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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: punch the clock.

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Pani puri at Dosa on Fillmore.

And just like that, the weather has taken a dip. Downright cool, but so not cool! At least tomorrow’s tablehopper Indian Street Food event at Dosa on Fillmore is inside, so we’ll be toasty and warming up on things like spicy chiles and wine. There are still a few spots left in case you’ve decided you would like to feast on a ten-course Indian street food lunch with wine tastes for only $45. Hell yeah you do! I went to the pre-event tasting on Wednesday, and let me tell you, lunch is going to be a tour de force of flavor and texture. Lunch kicks off at 12 noon.

This little Friday installment is all about an update on Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern, opening next Tuesday. It’s quite the project, and the restoration was a wonderful homage to the historical building that it’s in.

This week I also did a few updates to three of my older restaurant reviews: Cha-Ya, Fifth Floor, and Orson. Just scroll to the bottom of each review for the updates, and new pictures are posted as well.

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and while I’m a little bummed my precious papa is far away in South Africa, I know he’s having the time of his life with my sister watching World Cup games, and then going on safari. And with Italy playing New Zealand on Sunday, a win would be the best Father’s Day gift ever, so FORZA AZZURRI! (Just in case you need some last-minute Father’s Day location ideas, here’s my round-up from Tuesday.)

Happy weekend, all.

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Jun 18, 2010

Wayfare Tavern Opens Tuesday

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Photo by Brian Smeets for Grub Street.

Opening on Tuesday June 22nd, Tyler Florence’s ~WAYFARE TAVERN~ is once again bringing life into the historical space that once housed beloved Rubicon. The menu of authentic American dishes was inspired by the San Francisco restaurant scene of the late 1800s. You can expect hors d’oeuvres like grass-fed beef carpaccio ($16), grilled sardines ($14), and, not surprisingly, salt-roasted bone marrow ($14), along with smoked chicken wings ($9) and a selection of country hams ($18). The raw bar will feature a variety of oysters and clams ($15 for 6, $27 for 12), plus Dungeness cracked crab with Louie dressing ($18), and even Santa Barbara sea urchin ($18). Entrées will include poached petrale sole ($24) with a chorizo-mussel chowder and green garlic breadcrumbs; organic fried chicken ($22) with buttermilk brine, garlic, woody herbs and lemon; a California Cobb salad ($22); a 21-day dry-aged grass-fed sirloin ($32) with buttered mushrooms and watercress; and the classic Hangtown fry ($18). There will also be daily Blue Plate Specials, and homey desserts like strawberry shortcake and banana pudding.

In true turn-of-the-century and Barbary Coast style, the bar will figure prominently, with cocktails by Josh Harris and Scott Baird from The Bon Vivants. The bar program will feature boutique distilleries, craft-distilled spirits, and seasonal ingredients, such as the house-crafted plum and black tea shrub. The wine list is all about California wineries and vintners, along with a selection of Florence’s own label, plus a large selection of draft beers and an organic draft root beer served in frosty glasses.

The antiquarian look of the restaurant is a cross between a Victorian parlor and an Edwardian men’s club; Florence partnered with interior designer Lori Yeomans of USA Interior Design. Cool facts: the walls are lined by original bricks salvaged from the Earthquake and Great Fire of 1906, and the wood floors were sourced directly from a turn-of-the-century Kentucky barn. The open kitchen has a chef’s counter with seating for eight, and The Parlor room has a billiard table available for private parties and for diners and guests, when not reserved. For more details on the style and design of the three-story restaurant, be sure to read the hardhat column about it. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm, and Sat-Sun 5pm-11pm.

Wayfare Tavern - 558 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-772-9060

the hardhat

Project Sneak Peeks (watch your step)
Jun 18, 2010

Wayfare Tavern

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Photo by Brian Smeets for Grub Street.

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Photo by Brian Smeets for Grub Street.

This section is written by Erin Archuleta, half of the talent behind local outfit ICHI Catering and ICHI Lucky Cat Deli (at 331 Cortland in Bernal Heights). For updates, follow @ICHISUSHI on Twitter. Outside of the foodie world, Erin works full-time championing kid literacy at 826 National. Keep up with her @erinarchuleta.

Everyone’s been buzzing about what’s going on inside chef Tyler Florence’s new San Francisco signature restaurant Wayfare Tavern. Tyler’s vision—to create a welcoming destination for those coming from afar and locals alike—culminates in his new, Barbary Coast era, tri-level renovation of the former Rubicon space. The four-story building (including the kitchen prep basement) may seem a formidable project, but Tyler and his super-kind, well-run team have taken it in stride. This tall tavern has a feeling much like a meetinghouse, with smaller, more intimate spaces giving off the feeling of your own rumpus room or library.

