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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: encore.

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Good times on I-80: a burger at In-N-Out.

Nothing like some (lightly) tan arms to get you into a summer frame of mind, right? Had such a fantastic 48 hours up at Lake Tahoe with my family—so nice to have a weekend of home-cooked meals off the grill, catch up with the fam, and how novel, to stay in for once (we watched the 1956 version of War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn over my two evenings up there, loved it). Was hard to pull myself away from the sunny grass and chipmunk TV (as I call it) at Sugar Pine Point on Sunday afternoon and drive home—although I always dig the drive along Highway 50 (some good turns, oh yeah). And hello, In-N-Out on I-80, come to mama.

But color me spoiled, I’m heading back up to the lake again this weekend for round two. Although this weekend is going to be decidedly more posh: I was invited to check out The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe property, hubba hubba. Looking forward to finally trying Traci Des Jardins’ Manzanita. And yes, while I am up there counting the stars, I will be thanking my lucky stars as well. Each and every last one of them.

Sooooo, dah-lings, speaking of posh, did you get a chance to see the special progressive tour with the tablehopper on Gilt City today? It’s a customized and top-shelf “progressive” dinner tour that I put together, visiting three of the city’s most exciting restaurants and all in one night: Prospect, Commonwealth, and Atelier Crenn. You’ll get insider access to the chefs and kitchens at each destination, with special dishes, pairings, and surprises. The dinners are an intimate affair, with only six guests each night—and since I’ll be joining you, we can chat restaurants all evening. Will be a totally memorable and adventurous night. Can’t wait to hit the town and tablehop in style with you—oh, and it includes luxe transpo to each destination as well. (You can join Gilt City with this invite.)

Have a swell week, everyone. I insist! The sun is out! Praise be!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Jul 19, 2011

Cotogna Launches Outdoor Seating, and Boxed Lunch!

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This week’s brown bag lunch in all its tasty glory.

A faithful tablehopper reader alerted me to ~COTOGNA~’s application for outdoor seating a few weeks ago, and sure enough, the restaurant got approval to add four tables/eight chairs in the sun! Seating will be available in the beginning of August from 11am-midnight (weather permitting, of course). Your chances at scoring a walk-in seat just improved a tick.

And here’s something neighborhood workers and residents will be fired up to know: as of yesterday, Cotogna just launched boxed lunches to go. On offer will be a sandwich and salad (or soup) combination. This week features a Tuscan fried chicken sandwich with Calabrian chile and pickled fennel slaw, along with fusilli salad (with cherry tomato and mozzarella), and a porchetta sandwich was on offer today. Available Mon-Fri for $12, limited quantity (about 50 a day, so when they run out, they run out!). In the meantime, I will dream of delivery….

Cotogna - 490 Pacific Ave. San Francisco - 415-775-8508

COI Limits Its Dinner Service to Four Nights a Week

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COI dining room; photo from COI.

I received a note from chef Daniel Patterson last night that he has decided to limit dinner service at ~COI~ to four nights a week (serving Wed-Sat). He made the decision so he can be in the kitchen each night that the restaurant is open, while still balancing the need to spend time with his two young children. He mentions, “This new schedule will allow also us to devote one day a week to creativity, research, and technical refinement. Our cooks can spend the day on a farm or ranch; learn about an obscure ingredient; or research the history of a dish or a cooking process … The extra day will also be spent developing new ideas.” Considering the amazing dishes that come out of that kitchen already, I can only imagine what’s next.

COI - 373 Broadway San Francisco - 415-393-9000

Update on Southpaw BBQ, Coming to the Mission

ABC license activity announced a while ago that ~SOUTHPAW BBQ~ was taking over the Hong Kong Express Cafe spot. Eater has a nice update on the project, which mentions it’s due to open in October. The owners are Elizabeth Wells and Memphis-born chef David King (you can read his full résumé on Eater). At Southpaw, the focus will be “on seasonal Memphis-style ‘cue and some sauces from other regions, like the mayo-based ‘white sauce’ of Alabama BBQ fame. Thickening the plot, Southpaw will brew beer on site, pouring ten tap options and a selection of specialty bottled beers from the South. There will also be cocktails, specifically handcrafted drinks with a focus on bourbon and whiskey.” Woooweeeee. Sounds downright meat-tastic, beer-tastic, and bourbon-tastic. 2170 Mission St. at 17th St.

