table of contents This week's tablehopper: take the fifth, and where to drink one, too.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews

the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

Ghirardelli Square


MAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO So, did you pop a flat during Cinco de Mayo last night? I ended up eating some leftover pork tinga from a weekend dinner party and writing this column, so that was the extent of my fiesta. Uh, arriba.

However, I was beyond thrilled to be featured on The View from the Bay last week—you can watch the video here. I had a great time tablehoppin’ with host Nick Smith, showing him some of my favorite spots in the City! (And I don’t think I used enough superlatives during the segment, ha ha).

Oh, and if you ever want to hit the town with yours truly, you should enter this California Wine & Food Adventure Sweepstakes on the Land of Wine and Food site. If you win, we’d have quite the night eating out in SF—and it’s all part of a très-gourmand three-day prize package!

Oh, and just to keep things balanced, a friend cracked me up with this very funny web page from outlining the six most terrifying things to eat in the world. Baby mice wine? Yes, pure horror. Unquantifiably scarier than the tequila worm.

Hey, speaking of, did anyone eat one of those last night? (A tequila worm, not baby mice.) The first person to send me a picture of them eating a tequila worm last night, or heck, ever, will win two tickets for Sunday, May 18th at the San Francisco Oysterfest. The Mother Hips, and She and Him with Zooey Deschanel are playing that day! Just hit reply to this email and attach the pic.

Didn’t eat the worm? Don’t fret, I have two more SF Oyster Fest tickets to give away (also for Sunday May 18th) for one lucky winner. Just send an email to telling me what you’d like to see more of (or less of!) in tablehopper and I’ll enter you in the drawing! Deadline to enter is midnight, Friday, May 9th. I’ll notify the winner over the weekend! Buena suerte.


~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Ghirardelli SquareMAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Plenty of local folks were upset when ~COCO500’s~ Jen Biesty got cut from Top Chef a few weeks back (I hoped to see her in the final three). More departures are in her future: she is also leaving Loretta Keller’s Coco500 at the end of May, just shy of three years of being there. (Coco500 is celebrating its third anniversary in June, and Biesty was part of the opening team.) She is taking some time off, heading back to NYC for the Top Chef reunion show and will be visiting some family, and then will be lining up some consulting gigs until she decides on her next spot. She said, “Through the show I learned you have to take chances… I want to do more than just be a chef.” So to that end, Biesty has a potential project of her own in the Mission, but nothing is final and it’s all quite TBD right now. In the interim, one rumor I heard is she will possibly be consulting with the upcoming 15 Romolo project (more on that in the lush), but that hasn't been confirmed either. Will keep you posted… Taking her place at Coco500 as chef de cuisine will be Michael Morrison, who was most recently at Fish & Farm before departing in its beginning months. Morrison actually worked at Bizou a while ago (when it was the former incarnation of Coco500, for those of you who haven’t lived here more than three years).

The fine folks behind the ever-popular Street on Polk are opening a second concept called ~CRAVE~, just across the street in the former Teavana space. Owner John Lamkin and his wife, Lynn Ramsey, will be opening a quick-casual and affordable 45-seat spot, serving breakfast, lunch, and an early dinner, all made with seasonal and quality ingredients. The menu will include breakfast faves like egg sandwiches, house-made scones, and breakfast burritos, and lunch will bring some mighty good soups, salads, and tasty sandwiches (I hear a killer Reuben is being discussed) that will highlight slow-roasted meats and fish. Dinner will be heartier, and some vegetarian fare will also be available—dishes will span from New American to Latin flair. An expanded brunch will be coming later, with house-smoked salmon and egg dishes. There will also be organic and biodynamic wines on offer, plus some microbrews as well. You can even swing by late afternoon for a bite of some charcuterie or hummus and a glass of wine at the outdoor seats (there will be 12 or so), or inside at the banquettes and tables. Lamkin, a resident of the neighborhood for the past 25 years, really wanted to create a space where it’s easy for people to get the kind of food they want and how they want it, made with quality ingredients, at a good price. He’s currently talking with some potential kitchen partners, but no one is final just yet. Look for an opening in late July, with intended hours of 7am–7pm or so. They are also discussing curbside service, with breakfast or box lunches to go! 2164 Polk St. at Vallejo.

~LITTLE STAR PIZZA~ fanatics (yup, there are a lot of us), you’ll be happy to know you’ll now be able to get your pizza on during the day on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30pm–3:30pm at the Mission location! The weekend daytime hours started last weekend, wahoo! 400 Valencia St. at 15th, 415-551-7827.

