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Aug 8, 2011 21 min read

August 9, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: mustang salad.

August  9, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: mustang salad.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: mustang salad.                    

I was thrilled to meet chef Cesare Casella at SF Chefs.

No, I’m not having horse for lunch—that was one of the tweaked songs one of the bands was playing at SF Chefs this weekend (I am imagining Wilson Pickett is rolling over in his grave). Wonky song lyrics aside, whoa, what a blast this past weekend was. I think many people are still recovering from the madness that was SF Chefs. The tent was packed all weekend, and it was great to catch up with so many colleagues and friends, and meet new peeps as well (thanks to all the tablehopper readers who came over to say hello!). The chefs were turning things out, and I have to hand it to David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor, who even had a second bite at his table for VIPs (now that is what I call making it soigné).

The caliber of the cocktails was totally ON—I think my pal Brock Keeling (editor of SFist) said it best: “I have to pace myself,” while grabbing a second drink for his other hand. Heh. (This is one reason why we’re friends.)

I posted a photo album of all my pics from the weekend here, check it out!

A personal highlight was moderating my panel on Saturday, The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco (here’s a pic of the fabulous ladies). It ended up being a very thoughtful, revealing, and inspiring conversation—I could have listened to their stories and insights for another hour (some other guests told me the same thing). My dream of one day having my own food talk show was sealed! Many thanks to E&O for hosting.

And in the midst of all this decadence, I was happy to learn that $20,000 was raised for Meals On Wheels of San Francisco at the illy Chef Challenge (good to know Chase Sapphire is putting those finance charges to good use—I’m only partly kidding). And another $5,000 was donated to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation. Congrats to chefs Chris Cosentino and Elizabeth Falkner, who won the live cooking challenge against Dominique Crenn and Russell Jackson.

So, tomorrow I am actually heading back up to Lake Tahoe, my preferred remote office in the summer. I know, the joys of being able to work from anywhere. Besides, I need to work on a base tan before heading to Turkey at the end of the month—I can’t show up there looking like I live in San Francisco, I’ll fry.

Have a fun week, and I’ll be back in touch on Friday.


Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Chef Edward Higgins Opening BAiA in San Francisco (Instead of Oakland)


Chef Edward Higgins.

Back in January, the Inside Scoop mentioned chef Edward Higgins—a New York import who worked very closely with chef Marco Canora of Hearth and Insieme for years, and is currently at Quattro at the Four Seasons Palo Alto—would be opening his own project, BAIA in Oakland. After checking up on the project and exchanging emails with him last week, I learned the location in Old Oakland was finito, and now he’s due to open the restaurant in an undisclosed location in Mission Bay.

Personally, I am very excited about the concept, which will be modern Sicilian (his grandmother is Sicilian). Nope, there really isn’t much Sicilian cooking in this town—he’s looking forward to showcasing the unique ingredients and flavors of Sicilian dishes, while using our fantastic local seafood. The 49-seat space will be designed to be simple, warm, and relaxing—Higgins wants it to be a place where people can find a “calming respite” from urban life over some small plates and wine. The location will be light-filled, and since the layout is almost the same as the originally planned-for Oakland location, he’ll be able to move ahead with the already approved architectural plans. It’s a new space, however, so the opening probably won’t happen until spring 2012. I’ll keep you posted on the actual address and more in coming months. In the meantime, he will continue working at Quattro at the Four Seasons Palo Alto.


Coming to 18th and Guerrero: Izakaya Yuzuki


Exterior of the soon-to-be Izakaya Yuzuki.

At the end of the Commonwealth Club panel I moderated last week, I was very pleased to meet Yuko Hayashi, the owner of the forthcoming IZAKAYA YUZUKI, due to open in the former Ebb & Flow space on the corner of 18th Street and Guerrero. (I was doing some serious online stalking of the poor woman—was great to meet her in person.) This will be her first restaurant project, and the Osaka native is looking forward to offering Japanese dishes that are a bit different from what we have seen here in San Francisco (she travels to Japan frequently).

