A16’s sardine crostini with minted peas.
Pride is always one of my favorite times of the year in San Francisco: Market Street becomes a boulevard of billowing and bright rainbow flags, dear friends fly into town from all over, an amazing group of volunteers climb Twin Peaks in order to create a gigantic pink triangle, and San Francisco just skyrockets with megawatt gay energy and smiling people. I remember last year I was toiling away at home on my manuscript, missing the annual Pink Saturday party with all my friends in Dolores Park. But this year, hell no! I am off the chain the entire weekend. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful celebration.
Last Saturday was no slouch, however. Thanks to everyone who came to the tablehopper Indian Street Food Event at Dosa—we had a sold-out room! And the Dosa kitchen staff made sure we totally feasted (quite!), and the Robert Oatley wine pairings were delicious. Here is a link to my photo album of the event, and here’s another set from a tablehopper reader who attended. I also thought I’d include a link to this fun video about the street food of Mumbai. It features many of the places I went to in January—I was missing the food so much I had to have it again, hence this event. Thank you for being game, Dosa!
Last week’s culinary highlights also included Thursday’s StarChefs Rising Stars Revue Gala; my favorite dish was Scott Nishiyama of Chez TJ’s (dear lord, hold me) Moulard duck foie gras “neige,” with blackberry gelee, cashew purée, sliced baby radish, and housemade mustard toast. The “neige” (snow) was a fluffy cloud of frozen and then grated foie gras. In-sane. (No surprise that it won the People’s Choice award at the event.) I also couldn’t resist eating two of Liza Shaw of A16’s sardine crostini with minted peas and topped with pickled onions. Heck, the entire event featured so many impressive dishes, kudos to all.
After the event, I swung by the Comstock Saloon for a couple oh-so-excellent cocktails (am loving the name, Gill Sans, for a cocktail), and then hit the after-party at Orson, which included Elizabeth Falkner’s deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich bites. Pure evil. Suffice to say, the next day was all about vegetables, and lots and lots of water.
Cheers! Have a swell week! Marcia Gagliardi
P.S. A few of you seem to have forgotten, so here’s a little reminder: Marcia (rhymes with Garcia). Heh.
Reopening tonight is SAISON, the newly upgraded and remodeled fine dining restaurant in the back of Stable Café. What’s exciting is the temporary “one night a week” restaurant that started in July of 2009 grew to three nights, and will now be serving dinner five nights a week (Tue-Sat). Chef Joshua Skenes is now cooking on his dream stove: a Molteni, the only one in the city. There are eight seats in the kitchen, including a four-seat chef’s counter ($200 per person), or the two-seat chef’s table, offering a landmark dining experience of up to 20 courses (the menu can be customized for meals clocking in at $200 to $500 per person—yes, you read that right). Meanwhile, the main dining room has new Danish modern dining chairs and semi-circle banquettes, offering a view of the kitchen and the patio. An eight-course meal is $98, paired with regional French wines chosen by sommelier Mark Bright for an additional $75-90. And since there’s only one seating per night, you can plan on lingering with your group without a server dropping a check on you as soon as you finish your last bite of dessert.
There is also a new hearth on the brick outdoor terrace for whole-animal cooking (both meat and fish), where the kitchen will additionally be cooking and roasting items in the embers and ashes. You will be able to swing by and just drop in for a meal in one of the 15 or so seats on the Terrace at Saison. This section will break from the prix-fixe menu format, offering a more casual experience and an à la carte menu. Look for this option in a couple weeks.
The cuisine is centered around top-notch ingredients, from herbs procured from a local forager to poussin from Four Story Hills. Saison is cultivating its own biodynamic garden of edibles just a few miles from the restaurant as well. Check out this photo album from Grub Street for a sneak peek of the space (and kitchen).
Saison - 178 Townsend St. San Francisco - 415-828-7990
A new restaurant called SONS & DAUGHTERS is now (suddenly) open near Union Square, in the former (and 31-year-old) Cafe Mozart space. I’ve been attempting to track details on this one for a while, in spite of the not-very-responsive/forthcoming owners—thankfully Eater caught and informed us about the actual opening last Wednesday. The restaurant is from chef-owners Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara, who in an earlier email to me said, “Our experience ranges from an industrial kitchen for burrito carts in Oregon, Michelin 3’s throughout Europe and America, and lots in between. We are going to be doing 2 services…Morning will be fresh baked pastries, Verve coffee, and a few rotating lunch plates. Our dinner will be us cooking the food that excites us: unique, seasonal and refined combinations in a casual environment.”
