Barbacoa (lamb) taco from El Huarache Loco.
Three things that are making me happy this past (and upcoming) week:
- not seeing rainy clouds in the forecast for another week.
- taking Sunday completely off, spending it at the Alemany flea market (which included the bonus of being able to eat kickass tacos—with made-to-order tortillas—from El Huarache Loco), reading my magazine in Golden Gate Park, and seeing the 50th anniversary print of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” at the Castro Theatre.
- learning that Carlo Espinas is the guest chef at Pal’s Takeaway this Wednesday (he’s making a roasted pork belly sandwich on Acme green onion slab with smoked oyster dressing, peppercress, radishes, and Meyer lemon-spring garlic mayo).
And here’s something I hope will make you happy: I’m going to be giving away a pair of tickets to the Sunday Marketplace at the Artisan Cheese Festival, which is Sunday March 27th. How can you win the pair of tickets? You need to “like” the tablehopper Facebook page by Sunday February 13th, and I’ll randomly pick a winner next week! Best of luck, oh-so-likable darlings.
Today’s issue has a lot of North Bay happenings (including the opening of Plate Shop tonight), and I hope you enjoy this exclusive first look at Bluestem Brasserie in the hardhat—it’s going to be a looker.
See ya on Friday. Mwah.
Now open on Fillmore Street is ~JANE~, a café bringing a taste of Mission coffee to the neighborhood. You’ll be able to get a variety of Four Barrel Coffee drinks off the La Marzocco FB/80, along with tea from Five Mountains, and house-baked goods that are made daily. I spoke with owner Amanda Michael, who said her baking style is American and homey, and will offer cookies, brownies, and other treats as well (plus Straus soft-serve ice cream in chocolate and vanilla). In about a week, the lunch menu will launch, with simple soup, salads, and sandwiches made with quality ingredients (local and organic when possible).
There are 32 seats, including a mezzanine with room for 12, and bar seating for 10. The cheerful café look was designed by Ken Fulk, and includes tufted black banquette seating, aluminum Navy chairs with salmon-pink cushions, and the unexpected addition of some taxidermy: a yak’s head, to be exact (I kind of love it). There’s also Wi-Fi available—they are going to see how it goes, and hopefully won’t have to enforce time limits. There’s also the discussion of eventually adding evening hours (with the same all-day menu), but for now, hours are Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 2123 Fillmore St. at California, 415-931-JANE (5263).
After a tip-off from a tablehopper reader, I learned that Duncan Ley and Ben Bleiman (Tonic, Bullitt, and the upcoming Rebel) are taking over BISSAP BAOBAB, and will be opening a version of Bullitt for the Mission, namely, affordable comfort food and cocktails. A third partner, Mark DeVito, will also be involved in the currently unnamed project. A source close to the owners said they will be taking the space over when the liquor license transfers, which could be anywhere from 90 to 120 days. They will be revamping the space quickly, maybe closing for a couple weeks max, and will be paying a lot of attention to sprucing up the outdoor patio as well. More details in coming weeks. 2323 Mission St. at 19th St.
Sundays are about to get better in SoMa: CITIZEN’S BAND is launching Sunday brunch (10am-2pm) and a Sunday supper from 5:30pm-9:30pm. The brunch menu is the same as Saturday’s menu, and the supper menu will feature seven-eight dishes for $16 and under. There will be dishes like a hearty stew, or breakfast for dinner, like chicken-fried steak and eggs, or baked eggs with beans and pork shoulder. There will also be affordable wine and beer pairings available. It all starts this coming Sunday February 13th.
Meanwhile, ORSON has decided to open up on Sunday nights, and is offering a DIY menu. You can build your own pizza and/or burger from a variety of ingredients on hand. The $10 pizza starts as a sourdough crust with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan—you can add bacon, a farm egg, fennel sausage, prosciutto, hazelnuts, potatoes… As for the burger, for $10, you can have the burger with house pickles, romaine, and a condiment trio on their brioche bun. Or, you can get a combo like Gruyère, chanterelles, caramelized shallots, and crispy coppa for $14. And then there’s the sundae bar. You can start with a $5 or $10 bowl of their ice cream (Fernet, cinnamon toast, coffee, deep chocolate, vanilla bean, to start), and then hit up the topping bar at the front of the bar for things like almond crunch, chocolate streusel, bourbon caramel, brandied cherries, and whipped crème anglaise. Dig in.
