This week's tablehopper: fat tuesday.
The “egg sandwich” at Prospect, with pork belly, English muffin, pepper jelly, and home fries.
Big day today. Happy International Women’s Day! Happy Mardi Gras! Happy ‘Hopper Tuesday! Heh. Truth be told, I’m much more excited about tomorrow, since I’ll be on the Rachael Ray Show at 9am! The Rachael Ray Show was taping a segment on “The Brains Behind Twitter” (featuring co-founder Biz Stone), and this Twitter-happy tablehopper was invited to be a part of it. Tune in to KPIX 5, and we’ll see what portion of my interview made the cut.
I think I have recovered from my weekend: I had two 40th birthday parties to attend! Saturday was Tyler Florence’s 40th birthday bash at the soon-to-open El Paseo in Mill Valley (read all about it in the chatterbox). Sunday I started the day with brunch at Prospect with my sis, and since it was my dear sommelier friend’s 40th, a group of us brought him to the “How Wine Became Modern” show at SFMOMA, followed by wine, cheese, and salumi at Terroir, then dinner at Aziza, and finally a nightcap at nopa. Epic itinerary, but guess who was tired on Monday? And of course I had a monster-truck column to get together.
I’m leaving for Austin and South by Southwest this Thursday, so next Tuesday’s issue is going to be a shorty! Just wanted to manage expectations, ha.
Have fun out there.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Sneak Peek of Tyler Florence's El Paseo in Mill Valley (Opening Next Week)
Over the weekend I was kindly invited to Tyler Florence’s 40th birthday party, which was one of many pre-opening parties sure to be held at his brand-new and soon-to-open EL PASEO in Mill Valley. (And yes, his business partner in the venture, Sammy Hagar, was present—and even brought out Tyler’s birthday cake.)
It will be an old American steakhouse, and the chef de cuisine is Preston Clark from New York, previously at Jean-Georges and JoJo. Some dishes featured at the party included decadent bone marrow topped with caramelized onions and a gratin-like topping, along with dishes like “angry lobster” that is pan-fried and dressed with a Calabrian chile- and garlic-infused olive oil, crab cakes, and the main event: thick-cut steak from grass-fed Holstein cows (instead of the usual Angus—Tyler likes the way the meat is marbled differently with fat). You’ll be able to get 38-day, dry-aged steak in a variety of cuts, from a porterhouse for two, three, or four, to New York strip, or a bone-in tomahawk ribeye, and there will also be bacon-wrapped filet.
The restaurant has a warm, bohemian atmosphere, from the more-masculine front room with leather booths with tufted backs, to a back room featuring eclectic artwork hung salon-style (Tyler worked closely with interior designer Lori Yeomans of USA Interior Design, who designs all his restaurants). The bar and lounge are in an adjoining cottage, with a curving zinc bar, brick walls, and café tables. The bathrooms were simply fantastic, with walls covered with pages of books, and “book” shelves (the ladies’ room had Peyton Place). All the rooms feature a lot of wood, brick, and a rustic, 1940s-Mission feeling. The outdoor patio areas (offering alfresco dining) are sure to be the coveted seats on warm Mill Valley nights—it feels very romantic and atmospheric.
Here’s a nice little piece about the history of this unique site, which was opened to the public in 1948 (others say 1947) by Edna Foster and Gus Costigan. The complex—an artist compound of sorts, with a restaurant, shops, artist studios, and apartments—was remodeled in the 1940s with many unique materials, including “old adobe bricks from Mexico, wooden beams from Fort Cronkhite, railroad ties and spikes from the Mountain Railroad, and hand-made tiles and wrought-iron fixtures from the Guatemalan exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island.”
The 140-seat restaurant will be open for dinner nightly, and the targeted opening date is Tuesday March 15th (TBD, of course). 17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, 415-388-0741.
Aziza Moving to a Downtown Location
After months of hearing rumors of AZIZA looking to move its location to the downtown area, it’s actually happening. I heard it was going into the “cursed” Zinnia (and Scott Howard, and 500 Jackson) space, and since I was at Aziza on Sunday night celebrating a friend’s birthday, I asked owner Mourad Lahlou about the details at the end of our meal. I was informed there was still no deal after many months of negotiating and back and forth, but lo and behold, less than 15 hours later, the Scoop reports the deal had been signed Monday morning. Huh.
