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Dec 14, 2009 21 min read

December 15, 2009 - back in the saddle.

December 15, 2009 - back in the saddle.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: back in the saddle.                    

Fried chicken sandwich from Naked Lunch.

Right on, is what I say. I haven’t quite made it to the clubhouse turn, but I’m definitely feeling more on the normal side of things. Kinda perky. Can’t drive yet, but I had my first outing over the weekend, and my target was a brunch of sweet potato waffles with sweet potato syrup and fried chicken thighs at Gussie’s. Yup, a food coma quickly ensued.

I gotta say, I have been eating pretty darned well at home, too well, thanks to the amazing kindness of friends who came by this past week bearing edibles like Humphry Slocombe ice cream, Little Star deep dish pizza, sandwiches from Naked Lunch (although it’s the decadent celery root soup I’m still thinking about), and baked treats from Sandbox Bakery (looooved the curry challah!). I am the first to admit how spoiled I am. But I also spoiled myself with some baked ziti from Fine Foods at Home, hubba. I just have to make sure I don’t turn into Jabba the Hutt while I’m kickin’ it at home. My bike is wondering what the hell happened to me.

Since my book and surgery are now out of the way, I’m in the mood for a get-together. Here’s a save the date announcement for y’all: I’m going to be hosting a casual tablehopper supper during the slow week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve for those of us still hanging around in the city. On Tuesday December the 29th, to be exact (most likely at 6:30pm). It’s going to be a delicious and affordable Vietnamese feast at POT DE PHO, with lovely wines poured by Pine Ridge. (Take a peek at my past review for some drool-worthy pics and descriptions of the food.)

My friend named the supper “Pho La La La La”—and to that, I say ha ha ha ha ha! Chef Khai Duong is going to teach us about the different regional styles of pho, and the detailed process he uses to make his, plus he’ll show us the correct way to eat it. There will also be a melee of tasty things to try off his menu (he looooves to feed people, that’s all I’m saying). I also can’t wait to taste Pine Ridge’s chenin blanc-viognier with the food.

The menu will be finalized later this week, plus the price (am trying to keep it under $50, with tax and tip included). If you know you want a spot, just email me back and I’ll hold however many places you need. I’ll be posting the event info this week on my site (in the socialite) so you check back later. I’ll also be mentioning it on Twitter when the details are confirmed, and of course everything will be mentioned in next week’s column. Would be great to see you before the end of the year, and raise a glass to the great year that’s coming. Yes indeedy.

Keep warm and dry out there, and make time to enjoy some holiday cheer.


Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

South Food + Wine Bar Will Have a New Accent in 2010

SOUTH FOOD + WINE BAR in SoMa has some big changes underway. It will be closing after dinner service this Saturday December 19th, and when it reopens in the New Year, it will have an entirely new concept and a new look (from designer Kendra Nicholas). The targeted opening is sometime in February. Partner Luke Mangan will no longer be involved in the project, and is focusing on everything he has going on in Australia. Current partner Anna Weinberg is staying on and is going to be working with a new partner: Dave Stanton, an owner of Tres Agaves. As for what’s going to be on the new menu, executive chef Jennifer Puccio (most recently at Cortez) will be offering a “fresh spin on classic French bistro cuisine.” I’ll keep you posted on new menu items (and the new name!) as the reopening gets closer. The hours will also be the same, offering lunch and dinner service. As for why South is closing, Australian products were incredibly expensive to procure and ship, and suppliers were also becoming scarce, which was really making it hard to turn a profit at the restaurant. And in this economy, we need to earn every little bit that we can, right mate?

South Food + Wine Bar            - 330 Townsend St., Ste. 101 San Francisco - 415-974-5599

Another Restaurant on the 2010 Reinvention Tour...

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There’s another morphing happening on the other side of town: LAÏOLA in the Marina is going to become Tacolicious in the New Year. The last night of service will be New Year’s Eve, and the plan is to reopen at the end of January. The interior is getting a fresh paint job, the walls resurfaced, new tables and chairs, and will feature photographs of food in the Mission, plus a seven-foot image of a luchador.

