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Dec 21, 2009 24 min read

December 22, 2009 - happy (alco-)holidays!

December 22, 2009 - happy (alco-)holidays!
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: happy (alco-)holidays!                    

Holiday cocktailing at Jardinière.

Why ho ho ho hello there. How you doing? Enjoying the holiday season? Getting your fill of latkes, egg nog, and sugar cookies? Speaking of sweet treats, I gotta hand it to my father, who manages to get me into the holiday spirit with just one bite. Every year he fires up the fryer and makes traditional Calabrese treats, like honey-soaked turdilli and his cuddureddi (fried ring-shaped savory donuts), and little puffs stuffed with anchovy (hated them as a kid, and now he has to fight me for them). Was delighted to see this post from Rosetta Costantino about the desserts her Calabrese family makes for the holidays. And of course I am counting the hours to our annual fish feast (La Vigilia) at my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony’s house on Christmas Eve. Seven fishes? Hmmm, I think we have more than that. And something like 30 guests. It’s outta hand on all fronts. And for dessert? Aunt Mary is famous for her ribbon-like scalille, which is about all I can stomach after the seafood onslaught.

Since seafood is the theme of my week, it felt only appropriate to post a review of BAR CRUDO in the regular.

Still stumped on what to get for the foodie folks in your life this holiday? One of the best things you could do is buy a friend or family member tickets to the annual Menu for Hope fundraiser, full of wonderful donated culinary prizes from food bloggers and businesses around the world. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual ticket to bid on an item of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the tickets are drawn and the results are announced on Chez Pim on Monday January 18th. So not only do you donate to an amazing cause (the UN World Food Programme), but you might even win a loved one (or yourself!) a fantastic prize or two—depends on how lucky you are, and perhaps how many tickets you bid against a prize. Have a friend in Europe, or a family member on the East Coast? There are some specific regional prizes you can bid on as well. Check it out—it’s an altruistic alternative to just buying “stuff.”

The biggest thing I’m excited about is where I’m going to be in the New Year. My sis and I are heading to South India the first week of January for some vacation, and I’ll be away for three glorious weeks! We’re going to Mumbai, the beaches of Goa, the backwaters of Kerala, and then I fly home (sniff sniff) from Bengaluru. Truly can’t wait to visit that spectacular country. Anyway, I’ll have a few “hoppers in the hopper” before I leave, so you’ll still get some mail for the next few weeks. But there will be a couple weeks when I’m going dark. Anyway, more on that next week.

Lastly, wow, a lot of you wanted to come to the tablehopper Pot de Pho and Pine Ridge supper (aka Pho La La La La)! I got so many responses that we actually are taking over the entire restaurant. Woo hoo, go team. It’s going to be quite a night, packed full of tablehopper readers! As of this morning, the number of RSVPs made it a sell-out, but a few spots have just opened up. Simply email me to nab the open seats or be placed on the waiting list; I can provide you with the password to buy tickets as seats become available.

Oh, and in the “spirit” of this week’s title, I have to recommend swinging by JARDINIÈRE for a cocktail glass or two of bartender Brian MacGregor’s holiday magic, including the “chilled holiday cider” with Sazerac rye, J. Witty chamomile liqueur, apple juice, lemon, and Angostura bitters. (There’s a reason why the picture is a little crooked.)

Happy Holidays! Buon Natale! Warmest Wishes!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Zinnia Going Out With A Bang

After doing their best to fill a huge restaurant during a nasty recession, owners Sean O’Brien and Patricia Hughes-O’Brien have decided to close their restaurant ~ZINNIA~ after dinner service on New Year’s Eve. With the infamous slow months of January and February looming, and tax time coming up soon thereafter, they decided to close up shop now instead of continuing to wait for things to turn around. They’re talking about possibly opening a smaller project on the Peninsula—we will have to see what the New Year holds. Best wishes to them. To see details about Zinnia’s New Year’s Eve dinner, take a look in the socialite.

Yup, Another New Chef at Bacar

The revolving door at BACAR continues: Douglas Bernstein, previously at the now-closed Eccolo, is the new chef  (a sous chef and pastry consultant also came over from Eccolo). Chef Bernstein has been overseeing Bacar’s kitchen for two months, finalizing the dinner, brunch, and bar bites menus. Many of his new dinner appetizers will now be available on the bar bites menu; during happy hour, you can try them for only half price (daily from 4:30pm-7:30pm, including Sundays).

Mission Miscellany

Those evil geniuses at HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE have introduced the latest in savory-sweet wonders: duck fat pecan pies. Yup, that’s Muscovy duck fat rendered for your pie-stuffin’ pleasure (that would be your face). These little mini wonders of badness are $5 a hit.

Call it the Christmas miracle: GRACIAS MADRE is opening this Saturday December 26th.

Good news: NOMBE now has their liquor license, so you can get your fill of sake (there are 75 brands to choose from), plus eight Japanese and local beers on tap. Also been hearing people are digging the late-night window for to-go containers of ramen and other izakaya-style eats (Fri-Sat 11pm-2am).

The Dish on Weird Fish

weird fish.jpg

Exterior shot (from Weird Fish).

Some changes over in the Mission: chef Alex Jackson, formerly of The Corner, is the new chef at WEIRD FISH. There was a split in the partnership at The Corner, so Timothy Holt is no longer involved with the project, and will be focusing full-time on Weird Fish (although Jackson will be doing double duty at both places). He’s certainly busy enough: he’s been working hard on a farm-to-table practice, using produce from his farm up north in Healdsburg (Roshambo Farms). You’ll notice the new farm-to-table section on the menu, plus a classic section, and finally, raw oysters! You’ll also see a new brunch menu. FYI, Weird Fish is now closed for lunch during the slower winter months, and the change may become permanent.

Weird Fish            - 2193 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-863-4744

Where to Scream for Ice Cream in Dogpatch

An old-fashioned ice cream and sweet shop is coming to the Dogpatch called MR. AND MRS. MISCELLANEOUS. It’s moving into a former sandwich spot that is now gutted, just across the street from Serpentine. And although the shop is quirkily named, it will actually feature eight classic flavors at a time (but a few will have a twist). The small-batch ice cream will be made with organic, seasonal, and local ingredients, and there will also be hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, ice cream cakes, fudgesicles, pudding pops, root beer floats, and homemade toppings like butterscotch, hard sauce, pineapple, sour cherry, strawberry, and toasted marshmallow. Just imagine the treats you loved as a kid, without any fake stuff in them. The sweet part of the shop will offer house-made brittle, toffee, caramels, nougat, pâtes de fruits, marshmallow, divinity, and gianduja. There will be around 20 seats, and coffee will also be served. Annabelle Topacio and Ian Flores, the couple behind the project, both have a pastry background, working at places like Spago and CUT in Los Angeles, and locally, at Postrio and Brick Maiden Breads in Pt. Reyes. They hope to open in March, with tentative hours from 11am-8pm, and staying open until 10pm on the weekends.

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous            - 699 22nd St. San Francisco - 415-970-0750

Good News/Bad News in the Western Addition


How do you like to hear it? Okay, first, the bad news: I was sad to hear the lovely couple that have been running the restaurant in the Metro Hotel (previously Metro Kathmandu, and now Metro Cafe) on Divisadero have decided to close. They worked so hard the last three years. As the co-owner Roshan stated in an email to me, “I am proud to be a part of a neighborhood that is very compassionate for small businesses like Metro Cafe. Having said that, I am not sure what my next venture would be. As of now, my wife and I look forward to having some weekends off after many years.” Indeed. All the best to them.

Okay, you ready for some good news? You can now take your pick of 12 flavors of the wild and wonderful ice cream from the Mission’s HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE at a walk-up counter at the DeLessio Market on Broderick. You’ll find the same cones, cups, and rotating flavors as you would at the Mission location.

Denham Returns to the Stoves for a Week at Laïola


Laïola exterior (photo from Laïola).

I thought this was a cool way to handle (and celebrate) a restaurant’s transition: before LAÏOLA transforms into Tacolicious, they will be hosting a series of dinners with the original chef, Mark Denham, and some of the original crew will be returning to cook as well. The dinners will stretch four nights (December 28th-31st), offering an à la carte menu that reflects both the restaurant that Denham created at Laïola, as well as a sneak preview of his upcoming animal-to-table restaurant concept called Bishop (more on that in a sec). Here’s a look at Denham’s menu for these special evenings, and it includes his signature chickpeas with house-made blood sausage; a brussels sprout salad with almonds, Serena cheese, and Meyer lemon; an esquiexada of local hamachi, celery, radish, and chopped egg; local petrale sole a la plancha with winter greens and crispy trotters; and roasted Napa Valley lamb, celeriac purée, and watercress. (Did your stomach just grumble? Mine did.) There will also be a New Year’s Eve menu ($75 for four courses).

So here’s more on Denham’s upcoming project: it’s tentatively named Bishop—an homage to his Chez Panisse mentor, Willy Bishop. And while Denham doesn’t have a location locked in yet, he sure does have a clear concept. It’s going to be a Mediterranean-inspired menu with local ingredients, with a special emphasis on his whole-animal program. Denham said in an email to me, “This time around I will not cave on serving anything I cannot procure whole.” (You can read more about using the whole animal in an article I wrote for meatpaper a while ago.) He also said the style will be modest, intimate, tavern-y, with a heavy focus on beer, all wines by glass/carafe/bottle, etc. Denham’s dream location will be in the Mission/Noe Valley/SoMa/Upper Market area, with occupancy around 65 to 75 seats. Let’s hope 2010 helps Bishop find a church!

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

Ring in the New Year in a Special Japanese Style


Photo from Peko-Peko.

Want to start the New Year with something besides Hoppin’ John or cotechino and lentils? Try this on for size: osechi bento! Here’s an explanation from Peko-Peko in Oakland: osechi bento are filled with auspicious foods to be eaten on New Year’s day. Traditionally, these bento were prepared at home in the final days of the year and now they are sold (for a small fortune!) in department stores throughout Japan. Peko-Peko’s version includes foods from Japan, including shiny black kuramame [sweet black beans] for robust health, sweet tatsukuri [sweet dried fish] for wealth, and rolled kombu-maki [kelp rolls] for happiness in the coming year. And they have included lots of foods from here on the West Coast as well: spot prawns from Santa Barbara, steelhead salmon roe from Washington, black sugar-cured duck from Sonoma, and herring roe on kelp from British Columbia! You need to place your order by December 26th. The boxes will be available for pick up the afternoon of December 31st or can be delivered directly to your house for an additional charge. The two-level, full osechi ($150) serves 4-5. The one level, half-osechi ($75) serves 2-3. Quantities are limited. Visit the website for a PDF version of the poster with menu details.

Here’s another option from NOMBE, and their site offers some more explanation: “osechi ryori is Japanese New Year food. Traditionally, we make the food at the end of year so that the wives don’t have to cook for three days in the New Year. Originally, it was taboo to cook for three days and all the stores were closed for three days. Now, not only many stores are open except New Year’s Day but also osechi can be purchased from many different restaurants and bento box makers. Osechi is packed in layered boxes.

“Traditional osechi includes the following items: kobumaki (herring rolled in kelp); kuromame (cooked sweet black beans); datemaki (sweet egg rolls); kuri kinton (chestnuts and yam); tazukuri (candied small fish); namasu (daikon and carrot sunomono); nimono (veggie stew); kazunoko (herring roe); grilled prawn; kamaboko (white and pink fish cakes); and grilled tai. All of them are meant to bring good luck for a year.”

Nombe’s osechi comes in a two-layer box, which includes Mari Takahashi’s New Year family recipe of salmon ceviche, duck roulade, and gindara kasuzuke instead of tai. You can reserve a box to enjoy at home by calling Nombe at 415-681-7150 by 12/29.  It needs to be picked up on 12/31. $99 (including tax).


the sponsor

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

(Sponsored): 20% Off Wine at Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is having a 20% off sale on every bottle of wine in stock beginning this Saturday. Buy 12 or more bottles of wine and save 20% off from December 26th-31st, 2009.

Mix or match any Champagnes, Chardonnays, Pinots, or Cabernets. Whole Foods Market has hundreds of choices and over 50 exclusive wines with prices ranging from $5 to over $100. Do you love to talk wine and food pairings?

Stock up for your New Year’s Eve celebration! Pick up a bottle of Presto Prosecco for just $7.99. Looking for a perfect pairing with local Dungeness crab? Try a bottle of Rombauer Chardonnay for just $25.99, a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay for $18.39, or a bottle of Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc for just $10.39.

Above prices reflect a 20% discount on a 12-bottle case of wine from December 26th-31st, 2009. Sale limited to wines in stock.

the regular

Established Restaurant Reviews (it's about time we met...)

Bar Crudo

1-arctic char.JPG

Arctic char crudo.


Butterfish crudo.

3-uni and avo toast.JPG

Uni and avocado toast.

4-seafood counter.jpg

The raw bar.

I've been a fan of BAR CRUDO since the day it opened on Bush Street back in 2005. I mean, come on, their chowder is legendary. But brothers Mike and Tim Selvera decided to move their beloved seafood outpost to Divisadero Street, and I think we're all a happier bunch for it: there's a longer bar you can perch at, the bigger kitchen means new hot dishes, the expanded wine list is on fire (plus there are even more of Tim's choice beers in the bottle and on tap), and there are more tables. Yup, it's an excellent 2.0.

The vibe is rock 'n' roll raw bar, with Led Zep in the mix, cool (and friendly) servers, a tattooed crew in the open kitchen, funky handmade light fixtures, handcrafted tables, an original mural from Kelly Tunstall, and an overall easygoing (but professional) attitude. The coveted seats are at the long bar overlooking the open kitchen (great for a date), and there's a back mezzanine that has a table for larger groups or those who want to be a bit more low profile.

If you're into raw seafood, this is the place to get it, since chef Mike is fastidious about his purveyors. Everything is so fresh--nothing ever smells fishy. Someday I want to celebrate with one of the grand platters of seafood (oysters, shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, lobster; $40/$80)--the arrangement of seafood on ice behind the bar certainly tempts. In the meantime, of course you'll want to start with a plate of briny oysters, like creamy Coromandels from New Zealand, or a kiss of Kusshi ($2.50 ea.). Consultant Alex Fox's clever wine list will insure you have all kinds of things to pair with your oysters, like the lemony-brioche Dehours "Grande Reserve" Extra Brut. These bubbles can escort you nicely into your next course--which should probably be a selection of crudos, and in this case, one of them needs to be the Arctic char. It's a classic here: beautifully rosy cubes of fish, topped with the snap of horseradish cream, the crackle of tobiko, and the pop of wasabi.

Let's just make this clear: you're going to have a hard time choosing from the list of crudos, which can feature up to seven options a night. The combinations are all about studies in flavor, texture, and balance. Fortunately, you can choose a sampler of four for $12, or eight for $23. It's exciting to try all these different combos--it kind of reminds me of the first few times I started ordering maki at Japanese restaurants, many years ago (but as far as sushi is concerned, I have since gone back to being a nigiri purist).

I was blown away with the rich tombo tuna, paired with diced pear, a pomegranate reduction, and a fine Microplane grating of hazelnut on top. Hazelnut and tuna, who knew? The silky butterfish with olive, a mix of blood orange and cara cara vinaigrette, micro shiso, and nutty black garlic was another one toying with elements of acidity and texture. And the Rhode Island fluke in a spicy and minty coconut milk (with a crispy 4505 chicharron on top) is full of personality. The kitchen is not afraid to play around, to much success, and the seasons end up adding their own spin on the combinations.

There are a couple classic and beloved salads on the menu, like the San Sebastian ($13), a cousin to a Niçoise salad, with tuna confit, white asparagus, soft-centered egg, roasted red peppers, olives, caper berries, Manchego, and tomato bread. The lobster and burrata salad ($17) is another one that freaks people out in theory (cheese and lobster?) until they have a few bites. Uh huh. The salad comes with beets in the winter and tomatoes in the summer, plus mache, pistachios, and a Banyuls vinaigrette that brings it all together. The lobster meat hit a bland note on one visit, but I usually dig the mysterious umami in this salad.

And another classic is the chowder ($7/$14): a creamy, feisty bowl of decadence that has all kinds of tender shellfish inside (nary a rubbery bite in the bunch), chunks of potato, and of course, bacon. I would never even try to share this dish. Get your own, buddy.

Shall we talk about the dish I can't get out of my mind? Yes, let's. How about pieces of plump and briny uni (sea urchin), languorously placed on pieces of toast that are hit with a swath of avocado and a spritz of sudachi? It's magical. The side salad of herbs, frisée, and tangles of radicchio keeps things bright. And the $10 price point means you can come back for it every week once you're hooked on this evil dish. Wait until you try it with the Petit Manseng, Charles Hours Jurançon "Clos Uroulat" 2006, a pretty and perfect pairing.

Since the kitchen is larger (the last location only had a Holly Hobbie-sized stove), you'll now be able to take your pick from a variety of hot dishes, like the French bistro-inspired Idaho red trout ($17), served deboned, with fingerling potatoes and a violet mustard beurre rouge; or hamachi collar ($13) with oyster mushrooms, rainbow chard, and spicy mustard oil (an ingredient I fell in love with in Australia).

The Louisiana Gulf prawns that chef Mike gets flown in daily are literally fresh off the boat, and the kitchen honors them by cooking them juuuuust right. The latest incarnation is a dish with the prawns over a bed of South Carolina grits cooked with lobster stock (genius), plus chorizo, chicory salad with an orange vinaigrette, and the final punch of smoky chorizo oil ($15).

Things keep improving here--my meal back in September had a few missteps here and there (seasoning, temperature), but my most recent meal was quite on point. I just wish the bread was better--I want some chewy and crusty sourdough.

This place famously doesn't serve dessert, but the artisan cheese plate ($15) is a satisfying finish, paired with seasonal fruit, nuts, honey, and walnut bread. Or if you're game, you can also get set up with a "dessert beer," something dark, caramel-y, and coffee-like. (Or if you really have to have something sweet, there's Candy Bar just a few blocks away, serving all kinds of sweet treats.)

And brother/partner Tim is crazy in love with beer, so you're going to be hard pressed to decide between the total overflow of liquid possibilities here, both by the bottle and on draft. He's a maniac for suds. One recommendation is to come during happy hour (Mon-Fri 5pm-6:30pm), when you can score great beer and wine specials, plus select $1 oysters, $5 chowder, and $8 fish tacos (for two). Viva happy hour!

Bar Crudo            - 655 Divisadero St. San Francisco - 415-409-0679

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

The Alembic Has Half-Off Beer for You, Lunch Too

Yeah, you saw that right. THE ALEMBIC is now offering half-off their bottled beers on Monday nights (and what a nice selection it is). And here’s something to look forward to in the New Year: starting Monday January 4th, the kitchen will be serving lunch daily from noon to 5pm! Here’s a sneak peek at the new menu: 
pulled pork sliders ($5 ea.), 
beer-battered rock cod sandwich ($11), 
trumpet mushroom banh mi ($9), 
and more. To celebrate the new menu, they will be giving away pulled pork sliders (limit of two per person) on Tuesday January 5th from noon until 3pm.

The Alembic            - 1725 Haight St. - 415-666-0822

Fresh Gab at the Blarney Stone

After being closed for a couple of weeks for renovations, THE BLARNEY STONE on Geary has reopened under new ownership: Bart Cornell, formerly of Lion Pub and Jade, with two other partners. The interior has been completely redone, along with the back bar and back patio, which is open for drinking and smoking. A cocktail menu has been established, using fresh juices and citrus (no mixes). Here’s the best part: the weekends feature an affordable Irish brunch, provided by neighbor John Campbell’s Bakery. The menu features hearty dishes like Irish breakfast, Irish bacon and eggs, bangers, black and white pudding, breakfast sandwiches, and more. Brunch is served Sat-Sun 10am-3pm (the bar opens at 10am those days). All you have to do is take a seat in the bar and a waitress will take your order. There are also some TVs to watch whatever sports may be on.

The Blarney Stone            - 5625 Geary Blvd. San Francisco - 415-386-9914

Get Blinded with Science (of Cocktails)


The San Francisco Exploratorium will transform into a cocktail laboratory at ~SCIENCE OF COCKTAILS~ on Wednesday January 20th. Guest mixologists from 15 Romolo, 83 Proof, Orson, Alembic, Annabelle’s Bistro, and other San Francisco bars will mix delicious cocktails while guests participate in hands-on science experiments about alcohol, inebriation, hangovers, cocktail creation, and more (I know, a usual weekend for many of you). Taking an in-depth, hands-on look at the physics, chemistry, and biology of cocktails, this first-time Exploratorium fundraising event will get you into drinks on a whole other level.

               Wednesday Jan 20, 2010 7pm–10pm $50–$75 more info


the socialite

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

Tablehopper Supper: Pho La La La La


Cha Gio (crispy rolls)

2-pine ridge.JPG

Some Pine Ridge wines we’ll be tasting.

Event Info

Tuesday Dec 29, 2009 6:30pm–9pm $49 all inclusive Tickets (password protected)                        Pot de Pho 3300 Geary Blvd. San Francisco

As I mentioned last week, I am hosting a casual tablehopper supper at the delicious Vietnamese restaurant in the Inner Richmond, POT DE PHO, and we’ll be pouring food-friendly wines from Pine Ridge.

Unfortunately the event is currently sold out, but a few openings may occur; just email me to be placed on the waiting list, and I can provide you with the password to buy tickets if a seat opens up. Fingers crossed!

Last week we did a preliminary food and wine tasting (a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!), and here is the menu we came up with:

Reception Cha Gio ~ crispy rolls (with pork and shrimp) ForeFront by Pine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, 2008

First Course Chao Tom ~ grilled shrimp “lollipop” on sugarcane Pine Ridge encantado Rosé, 2008

Second Course Goi Du Du ~ green papaya salad Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, 2008

Third Course Bun Cha Ha Noi ~ BBQ pork with rice noodles Pine Ridge Dijon Clones Chardonnay, 2007 ForeFront by Pine Ridge Pinot Noir, 2008

Fourth Course Pho Bo Tai ~ rare steak Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Chardonnay, 2008 ForeFront by Pine Ridge Pinot Noir, 2008

Fifth Course Che Chuoi Chien ~ fried baby banana with tapioca sauce

Chef Khai Duong is going to show us how to roll up the chao tom in rice paper, the proper way to eat and appreciate pho (plus how to say it!), and he will be telling us more about each of the traditional dishes we’ll be eating. Some courses will be served individually, and others will be served family style. We’re also going to be learning about each of the Pine Ridge wines we’re drinking from Lisa Goff of Crimson Wine Group, and why we chose the pairings we did. An educational dinner never tasted so good!

We’re going to be seated at big communal tables of diners, so you’re sure to meet some great people. The dinner is $49, including all wines, tax, and tip. The reception is at 6:30pm, and we sit down to eat at 7pm. Hope to see you there!

New Year's Eve Dinners


 Event Info

Thursday Dec 31, 2009

Yeah, it’s the night most restaurants turn into temples of the prix-fixe menu. I have been drowning in press releases and dinner announcements for weeks. Here are a few ways to ring in 2010 that rose to the top.

ORSON has a tasty-sounding menu lined up for $75, including the choice of cassoulet as a main dish, with no special seating times. Your bouche will be amused.

For a jazzy New Year’s Eve, CAFÉ CLAUDE is offering three seatings (6pm $60; 7:30pm $70; 9:30pm $80) with live jazz from 7:30 until midnight provided by the Jerry Oakley Trio.

Or across the alley, the sexy GITANE is offering the following seatings: 6pm for $70 (three courses); 8pm for $80 (four courses); and 10:30pm for $90 (five courses)—wine pairing is an additional $30.

You can have a bittersweet dinner at ~ZINNIA~, the restaurant’s final night of service, but chef Sean O’Brien’s menu is certainly a powerhouse. You can choose a three-course ($58) or a five-course dinner ($88), which includes luxe dishes like house-made tagliolini with sweetbreads, chestnuts, and brown butter.

More on the luxe tip: JARDINIÈRE has some some additional menu options in case you have a vegetarian or pescatarian in your group. The first seating is from 5:30pm-7:30pm ($145 per person, $65 for wine pairing) and the second seating will be from 8:30pm-10:30pm and will include live music from the Terry Disley Experience Trio, and Champagne at midnight ($195 per person, $85 for wine pairing). Nothing says Happy New Year like Five Dot Ranch filet mignon with oxtail cannelloni and Périgord truffles.

If you’re looking for live entertainment, the new-ish supperclub CODA will have a three-course prix-fixe dinner with quite the musical line up

: Mike Olmos Organ Combo featuring Wil Blades 
 from 6:30pm-9pm; 

(urban pop)

plus a special late set with Hot Bag!
 featuring Skerik and Mike Dillon from 
late until… late!

 First seating is 5:30pm-7:30pm; second seating is 8pm-10:30pm. Dinner and music is $60. You can also just come by for a cocktail and dancing.

Mmmm, beer. Homer would approve of the beer dinner at MONK’S KETTLE. Enjoy a four-course dinner and beer pairing for $115 per person. Doors open at 8:30pm for a reception beer, and the first course is at 9pm. Call to RSVP (415-865-9523) or email.

And if all these prices are freaking you out, give thanks to PALIO D’ASTI for offering an affordable New Year’s Eve menu. You get four courses, and four choices per course, for only $49 per person. And if you’re into fireworks, the Embarcadero fireworks are only blocks away. You can read all the dishes on the generous menu here.

New Year's Day Hangover Helpers

bloody mary at nicks.JPG

 Event Info

Friday Jan  1, 2010

Ouch. Your head hurts, and you have a thrashed apartment, or just a thrashed head. Here are a few spots that can help.

MAVERICK will be hosting their first-ever New Year’s Day brunch from noon-5pm. There will be a special menu featuring classic brunch items, as well as Southern fried chicken, Baltimore crab fluffs, Hoppin’ John (for luck and prosperity in 2010), and mimosas. Reservations are strongly recommended.

MISSION BEACH CAFE will be serving their oh-so-tasty brunch from 10am-4pm. Helllllllo egg sandwich!

THE FRONT PORCH is going to be open for lunch on New Year’s Day. They will be busy crab boiling, serving lucky black-eyed peas, and barbecuing oysters on the porch. DJs from KUSF’s Revival Sound System will spin records. The party will be going from noon until 9pm.