~BEST-O-BURGER~ had its long-awaited opening yesterday (I can hear the communal salivating out there). Took a look at the menu, and it seems the Best-O-Bags are the way to go: you order one to three of the slider-like babies, plus you get “strings and ring-os” in the bag ($5.37 for two burgers). The burgers are made with 100% natural and not-frozen Angus beef (I know, you Michael Pollan readers can ask your probing questions directly to the restaurant), and the burgers are individually seared in cast-iron skillets, and put into fresh-baked buns. The gelato also looks good (there is a nine-ounce gelato shake available for $3.49), plus some cookies, too. You can check out the whole menu on the site, which is supposed to be up this afternoon. The hours for now will be 11:30am–5pm, and there are plans to be opening earlier (and later on the weekends) in coming weeks. 89 Belden Pl. at Pine.

And now, a little service announcement! Restaurateurs, caterers, hash slingers, etc., anytime you have an abundance of leftover food in your kitchen at the end of an evening or an event, please call ~FOOD RUNNERS~ to come pick it up and deliver it to SF’s many homeless shelters who need it. Phone 415-929-1866 anytime, and a Food Runners volunteer will pick up your fresh, edible leftovers either same day or next. Visit to learn more about this organization that’s provided thousands of meals to 300 shelters for over two decades. Or you can contact Karen Solomon,, 415-885-8048.

Okay, back to some news. Cigar smokers will be pleased to hear ~PALIO D’ASTI~ got a tobacco license and has stocked a humidor with all kinds of stogies. For those who wish to indulge on the premises, Palio will set up a table on the back patio, cut the cigars (they come with a chocolate truffle and a book of Palio wooden matches), and people generally choose a grappa, cognac, brandy, or bourbon to enjoy at the same time. Or you can just take one for the road. (A cigar, that is.) They are also doing a “Cellar Spring Cleaning Brunello ’99 Dinner” on Saturday the 17th—the menu and info is on the website. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-395-9800.

I wanted to congratulate tablehopper reader Hunter Manning, who ended up discovering and entering the ~SCOMA’S CRAB CHALLENGE~ recipe contest on tablehopper, and winning! The contest consisted of creating a recipe for Scoma’s that they could use on their menu during crab season. His first place-recipe was for Hunter’s Crab Tower; you can check it out on Scoma’s website–or go there and try it firsthand!

Since we’re over in the Wharf, and talkin’ recipes, did you know the ~FRANCISCAN RESTAURANT~ is offering a free recipe book? All you have to do is email, request the book, and send them your address. Be sure to tell them you saw it on tablehopper! Soon you’ll be all set to make crab enchiladas. (Call me.)

This Thursday, ~AVEDANO'S HOLLY PARK MARKET~ in Bernal is hosting a release party (and “let’s raise some money because printing magazines is expensive” party) for the spring issue of Out of the Kitchen, the cool new quarterly magazine started by the folks at Maverick. There will be food and wine, and they will be selling the spring issue of the magazine and subscriptions. The space is small, so please let them know you will be joining so they can be prepared! RSVP at Thursday, May 8th, 6pm–9pm. 235 Cortland Ave. between Bocana and Bonview.

Saturday, May 10th, is ~KFOG’S 15TH ANNUAL KABOOM~ (when dogs across the City have a communal freak-out) and Waterbar Restaurant is hosting a party from 7pm–10pm. Tickets for the event are $65 per person, and include all-you-can-eat appetizers, such as oysters on the half shell, prawn cocktail, pizzas, gougère sandwiches, artichoke crab crostini, risotto fritters, salt cod fritters, gravlax, ceviches, tartare, and mini meatballs. Full cash bar (i.e. you pay for your drinks). The fireworks display is at 9pm. A limited number of tickets can be purchased on the Waterbar site at, or by calling 415-284-9922. The Embarcadero will be closed to traffic during this event and they anticipate heavy foot traffic, so plan accordingly. 399 The Embarcadero between Folsom and Harrison.
Sunday, May 11th, is ~MOTHER’S DAY~, and while you can check out OpenTable for the big ole list o’ places to eat, one fun option is A16, because they are only open for brunch one day out of the year! A16 will be open from 10:30am–3pm for its annual Mother's Day brunch: Festa Della Mamma. There will be a variety of egg dishes like pigs in a blanket with eggs, a potato and sausage torta, chestnut polenta, pizzas, and Bellinis. 2355 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-771-2216.

