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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: prepare for takeoff.

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Garden party gorgeousness from Copita: butternut squash soup. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

TGI to the mother-flipping F. Like the Blue Angels jets that will be flying overhead the next few days, I am ready for weekend takeoff. Actually, I am ready to go to grandma’s tomorrow to watch old movies and eat pot roast (and, yes, I know how lucky I am not only to have my feisty grandmother still with me, but that she’s just a 35-minute drive away). I am also so ready for WhiskyFest tonight, and hello, Madonna on Sunday! Can’t. Wait.

While I am still lamenting the departure of our glorious heat wave (pllllllleeeaaase, heat, come back for just one more!) and trying to figure out how to fit Karl the Fog with some cement shoes, I was so damn grateful to spend Tuesday evening at a downright dreamy garden party in Sausalito (at Larry Mindel’s stunning hideaway on the hill). Chefs Peter McNee (Poggio) and Joanne Weir (Copita) ensured every guest was overfed with wonderful dishes, and the margaritas and wine flowed. I know, my life can be really rough sometimes. It’s terrible. The highlight of the night, however, was walking down the hill to my car, when my sister and I got to watch that egg yolk-orange moon rise above the Sausalito bay. That was one for the books.

This week I also went to check out The Corner Store (two words: Manhattan milkshake) and last night swung by Piccino to see what interim chef Ravi Kapur was up to (good things, of course, like ricotta and kale gnudi, cured sardines, and stunning local albacore with green tomatoes).

I gotta jam, but I hope you enjoy this week’s review of Rich Table (see, another short review, I kept my word!) and some 707 news. Oh, and if you’d like to see where I went last weekend in Napa Valley, here’s my recap on 7x7.com! Yeah, you get to look at that BLAT again—what a sandwich.

Rock on,
Marcia Gagliardi

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Oct 5, 2012
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Get a Great Discount on the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

Want to score discounted tickets to the ninth annual Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Tasting Event on Wednesday October 17th? Of course you do. The 100 wineries from around the world selected for the Top 100 event have delivered the best overall performances in the magazine’s tastings conducted during the past year. It’s from 6:30pm-8:30pm at City View at Metreon in San Francisco.

Also featured at the event will be the magazine’s “New & Notable” restaurants and bars in the Bay Area, which include: Burritt Room & Tavern, Dixie, Local: Mission Eatery, Maven, Mosto, Namu Gaji, Redd Wood, and St. Vincent. Each restaurant will serve bites of a signature dish paired with wines featured at the tasting. Additionally, guests will enjoy specialties from local artisanal purveyors, including Hog Island Oysters, Boccalone, Sour Flour Bread, Point Reyes Cheese, TCHO chocolate, and Barefoot Coffee.

Great news: tablehopper readers can now get tickets for $85 (instead of $105!) and can be purchased here. Use discount code: TableHop2012 and I’ll see you there! Event proceeds will benefit San Francisco Baykeeper.

fresh meat

New Restaurant Reviews (I'm looking for somewhere new to eat)
Oct 5, 2012

Rich Table

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Sardine chips and roasted beets. Photo by Michael O’Neal; courtesy of Rich Table.

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Plancha bread with plums, Mt. Tam cheese, and arugula. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The rustic dining room. Photo by Aubrie Pick; courtesy of Rich Table.

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The front dining area, complete with a bar and window seats. Photo by Aubrie Pick; courtesy of Rich Table.

The powerful rise of exciting California cuisine has gone from a groundswell to big-wave surfing with the addition of ~RICH TABLE~ to the local scene. Chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich hail from some top New York kitchens and hit the ground running in San Francisco (Coi, Michael Mina, and Quince) before taking over the former Paul K space in Hayes Valley. And like a couple thoroughbreds … they’re off!

Their pedigree explains a lot, because their cuisine strikes the perfect balance of casual California with technique and a soigné sensibility. The ever-changing menu is a bit like State Bird Provisions—you show up and it can be almost completely different from your previous visit. The menu is full of dishes of varying sizes, from bites to entrées that never seem too large (I love this kind of menu format), and the ingredients are top shelf in their sourcing. The kitchen also understands texture well.

