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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: a very busy (and boozy) elf.

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“Who, me? I didn’t burn down the tree! I only look evil.”

Yay, my Fodor’s deadline is ALL DONE, so now I am free to get into the full holiday swing. Someone is ready to par-tay! This week, I wrote up my ‘Hopper Holiday Gift Guide—and at the top of that list is, of course, my book! I just launched a tablehopper online store, so you can now get signed copies directly through yours truly.

Since I’m all excited about having my very own store, I wanted to let you know about a special giveaway I’m running from now through December 31st—anyone who buys three or more copies of my book from me will be automatically entered in a drawing to have dinner on the town with me in January! Fun, right? Dinner will be just you and me, however—no extra guests. Please note I’m choosing where we’re going—and I might even tell you what to order, ha ha (and you’ll like it!).

So, tonight is definitely going to be a fun one: I’m dining with the winner of my La Cocina auction item, A Night on the Town with the Tablehopper. The ladies of Carried Away will be whisking us around in luxury transportation, starting with drinks and appetizers at Thermidor, entrées at Prospect, dessert at COI, and then a nightcap at Comstock Saloon. It’s gonna be a blast—especially having a designated driver who packs “emergency Champagne” on board!

And in this week’s socialite, you’ll see my suggestions for New Year’s Eve dining—and a party!

On a more serious note, since we are getting into the season of parties and drinking (this week especially), I wanted to remind all of us to be careful and conscientious about not driving drunk, and instead to take cabs and designate drivers. I got a note from a dear family friend who lost his father to a drunk driver when he was only four days old, and it really gave me pause. So I wanted to forward this link to you that he sent to me. It’s an Australian public service message about driving under the influence, and please know, it is graphic. It’s very hard to watch. But it’s also so very powerful, and is the closest thing I’ve seen to showing people what happens in an accident—and it’ll really make you think twice about grabbing your keys after grabbing that second or third drink. Please consider taking a moment, and a deep breath, and watch.

Wishing you a safe and sweet holiday season.

XO

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Dec 14, 2010

The 'Hopper Holiday Gift Guide

Yup, holiday shopping events are in full swing. But maybe you’re still stumped on what to get your partner in pork, your co-dependent boozehound friend, or your roommate who doesn’t drink your last beer? The ‘hopper is here to help.

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The easiest, most affordable, bang-for-the-buck, one-size-fits-all, and under-$20 item is my book. HELLO! And check this out: I just launched an online store, so you can get a SIGNED and personalized copy of The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco sent to you, or your friend, or whoever! It’s a total win-win, because you also end up supporting a local author, yes, yours truly. And you even stand to gain a little something something, because from now until December 31st, anyone who buys three or more copies of my book from me will be entered in a drawing to have dinner on the town in January with me! Yup, all expenses paid (within reason, of course—I’ll be in charge of ordering, ahem).

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Um, who wouldn’t be totally thrilled with a holiday gift box from Humphry Slocombe? Exactly. The 2010 “Get Topped” gift box includes their toppings, and more: frosted peanuts, roasted almonds, bourbon caramel sauce, a $5 gift certificate, bacon peanut brittle, the new Tahitian V*nilla Marshmallows in their signature coffee mug, the new Ginger Black and White Bark (Guittard 70% dark and white chocolate with gingersnap crunch), a new pack of Jake’s “Best Butter Cookies Ever!”, and a Humphry Slocombe holiday card. Yeah, you could totally get freaky with your lover with what’s in the box. Anyway, it’s $60 and will be on sale starting Friday!

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Since we’re on the gift box theme, I also thought these “locavore boxes” (the other “L” word) from Calico Gifts were pretty clever: they are actually planter boxes made of reclaimed wood, and you can use the enclosed seed packet to plant yourself a little garden in it. As for the treats contained within, the boxes hold everything from Sightglass Coffee to salts from All Star Organics to spirits from Sutton Cellars. (Thanks to Remodelista.com for the tip.)

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How rad would it be to find a box of chicharrones under your tree? Exactly. 4505 Meats has launched their online store, and you can order everything from fresh sausages to a six-pack of chicharrones ($18) for your favorite carnivore (you will need to swing by the Ferry Plaza farmers’ market to pick up the goods, however). There’s also a Holiday CSA pack ($75), with three types of fresh seasonal sausage (black trumpet cotechino, duck and nutmeg sausage, and boudin noir). Also included is a Christmas pork terrine, Farr family eggnog, and rosemary lard shortbread cookies. Yeah, who’s ready to play Santa now with that big ole belly? Or you can just give your honey a gift certificate for a sausage making class, and I’d confidently say you’ll have some sausage in your future, guaranteed. (Please, help me in my attempt to refrain from making a naughty sausage joke there. Really, I’m trying very hard.)