For now, it’s all about dinner. There’s a four-course menu on the site for $48, with four wines paired for $32. Stylistically it has the same menu minimalism vibe that Conduit had, leaving guests to play what I call “flavor visualization games” (e.g. “sweetbreads pork crisp grapefruit purple potato”). You can also order à la carte. The wine list definitely runs at a mid-range price point. The room looks spiffy enough, with black and white photographs and hardwood floors: you can view Eater’s interior pics here. Open Wed-Sun 6pm-11pm, and reservations are only for parties of 6 or more.
Sons & Daughters - 708 Bush St. San Francisco - 415-391-8311
Was sorry to get a call last week that the Gypsy Kitchen duo, Ryan Ostler and Katharine Zacher, will no longer be doing their awesome Southern cooking and ‘cue at BRUNO’S. Sniff. Their last night will be this Saturday June 26th. It’s an amicable departure—unfortunately it was just another attempt at a food-based business at Bruno’s that couldn’t be sustained. In the meantime, Kat and Ryan will be doing some stages around town, checking out the local scene since they’re not chained to the kitchen, and hopefully some travels, too. They really want to find their own spot this next time and have their very own place—and Kat is really hoping to get back to doing more desserts. Here’s wishing them a new dream house soon.
Bruno's - 2389 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-643-5200
Chef Jamie Lauren’s last day at ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR is this Saturday June 26th. They have not yet hired a new executive chef, so the Absinthe kitchen team will continue to run the show until a hire is made (last I heard, the executive chef will also be overseeing Boxing Room, the name of the sister project that will be opening in the former Citizen Cake space). Meanwhile, Jamie is off to LA; she was mentioned in this recent LA Times article about a test kitchen space, where she cooked for dinner guests Steve Levine (Wilshire restaurant owner) and Richard Drapkin (Grace).
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590
Little did I know the delicious piccola meringata I had at ZUNI CAFÉ last week was going to be the last one I was to have by pastry chef Jennifer Grantham. A tipster writes in that after 3 1/2 years, she is moving to San Diego to start her own restaurant with her husband, Burke Grantham, called Pizzeria Zingari (but first, they have to find a location). Grantham’s last day will be June 26th, so she will be showcasing some of her favorite desserts on the pastry menu this Saturday. Her assistant for the last year, Annie Callan, will be replacing her as pastry chef.
Zuni Café - 1658 Market St. San Francisco - 415-552-2522
Three tidbits about places around town: SF Foodie noted that DYNAMO DONUT AND COFFEE has finally opened its back patio (and how quaint, you’ll be able to enjoy your Four Barrel coffee and chocolate spice donut in the midst of a garden of herbs and flowers). 2760 24th St. at York, 415-920-1978.
Meanwhile, over in the Marina, the new SUSIECAKES BAKERY (an import from Los Angeles) has opened in the former Miette space, and is going to throw a 1950’s Sock Hop this Saturday June 26th. There will be 50s tunes, kid-friendly activities, samples, prizes, and of course, some poodle skirts. 2pm-5pm. 2109 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-474-CAKE (2253).
SF Foodie also mentioned KINGDOM CAKE now has a window open in North Beach, Thu-Sat 11am-6pm. The menu “features 50 items: cupcakes, cheesecakes, and other treats of the sweet, savory, and vegan varieties. Sample flavors include mimosa, Thai tea, basil lemon blueberry, and pancakes ‘n bacon.” 524 Union St. at Grant, 415-860-1142.
THREE TWINS ICE CREAM in the Lower Haight is going to replace all their normal flavors with ALL GAY FLAVORS from Friday June 25th through Sunday June 27th for Pride! So, what are LGBT flavors? How about: Rainbows Are Gay Sherbet, Pink Triangle, Hot Cookie (with cookies from the Castro’s favorite cookie shop), Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (vanilla ice cream with military ration desserts mixed in), Rice Milk Harvey Milk and Cookies—and let’s not fail to mention Salted Nuts (this is what a weekend in leather chaps can do to you). They are also having a “Gay as a Three Dollar Bill” promo, with retail pints running for only $3 (normally $5) with any purchase of $3 or more. Available flavors will include Madagascar Vanilla, Bittersweet Chocolate, Mint Confetti, Cookies and Cream, Mocha Difference, Vanilla Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Dad’s Cardamom. Open Mon-Thu 12pm-10:30pm, Fri 12pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, and Sun 11am-10:30pm. 254 Fillmore St. at Haight, 415-ITS-TWIN.
