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Jun 20, 2011 25 min read

June 21, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: summer break.

June 21, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: summer break.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: summer break.                    

Cucumber soup, by chef Jeremy Fox at SMITH@Saison.

This gorgeous heatwave definitely makes it easier to return to San Francisco after my week in balmy New York. Helllllllo, summer solstice! Am trying to be outside as much as possible, but this dang deadline of mine is kind of getting in the way. I did get to enjoy a memorable meal with a friend by chef Jeremy Fox at the hearth at Saison on Friday night (j’adore that terrace), and Father’s Day dinner was spent in my parents’ backyard in San Mateo—man, I love alfresco dining.

Happy to see the sun will continue into the weekend, as the city blows up with Pride! I’ll be tearing it up in Dolores Park with my friends for Pink Saturday, but do note chef Dominique Crenn will be with Liam Mayclem (CBS5’s “Eye on the Bay” and “Foodie Chap” on KCBS) at Macy’s Cellar doing a free cooking demo on Saturday at 2pm.

Since I took last week off, I had some serious catch-up to do for you—you’ll find plenty of news about new openings in this week’s issue. And I’m aiming to have my New York jetsetter writeup for you this Friday, stand by.

Have fun out there—and please raise a glass to the memory of the vivacious Shirley Fong-Torres, who sadly passed away this weekend after a battle against leukemia. I know many will miss seeing her smiling face out on the town. She was such a feisty lady.

To feistiness!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Bluestem Brasserie: Open on Thursday June 23rd


Lounge area photo by Angie Silvy.


Bluestem dining room; photo by Angie Silvy.

Opening this Thursday June 23rd is the splashy new BLUESTEM BRASSERIE on Yerba Buena Lane from Adam and Stacy Jed. At a tablehopper cocktail preview a couple weeks ago, we got a sneak peek of the Lundberg Design-designed, light-filled, two-level space. It was designed to be flexible for a variety of occasions, whether you are dropping by the spacious lounge with friends or trying to snag one of the 17 armchair barstools at the glimmering bar by Concreteworks. You’ll be equally comfy having lunch with the boss, dinner with a large group in the semi-private upstairs dining room, or after-work drinks on the upstairs terrace (which is both shielded and heated—go SF).

Executive chef Sean Canavan has put together an all-day brasserie menu. Items on a preliminary menu include a variety of housemade charcuterie (rustic country pâté with pistachios, truffled chicken liver mousse, rabbit rillettes) and appetizers like a watermelon salad with mint, feta, borage blossoms, and Arbequina olives; berbere-spiced goat sausages with roasted eggplant and mint yogurt; and spinach and sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli with pine nuts, summer squash, and Parmesan broth.

A highlight of the menu is the grass-fed beef sourced from ranchers and farmers in California, Oregon, and Uruguay—cuts may include rib-eye, New York strip, skirt steak, grilled short ribs, and Wagyu bavette (flank), and a variety of side sauces, such as mint-oregano chimichurri and zinfandel-shallot marmalade. Of course there will be a burger as well—and you know they’ve been perfecting that bad boy. Other meaty picks include acorn-fed pork, slow-cooked goat with guajillo and ancho chile and Anson Mills hominy, while one of the seafood selections includes crispy steelhead trout with melted early girl tomatoes, artichokes, and tarragon pistou. Sides include corn and fava succotash, and Anson Mills cheddar grits. There will also be plats du jour, like beef short rib pot roast and mashed potatoes on Mondays, and coq au vin with buttered egg noodles on Tuesdays. The dessert menu is from consulting pastry chef James Ormsby, who will be offering “reinvented classics that play on American nostalgia,” like vanilla ice cream profiteroles with rhubarb compote, a chocolate and coconut layer cake, and a black n tan, with malted milk and chocolate panna cotta with malt meringue chocolate bark.

There will be a variety of cocktails, ranging from the spiritous to the refreshing; we enjoyed tasting them at our tablehopper naming party and preview (kindly note the cleverly named “Violet Femmes” was the winning cocktail name from our party)! No contender, there. The California-centric wine program will include 12 wines on tap, supplemented with some French bottlings. The 190-seat restaurant (yup, she’s a big girl) will be open continuously from 11am-11pm.

Bluestem Brasserie            - 1 Yerba Buena Lane San Francisco - 415-547-1111

The Latest Neapolitan-Style Pizza Slingers: Cupola Pizzeria


Cupola Pizzeria interior photo by John Benson.

