This week's tablehopper: naughty and nice.
Not sure if Santa was totally buying that I was a nice girl this year. (I might have been a little naughty, too.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Whoa, how is Christmas in five days? Commence holiday shopping freakout right now. (Well, at least for me.) For those of you who were curious, yes, I survived the weekend (well, barely), and managed to hit seven of the eight holiday parties I had on my hitlist. Hopper holiday tip: always keep a few bottles of bubbles and booze in cute bags in your car trunk! (The trunk of my Alfa looked like a mobile bar this past week.) You never know when you’re going to end up at a party, and there’s nothing worse than showing up empty-handed. Party foul!
There is also a lot of latke making happening out there (I was lucky to get some on Sunday, plus brisket and matzoh ball soup—talk about a hangover helper!). Happy Hanukkah to everyone. (Psssst, did you see this hilarious photo Gael Greene posted last month from a Chinese restaurant in New York?)
So, I have some exciting news: I am currently writing not one but two city guidebooks! I’m updating the restaurants for the Fodor’s 2013 San Francisco guidebook, and am writing the restaurant section for the first Louis Vuitton San Francisco city guide! I know, two fantastic gigs. But since both are due in early January, yours truly needs to carve out some time to write. Type, tablehopper, type!
I am putting the tablehopper e-column on a mini-vacation, and will be back in your inboxes on Tuesday January 3rd. You can follow me on Twitter for updates on dining news, discoveries, and more since I’ll be doing a ton of dining out research for both books the next few weeks. Lord have mercy.
But before bailing on you, I wanted to be sure you had some New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day dining options lined up for your consideration. Check ‘em out!
Ooooh, one last thing! Feel like doing some holiday volunteering? You can call the St. Anthony’s Holiday Volunteer Line at 415-592-2829 to sign up—they have some definite needs in January. And if you are throwing a party and have excess food left over, please remember to call Food Runners, and they will pick up any excess food from businesses in San Francisco and deliver it to neighborhood feeding programs. Simply call 415-929-1866 to leave a message about your donation.
I’d like to take this moment to thank all of you, my fabulous readers, for subscribing to my column, sharing it with your family and friends, and for always being so informative and supportive. I couldn’t ask for a better community—you’re solid gold. I also want to profoundly thank my advertisers this past year who have supported my column—without your generous sponsorship, this column would cease to exist. Grazie!
Here’s wishing you all a meaningful and memorable holiday season. May it be warm, full of love, laughter, precious family, and dear friends. And delicious food and drink, natch. Let’s raise our glass to the happy memories of 2011, and here’s to good health, prosperity, and happiness in 2012! I’ll let the Swedish Chef show you how a good holiday toast is done. Buubbly buubbly!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
The tablehopper's Last-Minute, Food Lover's Holiday Shopping Guide
Yo yo yo and ho ho ho! Have you finished your holiday shopping? I know, I haven’t either. Just in case you’re stumped on what to get the gourmand in your life, I have a few last-minute holiday gift ideas for you that are quick and fabulous. Let’s do this.
How about my book?! Duh! And it’s less than $20. You can get a signed copy of The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco in my online store (I’m around this week, so we could even arrange a pick-up time), or you can swing by so many fabulous local bookstores who carry it. Buy local, and support your local author! We all thank you.
I was at the Arlequin annual Champagne party a couple weeks ago and was introduced to the maker of this amazing Metro Wine Map of France, David Gissen. For anyone trying to figure out the geography of the French wine regions, you will totally dig this map. It’s so clever and cool to look at. ($24.95 plus shipping.) You should look at all the other neat wino stuff on the De Long site, including more wine maps and tasting notebooks.
For the Italophile in your life: have you seen the new edition of The Silver Spoon that’s out? It’s considered the bible of Italian cooking, now with over 2,000 revised recipes and 400 brand new, full-color photographs. It’s all in there, really (and wait until you pick it up—it’s one heavy mofo). Page after page of totally authentic Italian cooking. It will totally inspire you to try new dishes. (Hopefully the person you bought it for will be inspired to cook something and invite you over!)
Do you understand the joy of having olio nuovo (“new oil”) in your house? It’s one of my favorite things about winter. I swear, I drizzle it on everything, from soups to bread to eggs. The bright, grassy, peppery flavors of this unfiltered oil don’t last long—just a few months—so you have to act (and eat it) quickly. If you want to buy local, the McEvoy Ranch olio nuovo is a favorite, and it’s super fresh ($22/375ml)—it’s also in a limited quantity this year, so no big bottles for you. A really elegant and fruity imported olio nuovo I have been using the past month is the Frescobaldi Laudemio First Pressing 2011 Extra Virgin Olive Oil—what a dream. I got mine from The Pasta Shop at Market Hall in Rockridge ($24.75), or if you want to purchase it online, you can get it for $28 on OpenSky.
