tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: by a thread.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the jetsetter
get outta dodge

the lush

put it on my tab
the sugar mama
get some

the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals

the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

CUESA Thursday Market

SF Chefs. Food. Wine.

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

JULY 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Ow. Last week really hurt. I think I popped something in my brain. I swear, my mouse had smoke coming out of it. I am all out of midnight oil. And I definitely know I hurt my wrist from all this typing (not good). I feel like Gollum. Or perhaps my arms (claws?) are more like T. Rex. For those of you who subscribe, you got my "telegram" about going dark last week since the first part of my book was due. It was quite the push—I left my apartment once during the entire week.

imageSo you know I had fun punching the clock (hard) on Friday night after I turned that beast in, and getting into some margies at Tommy's. Thank god Julio, AKA the doctor, was in town, unlike the majority of bartenders who were away at Tales of the Cocktail—a girl could go thirsty. Went to see The Hangover, oh man was that funny. Plus late-night bites at Genki Ramen on Geary. It was a hell of a night. I also communed with the killer chilaquiles at Nopalito the next day (pictured)—healed!

But, it's like Breaking the Waves over here because I am now working on the second (albeit much smaller) part of my book, due July 27th. Which means I am going back down the rabbit hole and will be going dark next Tuesday the 21st—I have a ton of places to check out in the South Bay, East Bay, and Wine Country, so I gotta hop to it. Apologies for not responding to those of you emailing me, but it's not like you don't know what's going on. I'll be more available and responsive in August.

This week I am trying to keep the chatterbox updates (there are a lot) kind of terse—my wrist is actually not doing well from all the 17-hour days of typing last week, so I gotta take care of it.

Thanks much to Eddie Lau for this week's jetsetter piece on Chi-town—I know you'll enjoy this talented chef's perspective on one of America's favorite eating cities.

We also have a special sugar mama giveaway this week for one of the events during the SF Chefs. Food. Wine. event (running from August 6th–9th). Are you planning on going? I'll be moderating the Culinary Matriarchs panel on Saturday morning and I'll be on a panel about food reviewing Saturday afternoon. There are lots of tastings, demos, and more going on. Hope to see you there!

Thanks for all your support, gang—so appreciated during this whoa-nelly-am-I-busy (but very exciting) time of my life.

Rock,
~Marcia

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the chatterbox

Ferry Plaza Farmers MarketJULY 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO For me, the biggest bummer last week was the news that Katharine Zacher and Ryan Ostler are no longer running their kitchen in the back of ~BROKEN RECORD~ in the Excelsior. I had a chat with them and learned it was just too much of a grind for them to be running the kitchen seven days a week. And with all the labor they were putting into it, let's just say the remote location made it challenging to be a sustainable business model for them to keep going. They're going to take the next couple months off to do a variety of things, from travel and work in Utah, to some potential travels to Europe and the South. Will of course keep you posted. Here's hoping their Buffalo wings and 'cue and other delicious treats are back in the City soon, I know they will be missed. (FYI, a new kitchen staff and menu will be led by James Moisey at the Broken Record starting on Saturday July 18th.) 1166 Geneva Ave. at Naples St., 415-963-1713.

Bravo's ~TOP CHEF SEASON SIX~ (which takes place in Vegas, baby) is airing on Wednesday August 26th. Of the 17 contestants on the show, here's our local talent who will be appearing: Mattin Noblia of Iluna Basque in North Beach, Laurine Wickett of Left Coast Catering, and from Google HQ, we have Preeti Mistry. You can peek at the line-up of contestants here. (Oh yeah, and the villainous food critic Toby Young will be back, muah hua hua.)

You want your shot at getting on TV? ~THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR~, Food Network's culinary reality series, is currently casting for its 2010 season. The SF casting call is on Sunday July 26th from 10am–4pm at the W San Francisco (181 Third St.). For applications, contest rules, and submission instructions, read more here.

