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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: wide load.

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Custard French toast at nopa.

Looks like we’re both getting pummeled today—that’s what I get for taking a week off while playing in New York. Too. Much. News. But it also means I have a pile-up of starlet sightings for you as well! Heh. Guilty pleasures…

Since we’re on that delightful topic, my weekend was definitely full of guilty pleasures, starting with the insane custard French toast at nopa’s weekend brunch—have you had it? Don’t know how that was missing from my life, but now I’m on it. Check it out (and other killer dishes on nopa’s menu) on Deep Dishing. What are your faves there? Feel free to add ‘em in! I also got to squeak in a brunch on Sunday at Out the Door on Bush (I posted a pic and a tip about their beef pho on Deep Dishing). It’s always so hard to choose on OTD’s brunch menu, I want it all.

I also went to dinner at Betelnut with a couple friends to try the special offal menu they did in conjunction with BlackboardEats. If you ended up purchasing one of the passcodes, let me tell you: get your ass over there before it expires. The menu was a tour de force of awesome, from the cured lamb tongue with the prickle of galangal, to decadent black pepper chicken livers, to the tamarind fish head curry with okra and tomatillos. Of course I had to request a round of the Xinjiang cumin lamb and sesame buns with chile raita, my latest obsession. That place just keeps rocking it more and more: kudos to chef Alex Ong, chef de cuisine Michael Siegel, and the rest of their team.

This weekend holds more Asian feasting, as I’ll be heading up to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville for this fantastic-sounding event—Eight Perfect Pairings—featuring chef Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation Hong Kong and chef Kam Chiu Leung of Koi Palace. Bring on the dumplings!

Enjoy this springy weather. I’ve been loving my mornings with fresh strawberries, and am eating my fill of asparagus; I can’t believe the batch I got at the Divis farmers’ market on Sunday—they looked like they had just been cut. Heaven.

Hop hop.

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Apr 12, 2011

Town Hall Posse Not Opening a Restaurant at 740 Valencia After All

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Photo from Google.

Last month, I was following up on a rumor I had heard about the Town Hall/Anchor & Hope/Salt House gang opening a ~UNIQUE WINE-FOCUSED RESTAURANT~ in the former auto repair garage at 740 Valencia Street in the Mission. Partner Doug Washington was having me keep the news under my hat for a week, and then, of course, the news floodgates broke elsewhere. But in the end, sadly, Washington and brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal have decided to step away from the project. In a phone call, Washington said, “It’s an amazing landlord, and a deal in a smokin’ neighborhood, but we weren’t ready to open another full-blown restaurant in San Francisco. We all have lives, kids, families… and all three of us came to the conclusion not to proceed.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see who snaps this sweet location up. 740 Valencia St. at 18th St.

Original Joe's Opening in the Former Joe DiMaggio's Space in North Beach

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Flickr photo from Thomas Hawk.

Plenty of folks in the city have been wondering when and where they were going to be able to get their next Joe’s Special, and the answer is: North Beach in October. Rumors I heard a while back proved to be true: ~ORIGINAL JOE’S~ will be moving into the Joe DiMaggio’s space on Washington Square Park, which was previously the location for Fior d’Italia for 50 years. (Wow, that makes three new businesses coming to the Square: the Marlowe ladies with Park Tavern, and Bottle Cap in the old Washbag.)

While it’s a shame the fire-ravaged location at 144 Taylor Street won’t reopen (it featured the city’s longest-running mesquite broiler, mind you), the new location will certainly draw more diners. (I’m not even gonna go into the details of what happened to me on Taylor Street the last time I dined at OJ’s—a Tenderloin groping, which is really, truly way up there on the wrong scale.) The fire was back in October 2007—crazy, it’s been a long time—and the Scoop reports the Duggan family hopes to reopen on the anniversary of the fire: October 12th, to be exact. And yes, the beloved booths will reportedly be reupholstered and brought over. Also mentioned: “an exhibition kitchen line—that Original Joe’s signature—will be built.” Congrats to the Duggan family for finding a new home for OJ’s. 601 Union St. at Stockton.

Hecho Now Open in Downtown's Midi Space

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Bar at Hecho. Photo by Naseema Khan.

While I was taking my week off from writing tablehopper, Joseph Manzare’s ~HECHO~ opened last week in the former Midi space. The concept is Japanese, based around edomai sushi (authentic Tokyo Bay-style sushi) and robata (grilled) dishes. Menu items include a variety of small plates, yakimono (most are $3-$4 per skewer), and a nice selection of nigiri that you can order one at a time (so don’t think those prices include two). You can check out the soft opening menu here. The executive chef is Masaki Sasaki, most recently (and very briefly) at 2G Japanese Brasserie—he has also worked at Kantaro, Sebo, and the St. Regis.

