Wow. Um, readers? You BLOW MY FREAKING MIND. I can't begin to thank you all so much for your remarkable generosity in helping to provide funds for the tablehopper/CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service) dinner out. So far we have raised over $600! I will definitely report back with a final figure—the checks just kept coming. I don't have enough superlatives to possibly express how touched I am with your donations, and thank you for the nice notes too. So kind.

And here's where it gets even more amazing: Bambuddha Lounge spontaneously came forward and offered to host the dinner for free. A huge thanks to GM Michael Shaulis and executive chef Jessica Gorin for their oh-so-kind hospitality. I will be sure to let you all know how it goes!

Since the donated funds are suddenly not needed for this upcoming dinner, I am either going to hang onto them for another outing for the next CHEFS class/session… or I also have an awesome food-centric field trip idea (involving a farm, and a meal)! I'll run it by you shortly, for now, please know everyone at the CHEFS organization, the students and the staff, are all so touched and grateful for this outpouring of support and generosity. Y'all are the BEST. (Oh, and if you want to come out and play with me this Friday evening, I'll be at the CHEFS fundraiser, SummerTini! Hope to see you there!)

Yours truly has a couple upcoming appearances this week! First, I'll be back on The View from the Bay! This Thursday will be an in-studio appearance (the show is from 3pm–4pm on ABC 7), and I'll be talking about three of my local faves for affordable and unique eats.

Then, this Sunday June 15th (Father's Day) I will be on for my monthly appearance on A Matter of Taste with Rachel and David Michael Cane on Green 960AM. They have changed their hours to each Sunday from 11am until noon—listen in!

And since you all rock so hard, I am doing a giveaway of a couple copies of a very summer-appropriate book: Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas from chef Craig Priebe (the former owner of C.K's Wood Grilled Pizza in Atlanta). The materials I've read deem this kind of pizza "the ultimate thin crust" and you get some smokiness too. Sounds pretty good, no? Priebe will be appearing at Macy's Cellar on Wed. June 25th at 6pm if you want to check it out.

Here's how to enter to win a copy of the book: just forward this newsletter to two pals (or more, thanks!) and cc (or BCC) luckyme@tablehopper.com when you send it to your peeps—it's best if you explain why you're emailing it to them, or at least include something about tablehopper.com. I promise I won't be collecting your friends' emails, those will stay private—I just need to keep track that you forwarded it to two or more folks. The deadline to enter is by midnight, Sunday June 15th. I will be randomly drawing the winner and will email you to let you know you've won next week. Maybe you can even bring it to the Macy's Cellar demo and get it signed on the 25th! Good luck!

Thanks to everyone for everything you do and are!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Ghirardelli SquareJUNE 10, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I love me some big news. Things have been kind of quiet about the upcoming 240-seat ~URBAN TAVERN~ project at the San Francisco Hilton on O'Farrell Street. Donna Scala was helping to conceptualize and develop the high-end gastropub for the hotel—I heard a rumor that she was not going to be involved with the project once it launched, and it ends up Laurent Manrique is now going to be the chef! No confirmed details to release yet about the actual launch date (although one source told me July), the concept (I've heard Northern Italian/Southern Mediterranean), etc., so stand by… 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason.

More big news: I hear the Tiernans who own Tiernan's down near the Wharf, not the PlumpJack Group, are buying the ~WASHBAG~. No one has been able to confirm this for sure (I got "No comment!" last week, and this week my message went unanswered), but my source made it sound pretty darned definite.

There's a new executive chef at ~SEASONS AT THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL~: Jeremy Emmerson left for a private cheffing gig to allow more time to be with his family. The new executive chef is Mark Richardson, who has been with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in culinary positions for the past ten years (most recently as executive sous chef at Four Seasons Hotel Boston). Richardson likes to experiment with new molecular gastronomy techniques in his kitchen, so expect a little bit of flair to appear on the menu (sounds like Jing Tio just scored another regular at Le Sanctuaire). 757 Market St. at Grant, 415-633-3838.

Another chef switcheroo: ~PALENCIA RESTAURANT~, the Filipino spot in the Castro, has a new executive chef: 25-year-old Drey Roxas, who was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. He received his culinary degree from CCA in 2003, then worked at Shangri-La Hotel in Manila. He has redesigned the menu, incorporating bright flavors and dishes to balance the often-heavier fare, like kilawin, a ceviche-like dish using red snapper that is "cooked" in a sugar cane vinegar as opposed to traditional citrus. There's also a hearts of palm salad, with carrot, Filipino spinach, and a light tamarind sauce. In case you want to check it out, the restaurant will be celebrating the Philippines Independence Day with a four-course prix-fixe menu for $35 per person on June 12th (the official date) and June 13th. 3870 17th between Noe and Sanchez, 415-522-1888.

