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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: let's do this.

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Pig’s head, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, mint, and peanuts at a Liholiho Yacht Club dinner. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oh jeez, it’s tough to be back after not writing up the news for three weeks. Yup, today’s issue is a biggie—I had a lot of backstories to cover (forgive me if it’s old news for some of you food news fiends). Otherwise, you can cozy on up with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and enjoy. I’m just excited to finally be feeling at about 80 percent of my usual self after two weeks with this goddamned flu. I also think I’m finally ready for a glass of wine. Yup, I definitely am.

A few things to catch up on: have you watched an episode of The Big Dish on Sunday nights on KOFY with Clark Wolf? It’s a home cook reality competition, and I had a good time judging on a recent episode, check it out here.

I also wrote a piece last week for 7x7.com on some of the city’s best spots for solo diners. There ended up being so much feedback about it that I was inspired to create a guide on solo dining for Citysearch, which features 21 locations. (You can also see my guide on my favorite pizza places in San Francisco.)

All righty then, let’s dive in here.
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Jan 15, 2013

American Grilled Cheese Kitchen Opens Second Location in the Mission

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Counter seating at the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Photo from Facebook.

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The entry and menu at American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. Heidi Gibson of grilled cheese fame has opened a second location of ~AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE KITCHEN~ (with Nathan Pollak) in the former Café Gratitude space in the Mission. The new spot serves breakfast and lunch for now, and will add dinner service in the coming months. For lunch there are a bunch of cheesy options, with soups and salads for variety; check out the full menu here. At breakfast, try one of the grilled cheese sandwiches with an egg, or choices like granola, or biscuits and eggs. Housemade pastries are available throughout the day. The coffee is from De La Paz, and the Mission location is adding espresso to its drink roundup too. There are also housemade sodas, a handful of quality beers on tap (like Firestone IPA and Pale Ale), and wine by the glass or bottle.

The space is approachable, with warm wood floors, a counter with stools, and banquettes along one wall. The ceilings are high, and the television at the bar doesn’t distract too much from the cozy, old-fashioned vibe. For now, it’s open Wed-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, closed Mon-Tue. In the future, it will be open for dinner daily as well. 2400 Harrison St. at 20th St, no phone.

Wine Kitchen Now Open on Divisadero

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The bar at Wine Kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The interior of Wine Kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. Divisadero has a new spot for a casual glass of wine and a snack. ~WINE KITCHEN~ opened January 10th and is now serving its full menu, with a wide selection of international wines (you can check out a PDF of both here). Co-owners and chefs Gregory Faucette and Jason Limburg have worked at Bar Tartine, Commonwealth, and Spruce before starting their own place, so the food should be worth looking out for. The spot is casual and not heavy on design elements; it kind of feels like you’re hanging out at a friend’s place, right down to the Ikea-esque leather couch. There are some nice air plants in wooden frames in the front of the space, and the candlelight makes for a warm, cozy vibe (and a good “let’s meet up for the first time” kind of spot).

There are more than forty wines on the list, including four on tap, plus beer, tea, and soda. The prices are pretty reasonable compared with some of the other wine bars around, though the lowest you’ll see by the glass is $9. In the food department, you’ll find improved bar food, like pulled pork belly sliders with chicken skin and cucumber, boquerones on toast, and sweetbreads with hot sauce and ranch. The bar is open Mon-Sat 4:30pm-11pm, and the kitchen is open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 507 Divisadero St. at Fell, 415-525-3485.

Berkeley's Gather Team Opening in Former Marbella/Rex Cafe

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Marbella interior. Photo: Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

With the closure of Marbella (previously Rex Cafe) on Polk Street, the new takers have arrived: Ari Derfel, Eric Fenster, and chef Sean Baker of ~GATHER~ in Berkeley. While the project doesn’t have a name yet, Eater has some additional details: Abueg Morris Architects is redesigning the 64-seat space, and as far as the format, chef Baker will continue Gather’s whole animal program, with a simultaneous focus on vegetables (look for some house-cured meats as well). Michael Ireland (previously Meadowood) is consulting on the wine and cocktail program. Look for an opening in the summer. 2323 Polk St. at Green.