While you’re at it, why not pick up a copy of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller? There’s been a bunch of buzz about this very revealing book. So much that it’s actually out of stock all over the place and on back order—although as of today, the Booksmith in the Haight has two copies!
It’s fun to style folks (especially out-of-state friends!) with locally roasted coffee, whether it’s a bag from my beloved Sightglass or a special holiday blend from Equator, featuring two coffees from small co-ops Equator has worked very closely with the past few years (like the El Batan co-op in the remote Andean region of Loja, Ecuador). Available at: Atlas Café, SF; Mokka, Berkeley, and online.
Wouldn’t it be fab to have a box of edible treats arrive at your home each month? Yeah, that’s what I call good mail. The folks at Liga Masiva have expanded their offering from direct trade coffee to creating the Liga Box, full of specially sourced ingredients direct from farmers in Latin America. The first box, Dulces de Mexico, is $30 (plus $10 for shipping if outside the NYC area) and includes chocolate de metate (hand-ground chocolate), flor de jamaica (dried organic hibiscus), ate de guayaba (guava paste), and a full-sized print magazine filled with recipes, photos, and stories from the farmers. This is a trial box for them, and there are plans to release more in the future! Please support them in their efforts
Another option is to sign someone up for a Tasting Box subscription from Foodzie.com. It’s a monthly delivery of treats from independent producers, whether it’s a Seasonal Tasting Box, a Themed Tasting Box (like “Don’t Be So Jerky”), or a Cooking Box which comes with ingredients and recipes (all are $29.95 each). Subscribers enjoy free shipping, and each subscriber can choose a box of choice each month or opt to accumulate credits for future months.
There are so many new online gift certificate companies out there, making it much easier to buy someone a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, or bookstore, or bar! Take a look at Treatful, Giftly, and Gift Rocket.
What about some cocktail classes or wine classes? It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d love to receive, but wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself. You can treat someone to classes from The Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail at the Boothby Center ($65-$95, look at upcoming classes and get tickets here), Beretta has ongoing cocktail classes (usually $85, email or call 415-695-1199), and I really enjoy the classes at the SF Wine Center, taught by some serious pros (usually around $60).
I am always very grateful to receive a holiday card every year from a dear friend, telling me she made a donation to our local food bank on my behalf. You can hunt down your local food bank and donate, like the SF Food Bank, and there’s also this site, Give a Meal, which will allow you to donate from two weeks to a year of meals to someone in need.
Want more inspiration? I adored this page of local and lovely gift suggestions on the Ciao Samin blog.
State Bird Provisions Due to Open on New Year's Eve
Over the weekend, I swung by STATE BIRD PROVISIONS to see how things were progressing and to get a look at the space. Chef-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are currently gunning to open on New Year’s Eve—there are still a couple contingencies, so it’s not totally confirmed as of right now. They will announce the opening on their website, so keep checking back early next week!
The space wasn’t quite in a photo-ready state, so I just snapped some detail shots for you—for now, you’ll need to rely upon my writerly powers of description, heh. When you first approach the restaurant, the front window will look onto a prep and pastry station, so you’ll be able to see Nicole doing her delicious magic. The open kitchen (which is designed to crank, complete with two planchas and a fryer) runs along the wall, delineated by a long butcher block counter, all made of Boos Block; under the counter, the plywood was stained the color of Mediterranean blue, and the backsplash and walls in the kitchen feature light grey subway tile.
As you walk past the kitchen, you’ll check in with the host, who will either direct you to wait in the small bar area with an eggshell-colored concrete bar by the taps, or if you’re lucky, to a table! There will be 12 tables total, with room for about 44 guests or so in all (the seating was designed to be versatile). Nice feature: the restaurant is using Urbanspoon’s Rezbook, so if there’s a wait, you’ll get a text when it’s time to claim your table.
The dining room features a few skylights, a cement wall, and some rusted/distressed I-beams that are lacquered. The majority of the walls and some of the ceiling in the space are covered in peg board, really bringing the “workshop” concept of the kitchen to life—and creating a very cool pattern.
