table of contents This week's tablehopper: smell the clove.

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 starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

Acme Fine Wines

Pebble Beach Food & Wine

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

DECEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Wow, thanks to everyone who showed up for the Chocolate Adventure Contest party I hosted last Tuesday at Rosewood! The Sagatiba was flowin’, the Scharffen Berger Chocolate was gettin’ grated, the mole sliders from El Huarache Loco and sweets from Kika’s Treats got munched, and I have some winners to announce from the evening’s cooking and cocktail contest! Read all about it below in the chatterbox.

Last Friday was definitely the dream getaway—I got to visit the idyllic Meadowood for the sold-out Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina dinner (pinch pinch!). Lotsa Mozza deliciousness. I loved the contrast of their rustic dishes to the elegant atmosphere of the dining room—and there were some good pairings with Kelly Fleming Wines, especially the garganelli with boar ragu and the ’04 cabernet. The Food Network put together a video segment on the dinner, check out the menu and more here. imageThe next day, my friend and I took a nice hour-long hike around the property (with some water bottle stations along the way, how grand), and then when we were checking out, who walks in but one of my favorite chefs in the U.S., Koren Grieveson (Avec)! Cool. (She was. And nice, too.)

There are more Twelve Days of Christmas dinners remaining—could be a nice surprise holiday gift?! And it benefits Share Our Strength, so if you’re stumped on what to give a favorite gourmand in your life, there’s an idea for ya…

In fact, I have a few more holiday gift-giving ideas below in the chatterbox. And thanks to everyone who supported the tablehopper holiday advertisers last week! I hope you found some inspiration for good gifting—and today’s advertisers are no exception!

Brrrrrrr, it’s chilly. I was in charge of making hot chocolate spiked with Baileys drinks at my friends’ annual holiday get together this weekend, and since I’m on the hot holiday dranks tip, take a peek at H from Elixir’s wino piece on making a killer Irish coffee—I’d say it’s as good a time as any to whip one up! As for the party, we had quite the spread, courtesy of DeLessio Market catering. What’s not to love about polenta bites, overflowing platters of Boccalone salumi and cheese, shrimp cakes, salmon canapés, and mini cupcakes?! And lots of bubbles, naturally. Yup, we feasted. My talented buddy Darwin snapped some pics of the festivities.

This week’s issue is chock full of things to eat and drink—have at it.


~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Acme Fine WinesDECEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Last Tuesday’s Scharffen Berger and ~CHOCOLATE AND SAGATIBA CACHAÇA COCKTAIL-AND-FOOD COMPETITION~ and party at Rosewood was a blast—sorry for the crunch at the beginning, y’all were a thirsty bunch! (My kind of people.) And thanks to everyone who participated—so much talent. Let’s just say our judges were stoked. Here are the results of the cocktail and cookin’ competition:

The best cocktail was won by Jen Ackrill (Rye), who did the “São Paulo Sin,” a combination of Sagatiba cachaça infused with Scharffen Berger cocoa nibs and Thai chiles, plus some allspice dram, cherry heering, and a flamed orange. Jen has the cocktail on the menu at Rye right now if you want to check it out! Deeeelish.

Scott Youkilis (Maverick) won best bite for his dish of crispy pork belly with a tamarind, ancho chili, and blood orange barbecue sauce, topped with coriander-dusted plantains, and shaved Scharffen Berger dark chocolate.

Best pairing went to Jen Ackrill (Rye) and Jane Tseng (A16), who did a milk chocolate panna cotta—the cream for the panna cotta was infused with cocoa nibs, plus there were chocolate crispy clusters (chocolate, feuilletine, peperoncino, cinnamon), crema fresca, dried Morello cherries (poached in pomegranate and Senise pepper syrup), and fresh mint. Yeah, I make that at home all the time, har. But if you’d like to check out Jane’s faboo dessert, she has it on the menu at SPQR, starting tonight! In fact, you can go to Rye, and then SPQR to experience the winning pairing!

