April 30, 2013

April 30, 2013

The former Lalola space. Photo from Lalola’s website.

A bunch of new projects are coming to the city, starting with ~ARTESANO~ in Laurel Heights in the former Asqew Grill space. It’s a new project from chef-partner Jeff Gambardella and owner Douglas Mathieux of neighboring Rigolo Café, which bills itself as “the most child-friendly restaurant in SF.” Their new project is casual South American comfort food. They’ll be open for both lunch and dinner, and are aiming for an approachable, comfortable vibe. Stay tuned for more details soon, like an opening date. 3415 California St. at Laurel.

Meanwhile, out in Noe Valley, we can look forward to ~LA NEBBIA~ from Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan of La Ciccia. The name means “the fog” (something we know well here). Scoop reports they are converting a former consignment store into a 36-seat enoteca, with a selection of cured hams and fresh cheeses on offer, plus pizza, a variety of lasagne (yes!), and of course, some great wines. While Italian wines will figure prominently, there will also be some wines from the U.S. and France. Look for a fall opening. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.

Another enoteca will be ~INOVINO~ from Claudio Villani, presently the wine director at Perbacco. I was chasing this story before I left for Coachella, but SF Magazine’s Weekly Feed got the goods while I was gone: He’ll be opening the 30-seat enoteca in the former Hama-Ko in Cole Valley. Look for wines from around the world, plus cheese and charcuterie, crudos, crostini, and more. He’s aiming for a July opening. The space will have a chic look, with a Carrara marble bar. How’s that for a lot of words beginning in “c”? And here’s two more: 108 Carl St. at Cole.

This May, ~MASON PACIFIC~, from Jay Thomson and Shannon McTiernan Thomson, will be opening in the former Lalola space that borders Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and Chinatown. Executive chef Sean McTiernan (Rose Pistola, Delfina) will be creating a menu that is on the quality neighborhood bistro tip. Sample dishes include rabbit terrine on housemade levain with grilled lettuce and pickled mustard seed, and New York strip with pickled mushroom and a lemon-ponzu reduction. Sommelier Eric Railsback, formerly of RN74, is behind the extensive wine program. Some highlights: food-friendly wines by the glass, aged wines from Thomson’s personal collection, and a carafe program with wines made specifically by Copain. Dinner will be Tue-Sun 5:30pm-11pm. 1358 Mason St. at Pacific.

Just as I was leaving on vacation, I heard word that nearby ~RUE SAINT JACQUES~ on Jackson Street had closed and Lorenzo Logoreci (Allegro Romano) was moving in. I wasn’t able to get confirmation before I hightailed it out of town, but I returned home to some permit action, and confirmation by the Scoop. The new name is ~A LA ROMANA~, and it will be a casual enoteca and pizzeria. Look for an opening in a couple of months. 1098 Jackson St. at Taylor.

File this under developing: some permit action points to ~KEZAR PIZZETTA~ at 775 Frederick St., the former home of ~NEW GANGES~ Indian restaurant. The new owner used to own Monterey Deli in Sunnyside, and apparently sold that business to get this one going. Am hoping the name on the permit is just temporary, because I am sure The Kezar Pub folks and Pizzetta 211 will have something to say about it. 775 Frederick St. at Arguello.

Lastly, fans of Southern California’s ~TENDER GREENS~ will be able to enjoy a location in the Financial District early this summer. Scoop mentions the chef is Sean Canavan, who was the opening chef at Bluestem Brasserie. 50 Fremont St. at Mission.


The bar at the former Dante’s Table. Photo by Juan Romero Corral via Facebook.


The interior at Osso Steakhouse. Photo by Misha Bruk.


The custom tables at La Paloma Café. Photo by Michele Mandell.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, ~DANTE’S TABLE~ is now open in the Castro. For your viewing pleasure, here’s the latest copy of the lunch menu by chef Andrea Cesca. Initial opening hours: Lunch is 11:30am-2:30pm and dinner Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. Closed Mondays. 544 Castro St. at 19th St., 415-529-2797.