The other hook: tequila. Yup, primarily small-batch tequilas, which you can drink neat, or in a cocktail. General manager Jon Shikuma (from Mori Sushi in LA) has selected a variety of sakes for those who don’t want to go there, including some “one cup” sakes in a can. Uli Zinnkann of Zack/de Vito designed the two-level, 120-seat space, featuring a tequila elm bar, and a 10-seat cypress sushi bar on the street level (plus an in-kitchen sushi bar that seats 6). Upstairs, there’s a dining room that includes a 16-seat communal table, and a private room. Breakfast served Mon-Fri 7am-10:30am, lunch 10:30am-2pm, dinner Mon-Wed 5pm-10pm and Thu-Sat 5pm-12am, closed Sunday evenings. Weekend brunch is Sat-Sun 7am-1pm. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-835-6400.

New Chef Hires at Bushi-Tei, LarkCreekSteak, and Spruce

I had heard ~BUSHI-TEI~ had a new executive chef, and the Scoop confirms it’s Michael Hung, most recently the chef de cuisine at Jardinière. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the menu. 1638 Post St. at Laguna, 415-440-4959.

I also heard that chef de cuisine Walter Abrams has started in the kitchen at ~SPRUCE~; he was most recently a sous chef at The French Laundry.

Over at ~LARKCREEKSTEAK~, Ismael Macias has been promoted to chef, after working with the Lark Creek Restaurant Group for more than 12 years (he started as dishwasher at One Market Restaurant).

Restaurant Makeovers: XYZ and Long Bar

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Trace rendering: Stanley Saitowitz.

On Sunday April 10th, W San Francisco’s ~XYZ~ restaurant closed, and will be reopening as Trace after an extensive renovation by architect Stanley Saitowitz (Conduit). Executive chef Paul Piscopo is staying on, and will be joined by newly appointed forager Alaun Grimald (is forager going to be the new “hot job” of 2011?). No set ETA at this time, so let’s just say later this year, shall we? Guests can still order off the dining menu and get their drink on in the W Café on the first floor.

Another Sunday closure was ~LONG BAR~ on Fillmore, which will be undergoing a light renovation this month. Reza Esmaili and chef Erik Hopfinger will be reopening the place later this month with a new name and menu—details to be revealed soon. 2298 Fillmore St. at Clay, 415-440-1700.

Coffee Bar Is Expanding to the Financial District

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Photos from Coffee Bar.

Financial District workers will be jazzed to know that ~COFFEE BAR~ in the Mission is going to be opening a second location: and it’s downtown! You’ll be able to get Mr. Espresso coffee—either an espresso off of San Francisco’s first Strada espresso machine from La Marzocco, or a cup from the dedicated “slow bar”—along with pastries by Pâtisserie Philippe and Tell Tale Preserve Co., and grab-and-go items, including Anthony’s Cookies. They hope to open in three months, and will be open Mon-Fri. 101 Montgomery St. at Sutter.

New Healthy Lunchtime Eats from Hoss Zaré

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Photo courtesy of Zaré at Fly Trap.

After an unfortunate health scare, Hoss Zaré, the chef and owner of ~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~, has been significantly turning things around in his diet (guess who has lost 50 pounds?). And opening Wednesday April 13th is his new healthy and casual lunch offering, Zaré’s Grill and Grain. It will be counter service, but diners will be able to dine in the restaurant or order the food to go. The menu includes hearty Persian soups, like ash reshteh ($8), a traditional spinach and noodle soup; a variety of wraps, like low-fat ground lamb ($11) with braised cipolline onions, barrel-aged feta, fresh mint, basil, and tarragon; and grains with greens and healthy salads, like one with French lentils ($12), grilled salmon, fennel, roasted bell peppers, lemon thyme, freshly shaved turmeric, braised endive, balsamic vinaigrette, and salsa verde (sounds amazing). Lunch will be served Mon-Fri 11am-2pm.

Zaré at Fly Trap - 606 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-243-0580

Say Cheese. Actually, Mission Cheese.

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Photo by Jeannie Choe for The Feast.

Good news for Missionites: Sarah Dvorak is opening her business ~MISSION CHEESE~ this Wednesday April 13th. Take a look at that counter, because that’s where you’ll be able to sit for a variety of cheese plates (featuring domestic and foreign fromages), pressed sandwiches, charcuterie, and an ice cold beer (or glass of wine) once the beer and wine license kicks in. The Feast also mentions “a mac and cheese du jour…and rich, melty Raclette presented simply with roasted garlic potatoes and cornichons.” There will also be a large selection of cheeses for you to take home. It’s a tiny spot, with 20 seats, plus some outdoor tables. Take a look at this slideshow on The Feast for some great images (warning: don’t be hungry). As previously mentioned, Dvorak worked the garde manger station at Jardinière, and has traveled all over the U.S. in search of wonderful cheeses. Hours will be 11am-8pm. 736 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-553-8667.

Saigon Sandwich Is Back in Action

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Photo of the new setup by Daniel Azarkman.