There are many mid-century elements the duo painstakingly sourced, like the groovy lights, vintage speakers, and the school-ish chairs that came from an auditorium. The tables were custom made, with a Masonite top, plywood edges with more of the aqua blue, and my favorite feature: there’s a small board stashed under each table. You will take out the board, and on one side you’ll discover the menu, while the other will hold the tally sheet for your order (remember, it’s going to be like a dim sum format, with your server keeping track of how many dishes you order as you go along). I got a look at the two custom-made carts that will be wheeling around the room with dishes on them, featuring reclaimed wood from an old boat and powder-coated orange detailing, in addition to custom trays in a soft, early-1960s palette.
As for the team, the GM and wine director is Mary Christie, who has worked with Stuart and Nicole at Rubicon, in addition to Spring in Chicago, and she opened Sel Gris in Portland. When tablehopper returns in your inboxes on January 3rd, I’ll have images of the space and menus for you. Hours will be nightly 6pm-12am. For now, if you want to keep in touch with State Bird Provisions updates, follow the restaurant on Twitter and Facebook.
State Bird Provisions - 1529 Fillmore St. San Francisco - 415-795-1272
The Social Study Opening Tuesday January 3rd
Opening right around the corner from State Bird Provisions is THE SOCIAL STUDY (site not live) from Harmony Fraga. It was originally going to be The Library from Jay Foster and Deanna Sison (Farmerbrown and Little Skillet), but Foster put me in touch with Fraga, who was a manager at Farmerbrown for five years and has taken over the space with a silent business partner.
Fraga envisions the project as a cozy meeting space and neighborhood living room: a place to study people, and also like a study at home, where you can contentedly read a book. But it’s not all about being studious: there will also be films, a live DJ on Fridays (Doc Fu), and a house band on Saturdays, Hot Pocket. The daytime vibe will feature mellow vinyl being played on a turntable.
There will be a communal table in the middle of the room, and there’s a groovy, bright blue padded wall unit with seats and tables, plus a bar, with room for about 30 in all. The house coffee will be provided by Four Barrel, and there will be beer and wine available (plus seasonal sangrias), along with sandwiches, and custom bar snacks, like jerky and chocolate-dipped bacon. There really isn’t a place to hang out at like this in the neighborhood, so it’s sure to be a welcome addition. Hours will be daily 8am-11pm to start. Look for the opening on Tuesday January 3rd. 1795 Geary St. at Fillmore, 415-292-7417.
Maven Opens Wednesday in the Lower Haight
Opening tomorrow evening in the former RNM location is MAVEN, a project from David Kurtz (Saison, COI, Michael Mina, Gary Danko, Bacar) and Jay Bordeleau (Beretta, Bacar, Mecca, Laïola). The team envisions Maven as a neighborhood hangout, whether you’re coming by for a drink and some snacks, a casual meal, or going for a full-on paired meal. Kurtz’s edited menu has 10 modern American dishes, from scallop crudo ($12) with shiso, Granny Smith apple, and hazelnut, to Chinatown duck sliders ($9), to butternut squash agnolotti ($11/$17) with Brussels sprouts, pomegranate, and Parmesan (click here for the PDF). Kurtz is also a certified sommelier, and will be incorporating drink-oriented ingredients into dishes, including juniper salts, vermouth reductions, and whiskey brines. His sous chef is Matt Brimer (Maverick, COCO500).
The menu has a strong focus on pairing with beverages, whether it’s a cocktail or a glass of wine or a pint of beer. Bordeleau is working with lead bartender Kate Bolton (Michael Mina, Wexler’s), running a bar that features 10 specialty drinks designed to be very food-friendly, plus housemade bitters, sorbets, tinctures, purées, syrups, and some serious ice (spheres and the like). The International Mistress ($11) features amaro, lemon, mezcal, orgeat, grapefruit, while New Boy Valentine ($11) has aged rum, spiced walnut liquor, orange. Interesting, very few spirits and liqueurs are name checked on the cocktail list. You can look at the cocktails, beers, and international wines by the glass here.
Gi Paoletti is behind the new interior with its urban-natural look. There’s a living wall with over 700 square feet of foliage, three tall communal redwood tables, and sculptural light fixtures from shaved wood and stained bold red. There are 60 seats total, with a 9-seat, 18-foot bar fashioned from a single slab of redwood, an 8-seat kitchen counter overlooking the open kitchen, and a fireplace-lit mezzanine with low lounge seating and cocktail tables (it looks great), plus a redwood bar rail with bar stools that overlook the room. Hours are daily 5pm-12am (they are hoping to get later hours in time), and brunch will launch in January. And for those who remember the valet parking at RNM, well, it’s now street parking, people. Am very much looking forward to checking this one out.
