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This week's tablehopper: back to school.

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The Countess of Carrak (with aquavit, beet juice, fennel bitters and pollen, egg white, lemon) at The Farmer & the Fox in St. Helena. (An amazing pairing with the cured salmon/beer bread.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

How about that stunning three-day weekend? I hope you had a swell one. Me? I got the hell out of Dodge on Sunday and headed up to see friends who are now living in Yountville. We rode bikes, had Champagne on the porch, swam at the Yountville pool, and had a pretty fabulous evening at Cairdean Estate, just north of St. Helena. After trying some of their wines (you know some rosé was in our lineup), we sat down to a gastropubby dinner at the new The Farmer & the Fox, with chef Joseph Humphrey leading the kitchen. The space looks great, the cocktails were excellent, and I’ll be back for their smoked duck wings and popovers, trust. I’ll share more on tablehopper soon.

I had to get back to the city on Monday so I could properly celebrate my 20th anniversary of living in SF. I guess there aren’t many cities where it would feel right to celebrate something like that, but in SF, I think it’s a must. I had a blast meeting up with old and new friends throughout the night, taking a trip down memory lane to Club Deluxe, the Big 4, Tony Nik’s, and a slice of Golden Boy pizza may have made its way into the evening as well. Oh yeahhhhh.

So things are a little bonkers over here at Hopper HQ: I’m trying to get everything wrapped up since I’m heading to France on Tuesday September 9th (mon dieu!). I’m taking a family trip to Paris, Champagne, and the Loire Valley (we’ll be in Sancerre and Vouvray), so excited. It’s going to be a special one, that’s for damn sure. European Vacation, Part II!

So what this means is that today’s issue had to cover a LOT of news since we’re not running any more news issues after this Friday September 5th—we’ll be going dark until Tuesday September 30th. Dear publicists, restaurant owners, and bar folks, please hold back on any time-sensitive news, pitches, and more since I’ll be gone, merci beaucoup!

Okay folks, let’s dive in here since we have a lot to go over. We’ll see you Friday for one last little transmission.

Bisous!
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Sep 3, 2014

Stem, a New Restaurant Coming to Mission Bay in the Fall

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A rendering of the chef’s table and dining area. Courtesy of Engstrom Design Group.

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Rendering of the service counter. Courtesy of Engstrom Design Group.

There’s a new waterfront restaurant coming to Mission Bay, near the upcoming Warriors event center and Mission Rock, that’s due to open in late fall 2014. It’s called ~STEM~ and is from Bon Appétit Management Company, which is behind Public House at AT&T Park, SeaGlass at the Exploratorium, and the Commissary in the Presidio.

The cuisine will be Mediterranean in style, serving casual breakfast (smoothies, eggs, plus a juice bar), lunch (panini, soup, salads, flatbread pizza, plus larger entrées), happy hour (you’ll find small plates and charcuterie in the bar), and dinner. Per BAMCO’s company policy, all the ingredients will be sustainable and humanely produced, with local produce figuring prominently. There will also be local coffee, cocktails, craft beer, and wine on tap.

It’s a spacious location, with 158 seats, views of the bay, heated outdoor seating, an edible garden with raised beds and planters, fire pits, and complimentary bocce ball. The location is 499 Illinois Street, within Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ science and technology campus. Engstrom Design Group is behind the design, which will be modern yet full of natural touches. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St.

Val Cantu's Californios Opening in the Mission in November

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A dish from a Californios dinner at Naked Kitchen: Yerba Buena Fruit Cup Under the C. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After experiencing a Californios pop-up dinner by chef Val Cantu last year, we’ve been tracking his next steps, which now includes opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant called, you guessed it, ~CALIFORNIOS~. He’ll be opening in the former Panchita’s 3 (and the short-lived Manos Nouveau) on 22nd Street.

Val’s background includes cooking at Uchi in Austin (he’s from Texas) and locally he was a sous at Sons & Daughters. His cuisine is a unique and modern version of Mexican cuisine, taking inspiration from the history of Californios here in SF and Alta California (you can read more here). There will be three menus ($45-$75): an omnivorous 4-course, a vegetable 4-course, and an extended 7- to 10-course menu. Dinner will be served Tue-Sat.

So, the space. It’s going to have 25 seats, with 7 at a chef’s counter, looking into the open kitchen. Val’s wife, Carolyn Cantu, will be designing the interior. She was most recently a designer at Ken Fulk, and once the design duties are wrapped up, she will be the maître d’. Charlotte Randolph, previously a server at The French Laundry, will be running the front of the house and the wine program. Look for an opening in November. 3115 22nd St. at Capp.