Check out some party pics from the Bunrabs, who did a fun photo recap of the evening. And just a final reminder: anyone can enter the and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest. You can submit sweet, savory, or beverage recipes. One first-place prize will be awarded in each category (sweet, savory, and beverage). Winners receive: $5,000, a mention in Saveur magazine, and more! Submissions to the contest end on January 4th, 2008. Read all about it here.

Now, let’s talk holiday. I have a bunch of ideas for fun gift giving, and of course, they involve food and booze and books. Let’s attempt to make some of the calories I’ve consumed while tasting and trying things not completely in vain, mmmmmkay?

Some holiday gift ideas from the tablehopper:

479° Popcorn
Since I feel (slightly) guilty buying this spendy but oh-so-addictive popcorn, I can imagine other folks would be beyond stoked to find a box of 479° Popcorn in their stocking. I just checked the site and they even have sampler packs, so you can get into all kinds of trouble. J’adore (especially the truffle and cheddar, and pimentón de la Vera flavors!). Consider yourself warned.

Voyant Chai
Okay, this is kind of a slu*ty liqueur, but man, it has holiday all over it. Creamy, with nice chai spice. My whole family liked it, but my grandma really liked it. BevMo reportedly carries it… If you want a spicy switch from the usual holiday line-up of liqueurs, check this one out.

Cowgirl Cheese Safe
Yup, it’s a little pine box with a sliding lid that you can store your cheese in! (Cheese safe sounds much better than cheese casket.) And it comes with cheese wrapping paper, too. I love this gift idea, just $25, especially since most folks don’t have cheese-head items like this (unless you’re Laura Werlin). My current “cheese safe” is nothing more than a tragic plastic box that could double as an insect cage—time to upgrade.

Restaurant Gift Certificate
With all this depressing recession business, it’s obvious people aren’t dining out at often. So why don’t you give a gift certificate to one of your favorite restaurants? It’s a win-win: the person getting the cert will be stoked to have a night out on the town they aren’t paying for, and it helps support your local restaurants, which we need to help insure that they stick around, right? Right.

Food Bank Donation
Trying to get something for someone who is impossible to buy for? Or perhaps someone who will appreciate a generous gesture? Make a tribute donation to the San Francisco Food Bank!

Bixology by Eve O’Neill and Doug Biederbeck
This spiffy little book is coming out any day now, and it’s totally “in the pocket.” It’s about the culture and history of Bix, full of drink and appetizer recipes, notes on jazz, stories from Doug, illustrations, and lots of other good stuff. Would appeal to either the gent or lady in your life.

Tiny Bubbles by Kate Simon
I’m already mad for champers, and rarely think to put anything in it—unless it’s flat or just not very good. This little book of fizzy cocktails, however, has me looking forward to my next dinner party or petite soiree so I can mix some of these numbers up. Cheers, darlink. (I’d give this book with the item listed below.)

You can’t go wrong, ever, with a bottle of bubbly. Let me tell you, when a bottle of Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour showed up at tablehopper HQ last week, I was one happy cat. Pop and purr. (Lather, rinse, repeat.) We have some fabulous wine shops here in the city (my favorite stops include Biondivino, K&L, The Jug Shop, Swirl, William Cross Wine Merchants, Arlequin, Golden Gate Wine Cellars, and CAV) so go ask some questions and get tastin’.

La Cocina Gift Baskets
This is an organization I simply adore—and yay, they have put together some holiday gift baskets that are literally good enough to eat. And with your purchase, you end up supporting these fantastic emerging businesses, many of them female-run. There’s even a basket for just $23, loaded with tasty edibles. Hey, nice basket.

Gift Box O’ Donsuemor Madeleines
Still haven’t carted something into the office? Figuring out what to give the UPS guy? I was gifted a box of these, and I gotta say, it was pleasant having these individually wrapped (and locally made) madeleines around when my afternoon sweet tooth would strike. Lemon zest one day, traditional the next. They totally keep, I like the cake-meets-cookie texture, and the new dipped chocolate flavor is tops.

And one more for good measure…

Wine Class at CAV
Have you thought about giving away a wine class to your favorite wino? CAV is doing some good ones, like this one, Introduction to Wine, which is perfect for the beginning imbiber (on Saturday January 17th or February 21st). $45 per person.

