table of contents   This week's tablehopper: urban myth, and some truth too.
the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please


MAY 16, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Way for the weather to be a tease, eh? Were you all scrambling to think of restaurants that served brunch outside or had patios for dinner Sunday night? I'll be posting a list of the tablehopper's outdoor favorites soon—'tis the season. And besides, I like you. In the meantime, let's get to the goods.

Ciao and meow,

the chatterbox

MAY 16, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, you cream puff phreeks: ~BEARD PAPA~ has finally and officially opened. They opened their doors last Friday. It would have probably been an even bigger deal if people could find the damned place since it's on a weird little alley that isn't on any maps yet. I have reposted the address below so you don't get lost wandering SoMa moaning for your cream puffs. And you know what? Believe the hype—those puffs are hella tasty. And they come with a mother lode of custard mixed with cream in them. Delicious custardy cream with real vanilla bean. I was lucky enough to be at a party this weekend where a little angel brought a box of them. Go, add to the hype! Go now! 99 Yerba Buena Lane, between Market and Mission Streets, and 3rd and 4th Streets, 415-978-9972.

And now, calling all fried chicken phreeks: tonight (Tuesday night) is ~MAVERICK'S~ monthly fried chicken night (it's every third Tuesday of the month). I personally can't vouch for it, but supposedly people are into it. If they have their own mailing list for it, then you know it's gotta be good. You'll be happy to know Maverick has also made some changes to the interior, including spotlights over the tables so you can admire your plate of food with a little more than candlelight, and even more importantly, they have put up some sound-reducing panels on the ceiling. Hallelujah. (Just don't yell it.)

There is some seriously big stuff happening in the Historic Fillmore Jazz District over the next coming year. Like, we're going to really have a really unique and exciting destination for live music and good food and world-class entertainment, restoring some energy and vibrancy to an area that used to be famous for its music and nightlife. (Rasselas and the Boom Boom Room will finally have some company.) Some of you already know about the ~FILLMORE HERITAGE CENTER~, which broke ground last September, and is being managed by local urban real estate developer Em Johnson Interest, Inc. The $68 million mixed-use space is at the corner of Fillmore and Eddy, and is slated to open in March 2007. It will feature a 6,000-square-foot Jazz Heritage Center that will document the history of jazz in the Fillmore District, and will include a gallery and screening room, and a retail store. There will also be 80 mixed-income condominium-housing units. But the biggest news is in April 2007, it will be the second location of Yoshi's, called ~YOSHI'S SAN FRANCISCO JAZZ CLUB & JAPANESE RESTAURANT~. This location will be a 26,500 square-foot, two-story venue (yeah, massive) with seating for 420 (sweet!). (420 people, silly.) And that's just in the jazz club—the restaurant and lounge will have room for more than 300. Like its East Bay location, Yoshi's will continue to feature the best of local, national, and international jazz artists. I can't think of anything like it in the city, really.

Opening in late spring will also be the ~BLUE MIRROR RESTAURANT & LOUNGE~, a 6,000 square-foot restaurant that takes it's name from one of the many jazz clubs that were legendary in the Fillmore area, especially in the 1950s. Chef/owner David Lawrence and his wife, Monetta White, want to build upon the nostalgia of the good old days of the jazz district, offering a modernized interpretation. The restaurant will seat 75-80 and will include a private dining room, plus there will be a lounge and a bar area seating 25-30 guests. The space is meant balance upscale and casual, blending a neighborhood vibe with a timeless and classic atmosphere with modern touches. The designer is McCartan Design (who did the sleek yet natural interior of the Hotel Vitale and Americano Restaurant) and Zack/de Vito is the architect (bacar, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, Globe, Manresa). The menu is going to be American-Californian with a French-soul influence, so you could find truffle Parmesan fries one night or sweet potato fries the other. Dinner will be served nightly, with a late-night menu that will please the crowds leaving Yoshi's after a show wraps up. Eventually, the Blue Mirror plans on hosting a jazz brunch and lunch. Lawrence has been in the business for 27 years, and was most recently the chef at the Carnelian Room (for seven and a half years), and prior to that was the opening chef at the Essex Supper Club, in addition to stints at 231 Ellsworth in San Mateo, and Cityscape at the Hilton. It will be a pleasure to see him doing his own thing at the Blue Mirror, and putting his French training and skills to work. White, his wife, is a native San Franciscan, and is keen to continue the legacy of jazz in the city; she previously did marketing for Real Restaurants for seven-eight years, and produced corporate events. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy St.