Hogwash Coming to Downtown This Fall

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Just next door to Cantina, in the neighborhood bordering Nob Hill and Union Square will be ~HOGWASH~, a craft beer hall and restaurant (the space was previously Crackers Grill, Persimmon, and J Tu Cafe). The team is Nick Rothman, who you may recognize as the owner of Zeki’s Bar, and Paula Thompson, a hospitality veteran.

They are going to be offering gourmet sausages (made in-house), pretzels, and other dishes with locally sourced ingredients by Morgan Hamm (the owner of Le Beau Market, who is known for his sandwiches). The craft beer list—30 on draft—will be well rounded and represent many styles of beers (Rich Higgins is assembling the list). Thompson, who is currently trying for her cicerone certification, will also be closely involved with the beer program. And…there will also be some very creative beer milk shakes and floats!

Lauren Geremia (of Geremia Design) is behind the laid-back but well-designed look, which will have handmade plaster tiles that line the walls, a bar area, and there will be custom-made communal tables (from designer Alexis Moran). The look will be more on the California modern tip than German, and it’s designed to be a social place where people can get together and hang out.

Hours will be determined (lunch may be added), but happy hour and dinner hours are certain. Look for an opening this fall. We’ll keep you updated. 582 Sutter St. at Mason.

Bandidos Now Open in the Castro

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The bar at Hecho. Photo via Facebook.

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The fajitas at Bandidos. Photo from Facebook.

~BANDIDOS~, the Mexican restaurant and bar from Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim of Hi Tops, opened in the Castro Tuesday September 2nd. It’s in the former Leticia’s space in The Century building. They’ve got a full liquor license, along with a menu of traditional Mexican dishes with a modern edge from consulting chef Jamie Lauren (of Top Chef fame).

The dinner menu includes small plates like a barbacoa quesadilla with beef cheeks, or queso fundido with rajas or chorizo. There are plates of two tacos in a wide variety of choices, including fried avocado and duck mole, and entrées like a fried whole fish and fajitas. At brunch, there are egg dishes including fideos (noodles) with chile sauce and eggs, along with chilaquiles and scrambles.

As for beverages, the cocktail menu has margaritas, of course, along with other cocktails (Sipcraft consulted on the menu), and a selection of tequila and mezcal (and sangrita!). (Order the Guns a Blazin’ if you want to get that cute guy’s attention at the bar.) A small wine list includes three reds, three whites, and two rosés available by the glass or bottle. Beers are mostly Mexican imports (think Corona, Bohemia, and Victoria), along with Lagunitas IPA.

C Walters Design is behind the design of the 3,000-square-foot space, which includes geometric tile, rough-hewn reclaimed wood tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an impressive shelving situation behind the tiled bar. There is also an open kitchen, so you can watch the action, and leather booths. A pet-friendly patio coming soon means you can (eventually) bring your cute Frenchie while you enjoy your albondigas and an agua fresca. Hours are Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 11am-12am, and Sun 10am-11pm. 2200 Market St. at 15th St., 415-926-5630.

Union Larder Opening Very Soon: Get Ready for Meat and Cheese Heaven

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Housemade coppa. Photo courtesy of Union Larder.

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The exterior of the soon-to-open Union Larder. Photo courtesy of Union Larder.

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A peek at the in-progress space. Photo courtesy of Union Larder.

We broke the news earlier this year about ~UNION LARDER~ coming to Russian Hill from the Little Vine duo, Melissa Gugni and Jay Esopenko. If everything pans out as planned, they should be opening their doors within a couple of weeks. The 30-seat space is looking great, with a zinc bar, custom-fabricated barstools with comfy upholstered seats, and there’s a hand-cranked meat slicer too. And then there’s all the light that comes in from the huge windows.

We have some project updates for you, starting with the hiring of their chef, Ramon Siewart, who was previously at Quince, Bourbon Steak, and The Cavalier. He will be making all their charcuterie in-house, and they’re building an aging room downstairs for salami and prosciutto (but we’ll have to wait awhile until we can taste the prosciutto—that takes some time). Look for some fantastic charcuterie, ranging from pâté (including sea urchin pâté!) to pork rillettes, ciccioli, duck liver mousse, and cured meats like mortadella, coppa, and lonza. Esopenko also says Siewart’s blood sausage is the best he’s had anywhere! (Noted!)

Another key hire is Kristi Bachman, the buyer at the Cheese School of SF, who is coming over to work for them. She’ll be the cheese director (there will be close to 100 cheeses, whoa, with a focus on artisanal American cheeses), and she will be organizing cheese and wine pairing classes and events too. There will be 30 wines by the glass, including 5 sparklers (I love to hear that). Like we said in our previous post, the inspiration for this place was a cava and jamón bar Esopenko frequented while living in Barcelona 20 years ago. So yes, jamón Ibérico de Bellota will be en la casa. The meat-and-cheese boards will be something really special here: you’ll be able to choose from 30 cheeses and 15 meats. Also on the menu: oysters, housemade boquerones, raclette, fondue, sandwiches, and salads.