Citizen's Band - 1198 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-556-4901
I love hearing about things that are ahead of schedule: looks like BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD has decided to open for dinner before they complete the second part of their expansion. As I mentioned earlier, a preliminary peek at the dinner menu reveals a variety of grilled or broiled oysters, Big Easy spicy wings, roasted quail, and smothered pork with beans and greens. The goal is to be serving dinner by Mardi Gras (Tuesday March 8th).
Brenda's French Soul Food - 652 Polk St. San Francisco - 415-345-8100
As part of Good Food Month’s Immigrant Food Week, La Cocina is throwing their first-ever SAN FRANCISCO SALSA SHOWDOWN on Saturday February 12th at Cafe Cocomo from 5pm-9pm. It’s a dual-salsa event with a salsa tasting competition and salsa dancing, plus a grand prize worth $500 for the best salsa recipe.
The salsa competition—salsa the food, that is—is open to everyone in the community, so attendees will be tasting epic recipes of all types from home cooks and food pros alike. With or without fancy kitchens, carts, or formal training, anyone can transform raw ingredients into incredible food; just check out the international flair of the list of competitors. What an event, you can support your favorite salsa-maker and shake your money maker!
Saturday Feb 12, 2011 5pm–9pm more info
I was in the Upper Haight over the weekend, and the new WHOLE FOODS MARKET on Stanyan Street (formerly a Cala Foods) was looking ready to open. I know, a Whole Foods in the Haight—times, they are a changin’. And it’s quite a green build-out, with locally reclaimed redwood used throughout the store and a reused gym floor reclaimed from De Anza High School in Richmond, plus a glycol refrigeration system, a reflective roof, and glass dairy doors with LED lights.
One very interesting component: the store will carry a wide range of products from more than 250 local Bay Area vendors (within 100 miles or less of San Francisco), including products from San Francisco street food vendors (Magic Curry Kart, The Chai Cart, King of Cürrywurst, Bicycle Coffee Co., Empanadas de mi Pueblo, El Porteño empanadas, and HapaSF), Paulie’s Pickling, Scream Sorbet from Oakland, Rancho Gordo beans, sauces and jams from Azalina, frozen fruit pies from Duarte’s in Pescadero, Papalote salsa, wine and vermouth from Sutton Cellars, coffee and tea from Ritual Roasters, Four Barrel Coffee, Bicycle Coffee, Philz Coffee, Mighty Leaf Tea, and much more.
But before the opening happens on Wednesday February 16th (at 8am), they’re hosting a “Good Food Celebration” on Sunday February 13th from 12pm-4pm in the parking lot. Ethnic foods from La Cocina members and an assortment of specialty beers from Magnolia Brewery will be there, among others. Admission is free and all food items are priced under $5. All profits made from beer sales will go directly back to La Cocina to support its incubator programs for low-income food entrepreneurs. Daily store hours: 8am-10pm. 690 Stanyan St. at Haight, 415-876-6740.
I really, truly thought I was done writing about Valentine’s Day, but here are a few more things for your sugar radar: BAKER & BANKER are up to no good in the bakery, making raspberry Linzer heart sandwich cookies, strawberry Champagne cupcakes, red hot red velvet cupcakes (red hot candies are added into the batter), and conversation heart cakes. And… they’re also introducing chocolate-covered bacon, along with some other treats.
TELL TALE PRESERVE COMPANY has created the Tell Tale Heart, a collection of four signature treats all wrapped in a reusable, custom-made black and white Japanese furoshiki, containing passionfruit-olive oil curd, chocolate brioche, dark chocolate-passionfruit bon bons, and coffee-passion caramels. There is a limited quantity, and you can order them on the Tell Tale website to pick up or ship anywhere in the country ($75 for pick up and $87 to ship).