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Okay, one more meaty present. I’m sure there’s someone in your life who would appreciate a “San Francisco is for Carnivores” poster from Drywell on Etsy. (Loving!) And there are other original and quirky pieces of art, from “Inside a Cappuccino” to “Carrot Meat”. And all at a friendly price point.

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Sure, chocolates are grand, but let me tell you, getting a box of petit fours in the mail was pretty damned awesome. And decadent. You can order them from Dragonfly Cakes in Sausalito and send them anywhere—they come with a little ice pack, so nothing melts. Let them eat cake!

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So, you were wondering when I was going to get to the booze, right? Right. Look, I don’t think any bar is complete without some Carpano Antica Formula, a fantastic vermouth that is part of my favorite Manhattan recipe, among other cocktails. It’s even amazing by itself, or as my friend likes to serve it in the winter, with muddled blood orange. And it comes in a groovy tin. Pure class and the original vermouth (from Turin), made since 1786. You can pick up a bottle at Cask Spirits or John Walker & Co. for $30.

Nothing says “I love you and want to keep you nice and warm this winter” like some special bourbon. Now, sending you on a wild goose chase to find some Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year isn’t cool (besides, I think I got the last bottle at BevMo), so just swing by Cask Spirits, see what they have in stock, and engrave that bottle of whatever you decide on for an extra $20. Classy!

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A wine sock monkey. Just because.

Champagne is a very personal thing—some love it toasty, others want it dry, or sweet, or full of red fruit. Whatever, the Henriot Blanc Brut Souverain (a blanc de blancs) that I tasted last week at the Arlequin Champagne tasting totally rocked my world. And I was told it would taste even better in the small 375ml size. Meow. See, I call it the single girl split—sometimes you just want some bubs, but you don’t want to open a whole bottle. And besides, the small size is always more expensive to purchase. So here’s an idea: be a stud and buy some 375ml bottles for the Champagne lover in your life. Arlequin Wine Merchant has an admirable selection to choose from. Cheers.

Lastly, one of my favorite gifts I receive each year is from my literary agent, who makes a donation on my behalf to the local food bank. For every $1 you donate, the Food Bank can distribute $6 worth of food! (Here’s the tribute donation page.) And while you’re at it, you can also take the awesome SF Food Bank quiz right now, and Absinthe Brasserie and Metromint Water will each donate $1 for each quiz taken!

In case you want to check out some more ideas, The Feast did a Bay Area Gastronome Gift List. And yes, my book is in the lineup, thankyouverymuch.

Two New (and Very Tasty) Burger Places Coming Soon

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Photo of the SF Grill stand from Yelp.

Wow, we’re getting an ~UMAMI BURGER~. Yup, the Los Angeles mini burger chain that has chefs and food writers all in a tizzy over their deliciousness is going to be opening in the former Noodle Theory space in the Marina. Inside Scoop promises more deets soon. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut.

But one burger place opening much sooner is going into the old Annie’s Bistro on California Street: ~BISTRO SF GRILL~, a brick and mortar location from the SF Grill folks (you may know them from the Sunday Divisadero Farmers’ Market). Owner Seni Felic always cracks me up with his effusive manner, brightly colored pants, big sunglasses, and amazing Bosnian accent. He’s going to be joining two fellow Bosnian friends in opening the gourmet burger spot, which will feature the in-house seasoned/mixed meats he’s known for. He uses local and free-range Sonoma meat (except the bison, which comes from Wyoming), and makes everything from jalapeño turkey burgers to patties with chicken, wild salmon, lamb, boar, and venison (all priced $6-$10). Some newcomers on the menu will be halal and American Kobe beef options. There will also be a few sandwiches, including a grilled chicken, smoked trout, and vegetarian version made with mushroom, plus a few salads as well, milkshakes, and dessert will include ice cream from Bi-Rite (he mentioned a snickerdoodle sundae). And maybe French fries mixed with fresh herbs and roasted garlic will appear—Seni is very focused on eating healthfully, but knows his customers will want fries.

They’re currently busy painting and reupholstering—the space will have an eclectic look, with a color scheme of Moroccan red and black. The soft opening is from 3pm-8pm on December 23rd, and they’ll open again for a few days with reduced hours after Christmas, with the official full-time hours launching after New Year’s Day. Beer and wine will be coming soon. Open Mon-Fri 10am-10pm, and Sat-Sun 10am-11pm. 2819 California St. at Divisadero.

