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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: fatty tuesday.

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Upstairs at Smuggler’s Cove.

Can we possibly pile on any more occasions this week? I know I’m not the only one who is glad Valentine’s Day is over (someone should have let off an “all clear” siren on Monday, alerting single people that it was okay to return to your favorite restaurant counters). I know Beer Week definitely gave the city a workout. My President’s Day was pretty uneventful (hey, someone had to write this thing), but I will say Gung Hay Fat Choy, people! Speaking of fat, today we celebrate Mardi Gras—I have some places you can hit in the socialite. Let the good times and your waistline roll.

Last week hovered between the healthy (a meal at the vegan Gracias Madre—loved the coconut-lime “cheesecake”), the decadent (dinner at Barbacco, and then trying Bill Corbett’s gorgeous new desserts at COI), the boozy (Saturday night drinks were at Smuggler’s Cove, NOPA, and the Ha-Ra), and the homey (celebrating my grandma’s birthday with a honking serving of lasagne). This week is shaping up to be equally challenging to my waistline. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates and I get to ride my bike as much as I plan to.

Oh, and last week I got a couple questions about my Book Passage Cooks with Books luncheon at Perbacco on Wednesday March 31st. The $100 includes a copy of my book (signed, of course), tax, and tip! Ci vediamo?

It’s feeling positively springy out there. It’s not pitch black at 6pm, and the night is perfumed with cherry blossoms.

Bisous,

Marcia Gagliardi

This week’s issue is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Brian Griset, who adored wine, food, music, and hugs more than most.

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Feb 16, 2010

Marlowe (Softly) Opens Today

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Photo: Lauri Levenfeld/ZOOM Photography.

The former South Food + Wine Bar has finished its transformation into ~MARLOWE~ under owner Anna Weinberg and executive chef Jennifer Puccio, previously at Cortez. Tonight is just a whisper-soft opening, and reservations will be accepted on OpenTable starting Wednesday. The market-driven menu features classic bistro favorites, like roasted bone marrow ($10) with salsa verde and fines herbs, roasted parsnip soup ($7) with hazelnut and salsa verde, and classic steak tartare ($11). Mains include poulet vert ($19) with warm potato, olive, and chicory salad; steak frites ($29) featuring a 12 oz. Creekstone New York steak; lamb mixed grill ($24) with butter beans, chard, and sheep’s milk ricotta gratin (fortunately you can also order that gratin as a side dish, $6); or there’s also a smoky cauliflower gratin ($7). For dessert, there’s chocolate pot de crème and Meyer lemon curd cake ($6). I know, a dessert that isn’t $9? Nice.

There is also a bar menu, with bites like baked oysters ($3 each) and brussels sprout chips with Meyer lemon and sea salt ($5). Lunch will include an open-faced deviled egg sandwich ($9) with pickled chili, bacon, and aged provolone; a Marlowe burger ($12) with caramelized onions, bacon, horseradish aioli, and fries; and 4505 dogs with house-made kraut and spicy mustard—either a classic dog ($8) or a fennel and pecorino sausage ($10).

The wine list has lost its Aussie accent, and now features lesser-known grapes and international regions chosen by sommelier Gerard O’Bryan. There are 10 reds and 10 whites by the glass, and 40 by the bottle (prices are value-driven, and range from $7-12, while bottles are primarily under $50). The dining room has a completely new look, with subway tile, a crisp navy blue and white palette, rustic wood tables, and black chairs with woven straw seats. Dinner Mon-Tue 5:30pm-10pm, Wed-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; snacks and sips are available at the bar all day long. Lunch will start next week and will be served Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm.

Marlowe - 30 Townsend St. San Francisco - 415-974-5599

Say Kanpai at DELICA

After six-and-a-half years in the Ferry Building Marketplace, ~DELICA~ has made some significant changes as of last Friday, starting with new extended hours from 4pm until 9pm. There is now a sushi bar, featuring only sustainable seafood (so don’t ask for any unagi), prepared by a sushi chef from Tokyo’s Ginza district (he even makes his own soy sauce). Owner Yasu Iwata recommends making a reservation at one of the five seats at the new sushi counter.

