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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: my kind of wine train.

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Part of the lineup of vintage wines I got to taste at PRESS. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oh, hi. Excuse me while I put down this chicken leg, which has more meat on it than Angelina Jolie’s biceps. One thing I didn’t want to put down last week was my wine glass. I headed up to wine country on Wednesday (in a very cute, red, shiny Fiat 500 I rented for a couple days—fun) for a very special event at PRESS St. Helena to commemorate their new wine cellar, which now has room for 10,000 bottles, and is the largest all-Napa collection of wines in the country. I know, kuh-razy.

Owner Leslie Rudd and his distinguished guests were opening up a slew of vintage cabernets, from a 1974 Robert Mondavi to a 1988 Philip Togni that haunted me. The room swirled with legendary vintners, including Peter Mondavi Sr., Paul Draper, and Warren Winiarski, and I very much enjoyed dining next to Dave Del Dotto, who kept pouring his 2006 Vineyard 887 St. Helena cab for me (smashing with the trio of beef—I don’t know how the kitchen managed to serve so many guests such exquisitely cooked beef all at once). What an event—one for the books.

The next day I swung by Redd Wood in Yountville for lunch with my adorable parents, who were in town celebrating their anniversary. We sat out on the terrace, dining on a delicious little gem salad with winter vegetables and Green Goddess dressing, and a couple stellar pizzas (courtesy of Liza Shaw, who is assisting Richard Reddington in getting the pizza dialed in—the lardo, mushroom, spinach, and Fontina pizza was fab). The place has a cool New York look—reminded me a little bit of the Breslin. Look forward to coming back in the evening for cocktails.

Friday I was invited for a special media luncheon at Betelnut in honor of the launch of author Nina Simonds’ new book, Simple Asian Meals. What a delight to see grand dame Cecilia Chang at the table, along with Patty Unterman and other fun culinary colleagues. Chef Alex Ong and his team did a great job interpreting dishes from the book. So why should I have all the fun? I have a signed extra copy of Simple Asian Meals to give away to one lucky reader! All you need to do is comment on today’s column posted on the tablehopper Facebook page by 11:59pm on Friday March 2nd, and I’ll randomly pick a winner this weekend. But here’s the catch: you’ll have to pick it up (I live in the Western Addition/NoPa). I loathe the post office, sorry.

FYI, I drew the winner for the Whiskies of the World Expo tickets this past weekend, but don’t forget, you can use code tablehopper for $10 off!

Last week, I had one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten under $15 in some time: the off-the-menu French dog at Café des Amis in Cow Hollow. You can only order it at the bar, and the sauerkraut with bacon was so good I was pleading with chef Mark Sullivan to start selling it in jars. I talk all about the housemade French dog, along with the sausages you can order at City Beer Store via Citizen’s Band in today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio.

Have a swell week,

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Feb 28, 2012

Now Open: Lot 7 in the Mission

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Interior of Lot 7; photo from Thrillist.

Now open in the Mission is ~LOT 7~, a simple-looking seafood spot from Hani Desouky. As previously mentioned in tablehopper, there’s a raw bar serving oysters and sustainable seafood, plus baked oysters, fish and chips, clam chowder, mussels, and a few larger main dishes—you can check out the menu here. There are $1 oysters and deals on beer ($3) and wine ($4) during happy hour (Tue-Fri 4pm-6pm), which is already proving to be popular with the neighborhood. Hours are Tue-Thu 4pm-10pm, Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-10pm. 974 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-817-1212.

Closures (Dumplings & Buns) and Changes (Weird Fish/The Corner)

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Farewell, 24-hour pulled pork slider with kimchee. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Over the weekend, I swung by ~DUMPLINGS & BUNS~ in the Upper Fillmore to grab a snack, and was dismayed to find out they were closing the next day (I was a couple days behind on reading the news). Damn, no more boozer buns! After reaching out to their representative, it ends up they are closing for family-related reasons. Sorry to see it go. 2411 California St. at Fillmore.