Southpaw BBQ - 2170 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-934-9300

You No Longer Have to Trek to Brisbane for Smoke BBQ!

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The Smoke BBQ trailer (and their menu).

Starting this Friday July 22nd, the talented folks of ~SMOKE BBQ~ have found a spot to park their cute red trailer in the Castro: in the ARCO parking lot! They will be serving their delicious barbecue from 11:30am until late in the evening from Wed-Sat. There will be a new barbecue cheesesteak on the menu, with fire-roasted Anaheim chiles and grilled onions. As for the cheese, it’s too legit to quit: Cheez Whiz. Yup, you’ll be able to order that bad boy “Whiz, wit.” And here’s a hot tip: don’t miss their delicious chicken. There will also be some homemade desserts available as well. Follow their updates on Twitter. 376 Castro St. at Market.

Tidbits: Arabian Nights Opens, Jackie's Becomes Java Wasted, Petrino Closes

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According to permits, a restaurant called ~ARABIAN NIGHTS~ was coming to the Mission, and if we use one Yelp shill/posting as proof, it’s supposedly open—although I couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone last night to share more details. The Yelper says the chef specializes in Lebanese food, and mentions a hookah, which won’t be seeing much action. 2345 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-648-1444.

The intrepid Jason B. let me know Jackie’s Vinoteca and Cafe is now ~JAVA WASTED~, of which he says, “standard cafe fare and caffeine, internet—you’d think with the name they’d be serving booze with every order.” Well, at least there are mimosas. 105 Valencia St. at McCoppin.

And this may be old news, but Jason also let me know that ~PETRINO~ in the Financial District has closed. 322 Kearny St. at Pine.

Chef Change at Radius, and Fabrice Marcon Is Now at Left Bank Brasserie

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Radius dining room; photo from Yelp.

The Inside Scoop mentions executive chef Matt Kerley left SoMa’s ~RADIUS~ a few weeks ago due to family reasons, and Chris Geremia has assumed executive chef duties.

Up in Larkspur, you’ll find Fabrice Marcon (well known from his days at Mistral in the Ferry Building Marketplace) is now the chef of Roland Passot’s ~LEFT BANK BRASSERIE~. 507 Magnolia Ave. at Ward, Larkspur, 415-927-3331.

Radius - 1123 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-525-3676

Lights Temporarily Dimmed at Harry Denton's Starlight Room

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Harry Denton and the ladies of “Sunday’s a Drag.” (I don’t think you can possibly retouch this photo any more than it already is).

As of yesterday, July 18th, ~HARRY DENTON’S STARLIGHT ROOM~ closed its doors for an extensive renovation. The new look is expected to launch in early September. And if you’re forlorn about missing Donna Sachet and the rest of the ladies at the “Sunday’s a Drag” brunch, weep not, dear pet, because the brunch has temporarily moved into the Franciscan Room at the Sir Francis Drake (12pm and 2:30pm seatings). 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.

Guest Chefs, Pop-Up Dinners, Special Appearances

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Rice Paper Scissors pop-up inside Mojo Bicycle Cafe (photo by Patrick Kawahara).

Another week, another slew of special guest chefs, events, pop-up dinners, and more. Starting this Thursday July 21st, and every Thursday thereafter, ~MOJO BICYCLE CAFE~ is hosting the Vietnamese street food duo, Rice Paper Scissors. Their rotating menu will feature Vietnamese comfort food: a bar snack, a banh mi sandwich, and a drink or dessert. This week’s menu includes grilled pork jerky, pork belly banh mi (with housemade chicken pâté, pickles, and mayo), breakfast banh mi (with fried eggs), green papaya salad, and more (nothing over $10). And since it’s Mojo we’re talking about, they will offer free bike delivery using TCB Courier ($10 minimum, limited area). 6pm-10pm. 639 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

Also this Thursday July 21st, chef David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor will be the guest chef at the ~TACOLICIOUS~ lunchtime stand at the Ferry Building. His taco will be tongue and cheek (halibut cheek and crispy duck tongue) with garlic scape kimchee, smoked aioli, charred cabbage, lime, and avocado crema. Holla!

