Spicy tequila medicine at The Alembic.
Oh yeah, guess who kicked that cold to the freaking curb? (I think the spicy tequila drink the fab bar staff at The Alembic concocted for me what just what the disco doctor ordered.) Sorry, no time to be sick right now. Eff that. Especially when there is so much going on—I think you’re gonna be fired up with today’s column of discoveries (hello, even more barbecue) and some cool events. I’ll also admit I’m a bit cranky in a few items in today’s column, and please, hold the oh-so-tired “time of the month” jokes—‘cause you’d be wrong. Pffft.
Hey, have you bid on the Ragazza fundraiser auction yet? They keep getting more and more amazing items, so check it out and bid, yo. (Ends on Monday January 31st.)
Also, a little reminder that this is your last week to go pick up your free glass of bubbles at Dcantr, on me. (Details here.) I don’t know about you, but this weather is making me thirsty. Very, very thirsty.
See ya on a patio somewhere,
Even though the owners have tried to tell us they aren’t open, LEOPOLD’S, the Austrian-Italian restaurant that moved into the Antica Trattoria space on Polk, is quite open. Based on a few reports and their Facebook page, here’s what we’ve got: an Alpine (Austria/Alto Adige/Friuli-Veneto) menu of hearty dishes like duck crépinettes, wiener schnitzel, and beef shortribs, plus, according to the pics of their curing room, quite the selection of housemade salumi (it has “gasthaus” in its name, which is a German tavern). (Grubstreet has a fuzzy image of the menu here.) So to drink, you can bet there will be beer on tap and wine from Austria, Germany, and Italy (including big glass Spaten boots to drink out of). The décor includes wood wainscoting, some taxidermy, Alpine wood booths, a large communal table, and a cozy back bar. The partners in the project are Klaus and Albert Rainier, the two brothers behind downtown’s Café Metropol. Hours are Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am.
Leopold's - 2400 Polk St. San Francisco - 415-474-2000
Boy, there is thankfully a lot of barbecue that is making appearances on the scene, from The Rib Whip truck parking in SoMa to CatHead’s Barbecue (see my next post) to this wonderful-sounding brand-new addition, SMOKE. Mark Furr—who grew up in Kansas City (“I’ve been doing barbecue since I was a kid—it’s what we do out there.”)—was the opening chef for The Sycamore, and has also worked in fine dining. With Smoke, he’s serving some delicious-sounding ‘cue out of a little bright red 1966 Land Commander trailer that he converted into a mini-kitchen in Bayview. He said he cooks the barbecue overnight at a production kitchen in Bernal, and then serves it from the trailer in Bayview the next day. He said the difference is his meats aren’t reheated, which means you’re getting it practically right out of the smoker.
On the menu: competition-style barbecue, like slow-cooked brisket, spareribs, pulled pork, hot links, (excuse me, just slobbered on my keyboard, hang on, one second, ok), along with sides like cheesy grits, cornbread, greens, potato salad, coleslaw, and barbecue beans with brisket that are cooked “the proper way,” which is in the smoker (duh). You can choose from plates ($10-$14) or sandwiches ($6-$8), or by the pound ($10)—you can also get a chicken for $10, and a slab of ribs for $20. He said he’s cooking with quality, hormone-free meats. His cohort, Angela Chavez, is also making some tasty desserts, from chocolate cream pie to banana cream pie to tarts.
Furr said they just started last Thursday, and will be serving from Mon-Fri 11:30am-4pm at 1439 Davidson at Evans. He mentioned that he likes the off-the-beaten-path location (“It reminds me a bit of Kansas City”), but they are scouting a second location to launch in February. You can keep track on their Twitter feed. I can’t wait to head over. And do it quick before Thrillist most likely picks this up and lobs it to their audience of dudes (without crediting where they got the story, of course).
A few weeks ago, I tweeted that Eskender Aseged was going to be hosting a Moroccan-influenced Radio Africa & Kitchen on Fridays at THE CORNER, and I also heard from CatHead’s Barbecue—a trio of professional chefs who are hosting their menu of ‘cue on Saturday nights from 6pm-1am—that there will also be a “reverse happy hour” starting at 10:30pm, with more of a late-night snack menu. You can take a look at their menu here, which includes plates of St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, and braised brisket; you can follow them on Twitter here for special offers.