Then there's going to be ~FILLMO' BETTA RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE~, a project from Joseph Manzare (Globe, Zuppa, Tres Agaves), Gary Banks, and Keith Jackson. Banks, a minister, grew up in the Fillmore, and his father was in the restaurant biz in Bayview—now it's his turn, he says. He's known Manzare for over ten years, and they're all excited to be working on this project together. For now it's a raw space, but come March 2007, it will be a boutique restaurant and lounge (1,900 square feet) with a late-night '20s-'30s Chicago jazz-club vibe, courtesy of Zack/de Vito. The restaurant will be serving modern comfort food late into the night, plus brunch and lunch too. Expect a Southern touch with traditional soul dishes on the menu, with a number of smoked meats, including Niman Ranch baby-back pork ribs, house-made Louisiana pork sausage, marinated lamb riblets, plus buttermilk fried chicken, popcorn rock shrimp, deviled eggs, salmon croquettes, and desserts like pecan pie and Key lime pie. (I am getting very hungry as I write this.) Greg Washington, the GM of Globe, is assisting with the launch, and Mark Bright of Michael Mina is the consulting sommelier. 1520 Eddy St. at Fillmore St.

So it looks like the previously shady bar, ~VXN~, on the corner of Broadway and Columbus, is becoming Byblos Bar and Grill. There used to be a BybLos on Lombard serving Lebanese/Mediterranean food—perhaps it's the same owners? I will let you know when I know more…

After 23 years in business, ~SAIGON SAIGON~ on Valencia Street will be closing. Seems like their rent doubled, so they'll be closing their doors at the end of the month. The new owners reportedly have a Mediterranean restaurant. 1132 Valencia St.

Further down Valencia, ~THE OPIUM DEN~ has moved into the former Baku de Thai space at the corner of 15th Street. It will continue to be a Thai restaurant, with free delivery for orders over $15, and a relatively affordable menu. This is the second restaurant from the owners of Bangkok Best on Kearny at Sutter. 400 Valencia St., 415-437-4788.

fresh meat

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Myth Café
490 Pacific Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133


Mon-Fri 8am-4pm

Apps $3.50-$5.50
Salads $4.50-$8.50
Sandwiches $7-$9

MAY 16, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Anyone who knows me knows I am crazy about sandwiches. As much, if not more, than pizza. (This is what happens when your father owns a deli and pizzeria when you're a kid.) I am determined to have my own panino shop one of these days. But until then, all I can say is God bless Ryan Scott at ~MYTH CAFÉ.~ (I know, I can hear the regulars groaning, "Great, now even more people are going to come and steal my precious tables and make the lines longer." Sorry, it's the nature of the beast that is the tablehopper.) Myth Café is in the former Zero Degrees space, connected to the neighboring Myth restaurant. The Executive Chef is the muy-talented Sean O’Brien, who was previously the Executive Sous Chef at Gary Danko. Scott came up with the menu under O’Brien’s direction. Some back story: Scott cooked under O’Brien in Gary Danko's kitchen for four years, and also worked with Daniel Boulud in NYC. He knows what's up, he knows his ingredients, and he is one of the nicest and most excited chefs I've had the pleasure of meeting in a while. FIRED UP, this guy is. Like a George Foreman Grill.

The space is on a sunny corner, with a few outdoor tables, and some indoor seating at stainless steel tables in a modern café space. Lots of folks just bop in and out for take-out bag lunches, or breakfast treats with their coffee. The sandwiches at this joint are enough to make me wish I worked downtown (well, kind of). But before I dive into the sammies, don't deny yourself the wicked deviled eggs ($3.50). SIX halves arrive (no, your eyes do not deceive you), sporting a creamy piped-in filling, topped with a chunk of meaty bacon, some chives, and a dusting of Hungarian paprika. Damn those deviled eggs, damn them! There are also some delicious house-made truffle potato chips ($3.50), thin and crispy, with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and tangerine gremolata (totally upping the gourmet factor). A veritable pile arrives. Yes, you're in trouble with those fries. Bye, see you later!

There is an array of salads, including a fennel- and sumac-crusted ahi tuna ($8.50) (yes, ahi tuna!—it wouldn't be San Francisco without some ahi tuna somewhere on the menu) resting on a salad of haricots verts, Niçoise olives, crumbled egg, and a bed of cucumber, in a zippy lemon vinaigrette. Very refreshing. Damned good salad. I was slightly less enthused with the Boston Bibb lettuce salad ($6.50)—it had blue cheese and pecans and Asian pears, all lovely things I tend to adore together, but it just didn't quite get its groove on like the other dishes. Needed a peppy dressing. (Peppy, did I just use that word? And zippy? I did. I sound like I'm 65, or a total nerd.) You can even get carrot-ginger soup ($5) with mint cream and crispy sweetbreads. No, this is not your average lunch spot, Dorothy. Or should I say Mary? (That last line is for my fabulous gay readers. Hi boys!)