Pudong Now Open in Former Mecca Space

Urban Daddy is first to announce that ~PUDONG~ is now open on Market Street, in the former Mecca space. To recap: the chef, Jason Xu, formerly at Shanghai 1930, has created a menu with Shanghaiese dishes (including some dim sum and dumplings, and Shanghai chicken), along with some more familiar Chinese-American dishes, like hot and sour soup, Mongolian lamb, and sesame beef. You’ll also see some French brasserie dishes on the menu, like beef tartare and chicken roulade (you can read the entire menu here, via The Inside Scoop). The atmosphere includes marble floors, and the famed circular bar (surrounded by large booths and tables) remains. And it’s open late: Tue-Sun until 1:30am, with a late-night menu served after 10pm.

Pudong - 2029 Market St. San Francisco - 415-252-0700

Lers Ros Coming to Hayes Valley

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A bass at Lers Ros that escaped the Super Bass-o-Matic ‘76.

When I saw the pending liquor license for ~LERS ROS~ in Hayes Valley, I was like, huh wah? And then when I read the confirmed details in Inside Scoop, I was like, hurrah! Lers Ros will be opening a second location (it’s in a new development near the new location for The Grove, which is coming soon), and is slated to open in May or June. The menu and number of seats will reportedly be about the same as the Larkin Street location, with an expanded wine program. Fortunately delivery and lunch will also continue to be available with this location. Hot damn. Literally. 307 Hayes St. at Franklin.

Lers Ros - 730 Larkin St. San Francisco - 415-931-6917

Yo Yo Daddy O

In SoMa, the LiveSOMA blog reports ~DADDY O’S ~ is finally open in the former Schnitzelhaus space after some challenging electrical issues with the building. On the menu: Southern soul cooking (yup, fried chicken, red beans and rice, and more). If you have really good eyes, you can read the menu on Yelp. The hours for now are Mon-Fri 7:30am-3pm, and Sat 8am-3pm. Dinner should launch in eight weeks or so. 294 9th St. at Folsom, 415-558-9988.

Open and Shut Cases (SF and Berkeley)

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The Réveille Coffee Company truck (photo from their website).

Here’s a little grab bag of news tidbits: a reader let me know a new café called ~FLYING PIG BISTRO~ is moving into the former South Side Café space in the Mission. Unfortunately, details are currently sparse. 433 S. Van Ness Ave. at 15th St.

There’s a new coffee truck called ~RÉVEILLE COFFEE COMPANY~ from brothers Tommy and Christopher Newbury, according to Eater. Nice, there’s a La Marzocco on board. As of yesterday, you can find the truck parked in the parking lot at Pacific Avenue and Sansome. Here’s what’s on board: Four Barrel Coffee (and beans that you can purchase), and a limited selection of pastries (starting with croissants) from Pâtisserie Philippe. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-5:30pm, and cruising around elsewhere on the weekends (you can follow them on Twitter).

Another reader let me know ~BIRLEY SANDWICHES~ in Four Embarcadero (100 Drumm Street) is reportedly becoming Breaking Bread Sandwiches (there’s a new owner), but the other Birley at 100 Pine Street will remain as is.

As for closures, ~HOLLY’S COMEDY CLUB~ above the AMC Van Ness is closed after just six weeks, and the Scoop mentions ~DIGS BISTRO~ in Berkeley is closing after their New Year’s Eve service. 1453 Dwight Way, Berkeley, 510-548-2322.

Contraband Coffee Bar Should Be Slinging Shots This Week!

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After a series of delays, ~CONTRABAND COFFEE BAR~ should be finally opening (if they pass their final inspections). The project is from Nathan Wyss, barista Josh Magnani, and photographer Ron Starr. If all goes well, you’ll be able to come by the 30-seat cafe this Thursday—it’s opening in the former John Barleycorn space. They have a Hydra espresso machine, and will be doing single origin espresso grinding on their Versalab grinder. The coffee is roasted in the East Bay with their roasting partner, Vincent Virzi (there will be both coffee blends and single origin espresso). The focus is on fair-trade and organic beans (whenever possible), and they are very attuned to tracing the beans to specific micro-lots. There will also be a coffee lab starting in January on Saturdays, when anyone can come by and experiment with brewers, beans, side-by-side tastings, and more.

