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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: love and hoppiness.

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Friday night dinner at Cassava: English spring pea and mint velouté. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, clouds. So much for riding my bike to dinner tonight. And then on Wednesday evening I’ll be taking the train down to San Carlos for a winemaker dinner with Lucio Gomiero of Vignalta at Limone. Oh, and Thursday is Taste of the Nation, with a fabulous lineup of chefs and talent. See you there?

So, on Sunday, I’ll be giving a presentation at the Chocolate Salon at 2:30pm on the best chocolate desserts in San Francisco. Just to be sure I am not missing any (and boy, my list is already pretty long), I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email me your favorite chocolate dessert in San Francisco at luckyme@tablehopper.com. I’ll randomly draw two winners, each winning a pair of tickets to the Chocolate Salon. The deadline to enter is a fast one: please email me by 11:59am on Wednesday March 20th (yup, that’s tomorrow afternoon). Good luck!

Do you have your Passover plans lined up? And this week, we have some Easter treats for you too.

Congrats to all the James Beard Foundation Awards finalists (check out the list here, and some very funny commentary from SFist here). The winners will be announced on Monday May 6th.

Oh, and who can resist a feisty interview with Thomas Keller? Enjoy.

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Mar 19, 2013

Chef Changes and Hires: Scala's Bistro, Coqueta, Bar Agricole, More

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Chef Jen Biesty at Scala’s; photo via Facebook.

Quite a few chef changes and hires around town. First up, Scoop caught wind of chef Jen Biesty’s departure from ~SCALA’S BISTRO~ after almost five years (they are currently conducting a nationwide chef search). I had a chance to catch up with Jen to get more details on her next steps. Her last day is March 29th, and she will then be focusing on getting her own project off the ground. She is going to open a restaurant that is Spanish and Mediterranean in origin, with a touch of Middle Eastern influences (we both shared our love for the flavors in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, Plenty and Jerusalem). In a nutshell, she said, “I want to be like Sicily!” (which has many unique culinary influences). Her plan is for the food to be shareable, with “real bar food” that you can eat with your hands, big seasonal salads for the table to share (ends up she’s a big fan of salads), smaller-size paellas in a variety of flavors, plus some larger family-style plates. She wants it to be a casual space where you can come by often, with cocktails for $8-$9 and affordable wines. She actually has a spot lined up in Oakland, but needs to raise a bit more money in order to close it. Good luck, Jen!

Over on the waterfront, chef Michael Chiarello has some updates about ~COQUETA~, his upcoming Spanish project, in this post on The Daily Meal. His chef will be Ryan McIlwraith (previously at Bottega) and Joe Cleveland (who previously worked for José Andrés) will be running the bar program, which will include house-distilled gin and tonics (really?) and sangria will also “be made in giant batches, flash-pasteurized, and put in a tank.” There will be 78 seats, with 30 at the bar. Other details: There will be a wood-fired grill, paella served on the hour, and grilled calçots, which Chiarello has been growing.

Chef Brandon Jew is leaving ~BAR AGRICOLE~ in the next few weeks to start his own project, and Scoop reports his sous chef will be taking over, Reina Talanoa (whose cooking background includes Gary Danko, Manresa, and Saison). Stand by for what’s next for Jew.

Even though I wasn’t able to get confirmation on this piece of gossip awhile ago, it’s now officially confirmed that Christian Hermsdorf (previously Cupola and Bar Bambino) is the executive chef at ~JONES~ in the Tenderloin. He is a big fan of housemade pasta, so look for that in the new dinner and $25 prix-fixe menus; there’s also an Italian influence in the Sunday brunch menu. 620 Jones St. at Geary, 415-496-6858.

Up in San Rafael, Scoop reports chef Chris Fernandez of ~TERRAPIN CROSSROADS~ is moving into more of a consulting role, and his sous chef Nathan Clark will be the executive chef. 100 Yacht Club Dr. at Francisco, San Rafael, 415-524-2773.

Take a Peek at 1601 Bar & Kitchen

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As covered in tablehopper in November, the former Sage space in SoMa has become ~1601 BAR & KITCHEN~. The new restaurant should be opening in the coming weeks and will be a cool opportunity for diners to check out Sri Lankan cuisine. Chef-owner Brian Fernando previously worked at Le Papillon in San Jose, and he hopes to bring that elevated technique to this new project, but with different flavors and a more casual atmosphere.