Owner Joe Hargrave is working closely with his chef and collaborator Antelmo Faria (previously at Tropisueño)—executive chef Ron Pei will not be part of the new venture (he’s currently on his honeymoon until the end of the year—congrats!). The new menu will feature seven tacos (you’ll be able to pick three for $10), plus six or seven ceviches and cold salads, shrimp coctel, made-to-order guacamole, and soups like pozole, albondigas (meatballs), a vegetable soup, and tortilla soup. The $10 special will continue (a shot of Don Julio Reposado, a can of Tecate, and the taco del día), plus look for an all-you-can-eat $15 Sunday special of “back-in-the-day” tacos (you know the ones: hard shells, ground beef, grated cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream). Hours will be noon to midnight daily, so it’ll be an easy place to swing by when hunger strikes at any time. Tacolicious will continue to be a part of the Thursday market at the Ferry Building, FYI.

Laïola            - 2031 Chestnut St. San Francisco - 415-346-5641

Further Adjustments at Fifth Floor

Things continue to be tweaked at FIFTH FLOOR, starting with Jacques Bezuidenhout’s new cocktail program which is in soft launch mode until 2010. The restaurant will be closing from January 1st—10th, and when the doors reopen, the bar program will be up and fully running. The new program focuses on classic cocktails, including gin-, rum-, tequila- and mezcal-, scotch-, rum-, Armagnac-, pisco-, and vodka-based beverages. There will also be a bar cart rotating through the bar and lounge, serving five classic cocktails (just flip the hazards on and pull on over to my table, thanks). Another addition to the floor: there will be a new GM, Bryan Lascarro. His background includes AQUA, and he was most recently the assistant general manager of Michael Mina Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Fifth Floor            - 12 4th St. San Francisco - 415-348-1555

Don Pisto's Grand Opening This Friday

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Fish taco.

DON PISTO’S, the new Mexican street food restaurant in North Beach, is having its grand opening this Friday December 18th from 6pm—1am. To recap, the menu features authentic Mexican street food from various regions of Mexico. You’ll find five kinds of tacos, including confit-ed Niman Ranch carnitas, fish tacos (you won’t find any farm-raised fish here), Fulton Valley Ranch chicken, carne asada made from beef from Little City Meat Market in North Beach, plus ceviches, tortas, and classic side dishes like elote, Yucatecan white rice, and more. There will also be shrimp Veracruz, a hamburguesa topped with guac, and a rib chop al pastor. The salsas and guacamole will be made continuously throughout the day, so they’re always fresh every half hour. Plus there are churros for dessert. The rustic decor that remains from the former restaurant, El Raigon, works really well—namely, the brick walls, and hefty wood tables and chairs. The plan is to serve dinner nightly from 5pm—12:30am. Pete Mrabe, formerly a manager at Betelnut, is behind the project.

Don Pisto's            - 510 Union St. San Francisco - 415-395-0939

ICHI's Lucky Cat Deli to Join 331 Cortland Marketplace


The sushi happy hour rockstars, ICHI Sushi, are the latest business to join the Bernal Heights 331 CORTLAND MARKETPLACE opening in late January 2010. Their contribution to the space will be ICHI LUCKY CAT DELI,  a full-service shop specializing in market-fresh fish, sushi to go, Asian sandwiches, Japanese salads, and sweet treats. Salads include edamame, shiso pesto somen, and wakame (seaweed), with the possibility to order larger catering-sized amounts with 24 hours notice. There will be sushi boxes, plus vegan sushi, and Asian sandwiches on homemade bread, like pork tonkatsu sliders with homemade katsu sauce, an Asian club sandwich with Coca-Cola braised pork belly and local chicken, and nasu: marinated Japanese eggplant and seasonal pairings. There will also be sushi-grade fish for the at-home chef, a selection that will change based on seasonality and availability, but can include maguro (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), albacore white tuna, Loch Duart salmon, saba (mackerel), oysters, and more, plus sushi-making kits. All the sushi and Asian sandwiches will be made to order, featuring many of their homemade Japanese sauces.