While it has izakaya in the name, she says the menu will have an emphasis on traditional and healthy dishes, including yakitori (a lighter dish), handmade tofu, and many vegetable dishes. The chef is Takashi Saito, whose background includes working at Ame and Kyo-ya—he is currently in Japan right now on a research tour. The restaurant will have 49 seats, and will be open for dinner Mon-Sat. She is currently hoping to open by October. (With the Namu brothers opening Namu Gaji in January, the neighborhood is going to be gaining some serious izakaya density.) 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

Izakaya Yuzuki            - 598 Guerrero St. San Francisco - 415-556-9898

Pica Pica Opening a Third Location in the Castro


Exterior of the former Pica Pica Castro location.

Adriana López Vermut, owner of PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN will be opening a third location (the second in San Francisco) in the Castro in early September, as initially reported in the Scoop. The restaurant will be 1,500 square feet on two levels, with seating for 40. Local firm Arcsine Architecture of Oakland (which designed the Mission Pica Pica location) is designing the space; look for similar elements and materials. The downstairs will feature an open kitchen and counters for pub-style dining; upstairs there will be seating and tables for two-tops and four-tops. The location will be right across from the SF MUNI F-line tram turnaround. Hours will be 10am-10pm daily. Look for an opening around September 10th. 3970 17th St. at Market.

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen            - 401 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-400-5453

New Projects on the Horizon


Il Cantuccio exterior; photo by Eva Frye for Eater.

The liquor license crystal ball has lots of tidbits about upcoming projects, finally revealing what is moving into the former Il Cantuccio space on 16th Street in the Mission. It’s going to be, you guessed it, a Neapolitan pizzeria called MOZZERIA. Eater mentions there will be an “international fusion” component to the toppings in addition to the traditional pies, plus other dishes like small plates and pastas. According to the website, the husband-and-wife team of Russell and Melody Stein is hoping to open Mozzeria in late 2011. 3228 16th St. at Valencia.

There was some activity with the El Rincon license, and Grub Street unearths some key details: the project is going to be called DEAR MOM, and is the brainchild of two Thieves Tavern bartenders, Oliver Piazza and Jay Beaman, working with Thieves owner Paul Bavaro. They’re partnering with Laurent Katgely of Chez Spencer, who is helping them with a “limited, French-inspired, gastropub menu with nightly specials” that spans from sliders to blanquette de veau. The menu pricing spans from $6 for a dog, to $18 for the veal (Grubs has a copy of the draft menu here). It’s meant to have an easy neighborhood vibe, and it sounds like they’re hoping to open this fall. 2700 16th St. at Harrison.

Over in the Castro, Fuzio is becoming FORK CAFÉ, another project from Sam Sirhed (currently behind the Burger Urge project in the Upper Haight). 469 Castro St. at 18th St.

Over in Noe Valley, the Tamasei Sushi space will be replaced by AKAI SARU. 3856 24th St. at Vicksburg.

And the Noe Valley SF blog mentioned KAMA SUSHI was close to opening in the Amberjack space, but based on a couple Yelp reviews, that puppy is now open. 1497 Church St. at 27th St.

Mission News Round-Up: Crazy Thai, Rice Paper Scissors, and Commonwealth


Rice Paper Scissors founders Katie Kwan (left) and Valerie Luu (right); photo by Phil Carter.

You can now grab lunch at Crazy Thai at THE CORNER Mon-Sat from the former chef-owner of Yamo Thai. Yup, Nan Thana Soiathorn (aka “Anna”), that wild and crazy Thai lady who cooked and yelled at you at Yamo from 1995-2004, is now ready to cook for you again! Don’t you dare ask for chopsticks. Trust me. Mon-Sat 8am-2:30pm.