Recent Openings: Mission Street Oyster Bar, Zoe's, Nabe, and More

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Oysters at Mission Street Oyster Bar. Yelp photo by Sophie C.

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The bar at Zoe’s. Yelp photo by Yina M.

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Nabe communal table. Yelp photo by Steve R.

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Tacos at Toma. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

Some openings around town: as previously mentioned on tablehopper, ~MISSION STREET OYSTER BAR~ from Fredy Gamez, previously at Anchor Oyster Bar, has opened on Mission Street. The menu focuses on San Francisco classic seafood, and there’s a happy hour with $1 oysters and $2.50 beer until 6pm. Open daily 3pm-10pm. 2282 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-621-6987.

Also new in the Mission is ~ZOE’S BAR & RESTAURANT~. A tipster emailed to tell me the chef is from Nigeria and she cooks French bistro cuisine. The kitchen is handily open until midnight, serving burgers, poutine, and truffle fries. The Art Deco space was previously El Mexicano, so there’s full liquor. Open nightly. 3088 24th St. at Folsom, 415-817-1972.

Also in the Mission, the café at ~DANDELION CHOCOLATE~ is officially opening this Wednesday January 16th. There are daily pastries by Phil Ogiela, like a fudge brownie with orange and cacao nibs rather than nuts, topped with a whipped ganache and organic cocoa crispies; and a chocolate cake spiced with the Morrocan spice blend, ras el hanout. Yeah, duuuude. There are also a variety of hot chocolates, cacao fruit smoothies, Tisano cacao husk tea, and Four Barrel coffee. Hours are Wed-Sun 11am-6pm (or until they sell out). 740 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-349-0942.

~NABE~ is now open in the Inner Sunset, serving sukiyaki, shabu shabu, and the like. Open nightly 5pm-10pm. 1325 9th Ave. at Irving, 415-731-2658.

Scoop has details on ~HRD SMOKIN’ GRILL~, which is an offshoot of cult classic HRD Coffee Shop in SoMa. Favorites like the Mongolian cheesesteak sandwich and spicy pork kimchi burrito are on the menu. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-10 pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 532 Green St. at Grant.

According to ABC action, the Marina has a new Mexican spot, ~TOMA~. Yelp mentions classic taqueria picks, plus handmade tortillas and good sopes. Check out the convenient late-night weekend hours: open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am, Sun 11am-9pm. 3318 Steiner St. at Chestnut, 415-921-8662.

Changes and Closures: Naked Lunch into Txoko, Chez Papa Resto Closed, More

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The fried chicken sandwich from Naked Lunch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Over in North Beach, business partners Ryan Maxey and chef Ian Begg made the decision to close ~TXOKO~ on New Year’s Eve, but they are moving their neighboring Naked Lunch sandwich shop into the space. They are also adding a burger and fries, and some other straightforward dishes. There’s that handy full bar, plus some new pool tables and TVs. The new, extended hours will be Tue-Sun 11:30am-late, with the kitchen closed 2pm-5pm. 

Over in Mint Plaza, Scoop announced the closure of ~CHEZ PAPA RESTO~.

A Twitter follower let me know that ~JOHNNY ROCKETS~ on Fillmore had closed, and according to ABC permit action, Glaze Teriyaki is moving in. Stand by for more. 1946 Fillmore St. at Pine.

Eater announced ~780 CAFE~ on Valencia has closed. 780 Valencia St. at 19th Street.

A couple of Upper Haight closures: Upper Casing mentioned the last hookah has been puffed at ~KAN ZAMAN~, which shuttered on January 5th. I read on Eater that ~GIOVANNI’S PIZZA~ will no longer be operating inside Club Deluxe. We’ll see if Giovanni will find another location soon.

Fellow caffeine hounds: ~THE MILL~ is going to be closed to finish up construction, and is reopening on Wednesday January 30th. (Maybe it’s good for me to have two weeks away from the damn toast.) 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton.

New Cafés: Spiro Coffee and La Paloma Café

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A peek at the under-construction Spiro Coffee. Photo from Spiro.

