This week's tablehopper: taking care.
The view from the Hillside Gardens residence in Mill Valley.
Oh boy, I can’t believe I’m going to have a glass of Champagne in my hand tomorrow that I’m actually going to be able to DRINK. Hey, if you’re going to wrap up a cleanse, you gotta do it right. Now, I’m not rushing out to have a double cheeseburger with an egg on top and a shot of bourbon—that would completely nullify all the work I’ve done the past three weeks (and feel pretty terrible). But it will definitely be nice to (lightly) wet my whistle tomorrow with some bubs.
Meanwhile, for those of you who want to hit something a bit boozy, there’s the Farmers’ Market Spring Cocktail Night tomorrow evening, offering “Pacific coast produce meets Pacific Rim cocktails”—a perfectly themed happy hour for this sunny weather (now if only that $%#! wind would stay the eff away).
The weekend was pretty freaking stellar—managed to visit the Vintage Paper Fair on Saturday before scooting off to paradise: the Swamp Cabbage fundraising feast at the Hillside Gardens residence in Mill Valley. The terraced garden was magical, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been, and so fragrant. The array of food was delicious, with fab guests and quirky entertainment, and a sundown preview of the Swamp Cabbage film, which is gonna be fantastic when it’s all done—they just need to fundraise a little bit more to get ‘er done. I had to pinch myself at the end of the night—‘twas a dreamy California evening.
On a sad note, I want to dedicate this week’s tablehopper to the memory of two cooks in San Francisco who very unexpectedly lost their lives in two separate incidents recently: Jason Dunbar, a sous chef at Millennium, and Ryan Sitko, a sous at Local Mission Eatery. Heartfelt condolences to their family, friends, loved ones, and co-workers—such a painful loss for everyone.
Take good care out there,
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
The Monk's Kettle Opening The Abbot's Cellar at 740 Valencia
Big news about who is moving into the 740 Valencia Street space after the Town Hall partners decided to pass on it: the owners of the MONK’S KETTLE, Christian Albertson and Nat Cutler, will be opening THE ABBOT’S CELLAR, a craft beer-focused restaurant. They just signed the lease, and are aiming to open by the winter.
While the Monk’s Kettle is more of a neighborhood tavern, this 100-seat restaurant (with 60-70 seats in the dining room, and 35 seats at the bar and kitchen counter) will be higher-end, focusing on craft beer and food pairings. There will be a brick hearth, and the food menu will feature a daily changing menu of gourmet American and European fare with a strong emphasis on locally and sustainably sourced products. Pairings will be fine-tuned between chef Adam Dulye (who has been made a partner) and the directors of the beer program—look for frequent adjustments due to seasonal produce and the availability of specialty beers.
The beer selection will also be more tightly focused than at Monk’s Kettle, with an emphasis on food-friendly beers. There will be 24 taps, with beers kept at different temperatures, depending on the style (most domestic craft beers and lighter styles will be kept around 40 degrees, while Belgians, stouts, and higher-alcohol beers will be kept closer to 50 degrees). Two more drafts will be drawn from hand-pump cask engines, plus there will be over 100 selections on the bottle list, including vintage offerings from the cellar and flights.
The building, formerly an auto garage called John’s Jaguars, has been converted into three retail spaces. The 3,000-square-foot Abbot’s Cellar will occupy the center space, with exposed brick on several walls, 24-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling wooden beams and supporting trusses, and several skylights. Lundberg Design (Charles Phan’s favorite architect) will be overseeing architectural design. There will be a glass-enclosed beer cellar, and a tall back bar showcasing the many types of glassware used in the beer program.
One item of note in the meantime: over at the Monk’s Kettle, Jeff Segal of HEART wine bar (also in the Mission) is now doing their wine list. Look for an inventive wine list, with some “renegade picks” from Segal.
The Abbot's Cellar - 740 Valencia St. - 415-626-8700
Changes at Plate Shop: Entire Back of House (Including Chef) Departs
Early yesterday afternoon I received a tip from a reader that the entire kitchen staff at Sausalito’s PLATE SHOP, including chef Kim Alter, resigned at the end of Sunday service. I still haven’t heard back from Alter (the Inside Scoop reported on her departure, but not the entire BOH walk-out). My source pointed me to this blog post by one of the line cooks at Plate Shop, confirming the entire back of house walk-out. (The blog has since been taken down.) Seems there was a big split between the kitchen and some key front of house employees, management, and investors. Which means there’s suddenly a wave of culinary talent available—snap ‘em up, restaurant people.