Okay, so that’s enough of Culinary and Cocktail Santa.

Let’s look at what’s going on out there. One weird thing I heard is a bizarre ~MARK DENHAM IMPERSONATION STORY~. Someone claiming to be chef Denham called Manresa, asking for David Kinch and Jeremy Fox (who is now at Ubuntu), in addition to calling Laïola, locked and loaded with a convoluted story about a car getting towed, and needing money wired immediately to retrieve his car from a tow lot in Oakland. No one wired the money because there were too many things that didn’t jive. Looks like some shyster took the names from the recent piece about Denham’s departure from Laïola in the Chron’s Inside Scoop column and tried to hustle the people mentioned in the piece for money. No idea if this might happen again, but in case any of you industry types hear a similar story or hustle, it’s just that: a hustle.

Looks like the sausage-and-beer project in the Mission, Zweibar, won’t be happening (one of the partners, Fra Kepler, dropped out due to an already intense workload). But taking the reins will be Christiane Schmidt of Walzwerk and her boyfriend, furniture designer and architect David Pierce, who will together be launching ~SCHMIDT’S DELI~. The combination German deli, bar, café, restaurant, and store will be serving German beer (both bottled and five–six on draught, with more later), wine, coffee, baked goods, and yes, sausages—eventually ten kinds in all. The shop will sell authentic German items, like chocolate and jams. The deli/restaurant will open for lunch first, serving items like schnitzel, onion cake, salads, soups, spaetzle, and three–four kinds of sausages, and eventually for dinner (probably 11am–11pm). There are about 49 seats, with ten spots at the bar. Initial hours are looking like Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm, and the opening is slated for mid-January. 2400 Folsom at 20th St.

Meanwhile, ~EBISU~ in the Sunset has gone full-tilt on the remodel, and gutted the entire restaurant. They are now gunning for a reopening at the end of January. Meanwhile, I have also heard that it is nearly 90% final that Ebisu will be opening a third location in the Financial District. The new location will be more of a lunch place and will be the home for all of Ebisu’s catering. I’ll share as details emerge.

More sushi news: I have some intel on the second Tsunami location that’s opening in Mission Bay: it will be called, appropriately enough, ~TSUNAMI MISSION BAY~. The opening is currently slated for January, and will be similar to the Fulton Street Tsunami in its sushi and extensive sake offering. A new addition is a huge bar with a communal table, and will feature a number of gin cocktails (over 40 gin offerings in all), in addition to other spirits, plus a nice selection of hard-to-find spirits. Cocktails will range from $6–$9. 302 King St. at 4th St.

I got word from a tablehopper reader that when she tried to make a reservation at ~FRISEE~, she was told the restaurant closed last Tuesday, and that they are working on a new concept for 2010. Best of luck to them. 2367 Market St. at Castro.

Also in the Castro, the Mediterranean/Moroccan ~CAFÉ MYSTIQUE~ opened this past weekend in the former Welcome Home space. As Eater noted yesterday, the service is getting reamed on Yelp, so I’d let this spot settle in a bit more. 464 Castro St. at 18th St.

And now, mysterious liquor license updates and businesses:

~CASA HOOKAH~ is opening in the Richmond in a former Cable Car Pizza spot. 4724 Geary Blvd. at 11th Ave.

~JONES~, the sporty Marina Steakhouse, is coming under new ownership: the crew behind Bin 38. Here’s more from Don Davis, “The working name is Scott Street Bar & Grill, though that may change. We’ll be doing an upscale neighborhood bar & grill, a new take on a classic. Expect lots of dark wood and leather with a fresh, modern take. We’ll have a wood-fired grill and pizza oven to put out the best bar classics in town. The drink list will focus on our twist on classic American cocktails and the largest American craft beer selection in town. Additionally, we’ll introduce the sports lounge concept, providing the only upscale place to watch sports in town.” They are imagining Jones will close in mid-February, and after three–four months of remodeling, are hoping for a June/July opening. 2400 Lombard St. at Scott.

