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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: courting the fog, flirting with rain.

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I had a taste of the tortilla soup at La Condesa Napa, and now it haunts me. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I never thought I’d be so happy to hear the foghorn this morning, and see some rain in the forecast for Thursday (come on, you can do it!). It was strange to drive up to Wine Country this past weekend and see the fields look so parched. No green, velvety grasses. But after emailing with a family friend about his current existence in -11 temps, I definitely know where I’d rather be.

My mom and I headed up to sunny St. Helena on Friday afternoon for a fun mother-daughter getaway (I recommend them highly). We checked in at the Wydown Hotel (this cute boutique hotel is the way to go) and my mom says, “It’s time for bubbles!” I am not one to disagree with that statement, ever. We also tried out the new menu at La Condesa (I am going to be very sorry their excellent tortilla soup is so far away), and the next day after a morning walk we had a fantastic brunch at French Blue—it’s literally across the street from the Wydown, too handy. I’ll share a full recap soon!

Wanted to do a quick shout-out to the site Swimmingly, who asked me to contribute to their annual year in food and music. Considering what an amazing year I had of both, it was a fun little piece to write. (You can read posts from all over here.)

This week we have some exciting sneak peeks at some soon-to-open places. I also want to remind you of this post I wrote for 7x7.com on where to go eat for the Lunar New Year, since the two-week celebration (and many special menus!) begin this Friday.

Let’s party.
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Jan 28, 2014

First Look and Details About the New Loló on Valencia (Opening February 3rd)

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Booth seating in the front dining room. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

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The back dining area, with the wall of origami boats. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

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The main bar (with tires for footrests). Photo by Aubrie Pick.

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Dungeness crab croquetas with a piloncillo and mirasol pepper reduction, topped with pickled onions. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

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The front dining area, complete with a banquette that is all suited up and ready for you. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

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The Hamaicon (mezcal, hibiscus tea, St. Germain, balsamic vinegar), a cocktail coming over to the new spot. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

With the closure of ~LOLÓ~’s colorful location this past weekend after six years on 22nd Street, it’s now time to turn our eyes to Loló’s new digs, opening Monday February 3rd. As previously noted on tablehopper, it’s opening in the former Lot 7 on Valencia, which is a much larger location.

The partners in Loló—executive chef Jorge Martínez, his wife Lorena Zertuche, and GM Juan Carlos Ruelas—now have a much bigger playground for their guests: the dining room is more expansive (65 seats!), plus there’s an open kitchen, two bar areas, and in early spring, there will also be a downstairs private dining room with room for 20 (mark my words, this room is going to become party central).

Leave it to co-owner and artist Lorena to blow us away with another fun, vivid, and one-of-a-kind interior. There isn’t a place in town that can touch the creativity of her style—a lot of it is inspired by her childhood on the rancherías in Torréon, Coahuila.

As soon as you walk into the space, you’ll see a riot of color and patterns. On the walls are printed oilcloth, woven fabrics, and men’s suit jackets stitched onto the back of a banquette; there is also a bright pink wall covered in silver doilies, another wall with more than 1,000 hand-folded origami boats, bike tires used as frames, and salvaged car doors (the team even found someone to reinstall glass windows on them).

Take a closer look at the booths and you’ll see the leather belts stitched down the center—and yes, the bench seats are pickup truck seats—while two of the overhead lights are made from vintage bicycle handlebars. It all feels very Mexico, and the artistry and DIY aesthetic are also very Mission.

Lorena says of the design: “With our new restaurant, I was inspired by both my childhood and the heart of the Mission District. As our city continues to evolve, it runs the risk of losing some of its history and culture. I wanted to capture and preserve the artistic spirit of the neighborhood—in my own way—and create an environment that embraces our heritage, ingenuity, and history built around food and community.”

There are also some new dishes on Jorge Martínez’s Jaliscan-Californian menu that integrates Mexican flavors with local ingredients, like Dungeness crab croquetas, oyster and pork chin confit sopes (whoa), black mussel and calamari escabeche, and panko-encrusted avocado tacos. Yup, we get a new taco. No fear, favorites like the taco tropical and the tuna tacon (seared albacore tuna, shellfish aioli, avocado, roasted tomatillo sauce) will transfer over.