Now open in the former Zazil space on the fourth floor of the Westfield Centre is CUPOLA PIZZERIA from the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, with chef Christian Hermsdorf, previously at Bar Bambino. The primary draw for downtown shoppers (and worker bees) will be the Neapolitan-style pizzas coming out of the handcrafted Stefano Ferrara pizza oven imported from Naples. Pizzas include a primavera with artichokes, asparagus, pea tendrils, mascarpone, and Parmesan; and an arrabiata with pancetta, chile peppers, San Marzano tomatoes, and oregano.

There is also a menu of items made with local and sustainable ingredients, like pulled-to-order mozzarella, suckling pig porchetta, sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in a chopped watercress butter, and panini like eggplant Parmesan and another one made with spicy coppa. Yeah, you better walk there and back so you don’t get fat.

Cass Calder Smith Architecture is behind the design for the 94-seat restaurant, with a flashy interior of black, white, and red. Now open daily for lunch and dinner, 11:30am-9:30pm.

Cupola Pizzeria            - 845 Market St., 4th floor, San Francisco - 415-896-5600

Wing Wings Has Flapped Its Doors Open


Wing Wings. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

And in case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, or tablehopper is your sole contact with the outside world, Christian Ciscle (previously of Little Skillet) has opened his solo project, WING WINGS in the Lower Haight in the former Roland’s Bagels space. On the menu: a variety of saucy wings—eight sauces in all—like buffalo and jerk and spicy Korean (they are using free-range chicken from Pitman Family Farms). You can order 5 ($6), 10 ($10), or 25 ($23) in all, and you can get extra toppings, like chiles, or bacon, or even chicharrones. And there are biscuits. And chicken salad on a biscuit. And fries. And side salads, like macaroni and coleslaw. It’s tiny, so you might have to carry out your bucket o’ wings—and keep your greasy fingers crossed for delivery in a few months. Hours are Sun-Mon and Wed-Thu 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-2am, and closed Tue. 422 Haight St. at Webster, 415-834-5001.

Le Club Morphing Into a French-Japanese Restaurant

A star tablehopper reader tipped me off over a month ago that the former owner of El Paseo in Marin was taking over the LE CLUB space on Nob Hill. Alas, tracking down and getting a reply from the mysterious Seigo Takei proved to be very challenging. And fruitless. But now the Inside Scoop confirms the rumor, reporting that Seigo Takei and his wife, Keiko Takahashi, will be opening a restaurant “serving their signature Japanese and French-influenced kaiseki menu.” They are targeting late summer, and the current name is Keiko à Nob Hill, but that is subject to change. They reportedly have quite the wine cellar, a legacy from their time at El Paseo. Let’s hope they hire a publicist, otherwise getting more information from these two is gonna feel like a search for the holy grail (and alas, not as entertaining as the Monty Python version). 1250 Jones St. at Clay.

Weird Fish Reopens Tonight


Photo of Timothy Holt/Weird Fish by Sheila Menezes.

After some ownership changes, adjustments, repainting, hiring, and a temporary closure, WEIRD FISH is opening once again tonight for dinner. I received a note and a call from owner Timothy Holt, who said he has brought on chef Gavin Braid (Georges, Monk’s Kettle, Wayfare Tavern). The reopening menu will feature some of the Weird Fish classic seafood dishes, along with their vegan trademarks like the Buffalo Girls, but Holt said the menu will be evolving in time. There will be pasta, fish, and vegetable specials added, and he mentioned a crab roll is coming back (served on a roll made by the bakery next door). He wants to keep the menu as local and sustainable as possible, which will ultimately limit many of the seafood options for the restaurant.

More than anything, he’s fired up with his current life as a farmer at Roshambo up in Healdsburg. He’s raising pigs, chickens, goats, turkeys, and more, and hopes to provide the restaurant with most if not all of its produce—seasonality in full effect, yo. There might even be a CSA running out of Weird Fish at some point, along with canned jams and other items made by his girlfriend. Yup, they’re getting all Little House on the Prairie on us.

Look for some new local wines on tap, and since chef Braid is big on beer after working at Monk’s Kettle, there will be a “chef’s choice” selection of beers on the menu as well. You’ll also notice a new wall piece of old boxes with found objects by Romanowski, a local artist/DJ. Dinner will be Mon-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, with lunch starting in a couple weeks, and then weekend brunch will kick in. Follow the restaurant on Facebook for updates.