Some new cafés are coming to our local scene. James Stolich of Cook with James is consulting on a new café opening on Van Ness, ~SPIRO COFFEE~. He’s consulting for Mike and Roger Abuyaghi of R&M Automotive (located around the corner on Ellis)—in a funny connection, they have worked on James’s cars in the past and are now working with him on this project. It’s a new buildout and has a natural-modern and Italian-contemporary look, with Carrara marble, walnut tables and cabinets, and a wood-slat ceiling. It will be open for breakfast and lunch, serving Sightglass coffee. The menu is in development, but Italophile Stolich is taking some inspiration from Due Fratellini in Florence, serving delicious panini like La Quercia prosciutto with mozzarella, sea salt, and olive oil, or mild salami with fennel, soft goat cheese, and olive oil. There will also be salads (but none with balsamic—you have to read James’s awesome rant on ingredients he’s over), plus some desserts and breakfast items. Look for an opening in a month or so. 826 Van Ness Ave. at Ellis.

Meanwhile—thanks to a tip from Michele Mandell—the former Top o’ the Hill Market is morphing into ~LA PALOMA CAFÉ~, a project from the folks behind the nearby Le Beau Market. There will be espresso from Weaver’s Coffee in San Rafael (the roaster previously worked for Peet’s), plus soups, sandwiches, salads, gelato, and more. Look for an opening within a month. 1096 Union St. at Leavenworth.

Chef Moves: Parallel 37 and Bin 38

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Chef Michael Rotondo. Photo courtesy of Parallel 37.

It’s a new year, with some chef shuffling happening around town at places with alphanumeric names. Over at ~PARALLEL 37~, they have found a replacement for Ron Siegel, who is now at Michael Mina. Taking the helm is Michael Rotondo, who was most recently executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago (Trotter called Parallel 37 personally to recommend Rotondo). He worked at Trotter’s for eight years and received the “Most Promising Chef” award from Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller in the United States Bocuse d’Or in 2008. His new menu will be in place in a few weeks, although he just launched an eight-course P37 tasting menu as a preview to what he’s working on.

Over at ~BIN 38~, I received word from owner Don Davis that chef Arnold Pulido is the new chef after Caleb Jones’s short stint in the kitchen. Pulido was most recently the executive chef at Metro Lafayette, and he was also at Va de Vi in Walnut Creek for nearly five years. His new menu should be in place in early to mid-February.

Parallel 37 - 600 Stockton St. San Francisco - 415-773-6168

Menu Specials: Prime Rib Sunday, Bollito Misto, Absinthe Turns 15, More

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Prime rib; photo courtesy of Alexander’s Steakhouse.

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The bollito misto cart; photo courtesy of Poggio.

Looking for some new menu offerings and deals? Well, check it out. First up, I was pretty blown away with the prime rib I tasted at ~ALEXANDER’S STEAKHOUSE~ a couple of weeks ago, and it ends up they have a nice special on it: Prime Rib Sunday. You get the Angus-certified prime rib, a choice of a side dish (the macaroni and cheese is really, really good), and their famed hamachi shot, all for $35 (the prime rib is normally $39). You can dine at the bar or in the dining room; available until it runs out. (Psssst, you can also get the deal Mon-Sat from 5:30pm-7pm in the bar.)

Next: the annual bollito misto cart is making the rounds at ~POGGIO~ in Sausalito, running Mondays-Wednesdays until the end of March. You get up to six different slowly simmered meats, including housemade cotechino sausage, beef brisket, oxtail, tongue, and capon. The meat is sliced and served tableside with five sauces. At $19 per person, it’s a unique (and belly-warming) offer to check out on these chilly nights.

~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ is turning 15, and running specials through the month to celebrate, with six wines by the glass (like Huët Vouvray Petillant Loire, France) that are all from 1998 (plus some bottles, too). Through January 20th, there’s a bouillabaisse ($30) on offer, and cassoulet ($28) will be available January 22nd-February 3rd, plus Absinthe birthday cake (milk chocolate mousse, pressed coconut, candied pecans).

