This week's tablehopper: another notch in our belts.
Cecina and suadero tacos at Rico’s Tacos.
That four-day weekend was delicious in many ways: it was wonderful to hang with the family over a simply outstanding Thanksgiving meal, and according to what I was reading on Twitter, I think a lot of us enjoyed some time at home, napping (and grappling with various levels of food comas). Mine was all about work hard (SF guidebook updating) and play hard (dancing, and what bordered on competitive eating—kidding—well, kind of).
Big kudos to all the volunteers who generously donated their time and skills over the holiday to feeding people who are less fortunate—I was hearing stories from a number of folks who helped out at shelters and soup kitchens around the city. Good stuff, Maynard. (Speaking of helping others, please take a look at this week’s entry about the ECS holiday happy hour and the adopt a resident program, thanks.)
I’ve been having fun keeping warm with spicy food (homemade chili, some wicked salsa roja at Rico’s Tacos on 24th Street, and burning my face off with Szechuan food in Chinatown), so I’m hoping there’s going to be some feisty peperoncino making an appearance in the upcoming Calabrese dinner at A16 this Sunday December 5th with Rosetta Costantino (it’s a Book Passage/Cooks with Books event).
Keep toasty (and dry) out there!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Chotto, a Modern Izakaya, Due to Open Monday December 6th
Some details have been released about CHOTTO, the modern izakaya that’s opening in the former Three Seasons space in the Marina. The 66-seat izakaya will serve a very authentic menu of small dishes (chotto means a “small unit of measure” in Japanese), which includes sushi (weekends only) using fish flown straight from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, kushiyaki (skewers grilled over charcoal), fried dishes, ramen, and sunomono (pickled) house-cured vegetables.
There will be a menu of rare, small-batch, specialty sake and shochu chosen by Seio Shimada (of World Sake Imports) and general manager Derek Hunter (Yoshi’s), who will oversee the beverage program—along with wine, and both domestic and Japanese specialty craft beer. There will additionally be some sake/shochu-based “cocktails” created by barman Todd Smith (previously Beretta, Bourbon & Branch).
The space (designed by Erin Altman) features elements like glossy white tile juxtaposed against rough, reclaimed barnyard wood walls—there will also be intricate, handcrafted Japanese paper art in the form of tiny kites and lanterns in the two private dining spaces. If all goes according to plan, Chotto will open its doors next Monday December 6th. I’ll have more details about the menu next Tuesday. 3317 Steiner St. at Chesnut, 415-441-2223.
Chotto - 3317 Steiner St. San Francisco - 415-441-2223
Brasserie Lille Project on Hold
A tablehopper reader let me know that 101 California Street, slated to become the future home of BRASSERIE LILLE (the mega brasserie project from Mark Weiss of Whisk Group) has a notice to quit in the window. I got in touch with Weiss, and he said the project is now on hold and won’t open in that location (although he really wanted to be there). He’s actively looking at a second location, so stand by for an announcement. As for his plans for the AQUA project, there’s nothing to report yet on that front.
Brasserie Lille - 101 California St. San Francisco
Cotogna Opens for Lunch Wednesday December 1st
COTOGNA will open its doors for lunch beginning tomorrow, Wednesday December 1st. Have you had a chance to look at the Cotogna menu yet? It includes a three-course prix-fixe lunch for $24, a variety of antipasti for $10 (like a spinach sformato with Grana Padano fonduta), pastas for $16 (including gnocchi with wild nettles, pappardelle of lamb cooked in the wood oven, and pici with sausage ragu and roasted chestnuts), pizzas from the oven for $15, and of course some grilled numbers, like spit-roasted pork with wild fennel and satsumas ($20).
With the launch of lunch, there will now be continuous service Mon-Thu 11:30am-11pm, and Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am. The menu will be the same for lunch and dinner, with a limited midday menu of a few rotating dishes available from 2:30pm-5:30pm.