And it gets cooler: according to Grub Street, The Corner is going to be hosting a bunch of other pop-up businesses, from EAT to Parada 22 to Kasa. Here’s the post with additional details. 2199 Mission St. at 18th St., 415-875-9258.
According to a Craigslist ad, the new tenant moving into the Tango Gelato space on Fillmore Street is going to be a “quick casual VIETNAMESE SANDWICH EATERY opening March 2011.” The owner wants to hold on revealing any more info at this time, so stand by. Bring on the banh mi. 2015 Fillmore St. at Pine.
More Craigslist finds: there’s a new location of MR. PICKLE’S SANDWICH SHOP in the Marina, now open at 1926 Lombard St. at Buchanan.
Since we’re on sandwiches, tomorrow (Wednesday) PAL’S TAKEAWAY is featuring a guest chef sandwich from Laurence Jossel: house-smoked trout on Acme green onion slab with nopa house-cured bacon, house-pickled onions, avocado-spring garlic mayonnaise, and River Dog arugula.
SEASONS RESTAURANT has reconcepted their New American steakhouse menu, created by executive chef Mark Richardson and his new culinary team (Alex LaMotte and Jeffrey Wurtz). The premium beef featured on the menu is locally sourced from four sources, and should go well with new sides like a corn, jalapeño, and pancetta spoon bread.
Eater noted that MAZU in the Inner Richmond has closed. 3809 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave.
You wouldn’t believe how many messages I have left for the owners at both TOAST locations, asking for details about their new Polk Street location. (I almost don’t believe it myself.) Anyway, thanks to an informative tweet, they’re supposedly opening their third location (in the former Bob’s Broiler) this week. Can’t tell you anything else because THE $#&^! OWNERS NEVER CALL ME BACK. Hell, even writing this post is bordering on wasting my time further. And… scene. 1601 Polk St. at Sacramento.
You a downtown worker? Chef/owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark of SHOW DOGS have kicked off breakfast service, running Mon-Fri 8am-11am. Yeah, the folks behind the cult egg dishes at Foreign Cinema. You can choose from nine breakfast items, like the Sunrise ShowDog (maple bacon sausage, egg, piperade, organic cheddar, arugula, and celery root hash browns, $7.95); Croque Madame (toasted pulled pork, Gruyère, and béchamel, crowned with an egg, $7.95); and Huevos Rancheros (eggs over easy, crisp corn tortillas, white beans, bacon, cheddar cheese, and tomatillo salsa, $8.95). You can also order healthier items, like granola, or a vegetarian hash, along with classic breakfast sides, like bacon, sausage, and sticky buns. And then there’s the Lagunitas Espresso Stout served warm in a mug. Ahem. (And psssst, if you follow Show Dogs on Twitter, you’ll get some special treats tonight from 6pm-7pm if you know the password.)
Show Dogs - 1020 Market St. San Francisco - 415-558-9560
I can always tell when Valentine’s Day is approaching, because I get hit with a ton of chocolate news and events. Since I know there are a lot of chocolate lovers out there (perhaps even more than Valentine’s Day lovers), here’s a round up for ya:
FOG CITY NEWS is where you’ll want to pick up sweets for your sweet—and they have all kinds of special guests coming for lunchtime chocolate events, including Richard Donnelly this Friday January 28th from 12pm-2pm (his fresh, preservative-free truffles are supposed to be out of this world), and Michael Mischer on Tuesday February 8th (free to taste!). 455 Market St. at 1st. St.
My favorite sugar pimp, Gabriel Mitchell of MAISON MITCHELL, is at it again, creating a special Valentine’s Day truffle. This year’s is Bella Rosa, a combination of 55% chocolate, raspberry, and a whisper of rose. You can pick up 1/4 lb. boxes for $15 (which is about 15-20 truffles), or 1/2 lb. boxes for $25 at The Summit—where he is the first guest pastry chef—starting this Friday January 28th (but call first). You’ll also be able to pick up last year’s spicy special, Azteca, and Finocchia, made with 72% and toasted fennel.
