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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: hopper hell (part one).

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Cupcakes from Pinkie’s Bakery.

Well, if this isn’t the nicest May ever. Ahem. Excuse me while I try to warm up with another bowl of soup. Are we still going to be in sweaters on Memorial Day? [Grumble.] I’m just going to pretend this means we’ll have an extra-fabulous September. The weather has actually been the lesser of my concerns: last week it was all about the vice on my head. Fortunately my %$#& headache has lifted, so I don’t feel like getting into a fight with everyone on the street (suffering four days of caffeine withdrawal is a mother trucker, and there’s no way around it—just had to move through it).

Fortunately I’ll be more perky than pissy for this Thursday’s reading at Books Inc. Castro on Market—details are here! I’m also going to experience my first attempt at drinking by proxy: I’m going to a preview of Sex and the City 2 on Wednesday, and am forcing my guest to taste all the SKYY cocktails on my behalf (I know, poor baby—but there are five drinks in all, so he’s got his work cut out for him. We all know who the designated driver is.) Heck, the true test was making it through a day of bottling wine with my family on Sunday without drinking any—and I was covered in juice (guess who was the bottle filler?). Wine, wine everywhere, and nary a drop to drink! Fie!

Actually, the biggest test (nope, not a taste test) was my table where I was selling my books at the Appel and Frank shopping event last week—what was I thinking piling the table with the incomparable cupcakes and cookies from Pinkie’s Bakery? Insanity, I tell you. I wish I could tell you how delicious these strawberry vanilla cupcakes were, but I can’t. But they sure smelled good. Pant pant.

One week down, two to go.

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
May 25, 2010

The Michael Mina Move (and More)

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Chef Michael Mina. Photo provided by Michael Mina.

I had a chance to catch up with Michael Mina about his plans for the former AQUA space at 252 California Street. His return to the space, where he was named chef de cuisine at the young age of 21 and worked for 13 years, is certainly a personal one. He has reassembled many individuals from the original team of architects, designers, and project managers that worked on AQUA when it opened in 1991, and who obviously know the space well. Mina is going to be moving and creating a newer and more-accessible version of ~RESTAURANT MICHAEL MINA~, which is currently in the Westin St. Francis on Powell Street, but will be wrapping up in August or so. At the California Street location, he’s going to be offering an à la carte menu that’s built for sharing instead of individual tasting menus, and swapping out the white tablecloths for walnut tabletops. And yes, the big mirrors will be staying.

The kitchen will be overseen by Jeremy Ravitz, the current chef de cuisine at the Westin location. The 18-seat bar is going to have a unique menu of “larger hors d’oeuvres” that you can order four or five of to make a meal (you’ll also be able to order these items in the dining room). But in an interesting twist, only the bar seating will be open for lunch—there won’t be any table service. There are also the 6-8 seats in the lounge, where you can take a seat for a seasonal cocktail and bar items in the evening. The restaurant will be open nightly; the plan is for an October opening. 252 California St. at Battery.

The fate of the Restaurant Michael Mina space in the Westin St. Francis is to be determined: Mina is meeting with the hotel union in June for a new contract, so we’ll have to see what kind of a deal is struck. If the intended and hoped-for deal happens, Mina plans to put a steakhouse concept in the space. Time will tell. 335 Powell St. at Geary, 415-397-9222.

Restaurant Michael Mina - 252 California St. - 415-397-9222

It's Time to Get Cheesy

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Photo provided by The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

I got particularly hungry looking at the menu of ~THE AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE KITCHEN~, due to open this Wednesday for lunch in South Park. The project is from Heidi Gibson, a seven-time winner of the National Grilled Cheese Invitational (yup, she must make a mean grilled cheese sandwich), and Nate Pollak. The menu will feature seven sandwiches, like the Mushroom Gruyère (pictured) with Fontina, roasted wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and thyme butter ($9), and some of Gibson’s winning sandwiches. A couple sandwiches come on levain bread from Pinkie’s Bakery (cupcakes from Pinkie’s will also be available). (Nice feature: you can order the sandwiches on gluten-free bread.) Also on the menu: a smoky tomato soup, salads, a savory bread pudding, and when breakfast launches at the end of June, there will be bread pudding, oatmeal, granola, muffins, and more. Oh yeah, and Gibson’s winning sandwich from this year, the Sunday brunch grilled cheese sandwich (the recipe is in the link—and here’s a video about her entry in the Grilled Cheese Invitational). There are plenty of bevvies, from house-made, mixed-to-order sodas (like spicy pomegranate), to coffee from De La Paz, to beer and wine. You can look at Gibson and Pollak’s winning “New Deal” for Small Business Contest by Vertical Response video, which was made during their plywood phase—it lets you in on their philosophy behind the project, and more.