The retail side will have Straus milk, Marin Sun Farms meats, and dozens of other grocery items from small producers. Follow along on Facebook for opening updates since tablehopper is going to be dark through September 30th! 1945 Hyde St. at Union.

El Zocalo, the Divine HQ for Late-Night Pupusas, Is Closing; Emmy's Spaghetti Shack Moving In

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The exterior of El Zocalo. Yelp photo by Ed U.

Last week a reader tipped me off to some news that ~EMMY’S SPAGHETTI SHACK~ was going to be moving, and before I could figure out where to, some ABC license activity revealed all: ~EL ZOCALO~. I know, our trusted late-night pupusa joint—yes, the one that makes it feel like forever until your pupusas arrive, but whatever, you’re drunk and hungry and those things are handmade and the service was never that great to begin with, but damn—is sadly leaving us. Sigh. Eater got more details on the change: El Zocalo has been open since current owner Victoria Reve’s mother opened it in 1965, but now Victoria is ready to retire (after serving how many drunk people?!) since she started running it in the ’70s.

The good news is that the space is going to a neighbor, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, which has been in the neighborhood for 13 years and is another female-owned business at that. Emily Kaplan is reportedly planning to move Emmy’s to the more spacious digs in November. With the move, hours will run later, there will be more wines, and more to-go options too. As far as the original location, it sounds like it will function as an annex until they determine what they want it to be. And this means I need to go tie one on soon and come in for a loroco con queso and a revuelta at 2:15am before El Zocalo sadly leaves us. We called to get an official date on the closing but unfortunately no one at the restaurant could confirm for us. 3230 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-282-2572.

Wrecking Ball Coffee Opening on Union Street Friday September 5th

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The back counter and retail area. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Cho.

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The custom pour-over station with built-in scales and a special drain board. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Cho.

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The 16-foot bench where you can perch and enjoy your coffee. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Cho.

Fans of Wrecking Ball Coffee (you may have encountered it at Firehouse 8 or Marla Bakery) will be pleased to know the opening date has been set for their very own café this Friday September 5th in Cow Hollow. Partners Nicholas Cho and Trish Rothgeb both have some serious chops behind them—Rothgeb has been roasting, buying, and in the coffee world for 25 years, and Cho will be rocking the retail and barista side (he has 12 years under his belt). They’re excited to be opening a neighborhood coffee shop, a place with a bit of feminine style (cute pineapple wallpaper made in SF, check, and stylish aprons by studiopatró, you’ll find that too). As Nick says, “We wanted a shop to be proud of.”

But it’s not a place to bring your laptop. There’s a long 16-foot bench inside where you can sit next to some neighbors, and there’s a small counter where you can sit in front of the pour-over station and geek out with your barista, almost like a chef’s counter (both owners are big on education). They plan to get some outdoor seating soon, but they’ll have to get that permit first.

The duo has been working on finding a balance of flavors in their coffee drinks. For example, Cho says they have found using 2 percent milk for their cappuccino offers more flavor and balance (although you are more than welcome to order your capp with whole milk, they’ll have that too). Look for some creative drinks, effervescent drinks, and a chocolaty number to come when the weather gets a touch cooler. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-8pm. 2271 Union St. at Steiner.

Empire Room Coming to Former Stars Location

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The 555 Golden Gate exterior, when it was Maestro. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

There’s a new taker for the storied former home of Stars (and Maestro, most recently), according to Scoop. Actually, there are two takers: Jordan Langer (formerly at Big) and Pete Glikshtern (from Jones), who opened Oddjob together and have been running Pier 70 lately. They’ve signed a temporary three-year lease on the space (it’s going to be demolished, eventually). They’ll be calling the new project ~EMPIRE ROOM~, and it will feature different “social spaces” to take advantage of the large building. The main dining room will become a bar and nightclub, while the private dining room is going to be a smaller, higher-end cocktail bar.

As for the kitchen, it will function as a commissary for food trucks, who will also serve food in the bar. There will be several different trucks on the roster, rotating on different evenings. Because the space is so temporary, they won’t be doing any major construction, just some visual updates. Besides, they like how it looks—it’s a San Francisco classic. The plan is to open by November. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness.

Chef Changes and Hires at Chino, Citizen Fox, and Outerlands

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Front booth action, and yes, that’s Simon on the shelf. Photo courtesy of Chino.