Since I still seem to be waiting for that phone call, here’s what the Scoop’s piece mentions: the food will continue to follow its current modern Moroccan path, and Olle Lundberg will design the space. The entrance is reportedly going to be moved to Montgomery Street (the new address will be 801 Montgomery Street), and it will have 95-105 seats, with plans for a private dining room in the big basement. As for the current Geary Street location, either Lahlou will leave the space, or—as I have hoped—he’ll keep it as a location to serve the more rustic and homey Moroccan fare his regulars have always enjoyed. Construction is supposed to start in 60 days, which should be about enough time for me to get interested in the project again.
Aziza - 5800 Geary Blvd. San Francisco - 415-752-2222
Chef Ed Carew Heads to the Big Apple
I was happy to learn chef Ed Carew (formerly Café des Amis, Cottage Eatery) is heading east to be the executive chef at LE CAPRICE in New York. (The restaurant is in the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue, overlooking Central Park.) The Caprice Holdings restaurant group also has Le Caprice in London, The Ivy, Soho House, and many other properties around the world. Carew will be starting March 20th, and will be dining in London for two weeks doing the best kind of research there is. Best of luck and bon voyage, Ed.
Update on Tres (Formerly Tres Agaves)
Quick update for you: TRES AGAVES has finished their zippy remodel, and will now be TRES. The bar area is almost 50% bigger, along with an expanded tequila and cocktail list, and chef Kelvin Ott is adding dishes from other states in Mexico outside of Jalisco (which used to be the primary focus for the food).
There’s also a shift in ownership: two of the original partners in the operation—Eric Rubin and Barry Augus—have left in order to concentrate more fully on the Tres Agaves tequila line. Dave Stanton, who started the original Tres Agaves with Rubin and Augus, remains a managing partner. 130 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-227-0500.
Vegetarian Restaurant Source Opens This Week
Opening this Wednesday March 9th is SOURCE, a vegetarian restaurant focused on international comfort food in the Design District. The partners in the project are also brothers: executive chef Mitchell Fox (who ironically got his start in their father’s butcher shop), and his brother, Andrew. The menu includes sandwiches, salads, vegetarian burgers, soups, dosas (almost all filled with non-traditional ingredients, like the Californian, which comes with avocado, tomato, black bean purée, baby spinach, and goat cheese), and a variety of entrées, like Jamaican jerk cluck (fake chicken) and vegetables with wild rice ($13.95), a variety of pasta dishes, and a vegetarian shepherd’s pie ($12.95). There will also be a variety of pizzas ($8.95-$13.95) from the gas-fired Mugnaini brick oven, featuring housemade mozzarella. All the desserts are vegan, and there is also an “elixir bar,” featuring fermented drinks, fruit juices, and non-alcoholic drinks designed to produce feelings of euphoria, calm, balance, and/or energy.
The interior has 50 seats, and check out these features: a DVD-generated changing color therapy system, a water wall installation, filtered and energized air, and the water will be triple filtered, ionized, and energized. There is also an outdoor and enclosed, heated patio with room for up to 30. The restaurant will be open daily for dinner; daily lunch starts Thursday, and weekend brunch will launch in two weeks. Good news for worker bees in the neighborhood: to-go service will be a specialty of the house. 11 Division St. at DeHaro, 415-864-9000.
Marina/Cow Hollow News: Umami Burger Move
While plans are progressing for our very own UMAMI BURGER (an import from Los Angeles), it ends up it won’t be going into the Noodle Theory space at 3242 Scott Street in the Marina as originally planned. I was asking for the address of the new location, and all I could be told is that they’re moving into a restaurant space on Union Street (the Umami folks couldn’t name the restaurant because it’s still open). Soooo, stand by!
Umami Burger - 2184 Union St. San Francisco - 415-440-8626
Ali Baba's Cave in Lower Haight Now Al-Fanoose
I was sorry to learn on Haighteration that my favorite neighborhood shawarma spot (and one of my favorite falafel wraps), ALI BABA’S CAVE in the Lower Haight has a new owner, and has morphed into AL-FANOOSE. The new name reportedly means “magic lantern” in Arabic, so I hope they keep some of that lavash magic alive. 531 Haight St. at Fillmore.
More HAIGHTERATION news: the blog is turning one on Tuesday March 15th, and has organized a neighborhood-wide event to celebrate. Haighteration asked every shop, restaurant, or bar in the Lower Haight to come up with some sort of discount or special offer, available for that one day only, when people mention Haighteration. Over 40 businesses have signed up so far, including Cafe Divis (buy one panino, get one free), Little Chihuahua (take 10% off your bill), and Ragazza (enjoy a free glass of prosecco with your meal). And you’ll also be able to get a sneak peek of Greenburger’s, when they open their doors from 4pm-6pm for a special open house for Haighteration readers. Even Three Twins is making a limited edition flavor of ice cream, using precious Pliny the Elder from Toronado! Check out the post for all the deal deets. Happy birfday!
