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Sep 26, 2011 26 min read

September 27, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: homeward (un)bound.

September 27, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: homeward (un)bound.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: homeward (un)bound.                    

One of my favorite sunsets in Istanbul, complete with Turkish crescent moon. Photo: ©

Merhaba! I am back from three glorious weeks in Turkey, a country that totally blew my mind. There was so much natural beauty, I can’t believe how many well-preserved ruins I visited, I encountered such kindness and genuine hospitality, and hello, the food was just beyond. Those people know how to EAT. Talk about a food-obsessed culture, whoa. Looking forward to writing my trip recaps within the month, but first, I have 2,000 photos to sort through. I know, shutterbug gone crazy here. I blame you, Turkey! It was a trip of a lifetime—and I am so grateful for how smoothly it went considering all the moving parts! The kindness of strangers always makes such a difference.

I’ve been spending the past four days wading through the 2,200 emails I came home to (oh, joy), which is probably what crashed my Entourage database on Friday night. I KNEW I should have stayed on vacation. Fortunately I had many, many cocktails waiting for me at the SF Cocktail Week Legends Awards on Saturday night. I had a good time presenting a few winners with host Duggan McDonnell, but my favorite part of the night was seeing how truly touched the winners were with their awards. Winners Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods for the Trailblazer Award, Lance Winters of St. George Spirits for the Renegade Award, Jordan Mackay for the Scribe Award, John Burton for the Mentor Award, and Harry Denton for the Lifetime Achievement Award all expressed such genuine gratitude for their awards—it obviously felt good to have many hours of hard work and late nights to follow their passion honored by their peers. Congrats to all, it was a lovely and unexpectedly touching night. And thanks for the drinks, fabulous bar folks!

No rest for the weary: I am back on the road this weekend, heading down to Paso Robles on Saturday to attend the Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast event, and judge the LA vs. SF: Food Town Smackdown—Cocktail Edition competition on Sunday. I am then scooting back to SF in my car Sunday evening, because someone needs to get home and pack her bags again. Yeah, it’s a good time to start hating me again, because Tuesday I leave for a week-long press trip to Piemonte, organized by Beni di Batasiolo winery. It will be my first time visiting the region, and I can’t freaking wait; I also can’t believe Barolo and Barbaresco are in my binoculars. Pinch me (and trust, there’s plenty to pinch right now).

Man, this column is full of a lot of catch-up—three weeks worth of news. Almost killed me. It’s gonna hurt you too. Fortunately my colleagues at all the various news outlets were still churning out the stories while I was eating kebaps and drinking ayran (a salted yogurt drink). Get ready.

As if you didn’t have enough to read, this Q&A with me on the Huffington Post went live while I was traveling, I hope you enjoy it. (Thanks for the interview, Tami Yu!)

Cheers, gang—you’re so nice to come home to. Mwah! Let’s get to this, shall we?

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Chef Ravi Kapur Leaves Prospect


Photo by Todd Parsons via Prospect’s Facebook page.

Wow, this was some news I did not expect to come home to: after 10 years with the Boulevard (and Prospect) team, Inside Scoop reports chef Ravi Kapur has decided to leave Prospect. The reason: he and his wife have a new five-month-old son, and he wants to be able to spend more time with them. He tells the Scoop, “Career-wise, it’s the toughest decision I’ve had to make. For the last 14 years, the most important things to me have been cooking and being in restaurants, a nonstop striving to be the best at my craft. With the birth of my son … I did not think it would hit me as hard as it did.”

Chef-partner Pam Mazzola will be collaborating with chef-partner Nancy Oakes on leading the helm (they knew about his departure for a while). Grub Street further fills in with this: “Hiring a replacement for Kapur may still be in the cards, but Mazzola will stay at the helm for the time being, and the team will likely just promote someone from within, just as they did with Kapur.” Meanwhile, Kapur is all about being at home with the fam. Knowing how excited Kapur was to open Prospect, and all the effort and long hours he put into opening the restaurant with the team, I can only imagine how hard it was to decide to step away—especially when looking at all the success and momentum the restaurant has been gaining. But little babies grow up very quickly, and you can’t get that time back. Best wishes to him for some very fulfilling family time.

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

Introducing Elizabeth Falkner's Citizen Cake, Ice Cream Parlor & Eats


Citizen Cake’s exterior. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©


The Macaron Magic sundae. Photo by Rebecca Kinney.