And now, it’s time to get spicy with some Indian-related news. ~NAAN N’ CHUTNEY~ in the Lower Haight should be serving beer and wine in a few weeks. 525 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-255-1625.

is now open for lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30am–3:30pm, and brunch Sat–Sun 11am–3:30pm. I can already taste the pani puri… 1700 Fillmore St. at Post, 415-441-3672.

Also wanted to make a clarification since the Western Addition had two restaurants within five blocks of each other with the word Kathmandu in their names. To repeat, the one that closed and is becoming Saffron Grill, ~KATHMANDU CAFÉ~, was on Fulton at Divisadero. The charming ~METRO KATHMANDU~ down the street on Divis is alive and well, with momos in effect. In fact, why don’t you swing by for their happy hour (5:30pm–7pm) for some half-priced wine and selected beers? Oh, and in case you need a place besides a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day, FYI, Metro Kathmandu will be open. 311 Divisadero St. at Page, 415-552-0903.

And now for something sweet: after months of watching and waiting, ~CANDY DARLING~ is opening in the Lower Nob Hill this Friday. I had some brief contact with one of the owners, Carla Stacho, who some may remember from the Candy Jar on Jones. There are truffles, house-made peanut brittle, English toffee, bonbons, wrapped candies, caramels, and more. Let’s hope they offer an Andy Warhol truffle or something (Candy Darling was a tranny in NYC who starred in a few of Warhol’s films). It’s a retail space, so there isn’t room to hang out and linger. 796 Sutter St. at Jones, 415-346-1500.

A tablehopper reader wrote in to rave about the rice pudding at the newly opened ~LOVING CUP~ on Russian Hill—there are flavors like chai and vanilla, plus some holiday-inspired flavors. There is also frozen yogurt (the toppings get mixed into the yogurt), smoothies, coffee, and baked goods. Open Mon–Fri 6:30am–9:30pm, and Sat–Sun 11am–9:30pm. 2356 Polk St. at Union, 415-440-6900.

Pebble Beach Food & WineMore sweet news: ~LOTTA’S BAKERY~, named after Lotta Crabtree, famous for entertaining refugees from the 1906 earthquake, is going to be hosting Mani Niall tomorrow, Wednesday December 17th, from 6pm–8pm. Niall will be signing copies of Sweet!: From Agave to Turbinado, Home Baking with Every Kind of Natural Sugar and Sweetener, and cookies and hot chocolate will be served, all recipes made with exotic sugars from the book. 1720 Polk St. between Clay and Washington, 415-359-9039.

Okay, it’s snowing in SoMa, and I’m not referring to what’s happening in the bathrooms at after-hours clubs. Apparently, ~SUPPERCLUB~ is bringing in a snow machine for the week of December 15th, turning their interior into a winter wonderland. The walls will be covered with mirrors and will have laser shows projected against them, and a bridge has been constructed above the bar, which will act as a stage for live performance and a video “screen.” The Ricochet Project has joined as resident performers. The best part is this would be the week to check it out, because supperclub just lowered their prices for this Tuesday December 16th AND Wednesday December 17th: the three-course menu is only $35 per person (normally $55—this Thursday the menu is $55, and $65 on Fri–Sat). Suggested attire? Après après-ski. Rawr. 657 Harrison St. at 3rd St., 415-348-0900.

These recession specials flooding my inbox are not exactly what I’d call uplifting, but with this ridiculously inexpensive offer, I had to mention it: ~LUNA PARK~ has launched the (unfortunately named) “Blue Tray Special,” running Monday through Thursday nights, 5:30pm–10:30pm. For $12, guests will be able to order hearty comfort foods, like Painted Hills meatloaf with mushroom and red wine gravy; Niman Ranch beef stew; pumpkin sage risotto; and vegan Stella Artois chili. Served on cafeteria-style trays, the special is paying homage to the Depression-era soup kitchens that provided inexpensive meals on blue trays. For an additional $5, guests may have a select glass of wine or a specialty cocktail (mojitos or sangria), served in matching blue glassware. Yup, people will be like, “Hey, you, with the blue tray and cup! Sorry you lost your job!” 694 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-553-8584.