Over at the ever-poppin’ ~CHINO~ in the Mission, the team has just brought on consulting chef Justine Kelly, who hails from the Charles Phan empire—she initially started working with the Slanted Door in 1996 and was a key figure with the group until she moved on to The Battery as executive chef of their restaurant, 717B. She is now going to be working closely with Chino executive chef-partner Telmo Faria and chef de cuisine Dale Arcalas—partner Joe Hargrave tells me the team is adding around two new dishes a week. They aren’t going to be massively changing the menu—it’s more about fine-tuning and the pursuit of excellence. They want to dial the food at the restaurant to be great and are excited to have Justine on board to help drive it. Also in the works: the team is going to be taking a trip for inspiration to Vancouver.

About a month ago, we mentioned the upcoming brewery and beer incubator ~CITIZEN FOX~ that’s coming to the Mission (it’s now due to open early 2015). They have just announced a consulting chef: Tanya Petrovna, the founder and past president of the vegan café company Native Foods. So yes, it will be a vegan menu, but not “hippie vegan”—it will be designed to appeal to everyone. After getting the menu in place, she’ll be updating it seasonally and adding new dishes. If you want to meet her, she’ll be leading a demo at the CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this Saturday. 2205 Mission St. at 18th St.

Some changes are afoot at ~OUTERLANDS~: the chef who was brought on to replace Brett Cooper, Greg Kuzia-Carmel, has also been let go after four months. Pastry chef Brooke Mosley, who is also a big part of the savory side of things over there, will be collaborating with sous chef Bayani Inclano; it sounds like another chef will be brought on to work closely with the team. We’ll see where Kuzia-Carmel lands next.

Outerlands - 4001 Judah St. San Francisco - 415-661-6140

Tidbits: Le Marais Bistro Coming Soon, Changes at A.G. Ferrari, More

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A peek into the new Le Marais Bistro space, which flanks the bakery (at left). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

~LE MARAIS BISTRO AND BAKERY~ is getting ready to launch its bistro dinner menu on Wednesday September 10th. We wrote about the details of the new menu in July, so check out all the details there. To recap, they’ve expanded into a larger space and added bistro-style dinner service from chef Nicolette Manescalchi. You can look at the bistro menu right here. The café and bakery will now be open daily 7:30am-4:30pm, and the bistro open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. 2066 Chestnut St. at Mallorca, 415-359-9801.

~A.G. FERRARI~, the local deli and gourmet shop, will be closing its three San Francisco locations for a makeover on Monday September 8th. The shops, which were purchased by investment firm Murano Group last year, will have new menus from chef Ira Meyer, a new wine selection, and a new design to their interiors. After the renovations, look for a grand reopening later this month. 468 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-255-6590; 3490 California St. at Locust, 415-923-4470; 688 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-344-0644.

The owner of Bean Bag told me awhile ago that the (permanently under construction) space next to Bean Bag on Divisadero would potentially be a casual Mediterranean spot, and Hoodline confirms the news. The new spot, which is still unnamed, comes from Chris Totah, owner of Zaytoon in the Mission. This new location will cater more toward dining in, though they will still offer takeout options, with a menu of items made from fresh ingredients. Though there have been a lot of construction delays, Totah hopes to open in the next couple of months. 605 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

~NOODLES & COMPANY~, a Colorado-based chain of fast-casual restaurants, has opened a San Francisco location in the Metreon, and another location in the Market Center is opening on Monday September 29th. The menu offers noodle and pasta dishes with internationally inspired flavors, along with salads, soups, and sandwiches. Hours for both locations are Sun-Thu 10:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-10pm. Metreon, 135 4th St. at Mission, 415-979-0793; Market Center, 575 Market St. at 2nd St., 415-543-5700.

Now you’ve got an extra day to nab pastrami and matzo ball soup. ~WISE SONS DELI~ on 24th Street in the Mission is now open on Tuesdays, from 8am-3pm. They’re still closed Mondays, though—you’ll have to go to the Contemporary Jewish Museum location for a Monday fix.

Wise Sons Deli - 3150 24th St. San Francisco - 415-787-3354

Special Dinners: Sunday Supper, Millennium Turns 20, Harvest Dinner at La Nebbia, Feliz Cumpleaños to Foreign Cinema

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Feasting at CUESA’s Sunday Supper last year. Photo ©Drew Altizer Photography via Facebook.

CUESA’s 12th Annual Sunday Supper is coming up on Sunday October 5th from 6pm-9:30pm. The evening begins with a reception on the main floor of the Ferry Plaza, with oysters, Champagne, appetizers, and cocktails. Then, you’ll head upstairs for a four-course dinner prepared by some of San Francisco’s best chefs, including Evan and Sarah Rich (Rich Table), Michelle Polzine (20th Century Cafe), and Dennis Lee (Namu Gaji, Smokestack). All of this will be accompanied by wine pairings, of course. There will also be a silent auction with local gourmet experiences, like a farm dinner for 20 with Paula LeDuc Fine Catering. Tickets are $275 per person; VIP tickets are $350, which includes entry to the reception at 5:30pm, specialty cocktails, and a gift bag. The evening is a benefit for CUESA’s Foodwise Kids program.