Last month, Inside Scoop broke the news that Elizabeth Falkner was changing things up at CITIZEN CAKE on Fillmore. First off, she has changed the name to Elizabeth Falkner’s Citizen Cake, Ice Cream Parlor & Eats. The menu is more casual and comforting, with dishes like shrimp cocktail, tomato soup, and Chinese chicken salad to start, and sandwiches like grilled cheese (with five!), a burger with bacon ground into the beef, and a fried chicken Cobb sandwich. For dinner, there are homey faves like roast chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and spareribs, plus nightly specials like pot roast on Wednesdays (good to know with our upcoming chilly weather). Falkner has also hired Allison Harvey (previously at Ragazza) to helm the kitchen. Here’s the latest copy of the menu, which you can check out here (be forewarned, it’s a big PDF). With one look, you can see things are meant to be more fun and lighthearted.

As for the sweet side of the menu, while the fab pâtisserie counter will remain with all the signature and couture cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and bars, look for a bunch of new cleverly crafted sundaes, like an already popular one made with grilled sourdough ice cream; plus Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, salted Spanish peanuts, Espelette chile, and whipped cream; and Macaron Magic, with strawberry ice cream and edible glitter (little girls and drag queens will both love that one). I’m really happy to see a date shake on the menu (don’t have to wait for my next Palm Springs trip!), and now that all the equipment is in, Falkner was finally able to launch her line of liquid-nitrogen ice cream. The hours and menu make it easy to swing by for a late lunch or sweet tooth attack, so pay a visit soon.

Citizen Cake            - 2125 Fillmore St. - 415-861-2228

Lower Haight News: RNM to Become Maven


Flickr photo from Rick Audet.

A tipster in the Lower Haight alerted me that a former Beretta employee snagged the long-vacant RNM space, and Haighteration confirms the gossip: Jay Bordeleau (Beretta, Nectar, Bacar, Mecca) and David Kurtz (Michael Mina, Coi, Saison, Gary Danko) will be opening MAVEN before the end of the year. Maven’s Facebook page mentions “a paired menu, which couples creative cocktails, eclectic wines and international beers with choice culinary selections.” Inside Scoop chats with the guys, revealing the menu will be Contemporary California in style, about 10 smaller-portioned items designed to pair with cocktails (and more). They won’t be making significant renovations to the space, so it will hopefully come together quickly. Next: we’ll need to learn who their chef is, among other highlights. Looking forward to seeing this one take shape.

Maven            - 598 Haight St., San Francisco - 415-829-7982

Castro Restaurant Update: Canela Opens, 2223 Sold


Canela interior; photo by J. Barmann/Grub Street.

I was happy to receive a note from the owners of CANELA that they have opened their doors. You can read all about this Spanish-style restaurant in my previous report, and Grub Street even has a slideshow of the renovation—they did a nice job. 2272 Market St. at 16th St., 415-552-3000.

Meanwhile, Inside Scoop reports stalwart 2223 RESTAURANT has been sold to new owners, and is morphing into Jake’s on Market. New owners Tim Travelstead and Brad Becker expect the transition to happen after the holidays, and will be keeping the neighborhood-friendly vibe. Some slight tweaks: they will be offering “a broader selection of American contemporary cuisine (burgers, nightly specials, etc.) at a more accessible price point. They plan to be open for lunch, dinner and late night service. And of course, weekend brunch. There will still be a full bar.” Jim Maxwell of Architects II is behind the redesign. Amazing to think “no name” has been open since 1995, the year after I moved to San Francisco. I had many martinis at that bar in my twenties, and I always loved the cheerful staff—here’s hoping many of them stay on. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-431-0692.

Canela            - 2272 Market St., San Francisco - 415-552-3000

Valencia Happenings: West of Pecos, La Rondalla Activity, and Wine Bars


Photo by Helene Goupil for Mission Local.