Another opening reminder: as originally announced in tablehopper, Pete Mrabe’s ~PISTO’S TACOS~ is slated to open on Thursday May 2nd. The drill: street-style tacos on hand-pressed tortillas, a smaller version of the Pisto’s burger (for $4), burritos, housemade tamales, and about 40 beers (plus micheladas and potent wine-based margaritas). Hours to start will be nightly 5pm-11pm; lunch coming soon. 1310 Grant Ave. at Vallejo.

Opening Friday May 3rd is ~OSSO STEAKHOUSE~ in the Gramercy Towers (previously the historic Vanessi’s) on Nob Hill. As noted before on tablehopper, Jerry and Jennifer Dal Bozzo are behind the project (The Franciscan Crab Restaurant, The Stinking Rose, Calzone’s, and the revamped The Old Clam House), partnering with Dante Serafini. The Dal Bozzos and Serafini co-owned Boboquivari’s—the locally loved steakhouse on Lombard Street—along with Andrea Froncillo, who is now the sole owner of Bobo’s. The name of the restaurant means “bone,” which all makes sense when you see the menu specifically highlights four- to six-week dry-aged, bone-in prime beef. The restaurant has a swank, Art Deco-inspired look. Open nightly 5pm-10pm; valet is $10. 1177 California St. at Jones, 415-771-6776.

Speaking of Bobo’s, Scoop mentioned Andrea Froncillo has taken over Amigo Cantina, which was next door to Bobo’s. He’ll be opening ~BOBO’S LOUNGE~ in its place. There will be cocktails and a bar menu; look for a July opening. 1434 Lombard St. at Van Ness.

Back in January, I mentioned ~LA PALOMA CAFÉ~, which looks pretty damn close to opening (the current word is it will soft open on Friday, with an official opening Monday). As previously noted, it’s the former Top o’ the Hill Market, and they will be serving espresso from Weaver’s Coffee in San Rafael, plus soups, sandwiches, salads, gelato, and more. 1096 Union St. at Leavenworth.


The former Brother-in-Laws/Da’ Pitt. Yelp photo by Bill B.

Over the weekend, Haighteration announced ~DA ‘PITT~ on Divis was shut down and is sporting an eviction notice. While I appreciate the legacy and importance of the location itself, Da ‘Pitt was completely da pits. When it was Brother-in-Laws, I would heed the siren song of the smoky pit more than I should have (I have been watching the smoke billow from my desk window for many years—I live just a couple of blocks away). But that was a long while ago—no one has been doing good things to meats in there since. Here’s hoping one of our local barbecuing badasses can keep that pit fired up, because it’s one of the few we have in the city, and the smoke is an integral part to the particular perfume of the Divisadero corridor. (Along with some other smoky smells from that parking lot.) 705 Divisadero St. at Grove, 415-440-7427.

The Real Restaurants group has decided to axe the Hutong concept, flip it, and reverse it (Missy style) back to ~BETELNUT~. Nothing like a two-star review from Bauer to have you eighty-six an entire concept just one day later. “Uh, never mind! We were just huffing Sichuan peppercorns, we didn’t really think this one through.” There are so many things to say about the whole head-scratching situation, but sometimes it’s better to just keep your mouth shut. Anyway, I love chef Alex Ong’s food, so I’ll sit tight for the next incarnation of his menu (and the spray paint coming off the awning).


Brisket, baby. Photo by Nader Khouri Photography.

The next time a hankering for ~HI LO~’s absolutely insane St. Louis-cut spare ribs strikes at 4:21pm, well, you’re in luck. Meatloaf sandwich for brunch? Oh yes you can. Hi Lo will now be open daily 12pm-10pm, starting this Wednesday May 1st. (Guess they were trying to synchronize their watches just in time for National Barbecue Month.)