Lines are forming once again outside of ~SAIGON SANDWICH~, which closed its doors for the past month to make some renovations. Without that cluttered deli case, they now have roughly twice the kitchen space, and a much clearer (and cleaner) focus on putting a sandwich in your hand. Shiny new equipment includes a hand-washing sink, a slicing machine, a steam table, and a cold prep station. While the non-sandwich offerings have slimmed down quite a bit, they’re still selling some Vietnamese sweets from Hung Phat Bakery on Jones Street. Mon-Sat 6am-6pm, Sun 7am-5pm. 560 Larkin St. at Eddy, 415-474-5698.

Some Castro (and Noe Valley) Restaurant Closures and Changes

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Flickr photo by Steve Rhodes.

There are a number of changes in the Castro restaurant landscape: a tablehopper reader noted a liquor license transfer in the window of ~CAPRI RISTORANTE PIZZA~ (aka the place where I always try to use the bathroom during Pink Saturday). My intern reported back that Capri is going to be open for another three to four months, or 120 days from when the new owners applied for their license. The current owner couldn’t tell us much about the new concept, other than that it’s going to be Cal-Spanish cuisine (which is to be determined). Grub Street confirms the new owners are “Francisco Cifuentes and chef Mat Schuster, who’s been food and beverage manager at Crissy Field’s Warming Hut and Café for the last couple of years.” Stand by! 2272 Market St. at 16th St., 415-552-3000.

Another old-timer change: ~BAGDAD CAFÉ~ has new owners, according to the Scoop. The former 24-hour restaurant should be reopening in May—although there’s currently no word on the new concept, and most importantly, the hours. 2295 Market St. at Noe.

Eater noted that ~FUZIO~ has closed—seems their lease was up, and they didn’t want to renew. 469 Castro St. at 18th St.

Lastly, the Noe Valley SF blog reported that ~TAMASEI SUSHI~ is closing, and they’re doing a sidewalk sale of their plates and sake cups on Saturday April 16th. 3856 24th St. at Vicksburg.

The Lineup of Eats at SFO's New T2 (Terminal 2)

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Photo by Bruce Damonte.

I just booked another flight to New York in June (a dear friend is getting married), woo hoo. I’m excited that I’m flying on Virgin America, not only because I can get my work done (hello, Wi-Fi) and travel in a civilized fashion, but I’ll also be able to check out the newly renovated ~T2 (TERMINAL 2)~ at SFO. Originally built in 1954, T2 will reopen to the public this Thursday April 14th after a $383 million renovation by Turner Construction and Gensler; it will be home to American Airlines and Virgin America.

The local food marketplace includes Napa Farms Market (featuring Equator Coffee, Three Twins Ice Cream, Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery Cheese, and more), along with Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie of Napa, and Vino Volo wine bar. There will also be Lark Creek Grill, Cat Cora (tapas and cocktails), Andalé, Burger Joint, The Plant Café Organic, Pinkberry, Wakaba (a sister to Sanraku Sushi & Noodle restaurants), Peet’s Coffee, and, of course, a Starbucks. You can take a peek at images from a preview tour here (courtesy of the Bunrabs!).

Market News: A.G. Ferrari and Cal-Divis Market, Deli, and Wine Merchant

The gourmet Blue Fog Market at California and Divisadero may have closed, but the new specialty market taking its place, ~CAL-DIVIS MARKET, DELI, AND WINE MERCHANT~, will keep the artisan vibe alive. Jerad Ruhl, previously at Ottimista-Enoteca Café, and his wife are behind the latest incarnation. Blue Bottle Coffee will continue to be sold, along with pastries and treats made by Mission Beach Cafe, plus craft beverages, beer, small production wines, and artisan spirits for retail sale. Future plans include housemade soups, sandwiches, in-house pickling and curing projects (like cured salmon and salumi), locally sourced cheeses, breads, and local products. They’re starting slowly right now, so just expect coffee and limited retail purchases for now. Open daily 8am-8pm. 2794 California St. at Divisadero, 415-440-1295.

I was sorry to read the news in the Scoop that ~A.G. FERRARI FOODS~ has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to a post on their Facebook page, a few stores will be closing soon, but none were named. Update: Grub Street reports “A rep from A.G. Ferrari writes in to say that despite the bankruptcy and the possibility of more store closures, none of the S.F. stores will be closing.”

A Few Menu Specials and Options Around Town

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The bar at Masa’s.

This column is turning into a beast, so I’m gonna keep this entry short: chef Gregory Short of ~MASA’S~ is offering a new tapas menu on Fridays at the Masa’s Bar from 5:30pm-9:30pm. Items include Ibérico ham croquettes ($9), saucisson d’homard ($12), a scallop mousseline with Maine lobster, housemade choucroute, and pickled vegetables. Seating is very limited: there are just four seats. (Which is why it’s one of my favorite little sneaky bars.)

~CAFÉ DES AMIS~ is now running a “Le Temps Entre” happy hour promotion, which includes $1 oysters, a $5 Moscow Mule, a glass of wine ($5 Kuentz-Bas Pinot Blanc), and a beer ($5 Trumer Pilsner). The menu is subject to change, but will always include oysters, a cocktail, a glass of wine, and a beer for the prices listed above. Mon-Fri 3pm-6pm.