Temporary Closures in the TL
My tablehopper intern Daniel writes in: “NGOC MAI (pretty good little Vietnamese place) and LAHORE KARAHI are both closed for most of March, as per the fliers on their doors. Not sure what the deal is with Ngoc Mai, as their windows are all boarded up, but I have seen work being done on Lahore Karahi. The workers say it’s strictly cosmetic.”
The Tenderblog chimes in with news of SAIGON SANDWICH also being temporarily closed for a remodel, and posting some photos of the windows, which conveniently supply some reopening dates: Lahore Karahi is due to reopen on March 25th, while Saigon Sandwich reopens on April 1st.
Cinque Terre Cafe (5T) Now Open on Van Ness
There’s a new café called CINQUE TERRE CAFE (or 5T as its logo proclaims) that opened on Van Ness last Monday February 28th. It’s run by some Italians, although they are using organic coffee from Equator Coffee. The menu includes salads and panini, plus plenty of European candy and chocolate bars. The eclectic style includes mismatched vintage chairs, bright colors, and fun signage. There’s plenty of comfy seating and free Wi-Fi, with plans to bring in beer and wine in the next few months. Open daily 6am-8pm. 1477 Van Ness Ave. at Pine, 415-674-7716.
Ti Couz Seems to Be Struggling...
Some buzz about troubles at Mission neighborhood fixture TI COUZ: a reader writes, “I am a little sad to report that it sounds like Ti Couz (16th & Valencia) seems to be having hard times. I was there last night when the owner (seemingly plastered) was screaming at customers and telling them that they are the reason that the place is being sold after 19 years of business.” The reader also reports, “They downgraded their liquor license from hard alcohol to beer and wine, as well as now charging customers $1.50 for bread.”
Meanwhile, at the same time, Eater “got a note over the EaterWire bemoaning the loss of bloody Marys” and placed a call to the restaurant. It’s supposedly “all part of a master plan to ‘go back to their roots’ in Brittany” and it will “officially become a cider bar, serving beer, wine and hard cider only.” Eater also linked to an almost impossible-to-read post (you have to highlight it to see it) by owner Sylvie Le Mer last September, citing difficulties maintaining the locally owned business during such a challenging economy. Calls to the restaurant were unsuccessful; time will tell how this one shakes out. 3108 16th St. at Valencia, 415-252-7373.
New Meaty Treats in the Mission
A couple new meaty options for you in the Mission: starting on Tuesday March 15th, MAVERICK will be preparing 17 Butter Burgers every Tuesday. What is this, you ask? Their new chef de cuisine, Matt Brimer, basically cures large dices of beef overnight with salt, pepper, and herbs, and then grinds the beef with butter and forms it into patties. The patty is cooked in a cast-iron pan, served on a housemade English muffin with a “martini” mayo, smoked Gouda, truffled cornichons, and comes with a side of steak fries, and will be paired with a full glass of red wine. As partner and executive chef Scott Youkilis said in an email to me, “This is one squirty, bad-ass burger.” And it costs (you guessed it): $17.
Meanwhile, over on Mission Street, chef Danny Bowien of MISSION CHINESE FOOD has fired up Ryan Ostler’s former smoker, and is doing “Chinese” BBQ, which includes smoked beef brisket, pulled pork trotters, and Xi’an lamb cheeks, served with smoked cola-BBQ sauce, pickles, and white bread (yup, old school). Bowien is also doing some kung pao corned beef ($11), lord help us.
All Kinds of Whole Animal Menus Around Town
There are plenty of chefs offering whole animal menus to choose from: NOPA is getting in a whole pig from Riverdog every other Tuesday, and is serving porchetta (replacing the famed pork chop that night), along with other dishes, like head cheese with smoked tenderloin; and chef Laurence Jossel also says, “every week always includes cracklings.” So tonight, March 8th, it’s on.
Chef Mark Dommen at ONE MARKET continues his Weekly Beast menus, serving a four-course menu for just $45 (plus $18 for wine pairings). Each Friday and Saturday night, he features a different local animal. Here’s the schedule of upcoming dinners: March 11th and 12th, veal from Carinalli Ranch; March 18th and 19th, goat from Rossotti Ranch; and March 25th and 26th, duck from Liberty Farms.
Next Friday March 18th, WHOLE BEAST SUPPER CLUB will be serving a five-course rabbit tasting dinner at La Victoria Bakery in the Mission. Dinner is BYOB. Seatings are at 6:15pm and 9pm; $60. Tickets, info, and menu here. 2937 24th St. at Alabama.