The historical building features 950 square feet inside, and 450 square feet on the outdoor patio (room for 26). Inside, there will be 18 counter-top seats, plus a kid’s bar top, with room for three-four tykes. The designer is Wylie Price (Presidio Social Club, The Monk’s Kettle, Fatted Calf Charcuterie), with a look that evokes the feel of a 1950’s American bakery-café. (Check out the images on Eater for more.) In the history department: the building was originally a tobacco warehouse—look for the freight-train tracks in the patio and lobby.

Hours for this opening week are 11am-3pm, and then starting Monday the 31st, hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-7:30pm. (The idea is that it’s more of a lunch/pre-ballgame/happy hour spot, and not necessarily a late-in-the-evening destination.) Late June means breakfast will launch, with hours beginning at 7:30am. Closed weekends, until July or August.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen - One South Park, San Francisco - 415-243-0107

Dennis Leary Just Got Busier: The House of Shields Is All His

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Flickr photo by bstorage.

Dennis Leary, chef-owner of Canteen and The Sentinel, has a new baby (but this space is quite a bit bigger than his usual MO for spaces): the century-plus-old ~HOUSE OF SHIELDS SALOON~, which is just next door to The Sentinel. Leary, who has adored the historic space for some time, is looking forward to giving it some TLC and restoring it. His design team consists of designer Charles de Lisle, and Jason Langkammerer, who heads up At-Six Architecture. They intend to update the lighting and refinish the wood, plus restore the chandeliers, the statues, and fix up the floor, plus replace some of the upholstery on the booths—but nothing else will really change. Leary is planning to close it on July 1st, and reopen in mid-September. He’s debating about the food offering, if at all, and if he does something after all, he says in an email to me, “I will focus on simple regional dishes with some sense of historical reference. And by the way, I have decided not to serve any froyo, pizza, offal, cupcakes, or pretentious/fascist coffee.” Ha. But one au courant component that he’s integrating is that he’s talking to several high-profile bartenders around town (and is interested in talking to more). It’s gonna be a beaut. 39 New Montgomery St. at Mission.

As if this wasn’t enough on the Leary fire, he is getting close on opening his new takeout shop in the Financial District, the ~GOLDEN WEST~. He’s going to serve to-go lunch, pastry, and the like. A peek at the preliminary menu includes such potential dishes as butter kuchen or a baked egg with spicy pork and beans for breakfast; sandwiches like pickled herring with sour cream and dill on rye, or a croque-madame; soups; and larger entrées like pork goulash or cheese fondue with mushrooms. And dessert? How about mascarpone macaroons? I’m also hanging on for cassoulet Fridays. His head baker for the project is Rita “flowers” Williams, who opened the baking department at Orson, and is currently at Michael Recchiuti (she last worked for Leary at Rubicon). And true to Leary form, it’s located in an alley, Trinity Place, at Sutter and Montgomery. It’s set to open at the end of June, and Jason Langkammerer and Charles de Lisle are also the architect and designer for this space. 8 Trinity Pl. at Sutter.

Koh Samui and the Monkey Opens a Second Location

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Photo from Another Monkey.

Aom Phanthong of local SoMa Thai favorite Koh Samui and the Monkey is opening ~ANOTHER MONKEY~ in the former Conduit space on Valencia—the soft opening for dinner is this Thursday. Phanthong is installing a number of Thai furnishings (the container just arrived from Thailand ten days ago) to warm up the industrial interior by architect Stanley Saitowitz. In a brilliant stroke, she is also creating a lounge area, with large tables made from antique drums (I always wondered why the spacious restaurant didn’t have a lounge area). The menu will have many Koh Samui favorites, but she’s also adding some new dishes you can’t find anywhere else, like the spicy jungle curry with catfish (and no coconut), house-made Thai sausage, and authentic relish. Next week, lunch will kick in from 11:30am-3:30pm, and she also plans to be open for parents picking up their kids at the San Francisco Friends School next door, offering some food on an afternoon menu.