~MILLENNIUM~ is celebrating 20 years of business this month, and of course they’re toasting this anniversary with a special fête. It’s on Thursday September 25th, and there will be lots of passed appetizers, a full bar, and live music. Reservations can be made for either 6pm or 8pm, and the party is $50 per person (not including tax and tip), with a portion of the proceeds going to Farm Sanctuary. Reservations can be made by calling 415-345-3900 ext. 10.

For a special evening in Half Moon Bay, check out the Husk to Harvest Farm Dinner from the Half Moon Bay Chamber of Commerce on Sunday September 28th from 5:30pm-9pm. The five-course dinner will be held at La Nebbia Winery in Half Moon Bay, with many local chefs and bakers making the magic happen in the kitchen. La Nebbia and Trojak-Knier Winery will be pouring wine, along with beer Highway 1 Brewing Company and Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. and spirits from Half Moon Bay Distillery. Plus, everyone will receive a special gift basket full of fresh produce and other local products. Tickets are $150 per person. 12341 San Mateo Rd., Half Moon Bay.

~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is toasting to its 15th birthday this year, and they’re throwing (what else?) a quinceañera to commemorate the occasion. Actually, it’s officially called the Quintessentially Quixotic Quinceañera and is happening Thursday September 18th from 7pm-11pm. The fiesta includes a whole roasted suckling pig, handmade tortillas, a ceviche bar, and all the fixings for excellent tacos. Cocktails from Kevin Dowell will be shaking all night long, as well. Heklina, Trannyshack, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will also be in attendance, keeping the festivities faaaaabulous with live performances. Tickets are $100 per person and include food, wine, and drinks. Proceeds benefit LYRIC and the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.

Foreign Cinema - 2534 Mission Street San Francisco - 415-648-7600

Pop-Ups: Taste Project at theLab, Mattarello Pasta at Gourmet & More

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theLab’s inviting exterior. Photo from Facebook.

After their unfortunate closure in May due to permit restrictions, Recchiuti’s Dogpatch cafe ~THELAB~ has reopened as the ultimate pop-up destination. They’ve shaken up the concept a bit, and turned it into a space for events like their new Taste Project series. Each evening will offer an experience along with dinner, usually involving beverage pairings. On Friday and Saturday September 12th and 13th at 7pm, they’ll team up with Dogpatch’s own Sutton Cellars for a dinner with wine pairings. Future events include a sugar- and glassblowing demonstration along with dinner, an evening with Almanac Brewing, and an evening on the science of salt and bitters; check here for upcoming events. Tickets are typically $95 per person. The space is also available for private events, with special menus tailored to fit your group’s needs and interests.

The fine folks at Mattarello will be popping up at Gourmet & More on Saturday September 6th from 1pm-4pm. Their ravioli San Domenico will be available (they look totally insane), along with tagliatelle and pappardelle and a variety of sauces; check out all the choices here and be sure to preorder! 141 Gough St. at Oak, 415-874-9133.

theLab - 801 22nd St. San Francisco - 415-489-2881

Coming Soon in the 510: The Lodge (from the Owner of Dogwood)

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Thirsty? Here’s the Juju at Bar Dogwood. Photo via Dogwood’s Facebook page.

The owner of ~BAR DOGWOOD~ and ~STAG’S LUNCHETTE~, Alexeis Filipello, is not only busy with the upcoming ~DARLING’S~, which we told you about earlier this year, but she also has another project in the works: ~THE LODGE~. She is partnering with Matt EIseman on this project, which will mostly be a bar with classic cocktails and some top-notch bar food/small plates. Bay Area classics will figure prominently, like oysters on the half shell, plus fish fries, crudo, chowder, and salads. We can’t announce the space juuuust yet (it’ll be a month or so before we can say anything), but it’s pretty fantastic, with a nice lodge setting and a patio; there are about 60 seats in all. We’ll keep you posted!

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Sep 3, 2014

(Sponsored): Wear Your tablehopper Love on Your Sleeve

Have you had a chance to check out the very custom tablehopper t-shirts? All our shirts are based on vintage designs and graphics from old-school bars and restaurants in San Francisco (hmmmm, someone can’t stop collecting vintage menus and ephemera), so you can show your city some love too. Oh, and they’re super-soft and flattering.