Of course the bar team (bar managers David Gallardo and Leon Vasquez) has been working on some new cocktails, while still keeping a strong focus on mezcal. Look for new drinks like El Benito (mezcal, lemon verbena, Avezé gentian liqueur, yellow Chartreuse, bitters), the Mezcal Mula (pomegranate-infused tequila, mezcal, ginger beer, bitters), and the Player, a non-mezcal option with Cynar, rye whiskey, grapefruit bitters, and Anchor Steam. The menu also features a number of Spanish wines.

Aficionados of tequila and mezcal will want to sidle on up to the brand-new, nine-seat Agave Bar, serving mezcal and tequila tastings. There will be a rotating “Vuelos de Mes” (flight of the month), which will include three one-ounce tastings of specialty mezcal and tequila for $10-$12. (If you want a cocktail, you’ll need to go to the restaurant’s main bar or be seated at a table.)

Loló will open with dinner and cocktail service Mon-Thu 6pm-12am and Fri-Sat 6pm-1am. Lunch and brunch service will launch in March. As for what will go into the original space, stand by.

A First Look at ICHI Sushi and NI Bar in Bernal

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The interior at the new ICHI Sushi. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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NI Bar. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Mural by Erik Marinovich. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The sushi counter. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Eastland. We broke the news on tablehopper back in July that Erin and Tim Archuleta of ~ICHI SUSHI~ were opening a second location across the street from ICHI in Bernal. We’ve got an exciting update, plus photos of their new space, which is getting ready to open this spring.

The new space, which is more than double the size they had to work with before, is divided into two spots: ICHI Sushi and NI Bar (ichi means “one” in Japanese; ni means “two”). ICHI, in front, will continue to serve sushi with sashimi and nigiri as the focus, and the larger kitchen will also allow for an expanded offering of hot dishes. NI Bar, in the back, will serve izayaka-style dishes (no sushi) and drinks for folks looking for a quick bite or those waiting for a table. As for the original ICHI, it will become an oyster and raw bar after the new location is up and running.

It was important to the Archuletas to keep the soul and intimacy of their small space, and to that end they’ve worked hard to make sure the new spot feels playful and welcoming. The space was designed by architect Thomas Pippin of Lifebox Studios, who has kept the space sweet and soulful, with many of the same wood materials as the previous location. Kevin Balestrieri of BALI Construction did the buildout, with lots of wood finish work, including a paperwood bar that is not only silky to the touch, but also retains warmth to keep the space inviting.

They’ve also worked with local artists on some of the design elements, including a mural by their neighbor, artist Erik Marinovich, that playfully depicts the “rules” of ICHI (for a funny reenactment of the mural’s advice, check out this piece from The Bold Italic). Tim Archuleta made all the bar stools and shelves, and did all the ironwork, including a clever television frame that hides the screen when it’s off (which it will be most of the time).

As for the food, there are a few different ways to get your fill here. Tim and sous chef Erik Aplin (who already works at ICHI) are working with Chris Kiyuna of Mission Bowling Club to get the menu ready for the opening. There is a 30-seat sushi counter in the front, along with table seating. In back, there is an omakase-only counter that looks into the kitchen and is available by reservation only. Then, there is the NI Bar, with its snacks and izakaya-style plates. Many of the items on the main dining room menu will be classics from the original menu, including the chicken wings, pork belly, and beef tataki. The new space will allow them to do more whole butchery with the fish, too, so you’ll see some new cuts offered on the menu. And of course, the menu will change frequently with the seasons.

The additional space has also allowed them to expand their beverage offerings. The bar is helmed by Ken Furusawa (formerly of Range, Rubicon, and La Folie). They’ll have Japanese beer on tap, including Hitachino, Sapporo, and Asahi, along with some local choices from the likes of Almanac and 21st Amendment.