To recap, confirmed tenants include Paulie’s Pickling, Bernal Cutlery, and Della Terra Produce; plus a few new tenants, like El Porteño Empanadas (these Argentinian empanadas are made with Prather Ranch beef, Fulton Farms chicken, and organic/local produce and dairy whenever possible) and Wholesome Bakery (vegan, low-glycemic, wheat-free, soy-free, and yeast-free baked goods that only contain healthy fats). Also available are Desiree Salomon’s DEZYS DRINKS: chais, café de olla, juices, and kombucha, all made from scratch daily using mostly organic fruits, vegetables, and spices.

331 Cortland Marketplace            - 331 Cortland Ave. San Francisco

Second Kasa Due to Open in Cow Hollow This Week

KASA INDIAN EATERY, the casual Castro place with delicious kati rolls (imagine Indian burritos) and thali plates (pictured) are due to open their second location (“K2”) this Friday December 18th—but call before heading over because the date keeps shifting! The menu will be like the original’s, with everything cooked from scratch and featuring local and naturally raised ingredients. The space used to be a furniture store—designer Gi Paoletti is integrating more of an Indian and rustic look to the space, with textured walls and wood frames. While it will be a little more raw-looking than the Casto space, the color scheme of chocolate brown, dark purple, and magenta will remain, with stainless steel elements, and there’s also a steel sculpture. (And it’s also fifty percent larger than the original location.) There will be banquettes, communal seating, and a counter, convenient for solo diners. The large windows facing the street and outdoor seating will also bring an airy feeling to the space. Sommelier Mark Bright chose six wines for the list, and there are beers on tap, plus “Indian sangria,” chai tea, and mango lassi. Kasa will be open for lunch, dinner, and open late: hours are Sun—Wed 11am—11pm, and Thu—Sat 11am—2am.

Kasa Indian Eatery            - 4001 18th St. - 415-621-6940

A Couple Closures... and an Opening!

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Photo from Mission Mini.

The short-lived Pickles (42 Columbus Ave.)—previously Clown Alley—in the Financial District has closed and is up for sale. Lingba Lounge (1469 18th St.) in Potrero Hill is also reportedly closing due to a rent increase (according to Eater). Lingba’s last night is supposedly this Saturday December 19th, although a commenter says, “I was at Lingba Lounge last night and was told that the lounge/bar would stay open for another month or two…” When I hear back from Lingba’s owner and can confirm details, I’ll let you know.

As for an opening, ~MISSION MINIS~ has a kiosk open at 524 Union St. at Grant. You can pick up some of their charming little cupcakes (say hello to horchata) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10am—6pm.

Update on a Few Project Delays...

Locals have been eagerly anticipating the opening of BARBACCO, the casual neighbor to PERBACCO, but it looks like the opening will be pushed until January 2010 due to electrical issues (it also means their beer and wine license should be in effect by then).

Another push: GRACIAS MADRE, the vegan taqueria in the Mission, will now be opening on Saturday December 26th.

Deli Sandwich Dreams

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Back in February when I was at a winemaker dinner at CONDUIT, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my readers, Adam Mesnick, who styled me with a couple bottles of ballpark mustard from his personal stash after we started discussing mustards (no, he wasn’t carting the mustard around with him—he lived upstairs). Well, I was happy to learn Adam has moved from mortgages to meats, because he recently launched his new catering business called ~DELI BOARD~. I normally don’t mention catering outfits on the hopper, but since I’ve been following this one from the beginning, I had to do a shout-out. And besides, the guy brought me a ridonk-a-donk pastrami sandwich to try. Yeah, look at that bad boy. Now imagine your next office meeting with a table full of ‘em—it’ll be a good meeting, indeed (although I’d hold the tomatoes until they’re back in season). Plus Deli Board makes tasty soups, salads, even Buffalo wings, plus house-made sauces. And why have boring chips when you can have bagel chips with whitefish dip (a rarity in this town) or garlic and chive dip? Exactly. And he delivers. Not an office of 20? Call to see if your order is big enough to merit a delivery—you might be surprised. The breakfast options also look good for meetings: a smoked salmon platter with bagels, or breakfast burritos. Almost makes me wish I worked in an office again. (Almost.) If you’re a cafe or deli that wants to look into some wholesale options, there’s always that too, FYI.