Plus there are inventive new small plates, like a halibut sashimi carpaccio with pickled radish, spicy curry croquettes with potato and American kobe beef, fried organic tofu with mizuna in a spicy sauce, and albacore with Oregon white truffle soy sauce. Everything is made with organic, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients. There is additionally a newly added wine and sake list, with two white wines, two reds, a sparkling wine, and three to four sakes. Swing by for happy hour Mon-Thu from 4pm-6pm, with beer for $2.50, and wine for only $5.

A New Multi-Purpose Culinary Concept Opening in the Mission

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I was a fan of Jake des Voignes’s cooking back when he would kill me with food at Fifth Floor (along with his kitchen wingman, Charlie Kleinman, who is now at Wexler’s). After a stint as the exec chef at Fish & Farm, des Voignes is now partnering with Yaron Milgrom-Elcott in an exciting project in the Mission called ~LOCAL: MISSION EATERY~. The pair took over the former Alhambra Halal Meat Co. on 24th Street, and are going to serve lunch, a set-menu dinner a couple nights a week, and will also host cooking classes.

Lunch is launching first, with five or so sandwiches, plus a soup, salad, house-made pickles, and a house soda. Some examples of sandwiches may include a roasted goat with smoked and braised beet tops with pickled carrot; smoked sablefish with beets and candied horseradish; or a roast potato with green garlic, fromage blanc, chicories, and pickled shallot (des Voignes mentioned he wants to compose them the way he’d plate a dish, carefully balancing flavors and textures). A few will come on homemade flatbread, focaccia, or brioche, or on bread from neighbor Panorama.

Now, who is going to be making the bread? Shauna des Voignes, Jake’s wife and previously the pastry chef at RN74, will be running Knead Patisserie, a second business in the back of the space. Her background includes a year and a half at ubuntu in Napa, plus time at Quince, and Fifth Floor, which is where she met Jake. She will be offering a new take on a French pâtisserie, making pastries, cookies, cakes, brownies, candied fruit, and more.

Both the pâtisserie counter and sandwich counter will be open Tue-Sun 11am-6pm. You’ll be able to come in and sit down over some coffee and fresh-baked treats, get some sweets to go, or order a sandwich from the Local counter. Or heck, do all three. Shauna might be offering dessert on Friday evenings a little further out.

The plan is to open for lunch and baked goods the first week of March, and once the beer and wine license kicks in, dinner will be served one night a week on Thursdays at one seating. The four-course market-driven menu will be around $48, including tax and tip. In a twist, the kitchen will plate and then serve guests each course (instead of servers)—so if you want to know what was in the sauce you just tasted, you’ll be able to get answers right then and there. The expanded plan is to eventually have two seatings, and to also offer dinner on Saturdays. There will be 30 seats at dinner, including 12 at a counter for those who want to watch the open kitchen (during the day there will be more seats, around 40 in all).

In a unique partnership, Local is partnering with both Terroir and City Beer Store in SoMa to put together custom wine and beer lists each week. And then there are the cooking classes: you’ll be able to take classes on Wednesdays (and maybe on Sundays) from Jake, Shauna, and guest chefs like Charlie Kleinman, and local bread guy Danny Gabriner of Sour Flour.

Does this place sound fun or what? I’ll keep you posted on the opening date over the next two weeks. You can also follow their progress on Twitter.

Local Mission Eatery - 3111 24th St. San Francisco - 415-655-3422

More Sopapillas, Please!

Cartman would be thrilled: starting this Wednesday the 17th, ~GREEN CHILE KITCHEN~ is going to start serving hot, fried sopapillas nightly, from 5pm until closing. For $3, you’ll get a basket of four, which you can douse with honey (a bottle will be on each table), or you can get them as a savory side dish with the green chile stew or pozole. (Look for stuffed ones coming later.) Launching a week later will be a green chile tortilla cheeseburger, and then the week after that, chile rellenos will be on the menu. 1801 McAllister St. at Baker, 415-614-9411.