Cotogna - 490 Pacific Ave. San Francisco - 415-775-8508
Street Food Update: Le Truc, Crêperie Saint Germain, and The WOW Truck
Some of you may have seen Le Truc, the school “bustaurant” that serves food at a variety of Off the Grid and other street food events. According to SFoodie, Le Truc is going to be regularly parked in the Wells Fargo parking lot on Brannan Street for lunch. And if it’s a rainy day, you’ll be able to take a seat at a table inside the bus. Urban Daddy mentions this additional tidbit: “In a few weeks, they’ll start parking near a bar (hint: one serving a good selection of Belgian ales) and dishing out prix-fixe dinners with courses as extravagant as sashimi or as hearty as chicken meatloaf.” Follow them on Twitter for updates. 470 Brannan St. at 4th St.
Also in SoMa, a tablehopper reader reports Crêperie Saint Germain “has taken over the Metro Crepes space at 1 Sansome, and then on their website looks like they’ve got a third location up and running in SoMa near Van Ness (inside a Chevron station).” Eater also reported the dine-in location at 1 Sansome Street includes sandwiches and smoothies. Hours for 1 Sansome are Mon-Fri 6:30am-4pm, and the take-out operation at the Chevron Station (the Tower Car Wash one at 1601 Mission St.) serves crêpes from 7:30am-2pm. The original take-out stand at 222 2nd Street continues to serve Mon-Fri 7:30am-4pm, and additional evening hours of Fri-Sat 8pm-4am.
And Tim Luym, the former chef at Poleng Lounge (currently at Attic in San Mateo) joined up with a couple friends and just launched The WOW Truck this past weekend, serving silog. Here’s more from The Feast: “The fare is strictly silog, a traditional Filipino breakfast-y dish that always has fried eggs, garlic rice, and a heaping pile of meat, but you can supplement with adobo wings or sweet potato fries. The plates are simple, offering a choice of corned beef, pork sausage, spam, or chicken nestled against a generous portion of rice, eggs, and fresh tomato.” Here’s the Twitter feed, so you can track the truck, which seems to be mostly wheeling around downtown San Jose. Oh yeah, and there’s a DJ setup on board. Woot!
New Lebanese Spot in Hayes Valley
I’ve been wondering what was moving into the former Apollo Café on the corner of Fell and Laguna. Then I saw a sign for MAZZAT, and then a ‘hopper reader informed me it’s going to be Mazzat Lebanese. The plot thickens! Will let you know when I hear back from the owner. 501 Fell St. at Laguna.
Wine Bar Opening in Cow Hollow: Pe Yale
The owner of WINE JAR on Fillmore Street in Pac Heights, Kamran Shirazi, is going to be opening a second wine bar on the other side of the hill, at 3131 Fillmore Street in Cow Hollow (next door to the upcoming Atelier Crenn). It’s going to be called PE YALE, which is Farsi for “a glass of wine.” There will be around 60 wines by the glass, focusing on smaller-production vineyards, and about 65 percent will be domestic. There will also be appetizers, ranging from cold cuts to cheeses with local honeys and seasonal compotes, and some chocolate desserts. Shirazi sees the 49-seat space as an ideal place to hang out before or after dinner, at a variety of couches and high and low tables. It’s a spacious corner location, with lots of windows and high ceilings. There will be table service. He’s aiming for mid-January for the opening date. 3131 Fillmore St. at Pixley.
Liquor License Watch: Some Findings!
Back in September, the Inside Scoop mentioned Frascati’s Rebecca and Jon Rader were potentially taking over Mattin Noblia’s ILUNA BASQUE in North Beach. They are currently being very tight-lipped and all no-commenty about their project, but a liquor license transfer now lists the project as CAMPANULA KITCHEN & BAR. Once the Raders decide to start talking about the what and when, I’ll report back. Iluna Basque remains open for now. 701 Union St. at Powell.
Over in Bernal Heights, SOCHA CAFE got a wine and beer license, so they are now serving, uh, beer and wine! 3235 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-643-6848.
A Couple Seasonal (and Delicioso) Italian Meals...