There are five in all, whether you want to go classic with the Blue Fox or sassy with Players Club or boozy with The Camel. If you’re looking to stay warm, check out the Blue Fox hoodie for a little protection from Karl the Fog. (Click the links for a little story about each place too…)

The eye-catching designs are all printed on quality cotton t-shirts (thanks to our local pals at Poppy Promos) that have a nice fit for both men and women—and did we mention they are super-soft? Tees are $25, and the Blue Fox hoodie is $45 (it’s really plush). Order online right here.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Sep 3, 2014

Bright's Les Clos in SoMa Slated to Open in Mid-September

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Mark Bright in front of his new baby. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The bar (and groovy stools) at Les Clos. Photo courtesy of Les Clos.

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The main seating area at Les Clos. Photo courtesy of Les Clos.

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You’ll assuredly get a fresh pour at Les Clos. Photo courtesy of Les Clos.

Last Friday, I enjoyed a quick sneak peek of ~BRIGHT’S LES CLOS~, a wine bar, an all-day café, retail wine shop, and much more, hopefully opening around September 15th-20th, ABC permit pending. Mark Bright is well known internationally, whether you are drinking off his award-winning wine list at Saison (where he is a partner) or at the neighborhood-friendly Vinyl (he opened it with Kristopher Esqueda, the other half of their consulting partnership as Markris Wine Group), or you know him via his wine fund and brokerage, Bright Wine Fund, or you’re a client of his Cellar Master cellaring and wine management company. He’s a powerhouse of activity, connections, and deep knowledge, and it’s amazing to see how far he has come since he burst onto our local wine scene in 2004, when Rajat Parr hired him as the sommelier for Restaurant Michael Mina. Fortunately Saison is just a hop and a skip down Townsend to Les Clos, so Mark will be able to easily bounce between the two. (Well, when he’s in the country.)

Anyone who knows Mark knows how much he loves and lives for Burgundy, so it will be figuring prominently on the primarily French list (and the shelves) at Les Clos, from bottles from the ’70s to some selections you can’t find elsewhere. But you’ll also find frappato from COS (Sicily) and chardonnay from Kistler (Sonoma Coast), all available in 3-, 6- and 10-ounce pours—there will be 40 selections by the glass in all. You can order off the menu, try out a creative flight (served blind, and geared for those studying for their MS exam), or take a deep dive into the InVine list on the iPad, which will also feature some fabulous wines from Chablis, the Rhone, the Loire, and oui, Champagne. There are also five beers on tap, plus sherries, vermouths, and sake by the glass.

The GM, head sommelier, and a partner in Les Clos is Cara Patricia Higgins, who was the lead sommelier at Hakkasan. She has been running the operations of Bright Wine Fund and acting as cellar master of Saison.

Now, a big announcement about the project is that pastry chef Shawn Gawle, who has been at Saison since it was on Folsom Street, has left the restaurant and is going to be the chef of Les Clos. Some folks may not be aware his background covers both savory and sweet experiences, and lucky for us, his résumé includes L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York, so expect some amazing potatoes in SF soon. Heh. But we’ll also be enjoying some exquisite canelés, so we all win on that too.

His preview menu includes simpler dishes like oysters two different ways, charcuterie, cheese, and three different types of caviar (which they are basically breaking even on, so enjoy it), but the rest of the lunch and dinner menu features many of the classic and rustic French dishes you want ($12-$28), including frisée aux lardons, tête de cochon with gribiche and fried capers, bone marrow, moules à la provençale, roasted sweetbreads, and Parisienne gnocchi gratinée with Comté. It just makes you want to drink exquisite wine, right? What’s amazing is they aren’t even working with a full kitchen.

There will also be a fab breakfast every day, something lacking in the neighborhood (Mark lives almost across the street, so he knows), plus takeaway lunches and dinners you can heat up later. Also look for some special Humphry Slocombe flavors and sundaes, and items from Le Marais Bakery. While the place is meant to be welcoming, of course the dishes and presentations will be quality, from Heath plates to universal stem glasses by Gabriel-Glas. There’s a gorg orange La Marzocco espresso machine, with orange Le Creuset cups to match, and the coffee is from Sightglass.

The 1,200-square-foot space has two different live edge cedar bars—the farther one will be used for special education sessions and tastings—and the flat-screen TVs will show maps of Burgundy, but you might see some wine events and auctions on there too. The bar chairs look like a variation on the classic Eames lounge chair and are incredibly comfortable.

The main room has about 10 Parisian-style tables, and there’s a loungy area in the back with couches and tufted chairs, which is sure to become “sommelier corner.” You’ll see some fun lithos of the famous Willi’s Wine Bar (Mark says he came up with the name for Les Clos while he was there and drinking some Raveneau) and vintage maps, and there’s a lot of retail space in the back. On your way to a party and need a bottle chilled down asap? Boom, there’s a Wine Well Chiller. Want to show up with some caviar too? You can purchase that too (just don’t forget to call me, mmmkay?).