The Front Porch Rockin' It for Lunch

THE FRONT PORCH has kicked in lunch service Wednesday through Friday from 11:30am—3pm. The menu includes a variety of po’ boy sandwiches (including oysters, shrimp, fried catfish, fried chicken, a slow-cooked meat of the day, or veggie special), side dishes from salad to gumbo, plus beignets, and tall boys on the porch. You can dine in the restaurant or order food for take out.

Also thought you’d like a few of the Porch’s nightly specials on your radar: Sunday is rib night, featuring Carolina dry-rubbed, slow-smoked barbecue; Monday is New Orleans-style red beans and rice with house-smoked andouille sausage; Tuesday night is jambalaya night; Wednesday is all about slow-roasted meats; and Thursday there’s a three-course farmers’ market prix-fixe dinner for $26. Yup, all perfect wintertime vittles.

The Front Porch            - 65A 29th St. San Francisco - 415-695-7800

Bring On Bottomless Mimosas (or Bloody Marys) for Brunch

The recent newcomer to the Castro, PANAM, has kicked off weekend brunch service with bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys for $10. Also on the menu: eggs Benedict and Florentine, French and American omelets, French toast (of course), fresh fruit, and naturellement, croissants. There is also a croque monsieur or madame (a personal fave of mine), smoked trout salad, a French club sandwich, a signature burger with fries (oui, French ones!), and chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream for dessert. You can view the entire brunch menu here.

Panam            - 2367 Market St. San Francisco - 415-556-6200

Woo Hoo for an Affordable Pu-Pu Platter

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E&O TRADING COMPANY is already a popular after-work hangout for the Union Square workin’ set, and now it’s offering a tempting happy hour deal: executive chef Arnold Wong has put together a fresh take on the traditional pu-pu platter for only $18, and it’s enough to serve 4-6 people. The spread features many of the restaurant’s signature favorites, including Chinese five-spice chicken rolls, short rib sliders, hoisin-coffee ribs, chicken satay, Indonesian corn fritters, and taro chips.

E&O Trading Company            - 314 Sutter St. San Francisco - 415-693-0303

American Cheese, Please

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This Thursday December 17th, FOREIGN CINEMA is hosting Clark Wolf, author of the newly published book American Cheeses. The evening will feature dishes celebrating American cheeses, and Clark will discuss his favorite cheeses, answer questions from diners, and sign copies of his new book, American Cheeses, which will be for sale throughout the evening. The menu will include special dishes such as Private Reserve Fondue with Sonoma Toast, Marion Burro’s macaroni and cheese, and goat cheese cheesecake, among other dishes, and will particularly highlight cheesemakers in the Bay Area, including Soyoung Scanlan from Andante Dairy. Dishes will be priced à la carte. Wine director Zach Pace will be on hand to offer wine pairing options with each dish. Foreign Cinema’s full dinner menu will also be available.

               Thursday Dec 17, 2009 6pm–10pm more info

Foreign Cinema            - 2534 Mission Street San Francisco - 415-648-7600

The Oven at Charlie Hallowell's Second Pizzeria is Hot

The pizza man, the pizza meister, the pizza mack, Charlie Hallowell of Pizzaiolo has now opened his latest venture, BOOT AND SHOE SERVICE in Oakland on Grand Avenue near the Grand Lake Theater. No, it’s not where you’ll take your shoes for a buff and polish: the name is just a tip o’ the pizzaiolo cap to the space’s earlier incarnation—although some will remember it was most recently Di Bartolo. It’s a casual neighborhood spot, smaller than Pizzaiolo (around 40 seats), with tall ceilings, exposed brick, and a marble counter, plus cool art from Creative Growth. There’s also a bar in the back where you can kick back over a drink and a bite to eat. On the menu: a rotating selection of anywhere from 8—12 pizzas (some recent ones include Manila clams with garlic, parsley, and a white sauce; wild nettles and pecorino; potato, pancetta, rosemary, and Fontina; and the classic rapini-sausage combo), plus some appetizers like a fritto misto and three—four salads, local beers, wine, and the full liquor license means you get to take your pick from some small-batch beauties. No reservations, and serving dinner only. Hours are Tue—Thu 5:30pm—10pm, Fri—Sat 5:30pm—10:30pm.