On Monday February 14th, RAW BAY AREA is offering a raw truffle- and candy-making class, including hand-rolled truffles, peppermint patties, and chocolate caramel cups. 6pm-7:30pm. $35 per person/$60 for two people. Tickets here. 2501 Harrison St., Oakland.
Thought you’d want to take a peek at a couple of these UPCOMING SUPPERS IN CONJUNCTION WITH GRAFFEATS: both are based around pretty cool concepts. On February 12th, Ryan Ostler (formerly Bruno’s and Broken Record) is doing a special Devil’s Canyon Steer ‘n’ Beer barbecue dinner (think pit-roasted steer, oysters, tartare, crispy belly BBQ, Scottish Ale ice cream floats, fresh sausages). And everything will be made using Devil’s Canyon Brewery beer, ingredients from beer, or—-in the case of the steer—finished on beer. And since Ostler is THE MAN with barbecue, you’re gonna be stoked. 6pm-9pm. $65.
And then on February 17th-18th will be Covers, a dinner of six courses inspired by the dishes of some of the most influential chefs in the world. Example: a riff on Grant Achatz’s “Hot Potato, Cold Potato” (you can see the full lineup on the site). And Turntable Kitchen will be pairing music to each course. Woot. The BYOB shindig will consist of two seatings each night: 6pm and 9pm. $65.
Cookbook author Elizabeth Andoh (Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, An Ocean of Flavor) has a new release out, Kansha: Celebrating Japan’s Vegan & Vegetarian Traditions, and there are a variety of special events planned around the release (she is making a rare trip from Osaka to the Bay Area). One you won’t want to miss is at Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland on Wednesday February 16th (6pm-8pm). The event will be in Hodo Soy’s kitchen with founder and tofu-master, Minh Tsai. Guests will be given tastes of a range of dishes from Kansha, such as steamed custard with slivered mushrooms, pan-toasted okara, and skillet-scrambled tofu with leafy greens, while Andoh will teach about the philosophy behind the Kansha way, and share stories from her Japanese kitchen. (You will also get an after-hours sneak peek at Hodo’s production floor.) Tickets are $65, and include a signed copy of the book. 2923 Adeline St. at 30th St., Oakland.
Andoh will also be at Kinokuniya Bookstore for a lecture on Tuesday February 15th (5pm); at Books, Inc. at 1760 Fourth St., Berkeley on Thursday February 17th (7pm); at 18 Reasons for a ticketed demo and talk on Friday February 18th (7pm-9pm); and at Omnivore on Saturday February 19th (3pm-4pm).
Wanna spend the afternoon with a bona fide chocolate and cookie expert? On Saturday February 5th from 1pm-3pm, Purcell Murray in Brisbane is hosting a delicious afternoon of baking, sweet treats, conversation, and a BOOK SIGNING WITH ALICE MEDRICH, award-winning author of the recently published Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.
Alice Medrich, who started the famed Cocolat dessert shops in the 70s, will be demonstrating recipes from her innovative new cookie book (her 8th cookbook) in which she has updated her signature recipes with expansive flavors. You’ll also get to sample cookies from each textural category: chewy, gooey, crispy, and crunchy. If the recipes tested in the bookworm review of Chew Gooey Crispy Crunchy are any indication, then this is sure to be a very sweet and delicious afternoon.
To reserve a spot, call 415-330-5557. The event is $35, and Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy will be available for $25.95 plus tax.
