tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: souper-duper.

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 starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
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Zojo Media

JANUARY 6, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Welcome back to the “real” world, gang. The past couple weeks were a nice break, no? Unfortunately, I am on day nine of this rotten cold/flu—it definitely pared back the ambitious scope of my L.A. itinerary last week. All I wanted to do was sleep. Being forced down into second gear did allow me some time to curl up and read Amarcord: Marcella Remembers, Marcella Hazan’s memoir. Which ended up inspiring me to make a few restorative recipes from her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, including the traditional Italian New Year’s Day dish of cotechino and lentils (the lentils are supposed to represent coins—bring on the money luck!). Did some of you eat Hoppin’ John, the classic Southern New Year’s Day dish? Any other New Year’s Day traditions out there (besides some hair of the dog and a hamburger, ha ha!)? Would love to know.

Since we’re on this New Year business, did you make any resolutions? Did you resolve to be a badass? Or just lose the proverbial ten pounds? I enjoyed the one I made last year: to cook a multi-course meal once a month for friends in my apartment. With all the eating out that I do, my cooking skills had become way too rusty. I managed to do seven dinner parties, not bad. This year I want to try prepping or cooking a nice meal each weekend so I have something homemade and tasty to heat up each Monday night, my guaranteed night in when I write my column.

I’m already ahead of the game, because when I got back from LA this weekend, I made not one but two homey recipes from Soup’s On!—because when you’re sick, all you want is homemade soup, right? Right. And since I don’t have a Jewish grandmother to make me matzo ball soup, this book should help get me through this cold AND the winter with easy soup ideas.

I have a lot of news and events to catch you up on this week, so let’s get crackin’.

Snifflingly yours,

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Zojo MediaJANUARY 6, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO A tablehopper reader gave me the head’s up that Joanna Karlinsky and Victoria Smiser’s six-restaurant ~FOOD COURT INSIDE THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER OF SAN FRANCISCO~ is now up and running—they opened their doors on New Year’s Day. And you thought opening one restaurant was tough—imagine six! The reader said, “Some of the ordered food items are very tasty: beef chili with red beans, Meetinghouse's breakfast biscuits with Meyer lemon curd and mudslides…” Sounds like a good start to me.

Here’s a recap of everything on offer:
CONFECTIONS BAKERY has daily breakfast pastries, everyday desserts, cakes for special occasions, childhood favorites, classic seasonal fruit selections, holiday treats, house-made candies and chocolates, roasted-seasoned nuts, and nut barks.
LULU DRINKS offers coffee from the oldest San Francisco roaster: Freed, Teller & Freed, with a “brewed by the cup” service, plus hand-made incidental ingredients, like caramel sauces and marshmallows. There will also be Harney & Sons Teas, the only American teas used by the British Royal family, and there are plans to bring the old-fashioned New York egg cream back into style. There are also fresh-squeezed juices and vegetable blends, and a small selection of wine, beer, and specialty cocktails (including nonalcoholic selections).
PRESSED will serve upscale, hot-pressed cheese sandwiches, with the option of meaty additions.
EMMA PEEL’S PIZZA PIE is a (mostly) organic, upscale pizza-to-go and delivery service.
JO-JO-TO-GO
offers meals to take home or to be eaten on premise, plus a gourmet salad bar with more than just greens—there are raw vegetables; tuna, egg, and chicken salads; low-fat bean and grain salads; hummus; baba ghannoush; Japanese maki; Chinese dim sum; and cheeses.
LUCKY DAWG GOURMET ICE CREAM AND FROZEN YOGURT features top-notch ingredients in house-made frozen yogurt, ice creams, and sorbets. There is an array of toppings made daily from scratch, including Meetinghouse Fudge Sauce. Ice cream sandwiches and cakes round out the offerings.
The Food Court at the JCCSF is open from 7am–7:30pm. 3200 California St. at Presidio.