~CHEZ PAPA RESTO~ has dropped their prices about 20% since they opened, and are now offering some lunch tartines with a mixed green salad (the average price is $10), and launched a new winter dinner menu, with dishes like Liberty Farms duck breast with parsnip puree, Swiss chard, quince, and sherry jus. Don’t forget the happy hour from Mon–Fri from 5pm–7pm, with $6 cocktails and bar bites. 4 Mint Plaza (formerly Jessie St.) between Mission and Market near Fifth St., 415-546-4134.

There’s a new chef at ~PACIFIC CATCH~ on Ninth Avenue, Chandon Clenard, taking the place of Joanna Perel, who left the company to go travel the world. His background includes Spago Palo Alto, executive chef for Kimpton Restaurants in San Francisco, and he was the executive chef at the Border Grill in Santa Monica. Chandon is currently working on six new regional menu specials for 2009 (Alaska, Thailand, Australia, Peru, Singapore, and Costa Rica). 1200 9th Ave. at Lincoln, 415-504-6905.

These events fill up super quick, so I wanted to let you know RIGHT NOW: coming up is another ~OPENRESTAURANT EVENT~—this one is with YBCAlive! and Slow Food Nation, on Tuesday January 6th. Members of the Slow Food Nation community and OPEN (Stacie Pierce, Jerome Waag, and Sam White, all part of the Chez Panisse restaurant staff) are staging another socially engineered dining experience. Invited panelists will share a three-course meal that reflects what is possible to grow in an urban setting, along with all the problems and possibilities, while they ponder the question: should the urban landscape be productive? Ticket buyers will be invited to celebrate the “Slow” life while enjoying tapas-style plates and learning more about urban farming, foraging, and gleaning from people directly involved in these processes. 7pm, Grand Lobby, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. $20 general admission, $15 YBCA members. RSVP required. For reservations, please call the box office at 415-978-2787. 

I’ve been getting some emails from numerous people about the petition at, asking Obama's transition team to consider six candidates for the ~SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE~ position who could potentially mend our broken food system. I know, I know, some of you get cranky when I bring up political issues in tablehopper. Hey, food is political—especially right now, at this very crucial moment. So please check this out: more than 52,000 people have signed the petition, including Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Wendell Berry, Eric Schlosser, Marion Nestle, Dan Barber, and Bill Niman, and the Obama transition team appears to be paying attention. For more on this, read Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times Op-Ed piece, "Obama's Secretary of Food?” Please read the petition, and consider signing it, blogging it, and/or forwarding this message to your personal networks and any listservs you are on. Thanks for spreading the word.

Over in the downtown Oakland, ~BANYAN14~ has opened its doors, serving Thai and Vietnamese street food with a healthy Californian approach, using fresh, locally grown, and organic produce whenever possible, as well as natural meats and wild or sustainably farmed seafood. The affordable menu includes a variety of soups, salads, wraps, noodle dishes, and curries. Open Mon–Fri 10:30am–3pm. 578 14th St. at Jefferson, 510-251-2753.

Word on the street is Dopo is opening a second location, tentatively called ~ADESSO~ on Piedmont Avenue and Pleasant Valley Rd. in Oakland. According to an ad on Craigslist, the space is slated to open in early February. There won't be hot plates, more about nibbles like salumi and cheese. More on this as details emerge…

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

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the regular




Five Happiness
4142 Geary Blvd.
Cross: 6th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118


Mon–Fri 11:30am–3pm
Mon–Fri 4:30pm–10pm
Sat–Sun 11am–10pm

Banquet dinners: $20–$25 per person

DECEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Whenever my birthday rolls around, I love to get my friends together for big group dining experiences where I can plan the menu ahead of time, and pummel them with course after course of delicious and unique food. We’ve done group dinners at Jai Yun, dim sum brunch at Yank Sing, and thanks to Patty Unterman’s always-spot-on advice we had a swell banquet dinner one year at Lichee Garden. When it came time for my birthday this year, I called upon her again for a recommendation, and man, it was the reco of the year: ~FIVE HAPPINESS~. But since there were 13 of us, it quickly ramped up to 13 Happiness, fo’ reals.