Weird Fish            - 2193 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-863-4744

Nombe Launches New Ramen Choices, and a Kaiseki Menu


Tonkotsu ramen with pork belly.

Over at NOMBE, executive chef Mari Takahashi and chef de cuisine Pierre Mange have been busy expanding their ramen portion of the menu, aka the “it girl” on SF menus of late. You can choose from three different broths: tonkotsu, a rich pork bone-based white broth; black tan tan-men, a black sesame-based spicy soup; and miso. All broths are $8, and garnished with bean sprouts, scallions, onsen tamago, and seaweed; the tonkotsu is additionally flavored with kombu and ginger. Diners can also add on pork belly, chicken kara age, and kae-dama (another portion of noodle) at an additional cost.

Also new on the menu: a seven-course seasonal kaiseki menu, which will have a strong emphasis on the presentation of the dishes. The kaiseki menu will be a chef’s choice daily menu of the following: sakizuke (amuse-bouche), mukouzuke (sashimi), yakizakana (grilled fish), tomezakana (salad), shiizakana/agemono (grilled meat, or fried item), shokuji (rice, miso soup, pickles), and mizu-gashi (fresh, locally grown, seasonal fruit). The menu is quite a steal at $29.95 per person; you can say “kanpai!” with a sake pairing, available by sommelier Gil Payne.

Both of these new menu options start Wednesday June 22nd, with the kaiseki menu available Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights only.

Nombe            - 2491 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-681-7150

A New Sunday Supper (and Brunch) in the Mission


El Buen Comer’s enchiladas verdes con pollo.

Here’s a flavor-tastic and new Sunday supper for you: El Buen Comer, one of La Cocina’s entrepreneurs, is serving homemade, from-scratch Mexican dishes at HEART every Sunday evening. Chef Isabel Caudillo is cooking up real guisados (stews) and comida corridas (typical plates and meals) from her hometown of Mexico City, with dishes like slow-simmered, chipotle meatballs to chile rellenos to the occasional chicharrones en salsa verde. Every Sunday, 5pm-10pm.

Starting Sunday July 10th, BEAST AND THE HARE will be serving Sunday brunch. On the preliminary menu: eggs Benedict/Florentine with smoked pork belly or slow-cooked chard; a soft scramble with artichokes, heirloom tomatoes, and farm-style cheese; duck hash with poached eggs and tomato crème fraîche; Anna Belle’s pancake French toast, stone fruit compote, and honey-Jack Daniel’s whipped cream; and a Monte Cristo of bresaola, fromage blanc, and stone fruit compote (all $12). Hours will be 10am-3pm.

Openings, Closures, Reopenings, Ch- Ch- Changes!


Photo from Venga Empanadas.

According to a tweet, it looks like VENGA EMPANADAS is planning to softly open its tiny empanada shop this Friday. You can drool over the menu here, which includes a nice array of vegetarian empanadas, like a five pepper-manchego version I can’t wait to sink my choppers into. Follow Venga on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news. Hours will be daily 7:30am-10pm. 443 Valencia St. at 15th St., 415-552-5895.

Over at 331 Cortland, BIG DIPPER BABY FOOD is the latest addition to the Bernal Heights marketplace. Owner Claire Hoyt makes organic baby food made fresh from local ingredients. Recent menus posted on Facebook offer purées ($7 per pound) like roasted garnet yams, braised carrots and baked Fuji apples, and chicken with parsnips and green beans, plus toddler meals of noodle kugel or chicken with spring vegetables with a side of sweet potatoes. 11am-6pm daily except Sun ‘til 5pm, and closed Thu. Delivery available Sundays starting June 26th. 331 Cortland Ave. at Bennington.

As I mentioned last month, DOSA ON VALENCIA is closing for a week to update their space and prepare the bar for their upcoming liquor license. They will be closed from Wed June 22nd-Thu June 30th, and plan to reopen on Fri July 1st.

One door closes, another one opens: MISSION CHINESE FOOD is slated to reopen this week, on Friday June 24th.

And CAFÉ SOPHIE is scheduled to open this Saturday; read more details in this past tablehopper article. Hours will be 7am-9pm. 3463 16th St. at Sanchez.