A fried chicken place is returning to the Fillmore. And not just any fried chicken, but chicken and waffles. Hello. And in the Powell’s space, no less. Opening (hopefully) by mid-March will be ~GUSSIE’S CHICKEN AND WAFFLES~, a restaurant from Michele Wilson that she named after her grandmother. Wilson was part of the original team that opened the first Nor Cal franchise of Los Angeles’s famed Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles (I was a frequent visitor of the Pico location when I lived in LA 15 years ago—this is what happens when you date a guy from Kentucky). So you can say she knows chicken. And waffles. Wilson is no longer involved with Roscoe’s—she has most recently been catering and doing a variety of cooking appearances, but definitely thinks San Francisco needs some chicken and waffles. I have to agree with her.

She is making some changes to the Powell’s space, including exchanging the carpet for tile, swapping the windows into café-style sliding windows that will open, and is adding sidewalk seating. On the menu: homey and Southern comfort food that’s meant to be casual and priced right, and everything will be made fresh and from scratch, with no frozen items. There will also be some seafood, and vegan and vegetarian items. As for the chicken, it will be a quality product, and there will be waffles like a sweet potato version, and a cornmeal one, all topped with homemade syrup. Can’t wait. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore.

The Elite Café’s owner, Peter Snyderman, is partnering with Olivier Azancot and Eric Klein of B44, Plouf, and Cafe Bastille to open ~DISTRICT GRILL~ in the Voda Vodka Bar space, which will probably close in February when escrow is all wrapped up. The location originally had a kitchen, so the construction shouldn’t take too long—they are planning to open in mid-April. Some booths and tall cocktail tables will be going in, and cork floors might be installed as well. The contemporary American bistro menu will feature lunch-friendly (and wallet-friendly) items like skirt steak salad and sandwiches (also good to go), and the evening will bring a three-course prix-fixe menu with options. Lunch and dinner will be served Monday–Friday, with dinner additionally served on Saturday nights. Since there is full liquor, there will be a lounge space where guests can easily chillax over an after-work drink, plus there will be outdoor seating, possibly up to 34 seats in all. Elite’s executive chef, Jerry Mendoza, will oversee both kitchens, working closely with executive sous chefs and sous chefs at the Elite and District Grill. 56 Belden Pl. at Bush.

Changes over at ~MAGNOLIA~: chef Brandon Jew has departed, and sous chef Ronnie New is the, uh, new chef! He came to SF from New Orleans four years ago (let’s see if a little NOLA flair starts appearing on the menu), and has cooked at Le Petit Robert, Bar Crudo, and Range. Backing him up in the sous chef department in a couple weeks will be Danny Bowien and David Cabello of Serpentine. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

Opening next Wednesday January 14th in the Soma Grand is Charles Phan’s (Slanted Door) Chinese noodle bar and lounge: ~HEAVEN’S DOG~. The master of the noodles (and other menu items) is Andy Wai, most recently at Yank Sing—which means there might be some dumplings added to the menu on the weekends! Heaven’s Dog will be open for dinner to start, with lunch following soon thereafter. And as a reminder, a big highlight is the bar program, with 12 or so cocktails from bar manager Erik Adkins, featuring quality ice made from a special ice-making machine, plus a number of local favorite bartenders are also slated to take turns behind the stick. Olle Lundberg designed the space, with about 100 seats in all. The bar/lounge area has a long bar made of Douglas fir (over 20 feet long), plus cork walls and an orange color scheme, while the noodle shop features white tiles. The vibe in the evening will be a bit darker/intimate, plus there will be some DJ action. 1160 Mission St. at 7th St.

Hello co-caffeinated ones. Hello! Hi! How you doin’?! Hey! Hi! ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ is now roasting their own coffee, and by next week, all the coffee that’s available will be their own doing! There will be 13 kinds, and probably up to 20 by month’s end. Owner Jeremy Tooker was raving about the roaster they just installed, saying it’s amazing, and has never had so much control over the roasting process. Be sure to swing by and check out their handiwork! 375 Valencia St. at 15th St., 415-252-0800.

A while back, there was a liquor license change for ~LAUREL’S CUBAN RESTAURANT~ in Hayes Valley, announcing ~OTORO~ as the new tenant. Laurel’s windows are now papered over, so the change seems to be underway. No idea about the details of this new business yet. Anyone? If it is in fact Japanese, it seems to be trying to fit in with the duo of existing Hayes Valley Japanese restaurants that end in “o.” 205 Oak St. at Gough.

