This week's tablehopper: extra sauce, please.
Dungeness crab cocktail and martinis at Tadich Grill.
Hey—how you doin’? Keeping warm and well-fed, with maybe a little sauce thrown on top? I am definitely going to be enjoying some sauce this Thursday at Arlequin’s annual Champagne tasting. As far as being well-fed, I guess the proof is in the pudding (and the giblet gravy): Grub Street asked me to keep a week-long diary about everything I ate, starting on Thanksgiving. Yeah, it’s a doozy—what did you expect, salads?
Hey, so whatcha doing on Friday? You should come by La Cocina’s Second Annual Gift Fair! It’s from 4pm-9pm at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. There will be all kinds of excellent and edible gifts. And I’ll be there signing and selling books—perfect for any food lovin’ friends and family.
In closing, I wanted to share two fab videos I have really enjoyed this week: one is about Guy Savoy in Paris, and the other is a wonderful homage to Thomas Keller from Grant Achatz and the Alinea team. (I give you permission to take some time and watch them both, heh.)
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Pastry Chef Bill Corbett (Coi, Plum) Moves to Absinthe
With the departure of pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez from ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR and Arlequin Café, the new executive pastry chef is the talented Bill Corbett, who is coming over from Daniel Patterson’s Coi and Plum. He was formerly at MICHAEL MINA restaurant, and prior to that, was at wd~50 in New York as a pastry sous working with Sam Mason, as was also at Dona and Anthos. He begins at Absinthe on January 4th, and diners can expect to see seasonal ingredients like quince, butternut squash, and citrus in his creations. He plans to offer an approachable menu, but true to Corbett’s style, there will be some unexpected ingredients and flavor combinations.
Meanwhile, Deanie Hickox has been named executive pastry chef for Coi. And Luis Villavelazquez has a new stand at the Ferry Plaza farmers’ market on Thursdays and Saturdays, Les Elements. (You can read more details on SFoodie here.)
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590
Chef Shuffles Around Town: Café des Amis, Circa, Nombe, Waterfront
Boy, there are a lot of chef changes to report. You ready? The Inside Scoop reports executive chef Ed Carew is no longer at CAFÉ DES AMIS, and that he’s considering opening his own place again. Based on the delicious inzimino di calamari stew he did for Howard Case’s annual holiday party this past weekend, I hope he sticks with Italian (that dish rocked).
More from Scoop: now that chef Amy Glaze is at Citizen Cake, CIRCA has hired Daniel Sudar, a former chef de cuisine at Betelnut, along with Redwood City’s Red Lantern and Door in Walnut Creek.
Now that Nick Balla is leaving NOMBE at the end of the year, owners Mari Takahashi and Gil Payne have hired Vincent Schofield (Darwin Café, Ebb & Flow) as his replacement. Looks like they are going to be sending Schofield to Japan for some recon before he starts.
Lastly, a tablehopper reader pointed me to a tweet, letting me know Greg Lutes is going to be the executive chef of the WATERFRONT RESTAURANT. He was at the Groveland Hotel in Yosemite.
A New Spot Offering Carny Cuisine Coming to Hayes Valley
I was curious about STRAW, a new Twitter follower I got last week, and then SFoodie broke the story: it’s going to be a 30-seat restaurant opening in the former J’s Pots of Soul (and the subsequent and short-lived Soul). Partners Ari Feingold, chef Naomi Beck, and Greg Kaye are taking their inspiration from carnivals (something that 15 Romolo was doing with their late-night menu as well). Some dishes mentioned include “a chicken and waffle Monte Cristo (a sandwich, with waffles taking the place of bread), a Jenga stack of French toast, lavender-lemonade popsicles, and sangria slushees. (Beck is also co-owner of 3 Foods Café in Arcata.) La Copa Loca in the Mission has been enlisted to develop Straw’s corn-on-the-cob gelato.” Straw will be offering lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and a happy hour. And in honor of the carnival them, they are offering quite the prize for whoever correctly guesses their opening date—check it out on their homepage. Step right up!