The new space, which was designed by Brent Kanbayashi, is sleek but comfortable, with a large L-shaped bar of wood, a communal table, and a private room in the back. Part of the space has very high ceilings, which have been softened with plants and organically shaped light fixtures, plus classic café chairs. A lighting fixture that will hold bottles and glassware is soon to arrive and will provide a focal point over the bar.

The menu is intended to be ordered as small plates, and includes lots of traditional Sri Lankan dishes served in new ways. Egg hoppers, a street food snack of egg cooked in a rice flour and coconut shell, will be available, along with mulligatawny soup, a spiced and meaty soup with lots of tumeric. For a quick crash course in Sri Lankan flavors, check out this glossary so you’ll be at least a little informed when you go.

The beverage program is mostly focused on wine, with 85 different bottles from around the world that have been selected to pair well with the food’s unique flavors. Camron Mashayekh, who worked with Fernando at Le Papillon, consulted on the wine program. There will be about 10 wines available by the glass, plus four on tap, and a handful of beers including local standby Trumer Pils.

It will still be a couple of weeks before they are able to open, because inspections are still pending and that light fixture needs to be installed above the bar. When the doors do open, it will be for happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm, and dinner Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm. Closed Sunday. 1601 Howard St. at 12th St., 415-552-1601.

Mission News: Balançoire Open Softly, Mission Picnic Coming Soon, Gallardo's

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The exterior of Balançoire. Photo from Facebook.

In the former Blue Macaw space on Mission St. comes ~BALANÇOIRE~. Balançoire means “swing” in French, for the swing that will descend over the crowd on weekend nights with a sexy, lip-synching lady à la Moulin Rouge. The spot is a combination of club, bar, and restaurant, with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, snacks at the bar during the week, and lots of wild-sounding parties like the Clam Jam (that’s a lesbian underwear dance party, by the way) every third Saturday night. There are weekly dance parties, a monthly benefit happy hour, and a burlesque happy hour is in the works too. Their Facebook page has lots of updates on upcoming shows and events.

The chef is Art Vagoner, who worked in Belgium before coming to San Francisco, and his menu is focused on French Creole cooking that will change according to the seasons and his own whims. Owner Richard Einselen says that he wants the spot to cater to the eclectic tastes of the Mission, and he is hoping to create a spot where lots of different neighborhood folks can be comfortable. He also wants to start offering zydeco brunch on weekends and bring zydeco music and dance to the Mission. Wed-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat-Sun 11am-2am, brunch from 11am-3pm. 2565 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-920-0577.

Word came in that ~MISSION PICNIC~—a new spot for sandwiches, salads, and soups to go—is opening in the former Corazon Juicebar space. One of the owners, Sterling Tatsumi-Price, says that he and his partners plan to start serving rustic, seasonal sandwiches made-to-order out of the space by March 30th. They’ll have six to nine sandwich choices, with one daily soup and salad special. Many of the menu choices will have a slight Asian twist, though it won’t be the only focus. Eventually, they are hoping to offer large, call-ahead picnic box orders for people to take to Dolores Park. The plan is to be open rather late, from 11am-8pm Sun-Thu and 11am-12am Fri-Sat., thought the exact hours are subject to change. Stay tuned for more information on the opening. 3275 22nd St. at Valencia, 415-735-3080.

A tipster mentions that ~GALLARDO’S~ is opening a new spot around the corner from its current location on Folsom. The new spot is currently under construction (it’s the space where Chava’s had a fire more than 10 years ago and then moved to 24th Street), but the crew confirms that it is the same owners as Gallardo’s on Folsom. No word yet on a time line or opening date, but here’s hoping for more excellent weekend birria. 3248 18th St. at Shotwell.

Charles Chocolates Now Open in the Mission

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The retail space at Charles Chocolates. Photo courtesy Charles Chocolates.

As previously reported in tablehopper, ~CHARLES CHOCOLATES~ is opening an exhibition kitchen and shop in the Mission. The new spot opened its doors Friday March 15th and is ready to fill all of your chocolate needs with pavés, brownies, chocolate-covered almonds, and more. The new space features a retail area for making purchases, plus a glass-enclosed exhibition kitchen so you can watch the magic happen. In coming weeks, they’ll add seating to the patio as well. More confections will become available in the future, but there are quite a few delicious choices already, and if you can’t make it to the shop, check out the online store here. Hours are 11am-7pm daily. Welcome back, Chuck (and your peanut butterflies)! And just in time for Easter chocolate time. 535 Florida St. at Mariposa, 415-659-8770.