~SPRUCE~ is also doing a special one-off brunch: a multi-course prix-fixe menu from 11am–3:30pm for $60 per person, and a prix-fixe dinner featuring loin of lamb from 4pm–8pm for $75 per person. 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.

Remember the ~BOURBON & BACON DINNER~ I mentioned that is coming up at Orson on Thursday, May 15th? Since they had such a good response from last week’s tablehopper (you bacon lovers, you), they’re going to open the books and offer the pig menu to the whole restaurant, and not just one seating at 7pm. 508 4th St. at Bryant. Reserve at 415-777-1508 or email

Another pig dinner coming up will be at ~PICCINO~, on Sunday, June 22nd at 6pm, called Piggy Pig Pig with Marin Sun Farms. In collaboration with Marin Sun’s David Evans, they’ll be celebrating all things pig, with a special menu built around a range of pasture-raised, whey-fed pork cuts, each prepared in a way designed to enhance everything from suckling to sow. Kind of like the last tablehopper supper I threw there, Piccino will close the restaurant on a Sunday night, gather a limited group, pair up some interesting wines, and settle in for a lively food and conversation-filled night! Other Piccino events to put on your calendar: Sunday, July 20th, 11am-7pm is the Rosé and Pizza Festival, when they will open their doors, crank up the ovens, and chill a wide variety of French and Italian rosés selected to complement their thin-crust pizzas and salads. Sunday, August 17th, 6pm, is A Dinner with The Fatted Calf, and Sunday, September 23rd, 6pm, is A Dinner with Italian Wine Specialist Summa Vitis. The price for the Sunday dinners? Figure somewhere around $110–$120, depending on the event. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Ready to get your bake on? Or get those knife skills extra-sharp? Let ~SHUNA LYDON~ of Eggbeater show you the way. On Saturday, May 24th, is Chocolate: Techniques and Desserts for Baking with Cocoa & Chocolates; Sunday, May 25th, is Knife Skills Class; and Saturday, May 31st, is Seasonal Fruit Desserts: Strawberries, Cherries & Rhubarb. Here is the announcement link and further information about times, dates, location, and cost. You can check back at this link for updated information about these classes and more classes to come in the summer.

Over in Alameda, this Friday, May 9th, is a book-signing party at St. George Spirits to celebrate the release of ~ALICE MEDRICH'S NEW COOKBOOK PURE DESSERT~. There will be a small sampling of desserts from the book (some featuring St. George spirits!), light snacks, and a specially designed cocktail by Alice herself! $15 admission fee, $10 of which can go towards the purchase of the book! 5pm–8pm, 21 and over. Get your tickets by calling the tasting room at 510-864-0635. 2601 Monarch St. at Alameda Point (the old Naval Air Station).

Some Chowhounds have the word on a new restaurant, ~SPICE MONKEY~, serving “international cuisine,” plus coffee and breakfast pastries in the morning. It opened in the former Sabina space, just a few blocks from Lake Merritt. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Mon–Fri at 9am, and dinner only on Saturday (for now). Weekend brunch will start in about six months or so. 1628 Webster St. at 17th, Oakland, 510-268-0170.

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

the sponsor

Ghirardelli Square

Uncorked! Wine Festival, in partnership with COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food, & the Arts, will take place on Saturday, May 17th, 1pm–6pm. Enjoy the ambience of the waterfront and entertainment along Beach Street and throughout Ghirardelli Square's courtyards while you taste over 100 varietals from 50+ Northern California wineries.  

Experience chef demonstrations, wine education seminars, and gourmet food sampling. Check out a pastry demonstration by recent Top Chef contestant Marisa Churchill at 1:30pm (advanced reservations needed).

The event is free and open to the public, however, tickets are required to participate in wine tasting. Tickets are $40 in advance/$45 at the door. Tickets are available now at

fresh meat



Fifth Floor
(Hotel Palomar)
12 4th St.
Cross: Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103


Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10pm
Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm
Bar open at 4pm daily

Apps $12–$22
Entrées $29–$45
Desserts $11–$14

MAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I know, I know, everyone is saying fine dining is over. While places with $21 entrées, communal tables, no tablecloths, open kitchens, and “nice jeans” as the dress code may the norm more and more, there’s something to be said for going to a restaurant with refined service, luxe ingredients, gorg stemware, and a fat wine list to boot. And whoa, table linens. And a cheese cart, thankyouverymuch.

