table of contents This week's tablehopper: get tipsy with the gypsy.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
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

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FEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Man, it’s raining a bunch out there. Might be a good time to ready the meat ship. Yup, mateys, you heard right. I haven’t laughed this hard in, oh, a week.

The wet conditions may not have me riding my bike so much these days (sob), but that’s when my four-wheeler comes in handy because I am on the town in full force this week. On the docket tonight is the LIOCO wine dinner at CONDUIT—if you’re looking for some tasty wining and dining, you should come on by (details here).

There are all kinds of smackdowns happening this week, including the sommelier battle at Fifth Floor on Wednesday, and for those who want to drink their dinner, there’s a bartender smackdown tonight, check it all out in the lush.

My Thursday might entail the wine-tasting event with Bottlenotes, or perhaps the happy hour at MR Barber Shop from 5:30pm–7:30pm with ICHI. (Ladies, I hear there are some cute gents at this happy hour, FYI). Maybe I’ll hit both. Wherever I end up, it’s gonna be a par-tay, because I will be celebrating the day I quit smoking many moons ago. Haven’t touched a stick in years. I just want to give props to anyone out there who has left or is trying to leave the nico-demon (or at least thinking about it)—yes, it’s the hardest thing to do, but the best thing to do, so do it.

And this Saturday, tablehopper turns three! I know, yo! It’s my power week, ha ha. As for commemorating the anniversary, well, there’s lots of good (and new) stuff in store, stand by.

In the meantime, I wanted to have you save the date: on Thursday March 5th I will be co-hosting a special event at Farina, and let’s just say it’s going to be easy on the pocketbook, and heavy on the pesto. Yup, quite irresistible. I’ll be sharing all the details in next week’s column.

Time for another giveaway! This week I am giving away a pair of tickets to the Sunday Marketplace on March 22nd from 11am–4pm at the Artisan Cheese Festival in Cheese giveawayPetaluma. The festival runs from March 20th–23rd; you can read all about it in the link above, and I’ll be mentioning more next week. To enter to win, all you need to do is email me the name of your favorite cheese at Deadline to enter is midnight this Friday February 20th. Good luck, cheese heads!

How did your official date weekend go? Did you blow it? Did you stay in? Or maybe you’re on a roll and need a strong follow-up destination. No matter, let’s take a twirl at Gitane in fresh meat, a place designed for a titillating tête-a-tête.

Love and kisses,

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Win a Fuego Grill at 7x7.comFEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Found out that after 12-plus years at Hawthorne Lane and ~TWO~, executive chef Bridget Batson is moving on. She’s looking forward to having a break, and is considering other new opportunities, but isn’t in a big rush for her next gig. Her last day at TWO is this Saturday. 22 Hawthorne St. at Howard St., 415-777-9779.

After a bunch of scouting and intense Googling, I was able to reach a contact for the project opening in the old Driscoll’s Mortuary on the corner of 22nd and South Van Ness in the Mission. It’s going to be a neighborhood eatery and bar called ~DRISCOLL’S~. There will be a restaurant and bar, and the opening is a hoped-for date in the summer. The owners are Eileen Long, a resident of the Mission for the past 20 years, and her business partner, Jerry Cullinane. They were the last owners of Dago Mary’s, and currently own The Sherman, the boat restaurant down in the Peninsula; Long is also the owner of Martin Mack’s on Haight.

Details are a little sparse at the moment, but I do know they want it to be a kid-friendly place—just don’t tell the little ones what used to go on in the basement. When I asked Long about the building’s history as a mortuary, she said, “Yeah, some people ask, ‘How can I eat where Uncle Frank was laid out?’ and I say it’s all about good memories... The building is beautiful—it’s been around since the 1920s. And I knew Mike Driscoll—he died at 86, and was an amazing man.” It’s actually been ten years since it was a mortuary—the space was actually transformed into offices during the dot-com days, and has been vacant since 2003 or so. I will keep you posted on the concept, menu, and more as things develop. 1096 S. Van Ness Avenue at 22nd St.