On Sunday July 24th, La Cocina’s ~MAITE CATERING~ will be at El Rio for Salsa Sunday. Chef and owner Constanza Ortiz will be cooking up her delightful Colombian food every Sunday, offering a different menu of the most traditional dishes of Colombia and Latinoamerica.

Evan and Sarah Rich are back with another Chefs’ Night Off pop-up dinner at ~RADIUS~ on Monday July 25th from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Email to request a reservation; include name, number of people, and requested time for your reservation. $60, excludes beverages, tax, and gratuity.

On Monday August 1st, executive pastry chef Bill Corbett of ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ is going to be cooking a savory dinner menu (with the help of some talented friends) in the private dining room. The menu will be vegetable-based and will consist of five courses for $58 (not including tax and gratuity), with a three-course wine pairing offered at an additional $25. Reservations begin at 5:30pm and can be made by contacting Vanessa Harris at 415-551-1453.

And Chowhound reveals there’s a new Jamaican pop-up restaurant, Kingston 11, happening at ~GUERILLA CAFE~ in Oakland on Fridays from 7pm-10pm.

Book Release Parties and Another Book Club Gathering

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Cookbook buffs will want to take note of these book parties and reserve a space (plus, personalized books make such great one-of-a-kind gifts—and your local author will love you, too). On Thursday July 21st, author Karen Solomon of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It is hosting a Jam it! Salon at ~18 REASONS~ in celebration of her upcoming book, Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It. Bring your own homemade goodies to taste, share, and perhaps join in the swap portion of the event, more details here. $5 suggested donation if you bring treats; $10 just to taste. 7pm-9pm, RSVP here.

McSweeney’s new food book imprint, McSweeney’s Insatiables, is releasing its first title this summer: Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant. They’re marking the occasion with a book release party on July 26th at the Make-Out Room in the Mission, where the authors Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint will be in attendance to chat about the stories and recipes in their journey from food truck to restaurant. Plus enjoy music by DJ Foodcourt, complimentary Black Star beer, and Popeyes chicken (you’ll have to get the book to see why Popeyes is relevant). Tickets are $7, or $25 with signed book ($30 retail value); advance purchase recommended. 7pm-9pm. 3225 22nd St. at Mission.

Also on Tuesday July 26th, the Cooks’ Book Club of Fourth Street in Berkeley will host a book event with Marissa Guggiana, author of PRIMAL CUTS: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers, and three of the book’s featured butchers: Tia Harrison of Avedano’s, Berlin Reed of Portland’s The Ethical Butcher, and Marsha McBride of Café Rouge, Berkeley. Guggiana will discuss her book, and the renaissance of butchery in America, while guests sample dishes from each butcher and Café Rouge’s porchetta. The event is free except for purchases, and starts at 6pm. 1760 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-250-6055.

Just Peachy

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Gorg peaches from Masumoto Family Farm. Photo by Mathew Sumner.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m peach obsessed. So of course I have to mention a couple items that triggered my “peach radar”: first up, ~THREE TWINS ICE CREAM~ mentioned they just released a roasted peach ice cream to their San Francisco and Napa shops this week.

And over in Oakland’s Uptown district, ~PICÁN~ is hosting its first annual Georgia Peach Week from Monday July 25th-Saturday July 30th (although they’ll be using local peaches). Executive chef Dean Dupuis has put together a distinctly Southern peach menu, which includes chilled peach buttermilk soup, peach honey-glazed quail and white corn hoecakes, pastrami-cured duck “Reuben” sliders on rye biscuit, skillet-blackened tuna with peach and jicama “pico de gallo,” barbecued pork tenderloin with corn and smoked cheddar grits, cilantro/peach slaw, and peach bourbon barbecue sauce, and for dessert, peach fried pie with ginger beer ice cream and sorghum peach butterscotch. There will also be peach cocktails and beverages.