As for wine, you’ll find 16-20 options by the bottle and 6-8 by the glass. The list, which is still being finalized, will be dominated by whites, along with a few lighter reds with balanced acidity, some rosés, and bubbly. The focus on the list will be on pairing the wine with seafood, of course, and on featuring smaller producers with distinctive style. There will be four wines on tap, one red and three whites, one of which is a custom blend from Andis Wines in Amador County.

And of course, there will be sake. There will be at least 20 different sakes available, many of them only available seasonally. They’re also working on a shochu cocktail list that will offer shochu the same way it is enjoyed in Japan: as a spirit, served very simply (no pseudo appletinis here). The cocktails will be simple, refreshing, and intended to pair well with the food.

Right now, the time line is for NI Bar to open softly in mid-February. Then, the new ICHI should be able to open in March, and the former ICHI will open shortly after that. Basically, if everything goes according to plan, all three projects will be up and running by late spring. We’ll update you with exact dates when we have them! 3282 Mission St. at 29th St.

ICHI Sushi - 3369 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-525-4750

What's Next for Café du Nord

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Cafe du Nord. Photo from Facebook.

Back in November, tablehopper was the first to file on the news that Dylan MacNiven (Woodhouse Fish Co.) was taking over ~CAFÉ DU NORD~ and changes were coming—and now, more details have been released. MacNiven’s partner is Enrique Landa, and they are going to partner up with none other than Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (Flour + Water, Salumeria, and Central Kitchen) and The Bon Vivants on Du Nord’s next incarnation. Yeah, the historic place (since 1908) will be in good hands, since they are all keen to honor the legacy of the location.

Over the years, the space was a saloon, a Prohibition-era speakeasy, a Basque restaurant, and most recently, a music venue and bar under owner Guy Carson. It’s currently under renovation, adding an elevator and a new kitchen, and the bar will receive a face-lift as well. Look for a reopening in the summer, under the name Du Nord, with a new dining option (Scoop mentions it will be “straightforward fare”) and a new cocktail list (again, not fussy). Stand by for more in the coming months, including details about the music programming, concerts, and events. 2170 Market St. at Sanchez.

Tidbits: KitTea Cafe (Meow), San Tung Expands, Urban Putt Update, More

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Kitty loves tea. And Coca-Cola. And your lap. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

Eater broke the story last week about the amazing ~KITTEA CAFE~ coming to San Francisco from locals Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky. The idea came from Japan, where cat cafés are popular, and the idea is to create a space where customers can relax and slow down with tea, while in the company of a friendly feline. A location has not been selected yet, but Hatt and Braginsky are reportedly looking at spaces in Hayes Valley and the Mission. They’re working with the Health Department to make sure the project is legal and safe, which will likely involve separating the food and beverage area from the “cat lounge” area. They’re also hoping to work with a local rescue organization to provide the cats, so that they’ll be available for adoption. They’ll likely start crowdfunding soon, and the hope is to open this summer. To follow along with the project’s progress, follow them on Facebook or check for updates on their website.

Famous chicken wing slingers ~SAN TUNG~ are expanding, sort of. The café next door, formerly called ~NEXT DOOR SWEETS~ has closed, but in its place will be an annex of the original San Tung. They’ll be serving an almost identical menu, and the owner is a member of the family. The liquor license application uses the name ~SAN TUNG #2~. A call to the restaurant confirmed the expansion, and revealed that they should be open for business in about a month. Which is excellent, because it can get really crowded over there. 1033 Irving St. at 12th Ave.

We got an update from ~URBAN PUTT~, the miniature golf place coming to the Mission from owner Steve Fox. They’ve got a chef signed onto the project’s restaurant, called UP @ Urban Putt, and it is none other than Dane Boryta of the recently closed Bottle Cap. The menu will focus on American classics, like burgers, pizza, fries, and salads. As noted earlier, beverages are being worked out by the Bon Vivants team, with cocktails and a locally oriented beer and wine list, including a custom craft beer from a local brewery. Right now, the plan is to open in mid-April. 1096 South Van Ness at 22nd St.