Ever-trusty tablehopper informant Jason B. writes in with these tidbits: in the Financial District, it appears TON YONG THAI CAFÉ has closed, but there’s a new-looking GREAT SAIGON that has opened a few doors down, 915 Kearny St. at Jackson, 415-772-9882.

He also mentions PREET’S, a small pizza place on Market, has become VEGAN PLAZA. He says, “They have a spot in Berkeley and I thought it was exceptional. Whole wheat crust, vegan cheese, awesome.” 995 Market St. at 6th St.

Jason also mentions there’s a mini build-your-own Belgian waffle space that has opened near the BART entrance in the Westfield. SFoodie has filed an initial taste test of BLOEM ‘N SUGAR. 865 Market St. at Fifth St. in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, 415-615-0064.

Lastly, Jason mentions half of the Martha & Bros. locations in the city have changed to CUMAICA COFFEE, whose website states they have four SF locations, and a roastery in South City.

New Pastry Chef at Prospect: Sarah Wade


The Folsom Street side of the dining room at Prospect; photo by Mariko Reed.

Over at PROSPECT, you’ll find a new dessert menu in place from pastry chef Sarah Wade. This Philly-raised pastry chef worked under the mentorship of Christine Law at Postrio, as well as two years as a sous pastry chef in Nancy Oakes’ kitchen at Boulevard before moving back to the East Coast to be closer to her family. After some East Coast gigs, she returned to the West Coast, and has been working at Prospect since May 2011. Her seasonally driven menu will emphasize simple and wholesome desserts, like mascarpone cheesecake with vanilla-roasted strawberries, warm huckleberry-blueberry pie, a chocolate almond tart, and a Prospect sundae with butterscotch ice cream, bourbon caramel, poached apricots, pecan brittle, and whipped cream. Don’t fear, the ice cream sandwiches and caramel popcorn remain on the menu.

Prospect            - 300 Spear St. San Francisco - 415-247-7770

Tea and Crumpets and More at Kettle Whistle


Strawberries, yogurt sablé, and granola; photo by Justin Lewis.

by Daisy Chow, tablehopper editorial assistant.

Tell Tale Preserve Company and tea-purveyor Naivetea have teamed up to create KETTLE WHISTLE, a new spin on the afternoon tea service: it’s like William Werner’s dashing culinary creations are having elegant rendezvous with a well-curated collection of oolong teas in a series of chic pop-up locations. The first Kettle Whistle event takes places this Saturday June 25th in The Burritt Room, with seatings at 1pm and 3:30pm, and will consist of three flights of Werner’s pastry creations, both savory and sweet, carefully paired with a selection Naivetea’s oolong teas, both hot and iced.

I was fortunate to experience some of these pairings at a preview for Kettle Whistle at Big Daddy’s Antiques (a striking backdrop for the tasting), where Naivetea’s gracious founders Lawrence Lai and Ann Lee were on hand to talk about their unique, ultra-premium Taiwanese teas. Werner’s pastry creations were as pleasing to the eyes as they were to the tongue, and I found that the savory and sweet bites were paired in a beguiling and nuanced way with the high-end oolong teas.

For example, iced lychee and iced passion fruit teas were paired with salmon rillettes on seaweed brioche, a pairing in which the fruity and floral teas balanced the briny bite nicely. In a pairing of strong flavors with strong, Naivetea’s more-fermented Dong Ding (an award-winning variety) and Formosa teas, which had a smoky-roasty quality, were poured hot and sipped alongside the tangy punch of preserves like passion fruit-olive oil curd and strawberry jam, served with clotted cream on the cutest mini crumpets and petit scones. As for sweet bites, these were matched to delicately green, lightly grassy hot oolongs that cleansed the palate between rich, sweet desserts like rhubarb-olive oil layer cake and chocolate fondant topped with a shiny half-sphere of raspberry purée. We left the preview with a little gift to take home, so I bet you’ll leave with the same on Saturday.

Don’t expect a stodgy English tea, but do expect to make reservations for this first official Kettle Whistle event via email or phone (415-643-4894). Prix-fixe menu, $55 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. 417 Stockton St. at Bush.

               Saturday Jun 25, 2011 1pm and 3:30pm seatings $55, exclusive of tax and gratuity more info

New Butcher Shops--Wow, Two!