On Sunday February 13th, SFoodie is hosting the ONE LOVE BAKE SALE at La Victoria Bakery in the Mission, with local pastry shops donating baked goods to benefit the San Francisco City Clinic (which offers reproductive and sexual health services to everyone and anyone in SF). The lineup includes: Baker & Banker Bakery, Goody Goodie, Knead Patisserie, Mission Minis, Pinkie’s Bakery, Sandbox Bakery, Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, and Tell Tale Preserve Co. Come by from 12pm-4pm to pick up some sweets (cash only!), and 100 percent of sales will go to the City Clinic. (So don’t be surprised if you see a big pile of sample condoms to take home with your cupcakes and cookies.) La Victoria, 2937 24th St. at Alabama.
After one month in 331 Cortland, SPECIAL REQUEST bakery has given up its spot in the marketplace as of January 31st. Special Request co-owner Freddie Colombani said it was no longer cost-effective to keep the 331 location after Dezy’s Drinks pulled out of their shared kiosk.
Vanessa and Freddie are still offering their fetching gluten-free/vegan desserts out of Lilah Belle’s (3801 18th St. at Church), and according to a letter posted at 331, they’re also taking orders at firstname.lastname@example.org, with free delivery on orders over $20 in SF, or you can pick up at 425 Barneveld Ave.
According to another sign posted at 331, parties interested in taking over the now-vacant kiosk can call 415-699-9059.
After an opening date that was doubling as a serious moving target for months, executive chef Kim Alter and GM/partner Matt Kahn are opening their neighborhood restaurant, PLATE SHOP, for dinner tonight in Sausalito. The 54-seat restaurant is in a 100-year-old building that opened as the Gold Dust Bar in 1937, and was most recently Rustico. The interior was designed by Martinkovic Milford Architects. The look will reference Sausalito’s coastal and pre-World War II industrial shipbuilding history with some nautical elements and antiques, along with distressed woods and metals. Seating includes a banquette with leather cushions, a communal table suspended from the ceiling by steel rods, and there are five sidewalk tables as well. (You can peek at more details in this slideshow on Grub Street.)
Alter’s background includes AQUA (as executive sous chef), Ubuntu, Acquerello, Gary Danko, and Manresa. She is very passionate about gardening, as evidenced by the 14 vegetable-planter boxes in the back that will supply produce for the restaurant; the use of whole animals and head-to-tail butchery will also be prevalent in her seasonal and handcrafted menu. Dishes on the sample opening menu include “Morsels” like pumpkin seeds roasted with sage salt and belly sliders with celery root slaw, pickled jalapeños and delfino; “Nibbles” like smoked risotto with urchin, sea beans, and nasturtium, and spot prawns with wheat berry, orach, smoked paprika; “Consume” lists a confit of char with crispy skin, fish bacon, kohlrabi choucroute, pancetta, and “The Whole Chicken” with liver mousse, Jameson gelée, crépinette, wing, and caramelized onion jus, plus sides of vegetables form the garden, like spicy broccoli and citrus green beans. Desserts may include “carrot cake” with cream cheese ice cream, and tapioca pudding with butterscotch and shortbread. Appetizers range from $11-$13, entrées $20-$25, and desserts $7-$8. There will also be housemade bread and house-churned flavored butters.
There is also a full bar that will highlight small-batch artisanal spirits, which opens earlier in the day at 4pm, and has room for 12. The wine list is geared to be affordable, and will feature small-production wineries. As for GM Matt Kahn, his background includes mc2 and Cigar Bar & Grill, where he continues his role as GM. Open for dinner Tue-Sun 5:30pm-10pm, closed Mon.
Plate Shop - 39 Caledonia St. Sausalito - 415-887-9047
In addition to the opening of PLATE SHOP, there’s a lot more happening in Sausalito. BAR BOCCE, the pizzeria from the Real Restaurants Group, is targeting a March opening. The executive chef (and partner in the venture) is Robert Price (Buckeye Roadhouse, Bungalow 44). I was speaking with Bruce Hill of Bix (also in the Real family) about the pizza style, who said it’s going to be similar to the pizza you get at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles (where pies are cooked slowly for about eight minutes) vs. Picco in Larkspur (two minutes).1250 Bridgeway, Sausalito.