This Wednesday August 10th, RICE PAPER SCISSORS will be popping up in the Mission, focusing on Hanoi dishes such as crab and shrimp rice noodle soup (bun rieu), and butter-braised sweet corn and dried shrimp (bap xao), a popular street food dish. I’m sad to miss trying their version of cha ca, a dish of pan-seared turmeric fish with dill from the famed Cha Ca La Vong restaurant (RPS is only serving up a limited number of this dish, so diners should pre-order ahead of time). 6:30pm-10pm at an undisclosed location; follow @ricepapersf or sign up for the email list to learn about the location.

And this is nice news: COMMONWEALTH is now open seven days a week, starting last night! Yay, a cool place to go on Monday night, folks.

Commonwealth            - 2224 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-355-1500

Another Roastery/Café Combo Opening in SoMa: De La Paz


The De La Paz espresso cart; photo courtesy of De La Paz.

After a tip-off from Live SoMa, I learned local roaster DE LA PAZ CAFE AND ROASTERY has moved into some new digs at Mission and 7th Street. Their plan is to open an espresso bar and roastery by the end of September (yes, yes, this is right up the street from Sightglass, but hey, those SoMa city blocks are big). The 2,000-square-foot space was previously an art gallery, and once things are up and running, there will be a large horseshoe bar where you can be served either espresso or drip coffee drinks, along with some window seats, and four outside tables. For now, they are open and serving coffee on Fridays from 7am-2pm. I’ll let you know when the opening is getting closer. 1081 Mission St. at 7th St., 415-525-4344.

Boulange Continues Its Citywide Expansion/Takeover/Domination


Photo courtesy of La Boulange.

LA BOULANGE has all kinds of openings on the horizon: first Grub Street has been tracking their opening at 222 Sutter Street (previously Loehmann’s); the opening was last mentioned to be September 19th. There’s also another opening due in December at 465 California Street (the Merchants Exchange Building).

And now their PR team releases info about La Boulange du Dome, opening in early 2012 under the dome at Westfield San Francisco Centre. Unique to this location will be a Le Dome dessert, chouquettes, and canelés de Bordeaux baked fresh throughout the day, as well as other pastries available only at the mother bakery. There will also be mini tea sandwiches, and other small bites meant to go along with a glass of wine. The look will be a bit more slick, with custom-made glass pastry cases imported from Europe.

Kim Alter Will Be the Chef at Daniel Patterson's Upcoming Oakland Project

Diablo Dish released the news about chef Kim Alter’s (Plate Shop, AQUA, Manresa) next gig: she will be the chef at Daniel Patterson’s upcoming Jack London Square restaurant (previously Bracina), which he reportedly hopes to open by mid-November. Patterson describes the concept as “an accessible take on Northern Californian cuisine.” Stand by for more details in coming months.

Dijon Michelin-Starred Chefs Coming to the CUESA Kitchen


Chefs William Frachot, Aurelien Mauny, and Stéphane Derbord at a Must’art NYC event; photo from Facebook.

As part of  the celebration of a new exhibition of medieval sculptures from Dijon, France at the Legion of Honor, five chefs from Dijon (and their four shiny Michelin stars) are coming to SF’s Fairmont Hotel, where they’ll be creating a culinary feast straight from Burgundy with the help of the Fairmont’s J.W. Foster. Then they’ll head over to the FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET, where you’ll have not one, but two chances to meet these culinary masters and get a taste of la belle France.

On Saturday August 20th, 8am-2pm, and Tuesday August 23rd, 10am-2pm, chefs Stéphane Derbord of Restaurant Stéphane Derbord, William Frachot of Le Chapeau Rouge, Yves Rebsamen of Chez Guy, and Jean-Pierre and Alexis Billoux of Le Pré aux Clercs will be the stars of the Market to Table cooking demos in the CUESA kitchen. Say oui to dishes like organic stuffed chicken breast with Burgundy escargot and Dijon mustard, vanilla-seasoned tomato compote with shrimp and radish mousse, marinated scampi with coconut milk and mango jelly, and basil king crab tartare. They’ll also be presenting some Dijon products and exported items, and of course, talking mustard. In addition, sommelier Patrice Gillard, also from the two-star Le Pré Aux Clercs, will be at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant wine bar to share some Burgundy wines.