I heard about a butcher shop opening in the Dogpatch months ago, but the [fill in the blank] building owner wasn’t very forthcoming with contact info for me. Sure enough, a good friend ends up passing along info to me about OLIVIER’S BUTCHERY, a traditional French butcher who is now open, and offering high-quality cuts in both French and American styles. Olivier reportedly hand picks the animals to make sure they are healthy and raised humanely; you can buy cuts or whole animals, and he can do custom cuts for you. He will also offer sausages made from his family’s recipes.

SFoodie shares further details: owner Olivier Cordier is from Burgundy, and his family ran a boucherie. Here’s more: “He’ll be running the shop with his wife, Hang Nguyen, and will offer French cuts of grass-fed beef, veal, lamb, pork, and poultry; house-made sausages; and custom-cut orders. All the meat is sourced from farms that practice sustainable methods.” Sounds fabulous. Bring on the bavette! You can pick up your order at the warehouse Thu-Fri 12pm-6pm, Sat 10am-3pm, and Sun 9:30am-1pm. 1074 Illinois St. at 22nd St., 415-558-9887.

According to Berkeleyside, cook Aaron Rocchino from Chez Panisse and his wife Monica are opening LOCAL BUTCHER SHOP in the Gourmet Ghetto. The article has a bunch of details about this sustainably minded shop, check it out.

Two Upcoming Underground Dinners That Celebrate Summer


Image from Silver.Spoon.

A couple non-restaurant dining options for y’all: this Thursday June 23rd and Friday June 24th, SILVER.SPOON (from Copenhagen) is partnering again with GRAFFEATS for Summer School, offering a five-course dinner that will take place in an unexpected location: a high school library. There will also be cocktails from a barman who works at Ruby, one of Copenhagen’s speakeasies, along with musical pairings, and some other surprises. Not sure what you’ll have to do to land into detention. 6:30pm. Location disclosed to ticket holders. $65 (corkage fee included), and tickets can be purchased here.

And Saturday June 25th (at 7pm) and Sunday June 26th (at 5pm), STAG DINING GROUP is putting together The Summer Solstice Intervention Dinner, a bright summer menu that is designed to help us cope with our usual foggy summer woes. Although this week is a delightful exception. Anyway. No matter. Chefs Ted Fleury and Jordan Grosser are putting together a delicious multi-course menu, along with hosting a cocktail reception by The Cocktail Lab. Read more about the menu and details here. Location: a historical site near Alamo Square. $80 per person, BYOB.

Book It! Upcoming Author Events


One of my favorite Joyce Goldstein books.

There are all kinds of author events coming up in the Bay Area. And you should come, because authors are cool. Next Tuesday June 28th, Joyce Goldstein will be at COOKS’ BOOK CLUB OF FOURTH STREET (a collaboration with Books Inc.). She will discuss her numerous (fabulous) books, and will then guide the audience through a tasting of her favorite pantry items: olive oil, honey, cheese, and more at The Pasta Shop and at Café Rouge, which will offer Mediterranean menu items based on Joyce’s recipes. No charge except for purchases. 6pm-8pm. Upcoming authors include Marissa Guggiana, author of PRIMAL CUTS: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers on Tuesday July 26th; and on Tuesday August 23rd is Romney Steele, with her new book, Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard. 1760 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley.

At OMNIVORE BOOKS in San Francisco, mark your calendar on July 19th to listen to the ever-engaging Cecilia Chiang in conversation with co-author Lisa Weiss, who will be discussing The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco; and on Thursday July 21st is Hank Shaw, with Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. There are many more upcoming events (including a November event with Jacques Pépin!), check it all out on Omnivore’s events page.

Omnivore Books            - 3885a Cesar Chavez St. San Francisco - 415-282-4712


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

(Sponsored): CUESA's Summer Celebration: The Best Bites and Sips of the Season

Get ready for the inaugural launch of CUESA’s Summer Celebration on Sunday July 10th. Spend an elegant evening at the Ferry Building with other local food, wine, and cocktail devotees. Taste seasonal hors d’oeuvres from over 35 of the city’s best restaurants (such as Cotogna, Flour + Water, Greens, and Range); and drink regional wine, artisan cocktails (from Bourbon & Branch, Rye, and more), craft beer, and soda. A whimsical photo booth, live music, and a carving station from chef Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats will enliven the night.

Meet the faces behind your food while providing much-needed support for the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture’s ongoing education programs, including free cooking demonstrations, kitchen skill-building classes, the new Schoolyard to Market program, and sustainability scholarships for farmers.

Tickets are $95, but tablehopper readers get a $5 discount; use code TABLEHOPPER.

