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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: pop and lock.

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Last year: burrata, greens from Pizza Antica.

What on earth am I trying to do to myself, implode? Yeah, it makes for a busy week when you have to plan a 300-person event. Life=consumed. Tonight’s Happy Ending is going to be a blast—sorry to say, we are sold out. There may be a few tickets available for sale at the door, but it’s completely contingent on capacity, so no guarantees. But it’s worth a shot if you want to swing by! And we’ll also have the fab Seoul on Wheels truck parked out in front of E&O Trading Co. all day and night in case you want a bite. The party gets started at 10pm. Le woot.

I have a few random tidbits for you in today’s column, so dig in. And have a swell weekend—hope to see you at Happy Ending, or many of the other fantastic SF Chefs events over the next few days. I am so ready for a drink.

Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Aug 13, 2010

Bar Agricole Opens

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Bar Agricole’s courtyard fence.

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At last, Thad Vogler’s dream tavern, ~BAR AGRICOLE~ is opening in SoMa on Monday August 16th (many of you will recognize Thad from behind the bar at The Slanted Door, Jardinière, and Beretta). The name (Farm Bar) relates to Vogler’s tendency to trace drinks to their agricultural roots—and it also refers to the famous Agricole Rhums made from sugar cane in the French Caribbean (yeah, he’s a fan).

tablehopper featured Bar Agricole in a hardhat some months ago, but to share further details with you: chef Brandon Jew (Pizzetta 211, Zuni Café, Quince, Magnolia) has put together a meal of “Northern California cuisine” that could include anything from squash fritters to roasted leg of lamb (the menu was designed to respect the whole animal). Bar Agricole has close relationships with two biodynamic farms, Heart Arrow Ranch near Ukiah, and Marian Farms in Fresno. The all-day menu means you can come by for a small bite or a full meal (hours are from 6pm-1am, and daytime hours will be added soon).

Here’s the opening menu (subject to change):

Squash fritters 6
Piccalilli 5
Chopped liver on toast 12
Olives & herbs 5

Leafy salad 13
Tomatoes with bottarga 16
Bigoli with pesto 14
Green beans with mustardy potatoes 12
Rolled chicken and an egg 16
Grilled sardines & avocado 14
Corn pudding with ham 15

Fish soup with aïoli 16
Roasted peppers with shelling beans 17
Stuffed quail 19
Roasted leg of lamb 18

Cheese plate 15
Berries with custard 8
A dozen almond Madeleines 6
Rum raisin ice cream 6

The wine director (and “forager”) is Mark Ellenbogen, who is no longer putting together his well-known wine list at Slanted Door (Paul Einbund has taken his place, and will be overseeing all the Slanted Door, Heaven’s Dog, and Out the Door wine programs). Ellenbogen’s wine list will feature natural wines from 15-20 estates, from California, France, Spain, Italy, and Austria. Guests will be able to taste from four to seven wines from each estate. He will also be tending the herbs and flowers in the tavern’s front garden. German-born Andreas Willausch (Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant, China Moon Cafe, Masa’s, Farallon) will be managing the front of the house.

The bar manager is Eric Johnson (Bourbon & Branch, Heaven’s Dog, Beretta)—take a seat at the 15-seat bar for mixed drinks made with spirits that celebrate the tradition of farmhouse distilling. Thad, Eric, and Mark have also worked with local producers to create custom distillates, including a farmhouse curaçao, biodynamic brandies, and California pure cane rum.

Here’s the opening cocktail list (all $8—yeah, that’s my kind of drink price):

Traditional Sour: Armagnac Blanc, lemon, egg white
Brandy Cocktail: curaçao, Italian vermouth, absinthe, and bitters
Daiquiri: white rum, lime, grapefruit, maraska, aromatic bitters
Jersey Sour: California brandy, lemon, apple, maple, aromatic bitters
Whiskey Cocktail: dry vermouth, grenadine, absinthe, orange bitters
Tequila Daisy: lemon, vermouth blanc, apricot preserve, chartreuse bitters
Petit Zinc: farmhouse vodka, oj, red vermouth, farmhouse curaçao
Whiskey Sour: lime, port, and orange bitters
Presidente: California agricole, farmhouse curaçao, grenadine, orange bitters
White Rum Swizzle: 2 vermouths, lemon, farmhouse curaçao, raspberry
Ti Punch: hibiscus bitters
Gin Cocktail: riesling and stone fruit bitters
Star Daisy: Calvados, gin, grenadine, and lemon
Capitan Cocktail: Armagnac Blanc, aromatic bitters, and chinato
Dry Pisco Punch: pineapple gum and hibiscus bitters

The 72-seat project features many artisans in its construction and design—and architects Aidlin Darling Design (with Matarozzi/Pelsinger Builders) have created San Francisco’s first LEED-certified Gold building (and are eagerly anticipating the possibility of having the first LEED platinum-certified commercial interior). Please refer to the hardhat for details on the players and many features, like Sebastian Parker’s white oak tables and chairs that were saturated in red wine. It opens Monday—congrats team, it’s gonna be a beaut. And readers, you’re just going to have to take my word on it—sorry there are no pictures to share at the moment.

Bar Agricole - 355 11th St. San Francisco - 415-355-9400

More Guest Chef Action Around Town

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Exterior photo from The Summit.

I thought you’d like to know about two more cool, upcoming “guest chef” programs happening around town. First, when ~THE SUMMIT~ opens in the Mission on Tuesday August 24th (well, that’s the plan for now), chef Eddie Lau is going to be launching a guest pastry program. He wants to instill a rotating/incubator dessert chef program, where (perhaps unknown) pastry chefs can try out and highlight their creations, serving them for three-four months at a time. The desserts would also be served late night, which is a nice feature. You can read more on Eddie’s HotFoodPorn blog. 780 Valencia St. at 19th St.

