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The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion.

This week's tablehopper: House Party

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Hey gang, sorry I disappeared last week—I literally bit off more than I could chew. (And no, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving.) After 188 newsletters, and close to four years of saluting your inbox every Tuesday afternoon (well, almost, heh), it was time for tablehopper to move into a new house! Nope, the studio apartment just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I’m pretty darned excited with the new digs, but what the HELL was I thinking trying to finish a book and launch a website within one week of each other? I know, my projects are trying to bury me. Eep.

So, like a brand-new house, I haven’t finished unpacking all the boxes, and I will probably move a couch here and be adding pictures there. And there will definitely be a few cranky links, weird formatting, or other little oddities. I also didn’t have my usual workflow or proofreading for this week’s issue, so if you catch some errors, you go, eagle eye. Thanks for bearing with me during the move-in! The goal was to update the newsletter’s style, and make the website content more navigable, update-able, and current, so I hope you like it. Have fun checking it out. Many grazie to Noise 13 for the faboo design, and Beau Smith of Strangecode Internet Consultancy for making this beast happen. Talk about a dream team.

The idea of getting back to my “normal” life is certainly enticing, but I have one more hurdle to cross. Not to divulge all the personal details of my life, but I figured I should let you in on this one since I’m going to be MIA for a little bit more. Since you’re reading this on a Tuesday, yesterday I had some surgery I’ve been putting off (needed to get my book wrapped up first!), so I’ll be off-radar as I’m healing up at at the hospital and then my parents’ house in San Mateo over the next week. (So weird to launch a new site when you’re not around, right? Oh, the wonders of the internet.) I should be able to come back to my apartment in SF soon, but not sure how mobile I’ll be over the next few weeks (TBD on that part). Yup, the tablehopper has to pull it on over—I’m on house arrest.

I did have a nice field trip before my lockdown: the annual luncheon at McEvoy Ranch in the olive groves—such a lovely shared experience, a party that totally warms my heart each year. And I am happily pouring olio nuovo on everything I can right now. You too can pick some up at their open house party this Sunday the 6th from 11am—5pm; check their site for info and RSVPing.

Thanks for all your support these past 188 issues, and I’ll have another issue for you next week, oh you know it.

Peace, love, and painkillers,

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Dec 1, 2009

From Chophouse to Changes

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©2007–9 frankenyimages.com

A big topic on the food scene has been what’s next for ~ACME CHOPHOUSE~, since Traci Des Jardins will be closing the restaurant on December 31st. It’s a hefty space, so the next incarnation will actually have a floor-to-ceiling wall that will divide the location into two. On one side (the 3rd Street side), Des Jardins will be opening a second Mijita (a brilliant addition to the area, I must say). There will be some new features, like a tequila bar, a private dining room, and more indoor/outdoor seating.

On the other side, the new concept’s current working name is Public House, and will be more like a beer hall in style. On the menu: bar food like burgers, onion rings, and local hot dogs that will continue chef Thom Fox’s commitment to using sustainable ingredients. Some ACME classics will remain, like the mac and cheese and butterscotch pudding. The interior will be gutted, and a large beer bar will be going in, with a wall made of floor-to-ceiling kegs, and lots of TV screens. There is also going to be an open plaza bar with roll-up windows, so guests can order and enjoy a cold one while sitting on the patio. Frost Tsuji Architects, who also did Jardinière and Bar Jules, are behind the new design. The plan is to open both spaces at the end of March.

In the meantime, Traci is going to be busy in Lake Tahoe over the next couple weeks launching Manzanita at the The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe (located mid-mountain in Northstar resort). It opens December 10th, just in time for ski season. It’s a 94-seat restaurant, along with 71-seat bar and lounge, and the menu will feature her signature French-inspired California cuisine, with a “regional mountain resort influence.” It’ll be nice to come off the slopes and dig into a Five Dot Ranch grass-fed hamburger and pommes frites ($15) at the bar or rotisserie chicken with chanterelle mushrooms, parsnips, and pears with a crispy farm egg ($26) for dinner in the dining room.