Straw - 203 Octavia St. San Francisco - 415-971-5653
More Mexican in the Mission
There aren’t many places in the Mission to get Mexican food and margaritas (and mezcal), but by next spring or summer, TACOLICIOUS will be opening a second location in the former New College building on Valencia Street. Chef Telmo Faria will be overseeing both locations. Highlights: an adjoining tequila and mezcal bar called Mosto, bicycle delivery service, and Mexico City-style al pastor tacos off a trompo (spit). Read all about it in the Inside Scoop here. 741 Valencia St. at 18th St.
More Mexicano: according to Eater, the group behind Beretta, Delarosa, and Starbelly (Deborah Blum, Ruggero Gadaldi, Adriano Paganini) are also launching a Mexican concept, including a tequila bar. The location and timing will be revealed soon (also mentioned: a second location of their burger place, Super Duper).
A Trio of New Cafés in SF and Berkeley
On a quiet stretch of Brannan in SoMa, there’s a new café that has opened called SHOWPLACE CAFFÈ—it has opened in a previously vacant office area of The Showplace Motor Works. Owner Catherine Twardos, a resident of the neighborhood, was unhappy with the dearth of coffee places in the ‘hood, so she took matters into her own hands. She is now offering both espresso and manual drip bar service using Sightglass beans, and also does an awesome Vietnamese-style coffee with a Phin filter to order. She also mentioned pastries (and some seating) are coming soon. Current hours are Mon-Fri 7:30am-3:30pm for the winter, and weekend hours will be coming in the future. She’s excited to have Showplace be a go-to place for the neighborhood, where they can find a friendly face and a really good cup of coffee. 715 Brannan St. at 7th St.
A tweet from Blue Bottle alerted me to this recently opened café in Berkeley, CREMA—it moved into the former Café Cacao space next to the Scharffen Berger factory. Husband and wife John and Nora Dunning (she’s the pastry chef) are offering breakfast and lunch during the week. You can also get espresso drinks off their Faema E61, and there’s a drip bar (they’re using their own private label coffee). There are quite a few tasty treats, like a chocolate croissant pudding, a chocolate and salted caramel tart, cupcakes, wedding cakes, cookies, and French macarons. In fact, through the end of the month, anyone who comes in and orders a coffee can have a free mini cupcake. A second location is slated to open in Alameda in late January or early February. Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. 2865 7th St. at Heinz, Berkeley, 510-848-7100.
And coming to SoMa (adjacent to AT&T Park) in early 2011 will be CAFFÈ PASCUCCI, the first U.S. location for this Italian coffeehouse that dates back to the 1800s. The menu will include over 20 kinds of savory and sweet coffee beverages, dessert drinks, yogurt-based smoothies, and frozen-specialty options, including a drink made with espresso, hot foamed milk, gianduia, whipped cream, hazelnut crunch, and hazelnut spread. Whoa. Chad Newton (working with Frank Klein of FK Restaurants and Hospitality) will be consulting on breakfast pastries, pressed panini, and more. 170 King St. at 3rd St.
Some Changes/Updates at Rose Pistola
There are some changes afoot at North Beach’s ROSE PISTOLA over the next few months. Mark Gordon (Terzo, Rose’s Café) will be taking on the executive chef responsibilities (Rose Pistola, Rose’s Café, and Terzo are all in the Nice Ventures group). Gordon will be working with the current kitchen team, overseeing the menu, but not changing it just yet. Chef de cuisine Pablo Estrada (who has been there for the past several years) will continue his role, and will be in charge of the menu day to day, and all back-of-the-house operations.
The restaurant will also be closing on Monday January 31st for two weeks for a remodel with Cass Calder Smith, and some kitchen repair. When the restaurant reopens to the public on February 16th, there will be a slightly modified menu (keeping old favorites while allowing Gordon to put his stamp on Rose Pistola), and some new upholstery, carpet, updated lighting, and more. 532 Columbus Ave. at Green, 415-399-0499.