imageI'd like to give a big congrats to Craig Stoll, the chef and co-owner of Delfina, who won Best Chef: Pacific (in California and Hawaii) at the ~JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARDS~ on Sunday. The Mission continued to dominate, with Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, the owners of Tartine Bakery, winning Outstanding Pastry Chef award, a national award. Meow. Up in St. Helena, Hiro Sone and his wife, Lissa Doumani, took home the award for the nation's best restaurant service for Terra (they also own Ame here in the City). Congrats to all the nominees—you're all winners in many, many peoples' eyes. And a very special shout-out to Grant Achatz, who not only beat cancer, tongue cancer at that, but won the Outstanding Chef Award (I highly recommend reading the riveting article from back in May in the New Yorker about his battle with cancer.) You can check out the list of all the nominees and winners here.

It's going to be another big weekend, this time in Aspen since it's the 26th annual ~FOOD & WINE CLASSIC~. I can only imagine how swell the exclusive tasting dinner prepared by the 2008 F&W Best New Chefs is going to be, which includes Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu, Koren Grieveson of my favorite Avec in Chicago, and Michael Psilakis of Anthos in New York. I soooooo wish I was going—next year, perhaps…

~MERCURY LOUNGE~ on Lombard has closed, and is actually going to be moving to a bigger location, in the SoMa area. I will be able to release more on the location once I get the go-ahead, stand by.

Here's a small service announcement for you: ~SUSHI KOO~ in the Sunset is temporarily closed from yesterday, June 9th, until Tuesday June 17th—the restaurant will be back open on Wedndesday June 18th, so you can get your "Spoonful of Happiness" back on. 408 Irving St. at 5th St., 415-731-7077.
             
Meanwhile, it seems the Inner Sunset's ~WUNDER BREWING CO.~ (formerly Eldo's) is closed; here's more from Eater. The "closed for renovations" notice and the disconnected phone don't totally jive. 1326 Ninth Ave. at Irving.

As for the Inner Richmond: I planned to mention this on Thursday during my segment on View from the Bay (this is a big blatant hint about one of the restaurants I'll be mentioning): Namu is going to be opening a deli, ~HAPPY BELLY FOODS~, a few blocks down from the restaurant—the space in which they are opening the deli is actually where they store their Happy Belly carts that serve food in Golden Gate Park. Look for signature sandwiches, plus pre-marinated meats (hello, kalbi skirt steak), house-made kimchee, and sauces. September is the hoped-for opening date. Balboa and 3rd St.

I seemed to miss the opening of this café, but a reader wanted to point out ~MUISCA COLOMBIAN FUSION AND CAFÉ~ is serving up good coffee and Colombian fare, like arepas, in the Mission. Yelpers seem to dig it. 564 South Van Ness Ave. at 17th St., 415-834-5804.

No, I don't particularly feel like thinking about the holidays either, but I wanted to let you know the Food Network is casting for the popular ~DEAR FOOD NETWORK~ specials set to air this holiday season. Four all-new, one-hour programs will feature Food Network fans as they get the chance to have their cooking questions answered face-to-face by their star of choice, answering viewers' questions about turkey troubles, dessert disasters, cooking for large family gatherings, and the like. To be considered for Dear Food Network, viewers must upload a unique and entertaining three-minute video to www.foodnetwork.com/dearfn by Monday July 14th, sharing their story and explaining why they want a chance to have their cooking problems solved by their favorite Food Network star. Entrants must include their age, location, and a humorous testimonial by a family member or friend. The best videos will be aired on the program, and some fans will even be flown to the set to be in the audience while their dilemma is answered on-air. For additional info, email foodnetworkseries@gmail.com.

I had a good time emceeing at the ~MACY'S UNION SQUARE CELLAR~ event last week: the good-enough-to-eat programming continues this Wednesday June 11th at 6pm, when they highlight Out of the Kitchen (perhaps you've seen this new quarterly magazine advertised on tablehopper?) and mushrooms! Each season, OITK's editor-in-chief (and executive chef and owner of Maverick, Scott Youkilis, will bring one of the stories straight to your taste buds with a live cooking demo in The Cellar. This month he is hosting a true expert and connoisseur: Connie Green, a well-known local forager of wild mushrooms, who supplies them to many of the Bay Area's finest restaurants. You'll be treated to a taste of hard-to-find morels (yes, MORELS, people!) prepared by Scott and paired with a glass of wine chosen by Maverick's wine director and co-owner Mike Pierce. Free! 170 O'Farrell St. at Stockton.

The fun-with-food continues next week with ~GRACEANN WALDEN~, who will take guests on a culinary tour of San Francisco during this four-part series, while never leaving The Cellar! She'll be visiting with various local chefs, while guests get a taste of featured recipes, plus a glass of wine, compliments of the Jug Shop. The line-up is on Wednesdays at 6pm.              