The space features a communal table with room for 8-10, window seating, and a European-style walk-up bar. The art will rotate each month, and is starting with photographer Patrick Lee. While the focus is primarily on coffee, you’ll be able to eat empanadas, Peasant Pies, pastries from Mission Beach Cafe, and donuts from Dynamo Donut. Hours are 7am-10pm. 1415 Larkin St. at California, 415-839-7388.

New Chef at EOS

~EOS RESTAURANT & WINE BAR~ has hired a new executive chef, Michael Roon (he is replacing executive chef Daniel Guerrini who was at EOS for over 10 years). Roon has been mentoring under chef Guerrini for two years, and was the former chef de cuisine. 901 Cole St. at Carl, 415-566-3063.

Last Dirty Dishes Is This Thursday the 16th

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~DIRTY DISHES~ is going to be hosting their final event this Thursday December 16th: it’s going to be a combination holiday benefit for the Boys & Girls Clubs of SF Culinary Arts program and a grand finale. Proceeds from the special pre-sale only ticket package will go to the Boys and Girls Club, in addition to any money collected that evening. It’s only $9.99 for the cover, a food item of your choice, and a specialty shooter (plus a donation will be made)! Buy pre-sale tickets here. Otherwise, admission is $3 at the door.

The evening will also mark the debut of the TASTY Fried Chicken Cart, serving up Mama Reyes’ Famous Fried Chicken, along with Kitchen SideCar’s pork belly banh mi and Dulceria’s handmade ice cream sandwiches. Plus DJs, and if you stick around until midnight, the DD crew will be giving away some special treats (sounds like “late night eats”) to all the good girls and boys who’ve stuck around!

Thursday Dec 16, 2010
9pm onward
$9.99 special pre-sale ticket, or $3 at the door
more info

The Underground Market, and Underground Dining

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The Underground Market. Flickr photo from kewzoo.

The Underground Market is turning one, and celebrating with a double-play of events in San Francisco and Oakland. On Saturday December 18th, swing by SomArts from 11am-4pm for take-homeables (jams, produce, soaps, desserts, etc.) and gifts, and then from 6pm-midnight for hot food and music. Please note the indoor market will be closed from 4pm-6pm for an intermission and the vendor changeover. There will be drinks and some hot food outside. Admission: $5, plus sign up to be a member here (it’s free). Drinks will be available for sale. SomArts, 934 Brannan St. at 8th St.

And then on Sunday December 19th, it starts all over again, at Soundwave Studios from 11am-4pm for take-homeables and gifts, and then from 6pm-midnight for hot food and music. Again, the indoor market will be closed from 4pm-6pm for an intermission and the vendor changeover. There will be drinks and some hot food outside. Admission: $5, plus sign up to be a member here (it’s free). Drinks will be available for sale. Soundwave Studios, 2200 Wood St., Oakland.

Now for the underground dining part: chefs Ted Fleury and Jordan Grosser, formerly co-executive chefs at The Alembic (Jordan is now on his own) are debuting their Stag Dining Group this Friday and Saturday, December 17th and 18th. The evening will begin at 7:30pm with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner at 8pm. To view the menu and make reservations, click here. This week’s gatherings will take place at a venue in Cole Valley, FYI. $80; BYOB. Tickets and menu for December 17th, click here, and December 18th, click here.

Friday Dec 17, 2010 – Sunday Dec 19, 2010
more info

The First Episode of Studio Gourmet Is Sunday December 19th

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Brad Lev and Martin Brock.

Coming up on Sunday December 19th is a new kind of show: ~STUDIO GOURMET~, a combination talk show, live cooking demonstration, and cocktail reception with host Brad Lev at Cellar360 in Ghirardelli Square. His first guest will be chef de cuisine Martin Brock from Gary Danko.

It all starts at 12:30pm with a complimentary glass of bubbly and some small bites provided by Cellar360, and then the live demo and interview will take place in another room. Following the 45-minute interview, there will be some small bites provided by chef Martin and Gary Danko, with paired wines by Cellar360. There is quite the array of bites—some will include: new potatoes stuffed with caviar, paired with Greg Norman sparkling; star anise-cured salmon with curry rémoulade, paired with Beringer Leaning Oak sauvignon blanc; lobster and shrimp fritter with hummus and pepper aioli salad, paired with Etude pinot gris; and bacon and apple sausages with shallot chutney and lemongrass, paired with Penfolds Bin 2. Guests will also get 20% off all wine and merchandise from Cellar360 day of show, and other deals on neighboring shops.

Sunday Dec 19, 2010
12:30pm–3:30pm
$45
more info

Feasting on Dessert at the Four Seasons

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Adult hot chocolates. Photo by Daisy Chow.

