table of contents   This week's tablehopper: polk you in the ribs.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the health nut
take a lap, tablehopper
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

Lost Art Salon


SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO So last week I had one of the most humbling dining experiences ever: dining in the dark at the SF Dark Dining event at Ft. Mason. All manners and grace are out the window as you try to gauge a proper bite by the weight on your fork, you accidentally shove food off your plate like you’re an unruly toddler, and keeping track of your wineglass (filled with red wine, mind you) is practically nerve-wracking. My sense of smell was definitely heightened—you can smell the food being served to others before it’s placed in front of you—and texture became extra important.

The room wasn’t really dark enough, so we all tied our black napkins over our eyes for a full blackout (no, we didn’t do shots). Granted, the food wasn’t very stellar considering the $95 price tag, but the weirdness of the whole experience helped make the evening memorable. Key learnings: table decorations and garnishes don’t matter in dark dining, vertical food and long green beans are evil, getting food in your teeth is of no import, and wearing a bib, or black, or already dirty clothes is recommended.

This week is the launch of the health nut, a new section on tablehopper recording my upcoming program with Titan Fitness, which will be getting me back in touch with my abs and triceps. High five!

In closing, I would like to personally thank all of you who expressed interest in next week’s tablehopper supper at Jack Falstaff, and managed to sell that puppy out in less than 24 hours! Go team! Your support and enthusiasm really means a lot, and I’m looking forward to putting together more dinners in the future…

Cheers, my dears!

~Marcia subscribe

the chatterbox
Lost Art SalonSEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO After a month or so of Patrick Robertson acting as executive chef at ~SCALA'S BISTRO/DRAKE RESTAURANTS~, presto change-o, he has departed. The official statement is as follows: “This is a mutual decision, made with the best interest of the restaurants in mind. Scala's has begun a new chef search with the goal of creating the best possible fit for the restaurant.” It’s like Cinderella! 432 Powell St. at Post, 415-395-8555.

After landing two and a half stars in a dining update from The Chronicle just a month ago, opening chef Noah Tucker has left ~BRICK RESTAURANT~ (his wife landed a job in Amsterdam). Taking over as executive chef is Alex Marsh, who was the executive chef of Solstice—Marsh will continue overseeing Solstice’s kitchen with the help of his sous chef, who has been there for two years. I spoke with one of Brick’s partners, Matt Strum, and he said Brick’s former molecular gastronomy angle is out the window (so say goodbye to the scrumptious Buffalo chicken wings with Gorgonzola foam—they just flew the coop) and guests can look for more accessible dishes, prices, and portions. The new menu should be intact by mid-October, but a few additions for now include 11-hour short ribs ($20), pancetta-wrapped whole quail ($17), and a beet and blue cheese lasagne with Swiss chard, roasted shiitakes, and herb salad ($15).

More changes at Brick: there will be a new pastry chef, Rikki Garcia, who is currently at Cafe 150 at the Google complex, and was previously at Michael Mina and Lark Creek Inn; the super-friendly GM, Leti Saucedo, has left (she’s taking a break from the biz)—a new GM should be announced shortly; and partner Chris Cronk is also stepping back for the next 18 months while he gets his MBA. That’s not all: look for the adjoining gallery space to have some changes by the end of the year as well: the plan is to launch a dine-in/take-out concept for neighborhood lunchers, while keeping the space open for private events in the evening. More on that soon. 1085 Sutter St. at Larkin, 415-441-4232.

It’s driving me crazy that I haven’t had time to swing by for brekkie or lunch at ~BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD~ yet (the crawfish beignets are callllllling meeeeeee), but I now have one more day in the week to make it happen: brunch on Saturday has now kicked in! I know Sunday is the preferred day in this brunch-crazy town, but I dig Saturday brunch much more. So yay. Check out the menu(s) here. 652 Polk St. at Eddy, 415-345-8100.

~TABLESPOON~ on Upper Polk is the latest SF restaurant to join Madonna’s Re-Invention tour (like TWO, CIRCA, and COCO500). The restaurant has morphed into Bar Johnny (John Jasso is the owner), and can be added to the ranks of restaurants around town with a small plates format. Tablespoon’s contemporary American style will continue, but the menu will be divvied up into a “bites” section, with dishes like garlic truffle fries ($5), house-made charcuterie ($8), and grilled pizza ($11); plus “salads,” like melon and duck prosciutto ($8) and smoked tuna with butter beans ($9); and then there are dishes in the “more” section, like a flatiron steak and fries ($16), and fried chicken leg and house fries ($12). I’ve enjoyed the cocktails here since they got their liquor license, so now you can have a casual bite to go with the swell dranks. Dinner is served until 11pm, with a bar menu until 1am. 2209 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-268-0140.

