table of contents This week's tablehopper: oh, behave.

the chatterbox
the word on the street

the regular
it's about time we met
the lush

put it on my tab

the socialite
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

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AUGUST 26, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO It’s the time of the year when San Francisco is precariously low on bottled gallons of water, halter-tops, and beef jerky. While I’m definitely bummed to not be heading to Burning Man this year, I’m definitely excited for all the Slow Food Nation festivities this coming weekend. Oh, and I’m still fired up from my Friday night at Outside Lands, quite the double play of Beck and Radiohead. Compliments to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition who ran the smoothest part of the event: the bike valet. Kudos! And it was a treat to be able to easily ride over to Namu for a post-show late-night bite. Their menu is bigger and badder than ever. (Prices for proteins are also quite a bit higher than on my last visit, so I gotta update my review, but the food is just so good.) Oxtail and dashi-braised daikon, uh huh.

I might as well have called this the weekend of wood-burning ovens: Saturday afternoon, A16 hosted a kick-off party celebrating their new book, and while it would be cruel for me to discuss the veritable islands of burrata they put out, and the joy of meatballs on a Saturday afternoon, oh wait, I should shut up. It was a nice party.

But Sunday, whoa, it was probably one of the coolest culinary events I’ve attended in SF, and one that could only happen here, really. A group of talented folks have been building a wood-burning oven for the bread pavilion at Slow Food Nation in artist Jeff Burwell’s workshop on Valencia Street, and Sunday night was the christening party. The event was a remarkable group effort, including produce donations from Mariquita Farm, Alemany Farm, Knobke Orchards and others; pizza dough (and a pizzaiolo) from Pizzeria Delfina; wine from a bunch of folks, including SCRIBEwinery and Bi-Rite (plus ice cream from the Creamery); beer from Magnolia; and a whole crew o’ chefs and cooks from Chez Panisse and Serpentine and more, who were choppin’, braising, and sweating it out.

It was a magnificent group dinner, with pizzas, goat three ways, wood-fired ratatouille, roasted potatoes, just a perfect meal. Dag. As Andy from Mariquita put it, it was a very “loaves and fishes” kind of event—seriously mind-blowing how many people got fed, and all the food that kept coming out of the oven. It was a rocking celebration, and a fitting renegade kick-off party for Slow Food Nation (and kind of a groovy bohemian homage to Alice Waters, but circa 1971 Alice), all about love and respect for food and people and coming together. I know, I totally drank the Kool-Aid. (Thanks for the invite, gang. It was an honor to be there.)

Want to take part in another event with some key folks from this talented group of culinarians and builders and artists? Check out and be a part of the upcoming event from the OPEN crew, OPEN City, in the socialite.


~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

advertise on tablehopperAUGUST 26, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I was so thrilled to get a sneak peek this past weekend of ~STABLE CAFÉ~ and ~MISSION CREEK KITCHEN~, a new project opening next week in the Mission. Perhaps you’ve noticed the building before—I’ve always admired it, and come to find out, it was a carriage house for the mayor in the late 19th century; there is even a hay bale hook in the front. The project is from Thomas Brian Lackey and his partner, architect Malcolm Davis. (You can read more about the building and design in Zahid Sardar’s article here.)

The Stable Café in the front has an industrial farmhouse look, with huge doors and wood plank floors. There is seating on the ground floor along a tall wood bar made from a tree, and then additional seating on the mezzanine upstairs. Coffee from neighborhood De la Paz Coffee Company will be on offer, plus yogurt and granola, salads, sandwiches, and quiches, most made with local and artisanal ingredients. Don’t miss the baked goods and sweet treats from Batter Bakery, one of the tenants in the commercial kitchen in the back of the building. (I can’t wait to try Jen Musty of Batter Bakery’s lavender sea salt shortbread, and strawberry and walnut quick bread—you may recognize her baked products from Blue Fog Market.) Oh, and when you grab your coffee or lunch, you can enjoy it in the outdoor garden in the very back, complete with bougainvillea and a lime tree. Stable Café will be open Mon–Fri 8am–3pm, and it opens next week, on Wednesday September 3rd. 2128 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-552-1199.