Patty mentioned a special Shanghaiese banquet dinner she recently had there with local culinary icon Cecilia Chiang, and I was like, “Sign me up!” I called the restaurant, and the very kind manager, Bill Yang, let my group duplicate the Cecilia Chiang meal, with the addition of the #42 Shanxi hand cut-noodles, a dish I had been reading about on Chowhound for a while and wanted to try.

The restaurant had many attractive elements, with carved wood screens, rosewood chairs with carved backs, cool decorative ceiling panels, a fish tank, and I loved the Pepto pink tablecloths. I was happy to learn that Five Happiness has been around for 35 years—that’s some good history. The servers were very gracious and sweet, pausing to let me take a photo of each dish before serving it on the table’s lazy Susan. And they also let us bring in some special wines and bubblies to pair with the dinner—so if you have some particular wines in mind, you can negotiate corkage.

Okay folks, when I tell you the meal we managed to feast on for about $25 a head, you are going to be inspired to form a posse and head right over. Our meal was stunning: we started with cold cucumber dressed with sesame, so simple, but so fresh-tasting; and then a scrumptious cold appetizer bonanza plate, which included a bounty of lovelies like the “drunken” rice wine-marinated chicken (served cold), five-spice cuttlefish, Shanghai vegetarian tofu roll, chilled jellyfish salad, slices of five-spice beef shank, smoked fish, and more.

Next up, the shark-fin soup. My heart dropped, because it’s not a dish I ever would have ordered, and we hadn’t discussed it ahead of time. The only thud of the night. I felt so bad. Poor sharks. So, moving on…

We then tucked into some of the tastiest Peking duck. Like, whoa—hold me. The luscious texture and flavor of the duck were quite sublime, with juicy pieces of duck sitting in the middle of petals of crispy skin arranged on the plate like a flower. I was delighted with the accompanying crepes—they almost looked like tortillas with their blistered sides. I’ve never had that style of crepe with Peking duck before. More please!

Hold on, because we then had the Triple Delight, a savory trio of shrimp preparations (those disappeared fast) and then one of my favorite dishes, a supple and subtle dish of chicken with fluffy egg white that your pour a tiny splash of Chin Kiang black rice vinegar on—what a delight. Everything was presented with such artistry, too. Ooohs and ahhhhs from the table with each dish that landed.

It went on: more cucumber (with garlic); then decadent and jiggling red pork shank (rich like a big portion of pork belly) on a bed of tender baby bok choy; a nest of yellow chives and eel all tossed together with hot sesame oil; a whole fried fish with a red sweet and sour presentation; and the Shanxi noodles. A complete and total culinary tour de force. Sorry my notes are a little vague, but it was my birthday dinner, so I was more about enjoying it all than documenting every last ingredient.

Can’t wait to go back for more of that Peking duck (order 24 hours in advance, yo!) and the egg white chicken, and and and...! They also serve dim sum on the weekend (gotta check out their xiao long bao soup dumplings, and Patty is a big fan of their Chinese donuts dunked in soy milk and then anointed with soy sauce), and you know, I just might need to do a tablehopper supper here. The meal we had was that spectacular—I want an instant replay. This place is a gem.

If you go, don’t order the generic stuff on the menu—go for the non-Americanized dishes. Just get a group of friends together and see if Bill can hook you up with the Shanghaiese Cecilia Chiang banquet dinner—but pass on the shark fin soup, okay?