Boot and Shoe Service            - 3308 Grand Ave. Oakland - 510-763-2668

Meritage Restaurant at the Claremont Hotel Is Open

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Photo from Meritage Restaurant.

The Claremont Hotel, Club & Spa property renovation means the restaurant (formerly Jordan’s Restaurant) has been completely redesigned as well. San Francisco-based Ziv Davis Design and Architecture Studio created a look for MERITAGE AT THE CLAREMONT that is both vintage and modern, and the main dining room has a wall of windows with an incredible view of the San Francisco Bay. The menu features California cuisine with local ingredients, and is under the direction of executive chef Josh Thomsen (Little Nell Hotel in Colorado, The Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, The French Laundry, and The Lodge at Pebble Beach). The menu is divided into two pages, a white wine page and a red wine page, each listing three categories of wines: sparklers, light whites, full bodied whites; and fruity reds, spicy earthy reds, and robust reds. Within each are three wine selections and three dishes paired to reflect the wine characteristics of that category. All dishes are available in either small or large plates, and the wines are in half or full pours. There is also a bar menu available at the mahogany bar, plus breakfast and weekend brunch (peek at all the menus here).

Meritage at the Claremont            - 41 Tunnel Rd. Berkeley - 510-549-8510

Encuentro Says "Hola" to Jack London Square

Eric Tucker of Millennium has opened his vegetarian project in Oakland, ENCUENTRO CAFE AND WINE BAR, along with partners Lacey Sher (former owner of Down To Earth Restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey), and Linda Braz. The Jack London Square cafe is open for lunch during the week and then for post-work bites or dinner Wed—Sat. The vegetarian menu includes small bites, bruschetta, salads, small plates, and sandwiches made with organic and local ingredients; you can check it out here. There is a variety of organic and sustainable wines available by the glass as well.

Encuentro Cafe and Wine Bar            - 202 2nd St. Oakland - 510-832-9643

Gather Opening Tonight

Yup, right on schedule, GATHER, the new greener-than-green restaurant in the David Brower Center in Berkeley, opens tonight for dinner. Lunch, breakfast, and brunch will be coming in the New Year. You can read more in my original post.

Gather            - 2150 Allston Way Berkeley - 510-809-0400

Abruzzo Fundraiser Dinner in San Mateo

How often does someone’s Italian mother fly in to cook a meal for a special event? Exactly. This Thursday December 17th, ACQUA PAZZA in San Mateo is hosting a reception and dinner with Slow Food San Francisco founder Lorenzo Scarpone to benefit the Galano Dairy Farm in Fossa, Abruzzo, decimated during the Abruzzo earthquake of April 2009. The Galano family needs help: Dina and Enzo Galano now live with their family in the side room of a barn that was left intact. Fifty percent of proceeds from the dinner benefit will be used to help build a temporary shelter for the Galano’s cows before the harsh winter snow and wind set in. The restaurant owners, Enzo, Tullio, and Valerio Rosano, are flying in their mother, “Mamma Carmela,” from Naples, Italy, to prepare an authentic Abruzzese menu for the occasion. There is an appetizer and sparkling wine reception at 6:30pm, and then guests will be seated for Lorenzo Scarpone’s presentation detailing the damage that was done to the Galano Dairy Farm. A four-course dinner will then be served with wine pairings: antipasti; homemade spaghettini with regional Abruzzo sauce; a choice of veal en croute with local truffles or branzino Acqua Pazza; and a dessert from the Collemaggio region.

               Thursday Dec 17, 2009 6:30pm $75 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity more info

Acqua Pazza            - 201 E. 3rd Ave. San Mateo - 650-375-0903

Porchetta Mondays Return to Poggio

Chef Peter McNee of POGGIO is once again doing his wintertime whole pig porchetta on Mondays, using milk-fed pigs from Mark Pasternak at Devil’s Gulch Ranch. Chef McNee prepares the porchetta from a whole pig, stuffs it with house-made rosemary sausage, and sews it up before spit roasting it over an oak-burning fire. It’s served with Iacopi Farms butter beans fagioli all’uccelletto, all for $16 every Monday night (and you can add a quarto of Chianti for $7.50.)