6/18: Nob Hill with Chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls of The Big 4
7/16: The New North Beach with chef J.J. Castaneda of Joe DiMaggio's Chophouse
8/13: The Fillmore District Old and New with chef David Lawrence of 1300 Fillmore
9/17: Traditional North Beach with chef Valentino Luchin of Rose Pistola

More demos: The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is continuing its popular cooking program, ~EASY MARKET MEALS~. These free cooking demonstrations, which take place on the first and third Tuesday of each month from June through September, focus on one or two seasonal ingredients in the farmers' market and offer simple ways for home cooks to prepare them. This year, three of the guest chefs will demonstrate family-friendly meals, emphasizing quick, nutritious dishes that will please the developing palates of the under-eight set. Easy Market Meals takes place in CUESA's Dacor teaching kitchen, located in the North Arcade in front of the Ferry Building. Attendees will learn from professional chefs and accomplished home cooks, sample the featured dishes, and leave with a recipe to recreate these seasonal meals at home. The rotating demos begin at 12pm, 12:30pm, and 1pm. Here's the schedule of guest chefs for 2008:
 
6/17: Amy Andrews, Amy's Food Room (family-friendly focus)
7/1: Stephanie Rosenbaum, Food Writer
7/15: Annie Somerville, Greens Restaurant
8/5: Georgeanne Brennan, Cookbook Author & Food Writer
8/19: Amy Fothergill, The Family Chef (family-friendly focus)
9/2: Shanti Wilson, former CUESA Market Chef & Culinary Consultant (family-friendly focus)
9/16: Leslie and Andrew Swallow, Mixt Greens
  
One of my most memorably delicious meals was when chef ~RICHARD REDDINGTON~ was an interim co-chef at Masa's back in 2004—perhaps it was all the more delicious because I knew it was a not-to-last situation. Anyway, chef Reddington of Redd in Napa Valley will be guest co-chef with Masa's executive chef Gregory Short for an evening celebrating Masa's 25th Anniversary, on Saturday June 21st. There will be a special tasting menu, with the first seating at 5:30pm and the second at 8:30pm. The cost of the dinner will be $195 per person, with wine pairings offered by Master Sommelier Alan Murray. 648 Bush St. at Powell, 415-989-7154.

This coming Saturday June 14th, Theatre of Yugen is hosting a Slow Food movement "secret supper" as a company fundraiser. A five-course vegetarian meal will be prepared by chef ~LEIF HEDENDAL~. The Yugen Orchestra will provide music, plus a souped-up noh dance and a performance of their latest Kyogen comedy, Religious Dispute, will also be part of the evening's entertainment. You can read Leif's summer-riffic menu here. 6pm, $60 per plate (very limited seating) and by reservation only. Order tickets online or call 415-621-0507. a.Muse art gallery, 614 Alabama St. at 18th St.

Up in Mill Valley, ~ORA~ has closed as of May 14th, and owner Shahram Bijan will be reopening the restaurant in a bigger space in San Francisco's Union Square, a few blocks away from First Crush, his wine bar. No word on where exactly that space is—the lease is still being negotiated, but there will be the inclusion of more California-style dishes, and a full bar. He will also be busy opening the second (and bigger) location of Toast up in Novato this summer, in a new space from architect Stanley Saitowitz (who did Conduit).


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

 
the sponsor

Ghirardelli Square

You're invited to the unveiling of the new Ghirardelli Square, celebrating the revitalized historic landmark, on Saturday June 21st and Sunday June 22nd. Ghirardelli Square has just emerged from a major transformation and is now an urban enclave full of gourmet eateries, high-end retail, wine tasting centers and more. It is also the site of Fairmont Heritage Place, one of the city's most distinctive and exciting new options for luxury living.

During the "Savour the Square" weekend celebration on June 21st–June 22nd, some of the free activities will include: chef demonstrations from our non-profit partner "From the Garden to the Table," doggie fashion shows, children's crafts projects, tours of the Fairmont Heritage Place homes, wine seminars and much more! Visit GhirardelliSQ.com for a complete schedule of free events.

 
the jetsetter

image

image

image


JUNE 10, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I fell in love with ~HEALDSBURG~ my first time there—give me a town square, some killer wineries, delish restaurants, a mellow small town atmosphere, stunning scenery, and, well, where's my ring? The area is a glorious triangulation of the Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley—seriously dreamy. Springtime is the time to go before it gets really hot and busy with vacationing tourists (the fields were bursting with mustard and so many trees were blossoming in March), although I also really enjoyed the peace and calm of being there on one trip during grey November, too. Just make sure you have reservations for any of the restaurants you want to visit at least a few weeks in advance if possible—things get booked up. Please note the hours below can change, so call first! And lots of places are closed on Tuesday, FYI.