The chefs are here for a weeklong celebration of the Dijon Must’art exhibit; more info on the exhibit here.

Body Language Playing at the Sound Check Series at Americano


Patio at Americano; photo courtesy of Americano.

AMERICANO is now in its third year of the Sound Check series, when up-and-coming artists perform acoustic sets in the early evening on the patio. Coming up on Wednesday August 17th is the Brooklyn-based Body Language (I dig their synth pop sound), and Wednesday September 21st is Penguin Prison. There will be a special cocktail available, along with the full menu. 5pm-8pm. Admittance is free with RSVP.

Americano            - 8 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-278-3777


the sponsor

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

(Sponsored): The 16th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival

Experience a weekend of chocolate indulgence at Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival’s “Sweet Sixteen” celebration benefiting Project Open Hand.

Ghirardelli Square is pleased to host the 16th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival on Saturday September 10th-Sunday September 11th, 2011. The historic Bay Area landmark destination invites guests for a weekend showcasing chocolate from local and regional chocolatiers. To celebrate its “Sweet Sixteen,” the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival will offer exciting events including chef demonstrations at the Cadillac Culinary Center, live entertainment, and activities for the entire family, including daily ice cream sundae eating contests, a Cadillac “Ride & Drive,” and of course, chocolate samplings from more than 40 local and regional purveyors.

Proceeds from ticket sales to the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival will benefit Project Open Hand, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization. Project Open Hand was established more than 25 years ago, and provides meals for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as senior citizens and homebound critically ill persons.

Tickets must be purchased to taste chocolate: $20 gets you 15 samples. But, tablehopper readers get a $3 discount using code CF11Tablehopper (that’s 15% off!)—click here to purchase.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

This Week: Barrel Room Opens, Guest Bartender Tommy Tweed, M7 Party


Tommy “Tweed” Klus serving the Derby Cocktail #Rhum at SF Chefs.

Opening to the public this Friday August 12th is BARREL ROOM, the new wine bar that moved into the former Hidden Vine space from Sarah Trubnick and Nikki Goddard. The ladies gave the place a thorough cleaning, but the living room style remains, with newly acquired antique furniture (and a new fireplace—perfect for our summer months). The wine list will include small production wines from around the world, and from August-September, the wines by the glass will have a strong focus on the wines of France. There will also be flights available for guests to explore varietals, like French pinot noir. The menu also includes flatbreads with different toppings that will reflect that month’s highlighted region. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am. 620 Post St. at Taylor; entrance on Cosmo Pl. (no phone yet).

Perhaps you had a refreshing Combier cocktail from visiting bartender Tommy Klus, aka Tommy Tweed, at SF Chefs this weekend? He has spent time behind the stick at Portland’s Teardrop Lounge, Bluehour, and St. Jack, and just opened Kask, where he is currently bar program director. Tonight (Tuesday) he will be a guest behind the bar at Rye, and Wednesday he will be at 15 Romolo before leaving us and heading back up to Oregon.

And this Thursday August 11th is an M7 (Magnificent 7) party, Wine and Culinary Tasting Celebration: “The  Revolucionarios” at Cantina. (M7 is a continually growing group of young entrepreneurs changing the Bay Area and beyond with their innovations in food, wine, technology, libations, and ideas.) There will be wines poured from Toolbox Wines, Delgadillo Cellars, a selection of Italian wines from Biondivino, some pisco cocktails by Duggan McDonnell, and beer will be provided by Heineken. To eat, there will be some appetizers from Pete Mrabe of Don Pisto’s, and cupcakes by Chelsea Mead of Kingdom Cake. All attendees receive a complimentary Square, and there will also be prizes and giveaways. Tickets: VIP (you get a sweet gift bag) is $77, or $35 pre-sale/$40 door. 8pm-11:30pm. 580 Sutter St. at Mason.

Whiskey Waxing Competition (and Not Just for Bartenders)


At Chris Sollars and Comstock Saloon’s Whiskey Waxing YBCA event; photo by Alison Pebworth.