An event recap by Daisy Chow, tablehopper editorial assistant.

Last Wednesday, I got a chance to visit the pristine kitchen of Seasons restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco for a ~HOLIDAY DESSERT TASTING~ and hands-on pastry demo with their new pastry chef, Jeffrey Wurtz. Even though I don’t remember the hotel’s carpet actually being red, it sure felt like it was the way they wined and dined us.

We started off with signature drinks from bar manager Oliver Lee, who was shaking up pumpkin martinis and pouring Wassail, a hot, house-spiced organic cider with Kraken Spiced Rum (a great way to warm up on this rainy night). Both drinks are part of the holiday cocktail lineup at Seasons Bar & Lounge. Then executive chef Mark Richardson and executive sous chef Alex Le Motte brought out a trio of beautifully plated appetizers that included Dungeness crab with avocado purée, beets with hazelnut brittle, and foie gras with curry granola. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the sweet hazelnut brittle worked in a savory application. And where was that piano music coming from? Oh, I see, they had rolled a piano into the kitchen for our entertainment.

Next, chef Wurtz showed us how to make and assemble a chocolate mousse bûche de Noël with layers of raspberry compote, feuilletine, almond-chocolate cake, and a dark chocolate glaze. It was a bit like watching the magic of a television cooking show since chef Wurtz made the whole process look so easy (he had already prepared each component beforehand). Then came the fun part: each invitee got their very own bûche de Noël to decorate using the delectable array set out before us: handmade chocolate decorations, marzipan figurines (super cute penguins and snowmen), meringue mushrooms, and perfect little pink French macaron cookies. I’m proud to say my bûche de Noël tied for second place (but let’s not mention that there were only six contestants, ok?). Check out my pics here!

Of course, the fun didn’t end there. The uber-hospitable Four Seasons crew then brought out three samples from their adult hot chocolate bar. It was like sipping straight up melted Valrhona chocolate, the drinks were so incredibly rich and thick and not at all sticky-sweet because they retained the palate-cleansing bitter notes of the cacao. Each drink was paired with a flavored marshmallow to match its liqueur component, vanilla marshmallow with Navan vanilla liqueur, raspberry with Hangar One Fraser River raspberry vodka, and peppermint with Peppermint Schnapps. (Grand Marnier and Godiva dark chocolate are also available.)

Then the desserts came out: poached-pear pithivier (French puff pastry cake) with honey ice cream, chocolate mousse cake with salted caramel ice cream, and to top it all off, chocolate truffles. Sure, I was up to my eyeballs in sugar by now, but that didn’t stop me. This was the most fun I ever had eating dessert for dinner—wouldn’t mind doing that more often.

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Dec 14, 2010

(Sponsored): O Come, All Ye Hungry!

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Want us to help out with the rest of your holiday menu? We can do everything, right down to the flowers.

Order up your holiday goodies however it’s most convenient for you: at the Holiday Table in your neighborhood store or online at our Holiday Shop.

We can’t wait to make this your most stress-free, delicious holiday ever.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Dec 14, 2010

Barrique Now Open in Jackson Square

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Opening right now at 3pm today is a completely new kind of wine bar, ~BARRIQUE~, in Jackson Square. In fact, it’s America’s first private-label wine establishment dedicated to serving wine via its proprietary Cask Delivery System®. So instead of an array of bottles to choose from, guests will be greeted by 18 barriques—yup, you’re going to be tasting directly from the barrel (although there will be 100 international wines available by the bottle, ranging from cult classics to small, family-owned wineries). What’s interesting is you’re kind of tasting the wines blind: you’ll learn the varietal, and appellation, but not the producer. Owner Jim Howell said he wanted to take wine marketing, branding, and ratings out of the equation, and offer the consumer the opportunity to really focus on the taste of different wines and appellations instead.

There are currently nine wines available, with another nine barriques coming soon. The wines in barrique are all Californian, and high quality, primarily from Napa and Sonoma (for now). For example, there are currently two chardonnays (oaked and un-oaked), a Napa cabernet, and a Chalk Hill cab. This all translates to lower prices: the wines will run from $7-$14 by the glass, and are also available in a half-carafe or carafe. There will also be four beers on tap, rotating after a couple kegs (there are currently some selections from Oregon and Maryland, but California kegs are next). You’ll be able to snack on some artisanal salumi, cheese, and other light fare as well.