As for the old GCK location at Baker and Fulton, it’s going to be Chile Pies & Ice Cream at the end of March. There will be pies like buttermilk pecan, apple, coconut cream, and even yuzu marmalade, plus ice cream from Straus (soft serve too!). Bonus: Ici is going to be making a chile chocolate flavor. There is also going to be a sole savory item on the menu: Frito chili pie! Hours will be Tue-Sun noon-9:30pm. 601 Baker St. at Fulton.

Burrito Throwdown

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Photo from DJ Mr. E.

Tune into the Food Network’s Throwdown! with Bobby Flay this Wednesday night (10pm ET/PT) to watch Victor and Miguel Escobedo of local fave ~PAPALOTE~ take on the Flay in a Burrito Throwdown. And in true Mr. E style (Miguel is a DJ), there will be a viewing party at MILK in the Haight starting at 9pm, with a whole lineup of DJs to celebrate the premiere. Word.

And for those who aren’t following my Tweets, you should know Papalote’s special occasion Mexi-Pino Burrito, a cross-cultural mash-up of chicken adobo and garlic fried rice, is now available every day on the menu. Let’s hear it for popular demand. There’s also a vegan version with tofu, plus folks are ordering the chicken adobo in chilaquiles, quesadillas, and nachos. Palabra!

A Couple New Twists on Brunch

~NOMBE~ in the Mission is now serving brunch, whether it’s a Japanese breakfast of broiled black cod, lightly poached egg, miso soup with winter vegetables, seasoned rice with wild nori, a green salad, mixed pickled vegetables, and Balla’s house pickled plums (umeboshi) for $21; a fusion-y tuna melt: poached ahi tuna, grilled sourdough, cheddar cheese, mixed chicory salad, and a fried egg ($12); or warm beignets filled with yuzu jam and nested in creme fraiche ($7). There are also some brunch-y drinks like a blood orange mimosa ($8).

~LE COLONIAL~ has also launched weekend brunch service (Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm). Rotating items may include beef pho soup with oxtail; banh mi cha cua (Vietnamese sandwiches with crab cakes); grilled pork chop with broken rice, fried egg, and pickled bok choy; and a shrimp and crab rice crêpe.

Lunch Is Now Served At The Richmond

As of today, February 16th, you can now have lunch at ~THE RICHMOND RESTAURANT~ in… the Richmond (and you thought I was going to say North Beach). On the menu: American classics, like potato leek soup, a seasonal green salad, fried oysters with coleslaw, a seasonal fish dish, meatloaf, and a half-pound cheeseburger with fries. Starters will cost between $6 and $9, while mains will range from $9.95-$14.95. Lunch is served Tue-Fri from 11:30am-2pm. 615 Balboa St. at 7th Ave., 415-379-8988.

Time to Do Your Dirty Dishes

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A new music and food party called Dirty Dishes is launching at the ~LOOKOUT~ in the Castro next Thursday February 25th. The Tasty crew have come up with a cool concept, spinning “the dirtiest indieelectrofunkatechbootybasshop party jams,” with vittles provided by the local food cart scene. The first event will feature the Gumbo Cart, Adobo Hobo, and Mission Minis.

Dirty Dishes will be on the fourth Thursday of every month at 9pm. You can follow them on Twitter and their Facebook group.  

Thursday Feb 25, 2010
9pm
more info

Reunited, and It Feels So Good

On March 8th, Christine Law is returning to the kitchen as executive pastry chef for Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal (they all worked together at Postrio). She will be overseeing the pastry department at all three of their restaurants: ~TOWN HALL~, ~ANCHOR & HOPE~, and ~SALT HOUSE~.

Book Signing Dates for The Butcher and The Vegetarian

In case you want to get a copy of The Butcher and The Vegetarian, the book highlighted in this week’s bookworm, author Tara Austen Weaver will be reading at a variety of events around town:

Thursday February 18th, 7pm-9pm
18th Hour: The Butcher and The Vegetarian Reading and Book Signing
18 Reasons, 593 Guerrero at 18th St.
$5 donation at the door (drop in)
Come and hear Tara read a bit of her book and meet the special guests from the 6pm panel discussion.