I got more details about the fate of the ~LIBERTY CAFÉ~ in Bernal Heights. I caught up with Tony Hua, owner of the Hard Knox Café in Dogpatch and the Sunset, and he said he was originally brought on to help manage the place when owner Cathie Guntli’s condition was worsening, and then she sadly passed away. Hua has a lot of respect for the employees who tried to keep it going when Guntli had to step back. Hua was trying to figure out the best course to take, and knows the Liberty is a San Francisco institution... So to finish what he was originally brought on to do, he has now become co-owner with Stuart Bai (of Sally’s in Potrero). Hua said there is going to be a strong management role in place, and they are inviting whoever wants to stay on to do so. The recipes will remain intact, and they are honored to keep the tradition of the Liberty’s comfort food going. 410 Cortland Ave. at Bennington, 415-695-8777.

Over in the TenderNob, ~MOUSSY’S~ is supposed to open next Tuesday in the former La Cave Bistro space in the Alliance Française. Chef-owner Jean-Luc Kayigire is trying to appeal to a younger generation—he has spiffed the 27-seat place up, making it cozy and comfortable. On offer: coffee, croissants, and an affordable prix-fixe menu to start (a crepe, salad, fruit, and coffee or a soda for $11 or $12). Once the sous chef starts at the end of March, the menu will expand to include more French tapas, all for $3–$5. The wine license will also be coming soon—and since the place is named after the village in Champagne where Kayigire’s father is from, you know there will be some bubbles. The grand opening will be on April 10th. Open for the first month Tue–Sat 2pm–8pm. 1345 Bush St. at Larkin.

There is also a new wine bar and café opening in a former Irish travel agency in the Richmond this Friday February 20th called ~INTERNOS~. The name is Latin for “between us,” and is a partnership between Adnan Daken and Quinn Longbothum (also a couple). The majority of the wine list is domestic with a sprinkling of imports, with 18 wines offered by the glass (average cost is $12). They will have a small menu of Mediterranean small plates, like bruschetta, hummus, cheeses, and salads—additional items will be added later. The space is rustic and comfy, with an easygoing vibe. There will be espresso in the morning, plus Wi-Fi is available. Should be a good spot to hang out before or after a movie at the Bridge Theatre, just a couple blocks away. There are 12 seats at the bar, plus a communal table, and additional table seating. Hours are 10am–10pm daily. 3240 Geary St. at Parker, 415-751-2661.

A little bit further down Geary, Hana Sushi Bang is now ~VOLCANO~, a Japanese curry place from the owner of Hamano. The menu is full of affordable curry options, starting at $4.95, and pork katsu is only $6.95. It’s due to open this Thursday. Opening hours are 11am–9pm, subject to change. 5454 Geary Blvd. at 19th Ave., 415-752-7671.

SoMa has a new coffee place called ~THE CREAMERY~, named for the site’s history as a milk distributor for the last 25 years. The spacious café features a lot of wood and elements from the original building. It just opened yesterday, and is a wholesale account for Ritual Roasters, with a staff trained by Ritual baristas. (Just in case you’re wondering, other wholesale Ritual accounts around town include Café du Nord, the new Hollow in the Sunset, and Mojo on Divis has started using Ritual’s drip coffee, plus there are a couple East Bay locations, like Café 504.) There will be limited food on offer, like grab-and-go wraps, plus Wi-Fi is available. There is also outdoor seating and limited parking for those on the run. Open 6am–7pm daily. 685 4th St. at Townsend, 415-896-1445 (not working yet).

In other Ritual-related news: have you been a fan of the pastries at Ritual from ~JASMINE RAE BAKERY~? Well, hopefully by this summer Jasmine de Lung will have her dessert café open in the same building that is going to house the Southern Exposure gallery. The café is slated to be 600-square feet, with 40 seats or so, and a courtyard. de Lung is a fan of Elizabeth Falkner, and plans to offer experimental creations that “challenge the conventions of dessert.” There will also be Ritual coffee, plus wine, beer, and tea. The plan is to be open from the afternoon until late, and have take-away items as well. de Lung will also continue her wholesale business and specialty cakes. The architect firm is Boor Bridges Architecture, who is behind Flora Grubb Gardens and Four Barrel Coffee. Florida at 20th St.

I also heard rumors of a salumeria in the neighborhood that will be serving salumi, cheeses, and prepared foods, plus a potential additional restaurant in the SoEx building—I was told the landlord is still finalizing the mix of tenants. Expect more updates on these projects in the future.