Picán - 2295 Broadway Oakland - 510-834-1000

Three Meaty Events in the 510

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Chop Bar’s La Caja China (photo from Facebook).

Vegans, avert your eyes. Coming up on Monday July 25th, ~BAYWOLF RESTAURANT~ is hosting its 2nd Annual Back Alley Barbecue from 4pm-8pm. BayWolf chefs will be at the grill, and drinks will be provided by Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery and Brendan Eliason of Periscope Cellars. $35, cash only at the gate (please enter the event down the walkway to the left of the restaurant). Proceeds will benefit City Slicker Farms. 3853 Piedmont Ave. at Rio Vista, Oakland.

Linden Street Brewery is no stranger to meaty events, since it’s the new location for the monthly ~CHOP BAR~ pig roast that is held on the third Sunday evening of every month. Look at this entry on Bay Area Bites for pics and more (the last event featured four pigs that were roasted in La Caja China boxes). Follow Chop Bar on Facebook for updates about the next pig roast. $20 gets you a pig plate with all the fixins, $10 for kids under 12.

And starting on Sunday August 7th, ~ADESSO~ is getting in on the pig party action, hosting a spit-roasted pig party from 2pm-6pm. Tickets are $25 each, which includes all-you-can-eat spit-roasted pig and sides. Tickets are being sold ahead of time at adesso and dopo, and will be sold at the door the day of. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, Oakland.

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Jul 19, 2011

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Visit publicbikes.com for more information and prices. We welcome calls or visits to our 123 South Park headquarters. These bikes will make you feel like a kid again, and this is every bit as important as anything else.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Jul 19, 2011

Slap Happy: New Happy Hours

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Thirsty? A lineup of the American BBQ cocktail (at Bluestem Brasserie).

Here’s some happy hour action for ya. First up, ~TXOKO~ in North Beach is launching a new happy hour tonight, with free Spanish bar bites (while at the bar) from 5pm-6pm. Things kick off tonight with complimentary tortilla and fries. (No discounts on beer or cocktails at this moment.) Every Tue-Sat 5pm-6pm. Yay, Saturday happy hour! Love those.

~GREENS~ has launched HH at Greens to Go, a happy hour from 5pm-7pm, featuring some new bites like mini empanadas with tomatillo and fire-roasted salsas, corn griddle cakes with romesco and crème fraîche, and a pizzetta of the week, all at special prices ($3.50-$12). You can dine on these items at the restaurant over a glass of wine (each month, a glass of red and white wine will be available for $5), or opt to take them home. And you can get that wine to go as well since all wines are available to purchase by the bottle for takeout. Mon-Fri 5pm-7pm.

In Hayes Valley, ~STRAW~ has launched Hopscotch Happy Hour, Mon-Fri 5pm-6pm. Enjoy $2 beer, $3 wine, $4 “cocktails,” and $5 appetizers.

Perhaps following a cue from adesso, the downstairs ~OLIVETO~ Cafe just started a late-night happy hour: Tue-Sat from 9pm-10pm, with free small bites.

And this isn’t really happy hour, but it is a killer deal: don’t forget every Wednesday evening, ~JARDINIÈRE~ offers select bottles of wine for half-off from 8pm-10pm in the J Lounge and restaurant.

Bartender Joel Baker Taking the Helm at the Burritt Room

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The Burritt Room. Photo from Alcademics.com.

With the departure of bar manager Kevin Diedrich from ~THE BURRITT ROOM~ to the upcoming Jasper’s Corner Tap, local boozehounds wondered about the fate of the fantastic bar program there. SFoodie reports that Joel Baker—previously a bar manager at Bourbon & Branch—is taking the reins. Here’s more: “He has been working on cocktail recipes and will feature five shaken and five stirred drinks. The plan is to keep it small and focused, and change the cocktail list about every six weeks.” I look forward to seeing what he puts together (some of my favorite field research). 417 Stockton St. at Sutter, 415-400-0500.