The 49-seat historical space is more than 100 years old, and was designed by Gi Paoletti. You’ll note original redwood beams, beautiful masonry work, and brick walls they uncovered. The floors are stained concrete, warmed up with the stained white oak cabinets and barn doors for the wine storage, along with special LED strip lighting. The front room features contemporary red chairs and cocktail tables, while the main room features chic, white chairs in a variety of two-tops and four-tops with loveseats. (The bathroom is really elegant as well.) There’s also a bar where guests can stand, and a glassed-in room that will be dedicated to housing long-term storage lockers for guests (there will be room for 12 bottles). And coming soon is a small back patio shielded by the surrounding buildings, with room for four or five tables.

They used very sustainable practices in the build-out, and are the first restaurant/bar in San Francisco to utilize the LifeSource® water filtration technology, which reduces the amount of cleaning agents for their glasses by 52%. There will also be a wine club with a customizable format, almost like a winery. And upcoming classes and tastings are in the works. Hours are Tue-Sat 3pm-10pm.

Barrique - 461 Pacific Ave. San Francisco - 415-421-9200

House of Shields Is Open Again!

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All photos by Jessica Stout.

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This is almost like an early Christmas present: the century-old and newly restored ~HOUSE OF SHIELDS~ is most likely opening tomorrow (please note it will be cash only until the credit card machine is up and running). Owner Dennis Leary (Canteen, The Sentinel, and Golden West) has been hard at work restoring this beauty of a saloon with designer Charles de Lisle and Jason Langkammerer, who heads up At-Six Architecture, and bar manager Eric Passetti.

Did you know it was a private men’s drinking club until 1972? And that President Harding, who reportedly died at the Palace Hotel, may have actually died at the House of Shields, and was possibly dragged to the hotel through the underground tunnel that connects the two spaces? And how about the back bar, which was originally meant to go into the Palace Hotel, but Maxfield Parrish’s Pied Piper mural was too large, so it was sold across the street to the HOS. The chandeliers were made by the same company that made the chandeliers in the Garden Court (the HOS designers just replaced the shades on their chandeliers—and get this, they had them hand blown), and the tile floor is also exactly the same as the one in the Pied Piper. And the famed urinal of course has stayed put.

The place is looking spectacular. The Victorian statues are gleaming, the floor is fixed, the wood panels polished, and the upholstery on the booths was replaced. Bar manager Eric Passetti (Pesce, R Bar, and he opened Mamacita and Delarosa) said the cocktail list is going to be classic and straightforward—in fact, it’s just going to be a verbal list for now.

In an email to me, he said, “To me this is the most personal project I have ever worked on. My great uncle and great grandfather both owned bars in SF, in the Barbary Coast days, we are Italian, so of course in North Beach….my mother told me that my grandfather and great uncle hung out around the Palace when they were young men. And the thought of them having possibly stepped foot in the House of Shields for a highball or beer was very much a driving force behind my motivation for taking this job… So you see, this place is not about fancy cocktails to me, or being cool, being a dive bar, live music or whatever happens to be new trend or style. To me this HOS is about preserving a historic SF business and helping it evolve into its modern lifespan. I honestly hope HOS will be around longer than I am, and maybe some[day] one of my decedents can visit the bar and think about what life was like at the end of the gilded age, or how it has survived and evolved throughout all these years, and the people who have passed though, all the while being a friendly functioning place for people like myself to make a living.” Nice thoughts, those.

There won’t be a food offering for now—the plan is to remodel The Sentinel next door and expand its kitchen, and then be able to provide food for the bar. For now, come on by, and admire this beaut of a bar that is back on the scene. Hours will be Mon-Sat 4pm-2am. 39 New Montgomery St. at Mission.

Social Kitchen's Brewmaster Earns Top Certification

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A stange (glass) of cold Social Kölsch. Photo by Austin Hastings.

Since this Wednesday December 15th is the second Wednesday of the month, you can attend ~SOCIAL KITCHEN & BREWERY~’s Brewmaster’s Dinner and congratulate brewmaster Rich Higgins on becoming one of only three Master Cicerones in the world. More than just a “beer sommelier,” a Master Cicerone must pass the Cicerone Certification Program’s two-day exam, which consists of 10 hours of essay questions, 2 hours of tasting and sensory panels, and 2 hours of oral examination. Phew!

You can taste the results of Higgins’s expertise at SKB, where he brews beers that pair with the brewpub’s food, and champions the concept of cuisine à la bière (using beer in cooking) by designing menus and beer pairings for the monthly Brewmaster’s Dinners. This month’s seasonal tasting menu includes beet soup with garlic labneh and torn croutons paired with L’Enfant Terrible, an earthy Belgian-style ale with notes of chocolate and plums. Higgins plans to offer more education and beer and food pairing programs at the brewpub.