It’s sadly official: ~MISTRAL ROTISSERIE~ in the Ferry Building has closed after lease negotiations failed to pan out, plus some other tenancy issues too complicated to go into. I know a lot of folks will miss Fabrice and Betty’s baste-a-riffic food—they are considering trying to raise money to resuscitate Mistral in a future location. Best of luck to them in their future ventures.

In a major upset, the El Norteño taco truck wins ~BURRITO EATER’S 2008 SLAB SCRUM~! Dude. Check out the stats on the site! Time for me to get some bail bonds and a burrito.

Another upset, well, an item that is sure to upset some folks: according to this Craigslist ad, it seems like the owner of ~PALACE STEAK HOUSE~ really is trying to retire. 3047 Mission St. at 26th St., 415-647-2011.

In case you were wondering: ~MITCHELL’S ICE CREAM~ is not closed for good, just for some repainting and such until their reopening date of Monday January 25th! So no more eggnog ice cream for you this season, or for me… 688 San Jose Ave. at 29th St., 415-648-2300.

Fans of the ~SPRUCE~ burger (it’s meaty magic) and Burgundy will be happy to know the restaurant has decided to run the Burgers & Burgundy program indefinitely. On Sunday nights, you can take your pick from a selection of boutique red Burgundies, including varietals not regularly available by the bottle. The burger is $14, along with three different selections of Burgundy available at $12, $25, and $50. (A flight of all three is also available for $40. Hic.) Feeling decadent? Guests may choose to “spruce” up their burger by adding house-made pancetta for $3, or seared foie gras for $13. 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.

(Oh, and wild man Gary Pisoni will be at Spruce for the first of their monthly winemaker dinners on Monday January 12th. The five-course menu and pairings are $135—call 415-931-5100 to reserve your spot.)

All kinds of cool stuff happening at ~PICCINO~, starting with Mariquita Farm Night this Thursday January 8th from 5pm–7pm, which will now be a monthly occurrence. The second Hog Island Oyster Day is this Sunday January 11th from noon–5pm, with double the number of briny little beauties—mmmmm, cold-weather oysters! They will also be pouring some wines and local microbrews, while firing up pizzas and tossing a few seasonal salads. And then Piccino is taking a break from January 12th–14th—but the coffee bar will stay open from 7am–5pm.

For those of you missing Stuart Brioza of Rubicon’s cooking (like me), he will be cooking a special dinner at Piccino “To Celebrate The Light of Winter” on Sunday January 25th at 6pm. As Stuart said, “Cold water shellfish, citrus, braised greens and meats, mushrooms, root vegetables, smoked foods, preserves and the like, these are the bounty for me that truly sing.” No price yet, but you can reserve your seats by contacting Wayne at 415-350-5157.

So, was your New Year’s resolution to cook more as well? Well then, this should interest you. My friend James Stolich, who some may know from his ~COOK WITH JAMES DINNERS~, is now doing group cooking classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 7pm–10pm. The price is $50 per person, including wine. Here are some upcoming classes: tonight (Tuesday the 6th) is gnocchi; Tuesday the 13th is flatbread pizza; and Thursday the 15th is polpettini Napoletani (Neapolitan meatballs)—learn the secret to making them light! Gnocchi night returns on Tuesday the 20th in case you want to learn how to make them fluffy (dinner includes a salad of radicchio and mint). And if you don’t feel like cooking at all, Saturday the 17th is a CookWithJames supper club dinner, with kale soup, pasta, seafood, braised boar shoulder, and dessert for $100 per person (guests bring wine). Photos from the past week’s cooking classes can be found on the CWJ Facebook fan page. Buon appetito! Email him at james [at] stolich [dot] com to sign up and learn more.

imageMore cookin’ news: one of my favorite how-to cooks, ~MARK BITTMAN~, will be in town at Book Passage on Monday January 12th to talk about Food Matters: A Guide To Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes ($24). As the announcement says, “From the award-winning guru of culinary simplicity and author of the bestselling How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian comes a plan for responsible eating that’s as good for the planet as it is for the waistline.” 6pm. Details on how to buy an autographed book here. 1 Ferry Building, #42, 415-835-1020.