It seems San Francisco is on the hunt for its roots, like nearby neighbor, the Comstock Saloon. While Comstock’s rich history has a past that could make you blush, Wayfare has a powder room for adjusting your rouge.

The shiny, marble-tiled entryway is inlaid with Wayfare’s logo, drawing inspiration from the dollar bill. A wooden, podium-style host stand and plush carpeted stairway take you up to a gorgeous space; it brought me back to my eighth grade trip to Washington, DC, and seeing the White House for the first time. (I can picture the Walkman, pink kitty purse, and pegged acid-washed pants tucked into my hi-tops now. If only I could erase that misjudged perm…) What I mean to say is that it brought me to a feeling of what I thought “grown-up spaces” to be. The place makes a big entrance, with some fun secrets behind the bar.

This writer does not mean to overstate the importance of a bar and restaurant, but there really is a regal, welcoming presence in the design. The color scheme of crisp whites, warm wood, rich navy and burgundy hues, along with the goldenrod logo, brings that magic, aspirational feeling of possibly even what’s being referenced and renaissanced in DC now. Tyler and his team have purposely stepped away from trendy and hip, and seem to have found some substance anchored in our coast’s history.

The main floor will have a large raw bar, with seasonal selections for the after work or meet-up crowd. The 50 seats in this dining room will have a view of the open kitchen, with bar seats perched right in front. There is a fireplace framed out by a large bison head (I suppose daring you to order boar or beef). Images of the Barbary Coast come to play with old pulleys that Tyler brought back from a trip up on the water at Drakes Bay. There are even some sweet references to the institution that was Rubicon by creating the wallpaper design from the original sconces that were here in the old dining room.

Upstairs, antique farmhouse chairs rest atop handsome reclaimed hardwood floors that were wire brushed from an old tobacco farm in Kentucky. The design team sourced antique lighting fixtures, taxidermy, small furnishings, and art to set the timeless scene. The large dining tables were all created locally (also from reclaimed wood) at The Wooden Duck in Berkeley. Burnished brass lighting fixtures and deep nickel silvers edge the antique bars.

Old coins were inlaid in the upstairs “Buck Bar,” complete with antlered deer hanging overhead. This level is where the antique pool table that people have been eager to catch a glimpse of will fit into the scheme. Housed under a period tin punch ceiling, it’s in a smaller room that will, in contrast to all of the throwbacks, also have a plasma TV. This room features a “Red Hot Phone,” a tradition from the hotel era of the time allowing guests to call down directly to the kitchen to order up a burger or other item from the menu. It’s not often that you get to shoot a game of pool and dial-in a steak!

This second floor also houses a separate pastry kitchen, possibly ending one of those long-standing feuds over who will use the oven and whether that pastry should really be exposed to that delicious meat-juice scent (turn to your neighbor and debate). All of Wayfare’s bread will also be baked upstairs. Note: To singles out there out for a first very hope-filled date, the scent of baking bread is rumored to set quite the mood.

Upstairs, the third floor houses a private dining room, wine cellar, and the old vault from when the building was a Wells Fargo bank. This floor is where the Bartlett Room will be, named after Lieutenant Washington A. Bartlett, the man instrumental in changing Yerba Buena Island into “San Francisco” in 1846. In this room, I got a peek at the plateware and simple flatware. Again, nothing too ornate—just clean, simple, and classic—printed with the restaurant’s logo. Hanging above us will be an oil painting of Lt. Bartlett himself, peeking on in judgment of our Levi’s dungarees and dinner disclosures. And, of course, Rubicon’s legendary wine room has been revamped to authenticate the feel of a 100-year-old space (most likely housing some of Tyler’s own wine.)

The fellas were shooting to create a place that will still have warm, stayed presence years from now. I do believe they’ve achieved the creation of welcoming an out-of-towner to a true gentlewoman or gentleman’s dining room, and patrons will return again and again for the large seasonal menu, supported by culinary director, Jason Rose (formerly of über-local La Cocina.) While the place may have been decorated with the Barbary Coast in mind, the warm wood of the South, and the crisp images of our nation’s capital would make any traveler feel at home. And, with neighbor Wexler’s so well received, this little block of Sacramento Street may once again be the go-to spot.

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