Plate Shop - 39 Caledonia St. Sausalito - 415-887-9047
Meet Galette 88, Coming Late Summer to Downtown
Ti Couz may be sadly closed, but late this summer, you’ll be able to swing by downtown’s GALETTE 88 for a variety of crêpes and savory galettes (as well as a few sweet ones). Partners in the venture are Erin Rooney (Slow Club, Serpentine) and Céline Guillou (formerly of Yield Wine Bar). Their 40-seat gourmet galette and crêpe place is opening at 88 Hardie Place, the little alley around the corner from Rickhouse. They took over a 20-year-old pasta place called Pasta Bene, and the remodel includes returning elements of the space to their original form.
Initially they will be serving lunch Mon-Fri, with flexibility for happy hours, private dining, and pop-up dinners in the evenings. The service will be counter-style, with a focused menu—but big enough to include seasonal toppings, organic ingredients, and vegan/vegetarian options. They are also applying for a beer and wine license so that they can serve the traditional cider. The concept is modeled after Céline’s favorite crêperie in Brittany, Le Vahine. The owner, Jean-Marie Gillet, is a partner, and he will be coming from France to oversee the opening. 88 Hardie Pl., off Kearny, between Bush and Sutter.
Prepare Thyself: Mission Chinese Food Closing for Most of June
You have one week to get your tingly lamb noodle soup, Westlake porridge, ma po tofu, and Szechuan pickle fix because MISSION CHINESE FOOD will be closed from June 1st-June 23rd (or thereabouts). The entire Lung Shan and Mission Chinese Food crew (dishwashers included) are going to China together, visiting the Lung Shan owners’ hometown (they haven’t been home in five years). I’m trying to coax chef Danny Bowien to write a trip recap for me when they return, fingers crossed. (I wish I could document the trip—it’s quite the unique story.)
Mission Chinese Food - 2234 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-863-2800
Update on Dosa on Valencia
Last week’s hearing went well for DOSA ON VALENCIA, and after the 30-day appeals process is complete, they should have their liquor license to start serving some of their delicious cocktails. But first, they’re going to do a little facelift for the restaurant, closing the third week of June, and putting in new chandeliers, artwork, updating the floors and tables, putting on a fresh coat of paint, and expanding the back bar. There will also be some new menu items added. If all goes well, they expect to open at the end of June/beginning of July. I’ll keep you posted.
DOSA on Valencia - 995 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-642-3672
More on Bottle Cap, Opening in June in Washington Square
I received an update on BOTTLE CAP, the upcoming restaurant opening in the former Washington Square Bar & Grill. It’s getting close: the place is currently being repainted, and the owners are gunning to open within the next three weeks (if they get all their sign-offs from the city). The chef de cuisine is Matt Sullivan from Blue Plate (he’ll still be there for a couple more weeks), but I should be able to share the menu in a week or so, stand by. Bottle Cap will be open Tue-Sun 11am-10pm, and later for the drinking crowd. 1707 Powell St. at Union.
Bottle Cap - 1707 Powell St. - 415-529-2237
Tajine Returns (Again) to Polk Street
And he’s back! Chef Mohamed Ghaleb gave me a call last week to tell me he will be moving back to Polk Street with his much-loved TAJINE. He moved into the Indian Aroma space on Polk, and opened over the weekend. (This will be the fourth location for his Moroccan restaurant, and hopefully he’ll be able to sit tight.) I’m looking forward to his homey and affordable cooking again, namely his bastilla and merguez sausage couscous. The menu is slightly expanded, with a few more vegetarian options, and a new fish tajine. The place is halal, so no beer and wine is served, but true to Tajine’s previous locations, you can BYOB. Hours are Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, and for dinner, Tue-Thu and Sun 5pm-10pm, and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1653 Polk St. at Clay, 415-440-1718.
Tajine - 1338 Polk St. San Francisco
Eleven O One Opens on Polk
On a tip-off from Grub Street, tablehopper intern Daniel Azarkman reports that Ike Aboubzou, owner of Bite on Sutter, is bringing a new late-night option to the Polk Street bar crowds: ELEVEN O ONE, in the former space of Hank’s Eats. The menu includes many of the popular sandwiches, salads, and the rotisserie chicken from Bite, plus a solid list of fried foods and dressed-up hot dogs designed to soak up beer in your stomach. You can also enjoy their lounge-style seating with any of 30 beers, 6 of which are on tap.