Oh, and about the commercial kitchen (the Mission Creek Kitchen part of the project): it’s one of the coolest kitchen spaces I’ve seen, with tall ceilings, original beams, great light, and it looks onto the gallery. If you’re interested, the kitchen has various stations available, either hourly or long-term.

I got word from a wino pal that the folks at Ottimista Enoteca-Café are at it again, this time with ~SPUNTINO~, a cute new little sister that will be opening just down the street. Spuntino, which means snack in Italian, will offer cheeses, gourmet groceries, prepared foods, and take-out that comes from Ottimista’s kitchen. They’re still looking for a cheesemonger, so no details on how many cheeses just yet, but look for a rotating menu of take-out panini (press in effect!) and prepared salads, plus some Ottimista faves, like pizzas and the famed olives to warm up at home. There will also be some tastings and classes held at night at the large communal table (which is to be used for events only). The space was formerly a jewelry shop, so if everything goes well with permits, the opening date should be around September 20th. Hours will be Tue–Fri 11am–7pm, and 10am–7pm on the weekend. 1957 Union St. at Buchanan.

~YOSHI’S SAN FRANCISCO~ has launched an izakaya Japanese pub menu, available at the bar, in the lounge, and the club. The menu includes 20 new items priced at $3–$8, including yasai korokke (vegetable and potato croquettes), grilled whole sardines, bacon-wrapped asparagus, Kurobuta pork sausages, and soy-marinated whole grilled squid. And starting this Friday August 29th, a DJ will spin classic and current jazz-influenced music beginning at 9pm Thursday–Saturday. (Check out this week’s lush section for a sake dinner event at Yoshi’s.) 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-655-5600.

This upcoming YBCA and Campari event looks really interesting: ~SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS: 3 LOCAL SOLUTIONS~, a panel discussion this Wednesday August 27th, with guests who will talk about their initiatives for sustainable urban living. The panelists include: John Bela, member of the artist collective Rebar and the designer of the City Hall Victory Gardens; Shruti Narayan of Arup, the project manager on the sustainable design strategies for the new building of the California Academy of Sciences; and Jerome Waag, a performance artist and chef at Chez Panisse restaurant who explores the urban environment as a site for the production of food in his latest project OPEN City at New Langton Arts. The panel is moderated by Berin Golonu, YBCA’s Associate Visual Arts Curator and co-curator of YBCA’s upcoming exhibition The Gatherers: Greening our Urban Spheres. It’s a free event, but seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP at 415-373-0185. 6pm–8:30pm; conversation 7pm–8pm. 701 Mission St. at 3rd St.

Is this what happens when you live in San Francisco for too long? French ~CURBSIDE, TOO~ owner Antoine Alliaume (La Terrasse-Presidio, Curbside Café) is transforming his café at the Presidio Lyon Street Gate into a taqueria: Curbside Taqueria. On the menu: yes, tacos, plus burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, and a Mexican brunch will be served on the weekend. The chef (and now partner in the business) is Vincente Cortes, who was been cooking for Antoine for nine years. Alliaume is hoping to capture the Presidio lunch crowd who don’t have time or moolah for a sit-down lunch—and now they don’t have to schlep to Chestnut Street. Hours are Mon–Thu 10am–9pm, Fri 10am–11pm, Sat 9am–11pm, and Sun 9am–9pm. 2769 Lombard St. at Lyon, 415-921-4442.

According to a poster on Yelp, ~KOOKEZ CAFE~ in Noe Valley is closed. After being for sale for a while, its last day of service was reportedly Sunday August 24th. (Best wishes to owner Lynn Marie Presley, who is a very kind lady.) The liquor license application says the Tangerine Restaurant Group is moving into its place, but I have no idea who is behind the project, or what it will be. Anyone? Bueller? Eater clarified that it’s no relation to Tangerine in the Castro. 4123 24th St. at Castro.

Alas, in case you North Beachers were hoping the recently closed ~EGUNA BASQUE~ was going to come back as a food biz, it’s actually going to be a video game store, Stargames. You can make that waah into a Wii. 1657 Powell St. at Union.