The big daddy of them all is INCANTO’s eighth Annual Head to Tail Dinner, which will be Monday April 4th and Wednesday April 6th. For reservations, book online or call 415-641-4500.
And in case you want to learn how to do all this your own damned self, Ryan Farr of 4505 MEATS just added some more whole animal butchery classes to their schedule!
Two Indian Pop-Up Events
A couple tasty-sounding Indian pop-up events for you to consider: chef Preeti Mistry (yes, Preeti from Top Chef) is starting JUHU BEACH CLUB, a lunch spot in SoMa inside the Garage Café across the street from Slim’s and Bar Agricole. Starting Tuesday March 15th, she will be serving a lunch of Indian street food, snacks, and homestyle cooking, grinding all of her own spice blends, and featuring housemade pickles, chutneys, and from-scratch samosas. Inspired by a recent trip to Mumbai, she’ll be offering the Sloppy Lil’ P, a twist on the Mumbai street food classic, the pav bhaji; along with the Holy Slow-Braised Cow, a smoky black cardamom, short-rib sandwich with cucumber raita; and Chowpatty Chicken, a green chile chicken curry sandwich with tangy cabbage slaw, all under $10. Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm. You can follow updates on Twitter. 320 11th St. at Folsom
And this Wednesday March 9th, Kasa returns to THE CORNER, doing an All-Star Punjabi Night, featuring some of their all-time favorite dishes. There will be a vegetarian menu ($20) and a non-vegetarian menu ($25) available. You can read up on both of them here. 6pm-10pm. Reservations recommended; email here or leave a message at 415-690-8512. 2199 Mission St. at 18th St.
A Couple One-Off Dinners: One Vegetarian, and One Undergound
A couple cool meals for you to consider: Leif Hedendal is hosting a spring equinox dinner at OUTERLANDS on Monday March 21st, with two seatings, at 6pm and 9pm. The extensive menu includes Henry’s olives and Massa almonds; Dave’s levain toasts with Bellwether sheep ricotta, black trumpets, wild herbs, and flowers; crispy artichoke with yuzu kosho and horseradish; soup of Knoll green garlic, English peas, stinging nettle, dulse, sencha, and matsutake dashi with Dave’s levain; purple asparagus, golden chanterelle, roasted broccoli, saffron-spring onion-brown butter sabayon, pistachio, and green strawberry; roasted maitake, gobo-Tokyo turnip-ginger nishime, Bordeaux spinach with hiziki and gomasio, kumquat, and mustard; Little City Gardens magic mesclun with icicle radishes, blood orange, and argan; Andante Creamery Tomme Dolce and Nocturne with baby beets and Barhi dates; rhubarb fennel galette with honey, lemon thyme, and crème fraîche. Wines available by the glass or bottle. $60 per person, cash only. RSVP here with your time preference and number of guests. 4001 Judah St. at 45th Ave.
STAG DINING GROUP has another installment in their Clandestine Dinner Series coming up on March 12th and 13th. Chefs Ted Fleury and Jordan Grosser are putting together an early spring dinner, with a strong focus on sustainability, and biodynamic wines. Check out the menu and get tickets for March 12th here (7pm) and March 13th here (5pm). $105 per person, includes wine pairing by Two Mile Wines and a cocktail reception prior to the first course. (Chefs and cooks: you can get $80 tickets, a $25 discount—just email here for industry tickets.) The address will be in the Mission. You can watch a video of their last meal here.
Unexpected Closures Around the Bay Area
A reader who leads chocolate tours around the city alerted me to the unexpected closure of the CHARLES CHOCOLATES shop in the Westfield Centre, and a post on the company’s Facebook page told a bigger story: that the entire company was over. In an interview with CEO Chuck Siegel, Scoop reports his big plans for Westfield (a factory and retail shop) were ultimately the company’s demise. Best of luck to him—I know many people will miss his chocolates.
Meanwhile, a Peninsula reader forwarded me a newsletter announcing the closure of Menlo Park’s MARCHÉ after nine years of business (and the expiration of their lease). The restaurant will be hosting one last Nantucket Dinner, on Friday March 25th and Saturday March 26th. The farewell menu is $65 per person. 898 Santa Cruz Ave. at University, Menlo Park, 650-324-9092.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): "Get Your Green On" With Celebrity Chefs at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show
Who cares about the rain when it’s bloomin’ spring inside at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show this Wednesday through Sunday, March 23rd-27th. Wine tasting pavilion, beer and jam making in the Edible Garden, top chefs cooking demos, 200 vendors selling everything from plants to cool vintage posters. Perfect for a girlfriends’ day out, time with Mom, or a chill late afternoon or weekend date.