I think we know where most bartenders in this town will be on Monday August 15th: at COMSTOCK SALOON’s Whiskey Waxing Competition. The contestants will be “judged on their form and ability to sip whiskey or tea. All sizes, shapes, and styles considered. It’s not the size of your sweep, but the shape of your broom!” Prizes include fine bourbons, single malts, and coveted drams spanning the globe, as well as VIP tours of Anchor Brewery and admission to WhiskyFest San Francisco. Judges include master distiller Lance Winters from St. George Distillery in Alameda.

Whether you’re whiskery or not, you’ll be able to partake in $5 Boothby cocktails, $5 sidecars, and tastes of St. George’s pre-release whiskey! There will also be a live barbershop quartet to keep your toes tappin’. Contestants need to RSVP here with “Whiskey Wax” in the subject line. Registration is at 7pm, competition at 8pm.

Comstock Saloon            - 155 Columbus Ave. San Francisco - 415-617-0071

New Bar News: Edition and Reed & Greenough


The former Manhattan Lounge; photo courtesy of Lineal Design.

Grub Street and Inside Scoop both jumped on the liquor license activity for EDITION, a new bar from Brian Sheehy, Doug Dalton, and Steve McKinley of Future Bars/Destination Bars. The location is the former Manhattan Lounge—which was in the basement of the Hearst Building and closed 10 years ago. Grub Street spoke with Sheehy, who said: “It’s going to be along the lines of our other bars, Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch, focused on the spirits and the cocktails. But we’re still probably a year or more away from opening. We’re in no rush.” The Scoop spoke with Sheehy as well, stating that the location “won’t follow the Prohibition theme of Bourbon & Branch, nor the distillery/warehouse look of Rickhouse”—an “old industrial feel” is what was mentioned. We’ll have to see how it all pans out for an opening in 2012. 691 Market St. at 3rd St.

Meanwhile, over in the Marina, the old Gravity space (which was going to become Hudson) is now going to be REED & GREENOUGH. Eater reports owner Paul Owens (Tortilla Heights) discovered that looted wood from the former Reed & Greenough Distillery was used to rebuild 3251 Scott Street after the 1906 quake and fires. The wood façade looks pretty darned cool. There’s also word of some turbo taps that can fill a pint in less than two seconds (uh, whoa); the plan is to open on Monday August 22nd. 3251 Scott St. at Chestnut.

Pop! A Champagne Tasting and Seminar at Foreign Cinema


The Foreign Cinema main dining room.

I am seriously debating coming back from Tahoe early so I can attend this special Champagne tasting and seminar at FOREIGN CINEMA on Thursday August 18th. Wine director Zach Pace will cover topics including Champagne growing and production; climate issues pertaining to grape growing; styles of sparkling wine throughout the world; how to read the label; and classic and contemporary food pairings, complete with small tastes from chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark.

You will be tasting and discussing the following selection of sparkling wines: Roederer Estate Brut Rosé, Anderson Valley NV; Collet Brut Grand Art, Champagne NV; Bartholomieu Brut Blanc de Blancs 2002; Agrapart Père et Fils Brut Rosé NV; Collet Demi-Sec NV; and Jacquesson Cuvée 734. Those staying for dinner after the class will also receive a complimentary glass of Collet Brut Champagne. 5:30pm-7:30pm. $125 per person (the first 10 people to RSVP via Facebook or Twitter by including @ForeignCinemaSF in the tweet will be offered a discounted price of $95—there are still a few spots left!). Reservations can be made by calling 415-648-7600.

               Thursday Aug 18, 2011 5:30pm–7:30pm more info

Foreign Cinema            - 2534 Mission Street San Francisco - 415-648-7600


the socialite

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

Third Annual OysterFest at Waterbar Is August 27th


Photo of oyster platter from Waterbar’s website.

