table of contents This week's tablehopper: dive bar dining.

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 bookworm

another place for your nose
the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

advertise on tablehopper

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hey there. I am happy to be home, a bit tired, but it was certainly a blast exploring Washington state last week—Walla Walla is très cute, can’t wait to write it up for y’all! And the weather was as spectacular as many of the wines I tried. We even took a horseback ride in the middle of vineyards and fruit orchards, going from winery to winery—yes, by horse. One word: dreamy (and a little nerve-wracking, well, until I understood the quirky ways of Daisy, my Appaloosa). Get ready to plan your next trip.

But now, I’m back in the City, and going full-tilt. On Wednesday evening is the Macy’s Cellar City Bites event I’m hosting with local talents Ryan Farr, chef de cuisine/mad pork genius of Orson, and Daniel Hyatt, the bar manager at Alembic who has a knack for getting his customers tipsy on only the good stuff. I named the event “The Pursuit of Flavor”—which in this case means a night of pork, hamachi kama, and bourbon. We look forward to seeing you there!

And then this Saturday October 4th, I’ll be emceeing the Now We’re Cooking hour on the opening weekend for Litquake. Guests reading from books about food and drink will be Elizabeth Falkner, Bryant Terry, Beau Timken, Tara Duggan, Julia Flynn Siler, Brian Yaeger, and Eric Gower. And it’s free! The reading is from 3pm–4pm at the San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium, Main Branch, 100 Larkin St. at Grove. A reader pointed out that it's happening at the same time as LoveFest—ravers and readers unite, woot woot.

Congrats to the fabulous Monica, who won tickets to Sunday Supper! A LOT of you entered the giveaway, which I’d say means a number of you really really want to go. If you’re thinking about it, please buy tickets and go, because a full 9% of CUESA’s modest operating revenue comes from the Sunday Supper sales. What is CUESA? They’re the essential nonprofit that operates the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and all the free culinary programs, produce tastings, producer interviews, farm tours, and more that they put on. Times are tight for everyone, and ticket sales this year are down. Here’s more on this incredible event, which helps raise money for this important organization. Even the $60 reception is quite the culinary tour de force—think about it!

Okay, I have stepped off my apple box. Now it’s time for another giveaway! Actually, two! It’s a giveaway-fest, literally. I have two tickets to WhiskyFest (read all about it in today’s socialite), and a pair of tickets to next weekend’s FallFest!

You know the drill: to enter to win, just forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (or more, you star!), telling them why they would dig a subscription to, and CC or BCC so I know you sent it (I promise not to use anyone’s email address!). Deadline to enter is midnight on Friday October 3rd. I’ll let you know this weekend if you are the proud owner of some tickets—the first winner gets their pick from the two events.

I’m off to unpack this suitcase… And yes, I brought some apples home in my bag.

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

advertise on tablehopperSEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO After a year of working the meat and fish stations at French Laundry, Louis Maldonado, formerly a co-executive chef at Cortez, is returning to San Francisco to be the new executive chef at ~CAFÉ MAJESTIC~. I got a peek at his preliminary menu, and it contains unique starters like Italian chestnuts with feuille de brik, compressed endive, Fuyu persimmon, and Tahitian vanilla, or a fricassee of sweetbreads with potato mille-feuille, roasted romaine lettuce, and béarnaise mousseline. The shaved beef tongue with poached prunes, Brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and cedar gastrique also totally caught my eye. Mains include slow-cooked suzuki with Tokyo turnips and matsutake mushrooms in their bouillon, and confit of suckling pig with poached quince, glazed sunchokes, creamed mustard greens, and Niçoise olive jus. His menu launches October 13th, and you’ll also be able to order the full menu five days a week at the bar. Maldonado is excited to return to the city, and says, “It’s really time to show everyone what I’ve got.” After a year at the Laundry, I expect it’ll be delicious. Some congrats are also in order: Maldonado and his wife are expecting their first child in about three months. Welcome back. 1500 Sutter St. at Gough, 415-441-1100.

Another French Laundry-related note: congratulations to Timothy Hollingsworth, a sous chef at the Laundry, who won the gold medal over the weekend and will be representing the United States at the international ~BOCUSE D’OR~ competition in the beginning of the year. Read more on Pete Wells’s post in the Diner’s Journal.