Cute new café alert: Andre and Jennifer Larzul, the owners of Revolution Café, Alamo Square Seafood Grill, and Blue Jay Café, have opened ~SOCHA~ in the Outer Mission. The name stands for “South of Cesar Chavez”—perhaps it will end up working like NOPA did and put the mini-neighborhood’s name on the map. Socha has an onsite baker churning out savories and sweets, like scallion or red pepper and Fontina rolls, focaccia, danishes, scones, and sandwiches. There are also some pizzas and flatbreads that will be making even more of an appearance in the late evening once the beer and wine license is approved, hopefully by the end of the month—which will mean later hours, too. Coffee is from Fabrice Moschetti in Santa Rosa. The space has groovy art (currently artwork from Leif Wold and Susan Matthews is up), and free WiFi too, with plans for acoustic music and films in the future. Hours are 8am–7pm daily. 3235 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-643-6848.

Over on 24th Street, ~ROOSEVELT’S TAMALE PARLOR~ has new owners: Hector Flores, who was in the kitchen at Don Pico’s in San Bruno for eight years, and his wife, who was at Pancho Villa for close to ten. The restaurant has been closed while becoming ADA compliant, and should be open in a couple weeks—by early October. The new menu will feature some seafood ceviches and a Don Pico’s-style menu, with a diminished focus on tamales. 2817 24th St. at York, 415-824-2600.

Meanwhile, a few doors over at ~LA TORTA GORDA~, there’s a new chef from Mexico City working there who is reportedly integrating more classical and regional dishes on the menu (don’t worry, Armando’s perfect tortas aren’t going anywhere). I was told there is some killer mole the chef brought back from Puebla right now, too. Oh, and the back patio should be open soon. 2833 24th St. at York, 415-642-9600.

There is a new pizza place under construction on Valencia, just next door to New Yorker’s Buffalo Wings, which is going to be called, surprise surprise, ~PIZZERIA~. The owner can’t reveal many details yet, but based on what I’ve heard and have been able to dig up, it’s slated to open next month, and will serve thin-crust pizzas and pasta. I also heard the brick oven was something like 6,000 pounds, and was installed with a forklift. I found a link to some construction pictures if you’re interested in looking at the space. I’ll let you know more when the owner can talk! 663 Valencia St. at 18th.

This closure really has me bothered. And I’m not alone. San Francisco has lost one of the best Mediterranean places in town: ~MEDITERRANEAN SPIRIT~ on Polk has suddenly closed. Like, what? WHAT? No more of their incomparable falafel, and chicken shwarma, and perfect hummus, and fluffy pitas, all served with a smile and warmth? I thought we all had the spirit? Heck. This totally sucks. Does anyone know what happened? I have no way to get in touch with Khalil and Lubna to find out—the number is disconnected. Insert unhappy face here. 1303 Polk St. at Bush.

Another closure: after 120 years and four generations of business in the Wharf, ~A. SABELLA’S~ is closing on November 3. General manager Antone Sabella is ready to move on (after 45 years in the restaurant, I would be too), and is looking forward to some travel, while sister Laureen is “really going to miss the food.” There are a lot of employees who have been working there for years, including a sauté cook who started in 1967 as a dishwasher, so it’s certainly a sad closure for many. As for the fate of the space, it seems there are a couple offers the family is presently negotiating, I’ll keep you posted. 2766 Taylor St., 3rd Floor, at Jefferson, 415-771-6775.

After eight years in Hayes Valley, ~FRJTZ~ has closed—the landlord wasn’t up for renewing the lease. A new Frjtz is slated to open by the holidays a few doors down, at 581 Hayes—the space was formerly the furniture store, Montauk. And there’s the new location that recently opened in the Mission.

~PERBACCO~ has promoted Sarah Ballard to pastry chef. She has been at the restaurant since its opening in October 2006, and was formerly at Frascati. 230 California St. at Battery, 415-955-0663.

Sometimes this world we live in is really lovely and magical, and other times it is just so disheartening and bleak. I was disgusted with the news that the former Top Chef contestant from season two, ~JOSIE SMITH-MALAVE~, was gay bashed with her friend, Emily Durwood, and sister, Julie Smith, in Sea Cliff, New York, over the Labor Day weekend. The Advocate has some details about the vicious incident and now one person has been arrested, details here. WTF, seriously.