Meanwhile, the changes continue over at ~THE CORNER~ and ~WEIRD FISH~ in the Mission. Inside Scoop shares the news that Peter Hood (St. Francis Fountain, Boogaloos) and chef Ryan Simas (chef de cuisine of Farallon) are the new owners and will be working together (Simas will still continue working at Farallon, however). The Corner is morphing into The Perch, a “neighborhood European style café” serving lunch, dinner, and coffee. Weird Fish will become Dante’s Weird Fish, serving a menu of seafood, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. Original owner Timothy Holt is no longer a partner—but he has been busy with Roshambo Farms in Healdsburg, and will supply the produce. It should hopefully open in March, and The Perch will be a couple months later. Dante’s Weird Fish: 2193 Mission St. at 18th St.; The Perch: 2199 Mission St. at 18th St.

Pop-Ups and Parties

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Photo from Liholiho’s Facebook page: Korean fried quail, red fresno BBQ; pork ribs, peanuts, Red Boat caramel; duck sausage, red miso, pickled beet.

Just in case you missed the new LihoLiho Yacht Club pop-up by chef Ravi Kapur (formerly at Prospect and Boulevard), you will have a few more Mondays to catch him at ~CITIZEN’S BAND~ (until March 12th) and possibly beyond that. Courses are served family/dinner-party style, with five dishes in the first course, five dishes in the second, and two sweets at the end (take a look on Facebook for pictures of the food, you’ll be immediately hungry). It’s $65 for the menu, which includes tax and gratuity; beverages are additional. Due to the spirit of the dinner and the limited staff/resources, allergies and aversions are difficult and unlikely to be accommodated. Reservations are currently being taken online through Citizen’s Band. Updates can be found on Twitter as well.

Grub Street shares the news that the opening of flour + water’s Central Kitchen and Salumeria has been pushed out to late April or so, but in the meantime, you can attend two pop-up previews of Salumeria from executive chef Thomas McNaughton and chef de cuisine Matt Sigler. The first will be held at flour + water (2401 Harrison St. at 20th St.) on Leap Day (Wednesday February 29th) from 11:30am-2:30pm, serving antipasti and three sandwiches ($10 each); the second will be Friday March 2nd at Clooney’s Pub (1401 Valencia St. at 25th St.) from 6pm-10pm. The menu includes pork rinds, a picnic plate ($10), and a sandwich ($10)—-The Galley and Rocky’s Frybread will also be participating in this second event. Both events are cash only and will offer takeout and eat-in options.

On Sunday March 4th, ~PICCINO~ will be having a sidewalk party, with the Oyster Girls shucking oysters from Tomales Bay Oyster Company. You can enjoy them raw on the half-shell, or barbecued with sauce (or if you’re like me, both). Piccino’s own housemade pork sausages will also be served. Noon until things run out.

Piccino - 1001 Minnesota St. San Francisco - 415-824-4224

New Hours (and Brunch!) at State Bird Provisions

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My kind of chips and dip (at State Bird Provisions). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Starting tonight, ~STATE BIRD PROVISIONS~ is now open on Tuesday evenings for dinner, so if you’ve been trying to get in, tonight would be a great time to do so!

Another thing to note: starting Sunday March 11th, State Bird will be serving brunch on Sundays from 11am-3pm—I can only imagine the deliciousness Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have in store for us.

State Bird Provisions - 1529 Fillmore St. San Francisco - 415-795-1272

Special Dinners in March, Including Festa della Donna

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A16; photo from Facebook.

On Monday March 5th, ~BAR TARTINE~ will be hosting Pot-au-Feu, an event to support CECSF summer kids-camp. $50, four-courses including wine pairing, desserts from Tartine Bakery. Call for reservations, or reserve online.