the lush

Acme Fine WinesDECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Camper over at has the latest on Charles Phan’s Chinese noodle bar (last I heard, that’s what it was going to be, which was a while ago) and lounge that is going into the Soma Grand. Word is that it’s going to be called ~HEAVEN’S DOG~. Here’s what Camper dug up: “Also great is the list of bartenders who've signed on to take shifts at the place: Thad Vogler (Slanted Door, Jardinière, Beretta, the forthcoming Agricole), Eric Johnson (Eastside West, Bourbon & Branch, Beretta), Jackie Patterson (Orson, Zinnia), Jennifer Colliau (Slanted Door, Small Hand Foods), Jon Santer (Bourbon & Branch, Beretta, Martin Miller's Gin), and Lane Ford (Beretta, Flora).” Will it be SoMa’s Beretta? Here’s more: “The restaurant should be opening in early January. [Bar manager Erik] Adkins tells me that they'll keep the drink menu at a reasonable 12 or so drinks ‘focusing more on execution than on unusual recipes.’ They'll also have an emphasis on quality ice, with a Kold Draft machine for cubes, plus a freezer dedicated just to ice that they'll use to make spears for tall drinks and chunks for some of the rocks drinks.” 1160 Mission at 7th St.

~NICKIE’S~ scored a liquor license, which means you now have a new full bar option in the Lower Haight for a gosh-darned drank, besides Danny Coyle’s or Molotov. Oh yeah, there’s also RNM, but that’s a restaurant. And the Peacock Lounge is only when you’re hittin’ a private bingo party. 466 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-255-0300.

Want to brush up on your Frenchie wines? Another session of ~LES VINS DE FRANCE~, taught by Raphael Knapp at the Alliance Française is starting on January 20th. The classes are as follows: Champagne (class 1 and 2), Alsace (class 3 and 4), Loire Valley (class 5 and 6). The classes run from 7pm–8:30pm on Tuesday evenings, and are taught in French and English to make sure to everybody is following (one goal is that people learn about French wine expressions and terms). Class 1: Jan 20th, Class 2: Jan 27th, Class 3: Feb 3rd, Class 4: Feb 10th, Class 5: Feb 17th, no class on Feb 24th, Class 6: Mar 3rd. $295 for the series (roughly $50 per class). Tuition for six lectures includes well-selected wine tastings. Students with particular interests in certain regions have the option to choose a partial enrollment, with a two-class minimum for a pro-rated fee. Space is limited. To register, call the Alliance Française at 415-775-7755. 1345 Bush St. at Polk.

And this came in at the eleventh hour but is just too cool not to share: this Thursday December 18th at the 18th Hour at 18 Reasons will be a ~CHAMPAGNE SABERING PARTY~! Learn how to lop off the top of a bottle of Champagne like Napoleon's soldiers used to do it. You bring a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine, and they’ll provide the saber and the instructions. Feel free to bring your own saber, sword, or machete-like object. (This could get crazy.) There will be oysters and a swordfish and razor clam bouillabaisse to sharpen your palate. 7pm–9pm. $10 donation to benefit 18 Reasons. 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

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Feast of the Seven Fishes
Sun. Dec. 21st, 2008

Zaré at Fly Trap
606 Folsom St.
Cross: Second St.
San Francisco, CA



$160 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity.  

Tue., Dec. 23rd–Wed. Dec. 24th, 2008

1550 Church St.
Cross: Duncan St.
San Francisco, CA


seatings: 5:30pm–9:15pm

four-course prix-fixe menu
(three dessert options)

$55 (excluding beverages, service, and tax)

DECEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I know, I am beyond spoiled that I get to celebrate the ~FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES~ every Christmas Eve with my lovable family (and in typical Calabrese fashion, we eat something like 13 different dishes, and two pastas—it’s certifiably insane).

For those of you who want to experience this infamous fishy feast, a couple places around town are hosting Vigilia cenas. This year, Zaré at Fly Trap will celebrate a special Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner on Sunday December 21st. Executive chef and owner Hoss Zaré chose a Sunday evening, when the restaurant is normally closed, to offer this once-a-year dining experience. Zaré will give his Mediterranean-Persian spin to the seven seafood-centric dishes, followed by Italian mignardise (small sweets) created by consulting pastry chef Marisa Churchill. Wine director and Master Sommelier Chris Blanchard will pair each course with a different wine from Spain, Italy, or the Middle East.