Opening today in Cow Hollow is ~NETTIE'S CRAB SHACK~, moving into the former Palmetto space. To recap, Jim Zack of Zack/deVito turned out the new look, and the East Coast-meets-California fish shack menu includes BBQ oysters with a beer chaser ($15), steamers with drawn butter in a pail ($20), larger plates like grilled squid, shell beans, salsa verde ($15), non-fishy items like hangar steak ($18) and roasted chicken ($18), sides include jalapeno spoon bread with okra and tomatoes ($7), and there’s butterscotch pudding for dessert ($8). You can check out all the menus on the cute website. None of the wines on the list are over $50—how convenient during this crap economy. Lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm, dinner Sun–Thu 5pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5pm–11pm, brunch Sat–Sun 10am–3pm. 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-409-0300.

Over in the Mission, I was happy to learn ~ICHI CATERING~, the kind folks behind the tasty sushi at a number of bars and happy hours around town, are in final negotiations with the Monkey Club (formerly Syn Lounge) to open a satellite location there. ICHI’s Tim Archuleta, formerly of Tokyo Go Go, and his wife, Erin Archuleta, are looking to have a November 1st opening, and are putting together a preliminary menu that will include sushi and small plates. They’re planning to have dinner service run from Tuesday–Sunday 5pm–1am (which should please you industry and night owl folks), and are looking to add lunch service about a month after that, and then brunch a month later. The Monkey Club is planning to add sake and Japanese beer to their drink list to complement the menu. 2730 21st St. at Bryant, 415-647-6546.

I noted ~BUSHI-TEI~ has a beer and wine license for a new location, and thank you Eater for doing the research: Bushi-Tei is adding a spinoff in Japantown Center, and it’s due to open by the end of the year. Here’s more: “Unlike the formal Bushi-tei, it will be a more casual "bistro" but will keep the same general fusion theme with Chef Seiji Wakabayashi running both kitchens. The bistro will, however, try [to] encompass a greater range of Asian cuisine than its big sis.” 1581 Webster Street Ste. 100 at Post.

More Japanese news: I heard a rumor that ~TSUNAMI SUSHI~ was opening a second location in SoMa at 4th and Berry, but the Dajani Group has been pointedly ignoring my multiple emails about it. Annoying. So we only have a slight confirmation from a tipster on Eater that it is truly the case. Stand by.

Meanwhile, over in Noe Valley, the Noe Valley, SF blog has an update on the ~MYSTERIOUS “HIGH-END VIETNAMESE FUSION” RESTAURANT~ that is moving in the corner of Church and 25th. Here’s more from the post: “Word on the street is that its owned by the same people as Regent Thai, a Noe Valley hot spot, so it should prove exciting. We spoke to the contractor today and he said it should be open ‘by the end of the year.’ ” We’ll see how things develop. Church St. and 25th St.

It’s time to wake up and small the coffee! The new little ~PICCINO~ coffee bar is open! Folks can order their coffee at a window; hours are 7am–6pm. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

A few readers have been inquiring about ~ZINNIA~, the new restaurant from chef Sean O’Brien that’s opening in the former Scott Howard space. The target opening date is Wednesday October 22nd, and the OpenTable system will be online and start taking reservations this Friday October 3rd. 500 Jackson St. at Montgomery, 415-956-7300.

And now in the “we look like we’re closing but we aren’t” department, the folks at ~MCEVOY~ in the Ferry Building Marketplace wanted to clarify that their shop is currently under renovations and they are not leaving. They packed up all of our olive oil last week and moved out temporarily to make way for the plumbers, electricians, and builders. Gensler has designed a fresh, modern space for them, and the plan is to re-open around the third or fourth week in October. Marketplace Shop #16.

After a long vacation break, ~CAFE ZITOUNA~ is reopening this Friday October 3rd. They said there are just a few small adjustments to the menu, which will be posted online on Friday. 1201 Sutter St. at Polk, 415-673-2622.

~SOUTH FOOD + WINE BAR~ is no longer open for weekend brunch due to a host of issues, like their office building security, garbage pick up, blah blah blah. No more eggs + soldiers for you. 330 Townsend St., Ste. 101 at 4th St., 415-974-5599.