Lots going on on Valencia (isn’t there always?). First up, there’s been a change of concept for Dylan MacNiven of Woodhouse Fish Co.’s project slated to open in the former Bombay Bazar and Ice Creamery location. Instead of Mohave, which was his Southwestern concept, it seems neighbor Puerto Alegre wasn’t too thrilled, so the latest is WEST OF PECOS, serving rustic American fare, according to Mission Local. The opening should be about six months out or so, according to MacNiven. Stand by for more details soon. 548 Valencia St. at 17th St.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the slow-going construction at LA RONDALLA for a long time, and finally some details emerge about what the hell has been going on in there. According to Mission Local, the daughters of the original owner, Carlos Barrios, are going to be running the place after renovations are complete (they hit some snags with their previous contractor, hence the lack of any construction activity for a while). The sisters are hoping to reopen by the end of the year, and “will feature traditional Mexican cuisine in a Hacienda-like atmosphere. They will keep the popular margaritas, but they also want to modernize the menu a little. … The daughters hope that Mario Hernandez who has been a cook at the family restaurant for more than 20 years, will come back and work with them but Luna [one of the daughters] said she hasn’t asked him yet.” 901 Valencia St. at 20th St.

And over at the former Parea Wine Bar, new ownership is morphing it into ETCETERA WINE BAR, which should be opening soon. The owner wasn’t very forthcoming with details when my intern went by a couple months ago (all we learned was there will also be small plates and coffee), so we’ll just have to wait and see until I have a chance to connect with the owner. 795 Valencia St. at 19th St.

More wine: B³ (Burgers, Bottles, Bites) is now WINEMAKERS’ SPEAKEASY, according to Grub Street. The status: “one of the original partners is helping to reopen it as a wine-tasting facility that will double as a pop-up venue for chefs.” Grub Street mentions the wines will be from small producers, and the burgers will be no more, replaced with some “wine-friendly appetizers, a meat plate, and the like.” Check the website for calendar updates and more. 1152 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-401-7258.

Hayes Valley Update: Bar Jules, Sebo, Nojo, and the New Dobbs Ferry


The counter at Bar Jules. Photo: ©

Lots happening in Hayes Valley: first up, BAR JULES is now open at 5:30pm, which should make many opera, symphony, and ballet-goers happy since they’ll be able to make their 7:30pm shows now.

FYI, SEBO is now closed on Sundays, due to a variety of reasons. It might not be permanent—they’re just making adjustments, so stand by.

Starting on Sunday October 9th, NOJO will be open for Sunday brunch from 11am-2:30pm. The menu will feature new dishes, like chicken ramen topped with grilled confit chicken, chopped negi, and a farm egg; homemade spam with a fried egg and nori over steamed rice; a crispy tonkatsu sandwich with shredded lettuce; as well as a traditional Japanese breakfast. The menu should be posted on their website soon.

And taking over the Allegro space (just across from Absinthe) will be DOBBS FERRY from chef Mike Yakura (corporate executive chef of Ozumo), Scott Broccoli (Aces, The Pub), and Danny Sterling (Ozumo). Inside Scoop reports it will be “a California bistro with East Coast sentiments” (ends up Broccoli and Sterling both come from Westchester County in New York—Dobbs Ferry is a town in the county). The main space will feature a bar and lounge with full liquor and a 40-seat dining room. For those who know the space, there’s also the former kebab space on Hayes that’s attached to the kitchen—the guys are talking about making it the lunch area, with a grab-and-go counter. November is the targeted opening date. 409 Gough St. and 406 Hayes St.

Bernal Heights News: Liberty Café Sold, Sandbox Bakery Expands, and Rock Candy Snack Shop


The Liberty Café exterior; Yelp photo by Anthony N.

Looks like there’s a taker for THE LIBERTY CAFÉ space in Bernal Heights: according to Inside Scoop, it’s Vega Freemanbrady of Vega Pizza (also on Cortland). And here’s some nice news: she wants to keep it the Liberty Café, but give it some serious attention and TLC. Scoop further reports that Freemanbrady plans to update the menu with local ingredients, and overhaul the service practices—and she doesn’t plan to go dark while doing it. Look for changes to come slowly but surely in coming months. 410 Cortland Ave. at Bennington, 415-695-8777.

Also on Cortland, SFoodie reports SANDBOX BAKERY is going to have a sister restaurant: owner Mutsumi Takehara is opening Eat at 903 in the next few months at 903 Cortland (the former Maggie Mudd location). Look for breakfast, lunch, and takeout dinners. 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

A tablehopper tipster sent this in: “ROCK CANDY SNACK SHOP, 521 Cortland, soft opening right now. Supercute! Funky bright tiny storefront. They sell all kinds of candy and bars (no rock candy yet tho).” Bernalwood shares more about the shop: “[it] will emphasize artisanal and organic candies made in the good ol’ USA.” 521 Cortland Ave. at Andover, 415-948-7497.