ACME Chophouse - 24 Willie Mays Plaza San Francisco - 415-644-0240

Melissa Perello's Frances Opens Tonight

The local culinary scene is about to get one restaurant richer: chef-owner Melissa Perello is opening her first very-own restaurant, ~FRANCES~ tonight (Tuesday December 1st). The intimate restaurant is a bit off the Castro cruising path (it’s where the short-lived Palencia was), and will be bringing a comfortable but classy style to the neighborhood. The modern California menu will change daily, with seasonal and local ingredients. Tidbits on the opening/test menu included an appetizer of roasted chestnut soup with cipollini onions and house-cured pancetta ($9); a main of ling cod crusted with Boccalone lardo, plus Manila clams and fingerling potatoes ($23); and vegetarians will be happy to see the lacinato kale and crepe cannelloni, with wild mushrooms, leeks, and Gouda ($17). There’s also a section called bouchées, with savory bites like duck liver mousse with pickled currants, cress, and grilled levain ($6.50 each). The wine list from Paul Einbund has around 100 global selections, including two house-blended wines on tap using grapes from the central coast region of California (both are in the $6/glass price range). The designer is Michael Baushke of Apparatus (he also designed Ubuntu)—there are 48 seats total (34 in the dining room, 14 in the bar), ecru-toned walls, solid walnut table tops and counters with ebony finish, and a monotype B&W series by Katie Van Horne. Dinner is served Sun, Tue—Thu 5pm—10pm, Fri—Sat 5pm—10:30pm. Many will agree it’s great to have Melissa back on our culinary scene, and even better, running her own show.

Frances - 3870 17th St. San Francisco - 415-621-3870

Baker & Banker Opens This Evening

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Impressively on schedule, ~BAKER & BANKER~ is opening tonight (December 1st) in the former Quince space (and before that, Meetinghouse). Owners and couple, pastry Lori Baker and chef Jeff Banker, are going to be offering a New American menu with delicious-sounding items like cauliflower soup with vadouvan curry and toasted local almonds; house-smoked trout with celery root latke, horseradish crème fraîche, pickled beets, and shaved fennel; Paine squab and crushed liver crostini with arugula, apples, and Villa Manadori balsamic; striped bass and Spanish chorizo with cockles, bouillabaisse broth, and Meyer lemon aioli; and braised Ponzi Farm lamb stew with crunchy lamb sweetbreads, Anson Mills polenta, and salsa verde (main courses are $17—$25).

More stomach grumbling: Baker’s opening dessert menu includes pumpkin cobbler with cinnamon brittle ice cream; huckleberry brown butter tart with whipped crème fraîche; and peanut butter caramel fudge brownie with roasted banana ice cream and salted peanut brittle (she is known for her ice creams, so get ready). There will also be house-made breads, like soft potato rolls and buttermilk herb. Wine director Collin Casey (most recently the on-site sommelier at La Mar under master sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji) has put together an initial list of 60 bottles; most will be old world, priced between $40 and $60. The 49-seat restaurant used to be an apothecary, which inspired designer Michael Brennan to highlight details like the molding and woodwork. There will also be light caramel walls, Edison bulbs in the light fixtures, a visible ceiling pipe system, and banquettes upholstered in espresso leather. The room will also sport a bar with six stools, and a back bar with woodwork from the 1940s.

Baker & Banker - 1701 Octavia St., San Francisco - 415-351-2500

Vroom: Delarosa Now Open in the Marina

Moving into the former Fuzio space on Chestnut is ~DELAROSA~, the latest project from the Beretta and Starbelly team: Ruggero Gadaldi, Adriano Paganini, and Deborah Blum. The all-day eatery is open continuously, plus there’s late-night dining. The menu has a strong focus on the item of the year (yes, pizza): but these will be Roman style, very thin, and 14 inches (there are ten to choose from). There are also variety of antipasti, like meatballs or arancini, plus panini, salads, pastas (like cannelloni or the interesting-sounding olive gnocchi), and bomboloni for dessert.

While Beretta is cocktail-focused, Delarosa is going to be primarily a birreria, with a list of over 14 beers on tap and 15 in bottle chosen by Rich Higgins—he designed the beer menu at Starbelly. Ten seasonal and handcrafted cocktails are also be available. Jim Zack of Zack/de Vito Architecture (Starbelly, Bacar, Globe, Manresa) is behind the modern tangerine and dark grey space, which will have diners tucked in at communal tables and a 12-seat bar. One look at the Lambretta-esque logo, and you’ll get a feeling for the zippy style. Delarosa is open daily (and continuously) from 11:30am—1am.

Delarosa - 2175 Chestnut St. San Francisco - 415-673-7100

Say Hello to Pera in Potrero Hill

Potrero Hill neighbors didn’t have to mourn the closure of Eliza’s for too long, since the restaurant’s replacement, ~PERA~, has already opened in its place. The Mediterranean menu is focused on Turkish and Greek dishes, including meze starters like dolmades, an eggplant dish called satsuka, and zucchini cakes (all $5.50—$13 for a platter), with main dishes like lamb shish kebab, and lamb chops ($13—$21). Lunch is also served, with wraps and more affordable main dishes. Owners Irfan Yalcin and Sherry Wilson have two experienced Turkish chefs in the kitchen, who are using local and organic ingredients when possible, and the breads and baklava are made in house. The beer and wine license should be up and running in a week or so. Yalcin named the restaurant after an elegant shopping neighborhood in the heart of Istanbul. Since there are a lot of families in the neighborhood, it’s kid friendly, and take out is available. Brunch is also coming soon. Open for lunch daily 11:30am—2:30pm, and dinner Mon—Sat 5pm—10pm (until 10:30pm Fri—Sat), and Sun 4:30pm—9pm.