Time for some corrections: I was misinformed about the winner of the cocktail competition at the ~CHEF'S COOK-OFF FOR AFTER SCHOOL~ event at Jack Falstaff—it should have been Zole Andahazy, the bar manager/bistro manager from Bernardus Lodge! Sorry about that. While we’re at it, it also ends up the antique cavatelli machine from Italy belonged to Nate Appleman of A16, not Craig Stoll. Double doh!

~MARIQUITA~ fans (and pumpkin heads), this Thursday you can pick up some produce at Pizzetta 211 from 5pm–7pm—ends up Mariquita is drowning in tomatoes and pumpkins and peppers. And basil. These produce drop-offs will be on an every-other week schedule, likely through the winter! From Mariquita: “We will have sugar pie pumpkins and the butternut-like Zucchettas. Sugar pies are $4/each or 4 pumpkins for $10. (we leave some good amount of stem on so they work well as carvers/decorations) Zucchettas (GREAT fall decorations!) are large: at least 2 feet long, most of them. They are $5/each or 3 for $10. Also: tomatoes are cheaper for this delivery: Andy said we have way too many! See the website for more details. Email me with your orders by 9am on Wed. Sept. 19th.” Oh, and on Sunday Sept. 23 there will be a Upick day when you can score 50 cent a pound heirloom/San Marzano tomatoes! There’s a pumpkin patch, too.

Yup, fall is here…

Got a hot tip? You know I'd love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

the sponsor

Lost Art Salon

Lost Art Salon is a resource for affordable Modern Era (1900-1960s) paintings, drawings, fine art prints, sculptures, ceramics and glass. "The New Yorkers," our next feature show, opens this Thursday night, Sept 20th, and will highlight New York artists from the 1930s-60s. Please join us for the show’s opening night party. Our parties are known for drawing a fun and eclectic crowd.

Our collection of over 2,000 original works reflects the major styles and movements from the 20th Century, including Abstract Expressionism, Cubism and Modernism. Each piece is researched, cleaned, at times restored, and when framed, set into an era-related frame using archival materials.

If you would like to be on our contact list for future events, write us at We are located at 245 South Van Ness, Suite 303, (in the top of the Post Tools building), 415-861-1530.

fresh meat


1217 Sutter St.
Cross: Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109


Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10:30pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm

Sushi $3–7
Tapas $7–$17
Rolls $6–$12.50

SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO You know that feeling when you walk into a place and you’re like, “uh oh—this does not bode well…” ~SUDACHI~ set all my “Danger, Will Robinson” bells ringing, starting with a front room that was dark and total crickets, with just a lonely projection on the wall. My friend and I were led past the bar flanking a brick wall and the long sushi bar into the back room outfitted in enough fabric to qualify as a fort (it was like someone crafty followed a ReadyMade article on “Ten Steps to Redecorating a Hotel Banquet Room”), with covered chairs sporting a shade of green fabric that could have been excess fabric store stock from 1987. The tatami seating in the back was empty, with just a few diners at the sushi bar. And the kicker: a menu header said “Asian Tapas.” If I wasn’t here on a media invitation, I probably would have yelled, “Goose! Eject!”

And guess what? That old saw about not judging a hooker by her shoes, wait, wrong one, anyway, my pal and I ended up having a pretty good dinner here. Many of you dear readers know my favorite sushi place in town is Sebo, and nothing has come close to knocking them from the pole position. But, if I was in the Lower Polk and craving some sushi, I would totally plunk myself down at the sushi bar here.

The sushi we tried, like hotategai/scallop ($4.50) and saba/mackerel ($4), were all cut well and fresh. Exceedingly so. Ditto on the toro. The head sushi chef, Tadashi Maki (great name, no?), has something like 24 years under his belt, and it shows. Now that the taste test is done, I’d like to explore the sushi menu more here.

Owner/chef de cuisine Ming Hwang (ex-chef and GM of Tokyo Go Go in the Mission) has a passion for ingredients, and quite a bit of knowledge too—it’s easy to engage him with questions about sushi if you’re in the mood to learn something; his sous chef, Liam Arroyo, seems to be the one bringing some European culinary flair to the menu, with additions like beurre noir, jamón Serrano, and carrot mousse.

One ingredient you better like is shiso, because it’s like white on rice, i.e. everywhere. We took the refreshing hirame sashimi ($13) for a spin, six slivers of fish resting on thinly sliced cucumber, with yuzu ponzu, black tobiko, and a chiffonade of shiso. There were three other specialty sashimi dishes available, all listing an array of creative flavors.

In the Asian Tapas section (yup, here we go), the house-made organic tofu fries ($9) were a star—there was a dollop of grated daikon and chili that you add to the ponzu sauce for spicy dipping. Also tried the beef tataki ($15) made with American Kobe beef from Snake River Farms—the slices were tender and peppery, but like a good comeback, the dish needed a touch more acid or heat to really make it interesting.