Another Monkey - 280 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-241-0288

Dupont Thai: Now Closed in North Beach

I guess the opposite may be true: when one door opens (Another Monkey), another one closes? A tablehopper reader alerted me that ~DUPONT THAI~ has closed (which means a farewell to their delicious pumpkin curry). 1398 Grant Ave. at Green.

Zaytoon in the Mission Due to Open Next Tuesday

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After months of delays and inspections and the like, if everything goes according to plan, ~ZAYTOON~ is finally opening in the former Bistro Annex space in the Mission. This casual Mediterranean place from owner Christopher Totah will serve falafel wrapped in lavash ($6.95, or $7.95 with potatoes and eggplant); chicken or lamb shwarma ($7.95)—the meat will reportedly be “natural” but not organic; and a “mazza platter” ($7.95) with the usual suspects: falafel, dolmas, hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouleh, cucumber and tomato salad, feta cheese, seasoned onions, and tahini sauce. Hours will be 11am-11pm. It’s due to open on Tuesday June 1st but call first before heading over—delays could still occur.

Zaytoon - 1136 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-824-1787

New SoMa Restaurant Coming Soon: Spire Restaurant & Bar

I was asked to keep this one under my hat, but since the cat is out of the bag, here are some details on ~SPIRE RESTAURANT & BAR~ opening on 3rd Street in SoMa. The former warehouse is going to be a two-story restaurant and bar, serving contemporary American cuisine, mostly small plates-style, but there will be a few entrée dishes on the menu. The restaurant will have a raw bar, and a bar menu for the happy hour/ballgame crowd. The chef will be Laird Boles; he’s originally from Orlando, Florida, and is currently one of the sous chefs at Waterbar. Spire, on the main floor, is 4,200 square feet, while the upstairs is a lounge with a separate entrance that will be called Third Degree. The open date is still tentative, but the managing partners (Richard Huang, Sean Hung, and Roger Lwin) are hoping it happens before the end of June. You can follow their progress on Twitter. 685 3rd St. at Townsend.

Chef Thom Fox No Longer at Public House

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With the transformation from Acme Chophouse to the new ~PUBLIC HOUSE~ and ~MIJITA~ restaurants, executive chef Thom Fox has left his position to cook at Oracle, taking a different job within the Bon Appetit Management Company family (the parent owner of Acme, and now the new establishments). I caught up with co-owner Traci Des Jardins, who said she knew his departure was imminent, so they set up the kitchen to be able to run efficiently once he cut ties. She has four sous chefs and created a new hierarchy, promoting one to be a kitchen manager, and two are now executive sous chefs. Traci is staying in her role as chef/partner and will continue to manage both Public House and Mijita. She mentioned the restaurants are continuing to evolve during this early stage, and she’s excited to keep learning what people want on the menus at each place.

Public House - 24 Willie Mays Plaza San Francisco - 415-644-0240

Chef Vincent Schofield Departing Ebb & Flow

I’m going to avoid any puns about tides, ebbs, and flows on this one, but chef Vincent Schofield is stepping away from the ~EBB & FLOW~ project in the Mission and selling back his portion of the business. He said it’s an amicable departure, but it came down to having a different vision for the restaurant then owners Craig and Tony Dropalas. Schofield’s last day is May 31st, and then he’s going fishing. Truly: he’s planning to do some albacore fishing on a boat up in Washington for the next month.

Ebb & Flow - 598 Guerrero St. San Francisco - 415-355-9191

A New Lunch Place to Geek Out At

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Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

A tablehopper reader tipped me off to a new sandwich place called ~LUNCH GEEK~, now open in the former Broaster Cafe (how many times did I ride my bike past that place and wonder who ate there). The new concept sounds much more up my alley: a range of sandwiches with names like I Flunked Gym Class (free-range chicken breast, Swiss cheese, mayo, Geek sauce, spicy jalapeño sauce, mixed greens, tomato) and many more, and on Acme bread to boot (Grub Street reprinted the entire menu here). The husband and wife team of Phillip and Lean Ma are also making drip coffee to order from Barefoot. According to a tip on Yelp, Asian-inspired sandwiches and tacos are also in the works. For example, today’s special was a Southeast pulled pork sandwich. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, and Sat 8am-6pm. 1400 Market St. at Polk, 415-626-8888.