A new "pop-up" restaurant is happening at Stable Cafe in the Mission each week: chef Joshua Skenes (of the upcoming Carte 415) and sommelier Mark Bright, both Michael Mina alums, are going to be hosting ~SAISON~ every Sunday evening (they plan to eventually extend it to five nights a week). They will be offering a, you guessed it, seasonal prix-fixe menu. It's set at $60, with wine pairings offered for an additional $30. Their goal is to offer delicious food and wines in an unpretentious and comfortable setting. The opening menu includes garden vegetables (bagna cauda, crème fraîche); Monterey abalone (seaweeds, poularde bouillon, foie gras); Four Story Hill Farm poularde; and Santa Rosa plum tart. In case some of you are familiar with the space or have been there for parties, they are hosting Saison in the gallery space in the back of the building—there will be a large communal table in the gallery room. It flanks the spacious and comfortable community kitchen and a heated garden patio. Dinner starts at 5:30pm, with the last seating at 8pm. Call for reservations. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-828-7990.

Who let the dogs out? ~SHOW DOGS~ near the Warfield is open. You can get your corn dog, 4505 dog, Fatted Calf dog, all kinds of dawgs (and all of them hawt) from Mon–Fri 11am–8pm for now… 1020 Market St. at Golden Gate, 415-558-9560.

And ~CANE ROSSO~ just opened. To recap, this Ferry Building Marketplace project is from chef-owner Daniel Patterson and chef de cuisine Lauren Kiino of COI, with chef Doug Borkowski. Let me paint a picture for you: pasture-raised meats (chicken, porchetta, and more) on the rotisserie or braised overnight, local ingredients, lots of vegetables, sandwiches, salads, and soup. Breakfast (mmm, a fried egg panino) and lunch are served, plus early supper. It's all kind of home-cookin' in style (if your mother was Italian and only shopped at the farmers' market), with primo ingredients, and it's easy to take home. As for the name, it's inspired by Kiino's three-legged and totally precious red dog, Cody. Woof. There are 10 seats at the counter inside, 25 in the hallway, and 30 outside. Kiino will now be busy focusing on Bracina in Oakland, which is looking like the end of the year (more on that project later). Open Mon–Sat 8am–8pm, and Sun 10am–8pm. 1 Ferry Plaza, 415-391-7599.

The last item in this dog-related roundup: while my sister and I were on an evening walk Sunday night, she pointed out an alley to me next to Nickie's where they were serving hot dogs on Saturday night. (I loved the homemade hot dog sign.) Anyway, a peek behind the tarp showed it's a real stand, called ~HOT DOG ALLEY~. Has anyone eaten there yet? I'll investigate soon. Haight St. at Fillmore.

Also on our walk in the hood, we looked through the windows at the now-closed Metro Kathmandu. Things are moving along for the change to ~DISTRICT 5~, and it should be open July 15th at 5:30pm, serving Californian comfort cuisine with Mediterranean flavor. The chef is Jacques Rousseau, a French native who has most recently worked as a chef at Baker Street Bistro for the last five years. I took a peek at the extensive menu, and here are a few highlights: heirloom black tomatoes, cucumber, piquillos, goat cheese, and olive oil and lemon dressing ($8); pasta dishes like pennette with spicy Italian sausage and Point Reyes teleme cheese ($12); Camarguais red rice, piquillo, tomatoes, asparagus ($11); roasted chicken breast brushed with California olive tapenade on red rice ($15.50); and a hanger steak, with pinot noir red onion compote and fries ($17). Yeah, the prices are right. (The super-delicious momos are also still on the menu, yay.) And don't forget the cute patio that's open during weekend brunch. 311 Divisadero St. at Page, 415-552-0903.

Also in the nabe, ~JANNAH~ has opened in the old creepy Gabin space next to Poleng Lounge. But now it has a mural with bright blue skies and water, so no more of the illicit dungeon look. The chef is the kindly Yaya Salih, known for YaYa Cuisine on Van Ness a few years ago. The menu is affordable Mediterranean-meets-Californian, with a big patio in the back that should be open later. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 1775 Fulton St. at Masonic, 415-567-4400.

A small teaser: looks like I'll soon be able to announce a cool new project that chef ~IAN BEGG and RYAN MAXEY~ (formerly at Café Majestic) have cookin'—let's just say the eats around North Beach will continue to get better. And it's not a big restaurant project—something a bit smaller in scope. Stand by for more.

Looking for a new place to sit outside in this gorg weather? The patio at the Japanese ~UMI~ in Potrero Hill is open for lunch! Heat lamps and all that stuff for dinner are a month or so out, but in the works. 1328 18th St. at Missouri, 415-355-1328.

imageAnother outdoor seating report: ~TRADEMARK GRILL~ is open in Belden Place, serving lunch, dinner, and a happy hour during that funky in-between afternoon time (2:30pm–6pm). Swing by for a cocktail (there's a full bar) and kick it on the outdoor patio in the alley. 56 Belden Pl. at Sutter, 415-397-8800. (Photo by Monica S. Lee.)