Here’s info about the steakhouse/lounge I mentioned that was moving into the former Frisson location. First things first, it now has a name, ~A5 STEAK LOUNGE~. Owners Steve and Albert Chen (no relation), in conjunction with chef Marc Vogel are doing a soft opening right now. A5 is open for limited reservations four nights a week, and the team is working out the kinks while targeting an official opening in March. To recap, the concept is a contemporary take on a steakhouse menu, with smaller portions for those who aren’t up to eating a monster porterhouse (think a 4 oz. rib-eye for around $12, 8 oz. for the low $20s, and 12 oz. for $29 or so). And about the name: there will be A5 on the menu, the highest grade of Japanese Wagyu, plus some U.S. Prime. For now, the prices are at a discount, but in exchange for the low pricing the partners are courting feedback from everyone who dines there. You can email for a test-dinner reservation, and you'll soon be lounging in cream booths with black faux-alligator seats under the room’s famed dome ceiling. Additional renovations to the space are also still underway. And in case you were wondering: there’s full liquor. 244 Jackson St. at Front.

La Parrilla on Polk Street is now just ~PARRILLA~, and sporting a full-liquor license. The place closed for a little while for some renovations that would help it feel less taqueria-like, and more cozy. There is a new hardwood platform by the bar, plus new tables and lighting, and other décor touches. And to go with that real margarita are some new specials, like chile con queso and tamales. Hours are 10am–10pm daily. 1760 Polk St. at Washington, 415-359-1212.

Medicine EatstationLast week I was wondering what was going on with ~MEDICINE EATSTATION~ in the Crocker Galleria, and tablehopper reader Jeff W. just sent in a pic with the answer: it’s officially closed. 161 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-677-4405.

Congrats to the all the ~JAMES BEARD SEMI-FINALIST NOMINEES~. The final list of nominations will be announced at Chicago’s Frontera Grill on March 23rd. There will be five finalists in each category, narrowed down from the list of semifinalists by a panel of more than 400 judges. Winners will be announced on May 4th, 2009, at the Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lincoln Center in New York City. This year’s James Beard Foundation Awards will celebrate Women in Food (huh, has it really taken that long?). The list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards are now available on Here are the local semifinalists below—congrats and good luck to all!

Best Restaurateur:

Bill Higgins and Bill Upson, Real Restaurants, Sausalito, CA
Pat Kuleto, Pat Kuleto Restaurant Development & Management Co., San Francisco
Doug Washington, Mitchell Rosenthal, and Steven Rosenthal, Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor & Hope, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef:

Michael Mina, Michael Mina, San Francisco
Charles Phan, The Slanted Door, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurant:

Boulevard, San Francisco
Delfina, San Francisco
Greens, San Francisco

Best New Restaurant:

Bottega, Yountville, CA
Camino, Oakland, CA

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Nate Appleman, A16, San Francisco

Outstanding Pastry Chef:

Deanie Fox, Ubuntu, Napa, CA
Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, CA

Outstanding Wine Service

Acquerello, San Francisco
La Toque, Napa, CA

Best Chef: Pacific:

Chris Cosentino, Incanto, San Francisco
Jeremy Fox, Ubuntu, Napa, CA
Douglas Keane, Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA
Loretta Keller, Coco500, San Francisco
David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
Daniel Patterson, Coi, San Francisco
ayle Pirie and John Clark, Foreign Cinema, San Francisco

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional:

Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., Sonoma, CA
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Wines, Sebastopol, CA
Bob Foley, Robert Foley Vineyards, Angwin, CA
Hubert Germain-Robin, Germain-Robin, Ukiah, CA
Celia Masyczek, Corra Wines, St. Helena, CA
John Shafer and Doug Shafer, Shafer Vineyards, Napa, CA

Mission Beach CafeSundays just got a bit more homey with the introduction of Pot Pie Sundays at ~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~. Think rabbit pot pie, plus beef, duck, and vegetable pot pies. Anyone who has eaten at MBC knows Alan Carter’s pie crusts are the bomb-diggety. You can also take advantage of the Let Them Eat Cake promotion if you get in there early enough: every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5:30pm–6:30pm, customers will be able to try a piece of cake for free with each entrée ordered. See ya on the treadmill. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St., 415-861-0198.