The kitchen pushes things with the land and sea combo ($17), a duo dish featuring a slim slice of seared foie gras with port-glazed figs and big green tea-dusted pistachios, and a plate with rounds of ankimo paired with matchsticks of sunomono (in this case, a vinegary cucumber), cubed beets, more of the spicy daikon, and scallions. The combo of ingredients worked with both—I honestly thought the ankimo dish was going to be a train wreck, but it proved to be quite tasty. But ultimately it was all so rich, just too much decadence for me.

I know some diners are really into specialty rolls, but personally I’m not a big fan of them since all they usually do is muddle a bunch of flavors together. I tried to be open minded, but the rolls we tried were not ones to win me over—the bull’s eye (tempura of salmon, shiso, and avocado that is re-rolled in rice/$8) was right on target for total mush. The Sudachi roll ($11) with tempura asparagus, crab, avocado, and hirame (usually it’s shiromi/white fish) fared much better flavor and texture-wise, but the excessive amount of pith on the shaved lemon on top left us a little pithed off.

We also ordered a side of tatsoi with garlic ($6), but the overwhelming smell of the garlic alone was enough to make my chopsticks recoil—the amount of garlic would have rendered me unable to talk to anyone in person unless I was in a bubble. Which would make it a very powerful secret weapon for repelling a bad date! Rawr.

Our server was quite fabulous, and the DJ that night was spinning some quality soul, funk, and rare disco tracks that were up my alley. There are fruity shochu cocktails to choose from, a variety of sakes and samplers, and some wines too, all with thoughtful descriptions to assist with making good pairing decisions.

Ming is totally the happy host, and wants to insure everyone has a great time at his restaurant. Sudachi has a happy hour (5:30pm–7pm each day) and other deals in effect (Mondays and Tuesdays mean 50% off selected bottles of sake, shochu, and wine), and Ming is trying to create a youthful, artistic vibe, with DJs and live music Wed-Sat. I know folks in the Lower Polk neighborhood are happy Sudachi has opened, but more people need to fill the room in order to build the scene Hwang is striving for. So the next time you’re wandering the Polk Gulch and up for something new, don’t let Sudachi’s empty front room deter you—who knows, it just might be full.

the health nut

SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO After returning from Burning Man, it ends up the Titan Fitness Camp I was all set to start was postponed until the end of September. I can’t say I was too bummed since all I wanted to do was sleep my first week back. A lot.

But alas, no rest for the wicked! Titan Instructor Jeremy Manning invited me to join him for a training session at Diakadi Body, a facility that is only for trainers and their clients (there are limited hours for working out without a trainer, but you still have to see a trainer there at least once a week).

In classic tablehopper fashion, guess who showed up for her 50-minute session all hung over from the Jardinière 10th anniversary party the night before? Such is the reality that is my life. Jeremy had me do some upper body work, some much-needed abs exercises, lunges, and some balance/sprightly maneuvers. After we finished, I hit the Lifecycle for 25 minutes to sweat off some of the bubbly from the night before. I think I burned off two and a half flutes, maybe three, i.e. not enough.

The equipment was all new and shiny and spotless, and it was a pleasure to be in a space where you aren’t surrounded with hordes of sweaty hard bodies who know exactly what they’re doing and pressuring you to get off a machine. My session was in the afternoon, and there were only like four other trainers with their clients, seriously. How civilized.

I liked the music too, some masculine rock that made me feel all tough for 50 minutes. Oh, and about the funky name: Diakadi stands for “Do It All, Kick Ass Doing It.” Bring it! If I was making some serious ducats, I’d love to be able to come to this place to train regularly.

I’m definitely looking forward to starting the six-week fit camp on September the 29! There is still some room if you want to sign up!

the socialite


Mushroom Dinner
Mon., Sept 24, 2007

550 Geary St.
Cross: Jones St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


cocktails 6pm
dinner 7pm

$115 inclusive of tax and tip
$35 wine pairings

For reservations, call or email

SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Cortez Restaurant will host a ~MUSHROOM DINNER~ (no, not the kind that will make everything start moving and fizzing and morphing around you, that would be illegal). This dinner is featuring mushrooms from purveyor Todd Spanier from King of Mushrooms who will be in attendance to answer questions about the various fungi being served, and he may even make a couple of mushroom cocktails.