Maven - 598 Haight St., San Francisco - 415-829-7982
Citizen's Band and City Beer Store Team Up for Sausage Shenanigans
The next time you’re gettin’ your suds on at the recently expanded CITY BEER STORE on Folsom, you’ll also be able to get your sausage on (I know, that sounds kind of wrong), thanks to CITIZEN’S BAND. Chef Chris Beerman (it was fate that he’d be doing this partnership) is now serving a variety of sausages, like a housemade pork sausage with molasses and sage and a pork and bacon kielbasa, plus partnering up with local sausage-makers, like Peter Temkin at Showdogs, who will be providing an all-beef hot dog, while Ryan Farr at 4505 Meats will be making a sour berry ale cotechino with rosemary and black pepper. There will also be wild boar, smoked duck, and a bratwurst available.
All the sausages will be served on grinder and torpedo rolls made by Cheryl Burr of neighboring Pinkie’s Bakery, and will come with whole grain mustard and cider vinegar-pickled onions. The cost will range from $5-$7, and the sausage service will run Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. All you do is place your order with the folks at City Beer Store, and then you’ll need to swing by the bakery kitchen at Citizen’s Band/Pinkie’s Bakery (it’s just a few doors down) about 10-15 minutes later to pick up your order. You’ll be able to eat it at City Beer Store, just like the Toronado/Rosamunde style you have probably become accustomed to. Enjoy! City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St. at 8th St., Suite 101, 415-503-1033. Citizen’s Band, 1198 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-556-4901.
Citizen's Band - 1198 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-556-4901
Tidbits: New Café in Bernal, Little Star Pizza Serving Lunch, More
Last week I mentioned the opening of Precita Park Café, and Bernalwood brings the news of CAFETO that just opened in South Bernal. Lots of reclaimed wood, free Wi-Fi, it’s dog friendly, and there are things to eat like sandwiches and pastries. 111 Richland St. at Mission.
This was very dangerous news for me to learn: LITTLE STAR PIZZA on Divisadero is now open at noon Fri-Sun. Yup, pizza and wings and cheesecake for lunch, it’s a scary proposition. 8416 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-441-1118.
And The Richmond mentions the opening of FIREHOUSE PIZZA, a mostly takeout place featuring East Coast-style pizza (i.e. thin crust), plus garlic knots, and something that gave me serious pause: a spicy bacon cheeseburger pizza with garlic butter, extra ground beef, jalapeños, bacon, and cheddar. It’s located in the back of the Appel & Dietrich market. Open daily 4pm-10pm. 6001 California St. at 22nd Ave., 415-221-7603.
And next Wednesday December 28th, another LA BOULANGE location is opening: it’s a new downtown location inside the Merchants Exchange Building. Online ordering and office catering will become available in the new year. 465 California St. at Leidesdorff.
More Closures (and a Chef Departure)
In the unsuccessful comebacks department: a tablehopper reader informed me LETICIA’S in the Castro has a sign on the door stating that it’s closing December 31st. 2200 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-864-5384.
Eater notes that MORPH has closed in the Richmond. 5344 Geary Blvd. at 17th Ave.
Chowhound mentions that FA-LA-LA, the falafel place on Durant that made amazing pitas, has closed. 2518-B Durant Ave. at Telegraph, Berkeley, 510-704-0454.
And this is not a closure, but just a reminder that LA TAQUERIA will be closed for their annual break until January 8th, reopening on Monday January 9th. 2889 Mission St. at 24th St., 415-285-7117.
Over in SoMa, chef Jessica Gorin of THIRSTYBEAR is moving to Illinois (her husband got a job at the University of Illinois), and she might be starting her own thing there. Best of luck, Jessica! Her replacement will be Laurance Gordon, who has been her sous chef for almost two years, and he previously worked at Absinthe and The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco.
Poppin' Up: Juhu Beach Club
Chef Preeti Mistry of JUHU BEACH CLUB is going to be popping up on Thursday nights at La Victoria Bakery in the Mission, starting on January 5th. She is doing a prix-fixe menu for the first dinner (four courses for $35), but there will most likely be à la carte nights as well. The menu includes dahi puri (black chickpeas, potato, chaat masala, Straus yogurt, tamarind water); shoulda, coulda, vada chaat (crispy fried mashed potato, winter greens, chutneys); mung ne dal (warming mung bean soup, toasted cumin croutons); your choice of Holy Cow (smoky black cardamom short rib sandwich with cucumber raita) or Sloppy Lil’ P (saucy, spicy, buttery veggie sloppy joe with pickled red onion, aka pav bhaji!).
You can buy your ticket in advance here (the $5 seating reservation will go towards your total bill), but there will be a few spots left for walk-ins. And it’s BYOB! Can’t wait to check this one out. Pav bhaji!!