A couple tasty-sounding Italian seasonal meals are coming up. First, this Thursday December 2nd, BAR BAMBINO is hosting a five-course dinner inspired by regional Italian festival menus, with dishes like veal and ricotta stuffed tortelloni; roasted pheasant with pomegranate molasses and heirloom chicories; porchetta; and doughnuts soaked in a warm honey and vin santo syrup. You can view the entire menu here. $100 per person with wine, all inclusive (tax and gratuity included); $75 without wine. All parties at the table must participate in the Celebration menu; vegetarian options will be available. 5pm onwards. Email or call 415-701-8466 to reserve.
Downtown, PERBACCO will celebrate the holidays with a menu dedicated to the flavors and cuisine of Torino, Italy. Available December 7th-18th, the menu will include the special dishes and ingredients owner Umberto Gibin grew up with. Apart from a few separately priced items, the four-course set menu will be available for $45 per person. Chef Staffan Terje’s menu will include dishes such as agnolotti al brasato di bramaterra (pasta filled with braised shortribs), cardoon risotto, rotolo d’oca con marroni (slow-roasted goose with braised chestnuts and Jerusalem artichokes), and for dessert, pastry chef Suzanne LaFleur is making gianduia 5.0: five preparations of the classic Torinese combination of chocolate and hazelnut, along with other choices. Reserve at 415-955-0663.
Another Crab Feed: Tuesday December 7th at Starbelly
On Tuesday December 7th, STARBELLY is hosting a family-style Dungeness crab boil and chardonnay feast on the patio with winemaker Jim Malone from Terra Sávia vineyards in Mendocino. The menu (subject to change) includes fresh Dungeness crab with drawn butter and rémoulade, soft homemade milk rolls, Caesar salad with avocado and garlic croutons, oiled potatoes and housemade smoked sausages, and spiced apple cobbler with brown sugar oat crumble. 5pm-9pm. $56 per person. Reserve at 415-252-7500. 3583 16th St. at Market.
Tuesday Dec 7, 2010 5pm–9pm $56 per person more info
Happy Hour for ECS at Burger Bar
Next Thursday December 9th, Burger Bar is kindly hosting a HAPPY HOUR HOLIDAY FUNDRAISER for ECS (Episcopal Community Services), which helps provide shelter, housing, jobs, and other essential services to homeless and very low income San Franciscans. Come by the private room from 5pm-7pm, enjoy appetizers by Burger Bar and a glass of wine while admiring the view of the twinkly lights of Union Square. Tickets are only $15 if you signed up to sponsor a resident this holiday season, $25 online, $30 at the door. Burger Bar, 6th floor of Macy’s Union Square.
So, what is the sponsor a resident program? Well, if there’s someone who is difficult to buy for on your holiday gift list, what about taking care of someone else’s needs on their behalf? You’ll help with a resident’s modest gift requests ($25 and under) for sweatshirts, sweatpants, bed sheets and linens, blankets, robes, and other essential items. There are nine supportive housing sites, with plenty of people who just need a sweatshirt, or slippers. If you’d like to participate in this program by fulfilling a resident’s gift request, please email Megan or call 415-487-3736.
Thursday Dec 9, 2010 5pm–7pm $15 if you signed up to sponsor a resident, $25 online, $30 at the door more info
Shop and Support for People's Grocery on Thursday December 2nd
Whatcha doing this Thursday? Chefs Charlene Reis and Paul Arenstam of Summer Kitchen Bakeshop are hosting a fun event: SHOP AND SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE’S GROCERY, to benefit this food justice organization that believes healthy food is a human right. The event will be a casual night of tasty food and holiday shopping from some favorite local shops. On Thursday December 2nd, from 7pm-10pm, guests will enjoy light food catered by Summer Kitchen, wines provided by Vintage Berkeley, and there will even be “snowballs” from the Skylite Snowballs truck.