A reader was dismayed to read the ~OCTAVIA LOUNGE~ has closed and emailed me asking what’s going on. According to the website, “The Octavia Lounge will close for an unspecified amount of time for remodeling. We would like to thank all our employees, guests and performers who made Octavia Lounge a fun place for good food and great entertainment.” Boozehounds: bottomless mimosas can be continued at Lime on the weekends. 1772 Market St. at Octavia.

Bwok! It’s time for more magic from the fryer at ~SPQR~: you’ll now find fried chicken on the menu every Tuesday night. Which means you can go tonight! It’s a large half chicken (Rocky Free Range) for $20, large enough for two to share. 1911 Fillmore St. at Bush, 415-771-7779.

Fall is here, and ~AQUA~ is running a special mushroom menu through the month of October, the second in their series of seasonal tasting menus. The menu is nine courses, highlighting a slew of mushrooms: hon-shimeji, oyster, black trumpet, matsutake, porcini, chanterelle/yellow foot, lobster, cinnamon cap, and black truffles. The featured mushrooms are hand harvested on or near Mount Shasta. You can see the entire menu here. It’s $150, and there’s an $85 wine pairing available. 252 California St. at Battery, 415-956-9662.

Here’s an all-you-can-consume special that is a one-way ticket to some Tums: every Tuesday from 6pm–9:30pm, ~THICK AND THIN PIZZA~ is serving all-you-can-eat thin-crust pizza (but the deal doesn’t apply to their also-delish Chicago-style deep dish). In addition, every bottle of wine is marked 50% off. The only stipulation is that you must sit in the dining room—no parking at the bar. Once you’re done eating half your body weight in pizza, you will be well prepped to hang out for the new "Double Vision" party that’s every Tuesday from 9pm until close, when all well drinks are two–for-one, and DJ (“a p-word that rhymes with corn”)-star spins double shots on the decks. Hic. 3600 16th St. at Market, 415-431-0306.

I wanted to help spread the word that ~TYSON FOODS WILL DONATE~ 100 pounds of high-quality protein (up to a total of 200,000 pounds) to the six Bay Area food banks for every brief comment left on the site they set up to help with this cause. You don't have to say more than a couple of words, and they promise not to send you anything or share your contact info. Just scroll to the bottom, say thanks, and voila. Please swing by.

imageAnd now, a sweets report. Over in Ghirardelli Square, ~CROWN & CRUMPET~ has opened, serving a continental brekkie (with croissants and the like from Patisserie Philippe), a light luncheon, British tea in the afternoon (get that pinkie raised), and early evening bites and drinkie-poos, like Champagne, sherries, ports, and madeiras. Just think, a melee of house-made scones, finger sandwiches, and clotted cream are all saying yoooooo hoooooo! And for the record, the crumpets are from Tea and Crumpets in San Rafael. Teas are from Lupicia, Harney and Sons, Tea Palace from London, Palais du Thé from Paris, and Lindsay’s Teas, among others. I also read it’s a “doily-free zone,” and their in-house pastry chef, Caroline Romanski, has quite the Bay Area pedigree. Winter hours are Sun–Thu 8am–6pm, and until 9pm Fri–Sat. 900 North Point St., West Plaza of Ghirardelli Square, 415-771-4252.

Downtown cupcakers are not happy that ~CITIZEN CUPCAKE~ has closed in the Virgin Megastore. A new location might be in the works, but in the meantime, you can get your Citizen Cupcake faves at the Citizen Cake Kiosk at Orson at 508 4th St., or at the Citizen Cake Patisserie at 399 Grove St.

Another closure: a tablehopper reader tipped me off that ~BELGANO CHOCOLATIER GELATERIA~ in Noe Valley has closed. The number is disconnected, so I wasn’t able to learn more about the reasons behind the closure. 3901 24th St. at Noe.

imageNorthern California just got its first ~SPRINKLES CUPCAKES~: you’ll find it in Palo Alto’s Stanford Shopping Center. Oprah reportedly digs ‘em, hence the long lines of ladies since they opened. Flavors include traditional numbers like dark chocolate and red velvet, and new-style flavors include chai latte, ginger lemon, and banana dark chocolate, 20 flavors in all. The cupcakes contain no preservatives, trans fats, or artificial flavors. 393 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-323-9300.