Now Open in Oakland: B-Side BBQ and Touch of Soul
Last week, I got a note from owner Tanya Holland that she has opened B-SIDE BBQ in the Yardie Jerk space on San Pablo. She’s doing a few different kinds of barbecue, ranging from Memphis to Texas, with some of her own flair as well. Click here for the current menu, which lists smoked brown sugar-rubbed brisket, pulled pork, jerk-spiced baby backs, St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, and salmon, plus a tofu option for you vegetarians that miss barbecue. Lots of sauces and sides. Open Tue-Sat 11am-4pm for takeout for now. 3301 San Pablo Ave. at 34th St., Oakland, 510-595-0227.
I was very happy to learn that one of the CHEFS graduates (from the ECS program) Virginia Robertson is the chef for a new East Bay restaurant, TOUCH OF SOUL. She created the recipes, and reviews and a photo on Yelp reveal a menu with chicken wings, oxtails, po’ boys, and other soul food classics. Listed hours are Tue-Sat 11:30am-10pm, Sun 11:30am-9pm. 4336 San Pablo Ave. at 43rd St., Emeryville, 510-595-1227.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Southern Pacific Brewing Opening for Parties Around New Year's Eve
After many months of permits, construction, and all kinds of headaches, SOUTHERN PACIFIC BREWING is opening for a private preview party of sorts on New Year’s Eve. The Facebook post announces: “New Years Eve @ Southern Pacific Brewing 8pm-2am. Be the first to see the space and taste the beer, Champagne toast at midnight, $3 house drafts all night long! $20 private party get on the list now!” (For those who want to attend, the link on their main website seems to work.) You will be able to taste the brewery’s IPA and pale ale that evening.
I caught up with one of the partners, Anthony LaVia, who tells me the official opening will probably be in mid- to late January—there are still some inspections and paperwork that need to be complete before they can officially open. One piece of news: the team has hired Tyler Moorish (Osteria Coppa, Social Kitchen Brewery) as chef—I should be able to share his gastropub-influenced menu in a few weeks. The tablehopper hardhat piece from July will have to suffice for now.
Southern Pacific Brewing - 620 Treat Ave. San Francisco - 415-341-0152
SoMa Openings: Sofa and The Grand
Down in SoMa, I heard word about SOFA, a new underground bar with a speakeasy style from Franky Boissy and John Michaud that opened in the downstairs space of Bossa Nova. Funnily enough, the space used to be a speakeasy, and the bar dates back to the 1920s. You can swing by for a bite, a drink, and there will also be some entertainment elements, from live music to film screenings. The space is cozy, with rich print walls, amber-hued lighting, and a back bar made of antique radiator pieces. There are also some video visuals being created by artist Stephen King, to create the illusion of looking through windows into another world. Open nightly 5pm until late (could be 1am, or later on Fri-Sat, or earlier). 139 8th St. (speakeasy side street entrance is on Minna), 415-558-8004.
A friend who lives in SoMa told me THE GRAND, the new nightclub opening next door to Orson, was looking close to opening. A peek at their Facebook page reveals the club is opening its doors on New Year’s Eve. Some club info mentions a Funktion One system, lots of VIP amenities (because you are SUCH a baller), “mind-blowing lighting visuals” (is that before or after the drugs kick in?), “club blackouts” (does that mean I will get roofied?), “cryogenics” (is that to help preserve my body before the paramedics come?), and a “magnificent Grand LED Ball consisting of 30,000 individual LED lights will leave you jaw dropped” (so you’re saying I should get dental insurance before coming to the club?). 520 4th St. at Bryant, 415-814-3008.
Mind Your Ps: Happenings at Press Club and Premier Cru
This month, you have two more chances to swing by PRESS CLUB for their Visiting Vintner Series, featuring wine tastings from The Scholium Project and Iron Horse Winery. Swing by Thursday December 22nd or 29th from 6pm-9pm, meet winery representatives, and taste their wines. Typically, the wines served during these evenings are only available to taste and buy at the winery locations, so now is the time to enjoy them in the city. 20 Yerba Buena Ln., between Market and Mission.
Over in Berkeley, PREMIER CRU has opened its new retail store, clocking in at 8,000 square feet. Even though the importer and retailer is known for their hard-to-find and rare wines, they also carry value wines, wines from small producers, and more. Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm. 1011 University Ave. at 10th St., Berkeley, 510-644-9463.
A Very Special Recipe: Tequila Christmas Cake!