Sunday July 10th • 6pm-9pm • San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Three New Happy Hours (with Booze and Bites)


Photo from Town Hall.

A couple new happy hours for your booze radar: TOWN HALL has launched their Smoke N’ Barrel Happy Hour every Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm. There will be drink specials for $5, $3 Trumer Pils, a couple $5 wine selections, and food under $10, like a duo of house-smoked Reuben sliders ($5), Travis’ spicy chicken wings ($5), and their delicious cornmeal-fried oysters ($5). There’s also a Town Hall burger for $15 (only available until 5pm).

Meanwhile, FIFTH FLOOR has launched its evening Cocktail Party. Every night from 5pm-7pm, the bar will be featuring three specialty cocktails for $5 and will be passing out complimentary appetizers, like cheese gougères, beef tartare on crostini, and chèvre and mushroom tarts. Chef David Bazirgan has also launched an Homage to New England menu at the bar, which includes a Maine lobster roll ($25) on Firebrand brioche with celery and Old Bay chips, Rhode Island clam cakes ($12) with tartar sauce, New England clam chowder ($8/$12) with housemade oyster crackers, and succotash ($12) with housemade chorizo, corn, favas, and Padrón peppers. Available in the lounge Mon-Sat.

Meanwhile, oyster lovers will want to take note of a new weekend happy hour for those seated at Pierre’s Oyster Bar in the GRAND CAFÉ: you can get $1 oysters, $2 baked clams, and $5 sparkling wine Fri-Sat 5pm-7pm; and Fri-Sat all night long you can get a half-dozen oysters with your choice of a beer or sparkling wine for $10, and oysters for $2 each.

You Wanna Make Some Shrubs?


Shrubs; photo from Urban Kitchen SF.

No, I’m not talking bonsai. URBAN KITCHEN SF is hosting a berry shrubs class this Thursday June 23rd in the CUESA Dacor Teaching Kitchen. Your guides will be Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods and Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo, who will teach you how to make vinegar-based shrubs using seasonal berries during this hands-on class.

Participants will taste already-made shrubs, make two shrubs of your very own, and learn how to use them in cocktails. You will each take home two quart jars of your own shrub made with fresh seasonal fruit (apricots, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and herbs from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and take home a booklet of recipes and tips. $60 (sliding scale pricing, based on need, is available); tickets here. 5:30pm-7:30pm.

               Thursday Jun 23, 2011 5:30pm–7:30pm $60 (sliding scale) more info

Upcoming Winemaker Dinners at Flour + Water and Spruce


The Dough Room, photo by David White.

It’s a good time for wine and food enthusiasts with upcoming winemaker dinners at Flour + Water and Spruce, and a tasting at Press Club—try to make your way to one, or more (you wino, you). FLOUR + WATER’s winemaker dinner series has guest winemakers in the Dough Room presenting wines they love paired with five-course tasting menus, which chef Thomas McNaughton will prepare table-side. This Friday June 24th is Ames Morison of Medlock Ames, followed by Anthony Filiberti and Webster Marques of Anthill Farms on July 8th, Eric Sussman and Davida Ebner of Radio-Coteau on July 22nd, and on July 29th, Cecilia Piccin of Grifalco Winery in Basilicata, Ciro Biondi of Vini Biondi in Sicily’s Mount Etna, and Oliver McCrum of Oliver McCrum Wines will present wines from southern Italy’s volcanic terroir (yeah, guess which one I’m excited about the most). Each event in the series will have two seatings, 6pm and 9:15pm, with 12 seats available at the chef’s table. $200 per person, inclusive of wine pairings, tax, and gratuity. Tickets online.

SPRUCE is hosting Blackbird Vineyards, an artisanal producer of Pomerol-inspired wines in Napa Valley, for a winemaker dinner on Monday July 11th at 6:30pm. Chef Mark Sullivan’s menu includes licorice-spiced squab with tagliarini, black currants, and pine nuts; prime New York steak with shelling bean cassoulet and red wine jus; hors d’oeuvres, and artisan cheeses, with each course paired with Blackbird rosé or cabernet blends. $140 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations at 415-931-5100.