~OZUMO SAN FRANCISCO~ has launched a Sundays-only prix-fixe menu option. For $45, diners get four courses; the debut menu includes a choice of tuna tataki salad, shira-ae (roasted Chiogga beets and nama yuba tofu), or miso soup; a sushi course; and main course options like burikama (roasted yellowtail collar) or Jidori chicken; plus dessert. Begins at 5:30pm. There will also be wine and sake specials. 

Wild Foods Dinner with Connie Green at Americano

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Americano photo by Cesar Rubio.

I sometimes wish I could clone myself, because then I could attend this cool dinner to be hosted by chef Kory Stewart of ~AMERICANO~ Restaurant at Hotel Vitale. The event is on Sunday April 17th, and guest chef Michael Tuohy of Grange Restaurant and forager and author Connie Green of Wine Forest Wild Foods will both be in the house.

The five-course Sunday supper will include dishes featuring wild ingredients, like yellowtail crudo with oxalis, sauvignon blanc agrodolce, radish, sea beans, and spruce tip oil; nasturtium tagliatelle with morels, slow-cooked egg, guanciale, and wild mushroom brodetto; lightly cooked California king salmon with wild fennel salsa verde, spring vegetables, and ramps; and roasted Paine Farms squab with ramp and squab confit hash cake, braised wild mustard, and elderberry jus. $65; $90 with wine and cocktails paired with each course. Reservations are required: 415-278-3777. 5pm: cocktails and antipasti on the patio (weather permitting); 5:45pm: dinner (communal seating).

Sunday Apr 17, 2011
5pm cocktails and antipasti on the patio (weather permitting); 5:45pm dinner
$65; $90 with wine and cocktail pairings
more info

Americano - 8 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-278-3777

A Change in Command at the GGRA

I received an invite to meet Rob Black, the new executive director for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), and was wondering where Kevin Westlye was off to (he held the position for the past seven years). Ends up he is working as president of High Flying Foods (behind Firewood Grills, Firewood Cafés, and many Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations), which focuses mainly on airports. Westlye will continue to lead SFChefs 2011 (which he launched), and has re-joined the Board of Directors of the GGRA.

Rob Black has served as vice president for Public Policy with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce for the past four years, and prior to that, he served as legislative aide to then supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier. Rob currently chairs the city’s Workforce Investment San Francisco Board (WISF), overseeing federal workforce training expenditures.

Have Food Allergies? You Might Want to Check This Out.

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Photo from Yummy Stuff.

A verrrrry long time ago, Eater reported an innovative allergen-aware dessert place, ~YUMMY STUFF~, was coming to the Inner Richmond.

It’s been slow going, but the owners are aiming to open for business on Thursday May 12th in a small space on Arguello and Golden Gate. They’ll be offering soft-serve, gelato, Italian ices, and baked goods, all with guaranteed dairy-, egg-, gluten-, and nut-free options. They need some help in reaching their goal, though, and have come up with a novel way of letting future customers show support. Through their website, you can make a shrewd investment in your dessert-eating habits by giving Yummy Stuff a cash advance. Used wisely, your contribution can amount to a huge discount in that it gets you a free pass to enjoy their products for a specified period. And you can wear the free t-shirt for as long as you want. Let’s see if they make it happen… 746 Arguello Blvd. at Golden Gate.

Curry Up Now Opening a Restaurant in San Mateo This Weekend

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I’m always happy to hear of “food truck to brick and mortar” success stories. And here’s a good one: the fine folks behind the ~CURRY UP NOW~ trucks, Akash and Rana Kapoor, are opening a 49-seat location in downtown San Mateo (previously Dalia Tapas, and prior to that, Gator’s Neo Soul Cafe). The soft opening is this Friday April 15th, with a grand opening on Saturday the 16th.

The menu will be the same as the trucks: tikka masala burritos, a kathi roll, and deconstructed samosas and aloo tikki, with some additions, like sandwiches, their spin on a quesadilla, and their “un-burger” made with lamb. The weekends are when they’ll reportedly “go crazy,” with all kinds of street food dishes with a twist, like puri and pav bhaji. Opening hours are 11am-9pm, and possibly until 10pm Thu-Sat; weekend hours will be starting earlier since they will be offering breakfast. Beer and wine will also be coming in a few months. 129 South B St. at 1st St., 650-477-3000.

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Apr 12, 2011

Yo! Are You a Part of the Deep Dishing Community Yet?

A little over a month ago, yours truly launched Deep Dishing, a new kind of forum about Bay Area restaurants and bars. What’s different? Well, to start, this community is based on positivity. It’s about what to order, not what to avoid. It’s about sharing what’s good, what rocks your socks off, and why you’d want to return somewhere—not why you want to run away. It’s also about sharing secrets, like what’s off the menu, or your favorite super-duper sandwich combo.