Whether you want to come by for a late breakfast, an afternoon glass of wine and a snack, or do it up for dinner, the all-day format will have you covered. Hours are looking like Mon-Fri 8am-12am, Sat-Sun 10am-12am. Follow along on Twitter for updates on the official opening date. 234 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-795-1422.

New Hours at Local Places So You Can Eat and Watch NFL Games

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Screens upon screens at The San Francisco Athletic Club. Yelp photo by Janet Z.

Football season is upon us, which means many of your favorite bars have special hours and food options to keep you cheering all Sunday long.

First up, ~ROCK BAR~ will not only be opening at 10am every Sunday starting September 7th, but they’ll also be offering delivery of brunch dishes from sister restaurant Front Porch until 2:30pm. Perhaps shrimp and grits is just the thing to get you through the morning, or maybe chicken and waffles is more your style. Either way, both go great with a Bloody Mary and some good ole American football. Some days, they just might fire up the grill in the afternoon too. 80 29th St. at Tiffany, 415-550-6664.

Downtown, ~BARTLETT HALL~ is opening at 9:30am every Saturday and Sunday for NFL and college football games. In addition to drinks from the bar, they’ve got a special brunch menu for game days, with chicken wings with fermented pepper sauce, kimchi, and bacon aioli; the Maverick burger; and lamb and potato hash with roasted garlic, spinach, pickled plum, and eggs. The brunch menu is available from 9:30am-2:30pm. 242 O’Farrell St. at Powell, 415-433-4332.

Starting Saturday September 13th, ~LA URBANA~ will be open all day for brunch and football in El Garaje, starting at 11am on Saturdays and 10am on Sundays. Sangria, cold beer, and tacos will all be on offer. Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 10am-4pm. (Also worth noting: starting September 16th, El Garaje will be hosting Taco Tuesdays all night, with street tacos for $1.75, or get two tacos and a shot of mezcal for $7. Heat seekers will want to request chef Julio’s new muy caliente salsa.)

~THE SAN FRANCISCO ATHLETIC CLUB~ is also open for every NFL game—you can check their schedule right here. Games will be shown on their huge television screens, and you can reserve a booth for large groups in advance, if you’re so inclined. During games, there will be drink specials, as well. 1750 Divisadero St. at Bush, 415-923-8989.

La Urbana - 661 Divisadero St. San Francisco - 415-440-4500

Tipsy Tidbits: Lotería Cocktails at Loló, New Owners at Harrington's Harry Pub

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The latest drinks at Loló. Photo: Wes Rowe.

~LOLÓ~ has a new cocktail menu, inspired by the Lotería card game. The drinks are all named after the graphics in the game, including Las Jaras (the arrows) with gin, rosemary-infused whiskey, St. Germain, and lemon, and El Diablito (little devil) with Wahaka mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Aperol, lime, and grapefruit soda. Check out the colorful menu here.

Some liquor license activity tipped us off to some changes at Tenderloin dive bar ~HARRINGTON’S HARRY PUB~ (not to be confused with Harrington’s in the Financial District). Turns out it’s being purchased by the team behind Irish Bank. Peter Friel, one of the owners, reports that they won’t be making any major changes to the bar. They want to keep it an Irish bar, just with a few improvements to the cleanliness and the food. They haven’t taken possession of it quite yet, but once they do, more of the details will be worked out. 460 Larkin St. at Turk, 415-775-1150.

Loló - 974 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-643-5656

It's Okay to Be Sour and Bitter on September 6th, Plus Oktoberfest Is Coming

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The Trappist, ready for your sour and bitter needs. Photo from Facebook.

Fans of sour and bitter beers will be excited to check out Sour/Bitter Fest at ~THE TRAPPIST~ in Oakland. On Saturday September 6th, they’ll be taking over the parking lot with 16 beers from eight different breweries (everyone is bringing one sour and one bitter brew) and bites to pair. Participating breweries include Sante Adairius, Craftsman, Tahoe Mountain, and Rare Barrel. Restaurants including the Trappist (of course), Miss Ollie’s, Ramen Shop, and Perdition Smokehouse will be serving bites, some made with beer. The event goes from 2pm-5pm and tickets are $62 per person, including all beer and food samples, as well as a special glass commemorating the event. 460 8th St. at Broadway, Oakland, 415-238-8900.

While we’re on the topic of beer, don’t forget that Oktoberfest is approaching fast. ~MONK’S KETTLE~ is celebrating with a selection of gravity firkins from Germany, starting Saturday September 20th. Don’t forget, they’ll be closed until then, getting their new outdoor patio ready.