I had a chance to catch up with Brenda Buenviaje of BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD on Polk, and got an exciting update on the expansion of her little shoebox of a restaurant. She said they’re just wrapping things up with the architect, then on to getting all of the permits (they want to do things in phases so they don’t have to shut down during any part of the expansion). Once the permits are issued in a couple of weeks, they will begin remodeling the ex-laundromat next door (which is just a huge gutted space right now) into a new dining room and brand-new kitchen that will be about four times larger. Once the new side is all done, they’ll move into it while they completely overhaul the “old” side. The architect is targeting five months from now, so we shall see! In the meantime, SF Shines, a city-run façade improvement program, will be completely remodeling and updating the façade—Brenda’s won a grant to do so. How cool is that?
Brenda's French Soul Food - 652 Polk St. San Francisco - 415-345-8100
THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA in Noe Valley is open as of today in the former Bistro 24 space (or Miss Millie’s for you old timers). The Mexican taqueria dishes made with sustainable ingredients will be the same as the Divisadero location (say hola to their salsa bar, and their excellent plantain burrito). The 42-seat space will be joined by another 16 seats on the patio soon enough. Hours through Thursday are 11am-3pm, followed by the regular hours of 11am-10pm, starting on Friday. Brunch will be coming later on. 4123 24th St. at Castro, 415-648-4157.
I have received countless emails asking me, “Wassup with GRUB on Valencia?” (This is what happens when you have a business on Valencia at 19th Street). The current targeted opening date is July 21st. Partner Erik Reese (Mayes Oyster House on Polk) is creating a sit-down, table-service establishment (don’t let the casual name throw you), with a menu that will allow you to create your own burger combo (all-natural beef, buffalo, ahi tuna, etc.). There will also be a build-your-own mac ‘n’ cheese option, so you can request anything from Grana Padano breadcrumb topping to sharp cheddar to broccoli and ham, along with English peas, applewood bacon, lobster, white truffle, or Stilton. Nothing will be over $15, and the wine list will feature 35 bottles, with nothing over $49, and glasses priced $6-$11. Hours will be 6pm-1am, with the kitchen open until 12:30am nightly. Weekends will have brunch 10am-2:30pm, with, of course, bottomless mimosas. I’ll keep you posted on the opening date and more. 758 Valencia St. at 19th St.
This upcoming Bay Gourmet/Commonwealth Club panel, EATING LOCALLY ON A BUDGET, is on Wednesday June 30th. The panel of experts will discuss how to eat locally without breaking the bank, and includes: Deborah Madison, author, What We Eat When We Eat Alone; Leda Meredith, author, The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Locally on a Budget; Jessica Prentice, author, Three Moon Feast; and moderator Temra Costa, author, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat.
Wednesday Jun 30, 2010 6pm check-in; 6:30pm-7:45pm program $15 members, $23 non-members more info
Seems the response to the COUNTY LINE HARVEST ROGUE FARMERS MARKET at Spruce was so good that they’re going to host it every Thursday! Each week, produce boxes will be filled with a delicious selection of hand-picked and super-fresh produce; $25 each. You are encouraged to pre-order by emailing Zoe, but a limited number of boxes will be available for those who did not have a chance to pre-order. 3:30pm-5:30pm. 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce.
Spruce - 3640 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-931-5100
A couple street food events are happening this week. Friday June 25th in Fort Mason is OFF THE GRID, a for-profit market of Asian and Latin entrepreneurs who are partnering with Fort Mason Center, La Cocina, and the SF Cart Project. Participating and confirmed food vendors for this Friday include Chaac-Mool, Azalina’s Malaysian, El Huarache Loco, Kung Fu Tacos, Onigilly, Peko Peko Catering, Hapa SF, Soul on Wheels, Soul Cocina, Chairman Bao Truck, El Porteño Empanadas, Curry Up Now, and Global Soul. (Others may join the list later—keep up with it on Facebook.) Yeah, that is quite the lineup! Live music will accompany the food, and beer and wine will be available for purchase at the event (for those 21 and over). The event is 5pm-8pm, and will be happening each Friday going forward—hours may extend into the summer. I totally want to check this out. Fort Mason.
Then on Saturday June 26th is OUTSIDE IN 5, from Soul Cocina, SF Cart Project, and Hands-On Gourmet. This street food crawl in Dogpatch will feature both brick and mortar locations (like Piccino, Yield Wine Bar, Serpentine) and a variety of carts, like Chile Lindo, Pizza Hacker, and Hapa Ramen (check the event Facebook page for a complete listing). It starts at 5pm, with the majority of food vendors kicking off at 6pm, followed by an outdoor film at sunset. The event is a benefit for the SF Food Bank. Various Dogpatch locations.