I know some folks are lamenting the "yuppification" or "Napa-fication" of Healdsburg, but I still think there's a balanced range of things to do there, from taquerias and local beer to a high-end posh experience (yes, Cyrus, I am talking about you). Either way, the wines in the area are fantastic, with low to nonexistent tasting room fees, nice winery folks everywhere, and thankfully I haven't seen any tour buses on the back roads of Dry Creek.

I actually visited Healdsburg for this jetsetter piece five times over the past couple years, so we're going to have to do this in two parts—it's a beast. The next installment will be about the wineries to visit, where to stay, and various activities.

For this installment, let's start with everyone's favorite:

~ Where to Eat ~

image

Ravenous Café
420 Center St.
Cross: North St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-431-1302

Lunch:
Wed–Sun 11:30–2:30pm
Dinner:
Wed–Sun at 5pm
Closed Mon–Tue

Mmmm, burgers. One of the most delicious, juicy, messy, and zin-worthy monsters I've ever had the pure pleasure of scarfing down was over lunch at ~RAVENOUS CAFÉ~. It also came with a monster pickle, and spicy seasoned potato spears—not my favorite kind of fries, but no matter. (My mom loved her Mediterranean plate). Big portions, heartfelt comfy food that isn't perfect but definitely enjoyable, with everything listed on a handwritten menu. It's located in a sweet house a few blocks off the plaza that has been converted into an intimate restaurant with a color scheme like a 50/50 bar (orange sherbet and vanilla). Thoughtful details like flowers in old perfume bottles, mismatched chairs, and even the carafe of water came with a slice of blood orange and lime. Fun and funky locals' scene at the tiny bar. There's a patio too—great in the summer with its little bar back there. Me: totally charmed.

image

ZIN Restaurant & Wine Bar
344 Center St.
Cross: North St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-473-0946
website

~ZIN RESTAURANT & WINE BAR~ has a cool industrial look (concrete floors, sealed cork tables, exposed beams) for wine country, and you can tell by the name what the food is geared for. ZIN is famous for its beer-battered green beans that come with mango salsa, fresh salads, and they do a nice pork chop. Definitely "big eater" portions. The food didn't totally bowl me over (some dishes we tried had little missteps here and there, from seasoning to preparation), but the ingredients were super-fresh (many from the restaurant's organic garden), and the people who work there are darned nice. Would be a fun place to come by for some vino and a casual bite, or a full meal after a day of wine tasting. Would make folks looking for a simple, low-key meal happy—others might be left wanting a little more precision.

image

Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar
403 Healdsburg Ave.
Cross: North St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-433-9191
website

Sun–Thu 11:30am–9:30pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–10pm
Closed Tue

Out for a good time? ~WILLI'S SEAFOOD & RAW BAR~ definitely has a party vibe, with a busy bar, and fills up with groups of folks out for a drink and some bites off the long list of appetizing small plates that are meant to be shared. (This would be a perfect spot for ladies doing a wine country/gal pal weekend.) Some highlights on the menu include baked oysters, barely-fried calamari with a kicky gremolata, a spicy clam and garlic flatbread with bacon and green onions, plus there are some meaty dishes too, like lamb skewers, and the salt and pepper baby back riblets. The food can be a little messy and big on flavor, which actually makes it perfect drinking food. Don't pass up the buttery lobster roll. The dog-friendly outdoor patio is great for lunch (get the spinach salad) or even better, on a balmy night.

image

Cyrus
(in the Hotel Les Mars)
29 North St.
Cross: Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-433-3311
website

Dinner nightly 5:30pm–9:30pm

Of course, no trip to Healdsburg is complete without a visit to the crown jewel, ~CYRUS~. I had my longest meal ever here (hello, five hours) and I savored every glorious minute of it. From the caviar and Champagne cart (swoon) to the choose-your-own-adventure tasting menu of Douglas Keane's elegant and engaging cuisine, this refined restaurant deserves every accolade it has earned. A definite "must do" for any gourmand who lives in the Bay Area, or someone visiting wine country and wants an experience that is enchanting, but without the least bit of pretension. The dining room had a comfortable buzz to it, not a hallowed hush. (But hey, dress nicely, okay?) A cocktail (or two) in the bar under the direction of famed barman Scott Beattie is also an ideal way to start the evening, or wind it down. Bring the plastic: $$$$.

image

Bovolo
106 Matheson St.
Cross: Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-433-2345
website

Summer:
Fri–Tue 9am–9pm
Thu 9am–6pm
Winter:
Mon, Tue, Thu 9am–6pm
Fri–Sun 9am–9pm

I was so sorry to hear Plaza Farms didn't work out (it was a perfect way to pick up DaVero olive oil and rose wine and yummy Bellwether cheese all at once), but fortunately things at ~BOVOLO~ remain intact. This magical combo of a salumeria, pizzeria, and gelateria rocks my world. Hard. Owners Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu in Santa Rosa are complete Slow Foodies (bovolo means snail in Italian), and do probably some of the best bacon I've ever eaten (mmmm, black pig bacon!). The place is super casual, with 24 seats inside, and 20 seats outside on the cute little enclosed patio.