Closures in Ess Eff
Some banh mi fans will be bummed to learn BAGUETTE EXPRESS on Larkin has toasted its last baguette and has closed, according to The Tenderblog. 668 Larkin St. at Ellis.
And after 25 years, VIDEO CAFE has gone the way of the Betamax, and has closed according to the Richmond Blog. I do hope whoever takes it over preserves the booths—that location is all kinds of awesome. 5700 Geary Blvd. at 21st Ave.
Where to Score Sweets: Let Me Tell You a Tale
Even though the opening of pastry chef William Werner’s TELL TALE PRESERVE COMPANY on Maiden Lane won’t be happening until the spring, you’ll be able swing by Big Daddy Antiques in Potrero Hill for some of Werner’s sweet treats at his “Trunk Show.” Tell Tale will use the antiques and vintage furniture sold at the store to display their goods and provide seating and tables (pretty clever, I gotta say). The Trunk Show will offer drip coffee, pastries, preserves, and confections, and you’ll also be able to pick up the Tell Tale Society bags ($35), a mixed bag of their creations that would make one hell of a holiday gift. The December 2010 bag features: turrón of white chocolate, new crop walnut, and yuzu; vanilla- and Douglas fir-infused confiture au lait; roasted pumpkin, guanaja chocolate marshmallow; pain d’épices-laced caramels; quince, caramelized honey petit gâteau; and hazelnut, frankincense, and muscovado toffee.
Swing by for the open house this Thursday December 9th from 4pm-8pm for complimentary tastes and hot cider; regular hours will be Mon-Sat 9am-5pm through Christmas. 1550 17th St. at Wisconsin, 415-621-6800.
Thursday Dec 9, 2010 4pm–8pm more info
Tell Tale Preserve Company - 33 Maiden Ln. San Francisco
Casting This Friday for Food Network's 24 Hour Restaurant Battle
This Friday December 10th, there’s an open casting call for Food Network’s 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, a competition reality series hosted by Scott Conant. Here’s more: “We are looking for charismatic and outgoing two-person teams with pre-existing relationships, who have always dreamed of running their own restaurant. Applicants may have lots of restaurant experience, no restaurant experience, or some combination of both. One member of the team will run the ‘back of the house’ and one member will run the ‘front of the house.’ As a team they must have the skills to open and run their own restaurant!” You can download the application and read more here. The casting is from 10am-1pm at The Westin San Francisco, 50 3rd St. at Mission.
Friday Dec 10, 2010 10am–1pm more info
A Filipino Feast at 18 Reasons on Friday December 10th
Chili Montes, Bi-Rite’s head butcher and an incredible chef, is cooking quite the Filipino Feast for 18 REASONS on Friday December 10th. He’s going to be cooking with The Attic chef Tim Luym (also of The WOW Truck). The five-course feast will include dishes like salmon belly in a sour broth, coconut squash curry, and pork belly with water spinach, and more—and it all comes paired with Filipino beers. $75 for 18 Reasons members; $85 for the general public. Buy tickets. 7pm-10pm.
Friday Dec 10, 2010 7pm–10pm $75 for 18 Reasons members; $85 for the general public more info
18 Reasons - 3674 18th St. San Francisco
Upcoming Labs at Local Mission Eatery
A couple new “labs” are coming up with LOCAL MISSION EATERY: first, Jesse Friedman of Beer and Nosh and Old Oak Beer is going to lead a Holiday Beer Tasting on Sunday December 12th. You will taste a selection of local, holiday beers, including Anchor Xmas Ale, He’Brew Jewbelation, Sierra Nevada Celebration, among others. There will be plenty of deliciousness for you to eat and drink—read more about the event here. 5pm-7pm; $40. Register here.
And then on Sunday December 19th, Socola Chocolatier co-founders (and Mission residents) Wendy and Susan Lieu will be hosting a hands-on Chocolate Truffle Lab. This lab will explore the art of making chocolate truffles: how to make the ganache, temper the chocolate, dip, and garnish them. Everyone takes home the skills to make chocolates (and a box of chocolates!). $50. Register here.