It’s the season of block parties! Next Saturday September 6th is ~PARTY ON BLOCK 18~, a full-tilt hootenanny featuring the 18th Street businesses between Dolores and Guerrero, which is where the street will be closed off. A family-style meal will be available, and the purchase of a ticket entitles everyone to a meal with your choice of three savory meals from Bi-Rite, Delfina, Dolores Park Café, and Craig’s Place, and Tartine and Bi-Rite Creamery will be handling the sweets. Since 18th Street is ALL about food, here are the menu items: spit-roasted Niman Ranch pork shoulder with summer bean salad and salsa verde, Fulton Valley chicken grilled under a brick with a Tuscan bread salad, and vegetarian paella and corn on the cob with Calabrian chili butter. The kids can enjoy Let’s Be Frank organic hotdogs, fresh sandwiches, and Bi-Rite Creamery hot fudge sundaes, fresh fruit smoothies, lemonade, and a watermelon agua fresca by Dolores Park Café. For the adults, in the Wine & Beer Garden there will be premium barrel of wine by Unti (a fave of mine) and keg beer by Russian River Brewing Company, Magnolia Brewery, and Anchor Steam. Entertainment includes gypsy band Gaucho, and teen rockers She’s and The Psychotherapists for the kids. The party runs from noon to 4pm. All proceeds from the party will be donated to the Women’s Building. Meals are $15, sides and sandwiches $2.50–$5, beverages $2.50–$5. For information and to purchase advance meal tickets, call Christie Ward at 415-971-7291 or email

Then on Sunday, September 14th is the third biannual ~SOUTH BEACH, MISSION BAY, RINCON HILL BLOCK PARTY~. This is a free non-commercial event, and food supplied by Delancey Street will be available for purchase. This is an event for all and will include special games for the kids, too. 12pm–4pm. South Beach Park, South Beach Harbor, and Pier 40.

Knife master Chiharu Sugai, founder of Korin Japanese Trading, will be holding a ~KNIFE-SHARPENING WORKSHOP~ at Incanto Restaurant on Tuesday September 9th; should be interesting for both pro and home chefs. Here’s more from the release: “Don't miss this incredible opportunity to learn the ins and outs of sharpening both Western-style Japanese knives as well as traditional Japanese knives. In addition to basic techniques, Mr. Sugai will address common errors in sharpening, as well as advanced techniques on how to get the best performance and edge life out of your Japanese knife. Mr. Sugai has studied for over ten years with the top knife masters in Japan and has conducted workshops in restaurants and culinary schools across the country. There will be a Q&A after the demo as well as the opportunity to purchase water stones and Japanese knives from Korin.” No need to RSVP, but space is limited, so it’s good idea to arrive early. 2:30pm–4pm. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-641-4500.

A tablehopper reader wanted to make sure I knew about a recently opened Vietnamese restaurant in Alameda called ~MINT LEAF VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT~. The curry chicken clay pot is reportedly a winner. Hours are Mon–Sat 11am–9pm, Sun 11am–8pm. 831 Marina Village Pkwy., Alameda.

Opening this Wednesday in the East Bay is ~MISS PEARL'S JAM HOUSE~. Release the jerk chicken and Jell-O shots. 1 Broadway St. at Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-444-7171.

A posting on Chowhound announced that Oakland’s ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN~ is on vacation until September 3rd, and Sunday brunch is launching on Sunday September 21st. Oh, and there’s a Friday night happy hour with DJs, coming soon. 2534 Mandela Pkwy., Oakland, 510-839-SOUL (7685).

Also got word about the latest gastropub to join the Bay Area-wide lineup: ~MARTINS WEST~. The crew is Michael Dotson (most recently at Sens, and the former executive chef at Evvia from '01–'06), Moira Beveridge (recently the private events manager at Sens), and Derek Smith (bar manager for close to a decade at Rudy's Pub). The plan is to open in early 2009 in downtown Redwood City in a brick building. It was originally constructed in 1896 as the Alhambra Theater (the space has been vacant since 2001, when a fire gutted it). It was also a bar at one point, and Wyatt Earp actually hung out there, wow.