Before you step off the treadmill: over in the Marina, ~IZZY'S STEAKS AND CHOPS~ is starting a Nawlins-style Sunday brunch on February 22nd from 11am–2pm. Take your pick from a variety of coronary-inducing Benedict dishes, including eggs Sardou with artichoke hearts, creamed spinach, poached eggs, and hollandaise for $14.95, along with Hangtown fry, shirred eggs in purgatory, skirt steak and eggs, omelettes, stuffed French toast, and more. 3345 Steiner St. at Lombard, 415-563-0487.

More old-school joint news... Do you have kids? Want someone else to feed them? Here’s your chance: ~FIOR D’ ITALIA~ is feeding kids for free every Sunday. Chef Gianni Audieri has prepared pasta dishes just for children, while adults can order from the brunch menu until 3pm, or from the à la carte menu all day long (I’m a fan of the chicken livers). 2237 Mason St. at Francisco, 415-986-1886.

Restaurant anniversaries mean more deals on meals. ~BOCADILLOS~ is turning five, and is now offering a happy hour menu of bite-sized tapas (pintxos) at $2 each. Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji’s wine list has also been condensed to a three-tier structure of $25, $35, and $45 bottles, plus $12 tasting flights. The pintxos menu is available weekdays from 5pm–7pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington, 415-982-2622.

~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is introducing a special three-course prix-fixe menu every night for $36 per person ($55 with wine pairings) through 2009 in honor of their ten-year anniversary. The tasting menu will change daily and may include dishes such as fried Washington oysters with Bloomsdale spinach, smoked bacon, and preserved lemon to start, followed by grilled opah with winter vegetables and Thai coconut-green curry, and a butterscotch pot de crème for dessert. Wine flights will change daily and include a dessert wine pour for the final course. 2534 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-648-7600.

More special menus: ~ACME CHOPHOUSE~ now has an “Acme Market Menu” Tuesday through Friday. The Market Menu will offer lunch for $19.95 and dinner for $34.95. 24 Willie Mays Plaza at King, 415-644-0240.

Dungeness CrabStarting this Thursday February 19th is ~DUNGENESS CRAB WEEK~, running through March 1st. 44 chefs and 54 restaurants will be featuring signature crab dishes on their menus. Diners who visit participating restaurants during the promotion and pay with their Visa Signature card will also receive a complimentary commemorative cookbook featuring all things crab, including special recipes from the chefs and restaurants involved in the promotion, while supplies last. (The chef portraits in the book are fun.) Reservations can be made through More information about the promotion and participating restaurants can be found here.

Some folks are feeling crabby all month, like the restaurants in the ~LARK CREEK RESTAURANT GROUP~, which are celebrating their 20th Dungeness Crab Festival through the end of February. Each restaurant is offering eight different Dungeness crab dishes. Last week I got a taste of the Dungeness crab and chorizo gumbo on the menu at LarkCreekSteak, and in one word: feisty!

For those who can’t get enough crab, ~BISTRO BOUDIN~ has added a Crab Feed to its menu every Thursday in February and March. The menu is simple: one steamed crab per person, served with drawn butter and lemon wedges; linguine with slow-cooked tomato sauce and shaved parmesan; Caesar salad; and garlic cheese bread made with San Francisco’s original sourdough French bread. The pricing is $25 for one person, $49.50 for two people, and $89.95 for four people. 160 Jefferson St. at Taylor, 415-928-1849.

Bryant TerryCool event alert: ~BRYANT TERRY~ is celebrating the launch of his latest book, Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine at the Museum of the African Diaspora on March 3rd as part of the Chefs of the Diaspora series. Weyland Southon of Hardknock Radio is hosting the wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, and then Terry will lead a conversation about food politics, and sign copies of his book. The reception will feature wine provided by Mouton Noir Wines, live music by Renee Wilson (vocals) and Kev Choice (keys), and dishes from Vegan Soul Kitchen catered by Back to Earth Organic Catering, including spicy goobers; garlicky baby lima bean spread with winter crudités; BBQ tempeh cubes; rosemary-butternut squash soup shooters; and citrus collards with raisin bruschetta. Plus there will be gifts and giveaways. $10. To RSVP, click here. Starts at 6:30pm. (Pssst, there’s also an after-party at PST at 330 Ritch.) 685 Mission St. at 3rd St.