Okay, let’s allow that sugar rush to subside. The new location of the ~BALBOA CAFÉ~ in Mill Valley is open. Here are some pics from the Bunrabs, who went to check it out for lunch. The restaurant is following a traditional American bistro format, with the infamous Balboa Burger on the menu, and of course a notable PlumpJack wine program. The room has dark walnut and brass fixtures, with earthy green and natural tones, plus outdoor seating. The restaurant is also dog and kid friendly, and how convenient, Sweetwater Saloon is opening right next door. Hours are lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–3pm, and dinner nightly starting at 5pm. 38 Miller Ave. at East Blithedale, Mill Valley, 415-381-7321.

This Friday October 3rd is the 12th annual ~ART FOR AIDS AUCTION 2008~. Support the UCSF AIDS Health Project by joining 500 art patrons at a juried live and silent auction of more than 125 modern and contemporary works of art from well-known and emerging artists, including Jock Sturges, Rex Ray, and Deborah Oropallo. Gourmet food, wine, and spirits will be donated by local restaurants and wineries, including Bocadillos, Ducca, Fleur de Lys, Garibaldi’s, Home, Mexico D.F., Spruce, Tommy Toy’s Cuisine Chinoise, Town Hall, and Yank Sing. Wine is provided by Folio Fine Wine Partners, including Donnafugata, Hangtime, Isabel Mondavi, Oberon Napa Valley, Villa Sandi, and Ketel One Vodka. 5:30pm–9pm. $75. The event is in the Herbst International Exhibition Hall (HIEH), Building #385 on Moraga Street at the top of the Presidio’s historic Main Post Parade Ground in the Presidio, 415-502-7276.

Whatcha doing this Saturday October 4th? If you have two wheels and a penchant for cheese, I’d say this should be it: ~TOUR DE FROMAGE~ will be a group of two-wheeled cheese appreciators riding around town to sample some of the city's top fromage specialists. You’ll finish up with a cheese-sharing picnic at a nearby park. Don't forget to bring cash for cheesy purchases from local vendors. Meet at the Duboce Bike mural, near Church and Duboce at 11am. The event will last until 2pm. For more info, email Get mooooooving. (Haha, sorry.)

This coming Sunday October 5th, you can watch local chef ~JONNATAN LEIVA~ of Jack Falstaff battle it out on Food Network Challenge: Next Great Chef. The show airs at 8pm! Here’s more from the site about the show: “Four young chefs on the verge of culinary greatness vie for the title of "The Next Great Chef." The chef who can deliver the complete package of creativity, ambition, and technique will win $10,000 and a career-making title.” Take no prisoners, Jonnatan!

Loco for Spanish cuisine? The AIWF (American Institute of Wine and Food) is hosting a special meal with The Spanish Table at Zarzuela on Monday October 13th: ~THE CATALAN CAPER SPANISH WINE DINNER~, with recipes inspired by The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve Winston. The six-course menu will be teamed up with nine wines selected by Andy and Tanya Booth, owners of the Spanish Table. You can check out the menu here. The price is $100, all-inclusive. Since this is part of the AIWF’s membership drive, they are offering this special dinner at Member Rate for all attendees. For those signing up for a 12-month AIWF membership that evening, you will receive a $10 discount per person (single rate normally $75, now $65; dual members normally $125, now $105; under 35 years old normally $25, now $15). For current members they will provide the same discounts: if you renew your membership this evening, the AIWF will extend your current membership by an additional 12 months. The final bonus: AIWF is a non-profit organization, so your membership fee is tax deductible! Order tickets online here. 6:30pm. Zarzuela, 2000 Hyde St. at Union.

Is your copy of Moosewood Cookbook a favorite? Then you’ll want to know about this lunch with ~MOLLIE KATZEN~ at Greens on Friday October 17th. The JCCSF will celebrate Mollie Katzen and her latest book of vegetable recipes with a special luncheon. Tickets are $55 members/$65 public. Order tickets here, or call the box office at 415-292-1233. Noon. Fort Mason, Building A.

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

the sponsor

advertise on tablehopper

Yup, it's all about location. Where you advertise should be the same. tablehopper offers prime real estate, buzzing with thousands of visitors every day. Open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Want to get your [insert groovy product or place or service here] in front of thousands of educated, hip, savvy insiders? (After all, you read tablehopper, too.) tablehopper readers live to eat, drink, and hit the town, in San Francisco and beyond. Many are in the industry, both Front of House, and Back of House. They are in the house.