Before heading over to a new hotspot, like Cotogna or Prospect, or maybe a place that’s been on your list, like Out the Door on Bush, take a peek at Deep Dishing first to see what dishes the community recommends. You may even pick up a hot tip or two.

You can post (and drool over) pictures, vote and comment on dishes, share your own hot tips, and even ask questions in the Tip Please! forum—and help solve the dilemmas of your fellow diners. So check it out, create a profile, start voting and posting, and I hope you have fun dishing it up.

Attention restaurant and bar owners: is your business listed on Deep Dishing? Take a look and make sure your business information is complete, like your hours and offerings. You can even link to your Twitter feed! Feel free to upload any images, tips, and information to your page.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Apr 12, 2011

Bummer, Man: The Eagle Set to Close at the End of April

I was sad to get a Facebook event notice over the weekend about the impending closure of ~THE EAGLE TAVERN~ in SoMa. Yup, it’s a classic case of lease renewal issues with a landlord. I’ve attended too many Sunday beer busts there to count, and have always been impressed with the bar’s numerous fundraising events for the community. (Let alone the fabulous bar staff.) I met one of my favorite people in my life there. Ugh, I am seriously saddened by this news.

There was a community meeting last night (you can read more on this Facebook post, which mentions the owner of the Skylark bar in the Mission was potentially taking over the lease?), but as SFist reports, there’s really not much that can be done. There was a press conference before the Board of Supervisors this afternoon (it happened at 12:30pm)—we will see what comes out of it. As it stands now, the Eagle looks set to close Friday April 29th. 398 12th St. at Harrison, 415-626-0880.

Cool Whiskey Class on April 23rd with CUESA

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Photo by Mathew Sumner.

This upcoming Whiskey 101: Fundamentals, Tasting, and Cocktail Making class in conjunction with CUESA looks like a good one (and it’s not just because I’m a whiskey girl. Oh wait, it is.). On Saturday April 23rd, you’ll join bartenders Scott Beattie (Spoonbar) and Jack Mitchell (co-owner of Santa Rosa’s Jack and Tony’s Whiskey Bar) for quite the class. Guests will learn the differences between various types of popular whisk(e)y, which will include a discussion and tasting of bourbon, rye, scotch, Tennessee, Canadian, and Irish whiskies, plus get tips on how to build an impressive whiskey collection at home. You will also get to make your own whiskey cocktails, including a Manhattan, a Sazerac, an Old Fashioned, a Rob Roy, and a whiskey sour. Sign me up. 2pm-4pm. $50 (includes tasting, hands-on cocktail instruction, and a take-home booklet).

Saturday Apr 23, 2011
2pm–4pm
$50 (includes tasting, hands-on cocktail instruction, take-home booklet)
more info

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Apr 12, 2011

Passover-Inspired Celebrations and Drinks

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The Sipping Seder’s ‘maror’ cocktail.

This year, Passover begins at sundown on Monday April 18th, and there are lots of choice spots for fare to befit the holiday. Check out the drink ideas below, too.

On Wednesday April 20th, guest chef Joyce Goldstein will team up in the kitchen with ~PERBACCO~ chef/co-owner Staffan Terje to serve a menu of traditional Jewish cooking, Italian-style. The recipes are inspired by Goldstein’s cookbook Cucina Ebraica, and it’s gonna be a special, enjoyable meal. Here’s a sample of just a fraction of the menu: haroset; family-style antipasti with fegato di anatra alle uova sode (chopped duck liver, Italian-style) and carciofi alla Giudia (crispy fried artichokes, Jewish-style); first course with brodo con polpette e uova per Pesach (Passover soup with chicken dumplings and eggs) or zuppa di porri (leek soup with mushrooms and potatoes); second course with spigola con salsa di rabarbero (sea bass with rhubarb sauce) or stufato d’agnello (lamb stew with green garlic); contorni for the table with finocchio alla Giudia (braised fennel, Jewish-style) and stufato di fave, carciofi, e lattuga (spring stew of fava beans, artichokes, and lettuce); and family-style dolci with pan di spagna alle nocciole (Passover hazelnut sponge cake) and torta di noce (walnut cake). $49/person.

~FIREFLY~ will serve Passover-inspired dishes à la carte from April 18th through April 26th, including traditional favorites like homemade gefilte fish with bi-color horseradish, chopped chicken livers, matzo ball soup, and braised beef brisket with root vegetable tzimmes, as well as more modern offerings showcasing California’s springtime abundance. Call 415-821-7652 or go online for reservations.

~PALIO D’ASTI~ will be merging traditional lamb and kid dishes with an array of historic Italian Jewish offerings appropriate for the Passover holiday April 18th-23rd. The changing roster of daily specials will feature snapper, suckling lamb, and baby kid, along with an emphasis on spring chicken and farm fresh eggs. Spring at Palio D’Asti is also about artichokes, asparagus, peas, favas, spring onions, strawberries, and rhubarb from the garden (it’s a good time to order the rhubarb margarita from the seasonal cocktail list). And then there’s dessert, which includes buttermilk and pistachio pudding with rhubarb compote; Watsonville strawberry pie with whipped cream; devil’s food chocolate cake with dulce di leche hazelnut sauce and candied orange; housemade cookies, truffles, biscotti, gelato, sorbet; an assortment of Italian cheeses; and five seasonal flavors of Amedei organic chocolates, a Palio San Francisco exclusive.