Local Mission Eatery - 3111 24th St. San Francisco - 415-655-3422
A Champagne and Oyster Feast at Comstock Saloon
Um, yeah: two of my favorite things: oysters and Champagne. And since we’re talking about the COMSTOCK SALOON, there’s a whole lot of other goodness that’s also going to be served on Tuesday December 14th. Jacquesson et Fils will be pouring their bubbles and Drake’s Bay Oyster Co. will shuck away during the reception, and then chef Carlo Espinas will be preparing a four-course oyster dinner. The menu includes oysters Victor Hugo (recipe from Hotel St. Francis, September 23rd, 1910); Hangtown salad, with escarole hearts, oyster vinaigrette, salt pork, egg, pickles; roasted guinea hen, with oyster and apple stuffing, turnips and their greens: followed by Époisses, pickled strawberries, honey, and walnut bread. The meal will also include intriguing discourse on the history of San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast, and the sunken ships still buried underground. $75 per person (tax and gratuity not included). To hold your reservation with a credit card, please call Aimee Santos at 415-617-0071 or email.
Tuesday Dec 14, 2010 6pm $75 per person (tax and gratuity not included) more info
Comstock Saloon - 155 Columbus Ave. San Francisco - 415-617-0071
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Bi-Rite's Holiday Wine Blitz Starts This Week!
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!
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)
Two New Wine Bars in Oakland
Oakland is gaining not one but two new wine bars. First, in a slightly tough-sounding Oakland fashion, is THE PUNCHDOWN, now open in the former Franklin Square Wine Bar space in Uptown. The project is from co-managers D.C. Looney and Lisa Costa, who both have extensive backgrounds in the wine industry. Their focus is on “high-quality, small production, naturally made wines at extremely affordable prices,” ranging from $5-$16 for a glass, with the opportunity to also purchase wine by the carafe, and of course, the bottle. There will also be some simple offerings like charcuterie, meat and cheese plates, some small plates, and larger homey entrées. Inspired by their favorite wine bars and pubs around the world, they wanted to create a comfortable space for people to linger and learn about wine. The grand opening is tonight at 6pm. Hours will be Tue-Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat 5pm-10pm, closed Sun-Mon. 2212 Broadway at 22nd, Oakland, 510-251-0100.
Meanwhile, next door to À Côté in Rockridge, first-time owner Joe Madison is opening ENOTECA MOLINARI, potentially by this weekend. The space is petite, with room for about 24 guests at tables and a curving bar. There will be an all-Italian wine list, with wines chosen to over-deliver on quality at an affordable price. Steve Jaramillo (the former chef of Lalime’s in Berkeley) will be running the kitchen (look for some small plates, and a few handmade pasta dishes, including a reportedly very delicious tagliatelle al ragù). Since the exact opening date is a bit tentative, call before heading over. 5474 College Ave. at Taft, Rockridge, 510-428-4078.
Learn About the History of Pisco (While You Drink Some)
San Francisco has a long history with pisco, and there’s perhaps no one who knows it better than author Guillermo Toro-Lira. And you’ll have a chance to meet and drink with him on Monday December 13th for a book signing and seminar at PISCO LATIN LOUNGE. The author of Wings of Cherubs has spent a decade researching San Francisco’s original signature cocktail, the Pisco Punch, made famous by barkeeper Duncan Nicol. Toro-Lira’s new and just recently published History of Pisco in San Francisco is a scrapbook of firsthand historical documentation related to the pre-Prohibition history of Peru’s pisco brandy in San Francisco. It includes oral stories, pictures of people, places and antique objects, advertisements, newspaper clippings, letters, legal documents, old cocktail recipes, and more —much of it published for the first time. Come by from 6pm-9pm for a book signing, stories, and if you buy a copy of the book (only $20—retails for $24.99 on Amazon), you get a free pisco cocktail of your choice (sponsored by Barsol Pisco). 1817 Market St. at Octavia, 415-874-9951.