Start with some COO-COO frites (fried dough with mozzarella and salumi), but order the off-the-menu version with bacon inside instead. Heh. (See how I love you?) Pizzas are great—be sure to throw a farm-fresh egg on top (they actually do a breakfast pizza too). This would be THE place to order their variation of pasta carbonara (that bacon, you know), and another can't-miss dish for lunch is the pork cheek sandwich with roasted peppers and salsa verde—sooooooo good. You can also get a black pig bacon, egg, and Bellwether Carmody cheese sandwich, for breakfast or lunch. Heck, I could practically eat all my Healdsburg meals here. Dessert too.

image

Dry Creek Kitchen
317 Healdsburg Ave.
Cross: Plaza St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-431-0330
website

Lunch:
Fri–Sun 11:30am–2:30pm
Dinner:
Sun–Thu 5:30pm–9:30pm
Fri–Sat 5:30pm–10pm

Hmmm, am I getting hard to please? Maybe it was just an off night, but I wasn't very smitten with my experience at Charlie Palmer's ~DRY CREEK KITCHEN~. A few highlights: the complimentary gougères to start, the wine pairings were good, and most dishes exhibited pleasing flavor combos (like the pickled cucumbers with the tartare), but overall I thought for the price ($74; $119 with wine pairings), things needed to be a bit tighter. During the six-course tasting menu, there were too many dishes that were under-seasoned, ingredients reappeared (rapini was featured in two dishes), and service was not dialed enough to match the modern finer-dining ambiance. But, I hear they are working on these things...

One deal that is hard to beat is the three-course Sonoma Neighbor Menu available Mon–Thu for $34, $49 with wines. At that price, I'd have less to quibble with. This summer, there is also a family-style BBQ three-course meal served alfresco around the grill in Hotel Healdsburg's awesome courtyard and screened porch. It's every Wednesday night from May–September, $32 per guest.

image

Healdsburg Charcuterie & Café
335 Healdsburg Ave.
Cross: Plaza St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

707-431-7213

Lunch:
Mon–Fri 11:30am–3pm
Sat–Sun 12pm–3:30pm
Dinner:
Sun–Thu 5pm–9pm
(until 9:30 Fri–Sat)

I'm downright leery of places loaded with pig paraphernalia and peach walls, kind of like a scary B&B-meets-restaurant aesthetic, but I've been told that ~HEALDSBURG CHARCUTERIE & CAFÉ~ has recently toned down the peach and pigs. It was a chilly wintery night when I ate here, and the escargot with whipped butter blended with garlic and pastis hit the spot. The Sonoma salad with Brie, bacon, grapes, and almonds was also scrumptious. Mains were not so stellar—a bit forgettable/kind of 1980s in style (e.g. fusilli pasta with chicken and sun dried tomatoes is on the menu). I wouldn't make this a dinner destination if it was my sole night in Healdsburg, but sometimes a cozy café atmosphere is just what you need. It's also one of the few places open daily.

image

Santi
21047 Geyserville Ave.
Cross: Hwy. 128
Geyserville, CA 95441

707-857-1790
website

Lunch:
Wed–Sat 11:30am–2pm
Dinner:
Mon–Sat 5:30pm–9pm
Sun 5pm–9pm

Now, this place isn't technically in Healdsburg, it's actually a wee bit north in the sleepy and petite Geyserville, but all I can say is get thee to ~SANTI~. The restaurant is in a historic space, dating back to 1902, and has a simple look, with tile floors and a non-fussy interior. And what a killer meal of rustic Italian country-style food, mamma mia. I can't wait to go for dinner and sit out on the back patio. My pal and I went for lunch, and feasted like it was our last supper: we loved every dish, it was a total tour de force. We started with chef Dino Bugica's house-made salumi, then the roasted asparagus with a poached egg and house-made prosciutto, spot prawns with lardo, grilled sardines, a swell Caesar salad, a spot-on dish of trippa alla romana, I had some spicy spaghettini Calabrese with a feisty sauce made with beef and pork ribs and a ton of pecorino, and my pal had one big sloppy man-style sandwich of house-made sausage with Fontina, arugula, and peperonata. Yeah, it was a scary, terrifying, Overeaters Anonymous amount of food, but that's what doggie bags are for. This place is a tablehopper do-not-miss. Go go go. And just wait for owner Doug Swett and chef Bugica's Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, opening just next door.

image

I can't think of a better way to start the day than with a sublime cappuccino from the fine folks at ~FLYING GOAT COFFEE~ from their gleaming and red La Marzocco machine. Equally brilliant for a macchiato or one of their iced drinks in the afternoon when you hit a 4pm lull. Open daily 7am–6pm. 324 Center St. at Matheson, 707-433-3599.