There are a variety of creative opportunities available. Please contact Kate Ellison for a media kit and rates.

the regular



Marta's Kitchen at The Jay'n Bee Club
2736 20th St.
Cross: Hampshire St.
San Francisco, CA 94110


Mon–Thu 12pm–11pm
Fri 12pm–12am
Sat 3pm–12am

Most plates max at $12.95

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Rollin’ into a neighborhood bar that isn’t yours can make even the most die-hard fish feel a little out of the water. You don’t know whose spot at the bar is whose, the trick to locking the bathroom door, and most importantly, the bartender’s rules. But then there are places like the ~JAY'N BEE CLUB~ that have been around for something like 70 years, and with its friendly bartenders, eclectic crowd and music (from old school hip-hop to jazz), and the smell of tortilla chips frying, you ease into your pint of beer right quick.

Chips frying? Yes, mi amigo, because there is a little kitchen in the back where Marta Bañuelos is doing her home cookin’ magic She was originally at La Posta on 24th Street, a family-run business, for 25 years. But now she’s the Marta in Marta’s Kitchen at the Jay'n Bee, cooking up some Mexican classics, with many made from her Jaliscan grandma’s recipes.

You can take a seat at the limited number of little tables in the front, at the bar, or shhhhh, there’s a sweet and petite patio in the back—but it can get a bit smoky in the evening, so keep that in mind. And the other thing to remember is this is pretty much a dive bar: there’s a pool table, old linoleum floors, loud music, and quite the cast of characters. Everyone was nice—but is this a place where I’d bring a pearl-wearing Wellesley graduate? No. (Who am I kidding, like I roll with those types to begin with.)

The freshly fried tortilla chips rocked—thick and super crispy. The chunky salsa is made fresh as well, and blended just a tiny bit—I tend to like things super spicy, but it still had enough jalapeno-fueled kick to satisfy my heat-seeking taste buds.

I hope you found a spot where you’re going to be happy to chill out for a while and nurse that beer or margie, because you’re going to wait a long time for your food. Probably 45 minutes, maybe an hour. It’s just how it is—Marta is in the back, making everything from scratch and to-order, so no taqueria timing here. Just relax, and don’t show up too hangry. Maybe order some of her chunky guac (with a secret ingredient I’m not allowed to disclose) to hold you over. Marta may even be the one bringing you your order—workin’ hard, this woman.

The menu is like what you’ll get at Puerto Allegre, with a bunch of combo plates, but instead of standing outside with a bunch of 20-somethings on Valencia hoping to hear your name called, you’re waiting comfortably for your food while seated. There are also some specialties, like Marta’s mole, or camarones. Not much is more than $10.95. And it’s the kind of food that will fill you for hours. I went for the #1, with an enchilada, chile relleno, and crispy beef taco, which came with the de rigueur sides of beans and rice and iceberg lettuce salad. It’s the kind of food that takes you back to being a kid, with the big oval plates—well, at least this native Californian.

Now, is this “oh my God, I’ve never tasted enchiladas like this” food? Not really. But is this “I’m so happy to be kicking it with a margarita or two and my good friend, and getting out of here for $25?” Yes it is. In fact, everything came nice and hot, the seasoning was on point, and the chile relleno was really delicate and delish. No, the ingredients are not the primo ones you’d find at Nopa—my monster plate o’ vittles was only $12.95. It’s simple, honest, and cheese-laden food. Perfect for a Tuesday night when you don’t want to cook. And thank god I had a nice long bike ride home to burn off at least two bites of my enchilada.

I saw some nachos at a few tables—they really looked like the perfect bar munchie. And think about it—there aren’t many cheap Mexican restaurants where you can get a fully-loaded margarita with your food. Marta also told me people swear by the burrito deluxe, a fork-and-knife affair that comes with sauce and cheese on the outside. And if you can’t make up your mind, there’s the tampiquena for $15—the most expensive plate on the menu—a sampler with steak, a chile relleno, an enchilada, taco, beans, rice, and salad.