A Few New Projects Around Town

Thought I’d do a few quick updates: in the Western Addition/NoPa, it looks like the former B’s BBQ & Grill is morphing into ~EL RANCHO GRANDE~, announcing burritos and quesadillas on their awning. No idea about when they plan to open, but it’s reportedly close. 855 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

Down the street, I had a peek at the replacement for On the Corner—while the working name is ~PANINI~, it’s TBD. Actually, the whole thing seems TBD—they only had some coffee going on the espresso machine (Lavazza) the day I swung by, with limited baked goods on offer. But based on the extensive wine racking system, and a (potential) name like Panini, the offering is sure to be expanded once they get more underway. The look is pretty spare, but with a look at the Kartell lamps overhead (did they buy those from Metro Kathmandu?), I have some hopes for some style to manifest as well. 359 Divisadero St. at Oak.

According to liquor license permits, there’s a new place called ~SKOOL~ opening in Potrero Hill. Grub Street has the deets: “Andy Mirabell, formerly director of operations for Blowfish Sushi, is opening a new fish-focused restaurant in a Potrero Hill space that’s been vacant for about a decade. The name: Skool. The large space is in one of the neighborhood’s many design complexes at 1725 Alameda Street (at DeHaro) and has never before been used for a restaurant—the owner has previously refused multiple offers to lease it for restaurant use, but he liked Mirabell’s business plan enough to say yes.” The net/net (har): fab patio, seafood focus (but not sushi), seasonal cocktails, a pizza oven for Spanish-style flatbreads, and more. In the kitchen is former Bushi Tei sous chef Toshihiro Nagano, and his wife, Hiroko. Targeted opening: end of June for lunch service, and dinner around July 4th. 1725 Alameda St. at DeHaro, 415-255-8800.

More seafood, and more from Grub Street: moving into the Lingba Space on Potrero will be ~ROCKETFISH~, a “Japanese Tapistro & Lounge.” It will reportedly feature “a unique blend of old-school Japanese cuisine with classic global tapas and sushi, all in a bistro-esque environment.” Tapistro. Hmmm. Don’t confuse it with something you could order at Starbucks. 1469 18th St. at Connecticut.

Sixth Street Keeps on Truckin'

This new café slipped by my radar: after months (years?) of being in the works, ~RANCHO PARNASSUS~ has joined Passion Café and Split Pea Seduction in putting a stake in the 6th Street corridor. This project, brought to light with the assistance of Urban Solutions, is a “creativity café,” meant to stimulate and encourage people to work on art projects (even together), and show them at the café. Their website states, “Our open kitchen will focus on doing a few things well—excellent coffee, offbeat beers, really good wine, good grub and comfort food favorites—simply served and affordably priced.” Katy St. Clair’s Bouncer column mentions, “It had a National Parks-mod ’60s-fern bar thing going on. The walls were painted a darkish blue and the floor had a green pattern, and there was enough rustic wood around to lend a cabin feel to the room… The Rancho had a selection of wines and a bunch of beer, but is also a coffeehouse and cafe. All I saw, however, was the beer, which I thought was a brilliant move, considering that the only nearby booze competition comes from a few scattered corner stores and Anu.” Unfortunately no one picks up the phone and their voicemail is full, so I couldn’t confirm more details like hours, menu items, beer list, etc. Looks like a check-it-out is in order. 132 6th St. at Minna, 415-503-0700.

New "Niche" Shops Opening in the Ferry Building

Way to add more real estate to the ~FERRY BUILDING MARKETPLACE~ mix: there are six small “niche” shops opening between now and June 1st. The new shops, all existing Bay Area businesses, are Alfieri Farms (known for their nuts at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market), Beekind Honey Shop (from Sebastopol), Benedetta Holistic Skincare (a Sonoma County-based skin and body care line), Charles Phan (he will be selling items like cooking kits, broths, marinades, spices, and sauces), El Porteño Empanadas (Joseph Ahearne follows an Argentine recipe, using quality meats and ingredients), and Pepples Donuts (100% organic, vegan donuts). These shops join the existing niche shop, Mariposa Baking Company (gluten-free baked goods). The niche shops will be open daily from 9am-7pm.