Pera - 1457 18th St. San Francisco - 415-796-3812

New Wine Bar, Gallery, and More Coming to the Mission

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A cool project should be opening by the beginning of the year in the Mission called ~HEART~. Owner and manager Jeff Segal is opening a wine bar/shop, bistro, and art gallery in a spacious 1,600-square-foot location. It’s designed to be an easy place for Mission residents to swing by, take a seat at the communal tables or bar, and order off the list of obscure and largely European varietals (although there will be some New World wines on the list that are “from small producers and full of character”). To eat, there will be small plates with a twist, but Segal told me he was going to have to fill me in later on the collaboration he has underway. Locals will also be happy with the retail component of Heart, making it easy to swing by and pick up a bottle or two to bring home or to a party. It’s also going to be a great event space, for private parties or movie nights. Hours will be six nights a week, from noon—10pm. Will keep you updated.

Heart - 1270 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-285-1200

Mysterious Wine Bar Coming to Jackson Square

I heard about a wine bar coming to Pacific Avenue, directly across from Quince, and sure enough, a recent permit reveals the project is called ~THE BARREL CELLAR~. I learned the partners are local (ish): one is in the wine business in Sonoma, and the other is from the city. They’re keeping a tight lid on it for now, but the projected opening is early 2010, and Gi Paoletti will be designing the space. Will share more details as they’re revealed…

Stealth Alley Coffee Returns

Did you miss getting your coffee in the back of ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~, in that dingy alley off Caledonia? Well, alley coffee is back, and according to their Tweet, it’s where you can get a coffee off their Slayer machine. Or anything else you like to drink from their crew o’ baristas. Hours are 8am—1pm.

Four Barrel Coffee - 375 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-252-0800

Bill Corbett Is Leaving Michael Mina

Looks like executive pastry chef Bill Corbett is leaving ~MICHAEL MINA~. I’m hearing rumors that Corbett is talking to Daniel Patterson of Coi, but the only confirmation I could get at the moment is “no comment.” Taking his place at Michael Mina is Catherine Schimenti, coming from Tom Colicchio’s Craft in LA. Prior to LA, she was the opening pastry chef at Craftsteak in NYC. Obviously Mina classics like the root beer float and cookies will remain.

A Talk About Pastry (It's Not About Making a Good Pie Crust)

Just in time for the sweet-laden holidaze, there is an ~COMMONWEALTH CLUB INFORUM EVENT~ titled “The State of Pastry in SF” tonight (December 1st). The panel of “the Bay Area’s premier pastry provocateurs will expand your sweet-smarts and your waistlines as they share the secrets of their custom confections and discuss the art of dessert design in the city. Join the sugar rush as these San Francisco pastry chefs from the likes of Quince and Citizen Cake dish on their incredible, edible art and serve up some pastry pointers that will last you longer than Grandma’s fruitcake.”

Panelists include: Luis Villavelazquez, Executive Pastry Chef, Absinthe Bar & Brasserie
William Werner, Executive Pastry Chef, Quince
Elizabeth Falkner, Executive Pastry Chef and Owner, Orson and Citizen Cake
Bill Corbett, Executive Pastry Chef of Michael Mina
Jessica Battilana, Associate Eat + Drink Editor, 7x7 - Moderator

Tuesday Dec 1, 2009
6pm check-in, 6:30pm program, 7:30pm tasting and networking reception
$12 members, $20 non-members
more info

Commonwealth Club - 595 Market St. San Francisco

Another Way to Ruin Your Teeth

Cups and Cakes

via Cups and Cakes

A new sweet shop opened in SOMA over the weekend, ~CUPS AND CAKES BAKERY~. The project is from Jennifer Emerson, who was formerly a teacher known for making the best cupcakes. And who said cupcakes were just for chicks having a birthday party? Because now we have breakfast cupcakes: according to the Monday morning menu, a “pancake breakfast” cupcake (maple bacon cake with maple butter cream and bacon) and candied sweet potato cupcake were available. You can follow flavor news on their Twitter feed. Every day there will be five or six flavors available, but chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet will always be standards. There is also a gluten-free cupcake and a vegan cupcake each day, plus cookies and scones, and brownies are forthcoming. Opening hours are Wed—Mon 8am—6pm; look at their homepage for Thanksgiving week hours.