A few more nice touches: the woman’s bathroom is completely and utterly spotless (always a nice sign), and I dug the pink sink and vintage photos. I’m also a big sucker for their business sign outside, a cute neon affair from the 1930s. If you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed it for a long time and wondered what went on there. I hope I’ve given you enough of a reason to swing by for an easygoing lunch or dinner.

the lush

advertise on tablehopperSEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This Wednesday October 1st is Nihonshu no Hi (The Day Of Sake) in Japan. Here in the west we call it ~SAKE DAY~—this will be the third annual celebration in SF. The event will be at Ft. Mason, and will include a complimentary sake glass, five cuisine-and-sake paired dishes, five unique tasting stations, eight vendor sake stations, welcome cask sake, a live Okinawa band, and many raffles and giveaways! Sake Day is presented by True Sake, Mari's Catering, and Sozai Restaurant. 6pm–9pm. $85. Buy tickets in advance here. Tickets will be available at the door but CASH ONLY! There is a pay-lot, and Building A is closest to the free lot (wink). Ft. Mason, Golden Gate Room (Building A).

When the whistle blows this Friday October 3rd, you can wet your whistle at ~AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 SIPS~, a wine tasting event to celebrate the book launch of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips, by Bottlenotes founder and CEO Alyssa Rapp. Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and expand your wine knowledge as you sip wines made from the best boutique producers from across the globe. Book signing and author Q&A to follow. Tickets: $45 in advance, $60 at the door (price includes a copy of the book). tablehopper readers can use the code TABLEHOPPER at checkout for a $15 discount! Order tickets. 6pm–9pm. Frey Norris Gallery, 456 Geary St. at Taylor.

~PISCO LATIN LOUNGE~ should be opening this Friday after its final inspection tomorrow. The “floating island pagoda,” tasty bar food (tiradito of corvina, seared fresh sardines, Peruvian mini burgers, quinoa risotto balls), and original recipe Pisco Punch all await. Closed Mondays. 1817 Market St. at Octavia, 415-874-9951.

Next Wednesday October 8th is Orson’s monthly cocktail dinner—this one is ~WHISKEY AND PIG~, what’s not to love? Consider it a warm-up for WhiskyFest! The menu is as follows: In the beginning: whipped lard on house sourdough, curry lardo-wrapped persimmon on a stick with Jack & Ginger (Jack Daniel’s, ginger, mint, cherry); First Course: smoked trotter and pork terrine, French pear and walnuts with a Sazerac (Mitcher's Rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, anise); Second Course: pork belly & clams, chicharrones, butter beans, chili with Frisco Sour (Famous Grouse, Benedictine, lemon, lime); Third Course: "roasted, confit, fried, stuffed" pork plate, apple tart, cipollini onions, beautiful local carrots with New Fashion (Blanton's, apple, lemon, soda); an amuse; and for Dessert: bacon & beignets, sweet kabocha & whiskey with a Cold Whiskey Flip (Basil Hayden's, cream, egg, sugar, nutmeg). Seriously, where do I sign? $75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Reserve in advance by calling 415-777-1508 or emailing You may also reserve online and just put "Whiskey & Pig" in your note. 508 4th St. at Bryant St., 415-777-1508.

imageTuesday October 14th is the ~FIFTH ANNUAL TOP 100~, when the top 100 wineries globally that consistently receive Wine & Spirits Magazine’s critics' highest ratings will be highlighted. The event will be one of the first held at San Francisco's historic Mint Building (built in 1874). Events such as the Top 100 Tasting, along with fundraising efforts, will eventually pay for the Old Mint to be renovated into a museum showcasing SF history. In the meantime, the Wine & Spirits Top 100 event is one of the few opportunities for the public to view the building in its original grandeur. In addition to all Top 100 wineries, Bay Area chefs and local, artisanal purveyors will be in attendance serving tastes, such as SPQR, Fish & Farm, Local, Bar Bambino, and CocoLuxe. The Top 100 wineries of 2008 will officially be announced in the winter issue of Wine & Spirits on sale October 14, 2008. 6:30pm–9pm. Tickets are $125. Buy tickets. Mint Building, 88 Fifth St. at Mission, San Francisco.

~TONIC ON POLK~ has new owners, Ben Bleiman, a former GM at Harry’s on Fillmore, and Duncan Ley. The complimentary gummi bears (read: germ stables) are gone, but there are now three TV screens behind the bar (instead of one) playing sports during the day, and old Elvis flicks at night. The bar also has a new look by Michael Brennan that is more neighborhood-y, with a fresh paintjob, new banquettes are coming, and the hanging lights above the bar have been replaced by colored seltzer bottles that are attached to the bar and lit with aquarium lights. 2360 Polk St. at Union, 415-771-5535.