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

Los Jarritos Forced to Change Its Name

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My idea of heaven: the chilaquiles at Los Jarritos.

A tablehopper tipster let me know that the ever-cheerful and cute ~LOS JARRITOS~ in the Mission is being forced to change its name by the manufacturer of the Mexican soda pop, “Jarritos.” The new name is reportedly going to be Sanjalisco. But that’s the only change—the kickass chilaquiles, and everything else, will remain the same. 901 S. Van Ness Ave. at 20th St, 415-648-8383.

Where Is the 'Hopper This Week?

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This Thursday May 27th, I will be doing a reading and signing at Books. Inc. Market St. (Castro), and we’ll have some red wine, and a delicious trio of truffles from Neo Cocoa. Since I’ll be in the Castro, I have a feeling this is going to be an extra-sassy reading! 7:30pm, free. 2275 Market St. at 16th St., San Francisco.

Next Saturday June 5th, I’ll be trucking up to Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma for a 2pm reading and signing, and yes, it’s free. 140 Kentucky St. at Western Ave., Petaluma.

And then on Sunday June 6th, I’ll be signing books during the VIP Reception at COCHON 555. Read all the details about the event here.

Hope to see you! Cheers, darlings.

Explore FolSoMa Tonight at This Free Event

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Flickr photo by kowitz.

The Bold Italic is putting on a free, fun event tonight (May 25th) called ~MEET A MICROHOOD: FOLSOMA~ to highlight all of the businesses that have popped up on Folsom Street between 7th and 8th Streets. Spots include Bloodhound, Gama Go, Radius, Triptych, City Beer Store will be offering seasonal brews for $5 and hosting Adobo Hobo and Bike Basket Pies, Sightglass Coffee will be open, and more. There will be free beer, tons of specials, and Hubba Hubba Revue will be doing some guerrilla street burlesque performances. Over 400 people came out to celebrate a small block in the Mission back in March, so depending on the weather, it should be a party. The event is free but you must RSVP so they can get a headcount.

Tuesday May 25, 2010
6pm–9pm
free
more info

Not One But TWO Crawfish Boils

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Photo from SF Crawfish Boil and Ho-Down.

There’s no shortage of crawfish boils in SF: first, this Wednesday May 26th, ~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY~ is going to be serving crawfish by the pound, all the usual sides, and plenty of beer. It all starts at 5pm until the crawfish are gone.

And then on Saturday June 12th is the seventh annual ~SAN FRANCISCO CRAWFISH BOIL AND HO-DOWN~ (Ed. Note: Shouldn’t that be “hoe-down”?). This event takes place outdoors on the Marina Green, and it’s an all-you-can-eat affair for $25, and during the first hour, beer is free (after that, it’s $5). The first dump o’ crawfish is at noon, but it starts at 11am, which I guess is the beer hour of power. GumboCart will also be there.

Saturday Jun 12, 2010
11am–6pm
$25
more info

Preview Citizen Cake Treats This Weekend at a Bake Sale!

Elizabeth Falkner is going to be offering a preview of the baked goods that will be available at ~CITIZEN CAKE~ on Fillmore in a “pop-up bake sale” at Orson this Friday and Saturday at 11am—until the goodies are gone. There will be new cakes, cookies, and sweets the team has been working on, along with assorted French macarons. (And you know the flavors won’t be your standard fare). Orson, 508 4th St. at Bryant.

Citizen Cake - 2125 Fillmore St. - 415-861-2228

Time to Do Your Dirty Dishes

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~DIRTY DISHES~ is back at the Lookout this Thursday May 27th, pairing DJs spinning indie electro, dirty house, and future bass with food from the food cart scene: Gobba Gobba Hey, Good Foods Catering, and White Lotus Thai. Work.

Thursday May 27, 2010
9pm onward
more info

Tasting of Cured Artisan Meats Next Tuesday June 1st

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Housemade Calabrese salumi. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Mmmmeat! Especially cured meats. Swing by ~CHEESE PLUS~ on Tuesday June 1st for an exclusive (and free!) tasting of delicious handmade artisan cured meats from the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest. Brady Lowe, creator and host of COCHON 555 and Primal, who is in town for his COCHON 555 SF event on June 6th, will lead you through a tasting of cured meats of salami and charcuterie from his recent COCHON 555 events in Portland and Seattle. The lineup includes meats from Olympic Provisions in Portland, and Seattle’s Salumi and Zoe’s Meats. You’ll also be able to taste meats from our own local chefs, in addition to a selection from Cheese Plus. Yes, fo’ free.