Monday February 22nd, 7:30pm
Book signing and reading

Booksmith
1644 Haight St., 415-863-8688

Saturday March 13th, 3pm
Book signing and reading

Omnivore Books
3885a Cesar Chavez St., 415-282-4712

Get Cookin'

A variety of cool chef-taught cooking classes are coming up:

First, this Sunday February 21st, Thomas Odermatt of RoliRoti is going to demonstrate how to cook porchetta and other cuts of pork at Tante Marie. There will be a demonstration on cutting, roasting, and curing unusual cuts of pork with a tasting of spiced pork belly confit, crispy pig’s feet, and smoked bacon tortilla. Info/tickets. 10am-1pm, $75.

On Thursday February 25th, Urban Kitchen is hosting a workshop on making Mozzarella and Ricotta with Travis Flood. Participants will take home a sample of the cheese they make, as well as some curd to practice their new cheese-making skills at home. Tickets are $51. 5:30pm-7:30pm, Ferry Building, in the CUESA Dacor Teaching kitchen located in the North Arcade.

And on Saturday February 27th, chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce is teaching a hands-on class focusing on the roasting of meats. You will learn about the many different cuts of meats, how to properly butcher, carving techniques, and knife skills. Chef Mark will teach you about tempering, roasting, and resting, plus braises, and a selection of marinades will be prepared. And you’ll learn about meat-friendly wines. All this, plus a sit-down 
lunch with chef Mark is $100, exclusive of tax. To reserve, call 415-931-5100. 11am-3pm.

In the East Bay, ~CAFÉ ROUGE~ is launching its next series of monthly butchery classes on Monday February 22nd. Participants meet the ranchers, the butchers, and the chef, learn about and discuss butchery, cooking, and taste generous samplings of the recipes. The butchery classes are the last Monday of every month: Feb. 22nd: pig; March 29th: goat; April 26th: poultry; and May 24th: sausage making. 6:30pm, $65 per student. Café Rouge Dining Room, 1782 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-525-1440.

New Temescal Restaurant Opening Next Monday

~SR24~, a restaurant from Josh Woodall (formerly the chef at South Food + Wine Bar) and Howard Schindler, is due to open on Monday February 22nd. SR24, which stands for State Route 24, is going to be “a classic American eatery with a consciousness for sustainability and the community.” The menu is designed to be affordable, with nothing over $20. Expect dishes like classic salads (wedge, green goddess, Caesar, chop), a variety of sandwiches, comfort staples like roast chicken and pot pie, a few pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and lasagne, and a bunch of sides (baked beans, Yorkshire pudding). There will also be an affordable international wine list from Guillermo Guerra, with local beer on tap.

Hours will be Mon-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Sat 11am-11pm. Happy hour will be from 3pm-6:30pm, and you know there’s some PBR on the specials. 5179 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland, 510-655-9300. Note: their official address is Telegraph Ave., but they are actually located on 51st St.

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Feb 16, 2010

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fresh meat

New Restaurant Reviews (I'm looking for somewhere new to eat)
Feb 16, 2010

Baker & Banker

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Smoked trout, celery root latke.

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Liberty duck breast.

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Page mandarin sorbet.

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Interior photo by Jesse Friedman.

I was sinking my choppers into such a soft, fluffy, flavorful piece of whole wheat and honey bread, and realized, yup, this place is different. It made me think of my mom’s homemade wheat bread, and right then, I felt at home.

Which is exactly the feeling ~BAKER & BANKER~ is after. Service is attentive and friendly, and the husband-and-wife duo of Lori Baker (pastry chef) and Jeff Banker (chef) regularly circulate the 49-seat room like the good hosts they are. The former Quince location has always had a cozy feeling, and now it feels more masculine and den-like, with lots of dark wood, leather banquettes, and a carpeted floor. There’s also a slightly industrial touch, with exposed ceiling pipes overhead and pendant lamps with Edison bulbs. It’s definitely more lit up than the dusky lighting I was used to at Quince, and the vibe is decidedly neighborhood-y. There’s a small six-seat bar in the back, but it’s tight if you’re bigger than a size four, so I think it’s a better waiting-for-my-table spot than dining-at-the-bar seat.

