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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: with sprinkles on top.

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The cochon de lait po’boy at High Cotton Kitchen (at Second Act Marketplace). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey there, so, whatcha have on tap this week? Are you coming to the Taste of the Nation event on Thursday? I sure hope so. It’s going to be a great night (the lineup of chefs is pretty rad), and I am excited to be emceeing the event! See you there? In case you don’t have your ticket yet, use code TOTNSF14IND for a special 20 percent discount. (Don’t have enough scratch? You can also volunteer to help with the event.)

This weekend is the pretty swank Gourmet Fest in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which I will be driving down to on Friday. So there won’t be a Friday hopper this week—I will be on the road trying to make it in time to the Taste of Italy lunch, oh you know it. There are still some tickets available for some of the events, in case you’re looking for an excuse to get out of town this weekend.

Last weekend I was on KRON4 talking about some of SF’s best doughnuts. Speaking of sweets (and bacon), if you wanted to try the bacon Twix we had in the tablehopper Sidecar last week, you can now get them at Pinkie’s Bakery. Score.

Ciao for now!
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Mar 25, 2014

Azalina's Malaysian Opening Her First Restaurant in the Twitter (Market Square) Building

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The delightful Azalina Eusope. Photo by Tim Benson.

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Azalina’s will be going into the space at the left. You can also see the nice outdoor seating area she will have. Rendering courtesy of Market Square.

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Azalina’s laksa with hand-pulled noodles (and it’s vegan!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Azalina’s curry bombs. Photo via Facebook.

I was absolutely thrilled to read on Chowhound that Azalina Eusope, the hardworking and crazy-talented woman behind ~AZALINA’S MALAYSIAN~, is finally going to be opening her brick-and-mortar location—and it’s going in the lobby of the Twitter building, aka Market Square (and prepare for music if you hit that link). She has catered meals for the Twitter office, and like most other people with good taste in this town, they love her food.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving person.

She is mulling over the name, and is thinking of calling it Azalina (sounds right to me!). She said there will be an open kitchen, and both communal and bar seating, with 45 seats indoors and about 30 outdoors. Her good friend Edward Ngiam is designing the space. She said the vibe is going to be informal, an easy place where you can swing by for a meal or get it packed up to go. Both lunch and dinner will be served, with snacks in between and brunch on the weekends.

She is sourcing spices from back home (hopefully including poppy seed powder as a spice condiment, which can be illegal in some places), while using ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. They are not planning to serve alcohol, but she hopes to offer many fermented drinks from back home. She also wants to keep everything at a very fair price point that’s accessible to many income brackets. She says: “After all, I am fifth-generation [Mamak] street vendor, making accessible street food of my culture. I simply pray I do justice to the my community, culture, and the four generations before me with this opportunity.” You will, sweetie. You will.

She will have great neighbors on the ground floor: the AQ team’s project (their brasserie, Bon Marché) and the second Small Foods location (a grocery store). Her location is along the back wall at 10th Street and Market streets (you can look at a floor plan here). Azalina is going in where it says Market on Market, a shared retail-restaurant space that takes inspiration from Chelsea Market and Eataly in New York, as well as our Ferry Building. She said a couple of her Market on Market neighbors will be Nuubia chocolates and a juice company.

She is thrilled about all the natural light and glass walls—one of her walls is made of two huge windows that can slide to open up onto the back patio garden area on nice days (this outdoor seating area will also have a roof). She mentioned there are plans to do some fun things out back, from outdoor events to movie screenings to bonfires—she said people spend their time outside in Malaysia, so she hopes they can feel a little transported here.

The targeted opening date is September 2014. In the meantime, you can enjoy her delicious food at her stand at Off the Grid on Fridays at Fort Mason, where she is currently serving dishes like flower crab tamales, vegan laksa with her famous hand-pulled noodles, chicken curry bombs, spinach yam dumplings, sweet banana donuts, and fresh-spiced pineapple tea. September can’t come soon enough. 1355 Market St. at 10th St.