I have the honor of being included on my dad’s Vietnam War buddy’s email list, which is a good thing because he’s a hilarious human being, and often includes gems like this one below. We have all seen variations on the Holiday Fruit Cake Recipe, but I don’t think I had ever seen the Tequila Christmas Cake. Thanks, Bob! Merry Christmas to you, and anyone else who attempts holiday baking while intoxicated!
Once again, I’ve had requests for my Tequila Christmas Cake recipe.
Please keep this in your files as I am beginning to get tired of typing this up every year! (Maded mine thish morning!!!!) 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. salt , 1 cup brown sugar, Lemon juice, 4 large eggs, Nuts, 1 bottle tequila, 2 cups dried fruit. Sample the tequila to check quality. Take………………… a large bowl; check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality….. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point, it is best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the fruit up off the floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver Sample the tequila to test for tonsisticity.
Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something. Check the tequila. Now, shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don’t forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the tequila and wipe the counter with the cat.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
New Year's Eve Dining
Saturday Dec 31, 2011
Send off 2011 right—with a bangin’ meal. Plenty of hot places to eat, drink, and toast to the end of the year, so make a reso and raise a glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve (that’s Saturday December 31st, yo).
SF’s newest hotspot AQ is offering a $90 prix-fixe by chef Mark Liberman, with dishes like cassava and bigeye tuna with yuzu, burrata, and radishes; charred foie gras (additional $10) with sea urchin, tart apple, and celery; black bass with black trumpets, ham, and pine nut bouillon; and beef two ways (cheeks and sirloin, creamed cabbages, and Parmesan). Note the option to add shaved black truffles to any dish for $10. The midnight toast will be accompanied by exotic citrus Champagne and verbena with pink peppercorns. Prices exclusive of beverages, tax, and gratutity.
You can make it a classic SF night by spending New Year’s Eve at BOULEVARD, where a multi-course prix-fixe menu will be served during two seatings, 6pm-7:15pm and 8pm-10pm. The second seating will include a Champagne toast, entertainment, and midnight fireworks. Pop!
For a high-end experience, try the tasting menu at COI with 11 courses from chef Daniel Patterson. Based on the last meal I recently had there, it’s going to knock your socks off. $165/person; wine pairings additional $105.
Here’s a fantastic deal—you know they’ll feed you well at CONTIGO for New Year’s Eve. They’re prepping a tapas tasting menu with seven different Spanish tapas, including lomo Ibérico de bellota pinchos, a tartleta of local Dungeness crab and avocado, seared Atlantic diver scallops with jamón Serrano and black trumpet mushrooms, and lamb rib chops with merguez sausage, plus choice of dessert. There’s a vegetarian option too. To top it all off, at midnight guests will be invited to eat the traditional 12 grapes one at a time with every chime of the clock. Cute. $75, beverages, tax, and gratutity not included; optional Spanish wine flight will be avail.
In the mood for something a little more exotic? Try an Indian feast: DOSA ON FILLMORE will have a four-course, prix-fixe New Year’s Eve menu ($85) inspired by the coastal cuisines of southern India. Each course is multiple-choice—not as in the test, as in, it’s so hard to choose, they all sound great. At the Valencia location, they’ll have a similar menu of specials available à la carte. Some of their new takes on traditional coastal dishes include a Malabar fish stew of lobster, Dungeness crab, mussels, squid, and prawns with saffron idlis; a white truffle masala dosa; a Chettinad goat curry with lemon rice; and your choice of dessert too. Stick around ‘til midnight, when they’ll have sparkling wine and party favors to ring in the new year.
AJANTA in Berkeley, another Indian option, will be open for dinner, serving the regular à la carte menu plus a three-course “Best of the Best at Ajanta” chef’s tasting menu ($25). The main course includes the Goan chicken dish galina shakooti, lamb rib chops, methi machi, and badal jaam; there’s a vegetarian prix-fixe ($22) too. Can’t beat that pricing.
For an intimate dinner in the Sunset, consider the inaugural New Year’s Eve feast at OUTERLANDS. A four-course prix-fixe menu will be served with seatings at 6pm and 8pm. The menu includes Dungeness crab and citron to start, terrine of three rabbit preparations, leg of lamb with toasted farro, and brown butter cake to finish. Reservations are required and space is very limited, so reserve now by email (include your name, party size, preferred seating time, and any dietary restrictions).
Keepin’ it simple (and simply delicious) on New Year’s Eve is PERBACCO: open with normal hours and no special menus or pricing.
Keepin’ it jazzy is PICCINO’s Festa di Fine Anno (a celebration of farewell to the old year), starring a local jazz trio and a special four-course menu highlighting surf and turf. Two seatings, 5:30pm-7pm and 8pm-9:30pm. $95, includes wine pairings with each course, excludes tax and 20% gratuity.