Sandbox Bakery            - 833 Cortland Ave. - 415-642-8580

Chef Change-Ups at Zero Zero and Delfina


Colin Dewey; photo by John Mortimer.

Over at ZERO ZERO, chef de cuisine Chris Whaley has departed, with Colin Dewey taking his place. Colin is returning from a stint in New York, working for Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich—he previously worked with chef Bruce Hill as a sous chef and chef de cuisine at Bix, and is excited to be working with him once again.

After my report last month that chef de cuisine Matt Gandin was leaving DELFINA, Yumsugar has the word on his replacement: Dylan Montano, the chef at Traci Des Jardins’ Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, who was previously at Quince. (Via Grub Street.)

Delfina            - 3621 18th St. San Francisco - 415-552-4055

Now Open in SoMa and FiDi: TRACE at W San Francisco and Ramen Underground


TRACE dining room; photo from Facebook.

The first phase of [TRACE] Restaurant in the W San Francisco is now complete (the entire renovation should be finished in October). Architect Stanley Saitowitz has transformed the space (take a look at the slideshow on Grub Street—including the latest incarnation of their light-up bar), and chef Paul Piscopo’s menu is committed to a farm-to-table, seasonal, and sustainable philosophy. Small plates on the dinner menu include Brentwood corn soup with spiced popcorn, cotija cheese, and cilantro cream; large plates include roasted squab with slow cooked yellow wax and romano beans and walnut vinaigrette. There is also lunch, breakfast, and weekend brunch. Look for many handcrafted details in the décor, and even the cocktails, wines, and beers follow a local and organic philosophy. 181 3rd St. at Howard, 415-817-7836.

And for you FiDi workers, SFoodie reports you can get your ramen fix at RAMEN UNDERGROUND, a new joint from Katana-ya vet Ken Matsumura. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm. 355 Kearny St. at Pine, 415-765-9909.

TRACE            - 181 3rd St. San Francisco - 415-817-7836

Random Bits and News Bites


Sashimi deluxe; photo from Tataki South.

A friend forwarded me the Glen Park Association newsletter, and now the blog  mentions the partners of both Tataki locations (Ken Lui, Kenny Zhu, and Raymond Ho) are taking over the Sel et Vin wine bar space, which I mentioned had closed. They will be opening a Japanese sushi bar and restaurant in December—the name, menu, and more are being decided, but of course their sustainable approach to seafood sourcing will be a part of the concept. They will also be remodeling the space, so expect some bamboo in effect. 678 Chenery St. at Diamond.

I’m happy to return from Turkey and learn there’s a new Turkish place to scope out: Chowhounders have been tracking the return of Turkish chef Vahit Besir, who just opened his restaurant, GRILL HOUSE MEDITERRANEAN. 533 Jones St. at O’Farrell.

Driving home from a Turtle Tower run on Friday, I noticed VIETNAM TOO has morphed into Sao Bien Restaurant. 701 Larkin St. at Ellis, 415-885-1274.

Up on Polk Street, Inside Scoop and Eater report BATTER BAKERY has partnered up with SQUARE MEALS (a meal delivery service) to open up in the Bombay Masala space. Look for an all-day café concept, with Ritual Roasters coffee and fresh-baked pastries in the morning, plus lunch and dinner (like “inventive whole grain salads, slow-braised meats, and other seasonal items”). The space is being completely revamped, but the owners are hopeful for an early December opening. There will be 20 seats, plus sidewalk seating as well. 2127 Polk St. at Broadway.

7x7 shares news that PIZZA INFERNO on Fillmore has done some serious updating: they now have a VPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) certified pizzaiolo from Naples, Ettore Rusciano, who has expanded the menu to include 33 Neapolitan-inspired pizzas. And they are claiming to have the largest selection of draft beers on Fillmore (20 craft beers on draft). And there’s an extended happy hour: Mon-Thu 3pm-7pm and Sun-Thu 9pm-close, you can get selected drafts beers for 50% off and $5 wines by the glass. 1800 Fillmore St. at Sutter, 415-775-1800.

Closures: La Oaxaqueña, Beautifull! on Irving, Kaygetsu in Menlo Park


A late-night taco from La Oaxaqueña. Photo: ©

I was very sorry to read on Grub Street that LA OAXAQUEÑA has closed—the owners are reportedly focusing on a catering business. There are many dishes on their menu I loved, plus their delicious hot chocolate. And they had some sweet late hours. Dagnabbit. 2128 Mission St. at 17th St.