Some Details on L'Aviateur, Coming Soon to the Mission

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The interior of L’Aviateur, still under construction. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The exterior of L’Aviateur. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Eastland. We’ve been tracking the former Rock Nation Café space in the Mission for a few months now, and I finally had a chance to sit down with the team and get some details this week. The new restaurant moving in is a French place called ~BISTRO L’AVIATEUR~, and it is very much a family affair. The owners are husband-and-wife team Maha and Vincent Laforge; she’s a French-Tunisian chef who previously owned a restaurant in Quebec, and he’s a former pilot for Air France. Maha will run the kitchen here, along with her son, Joseph Steinacher, who worked in restaurants in France for five years and has a strong background in pastry.

The space is small and is intended to be intimate and comfortable, with food to match. There won’t be a fixed menu; instead, you’ll find one salad, one soup, two appetizers, and two entrées (one meat or fish, one vegetarian), which will change every day. The food will be global, with a focus on the flavors of the Mediterranean, especially North Africa, but grounded in French bistro technique and style. Some days you might see a couscous or a tagine, another day, perhaps a Greek item or a French bistro classic, like moules frites. They’re still deciding what to start with, but are excited to keep the dishes seasonal and changing regularly. They will also have a small selection of wine, with two whites and two reds by the glass (one of each from California and France).

To start, they’ll be open for lunch and into the afternoon for a salon de thé with Parisian- and Tunisian-influenced tea service. Folks will be encouraged to sit, linger, and relax over a pot of tea and pastries from 2:30pm until about 6:30pm. Any of the lunch items remaining will be sold by weight as a ready-made dinner or late-afternoon lunch. While the space will generally encourage diners to slow down and take their time, they also plan to do a brisk to-go business, which should be a good fit in the neighborhood, which is a mix of commercial and residential buildings. They plan to add dinner service later, depending on what serves the neighborhood best.

L’Aviateur means “the aviator,” a nod not only to Vincent’s background as a pilot, but also to the global nature of the menu. The decor will reflect the theme, as will the food. As Maha puts it, “we will be traveling every day, with the food.” They’ve already got an Art Deco-style light fixture partially installed, and Vincent has some other decorative flairs tucked up his sleeve. Right now, he’s still overseeing a lot of the build-out, but they’ve started to wrap up a lot of the initial construction. The space is bright and sunny, with bright touches of yellow. It seats 25, including spots right at the window, with additional sidewalk seating for 20. They’re still waiting on some inspections and their liquor license, but are hoping to open at the end of April. We’ll be sure to let you know when they do! 2850 21st St. at Alabama, 415-757-0272.

New Chef (James London) at The Elite Café; New Menu Coming in April

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Chef James London. Photo by Celisse Berumen.

Some changes at ~THE ELITE CAFÉ~ on Fillmore: owner Peter Snyderman has brought on a new chef, James London from New York. He was most recently at CO-OP at the Hotel on Rivington, and he opened La Fonda del Sol (modern Spanish in Midtown Manhattan) and consulted on the relaunch of The Crow’s Nest in Montauk; he also explored Japanese cuisine at Niko in Soho. But at heart, he’s a Southern boy; he spent his childhood in South Carolina.

London’s new Southern-inspired menu will be rolling out mid-April. The Elite has been around since 1981, and the Cajun- and Creole-inspired menu has not changed for the past eight years, so of course there are some favorites on the menu that will stay put: the deviled eggs, jambalaya, and Meetinghouse biscuits. I look forward to seeing what’s coming next. 2049 Fillmore St. at California, 415-673-5483.  

Tidbits: Updates at Fog City, Mochica to Potrero, Café Claude Adds Brunch, More

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Outdoor seating at Fog City. Photo by John Mortimer courtesy Fog City.

The newly revamped ~FOG CITY~ on the Embarcadero is getting ready for spring with a new all-day menu, plus outdoor seating. With the excellent location on the bay and the dry, warm year we’ve been having, those 20 outdoor seats are sure to become coveted spots. The lunch menu is now available from 11:30am-4:45pm, and happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4pm-6pm. Look for discounted wines on tap, some cocktails for $7, and a special appetizer of the day at happy hour (like Oysters Jackpot, $5, which features Hama Hama oysters, green garlic, spinach, and Parmesan aioli baked in the wood oven, oof). The new outdoor seating is along Battery Street; enjoy your next alfresco lunch there! 1300 Battery St. at Embarcadero, 415-982-2000.