Saturday Feb 5, 2011 1pm–3pm $35 more info
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Umamimart is hosting another fun Umamiventure, this one is a VISIT TO SUTTON CELLARS in the Dogpatch this Sunday January 30th. It’s all about vermouth, delicious, complex vermouth (hell, Sutton’s is so good that The Alembic has it on tap). I love the event writeup (check it out here), but here’s the gist: a meet and greet with fellow guests over a Sutton and soda; a brief tour of the winery and Vermouth Lab; a comparative tasting of six vermouths with a discussion on the history of the spirit, its various styles, and in relation to other botanical alcoholic beverages; deconstructing the Sutton vermouth, and a tasting of three separate botanicals macerated in base wine alongside the finished product; discussion and Q&A about the specifics of Sutton vermouth production and bottling; and a martini hour, with two different locally produced gins mixed with Sutton vermouth for a side-by-side comparison. Seriously, that is one hell of an awesome event. 2pm. $25 advance, $30 at the door.
Sunday Jan 30, 2011 2pm $25 advance, $30 at the door more info
FLOUR + WATER is taking full advantage of their private “Dough Room” these days with a variety of private events. First up, a winemaker series on Monday nights, with pairings from Skylark on January 31st, and Palmina on February 7th. Chef Thomas McNaughton will be preparing a five-course tasting menu, with two pairings per course (whoa). It’s an intimate affair, with room for 12 max. $130; tax and gratuity extra. The first seating for these dinners (6pm) is sold out, so only space for the 9pm seatings remain (quite the way to start the week, right?). Reservations: 415-826-7000 or email.
And then on Tuesday February 8th, The Bon Vivants (Josh Harris and Scott Baird) will be doing their own five-course cocktail pairing dinner, creating cocktails made only from ingredients that are legally served under a beer and wine license: think, sherry, beer, vermouth, some amari, etc. Both the cocktails and the cuisine will be prepared directly in front of the evening’s guests, and you can sure as hell expect some stories, laughs, and more. Space is limited to 10 people. $150, all inclusive. 7pm-10pm. Reservations: 415-826-7000.
Flour + Water - 2401 Harrison St. San Francisco - 415-826-7000
THE LIBERTY CAFÉ is relaunching its wine bar in the back (a former carriage house) on Tuesday February 1st, and will be open Tue-Sun evenings. Chef Matthew Marcus has created a special wine bar menu that is available each night. There will also be a series of wine events, like a free wine tasting on Thursday February 3rd focusing on the wines of Piedmont (6pm-8pm), with live music and complimentary hors d’oeuvres; Thursday February 10th will feature the tempranillos of Alejandro Fernandez, 6pm-8pm; and Thursday February 24th will feature a cooking class and wine pairing dinner from 6pm-9pm, $50 for the class, dinner, and pairings. 410 Cortland Ave. at Bennington, 415-695-8777.
Thought you should know that VINYL is now open in Cafe Divis, open nightly at 5:30pm-11pm, pouring a selection of California wine and craft beer, and serving cheese and cured meats (you can read more on the offerings here). And starting in February, Casey’s Pizza will be serving their pizzas on Wednesdays. 359 Divisadero St. at Oak, 415-621-4132.
And just a few blocks away, NOPA is offering all 10 crus of Beaujolais on the bottle list, plus rotating by-the-glass options.
I got a chance to catch up with Paul Owens of Tortilla Heights about his upcoming project that is moving into the Gravity Room space in the Marina (yeah, fatal gang shootings in the club are so last year). It doesn’t have a name yet, but stand by for more on this in a sec. The space is going to have an old gentlemen’s club vibe, but also be very “come as you are” (so if you’re in the Marina, I guess that means UGG boots will be totally okay). The designer is Kendall Friedman, who does high-end residential projects in Pac Heights and Tiburon. There will be new bathrooms, a new sound system, and other updates. There will be a menu of four signature cocktails that will rotate, and there will also be a well-selected list of wines and Champagnes. As for the programming, Owens is planning on having guest bartending on Wednesday nights (something one of his past bars, The Fishbowl, is well known for), bands on Thursdays, and DJs on the weekends. 3251 Scott St. at Chestnut.
Now, about that $1,000. Owens is willing to offer $1k, in cash, for anyone who comes up with the name they end up choosing for the bar/club. He wants it to have a traditional and strong tone to it—think old New York or London gentlemen’s club, but a place where you can let your hair down (over good cocktails). Obviously it’s going to draw an energetic crowd that wants to have fun in that neighborhood. Feel free to send some names in here by midnight on February 14th, 2011, and he’ll then sort through the names and see if there’s a winner. Please be sure to include your name, contact info, and address so he can reach you.