Another bummer: a friend in the 650 pointed me to this article in The Almanac that KAYGETSU in Menlo Park is closing. Seems the owners (the Sakumas) were burnt out; moving into the space will be Restaurant Mitsunobu from Tomonari and Keiko Mitsunobu, serving “Japanese food with a California twist.” A bright spot: the current executive chef Shinichi Aoki will stay on. 325 Sharon Park Dr. at Sand Hill, Menlo Park, 650-234-1084.

A tipster let me know BEAUTIFULL! on Irving Street was about to close, and Eater confirms the closure was official. Laurel Village (3401 California St.) and the new location in the Castro (2301 Market St.) remain open.

Castagna Opening Next Month on Chestnut Street

Before leaving for Turkey, I noted a restaurant called CASTAGNA (site under construction) was moving into the short-lived Crave City in the Marina from Jerome and Stephane Meloni, previously of Cassis. A press release now reveals more details: Castagna will be a casual eatery, serving French and Italian dishes, plus some “American favorites with a French twist.” Look for crêpes, waffles, hamburgers, pasta dishes, Neapolitan-style pizzas, sandwiches, and salads (all made with quality ingredients). Castagna will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner (once the beer and wine license is secured), and food to go. There will be seating for 24, with plans for sidewalk seating as well. Look for an October opening. 2015 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.

New Wheels: Casey's Pizza Truck, the TREATmachine, and a Contest


Casey’s pizza photo by @mcs3000.

That’s right folks, SF has a mobile pizza truck—and with a serious brick oven inside. Casey Crynes is no longer cooking in parks and pop-ups, and has fired up the engine to his CASEY’S PIZZA truck. Follow it on Twitter to see where you can grab one of his artisan pies (initial locations include lunch in downtown, the Upper Haight farmers’ market, and eventually evenings in the Mission and Hayes Valley).

There’s also a cart from Portland that has now made its way to the 415, the TREATMACHINE, which the owner tells me is “a made-from-scratch vegan taco moped food cart (it’s a trike).” Look for $2 vegan tacos, featuring handmade tortillas, avocado, mango, yam, plantain, homemade sauces, and black beans. Follow its whereabouts in the Mission on Twitter.

On now is the EATER’S CHOICE AWARDS, presented by Chase Sapphire Visa Signature in partnership with Off the Grid. From now until October 5th, you can vote once per day for your favorite food truck (there are nearly 30 to choose from). Here’s the best part: for every vote cast online, Chase will donate $1 to the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks, up to $10,000. And at Fort Mason on Saturday October 15th (from 12pm-4pm), the number-one favorite mobile eatery will be revealed at this public event and will win a $5,000 customized truck makeover. The top 10 favorite food trucks will also be in attendance. Cast your vote today!

Coffee News Around Town (Philz, Blue Bottle, Four Barrel)


Photo from Philz Coffee’s Facebook page.

Noe Valley SF mentions PHILZ COFFEE is opening a fifth location, in a former pet shop in Noe Valley. They hope to open before the end of the year. 4298 24th St. at Douglas.

All you bench pressers at Gold’s Gym in SoMa should notice BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE has parked a mobile kiosk by the gym, according to the Inside Scoop. Starting hours are Mon-Wed 8am-12pm, with a probable schedule of Mon-Fri 8am-5pm in October. 1001 Brannan St. at Division.

FOUR BARREL COFFEE tweeted this little teaser: “Keep an eye out for the grand re-opening of the alley; on the 1st day the 1st 40ish customers get one of the old chairs free with any bevy.” (And here’s a pic of the new chairs that have gone in.) Stand by for an update soon—probably in a couple weeks.

Another Pop-Up Dinner at Radius (on Monday October 10th)


A dish from one of Borzee’s private dinners.

Another pop-up dinner for your calendar from a former Coi cook is coming up on Monday October 10th at RADIUS. Chef Nicolas Borzee has put together the following menu for $60 (does not include tax, gratuity, or drinks): potato salad: marble potatoes, radish, apple; squid stew, clams, and parsley; pork loin battle: salsa verde and tomato fondue; pear and Fourme d’Ambert; dessert by Maxime Pouvreau (Le Meurice hotel in Paris, Coi, and Radius).

Borzee was a former sous chef at Coi restaurant for three years, and also worked at Spruce and staged at the Ritz, Michael Mina, and La Folie. Before arriving in San Francisco, he cooked for 10 years in France for Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, and Michel Troisgros, so no, you won’t be getting a meal of comfort food. He’s also going to be using quality local and organic ingredients (things you learn while at Coi). Make a reservation via email or call him direct at 415-370-4275.