New BBQ Truck Is Firing Up: The Boneyard

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Boneyard ribs and brisket from the smoker. Photo via Facebook.

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The (in progress) Boneyard Truck. Photo courtesy of Mike Bradford.

Coming soon to the city is ~THE BONEYARD~, a barbecue truck from Mike Bradford (his wife is Mutsumi Takehara of Bernal’s 903 and Sandbox Bakery) and Rich Mainzer. You may have seen Mike’s custom, mega-smoker parked in front of 903 in past months. Ends up he’s been smoking meats for more than 15 years, and Rich and Mike have been dueling over who can make better barbecue ribs for some time. Well, the two rib fanatics are going to be smoking meats on the mofo smoker and then selling them on the truck. The truck matches the smoker a bit, outfitted in flat black with smoked-out windows. Yeah, you’ll see it comin’.

The truck is going to offer Southern-style barbecue made with well-sourced meat, like ribs, brisket (which comes with Mutsumi’s pain de mie, a nice twist on the usual white bread), pulled pork sandwiches (in potato rolls), and, are you ready for this: wings that have been smoked for four hours, and are then fried to order and given a little “Buffalo mop” (i.e., a light saucing). Sign. Me. Up. The meats will feature a light rub, good smoke, and a touch of sauce, that’s it. There will also be sides, like coleslaw with a kick from wasabi and horseradish, German potato salad (a lighter style made with bacon, potatoes, vinegar, and seasoning), and of course, sweets from Mutsumi, like brownies, lemon bar cookies, and more (she is also working with the truck on some special breads).

Once they pass inspections within a few weeks, they are hoping to appear at Off the Grid, Streat Food Park, and to dial in a couple locations/lots where they can park. Keep up with The Boneyard on Facebook and Twitter, and of course, I’ll keep you posted.

Tidbits: Jersey's on 6th Closing, a Taker for Hama-Ko's Space, and More!

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The Italian Combo from Jersey’s. Yelp photo by Garland W.

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Pineapple buns from Fancy Wheat Field Bakery. Yelp photo by Judy N.

Word came in from a tipster via Twitter that ~JERSEY’S ON 6TH~ is closing because the owners are moving to Los Angeles. Owner Erick Morton confirms the rumor and says their last day will be Sunday March 24th. This is sad news for the Inner Richmond, but don’t despair. Morton says his lease has been signed over to a new owner, Luis Bolanos, who, it turns out, used to be the manager at La Torta Gorda in the Mission. He left that bastion of torta excellence just last week, and hopefully he’ll be bringing the same style to a new side of town. Bolanos himself could not be reached, but here’s hoping this story is exactly what it sounds like. That’s right, some Mexican badassery in the Inner Richmond. 200 6th Ave. at California, 415-221-0444.

Over in Cole Valley, the Cole Valley blog posts a tip suggesting an Italian restaurant and wine bar is going to be moving into the former Hama-Ko. 108 Carl St. at Cole.

Meanwhile, over in North Beach/Chinatown, ~FANCY WHEAT FIELD BAKERY~ (which might just be the best bakery name ever) has just opened in the former Victoria Pastry Co. location. Yup, it’s the second location of the Excelsior bakery on San Bruno Avenue. You can come in for a variety of Chinese baked goods (just fill up your tray with your own tongs), with both sweet and savory offerings, from pineapple buns to pork sung buns to seaweed buns with pork filling. It’s bao o’clock.1362 Stockton St. at Vallejo, 415-982-1368.

We received word this morning that ~THE CORNER STORE~ is getting ready for the big opening of the Target store at Geary and Masonic with a new morning coffee window. Mon-Fri 7am-11am they’ll be serving Blue Bottle coffee, light pastries, parfaits, and a breakfast sandwich out of a to-go window. Limited patio seating will available, but it’s mostly intended to be a takeout spot. They’ve also expanded their happy hour offerings (which runs Tue-Sun 3pm-6pm) and added some weekend brunch items (with spring coming, the patio should be open for brunch soon).