Do you take photos of your food? I know, I think I have more pics of food than friends in my iPhoto archive. Anyway. Former New York Times food photographer Lou Manna just announced a ~FUN PHOTO CONTEST~ called “Best Looking Food of 2009.” Participants are asked to hit their kitchens, whip up some eye-catching dishes, snap photographs, and the winning shot will be used as the cover art for Lou’s forthcoming second book, More Digital Food Photography. The winner will also walk away with a bag of food- and photography-related goodies. You can check out Lou in a brief video about the contest on YouTube. For more contest info, log on to DigitalFoodPhotos.com/blog.

Ready for some mmmmmeat? Chris Cosentino at ~INCANTO~ is launching a new dinner concept called “Leg of Beast"—it’s a version of his whole beast dinners, but made accessible for smaller groups. For $200, six–eight people can reserve an entire leg of beef with all its components (shank, marrow bone, and tendon in a salad with cannellini beans). The cost is exclusive of tax, tip, apps, and dessert (if you have room for them!). 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-641-4500.

Wait, you want more meat? Jeez. You got it. Laïola is hosting a ~PIG AND CRAB AND WINE FEAST~ on Wednesday January 14th, with Liz and Markus Bokisch of Bokisch Vineyards. Guests will be served five Spanish varietal wines, passed tapas (including bacon-wrapped dates with house-made chorizo and chickpea croquetas), spicy, grilled Dungeness crab (get your napkins ready), and spit-roasted whole pig. Plus a chocolate duel for dessert. Seats are $95—call 415-346-5641 to make reservations. More happenings at Laïola: every Monday is paella Monday, with a salad, paella, and churros and hot chocolate for $25; and then there is $9 Tuesdays, when everything on the menu is at most $9 on Tuesdays. Oh yeah, and there’s a new lamb burger, with harissa aioli and pickled onions, all on an Acme bun for $9 that also sounds mighty fine. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

Did all this meat freak you out? Okay, I normally don’t cover wine country in the ‘hopper, but I had to share: the fabulous ~UBUNTU~ in Napa is offering a special three-course dinner for $30 per person Monday through Thursday through January 18th. Guests can choose any three courses for $30, with each additional course offered at $10 per person. Want all savory? Or two dessert, and one savory? Go for it! (Please note: Ubuntu will be closed for their winter break January 19th–February 2nd). 1140 Main St., Napa, 707-251-5656.

There will be an ~A16 FOOD + WINE BOOK SIGNING~ at Chez Panisse with Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren on Wednesday January 14th. Chez Panisse Café will be serving an A16-inspired menu, along with a special wine selection from the Campania region. Book signing is from 5pm–9:30pm. For reservations or more info, call the restaurant at 510-548-5525 or the café at 510-548-5049.

imageOver at the Pasta Shop in Berkeley, California artisan cheesemakers will be ~SAMPLING THEIR CHEESES WITH AUTHOR CLARK WOLF~, who will be discussing and signing his new book: AMERICAN CHEESES: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses, Who Makes Them, and Where to Find Them on Friday January 16th from 6pm–7:30pm. Participating cheesemakers include: Achadinha Cheese, Bellwether Farms, Bravo Farms, Bubalis Bubalus, Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove, Fiscalini, Franklin Peluso, Laura Chenel, Marin French, Point Reyes, Redwood Hill, Sadie Kendall, Three Sisters, Vella Cheese, and Winchester Cheese. RSVP for free admission by calling 510-250-6004 or email events@pastashop.net (otherwise the event is $10 at the door). Net proceeds benefit the California Artisan Cheese Guild. 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510 250-6004.

Coinciding with this book signing, ~CAFÉ ROUGE~, next door, will offer special menu items featuring twelve California artisan cheeses, January 14th–18th. 1782 4th St. at Virginia, Berkeley, 510-525-1440.