Radius            - 1123 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-525-3676

The Local Butcher Shop Now Open in Berkeley


The counter; photo by Zoe Zeitlin.

I received a note from Monica Rocchino that she and her husband, Aaron Rocchino, have opened THE LOCAL BUTCHER SHOP in Berkeley. Aaron was at Chez Panisse for the last five years, while Monica worked for Paula LeDuc Catering, so you can also get some good cooking tips with your purchase. They are buying whole animals directly from farmers located within 150 miles of Berkeley, and all of the animals are 100% pasture raised. Since they buy the whole animal, they cut to order and use the remainder to make sausages, pâtés, stocks, rendered fats, and sauces. (Tasting Table also mentions some delicious tallow-fried potato chips. Open Tue-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. 1600 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar, Berkeley, 510-845-6328.


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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Harry Denton's Starlight Room Now Open After Remodel


Joel Teitelbaum behind the new bar at the Starlight Room; photo from Kimpton.

After the SF Cocktail Week Legends Awards wrapped up on Saturday night, I had a chance to hit the after party in HARRY DENTON’S STARLIGHT ROOM and check out the new look by Dawson Design Associates. It’s still very glitzy and glam, with lots of red and gold and pattern and punchy color (drama, baby!). There are some tucked-away booths, plenty of sparkly new light fixtures, and a new dance floor.

Former Zero Zero barman Joel Teitelbaum (working with Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group’s Master Mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout) is behind the new bar program that spans from the 1600s to some current concoctions, and of course Starlight legacy cocktails like the Cable Car by Tony Abou-Ganim, Marco Dionyos’ Chartreuse Swizzle, and Bezuidenhout’s La Perla will also be available. Executive chef Jen Biesty of Scala’s Bistro downstairs has put together a new bar menu (think tuna ceviche cones, and mac and cheese balls). And the view remains as smashing as ever. Open Tue 6pm-12am, Wed-Sat 6pm-1:30am, Sun for Sunday’s a Drag brunch at 11am for a noon show and at 1:30pm for a 2pm show; and again from 6pm-12am. Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 21st floor, 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.

Take a Seat at These Two Bubbly Events (at Quince and 18 Reasons)


Flickr photo by Grégory Tonon.

Guess what I cracked open shortly after my return from Turkey? Yup, a bottle of Champagne (Henriot, to be exact)—you won’t find that being poured by the glass in Istanbul restaurants. Mama was thirsty! And this event tomorrow night (Wednesday September 28th) at QUINCE is going to be awash in bubbles: Champagne Louis Roederer, to be exact. The all-Champagne wine pairing dinner will feature five different Roederer cuvées (Brut Vintage 2004, Blanc de Blancs 2004, Brut Rosé 2005, Cristal 2004, and Carte Blanche Demi-Sec NV), and Export Manager Charles Fournier will be available to explain the different Champagne styles and offer tips for successfully pairing it with food. $295 per person; seating is limited. Reservations: Ryan Curran, 415-775-8505 x31. And for guests dining at the restaurant, you will also be able to select Roederer Champagnes throughout the week of September 26th.

In the much more affordable tip, on Wednesday October 12th, 18 REASONS will be hosting Farm Wine Favorites: SPARKLINGS. Jeff Viera will be leading a class on sparkling wines, from cavas to Champagne. $40 for 18 Reasons members; $50 for the general public. Order tickets here. 7pm-9pm.

Oktoberfest Options at Schmidt's and EPIC Roasthouse


Schmidt’s flight; photo by Ron Kurti.

There are numerous Oktoberfest events and special beer releases happening around town, but here are a couple for your radar.

Through October 16th, SCHMIDT’S is offering a full lineup of Oktoberfest specials: 10 seasonal Märzen beers only available for a short time in the fall, two beer flights served with a Bavarian soft pretzel, and their own local/seasonal renditions of traditional German dishes to pair with the beers. The two beer flights will include a combination of bottle and draft selections like Weihenstephaner Festbier (from the oldest brewery in the world, dated 1040, whoa), Paulaner (first brewed by monks in 1634), Hacker Pschor (established 1417), and Spaten Ur-Märzen (considered “the original Märzen” made with Munich hops), and more.