It’s time to vote for some local bartenders! Jacques Bezuidenhout’s drink, The Grand Dram, is a top ten semi-finalist in ~TRAVEL + LEISURE'S BEVERAGE ARTS CHALLENGE~. Vote for him at On December 15th, the top three mixologists who receive the most votes online will compete at the Grand Finale event in Los Angeles for the chance to be crowned Grand Mixologist, and win a trip to the Bahamas. Yo, help send Jacques to the Bahamas!

There’s also the 26th ~MARIE BRIZARD COCKTAIL CHALLENGE~, offering online voting through mid October. The West Coast contenders include: Joel Baker, bar manager at Bourbon and Branch; Joe Parrilli, bartender at Clock Bar at Westin Hotel; H Joseph Ehrmann, bartender at Elixir; Brian Mac Gregor, bartender at Jardinière; Sierra Zimei, bartender at Four Seasons Hotel; Camber Lay, bar chef at Epic Roasthouse; Joe Wrye, bartender at Waterbar; Tim Stookey, bartender at Presidio Social Club; Amanda Washington, bartender at Rye; and Jackie Patterson, formerly bar manager at Orson, now at Zinnia. The challenger who receives the most votes will receive the Hospitality Award, plus there are the regional final events in New York City and San Francisco. The west coast regional final takes place on October 27th at Conduit Restaurant. The USA champions, one from each coast, will travel to Bordeaux in December to attend the 26th Marie Brizard International Bartender Seminar and Cocktail Competition. Vote now!

the socialite


Asian Food Beyond Borders
Fri.–Sun. Oct 10–12, 2008

Multiple locations
San Francisco, CA


prices vary by event

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco's historic Ferry Building is the backdrop for ~ASIAN FOOD BEYOND BORDERS~, a weekend celebration of Asian food and culture. World-renowned food experts will lead the public in a series of provocative conversations, special tastings, and demonstrations. The program includes a wide range of classes, forum discussions, and even a free culinary clinic to help decipher Asian ingredients and utensils at the Ferry Building. The San Francisco Ferry Building is the home base for the weekend’s events, with additional cooking classes, wine tastings, and culinary tours at Sur La Table, Le Colonial, and various locations in Chinatown.

But the highlight is the intimate, full-day symposium on Sunday October 12th, providing attendees with the opportunity to learn from celebrity chefs and food experts such as TV host Martin Yan, author Madhur Jaffrey, Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland, and Google executive chef Olivia Wu. Attendees will enjoy breakfast, lunch, and a selection of snacks between sessions.  

(Party bonus: symposium attendees get access to the exclusive VIP party on Saturday Oct. 11th, 6:30pm–8:30pm at the Ferry Building's North Arcade.)
Visit the ACF website for details on Friday and Saturday events and the Sunday symposium schedule. Registration links are provided on those pages.

ACF is an all-volunteer organization. Help spread the word by passing this message along to others who may be interested in Asian Food Beyond Borders.


WhiskyFest San Francisco
Fri., Oct. 10, 2008

San Francisco Marriott
55 Fourth St.
Cross: Market St.
San Francisco, CA



VIP $150
general $110

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO America’s largest whisky celebration, ~WHISKYFEST~ returns to San Francisco for the second year, with over 200 of the world’s rarest–and most expensive–whiskies available for tasting. You’ll find single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, bourbon, Tennessee, Japanese, Welsh, Canadian and other whiskies from around the world to sample. There will also be high-end rums, tequilas, and beer. To see the up-do-date list of the whiskies that will be poured, please click here. Many whisky companies have decided to pour some very special whiskies during the evening.

Put on by Malt Advocate, WhiskyFest will again feature an educational focus that will let distillers not only explain how whisky is made, but also how to identify, sniff, swirl, and enjoy one of the most revered spirits in the world.  

Attendees will be given the opportunity to sample over 200 of the most exclusive whiskies in the world, will be kept from getting totally toasted with a free buffet, and learn about whiskies from master blenders and distillery managers.
WhiskyWeek, the week leading up to WhiskyFest, will feature whisky-related events and promotions throughout the Bay Area at nightspots, restaurants, and bars. Click here for the lengthy lineup of events—it all begins on Sunday October 5th.