Lunchtime also means you can take advantage of $2 canned beer specials (they’ll have Modelo, 21st Amendment Bitter American, and New Belgium Shift Pale Lager available) and $1 sweet teas with the purchase of any food from 12pm-4:30pm. Sweet. Or you can hit it a little harder and go for a wild cherry bourbon rickey. Enjoy.


The brand new verrine of trout with peas and pancetta at Craftsman and Wolves. Photo from Facebook.

~CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES~, the design-forward pâtisserie from William Werner, is expanding some elements of their business. First things first, starting Monday May 6th they’ll be serving beer and wine at their Valencia Street location, and have expanded their hours. They’ll now be open Sun-Thu until 9pm, and Fri-Sat until 10pm. David Lynch of St. Vincent helped out with curating the wine and beer selection, and you’ll find choices like German Gilabert cava; Domaine Drouhin pinot noir 2010, Oregon; and Bavik “Wittekerke” witbier by the can. They’ve also added some savory menu choices, like a a sloppy joe sandwich with Angus beef and oyster mushrooms on a miso-sweet potato bun ($11), mac and cheese with carnitas and manchego ($11), and a verrine of trout with peas, preserved lemon, and pancetta ($6). New hours at the bakery are Mon-Thu 7am-9pm, Fri 7am-10pm, Sat 8am-10pm, and Sun 8am-9pm.

They’ve also landed a stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays. They’ll be out front, between the Blue Bottle kiosk and MarketBar, with savory and sweet pastries, cakes, pâte de fruit, and other rotating offerings. And yes, the Rebel Within will also be there. They’ll be at the Farmers Market Saturdays 8am-2pm.


Latte from Fifty / Fifty. Yelp photo by Nance L.

One of my fab Twitter pals alerted me to the opening of ~FIFTY / FIFTY COFFEE AND TEA~, a new café on Geary in the Inner Richmond/Laurel Heights area. On tap: Ritual coffee, bubble tea, loose teas, tea smoothies, and baked goodies from Dynamo Donut and Devil’s Teeth. Reportedly it has a cute look, and Wi-Fi. Open daily. 3157 Geary Blvd. at Spruce, 415-684-8886.

The nixed Coffee Bar space in SoMa is going to be ~GAS LAMP CAFÉ~, according to some permit action. The website mentions Blue Bottle coffee and a May opening. 1599 Howard St. at 12th St.

Eater announced that ~FOURTH WAVE COFFEE~ on Polk has closed. 1356 Polk St. at Pine.

Oakland is going to host the largest ~BLUE BOTTLE~ location yet: Scoop mentions the upcoming location is the historic W.C. Morse building, which dates back to 1905. One bonus to the usual offering: James Freeman is hoping to create a home espresso machine showroom and repair shop. Love this. Look for an opening this year. 4296 Broadway at 42nd, Oakland.


Sugar eggs puffs from Shanghai Dumpling King. Yelp photo by Christine C.

Just in case you head out to ~SHANGHAI DUMPLING KING~ on Balboa in the Outer Richmond for your sugar egg puff fix and wonder what the hell happened to the restaurant, a post on Chowhound announces the original location is undergoing some renovations. There’s a new location in the meantime, at 696 Monterey Blvd. at Gennessee, 415-387-2088.

Also noted: ~I-WONTON~ is a new spot on Irving (mentioned on Chowhound) that’s serving pancakes, dim sum, and “appertizers.” 3925 Irving St. at 40th Ave., 415-681-9588.