And consider this a smoky heads up: Ryan Ostler, formerly of Bruno’s, is going to be joining his lady (pastry chef Katharine Zacher) for a Monday night of barbecue at ~BAR TARTINE~ on August 23rd. There will be three-four courses served family style of their delicious down-home cooking. I’ll have more details next week—and more info on upcoming dates as well. Hubba.

fresh meat

New Restaurant Reviews (I'm looking for somewhere new to eat)
Aug 13, 2010

Roam Artisan Burgers

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The Tejano burger.

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A vegetarian Chalet burger.

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Milkshake (with brûléed marshmallow).

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Interior photo from Roam.

I applaud people trying to eat healthy. Although as far as I’m concerned, the applause is usually more of an aggressive hand clap, saying, “Marcia! No fries with that!” Or a police siren, telling me to pull it on over and put my hands where they can see them (hence my annual cleanse). So in the midst of all the new openings recently happening on Union Street, we have healthy exhibit A: ~ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS~ from Josh Spiegelman and Lynn Gorfinkle (they consulted with The Culinary Edge on this project).

The meats and produce they use are all sustainable, from the grass-fed beef to the free-range turkey. And they still manage to keep the cost for a cheeseburger at only $5.95 (and it comes on a locally made bun, from Pacific Coast Bakery, one of the better sesame buns I’ve had around town—it was squishy and delish, but still held up well).

The Tejano ($6.99) was my fave: I ordered it with a bison patty, which came loaded with pepper jack, sliced avocado, jalapeño relish, herb ranch, and my favorite touch: white corn strips for some extra crunch (I also shook on a few splashes of hot sauce for extra kick). But alas, the slice of tomato was rather unimpressive considering tomato season is in full swing.

So, when I want a burger, I want a burger. And while I appreciate Roam looking out for me, I found the 1/4 lb. patty to be too thin to really get a taste of the meat, that satisfying “I am chomping into a delicious meat patty” sensation. I think a double is the way to go in the future, which is a $1.99 supplement. I know it’s another way y’all are looking out for me, thank you Roam, but I really want the option of bacon on that menu as a topping. When you want a bacon burger, you want a bacon burger. Don’t tell the reptilian part of my brain there’s no bacon option for my burger. Rawr!

The house styles are well composed flavor-wise, like there’s the Sunny Side ($6.99) with an egg, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, greens, tomato, and sweet chili sauce. A standout was the housemade organic vegetarian patty, made with quinoa, beets, black beans, brown rice, rice bran, dates, jalapeños, fresh herbs, cumin, and other spices. It’s quite the feat—right up there with the one at The Plant. It made for a good flavor combo in the Chalet ($6.99), with melted Swiss cheese and crimini mushrooms—a very fulfilling burger. (Get it on a whole grain bun for extra hippie points.) Kudos on making such an excellent vegetarian patty—as a meat eater, I’d even opt to eat one of these instead (unless I was hungover, and on a total beef quest). The notes of cumin would lend it well to some Mexican toppings, too, like the jalapeño relish with pepper jack.

The fries are fried in rice bran oil, and come out piping hot. (Actually, the food comes out impressively quick—you will barely have a sip of your beer before your food is placed in front of you.) Stick with the russet ($2.49) or sweet potato fries ($2.99)—the zucchini onion haystack had a chalky aftertaste, and were too thin to really taste. You can pick some seasonings ($0.50) with the fries, like the chipotle maple on the sweet potato fries (if you’re game to go more sweet than savory). There is also a side salad ($3.49) or seasonal vegetables (A.Q.) in case you want an alternative to fries.

Lots of things to drink here, from their own kombucha on tap, to housemade sodas ($2.49) that are sweetened with agave, like prickly pear or the awesome caramelized pineapple (my sis and I admittedly wanted to add booze to the sodas—I know, how Bartles & Jaymes of us). The house “Roam Barrel Blend” wine on tap that I tried was, uh, very challenging (let’s leave it at that)—a pint of Boont Amber would have been the better choice in that case.

The Straus Family Creamery shakes ($4.99) are a no brainer—come on, there’s Blue Bottle coffee, or salted caramel, seven flavors in all, and you can get it made with organic ice cream or non-fat frozen yogurt. Do not miss the brûléed marshmallow that comes on a wafer on top ($0.99 extra)—they sourced a stellar marshmallow that is totally corn syrup-free, and it makes for some bubbly bites of ba-damn.

The place was busy on a Sunday night, with MGMT playing, lots of energetic 20- and 30-somethings crammed together at the communal table, and some parents and kids in the mix, too. There are a few tables out front as well, with hungry dogs tied up to parking meters, longingly watching their “parents” eat. I like the reclaimed and eco-friendly look of the place, with a deep walnut counter (yay, with purse hooks), cheerful red stools, and a chandelier made of milk bottles. It’s a good looking place with a good food philosophy, and run by good people. Now, just give me my bacon. And make my patty a double, schwanks.

Roam Artisan Burgers - 1785 Union St. San Francisco - 415-440-7626

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Aug 13, 2010

The Bar Director for Locanda Is...

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Brian MacGregor, getting me tipsy.

After three years of doing a swell job behind the horseshoe bar at Jardinière, Brian MacGregor is going to be the bar director for Craig and Anne Stoll’s upcoming ~LOCANDA~ on Valencia. MacGregor says he’s going to be carefully selecting spirits for the bar program, looking to the old country for flavors and influences (Rome, Lazio)—but in his trademark style, will be putting a modern (and I’d also say spiritous) twist on things. His last day at Jardinière is September 9th, and he’ll be starting with Locanda in mid-September. Cin cin!

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