There will be a dining area and a bar area, each with about 60 seats. As the press release notes, “The menu will showcase high-quality local ingredients in dishes strongly influenced by the culinary traditions of Great Britain.” A sneak peek at the menu reveals house-made black pudding, Monterey sardines, charcuterie (country duck pate, rabbit terrine, duck liver mousse), poached pheasant, a peat-grilled lamb T-bone, and most definitely some fish and chips. They plan to offer a smaller, limited menu in the bar. About the name: Martins West is named after Martin Irons, a family friend and restaurateur from Beveridge's childhood in Scotland who ran a hidden restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh with his wife. There you have it. 831 Main St. at Broadway, Redwood City.

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

the sponsor

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The 13th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival is September 6th and 7th! Sample treats like Chocolate-Covered Caramel, Chocolate Pizza, Chocolate Almond Toffee–and of course, world-famous Ghirardelli Ice Cream Sundaes. Sip at the Cost Plus World Market Wine Bar and enjoy chef demonstrations, live music, and family entertainment. Don’t miss the famous hands-free Earthquake Ice Cream Sundae Eating Contest.

All proceeds benefit the San Francisco-based non-profit organization, Project Open Hand. The event is free, but tickets must be purchased to participate in chocolate tasting. Visit for tickets and more information.

the regular


Ino Sushi
22 Peace Plaza, Suite 510 Miyako Bldg. (off Post St.)
Cross: Buchanan St.
San Francisco, CA 94115


Tue–Sat 5pm–9pm


AUGUST 26, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I think many of us must secretly like masochistic dining and drinking experiences. How else to explain the popularity of Bruno the “Martini Nazi,” the former owner and bartender at Aub Zam Zam in the Haight? (RIP Bruno—in my mind, the tables will always be closed.) And you can feel a certain level of accomplishment when being granted entrance to Da Flora in North Beach (the not-so-secret keys to the kingdom: don’t be a fanny pack-wearing tourist in shorts, have nice manners, and make a reservation), let alone if you manage to make it through a dinner at Pizzetta 211 without getting squawked at. Heck, you’re lucky if you get a pizza.

There is perhaps no better setting for abuse than at sushi restaurants: you’re at the mercy of the chef, who can be as controlling or crotchety as they want to be, and there is a myriad of persnickety house rules you can break (to wit: Tekka on Balboa), and let’s not forget all the nuances of Japanese sushi bar etiquette. (You did NOT just rub your chopsticks together? Doh!) The sushi-eating scenario is rife with possibility for shame.

Did all this talk get you excited? Ready to play maguro master and sushi servant? Off to ~INO SUSHI~ we go. The husband and wife duo here have been holding this tiny and tidy little room down for something like 30 years, if my memory serves me well (sometimes it doesn’t). How tiny? Well, there are only eight seats or so at the bar, and just a few tables. It may be intimate, but chef Ino-san’s poor wife has to handle the entire room herself, so don’t expect quick or attentive service. And getting her attention is, uh, challenging. Just pretend you’re fishing—sometimes you might nab her, other times she will get away. But I do think she’s quite charming, and hustles as fast as she can in and out of the room in her kimono.

Definitely request a seat at the sushi bar (you made a reservation, right?). Be sure to make some eye contact with Ino-san, and if you’re smart, you have a Japanese-speaking friend with you who can bust out some proper salutations, like “yoroshiku” (please treat me kindly). Yeah, here’s hoping!

Actually, I have not had the tough time here that some friends have suffered—fortunately I have picked up a little bit of sushi bar etiquette over the years. I know, smell me.

Whether you’re a pro or not, let’s help you out with some basic house rules anyone should know before dining at Ino:

• Wait until Ino-san gives you the signal to order some sushi. He won’t wave a flag or anything, but he’ll let you know when he’s ready.