The speaker schedule and seminar topics can now be viewed here. The seminars begin at 7pm. If you are interested in seeing a particular speaker, get your seats early as it's first come, first served.

In addition to an amazing list of whiskies being poured, Malt Advocate magazine has teamed up with The Macallan, The Glenlivet, and Glenfarclas to offer attendees a once-in-a-lifetime taste of very rare whiskies for a small charitable donation. Whiskies at these three designated charity tables are half-ounce pours and can be purchased for one charity ticket (a $20 donation) except the following: all Macallans, 1955 Glenfarclas, 1959 and 1964 Glenlivet which require two charity tickets ($40 donation).

100% of the proceeds from these tables will go to the Food Runners of San Francisco, a volunteer organization dedicated to alleviating hunger in San Francisco. Food Runners deliver over 10 tons of food a week to agencies feeding people in need.

Tickets can be purchased through the Malt Advocate website or at the Malt Advocate table the night of WhiskyFest. VIP tickets offer early admittance at 5:30pm and a canvas WhiskyFest tote bag. General admission begins at 6:30pm.

the bookworm


SEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Recommends

Don't forget: this book is available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

Ah, fall—sunny days and good new books pouring in. Each autumn, publishers put out their best hopes for blockbuster holiday books, and food writing and cookbooks make great gifts, so there are lots of fresh titles being unpacked right now.

It looks like a promising fall line-up, including new celebrity books (Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pepin), a few strong restaurant books (A16, Alinea of Chicago, Chez Panisse), and a few technical guides (like The Flavor Bible by Page/Dornenberg and Cooking by molecular gastronomist Herve This). You’ll hear more about a few of them in the coming months, but for me, the quirky winner of the fall cookbooks (so far) is Eat Me: the Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin.

Though he’d never use this language, his restaurant is an old-fashioned spin on the Slow Food idea: his place is a family joint with lots of regulars and lively conversations.

Take his rules, for example:

  1. Limit of four people per group;
  2. No cell phone use; and
  3. One entrée per person minimum.

He states that “large parties are no fun… they’re an entity unto themselves,” instead of being part of the organic flow among customers, cooks, and wait staff. He explains that the cell phone use rule shouldn’t even need to be stated. And he shares that thanks to the restaurant’s unique vibe, so many people liked to just hang out and soak it in that it was killing his business. He also shows a willingness to bend the rules, has a propensity to kick people out if he doesn’t like them, and, most importantly, maintains a lack of culinary dogma.

As for the food and recipes, it’s eclectic home cooking: Mexican Cesar salad, Mac and Cheese Pancakes, the Chicken-Fried Hamburger, the Thai Cobb. And sometimes it’s more fun to read about a dish than to cook it; here’s his blurb on the Thai Cobb:

“Once I had the name, I thought about what a Thai guy in Thailand would do faced with the challenge of making a Cobb salad. I determined that he wouldn’t have bacon, so he would substitute coconut, another high-fat, high-flavor ingredient. He would put some cilantro in there to give it that fresh Asian flavor. And he would probably use curry paste in the dressing because he probably puts that stuff in everything. I added the blue cheese because I think if you’re going to make a Cobb salad, no matter where you are, you are going to have to figure out how to get some blue cheese in it or it is not going to be a Cobb.”

It’s just a charming book, with old photos of his young children in the sink, on the counter, in the drink fridge. The kind of place you can’t start from scratch now even if you think and know and feel that it’s the perfect concept for a warm neighborhood joint. Thank Bacchus there are a few of these places left and, for those of us unable to get to Greenwich Village very often, thank Bacchus this book captured the spirit and recipes of this old-school restaurateur. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading.

the starlet

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn were spotted having lunch at Anchor & Hope last Tuesday, and then hit Salt House the next day. Fans, I’d say!

the matchmaker

Ichi Catering is opening a satellite location in a Mission District Bar November 1st. We will be serving hot food and sushi from 5 PM until 1AM Tuesday through Sunday. Lunch menu will start after a month of service and weekend brunch will start a month after that.

Positions available for:
• Sushi Chefs
Deadline to enter is midnight on Friday October 3rd. • Line Cooks
• Dishwashers/Prep Cooks
• Servers

At least two years experience needed for all positions. Please send resume to


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.