Oh, and a side note: PRESS CLUB will be hosting Gundlach Bundschu Estate Winery of Sonoma for their Visiting Vintner Series this Thursday (June 23rd) and next (June 30th) from 6pm-8pm. On June 23rd marketing director Susan Sueiro will lead tastings by the sip, in flights, and by the glass. On June 30th owner and winemaker Ray Coursen and national sales manager Kathy Byrd will lead the tastings. These wines are otherwise only available to taste and buy at the winery. 20 Yerba Buena Ln. between Market and Mission Sts., 415-744-5000.

Take a Tour at Distillery No. 209


Gin tasting at Distillery No. 209; photo by Daniel Azarkman.

The world’s only distillery built over water invites you to discover your gin personality while touring its scenic facilities. Once a month for the rest of the year, DISTILLERY NO. 209 will bring a small group onto the premises behind AT&T Park and walk them through the gin-making process. Guests will sample a range of expertly-crafted cocktails to find out where they stand on the spectrum of gin drinkers. “Ginthusiasts” can deepen their appreciation as they learn new pairings and applications, while “Ginskeptics” on the other end may discover a new affinity for the spirit in this less juniper-centric and more floral take. Botanicals used in 209 include cardamom, coriander, cassia bark, and bergamot peel; the inaugural distillery tour on June 9th even showcased these flavors in some surprisingly good gin cupcakes. Spots in future tours are $25 per person, and can be booked online at or by phone at 415-369-0209. Pier 50 at Terry A. Francois St.


the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

A Midsummer Night's Feast in Fairfax


Photo of 123 Bolinas exterior from Yelp’s Joe B.

Event Info

Saturday Jun 25, 2011 – Saturday Jun 25, 2011 6pm–9pm $65 (plus 9% tax and 15% gratuity) Tickets Bolinas Park, Fairfax

This sounds like a feast worthy of the Bard: chef Jeremy Goldfarb of 123 Bolinas in Fairfax is cooking up A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S FEAST on Saturday June 25th to benefit Marin Organic. The feasting begins at 6pm in Bolinas Park, directly across from 123 Bolinas, and you’re invited to join in the celebration of summer, the organic producers of Marin Organic, and community.

The dinner will include locally sourced and organic ingredients prepared by Goldfarb, hearty roasts of RedHill Farms lamb and Devil’s Gulch Ranch pig by The Butcher’s Guild, and, in the fifth act, dessert by Rustic Bakery. Additional players include Sustainable Fairfax, County Line Harvest, Good Earth Natural Foods, Marin Economic Forum, Cowgirl Creamery, Robert Giacomini Dairy, Fairfax Scoop, Angela Tirrell Uncommon Events, Cowgirl Creamery, McEvoy Ranch, and The County Roots. Watch the plot unravel when Goldfarb presents the side dishes, revealing whose recipe won the recipe contest!

Tickets are online for $65 (plus 9% tax and 15% gratuity), with proceeds going to Marin Organic, a cooperative association of Marin County organic producers whose livelihood is based on a respect for nature and a sense of place. Wine will be available for purchase onsite.

Sonoma in the City San Francisco: A Week of Great Sonoma Wine Events


 Event Info

Tuesday Jul 12, 2011 – Thursday Jul 14, 2011 Info/tickets 415-683-0696

Get a taste of Sonoma County without having to hit the road at the SONOMA IN THE CITY events. On July 12th the Grand Tasting at the Westin St. Francis aims to be the largest tasting of Sonoma County wines outside of Sonoma with over 350 wines, while on Thursday July 14th your very own tablehopper will be at the Forks & Corks event (food trucks and wine pairings!) making restaurant recos and handing out free copies of The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco to the first 200 attendees!

That’s right, on Thursday July 14th from 5:30pm-8:30pm, hit up Forks & Corks at the Fort Mason Firehouse to score five dishes from five SF food trucks—An the Go, Brass Knuckle, El Porteño Empanadas, JapaCurry, and The Crème Brûlée Cart—and tastes of up to 80 wines from 30 Sonoma wineries. Yours truly will be in attendance to sign books—free copies to the first 200 attendees only!—and to help out diners in need with restaurant recommendations. Tickets to Forks & Corks are $55 online, $65 door, but you can  use the code SPECIAL for $15 off now! That means you’ll get fab food, drink, and the tablehopper book (a $17.36 value) for $40. What a deal!