In a melding of traditions, ~DELFINA~ will offer special items during the week of Passover inspired by the holiday and spring. The à la carte items (not necessarily kosher) will change throughout the week and may include dishes like brisket in one of a variety of ways, carciofi alla Giudia, poached bass with gelatina and walnut sauce, veal tongue dolce-forte, risi bisi, Passover ribollita, or an edible Seder plate with farm egg salad, Ancona-style haroset, and lamb shank ciccioli crostini. And, every night will feature the Stoll family recipe matzo ball soup (with walnuts in the middle). More here.

~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~ will be serving a special Seder dinner on Monday April 25th to celebrate Passover. Chef Ron Silverberg will be making modern twists on traditional Jewish dishes, including house-smoked salmon gefilte fish with beet and horseradish cream; matzo ball soup with spring vegetables; pan-seared local halibut with a cauliflower purée, English peas, sweet potato fritter, haroset relish; and roast chicken with matzo hash and asparagus. The dinner is four courses and $55/person, excluding tax and gratuity.

If you’re having Seder dinner at home, consider picking up some of the special items being offered at ~THE PASTA SHOP: FOURTH STREET~ and ~THE PASTA SHOP: ROCKRIDGE MARKET HALL~. Customer favorites available Saturday April 16th-Tuesday April 19th include the housemade charoset; housemade horseradish (it’s a brilliant red, made from horseradish and beet); Scott’s famous chopped liver; matzo ball soup; zucchini, potato, and carrot kugel; and gefilte fish. Plus you can get several types of matzo (traditional, chocolate-covered, whole wheat, organic, egg and matzo meal); kosher chocolate-dipped orange peels, marshmallows; Passover wine; Concord sparkling grape juice; and the challah is always made fresh daily. Some ready-made foods will include Moroccan chicken in sweet and spicy tomato sauce ($12.95/lb.); Niman Ranch brisket with braised vegetable reduction ($23.95/lb.); and flourless chocolate mousse squares ($4.95). You can also order online.

Not in the East Bay? Bakeries such as ~EMPORIO RULLI~ in Larkspur and ~NOE VALLEY BAKERY~ in San Francisco will also carry holiday items. ~ARIZMENDI BAKERY~ (multiple locations) is now selling wheat-free, chocolate-covered, coconut macaroons for Passover, available by the piece or box.

Over in the drinks department, San Francisco-based ~DISTILLERY NO. 209~ is offering a kosher-for-Passover gin, aptly named No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin ($37.99) and available locally at Cotogna restaurant and stores such as PlumpJack Wines, Cask, Blackwell’s, M&M Market, and more. It uses a sugarcane base rather than the prohibited corn vodka, is hand-fashioned using natural botanicals, and is distilled five times. Here are a couple recipes for you:

The Seder Sour
(Created by Jordan Mackay. Besides being kosher for Passover, this cocktail incorporates several of the flavors and symbols of the Seder meal.)

1.5 oz. No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin
0.5 oz. Warmed honey
Dash of kosher for Passover horseradish
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tiny pinch of kosher salt
Soda water

Add all the ingredients into a mixing tin. Either shake or stir the contents without ice to make sure the honey dissolves into the solution. Add crushed ice, cover, and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass, top with a dash of soda water, and garnish with a sprig of parsley.

The Clover Club Cocktail
(Adapted by Gamliel Kronemer of The Jewish Week)

1/4 cup No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. Kedem raspberry syrup
1 egg white

Place all of the ingredients, with ice, into a cocktail shaker, and shake well for at least a minute. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

For more Passover-inspired cocktail recipes, Rob Corwin and Danny Jacobs just put out a new project called The Sipping Seder—it’s their interpretation of the traditional Passover meal as a cocktail list based on classic inspirations and a bit of modern mixology. Sure, they may have taken an irreverent spin to things, but they did put a lot of serious thought into the cocktail recipes that represent parts of the Seder, like maror, chazeret, and charoset. This labor of love required extensive research, planning, and numerous taste tests, and they hope you enjoy the results.

L’chaim!

One of the 'Hopper's Favorite Holidays Is Here: Easter!

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Easter Sunday falls on April 24th this year, so hippety-hop on over to any of these appetizing dining options. Scroll down further for home-cooking ideas with rabbit and goat!

In the Italian tradition of celebrating with an early family dinner, ~A16~ will be open from 3pm-9pm with some special Neapolitan Pasqua dishes from chef David Taylor added to the dinner menu, such as rabbit legs all’Ischitana, Watson Farms lamb shoulder, and minestra di Pasqua with chicken and pork meatballs. Pastry chef Candace Rowan will be baking the traditional pastiera cake, and Shelley Lindgren will have some great wines selected for the meal.