The Tenderblog just posted more details on the newly opened spot, naming specific sandwiches like the “Love Affair” (chicken, havarti, honey mustard, BBQ honey), and the “Unholy Matrimony” (chicken, jalapeño poppers, pepperhouse sauce, ranch), and they describe plans to deliver “crowd-pleasing bar foods” to nearby bars, hence the late-night hours ‘til 2am. They also report that hyper-local artist Erin McAdams created the cool artwork featured in the space. Mon-Sun 11:30am-2am. 1101 Polk St. at Post, 415-567-1101.
Tidbits: Name Changes and New Businesses Around Town
Some random updates for you: first up, we have a name for the business Duncan Ley and Ben Bleiman (Tonic, Bullitt, Rebel) are opening in the BISSAP BAOBAB space on Mission: it will be called MAYHEM, named after Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band from The Muppets. Baobab is closing on June 1st, and will be moving into their location around the corner. Mayhem is slated to open the last week of June. 2323 Mission St. at 19th St.
Over in Hayes Valley, The Feast brings word that Paulette (the macaron shop) is now CHANTAL GUILLON, “named after the Parisian manager of the store.” The space is currently closed for remodeling, and there’s no word yet about the reopening. The piece mentions her “macarons will now be made with organic ingredients and natural flavorings and colorings (and still gluten-free).” 437 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-864-2400.
Eater released news of a new ramen place called RAMEN DORAKU, and SFoodie already went to check it out. 1042 Taraval St. at 20th Ave., 415-592-8801.
A reader wrote in to tell me that the owners of Toast are opening a coffee bar in Glen Park called CUP in June. You can read more in the Glen Park Association blog, which mentions Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries, and it will be open 6am-6pm. 6 Monterey Blvd. at Diamond.
Easy Creole Pops Up This Week
Grant Gooding and Jess McCarter could never find home-style Creole food in the Bay Area quite like it is in the Big Easy, that is, damn good and damn cheap. So they made their own: EASY CREOLE is starting a pop-up restaurant on Wednesday May 25th at The Residence (starts at 5pm, 718 14th St. at Church) and Friday May 27th at La Victoria Bakery (5pm-10pm, 2937 24th St. at Alabama) to serve up gumbo, étouffée, succotash, red beans and rice, and tasty vegan options too.
Eater has the menus here, and note, you don’t even have to BYOB. The Gooding-McCarter team will return to both places on a semi-permanent schedule once they get a feel for the demand. Additionally, they will eventually pop-up at Bissap Baobab (post-move), farmers’ markets, and food events around the Bay Area, and they have plans to start a lunch catering service.
Their signature dishes include vegan spinach and mushroom étouffée; chicken, sausage, and shrimp gumbo; and “Gumbo z’Herbes,” a traditional meatless dish enjoyed by Louisiana Catholics during Lent and on meat-free Fridays. They say they have the right balance of spicy and savory, and a secret twist that brings as much flavor to the vegan dishes as to the meaty stews. Keep up with Easy Creole on Facebook, Twitter, or join their mailing list.
Oakland and Berkeley Openings
RUDY’S CAN’T FAIL CAFE of Emeryville (yes, the place where Green Day’s Mike Dirnt is a co-owner) is opening a second location in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood in the beginning of June, just next door to the Fox Theater. A menu of classic American diner fare with seasonal and often locally sourced ingredients will be offered, plus fresh-baked fruit pies and cakes for dessert. There will also be weekend brunch service, and breakfast served all day. There’s a full bar, plus wine, beer, and a variety of specialty coffee drinks and shakes (including the Shakin’ Jesse Milkshake with Guinness stout, chocolate ice cream, and espresso). Got a big party? Book the 10-person private booth contained within a stainless steel dining car replica. There will also be a combination dinner-and-a-show package with a private VIP entrance leading straight into the Fox. Open daily 7am-1am. 1805 Telegraph Ave. at 18th St., Oakland, 510-251-9400.
Fan of Cuban cuisine? You may want to check out the Our Cuban Kitchen dinners popping up at the COCK-A-DOODLE CAFE in Old Town Oakland on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 5pm-9:30pm. I think the menu looks pretty dang tasty. 719 Washington St. at 8th St., Oakland, 510-465-5400.