~THE ICE CREAM BAR~ in Cole Valley is turning one, with daily specials to celebrate! On Monday January 21st, buy a junior scoop, get one free ($2.95)—limit is one per person. That Tuesday January 22nd, buy a Russell’s sassafras root beer, get one free ($6), dine-in only. Wednesday January 23rd, buy any size scoop, get a free topping (housemade hot fudge, butterscotch, caramel, marshmallow fluff, or toffee). Thursday January 24th, buy a hot chocolate or hot butterscotch, get one free (value: $4.50). And on Friday January 25th, buy an Angostura phosphate, get one free ($9)—21 and over for that one, sweeties.

Looking for a new happy hour deal? ~MISSION ROCK RESORT~ is now serving 99-cent oysters, $4 drafts, $5 glasses of wine, and $6 happy hour cocktails, Monday-Friday from 3pm-7pm.

Market Watch

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All very important. From the Healthy Spirits Facebook page.

Some news in the marketplace (har) around town. First up: the Cal-Divis Market (previously Blue Fog) has closed; taking its place is ~THE ABUNDANT MARKET~, due to open around February 10th. 2792 California St. at Divisadero.

SFoodie mentions ~BUYER’S BEST FRIEND~ (with locations in North Beach and the Upper Haight) has opened in the Ferry Building. 1 Ferry Building Plaza.

Coming to the Inner Richmond is a second location of ~HEALTHY SPIRITS~, with its swell selection of whiskeys, craft beers, and more, according to Haighteration. Keep up on the opening on Twitter. 1042 Clement St. at 12th Ave.

Good Food Awards 2013 Coming This Friday

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The Good Food Awards podium. Photo from Facebook.

The Good Food Awards are back, acknowledging not just talented, innovative, and hardworking food professionals, but also those who are trying to make our food system more sustainable, accessible, and responsible. You won’t want to miss out on the festivities, from the gala to the marketplace. It all takes place at the ~FERRY BUILDING~, and you can take a look at the finalists here.

There are a few different ways to join in the celebration: you can attend the ~GOOD FOOD AWARDS GALA RECEPTION~ on Friday January 18th. The gala includes food and drink from many of the nominees, as well as other local food stars, like Sarah and Evan Rich of Rich Table, and William Werner of Craftsman & Wolves. Tickets are $95.

On Saturday January 19th, check out the ~GOOD FOOD AWARDS MARKETPLACE~, where you can purchase the award-winning products in conjunction with the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market from 9am-2pm. Winning spirits and beer producers will be pouring their products at the ~BEER & SPIRITS GARDEN~, too, so don’t miss out. Tickets to the garden are $15, and entry to the marketplace is free, though there is a suggested donation of $5 per person. If you don’t like crowds, you can also purchase an early-entry ticket for $15 to get into the marketplace at 8am.

Friday Jan 18, 2013 – Saturday Jan 19, 2013
more info

Ferry Building - One Ferry Building San Francisco - 415-983-8000

Commonwealth Club Hosts a Panel of Heavy Hitters Feb. 13th

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The State Bird dim sum cart. Photo via Commonwealth Club.

Catch some local chefs talking about the DIY restaurant trend at ~THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB~ on Wednesday February 13th. The panel discussion will include Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, and Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine. The chefs will be discussing the benefits and pitfalls of the current inclination among chefs to do everything in-house, including farming, raising animals, and crafting décor. The event is at 6:30pm at the Commonwelath Club, and tickets are $20 for the public, $12 for members, and $7 for students. 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, at 2nd St., 415-597-6700.

Oakland Openings: Duende, Loring Cafe, Rosamunde, and El Gusano

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The Duende sign, fabricated by Jim Rizzo from Neon Works. Photo via Facebook.

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Loring Cafe’s atmospheric interior. Photo via Facebook.

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El Gusano. Yelp photo by Michael S.

Oakland continues to be en fuego, starting with the much anticipated opening of ~DUENDE~ from Paul Canales (previously Oliveto) and business partner-GM Rocco Somazzi. The 4,000-square-foot space is really catching people’s eyes, starting with the gorgeous Art Deco facade of the historic Floral Depot Building (Flora and Xolo are just next door). The menu is primarily Spanish, featuring smaller tapas-like dishes, larger entrées, and family-style shared dishes, like paella and fideos. Canales is known for excellent sourcing, so look for quality ingredients. The wine list (assembled by Somazzi and wine director Gerard Maristany, formerly the wine buyer for the Spanish Table) will feature a selection of Spanish wines and sherries, and there’s also a full bar—look for some sherry-based cocktails from Troy Bayless.