~PROSPECT~ is serving their first Easter brunch from 11am-3pm, and dinner from 5:30pm-9:30pm. Some of the mouth-watering items on chef Ravi Kapur’s special brunch menu are the pot de foie with kumquat marmalade, and brioche toast ($14); Dungeness crab cake with chard, hollandaise, and home fries ($18); and roast of local lamb with mashed potatoes, English peas, mint, and lamb jus ($22). How perfect, hot crossed buns are on the menu too.

Brunch-favorite ~FOREIGN CINEMA~is offering a market-fresh three-course Easter brunch menu with options for each course. Seatings 10:30am-2:30pm; $45/adult, $15/child (excluding tax and gratuity). Reservations are recommended, 415-648-7600.

Easter brunch at ~SEASONS~ in the Four Seasons Hotel will be served from 11am-4pm, and executive chef Mark Richardson’s three-course menu will include choices like housemade artichoke ravioli with fiddlehead ferns and heirloom radish; California halibut with asparagus, green garlic gnocchi, housemade bacon, cured tomato, and a soft poached egg “emulsion”; and Brandt Farms strip loin with roasted, smoked baby yukon gold potato confit, grilled ramps, fava beans, and pickled rhubarb. $85/person; $35/child 5 to 12 years of age; excluding tax and gratuity. Always keepin’ it classy, the restaurant will have live piano music.

~SILKS~ will be keepin’ it kid-friendly (Easter egg hunt!) and parent-friendly (bottomless build-your-own-Champagne-cocktail bar). The complimentary Easter egg hunt will take place twice (noon and 2pm) on the second floor, with a basket provided for each egg hunter. The Easter Bunny will hop in for photo ops, and photographs will be emailed to families at no charge. Silks’ new à la carte brunch will include Asian-inspired small plates, traditional breakfast favorites, and hearty large plates. $55/adult; $32/child. Book reservations through OpenTable or call 415-986-2020.

~BUTTERFLY~ will serve an extensive Easter buffet with items like kim chee and bacon deviled eggs, Bloody Mary oyster shooter, smoked salmon and strawberry salad rolls, kalua pig and lettuce cups, and a sundae bar or crème brûlée for dessert. Entrée choices include horseradish-crusted angus prime rib with stuffed spring vegetables, mache salad, cabernet jus de veau; turmeric grilled snapper with chilled rice noodles, “nuoc mam” sauce, butter lettuce wraps; and a vegetarian bento box with curried sweet potato, bok choy and tofu stir fry, tempura vegetables. Oh, and did we mention the Champagne mimosa and Bloody Mary bar? $59, tax and tip not included.

~BAR BAMBINO~’s Easter brunch (11am-3pm) will pay tribute to la Festa di Pasqua in Italy with executive chef Lizzie Binder serving a brunch menu highlighting classic spring recipes of the Tyrolean and Friulian regions. The three-course prix-fixe feast includes options such as a pea, artichoke, and green garlic Easter pie; buckwheat waffles with mascarpone and elderberry syrup; a lamb shank and barley braise with a riced egg and torn mint; horseradish crusted steelhead with roasted Easter radish and fava beans; and dolci like housemade pizzelle with seasonal sorbetto, and potica of poppy seeds, walnuts, and honeycomb. $45 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Call 415-701- 8466 or email for reservations.

Is your Easter in the East Bay? ~FIVE~ restaurant in Berkeley will be offering brunch from 10am-2pm. Executive chef Banks White’s brunch menu includes oven-roasted ham with country red eye pan gravy; duck confit enchiladas with salsa verde, avocado, and lime crème fraîche; and sweets like a pecan sticky bun with salted caramel, and cinnamon rolls with chocolate and housemade marshmallows. $55/person, including bottomless mimosas, excluding tax and tip.

~PICÁN~ in Oakland will be offering a buffet-style brunch, which will include one glass of Champagne mimosa or orange juice. Chef Dean Duuris will have a meat-carving station, delectable beignets, and other Southern sweets. $39.95/adult; $19.95/child 6-12; 5 and under free.

For those who want to cook for themselves this Easter, snap up an Easter Rabbit CSA from ~4505 MEATS~ before they’re gone! Each CSA is quite the bounty—it’s the equivalent of one whole rabbit, plus sausage and other goodies. The rabbits come from local California farms Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Marin, and Jones Farm in Santa Rosa. Each CSA will feed 4-6, and will be comprised of parsley, lemon, and shallot-marinated rabbit leg; rabbit loin wrapped in belly with olives and herbs; rabbit shoulder confit on the bone; rabbit and pork sausage, white wine, green garlic; homemade peeps for the kid in all of us; tasty treats from Local Mission Eatery; pickled eggs; rabbit stock; and romesco sauce. Pickup Friday April 22nd from 12pm-2pm at Local Mission Eatery, or Saturday April 23rd from 8am-2pm at 4505 Meats’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market booth. $75.