Banker’s market-driven New American menu shows an interest in Japanese ingredients (find me a chef who isn’t), with luggage stickers from places like Italy, France, and Thailand. It feels very San Francisco to me, without being fusion-y. My guest and I luckily got to try the spicy crab spring roll off the chef’s tasting menu ($55). It was an explosion of flavor: ponzu, sesame, frizzled shallot, yuzu, chervil, chive, mint. I was sorry it was only an amuse—I could have eaten six of them. Yeah, watch me.

I love seeing, nay, tasting innovations, like the spectacular beet reduction drizzled around the edge of the house-smoked trout dish ($12). Why haven’t I seen this more often? I started imagining all kinds of uses for beet reductions, starting with dessert. The hearty dish was almost like a Jewish breakfast, with flaked trout piled on top of a celery root latke sporting a healthy swath of horseradish crème fraîche. The dish became a touch soggy, but was super-satisfying the way it all melded together, brightened with acidity from pickled beets and shaved fennel.

The grilled Star Route little gem salad ($10) featured another ingenious touch: shaved sunchoke. The nuttiness of the brown butter hazelnut vinaigrette and the Parmesan cheese made a memorable combo, playing against the slight smokiness from the greens. A great salad.

We also tried the salad of tender Monterey calamari a la plancha ($13) with fresh chicories, hearts of palm, and fried chickpeas. I can see how everything was meant to fit together, brightened up with three kinds of citrus (ruby and Oro Blanco grapefruit, and Page mandarin), but with all the citrus, I feel like it tipped on the “too many ingredients” scale.

A few of the dishes perhaps border on one too many elements, but in the end, Banker knows exactly what he’s doing: the flavors groove. Sometimes we have to shelve our super-simplified Cal-Ital palates. The upscale preparations are interesting and clever—the food here has its own thing going on. And it’s obvious there’s a lot of technique and prep going into each dish. I also wonder if he is living at the farmers’ market, because it’s apparent how fresh and seasonal everything is. I’d totally bring someone visiting San Francisco here.

My Liberty duck breast ($25) was one of the better duck dishes I’ve had in a while—the fat was perfectly rendered, and the meat was cooked to the right temp and texture. Seasoned beautifully, too. Just ducky. The hearty and juicy plating included meaty shreds of duck confit, Chantenay carrot purée, parsnip gnocchi (another twist on the usual), spinach, and an intriguing whisper of licorice root and orange zest in the sauce. There was also a scattering of parsnip chips to keep the textures varied.

There are six mains in all, from a seared black bass ($26) with a Thai shellfish risotto, to a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin ($24) with semolina Spätzle, Savoy cabbage, and a dried cherry reduction. My friend was happily feasting on his braised lamb shoulder that came on a bed of creamy polenta—the plate was punched up with black olives, a flourish that we both adored. It was the kind of dish that forced my friend to proclaim, fork in hand, “I will never be skinny.” I ate another bite of my decadent duck in solidarity.

After tasting the “I have no control, please stop me from eating all of this” bread at the beginning of the meal, I was primed for Lori Baker’s desserts (all $8) at the end. Release the hounds. The Page mandarin sorbet rocked my world—it was such a creamy sorbet, not icy at all. It was almost like a 50/50 bar. Brilliant. I just wanted the price brought down a dollar considering the heft of the other desserts.

The kumquat-prune sticky toffee pudding is initially the kind of dish whose sweetness could make your teeth hurt, but then the tart blood orange sauce cuts into the sugar—it was a smart twist on an old-fashioned favorite. And then there’s the XXX-triple dark chocolate layer cake, a barely legal layering of flourless chocolate cake, chocolate cheesecake, and devil’s food cake. When the slice is served, the table next to you will visibly covet your dessert—you’ll see. The Four Barrel French press coffee would have been great with the decadent cake, but was a bit weak (pressed too soon).

Be sure to peek at the blackboards for some wine specials—our snappy server was also very helpful in making pairing suggestions. The ambitious wine list by Collin Casey (he was last at La Mar) is full of Old World selections—many of them natural wines—and even has a few of my Italian favorites on there. I understand his POV, but considering how local the food is at the restaurant, I do think a little more California representation would be welcome on the list—and I can imagine some customers would like a few wines they have to think less about. I also had a hard time reading it—the right-justified formatting was challenging.