The Inside Scoop reports that Paradise Bay will become SALITO’S probably sometime in April, a crab house and prime rib restaurant from the team behind North Beach’s Stinking Rose and Calzone’s. 1200 Bridgeway, Sausalito.
One closure: Eater reports PICCOLO TEATRO in Sausalito has closed.
Oh, and up in San Anselmo, according to the Scoop, co-owner Bruno Denis of L’APPART RESTO is reopening the restaurant on February 17th with a new chef (Alexandre de Jesus of Le Garage) and a more casual approach. It will reportedly be open for lunch and dinner Tue-Sat. 636 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo, 415-256-9884.
I got a note from Sol Hernandez (of the popular Puerto Rican Sol Food in San Rafael) to let me know that SOL FOOD LA BODEGA is now open next door. Since it has a big kitchen, she added a rotisserie oven for chicken and ribs—check out the rosticería menu here. (The regular menu, along with breakfast and daily specials, will stay the same). All food to go will now go through La Bodega. Hours are Mon-Thu 7am-12am, Fri 7am-2am, Sat 8am-2am, and Sun 8am-12am. 903 Lincoln Blvd. at 3rd St., San Rafael, 415-451-4765.
The POP-UP GENERAL STORE is back in 2011 with a special Good Food Month edition. They’ll be selling artisan-crafted foods and more tomorrow, Wednesday February 9th, from 5pm-7pm at the historic Temescal streetcar depot (that’s in Oakland, yo), and they’ve partnered up with the local judges, finalists, and winners from the Good Food Awards to bring you even more goodies.
Expect to see goods like meats, coffee, muffins, pasta, preserves, sweets, and Valentine’s Day treats. See the online store for all that these vendors will be offering: Katz, Viola, ebcb, MR/CW, Plumline, Goulash, Fig & Miel, Peko-Peko, Chris & Samin, Pizza Politana, Starter Bakery, Blue Chair Fruit, Mike [the bejkr], Soul Food Farm, Four Barrel Coffee, Studebaker Pickles, Devil’s Gulch Ranch, Becker Lane Organic Farm, Diana Fayt Ceramics, and Dominica’s Cosecha. You can also get Pop-Up General Store’s t-shirts and tote bags.
Here’s the fine print: you can pop in without pre-ordering, but do bring your reusable shopping bags. Vendors only accept cash or checks for day-of purchases. And about the parking, it’s in a residential neighborhood with limited parking, so they ask that customers be respectful about not disturbing the neighbors.
Wednesday Feb 9, 2011 5pm–7pm more info
With my mention of Southie opening in Oakland last week, a tablehopper reader wanted to let me know that ADESSO is now serving “butcher shop sandwiches” at the counter. The website mentions a porchetta sandwich and an Adesso sub (and since no one picked up the phone to answer my question, according to someone on Yelp, they’re $9 plus tax). New additional hours are Mon-Sat 11am-3pm. Call for phone orders (maybe they’ll pick up for you). 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, Oakland, 510-601-0305.
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A reader wrote to me, asking about the temporary closure and construction going on at ZEITGEIST. SFist posted a picture of a sign the bar posted explaining they’re renovating. SFist also mentioned the bathrooms are being redone, so no more Porta-Potties. In a later post on SFist, the renovations look a bit more extensive—but a chat with the construction crew reveals they’re also redoing the floors. Anyway, Zeitgeist is supposed to reopen on February 14th. 199 Valencia St. at Duboce, 415-255-7505.
It was closing, and now the Bay Area Reporter writes the EDGE bar has reopened. The owners of QBar (456 Castro St.) have bought the Edge, and will reportedly be taking over operations on February 14th through a temporary license (previous owner Don McMartin will operate the bar until then). The BAR states, “The new owners will be remodeling the bar, but they’ll keep it open during the renovations. They hope to be finished in time for the bar’s 20th anniversary in May.” 4149 18th St. at Collingwood.