As for the food, choose from smaller plates like a traditional German cheese or cured meat plate, or larger plates like housemade herbed cheese spätzle, smoked pork chop with curried apricot chutney, and cauliflower “schnitzel.” You can’t go wrong with 20 varieties of sausages to choose from, including a local Berliner currywurst, fresh duck sausage, and Märzenbier bratwurst. (Yup, a total sausage fest.) Order the Oktoberfest wurstteller special and get your choice of three sausages on a bed of sauerkraut with potato salad. Also on the the menu are fresh pea pancakes served with house cured salmon and chive sour cream; and for brunch, fischplatte with herring, smoked trout, and house-cured gravlax; and leberkase—pork and veal terrine with a fried egg and roasted onions. Specials this week include purée of celeriac and apple soup; baby red beet salad with mint, quark, and lamb’s lettuce; heirloom cucumber salad; herbed cheese spätzle with roasted king trumpet mushrooms; and strawberry and pluot tartlet with honey, lime, and whipped cream. 2400 Folsom St. at 20th St., 415-401-0200.

EPIC ROASTHOUSE is joining in the Oktoberfest fun with a celebration on Saturday October 1st from noon-4pm. $50 buys you admission and unlimited German-inspired dishes from chef Jan Birnbaum, unlimited local beer tastings (first beer will be served in a special Oktoberfest mug), and live music from Deutscher Musikverein. The fun fare includes pretzels with beer mustard, red beer soup with spicy cabbage kraut, EPIC homemade bratwurst sausages with housemade sauerkraut, roasted porchetta with jalapeño apple relish, pork and beans “our way,” potato dumplings braised in Guinness stout, pork schnitzel with warm potato salad, and ginger and vanilla ice cream floats with stout beer. Get tix online in advance ‘cause they won’t be sold at the door. Valet parking available.

EPIC Roasthouse            - 369 Embarcadero San Francisco - 415-369-9955


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


(Sponsored): Last Chance for Tickets to CUESA's Ninth Annual Sunday Supper

CUESA’s ninth annual Sunday Supper fundraiser convenes farmers’ market lovers, chefs, farmers, and food artisans for a four-course whole-beast feast to benefit their work in educating eaters and supporting farmers.

Join Bay Area food luminaries Michael Pollan and Alice Waters for a reception in the Ferry Building Grand Hall. After appetites are whetted, guests will enjoy a four-course meal. The entrée course will feature a whole beast carved tableside. Wine and beer are paired with each menu by a guest sommelier. (Vegetarian meals are available upon request.)

Visit the event site for a complete list of participating chefs, wineries, breweries, spirit companies, and more.

TICKETS: $200 ($150 is tax deductible!)

Sunday October 2nd • 6pm-9:30pm • San Francisco’s Ferry Building Grand Hall

the socialite

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

NorCal Ramen Dinner with OPENrestaurant at Chez Panisse


 Event Info

Sunday Oct  2, 2011 6:30pm–10:30pm $50 Info/tickets                        Chez Panisse Café 1517 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, Berkeley

Be ready to slurp on Sunday October 2nd when the folks behind OPENrestaurant team up with CHEZ PANISSE CAFÉ for a night of ramen, NorCal-style. This fundraiser ramen dinner will support OPENharvest, OPENrestaurant’s latest project, and several food producing communities affected by the March tsunami and earthquake in Japan.

The chefs at Chez Panisse will prepare a three-course menu starring pork and vegetable ramen with a decidedly Northern California outlook. Also on the menu are crispy Monterey Bay squid salad, toasted rice ice cream with yuzu marmalade, and a pint of Magnolia beer or glass of wine.

The ramen dinner is the last leg in a series of fundraisers for OPENharvest, the latest work from OPENrestaurant. The OPEN team will travel to Japan during the rice harvest season  and work with Tokyo-based Food Light Project to document the stories of some of Japan’s great food producing communities and highlight traditional and sustainable food producers. Then it all comes together at the two-day OPENharvest event at Content restaurant in the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo on November 2nd and 3rd. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Tickets for the ramen dinner are $50 online. If you can’t make the dinner, you can still support this latest OPEN project at Kickstarter. 6:30pm-10:30pm, Chez Panisse Café, 1517 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, Berkeley.

A Fundraiser for Slow Food Solano, with Soul Food Farm and Avedano's


Photo by Bart Nagel.