 

You can head next door to the ~DOWNTOWN BAKERY & CREAMERY~ for their famed sticky buns, croissants, scones, and pure evil donut muffins (yes, you read that right). They also do a breakfast pizza, and cute little bread puddings. Maybe grab some treats and then sit in the plaza? 308 Center St. at Matheson, 707-431-2719.

image

The ~OAKVILLE GROCERY~ gets paaaaaacked with tourists getting their bougie gourmet picnic supplies and sandwiches for the day (yo, whip out that iPhone and order that sammy in advance!), or with folks who want to enjoy a pizza or one of their mezzalunas (try the one with the Greek salad inside!) on the patio overlooking the plaza. The real meal deal is on Tuesday nights in the summer: there's this cat named Gerard Nebesky who does a lovely paella outside—a serving is $12.95, and while munching away, you get to enjoy music on the plaza. Open 9am-7pm daily. 124 Matheson St. at Center, 707-433-3200.

image If you're on your way to Alexander Valley, be sure to stop at ~JIMTOWN STORE~ for lunch (they also serve breakfast). It's totally "old tyme country store," with tasty sandwiches, like the famed Brie and olive, there's a grilled cheese sandwich of the week, a totally yummy turkey with chipotle, and oh yeah, their "hold the phone" chocolate pudding—as in "hold the phone, I gotta eat this right now." In warmer months, the back patio, complete with a canopy of vines, is totally where it's at. The shop itself has some cute Americana items, and you'll also want to have a little cooler in your car so you can bring home some of their fresh condiments, like the chopped olive, and my favorite, the artichoke, olive, and caper spread. Open Mon–Fri 7am–5pm, Sat–Sun 7:30am–5pm. 6706 Hwy. 128/Alexander Valley Road at Sausal Lane, 707-433-1212.

Time for a drink? Sadly Healdsburg shuts down pretty darned early, but you can kick it at the saloon-like ~JOHN AND ZEKE'S BAR & GRILL~—play pool with a mix of locals and tourists, drink some beer, have a shot. 111 Plaza St. at Healdsburg, 707-433-3735.

Folks complain about the ups and downs of the "experimental" food here (I can't vouch, it's just what I've heard) but ~BARNDIVA~ can be quite the spot if a cocktail is what you're craving. A bit "posh country," with soaring ceilings at this modern barn, plus a spacious outdoor patio, and funky art. And an impressive bar setup. 231 Center St. at Mill, 707-431-0100.

Get hopped up on the massive array of sweets, from oldies to new treats at ~POWELL'S SWEET SHOPPE~, 322 Center St. at Plaza, 707-431-2784.

Some restaurants and bars I didn't get a chance to personally visit:

~BISTRO RALPH~ is a classic and a longstanding local favorite for a Frenchie bistro lunch or dinner, right on the plaza. Think steak frites, chicken paillard. Full bar too. Open Mon–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm and dinner Mon–Thu 5:30pm–9pm (until 9:30 Fri–Sat). 109 Plaza St. at Center, 707-433-1380.

~MANZANITA RESTAURANT~ has had some changes over the years—not sure where things stand now, but if I ever make it there, I'll update this report! Heard their pizzas from the wood-fired oven are good. Lunch Tue–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm–9:30pm. 336 Healdsburg Ave. at North, 707-433-8111.

Craving sushi? Wine country isn't the first place I think of for fresh sushi, but some folks I know recommend ~SAKE 'O~. (It's a bit north of the plaza.) 505 Healdsburg Ave. at Piper, 707-433-2669.

Did you hurt yourself the day or night before? ~EL FAROLITO~ (or "the fart," as the locals refer to it) will save you with its huevos con chorizo for breakfast. Also loved for its chips and salsa. Yup, you're now ready for a margarita. 128 Plaza St. at Healdsburg, 707-433-2807.

There's also ~EL SOMBRERO~, (or as the locals say, "the hat"), just across from the Oakville Grocery—one friend digs their fish and shrimp cocktail in a tomato and avocado sauce, served up in an old fashioned-looking ice cream glass. Hmmm, the fart, or the hat, which to choose? I am sure there are strong arguments for either. 245 Center St. at Matheson, 707-433-3818.

Well, since we're discussing Mexican joints, ~TAQUERIA GUADALAJARA~ is the preferred local fave, according to a chap I met at John & Zeke's one night. He said the taco grande and veggie nachos are the bomb. Carnitas too. It's just a bit south of the plaza… 125 Healdsburg Ave. at Exchange, 707-433-1052.