Coming up on Friday February 11th is Bottlenotes’ third annual AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 SIPS wine tasting event at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Club. Attendees will have a chance to try dozens of wines from new and emerging regions (including Argentina, Austria, Australia, California, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, and more)—and for the first year ever you can also access the entire wine list through Bottlenotes’ new mobile app. There will also be artisanal cheese, charcuterie, chocolate, and more. VIP hour 6pm-7pm; general admission 7pm-9pm. $125 VIP, $75 general admission. But check this out: tablehopper readers get $15 off the ticket price! Just input code TABLEHOPPER for your discount.
Friday Feb 11, 2011 VIP hour 6pm–7pm; general admission 7pm–9pm $125 VIP, $75 general admission. $15 off with code TABLEHOPPER more info
I like the sound of this one: BEERUNCH at PUBLIC HOUSE, a beer- and food-pairing brunch to celebrate San Francisco Beer Week. Here are the details on the beer and food pairings: MateVeza Yerba Mate IPA with carnitas taco with tomatillo salsa; Moonlight Toast (Slightly Burnt) with savory mushroom and Gruyère cheese strata; Bear Republic, Racer X with endive and poached pear salad with blue cheese and walnut shortbread; Deschutes, The Abyss with croissant and bourbon bread pudding; Russian River, Consecration with fennel-cured smoked salmon and whipped chive cream cheese on mini bagels; Magnolia, Saison de Lily with goat cheese and scallion breakfast biscuit with Southern-style ham; and Dogfish Head, Festina Peche “Beermosa.” $49. 11:30am-2:30pm.
Sunday Feb 13, 2011 11:30am–2:30pm $49 more info
Public House - 24 Willie Mays Plaza San Francisco - 415-644-0240
Yup, even SILKS is joining in the bottomless sparkling wine scene for brunch. But, of course, they’re doing theirs with a bit of class. There will be a “Build Your Own Champagne Cocktail Bar,” with two different sparkling wines to choose from, crystal Champagne flutes, and all the ingredients for a variety of Champagne cocktails for only $20 per person. You can go with a classic (sugar cube, bitters, lemon twist, and bubbly) to a Kir Royal (cassis, blackberries, and bubbly), make your own combo, have a mimosa, or drink it on its own. Bubbles will change, but the main players are Chandon Blanc de Noirs California and Solter Spätburgunder Brut Rosé (a rosé from Germany made from pinot noir grapes in the traditional Champagne method)—and they’ll pull out some nice surprises at times, from vintage Domaine Carneros to Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle. Every Sunday from 11am-3pm.
Winos will also want to note that every Tuesday for dinner, 50 bottles of premium wine will be offered at 50% off the wine list price. The list is created from Silks’ 700-bottle Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence collection. For reservations, call 415-986-2020.
Silks - 222 Sansome St. San Francisco - 415-986-2020
I’ve had the upcoming (and invitation only, mi dispiace) TRE BICCHIERI event on my calendar for weeks. While the event is only one evening, it also means Italian wine events will be all over town for the days preceding and following the tasting. For example, on Tuesday February 15th, Fabrizia Tasca Lanza from the world-renowned Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School and the Tasca d’Almerita winery in Sicily will be at A16. Fabrizia will collaborate with executive chef David Taylor to introduce Sicilian classics, and Tasca d’Almerita’s wine manager Lilli Lo Cascio will also be joining to help pair selections from the winery. You’ll also be able to enjoy many Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri award-winning wines poured by the glass on February 16th. (I’ll tweet any other events I learn about in the coming week.)
A16 - 2355 Chestnut St. San Francisco - 415-771-2216
A little birdie over the weekend told me Paul Einbund was no longer the wine director for Charles Phan’s SLANTED DOOR mini-empire. Sure enough, Scoop confirmed the rumor yesterday, and says he plans to release his own wine later this year (a barbera for less than $15), and he will continue as beverage director at Frances. As for his replacement, “Slanted Door sommelier Chaylee Priete, former wine director at Greens, will assume Einbund’s position at Charles Phan’s Ferry Building destination.”
Slanted Door - 1 Ferry Building #3 San Francisco - 415-861-8032
Just recently, I had a chance to tour the site for what is going to be BLUESTEM BRASSERIE, a chic addition to Yerba Buena Lane that is opening later this year (say, mid-year-ish). The project is from Adam Jed (previously with PlumpJack) and his wife, Stacy, who are co-founders of Amuse Management Group, and this will be their first restaurant. And it’s a big one: a 6,700-square-foot project that will have two levels, 150 seats, a cozy lounge, an 18-seat bar, and a rooftop terrace with outdoor seating and a second bar.