More news down in Palo Alto at the Town and Country Village: so there’s Calafia Café (and the soon-to-open Market a Go Go), plus Mayfield Bakery and Cafe, and then coming this summer is ~HOWIE’S ARTISAN PIZZA~ from chef Howard Bulka—plus the staff will make their own fresh mozzarella and specialty sausages. ~LULU’S ON THE ALAMEDA~ will be opening a to-go location on March 9th. To celebrate the opening of the new location, Lulu’s at Town and Country will be giving out free burritos on Friday March 13th. 

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Photos by Jeff Dow.

6 Claude Ln.
between Bush and Sutter
and Grant and Kearny
San Francisco, CA 94108


Tue–Sat 5:30pm–12am
Bar until 1am

Apps $9–$16
Entrées $14–$28
Desserts $7–$8

FEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO With this lousy economy, I have been feeling the possibility of a jaunt to Europe becoming, well, less and less possible. (Of course it’s when all the fabulous airfare deals pop up, pffft.) So even though globetrotting is on hold for many of us, glamour should not be forgotten. Fortunately the duo of evenings I have spent at ~GITANE~ (French for gypsy) have given me the little shot in the arm of savoir-faire and sherry and Euro-sass I’ve been aching for.

Ladies, put your heels and lipstick on and let that hair down. As for the gents, dab on some cologne, and polish those shoes. It’s date night. Whoever is in charge of said date, I recommend you make a reservation ahead of time—walk-ins can encounter a wait at this petite and popular boîte. And since the teeny-tiny kitchen is open until midnight, don’t rule out a dinner on the later side. And study your map, because you’re going to want to confidently lead your partner in crime to this location hidden in an alley, just across the way from Café Claude, owner Franck LeClerc’s other restaurant. Aimlessly wandering the back streets of the Financial District is not hot.

Sure, the heated outdoor tables have alfresco appeal, but for your first spin here, you gotta eat inside. The juicy décor here thrills me to the tips of my red fingernails. It’s not going to be for everyone (read: minimalists in black turtlenecks), but there is no denying the singular swank style of this place. I tip my Philip Treacy hat (ha, I wish) to the designer, Charles Doell of Mr. Important. There’s nowhere in the city that rocks a funky look like Gitane’s, although I could say she may have a distant south-of-the-border cousin: Lolo.

The two-level space is densely packed with luscious colors, enticing textures and patterns, reflective surfaces that shimmer like lip gloss, and swish eclectic pieces. It all feels so well chosen and curated. Within five minutes of soaking it all in you’ll feel emboldened, with pockets full of flirt.

There’s a downstairs bar, a hit with the after-work crowd, and definitely a prime spot to start exploring the list of Dominic Venegas’s flavor-layered cocktails, with many featuring sherry and exotic ingredients. Don’t be intimidated by something called Velvet Falernum or Cherry Heering. And no, they are not ladies of the evening, although I am suddenly getting great ideas for cheeky Halloween characters... Anyway. Ask questions, be curious, and let the bartenders do their thing, because you’re in capable hands. I enjoyed tasting some of the sherries, too. I just might end up like one of those old ladies with a strong penchant for the stuff.

Don’t wait too long to go to the restroom, because odds are good there will be a wait—there’s only one for the entire place. But boy, is it a good one, which is why people are probably lingering in there for too long.

Hungry? Okay, upstairs you go. The vibe is like you just walked in on your friend’s after-hours supper club in Paris, circa 1972—the tables are tight, and the atmosphere is definitely intimate, with a good-looking and mixed crowd that is further flattered by the seductive lighting. (Did that guy just wink at you? Odds are good.) Servers are friendly and attentive—and in wicked good shape because they’re running up and down the stairs all night.

The fan favorite on chef Lisa Eyherabide’s Mediterranean-Basque inspired menu seem to be the smoky and sweet bacon bonbons ($9), sautéed prunes stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in smoked bacon, and then speared with a toothpick, resting in a decadent port demi-glace. The servers thankfully warn guests that the bonbons may be tempting but they can also be scary hot, so don’t immediately pop one into your mouth. These little bites are big on flavor, so one, maybe two are all you need.

The croquetas ($13) are more like crab cakes really, so if you’re a crab cake fan, this trio should please you. I found the radicchio underneath to be too bitter for an accompaniment—the winning side for me was the fried red and green bell peppers that came with the chipirones ($12). I’d like to be able to order these crispy strips as a side dish. And what are chipirones, you ask? Grilled and stuffed squid, with a filling of chorizo, rice, olives, and herbs—their mild and rustic filling actually reminded me of some of the homey dishes I’ve tasted in Greece.

