tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: phat tuesday.

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
this round is on me


Noisepop 2009

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

FEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO As planned, last week was a total tasty blast, and included Tuesday’s LIOCO dinner at Conduit and the “Three on Five” beverage battle/sommelier smackdown at Fifth Floor. Let me tell you, it’s tough to agree or even disagree with a somm sitting next to you with a custom-designed cloche around their neck that says “Lord of All Sommeliers.” (Yes, I am talking about you, Paul Einbund, oh Lord.)

It was beginning to smell like a cheese cave over here at tablehopper HQ with all of your entries to the Artisan Cheese Festival contest. Thank you everyone who wrote in! I now have a bunch of ideas for new-to-me cheeses to hunt down. Looks like some favorites amongst you cheese heads are Brillat-Savarin (says one reader, “It’s like crack in a rind!”—I couldn’t have said it better), Mimolette (“Who wouldn't love a cheese created by mites!”), fabulously stinky Epoisses, La Tur, Humboldt Fog, and Manchego. Plus one vote for American cheese, heh. For those who didn’t win but still want to go, you can read all the event details here.

It’s time to think green, and I am not talking all eco and Hybrid and reclaimed wood, my friends. What I’m talking about is a total festa del pesto! I am going to be hosting a special tablehopper event at Farina on the evening of Thursday March 5th, and it was designed with our current hard financial times in mind. Read all about it in the socialite below, and I hope to see you there! Let’s feast at the festa!

And now, in the “completely blown away” department, it ends up my ad sales rock star, Kate, totally pulled the best three-year anniversary surprise on me, and secretly asked some of my colleagues and industry friends (and generous sponsors!) to sign an imaginary tablehopper birthday card of sorts. She sprung the document on me yesterday, chock-full of warm-fuzzy comments. Awwww shucks. [Insert big ole blush here.]

It’s ultimately quite embarrassing (and not very humble) to publish nice things about yourself, but I am including the kind regards at the end of this week’s chatterbox since that was the point of it all. What a gift. Purr purr. Thank you all SO much for the sweet words and wishes and support—it makes all my late Monday nights oh-so worth it. I feel very fortunate to work with such fab folks.

And thank YOU Kate, you stinker! You’re gonna get it.

Laissez le bon temps roulez!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Domaine CarnerosFEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Last week I scouted out a couple soon-to-open projects in North Beach. First, I got a tour of the updated ~WASHINGTON SQUARE BAR & GRILL~, which is on target to reopen on March 2nd. The new owners are business partners Liam and Susan Tiernan of Tiernan's Pub in Fisherman's Wharf. They did some major reconstruction, including replacing the floors, putting in an all-new kitchen, making the space ADA-compliant, and much more. The décor will still feel very much the same to those who remember it well (including the presence of some original “ampersand” cocktail napkins at the bar).

But there are also new touches, like portraits by photographer Jock McDonald of local characters on the walls, like Willie, Robert Mondavi, and Ed Moose. Herb Caen’s typewriter is also going to be on display. Most of the original kitchen staff is returning, plus three bartenders (Mike McCourt, Mitch Gilbreath, Mike Fraser), and Leslie Hall will be hosting a few days a week. There will also be piano jazz nightly. The chef is Jacques Rousseau, and his dinner menu includes approachable starters like mussels, a variety of salads, and calamari, plus main-dish pastas, a flatiron steak, roasted chicken breast, a pork rack, and pan-seared sea bass. The Washbag will be open daily 11:30am–10pm for dining, with the bar until 2am. Lunch will be served 11:30am–2:30pm, a bar menu until 5pm, and then dinner from 5pm–10pm. Look for a big block party in April or May. Welcome back. 1707 Powell St. at Columbus, 415-433-1188.

I also pedaled on down Columbus to get a peek at ~PICKLES~, formerly the old Clown Alley that Tom Duffy took over a couple years ago. It has undergone quite the transformation: the outdoor patio is now enclosed, with a retractable roof (when that puppy is open, it has a million-dollar view of the Transamerica building), a fireplace, heat lamps, and comfy booths with dotted upholstery. Inside, there are wood-slat walls and sections of the ceiling that almost feel chalet-like, plus woven chairs, striped glass-globe lights, and booths with a gold circle pattern.

