This week's tablehopper: from the playa to paris.
Bissap from Chiefo’s Kitchen (at the SF Street Food Festival).
And now it’s the time of the year when I throw some gas on the fire, literally. I’m furiously getting ready to head off to the playa this Sunday for a week, and things are gettin’ crazy here at the homestead. Burning Man has quite literally exploded all over my apartment (and I know I’m far from alone in this current condition).
I’ll have a newsletter all queued up to go out next Tuesday the 31st, but since I’m not returning to urban life until Monday September 6th, you probably won’t hear from me again until that Friday the 10th. I will be completely, totally, and joyfully unavailable on email and my cell until I return on the 6th, so please take it easy on my email inbox, thanks.
And then, here’s where it gets ridiculous, because I am flying to France for a week on Saturday September 11th to tour Champagne during harvest. I know, go ahead, I would hate me, too. But for this bubbly-loving lady, this trip is a dream come true. I’ll also be staying over for a few days in Paris at the end of the trip, can’t wait. I haven’t been to Paris since I was 20 (mon dieu), so there’s a lot I have to catch up on. I have a long list going already, but I’d love any recommendations and super-duper finds from those of you who have been to Paris recently! This trip is definitely on the affordable end of things (Burning Man and tax quarterlies do not make for a plush travel budget), so please, no three-star restaurant recos, because it ain’t gonna happen. My accommodations in Paris also got a little tenuous, so if any of you folks happen to have (or know of) a pied-à-terre I could stay at, the hotline is open and operators are standing by.
I’ll be too busy running last-minute errands this weekend, but I imagine many of you will make it across the bay to the Eat Real Fest, which looks like a winner (there’s also this Hodo Soy and Recchiuti event and the Waterbar OysterFest this Saturday!).
Oh, and you have one more day to bid on my La Cocina silent auction item, which is a night on the town tablehoppin’ at some of the city’s best (and newest) tables with me! Thanks to everyone who has placed bids, and the generous restaurants donating the dishes—means a bunch.
Enjoy this gorg weather—summer finally arrived with a bang.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Antica Trattoria Is Being Sold to New Owners
Back in March, I heard word that Ruggero Gadaldi was potentially selling his restaurant on Russian Hill, ANTICA TRATTORIA. After months of waiting for an official update, yesterday he called to let me know the restaurant is now in escrow, and if the deal goes through, the potential new owners are Klaus and Albert Rainer of Downtown’s Cafe Metropol. (Since the ABC is moving like molasses these days, it could be at least another 60 days before Gadaldi decides to close up shop.)
Gadaldi is sad to think of ending his 15-year run at the restaurant, since he was one of the few to focus on regional Italian cuisine at that time in San Francisco, and it helped establish him in the local dining scene. He said it was becoming difficult to dedicate the time he wants to at his other establishments (hotspots Beretta and Delarosa, and Pesce, also on Polk) since Antica was set up to really demand his full attention. As far as what the Rainers have in store, Gadaldi tells me they want to focus on Alpine cuisine, with a variety of beers. Inside Scoop mentions the working name is “Leopold’s” (subject to change), and a communal table and casual atmosphere are what’s to come. 2400 Polk St. at Union, 415-928-5797.
Update on Charles Phan's Plans for Valencia Street
Since I get asked this question monthly, I was happy to see this latest reveal from Grub Street about Charles Phan’s plans for his former (and original) Slanted Door location at 584 Valencia (where the Levi’s Workshop is closing up this weekend). According to the article, Phan said, “It’s going to be big. Asian, with a bar, but it might be next year by the time all the permits and everything come through.” Things will be TBD for a while, including the name, so sit tight for more info soon. 584 Valencia St. at 17th St.
Déjà Vu: Have We Not Met Before?
Welcome to Déjà Vu: The Salsa Edition. Déjà Vu is a new feature on tablehopper where I will occasionally be highlighting two similar dishes (like, too similar), and you have the chance to call out where you’ve seen them. And, most importantly, vote on which one you think (or know) came first. I will post a recap of all your answers in the next issue of tablehopper.