It’s a spacious, multilevel spot. To recap, there are 84 seats, with a lounge, bar area, and adjoining bodega, which includes a wine shop, gallery space, and coffee bar that is open in the morning, serving Verve coffee. There are some commissioned art and murals, and there will music on the mezzanine (look for upcoming live performances, like forward-looking jazz)—the loft area will also be available for private parties. Arcsine Architecture is behind the design, which includes some raw elements (raw and polished woods, exposed ducts, and brickwork) and an artistic sensibility. You can check out a number of images at Eater and Grub Street. The restaurant is open Sun-Mon and Wed-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; the bodega is open Sun-Mon and Wed-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-11pm.

Now open on Grand Avenue is the San Francisco location of ~THE LORING CAFE~, which, as previously mentioned on tablehopper, is an import from Minneapolis. Look for a New American menu (that is also touted for being affordable), all-day hours, and a bohemian look that features exposed brick walls, a timbered ceiling, steel beams, unique brickwork, Corinthian columns, and tile. There are a number of unique and eclectic flea market finds, and live music will also be featured. Open Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm. 37 Grand Ave. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-839-3700.

The latest business to join Miss Ollie’s in Swan’s Market is the Oakland location of ~ROSAMUNDE~, with its trademark sausage and craft beer offerings. Open Sun-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Sat 11am-11pm. 911 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland, 510-338-3108.

According to Chowhound, ~EL GUSANO~ has opened in the former Tatuyo Tequila N Tapas Lounge. Eater has additional details: the owners (Erin Brooks and Michael Sopher) are behind Tropisueño in the city. During the day, look for a casual taqueria format, and at night it’s more of a restaurant vibe, with servers. There’s also a full bar (mezcal en la casa!). For now, hours are Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. 1015 Clay St. at 11th St., Oakland, 510-444-9676
.

Duende - 468 19th St. Oakland - 510-893-0174

Off the Grid Adding Food Trucks at Pier 29 and the Oakland Museum

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Off the Grid on McCoppin Street. Photo from Facebook.

You can never really have enough street food, and to prove it, ~OFF THE GRID~ will be starting two new pods this month. On every Thursday and Saturday, head to Pier 29 for food truck eats and America’s Cup spectating from 11am-2pm. Each event will feature four different trucks; check the Facebook page for details on who will be there each week. Pier 29, Embarcadero at Sansome and Chestnut.

Then, on Fridays beginning January 25th, the Oakland Museum of California will be hosting Off the Grid trucks. There will be a wine and beer garden, half-price admission to the museum, and live music from 5pm-9pm. 1000 Oak St. at 11th Street, Oakland.

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This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Jan 15, 2013

(Sponsored): So, You Want to Be Featured in tablehopper....

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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Jan 15, 2013

Tosca Cafe Saved by New York's The Spotted Pig Team (April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman)

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Photo via Tosca Cafe’s Facebook page.

Big news swept through the city with the announcement in the Business Times that ~TOSCA CAFE~ has been saved (owner Jeannette Etheredge reportedly owed $100,000 in back rent and was being evicted). Taking over the legendary location is Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield, known for swell New York establishments the Spotted Pig, the Breslin, and John Dory Oyster Bar. The Michelin-winning duo just signed a 10-year lease, and while they plan to renovate the space (and expand the dining area), they will be preserving a lot of what makes Tosca great (although I have a feeling Tosca’s notorious cash-only policy will be ending, and maybe that house cappuccino will finally taste good).

