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the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the regular
it's about time we met
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welcome to the tablehopper newsletter!

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Why hello there. Here's your first installment of the tablehopper, a weekly email newsletter about the San Francisco dining scene written by Marcia Gagliardi. The tablehopper newsletter includes local restaurant news and gossip, reviews of restaurants that have just opened (and established ones too), new bars, events, etc. The content will vary each week; some weeks will have new restaurant reviews, and others will have getaway ideas or cool food and wine events.

The website offers an easy-to-navigate archive of all these tasty tidbits. As the content grows over time, so will the site. There is also a free restaurant recommendation service called tip please. Feel free to give it a try, or pass it on to your friends visiting from New York.

Sorry some of you experienced some wonky formatting in the last email; that business has been fixed.

Cheers! ~Marcia


FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO So you win some, you lose some. Peter Rudolph, the chef de cuisine from Navio at the Ritz Carlton-Half Moon Bay, was brought in to temporarily fill Daniel Humm's shoes at ~CAMPTON PLACE~ and has just been announced as the new permanent chef. They are currently seeking a pastry chef, and it ends up they'll need to fill another spot as well: in March, the talented, young (and hella handsome) wine director, John Ragan, will be leaving the restaurant, joining Daniel Humm at Eleven in New York. There is no word yet on his replacement.

And then there's more: sadly the deal has fallen through for ~SHO~ restaurant in Cow Hollow. It was originally slated to be a stylish venture by the local wild man of the santoku, Shotaro Kamio (of Ozumo), and Andrew Generalao, and designed by local hotshot Cass Calder Smith. Alas, some big Texan company got the lease and then some investor issues cropped up a few weeks ago. [Insert giant sucking sound here.] Meanwhile, the partners are back to the drawing board and have a real estate broker actively seeking another site for them. Let's hope we keep Sho in SF and don't lose him to NYC.

Now things get perkier. Just a few blocks away, the newly opened ~KWANJAI THAI~ in the former Andiamo's pasta space is quite the looker. (And she's not even wearing tight jeans.) The sleek space was inspired by some of the modern cafes in Thailand, and somewhat mimics a fuselage, with curving elements like white high-gloss built-in tables that look like undulating ribbons, and a chocolate banquette tricked out with some padded seating. The extensive menu features traditional Thai dishes with some contemporary touches, by chef Khuanruen Phopon. The owner is Matt Kirchstein, one of the partners of Butter in SoMa—this is his first restaurant. Hours are 11am-11pm, with plans to extend their hours late on Fri-Sat relatively soon. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut St., 415-563-1285.

And then there's ~SEBO~ opening up any day now, once the classic inspection snafus wrap up. The two gents behind this Hayes Valley venture, Michael Black and Daniel Dunham, were the dynamic duo previously at Midori Mushi. SEBO (named after Michael's son, Sebastian, sounds like "seh-bo") is a modern and subdued space that integrates elements of traditional Japanese design. The intimate space has green walls the color of dark avocado and a deep grass with backlit panels emanating a soft glow, mahogany trim throughout, angular trapezoidal tables, plus six seats at the sushi bar that overlook the diminutive open kitchen. It feels welcoming, just like a friend's place. The menu will highlight a traditional approach to Japanese cuisine, so no Rock ‘n' Rolls here, with an emphasis on seasonal product, so no frozen albacore either. There will also be small and innovative plates inspired by what's happening in the Tokyo culinary scene right now, and an omakase (chef's choice) menu. Beau Timken from True Sake is crafting their sake program, so you know it's going to be stellar. Dinner will be served Tue-Sat, 517 Hayes St. at Octavia St., 415-864-2122.

Well it certainly didn't take long to get a new restaurant nestled in the cute Miss Millie's space in Noe Valley. On March 1, ~KOOKEZ CAFÉ~ (as in more than one cookie) will be swinging their doors open, offering a weekend brunch that people will be lining up for in no time flat, and a cozy dinner Wed-Sun. The menu is all about coast-to-coast American cuisine, like chicken potpie or tri-tip with blueberry chutney. And about those cookies: expect a wide range of 'em, along with some breakfast pastries, breads, and evil desserts like pear Dutch baby or coffee cake that you can take out and then binge on in the privacy of your own home. The owner is baker Lynn Marie Presley, the chef is French-trained Amir Gonzalez (Faz) and operations are being handled by Presley's son, Deano Lovechhio. They've put in new hardwood floors, freshened up the paint, and are maintaining the nice homey atmosphere. Smart cookies. 4123 24th St. at Castro St., 415-641-7773.