Cups and Cakes Bakery - 451 9th St. San Francisco - 415-437-2877

Become a Pro at Makin' Bacon (Sausages Too)

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This is a class sure to sell out: ~THE CLASSICS: MAKIN BACON AND SAUSAGE 101~. Led by Rick Abruzzo and organized by members of Slow Food, this intimate workshop will first focus on the basic bacon-making technique of flavoring, curing, and smoking your own slab of pork belly. They have selected a savory dry cure recipe, and Rick will lead a demo and tasting (yay, a bacon tasting) of two bacon recipes. Rick will base the second half the afternoon on sausage, blending several traditional recipes for your own sausage experiments, and showing you some useful stuffing tricks. Tastings will include several bacon recipes, and four unique sausage recipes, including a special variety with ginger and sage, perfect for the holidays. You will be grilling the sausages fresh in the Courtyard of Union SF. All participants will receive copies of the precise recipes used in class, and a mini stash of your very own magic pink curing salt, the key ingredient in making your own bacon. The pork comes from local, sustainable farms. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit Slow Food Berkeley, funding initiatives for School Lunch Reform. Complimentary parking provided, via garage with access on Bryant St. (visual landmark: http://tinyurl.com/ydlfjkj).

Sunday Dec 6, 2009
1pm–4pm
$25 per person.
more info

Union SF - 2125 Bryant St. San Francisco

Like Buttah

Yeah baby, it’s time for the first annual Butterfest ‘09 at ~18 REASONS~. The two-hour soirée will include a demonstration of how to make simple cultured butter from scratch by DIY cookbook author Vanessa Barrington; a blind tasting of seven-plus brands of butter with awards given to the top three spreads; a butter-centric potluck (please bring a dish to share that includes butter as one of the main ingredients—18 Reasons will provide something green and light to balance it out); and “Like Buttah!”—an informal, soap-box style sharing of any and all butter stories, poems, odes, memories, and tales. Hopefully no one retells the Last Tango in Paris scene. Please RSVP!

Saturday Dec 12, 2009
6pm–8pm
$10 members, potluck contributors, or butter storytellers; $15 general
more info

18 Reasons - 3674 18th St. San Francisco

Holiday Lunch Returns to BIX

You know it’s the holiday season when ~BIX~ kicks in its holiday lunch during the week (normally lunch is only served on Fridays). Weekday lunch is available throughout the month of December. Treat your assistant to a burger (my favorite cloth-napkin burger in the city) and a martini (or two) for lunch. Or heck, sit at the bar and just treat yourself. Cheers.

Holiday Meal Deal at Scoma's

So you have some family in town for the holiday, and they want to have some San Francisco seafood with a view? The normally spendy ~SCOMA’S~ is offering a three-course holiday prix-fixe menu for $35, which includes a choice of a few appetizers (I’d recommend their famed Dungeness crab cakes to start), four different entrées, including a lamb T-bone, and pumpkin cheesecake plus some other choices for dessert. Plus complimentary valet parking is included, score! Served daily until closing, from 5pm until closing, through December 30th, 2009. Price does not include beverage, gratuity, or sales tax, and there are no substitutions.

Scoma's - Pier 47, Al Scoma Way, San Francisco - 415-771-4383

Goodbye Sushi, Hello Fried Eggs

Out in the Richmond, the former Sake/Saka HOUSE is transforming to ~B B BOBS RESTAURANT~ (no, I am not stuttering). The owners are affiliated with the Bob’s Diner at 1601 Polk Street. They’ll be opening soon, with breakfast served all day, and classic diner fare for lunch and dinner, with burgers and the like.

A Painfree Evening About Quickfire Challenges

Chronicle Books and ~PURCELL MURRAY~ (a cool kitchen showroom just minutes south of San Francisco) are hosting a special evening to celebrate the publication of ~Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook~. The evening will include cooking demonstrations, recipe tastings, and book signings by local Top Chef Cheftestants Jamie Lauren, Jennifer Biesty, and Ryan Scott, plus there will be pours of newly released Top Chef Quickfire Wines. At the end of the event, you get to walk away with a copy of the cookbook. And you won’t even have to draw knives, or make any weird appetizers using cactus and Gladware, or be judged by Penn & Teller. Space is limited, so please RSVP before December 3rd.