Sure, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (“If you like Giorgio, then you’ll love Primo!”), but it can also chap your hide. (This inaugural edition was inspired by a cranky tweet I saw, calling the dish out.) Feel free to send in sightings, images, suggestions, and gripes (chefs, I am talking to you—all Déjà Vu sightings will remain anonymous, so feel free to call out any copycats that are jocking your style). Loading…
News About a Couple New Thai Places
On Saturday, as I was circling (and circling) for parking at the Street Food Festival, I noticed a sign announcing CHILLI CHA CHA is going to be replacing China Fun Fast Food. 3166 24th St. at Shotwell.
A couple weeks back, I mentioned BAI THONG was coming to Hayes Valley, moving into the former Thepin Thai Cuisine spot. The owners, who used to have a restaurant in northeast Thailand and have been working in SF for the past seven years, are opening this Saturday August 28th. They refreshed the interior, and it sounds like the wine list is also going to be getting some love. Hours will be Mon-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am, and Sun 10am-10pm. 298 Gough St. at Fell, 415-863-9335.
Dirty Dishes 007: This Thursday at The Lookout
The DIRTY DISHES crew is at it again, doing one last load before heading out to the playa. This Thursday will feature The Gumbo Cart, and newcomers to the party, El Porteño Empanadas and Sweet Constructions, along with a trio of DJs (B-Haul, Gordon Gartrell, and special guest DJ Os Chavez aka Melvin).
Thursday Aug 26, 2010 9pm–close $3 cover more info
Party To Give for La Cocina This Friday at The Ambassador
On Friday August 27th, GiveChange will be hosting its monthly PARTY TO GIVE happy hour and benefit at The Ambassador. This month’s event will raise money for Bay Area charity La Cocina, which has launched a new initiative to help low-income San Francisco residents create sustainable mobile food businesses.
Swing by The Ambassador between 6pm-10pm on Friday for an extended happy hour, drink specials, free snacks, and exclusive raffle gifts. There’s no cover! As a special treat, La Cocina food entrepreneurs will be showcasing their tasty products. (The last Party To Give raised over $500 and featured gifts from Coffee Bar, Bissap Baobab, homefrys, and more.) 100% of proceeds from the raffle and the bar will be donated to La Cocina. So think about it: the more you drink, the more you give! Spread the word, and RSVP via Facebook. Cheers!
Friday Aug 27, 2010 6pm–10pm more info
Tablehopping at the SF Street Food Festival
I knew the right way I needed to do the SF STREET FOOD FESTIVAL: ride my bike down there early, and go with at least a couple hungry friends. But I ended up having to do the exact opposite: I had to drive my car because I was running car-necessary errands that day, I showed up late in the day, and was flying solo. Plus, I could only find a parking meter space, so I had a little over an hour to power through. But trust, I made some serious headway. There were a lot of people, a lot of lines, a lot of delicious food (some places had sold out, but there was still quite a bit to try), and a lot of dazed-looking but happy chefs and kitchen crews.
Negatives: there was sadly a ton of garbage, challenging event flow against the lines of people, and what was up with people bringing dogs to this event? I also thought some vendors were missing the point of street food (uh, food I can eat with my hands please!). Anyway, kudos to La Cocina for pulling off such a big and delicious and unique event.
Here’s a mini photo album of my “hour of power.” All I can say is Delfina’s beans blew my mind, and Aziza should open a fried chicken place. Delfina should also open a meatball sub shop.
Let's Do Lunch (at Zero Zero) and Brunch (at Café des Amis)
ZERO ZERO just kicked off its lunch service yesterday, which means you can try their delicious pizzas, antipasti (helllllo chicken thighs!), a couple pastas, and a salad I am absolutely enthralled with, made with arugula, almond, plum, lemon , and olive oil. There’s also a unique Italian sandwich that has been added to the menu, a panuozzo, which is a traditional Neapolitan sandwich made with par-baked pizza dough that’s filled with meats, cheese, and vegetables, then baked again. Yesterday’s featured fillings included mortadella, prosciutto cotto, sopressata, provolone, arugula, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm. Also worth noting: reservations are now accepted (you don’t have to be a party of five), and since the bar is open all day, you can swing by anytime for the delicious cocktails, wine on tap, and beer.