Smoked brisket, egg, braised greens, and English muffin from Marla Bakery. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Looking for a new place to brunch? Catch Amy Brown and Joe Wolf of Marla Bakery at ~STATE BIRD PROVISIONS~ three Sundays in May: the 12th (that’s Mother’s Day, if mom is into pop-ups), the 19th, and 26th. Brunch will be served 11am-4pm, with goods like rye toast with tea-smoked sturgeon, a “Mr. Croque” (that’s 4505 smoked ham, mostarda, Gruyère, and dry jack on levain with pickled ramps), and a strawberry cake parfait, plus egg dishes, housemade yogurt, and lots of breads and pastries. (That smoked brisket with greens and English muffin looks like a winner, just sayin’.) They’ll be taking limited email reservations for Mother’s Day, too, just be sure to put “Mothers Day/Reservations” in the subject line.

On Sunday May 12th, check out the ~CONFLICT KITCHEN: THE TWO KOREAS~, a Pittsburgh-based art and food project that will be popping up at the Mess Hall in the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts. The project presents food from different countries with which the United States is in conflict, and offers them to go in order to start discussion on the conflicts at hand. Previous offerings include Afghan, Iranian, and Cuban food.

For this pop-up, they’ll be doing things a little differently, with food from both North and South Korea. On the menu from South Korea: spicy braised rice cakes known as tteokbokki, beef short ribs (galbijjim), and a sweet stuffed pancake (hotteok). From North Korea, menu contenders include a stuffed squid dish known as ojingae sundae, a chilled buckwheat noodle dish (naengmyeon), and a stuffed pumpkin rice cake (hobaktteok). Tickets are $35 for general admission, and $30 for Center for the Arts members. 944 Simmonds Rd. at Field, Sausalito, 415-331-2787.


Crawfish arriving at Boxing Room. Photo from Facebook.

While I am stuffing my face at Jazz Fest this weekend with crawfish Monica, chef Justin Simoneaux of ~BOXING ROOM~ will enable you do the same! He’s added two specials to the menu in honor of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which also includes crawfish bread (a mixture of sautéed crawfish tails, garlic, celery, bell pepper, and mozzarella that’s stuffed into pizza dough—whoa). Meanwhile, crawfish Monica combines crawfish tails, tomato, the holy trinity, cheddar Mornay, and pasta. HELLO. Let’s get fat together this weekend!

Bwok. Actually, I don’t know the sound a guinea hen makes, but I do know it is delicious. If you are a fan of fowl, you’ll want to check out this special Bird Dinner at ~OLIVETO~ from Tuesday May 7th-Friday May 10th. Chef Jonah Rhodehamel’s menu will focus on various domestic breeds of fine game, including Liberty Farms ducks, Phillip Paine’s Sonoma pigeons, Bud Hoffman hens, and a variety of other birds provided by smaller, local farms, such as geese (in season), guinea hen, quail, and pheasant. Call for reservations: 510-547-5356.

Over at ~AME~, you can reserve a seat for a new and special kaiseki menu served on the first Thursday of each month (the first one kicks off May 2nd). Chef Hiro Sone will prepare the dishes at Ame’s sashimi bar for eight guests total each month. Seatings will be at 7pm, and reservations are taken two weeks prior. $165 per person (dinner must be prepaid when the reservation is made); $95 beverage pairing. To reserve, call 415-284-4040.

On Monday May 20th, chef Thomas McNaughton will be serving a special dinner at ~CENTRAL KITCHEN~ highlighting ingredients from Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Marin. The dinner’s five courses will be prepared tableside, with discussion from McNaughton on the ranch and its practices. There are seatings at 5:45pm and 8:30pm, and tickets are $250, and include wine pairings and gratuity.

Last week in my review of ~CAPO’S~, I mentioned how much I love the meatballs there. Well, now you can enjoy a bunch of them on Sunday afternoons at the new Spaghetti Sundays at Capo’s. Every Sunday, there will be a family-style meal (served from 12pm-2:30pm) that includes spaghetti and meatballs, Caesar salad, garlic bread, and “pasta fazool” soup. The menu serves four to six people and is available for $39.99.

Curious about the food of Abruzzo? For the month of May, ~BARBACCO~ chef Nick Kelly will be offering a menu of Abruzzese dishes, like maccheroni alla chitarra and the traditional spring soup of Termoli.