Here are a few other dishes you’ll find on the appetizer side of the menu: a couple salads ($9-$10), grilled eggplant rollups ($10), bastilla with duck and chicken ($12), stuffed quail ($16), and marinated sardines ($10). There’s also a cheese plate ($15) for those who just want a little something-something to go with their wine. I also grazed off a little bar snack plate that wasn’t on the menu, with almonds and a few other bites—perfect with a glass of sherry.

I tried the pizzas on each visit, and while I immediately gravitate to any pizza with an egg on it, the Gitane ($16) had too many ingredients on it for my taste (chorizo, mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and the afore-mentioned egg). I prefer the simplicity of the Serrano ($15), with serrano ham, arugula, and cheese. The cheese is luscious, and the crust has a pleasing flavor. It’s not one of my favorite pizza crusts in town (I was left wondering if the wood-fired oven is hot enough?), but it’s a good one.

The mains include some finger-licking-good pork ribs ($12/$23)—but the flavor profile (which included soy and honey) didn’t quite jive with the rest of the menu. (That damned gypsy, she must have picked up some cooking tips during her Eastern travels.) There is also the cataplana ($24), a hearty fish stew with some feisty chorizo, monkfish, and Manila clams in a delicious lobster bisque. The tricky part about mixed seafood dishes like this one is getting everything cooked just right—the monkfish was overdone, but the fingerling potatoes were spot on.

There is also rack of lamb, steak, and a couple tajines and fish dishes, all ranging from $16–$28. The menu reads a bit heavy to me, and with all the women dining here, I feel like it will benefit from some tweaks to keep them coming back. I’m going to be updating this review soon, because I trust the menu will keep evolving. I also want to see the execution of the dishes become more fine-tuned—with the higher price-point, my expectations go up as well.

The French press coffee service hit the spot, and the beignets ($8) with a trio of dipping sauces are a fitting finale to share. There is also the quatre quart ($8), a vanilla pound cake that is finished in the wood-burning oven, giving it a nice caramelization. Pretty presentation, too.

So while I gotta say the food didn’t bewitch me (and oh how I wish it did), it’s funny how the ambiance, service, chic crowd, and a good wine buzz off the Spanish-Portuguese-French list from Sean Diggins can count for a lot. All in all, quite enchanting. I just think the gypsy needs to settle into her new home a little more.

the lush

Win a Fuego Grill at 7x7.comFEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Looks like ~15 ROMOLO~ will be opening its doors this Wednesday or Thursday. As I mentioned in earlier columns, it has a sexy new look, new lighting, new tunes on the jukebox, new seating, and there will be a tasty new menu of bar snacks. And there will be a new bartender in the mix, too. How’s that for a big ole heap o’ new? I was told I’ll be getting more info next week, but here’s one teaser about a bar-snack item on the menu (Justin Simoneaux from Moss Room helped consult on it): a Southside San Antonio Crispy Dog. What the hell is that? Let’s just say the dog is stuffed with cheese, wrapped in a corn tortilla, and fried. Yup, it’s like a Bronx flauta, or a Mexican pig in a blanket. No matter what you call it, I’d definitely say that dog sounds like pure evil, a veritable hound of the Baskervilles. The joint will be open from 5:30pm–2am, with the kitchen open from 6pm–1:30am. 15 Romolo Pl. at Broadway, 415-398-1359.

Hey, it’s smackdown time. First up in the ring: tonight at the Commonwealth Club, Skyy Spirits presents: ~COCKTAIL SMACKDOWN: SAN FRANCISCO'S BEST MIXOLOGISTS~ from 6:30pm–8:30pm. Jordan MacKay will be moderating a panel to discuss trends in the industry, expert advice for at-home mixology, and to demonstrate cocktail mixology first-hand, followed with a cocktail tasting and voting. The panelists include H. Joseph Ehrmann, proprietor, Elixir; Jackie Patterson, cocktailian and bartender, Heaven's Dog; Jeff Hollinger, general manager, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, co-author, The Art of the Bar; and Jon Gasparini, owner, Rye on the Road. Event details are on the Commonwealth Club website.

Don’t forget tomorrow (Wednesday) is the ~WINTER FARMERS' MARKET COCKTAIL NIGHT~ from 5:30-8:00pm at the Ferry Building.