You know it's summertime when the tomato cart returns to ~BIX~. Or as they like to call it, the "Return of the Killer Tomatoes Cart." You can enjoy some heirloom tomatoes sliced tableside and served with hand-pulled mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, and basil during dinner nightly, or for lunch on Fridays. $13.50. 56 Gold St., off Montgomery St. between Jackson and Pacific, 415-433-6300.

tablehopper reader John D. wrote in to let me know ~SURIYA THAI~ (of pumpkin curry fame for many years on Valencia Street) has reopened in SoMa, serving lunch and dinner. Mon–Sat 11am–2:30pm, dinner Mon–Sun 5pm–10pm. 1532 Howard St. at 11th St., 415-355-9999.

Just a block away, the former SOMA Cafe is transforming into ~SAGE~ (no relation to the restaurant near Civic Center) from owner Gabriel McWilliams and his wife Sue. This lounge/café will serve coffee (Lavazza) all day, plus healthy sandwiches and salads, and in the evening will offer desserts, and beer and wine. Sage will also be going back to the space's roots by providing a venue for local artists to perform, from live bands to DJs to poetry. The space is significantly larger, with a 1,000-square-foot addition, outdoor seating on both sides, and it's now ADA-compliant. The look is "modern glam," with crystal chandeliers, sofas, and comfy seating. If all stays on track, look for an opening for the neighbors on August 1st, and the general public grand opening on August 3rd. Hours will be Mon–Sat 6am–11pm. 1601 Howard St. at 12th St., 415-552-SAGE.

This was a sad bit that came over the Twitter wire yesterday: Little Skillet noted that pancake institution ~J'S POTS OF SOUL~ in Hayes Valley has closed. Huh wah? Wah. Yup, the number is disconnected. From what I heard, owner Laura Horne was ready to hang up her chef coat—understandable, since it was a lot of work as a one-woman show. And so, one of the last remaining bits of Hayes Valley soul is no more. Bummer. 203 Octavia Blvd. at Page.

But, in the "things that make me happy" department: ~SUMMERTINI 2009~ managed to net over $75,000 (almost $10,000 more than last year) for the CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service) program. Right on, people.

I had a delicious dinner at ~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~ on Saturday (such tender and juicy pistachio meatballs, and loved the braised duck legs over basmati rice with almonds and candied citrus, meow). In case you want to go check it out, I thought you should know that for the rest of the month, chef-owner Hoss Zaré is offering a 15% food discount to all patrons who bring in a canned good (which will be donated to Citymeals-On-Wheels). Must be a can for each guest at the table. 606 Folsom St. at 2nd St., 415-243-0580.

While ~SIGHTGLASS COFFEE~ continues to work on their roastery, they set up a cart for the next few months so you can start getting great espresso drinks from them. tablehopper reader Jon B. sent in this photo of the brothers, which includes the additional detail that they're using a custom blend from Verve Coffee Roasters. BUT, before you get all excited, the Sightglass kiosk is closed today during a building inspection. Otherwise, open daily 8am–5pm for now, and open at 7am soon (follow them on Twitter for updates). 270 7th St. at Folsom.

As I mentioned on my Twitter feed at some point, the ~NAMU~ brothers are not only serving their Korean tacos at the daytime street food hootenanny at the Ferry Plaza Thursday Market, but they are also serving them at their restaurant. The ingredients: "marinated short ribs, on a bed of seasoned rice folded in Korean and Japanese seaweeds topped with a pickled daikon radish and kimchee salsa, a kimchee remoulade, and homemade teriyaki sauce." Sign. Me. Up. I also learned they are serving delicious okonomiyaki (hard to find a good one in this town), kimchee fried rice, and a weekly secret menu item will be featured at the new Thursday market as well as at their restaurant. 439 Balboa St. at 6th St., 415-386-8332.

And here's a ~CAFÉ AND TAQUERIA UPDATE~ from Jason B. with handy Yelp links so I don't have to type in addresses: "E Surf Café has opened in the Café Benally spot; coffee, breakfast bagels, sandwiches, some very reasonably priced crepes and Wi-Fi. Taqueria El Sol opened in the Hawaiian Island Café spot; interesting menu. Burritos, but they also kept the burgers and American breakfast. Caffe Amici opened a second location downtown at 5th/Market; this used to be the old Café 36 spot."