The cult dish (yes, already) is the sardine chips ($7), with a filet threaded through a crisp potato chip that you dip into horseradish cream—it’s the new gourmand’s hot pocket, and the construction is quite genius. In a nutshell, that’s what this place is about: inspiration. You can see the kitchen churning on new flavors and combinations: squid, fig, and lardo in a salad with crispy onions; chicken lasagne with a béchamel made with Douglas fir powder.

A price to all this innovation is that sometimes a dish doesn’t have the time to fully mature before it gets swapped out for something else—a few have definitely clanged, like a salty dish of tajarin (the $16 price tag for the six bites also hurt on that one). But then you get wooed with dishes like thickly sliced roasted beets ($12) with a trio of sunflower elements (seeds, sprouts, and petals) and duck fat vinaigrette (I was calling them “beet steaks”); or the nightly plancha bread ($12); or a brilliant salad of watermelon with squid, arugula, and black olive vinaigrette; or the lightly toasted levain ($4), bright with wild fennel. Yeah, so very delicious. For dessert, a Concord grape granita hit the perfect final note.

The Euro-centric (and food-friendly) wine list by Maz Naba, in a word, rocks. You’ll be inspired (peep the reserve list), and many selections are available by the carafe. There are downright pretty cocktails, like the Land’s End ($10; St. George Terroir gin, Monterey cypress) that is like a mist from Northern Californian coastline.

The room falls into our city’s classic salvaged wood-meets-industrial look, with light tones of gray and cream—a friend pegged it as Amish Nordic. It’s approachable, a place where you’ll be greeted warmly, can hang out with friends, listen to the Black Keys or soul in the background, and enjoy a wicked tasty meal. Nay, inspiring.

Rich Table - 199 Gough St. San Francisco - 415-355-9085

707 scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Oct 5, 2012

R+D Kitchen to Yountville, Grist Mill in Glen Ellen, Life on a Farm

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R+D Kitchen rendering. Courtesy of Napavalleyaddress.com.

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Shone Farm in Forestville. Courtesy of Shone Farm.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

Ever been to Washington Square in Yountville? If you’re scratching your head wondering where it is, it turns out you’re not alone. The 1980s-era shopping area that once housed the Napa Valley Grille (at the north end of town) is being overhauled after years of being somewhat underutilized and generally ignored. According to the Napa Valley Register, ~R+D KITCHEN~ will be the anchor for the updated center, owned by the Hillstone Restaurant Group. The Los Angeles investors also operate Rutherford Grill, Houston’s, and Los Altos Grill. The group, according to the report, will spend $5 million or more on new construction and revamping the center.

The spacious Glen Ellen restaurant that was once a gristmill has seen its share of owners come and go. After a false start last summer under new owner Narayan Somname of nearby Yeti, the new ~GRIST MILL RESTAURANT AND WINE BAR~ has hired former Starlight Wine Bar chef Thaddeus Palmese and a former Cyrus vet, Will Inadomi, to head up the kitchen. Palmese is well known around Sonoma County for his take on Creole cuisine and says he’s got a smoker at the restaurant “the size of a Subaru.” The new menu, which debuted just a few weeks ago, will include some favorites from Starlight (gumbo, beet salad with goat cheese croquettes, and his famous burger), but will add a host of new dishes including buttermilk brined fried chicken, Gypsy Girl sausage with dirty rice, homemade buttermilk biscuits, grits, and baked mac and cheese. Oh, and Palmese says leaving Starlight (which is owned by family members) was purely amicable and a way for him to stretch his wings with a new project. Hours are 11:30am-2:30pm for lunch, 5-9pm for dinner. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and will feature Monday Night Football specials. 1403 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-933-3005.

On Saturday October 6th, Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm celebrates its 40th anniversary with a fall festival from 10am-3pm. The 365-acre teaching farm will feature U-pick pumpkins and vegetables, an heirloom tomato tasting, wood milling demonstration, wine tasting, apple pressing, hayrides, and scarecrow building. Students will lead frequent tours of the farm, including its forest, during the event. There will also be a farm stand with “Shone grown” products for sale, including fruit, vegetables, and the farm’s award-winning wine and olive oil. The college’s agriculture ambassadors will be preparing a lunch made entirely with “Shone grown” ingredients, including beef for hamburgers, as well as lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes cultivated and harvested by students. The event is free to the public. 7450 Steve Olson Lane near Forestville, approximately 12 miles from the Santa Rosa campus. More details online.

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