Participating retailers will donate, at minimum, 10% of their proceeds for the night to People’s Grocery. Participating retailers include: jams: Blue Chair Fruit, jewelry: Lucid Designs Contemporary Jewelry, gifts for the home: LOLA, gifts for food lovers: Summer Kitchen, books for the garden and more: Mrs. Dalloway’s, and gifts for the dog lover: Blueblood Pups. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Vintage Berkeley, 2949 College Ave., Berkeley.
Thursday Dec 2, 2010 7pm–10pm $10 in advance; $15 at the door more info
The Opposite of a Meatless Monday
Next Monday December 6th, CAFÉ ROUGE is hosting a special evening class/event, Charcuterie, Cheese, and Wine for the Holidays from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Guests will taste housemade charcuterie with a selection of cheeses from The Pasta Shop, selected by cheesemonger Juliana Uruburu. Barbara Haimes, wine educator and Café Rouge wine director, has paired a wide range of wines (spirits and beer, too).
Here’s the menu: Robiola di Lange from Italy with lonza with lambrusco; Parmigiano Reggiano and mortadella; Roves des Garrigues fresh goat cheese with an herby rabbit rillette paired with Loire wine; Beaufort served with bresaola and Belgian beer; Rogue River Blue with pear brandy and honeycomb; Wilde Weide aged Gouda with beef jerky and Scotch. $65. Space is limited. Call 510-525-1440 for reservations. 1782 4th St. at Hearst, Berkeley.
Monday Dec 6, 2010 6:30pm–8:30pm $65 more info
Chef Charlie Parker Starting at Plum in a Couple Weeks
One of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had in Santa Cruz was at Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Cellar Door Café, with chef Charlie Parker throwing down some mad culinary skills (working for Manresa’s David Kinch will do that to you). The Inside Scoop broke the story that Parker’s next move was going to be the chef position at Daniel Patterson’s PLUM in the new year. Well, it’s happening sooner than that, because he’s actually starting around December 13th. He’s not going to be changing the menu right away, but it will be evolving in time. Speaking of the menu, Grub Street has a copy of the new lunch menu that launches this Wednesday, check it out. Lunch will be served Mon-Fri 11am-2pm. 2214 Broadway at Grand, Oakland, 510-444-7586.
Plum - 2214 Broadway Oakland - 510-444-7586
Chef Paul Canales Leaving Oliveto
Some breaking news: the Inside Scoop reports Paul Canales is leaving OLIVETO after 15 years of working in the kitchen there. It’s reportedly an amicable departure. His last day will be this Saturday December 4th, and he reportedly has a solo project in the works. His replacement is Jonah Rhodehamel, “who has been a sous at places like La Folie, Zinnia and Americano. He’s been working with Canales to make the transition as seamless as possible.” 5655 College Ave., Oakland, 510-547-5356.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Bi-Rite's Holiday Wine Blitz Is Coming!
Trac, Matt, and Sarah, Bi-Rite Market’s trusty wine team, have one of the best wine selections in town. Surrounded by amazing cheeses, salumi, fresh produce, and a world-class deli, the team is inspired to choose wines that aren’t just “food friendly” but rather living partners with food that elevate the dishes they’re served alongside. That selection includes a wide array of wines under $15, including the latest in natural, organic, and biodynamic wines, plus hard-to-find cult wines from Comtes Lafon, François Raveneau, Clos Rougeard, Sean Thackrey, Movia, Quintarelli, and more.
During Bi-Rite’s Holiday Wine Blitz (December 9th-12th), all wines are 20% off when you purchase any 12 or more bottles. The sale includes every wine in the store, and delivery is free in San Francisco! And don’t miss their preview tasting at 18 Reasons on December 3rd for your opportunity to sample the offerings before you make your Blitz choices!