The chef is Matthew Kerley, who was formerly in the kitchen at Myth. The menu sounds, quite frankly, totally delicious: to start, deviled eggs, or a pot of pickles with pork rillette and grilled ciabatta, or grilled asparagus, plus five inventive salads like the sure-to-be-a-hit-with-the-FiDi-crowd slider salad (three Prather Ranch 3 oz. beef patties, petite romaine heart, ciabatta croutons, tomatoes, shaved egg, creamy garlic tarragon dressing, and Grana Padano, for $9). The burgers feature Prather Ranch beef, plus there’s a grilled Rosie’s chicken sandwich, an ahi tuna or vegetarian burger, and Prather Ranch hot dogs, served either plain, Chicago, or taxi-style with chili. You can also get beer-battered Vidalia onion rings, or mini corn dogs on the side, how cute. Save room for dessert, because not only is there actual East Coast frozen custard on offer, but custard sundaes to boot. Alex Fox, who worked with Duffy at Myth, put together the well-chosen wine list, with selections available by the glass, carafe, and bottle. It may be a hamburger joint, but the wine list even includes a few exclusives, like Aviemore Napa Valley cab. Pickles is going to be open for lunch to start, from 10am–4pm or 5pm or thereabouts, and then dinner will kick in on April 1st (no joke), with service until 10pm Tue–Thu, and until 3am Fri–Sat. 42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson, 415-421-2540.

CharbayMore North Beach news: found out the former Broadway Joe’s bar (which was later part of Piazza Navona) is going to transform into ~THE VIN CLUB~, a project from Dario Zucconi of Tommaso’s (his family has owned Tommaso’s since 1973). As you can ascertain from the name, it’s going to be a wine bar, serving a number of boutique and artisanal wines, with plans to offer up to 40 selections by the glass. There will also be salumi, a variety of grilled panini, and specialty cheeses. Zucconi is very passionate about wine—he started a wine club at Tommaso’s, and even has his own award-winning wine, VinNostro. There will also be a series of wine classes, called wineED. The space will have a polished look that will include Tiffany lighting and the original mahogany floors—plus there will be a bar top made of branded panels from boxes of high-end wines. The layout will include a lounge area with loveseats, plus a combination of seats at a variety of high tables, a communal table, small tables, and the 15-seat bar. Hours will be Wed–Thu 4pm–11am, Fri 4pm–1am, Sat noon–1am, Sun noon–9pm, and the space will be available for special events on Mondays and Tuesdays. If all goes well, the opening should be in late April or so. 515 Broadway at Kearny.

Just down the street, looks like there are some new owners of the vacant ~CROWBAR~. The DBA says Three Stars Yong De. Huh. Someone in the neighborhood mentioned a restaurant. Time will tell. 401 Broadway at Montgomery.

And now in the totally and completely unconfirmed rumor department, I heard a little buzz about the Beretta boys, Ruggero Gadaldi (Antica, Pesce) and Adriano Paganini (Pasta Pomodoro), making an offer on the former ~RUBICON~ space. Stand by for more. 558 Sacramento St. at Montgomery.

Way out in the Outsidelands, guess who is now open in the previous Feel Real Organic Café space? Hint: ~OUTERLANDS~! Back in October, I mentioned owners (and couple) Lana Porcello and David Muller were opening this café-meets-restaurant, with a menu of good soups, salads, and seasonal/farmers’ market-fresh vegetable dishes, plus house-baked bread—you can read the always-changing menu on the site. There is also wine, beer, tea, and coffee from Trouble Coffee. The space has a rustic-meets-elegant-beach shack-look, made with almost exclusively recycled materials. The owners are excited to offer a community space, building on (and feeding) the scene that nearby Mollusk started with its surf-and-art crowd. It’s a cozy little spot, serving dinner Tue–Sat 5pm–10pm, and Sunday brunch and lunch are coming soon. 4001 Judah St. at 45th St., 415-661-6140.

Just a reminder, ~THE TIPSY PIG~ opens today in the Marina. You can read all the details in the tablehopper from February 10th, and the website (with the menu) is now live. There’s also a sneak-peek video about it that just went live here. 2231 Chestnut St. at Pierce, 415-292-2300.

~DUPONT THAI~ (located on Grant in North Beach) will be opening a second location in the Tinderbox space in Bernal Heights. The opening is planned for three or four weeks out. 803 Cortland Ave. at Ellsworth.