Les Amis
568 Sacramento St.
at Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94111

Apps $9-12
Entrées $22-$32
Desserts $8

Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm
Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO So who knew a former downtown firehouse could be converted into a clandestine little hideaway? ~LES AMIS~ is perhaps a little too stealth, because not enough people seem to know about it. It feels perfect for closing a deal, whether it's a contract or a second date. Some people know it as the old Zare space, but all traces of its Mediterranean predecessor have said "ciao."

After passing through some heavy blue velvet curtains (sorry, Isabella Rossellini will not be in tonight), you enter into a low-ceilinged room that feels like a minimalist's take on a brasserie. It's definitely stark, but not Starck. White tablecloths, off-white ceilings, slate floors—but the art, yay good restaurant art, adds some color. The lighting is also flattering, so don't fret about your sallow San Francisco complexion. Try to nab one of the power-broker corner booths, and since they have a liquor license slink into a straightforward cocktail. I say straightforward because my pal's Sazerac was far too heavy on the pastis. Then again, that's not the easiest drink to master. Anyway.

After a tasty amuse, my cohort's appetizer of slightly crispy sweetbreads with frisee, carica (a Chilean tropical fruit, now you know) and smoky bacon vinaigrette totally trounced my crab bisque. Sweetbreads almost always win, but especially these. There was even some capricious chef plate art, with a swath of color painted around the rim of the dish. Pourquoi pas?

The contemporary French vibe continued with the star entrée of a striped bass sporting a gingery-orange beurre blanc with some illegally delicious little duck cracklings. Crunch crunch. The five-spiced poussin was charmingly presented on a rustic little platter, and then whisked back to the kitchen for re-plating. Such a flirt, that poussin. Come back here. You will totally eat your spinach, because flirty poussin's bed of spinach puree was scrumptious, much more so than the mound of over-buttered and flavor-bereft chanterelles. Time to find another source for 'shrooms, dude, because those were bunk.

Desserts were unconventional, like a pumpkin-pine nut-praline tart with cream cheese sorbet, and a deconstructed cheesecake dolloped on a layer of tomato rose confit. Nice change from the usual dessert line-up. Not a bread pudding in sight. Service is pro, and the vibe is friendly. It better be, with a name like Les Amis. And just like some friends, the joint has a few little quirks here and there, but you'll still be pals. Partners are executive chef Thomas Weibull (of Plouf) and his sous chef, Christopher Scott (Rubicon), GM Zack Bezunartea, and the other French mafia, Belden Place restaurateurs Olivier Azancot and Eric Klein.


1815 Market St.
at Octavia St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

Apps/small plates $4.50-$16
Entrées $12-18
Desserts $6.50-$10

Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm
Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm
Happy Hour Mon-Fri 5pm-7pm

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO The vibe of this cozy enclave is like walking into your bohemian-sexy friend Pilar's living room: persimmon-orange walls, fabric banquettes, funky religious shadowboxes, a dramatic chandelier and behemoth gilt-framed mirrors big enough for Pablo Escobar to do some serious business on. The restaurant has a refreshing lack of artifice, and is equally suited for romantic dates or a birthday group. Get your relaxed ~DESTINO~ groove on and order up a Pisco Sour, stat—you'll be jonesing for another soon enough.

Okay, unless you're fired up for ceviche (the sea bass version is recommended), the first item you have to introduce yourself to off the Nuevo Latino menu is the arepas—cornmeal patty/biscuits with oozing Fontina cheese and a corn, roasted bell pepper and tomato salsa on top. My dining partner pronounced them slutty. Redeem your errant ways and cool off with the hearts of palm salad, served with pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds, ay papi), papaya, mint, and sultanas.

The long list of small plates includes savory charmers like the sautéed tiger prawns nestled next to little half moons of fried tortilla, all hot-tubbing in a spicy sofrito (watch it, you're getting a little slutty again) and house-made empanadas that were pleasingly delicate; these are actually baked instead of fried. Get friendly with the pork version; the chicken was like the less-racy sister, even though she accessorizes with some spicy aji huacatay (a type of chile) sauce. The classic Peruvian dish of lomo saltado (steak with fries, tomatoes and onion) has that nice tang that comes from its sauce of balsamic vinegar and soy. Mmmmm, meat.

