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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: jazz hands.

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Topping it off with my dear sister at Marianne’s. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

Why hello there. Happy New Year to you! I hope you’ve been having a fantastic holiday and start to the new year. I have thoroughly been enjoying the break, the bizarre sunny weather, holiday get-togethers and cheer, long walks, purging my apartment, hanging out with family and friends, and watching movies.

A highlight was definitely the Top It Off soirĂ©e I hosted with Champagne Louis Roederer at the intimate Marianne’s last Saturday evening. Everyone came dressed to the nines, Veronica Klaus enchanted us with her soulful singing, our flutes were never empty of Brut Premier, and the passed apps from The Cavalier kitchen were on point. What a party.

It was the perfect segue into New Year’s Eve, which entailed a progressive dinner (apps at my sister’s friend’s house, main dishes at another apartment), and then I skedaddled off to my friend’s Great Gatsby party, with a huge tub full of Champagne, a nattily dressed crowd, and a live Savannah jazz band and vocal performance. What a way to kick off the New Year. Cheers to all of it.

Many of you longtime tablehopper readers know the first week of the new year means it’s time for me to publish my annual rant, the bore. Here’s this year’s missive, hopefully packing enough snark and sass for you.

I also wrote a “year in review” piece for my Tablehopping column in the Bay Guardian—take a peek, and maybe add a few spots you missed to your to-visit list?

But wait, there’s more! Heh. It’s a new year, so here’s my piece on five new restaurants to check out this month on 7x7.com, have fun out there!

I’ll be back in your in-boxes on Tuesday with a bunch of news and updates. Enjoy the weekend!

Let’s rock 2014.
Marcia Gagliardi

the bore

No More... (my annual kvetch)
Jan 3, 2014

In 2014, Can We Please Wipe These Things Clean?

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Yup, all done. Photo by avlxyz (via Flickr).

It’s a new year, which means it’s time for my annual bitchfest about things I’d like to see disappear (or changed) in our local dining scene. This little snarky tablehopper tradition has been going on since 2007, so before you start wondering how on earth I failed to complain about all the reclaimed wood, check out these previous editions of the bore.

  1. Juice. All these fresh- and cold-pressed juice shops are like our new fro-yo, breeding like rabbits all over the city. How many juice shops do we really need? (Don’t get me started on all the people broadcasting that they’re on a three-day juice cleanse on Facebook and complaining about it every day. #firstworldproblems) Sure, I like to get my green drink on, but usually I’d rather spend the $12 on a cocktail with some fresh-squeezed juice in it instead, thanks.

  2. Overpriced street food. Sometimes I do a major double take at the prices of some of the plates coming off of food trucks. And when the food is mediocre? Or skimpy/precious? What the hell. Nothing like standing in a line so you can eat pricey and undelicious food in the cold wind to make the novelty of food trucks wear thin.

  3. The death of SF’s dive bars is really beginning to bum me out. Yes, those liquor licenses and their real estate are highly coveted and precious things, but cities need grit, damn it. A place where you can hide out or hang out over a $5 drank and meet characters. If you’re going to take over a divey neighborhood bar, gut it, and start doubling the price of drinks, at least try to put some heart and soul into it. Honor what (and who) was there before. Some folks are bar owners, and others just act like business owners—your patrons know the difference.

  4. Spring mix. A writer pal was complaining on Twitter about what a cop-out it is, and I have to agree. Sandwich places are the worst offenders. “Let’s just add this spring mix with a gloppy balsamic dressing on the side.” There are so many other interesting lettuce options out there, ones that won’t rust and wilt so easily. Mix it up, yo.

  5. I am not a fan of places that serve slightly complicated food and expect you to eat off a lounge table. It’s impossible to dine with any semblance of grace—have you ever tried to twirl pasta at a knee-high table? You end up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame as you hunker over your steak. If you’re going to have low tables, offer food that’s easier to pick up and eat.

  6. Okay, so last year I vented about unisex bathrooms (and even worse, the ones with no toilet seat covers, ugh). There is one thing I failed to include in that rant: the need for a damn coat hook or purse hook. A table does fine, thanks, but if there isn’t a hook or a table in your bathroom, can you please work that out? Like right now? And no, the door handle is not the answer.

  7. As someone who dines out about six nights a week, I encounter all levels of service, and I find there are some overzealous servers who make it impossible to carry on a conversation with your tablemates. Unnecessary interruptions about whether you’d like more water (just pour it—my glass is almost empty and it’s free), if I am enjoying my meal (whoooa Nelly, I’m still chewing my first bite, gimme a second), whether I’m finished or not (my plate is clear, my silverware is in the 4 o’clock position, yeah, I’m pretty done), or inquiring if I need anything else (you’d know if I needed anything else, I’d ask you) are just superfluous questions that distract guests from their time together. Often the best service is seen but not heard.

  8. I’m tired of people visiting a restaurant during their opening week and bitching about what they didn’t like on Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook (and who most likely didn’t tell the manager what wasn’t working, so the restaurant didn’t have the opportunity to fix it). Ease up on the passive-aggressive complaining, folks.

  9. Bad restaurant music. Dear restaurant owner, you fretted over the fabric for the chairs, the linens, the menu font, the flatware, the water glasses, but how could you so completely miss the boat on the music? You can tell when a place has carefully chosen the music (instead of mindlessly allowing Pandora or some other channel to run it for them; or even worse, letting the staff take turns playing their iPods). Don’t know what you’re doing? Hire a music stylist. And playing LCD Soundsystem full blast doesn’t help create a lively vibe in your dining room, only frustration since your diners can’t hear each other. We aren’t working in your kitchen, we’re eating in your restaurant.

  10. Programs. Cocktail programs. Drink programs. Wine programs. Beer programs. Charcuterie programs. Cheese programs. I’m as guilty of using the word “program” as the next food writer or publicist, but it has officially been stricken from the tablehopper record henceforth.

And that’s a wrap!

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Jan 3, 2014

Huey Lewis Making News

Gotta love it when a guest at my Top It Off event with Champagne Louis Roederer last week had a star sighting to report: while we were partying in Marianne’s, tipster Mick spotted ~Huey Lewis~ having dinner at The Cavalier.

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