Save the date (and make your reservation!): on Thursday March 8th, ~A16~ will be hosting their annual Festa della Donna celebration, in support of International Women’s Day. The evening will be a tribute to iconic guest chef Joyce Goldstein, who is currently writing her latest book on the history of food in California. There will be a special selection of dishes created by Goldstein, in collaboration with A16’s chef David Taylor (you can also order off the à la carte menu). Lorenza Sebasti Pallanti from Castello di Ama of Tuscany will be pairing wines, along with more than 40 other wines by female winemakers. 15% of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to La Cocina, an organization which helps low-income entrepreneurs formalize and grow their businesses. Reservations 5:30pm-10pm. Hope to see you there, it’s a lovely annual celebration.

A16 - 2355 Chestnut St. San Francisco - 415-771-2216

Cool Cooking Classes for Your Radar

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Friselle and tomatoes (at Rosetta’s house for lunch). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Interested in Italian cuisine and cooking? Right, who isn’t? Have you ever taken a cooking class with Rosetta Costantino? You can learn Southern Italian recipes and techniques, like how to make ricotta cheese or pasta. Her classes sell out super fast, so hop over right now.

~LA COCINA~ has a bunch of upcoming hands-on cooking classes this year, like Deliciously Vegan Ethiopian and Latin Specialties on March 21st (6:30pm-9pm). Tiffany and Sylvee Equivel of Hella Vegan Eats and Eji Atlaw of Eji’s Ethiopian lead this class. And on April 11th, Azalina Eusope of Azalina’s will be hosting a class called Streets of Malaysia (6:30pm-9pm). She is a fifth generation street food vendor from Malaysia, and will show you how to make lhaksa, roti rolls, lacy crêpes, and more. Each class is $65 per person (complete with dinner and drinks). All proceeds benefit La Cocina, a nonprofit small business incubator program.

La Cocina - 2948 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-824-2729

Horizons in Sausalito Closes to Make Way for Trident (Once Again)

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The main deck; photo from Horizons.

A few months ago, Eater broke the news that Sausalito’s ~HORIZONS~ had new owners (Ron Davis and Bob Freeman of the Buena Vista Cafe) and plans to re-transform it back into ~THE TRIDENT~, which was the restaurant’s original name from 1966-1976 (Janis Joplin reportedly had her own table—check out this site for more groovy history).

I just heard from Bob Freeman that Horizons closed over the weekend, and they hope to reopen in April as Trident. Besides the name change, they are adding an outside dining deck on the second floor (perfect for watching the America’s Cup), plus ADA upgrades and a retractable awning system over the deck. Eater reported former Michael Mina sous chef James Montejano is the chef. 558 Bridgeway Blvd., Sausalito, 415-331-3232.

Divino Now Open in Berkeley

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Divino exterior; photo from Facebook.

Now open in Berkeley is ~DIVINO~, a restaurant from Marco Polo Garbarino, working with chef-partners Joan Gallagher (Nourish You) and Richard Bartlett. The Italian menu features a strong influence from the Liguria region on the Italian Riviera, with dishes like suppli (saffron risotto croquettes stuffed with smoked mozzarella, $7), a variety of pastas (including lasagne with a roasted beef and pork ragu or root vegetable ragu and Straus cream béchamel, $15), pizzas (two sizes), and a few main dishes. Local and sustainable ingredients will be used. You can survey the menu on their Facebook page. Grub Street originally mentioned the space was formerly Fellini. Open daily for dinner at 5:30pm; weekend brunch launching soon/in a couple weeks. 1401 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley, 510-841-5200.

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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Feb 28, 2012

Where to Drink for Half-Price This Week, an Absinthe Event, and Taste Vintage Wines

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DRINKS! Photo from the Booze & Brew 2012 via 15 Romolo’s Facebook page (Balthazar Event Photography).

This week is a good time to get your heat on, when over 25 bars that are participating in Yelp Drinks! 2012 offer special cocktails at half price until Sunday March 4th at 11:30pm. Places like 15 Romolo, Barrique, Bluestem, Cantina, Fifth Floor, Rye, and more are taking part. Simply ask the staff for the Yelp Drinks pricing, and you will receive a special menu (but don’t forget to be classy and tip on the regular price). Have fun out there.