Social Kitchen & Brewery - 1326 9th Ave., San Francisco - 415-681-0330

The Monk's Kettle's New Chef (and Third Anniversary)

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Photo from Monk’s Kettle website.

The ~MONK’S KETTLE~ has hired a new chef, Adam Dulye, from Boulder, Colorado. He has trained in kitchens in the US as well as France, working at the Caribou Club in Aspen, Wildwood in Portland, and The American in Kansas City. Most recently, he was the executive chef at the Manor Vail Resort, and prior to that, at Devil’s Thumb. He’s known for his craft pairing dinners (even doing one at the James Beard House), and has been involved in a number of beer festivals. Dulye begins in mid-January, and will be creating a new menu while staying true to the Monk’s Kettle’s gastropub theme.

But in the meantime, The Kettle will be celebrating their third anniversary by tapping six very special cellared kegs, five of which will have bottled vertical partners offered by the glass. They will also be offering a selection of 15 cellared bottles on their newly re-minted “vintage list.”  It all starts tonight, Tuesday December 14th—but please note The Kettle will be opening a bit later than normal (at 5pm).

Monk's Kettle - 3141 16th St. San Francisco - 415-865-9523

A Happy Hour That Puts the Feliz in Your Navidad

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Photo from Tres Agaves.

~TRES AGAVES~ has kicked off a Winter Happy Hour, with $3 three-taco plates, $3 Mexican drafts, $3 new mixes, and $5 margaritas! Served every day from 2:30pm-5:30pm. And then on the weekend, you can get bottomless margaritas for $15 per person with the purchase of an entrée during brunch, Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St., 415-227-0500.

Become a Home Bartending Badass

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Photo by The Lush Life.

On Wednesday night (December 15th), H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir Bar will be teaching a Cocktail 101 Mixology Class at The Cocktail Bill Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts. You’ll learn the fundamentals of home bartending, making four primary cocktails: martinis, Manhattans, mojitos, and margaritas. Because the best way to understand how you like your cocktails to be made is to make them! And then drink them. Sponsor products include Square One Organic Vodka, Plymouth Gin, Wild Turkey Bourbon, and Espolon Tequila. 6pm-8pm. All materials are included in the ticket price, and you get to drink everything you make! 21 years old and older; your ID will be checked at the beginning of class.

Wednesday Dec 15, 2010
6pm–9pm
$100
more info

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Dec 14, 2010

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email
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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Dec 14, 2010

Where to Pop the Cork: New Year's Eve Dining!

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Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Event Info

Friday Dec 31, 2010

New Year’s Eve is handily on a Friday this year, and practically every restaurant in town will be open, serving a prix-fixe menu at two seatings. If you have a favorite place to dine at, call and see what they’re doing! But in case you need some fresh ideas, here are some that sounded like winners to me.

~LA CICCIA~ is hosting one of their family-style dinners, with multiple courses, including roasted whole Monterey calamari, and of course some Sardinian fregola, plus side dishes, and dessert. 7:30pm, $130 for food and wine (tax and gratuity not included). 415-550-8114.

If my writeup of ~ACQUERELLO~ got you all fired up last week, they’re hosting a special chef’s tasting menu. Two words: lobster lasagna. $250 per person for food and wine, excluding tax and gratuity (or $200 excluding the wines, tax, and gratuity). 415-567-5432.

~PIPERADE~ is so delicious, and I thought their New Year’s Eve menu was no exception: $100 for a three-course prix-fixe menu (plus amuse bouche and glass of Champagne) with entrée choice of seared filet of duck with chanterelles, cipollini, and quince; filet of beef Rossini with gascon fries and truffle sauce; bluenose sea bass with Brussels sprouts, bacon, and brown butter froth; or roasted chicken with parsnips, red pepper dumplings, and chorizo jus. 415-391-2555.

A place that is built for celebrating is ~JARDINIÈRE~. There will be a five-course menu at 5:30pm until 7:30pm ($125, not including beverages, tax, and gratuity); and then a six-course menu at 8:30pm until 10:30pm (includes party favors and a Champagne toast at midnight, $175 per person, not including beverages, tax, or gratuity). There will be live music from 8pm-1am from the Terry Disley Experience, performing Latin jazz and samba. (The J Lounge will also be open for guests who want cocktails or Champagne, and items on the Lounge menu.)