Just last week I had a chance to check out the new ~FIFTH FLOOR~, and well, well, well, what a swell new thing that’s going on there. I dined at Fifth Floor during the Laurent Gras days, and when George Morrone was there, too, and Melissa Perello, and Charlie Kleinman and Jake Des Voignes. Suffice to say, the kitchen has had numerous masters of the house, but this new era with Aqua’s Laurent Manrique and chef de cuisine Jennie Lorenzo will be a uniquely notable one. The experience here is a new style of finer dining, with the cravat a little loosened, if not gone altogether.

The Puccini Group completely revamped the dining room—it’s elegant but not stuffy, rather clubby comfortable, styled with curving chic chairs the color of bone with a 30s glam shape and metal legs, upholstered walls to subtly help absorb the sound generated from the patterned hardwood floors, and dramatic red glass round overhead lights. You can actually look out a few windows onto the herb garden in the now-revealed hotel atrium (and perhaps catch a flash of some friskiness in the hotel rooms if someone didn't shut their curtains). The room is overall a bit minimalist, with mostly neutral tones, like it’s French Calvin Klein. I really liked the unexpected addition of the taupe runners on each table, and admired the new wine room, wine director Emily Wines’s new playpen.

When you first arrive, however, you pass through the revamped lounge, now the “café.” There were some ladies drinking wine and sharing some plates at a limestone and wood communal table, a few couples relaxing in club chairs, folks at the bar… would be a slick little space to meet up with someone for a bite and bubbles.

The dining room had more volume than I’d ever seen it have, less of a hushy hush/be on your better behavior vibe, and more about enjoyment while blowing a little cash. I did witness some tableside cart action, like the carving of the quick-smoked rib-eye for two. Oh, and wait until the bread cart wheels up (yup, you heard that right), with five breads to choose from (all from Bay Bread), including special regional breads from Manrique’s Gascony homeland, like a crusty one made with red wine, and another that was like an anise-flavored challah. You also get a cow’s milk butter, and a tangy goat’s milk butter, soft and light, almost like a butter sorbet. (And I tried another butter I was told I can’t write about just yet.) Yup, you’ve entered butter country.

The trio of amuses were a delight to start with: an herbed chickpea croquette, chilled golden beet yogurt with chermoula, and smoky shrimp with fennel puree—all three bites were like a study of the quality of creamy. (And delicious.)

The menu, well, let’s just say this. I really struggled over what to choose, especially from the entrées. We don’t encounter many Gascony-inspired dishes on our usual French bistro menus here in San Francisco—I was quite curious about almost all of the offerings. I can usually look at a menu and narrow it down quickly to what I want to try. That night, not so fast, tablehopper.

My guest and I started with the potage de laitue printemps ($12), one of the most beautiful soups I’ve had in a while, made from baby gem lettuce. The soup is poured tableside over a bowl of treasures: a slice of chicken galantine, the tiniest poached quail egg, a dollop of goat cheese, and carrot pearls, plus little hits of fresh herbs, like oregano, and the lemony tingle of rue, a new one for me. The soup was served room temperature, which allowed for all the flavors to really blossom.

The thon basquaise ($15) was full of bright flavor: three boulettes (“little balls”) of cold big eye tuna filled with piperade, plus salty house-made mojama tuna on top (it was like crisped tuna bresaola), and some tuna belly confit as well, with creamy sliced quail eggs, and hits of brightness and acidity from the sliced Lucques olives, basil seeds and oil, and arugula. It’s ultimately a variation of tuna tartare that even the most jaded diner can feel good about ordering.

My dining partner indulged in the foie gras ($21), cool slices of foie poached for two days, sporting a good smattering of salt from its subsequent eight-hour curing, paired with a slice of lightly grilled rustic bread topped with thinly sliced grapes, plus artichoke and black truffle salad. The bread execution was a touch awkward to eat, like, do you pick it up (we did) or fork and knife it? It was a good partner nonetheless. It kind of embodies the play of the food here: a style that is trying to balance rusticity with elegance.

The appetizer of la cruchade au civet ($17) told me to hurry back for next time (corn polenta with ossau-Iraty cheese, rabbit civet, and roasted hazelnuts, uh, where do I sign?), and I can imagine how scrumptious the poulpe ($13) is: grilled “tako” salad, with potato fondue, and Berber spice vinaigrette.

Do these dishes this sound as savory and hunger-inducing to you as they did to me?