The crowd was a hodgepodge—some Pac Heights folks (they can appreciate the spendier bottles of Burgundy and Bordeaux on the wine list), couples on date night, industry folks checking it out… And it’s exactly the kind of scene the restaurant should have. The room was lively and social—you could almost ask your adjoining table about their dinner.

You can tell a lot of care has gone into this establishment, from the well-chosen silverware and glasses to the pretty tulips and server training. Baker and Banker both have a lot of restaurant experience in San Francisco, and they really wanted their restaurant in this location (Banker used to work here as a line cook when it was The Meetinghouse). As I sat and surveyed the room from table 14 (a swell corner table for two, by the way), it felt nice to see them manifesting their dream. Good for them.

This first impression was only based on a one-time visit—but I will be back. My lamb-loving friend will, too. I’m sure any of the small kinks I’ve mentioned are the types of things that will be fine-tuned in time—the owners are paying a lot of attention.

Note: at some point later this year, the duo hopes to open a tiny walk-up counter downstairs where you can pick up a few items like sandwiches and baked goods, plus coffee and cakes. They’re waiting on permits for now—you can keep up with the news in my column, of course.

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

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Feb 16, 2010

Bruno De Conciliis at Delfina This Wednesday

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Bruno opening Naima. Photo from Delfina.

Consider this a warm-up before next week’s Tre Bicchieri event: a wonderful winemaker from the Cilento region of Campania, Bruno De Conciliis, is going to be at ~DELFINA~ this Wednesday for his annual trip to San Francisco. He will be pouring his wines by the glass, carafina, and bottle, including NV “Selim” Spumante, 2008 De Conciliis “Donnaluna” Fiano, 2004 De Conciliis “Antece” Fiano, 2008 De Conciliis “Donnaluna” Aglianico, 2005 De Conciliis “Naima” Aglianico (I had this on my birthday and loved it), and 2004 De Conciliis “Zero” Aglianico.

Delfina will be offering an à la carte menu, including some dishes inspired by the region. Some dishes you may find on the menu: warm octopus salad, fresh-stretched mozzarella with grilled artichokes, gran fritto misto di pesce, Berkshire pork braciole (served in two courses), bistecca alla pizzaiola, and more. You can read more about the wines and Bruno on Delfina’s Facebook page.

NOTE: if you’re in the 650, Bruno will be at ~DONATO ENOTECA~ for a special dinner on February 21st. Executive chef Donato Scotti will create a five-course menu that highlights the Campania region, and De Conciliis will be pouring five of his own vintages. 6pm, $70 per person, excluding tax/gratuity. 1041 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, 650-701-1000.

Wednesday Feb 17, 2010
5:30pm–10pm
more info

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

Calling All Guys and Dolls

Prohibition Days kicks off tonight, and Harry Denton’s Starlight Room will be offering a complimentary cocktail class led by master mixologist Jaques Bezuindenhout, where guests will learn how to make (and taste) a number of delicious libations popular in the Roaring 20’s. (There will also be a burlesque dance class taking place to get guests ready for the Bootleggers Ball taking place on Saturday February 20th.) Plus there will be a 1920s-inspired fashion show compliments of Costumes on Haight. 6:30pm-8:30pm

And Friday night will include a special 1920’s-themed dinner in ~SCALA’S BISTRO~ wine salon by chef Jen Biesty. There will be five courses (prawn cocktail, vichyssoise, Waldorf salad, sautéed sole à la Grenobloise OR steak Diane, crêpe Suzette blood orange), paired with a variety of gin cocktails. 7:30pm. $50 for dinner only, $65 with gin cocktail pairings (one cocktail per course, gratuity not included). Call 415-395-8555 for reservations.

Wine Classes at CAV

~CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN~ is hosting an Introduction to Wine Class
 on Saturday February 27th. During this two-hour session, they will break down the components of wine, go over basic terminology, and you will taste a selection of eight wines that illustrate tannin, acidity, body, and a variety of aromas and flavors. Seating is limited. 2pm. $40.