Joking aside, I am really torn by this news. On one hand, thank God the bar has been saved by people who I trust will do right by it. But there’s another part of me that wishes it could stay exactly as it is. I love the moody ambiance, the opera on the jukebox, the white-jacketed waiters, the utterly hilarious Edith Head graffiti in the pink women’s bathroom, the occasional peek into Jeannette’s amazing and memorabilia-covered office (which needs to be shellacked and left exactly as it is). And let’s not forget the always entertaining cast of characters who wander in there. It was one of the last bars where I could still surreptitiously smoke after the ban (mind you, I quit over 10 years ago, but still). With these upcoming changes, well, things will be different. I guess it’s another era for the space, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be pouring out some of my Negroni for the 20-plus years of wonderfully vivid memories I have had at this seminal SF bar. Stand by for more in the coming months. 242 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Trick Dog Now Open in the Mission

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The view from the balcony at Trick Dog. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The bar at Trick Dog. Photo from Facebook.

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The impressive liquor at Trick Dog, in genius sliding shelves. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As reported on tablehopper back in 2010, the Mission has a new high-end watering hole: ~TRICK DOG~. It has finally arrived, after much waiting and excitement. It officially opened its doors on Monday January 7th and has been raking in the praise (and crowds) ever since—it is currently blowing up Twitter in mentions, and I’ve even heard of lines to get in. Yeah, this town loves its bars.

The bar comes from the Bon Vivants, Josh Harris and Scott Baird, who also run Rio Grande, and the third partner is Jason Henton. The bar is quite a labor of love and takes its name from a trick dog toy that Harris’s father gave him as a child. Most of the construction materials in the bar were not repurposed so much as lovingly collected over the years that the partners have been working together. As such, most of the elements have a story, whether it’s the history of the cast-iron beams that form the base of the bar (they’re originally from the Warfield building) or the large-format line drawing of a vintage Playboy pinup by Nicole Hayden.

The space is well designed (in conjunction with Wylie Price Design) without being fussy. It’s divided into a downstairs bar area and an upstairs lofted space with chairs and tables. The seats are all vintage Steelcase, reupholstered by Allison Weber, a friend and colleague of the partners. The space is fairly neutral, in varying shades of industrial gray, which provides a nice foil for color to pop. And pop it does: the menu is a Pantone book, modified to list the drinks—take a look at both the menu and design here. There is also a gallery wall upstairs of bright prints by Ed Panar that bring an unexpected and fun splash of color.

The drinks are well crafted, but Harris says the point of the bar is not to be just a cocktail nerd haven. They want folks in the mood for a glass of wine or nice beer to feel comfortable too. That said, the cocktails look pretty serious, like the Alligator Alley (olive oil-infused Broker’s gin, Imbue vermouth, Tempus Fugit quinquina, green Chartreuse) or Gypsy Tan (Rittenhouse 100 rye, Mandarine Napoléon orange liqueur, Fernet Branca, ginger, lemon, Erdinger Weissbier, nutmeg).

The food from Chester Watson (working closely with Baird) is high-end bar food, with a Scotch egg (yesss!), a classier take on pimento cheese, salted and buttered radishes, and chicken nuggets. Grub Street has a copy of the current menu, so you can start plotting your beverage snacks now. Plus, the kitchen is open until 1:30am, which adds a great spot for late-night dining to the neighborhood. It’s open daily, 3pm-2am. 3010 20th St. at Florida, 415-471-2999.

Closures (Marlena's, Rrazz Room), Comebacks (The Gold Dust Lounge), Openings (Caskhouse)

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A few of the 1,400 Santas at Marlena’s. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Gold Dust rendering. Image via Facebook.

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The bar at Caskhouse. Photo via Facebook.

Man oh man, another classic, quirky, SF gay bar bites the dust. This time it’s ~MARLENA’S~, a Hayes Valley mainstay that has been overserving its fabulously friendly clientele the past 23 years, blowing our minds every Christmas with the out-of-hand Santa collection, and hello, the Sunday drag shows! Well, all that is going to become a distant memory: Garry “Marlena” McLain (otherwise known as Empress XXV) is selling the bar (Grub Street has been following it here) and retiring (enjoy the much deserved time off, Garry!).

And now Hayeswire reveals the new buyers: Matt Conway (whom many of you know from Comstock and Absinthe), Anthony Healy-London (Churchill, Bloodhound, and Double Dutch), and Josh McAdam. Here’s more from Healy-London: “We are in discussion with Marlena/Gary about what of the Marlena’s traditions will continue. We understand what Marlena’s has meant (and continues to mean) to this neighborhood and we are sensitive to that in our decision-making process. We are really excited to be joining a neighborhood that we already love and know very well.” The remodel is slated to begin in March, and the bar will reopen (under a new name) in late April. And, scene. 488 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-864-6672.