Poggio            - 777 Bridgeway Sausalito - 415-332-7771


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

Are You Up for the Adventure?

Scharffen Berger and invite you to enter the fabulous, third annual Chocolate Adventure Contest. So go ahead: invent, create, explore the boundaries of your own culinary imagination. This year the contest accepts entries in two categories—Sweet and Savory—for the chance to win one of two $10,000 grand prizes.

To be eligible, combine any Scharffen Berger chocolate with one or more of 16 select “adventure ingredients” (pandan leaf, banana leaf, sumac, rice flour, fresh mint, black eyed peas and others) in an original recipe. Whether appetizer, main course, dessert, cocktail—you can enter up to 10 recipes total. Get more information at

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Changes Behind the Bar at Absinthe

I must admit I find it a little strange to think of the bar at ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR without Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin, but that time has come. Since the gents are busy with the upcoming opening of their COMSTOCK SALOON in Chinatown, the talented Carlos Yturria (Range, bacar, Rye) is going to be the full-time bar manager at Absinthe. Yturria will be adding new cocktails slowly, and is experimenting more with homemade syrups and tinctures. Look for small spirit-paired dinners in Absinthe’s private dining room in the New Year as well.

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar            - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590

Molecular Mixology 101

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Cool new bar class is coming up through the Beverage Academy at Bourbon & Branch, taught by Douglas Williams of Liquid Alchemy. Nope, you won’t be making Manhattans in this class: it’s all about molecular mixology for use in both a home and bar environment, covering foams such as traditional cocktail foam, airs, and bubbles. You’ll also get to learn about spherification, and how to make those awesome little caviar-like pearls of flavor. And the best part: you’ll get to learn a few varieties of cocktails with liquid nitrogen. FYI, Molecular Mixology 102 will be offered in January 2010, covering more liquid nitrogen, infused candy floss, smoke guns, and an assortment of gels for edible cocktail bites. (Image from Liquid Alchemy).

               Tuesday Dec 15, 2009 7pm–9pm $120 more info

It's Funky Fugu (and Rare Wine Auction) Time at Ame


AME has kicked in another winter season of serving hirezake: hot sake steeped with roasted tiger fugu (blowfish) fin. Owners Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone brought the fugu fin from the Osaka Fish Market in Japan. The unique drink is reportedly rich in aromatics, and a natural pairing for fish. At Ame you can order six ounces of “Karatamba” Honjozo, Hyogo Prefecture sake, served warm with fugu fin for $15.

Oh, and for you rare wine auction types, WineGavel (a new fine and rare wine auction company headquartered in San Francisco) will be holding a live fine and rare wine auction on Saturday December 19th at Ame. This auction features over $350,000 worth of fine and rare wines from private collections; classic wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and California will be offered for bidding. (You can view the catalog on the site.) The auction will begin at 10am, and bidders are advised to pre-register and arrive early to ensure seating. Refreshments and Champagne will be served followed by a three-course luncheon which begins at 12pm. The live action will end approximately halfway through lunch. Ame’s wine list will be available, and diners are also encouraged to bring a bottle of their own from their personal cellars. Contact  or call 800-774-2130 to RSVP for the event.

Ame            - 689 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-284-4040


the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

Christmas Day Dining Event Info

Friday Dec 25, 2009

As for Christmas Day, keep in mind most hotel restaurants stay open, but here are a few special menus that were on my radar:

The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco puts on quite the Christmas Day buffet from 11am—4pm. The spread includes extensive brunch and breakfast items, a raw bar with caviar, omelet and waffle stations, roasted meat stations, and a bounteous dessert selection.  A live jazz trio entertains. $98 per adult, $49 per child 5—12, excluding tax and gratuity. (There is also chef Ron Siegel’s six-course Christmas dinner in The Dining Room from 4pm—9pm. $175 per guest, with an additional $95 per guest for wine pairing, exclusive of tax and gratuity.)