The ‘hopper is a fan of hops, and is therefore stoked about the upcoming SAN FRANCISCO BEER WEEK 2011, which is running from February 11th-20th. The event lineup is pretty hefty, starting with the Opening Gala at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on February 11th with over 35 breweries in attendance, followed by a bunch of festivals, classes, special beer dinners, pig roasts, beer-and-bacon PJ brunches, beer-making classes, a Beer 2 Brakers SF bike tour, pairings and special pours all over town, a “Booze and Brew Brawl,” you name it. Don’t take my word for it, hop on over to the schedule.
Friday Feb 11, 2011 – Sunday Feb 20, 2011 more info
I received this heartfelt note from a tablehopper reader, Joanne Bowman, about the retirement of her favorite bartender, Roger Nissim, and felt impelled to share it. Here’s wishing him a very happy retirement, and making excellent cocktails for his wife at home: “I thought you might like to know that Roger Nissim, who has been a bartender with FOG CITY DINER since they opened in 1985, retired this week. I attended a retirement bash for him at the Diner on Tuesday evening with about 100 people to wish him well. The party was put on by the Diner and his wife, Joanne. The Diner was closed for the evening for his party. You may remember he was in the VISA commercial and has been a wonderful ambassador for both the diner and San Francisco. He is a true gentleman and a great bartender. I will miss his presence at the Diner with his coiffed hair and mustache and manicured nails. He is almost 70 years of age. He is one of the best old-time bartenders around and entertained people with his spoons and soft shoe routine while working behind the bar. He will be sorely missed.
“I have been a friend of Roger’s since meeting him at the diner about 24 years ago. Since that time, I would take my mother, father, and grandmother and sit at the bar in front of Roger to eat lunch. Once my mother and grandmother passed on, I visited Roger with my father. The Diner will not be the same without him.”
Wednesday Feb 2, 2011 5:45pm–9pm $95 Info/tickets Horatius 350 Kansas St. at 16th St., San Francisco
On Wednesday February 2nd, cook up some fun and some support for a great non-profit at COOKING UP SUCCESS FOR WOMEN’S INITIATIVE, a cooking party and fundraiser hosted by Parties That Cook to benefit Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, a non-profit organization that provides small business training to low-income women.
The party starts at 5:45pm at the Horatius gallery in Potrero Hill with a glass of wine and light hors d’oeuvres. Parties That Cook founder and executive chef Bibby Gignilliat will give an interactive demo, then guests will join in to make a gourmet meal of international small plates like chicken skewers with spicy peanut sauce, crostini of blue cheese with shallot-cherry confit, cumin-curried hummus with roasted cauliflower florets, polpettine (little meatballs with melted Fontina centers), and brioche tartines topped with Dungeness crab and shrimp salad. And for dessert, it’s melted peanut butter-filled chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. (Many dishes can accommodate vegetarians.)
Guests will also have the chance to speak with four graduates from Women’s Initiative and hear their inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Women’s Initiative provides high-potential, low-income women with the training, resources, and on-going support to start and grow their own business. They become economically self-sufficient while creating jobs and stimulating the local economy. In 2010 alone, recent graduates created 3,818 jobs! This event is $95 per person, with all proceeds going to Women’s Initiative.
I know, I know, some of you want to cringe, but there are others who need to book a table asap for VALENTINE’S DAY to get your prix-fixe menu groove on. So, let’s dive in.
First, whether you want to send a treat to your boyfriend or bitter BFF, you can send them a “SusieGram” from SUSIECAKES—pricing begins at $18, and varies depending on delivery location. Your order can include a Susie Loves Me box (sugar cookies, red hot red velvet cupcakes) or Love Me Not box (with a “Black Sweetheart” sandwich cookie, cupcakes inscribed with “Serial Dater” and “Break Up Queen,” and more), $25. Call or visit to order from February 1st-12th.