No plans for tomorrow? (Hey, it only comes every four years!) This Wednesday February 29th, Drink Me magazine is throwing an all-absinthe event at Rosewood Bar. From 7pm-10pm, they will be offering tastes of absinthe and discounted absinthe-based cocktails. $29 per ticket; $50 VIP ticket allows early entry at 6pm for a special absinthe class and exclusive tasting flight. Tickets here. 732 Broadway at Stockton.

~MICHAEL MINA~ is going to be opening a special bottle every Friday during dinner service and pouring by the glass for Flashback Fridays. Head sommelier Joseph Baldivino will be pouring a 1983 Swan pinot noir Russian Valley ($28 per glass; March 16th), a 1990 Louis Jadot Beaune Toussaints ($40; May 11th), and more.

Celebrate International Women's Day with the LUPEC Ladies

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Photo by Kelly Puleio from event website.

The perfect place to make a toast to the ladies on International Women’s Day (that’s Thursday March 8th, yo) is ~THE BOOTHBY CENTER FOR THE BEVERAGE ARTS~, where Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, Compass Box Whisky Co., WhiskyArchive.com, and The Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail are holding a special happy hour from 6pm to 8pm to celebrate.

These lovely LUPEC ladies will make you quite the fetching drink (or two, or three): Nicole Beyries (Acme Bar, Berkeley), Yael Amyra (The Boothby Center, Acme Bar), Vita Simone (Bar Dogwood, The New Easy, Oakland), Melissa Boyd (Beretta), Kimberly Rosselle (Flora, Oakland), Summer Jane Bell (The New Easy), Diana Krell (Hotsy Totsy, Albany), Aurora Siegel (Lafitte), Jenn Akrill (Rye), and others!

Just $5 gets you in; tickets are online or at the door (only 100 available). $8 per drink ticket at the door. Funds benefit the Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, which helps high-potential, low-income women with the training, funding, and ongoing support to start their own businesses and become financially self-sufficient.

Thursday Mar 8, 2012
6pm–8pm
$5 entry; $8 drink tickets
more info

The Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts - 1161 Mission St., Suite 120 San Francisco

Bar News: Mission Hill Saloon and Martin Mack's Close, and More

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The now-closed Mission Hill Saloon. Photo from Yelp’s Alley B.

The Dear Mom, crew (and possibly Paul Bavaro of Thieves Tavern/Dirty Thieves) are on a tear: according to Uptown Almanac, they have taken over ~MISSION HILL SALOON~—stand by for info on the name and reopening date after the remodel. 491 Potrero Ave. at Mariposa.

Haighteration brings word of some ownership issues behind the sudden (temporary?) closure of ~MARTIN MACK’S~ in the Upper Haight. Drama. 1568 Haight St. at Ashbury, 415-861-2236.

And now in the drama-free department, Jeff Hollinger of The Absinthe Group (and current owner of Comstock Saloon) is working with the ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ team to tighten up the cocktail menu (and add a few new ones to the lengthy list, like Green Door and Wil P. Taylor’s Hotel Nacional Special).

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Feb 28, 2012

One of the Best Food Events in the City: Meals On Wheels

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Sweets from Michelle Polzine of Range. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Event Info

Sunday Apr 22, 2012
5pm–11pm
$450 and up
Info/tickets
Pier 48
San Francisco
415-920-1111

Join chef chairwoman Nancy Oakes and Meals On Wheels of San Francisco as they celebrate 25 years of putting on one of the best food events in the city: the ~STAR CHEFS & VINTNERS GALA~. On Sunday April 22nd, over 70 chefs will convene at Pier 48 (next to AT&T Park) to create this culinary extravaganza, kicking off the evening at 5pm with an hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting, then a three-course sit-down meal, and concluding with a delightful dessert reception—all in support of Meals On Wheels’ mission to serve SF’s homebound seniors.