And now this is in the unconfirmed department since ~BURMA SUPERSTAR~ didn’t get back to me in time, but a star tablehopper reader writes in: “Here is a bit of news in my hood (Oakland’s hip Temescal District) that would be great to let folks know about: Horseshoe, an American food restaurant at 4721 Telegraph, apparently is changing hands and being bought by Burma Superstar. There’s also word that ~AUNT MARY’S CAFÉ~, an American/Southern restaurant down the street on Telegraph will soon begin serving dinner to pick up the slack. Although Horseshoe was a pretty good restaurant, it never really caught on. Hopefully Burma Superstar will be as successful as the one on Clement Street.” Aunt Mary’s said they are considering adding dinner service, but nothing is confirmed yet. Will let you know when I get some confirmations about the what, when, and where for Burma Superstar!
 


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the regular

image

Suzu Noodle House
1825 Post St.
(Kinokuniya Bldg.)
Cross: Webster St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
415-346-5083

Wed–Mon 11:30am–3pm
5pm–9:30pm
Closed Tue

image

image

Sapporo-Ya Japanese Restaurant
1581 Webster St.
(Kinokuniya Bldg.)
Cross: Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
415-563-7400

Mon–Fri 11am–11pm
Sat–Sun 11am–10:30pm

image

Tanpopo
1740 Buchanan St.
Cross: Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
415-346-7132

Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm
5:30pm–10:30pm
Sat–Sun 11:30am–10:30pm



JANUARY 6, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO I love double plays. Back in the day, I remember getting drinks at Dalva while waiting for a table at Ti Couz... But now I’d say dinner at Bar Crudo followed by an after-dinner drink and dessert at Café Claude would be my idea of a good one-two, or picking up a Bi-Rite ice cream cone after some tacos or a pizza from Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission. Lately, one of my favorite nights in the City has to be catching a flick at the Sundance Kabuki (so civilized), and balancing out the extra-spendy ticket (because it’s worth it, and I’m worth it) with an inexpensive bowl of ramen before the show.

Sadly, San Francisco’s ramen shops haven’t quite transported me to ramen nirvana. I know I am not alone in this. Santa Ramen in San Mateo is pretty damned delicious—I  was thrilled to have the opportunity to partake in a bowl after spending Christmas with my family before heading back to SF last month. Ditto on points for San Mateo’s Himawari (it’s nice to be a local girl) and way back in the day, Kaimuki Grill used to make an awesome bowl o’ noodles (no longer) in the 650 as well. Katana-ya holds the title as my SF fave for ramen, especially with their late hours, bonus.

As for Japantown, I went to Mifune and Iroha for years, and usually ordered their udon. Mifune is easy if you’re solo and/or in a rush, while Iroha is quiet and peaceful—you could happily spread out in a booth with a paper for an hour. Decent broth, nice service, $10, done.

But with the chilly weather, and wallet-tightening time, I’ve been on a ramen-and-movie tear lately, so here are a few mini-recaps of a few other spots I’ve been hitting in J-town. Gotta love a belly-warming dinner for $10.

You can easily pick out ~SUZU NOODLE HOUSE~—it’s the one with the long DMV-like lines. It’s good, one of the better places in town, but unfortunately, Suzu did not impress me on my last visit. The noodles are usually nice and springy, but the broth was missing some depth. And dag, my mabo ramen, a tasty and slightly spicy mix of tofu and ground pork (don’t let the chili pepper on the menu scare you, this dish is mild enough for most seven-year-olds) wasn’t served hot. Like, damn, if you’re going to have me wait and wait for a table and wait some more for my noodles, at least have that puppy come out piping hot. Even let me burn my mouth a little, because otherwise I’ll be halfway into my bowl and that thing rapidly starts to resemble a lukewarm bath, with some soap scum on top, and I want out. The karaage/fried chicken version is one of my faves, in fact, it’s really well done here, but the long waits and me being short on time can drive me elsewhere.

Like where? Well, if I feel like taking a trip back to the décor of my childhood, it’s hard to beat the 1970’s time warp of ~SAPPORO-YA~, just upstairs from Suzu. Yup, you get some bad overhead lighting, a weird greenish hue to the room, dingy furnishings, even grass-cloth wallpaper. And Muzak! This place has been around for 30 years, so the décor is too legit to quit. I dig the pottery and vintage bowls everything comes in, only adding to the 70s vibe.