Tuesday Jun 1, 2010
5:30pm-7:30pm
Free
more info

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
May 25, 2010

(Sponsored): Green Zebra. Good for the Earth and the Wallet.

Explore the best of sustainable living with the 2010 San Francisco Green Zebra guide. There’s something for everyone. Over 275 exclusive offers from eco-friendly restaurants and businesses, such as La Boulange (free breakfast), Mission Pie (free pie), Maggie Mudd, Boxed Foods, Regalito Rosticeria, Beautifull!, Chilayo (2-for-1), Cole Hardware (save $10), and lots more! Many passes allow you to recoup your investment in a single visit. Such as a 10-class pass for only $108 (a $32 savings) at Yoga Tree, anyone?

Sales benefit Urban Sprouts, a SF Garden for the Environment project teaching disadvantaged young teens food growing and gardening work skills.

To purchase your Green Zebra at the special tablehopper discounted price of $15 (40% off retail), click here and enter this code: tablehopper. Or how about the one-two punch? Buy the tablehopper and Green Zebra guides together for only $30. Don’t even try to resist!

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
May 25, 2010

Two Places to Have Cocktails This Week

Tonight, May 25th, is the kick-off of ~BERETTA’S~ guest bartender series, with Brooke Arthur (formerly of Range)! She will be previewing three of Prospect’s cocktails, which may include the Vicious Cycle, Central City, and Kokomo. 5:30pm-12:30am. 1199 Valencia St. at 23rd St., 415-695-1199.

And then on Thursday May 27th, it’s Tropicana Latin Thursdays at ~MADRONE ART BAR~. Macchu Pisco Sours, made by La Mar bartender Adrian Vazquez, will only be $5. The drink special runs from 9pm-12am. DJ Don Bustamante will be playing, and there are free salsa dancing lessons at 9pm. 500 Divisadero St. at Fell, 415-241-0202.

There's More to Scotch Than Tape

This Wednesday May 26th, ~THE LIBERTIES BAR~ is hosting a Single Malt Scotch Whisky Tasting Class in their private room. You’ll taste six in all: Macallan 15 year, Highland Park 15 year, Balvenie Single Barrel Double Wood 12 year, Macallan Cask Strength, Bruichladdich Peat, and Macallan 21 year. You’ll learn about the making and nuances of Scotch, and taste the whiskies along with paired appetizers from the kitchen. Tasting notes included. The class will be led by Otis Florence, the brand development specialist for MacCallan and Highland Park whiskies for Young’s Market. He has also been behind the bar for over seven years at Cantina, Puccini & Pinetti, and Luna Park.

Wednesday May 26, 2010
7:30pm–9:30pm
$50
more info

New Happy Hours Around Town

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Photo from Radius.

~RADIUS~ in SoMa is offering an oyster happy hour from 4pm-7pm every day, and all day Saturday: $10 for six oysters, $12 for a half-carafe of wine, and $4 for Trumer, Lagunitas IPA, Boont Amber Ale, and Anchor Porter.

~THE ROTUNDA AT NEIMAN MARCUS~ just launched its Fashionista Happy Hour last Thursday. Every Thursday from 4pm-7pm, there will be happy-hour-priced drinks (wine, $7; beer, $3; and drink specials, $7), along with bites like pulled pork sliders ($8), wasabi prawns ($8), and truffle popcorn ($4). 150 Stockton St. at Geary, 415-249-2720.

The MatrixFillmore "Grows Up"

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Photo from MatrixFillmore.

After a brief one-week closure, the ~MATRIXFILLMORE~ space has a new look, earlier hours, and a seasonal cocktail list from Ken Luciano (which includes a new rotating special, the Six Dollar Cocktail). Now more of a lounge than a club space, Matrix is opening at 6pm daily—but the vibe will get bumped up at 10pm with DJs spinning. The new look by Shopworks is more modern—they kept the iconic fireplace, but installed new banquettes and cocktail tables, as well as romantic lighting. The back room is also much more accessible and integrated with the rest of the space. 3138 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-563-4180‎.