Mains are firmly seated in the $30s, so prepare your wallet beforehand (slap slap!). I’ve been longing to try the matelote d’anguille ($32) since I first had a preliminary peek at the menu. It’s a deep and rich dish of oxtail ragout braised for hours, and luxurious braised Japanese eel on a plate adorned with heavy swirls of bordelaise sauce. Man, what a dish. Like, give me a spoon. Except for the poached stalk of leek in the middle that was too fibrous, especially next to the tender and meaty porcini mushrooms—you definitely needed a sharp knife for the leek.

My friend had the cochon au lait entier ($34), roasted pork shoulder with house-made boudin noir, apples, and wilted spinach, with a reduction of milk bouillon. Stupendous dish—the boudin noir especially—so luscious, tasting more of pork than a traditional execution tasting more of, well, blood; the anise foam added a fresh note.

There is also roasted lamb loin with olive tapenade ($39), squab crusted with sugared onions ($37), slow-cooked veal short rib in Jurançon wine ($37)… all quite appealing, non? Unless you’re a vegetarian—I didn’t see a single vegetarian dish on the menu, but I am sure the kitchen would accommodate.

Another option is the sommelier tasting menu, six courses for $95, and in honor of Emily Wines recently earning her Master Sommelier diploma—one of only 13 people to do so in the world on their first try, hello!—the menu is structured around the wines she has chosen, and the dishes are matched to them.

Wines did some fab pairings with our dinner, and we really dug the trio of Armagnac drinks we sampled, starting with a traditional Pousse Rapier (Armagnac that’s infused with citrus, caramel, vanilla, and prune, added to Champagne), the delightful Armagnac Blanc shaken with cucumber (I could drink this all summer), and the Gascon coffee at the end, with Armagnac, sugar, espresso, and crème chantilly.

The cheese cart will wheel on up, and is then unfolded at the table like a magician’s box—but instead of a scantily clad and squirming young woman getting bisected, you’ll be requesting a cut of St. Nectaire instead, or perhaps some Bucheron, accompanied by Marcona almonds, little fig cakes, and membrillo (quince paste).

Ahhhh, dessert. Aqua’s executive pastry chef, Lionel Walter, is the consulting pastry chef, working closely with pastry chef Ricardo Gamalong, who is the bomb. The desserts were all about a light hand—nothing was heavy or cloying.

Why yes, let’s do more Armagnac! The baba ($12) wasn’t too boozy at all, just lovely, with crème chantilly, strawberry rhubarb, and candied violet, like a French strawberry shortcake! The chocolate macaroons ($12) were little creamy sweet cookie mini-hamburgers, but the show stealer was the gateau basque ($12); a downright perfect almond cake with a creamy filling is presented with a little wedge already cut out—cute. It’s the kind of dessert you won’t want to share. The black cherry marmalade was also dreamy.

Actually, black cherry is a fitting feeling for the room and experience here—a bit sexy, swanky, uncommon, and the kind of phone number you want to write down in your little black book.

the lush

EyeSpyMAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Some changes have been in the works at ~15 ROMOLO~ in North Beach, and now it’s official: Scott Baird, the former bar manager at Coco500, and Aaron Smith, a former manager at Coco500 and currently a bartender at Rye, have partnered with Greg Lindgren and Jon Gasparini (Rye, Rosewood, 15 Romolo) to re-concept and relaunch the bar and food program. The plan is to roll back the style of both food and design and incorporate the historical significance of the space (the building is part of the Basque Hotel)—they’re thinking a pre-Prohibition-meets-modern look. The upcoming Basque-inspired menu will be cocktail friendly, with dishes like cured meats and kokotxas, aka fish cheeks, or the meaty part of the jaw. The new concept (and new name, TBD) will launch late summer/early fall. For now, new (and assuredly delicious) cocktails will be on the menu in a week or so. Jen Biesty of Coco500 is rumored to be consulting on the menu later on… Will be able reveal more as things firm up. 15 Romolo Pl. at Broadway, 415-398-1359.