And now for the second smackdown: Master Sommelier Emily Wines is hosting the next event in her series of ~THREE ON FIVE BEVERAGE BATTLES AT FIFTH FLOOR~. The battles in the past have been with two fellow experts in wine, spirits, and beer, competing against her in finding the most perfect pairings for a five-course meal. This Wednesday February 18th is Battle of the Somms: Emily will face consultant Master Sommelier Brian Cronin and sommelier Paul Einbund (formerly of Coi). They will be pairing the dishes in the categories of old-world wines, new-world wines, and anything but wine.

Executive chef Jennie Lorenzo will create a menu of modern French dishes from the Gascony region. Guests will sample all three beverage pairings and determine the winners. The winning pairings and dishes will then be offered as a special package in addition to the regular à la carte menu the week following the competition for $125/person. 7:30pm. $125 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Please specify “Beverage Battle” when making your reservation. 12 Fourth St. at Mission, 415-348-1555.

Mark your calendar, because on March 18th, Emily will pair wines against beer selections from Craig & Beth Wathen of City Beer Store, and cocktails from mixologist Marco Dionysos of the Clockbar, with the added pairing challenge of a Gascony-inspired vegetarian menu.

On a more somber note, there is a benefit in the Petite Café at ~GRAND CAFÉ~ next Monday February 23rd in honor of bartender Joe Andrew, a longtime SF bartender. He sadly passed away after seven-plus years of service at the Grand Cafe, so they are holding a benefit in his name to help his family with funeral and memorial costs. There will be a raffle, complimentary small bites, and no door charge. All proceeds will go to the family. If anyone wants to donate anything for the raffle, email Danielle Kuzinich [at] grandcafe-sf [dot] com. 8pm. 501 Geary St. at Taylor.

Just across the street, ~CORTEZ RESTAURANT AND BAR~ will be hosting Cocktail School, a series of workshops designed to teach the art of the cocktail. Once a month, guests will learn to make bitters, infusions, edible garnishes, and more. And the best part—it’s free, yo! A wide range of spirits will be featured and paired with bar bites from executive chef Jenn Puccio. Here’s the line-up of featured spirits: February: Don Julio Tequila; March: Grey Goose vodka; April: Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon Collection; May: 209 Gin; June: Bacardi rums. The event will be held on the third Thursday of the month, from 5:30pm–7pm. 550 Geary St. at Jones, 415-292-6360.

Looks like you’ll be seeing Carlos Yturria, cocktail competition winner, superb barman, and all-around nice guy behind the bar at ~CONDUIT~. He'll be working a couple of days during the week (to be determined). 280 Valencia St. at 14th St., 415-552-5200.

This looks amazing: ~ACQUERELLO~ is hosting a special 1960’s Barolo dinner on Thursday February 26th at 6:30pm. These wines are in unusually pristine condition: they have been kept in only one private cellar in Italy, and just recently were shipped to California. Here’s what will be poured: 1964 Voerzio; 1964 Pasquale Veglio; 1961 Terre di Barolo; 1961 Giacomo Borgogno; 1961 Luigi Alessandria; and 1961 Marchesi di Barolo. Chef Suzette Gresham-Tognetti will prepare several Piemontese-style dishes to complement the wines. Limited to 12 guests. $275, inclusive of wines, tax, and gratuity. 1722 Sacramento St. at Polk, 415-567-5432.

Tre BicchieriI must love Italian wines or something. Uh, yeah. Mark your calendar and get your tickets, because March 4th is the ~TRE BICCHIERI~ event, my favorite Italian wine event of the year (and it’s not just because of all the hot Italians suddenly in town). The event is put on by Gambero Rosso in conjunction with Slow Food, and showcases producers who have been honored with the Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) award. Over 100 wines will be featured. Tickets may be purchased for $50, which includes a complimentary copy of Gambero Rosso’s Italian Wines 2009 (a $40 value). Tickets are on sale now through K&L Wine Merchants. 4:30pm–7pm. Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center.

the socialite

Benefits for Australia

Victorian Bushfire Fundraisers
Fri., Feb. 20th, 2009

2573 3rd St.
Cross: 23rd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107



Cost: $30 (all proceeds go directly to the Appeal)

Registration is essential! Please visit here.

Tue. Feb. 24th, 2009

330 Townsend St. No. 101
Cross: Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA



Cost: $125

RSVP to or call 415-974-5599. Space is limited and a credit card will be required to hold your place.

FEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Coming up are two very important ~FUNDRAISERS TO HELP THE POOR VICTIMS OF THE BUSHFIRES IN VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA~. There are thousands of people who are now homeless from the fires, their towns burned to the ground, and almost 300 people have perished. The Aussies need all the help they can get, so here are two local ways to do some good.

On Friday February 20th, there is a benefit at Crushpad to benefit the Victorian Bushfire Appeal and the Australian Red Cross. It’s being hosted in conjunction with Advance, The Australian American Chamber of Commerce, The Victorian Government, The Australian Consulate, and The Jug Shop.

It will be a very comprehensive tasting of Victorian wines, the biggest ever put on in the U.S. The ticket price is $30, and there will be a silent auction as well. Among the auction items: a bottle of 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A, very generously donated by Penfolds chief winemaker, Peter Gago.

Perhaps you can do a double play to help out, because South is doing a benefit on Tuesday February 24th, with proceeds going to the victims of the Victoria wildfires. Luke Mangan will be in town and has created a special four-course menu for the evening that will be paired with wines chosen by South sommelier Gerard O’Bryan. Mangan will also be leading an auction, and all proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Relief Fund. The menu and auction items will be listed here this coming week.

For more information on how the fires have affected Victoria's wine industry, please see this article by Australian journalist Tyson Stelzer at

If you'd like more information regarding the fires and information on how to donate directly to the Australian Red Cross, please visit here.

Jack Falstaff

Growers' Dinners

Jack Falstaff
598 Second St.
Cross: Brannan St.
San Francisco


6pm reception
7pm dinner

$85, exclusive of tax and gratuity, and includes wine pairings

FEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Jack Falstaff’s executive chef, Jonnatan Leiva, started a series of ~GROWERS' DINNERS~ in the fall of 2008, and now the ongoing series has expanded to include other chefs who want to recognize the hardworking, visionary farmers and purveyors behind the ingredients.

The monthly Growers' Dinners will feature exceptional offerings from local producers at their seasonal and organic best, and the farmers will be present to mingle with guests. A local guest executive chef will join Leiva at each event, preparing at least one course in the meal. There will also be guest wineries and winemakers.

Here’s the upcoming schedule:

Tuesday February 24th
Hamada Farms Dinner
Chef: Staffan Terje of Perbacco
Grower: Cliff Hamada
(Please note John Williams of Frog's Leap Winery will also be in the house for the evening.)

Tuesday March 24th
Liberty Duck Dinner
Chef: Jen Biesty of Scala’s Bistro
Grower: Jim Reichardt

Tuesday April 21st
Pozzi Lamb Growers Dinner
Chef: Jonnatan Leiva
Grower: Joe Pozzi

Tuesday May 19th
Wine Forest Mushroom Dinner
Chef: Jamie Lauren of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
Grower: Connie Green

Tuesday June 23rd
Bohemian Creamery Cheese Dinner
Chef: Dominique Crenn of Luce
Farmers: Lisa Gottreich and Miriam Block

the starlet

FEBRUARY 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO This is downright charming: Bill Cosby came into Nopa and sat at the back counter overlooking the kitchen on Friday night. He was inspired to try it after seeing the restaurant featured in a recent Check Please! Bay Area episode. The funny timing (crucial in comedy, you know) is that chef Laurence Jossel had just watched Cosby in a stand-up act on TV a couple nights prior, so the two were able to pass along compliments about their respective TV appearances in person. However Jossel, known by many for his “dad humor” (as I like to call it), didn’t impress Cosby with his jokes. Awwww. But Jossel did end up getting invited to Cosby’s show the next night, but no dice on being able to leave the restaurant to go see it.

Got word about these sporty sightings at the new Ozumo in Oakland: baseball Hall of Famer (and sake fan) Joe Morgan, and Warriors head coach Don Nelson going for the meat at the robata grill.

the matchmaker

Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Marin County is seeking a Summer Camp Cook (also a liveguard and a wrangler). Cook for 10–30 people, six days a week, June 7th through Aug 15th. Room, board, and some sort of pitiful salary (or trade?). Mobile Food Facility kitchen, fully approved, wonderful local meats and produce (couldn't be fresher), beautiful setting, great staff and kids. Contact: Mark 707-953-0923 or

All content © 2009 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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