Last Call at Koko Cocktails

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Interior photo of Koko Cocktails from Facebook.

Bummer: the closing date of ~KOKO COCKTAILS~ has been set. The Tender reports Koko is serving its final cocktail in its current location on Saturday July 30th. The bar is trying to reopen on Polk Street (it had to move since the California Pacific Medical Center has started the transformation of the nearby Cathedral Hill Hotel into a hospital, and there is going to be mega-construction and demolition of buildings on that stretch of Geary). Stand by for updates on their (hopeful) reopening in the Hi Lo Club at 1423 Polk Street, NIMBY be damned.

A Tequila Tailgating Party This Thursday at Tres

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Photo from Tres.

Looks like the weather might actually be nice this week, which makes it a good time to check out the Tailgating Mixer at ~TRES~ this Thursday July 21st, starting with cocktail hour at 6pm. They’re making it more than a tailgate party: they’re celebrating Milagro Distillery, their distillery of the month known for their triple distillation process. There will be Milagro cocktails, bottomless margaritas, and tailgating food Mexican-style, i.e. rotisserie pig, taco carts, and chef Kelvin Ott’s award-winning tequila and passion fruit-injected sausage recipe. Food starts at 7pm. Eat and drink all you want for $75, inclusive of tax and gratuity. RSVP by email. Heaters and fire-pits will be on hand in case the weather doesn’t want to comply. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St., 415-227-0500.

Also, on Sunday July 24th, Tres is hosting a celebration of National Tequila Day with a prix-fixe menu of tequila-infused entrées and appetizers, plus margarita-making classes at 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm.

A Weekend of Cocktail-Making Classes

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Take a new look at some familiar spirits this weekend with two cocktail-making classes. On Saturday July 30th, CUESA and Eye on the Bay are presenting yet another Preview to SF Chefs event, this one with tequila experts Scott Beattie (Spoonbar) and Eric Rubin (Tres Agaves). Agave Spirits, Tequila Cocktails, and Other Mexican Mayhem is a DIY cocktail class intended to reintroduce people to an often misunderstood spirit.

On the syllabus: tequila’s complex aging process, the difference between average and great tequila, and how to make new and familiar tequila cocktails. Class will start with a short introduction to cocktail making, covering proper shaking and stirring techniques (and the reasons why you would do either), precise measurement, ice, glassware selection, and other helpful tips for better home bartending. The class includes hands-on cocktail experience with the shakers and strainers, tastings, and a take-home booklet. Time permitting, Scott will present and sign copies of his book Artisanal Cocktails. Tickets are $50, and limited to 40 students. 2pm-4pm, CUESA Kitchen at the Ferry Building.

Follow up tequila lessons with Bloody Mary Magic on Sunday at 18 Reasons, another DIY event, this time with a focus on the bloody Mary. Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics will lead students through three versions of the tomato-based and vodka-laced drink. Students also get a chance to gaze upon the one-day exhibition of Kelly Waters’ watercolors of the same theme. Liquid brunch plus art, not a bad way to spend your Sunday. Tickets are $40 for 18 Reasons members, $50 for the general public. 11am-1pm, 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Jul 19, 2011

Peruvian Independence Day Parties All Over the Place

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Event Info

Monday Jul 25, 2011 – Saturday Jul 30, 2011

Whether or not you were planning to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day on Thursday July 28th, there’s quite a few celebrations going on this week that give good reason to party it up for the anniversary of Peru’s independence from Spain.