Chris Cosentino is hosting his annual and popular Feast of The Seven Fishes on December 23rd and December 24th at Incanto. Cosentino’s menu will feature rustic recipes made with sustainable seafood and local produce (you can read more on the history of the event here). Incanto is usually closed on Tuesdays, but they'll be open Tuesday December 23rd—diners on the 23rd and the 24th can order from the regular menu as well as the Feast of The Seven Fishes.


New Year’s Eve
Wed. Dec 31st, 2008

Various locations








Pebble Beach Food & Wine

DECEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO The amount of emails and press releases I have received about ~NEW YEAR’S EVE DINNERS~ is out of hand. Staggering. I could dedicate an entire tablehopper issue to them, but I won’t. Basically, any restaurant you love is probably open and serving dinner on New Year’s Eve, so my best advice is to call your faves and see what is being offered.

But, in case you’re short on ideas, here are a few that caught my eye, and range from the beaucoup bucks to a few that won’t cost you an arm, leg, and your first-born child.
For the loaded:
The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton's chef Ron Siegel has put together a seven-course tasting menu ($500 per adult, inclusive of wine pairing, tax, and gratuity). Guests will enjoy a live band and dancing until 2am. Seating times: 7pm to 9pm.

For the less-than-spectacularly loaded:
Fifth Floor is hosting two different seatings, one from 5:30–6:30pm (four-course menu with wine pairings: $125, or $175 premium wine pairings, not inclusive of 20% service charge); or from 8:30pm–9:30pm, (five-courses with wine pairings: $150, or $200 premium wine pairings, not inclusive of 20% service charge).

For the gourmand:
Bar Tartine
is doing two prix-fixe menus, one for omnivores, and another equally decadent spread for vegetarians, each highlighting a little luxury (caviar, truffles, spiny lobster, and more...). A complimentary house-made prosecco aperitif kicks off the evening, and for diners counting down to 2009 at the table, a glass of Champagne. $80 four-course prix-fixe menu ($120 with wine pairings). Seatings from 6:30pm–10:30pm.

For the fireworks set:

One Market Restaurant will feature two seatings with a special four-course menu from chef Mark Dommen. Live piano music from Billy Philadelphia, and diners for the second seating will have spectacular views of the fireworks from Pier 36, as well as a midnight toast with complimentary Iron Horse One Market Cuvée. The first seating begins at 6pm. ($85 per person), and the second seating begins at 8pm ($120 per person).

For the romantic:
Baraka is hosting a 7pm seating with a three-course prix-fixe dinner for $75, and a 9:30pm seating with a three-course prix-fixe dinner with an extra amuse, a glass of Champagne, and party favors for $95. There will be an optional wine pairing for an additional $40 for either seating. Entrée selections will include slow-rendered duck breast, braised leg, turnip puree, quince, and cinnamon duck jus; or seared scallops, bacon, sunchoke puree, crispy artichoke, chervil, and roasted chicken jus.

A San Francisco favorite:
Piperade is offering a four-course prix-fixe menu for $100 (excluding tax and gratuity), with seatings from 5:30pm–10:30pm. Complimentary glass of cava for all diners. Entrée choices include roasted squab with root vegetables and huckleberry sauce; fillet of beef with Gascon fries and sauce Choron; sautéed black cod with porcinis and Irouléguy reduction; or chicken “duet” coated with pistachio-dried apricots, shiitake, and sherry wine jus.
the starlet

DECEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Carlos Santana was in Mama’s last Tuesday, and was reportedly very gracious when customers asked to take pictures with him.

Michelle Pfeiffer was at Citizen Cake, and Cybill Shepherd was also spotted there a couple of days ago.

Here’s an upcoming sighting: this Thursday afternoon, December 18th, The Jug Shop is hosting Dan Aykroyd in the shop for a bottle signing from 4pm–6pm. He is launching his first California wine project, Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series. And no, the bottles are not cone shaped.

the matchmaker

Butcher Shop Manager

Experience in retail butchery, sausage making, inventory systems, and supervisory management of five-plus employees. Must be organized, motivated, and a creative problem solver. 40 miles north of San Francisco, in West Marin County. Spanish language skills are necessary. Salary based on experience. 100% grass fed and pasture raised meats.

Send resumes via email 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.

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