Four Barrel cappuccino; Yelp photo from Jamie R.

It’s no secret that the Bay Area has been engulfed in a serious third wave of coffee culture. From debates about the virtues of each different roaster to conversations on the flavor profiles of Central America versus Africa, we’re all pretty well versed on the way our coffee is sourced, roasted, and poured. For a real, in-depth look at coffee culture and production, join the Commonwealth Club on Tuesday May 28th for ~THE PERFECT CUP: COFFEE TALK WITH SAN FRANCISCO’S FINEST ROASTERS~.

A panel of some serious coffee stars, James Freeman (Blue Bottle), Eileen Hassi (Ritual), and Jeremy Tooker (Four Barrel), will be talking about their methods with yours truly, the tablehopper. That’s right, your favorite hopped-up columnist will be there, moderating the discussion. The show kicks off at 5pm with a coffee “cupping,” or tasting, and tickets are $15 for members, $25 general admission, and $10 for students. 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, at 2nd St., 415-597-6700.


Some fabulous hats at the Starlight Room’s Kentucky Derby party, 2012. Photo from Facebook.

Got a big hat and a mint julep ready? Excellent. It’s time for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday May 4th, and here are some places to sit high on the horse and enjoy yourself, honey.

First up is a the Second Annual Kentucky Derby Brunch at ~THE STARLIGHT ROOM~ from 1pm-4pm. The event includes a Southern-style buffet, mint juleps and mimosas, and live bluegrass. There are also prizes for the best dressed couple and the best hat, so get your finest attire ready. Tickets are $50 and include tax and tip. 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.

You can score a julep at ~ELIXIR~ during its Derby Day party, where there’s an entire menu dedicated to riffs on the cocktail. Derby attire is, of course, encouraged, and there will also be a pot of Kentucky burgoo stew. 1pm-6pm. 3200 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-1633.


An array of margaritas from Tacolicious. Photo from Facebook.

Cinco de Mayo will be going off all over town, but here’s one event you’ll definitely want to consider: on Sunday May 5th check out the third-annual Cinco de Mayo party from Tacolicious, Hecho en San Francisco. The event takes place at the ~FERRY BUILDING~, in the CUESA kitchen, and brings together lots of local food businesses, including many from La Cocina’s incubator program, to serve food and drinks to benefit La Cocina and CUESA. You’ll find food from Nopalito, Tacolicious, La Torta Gorda, El Buen Comer, and Don Bugito, to name just a few. There will also be cocktails, tequila, and plenty of beer. The event is from 1pm-5pm, and tickets are $55 per person. CUESA Kitchen, Ferry Building Plaza.


The bourbon selection at Hog & Rocks, plus Dandelion’s chocolate bars.

Spring is here, and it is time to par-tay! Did you know that CUESA’s ~FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET~ is turning 20 this year? Hard to believe. They’ll be throwing a birthday party to celebrate, of course, and you’re invited. On Saturday May 18th from 9am-12pm, you have a couple choices on how to party down. You can go to the market and attend one of their free events, like a treasure hunt and special presentation, or you can buy tickets to their reception, which features a standing breakfast bar and a mimosa and juice counter. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids. You can also check out some of their other celebrations, like a cocktail party and Sunday Supper, here. Ferry Building Plaza.

On Wednesday May 1st, test out your palate with Blind Tasting Bingo from ~EDIBLE SF~. The bingo features 12 “mystery bites” from Locanda chef Anthony Strong that you’ll try while blindfolded. Whoever can identify the most flavors from descriptions on their bingo card wins! The event takes place at the San Francisco Cooking School from 7pm-10pm, and tickets are $50 per person. 690 Van Ness Ave. at Turk.