Friday Jun 25, 2010 – Saturday Jun 26, 2010 more info
Rancher Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch is going to be supplying the pig for the second annual MEET THE WINEMAKER, RANCHER, AND CHEF DINNER at Kuleto’s on Tuesday June 29th. Chef Bob Helstrom’s whole hog menu will be paired with wines by Mac McDonald from Vision Cellars. The menu includes: Kuleto’s house-cured salumi; crispy pork conserva; roast pork loin; and baked goat cheese ricotta with chestnut honey and fig crackers. Wines include: 2008 Napa and Santa Lucia Highlands California white wine sauvignon blanc-pinot gris blend; 2008 Mendocino County riesling; 2007 Chileno Valley Marin County pinot noir; and 2008 rosé blend.
Tuesday Jun 29, 2010 7pm $75 per person (excluding taxes and gratuity) more info
Well, you better if you win this contest. WATERBAR is quickly approaching the sale of its half millionth oyster since the restaurant’s opening in January 2008. The guest who orders the half millionth oyster will be rewarded with a year’s supply of oysters at Waterbar: one dozen oysters a week for an entire year. And as a bonus for everyone there, when the restaurant hits the half-million mark, all the guests at Waterbar will be treated with a round of Champagne for everyone. You can try to time your visit by following the countdown on Waterbar’s Facebook and Twitter pages over the next week. As of today at high noon, the count was at 498,674.
Waterbar - 399 The Embarcadero San Francisco - 415-284-9922
Seems appropriate that a restaurant called SLOW will be opening in Berkeley this July from chef/owner Kyle Anderson. Chef Anderson, 28, has worked with Daniel Boulud in New York and for Charlie Trotter in Chicago; he is also working with Christopher Blue of Chocolatier Blue, along with general manager Rose Grabow. The counter-service menu will highlight California cuisine with European influences made with what I call SLO (sustainable/seasonal, local, organic) ingredients. Some examples on the menu: braised short ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, confit of salmon, and a caprese sandwich. Items will range from $6 at lunch to dinner items at $12.
There will be a takeout option with curbside pickup, as well as grab-and-go lunchtime selections. Once their liquor license kicks in, beer and wine will be available. The look will be rustic country, with lots of natural light, a polished cement floor, an exhibition kitchen, and tables and seating made with wood reclaimed from an 1822 railroad tunnel. The dining room will have room for 30, and there is also outdoor patio seating—weather permitting—for up to 30 guests who can enjoy views of a competition-level rose garden (take THAT!). Hours will be Mon-Sat 11am-9pm. 1966 University Ave. at Milvia, Berkeley, 510-647-FOOD (3663).
A new addition to the West Berkeley food scene is THE BEEHIVE MARKET, a Saturday affair that features an organic food court, farmers, and food manufacturers, as well as locally made, eco-friendly lifestyle products (transportation, personal care, pets, kids apparel, garden). Neither a farmer’s market nor a flea market, you can find all kinds of unique items each week, from coffee, to Argentine barbecue from Primo’s Parilla, to a free wheelbarrow of compost—you can check out the mix of vendors on the website, which seems to be growing weekly. Every Saturday from 10am-2pm. 1701 San Pablo Ave. at Virginia (in the parking lot at the Berkeley Adult School).
• $5 per ticket; $20 gets you 5 tickets plus a cloth Bi-Rite bag. • Tickets are available for purchase at Bi-Rite Market, Bi-Rite Creamery (cash only), or by calling the Market at 415-241-9760. • Live drawing at 18 Reasons Wednesday June 30th at 8pm, where Dine Out for the Gulf organizer Jimmy Galle will speak about the spill from a local perspective. (You don’t have to be present to win.)
A single ticket purchase enters you to win one of these exciting prizes:
- Private dinner for 8 at 18 Reasons cooked by Bi-Rite’s Sam Mogannam
- Private dinner for 8 cooked by Alex Ong of Betelnut fame
- Ice cream for a year from Bi-Rite Creamery (as a $400 gift card)
- Gift basket of Bi-Rite’s “greatest hits” items ($150 value)
- A 6-pack of Mom’s preserves ($50 value)
- A case of Bi-Rite’s favorite 18th Street wines ($150 value)
- Dinner from Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods every Friday for a month
- “Chicken = Tiny Dinosaur” print donated by local artist Imin Yeh
- Gift Certificate to Betelnut Restaurant ($100 value)
The short-term goal of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, administered by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, is to make emergency grants to nonprofit organizations helping the victims of the oil spill. The long-term goal of the fund is to address the long-term economic, environmental, and cultural effects of the disaster, and to strengthen coastal communities against future environmental catastrophes by investing in solutions. No administrative fees will be charged to the fund: all funds will be re-granted to the communities in need.