I had a chance to meet with Myles O’Reilly and manager Chris Shelgren last week and tour the upcoming ~MCTEAGUE’S SALOON~ space—it’s opening in the former Johnny Wok location on Polk Street, just next door to O’Reilly’s Holy Grail. No one could ever accuse Myles O’Reilly of dreaming small, that’s for sure. The saloon is named after the book by Frank Norris, McTeague, (Frank Norris Street is a potato’s throw away), and O’Reilly is keen to keep Polk Street’s literary heritage alive. The historic building, one of my very favorites in the City, was incidentally the first building to be built on Polk Street after the 1906 earthquake, and was the home of the famous Tortola. The booths and old chandeliers will remain, plus there will be the addition of some rustic/saloon-style plank tables with stools, and a 44-foot redwood-topped bar, with 18 taps of primarily West Coast ales and microbrews—there will also be an emphasis on bourbons. You’ll be able to shoot some pool at the pair of tables in the back, or watch games on the “necessary evil” of a few televisions at the bar. Some literary readings are also being discussed, and acoustic music.

O’Reilly’s executive chef, Sean Canavan, will be putting together a menu of saloon-friendly food—some items being discussed are sausages, pasties/meat pies, smoked mackerel and trout, a couple soups of the day, and sandwiches. The plan is to open early, around noon or so. Since they got the liquor license from the old Barleycorn, look for a few cameo nights from some of the former Barleycorn bartenders. The opening is slated for early June. 1237 Polk St. at Sutter.

Looks like people will be able to once again say, “Meet me at the Clock.” This summer, Michael Mina is launching his first-ever cocktail lounge, ~CLOCK BAR~, in the lobby of San Francisco’s historic Westin St. Francis hotel. There will be handcrafted and seasonal cocktails, along with some inventive finger food. 335 Powell St. at Post.

Just around the corner, ~FARALLON~ is getting on the cocktail act and introducing vintage cocktails to its bar line-up. Inspired by classic recipes from the likes of “Trader” Vic Bergeron and the original 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, Farallon’s bar manager, Craig Lane, has added a 1944 Mai Tai, using Lane’s handmade orgeat, the Honeymoon (a twist on the Sidecar), the Pendennis Club Cocktail (based on the Pegu Club Cocktail), and more. 450 Post St. at Powell, 415-956-6969.

During San Francisco Cocktail Week, and on World Cocktail Day (May 13th), another event that’s happening is a ~THREE-COURSE BEER DINNER~ at Monk’s Kettle with Grant Wood, the Samuel Adams master brewer. The event is in celebration of American Craft Beer Week. Tuesday, May 13th, 6pm, $50. 3141 16th St. at Albion. To make reservations, call 415-865-9523.

The folks at Rye didn't want to miss out on the festivities at Absinthe for the finale of San Francisco Cocktail Week on Monday, May 19th, so this month they are hosting their ~MONTHLY MIXING COMPETITION~ on a Tuesday instead. This time it’s with Hendrick's Gin, bringing a unique twist to the monthly event: bartenders will need to create an original cocktail that specifically showcases one of the Hendrick’s Gin botanicals (cucumber, rose petal, juniper berry, caraway seed, coriander, cubeb berry, angelica, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, or meadowsweat), and then present said cocktail with a spoken limerick! (Bartenders, when your cocktail is presented to the judges, you are permitted to speak just one limerick [five lines]—this can be used to describe your cocktail, talk about the chosen botanical, educate about gin, cocktail culture, cucumber farming, or simply humorous current affairs.) The champion shall be the one with the tastiest cocktail and the sharpest limerick! Entries to be submitted via email by May 12th to Cheryl and Charlotte Ten finalists will be selected to make and present their cocktail to a panel of judges at the final party at Rye on Tuesday, May 20th at 7pm. 688 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-786-7803.

And now, here’s something else to cheers to. With Mother’s Day also falling on the kick-off day to ~NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK~ this year (May 11–17), Clos du Bois and WomenHeart are celebrating women across the country and inviting friends and family everywhere to visit and send a free e-card or “e-toast” benefiting women with heart disease, the number one killer of women in America. For every e-card sent, Clos du Bois will donate $1 to WomenHeart. The goal is to raise at least $25,000 this May!
In support of taking steps towards a healthier heart, the site also includes “lighthearted” eating tips, heart healthy recipes, and Mother’s Day meal ideas (with wine pairings, of course) designed to inspire women to take simple steps towards a longer, healthier, and happier life. The newly released WomenHeart’s ALL HEART Family Cookbook is also available at, featuring 40 foods scientifically proven to promote heart health and prevent heart disease… Including red wine!
In tandem with this program, Clos du Bois is also generously offering a complimentary flight (tasting of any five wines) to any tablehopper readers who mention Toast to Mom in the Clos du Bois tasting room throughout the entire month of May.

the sponsor


Have you dined at a restaurant where the food was amazing but the service was lacking? A restaurant that isn’t performing at its utmost potential?