The servers keep their cards close to their chest—super brisk and efficient, these ladies. So no B.S., claptrap, and shooting the breeze, babe. Although I usually see parents with kids in here, but they’re often well-behaved Japanese kids—as my grandma would say, “No fighting, no biting!”

I’m a fan of the kimchee ramen here because, hey, I like some kick, and it comes with their pork that for some reason has this homey taste to it—almost like it’s a pork roast your nana would make—a little fatty, too. The bamboo shoots soak up the savory broth, and there’s also some hard-boiled egg hiding in there. It’s not transcendent ramen, but it fits the bill.

Supposedly they make their own noodles, but I have never seen anyone in the front window using the vintage-looking noodle stretching machine. Prop, or reality? I dunno. Anyone have some proof?

While I am only talking ramen in this piece, I will add that Sapporo-Ya is one of the few places in town where you can get okonomiyaki, an eggy pancake that is quite the pile-up, with shrimp, plus some meat (pork, beef), cabbage, scallion, and doused with a Worcestershire-tasting sauce and sweet Kewpie mayo—the one here comes on a vintage-looking oval plate on a wooden base, with super hot mustard (karashi) on the side. Oh, and bonito flakes on top. It’s really dense, and I’d prefer it with a lot less sauce, and more shrimp (I only counted two). I think I need to try this dish elsewhere to become a fan. In fact, I need to be in charge of making it like you’re supposed to be. Oh, to be in Japan.

Oh yeah, we’re on ramen. Back on track. For pure kitsch, here’s one place that cracks me up with its kookiness: ~TANPOPO~. The place is quite the scene, packed with a bunch of tables of mostly-young Japanese diners ordering as many bowls of ramen as small plates from the izakaya-like menu (I can’t vouch for the small plates—only been here on ramen detail, but the gyoza looked really good).

The place is lit like a lab, with the odd addition of fresh flowers here and there (we had a huge bouquet of red long-stemmed roses next to our table, uh, thanks), the TV blaring Japanese shows (gotta love variety shows with tranny-like characters on it), a curving and glossy bar counter (good for single diners), and wow, our server truly did not speak a lick of English. The menu is actually a little ESL too—you won’t be exactly sure what you’re doing or ordering unless you have some basic ramen jargon down. But bonus points for making me feel like I wasn’t in San Francisco!

Did not love the fruit flies, though. Or the skanky bathroom. Hrm. Maybe get some of the fresh flowers back there? So, don’t go to the bathroom if you subscribe to the ignorance is bliss policy, and don’t order tea—they just heat up tea that comes in a plastic bottle, so random and kuh-razy.

Now, after all those caveats, to the ramen. I thoroughly enjoyed the shoyu chashu (a substantial soy-based rich broth, with nicely fatty pork)—it came with the bonus of fish cake, plus some seaweed, and the requisite scallion, and half an egg. I could be wrong, but the bamboo shoots had a canned taste. Go for the extra pork for $1, it’s so worth it. This place had primo people watching, and not only do they have Kirin on draught, but they also have full liquor in case you’d like some Jack or Chivas with your noodles. Hilarious. This place wins on personality, that’s for sure. But health scores, eh, not so much.

So which one will it be, Waiting for Godot, That 70’s Show, or Blade Runner? I’d have to do a much more detailed tasting of all three in the same week to really decide a “favorite,” so let’s just leave it up to your mood. Slurp on.

 
the lush

Zojo MediaDECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO According to permits, Last Laugh Coffee is becoming ~NOETECA~ (an enoteca/wine bar?). The number is disconnected, so we’ll have to see what pops up. Here’s a little tablehopper P.I. work: one of the names on the permit, Scott McDonald, might be the Last Laugh’s former employee, Scott, so we’ll have to see… Any Noe residents have some intel? 1551 Dolores St. at 29th St.

imageOver in North Beach, Magnet has transitioned to becoming ~CHURCH KEY~, a bar featuring primarily beers, 55 in all, from microbrews to imports. Eight are on tap, with the rest bottled—and the beers rotate, so there’s always something new to try, plus there are also some well-priced wines. The place has a turn-of-the-century traveler look, with unique wallpaper (the floral pattern actually features demons), exotic light fixtures, a copper bar, and an ever-growing collection of Victorian artwork, like pinned butterflies. There’s an upstairs mezzanine with room for 20, and about 15 at the downstairs bar. Church Key just finished its soft opening, and is now open nightly, starting at 5pm until midnight, and until 2am Thu–Sat. Happy hour is daily until 8pm, with $2 off all draft beers. The grand opening will be the weekend of January 30 and 31st.