At the end of June, after four years as the barman at NOPA, the talented Neyah White will be leaving to be the West Coast Brand Ambassador for Yamazaki Single Malts. Yanni Kehagiaras and Kent Howard will then be assuming the management of the bar program at Nopa. Yanni was the bar manager at Bourbon and Branch before joining the Nopa team in late 2008 (he will be responsible for the creative aspect behind the bars at Nopa and now Nopalito). Kent, who has bartended at Nopa since 2007, will work jointly with Yanni in the bar operations of Nopa.
Nopa - 560 Divisadero St. San Francisco - 415-864-8643
I guess the bar at ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR was already busy enough, so bar manager Carlos Yturria had to open his new monthly “pop-up bar” (called Pickled) in the private dining room (PDR). The last Monday of every month, you’ll be able to go into the PDR for a special cocktail menu (there will be 7-8 cocktails, priced between $10-$12) featuring a variety of spirits. Absinthe’s sous chef Allison Harvey and pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez will be putting together a menu of 5 bar snacks, all priced at $4, including homemade salt and vinegar chips, pickled asparagus, American cheese and prosciutto biscuits, and more. It all starts on Monday June 28th.
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590
This Thursday June 24th, there will be a complimentary wine tasting with Randall Grahm from Bonny Doon Vineyard at CODA from 5:30pm-7:30pm. This Meet the Winemaker Happy Hour will include a complimentary tasting of select Bonny Doon Vineyard wines, with music from DJ Jacob Pena of Colombia y Panama. Guests must be 21 or older to attend this event.
Thursday Jun 24, 2010 more info
CODA - 1710 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-551-2632
When I lived in Venezia (Italy), I knew all about grabbing a little “ombra”—it’s a term in Venetian dialect for the small glasses of wine you could get at wine bars (bacari) all over town. Starting Saturday June 26th, from 9pm until closing, BELLANICO RESTAURANT & WINE BAR is introducing Ombra Hour, offering cicchetti (small Venetian snacks) at half price, with over 25 selections of ombras (3 oz. tastes of wines); the offer will continue to run nightly for the last hour of service. To kick it off, Bellanico will be offering complimentary cicchetti with the purchase of a taste or glass of wine this Saturday. 4238 Park Blvd. at Wellington, Oakland, 510-336-1180.
This Sunday June 27th, more than 500 acclaimed pinots will be poured at the 6th annual PINOT DAYS GRAND FESTIVAL in San Francisco, and more than 220 winemakers will be present. There are also three thematic Focus Tastings, a special Producer Spotlight tasting with winemaker Adam Lee of Siduri Wines, and tastings at local wine venues, including District, MO Bar, and Ottimista Enoteca-Café. The Grand Festival entry fee is $60, but tablehopper readers get 15% off the ticket price (the discount code is tablehsf10).
Sunday Jun 27, 2010 1pm–5pm $60 (tablehopper readers use code tablehsf10 for 15% off) more info
On Tuesday June 29th, join GATHER restaurant in Berkeley for dinner and a movie… and a little more. The evening will feature an outdoor, buffet-style BBQ dinner; a sneak preview of the film Edible City; and a panel discussion with the filmmakers and cast member Jessica Prentice.
The Edible City filmmakers are documenting the work of individuals who are creating sustainable food systems in the Bay Area. (This event is also a fundraiser for Edible City.) The sneak preview footage will focus on Jessica Prentice, a Bay Area food activist, author of Full Moon Feast, and co-founder/co-owner of Three Stone Hearth community kitchen in Berkeley. The screening begins at 8:45pm.
8pm buffet-style BBQ dinner on the patio 8:45pm screening 9:15pm panel discussion, Q&A, and comments
Tickets ($85) include the dinner, screening, and panel discussion, and can be purchased online.
Tracy Chapman was spotted at CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen with a group of around 15 people (including her actress girlfriend)—my spy says they ate mostly appetizers, cheese, fries, salads, and shishito peppers.
Cloris Leachman came in to Kuleto’s for a late dinner last Saturday after performing at the Rrazz Room. She ordered the seabass on a crispy risotto cake with pea shoots, and immediately ordered another risotto cake for her son to try. She reportedly surprised the waiter with a hug as she left.