Catch another bourbon and chocolate pairing event from Lisa Gallinger of Dandelion Chocolate and Michael Lazar of Hog & Rocks. The tasting takes place on Saturday May 11th from 3:30pm-4:45pm at ~HI LO~ and features three of Dandelion’s single-origin chocolates paired with three bourbons from the Hog & Rocks repetoire. Tickets are $40. 3416 19th St. at Mission, 415-874-9921.


Michelle Polzine at Cafe Hawelka in Vienna. Photo courtesy of Ms. Polzine.

Okay, folks, here are some rockin’ ladies starting their own badass businesses, and it would be great for us to lend a hand (and some cash money).

First up is the ever-wonderful Michelle Polzine, whose new project, ~20TH CENTURY CAFÉ~, is going to bring her excellent baked goods to us. All. The. Time. Could not be more excited for her. She’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to get her totally ready to go. You have to watch her silent movie video—it’s one of the most endearing Kickstarter videos I’ve seen. Pledges start at a reasonable $5; for only $25 you get a pastry and beverage once the café opens. You know you want to donate. You do, you do!

Tricia Tracey, a chef who previously worked at Momo’s and Roti and is known by many folks in the industry, is opening a new gastropub in San Francisco called ~MYRIAD~. Check out a great guest blog piece she wrote for Michael Ruhlman about the project here. She’s been doing pop-ups to get ready, and now has an ambitious Kickstarter campaign of $60,000. She’s less than $10,000 away, and has until Sunday May 5th to get the last of her funding. Let’s make sure she gets there!


The leg of lamb at FARMSHOP. Photo by Rick Poon.

Next Monday May 6th, the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur is getting an exciting new addition: ~FARMSHOP~. Chef and owner Jeff Cericello (once culinary director for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group for a decade, ahem) is bringing the Los Angeles restaurant to the Bay Area, with a full bar, seasonally focused menu, and outdoor patio. The spacious restaurant (6,500 square feet) features a wood-fired oven and open-hearth grill, which will form the basis for the menu; look for grilled and roasted meats, pizzas, and fresh vegetable sides and salads to balance it all out. I am totally clearing my plate of burrata cheese with crispy artichokes, cracked green kalamata olives, fried capers, and grilled mustard greens in my mind. Mark Hopper (I like him already, ha) is the executive chef at the Marin location, and you can take a look at the current menu here.

The beverage menu from restaurant director Michel Darmon will, of course, be seasonal and local. They’ll be mixing up classics, and adding in some of their own twists too. The wine program will focus on local and domestic wines, with a rotating list of local wines available on tap. To start, they’ll just be serving dinner and keeping the bar and lounge area open, but weekday lunch and weekend brunch will be added in the summer. Open daily 5:30pm-10pm. 2257 Larkspur Landing Circle at Old Quarry Rd., Larkspur.


Exterior of Puerto 27. Photo from the restaurant.

Newly open as of this weekend is ~PUERTO 27~ in Pacifica. As originally reported in tablehopper, this is a project from Jose Calvo-Perez of the Fresca and Pasión family of restaurants (the chef de cuisine is Hector Diaz). The menu features a variety of piqueos (small plates) to share, like Peruvian-style fried rice with sea urchin sauce (um, yes), empanadas, and a variety of causas (I love those lil’ potato buggers). There’s also a full ceviche raw bar, lomo saltado, and more. Check out the menu here. It’s the kind of food you’ll dig after a day at the beach, or if you go for a coastal drive, with weekend brunch as your destination.

The 140-seat restaurant has two levels, ocean views, and an outdoor patio. Cocktails by Enrique Sanchez (previously at La Mar Cebichería Peruana and Limón, currently at Rose Pistola) highlight pisco (naturally), and there’s also an international wine list. Oh yes, and there’s happy hour from 3pm-6pm. Open for lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm (starting soon), dinner nightly from 5pm onward, and brunch Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. Pacifica Beach Hotel, 525 Crespi Drive, just off Highway 1, Pacifica, 650-733-7343.

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