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, ~ABUNDANT MARKET~ is the market that was taking over the Cal-Divis Market space (previously Blue Fog). Thanks to a tweet from @sffoodtech, we know it is open as of today and is serving Blue Bottle Coffee (also looks like it will have wine for sale). There will also be salads and sandwiches available; look for fully stocked shelves in the specialty market section of the space soon. 2792 California St. at Divisadero.

The Corner Store - 5 Masonic Ave. San Francisco - 415-359-1800

Get Your Buzz On at These New Coffee Spots

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The Linea Caffe logo.

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The exterior of Caffe Dolci. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

The Mission will soon have another spot to get a killer cup of coffee. Up this time is ~LINEA CAFFE~, from Ecco Caffe founder Andrew Barnett and Anthony Myint of Mission Street Food and Commonwealth. The 292-square-foot spot is inside Duc Loi Market, where Myint’s Mission Burger used to pop up. The new project will feature bags of beans that Barnett has sourced from his favorite coffee farms around the world (the name, which means “line” in Italian, refers to the direct line between the farmer and the new location), plus a stand-up espresso bar.

The spot is also going to serve as an incubator for new casual food concepts. To start, Myint will be serving green salads via his GreenSalads project, and crisp Brussels-style waffles under his Lt. Waffle banner. Myint will be donating $1 from each salad to 350.org, a grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. In the future, look out for outdoor seating too. The opening is currently set for May, and when it does open, hours will be 7:30am-2:30pm. 3417 18th St. at San Carlos.

In the Marina, there’s the new ~CAFFE DOLCI~, which is now open and serving Italian gelato, Illy espresso, and panini on housemade focaccia in the former John Campbell’s Bakery space. Hours are 9am-9pm Tue-Sun (closed Mondays). 3101 Fillmore St. at Filbert, 415-563-8434.

S&S Pops Up at Mission Rock and Off the Grid Returns to Fort Mason

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Off the Grid: Fort Mason. Photo from Facebook.

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Sarah Burchard and Spencer O’Meara of S&S in the kitchen. Photo by Iann Ivy via Facebook.

Check out the new S&S Shack pop-up at ~MISSION ROCK RESORT~ on Tuesday April 16th. S&S Brand is a collaboration between chefs Sarah Burchard (previously Barbacco) and Spencer O’Meara (previously Paragon), whose menu is focused on classic American food. Tickets are $40 and include an opening reception with snacks, followed by a three-course dinner with items like fried jerk chicken, corn bread, and housemade hot links. The happy hour begins at 6pm, dinner at 7pm; tickets do not include beverages and gratuity. 817 Terry A. Francois Blvd. at Illinois, 415-701-7625.

~OFF THE GRID~ is back at Fort Mason with its Friday night market, which kicks off Friday March 22nd. The market has some new features this time around, including cocktails from the Alembic and beer from Magnolia. Each of the vendors will be serving a new menu choice each month, so you can check back often and try new things.

Off the Grid is also starting the brand-new Prix-Fixe Dining Service, which is a specialty heated lounge area where you can make a reservation to have a more composed meal with one of the participating vendors, including Azalina’s and Hapa SF, and cocktails (and more) from Derby Cocktail Co., a new mobile bar concept by Stag Dining. The average cost for the prix fixe is $40, plus optional beverage pairings available. The market’s hours are 5pm-10pm Fridays, Fort Mason Center.

Pie Time! Catch the San Francisco Pie Social and Competition

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Pie! From Three Babes Bakeshop (image from their website).

Pie is pretty much its own fantastic food group, so be sure to make it to the first annual San Francisco Pie Competition and Social on Sunday April 14th. The event is a benefit for the San Francisco Community School in the Excelsior. Bakers from all over are encouraged to bake their finest and submit them to the panel of all-star judges, including Elisabeth Prueitt (Tartine), Jake Godby (Humphry Slocombe), Jessica Battilana (Tasting Table), Michelle Polzine (Range), and Mutsumi Takehara (Sandbox Bakery). The prizes will rock (hello, $1,600 Shun Fuji knife set).

It’s not just a competition, though, it’s also a social, so you can just show up and enjoy a slice and a cup of coffee. If you’re interested in donating a pie, but not competing, that’s fine too!