The ~POPUP COMMUNITY MARKET~ at the Bayview Opera House is happening every Thursday from 5pm-7:30pm. Vendors include artists, chefs, and bakers from the Bayview District, including Earl’s Bread, Gratta Wines, and Nia Soul Food. The neighborhood party also includes live music and activities for the little ones. 4705 3rd St. at Newcomb.

~OVER THE MOON ICE CREAM AND COOKIES~ is offering “grand opening specials” this Thursday and Friday January 30th-31st. Both their Embarcadero 4 and Marina locations will be offering $1 cookies, $2 small scoops, and $3 create-your-own sandwiches. Embarcadero 4 will be open 12pm-5pm both days, and the Marina location will have extended hours, Thu 12pm-10pm and Fri 12pm-12am. Two locations: 2144 Chestnut St. at Pierce, 415-395-0055; and Embarcadero 4 at Drumm, 415-445-9107.

It looks like owner Joseph Manzare has sold SoMa Italian restaurant ~ZUPPA~, according to Inside Scoop. The restaurant and building have been sold to real estate investors, and there’s no word yet on what might be moving in. Manzare plans to head back into the kitchen at Globe, and is looking forward to spending more time cooking. 564 4th St. at Freelon.

San Tung - 1031 Irving St. San Francisco - 415-242-0828

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: New Format at AQ, Dinner at Ironside, Capo's No Longer Cash Only

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The chef’s counter at AQ. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It looks like the team at ~AQ~ has decided to adjust their format. According to an email from the restaurant, they’ll be switching their menu over to a four-course prix-fixe at dinner, with the option of a grand tasting menu as well. The new format will allow the kitchen to try out some new techniques, but they also want to stay rooted in classic, seasonal preparations. In order to focus more on these changes, they’ve also decided to end weekend brunch service as of January 26th. The dinner menu changes will take effect on Tuesday March 18th, when they switch the restaurant decor from winter to spring.

More news from the hopper inbox: a press release informs us that ~IRONSIDE~ is now offering a “West Coast BBQ” dinner menu Tue-Sat starting at 5pm. Look for combo plates with a choice of meats including pork ribs, brisket, and chicken. They’re also offering portobello mushrooms for vegetarians, along with a range of sides and appetizers. You also have the option of ordering a family-style feast. Take a look at the menu here. 680A 2nd St. at Townsend, 415-896-1127.

~CAPO’S~ has joined the credit card party and is no longer cash only. From now on, you can pay using your plastic in the form of Visa and MasterCard. They’ve also added some new pizzas, including the Farmer’s Pizza with spicy Calabrese sausage, bacon, fresh eggs, wild mushrooms, white cheddar, goat cheese, mozzarella, provolone, peppadews, and arugula. Charge it!

Capo's - 641 Vallejo St. San Francisco - 415-986-8998

How to Throw the Tastiest Super Bowl Party Ever

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The Angry Korean wings from Wing Wings. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s okay, you’re allowed to be a little bummed about the Super Bowl this year. Actually, a lot. But if you are planning to watch on Sunday February 2nd and don’t want to jockey for a bar stool, here are some places that will ensure you have a delicious time from the comfort of your own couch (besides, no one will get grossed out watching you eat wings and lick your fingers, or cut you off at the bar, hic).

Do yourself a favor and order some sandwiches from ~MERIGAN SUB SHOP~. Their usual menu will be available for takeout or delivery, plus larger-format subs for groups are available by preorder. Italian combo, FTW! They’ll be open 12pm-5pm on Sunday. 626 2nd St. at Brannan, 415-536-2991.

~4505 MEATS~ has several items to keep your party delicious, including Magic Bacon Bombs (that’s jalapeños stuffed with chorizo queso and wrapped in 4505’s bacon for $2 each), charcuterie platters in various sizes ($50-$200), and smoked chicken wings ($6.50 per pound). All items will be available on Saturday February 1st and Sunday February 2nd at their store and farmers’ markets (except the Bacon Bombs, which will only be available at the store). Also note that the store will be open on Sunday from 11am-3pm. 1909 Mission St. at 15th St., 415-525-4239.