Monday Dec 13, 2010 6pm–9pm more info
Experience a Chocolate-Covered NightLife on December 16th
There’s an upcoming chocolate-themed NIGHTLIFE event at the California Academy of Sciences (as many of you may know, the museum hosts an adult-only/21 and over NightLife event each Thursday with varying themes). On Thursday December 16th, there will be beverages like Bison Brew’s Chocolate Stout, and chocolaty beverages from Pisco Bar and Blue Angel Vodka. You’ll also be able to watch a truffle and ganache demonstration by the experts at La Bonne Cuisine, and indulge your sweet tooth with tastings from TCHO and other local chocolatiers. Music on the main floor will be provided by mash-up masters Adrian and Mysterious D of Bootie, and in the aquarium by Al Kal. 6pm-10pm. Tickets are $12 ($10 for members).
Thursday Dec 16, 2010 6pm–10pm $12 ($10 for members) more info
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): O Come, All Ye Hungry!
Whole Foods Market is ready with gorgeous holiday hams.
Feeding a crowd? Or just having a few friends over? Either way, NorCal Whole Foods Market invites you to ham it up for the holidays.
All of our hams come from pigs who’ve been raised humanely—without antibiotics or added growth hormones—and cured with no added nitrates or nitrites. You can’t say that about most supermarket brands. All that good care, plus they’re a lot tastier too! Every tender slice is succulent and full-flavored.
Want us to help out with the rest of your holiday menu? We can do everything, right down to the flowers.
Order up your holiday goodies however it’s most convenient for you: at the Holiday Table in your neighborhood store or online at our Holiday Shop.
We can’t wait to make this your most stress-free, delicious holiday ever.
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Christmas Eve Dining
Friday Dec 24, 2010
Looking for a nice location for your Christmas Eve dinner? For the first time ever, DELFINA will be open, offering a very special “traditional and not so traditional” seafood dinner menu (offered à la carte so their regulars can still get their spaghetti fix). They are also taking larger groups that night (they generally don’t take parties over six).
MASA’S is also going to be doing something different that night: a special family-style menu. But don’t worry, executive chef Gregory Short and pastry chef Maggie Leung will have plenty of luxe holiday ingredients on the menu (including black truffles, Maine Jonah crab, prime beef, and brandied cherries). $105 per person. Served 4:30pm-9pm.
For those of you who want to experience the famed Southern Italian Feast of Seven Fishes, INCANTO will stick with tradition and offer their annual menu.
And now A16 is also offering a Feast of Seven Fishes, a four-course tasting menu, starting with shellfish gratinata, whole-roasted marinated prawns, cuttlefish with capers and herbs; an optional course of a crab sformato with rapini and Calabrian chiles; baccalà ravioli with green olives, cherry tomatoes, and fennel or calamari pizzetta; whole salt-baked dorade with braised kale and potato gratinata or octopus braised in red wine and tomato with riso nero and escarole; and for dessert, pumpkin, pine nut, and ricotta arrotolato with bitter chocolate. Service will run continuously from noon, and the four-course menu will be available from 4pm-9pm. $75 per person, $90 per person with the extra course, and an optional wine pairing at $55 or $65 respectively per person.
For those in the South Bay, MANRESA would make a lovely destination—David Kinch will offer a special five-course Christmas Eve menu for $165 per person, exclusive of wine, tax, and gratuity. Reservations are available from 5pm, with the last reservations at 8:30pm.
Lastly, for those who don’t want a special menu and just want to go out to eat somewhere new, TWENTY FIVE LUSK in SoMa will be open and serving its regular menu.
Christmas Day Dining
Saturday Dec 25, 2010
Here are some Christmas Day dining options—whether you’re looking for a special meal, or you just want a bite to eat.
THE DINING ROOM AT THE RITZ-CARLTON will be offering a six-course tasting menu for the table at $175 per person.