~PISCO LATIN LOUNGE~ is throwing a week of festivities from July 25th-July 30th so you can toast the occasion any day, or all the days, if that’s your style, you party animal. On Monday July 25th, 8pm-11pm, it’s an evening of Encanto with guest bartenders serving Campo de Encanto acholado and special cocktails. Tuesday 5pm-midnight, they’re pouring ‘pisco gateway drinks’ because “Everything tastes better with pisco”: expect Barsol Pisco margaritas, mojitos, and pisco sours. On Wednesday, 5pm-midnight, Santiago Pisco will be featured in pisco sours ($6, regularly $10) in violet, blackberry, and lucuma flavors. Thursday 5pm-11pm, it’s Peruvian Independence Day with hosted Pisco Porton cocktails including the popular Costa Verde, complimentary passed appetizers, and the new Shakira video “Rabiosa” (rawr). Friday 9pm-midnight, party to the sounds of a DJ while drinking specially priced Huamaní Pisco quebranta drinks. Then on Saturday 4pm-6pm, enjoy live music featuring traditional Peruvian instruments, Hacienda del Abuelo pisco, Peruvian tapas, and cocktail specials. 1817 Market St. at Octavia, 415-874-9951.

~LA MAR CEBICHERIA PERUANA~ invites you to their Peruvian Independence Day fiesta on July 28th for a live Criolla band (African, Spanish, and Andean influences), and $5 Pisco Sours all day in the bar area. In addition to the regular menu, chef Diego Alcantara is presenting three new dishes from the northern, central, and southern regions of Peru: Cebiche Norteño (catch of the day with celery, red onion, habañero, and cilantro in an aji amarillo leche de tigre, Peruvuian choclo and sweet potato), Rocoto Relleno (beef, aji panca, red onion, and raisins, stuffed rocoto pepper served on potato gratin), and Juane (catch of the day over a steamed, spiced cilantro rice cake, tomatoes, and passion fruit sauce, topped with pluots and tomatoes chalaquita). Reservations recommended for the dining room.

~EVE~ in Berkeley is also throwing a Peruvian Independence Day celebration on July 28th on their newly renovated back patio from 5:30pm-7pm, with cocktail specials (like a passion fruit-sake sour), beer and wine at the cash bar, and complimentary passed appetizers from chef/co-owner Veronica Laramie. She plans on serving authentic hors d’oeuvres from her native Peru, like avocado, fava bean, and Peruvian corn yellow potato causa; crab and quail egg purple potato causa; and yuca fritters with rocoto sauce. Heat lamps should keep things comfortable on the patio’s 40 wicker chairs. Stay on for a dinner of Peruvian-inspired dishes like California sea bass tiradito with rocoto, uni, cilantro, loquat; and beef with heirloom tomatoes, yuca, red pearl onion, aji amarillo. Reservations are encouraged. 1960 University Ave. at MLK Jr., 510-868-0735.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Jul 19, 2011

Edward Norton Gettin' His Brewskis on in Noe Valley

According to this tweet from Liam Mayclem, ~Edward Norton~ was spotted “hanging & enjoying brews at ValleyTavern, NoeValley” on Sunday. I’m going to wager a guess that Norton’s in town because of his charity fundraising organization, Crowdrise, and his involvement with the upcoming San Francisco Marathon (which is on July 31st). Or maybe he’s just in town to kick it, who knows?

James Spader Has a Thing for SF Restaurants

~James Spader~ had San Francisco diners swooning at restaurants all around the city, with spottings at Frances on Wednesday night, Sebo on Thursday (where he made it hard for Amy Sherman to “pay attention to my sushi”), and Cotogna on Friday. Props to the sommelier at Frances: Spader spilled wine on himself, and the somm gave Spader one of his extra shirts. Nice save. (Sorry ladies, no word if the wine-stained shirt is going to be sold on eBay.)

A reader informed me Spader comes to San Francisco every six-eight weeks to visit friends and dine around town (and he’s supposedly a “serious effing sushi geek”).

Cloris Leachman on the Town

Chef Jen Biesty at Scala’s Bistro was excited to have ~Cloris Leachman~ in the dining room with her son and granddaughter—she had the squash blossom flatbread, beef cheek agnolotti, and Chocolate I.V. for dessert. She was also spotted at The Tonga Room. Leachman was in town for the AIDS Walk over the weekend.

Beard Caffeination Time

A tablehopper tweeter saw ~Brian Wilson~ this morning: “Beard sighting this am in the Marina at The Grove. Drinking his favorite am beverage…*bucks coffee.”

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