The owner is Jason King, who some may know from his place Broken Record out in the Excelsior. Since the Broken Record has a kitchen (and some cool chefs, more on this in a moment), it will be supplying Church Key with some exotic meat pies that will be heated in ramekins in the bar’s convection oven, like braised oxtail, venison with brandied cherry, and a root vegetable version, all under $10. That’s some mighty fine and beer-ready bar food.
So, about the chefs: they are Ryan Ostler and Katharine Zacher, a couple who met while working in the pastry department at Boulevard. Zacher has also worked at Campton Place, as well as Firefly, where she became the pastry chef. Ostler helped open Range (he was behind the brill Brillat-Savarin soufflé), plus Quince, tinderbox, and Serpentine. So now you know who’s doin’ that tasty food you’re eating while sipping your beer. 1402 Grant Ave. at Union, 415-963-1713.

~PINK~ in the Mission closed this past weekend, and word on the street is Frankie Boissy is still the owner, but is reportedly transforming the space into more of an upscale nightclub experience. Does this mean bottle service is coming to the corner of South Van Ness and 16th Street? Eep. Time will tell. I’m just gonna say it: I miss my Mondays at Liquid. 2925 16th St. at S. Van Ness.

More in the bottle service department (a runaway train, will this trend just stay in Vegas, please?): ~INFUSION LOUNGE~, the $4.6 million “ultra lounge” and restaurant is officially opening this weekend on January 9th (“the most anticipated opening of this decade,” according to the website). I’m calling designer Kinney Chan’s look “Enter the Dragon”—you can check out pics for yourself here. And yes, the bathroom is coed, every woman’s favorite. As for the restaurant portion of the project, I’ll let the website do the talking for what’s on the menu: “Post-Modern New California Fusion small plates with a very strong gastro-molecular presence.” All righty then. Open Tue–Sat. 124 Ellis St. at Powell. 

Greg Bronstein has done the BOC shuffle, and is moving the ~BAR ON CASTRO~ (staff included) to the former Transfer location, and is calling it the BOC, Bar on Church. The launch happens on Tuesday January 20th—we’ll have to see if the boyz want to venture that far down Market Street. Well, I imagine they will on January 20th, when there will be complimentary cocktails from 9pm–11pm, timed to synchronize with Obama’s Inauguration Day. Craige Walters did the interior, with a mirror ball-inspired back bar, plus special lighting and effects, a new sound system, and game room. According to the press release, “BOC’s weekly parade of parties will reflect favorites – with a bump!” (I wouldn’t tell the police that.) Anyway. The line-up, ahem, includes Manic Mondays (with ‘80s music and 80-cent cosmos—that’s about all people should pay for them), Tuesday is Womanizer (ladies drink for half price—although I’d like to see the bar determine what constitutes a “lady” that night), Wednesday is Booty Call, Thursdays and Sundays is Kick It (Long Island Iced Tea specials, which basically means a one-way ticket to a black-out), and DJs on Fridays and Saturdays. Open daily 12pm–2am. 198 Church St. at Market.

Over at ~ZINNIA~, lead ‘tender Jackie Patterson is back from her trip to France for the Marie Brizard 2008 Cocktail Challenge, and was inspired to come up with a new light and delicate aperitif cocktail, Le Mistral. The base ingredient is Pineau des Charentes, a fortified white Bordeaux grape juice that is often consumed as a slightly sweet aperitif, plus some brandy, lemon verbena leaves from chef Sean O’Brien and his wife Pat’s garden, stirred and served in a chilled martini glass with a little lemon oil, plus a spanked lemon verbena leaf (bad leaf, bad!). It’s $7, and will be available from Tuesday through Saturday of this week. 500 Jackson St. at Montgomery, 415-956-7300.