Tuesday Dec 8, 2009
6pm--8pm
$45 per person (includes a copy of the cookbook)
more info

Purcell Murray - 185 Park Lane, Brisbane

Get Sharp, The Cutting Edge of Food with Leading Bay Area Food Writers and Cookbook Authors

The Pasta Shop Fourth Street Market Plaza in Berkeley is hosting an ~AFTERNOON WITH LEADING BAY AREA FOOD WRITERS AND COOKBOOK AUTHORS~. They will discuss their work, the future of food systems, foodways, farming, and more. Authors include Novella Carpenter, FARM CITY: The Education of an Urban Farmer; Joyce Goldstein, TAPAS: Sensational Small Plates from Spain, and MEDITERRANEAN FRESH: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals; Mani Niall, SWEET! From Agave to Turbinado: Home Baking with Every Kind of Natural Sugar and Sweetener; Nicolette Hahn Niman, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms; and Bryant Terry, VEGAN SOUL KITCHEN: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.

Authors will discuss their work from 1pm—2pm, covering food traditions, farming, recipes. and trends. The book signing runs from 2pm—3pm. There will be sampling from recipes and ingredients, plus ongoing tastings of local and California artisan products, like new harvest olive oils, honeys, jams, condiments, meats, and cheeses.

Saturday Dec 5, 2009
1pm--3pm
No charge except for purchases.
more info

The Pasta Shop: Fourth Street - 1786 4th St. Market Plaza, Berkeley - 510-250-6004

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Dec 1, 2009
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the regular

Established Restaurant Reviews (it's about time we met...)
Dec 1, 2009

Bodega Bistro

1 Dac Biet

Pho Bodega Dac Biet

2 Roasted Squab

Roasted Squab

3 Peach Custard

Peach Custard

4 Jimmie

Chef Jimmie Kwok

Pssst. Ready to feast on a melee of flavors? I gotta hand it to ~BODEGA BISTRO~: every time I eat there, something knocks my socks off, and sometimes my shoes. But then I quickly put them back on because I don’t want to be booted outside on grungy Larkin Street without my shoes or socks. Yeah, and I think the gritty Tenderloin address is to blame for why a lot of people still haven’t discovered this total gem for Vietnamese-French food. Très Indochine.

The Hanoi-born chef-owner, Jimmie Kwok, is the picture of effusive, and I think his enthusiasm bubbles out of the kitchen and into the dining room, because the waitstaff here is equally kind and charming. The place has been gracing our dining scene for six years, and in case you’re wondering about the name, it’s a play on the Vietnamese words bo (beef) de (lamb) ga (chicken). There, now you have some trivia in your pocket.

When you walk in, the majority of tables are filled with large groups, but you will find a few tables of couples here and there. For optimal menu grazing, I say invite at least a couple friends to dine with. You’ll probably see the chim quay (roasted squab, $16) on every table. The livery, tangy squab meat isn’t for everyone, but I adore this preparation: the juicy roasted pieces have a fantastic coating, but it’s the glaze made of drippings, sultanas, butter (oh yes sir), onion, and the secret tang of Maggi that is seriously finger-licking good (and how convenient, it’s an eat-with-your-hands kind of dish). It comes with a salty-peppery lime sauce that you lightly dip your squab pieces into. The feet and head are also on the plate, so don’t freak out. Maybe your neighbors will want to gnaw on them. Or your cat at home.

The nom (green papaya salad, $6.30) is just that: nom nom nom. One of the better executions in the city, with the thinnest ribbons of green papaya, little beef jerky bits, peanuts, and a tangy, feisty sauce that will hypnotize you into ordering it every time you return here. Another classic, the bo luc lac (shaking beef, $14.50) brings tender cubes of filet, loaded with flavor, plus more of the pepper-lime-salt sauce. Sometimes the meat is more tender than other times, but the flavors are always on point.

A personal favorite is the banh xeo (stuffed pancake, $11.90) in the Hanoi Street Food section of the menu. My sister charmingly christened it a Vietnamese quesadilla, an eggy half moon that comes stuffed with shrimp, sprouts, and pork. You’ll go to town wrapping it up in lettuce and herbs like little tacos (to continue the Mexican theme) and dipping it into bowls of fish sauce. It’s a huge portion. More finger food: if you have the patience to pick crab, the Dungeness crab (AQ) with a salt-and-pepper crust will satisfy, especially with a side of garlic noodles ($6.30).

In all the times I’ve come here, to be honest, I never had the pho. MY BAD. A chef friend was hootin’ at me to get my ass in there and have some of the best beef pho in the city. Yeah, what was I thinking? Jimmie’s broth alone is sheer gorgeousness, and the quality of the beef he uses (we’re talking rare filet that the kitchen tenderizes à la minute) is what makes the dish. He starts a huge batch of broth a day ahead, so it has a deep, savory flavor, but is simultaneously quite pure and light on its feet.