Head over to NOJO for a traditional Japanese kaiseki menu. Expect a seriously multiple-course evening that will include kumamoto oyster with soy gelée, chawanmushi with chives and American sturgeon caviar, grilled duck breast, and even multiple desserts. By reservation only, and please take careful note of their NYE cancellation policy. 6pm: $78, or $118 with beverage pairing. 9pm: $90, or $140 with beverage pairing.
A little less traditional Japanese and a lot more Japanese party-style is NOMBE, with a couple of NYE options. Reserve at least 24-hours ahead to partake in the seven-course kaiseki menu ($40, wine and sake pairing additional $20), seating between 6pm-8:30pm. The courses include an amuse-bouche (like bacon-wrapped ginko nuts with quail egg), assorted sashimi, a grilled item, a stew, dessert, and more. You can also order from the regular menu until 9:30pm. At 10pm, they’ll kick off the official New Year’s Eve par-tay ($60, tax and service included) with a DJ, buffet-style favorites (like Nombe chicken wings), and all-you-can-drink Sapporo. At 11:30pm have some hot soba noodles to say goodbye to 2011, watch them crack the sake barrel at midnight (all-you-can-drink taru zake from the barrel), and at 12:30am have some Japanese New Year chicken and mochi soup for good luck.
Make it a swanky night at TWENTY FIVE LUSK, which is offering a four- or five-course tasting dinner ($95 and $110, respectively) and optional wine pairings ($55-$120) at two seatings, 5:30pm and 8pm. Featured dishes include poached Maine lobster cocktail, warm smoked sturgeon and salmon terrine, pork cheek crépinette, California squab, seared diver scallops, grilled bigeye tuna, Wagyu filet mignon, roasted goose, and passion fruit crème brûlée. Add freshly shaved Alba truffles to any course for $36. Make resos if you’re coming for dinner, or just drop in at the downstairs bar and lounge (5pm-1:30am). No cover if you’re “handsomely dressed in the spirit of New Year’s.” Keep it klassy, people.
New Year's Day Brunch
Sunday Jan 1, 2012
Since New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, many places are opening for brunch—a great way to help with a January 1st hangover. Will we ever learn? Let the healing begin!
FOREIGN CINEMA is doing it classic-style for their first-ever New Year’s Day “Hangover Brunch” from 11am-3pm. They’re serving Foreign Cinema faves like hangover soup with a poached farm egg, croque-madame, Dungeness crab Monte Cristo, Llano Seco braised pork with fried eggs, and sausage and herb biscuits with gravy. They’ve got a roster of “restorative cocktails” too, so order up a Steel Magnolia, Persian Bloody Mary, or Pride to ease the pain.
Another first, ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR will also open for New Year’s Day Brunch with a special menu, including “My Noni’s” pastina soup, brioche french toast, duck confit ragout, a crispy pork belly breakfast burrito, and lunch dishes like the Absinthe hamburger and coq au vin. 11am-3pm.
Always a great spot for brunch, OUT THE DOOR on Bush Street is open for brunch on Saturday December 31st (New Year’s Eve) from 9am-3pm but closed for dinner, then open again on Sunday January 1st (New Year’s Day) with normal business hours (9am-3pm brunch, 5:30pm-9:30pm dinner).
On New Year’s Day, LAFITTE will be featuring a hangover à la carte menu and a bloody Mary bar all day. Bolster your belly with choices like bacon, duck, or beef stew; pot au feu; Grande Aioli seafood platter of crab, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters, potatoes, root vegetables, and poached eggs; Kobe butter burger on brioche roll with foie gras, duck egg, and bacon chile; or parsnip-celery root quiche.
PIZZERIA DELFINA ‘s California Street location is staying open January 1st to serve hangover helpers like purgatorio pizza (that dream pizza comes with egg), a selection of fried food, the meatball hero, and Linden Street black lager gelato. Also expect a couple of new dishes, and Peroni Pomodoros (bloody beers) to drink.
How ‘bout a Mexican brunch at LA VICTORIA on New Year’s Day? Starting at 10am, indulge in starters like chips and dip (with choice of salsa), assorted pan dulce with seasonal jam, and mini beignets with cinnamon cajeta; entrées like pollo rojo flautas, tortilla soup, Tecate-braised goat, Fatted Calf Basque sausage, and squash and mushroom hash; and sides like hash browns with brown butter hollandaise, and vegetarian black beans. It’s quite the lineup. 2937 24th St. at Alabama, 415-642-7120.