AMERICANO at Hotel Vitale is offering a three-course dinner with selections that include marinated seafood with heirloom chicories, avocado, and citrus vinaigrette; cream of sunchoke soup with black truffle and chervil crema; Piedmontese-style rib eye with Yukon gold potato and black trumpet mushroom gratin and Tuscan kale; pan-seared Pacific black cod with Meyer lemon risotto and sweet onion tapenade; and chocolate cherry cake with toasted almond crème anglaise and kirsch cream. Christmas Day reservations taken from 2:30pm—6:30pm. Cost is $75 per person and $25 per child.

Want a break from all the Christmas goose? AME at the St. Regis will offer a special Christmas Day menu from 4pm—8pm, in addition to the restaurant’s regular menu. Guests can select items from the sashimi bar, such as sashimi, crudo, and tartare, as well as a range of appetizer and entree plates, and an assortment of artisan cheese and desserts.

Over in Berkeley, you can check out the new MERITAGE AT THE CLAREMONT during a Christmas Day buffet from 11am—7pm. It includes Sonoma duck breast with sun-dried cherries; poached eggs on potato-vegetable hash; butternut squash ravioli; and roasted Shelton Farms turkey with giblet gravy. Live piano, too. $79 for adults, $25 for children age five to twelve. Children under five, complimentary.

FIVE, Scott Howard’s restaurant in the Hotel Shattuck, will be serving a special Christmas dinner at 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm.

Christmas Eve Dining

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The holiday spread at my Aunt Mary’s.

Event Info

Thursday Dec 24, 2009

Have a lot of family in town, and your shoebox-sized apartment can’t hold them all? You’d be surprised how many places are open on Christmas Eve. Below are a few local places doing special menus (but if you’re looking for a “regular” meal, just search on OpenTable for reservations):

JARDINIERE will be open for dinner Christmas Eve starting at 5pm. Chef Morgan Mueller is working on some special Christmas goose dishes and pastry chef Lisa Lu is perfecting a Buche de Noel.

The French restaurant CASSIS in the Fillmore area has an affordable option, a $55 prix-fixe menu. Here’s a PDF of the delicious-sounding menu, which includes pumpkin soup and the option of pan-roasted duck breast with roasted persimmons.

You can also do fancy French and go to LA FOLIE, which is serving a four-course prix-fixe menu for $115, with an amuse bouche and petit fours. The prix-fixe entrée choice will include slow-baked sturgeon with duck confit, oxtail and potato terrine, and lobster bordelaise; or roasted wild Scottish pheasant with sweetbreads and apple cannelloni.

More on the fancy tip: MASA’S is serving their first Christmas Eve dinner. The five-course menu includes chilled Dungeness crab salad and pan-roasted Cavendish Ranch quail with roasted chestnuts, dried cranberries, candied kumquats, and orange gastrique. $105 per person (add $59 for wine pairings).

SPRUCE is serving five Christmas-inspired dishes for $95, exclusive of beverages, tax, and gratuity (wine pairings are an additional cost of $40). You’ll enjoy egg nog, plus dishes like Dungeness crab chowder, and your choice of petrale sole or Christmas goose or prime rib roast with Yorkshire pudding. Plus Buche de Noel for dessert!

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, POGGIO will be serving traditional Italian Christmas favorites, as well as their regular menu.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Bottega is Like One Big Red Carpet

Considering the lineup of stars BOTTEGA has managed to attract in one week, I’d say it’s our Wine Country version of Spago or Nobu. Marci V., a tablehopper reader, wrote in to let me know she saw David Beckham and his posh wife, Victoria Beckham, along with their children. I heard the kids got to make pasta with the chefs, and everyone was very nice. I also learned Marisa Tomei was at the restaurant’s one-year anniversary. And just this Sunday, tablehoppin’ reader Zachary P. spotted Lady Gaga in for lunch! She was with one other guest, and the kitchen prepared a four-course menu for them, including crudo, burrata with 20-year balsamic “caviar,” a gnocchi duo, and Piemontese beef with white truffle. She was reportedly very low key and chill.

A 3eb Brunch

Drummer Brad Hargreaves of local band Third Eye Blind had brunch at EPIC ROASTHOUSE.

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