While hanging out with the self-appointed Lord of All Sommeliers (Paul Einbund, a partner in Coi) on Wednesday, I learned the agreement is in place for him and his wife Vanessa to take over a sandwich shop, Jona’s on Hyde, in Russian Hill. Once the investors are all finalized, the Einbunds will be opening ~WARMTH~, a combination café-retail shop-wine bar-yarn store. (You got all that?) And how convenient, the Einbunds live upstairs. There will be around 24 seats, where you can enjoy a Blue Bottle Coffee pulled from what is hoped to be the first brand-new La San Marco lever machine in SF (only vintage lever machines are currently available). There will also be some teas (including pulled Malaysian tea), morning pastries and bread from Pinkie’s Bakery, charcuterie from a local maker. Soyoung Scanlan of Andante will be selecting cheeses for Warmth, whether she is making them or importing them. Oh yeah, and there will be three kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches, plus a few rotating specials. Look for some cheese events, from classes to tastings to visiting affineur meet-and-greets. Neighbors should be pleased with the retail component, since customers can purchase their favorite fromages to bring home. Paul will be selecting the beer and wine, including both a super-delicious yet affordable red and white wine that will be available each month for retail purchase—around $10 a bottle. In the back, there will be a colorful floor-to-ceiling yarn shop. Warmth will be open daily from 7am–7pm. Stand by for an opening date. 1800 Hyde St. at Vallejo.

NoisepopAnother space takeover: opening in the former Moonstruck Café on Chestnut next Tuesday March 3rd will be the third location of Meg Ray’s ~MIETTE~. The retail bakery and sweet shop will be carrying everything that is available at the Ferry Building location, mixed with a specially selected offering of candy and chocolate bars that is at the Octavia confiserie location (including Mast Brothers chocolate bars, handmade marzipan, French marshmallows, etc.). There will also be a specialty item of chouquette that will exclusive to the Chestnut Street location (made on-site in the tiny kitchen in the back). You’ll be able to pass under the striped awning to get your sugar on from 10am–8pm daily. 2109 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-359-0628.

Out in the Richmond, I heard the transition from Cable Car Pizza to ~CASA HOOKAH~ (warning: the site has music!) is complete. The Middle Eastern ambiance (fabric, bean bags, hookahs) is matched by a menu of tajines, moussaka, kebabs, moussaka, and couscous. Oh, and it looks like there is still pizza, too. Huh. 4724 Geary Blvd. at 11th Ave., 415-387-7300.

A tablehopper reader wrote in to let me know ~MIDPOINT~ in the former Holy Grail on Polk Street has closed up shop—and the phone is disconnected, which is usually pretty telling. 1233 Polk St. at Bush.

In the better news department, today is ~MARDI GRAS~! Sorry to say Town Hall has sold out their annual party, but I hear Orson is doing N.O.L.A. in S.O.M.A., with all-night $5 drink specials, featuring Hurricanes and more, plus Big Easy bar snacks all week, like house-made andouille and hush puppies, chicken and waffle bites with cane syrup, and jambalaya. The MenuPages blog has a round up with a couple more ideas for Mardi Gras-celebration spots. And if you want to try something different, Ozumo Restaurant in Oakland will be hosting an “East Meets West” Mardi Gras celebration, with live drummers and samba dancers and Fat Tuesday Brazilian drink specials. There will be no cover charge, and no reservations are required. The party begins at 5pm. (P.S. Ozumo is now open for lunch on weekdays from 11:30am–2pm.) 2251 Broadway at Grand Avenue, Oakland, 510-286-9866.

Congrats to chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza, who is the next local chef to compete on the Food Network’s show ~IRON CHEF AMERICA~. He will be competing against Cat Cora, with Marty Cattaneo (chef de cuisine at Ubuntu in Napa) and James Syhabout (former chef de cuisine at Manresa, now working on his own place in Oakland, Commis) backing him up. It all goes down on Sunday March 1st—tune in.

Time for an Italian meal deal... and how shocking, it’s not on a Sunday or Tuesday night. ~JOVINO~ in Cow Hollow is hosting a spaghetti feed every Saturday night from 6pm–10pm. You’ll be able to get a bowl of spaghetti, Niman Ranch meatballs, and a glass of their house vino, all for $9. Uh, yeah—that’s a price that’s hard to argue with. Parties of six or more are encouraged to call for reservations. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.

More deals: Zagat’s just released a ~SAN FRANCISCO DINING DEALS GUIDE~ for $5.95. It’s handy to have a fair amount of cheap eats places all listed in one place, and it’s pretty up-to-date, and it even has lesser-known places like Good Frikin’ Chicken, but I also found some of my ethnic faves were missing (what, no Turtle Tower?).