Hot out? Well, a friend of mine went crazy for ~SNOWBUNNY YOGURT~, made with Straus Family Creamery yogurt (get the original tart flavor) and you can get local fruit on top, too. Plus they use eco-friendly/compostable cups and spoons. 312 Center St. at Matheson, 707-431-7669.

Maybe you need a break from all that wine. Head on over to ~BEAR REPUBLIC BREWING COMPANY~, the local brewpub (AKA "the Bear" or "B&B"), for some Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye, or Red Rocket for happy hour (Mon–Fri 4pm–6pm), and on Thursdays, they do BBQ oysters. The garlic fries and Black & Blue burger are also local classics. Outdoor patio, bonus. Summer hours: Sun–Thu 11am–9:30pm, Fri–Sat 11am–10pm; winter hours: Sun–Thu 11:30am–9pm, Fri–Sat 11am–10pm. 345 Healdsburg Ave. at Plaza, 707-433-2337.

New places I gotta check out:

~SCOPA~ is a new rustic Italian café that has been thrilling folks left and right. Been hearing grrrrrreat reports. 109A Plaza St. at Healdsburg, 707-433-5282.

Cyrus owners Douglas Keane and Nick Peyton have taken over the ~HEALDSBURG BAR & GRILL~. Think burgers, fries, spacious patio, killer produce, good wines, done. 245 Healdsburg Ave. at Matheson, 707-433-3333.

 
the lush

Wattle Creek WineryJUNE 10, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This Sunday June 15th, there are a couple ways to say kanpai to Pop on Father's Day. Two local izakayas are hosting special events: ~O IZAKAYA LOUNGE~ (1625 Post St. at Laguna, 415-614-5431) in Japantown has a generous Father's Day offer:

- complimentary pitcher of draft beer of dad's choice or a carafe of Sho Chiku Bai Sake (nigori or filter)
- complimentary yakimono platter with the assortment of tsukune, pork belly, beef loin, omochi (one of each)
- Dad can choose the baseball game that he would like played on the large-screen TVs

And then ~SOZAI RESTAURANT~ in the Sunset is hosting a Father's Day sake pairing featuring Take no Tsuyu (Bamboo Tears), a big hit with anyone who takes up general manager Gil Payne's offer to try it. In honor of Take no Tsuyu owner/master brewer Sakagura-san's brief visit to the Bay Area, Sozai is offering a sake pairing with four of his wonderful sakes with four specially-crafted tapas plates. Guests will also have the ability to meet him and hear the story of this outstanding kura from Yamagata-ken. $30 per person for four sakes and four plates (the regular menu will be available following the tasting). 6pm–8pm. For reservations, call Sozai in advance. You will be contacted for confirmation and payment. 1500 Irving St. at 16th Ave., 415-681-7150.

This Thursday June 12th, Tracey Brandt from ~A DONKEY AND GOAT WINERY~ will be pouring their wines at K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco from 4:30pm–6:30pm. Tracey will pour their 2005 Brosseau Vineyard Chardonnay, 2006 The Recluse Syrah, and 2006 Three Thirteen. Tasting fee: $1. K&L Wine Merchants, 638 4th St. at Brannan, 415-896-1734.
 
Hoot. The new ~OWL TREE~ is open. The upstairs area should be open soon, and there's reportedly a shrine to Bobby—I hope there are some handi-wipes in said shrine. 601 Post St. at Taylor, 415-359-1600.

~CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN~ is fired up: in celebration of the California State Supreme Count ruling extending marriage equality to all, CAV will open at noon, that's right, noon on Tuesday June 17th for those who want to celebrate their newfound nuptials. Then, once the sun goes down, CAV is hosting a "Summer of Love Redux" party from 8pm–11pm, cranking it up with DJ Kid Gorgeous. As the newsletter says, "We want to make it clear that everyone is welcome. This is a joyous occasion about inclusiveness and we are happy to have everyone join in this celebration. Ten percent of the proceeds on this day will be donated to Equality California, www.eqca.org." CAV will also open a half hour early during the week, at 5pm, for newlyweds and anyone else that wants to come on in from June 17th–30th. 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

Here's a fun way to get into trouble on a Sunday: ~XYZ~ is offering a selection of half-price bottles of wine off their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list. Sundays, 5:30pm–10pm, June through August. W Hotel, 181 Third St. at Howard, 415-817-7836. 

This Friday the 13th (bwaaaaaaah!), ~JOVINO~ in Cow Hollow is hosting their monthly Wine Social, featuring wines from Robert Hall Vineyards of Paso Robles. The wines to be poured are the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Rhone de Robles, and 2007 Rose de Robles. Happy hour is from 6pm–9pm, and is $20 for unlimited tasting. Next month's featured winery will be on July 25th: Carmel Road Vineyards. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.
 