~SCHROEDER’S~ will be kicking off their fest on Friday September 19th from 3pm-8pm with an outdoor beer garden on Front Street. There will be special beers, along with live music from the Schwabenland German Band. The following weekends, you can also find live music inside the restaurant, along with special menu items like Wiener schnitzel, spaetzle, and pretzels. Music will be on Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm-9pm until October 5th. 240 Front St. at Sacramento, 415-421-4778.

Monk's Kettle - 3141 16th St. San Francisco - 415-865-9523

Party Down with Mezcal, Food, and Art September 14th

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Get serious about mezcal on Sunday September 14th at the Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle at Public Works from 3pm-7pm. The event includes tastings of the spirit, from both small and large producers, along with cocktails and bites from local restaurants like La Urbana, Loló, and Sabrosa. Oh yeah, and Don Bugito will be in the house!

There will be opportunities to talk with mezcal experts and producers, along with guided tastings and some new arrivals from Mexico. Some of the speakers include Erick Rodriguez of Almamezcalera (he’s known at the Indiana Jones of mezcal, apparently), Graciela Angeles Carreño of Real Minero, and Cecilia Murrieta of La Niña del Mezcal. It’s all being put on by Mezcalistas and Agave Tip. Tickets are $60 per person for general admission and $100 for VIP, which gets you in early and gives you access to a special VIP area with cocktails and food. Public Works, 161 Erie St. at Mission.

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Sep 3, 2014

Eat Real Festival Rolling Into Oakland September 19th-21st

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A sample of street food items from Eat Real Festival 2012. Photo from Facebook.

Event Info

Friday Sep 19, 2014 – Sunday Sep 21, 2014
Fri 1pm–9pm, Sat 10:30am–9pm, Sun 10:30am–5pm
Admission is free, food is all $8 or less per serving
Website
Jack London Square
Broadway and 1st St., Oakland

Oakland’s sixth annual ~EAT REAL FESTIVAL~ returns to Jack London Square Friday September 19th to Sunday September 21st. The festival, from the Food Craft Institute, is free to attend and features street food from local purveyors and restaurants, all for $8 or less. Joining the party on Friday night are chefs doing demos, including Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club), Rico Rivera (Flora), and Charlie Parker (Haven). Street food vendors include Baia Pasta, KoJa Kitchen, and Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement. Check out all the vendors here.

The festival will be divided into seven pavilions, with themes like fermentation, butchery, and confections. Of course, one of the pavilions is called the Watering Hole and offers plenty of beer, wine, and spirits. The pavilions will offer workshops, demonstrations, and activities for all ages (well, except that boozy one—that’s just for grown-ups). Some events include a Bloody Brunch on Sunday, and a Kimchee-a-Thon with Happy Girl Kitchen and Farmhouse Culture. For more details on specific events and times, check out the website. Festival hours are Fri 1pm-9pm, Sat 10:30am-9pm, Sun 10:30am-5pm. Free to attend. Jack London Square, Broadway and 1st St., Oakland.

A Seriously Star-Studded JBF Dinner with Paul Qui and Michael Mina October 24th

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Guest chef Paul Qui. Photo from JBF website.

Event Info

Friday Oct 24, 2014
Reception at 5:30pm, dinner at 7pm
$350 per person or $3,000 for a table of 10
Details and Tickets
Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
600 Stockton St. at California

Don’t miss another fabulous evening from the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America on Friday October 24th at the Ritz-Carlton. This time, it’s A Night of Culinary Stars, with special guest Paul Qui from Austin and local chef Michael Mina preparing a multicourse tasting menu. Before the dinner, there is a tasting reception with beverages and bites from Michael Rotondo (Parallel 37), Staffan Terje (Perbacco), and Jennifer Puccio (Marlowe), to name just a few. Wines will be selected by local sommeliers, including Lulu McAllister (Nopa), Max Coane (Saison), and Mark Mendoza (Daniel Patterson Group). You can also sit at a VIP table with Jacques Pépin or Martin Yan, to add some serious culinary personality to your evening.

The reception begins at 5:30pm, with dinner starting at 7pm. Proceeds benefit the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship fund. Tickets are $350 per person, $500 for VIP table seating, or $3,000 for a table of 10. Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, 600 Stockton St. at California.

the starlet

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

Ballin' It Up

Three football players for the 49ers were spotted at Twenty Five Lusk on Saturday night: ~Aldon Smith~, ~Glenn Dorsey~, and ~Antoine Bethea~ were joined by their ladies, and apparently spent more than $6,000. They generously tipped their server $1,000 too.

Super Star Scientist Spotted

Scientific wonder ~Neil deGrasse Tyson~ was spotted at Flour + Water last Tuesday. He was with an entourage and they were reportedly making lots of black hole jokes. Har.

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