Of course ~WING WINGS~ is your best friend this Sunday. They’ve got a special Super Bowl menu on offer, with party sandwich packs, jumbo chicken wing orders, and sides. And remember, they deliver! Order now, though.

~HI LO~ is offering a serious feast to get you through the day: for $175 you get one pound each of pulled pork and brisket, an entire rack of ribs, sausages, three double orders of sides, a jar of pickles, and pull-apart rolls. Make sure to order by 2pm Saturday February 1st! 415-874-9921.

For a major taco spread, look to ~TACOLICIOUS~ for all your catering needs. They’ve got three options to choose from: the taco bar ($12 per person), the make-your-own-taco 12-pack (starts at $52), and their housemade telmoritos ($9 for a bag, serves six). Email them for more information and to order.

If you’re in the North Bay, head to ~COPITA~ for lots of to-go options designed to serve four to six sports fans. There’s a 10-layer black bean dip ($12) or bacon guacamole ($9), queso fundido with tortillas and your choice of oyster mushrooms or chorizo ($15), or carne con chile ($14). Check out all the choices and ordering instructions here. 739 Bridgeway at Anchor, 415-331-7400.

Finding yourself low on liquor but can’t pull yourself away from the television? ~LASSO~ is here to help. They deliver wine, beer, and spirits to locations in San Francisco, along with grocery items like cheese plates, cookies, chips, and salsa. And if you enter code RECOVER10 at checkout, you’ll save $10 on your $30 purchase.

Improve Your Breakfast Groove with a Class from Megan Gordon

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On Saturday February 8th, have a little breakfast in the late afternoon with author and cook Megan Gordon, who is also the woman behind the awesome Marge Granola! Her new cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings, is all about satisfying breakfasts—and we’re not just talking oatmeal, folks. More like cheesy chive millet grits, zucchini farro cakes, and saucy tomato-poached eggs with kale and wheat berries. YES. It’s an inspiring book to shake up your morning routine.

We may have lost Megan to Seattle, but she’ll be back in SF to teach a class at ~18 REASONS~ from 3pm-6pm where you’ll learn several of her recipes, plus some of her tips for saving time in the morning (very important). The class will culminate in a dinner with wine; tickets are $65 for the general public and $55 for members.

If you can’t catch Megan that Saturday, she also has events at the following locations in the Bay Area: Friday February 7th at 11am at Anthropologie Fourth Street (750 Hearst Ave., Berkeley); Saturday February 8th at 10am at Healdsburg Shed (25 North St., Healdsburg); and Sunday February 9th at 1pm at Book Passage (51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera).

Saturday Feb 8, 2014
3pm-6pm
$65 for the general public, $55 for members
more info

18 Reasons - 3674 18th St. San Francisco

Ryan Farr and Caleb Zigas Throwing a Whole Hog Fundraiser Feb. 9th

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This is an event you won’t want to miss. On Sunday February 9th, Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, along with Caleb Zigas of La Cocina, will be hosting a whole hog party for barbecue pitmaster Rodney Scott. Here’s the story: Scott runs Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, South Carolina, and tragically lost his pit in a fire in November 2013. Fatback Collective is sponsoring a Southern tour to help raise the $100,000 Scott needs to bring his joint up to code, and the San Francisco party is part of that effort.

The party will be in the parking lot of the future home of 4505 Meats, and also includes an online auction. The event is 11am-2pm, and tickets are $20 in advance for a plate of meat and sides (or you can chip in a little more) or $25 at the door. And be sure to check out the fantastic video of Rodney Scott and his story right here. 702 Divisadero St. at Grove.

510 News: Bowl'd BBQ Korean, Tierra Mia Coffee in Oakland, The Station Now Open, Whole Hog at Oliveto

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Tierra Mia Coffee in Oakland. Photo from Facebook.