Friday February 11th-Saturday February 12th is the 8TH ANNUAL FOOD FROM THE HEART at the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace. Merchants and restaurateurs at the Marketplace will offer chocolate tastings and seasonal hors d’oeuvres, and local vintners will pour wine. The event is free with nominal charges for food and wine samples ($2-$4), with proceeds to benefit Slow Food San Francisco. Marketplace shops will all be open from 5pm-8pm for shopping on Friday night. There will be tango and salsa dancing, and classical music. On Saturday, there will be music in the Marketplace, chef demos, and special Valentine offerings from merchants.
Okay, now let’s look at some dining options. There is no way in hell I am going through each menu here, so call the restaurant or check their websites for more details:
Of course there’s the romantic JARDINIÈRE, and since Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday, they will be serving a “Truffle Lovers” tasting menu starting Friday February 11th through Sunday the 13th, five courses, $135. And to take home, everyone who enjoys the tasting menu will receive Jardinière’s signature truffled salt. On Monday the 14th, they will be serving a special prix-fixe menu for $125 (excluding wine pairings), plus à la carte dining in the bar and J-Lounge, but not in the dining room.
Also in Hayes Valley, ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR is offering a special three-course prix-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day, which includes Meyer Ranch filet of beef with seared foie gras and potato galette. $58 per person; add $39 for wine pairings.
Another classic romantic spot, FOREIGN CINEMA is serving a three-course prix-fixe menu, and screening a special romantic film in the outside courtyard.
LA FOLIE is offering a four-course prix-fixe menu for $155, with main dish choices including a beef trio with Creekstone beef tenderloin, braised beef short rib, and burger Rossini with sauce Bordelaise.
Now, for the vegetarian in your life (or if you’re still gung ho on your New Year’s resolution to eat more vegetables), GREENS is serving a four-course Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menu, with live music by Jeff Massanari Jazz Trio throughout the evening. And of course there are those beautiful views. $88, does not include beverages, tax, or gratuity.
You can dine at AME from February 8th-15th and order their Black Truffle Menu, five courses, $115 per person.
SPRUCE is offering a five-courser, which includes a course of poached local sole and Maine lobster, mousseline potatoes, braised leeks, and red wine butter. $115 per person, exclusive of tax, gratuity, and beverages. Wine pairings are an additional $50 per person.
Want something a little unique? GRAFFEATS is hosting Dinner and a Flick, with five courses paired to five short films in an intimate space. $65, drinks not included.
And if you want to do things UP, check out this one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day (and Chinese New Year) event happening at the War Memorial Opera House, PAPILLON X—EXTRAVAGANZA. There will be a performance by Roberta Flack and Jeff Chang (total Asian heartthrob), and a dinner from four amazing chefs: Michelin-starred Demon Chef Alvin Leung from Bo Innovation, Hong Kong; James Beard award-winning chef Corey Lee of Benu; executive chef Leung Kam Chiu of KOI Palace; and host executive chef Dean Rona of San Francisco Opera House. Featured wineries include Francis Ford Coppola and Rubicon Estate. General admission seats are $48-$108; orchestra pit seating (includes wine tasting) is $150; and box seating, which includes dinner and all VIP events, is $300. Tickets here.
(Sorry, sorry, it wasn’t hunky Jon Hamm or hottie Christina Hendricks.) Colin Hanks, the son of Tom Hanks (and Father Gill on Mad Men) had brunch at EPIC Roasthouse with a party of six, which included Alison Brie (Trudy Campbell of Mad Men). The group reportedly took in the sunshine and view while dining on beef tartare, crab cake Benedicts, and the breakfast pizza.
Van Dao, the man behind Biscuit Bender (and the pastry chef at Brenda’s), was serving his biscuits with molten cheddar gravy and wild mushrooms at the Far West Fungi counter, and guess who his first customer was? Yup, Joe Montana and his wife. (And if that order made you a wee bit hungry, Biscuit Bender will be at there on a semi-regular basis—follow him on Twitter to keep up with him until he lands his brick-and-mortar location in the Mission.)