The Jeds are both great lovers of restaurants, and will be integrating many facets of their experiences from dining around the world. The Bluestem concept is that it will be a modern and stylish version of an American brasserie with a steakhouse slant, offering grass-fed beef. They dropped “steakhouse” from the originally planned name (back in 2009), before the project was put on the proverbial meat hook for a bit. However, the Bluestem part of the name did remain—it comes from the premium grass favored by cattle ranchers throughout North America. The brasserie format will allow for usage of the whole animal, and not just the “center-cut of beef” focus traditionally held by most steakhouses.
The menu will be European in style (with an emphasis on proteins), but there will also be a strong showing of vegetables—hey, we’re in California. It will be designed to be available all day (11am-11pm), whether you’re coming by for a business lunch, a snack in the afternoon, a drink and a bite at the bar after work, a late dinner with friends, or a private dinner with colleagues. And while the food will have a fine dining pedigree, it will be more rustic and approachable in execution. They are very close to hiring a chef—look for a decision to come in March (the original chef slated for the project, Michael Magliano, may be involved, but in a different capacity).
So: the space. It’s going to be quite the looker. The building abuts the Marriott, and is right across the lane from the Four Seasons—an easy stroll to Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens. Olle Lundberg of Lundberg Design (The Slanted Door, Out the Door, Academy Café) has been working very closely with the Jeds, fulfilling a vision for an informal, approachable design that would lend itself to the all-day dining and brasserie format. The space is going to be full of natural light, with 18-foot ceilings and a very open look, with a strong focus on craftsmanship.
Upon entering the main dining room, there will be a bar that’s the shape of a backwards “J,” with a poured concrete bar top by Concreteworks with embedded fiber-optic rods lit from underneath with LED lights (it’ll be twinkly). There will be a spacious lounge to the side, with a living room-type setting, with wraparound couches, small niches that will seat two-four people, and two 55-inch LED monitors that will only show sports on big game days—otherwise they will feature the work of local artists (the Jeds are working with a digital art curator since there’s such a high density of artists in the area). The lounge will have carpet (made from yak hair), with amber LED lights that will shine on the ceiling, and fabric on the walls.
Another flooring material that will be used elsewhere in the space is quite gorgeous: former beams in an Indonesian plantation have been sliced into tiles, which will look nice against the cork-wrapped columns. In fact, an overarching theme for both the menu and design concept is working in harmony with nature. The project’s palette is “meadow-inspired,” with neutral tones of wheat and other elements of nature.
The downstairs dining room will be in a versatile café-style, mostly configured with two- and four-tops, plus some booths that will look out into the room. There will be an amazing group dining table that can seat eight, made from a slab of selebuan (Indonesian redwood) that is six feet wide—it will be in a glassed-in corner that will look out into the lane. Another big focal point of the room will be the curved steel staircase—with a steel mesh railing—that will lead upstairs to the second floor dining area, which overlooks the main dining room.
The semi-enclosed kitchen is located upstairs, which was partially decided in order to service large parties that will be dining in/buying out the upstairs dining room, with room for 45 seated in a variety of configurations, from one long table to smaller tables. It’s going to be a lovely room, full of light, and overlooking the downstairs dining area and bar. There’s also the terrace—with a dedicated bar and room for 24—that can also be privately booked. It’s a treat to be perched up on a second floor with a pretty view of the treetops along Market Street—this level is sure to become quite the hot spot. There will obviously be heat lamps on the terrace, and sound will be piped in.
The experience will be urban, sophisticated, welcoming, and very guest-focused. For example, servers will be taking orders with handheld touchpads—once the guest’s order for, say, a cocktail is placed, the bar will be able to start making the drink while the server is still at the table taking the order. All the various seating areas and options will make it easy to cater to a guest’s needs throughout the day and evening. Look for updates on timing, the chef hire, and more as the project proceeds. Construction has been moving at a nice clip, so stand by.