Okay, okay, to the sandwiches. So, buckle up: Scott makes the sickest BLT ($8) I've had in a while. Thick strips of applewood-smoked bacon, a generous heaping of melty cheddar, with sweet and herby roasted tomatoes (brilliant) layered in plus some crispy romaine between two glorious pieces of grilled levain. The sandwich is huge. And already perfect. But here's where Scott is pure evil—the levain bread is grilled with a swath of bacon grease. I mean, what the hell, if you're already into a BLT, you might as well go the whole hog. OINK.

I was also way into the chili and lemongrass-roasted chicken salad sandwich ($8), which came in the softest Acme roll ever. So fresh, and fluffy. The chicken salad was super savory with a touch of sweet: coriander seed, avocado, red onion, mango… and some pepper jack. Fresh lettuce. Definitely the lighter and slightly nicer member in the family, compared to the evil BLT.

And check this out: on Fridays it's PBJ Fridays, which means a PB&J on cinnamon swirl brioche, with bananas, a granny smith apple, and a glass of milk. For $6.50. You could do a lot worse in this town for $6.50 for lunch. They have six-seven other sandwiches, plus a hearty turkey potpie that comes in its own cast iron skillet, a homemade veggie burger, and quiche too (vegetarians can have it their way).

And then there's dessert. Myth Café has a dedicated pastry chef, Renée Atkins (rather ironic, that last name), who probably who probably kicked butt while at the CCA. She churns out a number of treats, from mini apple pies to muffins to cupcakes to really flavorful sorbets, like crème fraîche, guava, and raspberry. And then there are the cookies: rocky road cookies made with big dollops of homemade marshmallows, and for the East Coasties, there are scrumptious black and whites: part cake, part cookie, with fab icing. She's even made grown-up/gourmet versions of Twinkies (with chiffon cake and vanilla butter cream) and Ho Hos. Wait, she's almost as evil as Ryan Scott. She is as evil as Ryan Scott! This place is seriously luncheon hellfire. It burns, it burns, ow!

the socialite

Charles Chocolates logo

Slow Club
2501 Mariposa St.
San Francisco, CA


Fritz Winemakers Dinner
Sunday, May 21
6:30 pm.

$70 per person (including gratuity and sales tax)

MAY 16, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Checkity-check it: ~SLOW CLUB~ is hosting their first winemaker dinner on Sunday, May 21. They hope to have more events on Sunday evenings this summer, featuring farmers, wineries, and their favorite ingredients, but for now, they'll be welcoming Clayton Fritz, the owner of ~FRITZ WINERY~. Tables will be arranged in groups of six and eight so people can socialize, chef Chris Kronner will talk a bit about the menu, and then there's that wine! There might be some last-minute changes, but for now it's looking like:

Family-style antipasti of Prosciutto di Parma, fava beans, asparagus and shaved Manchego
Fritz Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, 2005

Duck confit salad with baby carrots, pickled ramps and watercress
Fritz Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2004

Roasted Niman Ranch top sirloin with spring onion mashed potatoes and wild mushrooms
Fritz Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 2003

Dark chocolate pot de crème
Fritz Late Harvest Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 2004

If you are interested in signing up for this event, you can do one of the following:

  • email Erin at slowclub dot com your credit card number (M/C or Visa) with the expiration date and number of people in your group.
  • email Erin at slowclub dot com that you want to make a reservation and that you have mailed a check to the Slow Club. Your reservation will be confirmed upon receipt of your check.
  • email Erin at slowclub dot com that you want to make a reservation and that you would like to pay with a credit card over the phone. Leave her your phone number and a good time to reach you.

If you have paid and would like to cancel, you will receive a full refund if they are able to fill your spot. If they cannot fill your reservation, they will not be able to refund your payment.

Fog City News image

World Cup Soccer
Starting June 9
Steps of Rome Caffe
348 Columbus Ave.


MAY 16, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO For those of you who can't afford the tickets to World Cup, at least you can party with the bona-fide soccer crazies at ~STEPS OF ROME CAFFE~, who will be showing the World Cup non-stop, opening early and closing late, and free of charge. The month-long tournament beings on June 9. There will be fun prizes, raffles, a regular menu as well as a prix-fixe menu. And lots of tifosi. Forza Azzurri!

the socialite

MAY 16, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, this town needs more star power for this section, okay? But for now, I've got a couple obscure ones for you:

Aussie Helen Reddy (of "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" fame) had lunch at the Fior d'Italia after her bit on the Ron Owens Show promoting her new memoir, "The Woman I Am."

And this is hilarious: a friend overheard Virginia Madsen (sister to Michael Madsen, of ear-cutting fame in Reservoir Dogs and one of the brothers in Kill Bill) telling one of the waiters at 2223 Restaurant last week, "All the pinot noirs on your wine list are horrible! I want to speak to your sommelier right away!" That's a surefire way to make friends with the sommelier, take note!