Oh, and in case you wanted to get a copy of the ~BIXOLOGY~ book I mentioned a few weeks back, Bix is the only place you can get the book until Chronicle releases it in early spring. Bix will happily ship it to you. The book is $16.95, and is $21.50 with first class postage and tax. 56 Gold St. off Montgomery, 415-433-6300.

 
the socialite

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Meatpaper Meat & Greet—Issue Six
Sun., Jan. 11, 2009

Acme Chophouse
24 Willie Mays Plaza
Corner of 3rd St. and King
Adjacent to AT&T Park
San Francisco, CA

website

6pm­–9pm

$25 per person
Purchase advance tickets here.



JANUARY 6, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO This Sunday is the ~MEATPAPER MEAT & GREET FOR ISSUE SIX~ at Acme Chophouse. Chef Ryan Farr (of Ivy Elegance and the CHEFS program, formerly of Orson restaurant) will break down a whole pig, while Sam White and Chris Kronner from OPENrestaurant will create a nose-to-tail beef cooking presentation and tastings. And chef Staffan Terje of Perbacco will serve his famous charcuterie and now infamous meat desserts (including the bacon marshmallows). Executive chef Thom Fox of Acme will be dishing up rotisserie meats, and there will be seasonal vegetarian dishes from Leif Hedendal.

Cocktails, wine, and beer will be flowing.

FEATURED SPONSORS:
Chef Thom Fox (Acme Chophouse)
Chef Staffan Terje (Perbacco)
Chef Leif Hedendal
Chef Ryan Farr (Ivy Elegance and CHEFS Program)
Sam White & Chris Kronner (OPENrestaurant)
Prather Ranch Meat Co.
Devil's Gulch Ranch
Meyer Family Cellars
Fontanella Family Winery
Quixote
Verge Syrah
Bluecoat Gin
Trumer Pils

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Free Author Events
Sat. Jan. 10th–31st, 2009

Omnivore Books on Food
3885A Cesar Chavez St.
Cross: Church St.
San Francisco, CA 94131

415-282-4712
website

JANUARY 6, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Omnivore Books on Food is hosting a variety of ~COOKBOOK AUTHOR EVENTS~ in their new bookstore. All January events are free, and will take place on Saturday afternoons at the shop. Here’s a listing below:

Saturday January 10th, 3pm–4pm
Heirloom Beans with Vanessa Barrington
Local author and founding member of the Noe Valley Farmers Market, Vanessa Barrington will discuss and provide food samples made from recipes in the book she co-authored with Steve Sando, Heirloom Beans.

Saturday January 17th, 3pm–4pm
A16 Food + Wine by Nate Appleman, Shelley Lindgren, and Kate Leahy
Chef and owners Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren from A16 will discuss and sign their acclaimed cookbook, A16 Food + Wine, and will bring food from recipes in the book for all to enjoy.

Saturday January 24th, 3pm–4pm
Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu
Anita Chu will offer tips and recipes for making Valentine's Day cookies. Her book, Field Guide to Cookies, was published this year, and her cookies will be here.

Saturday January 31st, 4pm–5pm
Red, White and Brew by Brian Yaeger
Brian Yaeger will give a talk about craft brews and discuss his book, Red, White and Brew, about his travels across the United States to numerous breweries. A variety of craft beers will of course be available to sample!

 
the starlet

JANUARY 6, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Up North in Healdsburg, Dry Creek Kitchen and Hotel Healdsburg played host to Hilary Swank and her boyfriend this past week. She dined at Dry Creek Kitchen three nights in a row–including spending New Year’s Eve there. She and her boyfriend reportedly played a game of cards at the table. No, it wasn’t strip poker.

So, this wasn’t in a restaurant, but hey, we’re talking about Daniel Boulud, who was spotted by a tablehopper reader on his Virgin America flight from NYC to San Francisco on Sunday. He was drinking Heineken and watching CNN during the flight. No, he didn’t pack a mini cassoulet and ask the flight attendant to warm it up for him. Anyone know what he was in town for? Does this mean he’s going to start After Hours With Daniel here? (A girl can dream.) He was also spotted having dinner at Quince last night with Paul Bocuse. Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s Bocuse d’Or time! The competition is at the end of this month in Lyon, so I imagine things are heating up at the training center in Yountville!

 
 

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