And then on 
Saturday March 6th, there is a Varietal Comparison Class, focused on red wines, while the class on 
Saturday March 13th will highlight white wines. The Varietal Comparison sessions are the perfect follow up to the Introduction to Wine class. In each, you will taste two examples, one from the “new world” and one from Europe, of four different grapes. The different characteristics of grapes as well as terroir will be clearly illustrated so that less-experienced wine drinkers can choose wines with confidence. 2pm, $40.

Saturday Feb 27, 2010 – Saturday Mar 13, 2010
2pm–4pm
$40
more info

CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen - 1666 Market St. San Francisco - 415-437-1770

No Corkage on Mondays at Urban Tavern

Union Square’s ~URBAN TAVERN~ is offering no-corkage Mondays, from 11:30am to 10:30pm. And you also get five hours of free parking, which is available every day to guests dining at the restaurant. There’s also a new chef: Colin Duggan has taken the reins. 333 O’Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.  

New Saloon in Oakland--It Will Love You, and Cut You

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Thanks to this Tweet from Ben of Cooking with the Single Guy, I learned that there’s a new bar opening on February 19th in the Lakeshore District of Oakland called ~HEART AND DAGGER SALOON~. The tagline is “Good Spirits for Bad People.” All righty then. A couple informative posts on Yelp have more details: it used to be the location of the Serenader, and it’s going to be a rock ‘n’ roll bar (which you can gather from the logo). There’s reportedly an outdoor patio, a pool table, video games, and pinball. Oh yes, and cheap drinks. 504 Lake Park Ave. at Rand, Oakland.

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Feb 16, 2010

(Sponsored): Veedercrest Wins Double Gold!

Historic Veedercrest, a pioneering Napa Valley winery and participant in the infamous Judgment of Paris, won a Double Gold in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its 2006 St. Helena Cabernet, and won Silver for its 2006 Mt. Veeder Cabernet. Double Gold means that every judge awarded the wine a Gold.

The wines will be available for tasting this coming Saturday afternoon in the VIP Pavilion at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition tasting, Ft. Mason.

Veedercrest was founded in 1972 after a visit from legendary Andre Tchelicheff. Andre invited himself to dinner after hearing about founder Al Baxter’s good quality amateur wines. Andre rated the wines “excellent,” and recommended “going commercial.” At the Paris tasting, the wines were recognized as the “most French in style.” Veedercrest wines have been served at White House dinners and for a visit of the Pope.

You can reach Veedercrest by phone: 510-459-5115, fax: 510-451-1033, and email.

the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Feb 16, 2010

Mardi Gras!

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Event Info

Tuesday Feb 16, 2010

I know, it was a pile-up this weekend with Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, President’s Day, and now ~MARDI GRAS~—but you can do it. Here’s a mini roundup of what’s going on:

~TOWN HALL~ in SoMa is known for its annual Mardi Gras blowout—this year will be their seventh. The evening kicks off at 6pm with unlimited buttermilk fried chicken, etouffée, gumbo, oysters, BBQ shrimp, jalapeño cornbread, Abita Beer, caipirinhas, and Hurricanes. The D’Amphibians will be playing, plus there will be face painters, balloon artists, and samba dancers (just when you thought it sounded like a kid’s party). Tickets are available for $70 per person (plus tax) at the door. 

~FILLMORE STREET~ restaurants and clubs are going to feature live music (Black Quarterback, Bohemian Knuckle Boogie, Steve Snelling, and Bobbie Webb) at six Fillmore District venues, along with free Mardi Gras beads and signature $6 cocktails or wines. Participating restaurants and bars include: 1300 on Fillmore, Rasselas, Sheba Piano Lounge, Yoshi’s, Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles, Fat Angel Wine Bar and Café, Bruno’s, and the Boom Boom Room ($7 cover). Enjoy Fat Tuesday favorites including jambalaya, gumbo, fried oysters, and shrimp and grits. 5:30pm-midnight.