And an export from Oakland into Berkeley will be a second location of UNCLE DOUGIE’S, an East Coast/Italian hero shop, where my friend says, “Everyone who walks in there is an East Coaster, and just ordering off the menu brings out dormant Philly, Jersey, and New York inflections. Or Dougie coaxes them out.” Chicken parm, eggplant parm, sausage and peppers—it’s all on the menu. The second location will be opening in June at 2328 Bowditch at Durant, Berkeley, 510-705-1686.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Boozin' at Outerlands
After applying for a liquor license many moons ago, OUTERLANDS is launching its petite cocktail program this evening. Co-owner David Muller bartended for five years prior to opening Outerlands, working at Slanted Door (with Erik Adkins and Jennifer Collieau) and Slow Club. The concise list (we’re talking two-four cocktails, folks) will feature interpretations of classics with an emphasis on fresh and housemade ingredients, using savory herbs, and tinctures, bitters, and syrups. Muller will only be using quality spirits, and offering something for all tastes, from refreshing to more spiritous drinks (although don’t look for any vodka drinks—he’s going to provide other options). One cocktail on the opening menu will be made with No. 209 Gin, housemade kumquat syrup and orange bitters, lemon juice, and a garnish contingent on bartender’s whim. Drinks will range from $9-$12. Last call will be at 11pm-ish (depends how many people are in there), with small bites served from 10pm-11pm.
A couple cool things to note in the kitchen: Brett Cooper (Rubicon, Coi, Saison) is the chef (the former chef, Kevin Rogers, was making a move to New Orleans), and Cooper is reportedly doing some amazing things on the menu, while Zoe Dering (nopa, Coi) is in charge of pastry. I think I know where I’m going to be dining in the coming week.
Outerlands - 4001 Judah St. San Francisco - 415-661-6140
Taste 12 New Zealand Wines on May 31st
The Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is hosting 12 New Zealand winemakers on Tuesday May 31st for a wine tasting at MO Bar and a four-course winemaker dinner at SILKS. The wine tasting is nicely affordable at $30, and includes pairings with small bites from MO Bar from 5:30pm-7:30pm. You’ll get to experience the terroir of the “Land of the Long White Cloud” with these 12 New Zealand wineries: Amisfield, Ata Rangi, Craggy Range, Felton, Roast, Kumeu River, Mt. Difficulty, Nautilus, Nuedord, Palliser, Quartz Reef, and Vavasour.
The tasting will be followed by the New Zealand Complexity winemaker dinner ($95) at 8pm at Silks. For reservations for the wine tasting or winemaker dinner, please contact Nicole Kosta at 415-276-9724 or by email.
Saturday June 11th is the Marin County Wine Celebration
Beautiful scenery, beautiful wines, you can’t ask for much more. The Marin County Winegrowers Association is hosting the seventh annual MARIN COUNTY WINE CELEBRATION on Saturday June 11th at the Historic Escalle Winery in Larkspur to benefit the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.
You’re invited to attend from 3pm-7pm to enjoy the wines of Marin winemakers like Sean Thackrey, Dan Goldfield, Mac McDonald, Jonathan Pey, and Stewart Johnson. Plus you’ll taste Marin cheeses and other locally produced foods such rabbit, venison, and local bread. The 14 participating wineries will be pouring and selling their current releases, as well as offering a few treats from their libraries and barrels. (Current releases will be available by the bottle and the case for purchase at a discount.) They are Couloir Wines, Deloach Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Easkoot Cellars, Kendric Vineyards, Moon Hill Vineyard, Pacheco Ranch Winery, Pey-Marin Vineyards, Point Reyes Vineyards, Sean Thackrey, Skywalker Vineyard, Vergari Wines, Vision Cellars, and Willowbrook Cellars.
Tickets are $55; valet parking and wine glass included. (Media and trade may attend from 1pm-3pm at no charge.) Register online; this event sells out quickly. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, dedicated to preserving agricultural land in Marin County, and DG Educational Services.
Saturday Jun 11, 2011 3pm–7pm $55 more info
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Here, Pig: COCHON 555 Returns to SF on June 5th
Sunday Jun 5, 2011 3:30pm VIP; 5pm general admission General admission $125 and up; VIP $200 Tickets Julia Morgan Ballroom, Merchants Exchange Building 465 California St. at Leidesdorff, San Francisco
And they’re back! The 5 chefs, 5 pigs, and 5 winemakers of COCHON 555 are returning to San Francisco for the third time in a culinary competition and tasting event of porcine proportions. On Sunday June 5th, five chefs will compete for the title of “Prince of Porc” and prepare whole animal menus using sustainably raised heritage pigs, vying for the votes of both attendees and judges.
This year’s SF competitors are David Varley of MICHAEL MINA, Ravi Kapur of Prospect, Brandon Jew and Salvatore Cracco of Bar Agricole, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR, and David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor. The winning chef will compete against other regional winners at the GRAND COCHON finale to be held in Aspen on June 19th.