Swing by Omnivore Books on ~OMNIVORE BOOKS ON FOOD~ on Saturday March 7th from 3pm–4pm to hang out with Joyce Goldstein, who will talk about her many wonderful books, including Mediterranean Fresh and Italian Slow and Savory. She will bring food she has made from these books for all to sample. And then there’s Peter Reinhart (the bread man, the bread meister!), on March 8th, and Flo Braker, fabulous author of Baking for All Occasions on the 14th. Check out the entire line-up of authors and times here. 3885A Cesar Chavez St. at Church, 415-282-4712.

Sunday March 8th is the ~YBCALIVE!: EAT-IN WITH SLOW FOOD NATION~ to celebrate the closing of The Art of Slow Food Nation installation. Here’s more from the press release: “An Eat-In is a group of people in a public space sharing a home-cooked meal. Consider it a “political potluck”: we gather around the table to eat with old and new friends and we start talking about what we can do to bring more people good, healthy food. This “Sunday Supper” Eat-In will feature activists, artists, gardeners and community leaders hosting conversations about traditional foodways and new ideas for community-based food systems. As it’s a public potluck, your “ticket” to the event will be the food you bring to share, which should reflect your ancestral culture and community; bring something your grandmother would have brought. Please bring your own plate, cup and silverware, too. Then sit down, introduce yourself and let’s eat!” 1pm, free. YBCA Grand Lobby, 701 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-978-2787.

Opening any day now is ~ADESSO~ from Jon Smulewitz of Dopo in Oakland. The space is being described as an Italian sports bar, complete with a foosball table and flat-screen TV. But no Buffalo wings here: look for antipasti, salumi sliced on a Sirman slicer, panini, piadine, and an all-Italian wine list ranging from affordable to expensive. And it gets better: there is also a full bar, with a cocktail menu of around 15 cocktails that were put together by Jay Kosmas of Employees Only in New York (he came out with one of his business partners to train the staff). The sleek space has a silver and red color scheme, 49 seats, and hours are TBD: 5pm–midnight, and possibly until 1am or 2am on the weekends. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, 510-601-0305.

Ghirardelli SquareAnd now, the surprise pile o’ birthday/anniversary wishes I received yesterday from my friends and colleagues... Much love and sincere thanks to you all—now excuse me while I go turn the color of my car. Yes, very very red.

Marcia! It has been a pleasure to participate in the journey that is tablehopper. Meatpaper is indebted to you for helping us get the word out. Your passion for the restaurant business and your respect for the talented people behind it always shine through in your words. Happy birthday, dear e-column!
Sasha Wizansky, Meatpaper

Marcia, congratulations on three years of hopper success! You have always been so thoughtful of others and keep us all in the SF loop. Looking forward to years to come.
Ryan Farr, Ivy Elegance

Let's see, what can I say about the James Brown (the hardest working woman in the food business) of the SF dining scene. Marcia, thank you for your hard work, dedication and true passion for delivering all the news that’s fit to eat for your hungry readers. More importantly, thank you for being such a wonderful friend. Happy third birthday! You don't look a day over two.
Alex Fox, sommelier-at-large

Happy Anniversary Marcia! We are all so proud and happy for this special moment. You're a true testament to following your heart and dreams! Cheers and keep the bubbles flowing!
Jonnatan Leiva, Executive Chef, Jack Falstaff

Marcia, I remember when this was all one big secret idea that you somehow managed to keep completely quiet. What a delightful surprise it was. Lady, you are one of the hardest workers out there and I admire you greatly. tablehopper is my sugar rush on Tuesday afternoons.
xxoox
Brigid Finley, Wagstaff Worldwide, Inc.

Found on About.com: "traditional” 3rd anniversary you get leather; “modern version” you get crystal. Combine the two and you get a real tablehopper celebration. Mazel tov and congratulazioni Divine Ms. M.  
Joan Simon, Full Plate Restaurant Consulting

Marcia,
Congratulations on three years of tablehopper! Eating and drinking (vicariously along with you) is always entertaining, enlightening, and ultimately delicious!
Meow and many kisses,
Bruce Cole, Edible San Francisco

For the dear Marcia who combines one part passion with one part wisdom and one part stamina and three years later, poof! You rock it girlfriend!!! With all best wishes for many more hours of hopping, 
Faith Wheeler, Faith Wheeler & Co.