Desserts like the "suspiro" may be winking at you, but do not rebuff the advances of the alfajores. You'll be presented with a box of a dozen ridiculous little butter cookies that are smeared with a hearty dollop of dulce de leche inside. There's a reason they sell them at Gump's. Trust, you'll be mindlessly scarfing the rest of them in bed later. Sidebar: the chef/owner, James Schenk (whose mother is Peruvian) leads culinary tours in Argentina and Peru. ¡Que rico!


Town Hall
342 Howard St.
at Fremont St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

$65 per person
Reservations required

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO The good-time lads at ~TOWN HALL~ certainly know how to mix up a killer cocktail and stuff you silly on delish dishes (you've had Faith's cheese toast, right?). So you can only imagine what a Mardi Gras party is going to be like in their capable hands before sending you off into Lent, when some folks do strange things like give up booze for 40 days. On Fat Tuesday (February 28) from 5pm on, pay up $65 and enjoy a roving feast, roaming about the restaurant and sampling traditional New Orleans'-style foods prepared by Executive Chef/Owners Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal. We're talking a raw bar, a shellfish boil over newspaper-covered tables (it's okay to lick your fingers), gumbo and jambalaya stations, fried chicken, beer and wine, and a Hurricane station, the official Mardi Gras cocktail. (Shame about the name, however.) There will be live music (the New Orleans funk band the d'amphibians) and guests are encouraged to don masquerade masks for the party. Make sure it doesn't obstruct your gaping maw, however.


657 Harrison St.
at 2nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

$60 per person

Bar and Lounge
Tue–Sun 6.30pm–2am
Tue–Sun 7:30 pm seating

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO For those of us who can't find much fashion pageantry in this town beyond in-store events at Saks or the occasional boutique opening party, the performers at ~SUPPERCLUB~ will be doing their own little turn on the catwalk next week. From Feb. 28-March 5, supperclub is hosting their version of a Fashion Week to coincide with the Paris Fashion Week. So while we don't have Karl, we do have Princess Kennedy. There will be fashion shows, live construction demos, interactive elements, and surely some drama a la Naomi, all enjoyed from the comfort of your bed. Too sexy for Milan? Perhaps.

La Cocina
2948 Folsom St.
at 25th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO ~LA COCINA~ ("The Kitchen") is a local and extremely innovative non-profit I really believe in—you can check out a recent article I wrote about them in the latest issue of Edible San Francisco. On Monday, March 6, from 2pm-6pm, the micro-business owners are inviting chefs, restaurateurs and culinary retailers to meet the entrepreneurs behind the businesses operated out of La Cocina, as well as taste their delicious sweet and savory treats, from tres leches cakes to authentic huaraches to hand-rolled vegan truffles. If you're in the industry, you really shouldn't miss this—everything is so authentic, and delish. Bring La Cocina's delicious products into your own restaurant, store or bar and give back to the Bay Area community at the same time. Please RSVP for ExpoCocina to or

The mission of La Cocina is to assist lower income micro-entrepreneurs in becoming economically self-sufficient and achieving business sustainability by providing them with fully-licensed affordable commercial kitchen space, technical assistance, and access to new market opportunities. La Cocina aims to assist low-income Latina, minority, and immigrant women in San Francisco who operate informal food related businesses, or who are starting new businesses.


FEBRUARY 21, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Jim Marshall, the ultimate rock 'n' roll and famed "Rolling Stone" photographer, celebrated his 70th birthday earlier this month at 2223 Restaurant with a star-studded list of guests that included Gina Gershon, Joan Baez, and the musician John Mayer.

Apollonia (of "Purple Rain" and the ever-fab track "Sex Shooter") came to see Bebel Gilberto perform at supperclub on Monday night a couple weeks back, and Bebel invited her on stage. (She sang back up on some songs.) Ends up the girls went totally nutty for each other. How crazy? How about Bebel kissing Apollonia's feet and Apollonia giving Bebel one of her blingy rings. Girls. Bebel kept asking her back to stay and sing for the other shows, so Apollonia cancelled her flight two more nights in a row. Total BFF!

And my personal favorite: on Valentine's Day, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) was in Mangarosa for dinner. I can only imagine he sunk his pointy teeth into the steak "rechaud."