Go for the pho bodega dac biet ($7.90), a bowl of face-steaming goodness, which comes with the hand-cut rare filet, well-done brisket, and meatballs, plus cleaned bean sprouts. Just keep the hoisin and sriracha on the side to dip your meat into—don’t adulterate the fragrant broth with it, really. Request the fat rice noodles and you’re stoked. (There’s also pho ga, with free-range chicken, if beef isn’t your thing.)

The bright magenta walls will insure you’re awake and feeling festive, and the bent bamboo chairs add just the right tropical vibe. If you have a birthday event coming up, come here and your group will be eating like you’re royalty or something. Finish up with some technicolor custards in the colors of peach or lime, and you’re set.

Oh, and I purposefully buried this little tidbit toward the end to reward you reading types: they have an awesome deal on Kumamoto oysters on the half shell, only $9.99 for a half dozen. Boo-yah. Further boo-yah-ness: they have Chimay by the bottle, and some decent wines too. This place kicks ass, what more can I say?

Bodega Bistro - 607 Larkin St. San Francisco - 415-921-1218

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Dec 1, 2009

Smuggler's Cove Close to Opening

Kudos to owner Martin Cate (formerly of Forbidden Island) for transforming the former Jade Bar into ~SMUGGLER’S COVE~ so quickly. The opening is still on target for Tuesday December 8th, and you’ll find quite the lineup of local bartenders ready to say “aloha” and sling many Caribbean rum-based cocktails, with some tiki drinks as well, 80 in all. As Cate stated to me, the menu is about “celebrating the spirit of rum.” You’ll see local bartenders Jackie Patterson, Dominic Venegas, and Reza Esmaili behind the stick, plus some new arrivals from Los Angeles; Camper English of Alcademics.com just wrote about the complete lineup. The decor will have tropical and tiki elements, highlighting a lot of old nautical salvaged materials, and pieces from old tiki bars, like the original Trader Vic’s and The Islander in Stockton. The bar will be open nightly from 5pm—closing (often until 2am).

Smuggler's Cove - 650 Gough St. San Francisco - 415-869-1900

Bar Adagio Opens Downtown

You just can’t keep a good bar down: even though Cortez Restaurant in the Hotel Adagio has closed, the lobby bar has reopened as ~BAR ADAGIO~, serving cocktails and bar food to the downtown and theater district set. Bar bites include pizzettas ($11—$12), panini ($11-$13, and includes a salad or fries), marinated olives, artisan cheeses, a salumi plate ($15), salads, and a burger ($15). The bar offers a variety of wines by the glass, handcrafted cocktails, and beers. There’s a daily happy hour from 4pm—6pm, with $4 draft beers, $5 well cocktails, a $5 specialty cocktail of the week, $5 glass of house red, white, or sparkling wine (there’s also a $3 can of beer of the week). Open daily at 4pm, with food service 5pm—10pm.

Bar Adagio - 550 Geary St., San Francisco - 415-292-6360

Happy Hour Cocktails and a How-To Class at the Ferry Building

Time to get into some holiday spirit(s). The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), operator of the acclaimed Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, is hosting ~TWO HOLIDAY-THEMED COCKTAIL EVENTS~: a happy hour tasting on Wednesday December 2nd and a hands-on class on Saturday December 5th.

On Wednesday December 2nd, CUESA and the San Francisco Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) will host an evening of holiday farmers’ market cocktails at the Ferry Building from 5:30pm—7:30pm. Guests will get two full-sized signature cocktails made with Jim Beam bourbon and crafted with early winter produce (think dates, clementines, kumquats, and pomegranates). Also available to taste are eight sample-sized drinks from bartenders Scott Baird from 15 Romolo; Lou Bustamante, bartender at large; Erick Castro from Rickhouse; Darren Crawford from Bourbon & Branch; Tim Gushue from Butterfly; Parker Heineman from Lingba; Trip Hosley from Sauce; Brian MacGregor from Jardinière; Enrique Sanchez from La Mar; Aurora Siegel from Rose Pistola; Aaron Gregory Smith from 15 Romolo; and Sierra Zimei from Seasons Bar at Four Seasons San Francisco. Cocktails will feature Auchentoshan, Batiste Rhum, Cabana Cachaça, Campari, Corzo Tequila, Oxley Gin, Pierre Ferrand Ambre, and VeeV Açaí Spirit (guests will vote on their favorite drinks).