Event Info

Saturday Aug 27, 2011 noon–3pm $40 Info/tickets                        Waterbar 399 The Embarcadero at Folsom, San Francisco

WATERBAR invites you to come unhinged at their third annual OysterFest on Saturday August 27th from noon-3pm. Party on the patio with celebrity guest Brian Boitano, and enjoy unlimited oysters from Waterbar’s large and eclectic selection of oysters (sustainable ones, mind you), plus local wine and craft beer, live music, and fun contests. Added bonus: your ticket will benefit the Surfrider Foundation.

Olympic gold medalist and Food Network host Brian Boitano will be joining local celebrity judges, including Eye On The Bay host Liam Mayclem (aka Foodie Chap) and Renee Richardson of KFOG’s “Morning Show,” to preside over the oyster shucking, oyster eating, and hot sauce competitions. Meanwhile, have fun slurping down as many oysters as you like while drinking up with Napa Valley wines and local craft beers. And to entertain your other senses, you’ll be listening to live music by local jazz band The Golden Gate Hot Club while taking in the awesome bayside views.

Tickets are all-inclusive at $40 per person for unlimited food and drink—buy in advance online. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the San Mateo chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches. The 6,000 oysters served at last year’s OysterFest raised $11,000—not a bad catch at all.

Fifth Annual SF Cocktail Week Announces Main Events


 Event Info

Monday Sep 19, 2011 – Sunday Sep 25, 2011 Info

You’ve never seen a SAN FRANCISCO COCKTAIL WEEK this big. The schedule of main events from September 19th-25th is out, and it’s quite the lineup of cocktail parties, dinners, seminars, and more at locations all around the Bay Area. To add to this celebration of all things drink in SF, there’s a special Preview Night with CUESA on August 24th.

Here are the main events they’ve announced so far. First up is the CUESA Farmers Market Happy Hour-slash-SF Cocktail Week Preview Night on Wednesday August 24th, 5:30pm-8pm at the Ferry Building. This walk-around tasting of farmers’ market cocktails includes 2 full-sized signature drinks featuring late summer produce (like peaches, plums, pluots, blackberries, heirloom apples, tomatoes, etc.), and 14 sample-sized cocktails from over 20 of the leading bartenders behind SF Cocktail Week. The event includes bites from local restaurants. And, you get a chance to to win advance tickets to SF Cocktail Week’s opening night party just by voting for your favorite drinks of the evening. Tickets ($45) are available on the CUESA website.

The week itself kicks off with, what else, a bar crawl on Monday September 19th, 5pm-8pm, in downtown SF with hosts Charbay and The Perfect Puree (Napa Valley). Guests will make 30-minute stops at Rye, Cantina, Otis Lounge, and Rickhouse for full-sized cocktails, plus small bites to help spare your liver from the onslaught. Linger at the final stop for one last story and live music. Look for additional bars to be added as the date gets closer. $35 (through August 31st), $45 regular, $55 door (max 30 tickets available).

Also on Monday is the Opening Night Party: Around The World With Anchor from 6pm-9pm at Anchor Brewing Company (1705 Mariposa St. at De Haro). Taste Anchor Distilling Company’s global, artisanal line of spirits and liqueurs, all from family-owned companies, and learn about the history and heritage of Anchor Distilling’s portfolio from David King, president of Anchor Distilling, and Henry Preiss, founder, Preiss Imports. And yes, there will be food to match. $35 (through August 31st), $45 regular, $55 door.

You’re in for an evening of molecular gastronomy meets mixology at Shaker & Flask Wednesday September 21st, 6pm-9pm, at Big Daddy’s Antiques (1550 17th St. at Wisconsin). In collaboration with Cocktail Lab, guest bartenders who specialize in molecular mixology will showcase the science behind cocktails. Taste drinks frozen with liquid nitrogen, pressure-infused botanical vodkas, cocktail popsicles, and herb-infused raw egg white fizzes. Check out the old-school scientific equipment on display too. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Exploratorium. $55 (through August 31st), $65 regular, $75 door.