Event Info

Saturday Oct 15, 2011 1pm–5pm $100 Info/tickets                        Soul Food Farms 6046 Pleasants Valley Rd., Vacaville

Join Avedano’s and Slow Food Solano and make it A DAY OF ARTISAN BEEF BUTCHERY on Saturday October 15th, 1pm-5pm, at Soul Food Farm in Vacaville. This second annual fundraiser event features demos by master butchers and food by top Bay Area chefs, with proceeds benefiting Bay Area agricultural projects.

Master butchers Angela Wilson (Avedano’s), Chris Arentz, Dave the Butcher, Zach Gero (Shopper’s Corner, Santa Cruz), and Josh Kleinsmith (Piedmont Grocery, Oakland) will break down a side of aged Agricola grassfed beef to demonstrate the different styles of American and Italian cuts. They’ll also hold a Q&A, and all of the cuts will be distributed to lucky guests by way of a drawing. While you’re enjoying the afternoon on the farm, indulge in a beautiful spread of food from participating chefs J.W. Foster of The Fairmont Hotel, Tia Harrison of Sociale, and Paul Schroeder of Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar. Plus John Fink of The Whole Beast will be grilling Soul Food Farm chickens and talking about open-fire cooking. And to drink: artisan micro brews from Pacific Brewing Laboratory and La Trappe.

The event is a fundraiser for Slow Food Solano’s school gardens project, the Farmer-Veteran-Coalition, and Gleason Ranch. Tickets are $100 online. 6046 Pleasants Valley Rd., Vacaville.

the sponsor

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

(Sponsored): Eat, Drink, and Make Money at Slow Money National Gathering October 12th-14th

In a world that is speeding up and heating up, losing its soil and its sense of common purpose, what makes more sense than taking a small amount of money and putting it to work where we live, in things that we understand—starting with food?

The Slow Money National Gathering on October 12th-14th at Fort Mason is part venture fair, part farm-to-table celebration, part forum on the future of the economy with 100 speakers scheduled plus sessions—both practical and inspiring—on topics ranging from farmland preservation to investment clubs. Each day includes music, films, local foods vendors, and networking between potential investors and small businesses like Berkeley’s Gather Restaurant, which was built with Slow Money capital.

Register online by October 3rd and get a 15% tablehopper discount off the regular $595 rate for individuals and startups. Note: there are no other registration discounts available to the general public as generous as this tablehopper offer.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Even Dreamboat Jake Gyllenhaal Brunches at Foreign Cinema

This was one lucky reader, who got to sit next to Jake Gyllenhaal at Foreign Cinema on a Sunday afternoon. The tipster reports: “He was dining on French toast and he was with two other ladies, presumably screenwriters because they were discussing a script.” Le swoon.

Hillary Clinton Making the Rounds

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in town, and was spotted at Boulevard (along with George Shultz and Leon Panetta), and a reader emailed me hot from the dining room at Zuni Café to say she was “dining at Zuni Cafe right now!!!” Grub Street has some color on Hillary’s Zuni visit, sharing that she drinks whiskey sours. Atta girl.

Ke$ha $potted at Brandy Ho'$

Let’s file this tweet on Sunday from davitydave in the random (and unconfirmed) sighting file: “Note to stalkers: Ke$ha is currently eating Chinese food at Brandy Ho’s in the Castro.” Maybe she was attracted to the name of the restaurant. (Oooh, snap!)

Is There a Tano Triple Lutz on the Menu?

A tipster spotted Brian Boitano at Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem in the Mission on a Saturday night.

Carl Lewis Eats His Spinach

Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis recently had lunch at the The Plant Cafe Organic Embarcadero, ordering the wasabi burger, a spinach salad, and strawberry margarita smoothie.

Dining with an Alias

Actor Kevin Weisman (he played Marshall Flinkman on Alias) hung out at the bar at Ace Wasabi’s Rock-N-Roll Sushi on a Sunday evening for a couple hours.

Drinking on the (Dirty) Job

Where else would Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, be having beers? That’s right, at Grumpy’s, according to a spotter.

Hammertime at Eat Real Fest

It’s been too damn long since I’ve had an MC Hammer sighting, but fortunately 4505 Meats spotted him at the Eat Real Fest over the weekend, so now I relax. Been wondering when he was going to pop up again—I was way overdue for some Hammertime.

Throwdown at Quince!

A reader writes: “I was having a wonderful anniversary dinner at Quince last night and Bobby Flay was there dining with two women, not exactly sure who they were. Later in their meal, Michael Tusk came out of the kitchen to say hello.”

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