EyeSpy specializes in professional consulting services for restaurants, bars, hotels, and spas. Seeking to differentiate from the competition by providing stellar service, smart businesses choose EyeSpy.

Through EyeSpy’s evaluation services, businesses can learn more about their guest experiences, which will help improve customer service and thus increase profits.

Read what our clients have to say about their positive experience with EyeSpy, and the benefits they have received.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss the specific needs of your business in more detail and offer a complimentary evaluation.

Get real about your business. Real feedback. Real improvements. Real experience. Contact us at 888-339-3779, and please mention you found us on tablehopper.

the socialite


San Francisco Cocktail Week
Tue May 13–Mon May 19, 2008

Various locations
San Francisco, CA


MAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Get your liver ready for the second annual ~SAN FRANCISCO COCKTAIL WEEK~, a week to celebrate the culture and history of dining and drinking, with daily events and festivities! Co-founded and organized by San Francisco mixologists, Jeff Hollinger of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, Duggan McDonnell of Cantina, and H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir, the week will showcase the artistry and history of the progressive cocktail culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, to further establish a lasting tradition for years to come.
Tuesday, May 13th, Opening Gala
Festivities will commence with an “Opening Gala” sponsored by the Museum of the American Cocktail at the world-famous Harry Denton’s Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Returning to where he launched his career, honoree Tony Abou-Ganim, creator of the legendary Cable Car cocktail, will be tending bar and wowing the crowd with his renowned talents. SF Cocktail Week’s signature cocktail, The Soiree, will also be introduced and upon arrival, guests will be greeted with a complimentary Soiree or Cable Car. 6pm-9pm. Free admission includes one complimentary cocktail; charge for additional beverages.

Wednesday, May 14th, Farmers’ Market Cocktails
The non-profit operator of the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), and the San Francisco Chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG) will host an evening of farmers’ market-inspired cocktails at the CUESA kitchen in front of the San Francisco Ferry Building. During the evening, guests will enjoy cocktail demos hosted by renowned Bay Area bartenders using the freshest of farmers’ market ingredients, as well as passed apps prepared by executive chef Gordon Drysdale of the upcoming Union Street brasserie, brought to you by Bacchus Management Group (The Village Pub, Spruce, and Pizza Antica). 5:30pm–7:30pm. Cost: $15 per person. Cost per entry includes tastes of all demonstrated cocktails, two signature drinks, and appetizers. Tickets.

International Guest Bartender Night
Visit renowned guest bartenders from around the U.S. mixing and serving drinks at participating bars throughout the city. An itinerary outlining all bars and guest bartenders will be available on the San Francisco Cocktail Week website. 8pm-close. Cost: Price of drinks will vary per location.

Thursday, May 15th, A Night of Cocktail Dinners
Acclaimed for their cocktail programs, each participating restaurant will individually host multi-course dinners prepared and coordinated by their executive chefs and head mixologists, with each course expertly paired with complementary cocktails. Further information will be found on the San Francisco Cocktail Week website. Time and cost will vary upon location. Locations: bacar, Conduit, The Alembic, Orson, Bong Su, and Flora.
Friday, May 16th, Save the Sazerac
A reception at San Francisco’s historic Elixir, will celebrate the age-old Sazerac cocktail and the bar’s 150th year anniversary. Almost as old as the cocktail, Elixir will donate 100% of the evening’s proceeds from sales of classic Sazeracs and house variation Shirazeracs to the non-profit festival Tales of the Cocktail, which shares the same mission as San Francisco Cocktail Week: to celebrate and preserve the rich history of restaurants and bars throughout a historic culinary community; for Tales of the Cocktail it’s New Orleans, the birthplace of the cocktail. 3pm–8pm.

Saturday, May 17th, Literature, Booze and History
In a benefit for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, San Francisco magazine’s Scott Hocker will moderate a literary discussion of all things spirit related, featuring great cocktail historian David Wondrich and local writer and bartender Jordan Mackay, among additional panelists. Guests will be treated to Cantina’s infamous preparation of the San Francisco classic, Pisco Punch. Following the discussion, guests are invited to a book signing with attending authors and an after-party at Cantina. The Salon at Hotel Rex. For reservations, contact Jeff Hollinger at 5pm–7pm. Cost: $30 per person.