~1300 ON FILLMORE~ is now offering their Sunday gospel brunch twice a month: you can experience it now on first and third Sundays. There are two seatings: 11am or 1pm for the performance and three-course prix-fixe brunch. Brunch is $39 per person, and includes a Bellini or mimosa and coffee and tea. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

imageOver in Berkeley, Scott Howard's ~FIVE~ is open in the historic and freshly renovated Hotel Shattuck Plaza (designed by Thom Jess of Arris Architects, design firm Ziv Davis, and historical architect Mark Hulbert)—there is both a restaurant and lounge in the spacious room. Looks pretty glam. Howard's American bistro menu includes American Kobe steak tartare with a quail egg and watercress salad; a truffled egg salad with smoked trout and brioche; slow-cooked short ribs with a white cheddar polenta and turnips; and a pork belly "pork and beans" served with a Waldorf salad. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily plus a separate bar menu. 2086 Allston Way at Shattuck, 510-845-7300.

And a new opening up in Mill Valley: Roy Lui and Chanel Liu (formerly of Morpho in San Francisco and Ikura in San Rafael) are opening ~TSUKIJI SUSHI~ in the previous Ora space. If inspections go well, it should be opening this week (so call first, yo). The menu is classic Japanese, with sushi, small plates, and specials. Lui will be working alongside Haruo Komatsu, who was a sushi chef at Sushi Ran for something like eight years. Tsukiji will be using Koshihikari rice (a super-premium rice), rice bran oil for their frying, and fish will be flown in from the namesake market in Japan. There are about 70 seats total and seven at the sushi bar. There will eventually be outdoor seating—there are two really nice patio areas in front of the restaurant, which will be open in hot weather. The hours are roughly lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–2pm, dinner nightly 5pm–10pm, and possibly until 11pm Fri–Sat. 24 Sunnyside Ave. at Miller, Mill Valley, 415-383-1382.

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

 
the sponsor

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

The wait for sustainable street food is over, because CUESA has launched its Thursday farmers' market! It runs every Thursday from 10am–2pm, with new street vendors and an exciting selection of peak-season farm stands.

Head to the historic Ferry Building this Thursday for lunch options you can't get anywhere else in the city. Sample Pizza Politana's wood-fired pizzas, Ryan Farr's 4505 dogs, and Namu's new Korean BBQ-style tacos.

While you're there, pick up produce you won't find at the Tuesday market. They'll have everything from Dirty Girl's dry farmed Early Girls to Tory Farms' drip-down-your-cheeks peaches and Swanton's legendary organic strawberries.

Farms: Dirty Girl Produce * Lagier Ranches * Lucero Organic Farm * Swanton Berry Farm * Tory Farms

Lunch options: 4505 Meats * Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoke * Laiola's Tacolicious * Namu * Pizza Politana * RoliRoti * Scream * Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

The farmers' market will be open every Thursday from 10am–2pm. Year round, rain (or this week, abundant) shine, in front of the Ferry Building.

 
the jetsetter

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JULY 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Eddie Lau is a chef and Boston native whose former kitchen experiences in San Francisco over the last two years include Orson and Poleng Lounge. He is the proud writer and owner of HotFoodPorn.com, to which he calls "a vehicle for all things culinary that are sexy, tasty, ironic, and or humorously pointless."

Currently he is working privately and hopes to realize his aspirations of creating progressive, sustainable, and sensible cuisine in his own restaurant in the near future. For that reason, he had high hopes to investigate and discover the creation and philosophy of what many have described as America's modern food movement in Chicago.

Thursday Morning: Hello Chicago, I Don't Think We've Met

I arrived in a gray and drizzling Chicago on Thursday at 12:30pm after a long flight that got me out of bed at 3am in the morning. Considering I didn't go to bed until midnight, I had more than good excuse to be irritated, tired, and/or strung out on caffeine. But this was my first trip to Chicago and the anticipation and hunger for the city's ample culinary opportunities shook me from my stomach to my loins.

You'd be surprised to know that I have either enjoyed a meal or lodged a night at different cities in 26 different states before I visited Chicago, Illinois. My mission in Chicago was simple: discover and devour a three-day sampling of what some talking heads regard as the most progressive culinary city in the United States. Lofty titles are sometimes too easily bestowed, but this one seemed well deserved.

For the skeptical, please understand that stories like Schwa (see GQ article on chef Michael Carlson), concept variety like the emerging Kahan empire (Blackbird, Avec, and Publican), notable new arrivals like Graham Elliott and L2O, pioneers like Alinea, and pedigrees like Charlie Trotter's and Tru are not cultivated just anywhere. They happened in Chicago. And sometimes I wish they happened in San Francisco, but that's another story for another time… (sigh).

Despite all my rhetoric about a progressive movement in Chicago, I think people recognize that the city's food has a very dynamic identity and duality. As committed as it is to its modern cuisine, Chicagoans are equally as enamored with their traditional Midwestern fare–or grub if you want to call it. Classics like deep dish and stuffed pizzas, Chicago dogs, superdawgs, and Old Style beer are all grub fare that many identify as uniquely Chicago. I think that if I didn't try to capture some of that magic, Chicagoans and transplants alike would probably be upset with me.

There was probably no place in the country I wanted to go to more than Alinea, and I knew that dining there instantly guaranteed that the trip was a success—regardless of whether I loved the food or not. But sadly, it was not meant to be and I had to go with my secondary choices. For three weeks, I fought tooth and nail about choosing between dinner at L2O or Schwa, but in the end I decided to dine at L2O with the hopes of satisfying the curiosity and fervent lust that had been repressed from a year of staring at the food porn from the L2O blog.

The other reservation I made for dinner was Publican. Publican is the shiniest, newest, and biggest Paul Kahan restaurant that happily serves fish- and pig-oriented gastropub fare. I was really looking for a comfortable and fun family atmosphere, which is difficult considering that my party included eight adults and three babies, but the reservation hostess assured me that that wouldn't be an issue.

So having made all the necessary reservations for the first two places, I left the rest of the decisions for my trip pretty loose. I narrowed the general focus down to a few key places including Avec, Blackbird, Gage, Ina's, Hot Doug's, Superdawg, BIN 36, Graham Elliott, and Mercat a La Planxa. I also made plans to visit a couple of cocktail landmarks, including the Violet Hour and the Drawing Room.

When I got to Chicago, I didn't get to my hotel until well after 2pm, so my original preference for lunch at Blackbird was gone, but I intelligently segued into a 4pm bar spot at Avec.

And so, the journey begins. I made two specific reservations for two meals and left the rest to whim.

Thursday Late Lunch/Geriatric Dinner: Avec [Moi]

Avec is a stunning little wood fortress opened by Paul Kahan and run by awesome chef de cuisine Koren Grieveson. You may have seen her in action on Iron Chef America. Considering that I was going to dine at L2O in a matter of four hours or so, I wanted to be very careful with ordering. I thought I went relatively conservative by ordering two small plates: chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates with smoked bacon and a roasted monkfish with tomato braised chickpeas and fideo.

When the dates came out, I got my first "you're in the Midwest" reminder when I was noticed that portions were significantly more generous than the East or West coasts. By the time I finished two enormous sweet and spicy dates, my stomach was close to hitting the wall. Soon after that, the roasted monkfish came out–the scent of which was unbelievably intoxicating. It was a dire situation it seemed, but I sucked it up, invoked my second wind/gut, and ate every tasty bite. Oh, the immensely stupid things that I do for food. I washed everything down with Verhaeghe "Echt Kriekenbier" (cherry ale) and paid my $35 dollar bill (included tax/tip). I left satisfied and completely happy. If I lived remotely close to that restaurant, I would probably walk in after work every day, order the monkfish and a beer, and go home completely satisfied.

Thursday Night Dinner: Diving Into L2O

That same night at L2O, I intently looked through the menu for 15 minutes before I decided to order. I kept trying to reason how much I could eat until I finally gave in and went for the full twelve-course spring tasting menu. Go big or go home, I guess, or go big and waddle home slowly. I'm not going to recap or criticize every dish (not a critic, "lover not a fighter mentality"), but I can tell you that two savory amuses, ten savory courses, two dessert amuses, two dessert courses, a cannelé, and two macarons later, I was in a full-on food coma.

The service was absolutely impeccable, which I much appreciated and somewhat expected. The highlights of the night for me were definitely the peekytoe crab with foie gras emulsion, halibut with corn emulsion and corn foam, and the otherworldly honey dessert amuse with honey crème anglaise, honey meringue via liquid nitrogen, and pollen. I would like to advise many people that for all the discussion and talk of the intimidating "molecular gastronomy" cuisine, L2O did not taste and feel synthetically produced at any point. There was a very good sense of the focus and harmony for each ingredient, each texture, their contrasts, the application of modern technique and corresponding texture manipulation.

Not everything works, which is true of all restaurants big and small, but I think the only requirement for understanding and enjoying something different is the ability to appreciate that the attention to detail, heart, ambition, and pragmatism is unmistakably apparent in each dish.

Friday Night Dinner: Grand Ole Party at Publican

The Publican was a beautiful and brightly lit restaurant with a matrix of spherical hanging lights, giant canvases of funny-looking pigs, and wooden pigpen booth seating on the side. The food was hearty and heavy as expected. My toddler niece, Maddy, instantly fell in love with the spicy pork rinds (wait until she tries 4505 Chicharrones), and everyone loved the fries (with and without egg) and the boar shoulder on the potée dish.

I really enjoyed the concept and probably should have been more intelligent with the ordering, but it was a good family dinner where everyone was calm and nobody was upset with my dinner choice. Sometimes the best dining experiences/situations are the ones where nobody complains–not even the babies. Vis-à-vis, the beer list is impressive, but it takes a while to go through. Bring reading glasses if necessary.

Friday Night/Saturday Morning Cocktails: Losing My Sense of Time at The Violet Hour and Wicker Park

For many who are unfamiliar with The Violet Hour, it is best described as Chicago's version of Bourbon & Branch. No signs, no standing, no cell phone usage, no Budweiser or light beers, and everyone gets seated (see rules here). If you appreciate a fantastic cocktail, go here. If you are looking for a meat market, go somewhere else.

I marveled at their cocktail menu—it read like a book, and listed historical descriptions as well as reasons for enjoying the spirits that they featured. Also, I really appreciated the local artisan spirits (local gin, yay!) they stocked, and the fact that they made many cool house bitters (including chocolate). Three fantastic gin drinks later, I met up with a friend at the fun dive bar Flat Iron, hung out until an ungodly hour, ate a Chicago dog from a street vendor, and went home.

Industry tip: they don't drink Fernet; they drink a shot of Jameson and PBR, which is equally abrasive and equally fun.

Saturday Lunch: Cold Doug's, Old Style, and Wrigley

It seemed for a while that almost everyone and their mom kept telling me to go to Hot Doug's for weeks. Unfortunately, my Hot Doug's experience can be summarized in one rambling line: I went halfway across the country, took a $15 cab, saw a two-hour line wrapping around the block, and ditched it to go to Wrigley. Take a look at the picture and you'll know what I mean. Depressing.

Do people in Chicago resent Tony Bourdain for doing this to Hot Doug's? Do people from Chicago even go there anymore? Dammit.

By the time I got to Wrigley, there was much hotdog eating that needed to be done, but I was resolute and came out on top. My scoring for a wonderful day at Wrigley Field: one Chicago dog, one brat, two Old Styles to wash it down, and one fantastic view of the Ivy to soak it in. The Cubbies lost, by the way (Chicago's got to be used to that by now, hehehe), but I got to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame, so that's an even split in my book.

Saturday Dinner: Grand Lux Café Owes Me Fried Chicken Bones

Really not much to say about the Grand Lux except that it encompasses the dark side of the food scene in Chicago and the Midwest: corporate dining hell in the form of Cheesecake Factory. I ordered fried chicken and I got crispy fried chicken tenders, but I didn't bother worrying about it because everyone else seemed to enjoy their meal. For all the hoorah about Chicago's food movement, it does seem to have an awful lot of these corporate chain restaurants. The meal was a bit of an anticlimactic end to an otherwise fantastic food trip, but it unmistakably comes with the territory. Got to feed the masses…

Sunday Morning: Goodbye Chicago, Nice To Finally Eat You

On Sunday morning, I packed my bags and came home to San Francisco, sorely missing Turtle Tower for some odd reason. I didn't get to go everywhere I set out to go, but I think I did everything I wanted to do. I came back happy, inspired, and relaxed. I'm actually a little relieved I didn't get to go to Alinea or Hot Doug's. They can serve as my white whales of Chicago–something to look forward to when I inevitably go back.

Boston is where I am from, San Francisco is where I live, but I must say you are my kind of town, Chicago… Take it away, Frank.

 
the lush

Ferry Plaza Farmers MarketJULY 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO With all the bartenders returning from Tales of the Cocktail, you can say hello to them at the one-year-anniversary festivities happening at ~CLOCK BAR~ this week. Every night will feature guest bartenders, a spirit brand, and menu of specialty cocktails. Here's the lineup: Tuesday July 14th (Bastille Day): Brooke Arthur and Neyah White; Wednesday July 15th: Steven Liles; Thursday July 16th: Erik Adkins; and Friday July 17th: Dave Nepove. Lobby of The Westin St Francis hotel, 335 Powell St. at Geary, 415-397-9222.

Just in case you've always been curious about ~TOMMY TOY'S~ (it has quite the chinoiserie interior), you might want to know that you can swing by for happy hour Mon–Fri from 4:30pm–6:30pm. The spread includes half-price drinks and $5 small plates, including BBQ baby back ribs, prawn satays with pickled ginger glaze, crispy spring rolls with wild plum sauce, plus other dishes. You can read more deals at the restaurant here. 655 Montgomery St. at Washington, 415-397-4888.

Since I won't be able to announce the opening of ~BLACKBIRD BAR~ next week (remember, I am taking next week off), I thought you should know they plan to open on July 23rd. Call first, of course. Here's the back story from a previous tablehopper issue. 2124 Market St. at Church, 415-503-0630.

And next Saturday July 25th, ~ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT~ and five San Francisco resident winemakers will be pouring 20 different wines: Broc Cellars, Sutton Cellars, A.P. Vin, Harrington, and August West. All featured wines will be available for special event pricing at Arlequin Wine Merchant. $25 per person, 2pm–5pm. 384 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-863-1104.

 
the sugar mama

SF Chefs. Food. Wine.

SF CHEFS URBAN BBQ TICKET GIVEAWAY (AUGUST 8TH)

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tablehopper readers can enter to win two passes by forwarding this week's tablehopper newsletter to two buddies, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friends why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (not a blog!), or point out an event or happening that you think your friend would like. Simply CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it—I promise I won't use anyone's email address.

Deadline to enter is midnight Sunday July 19th—I'll notify the winner next week.

Or get a jump on tickets to any of the events with a special tablehopper 10% discount by going here (the passcode is "tablehopper09"). See you there!

 
the socialite

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Bastille Day
Tue. July 14th, 2009

Various locations

JULY 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Seems like a French restaurant's authenticity card will be revoked if they don't do something to honor ~BASTILLE DAY~. Here's a brief round up of who is doing what around town besides the usual Belden Place mayhem.

Cassis is offering a special $49.95 prix fixe dinner menu (three courses plus amuse bouche). Beverages, tax, and gratuity are additional, and their regular menu will not be offered on this day.

Le Charm has a special menu at $48 per person, inclusive of a Kir Royale and amuse bouche to start. Plus the Tipsy Gypsy Trio will be playing their Django Reinhardt/gypsy-style jazz.

Chez Papa Resto is serving a four-course prix-fixe menu for $60 per person, with an optional wine pairing, a decorated dining room, live music on the patio, and a surprise $10 cocktail. 5:30pm–10:30pm.

Grand Cafe Brasserie and Bar does a full party from 5pm onward, with half-off select French wines, Marie Antoinette will grace the ballroom (played by sommelier Danielle Kuzinich), there will be an accordion player, and complimentary cake for all guests. There will also be an optional prix-fixe menu for dinner.

RN74 is doing a party with Vintage415.The event starts at 5pm, featuring French-inspired cocktails and punch as well as bites from executive chef Jason Berthold.

 
the starlet

JULY 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO I heard Ms. Sally "You like me, you really like me" Field dined at Venticello. She was reportedly one of the sweetest and truly humble stars my tablehopper spotter has ever encountered.

 
the matchmaker

Part-Time Chef/Instructor

C.H.E.F.S is looking for a part-time chef/instructor for 16–20 hours a week to assist in teaching homeless adults culinary skills. Class begins September 14th and ends on December 5th. We would like a minimum of a three-month commitment to the program. This is a paid position. Interested? Contact btaylor [at] ecs-sf [dot] org.

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Wine Intern

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