Just so you know, New Year’s Eve was the last night of business for the ~THE RRAZZ ROOM~ at the Hotel Nikko (via SFist). The Examiner reports the Rrazz Room’s operators moved to 1000 Van Ness (in the space that was previously the Showroom and Holly’s Comedy Club). 1000 Van Ness Ave. at O’Farrell, 800-380-3095.

Just an update for you: according to a post on Facebook, the ~GOLD DUST LOUNGE~ is planning to open in its new location on Fisherman’s Wharf on Friday February 1st (which will be followed with a Super Bowl Sunday event on February 3rd). Read more on its Facebook page for how to reserve your spot if you’d like to come by. 165 Jefferson St. at Taylor, 415-397-1695.

Now open in Noe Valley is ~CASKHOUSE~, previously mentioned on tablehopper as Crafthouse, in the former Joe’s 24th Street Café space. You can check out the menu of craft beers, wine, and bites here. Open Tue-Fri 4pm-12am and Sat-Sun 2pm-12am. 3853 24th St. at Vicksburg, 415-834-5005.

Prospect Has a New Wine Director

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The bar at Prospect. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Over at ~PROSPECT~, wine director Amy Currens has moved on—sadly she has a stress fracture that needs time to heal, so she made the difficult decision to step away from her position. Stand by for more on where she lands next after she takes some time to heal up. Taking her place is Joshua Thomas, who has worked with Prospect since 2010, when he was part of the opening team.

Prospect - 300 Spear St. San Francisco - 415-247-7770

Around the World in 80 Sips Wine Event February 8th, Plus a Discount Code

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The crowd at Around the World in 80 Sips in 2012. Photo © Blanchard Photographic.

If you’re looking for a chance to taste lots of wines from all over the world, head to the ~AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 SIPS~ event on Friday February 8th. The event is put on by Bottlenotes at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, and features more than 80 wines. There will also be small bites to keep your palate going all evening.

For the first time this year, they’ll be adding the Sherry Suite to the lineup, a once-in-a-lifetime experience sponsored by Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, the premier retailer in the country. Enjoy access to a private suite, tasting world-class wines from Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, and California. A selection of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres will be served exclusively in the Sherry Suite, and each person will receive a fabulous gift bag. Limited to 40 people.

The general tasting event runs from 7:30pm-9:30pm, with a VIP early hour from 6:30pm-7:30pm. Tickets are $75 for general admission, $125 for VIP, and $195 for the Sherry Suite, but be sure to enter Tablehopper at checkout for 40 percent off until January 31st. 135 Fisher Loop at Sheridan.

Friday Feb 8, 2013
7:30pm-9:30pm, VIP hour and Sherry Suite begin at 6:30pm
$75 general admission, $125 VIP, $195 Sherry Suite
more info

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Jan 15, 2013

January Specials: Dine About Town, and Berkeley and Oakland Restaurant Weeks

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Event Info

Tuesday Jan 15, 2013 – Thursday Jan 31, 2013
varies by location

Starting Tuesday January 15th (yep, that’s today!), you can score some dining deals with ~DINE ABOUT TOWN~, which continues until Thursday January 31st. You can get either prix-fixe lunch of two- or three-courses for $18.95, or a three-course dinner for $36.95. There are more than 100 restaurants participating, including lots of great downtown options for you FiDi power lunchers. You can check out spots like Spruce, One Market, and EPIC Roasthouse, to name just a few. Each restaurant has different hours, and some are serving only lunch or only dinner, so be sure to check out the details here, and don’t forget to contact the restaurants directly for reservations.

Currently on now is the first ~BERKELEY RESTAURANT WEEK~, running through January 20th with special $30 prix-fixe dinner menus and value-added offers at 20 Berkeley restaurants. Restaurants include Ajanta, Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, Café Rouge, Comal, FIVE at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Gather, Revival Bar & Kitchen, and more.