There will be live music, fun activities for kids, and, um, lots of freakin’ pie. It runs from 11:30am-2pm, and tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids, and $25 to submit a pie. For details on the event and submitting your flakiest masterpiece, go here. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St. at Hampshire.

Sunday Apr 14, 2013
11:30am-2pm
$15 for adults, $5 for kids, $25 to enter the competition
more info

Get Hoppy with These Easter Treats

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Thank you Easter Bunny, bwok bwok! Photo from Rulli’s Facebook page.

Easter is almost here, and it’s time to up the quotient of tasty carbs in your life. Perhaps the most well-known Easter sweet in my family’s house is the colomba di Pasqua, a sweet, eggy bread made in the shape of an Easter dove (my mother makes a beautiful one). Since you can’t have my mom’s, you should try the one made by ~STARTER BAKERY~ (if you had baker Brian Wood’s panettone over the winter holiday, well, here’s your next chapter). The bread comes with a gorgeous hazelnut glaze, studded with pearl sugar and almonds. It’s wonderful warmed up with your morning coffee. It’s $25, and will be available at Starter Bakery’s farmers’ market booth (Grand Lake 9am-2pm; Temescal 9am-1pm; Montclair 9am-1pm) on 3/23, 3/24, 3/30, and 3/31. There will also be delivery to Bi-Rite (both locations) on 3/28. It is highly recommended you pre-order from Starter Bakery (email here); orders must be received before 3/25 at noon.

Another classic Easter treat are hot cross buns, which you can pick up from ~RULLI~ (they are tender brioche pastries with raisins and candied fruit, with a custard cross on top). $3, available now through Easter. (Rulli also makes a wonderful colomba, plus adorable Easter bunny chocolates.)

Try another version of hot cross buns from ~LA BOULANGE BAKERY~, which makes its hot cross buns with apricots, cranberries, and raisins ($1.95 each or $9.95 for six).

If you’re in the East Bay, you can swing by ~ROCKRIDGE MARKET HALL~ both for hot cross buns ($2.50 each) and an Easter colomba from Rustichella d’Abruzzo (which is fantastic, with candied orange inside and an almond crust). Oh, and The Pasta Shop is also offering pashka, a Russian Easter specialty of slightly sweetened cheese with fruit, almonds, and raisins. (Please note The Pasta Shop will be closed on Easter Sunday.)

Easter isn’t complete without some chocolate. Be sure to visit ~RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS~ for its Easter offerings (available in the Ferry Building store, Little Nib, and online). You can pick up a chocolate Easter egg, burnt caramel truffles decorated with Easter images, and more.

Speaking of eggs, you have to take a look at the over-the-top egg display at ~CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES~, mamma mia.

Craftsman and Wolves - 746 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-913-7713

Fun Food Events: Dishcrawl in Alameda, Beretta Turns Five, Outstanding in the Field Tickets on Sale

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Dishcrawl leaves its mark. Photo from Facebook.

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The busy busy Beretta dining room. Photo courtesy Beretta.

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The long table at an Outstanding in the Field event. Photo courtesy OITF.

Psssssst! Hey you. Here’s a little secret: Alameda is totally cool and full of neat places to eat. You should really look into it, and here’s the perfect way: ~ALAMEDA DISHCRAWL~, happening Tuesday April 9th. Basically, it’s the same idea as a pub crawl but with food instead of drinks. Dishcrawl takes you to four different restaurants, and you sample dishes at each one. Tickets are $45, the event begins at 7pm at a secret location (you’ll be emailed after you purchase tickets), and the restaurants are under wraps. Shhhhhh.

~BERETTA~ has been in the Mission for five years now and is celebrating with a pizza party on Monday April 1st. The festivities start at 8pm and continue until 1am, and there will be lots of music, snacks, and cocktails. Tickets are $30 and include punch and snacks.

The memorable farm dinners hosted by ~OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD~ are back for the 2013 season, and tickets are now on sale. The events, which pair local guest chefs with farms and serve dinners in the farm fields, are a really unique way to connect with the farms and farmers producing your food, and the long tables outside are truly lovely. Check out the tablehopper’s trip to County Line Farm in Marin for some details on what the events are like. The dinners aren’t cheap (they’re not all the same price, but are mostly in the $200 range), but they are totally worth it if you’re feeling a little flush. This year they’ve got some heavy-hitting chefs participating, too, like Ravi Kapur (Liholiho Yacht Club), Melissa Perello (Frances), and Nicolaus Balla (Bar Tartine). For a full list of dates, participating chefs, and farms, check here.