You’ll also be able to graze on hors d’oeuvres, courtesy of local restaurants Butterfly, 15 Romolo, Tacolicious, and CUESA’s market chef, Sarah Henkin. Tickets to “Holiday Farmers Market Cocktail Night” are $30. All proceeds benefit CUESA and the USBG equally. This event sells out, so be sure to get your ticket now!

Then on Saturday December 5th, CUESA will host a hands-on cocktail class with Scott Beattie, author of Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus, and Marko Karakasevic, 13th generation distiller of Charbay Winery and Distillery. Beattie will teach the group how to make three drinks from his book highlighting winter citrus: the Meyer Beautiful (My, You’re Beautiful), the Pelo del Perro (Hair of the Dog), and the classic Margarita. Instruction will include side recipes, garnish how-tos, foams, and rim sugars and salts. Karakasevic will share his vast knowledge of the distillation process, and Charbay’s role as pioneers in the modern American artisan distillery movement. Drinks will feature Charbay’s small-batch spirits and fresh, seasonal fruit from the market. (Scott’s book will also be available to purchase.) Tickets are $40 and include instructions and all drinks. Cheers!

Ferry Building - One Ferry Building San Francisco - 415-983-8000

A New Wine Director at Delfina

Becky Swanson, who was the wine director at ~DELFINA~ for the past three years, and at the restaurant for five, is going to be moving back to Minneapolis with her boyfriend in the new year. She is talking about opening a wine retail shop, with an education and consulting component. She will still be working at Delfina until the end of December, and then a few bartending shifts each week until her move east. Currently in training to take her place on the floor is Samantha Brennan (yes, of THOSE Brennans, of New Orleans), most recently the wine director at Zinnia and prior to that, Pres a Vi. Since we’re on the topic of Delfina, happy eleventh anniversary!

Delfina - 3621 18th St. San Francisco - 415-552-4055

Scribe Winery Post-Harvest Celebration Dinner at Bar Tartine

For the past several years ~SCRIBE WINERY~ vintner, Andrew Mariani, and ~BAR TARTINE~chef, Chris Kronner, have been collaborating on dinners, events, and celebrations in the greater Bay Area. From SF Mission District warehouse/wood-oven feasts to barn-raising/goat roasts in Winters, these always prove to be delicious and memorable nights. On December 2nd and 3rd, Scribe Winery and Bar Tartine invite you to join in on Scribe Winery’s Post-Harvest Celebration Dinner. Using organic ingredients from the Scribe Garden, chef Chris Kronner is composing a four-course menu inspired by Scribe Wines. The menu is still being finalized, but will include wine poached/roasted marrow bones, a chicory salad, and dry-aged rib-eye. MaryLou Jasso (the pastry chef) will also be preparing a dessert. Both Andrew Mariani and his brother Adam will be pouring Scribe’s ‘08 Pinot, the Tartine Cuvee (‘07), and Scribe’s ‘04 Syrah. Please note everybody at the table must have the Scribe dinner menu. The regular dinner menu will also be offered, and those guests are welcome to have Scribe wines by the glass.

Wednesday Dec 2, 2009 – Thursday Dec 3, 2009
During regular business hours 6pm–10pm
$85/person (exclusive of tax and gratuity)
more info

Bar Tartine - 561 Valencia St. - 415-487-1600

Special Winemaker Dinner With "The Dolcetto King"

Beppe Ca’Viola, AKA “The Dolcetto King,” serves as a consultant for some of the most legendary estates across Italy. And, as it turns out, he’s a talented winemaker himself. ~OTTIMISTA ENOTECA-CAFE~ will be hosting a special dinner with Beppe, showcasing his dolcetto, barbera, and nebbiolo-based wines of the Langhe. And these wines will rock: in 2002, Beppe was named Gambero Rosso’s “Winemaker of the Year” and on the consulting side, in 2008 he had 39 “Tre Bicchieri” estates, including Vietti, Bruno Rocca, Mauro Veglio, Elvio Cogno, Damilano, Silvio Grasso, Euinadi, Michele Chiarlo, Umani Ronchi, Sella & Mosca, and Villa Sparina. To look at the pairings and chef Glen Tinsley’s hearty five-course dinner, take a peek here.

Wednesday Dec 2, 2009
6:30pm reception, 7pm dinner
$80 + tax and gratuity
more info

Ottimista Enoteca-Café - 1838 Union St. San Francisco - 415-674-8400

Pop! Goes the Season

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Hooray for bubbles! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

~ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT~ is hosting their annual Champagne tasting on December 3rd, when top well-known and boutique producers will pour their delectable award-winning Champagnes. The lineup includes Krug, Pol Roger, Gosset, and Ruinart, as well as boutique producers including Jacquesson, Larmandier-Bernier, Paul Bara, Vilmart, and Agrapart et Fils, more than 30 to taste in all. Even better, the bubbles will all be available for purchase at special event pricing at Arlequin Wine Merchant. And when you are ready for a bite to eat after the event, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar next door will be open for dinner until 12am (a good time to finally check out that incredible hot dog chef Lauren is doing, right?).