After breaking the news about the closure of ~MOCHICA~ in SoMa, liquor license activity reveals that they are moving into a new location in Potrero Hill. Another source mentions that they’re hoping to be “ready in four to six months, if all goes well.” 1469 18th St. at Connecticut.

The Marina location of ~CAFÉ CLAUDE~ is now serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm. The menu includes a whole section of “croques,” including the madame, monsieur, and the lesser-know savoyard, with bacon, tomato, and greens. There’s also an omelet, pain perdu, and heartier lunch options like a burger or moules frites; check out the full menu here. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore, 415-375-9550.

~CHOCOLATIER BLUE~ has opened a second SF location, this one is in the Mission on Valencia. The shop offers Chris Blue’s pretty confections, along with ice cream, sorbet, floats, and sundaes. Hours are 11am-9pm daily. 905 Valencia St. at 20th St., 415-648-1010.

A liquor license application revealed a new project in Hayes Valley on Linden from Victoria Slaker and Richard Howarth, and it looks like Hoodline was able to snag some details. The married pair want to open a small neighborhood restaurant and are looking to start construction this summer. 344 Linden St. at Octavia.

Family, friends, and supporters of Allison Chen have launched an Indiegogo campaign to open her ~PI DAN NOODLE HOUSE~ in Uptown Oakland after her unexpected death two weeks ago. Their goal is $75,000, and they’re dedicated to opening the restaurant in her memory. It’s a moving effort, and we’d love to see them make their goal. Please consider contributing!

Openings: San Francisco Fried Chicken Co.

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San Francisco Fried Chicken Co. Yelp photo by Diljeet S.

There’s a new spot in North Beach serving fried chicken—Eater reports that the ~SAN FRANCISCO FRIED CHICKEN CO.~ is now open (and how’s that for a straightforward name?). They’re serving chicken by the piece, including wings, leg quarters, thighs, and drumsticks (prices range from $2-$6), along with homey sides like green beans, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes with gravy. They’re open 11:30am-2:30am every day, making your next late night out in North Beach that much better—and greasier. Bwok. 362 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo, 415-989-5443.

Second Annual Food and Farm Fest April 3rd-6th

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Don’t miss the many films on food, farms, and farmers at the Second Annual Food and Farm Film Fest, from ~18 REASONS~, happening April 3rd-6th. All of the films will be screened at the Roxie Theater in the Mission, and all screenings include a local food pairing selected to accompany the films. The fest opens on Thursday April 3rd with a selection of short films, accompanied by spring salad, Josey Baker bread, and sriracha cream cheese; admission to the opening night party is also included.

You can also check out Le Quattro Volte, about a goatherd in rustic Southern Italy (you know which one I want to see!), or L’Amour des Moules, about the life and harvesting of mussels. A full list of the films can be found here, and tickets can be purchased here. Prices start at $15 for a single ticket, or you can snag a festival pass to everything for $150. 3117 16th St. at Valencia, 415-735-1333.

Thursday Apr 3, 2014 – Sunday Apr 6, 2014
more info

18 Reasons - 3674 18th St. San Francisco

Big Changes at Tamalpie in Mill Valley

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Tamalpie’s tenderfoot vegetarian pizza. Photo by Kate Campbell courtesy of Tamalpie.

Mill Valley pizzeria ~TAMALPIE~ has a new chef and has made some changes. Owner Karen Goldberg has brought on Scott Warner as chef and partner (he previously worked at Rose Pistola and Bistro Don Giovanni), as well as Matthew Brown as manager (he was previously with the Delfina Restaurant Group). The changes, she says, are part of an effort to move “from a great pizzeria to a fantastic pizza bar and restaurant” with full service, a broader menu, full bar, and an updated wine list.

Additions to the menu include housemade pasta and pastries, as well as starters like mussels and clams, or fried Brussels sprouts—take a peek here. The wine list is focused on small, family producers from California and Italy, with more than 20 selections by the glass, including a sparkling rosé. They’ve also got plans in the works to add a bar area, as well as outdoor seating with fire pits. Hours are Sun-Thu 11:30am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm. 475 Miller Ave. at Reed, Mill Valley, 415-388-7437.