East Bay Express caught the news that the recently opened Copan in Oakland has undergone a rebranding and is now ~BOWL’D BBQ~, which has a location in Albany as well. The owner, Micha Oh of Ohgane, is still there, though chef Eddie Chu has left to return to Los Angeles. (Oh’s daughter, Jessica Oh, is the owner of the Albany location.) The menu will be mostly the same as the original Bowl’d, with some additional barbecue options and a few favorites from Copan. 4869 Telegraph Ave. at 48th St., Oakland.

The Bay Area has another location of Los Angeles-based ~TIERRA MIA COFFEE~, this time in the old I. Magnin building in Uptown Oakland, according to SF Weekly. There’s pour-over coffee, espresso, and a few Latin options, too, like horchata. Sprudge has some great details on the space (24 foot ceilings! marble!). 2001 Broadway at 20th, Oakland.

Berkeleyside Nosh reports that the former Viva Taqueria building in Berkeley has finished its transformation into ~THE STATION~, from owner Sandy Boyd (Espresso Roma, Milano Café, and the French Hotel). The new place has a small, simple menu, offering one burger, one hot dog, a grilled cheese sandwich, a vegetable sandwich, and a mixed salad. At breakfast, there’s a simple selection of pastries, with some more substantial choices like oatmeal or a scrambled egg wrap. Hours are daily 7am-8:30pm. 2984 Russell St. at Claremont.

It’s time for the annual Whole Hog Dinners at ~OLIVETO~ in Oakland. From Tuesday February 4th through Friday February 7th you can try this annual celebration of all things porky, including a 24-month prosciutto, a pork trotter terrina, gnocchi with pork sugo and pancetta, or a spit-roasted pork loin, to name just a very few. Take a look at all the choices here.

Oliveto - 5655 College Ave. Oakland - 510-547-5356

Molina Gearing Up to Open in Mill Valley in February

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Chef Todd Shoberg at the farmers’ market. Photo by Stephen Porter Productions via Molina.

Coming to Mill Valley in February is a new project from chef Todd Shoberg, who previously worked at Town Hall, Liberty Café, and Piatti Mill Valley. The new restaurant is called ~MOLINA~ and is built around the wood-fired Alan Scott oven that will lie at the heart of the kitchen. The restaurant will seat 55, and Doug Washington (Town Hall, Salt House, Anchor & Hope) and Robert Van Horne (Frances, Delfina, Tosca) were brought on to design the space.

The menu will change daily, using local and seasonal ingredients, and most of the food will be cooked in the wood-fired oven, with prices ranging from $10-$30. Jason Ruppert of Littorai Wines has been brought on to develop the wine list, which will be focused on local producers and small production. The restaurant is set to open on Monday February 24th, and hours will be daily 5pm-10pm. 17 Madrona St. at Throckmorton, Mill Valley, 415-383-4200.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Jan 28, 2014

Josiah Baldivino and Stevie Stacionis Opening Bay Grape Wine Shop in Oakland

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Bay Grape wine shop’s upcoming home. Photo courtesy of Josiah Baldivino.

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Josiah and Stevie. Photo via Bay Grape website.

I was thrilled to hear the news that the vibrant husband-and-wife team Josiah Baldivino and Stevie Stacionis found a location for their wine shop, an idea they have been fine-tuning of late. Baldivino is the head sommelier of Michael Mina restaurant (he has worked there the past four years), and if you have attended any tablehopper Languedoc wine events, you’ll know who he is! Stacionis is the director of communication for Corkbuzz Wine Studio in New York, Community Manager for the Guild of Sommeliers, and you have probably seen her writing on Serious Eats. They also created a fun video series, A Drink with Friends TV.

So, the shop! It’s going to be called ~BAY GRAPE~, and it’s right on Grand Avenue on the northern edge of Lake Merritt in the Adams Point neighborhood of Oakland (in between Uptown and Grand Lake). The 1,800-square-foot retail space is going to be filled with wine, craft beer, sodas, and a selection of local and artisanal charcuterie, cheese, nuts, pickles, and bread. You can take things to go, or open up a bottle and create your own little picnic at the communal table or the counter. It’s meant to become a community gathering spot, and they are working with a local designer to create an inviting space that’s full of light (bonus, there are skylights and tall ceilings!), with pale wood, and corrugated metal finishes.