Another option for those who want to make a hands-on Easter meal (especially those who eat by Mediterranean traditions for Easter) is to join Dave the Butcher and UKSF for a butchery workshop on breaking down whole goat. Appropriate for beginners, as well as those wishing to hone their knife skills, the class will have participants break down a goat from start to finish. Participants also take home a boning knife, the meat they butcher, and recipes. Class limited to 16 participants, $95. Wednesday April 13th, 5:30pm-7:30pm, in the CUESA Dacor Teaching Kitchen at the Ferry Plaza.

City College's Annual Wok on the Wild Side Event

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Event Info

Friday Apr 29, 2011
5:30pm–8:30pm
$75 and up
Info
City College of San Francisco Ocean/Phelan Campus
Statler Wing, 50 Phelan Ave. at Ocean, San Francisco
415-239-3152

Join the students, faculty, and staff of the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies Department at City College of San Francisco on Friday April 29th for their annual ~WOK ON THE WILD SIDE~ fundraiser. It’s always a fun event, and this year is no exception. With street food as the theme, the culinary students and chef instructors will take you on a whirlwind tour of global flavors as they turn the teaching kitchens into an international street food fair.

Experience tastes from around the world—Mediterranean falafel, Hawaiian pupus, Caribbean jerk chicken and ceviche shooters, Asian kalbi beef and won tons, North African skewers and flat bread, German beer garden snacks—and other savory bites like grilled pineapple and ginger sausage, merguez sausage, and vegetarian sloppy Joes. Sweet bites will include churros with Mexican chocolate, turon (Filipino banana lumpia), and ice cream sandwiches. And of course, you won’t be left thirsty: drink offerings will include wine, horchata, jamaica, and student-made beer.

The event also features live and silent auctions, led by Ed Vaughn, for fabulous dinners, romantic getaways, fine foods, wines, and overnight hotel stays. Be sure to say hello to official greeter Tom Sweeney, head beefeater doorman of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

Tickets for the event start at $75, with proceeds benefiting scholarships and student programs. This is the department’s most important fundraiser of the year, and the need is particularly great in the current climate of budget cuts. The school’s alumni are a who’s who of the culinary arts and hospitality industry today: folks like Nick Peyton, Jeff Hanak, Maggie Pond, Sean O’Brien, Sue Conley, Sam Mogannam at Bi-Rite, and many more. Call 415-239-3152 for tickets, or nab the online invite here.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Apr 12, 2011

Nicole Kidman Joins the Saturday Crowds at the Ferry Building

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Photo by The Dapper Diner.

There was a bunch of sightings of ~Nicole Kidman~ over the weekend: she was spotted in line at Miette at the Ferry Building Marketplace, and buying lilacs at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Man about town, The Dapper Diner snapped this pic of her while shopping at the market. Looks like she has that San Francisco “boots and jeans” look down pat.

Pregnant Munchies

A “very pregnant” ~Selma Blair~ and her boyfriend Jason Bleick had a meal at Cotogna (my spotter said she had the pork for two!).

Some Lively Sightings

~Blake Lively~ of Gossip Girl came in to lunch at Cotogna. A tablehopper reader said she ordered lots of pasta, and reportedly took some with her. She also took pictures with chef Tusk in front of the rotisserie.

Her next photoshoot was at Swensen’s Ice Cream, where she ordered a double scoop for herself, plus scoops for her entourage. My spotter said she “took cheesy pictures of herself outside. Absolutely stunning!”

I Ate My Heart Out in San Francisco

Sunday night diners at Don Pisto’s in North Beach were treated with a sighting of ~Tony Bennett~, who came in for dinner. Owner Pete Mrabe said, “My drunk dining room of twenty-somethings were cheering and clapping as he was leaving. He told me it was the best Mexican meal he ever had. Pretty sweet.” Sweet, indeed. I hope he tried the spicy and fatty lamb ribs!

Mac Tonight

The latest star sightings at Venticello include ~John McEnroe~, and ~James Spader~ and his son also came in for dinner.

Sporty Sightings

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Photo from MsJubi/Twitter.

According to a tweet, @MsJubi spotted and snapped a pic of “super nice” ~Cody Ross~ of the Giants at Delfina (her “fav lunch spot”).

~Pat Burrell~, the Giants leftfielder, dined at Ozumo San Francisco “with a lady friend” on Thursday night. He was reportedly low key, and was just drinking water since he was playing on Friday.

Over at Quince, ~Ichiro Suzuki~ of the Seattle Mariners came in to celebrate winning a game—he is reportedly a big fan of chef Michael Tusk’s risotto.

~Pau Gasol~ (center of the LA Lakers) had lunch at B44. As the tablehopper spotter reminded me, “He is Spanish, you know.”

Proudly Wearing White Before Memorial Day

While dining on the special offal menu at Betelnut on Saturday night, I had a little sighting of my own: ~Sammy Hagar~ was just finishing his dinner, dressed in head-to-toe white.

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