Also just around the corner is ~OAKLAND RESTAURANT WEEK~, which is coming January 18th-27th. This is a truly awesome reason to cross the bay. A bunch of Oakland restaurants, including the likes of Miss Ollie’s, Camino, B-Side BBQ, and Flora will be offering prix-fixe menus of $20, $30, or $40. The menus will be available at lunch and dinner, depending on the restaurant—check here for details, and be sure to contact the restaurants individually for reservations.

In addition to having the opportunity to check out some East Bay stars, you can also head to the Food & Beverage History Panel event on Friday January 18th from 3pm-5pm, which kicks off the week. Richard Walker of UC Berkeley will be offering a presentation, while leaders in the East Bay food scene will be on hand to talk about the rich local culinary history. Reservations to the event can be made by email.

Celebrate Ladies in the Kitchen with Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Event

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Cheers to women rocking in the kitchen! Photo courtesy Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

Event Info

Wednesday Jan 16, 2013 – Friday Jan 18, 2013
$25–$250 depending on the event
Tickets and info

Join ~WOMEN CHEFS AND RESTAURATEURS~ for its conference on women in the industry from January 16th through 18th. Tickets to the many events begin at $25 and can be found here, along with additional details.

The activities include the 20th anniversary celebration, the Women Who Inspire Awards Gala, on Thursday January 17th. The five-course meal will feature dishes from an all-female lineup of Annie Somerville, Loretta Keller, Traci Des Jardins, Mary Sue Milliken, Suzette Gresham, and Emily Luchetti. The event takes place upstairs in the Ferry Building and kicks off at 6pm. Tickets are $250 per person, or $2,250 for a table of 10 people. One Ferry Building Plaza at Embarcadero.

On Friday January 18th, catch the InfoFair, Lunch, and Book Signing at the Sir Francis Drake from 1pm-3pm. Guest chef Jesse Z. Cool will be cooking a buffet lunch, and chef-authors including Emily Luchetti, Elizabeth Falkner, Joyce Goldstein, and Nancy Oakes will be on hand signing books available for purchase from Omnivore Books. More than 20 conference sponsors will be there, too, with their products and information for your perusal. Tickets to the event are $25. 450 Powell St. at Sutter, mezzanine level.

Later on Friday January 18th, catch the Culinary Competition, also at the Sir Francis Drake. Conference attendees will compete in teams of two, cooking under the direction of chef coaches Cat Cora, Amanda Freitag, and Lee Anne Wong. Elizabeth Falkner and Liam Mayclem will be the MCs, and yours truly, the tablehopper, will be one of the judges. 450 Powell St. at Sutter, Empire Room.

Special Share Our Strength Dinner at Spruce January 22nd

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Event Info

Tuesday Jan 22, 2013
6pm–9pm
$250 per person
website

On Tuesday January 22nd, ~SPRUCE~ is hosting a special dinner to benefit Share Our Strength. The menu will feature a multicourse dinner from chef Mark Sullivan, plus a bunch of all-star kitchen guests like Craig Stoll and Anthony Strong (Locanda), Jason Berthold (RN74), Belinda Leong (b. patisserie), and television chef Amanda Freitag. The dinner begins with a cocktail reception at 6pm, followed by courses from each chef at 7pm. Take a look at the full menu here. Tickets are $250 per person for dinner and cocktails, and VIP options are available as well.

If you enter code NKHSF200 at checkout, you’ll receive $50 off too.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Jan 15, 2013

The Devil Shops for Prada

According to a friend’s post on Facebook, the fabulous ~Meryl Streep~ was spotted at the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus just a couple of days before Christmas.

Lake Wobegon Not So Gone

~Garrison Keillor~ of NPR’s Prairie Home Companion dined at Ella’s last Tuesday. He was there with a few companions—no word on whether or not they were strong, good looking, and above average.

The Truth, with Bubbly

Boston Celtics forward ~Paul Pierce~ shared some bubbly with a lady friend at the Redwood Room over the holidays. He was overheard expressing an interest in partying and was reportedly very polite (and a good tipper!).

The Eighties Really Are Back!

~Emilio Estevez~ visited the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville on New Year’s Day. Apparently he was in the Wine Country and was spotted in a few locations in and around Healdsburg.

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