Monday, May 19th, Finale
Cocktail Week finishes with a flourish at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, co-sponsored by Imbibe Magazine. Guests will enjoy a selection of cocktails created by Absinthe and guest bartenders, including several of Absinthe’s absinthe-based cocktails. Guests are also invited to experience absinthe classically prepared. Light fare from executive chef Jamie Lauren will be served throughout the night. Space is limited; please contact Vanessa Harris at or 415-551-1453 for tickets. 6pm–10pm. Cost: $45 per person.


Creativity Explored 25th Anniversary
Thu., May 15, 2008

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission St.
Cross: 21st St.
San Francisco, CA 94110



$100 in advance
$125 day of the event
tickets: call 415-863-2108 or visit

MAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO ~CREATIVITY EXPLORED~, San Francisco’s premier gallery and art studio for artists with developmental disabilities, is celebrating its 25th birthday at Foreign Cinema. Hosted by supporter and legendary maven of the silver screen, Peaches Christ, the evening features a screening of selections from Ben Wu’s Academy Award-winning student documentary about the artists of Creativity Explored, "Cross Your Eyes, Keep them Wide," and an auction including exceptional artworks by Creativity Explored artists.

Partygoers will enjoy a menu of small plates presented by chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark while listening to the Parisian café stylings of The Baguette Duet, western swing and cowboy music by Chris Leone and the Spurs of the Moment, plus other special performances by surprise guests.

the health nut


MAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Spring is here, and my trainer Jeremy Manning of Titan Fitness has some positive thoughts to share, and hopefully get you motivated!

Top Ten Ways to Get Off Your Butt and Into the Groove
1. Take action by setting a few small tasks in motion. Make a list of five things (no matter how easy they seem) and start on them. See if you can wash just five dishes or go to the gym for just five minutes. Go ahead, give it a try.

2. Ease your thoughts and take out the “should” and “need–to” statements, like, “I should go to the gym.” Try thinking to yourself, “It would be nice if I ate healthy today” or “It would be nice if I went to the gym tonight.” See how good that feels?

3. Make your own top ten list! Write down ten things you accomplished or that you are thankful for. 1. Went to the gym. 2. Saw a hot guy at the gym. C’mon, it’s only ten positive things, and how many bad things did you mentally list today? Mmhmm, two snaps to that.

4. Express yo-self, don’t depress yo-self! That’s right… Give a friend a call, ask him/her to join you, or just talk about your feelings. When you lighten the load, it’s a whole lot easier to lift.

5. Surround yourself with positive people, or just be around people. When you’re stuck in a rut, being alone inside your head isn’t going to help you get to the gym or away from the fridge.

6. Don’t be afraid to fail. Seriously, everyone makes mistakes, and the more action you take to feel better about yourself, the better you will feel.

7. If you do make a mistake, don’t label yourself with “I am” statements. Replace “I’m lazy for not going to the gym” with “It would have been nice if I went to the gym.” Or “I will feel better when I get to the gym.” You are not your actions.

8. Visualize a positive outcome. Think of it vividly, inject emotion, give in to your dreams and desires and that’s right… That’s it… Just get up and… There you go! You’re doing it! Keep going!

9. Break the big tasks up into small tasks. When you’re feeling down, the last thing you want to think about is a week’s worth of meals you have to make and dishes you have to wash. So don’t. Think about one good meal that you want to make and focus on that. You don’t know how you’re going to be feeling tomorrow (and since after reading this, you’ll be feeling great, why not wait to think about it then?).

10. Have fun! After all, this is YOUR life, why not enjoy as much of it as you can. Find some soothing music to listen to while you work out, go to a park for your run, or find a new, locally owned store to buy your groceries. Sometimes just appreciating the culture of your neighborhood can turn a chore into a relaxing part of your day.

the starlet
MAY 6, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I heard that Margaret Cho and her entourage were downing vodka sodas by the barrel-full at Cantina last week.

Follow the orange clogs! Mario Batali was in town for his new book, "Italian Grill,” and after his book signing at Book Passage in Corte Madera, he went by Pizzeria Picco for some pies—he especially loved Bruce Hill’s ramp and meatball pizza. He then headed to Coco500 with Bruce Hill, Loretta Keller, and Batali’s assistant, Pam Lewy. Hill said in spite of the dual dinner, Batali is looking quite good, and eating a bit less these days.


All content © 2008 Marcia Gagliardi. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.

To subscribe to this list, please visit

To unsubscribe from this list, click this link: