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Mar 29, 2010 26 min read

March 30, 2010 - This week's tablehopper: joyridin'.

March 30, 2010 - This week's tablehopper: joyridin'.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: joyridin'.                    

Crab cocktail at Swan Oyster Depot.

Hey now, where did this bratty weather come from? I know, we all got used to that gorg sunny weather last week. But, it means it’s finally appropriate for me to run my review of a new-ish shabu-shabu/hot pot place since it’s the kind of food we all crave during this chillier and slightly rainy week (at least that’s what the forecast says). Check out my review of Prime Rib Shabu in fresh meat.

Last week was definitely in high gear, with a hoppin’ book signing party at Omnivore Books (many thanks to Celia, and to Andrew Mariani of Scribe Winery and Patrick Horn of The Pacific Brewing Laboratory for their generous pours of wine and beer), a fun conversation/event with Michael Chiarello at the Marin JCC, and hanging out with the ever-kind Gene Burns on Dining Around (thanks, Gene, for having me on!).

I have a preview of upcoming “tablehopper on tour” book events over the next two weeks in today’s issue, but you can always check out the master list of book events here. It has been so enjoyable to meet so many food lovin’ people at each event—thanks for all the support!

Last week, I grazed my way through the city, with dinners at Bar Crudo (always a fave—have you tried their fish tacos at happy hour?) and Gialina (Sharon Ardiana’s amatriciana pizza is so outstanding), lunch at Swan (an Anchor Steam, oysters, chowder, and crab cocktail—with a side of sass from the staff), Saturday brunch at the 4505 Meats stand at the Saturday farmers’ market (biggest banh mi I’ve ever had, loaded with chicken and mortadella), a late dinner at Marinitas in San Anselmo (I wanted to bring all the salsas home), a pre-show dinner (saw AIR at the Fox) at the new Hibiscus in Oakland (have you been yet? loved the salt fish and ackee, so unique), and a tour of way too many bars after Whiskies of the World on Saturday night (those of you who follow my Twitter feed know the extent of the liver damage I did). Yeah, looks like someone popped the clutch.

I feel like I’m channeling Speedy Gonzales. I hope the police don’t pull me over for reckless driving (this is a metaphor: ironically my car has been in the shop for a week). At least on Sunday I’ll be in one place: kicking it with my family for Easter, doing Easter Bunny/bwok bwok imitations with my sister. Buona Pasqua!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Bruce Hill (of Pizzeria Picco) Opening Zero Zero in SoMa

I know, I know, I know, MORE PIZZA. But considering I could eat pizza weekly (and I know I am not alone in this), I say, bring it on. Especially since it’s chef Bruce Hill and his partners at Picco behind this new addition to the pie scene: ZERO ZERO. It’s going to open in the Azie space in SoMa—designer Michael Brennan is currently designing the interior, which will feature hand-made flame-inspired lighting, custom tables, two different 
bar environments (upstairs and downstairs), and murals painted by Michael himself. It should be around 120 seats or so.

Hill, who is part of the ever-growing posse of pizza-makers certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), is going to be offering his delicious wood-fired pizzas, along with artisan pastas, grilled meats and seafood, house-made salumi, antipasti, and seasonal organic salads. And yes, his famed concoction of Straus Dairy soft serve ice cream (in vanilla bean and Askinosie chocolate flavors), with toppings ranging from Da Vero olive oil and sea salt to seasonal fruits to house-made caramel and chocolate sauces. Both lunch and dinner will be served. And the two full bars will have hand-crafted cocktails and wine on tap.

In case you were wondering about the name, “Zero Zero” (Tipo 00) is the type of flour dictated for pizza dough by the VPN. Hill also mentioned the 00 is a reference to 1900, since they will be looking back to the last century for recipes (both cocktail and culinary) for inspiration. They are working toward an opening later this summer.

Zero Zero            - 826 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-348-8800

More tablehopper Book Tour Stops... Let's Hang Out!


Thanks to everyone who turned up for my reading at Omnivore Books last week (and sorry if they were out of books by the time you got there!). No fear, there are more fun book launch events coming up. Here’s what is going on over the next two weeks:

There is one more seat left for tomorrow’s (Wednesday March 31st) Cooks With Books Lunch at Perbacco lunch (12pm, $100 includes book, tax, tip).

If you live in the 650, I will be at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park this Thursday April 1st at 7:30pm for a reading and signing. 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.

And get ready, because this Saturday April 3rd, I will be doing a chat and tasting with Jake Godby of Humphry Slocombe. He will be bringing mini duck fat pecan pies and of course ICE CREAM! We’ll chat about flavor, and I’ll be selling and signing books for $17.50. 2pm, free. Bloomingdale’s, 845 Market St. at 7th St., San Francisco.

I’m going to be making a very rare Monday night appearance on Monday April 5th at  Wines of Portugal—A World of Difference Tour 2010 (I am looking forward to being away from my desk, let me tell you). The first 150 ticket buyers get a free copy of my book (there are less than 50 left)! I will also be signing and selling additional books ($17.50) at this fabulous tasting event in case you don’t score one of the free copies. 5pm-7pm. $35 ($50 door). Tickets/event details. Westin St Francis, 335 Powell St., 32nd Floor, San Francisco.

Next Thursday April 8th, I will be hosting a drop-in 18 Reasons Event (with bubbly and bites from La Cocina producer Onigilly). I’ll be reading from my book, and I also prepared a special handout, “18 Picks from the tablehopper on 18 People and Places and Things That Bring 18 Reasons’ Values to Life.” Event details. It’s also opening night of the Dolores Park Movie Night, so maybe swing by on your way to the park? 7pm-9pm. $5 members, $10 general. 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St., San Francisco.

East Bay folks, I will be hosting a meet and greet at The Pasta Shop inside Rockridge Market Hall on Saturday April 10th at 12pm. We’ll be grazing on a variety of my favorite pantry items, from honey and olive oil to cheese and olives (we’re calling it a pop-up party)! Free (except for my book, which will be for sale at the event). 5655 College Ave., Oakland.

Upcoming News Re: Mission Street Food


Flickr photo by jessefriedman.

Cool news in the Mission: Jason Fox (the former executive chef of Bar Tartine) and Anthony Myint (Mission Street Food, Mission Burger) and partners announced their new upcoming restaurant, COMMONWEALTH. The full-time charitable restaurant will open in the former El Herradero space on Mission, and will be a “progressive American restaurant, building on California’s tradition of showcasing local, seasonal foods while incorporating diverse culinary approaches from around the world. Additionally, a set portion of proceeds from Fox’s inventive tasting menus will be donated to local non-profits.”

They are hoping to open early this summer, and only have a couple thousand dollars to go before reaching their minimum Kickstarter goal of $10,000, which will be used for kitchen equipment. Commonwealth will be open for dinner Tue-Sun, with most dishes between $6-$16, and a tasting menu. 2224 Mission St. at 18th St.

And a heads up on MISSION STREET FOOD: this Saturday April 3rd, chef Chad Newton of FISH & FARM will be a guest chef, cooking with Grace Nguyen of OUT THE DOOR. The menu includes: composition of cooked/raw/marinated/pickled vegetables, wheat berries, Meyer lemon aioli, dark rye crumbs; torchon of foie gras, rice “krispies”, o.j. gel, powdered yogurt, strawberries, toast; olive oil-poached cod, choke purée, espresso-steamed wild mushrooms, green garlic emulsion; and roasted lamb loin, slow braised cheeks, tasting of celery and chocolate.

Another thing: have you noticed the amazing menus on Thursdays at MISSION STREET FOOD? Chefs Danny Bowien and Anthony Myint have been doing “homage dinners” to international chefs they admire, from Michel Bras to Inaki Aizpitarte of Paris—this Thursday April 1st is Pascal Barbot (check out the menu). The series will total about eight dinners in all.

Mission Street Food            - 2234 Mission St. San Francisco

New Chef at Le Club

There’s a new chef at LE CLUB on Nob Hill, and she is quite the talent (the space has a history of great chefs, including Melissa Perello back when it was Charles Nob Hill). Lovers/followers of the blog Ms. Glaze’s Pommes d’Amour will recognize the name Amy Glaze, who recently moved to San Francisco from New York, where she was cooking at Le Bernardin for two years—she left as the senior line cook (prior to that, she was in Paris for three-plus years at Guy Savoy). It ends up when she previously lived in San Francisco, she cooked at Ristorante Ecco on South Park back in the day, and owner Gina Milano and Glaze have been friends for 16 years.

Since she just started three weeks ago, she is ramping things up first with a bar menu that is geared for affordable luxury. The late-night crowd is currently ordering mini smoked salmon croque monsieurs with caviar ($15); hiramasa kingfish seared rare with Asian pear, micro shiso, jalapeño-kabosu sauce ($22); and braised beef short ribs with baby heirloom carrots, cipollini onions, lardon, and tiny marble potatoes ($20). I spoke with Glaze, and she expects to start expanding the menu in a few weeks—she mentioned they want to offer a nightly seasonal prix-fixe menu, and they also plan to have table service once again in the dining room, so I’ll keep you posted. 1250 Jones St. at Clay, 415-922-2582.

More Absinthe News...


Photo by Katina Papson.

Anyone who follows ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR chef Jamie Lauren’s Twitter feed knows she has been in Los Angeles quite a bit these days, and it looks like she is going to be spending a lot more time down there in a couple months when she moves there full time. Wah. SF loses another talented female chef.

She doesn’t have a gig lined up yet, but it does change the ballgame for the chef that ultimately gets picked up as her replacement, and for the Absinthe group’s new restaurant in the former Citizen Cake Hayes Valley location. In the meantime, come hang out with her at my Hop Dog Happy Hour on April 14th at the Ferry Building. Oh, and get fired up to make her killer deviled eggs after watching this cool how-to video on CHOW.

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

New Owners at Isa

According to liquor license updates, there are new owners at ISA in the Marina: Elias and Sameera Memon. I spoke with owner Luke Sung, who said, “It’s going to remain the same—same menu, staff…just Kitty [my wife] and I will gone.” The Sungs are very busy with their three kids (aged 11, 9, and 5), so they wanted to simplify things and just focus on their other restaurants, Domo in Hayes Valley and Prime Rib Shabu. The transition should happen in the next month or so. 3324 Steiner St. at Lombard, 415-567-9588.

Fatted Calf Will Have a Storefront in Hayes Valley


According to a tweet, those wonderful purveyors of all things meaty, FATTED CALF, is going to be “opening a new store in Hayes Valley mid-summer.” I had a quick chat with co-owner Toponia Miller, who said she’ll be able to reveal more about the where and what next week, so stand by!

New Baked Treats in Cow Hollow


Yelp photo from Devin G..

Cow Hollow will have not one but two new places to indulge in carb and sugar highs. First, JOHN CAMPBELL’S IRISH BAKERY’S second location is up and running (they opened around St. Patrick’s Day), so now neighbors are going to be able to discover their crazy delicious scones, breads, sandwiches, and tarts. Open daily (Mon-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 7am-8pm). 3130 Fillmore St. at Filbert, 415-563-1519.

There’s also been a project coming along called AMERICAN CUPCAKE on Union Street (some locals already know the business, which turns out flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy). Details have been locked down, but I do hear they plan to open a storefront in time for the Union Street Easter Parade this Sunday April 4th, and then are planning to officially open next week. Stand by. 1919 Union St. at Laguna.

From One Awkward Name to Another


Flickr photo from Gott’s Roadside.

Just in case you’re wondering what happened to the name TAYLOR’S REFRESHER, all three locations (St. Helena, San Francisco, and Napa Oxbow) are now Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet. Joel and Duncan Gott, who own Taylor’s Refresher, are, for legal reasons, changing the name (you can read more about it here). The brothers have also rehired the original chef, Rick Robinson, who was the chef when the Gotts took over in 1999. He is going to be integrating more local ingredients, and adding some new specials, like an upscale tuna melt.

Sebo Temporarily Closed

Sushi fanatics and connoisseurs, take note: SEBO is unexpectedly closing from now through April 15th, and will re-open for regular service on Friday the 16th. No fish for you!

Sebo            - 517 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-864-2122

Craigslist Revelations

Sometimes craigslist is like a crystal ball for upcoming projects, revealing a few details about restaurants I’ve been tracking. This week, an ad for CAFE DES AMIS mentions a June opening (we’ll have to see how that maps out since this project keeps getting delayed). One more update about that project: the chef will be Ed Carew, most recently at his now-closed restaurant, The Cottage Eatery, in Tiburon. 2000 Union St. at Buchanan.

It also looks like the Clift Hotel has chosen a name for the restaurant concept taking the place of Asia de Cuba: THE VELVET ROOM. I asked their publicist for an update, and got nuttin’. It seems the name shouldn’t have been listed on the ad, because now the ad just has a generic title. Huh. Time will tell. 495 Geary St. at Taylor.

Learn Some Dishes from Foreign Cinema and Fish. Chefs

There’s nothing like learning about how to make a restaurant dish you love directly from the chef, right? This Wednesday March 31st, you can finally learn the secret to Foreign Cinema’s Madras curry fried chicken, when chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark teach a cooking class at Cavallo Point in Sausalito. You’ll also learn to make an asparagus and farro salad with pecorino and arugula, and their rhubarb pop tarts. 6pm-8:30pm, $70 per person plus tax.

And then on April 10th, Kenny Belov from Sausalito’s Fish. restaurant is teaching a “fish fabricating and cooking” class. As the event announcement states, “You’re getting dirty.  Kenny sources only fish he personally deems sustainable. This means no FARMED SALMON, and no fish processed in China. Most importantly, he places an emphasis on education, sustainability, and preserving our oceans.” You’ll be making rod and reel-caught California yellowtail ceviche à la minute; grilled local sardines, spring green tomato Greek salad; chilled asparagus soup with Zuckerman Farms asparagus; and Alaskan halibut reubens with house-made sauerkraut on rye. 3pm-7pm, $125 per person plus tax.

Happy Hour with Industry Folks Doing the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride


This Thursday April 1st, chef Jennifer Biesty (Scala’s Bistro), Sara Delman (an event planner at Samantha Smith Productions), and Julie Colleran (a GM at COCO500) are hosting a FUNdraising event at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room for their AIDS/LifeCycle ride. Jen, Sara, and Julie (AKA Team Mise en Place) will be will be riding June 6th-12th from San Francisco to Los Angeles, along with thousands of other cyclists riding to end HIV and AIDS.

There will be Ketel One cocktails, Trumer Pils beer, and wine, plus hors d’oeuvres from chefs Jen and Alicia Jenish of The Slanted Door and the California Academy of Sciences Cafe. Plus lots of raffles, including: dinner for two at COCO500, dinner for two at Slanted Door, VIP table for two at the Starlight Room plus a bottle of bubbly, dinner for four at Scala’s Bistro with a wine pairing, and more! It’s just a $25 donation to enter (waived if you’ve already donated to one of the ladies) and you can eat and drink all that you can handle.

If you can’t make it, you can always donate to the cause using these links: Jen’s page, Julie’s page, and Sara’s page.

               Thursday Apr  1, 2010 6pm–9pm $25 more info

Vegan Night at La Victoria Thursday 4/1 (No Joke)


Once a month (the first Thursday of the month), Soul Cocina prepares a special vegan menu at LA VICTORIA BAKERY. This Thursday April 1st, the menu includes asparagus and Meyer lemon flatbread ($10) with mixed greens and local strawberries in coriander vinaigrette; wild foraged mushroom flatbread ($11) with radish and fava green salad; and sopes ($7 for one/$12 for two), handmade cactus tortillas filled with squash in radish leaf-pumpkin seed mole and garlic-cumin purple potatoes over salsa de venas and jalapeño cabbage slaw. Check out the entire menu here. 6pm-9pm. 2937 24th St. at Alabama, 415-642-7120.

A Multi-Napkin Meal (In Honor of Crawfish Season)


Flickr photo from firstcoasttigers.

Next Saturday April 10th, YATS is going to be hosting a full-tilt crawfish boil during the day on the back courtyard of Annie’s Bistro. Yon Davis is flying in 600 pounds of crawfish from Tony’s Seafood in Baton Rouge, along with spicy potatoes and corn. There will also be crawfish po’boys and crawfish pasta on hand, plenty of Abita beer, and lemonade. The all-you-can-eat crawfish feast is $25. Space is limited and almost sold out, so they are doing pre-sale tickets for this event—log on and order your ticket/space asap here (look for the small *Order button). 2829 California St. at Divisadero.

               Saturday Apr 10, 2010 1pm–6pm $25 more info

Have Your Lipitor Nearby: Southern Fried Night Is Coming

Coming up on Tuesday April 13th is the fourth annual Southern Fried Night at MAVERICK. On the menu, you’ll find frog legs, alligator “balls,” chorizo pies, green tomatoes, country fried steak, shrimp and grits, and more. Ironically it’s the only night they don’t fry chicken since you can get that every other night, FYI. They’re planning to sell the night out, so make your reservation now.

Maverick            - 3316 17th St. San Francisco - 415-863-3061

Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley


Photo by Andy Katz.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol is going to be celebrating with a special food and wine tasting on Sunday April 18th: Green Valley Goes Blue. The focus of this fourth annual fundraising event is ocean conservation. Event highlights include California Osetra caviar (sustainably farmed, of course) at the VIP sparkling reception; and at the main event, there will be Hog Island oysters, shucked by founder and avid surfer John Finger; grilled fish prepared by surfer-chef Kory Stewart from Americano at Hotel Vitale; a fish taco truck manned by Iron Horse alum Christopher Greenwald of Bay Laurel Culinary; delicious breads from surfer-baker Jed Wallach of Wildflour Bread in Freestone; and local, seasonal vegetables and salads prepared by Iron Horse Winery fisher-chef Ruben Gomez. There will be live music from a Sonoma pick-up band called Octopus Garden & the Rock Cods, along with a speaker (a National Geographic underwater explorer and marine biologist), an eco-exhibit, and many participating wineries for a walk-around tasting: DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Hartford Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, Marimar Estate, Orogeny, and Sequana Vineyards.

The beneficiaries are the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which raises consumer awareness and encourages restaurants, distributors, and seafood purveyors to purchase from sustainable sources, and the National Geographic Ocean Now initiative, which will study, chart, and preserve the last healthy, undisturbed underwater sites on the planet.

To order tickets, please click here (and starting Wednesday March 31st, you will be able to order tickets online).

               Sunday Apr 18, 2010 12pm–4pm $50 general; $250 VIP more info

Arizmendi Opens in San Rafael April 6th


Photo from Arizmendi website.

ARIZMENDI BAKERY is not only opening another location in San Francisco this summer (next to Heart, at 1270 Valencia), but the Association of Arizmendi Cooperatives is also opening a San Rafael location on April 6th, right on the downtown plaza. The worker-owned bakery will be offering an array of their wholesome breads, sweet and savory scones, brioche knots, beloved cheese rolls, and much more, along with their famous sourdough pizza (from 11:30am onward), all made with ingredients sourced from local and organic producers. The products are made throughout the day, so they’re always hot and fresh. Tue-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8am-4pm. 1002 4th St. at A St., San Rafael, 415-456-4093.


the sponsor

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

Taste a World of Difference in the Wines of Portugal at this year’s unique tasting and book signing event on Monday April 5th (5pm-8pm). With more than 150 wines, from the dry reds of Bairrada to the delicious whites of the Minho, and from the newly renamed Tejo and Lisbon regions to the progressive offerings from Alentjo and Duoro, you will enjoy a fabulous evening while doing your part to support Meals on Wheels of San Francisco (100% of proceeds will be donated)!

Marcia “the tablehopper” Gagliardi will be signing her new book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. The first 150 consumers to purchase tickets online will also get a free copy of her book at the door ($16 value). Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein will also be available to sign his brand-new book, Daring Pairings. Both book signings are from 5pm-7pm, and copies of both books will be available for sale on site as well.

RSVP now. Tickets are only $35 online if purchased by April 4th. $50 at the door. There are less than 50 free books left for the first 150 advance ticket purchases, so hop to it!

Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St., San Francisco Consumer Tasting: 5pm-8pm

fresh meat

New Restaurant Reviews (I'm looking for somewhere new to eat)

Prime Rib Shabu


When I hear the words “all you can eat,” I usually turn the other way and get to steppin’ in my high heels. What can I say, I’m not in my twenties anymore. But when I spoke with owner Luke Sung about his modern shabu-meets-hot pot restaurant, PRIME RIB SHABU, back before it opened, his commitment to using quality product made me want to take a leap of faith.

For your first time, you really should do the all-you-can-eat offer, which is $25.95 per person—this way you can try everything and see what you like best. A pot of chicken broth was placed on the induction burner in the center of the table—it came with a side basket overflowing with ton ho from Star Route Farms (a leafy and slightly bitter Chinese chrysanthemum green aka cresta de gallo in Spanish), bracing watercress, napa cabbage, cubes of tofu, sheets of yuba (loved), enoki mushrooms, sweet potato vermicelli, chewy udon, and a delicious dipping sauce with soy, cilantro, jalapeño, and green onion—a welcome change from the usual Japanese dipping sauces of ponzu and gomae, because you can really taste the meat. We were also offered some chopped chili peppers (quite feisty, so proceed carefully), and requested rice on the side. Yeah, it’s quite the lineup.

We started placing the heavier vegetables (like the cabbage) and tofu into the hot pot, and readied our chopsticks for the meat swishing. (If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry—the staff will totally walk you through the process.)

We were served platters of thinly cut American ribeye, thicker and fattier hand-cut ribeye (although both had lovely marbling). But please note there is a limit of two plates of the hand-cut ribeye per person—and let’s be honest here, it would be an insane amount of beef to consume, but who am I to judge? While we thought we were going to be all over the ribeye, our surprise favorite was the thin-cut lamb shoulder from Modesto—it cooked really well, tasted so fresh, and had excellent flavor. (Don’t forget to dip your meats in the sauce after you swish it in the broth.) We also got a side of fresh head-on prawns (don’t overcook them!), dense fish cake, springy fish and squid balls, and imitation crab that got all stringy in the broth.

Yeah, you’re gonna be eating a lot of protein. Although you can come back and just order things à la carte (which is what I’m going to do with the lamb, baaaaa, which is $17.95). The seafood is also $17.95, the ribeye is $16.95 ($18.95 for the hand-cut platter), or you can do a vegetarian option for $9.95. Overall, the entire experience is a refreshing and somewhat modern California spin on the usual shabu shabu (or hot pot) experience—it’s all about the ingredients.

Don’t come here wearing heavy clothes—you’re going to want to dress in layers, because as the night goes on (fueled by glasses of sake and Orion beer), you’re gonna get sweaty. I also feel badly for anyone wearing glasses—they’ll instantly fog up like you’re in a sauna. And come with a group: while the place is small and cozy, the food is built for group dining. The recent additions of $1 oysters and $1 shots of cold sake will certainly contribute to keeping your tab low but your party vibe high (woot). It would also be a fun date spot (you can make up kissing rules, like when you lose your bread in a fondue pot).

Looking in from outside, if you can even see through the steamy windows, the simple décor isn’t particularly compelling, with induction burners placed on top of the tables instead of sunken into them. But no matter, because the food is what you’re here for. Oh, and the incredibly nice server we had made it extra-pleasant.

At the end of the meal, the broth is just amazing (our observant server thinned it out for us along the way when he noticed it was getting too dense). This is when you want to put your noodles in, either the vermicelli or the thick udon (you can fish them out with the provided ladle). But by the time you’re done with dinner and cruising on a serious protein high, the noodle and broth combo is almost too rich, too filling to fully enjoy.

We thought we were all clever wanting to pack the broth up to bring home to enjoy the next day. But here’s the sad part: since the place is all-you-can-eat, you can’t bring it home. As it’s been said, you can’t take it with you. Fie! My table mustered a few final sips of the deeply flavored broth, and we then headed back out into the chilly Inner Richmond night.

Prime Rib Shabu            - 308 5th Ave. San Francisco - 415-379-4678

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Urban Wine Tasting Tonight

Tonight, March 30th, NIRVINO is hosting an exclusive tasting of wine made at urban wineries in San Francisco, Treasure Island, and Oakland. Participating wineries include: A.P. Vin, York Creek Vineyards, Blue Cellars, Broc Cellars, Vie Winery, JC Cellars, Dashe Cellars, Donkey And Goat Winery, Periscope Cellars, Tayerle Wine, 122 West Winery, Wattle Creek Winery, and Foggy Bridge Winery. There will also be small bites by Bar Bambino.

               Tuesday Mar 30, 2010 6pm–9pm $10 with RSVP, $20 at the door with no RSVP more info

Bourbon and Bacon Happy Hour This Friday

Yeah, you read that correctly: on Friday April 2nd, KOKO COCKTAILS is hosting a Bourbon and Bacon Happy Hour from 5pm-9pm (it happens every first Friday of the month). Order any American whiskey off their extensive menu, and you’ll be treated to a thick slice of center-cut apple wood-smoked bacon, cooked to perfection. (Uh, yeah, I’ll have the $15 Pappy Van Winkle 20 year, thanks.) First come, first served, until the last piece is gone. There are also $2 PBRs and Modelos or $3 well and drafts during the happy hour. Sweet! Or, actually, sooooooweeeee. 1060 Geary St. at Van Ness.

A Benefit for Chile in the Presidio on April 6th


There’s a really important fundraiser for Chile happening next Tuesday April 6th: A TASTE OF CHILE. It’s being put on by Bay Area Chileans, Presidio Cafe, Chilean Consulate SF, and Chilean Importers. The event will feature various wines from a multitude of Chilean appellations, paired with empanadas from Café Valparaíso of Berkeley, shrimp appetizers and alfajores from Sabores del Sur, and more, plus there will be Chilean-themed music and dance. You can read more details about participants on the event’s Facebook page. The event is being hosted at the Presidio Cafe.

They are asking guests to contribute a minimum of a $25 donation, and those who give $100 or more will be included in a raffle drawing (ten local restaurants are offering dining gift certificates). All proceeds benefit COANIQUEM, a private non-profit burn center foundation that operates three rehab centers in Chile, and whose facilities were greatly compromised by the recent earthquake.

               Tuesday Apr  6, 2010 6:30pm–10pm more info

San Francisco Vintners Market
 on April 10th-11th


The SAN FRANCISCO VINTNERS MARKET returns to Fort Mason. Here’s more: “Tired of going to wine tasting events, discovering great new wines and then never being able to find them again? We were too. That’s why we created the San Francisco Vintners Market at Fort Mason Center April 10th to the 11th. This first-of-its-kind wine tasting and buying event is a farmers’ market-style shopping experience where wine enthusiasts can try and buy wines from over 200 wineries.

“The San Francisco Vintners Market will feature top local wineries from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Russian River Valley, and other regional wineries, plus imported wines from around the world. San Francisco Vintners Market features wine at all price points and styles including new releases, library collections, and end-of-vintage selections—all available for immediate purchase.”

               Saturday Apr 10, 2010 – Sunday Apr 11, 2010 12pm–5pm $30; $75 Reserve Room access more info

Get Your Passport to the East Bay Wine Trail


The East Bay Vintner’s Alliance (EBVA) is putting on its third annual PASSPORT TO THE EAST BAY WINE TRAIL on Saturday April 10th. Twenty urban wineries, some of which are not usually open to the public, will pour their wares at seven distinct tasting rooms within about ten miles of each other. Participating wineries include Adams Point, Andrew Lane, Aubin Cellars, Blacksmith Cellars, Cerruti Cellars, Dashe Cellars, Eno Wines, Irish Monkey, JC Cellars, Periscope Cellars, Prospect 772, R&B Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rosenblum Cellars, Stage Left Cellars, Tayerle Wines, Two Mile, Urban Legend Cellars, and Urbano Cellars.

Each ticket purchased ensures a wristband, which guarantees free access to each of the seven tasting rooms from 12pm-5pm, an assortment of appetizers, and a souvenir Riedel glass.

               Saturday Apr 10, 2010 12pm–5pm $30 in advance, $45 at the door, $10 for designated drivers more info

Find Tax-Time Relief at Palio (Read: Cheap Drinks)

One good thing about tax season: PALIO D’ASTI is offering their month-long special, April Tax Time Relief. Purchase two courses at lunch (or three at dinner) and your first classic martini is only $1, and a second martini is only $7. There are also some new drinks you can try during their popular weekday “free pizza” happy hour, like a $7 Gibson alla Romana: gin and dry vermouth “dirtied” with house-pickled artichoke juice and garnished with pickled artichoke heart, plus $9 seasonal specials. See, you can still be seasonal while drowning your sorrows.

Palio D'Asti            - 640 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-395-9800


the sponsor

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

Lunazul tequila is made of 100% blue agave tequilana Weber at the Tierra de Agaves Distillery in Tequila, Mexico. Tierra de Agaves’ vertical integration method ensures all agave is estate-grown, distilled, and bottled, one of the few in the industry to still do so. This ensures consistency of quality, price, and supply from the small-batch distiller.

Lunazul was the only tequila brand to receive the 2009 Growth Brands Rising Star Award by Beverage Dynamics and the Beverage Information Group. In today’s economy, the role of value brands has become especially important. However, when a product manages to be both affordable and of high quality, then it’s especially poised to do well.

the socialite

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

Hop Dog Happy Hour With CUESA


Flickr photo from thewifeofanartist.

Event Info

Wednesday Apr 14, 2010 6pm–8pm $15 Tickets                        Ferry Building 101 The Embarcadero, San Francisco

Hot dogs and cocktails? That’s right! Join CUESA and yours truly in celebrating the release of my new book (The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot For Every Occasion) at the HOP DOG HAPPY HOUR on Wednesday April 14th. You’ll be able to taste four of the top dogs that are featured in my book and hop between cocktail stations for tastes of delicious cocktails. All for just $15!

Here are the four talented teams of local chefs and bartenders who are concocting a dog and cocktail pairing for this fun twist on happy hour:

Ryan Farr, 4505 Meats; and Daniel Hyatt, The Alembic

Jamie Lauren, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar; and Carlos Yturria, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. Jamie will be doing Absinthe’s house-made hot dog with Guinness mustard, chili ketchup, and sauerkraut; paired with Carlos’s Sea Bean Gimlet with Hendrick’s Gin.

John Clark and Gayle Pirie, Show Dogs; and Scott Baird, 15 Romolo. John and Gayle are grilling house-made lamb merguez with house mustard and slaw, while Scott is doing something with Spanish brandy.

Yvonne Long and Natalie McMahon, Da Beef; and Brooke Arthur, Range. Yvonne and Natalie will of course be offering their Chicago dog, while Brooke is doing a cocktail with Wild Turkey.

All proceeds benefit CUESA. You’ll also be able to pick up a copy of my book and have it signed for $17.50 (no charge for a mustard or ketchup stain).

TASTE 2010: A Garden of Earthly Delights on April 22nd


 Event Info

Thursday Apr 22, 2010 7:30pm–10:30pm VIP: $125/person ($400 for four VIP tickets); regular tickets: $70 before Tuesday, April 20th ($100/person thereafter) Tickets/info                        Root Division 3175 17th St. at South Van Ness, San Francisco 415-863-7668

Root Division is presenting TASTE 2010: A GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS on Thursday April 22nd. It’s a night of inspired food, drink, art, and music, all on-site in Root Division’s gallery and studios. There will be over 12 local chefs and mixologists (including Bar Bambino, Beretta, Bourbon & Branch), 26 visual artists, and live music by Eggplant Casino. Since this year’s event coincides with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the theme—A Garden of Earthly Delights—is all about partaking in spring’s abundance.

There will also be a silent auction of gift certificates from Bay Area restaurants, spas, salons, and other venues, and small artworks by local emerging artists. Guests will also have the opportunity to win the raffled Wine Chest, a collection of over 50 bottles of one-of-a-kind artist-decorated and collector’s choice wines (raffle tickets are $40 each or $75 for two tickets).

A limited number of VIP tickets will be available, offering a private and advanced opportunity to experience TASTE 2010 at its fullest. In addition to early access to appetizers, artwork, and specialty cocktails, each VIP ticket includes a special cooking demonstration and tasting by a featured chef at 6:30pm, a vegetable-carving demo by Food Network Gold Medalist chef Ray Duey, and a limited edition screen-printed bag filled with goodies and gifts from various venues around town. Proceeds benefit Root Division’s free after-school art classes for Bay Area youth as well as local emerging artists.

the sponsor

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

Spring into a love affair with food this April with FEAST, The San Francisco Bay Guardian’s semiannual guide to culinary and cocktail culture that helps you navigate through the diverse foods and flavors of the Bay Area. Pick up your copy on Wednesday April 21st.

To learn about advertising opportunities, and how to receive 20% off your Feast ad, contact an account executive at 415-487-2558 or email Faben Alula and mention “tablehopper.”

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Woody Harrelson Dined in the Mission (Seems About Right)

Woody Harrelson dined at RAMBLAS TAPAS in the Mission (he was reportedly in with a group for a film fest). He was “super friendly” and spoke to chef Aisha Ibrahim, saying that he would be back soon.

Dining Without An Entourage

A tablehopper reader spotted Rhys Coiro, AKA Billy Walsh on HBO’s Entourage, while dining at BAR TARTINE last Tuesday.

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