• This is an ideal place to do omakase (chef’s choice), but there are too many specific dishes you can’t miss, like the haunting ikura (salmon roe, $5) with the tang (I think) of sake, and some of the best ankimo (monkfish liver, $4) in the city, second only to Sebo’s—you will want to order this three times over. It’s a brilliant, creamy, decadent execution, total Japanese foie. And don’t ask for ponzu, yo.

• I also went nutty over the Oregon sardine he had on the menu one night, the super-fresh uni from Santa Barbara, and I love the ikura so dang much I ordered it again with a quail egg (you can thank me later—this was sushi nirvana).

• Don’t freak out when your gari (ginger) is plunked directly in front of you on the wood counter, without a plate. And plonk! There is your sushi too! Surprise! The wood is clean. Don’t ask for a dish. Really, it’s cool.

• Do NOT ask for wasabi. This is probably the biggest thing that sticks in Ino-san’s craw. He has a heavy hand, and will place a plentiful swipe of wasabi in your nigiri, don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. Feel that tingling in your nose? Yeah, it’s like you just tooted some whup-ass Colombian. Ino-san has got you covered. And then some.

• Don’t go crazy pouring a lake of soy sauce into your bowl. Ino-san will totally arch an eyebrow at you. Waste not, want not.

• Don’t dip your nigiri sushi rice side down in the soy sauce, or Ino-san will scold you. Fish side down, and just for a heartbeat.

• Don’t even think about dipping your scrumptious unagi in the soy sauce—it’s sublime as is. In fact, if you’re not sure if something should be dipped in soy, ask Ino-san. Unless, of course, you like to be berated in front of your fellow diners. Maybe you do.

• You did not just order a caterpillar roll. Oh my god, you did. You are so in the doghouse!

• Do not bring your bratty kid, your loud friend, or your Crackberry-addicted stockbroker friend from New York.

• No sake bombs. There are some nice sakes to choose from, ask Ino-san what he recommends. And ask if perhaps he’d like to join you.

• A good way to begin your meal is with some sunomono, and you’ll find there are more kinds to choose from than the usual simple cucumber presentation—there’s also cucumber with octopus, prawn, or eel ($10), or all three for $12. Delish.

• Be sure to try one of the miso soups too, like the enoki mushroom ($3.50) or clam version ($4).

• More than anything, just be polite. Pretend he’s your parole officer, or your great aunt with the plastic coverings on all her furniture, whatever it takes. It’s the single most important thing to remember.

So you’re wondering to yourself, hmmmm, is it worth blowing some money here, with all these rules, and the ever-looming possibility of getting bounced, schooled, and embarrassed? Hai, my friend. The quality and traditional presentation of the fish is quite notable—there are all kinds of little touches, from Ino-san’s wonderful toasty nori, to the stellar marinade on the unagi. The experience is authentic. And did I mention the ikura and ankimo? Oh yes I did.

In fact, I admire Ino-san’s attempt to keep things under control, shipshape, and in line. It’s his house, these are his rules, and don’t you even think about picking up your cell phone while he can see the whites of your eyes. Our society is coming apart at the seams, and I really appreciate this last bastion of tradition and manners.

Like in most good sushi places, the bill can climb precipitously, but since Ino Sushi is now my second favorite spot for sushi, in my mind, it’s so worth it. Just please don’t beat me!

the lush

advertise on tablehopperAUGUST 26, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Mark your calendar: ~ORSON’S MONTHLY COCKTAIL PAIRING DINNER~ will be on September 10th, and the theme is Brazilian summer and cachaça. Let’s just say last week’s dinner of Square One vodka and summer BBQ kicked arse; I am still thinking about the pork belly with watermelon, arugula, eggplant, and sweet peppers, paired with the Summer Seraph (Square One cucumber vodka, Lillet Blanc, St. Germain, sparkling wine, lemongrass). These are some of the best cocktail dinners I’ve ever had, check ‘em out! 508 4th St. at Bryant, 415-777-1508.

Oh, and here’s a little pre-release info for you! ~YOSHI’S~ is holding their second sake tasting dinner on Thursday September 11th. Hosted by importer Joto Sake, with two brewers from Chikurin, and Eko Fuji will be presenting the sakes. The dinner is quite a deal, with seven courses and seven sakes for $125, plus tax and tip. There are only about 30 seats, and it’s expected to book up fast. 7pm. RSVP to 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-655-5600.