Starting this Saturday August 28th, CAFÉ DES AMIS is starting brunch service, with items like a croque-madame, duck confit hash, and buckwheat crêpes with brûléed bananas. Brunch is served Sat-Sun 10am-3pm.
Hapa Ramen Doing Guest Nights at Bar Tartine
So while it looks like the Ryan Ostler BBQ Monday nights I mentioned at BAR TARTINE are delayed, starting September 6th (yes, Labor Day), Hapa Ramen is going to be doing their ramen on Monday nights for the month of September! More details soon—and one more opp for noodle slurping will be Tuesday September 7th, Hapa Ramen’s first day at the Tuesday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
Bar Tartine - 561 Valencia St. - 415-487-1600
Big 4 Starting a Series of "Mad Men" Dinner Specials
BIG 4 is getting in on the retro vibe, and starting September 1st is going to be offering a “Mad Men” dinner series every Wednesday evening. The $36 three-course prix-fixe menu (cigarette not included) will feature throwback menu items the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce team would enjoy tucking into. There will be four separate menus rotating each Wednesday, with specials like vodka-soaked shrimp cocktail, chicken Kiev, clams casino, surf and turf, and bread and butter pudding with whiskey sauce. Classic cocktails will be highlighted on the menu (which is all I ever order there), like Manhattans, old fashioneds, gimlets, etc. The specials will run through October 27th.
Big 4 - 1075 California St. San Francisco - 415-771-1140
Paisan: Open and Serving Pizza in Berkeley
The duo behind Lalime’s, Sea Salt, T-Rex Barbecue, Fonda, and Jimmy Beans, Haig Krikorian and Cindy Lalime, have just opened PAISAN, a pizzeria on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. Look for thin-crust pizzas from the Earthstone wood-fired oven with California toppings (like pesto, rocket salad, Sausalito springs watercress, and Grana Padano, $15.50). The menu is rounded out with rustic Cal-Ital items like eggplant caponata, romano beans, and arancini, and larger dishes, like porchetta, half a roasted chicken (only $11.75), and roast pork belly and pork loin with balsamic onions and plum mostarda. The large 18-seat bar will feature variety of both classic and original cocktails, 10 beers on tap, and a wine list put together by Stephen Singer. According to an SFoodie post, the pizzaiolo is Francesco Pece, from Naples. Additional details: there’s a rear patio and full bar. Dinner will be served Wed-Sun. 2514 San Pablo Ave. at Dwight, Berkeley; no phone yet.
Osteria Coppa Opens in San Mateo Wednesday August 25th
Slated to open its doors in downtown San Mateo this Wednesday, OSTERIA COPPA will offer housemade salumi (like lomo, mortadella, and duck prosciutto), antipasti, and handcrafted artisanal pasta and pizza from chef Chanan Kamen (Quince, Jardinière). The pastas are sure to feature a deft touch due to Kamen’s time making pasta at Quince; one of my favorites, agnolotti dal plin (filled with veal, pork, and guinea hen) is on the menu. There’s also a spacious bar (40 seats), featuring Italian cocktails and a mostly Italian wine list with wines available by the quartino. The 40-seat patio will allow diners to take advantage of San Mateo’s great weather, and the 100-seat main dining room features hewn wood floors, white butcher paper-topped tables, and butter yellow walls. 139 South B St. at 2nd Ave., San Mateo, 650-579-6021.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Spirited Supper at Jardinière September 2nd
Next Thursday September 2nd is one of your last chances to enjoy a cocktail from JARDINIÈRE bar manager Brian MacGregor before he heads off to Locanda. In fact, you’ll be able to savor more than one cocktail at this Spirited Supper—try four. (Wait, you actually get five cocktails—you will also be served one on arrival.) The cocktails will be paired with four courses of Traci des Jardin’s Cal-French cuisine—each course will be cooked with a different liquor and paired with a cocktail based with that same spirit.
The Liquor.com Spirited Supper series will continue with Orson the week of September 13th, then Fifth Floor, Gitane, La Mar, Spruce, Wayfare Tavern, and Dosa, in coming months.