The menu, designed by Cortez co-executive chefs Louis Maldonado and Seth Bowden, will feature six dishes showcasing seasonal local mushrooms—there is a vegetarian option available as well. And yo, there is even a mushroom dessert! For an additional $35, the meal can be paired with wines selected by Cortez sommelier Brian Escobar. 

Amuse Bouches
Black truffle custard
Fungi fritto misto
Wild mushroom tisane, chervil

Crushed summer truffles, raw Japanese diver scallop, preserved lemon puree
Chicken of the woods, local petite lettuces, avocado, tempered egg yolk
Cauliflower mushrooms, cuttlefish noodles, parsley-clam nage
Shaved matsutakes, local black cod, aromatic broth
Lobster mushrooms, dry aged hanger steak, shellfish dumplings, beef consommé

Warm pear with raisin coulis, pecan oat granola, and candy cap sherbet


Toast of the Town:
Where Food Meets Fashion
Wed. Sep. 26, 2007

Old Federal Reserve Building
301 Battery St.
Cross: Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94111

event trailer


(VIP sponsor reception begins at 5:30pm)

$100 (normally $150)

SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO There’s more to food and fashion besides edible panties (yes, really): the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s annual ~TOAST OF THE TOWN EVENT~ is themed “Where Food Meets Fashion” this year, with an all-star line up of chefs, and the first-ever edible catwalk. The event will showcase cutting-edge edible designs created jointly by San Francisco chefs and fashion designers.

Tickets are $150, but as tablehopper readers, you have access to a special promotion, with tickets for only $100 (a whopping $50 off). To redeem the offer, select "Rivera PR Toast of The Town" on the ticket page
Chefs involved in the food fashion runway will include Sean O’Brien of Myth, Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake, Loretta Keller of Coco500, and Tim Luym of Poleng Lounge. MC and host Marisa Churchill, from Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” and Tres Agaves bartender Ashley Miller will also create culinary designs.
Local fashion designers Jessica Summers of I.Kohl Designs, Joui Turandot of Joui Turandot Designs, Amy Kuschel of Amy Kuschel Bride, and Stephanie Verrieres and Kimie Sako of Verrieres & Sako, as well as Elizabeth Delucchi and Sarah Workman, will team up with the chefs and have their life-size food art modeled on the runway. Marisa Churchill will host the fashion show, and there is a pre-fashion show performance by the “ladies” of AsiaSF. 

This year’s gala food-tasting event will also feature the sounds of Wonder Bread 5 and will showcase dishes from Chris Cosentino of Boccalone/Incanto, Mike Selvera of Bar Crudo, Craig Stoll of Delfina, Mark Gordon of Terzo, Anjan and Emily Mitra of Dosa, Sharon Adriana of Gialina, Stuart Brioza of Rubicon, Bruce Hill of Bix and Restaurant Picco, Daniel Scherotter and Mimi Young of Palio d’Asti, Staffan Terje of Perbacco, Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal of Town Hall and Salt House, Peter Whitfield Osborne of MoMo’s, Gary Rulli of Emporio Rulli, Steven Scarabosio of Scoma’s, and Gaines Dobbins and Richard Rosen of Chenery Park.
Wine and beverage stations will be situated throughout the great hall, and there will also be a speakeasy, sponsored by Bourbon & Branch, on the 2nd floor balcony. The VIP reception will feature an oyster bar from Hog Island Oyster Company and vodka cocktails by Lotus Vodka.
Toast of the Town benefits the GGRA PAC, which represents and promotes the interests of the food service and hospitality industry in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

the starlet

SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Le Colonial was like the United Nations or something: last Monday the consulate general of Mexico hosted a dinner there, which included Kamala Harris, Phil Bronstein, George and Charlotte Schultz, the guest of honor, the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States Arturo Sarukhan, along with four other guests. The topic of discussion: immigration. Then on Tuesday, Generation Investment Management hosted a dinner with guest of honor/speaker former vice president Al Gore. That evening’s topic of discussion: solar power.

the matchmaker

Cafe Rouge is seeking a Pastry Chef

Cafe Rouge, an established East Bay restaurant, is seeking a pastry chef. We are looking for an experienced team player with the ability to create desserts using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.

Set schedule Tue.–Sat. days. Great benefits: health, 401k and paid vacation. If you are interested to know a little more about the restaurant, please visit Please send your resume in the body of an email only, Attention: Rick or Marsha, at


A16 and SPQR Seek Line Cooks

Both A16 and SPQR are looking for full time line cooks, preferably with experience. Resumes can be emailed to or dropped off at either location in person.

A16: 2355 Chestnut St. at Divisadero
SPQR: 1911 Fillmore St. at Pine

Applicants should indicate which restaurant they're interested in applying to in the subject line of the email.