Welcome Spring with McEvoy Ranch's New Wine + Bud Break Lunch

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The idyllic setting at McEvoy Ranch. Photo from Facebook.

On Saturday March 29th, get outside and welcome spring with the Wine + Bud Break Lunch at the picturesque ~MCEVOY RANCH~. Lunch will take place in the greenhouse at the ranch, featuring lots of fresh produce that’s crafted to pair with their new wine releases, as well as a focused tasting of the 2011 pinot noir, “The Evening Standard.” The lunch is $80 per person ($60 for wine club members) and includes food and wine. 5935 Red Hill Road, Petaluma, 707-778-2307.

510 Alert: Smitten Opening April 1st, 44 Restaurant into Next Door Space, Perdition Smokehouse

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A scoop from Smitten. Photo by Sarah Deragon, Portraits To The People, via Facebook.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, nitrogen ice cream purveyor ~SMITTEN ICE CREAM~ is opening a new location in Rockridge. Opening on Tuesday April 1st, the space is three times larger than their Hayes Valley spot and has a 2,000-liter liquid nitrogen tank (dude!) for their churned-and-frozen-to-order ice cream scoops. In May, they’re planning to open another location, in downtown Lafayette, too. 5800 College Ave. at Birch, Oakland, 510-594-7630.

Some details have emerged about the closure of Next Door we wrote about in Berkeley. It looks like the space has been taken over by Mark Jones and Ramone Smith and is now ~44 RESTAURANT~. Berkeleyside Nosh reports that the chef is Kenneth Wynn, serving a New American menu with a Southern influence. 3290 Adeline St. at Alcatraz, Berkeley, 510-982-1609.

Berkeleyside Nosh caught the news that ~PERDITION SMOKEHOUSE~ is moving into the former Amadeus space. Scoop then followed up with some additional details, including news about the owner. Turns out the restaurant comes from Chuck Stilphen, of the Trappist and Mikkeller Bar. It’s all about Texan-style barbecue, and Stilphen has made a research trip to Texas already. He’s bringing in two smokers from Texas and will be serving mostly domestic craft beers to pair with the ‘cue. There will be a beer garden in back, as well. The aim is to open this summer. 2050 University Ave. at Shattuck, Berkeley, 510-900-5858.

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the sponsor

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Mar 25, 2014

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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Mar 25, 2014

Dirty Water Moving to Twitter Building

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A rendering of Market Square at 1355 Market. Rendering from Market Square’s website.

As reported on tablehopper back in September, Kristian Cosentino, a former GM at Press Club, was getting ready to open his bar, ~DIRTY WATER~, at Market and Van Ness. (I imagine there will be some impending mix-ups: “Oh, whoops, I thought we were meeting at Dirty Habit!”) Well, anyway, Eater has word that he’s actually taken a 6,252-square-foot space (yeah, it’s a big ‘un) inside the Twitter building on Market instead. The 250-275 seat space will be designed by Arcsine. The concept generally remains unchanged: there will be a 50-foot bar, more than 100 wines by the glass, and high-end spirits, with cocktails by Ziryab bar manager Zachary Brian Taylor.

The kitchen will be run by chef Jared Gallagher, who previously worked at Chez TJ in Mountain View. His menu will have a wild-game focus, with meats cooked over a fire pit and served in large-format portions for sharing, giving the project a bit of a conquering Viking vibe. (Vikings, here is your whole chicken! Now feast!) If that’s not enough of a fancy boy’s playground for you, there will also be an outdoor patio lounge and beer garden. 1355 Market St. at 10th St.

New Happy Hours (1760, Third Rail, Alta CA), and Weekend Cocktails at Greens

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One of the new cocktails at Greens for their new Arts & Crafts cocktail nights. Photo courtesy of Greens.