Not only will attendees taste the culinary creations from the competing chefs, they will also be able to sample wines from five small wineries—Scott Paul Wines, Peay Vineyards, Failla Wines, Behrens Family Winery, and Elk Cove Vineyards, plus bites of pork from Ibérico Fresco, whole roasted heritage breed pig, and dessert. And there will be whole pig breakdown demos. Break it down!
General admission tickets ($125) enter at 5pm; VIP tickets ($200) get you in at 3:30pm for a private tasting of wines from Domaine Serene, Davis Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Dobbes Family Estate Winery, Zacherle, Alysian, and Pey-Marin; artisan cheeses from Cheese Plus; sustainable oysters from Black River Caviar; craft brew from Magnolia Brewery; cocktails from St-Germain; and jars of heritage bacon. Yes, jars.
The pop-up location in SF is TBA. Tickets online here. Update: The location will be the Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchants Exchange Building, 465 California Street.
the health nut
Gettin' Fit (take a lap, tablehopper)
Oh yeah, am in the home stretch. I will be gradually reintroducing dairy and eggs (how I have missed you) into my diet at the end of this week, but otherwise, I think eating vegetarian at home as much as possible, if not vegan, will be a great way to balance out the decadence (and meatiness) of my meals out—and keep me healthy and feeling good. I’m always a little dismayed at how great I feel on a cleanse—but being a sober, caffeine-free, gluten-free vegan is just not in my cards. What can I say? I like Champagne and salumi too much. But can I integrate some healthy habits from my cleanse, and strive to find more balance in my eating? Definitely.
A few recent finds from this past week: first, this amazing miso-mustard salad dressing recipe (thanks Food Gal) kind of blew my mind with deliciousness. I swapped out the sugar with agave syrup, and added some shaved raw asparagus I had chilling in an ice bath for an hour. #WINNING
When you’re on a cleanse, you don’t really feel like hanging out in bars and restaurants and watching your friends eat and drink everything you can’t. (Trust me, it was sheer torture to watch a table of pals eat cheeseburgers and fries at Serpentine while I ate my salad.) But one advantage to our quality local cocktail scene is you can have a bartender make you some rather tasty non-alcoholic cocktails—both Serpentine and Dosa on Fillmore impressed me with their fresh and on-the-fly concoctions. And you may not get a kick from booze, but I ask for a kick of heat instead—Serpentine had some spicy chile bitters, and Dosa added some fresh jalapeño to my drink. Humina.
Lastly, I have been counting my blessings for Hodo Soy Beanery tofu—their spicy yuba strips, in particular. I like having a container of these creamy and custardy strips around so I can take a couple bites when I want something “protein-y” (it has a texture this meat-and-cheese-eating girl finds herself craving during a cleanse, and the richness of the yuba is pleasing in a fatty, decadent way).
So I was pleased to learn if I missed the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market that I can now swing by the new Hodo Soy retail kiosk in the Ferry Building Marketplace (almost ironically near Gott’s). You can pick up their various tofu and yuba products, along with organic and vegan sandwiches, salads, smoothies (made with soymilk and soy custard), and desserts. I am a huge fan of the yuba kung pao salad (yuba, brown rice noodles, cucumber, cilantro, daikon, carrot, and soy nuts tossed in a spicy kung pao dressing), and I think the lotus forbidden rice pudding sounds really good (Hodo Soy crème, Hodo Soy custard, Indian spices, candied ginger, and toasted coconut). Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 8am-6pm, and Sun 11am-5pm.
Another thing I’ve been eating a lot of is seaweed, from nori to hijiki to kombu. This Friday May 27th is a produce dinner at 18 REASONS featuring seaweeds and Strong Arm Farm, and you’ll be able to learn all about both of them. The multi-course meal by Linh Phu will be vegan and Japanese-inspired. The meal will be paired with sake and beer. $50 for 18 Reasons members; $60 for the general public. Buy tickets and more info here.
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Chelsea Without a Handler
Ozumo Oakland had a surprise guest last Sunday: in the middle of a huge dinner rush before the Chelsea Handler show on Sunday the 15th, the headliner herself came in for a quick pre-show bite. There were reportedly some “shrieks of delight from the many lovely women dining and pounding vodka.” She seemed to enjoy her sushi, and left once again to loud cheers from the restaurant.
Greek to Me
A tablehopper reader spotted singer Constantine Maroulis in Bernal Heights on Sunday afternoon, “sitting on the bench outside Avedano’s, chatting with a friend, enjoying a panino and the sunshine.” He was the sixth-place finalist on the fourth season of American Idol, and performed in Rock of Ages at the Curran a couple months ago.