Another collabo event will be the East Bay Showdown on Thursday September 22nd, 6pm-9pm, with the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild at Tessera (1225 A 7th St. at Union, Oakland). Here’s what you do: for the month of September, order from the special SF Cocktail Week menus and place your votes at each participating bar—Acme Bar & Co., Hotsy Totsy Club, Adesso, Dogwood, Easy Lounge, Bar 355, Flora and Radio—then join the party at Tessera to sample an array of the creations and witness the final showdown. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to East Bay charities, such as East Bay SPCA, Oakland Community Pools Project, ALS Therapy Development Institute, and the Women’s Initative. $45 (through August 31st), $55 regular, $65 at the door.

On the SF-side Thursday night, take a West Coast cocktail tour at Best of the Westat The Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St. at 3rd St.), 6pm-9pm. Guest bartenders from San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver will compete against local bartenders to create signature cocktails with mystery ingredients. Cheer, drink, and while you’re at it, play a couple rounds of blackjack, roulette, and poker, with chances to win cool prizes. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. $45 (through August 31st), $55 regular, $65 door.

Hot damn, the fun doesn’t stop. On Friday September 23rd, 8pm-11pm, join the fantastical festivities of the Barbary Coast Bazaar at The Old Mint (88 Fifth St. at Mint Plaza) for all things bizarre and delicious. Carnival curiosities will abound; expect to see all the pieces of 1920s traveling circus, including fortune-tellers, stilt-walkers, contortionists, magicians, and games. And of course there will be cocktails from San Francisco’s best bars, plus passed apps. Festive attire encouraged.  $75 (through August 31st); $85 regular; $95 at the door.

Be there for the start of a new tradition: the first annual Legends Awards will be held on Saturday September 24th, 7pm-10pm, in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel Ballroom (450 Powell St. at Sutter). The awards will recognize Bay Area cocktail innovators, influencers, mentors, and historians. Six of the Bay Area’s best bar professionals will be honored in categories like the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Renegade Award for their roles in raising the bar for cocktail culture. Sit down and enjoy a plated dinner by Scala’s executive chef Jennifer Biesty, tableside cocktails (!) paired to each course, and performances by an array of sultry burlesque dancers. Black tie optional. $150 (through August 31st), $175 regular, $200 at the door (includes admission to Legendary After Party).

Finally, make it a lazy Sunday afternoon at the St. George Spirits Bathtub Gin BBQ on September 25th, 4pm-7pm, at St. George Spirits (2601 Monarch St. at W. Midway, Alameda). It’s a bathtub gin party and barbecue where you can kick back and relax. Try three new St. George gins while resting your eyes on the bay views. $25 (through August 31st), $35 regular, $45 at the door (food is not included but available for purchase at the event). Round-trip chartered bus transportation from West Oakland BART station to St. George Spirits is available for $10 per person.

This ain’t even all—stand by as more events are revealed. Tickets are available online now, and for the serious reveler, this year they’re offering a Gold Pass, which gets you into every SF Cocktail Week main event, after party, and seminar, plus a cocktail dinner, and exclusive VIP perks and events. Stay gold, baby! A limited number are available ($600 through August 31st, $700 after September 1st).

Get more info at, and snatch up tickets by August 31st for early bird prices. SF Cocktail Week was founded by the Barbary Coast Conservancy for the American Cocktail, dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of saloons and their cocktails in San Francisco while also celebrating California’s culinary philosophy and traditions.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Haiti Fundraiser Brings Sean Penn and Soleil Moon Frye to SF

A tablehopper reader let me know Sean Penn and Soleil Moon Frye were both at Aziza two weekends ago for a Haiti fundraiser, specifically to raise awareness about the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO).

One More Apolo Sighting

Man, someone was on the town. A tablehopper reader wrote in to let me know a friend spotted Apolo Ohno at Gary Danko. The reader writes, “He was gracious and took a photo with his entire family of 10+.”

Carlos Santana Celebrates His Birthday

Last week, El Paseo had Carlos Santana in the casa; he was there to celebrate his birthday.

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