Oakland Dispatch: Scream, Barkada, Kingston 11, and Olde Depot Public House

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The partners at Kingston 11. Photo from Facebook.

Some good (potential) news from my Temescal tipster: “Apparently there is a move by some investors to save ~SCREAM SORBET~ … Nathan is hoping that a group of investors, apparently including Mary Canales of Ici, is looking into saving the business.” Fingers crossed. 5030 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland.

[Alas, our gossipy tip wasn’t quite correct. Here’s an update from Scream’s Nathan Kurz in a post on Chowhound: “Although we are exploring many options and hope to find a way to continue making our sorbet, the article is not quite correct. We have talked to Ici and several other local businesses about possible collaboration, but this has been separate from our talks with potential investors. Mary has offered kind advice and encouragement but has no plans to invest —- at least not that she has told me! Still, feel free to send other collaborators or illustrious prospects our way.”]

The Temescal tipster also mentions the people planning the bakery in the former Remedy space on Telegraph posted a menu on the window last week. It’s called ~BARKADA BAKERY AND CAFÉ~ (not to be confused with the nearby Barlata) and is due to open this spring. You can check out some pics of the menu here and here, full of breads, tarts, quiche, and more; looks tasty. Anyone have any more details? 4316 Telegraph Ave. at 43rd St., Oakland.

East Bay Express mentions a new Jamaican restaurant called ~KINGSTON 11~. Look for “jerk chicken and other home-style Jamaican specialties,” a full rum bar, and room for 90—owners Adrian Henderson, Nigel Jones, and Andre King are planning to open in April. 2270 Telegraph Ave. at 23rd St., Oakland.

Lastly, over in Jack London Square, ~OLDE DEPOT PUBLIC HOUSE~ is now open (if its website is to be believed). As I mentioned a year ago, the project is from the owners of Beer Revolution, which is just next door. Grub Street originally reported Olde Depot will be just like Beer Revolution, except there will be vegetarian and vegan food, 47-plus taps of local and small breweries, a weekend “beerunch,” and a beer garden. Hours are 12pm-12am daily. 468 3rd St. at Broadway, Oakland.

Berkeley Haps: Chez Panisse Rising, Moxy Beer Garden, More

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Carpenter Kip Mesirow’s sketch of the new front of Chez Panisse; photo via Facebook.

Here’s a quick update on ~CHEZ PANISSE~: After suffering an unfortunate fire in the front of the restaurant on March 8th, the damage is a bit more extensive than originally thought. According to this post on the Chez Panisse website, the reopening dates of the upstairs café and restaurant are currently TBD. The post mentions: “Kip Mesirow, the original artisan builder of the restaurant, has flown out from Vermont and is leading a team of talented woodworkers to rebuild both porches and redesign the façade of the building.” Best wishes to the team as they rebuild.

According to Berkeleyside Nosh, there’s a new craft beer garden and burger restaurant opening called ~MOXY BEER GARDEN~ in South Berkeley’s former Casa Vino. The owners (Mike and Amy Voisenat) are currently behind the Hobnob restaurant on Park Street in Alameda. Look for a variety of burgers, 14 craft beers on tap plus bottled selections, and a variety of wines by the glass. They start renovations in the beginning of April. When Moxy opens, lunch and dinner will be served Tue-Sun. 3136 Sacramento St. at 66th St., Berkeley.

Also mentioned in Berkeleyside Nosh: The restaurant opening in the soon-to-be-closed Caffe Venezia space will be ~MONARCH TRADING CO.~ New owner Joel DiGiorgio is reportedly close friends with Caffe Venezia’s owners and will be opening a “Californian crafthouse” restaurant serving pizza, salads, and California-centric wines and beers. Caffe Venezia has a final hurrah on Tuesday April 9th; Monarch should open in the summer. 1799 University Ave., Berkeley.

Quick bite: According to ABC license activity, ~CLAYPOT~ will be opening in the former Bacheeso’s. 2501 San Pablo Ave. at Dwight, Berkeley.