There are all kinds of new happy hours for you to check out, starting with “The Stirring Hour” at ~1760~, which runs daily from 5pm-6pm. You can get three spiritous cocktails (that aren’t on the usual cocktail menu) for $7, like gin with Strega, dry vermouth, Cocchi Americano, and lemon bitters, and bourbon with Gran Classico, Cynar, and coffee bitters. Stirred spirit-based drinks will also be available for $6 each (think Negroni, Manhattan, martini, or Boulevardier); one light and amber beer will be on the menu for $3 a pint; as well as red, white, and sparkling wines for $7 a glass. Bites include Brussels sprouts with crispy onion and aromatic herbs ($6) and shishito peppers with Castelvetrano olives and hazelnuts ($6).

~THIRD RAIL~ in Dogpatch just launched their new happy hour, which is Mon-Fri 3pm-6pm, with $2 off all 16 of their house cocktails. There’s also The Rail Shot special for $8: 8 ounces of any tap beer; 1 ounce of either Pueblo Viejo blanco, Four Roses yellow label bourbon, Flor de Caña 7-year rum, or Fernet Branca; and a 1/2 ounce of any of the jerky Phil makes (Red Eye, Jerk, Veg, or Mighty Meat).

~ALTA CA~ has a happy hour Mon-Fri from 4pm-6pm, offering special $5 glasses of wine; choose from a white or a red.

Over at ~GREENS~, lead bartender Christian Zamora has developed an “Arts & Crafts pop-up bar” running Fri-Sun 5pm-9pm. There are cocktails like a Oaxacan margarita with mezcal, tequila, blood orange, cinnamon-cayenne salt, and lime; a Pimm’s Cup; and a rotating selection of “Arts & Crafts” cocktails, four in all. They hope to build enough momentum with the bar program to extend it to every night of the week, but for now, it’s just on the weekends.

Greens - Fort Mason, Building A San Francisco - 415-771-6222

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Mar 25, 2014

Tickets Selling Fast for Pebble Beach Food & Wine

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Bubbles at Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2013. Pop! Photo by Patrick Tregenza Photography via Facebook.

Event Info

Thursday Apr 10, 2014 – Sunday Apr 13, 2014
Individual events start at $100, packages start at $995
Pebble Beach, CA

The seventh annual eating, drinking, and carousing extravaganza that is ~PEBBLE BEACH FOOD & WINE~ (warning: click that link and you are gonna hear some noise) is coming up fast, April 10th-13th. They’re selling fast, so be sure to snag tickets to events you don’t want to miss, from the opening evening reception to the weekend of tasting tent action (which always sell out). There will be many heavyweight chefs in attendance, including Traci Des Jardins, Ori Menashe, Masaharu Morimoto, Nancy Silverton, Jonathan Waxman, and Michael Voltaggio, to name only a few. Don’t miss the many seminars, special dinners and lunches, and of course, the fabulous wine tastings.

There is also a dinner dedicated to San Francisco’s legendary Rubicon, as well as a special tribute dinner to the tragically departed Charlie Trotter. Be sure to take a look at some of the wine events, too, including a couple on California and New World bubbles.

Check out all the events right here, and get your tickets here. Tickets can be purchased à la carte starting at $100, or spring for a package for full access, starting at $995.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Mar 25, 2014

The House Was Full at Marlowe Last Tuesday

~Mary-Kate Olsen~ and twin sister ~Ashley Olsen~ hosted a party for their fashion line, The Row, at Marlowe last Tuesday. They were in the company of San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Damian Smith, too, and it looks like the evening was très chic. Racked has details and photos.

A Fair and Balanced Look at Happy Hour

Funnyman-turned-serious-politician ~Al Franken~ was spotted at Scala’s Bistro. He was enjoying happy hour with some friends.

From Langos Bread to Pupusas

A tablehopper reader was excited to spot Momofuku’s ~David Chang~ with Momofuku Milk Bar owner and badass pastry chef Christina Tosi at Bar Tartine. Chef Nick Balla says Danny Bowien brought them in. The Bar Tartine team was excited to cook for Chang since they have been using a bunch of the miso and bonji from Chang’s test kitchen in New York, and they made a special sunflower miso for Bar Tartine “that fits the Hungarian-Japanese fusion perfectly!”

Chang also hit up the pupusa stand in front of Panchita’s Restaurant No. 2—his Facebook post has him musing about wanting to make a miso butter version. Have at it.

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