Thursday Sep 2, 2010 6:30pm $85 (tax and gratuity included) more info
Jardinière - 300 Grove St. San Francisco - 415-861-5555
Trade/Media Tasting: Unexpected Grapes from Unexpected Places
Trade and media folks, you may want to check out this unique California tasting, UNEXPECTED GRAPES FROM UNEXPECTED PLACES at the Hotel Vitale. This tasting is going to be very cool and not at all what you’d expect in a typical California wine tasting. Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein will be leading two master classes, at 1:30pm (already full) and 3:30pm, in the Amalfi 1 Room. This seminar seeks to explore exciting wines you need to know about, along with tasty renditions of the classics from places that are not the usual suspects. There will also be a competitive blind “match the grapes to the appellations” contest.
The grand tasting will be from 2pm-7:30pm on the patio at the Hotel Vitale. The walk-around tasting will include over 100 California wines, from roussannes to tempranillos, from established and emerging regions including Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Madera, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma County. You will have a chance to meet Wine Institute and CAWG (California Association of Winegrape Growers) Board members and vintners and growers from around the state. Space is limited. RSVP now!
Tuesday Sep 14, 2010 Complimentary for trade and media. Business card required. more info
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Go to La Cocina’s SF Street Food Festival silent online auction, and place the winning bid for this fantastic evening! Good luck!
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Party on Block 18 Is This Saturday!
Saturday Aug 28, 2010 12pm–5pm
It’s time for the second bi-annual PARTY ON BLOCK 18 this Saturday August 28th, when 18th Street gets blocked off between Dolores and Guerrero. There will be all kinds of delicious food from the neighborhood, like Bi-Rite, Regalito Rosticeria, Delfina, Tartine Bakery, Kasa, and many more, along with beer from the SF Brewers Guild, plus children’s entertainment, and DJs.
You can purchase a book of tickets in advance for food and beverages (10 for $20)—read here for locations where you can get them. All proceeds benefit the Women’s Building, BuenDia Family School, 826 Valencia, NextCourse, and Pie Ranch. There will also be a pie contest, so if you feel like entering, it’s time to get baking.
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Romancing La Stone
A tablehopper reader reportedly saw Sharon Stone having an early dinner at Farina Sunday night.
Betelnut's Cumin Lamb: Actresses Dig It, Too
The gorgeous Joan Chen has visited Betelnut twice in a week (and can you blame her?). On one visit she ordered the cumin lamb, heirloom tomato salad, slow-roasted pork wraps with peach chutney (got to try those at SF Chefs!), and last night she did a reprise of the heirloom tomato salad, along with green beans, tikka masala chicken, Taipei-style fried rice, and one of my faves, the cha ca la vong.
Is There a Doctor in the Hooouuuuse?
Dr. Dre was at EPIC Roasthouse on Saturday night, and enjoyed his porterhouse steak while sitting in a booth with the best view of the bay. (And he reportedly tipped big.)
(One more EPIC sighting: Audrina Patridge of MTV’s The Hills was in the restaurant Monday night—she had a steak, and her party of 10 was drinking Krug Champagne and Quintessa cabernet.)
Rockin' Out at the Redwood Room
On Friday night, The Killers had dinner in the Velvet Room from 9:30pm until midnight, then made a brief appearance at a table in the Redwood Room. They were drinking mojitos with sliced fresh strawberries and bottled water.
John Mayer and his entourage hit the Redwood Room from midnight until 1:30am or so. He drank one of the signature cocktails, the blackberry margarita. He and his party were reportedly very low key for a posse of 12 people.
You Can Call Me Al
Lori Baker and Jeff Banker of Baker & Banker had a surprise dinner guest last Tuesday: Al Gore came in to dine with a friend. He enjoyed the gazpacho, black cod, and for dessert, the duo ordered the plum and nectarine crisp, and the XXX chocolate layer cake. He shook the owners’ hands, and said it was an amazing meal.
Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner Sighting
Donna Mills (Abby on Knots Landing) was at Buca di Beppo for her aunt’s 90th birthday last week. Several Knots Landing diehards asked for photos and autographs. After a celebratory dinner of calamari, pizza, pasta, cannoli, and chocolate cake, Donna snuck in the kitchen to thank the chef personally and watch him make pasta sauce.