Chez Panisse - 1517 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley - 510-548-5525

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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Mar 19, 2013

Winemaker Events: Hirsch Vineyards, Massican and Donelan at Acquerello, Pey at Lincoln Park

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The patio at Foreign Cinema. Photo from Facebook.

On Thursday March 28th, join Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards at ~FOREIGN CINEMA~ for a special tasting, where she’ll be playing sommelier for the evening. Glasses and bottles of Hirsch’s 2010 (San Andreas) and 2011 (Bohan Dillon) pinot noir will be available for purchase, as well as a 2011 chardonnay. The price per glass varies, and a flight of all three wines will also be available for $32. The wines will be available during regular dinner hours, 6pm-10pm, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 415-648-7600, ext. 0.

~ACQUERELLO~ is going to be hosting Dan Petroski (Massican) and Tyler Thomas (Donelan) on Thursday March 28th—two fab California winemakers who also made wines exclusively for the restaurant. In addition to a preview of the recently bottled 2012 Massican sauvignon blanc “Acquerello,” this dinner will serve as the official release party for the 2010 syrah “Acquerello.” Guests will also taste a wide variety of other offerings from both wineries. The evening will start with a standing reception at 6:30pm, followed by a sit-down dinner at 7pm. $165, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Limited to 20 guests.

Catch winemakers Jonathan and Susan Pey of Scenic Root Winegrowers (which includes Pey-Marin Vineyards) on Sunday March 24th at ~LINCOLN PARK~ in San Anselmo. Flights of the pair’s Marin wines will be available for $12 for three or $15 for five, and there will be some small bites available (like wild mushroom and leek risotto cake) to pair with the wines, plus dessert. The tasting runs from 5pm-8pm, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. at Bank, San Anselmo, 415-453-9898.

Acquerello - 1722 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-567-5432

Shake It Up: Cocktail Class at E&O Kitchen, Spirited Dinner with St. George Spirits

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Cheers! Cocktails at E&O Kitchen. Photo from Facebook.

Join bar expert Carlos Yturria at ~E&O KITCHEN~ on Sunday March 24th for a cocktail class called Infuse Your Booze: Get Spicy with E&O, which, as the name suggests, is all about infusing liquor with flavah. The focus here will be on spicy infusions (courtesy of Brugal rum), and the class includes instruction, three cocktails to enjoy, and food (like duck imperial rolls). The event runs from 5pm-7pm and tickets are $40.

On Tuesday March 26th, join St. George Spirits at ~PARAGON~ in Berkeley (at the Claremont Hotel) for a spirited four-course dinner. They’ll be pouring St. George’s Absinthe Verte, Breaking & Entering Bourbon, and the full line of gins. Plus, many of the dishes will include spirits as a component. Master distiller Lance Winters will also be on hand to talk about the distillery. You can find additional details and the menu here. The event begins at 7pm and costs $69 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 41 Tunnel Rd. at Domingo, Berkeley, 510-549-8585.

E&O Trading Company - 314 Sutter St. San Francisco - 415-693-0303

BrewBenefit Beer Crawl on Polk April 14th

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Beer samples at BrewBenefit. Photo courtesy Dishcrawl.

The fine folks at Dishcrawl are putting on a BrewBenefit on Sunday April 14th. The event is a self-guided tour along Polk St. from 2pm-5pm. You’ll get to taste two different beers at six different bars, and compare them. Plus, a portion of the proceeds go to Meals on Wheels. It’s a bar crawl for a cause, what could be better? Tickets are $40 and include 12 five-ounce beer samples.

Quick Shots: New Bar Manager at Absinthe, Martin Macks Now Joplin's

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Cocktailing at Absinthe. Copyright © 2010 FrankenyImages.com.

With the departure of ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ bar manager Matt Conway, who will be opening his own project on Hayes (in the former Marlena’s), the restaurant has named a new bar manager: Jared Schmidt. Jared was most recently the bar manager at Quince and starts tonight!

Pub change: According to ABC license activity, Martin Macks in the Upper Haight is now ~JOPLIN’S~. You can read a little more on Uppercasing. 1568 Haight St. at Clayton.

Looking for a wine break in Union Square? ~ENO WINE BAR~ has you covered with its new location, which opened March 13th. The spot boasts almost 50 different wines by the glass, and an additional 300 by the bottle. Look for some winemaker dinners and events in the future. It’s open Mon-Sat 4pm-12am and Sun 3pm-10pm. 320 Geary St. at Powell, 415-678-5321.