Maybe you prefer to go out on New Year’s Day instead of the eve before? CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN will be open on New Year’s Day from 5pm-11pm, and will have several items from their exquisite-sounding New Year’s Eve menu available for tasting. Please note CAV will be closed for a break from Sunday, January 3rd-Tuesday January 5th, reopening on Wednesday January 6th.

the health nut

Gettin' Fit (take a lap, tablehopper)

Get a Fresh Start in January


Some of you may remember the amazing 21-day cleanse I did in May (you can read some of my health nut posts I wrote while I was on it). If I wasn’t going to be in India in January, I’d totally be doing this cleanse again—I felt great during and after, let me tell you. And after the holidays? Yes please. Starting January 10th, the Essential Vitality Detox Program from Lawrence Kampf is back, running until January 30th! You can read more online, but here’s the gist: “This is an intention-based program with a baseline diet of whole, organic, seasonal food creating a foundation of health and nutrition to detoxify and heal the body naturally. Take back your health, access your core vitality, and reduce chronic symptoms of fatigue, confusion, anxiety, depression, skin problems and poor sleep patterns. Open the door to resolve deeply hidden inner trauma and learn to feel light again.” It includes workshops, guided meditations, discounts on healthy products and services, and more.

The kick-off/intro meeting is on Monday December 28th and Monday January 4th. There will be free personal health evaluations, detox Q&A, and a guided meditation practice at 7:30pm at the Yoga Loft (321 Divisadero St. at Page). The Essential Cleanse Program is $325 for early birds (until December 27th); $360 regular price. You can also do an Advanced Cleanse, with bodywork, yoga and individual counseling sessions ($715 early bird, $795 regular—includes Essential Cleanse). For those scattered around the globe, there is also a Distance version of the program. See for more details about the entire program.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Swanky Living

Hilary Swank was spotted in San Francisco at the pizza counter at A16 (she ordered the cavatelli and a salsiccia pizza). My spy said “she was there for a while, very blonde, skinny. Fought on the phone outside for a while too. Very gracious and engaged with A16’s pizzaiolo for a while as well.”

Another reader writes in: “I had dinner at Ad Hoc last night (Sunday… it was nasty and rainy) and Hilary Swank was seated at the table next to us. I’m fairly sure she was with her boyfriend (who was and may still be her agent). At least that’s my deduction based on a Google image search and a whispered synopsis of her divorce from the woman seated on the other side of me. I believe his name is John Campisi.”

More Gaga on the Go

More Lady Gaga sightings from last week: she was at The St. Regis San Francisco lobby bar on Monday afternoon with a posse of four. She was dressed as herself (i.e. not like this) and was wearing a black hat.

Another source tells me Lady Gaga’s band members were spotted having lunch at Waterbar “without their leading lady, sporting ripped jeans, t-shirts, funky hats, and wild haircuts, while noshing on wood-oven roasted lobster, grilled Dungeness crab, grilled sirloin steak, oysters, chowder and tuna tartare. They shared everything.”

Coming in for a Landing at EPIC

The amazing pilot who successfully emergency landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, dined at EPIC ROASTHOUSE with his wife and their daughters. They were reportedly a treat to serve and had some fun with their server as they tried to discern the secret ingredient in the house-made ketchup. (If you never read the amazing article about the landing in Vanity Fair, check it out—it’s quite the read.)

Think Pink

And just for fun, mega-kooky Betsey Johnson was sipping a cappuccino at the Grand Café wearing blond braids and all black. She also dined at Scala’s Bistro.

Kickin' It at Bardessono

Some action in Yountville: Nick Cannon and Johnny Hensley (aka Matt McNamara on Nip/Tuck) were at BARDESSONO.

(Not) Married with Children

David Faustino (aka Bud Bundy) was spotted having lunch at Bread and Cocoa in the FiDi “with a PYT.” (I’ll take Michael Jackson Hits for $400, Alex. What is the abbreviation for Pretty Young Thing?)

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