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
May 25, 2010

CUESA's Spring Breakfast Is This Saturday May 29th

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Event Info

Saturday May 29, 2010
8:30am, 9:45am, and 11am seatings
$30 adults; $15 children 3–13; free for children under 3
Info/tickets
Ferry Building, San Francisco
CUESA's Dacor teaching kitchen in the north arcade

CUESA (the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) invites the community to come to the breakfast table on Saturday May 29th for its ninth annual ~SPRING BREAKFAST~, a fundraiser for CUESA’s educational programs. The Spring Breakfast menu is all feast and no fast, and will feature the best of spring produce from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Plus guests will be seated with market sellers at every table. This is your chance to join in the celebration of spring’s abundance, and to share in the stories of the people who bring it to market each week.

Here’s the menu:

  • Farm-fresh scrambled eggs with fava beans, green garlic, and peas or wild mushrooms from Hayes Street Grill.
  • Roasted potatoes with fresh herbs
  • Market lettuce, shaved radish, and chive blossom salad
  • Blueberry pancakes
  • Fresh strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries with crème fraîche, yogurt, and honey
  • Pastries, bread
  • Artisan cheeses, handmade jams
  • Coffee, tea, and juice

There will be three seatings, starting at 8:30am. Proceeds support CUESA’s educational programs, including weekly chef demonstrations, panel discussions, farm tours, and programs with guests such as Michael Pollan and Anna Lappe.

Here Pig! COCHON 555 Returns to San Francisco

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Event Info

Sunday Jun 6, 2010
5pm—8pm General Admission; 3:30pm VIP Reception
$125 per person; $200 VIP; tablehopper readers can use discount codes "farmfresh" for $15 off general admission and "VIP" for $25 off VIP admission
Info/tickets
The Fairmont
950 Mason St. at California, San Francisco
Advance tickets required

5 chefs, 5 pigs, 5 winemakers. This can only mean one thing: ~COCHON 555~ is coming back to San Francisco. On Sunday June 6th at The Fairmont San Francisco, experience a tribute to heritage pork like no other: watch whole-animal butchery demonstrations by acclaimed butchers, dine on head-to-toe preparations from five stellar chefs, and taste the wines of five family-owned wineries, all while supporting local farmers passionate about preserving heritage pig breeds.

On COCHON 555’s main floor, guests will see a whole pig butcher demonstration by Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, and they’ll be tasting the whole-animal offerings of chefs Staffan Terje (Perbacco), Anthony Strong (Pizzeria Delfina), Dennis Lee (Namu), Thomas McNaughton (Flour + Water), and Morgan Maki (Bi-Rite Market) as the chefs compete for the title of “Prince of Porc.”

Between chef stations, guests can drink wines from Krupp Brothers, Elk Cove Vineyards, Wind Gap Wines, Chase Cellars, and Pey-Marin Vineyards. Preceding the award ceremony will be a whole roasted pig and swine-infused dessert by Xocolatl de Davíd. To wrap it all up, an after party sponsored by the American Lamb Board promises a handful of surprises.

You can also sign up for the VIP experience: start at 3:30pm with a local, sustainable oyster station; an artisan cheese reception by Cheese Plus and Oxbow Cheese Merchants; and a reserve wine tasting with Hirsch Vineyards, Arnot-Roberts Winemakers, Miura Vineyards, Scholium Project, Silver Wines, Matthiasson, Kermit Lynch, Dashe Cellars, La Clarine Farm, Gamble Family Vineyards, Farm Wine Imports, The Natural Process Alliance, Miner Family Vineyards, and Zacherle Wines. Yours truly will also have a table at the event, selling and signing my book.

VIPs will also enjoy savory cocktails by Daniel Hyatt of The Alembic and craft brews from Magnolia Brewery, and see special guest Dave the Butcher in action while the team from Avedano’s Holly Park Market cooks up slices of heritage pork. Best of all, VIP guests can me(a)t and greet with the chefs, winemakers and judges. (This portion is $200 and well worth it.)

Why not swine, wine, and dine the evening away with this killer lineup of chefs, wineries, and butchers? Advance tickets are required, so get them here. tablehopper readers: use discount codes “farmfresh” for $15 off general admission, and “VIP” for $25 off VIP admission.

the health nut

Gettin' Fit (take a lap, tablehopper)
May 25, 2010

This Week's Discoveries: Healthy Eatin'

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Italian Cone; photo from Raw Daddy Foods.