Bi-Rite Market, 3639 18th St. between Dolores and Guerrero, in the Mission District. For more information, call the store at 415-241-9760 or email Trac.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Repeal Day Par-tays
It’s that time of the year again, when we celebrate the day we got our right to drink back. (For more thoughts about this, hop on over to this excellent wino piece written by Duggan McDonnell on the matter.) Sunday December 5th marks the 77th anniversary of Repeal Day, and you can bet there will be a few parties around town. First up: the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail welcomes you to the first full-blown party at THE COCKTAIL BILL BOOTHBY CENTER FOR THE BEVERAGE ARTS! Some of San Francisco’s finest bartenders will be preparing classic Prohibition and Pre-Prohibition cocktails, and since it’s holiday time, there will be Hot Toddys, Tom and Jerrys, and other liquid holiday treats. There will also be period holiday nibbles supplied by Comstock Saloon, and expect some Roaring Twenties holiday cheers. Sponsored by Bacardi USA, Campo de Encanto Pisco (which just won the Gran Medalla de Oro in Peru, the highest honor possible for a pisco), Kold Draft, and The American Distilling Institute. 6pm-10pm. $35. Tickets here. 1161 Mission St., Suite 120, at 7th St.
And over at THE BURRITT ROOM, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur will be hosting a Repeal Day party on Sunday December 5th from 9pm to midnight. From 9pm-10pm, during the 21st hour of the day, in honor of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, they will be offering a glass of Solerno celebration punch for 77 cents. There will also be four specialty Solerno cocktails available ($8 each). The party goes until midnight. 417 Stockton St. at Sutter (in the Crescent Hotel).
And naturally, the 21ST AMENDMENT BREWERY will be hosting a Repeal Day party, which includes a march at 4pm, and they will be tapping a special cask of Bière de Garde with whiskey-infused oak upon the return to the bar. There’s also a party on the mezzanine which requires a password, but you’ll get to drink at Prohibition era-prices (think a nickel a beer). Swing, jazz, cocktails, and more. Free. 563 2nd St. at Brannan.
Sunday Dec 5, 2010 more info
Mmmm, Fizz: Arlequin Wine Merchant's Annual Champagne Tasting
If you’re a fan of fizz, this is not an event you’ll want to miss: ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT is hosting their annual Champagne tasting on Thursday December 9th from 6pm-8pm. You’ll be able to have tastes from well-known producers including Krug, Pol Roger, Gosset, and Ruinart, as well as boutique producers including Jacquesson, Larmandier-Bernier, Paul Bara, Vilmart, and Agrapart et Fils. There will be over 30 to taste in all. The last time I attended, I had all kinds of fab discoveries. All are available for purchase at special event pricing. $50 at the door.
Thursday Dec 9, 2010 6pm–8pm $50 more info
Arlequin Wine Merchant - 384 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-863-1104
Spiffy Annual Holiday Champagne Dinner at Silks
Yup, it’s the same day as the Arlequin Champagne event: SILKS is hosting its annual holiday Champagne dinner on Thursday December 9th. There will be a Champagne sabering reception (Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV, magnum) on the 40th floor sky deck, and dinner begins at 7:30pm. The menu is as follows: Vietnamese rice paper parcel of duck confit, plum sauce, cucumber raitha, toasted almonds, paired with Dom Perignon Brut 2002; ginger risotto with plancha-grilled jumbo shrimp, paired with Krug Brut 1990; roast rack of lamb, wok-fried ratatouille vegetables and Thai basil, and Winchester Farm aged Gouda gratin with potatoes and leek, paired with Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage Rosé 1985; yuzu lemon tart, mascarpone ice cream, paired with Möet & Chandon Nectar Imperial NV. The cost is $125 per person. For reservations, contact Nicole Kosta at 415-276-9724. Mandarin Oriental, 222 Sansome St. at Bush, 415-276-9888.
Thursday Dec 9, 2010 7:30pm $125 per person more info
Silks - 222 Sansome St. San Francisco - 415-986-2020
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Dine America/Dine Louisiana This Wednesday December 1st
Wednesday Dec 1, 2010 Info email@example.com
Tomorrow night, 290 chefs and restaurateurs all across the country will be showing their support for Gulf Coast seafood and for the fishing families whose livelihoods were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A good cause is always a great excuse to eat out: show your support too just by having dinner at any of the Bay Area restaurants participating in DINE AMERICA/DINE LOUISIANA on Wednesday December 1st.