Coming up on Sunday June 22nd is the 27th annual ~MILL VALLEY WINE AND GOURMET FOOD TASTING~. Some of the wineries attending: Acorn, A Donkey and Goat, Baldassari, Balletto, Bink, Carica, Core, Duckhorn, Dunn, Etude, Frank Family, Hartford, Le Vois, Minassian-Young, Paul Mathew, Rombauer, Silver Oak, Spence, Testarossa, Twomey, Vin Nostro, to name a few, over 70 wineries in all. Gourmet foods and edible fare from local restaurants will be there as well. 1pm–4pm, $40 in advance (until June 21st) or purchase directly from the Mill Valley Market; $50 the day of. 1 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

 
the sponsor

Wattle Creek Winery

We have brought Sonoma Wine Country to the city!

The Wattle Creek Winery tasting room is located in San Francisco's historic Ghirardelli Square. Discover what happens when amazing winemaking and sublime terroir come together. You will have the opportunity to sample all of our wines, including very limited releases only available in our tasting room. Come by for a taste or just to pick up a bottle or two for a picnic by the bay with friends.

Click here to find out how to win a one-year membership to our Highlands club, an estimated $800 value!

Our tasting room is open seven days a week, from 11:00am–9:00pm.

Cheers!

~The Wattle Creek Team

 
the bookworm

image


JUNE 10, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO By Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books

Don't forget: this book below is available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

I'm no health nut: just ask the counter help at Schubert's Bakery across the street from Green Apple—they can attest to my pastry intake. But 18 months ago, my kids started eating solid food, and in trying to instill in them healthy eating habits and preferences, I took a hard look at my own diet. Coupled with reading books like Omnivore's Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and What to Eat, this process led me to a (slightly) healthier diet. But while my kids will eat plain quinoa (I'm half-proud and half-embarrassed that they could say "quinoa" and "couscous" before they could pronounce the dog's name), it doesn't do it for me.

Luckily for me, I own a bookstore with a great cookbook section, and I found a new book of healthier recipes—it's encouraging, creative, and healthy without being radical.

It's The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi. The first section of the book lays out some "best foods," most of which are familiar to those with at least a basic knowledge of nutrition: blueberries, whole grains, avocados, kale, etc. More helpful than the nutritional information, though, are the 225 recipes that don't go too far in healthifyin' your meal. This is no raw food rant or attempt to drop butter or bacon from your diet.

The recipe that caught my eye (and greatly pleased my wife last night) was the "Tuscan Minestrone with Butternut Squash and Farro." And there's "Pomegranate Tabbouleh." Need I say more? Most recipes are quick and easy—weekday meals—and none require exotic ingredients. A few recipes look unpromising (too much like what I tried cooking in college: stir-fries, "chili" spaghetti, etc.), but overall this is an inspiring book for those looking to healthy up their meals a little without going off the deep end and re-inventing their day-to-day diet.

Again, I'm no health nut—I'm happiest with a Zuni burger, eating dessert after lunch (or breakfast), and I have a weakness for fluffy pancakes. But this new book may just help sneak some kale into your frittata, if you know what I mean.

Thanks for reading.

 
the starlet

JUNE 10, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Presidio Social Club has been like a green room or something! On Friday night, the one and only Ted Allen of Bravo TV fame was there with 13 other people from the Robert Mondavi camp (he's a spokesperson for the brand). The group feasted on every appetizer on the menu; Ted had the oyster chowder as his entree. He was reportedly one of the nicest and most down-to-earth people my starlet source has ever met.

And then on Sunday night, Peter Coyote was at PSC, and dined on the chopped salad and the Berkshire pork, plus some lemonade and banana cream pie.

Some tablehopper readers were dining in the private room at Spruce on Saturday night for a friend's birthday and saw LeAnn Rimes dining with her husband, Dean. The reader says, "They were cute as can be and really sweet since they stopped into our area and said hello to the birthday boy." Classy!

 
the matchmaker

Bacchus Management Group (The Village Pub, Spruce, Pizza Antica) is seeking front of house and kitchen managers for its new and existing restaurants. Managers should possess at least 3 years of fine dining experience, a thorough knowledge of food and wine, and a passion for hospitality. Candidates should be personable and enthusiastic team players. We are looking to hire: sous and executive sous chefs, dining room managers, and pastry professionals.

We offer competitive salary, insurance benefits, 401k, meal discounts, and opportunity for growth and development. Please submit your cover letter and resume to: job@bacchusmanagement.com

 

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.

To subscribe to this list, please visit http://www.tablehopper.com/lets_talk/subscribe.html

To unsubscribe from this list, click this link:
%%url.unsub%%