Thursday Dec 3, 2009
6pm–8pm
$50 in advance, $60 at the door.
more info

Arlequin Wine Merchant - 384 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-863-1104

Randall Grahm Book Signing (and Wine Pouring, Natch)

More Randall Grahm events in town: he’ll be at ~RUBY WINE~ on December 11th for their Friday Night Flights on December 11th. Randall will be pouring his wines and signing his new book, Been Doon So Long. $10 cost includes some great snacks (read: cheese) from Tomales Bay Foods.

Friday Dec 11, 2009
5pm–8pm
$10
more info

Ruby Wine - 1419 18th St. San Francisco - 415-401-7708

Pinot Noir Dinner with Cobb Wines at Sociale

~SOCIALE~ will be having a pinot noir dinner extravaganza with wine maker Ross Cobb of Cobb Wines, who will be showcasing nine of his pinots going back to 2003, including Cobb’s 2006 Diane Cobb Block, Coastland’s Vineyard (and how lovely, six of the pinots are 13.5% alcohol or lower). The dinner will consist of five courses paired with the wines.

Tuesday Dec 8, 2009
6:30pm
$145 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity.
more info

Sociale - 3665 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-921-3200

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Dec 1, 2009
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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Dec 1, 2009

La Cocina Hosts Its First-Ever Gift Fair

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Event Info

Friday Dec 4, 2009
4pm–9pm
Event Info
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
2868 Mission St. at 25th St.

Who doesn’t want a present that tastes good? Exactly. Which is why you’ll want to boogie on down to ~LA COCINA’S GIFT FAIR~ (the first!). It will bring together the artisanal food producers who work out of their incubator kitchen as well as local vendors who sell everything from cookbooks to cookware to fair-trade coffee. There will be over 20 local food and food-related businesses with easy-to-ship and easy-to-wrap gifts. Some of the vendors include Botanas Felicitas, Clairesquares, CMBSweets, Delicias Salvadoreñas, Estrellita’s Snacks, Kika’s Treats, Neo Cocoa, Sajen, Sinful Sweets, Endless Summer Sweets, Onigilly, Sabores del Sur, Omnivore Books, Bernal Cutlery, and many more.

Not only do you support small vendors, but you don’t have to deal with Union Square mayhem! The event will be held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, with food, holiday drinks, beer and wine, and even some exciting raffles for special gifts made by La Cocina businesses.

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Dec 1, 2009
Bi Rite Wine Blitz

Holiday Wine Blitz: Part Two

Despite its small size, Bi-Rite Market has one of the best wine selections in town. Wine buyer Trac Le’s selection of artisan wines includes great organic and biodynamic producers from California, Italy, France, Spain, and beyond, with more than 50 hand-picked wines under $15, a selection of great food wines at all prices, and bottles from cult producers like Quintarelli, Pegau, Huet, and Radio Coteau.

During Bi-Rite’s Second Holiday Wine Blitz (December 10th—13th), all wines are 20% off when you purchase any 12 or more bottles. The sale includes every wine in the store, and delivery is free in San Francisco! For more details, click here.

Bi-Rite Market, 3639 18th St. between Dolores and Guerrero, in the Mission District. For more information, call the store at 415-241-9760 or email trac@biritemarket.com.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Dec 1, 2009

Where Authors Eat

Writer ~Barbara Kingsolver~ (The Poisonwood Bible and recently, The Lacuna) was at Sociale for lunch. She had the beet and goat cheese salad and brick chicken (good choice!).

And for You Football Fans...

The legendary quarterback ~Jim Plunkett~ came in for dinner at EPIC Roasthouse with his wife. They both had filet mignon, and he played paper football field goals* at the front desk with EPIC manager Bryan Philon. (Bryan won.) Jim also predicted a Raiders win.

*When you fold a piece of paper into a triangle, and one player uses their fingers for the goalposts while the other tries to flick the “football” through the posts.

More Fabulous Fabio!

Can’t resist the other ~Fabio~ sighting that came in last week, this one from tablehopper reader Jenn M.: “Fabio, the Italian male supermodel, was dining at Houston’s today for lunch with a group of other body-builder type men. Pretty funny! He still has shoulder-length hair although it’s now closer to brown than blonde.” Way to stay with a look…

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