The Bacchus Management Group family of restaurants will each be offering one special Gulf seafood dish on this evening—Café des Amis: grilled whole Gulf flounder, raw winter vegetable salad, parsnip and potato gratin; Spruce: Gulf prawns poached in fennel nage, salt-roasted new potatoes, young leeks; Mayfield Bakery & Café: Gulf prawns poached in fennel nage, salt roasted new potatoes, young leeks; and The Village Pub: seared Gulf snapper, celery root mousseline, brown butter and Meyer lemon sauce.
Other participating Bay Area restaurants include Betelnut, Bix, Buckeye Roadhouse, Bungalow 44, Day Break Gourmet Restaurant & Catering, Fish Story, Florio, Fog City Diner, Hayes Street Grill, Il Fornaio, Lark Creek Walnut Creek, MarketBar, Picco, Silks, Tra Vigne, Waterbar, and Zero Zero. Check out the full list of restaurants participating from the West here.
Also, in conjunction with Dine America/Dine Louisiana, the Tizm online auction site will be auctioning restaurant cookbooks and dinners to raise funds for the six culinary schools in the Louisiana state college system, which have recently seen 40% budget cuts.
Special Holiday Dining Hours and Offers
Holiday time means you need more locations where you can celebrate with loved ones, dine with co-workers, and tipple with fellow boozehounds. One of my favorite places to celebrate is at BIX, which opens for lunch every weekday during the month of December (and not just for their usual Friday lunch). Yup, it’s martini and burger time!
Another fun option is lunch at JARDINIÈRE, where you can have lunch on the first three Fridays in December (3rd, 10th, and 17th) from 11:30am-2pm. The menu includes a salad of smoked Hoffman Ranch hen ($18), an awesome bread salad with roasted artichokes and crescenza cheese ($14), a wagyu beef burger with avocado, bacon, and Fontina d’Aosta ($16), along with many other dishes (including a plate of holiday cookies for dessert). The restaurant will also be opening early at 4pm for Nutcracker performances—you can see all the Nutcracker opening dates on the website.
Up in Larkspur, THE TAVERN AT LARK CREEK will be serving a weekday lunch from December 6th to December 23rd from 11am-2pm. Items on the menu include roasted golden beets with fennel, blood orange, and farro; a turkey Cobb salad; tea sandwiches; and hand-picked Dungeness crab spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and chile flake. You’ll also be able to partake in some refreshing cocktails. 234 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, 415-924-7766.
I was impressed with how affordable the holiday executive lunch special is at SEASONS, which started today. For $20, there’s a prix-fixe lunch menu (a starter, entrée, and dessert) with a glass of sparkling wine. Potential selections include a traditional cassoulet. Available 11:30am-2:30pm.
Now, this is way off my usual tablehopper beat, but I think the MADRONA MANOR in Healdsburg is so special, and can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the winter for this event. This is the 17th year that the 1881 manor becomes the setting for the Dickens Dinners. Upon arrival, guests are served a glass of sparkling wine while enjoying the 4,000 twinkling lights on the 14-foot Christmas tree, hung with care by gardener Geno Ceccato—and it takes owners Bill and Trudi Konrad more than one week to decorate the manor’s first floor with wreaths, garlands, and more. Chef Jesse Mallgren prepares a five-course dinner (once per evening) with a seating at 6:30pm ($85 to $115 per person, and $30 additional for suggested wine pairings). Dishes include petite lobster shepherd’s pie, beef wellington, and a Christmas pudding to finish. During dinner, there are performances by carolers dressed in period clothing. There will be a 1:30pm matinee and 6:30pm dinner on Christmas Day. Make your reservation as soon as possible; 800-258-4003, or locally at 707-433-4231.
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
A Sporty (and Solo) Lunch
Manu Ginóbili of the San Antonio Spurs had a solo lunch at Scala’s Bistro yesterday. He ate the beef carpaccio and the pappardelle—maybe carbing up before the Spurs take on the Warriors tonight?