Now, here’s a big reason why I love these two. Baldivino has some serious wine chops: he worked for Silverlake Wine, as a sommelier for the Daniel Boulud group, received his Advanced Sommelier Certification, and was also named one of Wine & Spirits’ Best New Sommeliers. Stacionis has worked front of the house for seven years at restaurants in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York, is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and has quite the background both in editorial and in wine retail communications. The two of them love pouring wine, drinking wine, and writing and talking about wine. They love to educate people about wine, but are far from snobs about it. Quite the opposite: they make it very, very fun.

At Bay Grape, the wines they will be curating will average $15-25 a bottle, which Baldivino says, “is where we find the real sweet spot of great quality.” You’ll also find some wines above and below that price range, but the bulk will be in that oh-so-wallet-friendly range. Bang for the buck, hell to the yes. The selections will be global, but look for some strong California picks as well (Baldivino even featured a “Hometown Hero” section of local winemakers on the list at Mina). Stacionis adds: “What’s happening wine-wise in this state is so inspiring and invigorating, we are bowled over to support it. Look for a very solid hometown representation including hard-to-find and up-and-coming nuggets of California deliciousness.”

Come by during the week and you’ll find themed pours by the glass, plus two local wines and a local beer on tap. There will be plenty of winemaker tastings, informal classes, and even CSA pickups. Look for an opening this summer! 376 Grand Ave. at Elita, Oakland.

Beer and Bar News: Fort Point Beer Company Now Open, Danny Louie Leaving The Alembic, The Hot Spot Renovating

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Fort Point Beer Company. Photo by Phil Malik from Facebook.

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Photo of Danny Louie by Noelle Chun of (The Joy of Drinking).

There is a new brewery located on Crissy Field in the Presidio, called ~FORT POINT BEER COMPANY~. It’s from brothers Tyler and Justin Catalana, previously of Mill Valley Beerworks. They’re brewing six different beers right now, including an exclusive one for Tosca (called, appropriately, The Tosca), a Kölsch-style ale called the KSA, and a San Francisco-style IPA called the Villager. Right now, their beers are only available at local bars including Biergarten and Tosca, and kegs are available for purchase at Mill Valley Beerworks. 644 Mason St. at Crissy Field, 415-906-4021.

Some news in bar land: Danny Louie, who has been behind the stick at ~THE ALEMBIC~ for the past five-plus years, is going to be moving on. His new position is the bar manager of ~MOSTO~ and the upcoming ~CHINO~. Danny said, “I gave it a lot of thought, and The Alembic has been so great to me, but this was the right time to do it.” It ends up his immigrant father was a bartender in Chinatown (how cool is that?), and the opportunity to work with Brandon Jew at Chino, who Danny proudly notes is a fellow American-born Chinese, made the offer hard to resist (it’s a soulful project for sure). Danny should be making the move by March or so. He’s working on the cocktail menu format for Chino already, and is having fun mulling it over (one category he’s considering is “fast drinks”—I like it).

Last week, Eater reported that Mid-Market dive bar ~THE HOT SPOT~ had closed. Well, it looks like the news might not be all bad after all: Tenderlife posted a photo of a sign saying that the bar is only closed for renovations and will reopen in mid-February. Their Facebook page confirms that the closure will only last six weeks. Whew—its awesome “shot/beer/and a $1 scratcher lottery ticket” deal can go on. 1414 Market St. at 10th St., 415-355-9800.

the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Jan 28, 2014

Weddy for Womance? Valentine's Day Suggestions That Don't Suck

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An antique Valentine. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Event Info

Friday Feb 14, 2014

A report by Dana Eastland. It is the hopper’s opinion that Valentine’s Day is not an optimal day to eat out. But perhaps your love is not of that opinion, and you’ve really got to go somewhere nice on Friday February 14th. Here are a few places that will make you a little less likely to poke an eye out.