Me: Hi Marsha.
Her: It's Marcia.
Me: These two penguins walk into a bar...........

Congrats on 3 years and thank you for your continued support.
Laurence Jossel, Nopa

In honor of the third anniversary of tablehopper, here are 3 reasons I adore it and Marcia:
1. Her totally appetizing way of writing that makes you feel as if you're sitting there with her. She's a hoot! 
2. Her ability to thread popular culture throughout her reviews which demonstrates her worldliness beyond food.
3. Her total commitment to the livelihoods of all of us crazy folks who live and breathe food/wine/the good life everyday and work damned hard.
Kimberly Charles/Charles Communications Associates

Marcia,
Congratulations on your three-year anniversary! Meow to my favorite kitten. You have put this tasty e-column onto center stage, and your fans appreciate the wonderfully delicious and informative read every Tuesday. You are a true delight.
Jerry Cooper, Swirl on Castro

Marcia, happy big 3rd! I schedule a 10-minute break every Tuesday afternoon with the tablehopper to get my fix. You have brought the SF restaurant community together in a way that no one thought of before.
All the best,
Bruce Hill, Picco Restaurant, Pizzeria Picco, Bix Restaurant

PEACH! tablehopper keeps getting better, stronger, and faster over the years and you continue to make the rest of us look lazy in comparison. It seems pretty obvious that all this time spent "on vacation" in "Tahoe" is when you're recuperating after a visit to the bionics clinic for some upkeep. (Can I get your surgeon's number?)
Camper English, Alcademics.com

Happy Birthday Marcia. Is it just three years? We can’t imagine our world without tablehopper. You are a true friend and fearless supporter of keeping our restaurants full and the dining public in the know. Thanks for all you do – now let’s go celebrate with a beer at Schroeder’s.
Love,
Andrew and the team at AF&Co.

Marcia, thanks for doing something different that helps everyone. I know how hard it is to build a business and I admire your creativity, tenacity and passion. I just feel sorry for cities that don't have a tablehopper.
H, Elixir

Happy third birthday, Ms. Hopper!
Scott Hocker, San Francisco Magazine

I first met Marcia through an email I sent her, telling her I really liked her reports. We've gone on to become great friends.
Ravi Kapur, chef de cuisine, Boulevard

Marcia,
You my dear are so full of vibrant color—you light up every room you walk into, every conversation you engage in, and every page you write. Congratulations on your 3rd beautiful year!
Ceri Smith, Biondivino

TH—Thanks for taking my head out of the sand. You make Tuesdays rock. Your faithful servant... GH
Pamela Busch, CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen

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

 
the sponsor

Win a Fuego Grill at 7x7.com

The Noise Pop Festival takes place this week from February 24th–March 1st, 2009. Headliners for 2009 include Matt Costa, St. Vincent, Martha Wainwright, AC Newman, French Kicks, and Portugal. The Man, among many, many more.

In addition to shows, the festival screens music-related documentaries: highlights this year are Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Wilco’s Ashes of American Flags. Industry Noise, our music and technology conference, will feature Bob Mould, Lou Barlow, and Fat Mike speaking, and many informative panels. There is also Pop and Shop, our take on the local designer fair, and several art openings that explore the convergence of music and art. For all information and to buy tickets go to www.noisepop.com.

 
the socialite

Toyose
3814 Noriega St.
Cross: 45th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122

415-731-0232

Daily 6pm–2am

Dishes $5.95–$26.95

FEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Bwok! Hey, wanna go check out the chicken garage? Of course you do. Numerous folks (some of them chefs) have told me about ~TOYOSE~, a kooky late-night Korean restaurant that’s in a converted garage. No joke. With killer chicken wings. That’s enough to raise at least one of my eyebrows with intrigue.

So, I finally schlepped my heinie to the Outer Sunset to check it out. In fact, it was the scene for this year’s Single’s Scene Valentine’s Day Dinner with my friends. Really, what more do you need on Valentine’s Day than the opportunity to scarf Korean bar food with your fellow single pals in a converted garage with a table full of beer and soju? After one bite of the chicken wings, you will agree—much better than a box of chocolates.

Our wait for a table was unexpectedly short, in fact, by the time they called us, I didn’t even get to finish my beer at the oddly well-lit Flanahan’s Pub across the street. Damn, because a few of the buzzed locals perched at the bar were about to share some good stories, I could tell. (There was a table with empty pizza boxes and uneaten birthday cake in the corner, a sure sign of a party train.) Anyway, the norm at Toyose is a long-ass wait, especially as it grows late, so don’t let my luck make you think you’re going to be able to just breeze on in. They take reservations—I recommend them.

The restaurant really is in a garage, filled with a series of booths and intimate tables, complete with roll-down blinds at some of them in case you really want to be undercover (as if dining in a garage in the Outer Sunset isn’t undercover enough). Since the joint is open late, the blinds could actually come in really handy to cover your messy and/or cheatin’ and/or Witness Protection Program self up.

I totally missed the fact that our table was supposed to have a button to ring for service—I didn’t see one at our table, although a friend swears there are service buttons. Oh well, next time. No wonder we felt like we were in Siberia.

Besides the remiss service, and not much English being spoken nor understood, the waitresses hustling hard between all the tables of drinking posses of friends were actually quite nice—just short on time. The vibe is rowdy and assuredly soju-fueled, so don’t bring a first date or your mother here. Some folks were definitely on their way to needing a fix-it ticket—I can only imagine the scene as the night goes on. I guess that’s when the sausage and vegetables in tomato ketchup ($8.95) gets consumed.

So, the star of the menu was the chicken wings ($12.95)—they were perfectly crispy and featured a little hit o’ spice (almost as addictive as San Tung’s). Poof, gone! The springy texture and savory flavor of the home-style kimchi pancake ($10.95) made our table want to order another. The potato croquettes ($8.95) were also really well executed. All great food to share.

The mains didn’t quite hold up, like the baby octopus and vegetable spicy noodle dish ($12.95) that in actuality didn’t have that much octopus. We also tried the codfish with vegetables and tofu hot pot ($14.95)—fine for a cold night, but not what I’d call a benchmark hot pot. The pork shoulder ($16.95) was served chilled in slices—the mild terrine-like flavor perked up with the dipping sauces, but this was not a dish that got finished at our table.

In the future, I’m going to just stick with the deep-fried numbers and try more house favorites. I think the trick is to treat the place like a late-night joint with food that’s built to eat over beer and soju—because that’s what it is. I could also imagine it being a smoky clubhouse for a bunch of card-playing gangsters, but I don’t think I’d be invited to those poker nights—I’m on a different team (too many vowels in my last name). Who knows, maybe that’s how the place got started.

With a soundtrack of bouncy Korean pop over the clamor of loud tables of boozin’ friends, a price that was easy on the wallet, the late hours, the groovy island village décor, and the novelty factor of its original use, yup, this is my kind of parking garage.

 
the lush

Win a Fuego Grill at 7x7.comFEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO The tiki community is taking two hits this week. First, Martin Cate has left ~FORBIDDEN ISLAND~ tiki bar in Alameda. You can read his goodbye note in its entirety here, but the net-net is, “I was a minority partner in FI [Forbidden Island], and we just had different ideas about the future of the business, so I made the choice to leave.” There are rumors about Cate potentially opening his own place—I am sure my buddy Camper at Alcademics will have the story soon!

And a bunch of boards are all in a-flurry about the potential loss of the ~TONGA ROOM~ at the Fairmont, which is pointedly absent in some proposed condominium plans for the historic hotel site. I say what the hell? I know I’m not the only one who finds this hard to believe. Really? We’re just going to do away with one of the best landmarks of kitsch in the entire city? My dad and his buddy actually dove into the lagoon back in the 60s, when you could do such things without getting hauled off to the police station. According to one post, here are some emails of people to contact to protest the demolition. Will let you know if I hear something next week about an organized protest or petition... Raise your swizzle sticks!

There are a few new happy hours around town: ~EPIC ROASTHOUSE~ is starting the “Holy Cow!” happy hour in the Quiver Bar, with $5 specialty cocktails, including the Sazerac, plus $7 martinis made with Russian Standard Vodka, $5 wines by the glass, and a selection of $2 bottled beers. There’s also a new bar menu featuring soft homemade pretzels ($3), crispy-fried potato curls and skins ($3), and slow confit of chicken drumettes with molasses-blood orange BBQ sauce and celery root slaw ($5). Mon–Fri 4pm–7pm. 369 The Embarcadero at Folsom, 415-369-9955.

~WATERBAR~ is also in on the happy hour act, with $1 featured oysters of the day and the “A Spa in Cabo” drink for $5 every Mon–Fri 3pm–6pm. 399 The Embarcadero at Folsom, 415-284-9922.

Not to encourage further drinking in the area, but on the other side of town, ~EASTSIDE WEST~ has half-off on bar snacks and appetizers on Tuesdays (so the Wagyu beef sliders, fried chicken sliders, and lamb meatballs are suddenly only $4), plus half-off on bottles of wine on Wednesdays, and drink specials on Thursdays from 9pm–12am. There’s also live jazz on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and a happy hour Tue–Fri 4pm–7pm. 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-885-4000.

Ready to get your wine on? It’s shaping up to be quite the wino week. This Wednesday February 25th, ~WILLIAM CROSS WINE MERCHANTS~ is featuring a tasting with Luca Corrado of Vietti Winery. Here’s what will be poured: 2007 Vietti Arneis; 2006 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne; 2006 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Scarrone; 2005 Vietti Barbera d’Asti La Crena; and 2004 Vietti Castiglione Barolo, all for $15. 6pm–9pm. 2253 Polk St. at Green, 415-346-1314.

Over in Potrero, Stephen James from Melville Winery will be a guest at ~RUBY WINE~ this Friday February 27th from 5pm–8ish. He'll be pouring some Central Coast pinot, chard, and syrah. $10. 1419 18th St. at Missouri, 415-608-7660.

This Sunday March 1st, ~BAR BAMBINO~ and ~BIONDIVINO~ are hosting a four-course Northern Italian dinner with a twist, highlighting regional dishes that don't necessarily fit the "Italian" stereotype. Biondivino’s Ceri Smith has handpicked wine selections from her own list, echoing regional influences that stretch to the vineyards of Georgia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary. $85 per person. 5:30pm–8pm. 2931 16th St. at South Van Ness, 415-701-VINO (8466).

Mark your calendars: ~DELFINA~ is going to be celebrating the food and wine of Campania with guest winemaker Bruno De Conciliis on Wednesday March 11th, who will be pouring a selection of his latest vintages. The evening’s à la carte menu will include dishes inspired from Campania. 3621 18th St. at Dolores, 415-552-4055.

If you are anywhere near Princeton by the Sea the night before, Bruno De Conciliis will also be at ~MEZZALUNA RESTAURANT~ for “Una Notte a Napoli” on March 10th. The multi-course meal (try six!) is $85, and there will be entertainment provided by a Neapolitan singer. There will be a meet-and-greet with pizzette at the bar at 6pm; dinner begins at 7pm. 459 Prospect Way, Half Moon Bay, 650-728-8108.

 
the socialite


Festa del Pesto
Thu. March 5th, 2009

Farina
3560 18th St.
Cross: Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

415-565-0360
website

Seatings from 6pm– 10pm.

Reserve a spot at 415-565-0360 or book online

FEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Last month when “The Perfect” video I did with CHOW.com on Farina’s pesto was posted, I had people telling me for weeks afterwards how the video made them crave that pesto something fierce. (I have one friend who went in for it the very next day). Well, crave no longer, because I am going to be hosting a special night at Farina, ~FESTA DEL PESTO~! The fine folks at Farina wanted to make this an affordable tablehop to Liguria, so anyone can come in and try their signature and handcrafted dishes the night of the event.

On the menu: first, you can start with the famed Focaccia di Recco, stracchino cheese melted between two layers of thin bread dough, normally $16, but tonight, only $8. I usually sit right next to the ovens so I can smell this baking the entire time I am there.

Then, the famed Mandilli di Seta al Pesto Genovese, handmade handkerchief pasta with Genovese basil pesto. One of my favorite dishes in the City, so silken and savory. The handmade pasta is really something special. And the pesto, well, you know it’s good when it’s a world champion. See what all the fuss is about. For the Festa del Pesto, it’s only $10 (normally $20).

You can also try the Filetto di San Pietro alla Ligure con Olive Taggiasche, pan-seared John Dory filet served in a Ligurian-style sauce of white wine, Italian pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and Taggiasche olives. The special price will be $15, normally $28.

For dessert, don’t end the night without trying the Latte Dolce Fritto: Genovese sweet-milk fritters served with citrus salad and blood orange-vanilla sauce ($4, normally $8). Perfetto!

A big grazie to Siena Imports, who is generously providing us with a pinot bianco “Schulthauser” DOC from St. Michael Eppan (Alto Adige) at an affordable price. This award-winning medium-bodied wine has a lively acidity that is going to pair beautifully with the evening’s specials. Salud!

Guests can call Farina at 415-565-0360 or book online to make a reservation for any time during the evening—you’ll probably find me perched at the counter starting at 6pm, so do come say hello! You can order anything you want off the regular menu, but we wanted to offer guests (and many first-timers!) the signature Farina dishes at a price that’s hard to refuse!

Ci vediamo presto alla festa del pesto!


Jesse Kuhn (Marin Roots Farm), Mourad Lahlou (Aziza), and James Syhabout (formerly Manresa, Commis)

A Moveable Feast
Mar. 3rd–Aug. 4th, 2009
First Tuesdays

Various locations
San Francisco, CA

7pm

$80 per person
$100 including wine

(inclusive of tax and gratuity)

buy tickets

 

FEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), is proud to announce the first annual ~A MOVEABLE FEAST: TWELVE CHEFS CELEBRATE SIX FARMERS IN A SERIES OF SEASONAL SUPPERS~, in partnership with leading Bay Area chefs and influential local farmers. Dominique Crenn, executive chef of Luce restaurant at the InterContinental San Francisco, came up with the event concept. The series is intended to honor the relationships within the chef community and between chefs and farmers all while bringing attention to CUESA’s mission. A percentage of each ticket cost will benefit CUESA.

The two guest chefs each evening will create a multi-course dinner together, showcasing the featured farmer of the evening. Spring dinners may showcase asparagus, fava beans, and green garlic, while late summer will offer corn, tomatillos, and sunchokes. Wine paired with each course will also be offered.

Each multi-course dinner will be held the first Tuesday of every month beginning March 3rd, 2009 and will continue for the following six months. Each evening will feature the following chefs and farmers:
 
TUESDAY, MARCH 3rd
Location
: LUCE RESTAURANT
Chefs
: Dominique Crenn, Luce, and Chris Kronner, formerly of Slow Club and Serpentine
Farmer: Louis Iacopi, Iacopi Farm
The cool, coastal climate of Iacopi Farm in Half Moon Bay is ideal for growing their signature flavorful peas and beans.

TUESDAY, APRIL 7th
Location: ONE MARKET  
Chefs:
Mark Dommen, One Market, and Erica Holland-Toll, The Lark Creek Inn
Farmer: David Retsky, County Line Harvest
County Line Harvest, started by first-generation farmer David Retsky at the age of 29, is the latest addition to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and is located just southwest of Petaluma.
 
TUESDAY, MAY 5th
Location: PICCO
Chefs:
Bruce Hill, Picco, and Greg Dunmore, Ame
Farmer: David Evans, Marin Sun Farms
Evans is a fourth-generation rancher in Inverness raising 100% grass-fed beef, lamb, goat and pork.

TUESDAY, JUNE 2nd
Location: SPRUCE
Chefs:
Mark Sullivan, Spruce, and Loretta Keller, Coco500 and The Moss Room
Farmer: Kristie Knoll, Knoll Farms
The 35-acre Brentwood-based biodynamic farm is best known for its delicious figs, yet produces over 150 different varieties, including different nectarines, apricots, and plums during the month of June.
 
TUESDAY, JULY 7th
Location: AZIZA
Chefs:
Mourad Lahlou, Aziza, and James Syhabout, Commis
Farmer: Jesse Kuhn, Marin Roots
San Francisco native Jesse Kuhn had no farming experience growing up, and instead was inspired by agriculture classes in college—and is one of the youngest farmers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 4th
Location: AMERICANO
Chefs:
Paul Arenstam, Americano, and Chris Cosentino, Incanto
Farmer: Joel Schirmer, Dirty Girl Produce
Schirmer grew up in Santa Cruz and began working at Dirty Girl Produce in 1997—the farm is especially famous for its dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes.

 
the starlet

FEBRUARY 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO A tablehopper reader wrote in to say they saw Rob Schneider at Cafe Divine at Stockton and Union, having lunch “with a lady friend.” He had a coffee and an arugula salad.

Actor Zach Braff (Scrubs, etc.) and four pals dined at Ame, celebrating a friend's birthday, complete with a rowdy rendition of Happy Birthday that was heard throughout the restaurant.

Garrison Keillor had dinner at Bix—he dined upstairs on the chef’s choice hors d’oeuvres platter, a pork chop, and bananas Foster. He was reportedly low profile and enjoyed the music.

 

All content © 2009 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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