Thrillist has an update on changes to the Fifth Floor bar and lounge, reopening today as ~HONOR BAR~: “Honor Bar's a total re-conception of Fifth's 44-seat lounge space: overstuffed club chairs, a long communal table, a chunky wood bar imported from a French chateau and, most audaciously, a billing system based on the honor code. That's right: while master Sommelier Emily Wines (seriously) will suggest a price for her hand-picked, daily-rotating selection of 6 vinos ($8-$15 per glass, $25 per flight), how much you actually drop in the provided lockbox is between you, your conscience, and Crossing Over's John Edward.” After a few glasses of Armagnac, that honor bar lockbox thing could get dangerous. Hotel Palomar, 12 Fourth St. at Market, 415-348-1555.

the socialite


Cheese School of San Francisco Second Anniversary
Fri., Aug. 29th, 2008

2155 Powell St.
Cross: Francisco St.
San Francisco, CA 94133



$30 per person at the door

AUGUST 26, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Cheese please! The Cheese School of San Francisco is celebrating its second anniversary with a ~SPECIAL DROP-IN NIGHT CELEBRATION~, designed to salute Slow Food Nation, and kick things off the day before the official gourmand mayhem begins. There will be ample samplings of cheeses and accompaniments, with expert hosts on hand to answer questions. All the cheeses and wines to be offered at this special Drop-In Night have all been chosen from a list carefully curated with Slow Food principles in mind. Music maestro please: The Frisky Frolics, kazoo and ukulele in tow, will be there to provide live entertainment.


OPEN City—the city as farm
Sat. Sep. 13th, 2008

New Langton Arts
1246 Folsom St.
Cross: 8th St.
San Francisco, CA



AUGUST 19, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO OPEN is a project of Jerome Waag and Sam White, who both work at Chez Panisse in Berkeley while pursuing individual artistic practices. When I attended OPEN restaurant’s “soil” project at New Langton Arts back in March, I couldn’t wait for their next installation. From the website: “OPEN restaurant’s new project, ~OPEN CITY~, looks at the urban environment as a site for the production of food. Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2008 at New Langton Arts, we are planning a dinner made entirely of produce harvested, foraged or crafted within the Berkeley-Oakland-San Francisco perimeter. This event will be a way to showcase the many aspects in which the city produces food, from urban farming to foraging to community and private gardens. We hope to include a wide variety of practices so if you are a gleaner, gardener, forager, farmer or anyone involved in urban food production contact us at

“You can participate by providing produce that we will purchase at market price or through a contribution to your organization, but of course any donation is welcome. More importantly we look forward to further forms of collaboration as a way to engage the audience about what you are doing. Let us know if you are interested in a more active participation and we will find a way to make it part of the event. There will also be large black boards with information as well as a map for locations.

“This event will be an alternative and informal way for people involved in urban food issues to meet, exchange ideas and get exposure as well as experience the many flavors of the city and it is open to everyone.

“The center of the meal is a ratatouille, a summer vegetable stew, which will be made from the largest amount of sources possible as to give a true flavor of the area, for the rest local chef will improvise with the large variety of produce collected. We are looking for seasonal vegetables including PEPPER, TOMATO, EGGPLANT, ZUCCHINI, CUCUMBER, GREEN and SHELL BEANS, SALAD GREENS, ONIONS, HERBS, GREENS but also CHICKENS, EGGS, BUTTER, OIL; anything you would like to share is welcome since we are going to do a lot of improvisation.”

the matchmaker

GM & Chef de Cuisine for High-Profile SF Restaurant

We are expanding and in need of a seasoned, professional GM for our San Francisco restaurant. Please have at least 5 years of managerial experience and 3 years of GM experience. The ideal candidate needs to have an understanding of high-volume, high-profile operations and the ability to manage a staff for a 5m restaurant + 1.5m in private dining.  

Chef applicants should send resume to receive more details. Email


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.

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