Participating chefs and restaurants this year include Matthew Accarrino (SPQR), Jason Berthold (RN74), Jan Birnbaum (EPIC Roasthouse), Chris Borges (Taste Catering), Martin Brock (Gary Danko), Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière), Mark Dommen (One Market), Ryan Farr (4505 Meats), Tyler Florence (Wayfare Tavern), Laurence Jossel (nopa), Corey Lee (Benu), Pam Mazzola (Prospect), Roland Passot (La Folie), Charles Phan (The Slanted Door), Mark Sullivan (Spruce), Staffan Terje (Perbacco), and so many more, there isn’t room to list them all. Read for yourself here.

Make a beeline for the specialty cocktail bar, where bartenders Ryan Fitzgerald (Beretta), Daniel Bishop (Prospect), Jon Gaspirini (Rye, Rye On the Road, 15 Romolo, Rosewood), and Scott Beattie (Scott Beattie Cocktails) will be mixing and shaking their inventive concoctions, and pouring some classic spirits. Over 60 California vintners will also be onsite, many pairing their wines with the dishes, and they include Duckhorn Wine Company, Littorai Wines, Radio-Coteau, Silver Oak Cellars, Staglin Family Vineyard, and more.

Stick around for the dessert reception, which will feature the creations of Yigit Pura (Tout Sweet), Jake Godby (Humphry Slocombe), Kara Haspel Lind (Kara’s Cupcakes), Beth Setrakian (Beth’s Community Kitchen), William Werner (Outfit Generic), and lots more sweet-makers. Don’t forget to check out the live and silent auctions; items include exotic vacations and private dinners with celebrity chefs.

You convinced yet? If not, check out my pics from 2010. Individual tickets are $450, with patron levels ranging from $1,500 to $20,000. Purchase online, or call 415-920-1111. Meals On Wheels of San Francisco provides isolated homebound seniors with nutritious meals, daily human contact, and supportive services.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Feb 28, 2012

Lady Gaga Hits Wine Country

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Photos from Bite Club Eats.

Love it! ~Lady Gaga~ dined at Nick’s Cove Restaurant this past Saturday for lunch with her boyfriend, Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries). My spy says she had the baked oysters Mornay (good choice) and a roast beef and asparagus sandwich. They arrived in an Audi R8 with two bodyguards.

Bite Club Eats mentions she dined later that night at Catelli’s (“Catelli’s co-owner Domenica Catelli has been consulting with Gaga’s parents, Joe and Cynthia Germanotta, on their new Italian restaurant, Joanne, in NYC”), and managed to take on the 10-layer lasagne, kale salad, and rabbit bolognese.

And on Sunday, she went to Sonoma’s the girl & the fig for lunch, dining on “mussels, beet salad, fig salad, a Croque Monsieur with egg, steak frites and a Fig Kiss cocktail late Sunday afternoon. Word is she and Kinney sat at the bar and ordered several cocktails, including a special concoction made with blood oranges.” You can read even more details here.

Party Time Continues at Park Tavern

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Park Tavern’s Anna Weinberg, super investor Ron Conway, chef Jenn Puccio, Goldie Hawn, and MC Hammer. Photo courtesy of Anna Weinberg.

On Thursday night, ~Goldie Hawn~ and ~MC Hammer~ were in the house at Park Tavern. Looks like a good time was had by all.

Top Chef Lunch

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Laura Werlin, Gail Simmons, Tim Nugent, and Jen Biesty. Photo from Twitter.

In town for her reading tonight for her new book, ~Gail Simmons~ paid a visit to Top Chef alum chef Jen Biesty at Scala’s Bistro for lunch with the “Cheeze Lady,” Laura Werlin. The ladies had Laughing Bird shrimp bruschetta with fennel purée and squid ink aioli; Dungeness crab salad with blood orange, Treviso, green aioli, and chervil; and a funghi pizza with Spanish chorizo, Bloomsdale spinach, and Fontina Val d’Aosta. Pastry chef Tim Nugent sent out bergamot granita to finish.

Duff Stuff

~Haylie Duff~, the actress and singer-songwriter (and older sister of Hilary Duff), came in to Barbacco with a friend for dinner. She was reportedly “super nice,” and the dining room manager poured her some orange wines (which she loved, and even shared with the table next to her while explaining what it was).

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