SEASONS will offer New Year’s Day buffet brunch with holiday dishes by executive chef Mark Richardson and a pastry display designed by pastry chef Jeffery Wurtz. 10am-2pm. $85/adult including bloody Mary and mimosa bars; $30/child. Reservations are required. 757 Market St. at 3rd St., 415-633-3838.
FYI, DYNAMO DONUT AND COFFEE is closed December 25th-31st, but they reopen on New Year’s Day 10am-4pm for donuts and coffee.
Down in Menlo Park, MADERA will offer a Bottomless Bloody Mary Brunch from 9am-3pm. Order from the à la carte menu, and add a bottomless, custom-crafted bloody Mary for $15. Children 12 and under eat for half price. Reserve online or call 650-561-1540. 2825 Sand Hill Rd. in the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel, Menlo Park.
Here’s a fun and amazing (but expensive) option from PEKO-PEKO: the deluxe New Year’s Osechi Bento filled with auspicious foods to eat on New Year’s Day or Eve. The Osechi Bento comes in a hand-made, three-level cedar box and contains special New Year’s treats like kuromame (sweet black beans), ikura (sake-cured salmon roe) in a yuzu cup, Dungeness crab, miso-cured black cod, handmade kamaboko (steamed halibut cake), and house-cured kazunoko (herring roe) from Bay-caught herring. This year, it also includes special Year of the Dragon sweets from the 17th-generation Toraya Confectionery in Tokyo. Order by December 26th, pick up the afternoon of December 31st in San Francisco or Oakland. $250, serves 4-5. One of these days I’m gonna order this thing.
Attention industry folks in the 510: OaklanDrinks is presenting the first annual BARE BALL on January 2nd, 2012 (BARE = Bar and Restaurant Employee). It’s a chance to get a little New Year’s action going for those who have to work New Year’s. Enjoy complimentary cocktails and food, plus a cocktail showcase, music from DJ Lexx Jones, and a fashion show from Iditate Clothing and Goorin Bros. Hat Company. It’s industry-centric, but bringing friends and family is encouraged. Mad Men-era attire is also encouraged, with prizes for the best-dressed guy and doll. And finally, an iPad2 will be raffled off with proceeds going to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. $40, tickets online. 8pm-midnight. ERA Art Bar & Lounge, 19 Grand Ave. at Broadway, Oakland.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Refräsch Massage Special
Are those heels killing your feet? Treat yourself or someone you love to a therapeutic, relaxing massage. Make an appointment with Refräsch Massage through the end of January, mention tablehopper, and get 25% off any treatment.
Refräsch therapist Christian Jusinski, CMP, offers outcalls to San Francisco and welcomes clients to studios in Berkeley and Walnut Creek. At Refräsch we promote healing, relaxation, and self-awareness through traditional Swedish massage, acupressure, and therapeutic breath work.
Call 510-717-5080 or email for appointments, or to buy a gift certificate.
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Debi Does SF
Too cute: sassy Debi Mazar came in to Omnivore Books in Noe Valley on Saturday, buying the 1939 New York World’s Fair Cook Book (a spendy one!), among other cookbooks. Ever-entertaining owner Celia Sack tweeted: “Embarrassing moment when Debi Mazar came in and I kept insisting I recognized her as the lady who walks by every day with her Great Dane.”
A source who follows Mazar on Twitter told me she dined at Incanto—she came in on Friday night with her husband and two kids. Here’s a fun pic Mazar posted with chef Chris Cosentino. A source says, “She and her husband are both very sweet and gracious, the kids are well behaved, they were a pleasure to serve.”
Mazar’s Twitter feed also revealed she went to Zuni: “Ok.Zuni-clean,lovely,American,but $$$ And I wanted more…Mediterranean for some reason:)My bad.should have hit Flour&water:(” and she hit up the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (“Having cap’b Mikes lox sandwich.LOVE this farmers mkt!Ferry”). She also stopped by Boccalone in the Ferry Building Marketplace for a salumi cone for breakfast.
Before leaving town for Monterey and Big Sur, she also swung by Tartine: “@Tartine in SF..excited for my sandwich&all the beautiful baked goods for the road trip!Bye SF!”
And Here We Have Ron "Jaws" Jaworski, Dining at the Bar, First He Ate This....
A tipster tells me football commentator Ron Jaworski was dining alone at the Puccini & Pinetti bar on Friday night. Apparently he drank a Stella, enjoyed some spaghetti and meatballs, and chatted with the bartender. Perhaps he was in town for last night’s 49ers game? I wouldn’t know, I don’t watch football.