Why not try someplace new? ~VERBENA~ is serving their regular menu (that’s right, no spendy prix-fixe) from 5:30pm-11:30pm, with lots of reservations for two available. 2323 Polk St. at Green, 415-441-2323.

Another newcomer on Polk Street, ~1760~, will also be offering an à la carte menu. You’ll find many of their regular dishes, plus a few extras for the holiday. Of course, the wine list that is full of bubbles will come in handy too.

~A16~ is celebrating their tenth anniversary on February 14th, in addition to the holiday. The restaurant’s original chef, Christophe Hille, will return to collaborate on the night’s menu, which will include favorite dishes from over the years.

For a low-key but delicious evening, head to ~IZAKAYA YUZUKI~ in the Mission, where they’re offering a five-course dinner for $75. Sake pairings are also available for an additional $45.

~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is really embracing the young love thing, with a Pretty in Pink theme for the evening. The à la carte menu will include lots of favorite classics, including aged New York steak and cornmeal blinis with caviar. They’ll also be offering some special cocktails, wine, and of course, lots of bubbly.

Nothing says romance like jazz, right? Head to ~CAFÉ CLAUDE~ for an evening of live music with Lori Carsillo and a three-course prix fixe menu with options. Dinner is $75 per person, with wine pairing available.

If you’re looking for a great menu with a nice price, check out the prix-fixe at ~SERPENTINE~. The four-course menu offers lots of choices for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike, including a Marin Sun Farms beef tenderloin or porcini tagliatelli with shaved perigord truffles. Oh, and dessert is a chocolate cake for two, natch. Dinner is $50 per person, and their full bar will keep things fun.

Do you find a good bargain romantic? Yeah, me too. Berkeley’s ~AJANTA~ is serving not only their regular menu on Valentine’s, but also a chef’s tasting menu for a mere $27.50. The tasting menu includes three appetizers, four main dishes and sides of rice, naan, chutneys and pickles, plus dessert. For a vegetarian feast, it’s only $24.50. You’re welcome.

As stated before, you should really stay home. But maybe cooking isn’t your thing, or you just don’t have the time to prepare the meal your special someone deserves. ~LUKE’S LOCAL~ is your new best friend. They’re delivering two different meal boxes that provide all the supplies you need to make a great meal at home. First is the “DIY Pizzahacker Box,” or you can opt for the “Date Night Steak Box.” Both boxes are $50 each and include a bouquet of tulips, salted caramels from Nosh This, mini cupcakes from Black Jet Bakery, and a handmade card. You just provide the bubbles. They’ll be delivering Friday February 14th from 3pm-7pm.

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)
Jan 28, 2014

(Sponsored): Enter to Win a 10-Course Chinese New Year Dinner at Graton Resort & Casino

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Chinese New Year is fast approaching and to celebrate, Graton Resort & Casino and M.Y. China are hosting a 10-course Chinese Banquet Dinner, traditional but with a modern, M.Y. China twist on Thursday February 6th, 2014.

One lucky tablehopper reader will win entry with one guest to the elaborate 10-course VIP Chinese banquet dinner. The winners will feast on dishes—some that take six to eight hours to prepare—such as braised pork shank, stir-fried lobster, and abalone in oyster essence, experience a “noodle dance” from M.Y. China’s very own executive chef Tony Wu, chat with celebrity chef Martin Yan himself and members of the M.Y. China team about the special dishes being served, and Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse. Beverages and gratuity are included in the prize package.

The $800 million Graton Resort & Casino is the Bay Area’s largest gaming and entertainment destination. Only 43 minutes from San Francisco, Graton Resort & Casino features an array of restaurants, award-winning chefs, and Las Vegas-style gaming in a setting that exudes casual California elegance.

All you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to one friend (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friend(s) about Graton Resort & Casino and M.Y. China! Be sure to Cc: or Bcc: me at luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Act quickly! The deadline to enter is Friday January 31st at 11:59pm.

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