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

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Mar 19, 2013

Hop to It: Fab Places to Go for Easter

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Photo of Easter eggs from splorp on Flickr.

Event Info

Sunday Mar 31, 2013

Easter is Sunday March 31st this year, so get yourself ready for some springtime celebrating. Here are some places around town to meet all of your brunch (and beyond) needs.

~SPRUCE~ is serving a special three-course Easter brunch (oooh, special!) from 10:30am-3pm. You’ll have a choice of different mains and appetizers; check out the full menu here. The brunch costs $65 per person, not including tax or tip, and reservations can be made by calling 415-931-5100.

Check out the three-course brunch at ~FOREIGN CINEMA~, which includes choices like a warm brandade, French toast, and a croque-madame. The brunch costs $45 per person, $15 for children, and reservations can be made by calling 415-648-7600.

Downtown, the ~BRASSERIE S&P~ will be serving a special brunch menu from 10am-4pm, plus bottomless mimosas for $25, and the usual selection of excellent gin cocktails. At 12:30pm, there will be an Easter egg hunt for kids with the Bunny himself, plus prizes and photo ops. Reservations can be made by calling 415-986-2020.

At ~TWENTY FIVE LUSK~ you’ll find a three-course prix-fixe brunch with choices for $35 per person from 11am-2pm. Check out the menu choices here, and make reservations online or by calling 415-495-5875.

For something a little different (and way fun), check out the Sunday’s a Drag brunch at ~HARRY DENTON’S STARLIGHT ROOM~ at the Sir Francis Drake. The special Easter show includes an Easter bonnet competition, and obviously you’re encouraged to wear yours too. The show includes a brunch buffet, and adult beverages can be purchased as well. There are two shows, one at noon (doors at 11am) and the second at 2:30pm (doors at 1:30pm). Reservations can be made by calling 415-395-8595. Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 21st floor, 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.

If your taste runs more toward dinner than brunch, check out the poultry dinner at ~A16~. Sonoma County Poultry will be featured on the menu, with Liberty duck and Easter specialties available in addition to the regular menu. It will be open for dinner from 4pm-9pm, and reservations can be made by calling 415-771-2216.

~DELFINA~ is opening early on Easter Sunday, if a late lunch/early dinner is your style. Doors open at 3:30pm, and reservations can be made here.

If you’re thinking about taking a jaunt for Easter, take the ferry to Sausalito and catch lunch or dinner at ~POGGIO~, where there will be a special menu with lots of springtime egg dishes like asparagus Milanese, or check out the lamb chops. Mmmm, lamb chops. Lunch begins at 11:30am, and dinner begins at 5:30pm. Reservations can be made by calling 415-332-7771.

707 scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Mar 19, 2013

Cooking Classes with Ram's Gate

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A table at Ram’s Gate, ready for dinner. Photo from Facebook.

For a wine-filled evening during which you’ll also learn something new, check out the WINEspired Cooking Series at ~RAM’S GATE WINERY~ in Sonoma (just by the Sonoma Raceway, so it’s not too much of a drive from the city). Each class features a different wine from Ram’s Gate, which you’ll have the opportunity to taste and then create a meal to pair with it under the tutelage of chef Taylr Behnam. At the end of the class session, you get to sit down and enjoy the meal, along with wine pairings. Classes will take place on the following Fridays from 5:30pm-8pm: March 22nd, April 5th, and April 26th. The classes cost $100 per person, $90 for Ram’s Gate members. Reservations can be made by email or by calling 707-721-8700. 28700 Arnold Dr. at Mangel Ranch, Sonoma.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Mar 19, 2013

Duuuuuude!

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Photo courtesy M.Y. China.

~Guy Fieri~ came across some totally crazy-long hand-pulled noodles at M.Y. China, and there’s a picture to prove it.

Don't Worry, Eat Sandwiches

~Bobby McFerrin~ was spotted at Precita Park Cafe last week.

Funny Locals

~Robin Williams~ popped into El Paseo on Friday, where chef Tyler Florence nabbed a picture (Phil Bronstein is in the pic as well).

Taco Gleeks

The adorable ~Dianna Agron~ of Glee was at Tacolicious on Valencia last Friday having lunch. She took pictures with fans and has apparently been in before.

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