Here’s this week’s update after a week of being on my cleanse—hopefully some of these discoveries are helpful to vegetarians, vegans, and those who are just trying to eat healthier. Now, I really don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but cutting out sugar entirely from my diet definitely gives rise to some cravings. I was stoked with a visit from my buddy James “Raw Daddy” Hall, who brought me some of his latest cones to try from his business, Raw Daddy Foods. He makes flavorful and crisp flaxseed cones (they have a little kick to them) that he fills with a variety of stuffings, from a saucy Italian version (very savory), to a fulfilling polenta and wild mushroom version, to a spicy Thai salad version with mango. But the one that totally blew my mind was the creamy lemon macaroon cheesecake cone, made from a combo of raw cashews, agave, lemon juice, and raw extra virgin coconut oil, with a coconut macaroon crumble on top and served in a sweeter cone. Dude. It was heaven. The cones are $5 a pop, and very satisfying. You can find him every week at the Palo Alto and Los Altos Farmers’ Markets and more; check out his locations here.

No meat, no soy, no dairy. NO CHEESE. But my current cleanse certainly has me eating a ton of vegetables. Here are a couple recipes I fell in love with this week: this pot-roasted eggplant from the Paula Wolfert in Morocco story in the May issue of Food & Wine is loaded with incredible flavor, and is delicious over brown rice.

For lunch, I am way into this protein-rich Santa Fe quinoa salad, also from Food & Wine, which really rocks when served on a bed of mixed greens, with a scattering of pepitas on top. I also swapped out the cocktail onions for pickled green beans from Boozelys. Purr.

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)
May 25, 2010

(Sponsored): Enter to Win a Ticket and Lodging Package to the Telluride Wine Festival

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The 29th annual Telluride Wine Festival takes place high in the Colorado mountains June 24th to 27th, and they’re giving away two great prize packages.

The festival features a range of the world’s finest wineries, plus expertise from Steve Olson, Fred Dexheimer, and Chronicle Wine Editor Jon Bonné, plus Iron Chef Cat Cora and NYC mixologist Andy Seymour. Musical guests on Friday are blues guitarist Jackie Greene, plus Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Saturday’s show features Devotchka, Blitzen Trapper, and the Moondoggies.

The grand prize is two VIP tasting and concert tickets, two tickets to Jon Bonné’s seminar (California’s New Guard), and three night’s lodging at the Hotel Columbia. First prize is two VIP tasting and concert tickets only. No transportation is provided.

For tickets and information, visit TellurideWineFestival.com.

tablehopper is giving away the grand prize to one lucky winner, and the first prize to a second lucky winner. All you need to do is forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friends about the event, then Cc: or Bcc: me at luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Sunday May 30th by 11:59pm. I will notify the winners on Monday May 31st. Good luck!

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
May 25, 2010

Foreign Cinema Has Star Pow-ah

~k.d. lang~ and ~Molly Ringwald~ recently dined at ~FOREIGN CINEMA~ (separately). k.d. lang dined with some Foreign Cinema regulars on Thursday evening before the Black and White Ball—they enjoyed martinis, baked fromage blanc, and some other dishes. On Saturday, Molly Ringwald met friends for a birthday celebration. No, it wasn’t her sixteenth.

The Sequel to Pacific Heights: The Marina

~Michael Keaton~ dined at the chef counter at ~A16~ Friday night with a female companion. He ordered the beet salad, burrata, cod, and carrots. He was reportedly super chatty with the cook on the oven station—he seemed really interested in pizzas, and was overall “very cool.”

I Ate Some Carbs in San Francisco

Was he carb-loading for singing stamina? ~Tony Bennett~—who was in town for the Black and White Ball—had a pre-performance meal of fettuccine bolognese at ~PIAZZA PELLEGRINI~ on Saturday afternoon.   

Fergus Henderson on the Town

When chef ~Fergus Henderson~ of St. John in England was in town, he stopped in at ~RYE~ for some cocktails, “drinking to the bitter end.” My spy says he drank the English Garden at Rye (a concoction of gin, English cucumber, mint, and orange bitters). Proper Englishman through and through, that Fergus.

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