~TIPSY PIG~ in the Marina is celebrating their anniversary on the same night, so the kitchen is going to be adding hush puppies, gumbo, and (fingers crossed) crawdads to the menu. They’re also bringing in a three-piece New Orleans jazz band as well. Starts at 5pm.

~MISS PEARL’S JAM HOUSE~ at Oakland’s Jack London Square is hosting its first annual Mardi Gras Festival. Miss Pearl’s new chef, Peter Jackson will be offering a special and extensive menu with all kinds of NOLA favorites. There will be live local zydeco and samba bands starting at 7pm, plus $5 Hurricanes, $4 Jello shots, house-made King’s Cake, beignets, and a New Orleans trip giveaway. Entry is free; 7pm-midnight. One Broadway St., Jack London Square, Oakland, 510-444-7171.

And if you don’t want to deal with all the ruckus, but would still like a taste of some King’s Cake, ~ARIZMENDI BAKERY~ is serving slices today! Good luck on getting one with the little plastic baby.

Whiskies of the World Expo

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Event Info

Saturday Mar 27, 2010
VIP: 5:15pm; General: 6pm.
VIP: $120. General admission: $110.
Info/tickets
Hotel Nikko
222 Mason St. San Francisco

~THE WHISKIES OF THE WORLD EXPO AND ARTISANAL SPIRITS FEST~ returns on Saturday March 27th at The Hotel Nikko, so start getting your liver prepped and ready. Now in its eleventh year, the list of brands exhibiting only seems to get bigger: Scotch whiskies (Classic Malts, Johnnie Walker; Laphroaig, Ardmore, Signatory, Isle of Skye, Benromach, Dalmore, Glenlivet, Isle of Jura, Aberlour, Scapa, Mackillop’s Choice, Tomintoul, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg); Canadian (Canadian Club, 8 Seconds, Snake River); Irish (Bushmills), whiskey and bourbon (Bulleit, Dickel, Small Batch Bourbon, High West, Maker’s Mark, Buck Kentucky, Stranahan’s, Montana, Sazerac Whiskeys); American craft (Compass Box, moonshine from Piedmont Distillers, spirits from Bendistillery, Tuthiltown Hudson Whiskey Templeton Rye, spirits and single bottle kit from Fog’s End Distillery, Dry Fly Spirits, Old Potrero); Japan (Suntory); Finland (Balcones Baby Blue); and specialty spirits (Zacapa).

The Expo will also feature seminars conducted by world famous Master Distillers and Brand Ambassadors: Steve Beal (Diageo), David Mays and Simon Brooking (Beam Global), Richard Paterson (Whyte and Mackay Ltd.), Rick Edwards (Pernod Richard), and Joe Michalek (Piedmont Distillers). Guests will try to even their keel with a full buffet dinner, plus there are mixology demonstrations, Celtic crafts, chocolate and fudge pairings, live music and more.

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Feb 16, 2010

(Sponsored): Meet Your Meat: Announcing Meatpaper Issue Ten

Meatpaper, a San Francisco-based quarterly journal covering the art and culture of meat, is celebrating the publication of its tenth issue!

In Issue Ten, we continue our omnivorous approach to the topic of meat as we visit a Northern California meat rabbit farm, try pastrami at a New York deli, contemplate roast beef perfume, and consider the history of meat in rock, pop, and punk music.

Subscribe today and get Issue Ten delivered to your doorstep. Or look for it at fine local bookstores, newsstands, and meat purveyors.

And please join us at our issue launch party at Pizzaiolo in Oakland on February 21st.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Feb 16, 2010

So Berry Pretty

On Wednesday, a tablehopper reader spotted ~Halle Berry~ at ~SCALA’S BISTRO~ dining with a friend. Per the reader, “She looked beautiful, natch.”

Old Yeller on the Loose

~Gordon Ramsay~ was spotted taking photos and walking through Ghirardelli Square and into Cellar360 last Friday—there were rumors that he was filming there.

Power Dining at Spruce

Kevin B. noticed Senator ~Dianne Feinstein~ was dining at a neighboring table at ~SPRUCE~ last night. She was reportedly “very gracious to the people who came up to shake her hand.”

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