The Grand Tasting event on July 12th in the Westin St. Francis Hotel (335 Powell St. at Geary) from 5:30pm-8pm features wines from 100 winemakers from 13 Sonoma regions, underscoring the diverse terroir and winemaking styles of the county. Snag VIP tickets to get into the Reserve Room with these wineries: Captûre Wines, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Hanzell Vineyards, Keller Estate, Kosta Browne Winery, Lancaster Estate, Martinelli Winery, Papapietro Perry Winery, Patz & Hall, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Ramey Wine Cellars, Silver Oak Cellars, and Skipstone. Get tickets to the Grand Tasting by June 8th for $55 online; otherwise, it’s $75 at the door, cash only, while supplies last. VIP tix: $75 online, $100 door, same deal as before. Use the code SPECIAL for $15 off the online prices. FYI, the Grand Tasting benefits Share Our Strength. Trade and media, click here to explore the Grand Tasting from 1:30pm-4:30pm and attend one of three Master Classes led by Master Sommeliers Evan Goldstein, Peter Granoff, and Keith Goldston. Seats are limited, and a biz card or invitation is required for this portion.

tablehopper readers, don’t overlook the special discount code you can apply to both events: use code SPECIAL for $15 off!

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)

(Sponsored): Summer with the San Francisco Symphony: Win a Pair of Tickets to the Grand Finale Concert!


Cool nights and hot classics—it’s the San Francisco Symphony’s summer series, with tickets starting at just $15! From the classical repertoire of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, to sensational evenings with Johnny Mathis, Chris Botti, Disney, and the movie classic Casablanca, it’s a great summer lineup! Come early for entertainment, summery food, specialty cocktails, and dancing.

Sign up for the SFS eclub to become eligible to win a pair of tickets to the Music from the Movies with the San Francisco Symphony Grand Finale concert on July 29th at 8pm! Enter code 40783 when you sign up. Ten winners will be selected.

For more information on the San Francisco Symphony’s Summer & the Symphony concerts, visit

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Rob Lowe Hittin' the Streets of Ess Eff


Photo by Doug Dalton.

Bourbon & Branch partner Doug Dalton spotted (and snapped a pic) of Rob Lowe filming outside Bourbon & Branch (Lowe is in town filming Knife Fight). Michael Murphy also mentioned in a tweet that “Hollywood hotties Rob Lowe & Carrie-Anne Moss were filming all day at Quince and Cotogna in SF.”

And in his off time, Lowe was spotted on Saturday evening dining with his wife, sons, and a few friends at Bistro Boudin at the Wharf (and yes, a famous clam chowder bread bowl was on the table).

Keepin' Coo' with Some Fro-Yo

A tablehopper reader spotted Adrian Grenier getting a frozen yogurt at Fraiche yogurt on Fillmore.

Worthy of an SNL Skit...

Lorne Michaels came in to Delfina for dinner, and chef-owner Craig Stoll has this to share in a tweet: “I go over to his table to say hello but get tongue tied, tear up, say thanks for everything”?!, & run off.” Per his own observation in a follow-up tweet, Stoll says, “It’s probably best I stay in the back of the house.”

Another Kind of Parklet

A tablehopper reader spotted Parker Posey at Bar Jules this past weekend.

Feeding the First Lady


Mrs. Obama and chef Gustavo Romero Veytia; photo by Vasha Wilson for Moanalani Jeffrey.

First Lady Michelle Obama was making the rounds in the Bay Area on Tuesday June 14th, first dining on a brunch prepared by Alice Waters while at The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa in Berkeley. She then attended a luncheon prepared by chef Gustavo Romero Veytia of Credo in San Francisco’s Julia Morgan Ballroom; the luncheon was hosted by ballroom owners Clint and Janet Reilly. Chef Gustavo, after learning of Mrs. Obama’s favorite food, created a special order of tamales just for her, made from his family’s recipe.

Dining Like a Rock Star. (Sorta.)

Stone Temple Pilots drummer Eric Kretz was at Puccini & Pinetti restaurant with his wife and two kids, while Chris Daughtry and his band (named, what else, Daughtry) were spotted dining at the new oyster bar at Grand Café on Friday night.

El Paseo: A New Clubhouse for Famous Dudes

It’s not a big surprise to see El Paseo partner Sammy Hagar on premise at the Mill Valley restaurant, but he was recently spotted dining with Joe Satriani (and their respective wives). Another sighting: Peter Coyote.

Joe, Can You Pass Me the Rosé?

Joe Montana was spotted having lunch with his wife Jennifer outside at a bistro table at Café des Amis. Was happy to hear the couple had some wine with lunch. How Euro.

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