Of course ~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is doing it up with a theme. This year is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at Foreign Cinema, with guests encouraged to dress up in 1964 English bohemia (the film for the evening will be a surprise). The menu will include four courses. The first seating ($85) begins at 5:30pm, and the second seating ($100), which includes a Champagne toast, begins at 8:30pm. $15 children’s menu; $50 for wine pairings; all prices exclude beverages, tax, or gratuity. 415-648-7600.

Maybe you don’t want to make a big deal out of your night, but still want to have some delicious food and cocktails. ~COCO500~ is offering a four-course menu, with two choices per course (vegetarian and vegan options are available), for $75. A beverage/wine pairing option will be available for an additional $35, with some very unique selections from both the cellar and the bar. 415-543-2222.

Kudos to ~NAMU~ for serving a five-course menu for only $40! Japanese New Year’s Eve involves eating specific foods to symbolize joy, health, and energy for the coming year; drinking sake (duh); and the ringing of a bell 108 times to flush away the previous year’s 108 sins (no more, no less!). There will be oysters, dashi-braised daikon and oxtail, crab noodles, and more. (Candida, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are available with advance notice.) Reserve your table for the special menu via 415-386-8332 or on OpenTable.

Another budget-friendly option is at the cozy ~PICCINO~: for $55, you get a four-course menu which will feature a surprise pizzetta, their version of San Francisco’s classic cioppino, a seasonal winter salad, dessert, and Blue Bottle Coffee. In addition, they’ll be sourcing a few special bottles of wine. You can make reservations for two seatings: 5:30pm and 8pm. 415-824-4224.

~COMSTOCK SALOON~ is offering a three-course dinner for $45, which includes prime rib! Wine and cocktail pairings are an additional $25. 415-617-0071.

And ~CONTIGO~ is doing a $50 six-course dinner, with dishes like Manchego churros, jamón with persimmons, fried artichokes with harissa aioli, oxtail canelons in housemade nettle pasta, and roasted suckling pig. Wine pairing will be $25. 415-285-0250.

A Special New Year's Eve Party: S.O.S. (Standing on Stardust)

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Event Info

Friday Dec 31, 2010
9pm–2am
$85
Tickets
The Burritt Room at the Crescent Hotel
417 Stockton St. at Bush

There are so many cheesy New Year’s Eve parties, and at $100-plus a pop, the mind reels. But the S.O.S.—Standing on Stardust party at The Burritt Room from the Bon Vivants has top shelf written all over it:

“At the stroke of midnight on the evening of December 31st, 1977, at the iconic Studio 54, four tons of glitter were dropped from the ceiling, showering the guests as they danced their way into the new year. Owner Ian Shrager later recalled that moment was magical, it was like ‘standing on stardust.’ And so, S.O.S. 2011 was born out of the idea of recreating a magical moment time (sans the four tons of glitter).

“Relive the decade defined by glamour and spectacle [Ed. note: and disco dust] for one night at Standing on Stardust, a 1970s-themed New Year’s Eve extravaganza hosted by the Bon Vivants.

“S.O.S will feature signature cocktails designed by Josh Harris and Scott Baird, disco music spun by local legendary disco DJ Bus Station John, fanciful 70s-style edibles created by Trick Dog chef Chester Watson, glammed-out Go-Go dancers, flashing lights, disco-chic attire, and a giant unicorn ice sculpture.

“S.O.S was designed to be a full immersion event for the discerning consumer seeking a unique NYE experience. We are seeking to offer an alternative to the overpriced bottle service world of overcrowded clubs. We aim to offer a more substantive, all encompassing, and tailored experience targeting the food and beverage enthusiast.

I have to agree with them when they say, “IT’S GONNA BE REAL FUN!”

Tickets are $85 per person, and include four signature cocktails, Champagne for a midnight toast, and fun food offerings throughout the night. You can also pony up for a hotel room in the Crescent Hotel, which is offering some nice discount packages ($250 for two tickets and a standard hotel room, or $300 for two tickets and a hotel suite). For hotel room packages, email here.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Dec 14, 2010

Kirsten Dunst Spotted Kickin' It at Zeki's

Yup, Zeki’s Bar in Nob Hill, self-proclaimed “the friendliest bar in San Francisco” was graced with a visit by ~Kirsten Dunst~. SFist reported the tidbit, noting she’s currently in town filming the final scenes for the movie adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

A Fab Sighting: Fabio

~Fabio~. Spotted at Café des Amis. Discuss.

Joe, Can You Now Pass Me the Duck Fat Fries?

A reader writes in: “I was at BOURBON STEAK last Friday night and saw ~Joe Montana~ and his wife Jennifer along with two other couples having dinner at the restaurant.”

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