Stay dry while strolling 20 indoor installations from cutting edge designers that epitomize “Life in the California Garden.” Check out the latest in flower arranging and exotica, or take off early on Friday to preview the new documentary Symphony of the Soil at 6pm. It’s worth the short ride for this annual Bay Area tradition with something for everyone. Tix online or at the door; kids under 16 free.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Two Beer Dinners (One Underground, One at Flour + Water)
On Sunday March 13th, there will be an underground beer pairing dinner in Oakland from the EATING ABOUT BEER team. They’re serving six courses, each one paired with a beer (plus a sake for one dish) that they brewed themselves. 7:30pm. $50. CommonWealth Cafe & Pub, 2882 Telegraph Ave. at 29th St., Oakland.
FLOUR + WATER is hosting a beer-maker dinner in the Dough Room with Yuri Green of Cherry Voodoo Brewing and Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery on Monday March 21st. Chef Thomas McNaughton will be pairing a five-course menu with the featured beers, which will include some old California-style lagers and a Belgian tripel. Two seatings: 6pm and 9:20pm. $130 (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations: email or call 415-826-7000.
Flour + Water - 2401 Harrison St. San Francisco - 415-826-7000
Littorai Dinner with Winemaker Ted Lemon at Saison
SAISON is hosting a special winemaker dinner with Ted Lemon of Littorai wines on Wednesday March 16th. The menu will consist of six courses for $88, and the wine pairings will be $58. There will be comparison wines for each course and some added library surprises that Ted will be bringing down from wine country. Reservations available from 6pm-9:30pm.
Wednesday Mar 16, 2011 more info
Saison - 178 Townsend St. San Francisco - 415-828-7990
Rhone Rangers Galloping Into Town on March 26th
In just a few weeks, the RHONE RANGERS 14th annual Grand Tasting is taking place on March 26th and 27th at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion. This is the largest American Rhone wine event in the country, with the opportunity to taste over 500 American Rhone wines from at least 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries. (The Rhone Rangers include roughly 150 wineries dedicated to making wines from the 22 grape varieties originally made famous in France’s Rhone Valley, like syrah, viognier, mourvèdre, grenache, and roussanne, to obscure grapes like counoise and picpoul.)
There will be a winemaker dinner on Saturday March 26th (6pm-10pm) at Dogpatch Studios. 15 wineries will participate in the dinner, catered by Sonoma’s the girl & the fig restaurant; there will also be a live auction. $125.
The Grand Tasting is Sunday March 27th from 2pm-5pm, with over 500 American Rhone wines, plus gourmet foods from 30 specialty food purveyors. There will also be some seminars ($45 each) and silent auction items. $45.
Saturday Mar 26, 2011 – Sunday Mar 27, 2011 more info
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Multiple Natalie Portman Sightings in Napa
Just days after winning her Academy Award, Natalie Portman was spotted in Napa over the weekend with her sweetheart (and her baby daddy), Benjamin Millepied. They came in to Bottega Friday night for dinner, Brix for brunch on Sunday, and according to Leah Garchik, they also “had dinner at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. Portman, who has described herself as a ‘vegan activist,’ ate avocado and papaya salad and mushroom tamales.” Eater also noted that étoile at Domaine Chandon hosted them for lunch last Thursday. (I can imagine some Napa locals were wondering if they were seeing things, à la Black Swan.)
Clive Owen at Heirloom's Communal Table. Stars, They're Just Like Us!
How convenient, my very own flesh and blood sent in a star sighting. My sister was dining at Heirloom Café in the Mission, and Clive Owen sauntered in solo at the end of her meal, seating himself with some dining partners at the communal table. (He’s in town shooting Hemingway & Gellhorn with Nicole Kidman.)
Diners of Note at Boulevard
This past week, Boulevard has hosted the author Isabel Allende for lunch, and English singer-songwriter David Gray was in for dinner Sunday night.
I Believe... I'll Have the Rustica Pizza
Archbishop Desmond Tutu dined at Credo Restaurant last Friday March 4th. He was with a group from Grace Cathedral (he was invited to town to deliver a guest sermon). He enjoyed the rustica pizza with freshly squeezed blood orange juice and received African teas as a gift from Credo owner Clinton Reilly.
The walls of Credo are decorated with 600 “I believe” quotes on 15 enormous panels from people of varying degrees of fame and infamy—and whaddya know, one of Tutu’s quotes is up there: “I believe that history teaches us a categorical lesson: that once a people are determined to become free, then nothing can stop them from reaching their goal.” (Credo is currently holding an “I Believe in San Francisco” contest—read more about the contest and prizes on their Facebook page.)