AME at St. Regis will offer a special Christmas Day five-course menu in addition to the restaurant’s regular menu (they will also be open on Christmas Eve from 5pm-9pm). The menu includes Dungeness crab salad; seared Maine diver scallop; and roasted Atkins Ranch lamb chops. $95; wine pairings additional $65. 4pm-8pm.
Another one doing double duty is AMERICANO at Hotel Vitale, open both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (5:30pm-10pm). The three-course dinner will include choices like lardo-wrapped Hawaiian blue prawns; house-crafted cotechino with Umbrian lentils and grilled red onion; Piemontese-style rib-eye with horseradish creamed Brussels sprouts and grilled king trumpet mushrooms; candy cap mushroom and ricotta tortellini; and rice pudding gelato with quince, sour cherries, and cinnamon fritter for dessert. $75 per person.
If you’re looking for a Chrismas buffet, THE OAK ROOM RESTAURANT in the St. Francis will be serving a buffet from 3pm-10pm, with dishes like rock shrimp salad, Alaskan snow crab and smoked salmon, seasonal salads, and pastries, pies, and tarts. Additionally, guests have a choice of five holiday favorites, such as slow-roasted turkey with giblet gravy and fresh cranberry relish; steamed Pacific Northwest salmon with rice; and sea salt and herb-rubbed prime rib of Angus beef with Asiago potatoes. $79 adults; $37 children 12 and under (exclusive of tax and gratuity).
It’s one of the steepest brunch prices I’ve seen, but the TOP OF THE MARK will be doing both a brunch and dinner buffet from 11am-7pm. There will be a carving station, overnight caramel French toast, and eggs Benedict, as well as a selection of appetizers, salads, and entrées. There will be entertainment from 11am-4pm by Elias Nagash on piano, and Richard Scales (yes, that’s his name) playing jazz piano from 4pm-10pm. $99 per person and $59 per child (4-12 years old), exclusive of tax and gratuity.
If you have some relatives staying downtown who will want some brunch, CAFÉ DE LA PRESSE will be open from 8am-4:30pm for brunch, and from 5:30pm-9pm for dinner with a regular à la carte menu.
Do you just want a steak? BOBO’S will be open, and serving their regular à la carte menu.
FYI, many hotel restaurants will be open, so you can seek out more options as needed.
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Hard Hits and Guitar Licks
Newcomer TWENTY FIVE LUSK had some special guests over the weekend: on Friday evening, #51 and linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, Takeo Spikes dined there with a lady friend. While trying to keep a low profile, the back collar of his shirt kept him from flying under the radar… it was embroidered “T Spikes.”
And then on Saturday evening, Metallica dined with their wives to celebrate Kirk Hammett’s birthday. Rock!
Joe, Can You Pass Me the Pappardelle?
A tablehopper reader (and fellow diner about town) spotted Joe Montana with wife Jennifer at Cotogna for lunch on Friday December 3rd.
Pre-Game Dining with the Spurs
Another sighting of Manu Ginóbili of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team rolled in—he was spotted having dinner with teammate Tim Duncan at Waterbar last Monday night. Of their win over the Warriors, partner Pete Sittnick suggests, “It must’ve been the oysters!”
El Woz Spotted in the Mission (and Mint Plaza)
On Saturday night, a friend of mine was very happy to give up his table to Steve Wozniak at El Metate, who was “standing around looking lost.” The Woz also pulled up to Blue Bottle Coffee—Mint Plaza on his Segway with a lady friend, who was reportedly on a matching Segway (here’s a pic of him inside Blue Bottle from Twitter user @cherlynsf).
I'll Have the Salman for Dinner, Thanks
A tweet announced Salman Rushdie was at a dinner at Zuni Café last Thursday, along with Davia Nelson (Kitchen Sisters).
A tablehopper reader let me know that Guy Fieri came in to Broken Record in the Excelsior last week to film an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. (I was wondering what was all that yelling I heard from across the city last week… He must have tasted the oxtail polenta.)