Baumé’s carrot terrine and turbot with “spirit of Vichy” foam. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
After two months of grinding away on this computer for more time than is even remotely healthy, I can see the strobe light at the end of the two-month work tunnel. Yup, I’ll be turning in my final guidebook copy on Thursday, cracking my knuckles, doing some warm-up stretches, and hitting the dancefloor HARD on Thursday night. Gotta shake off a lot of desk chair bad mojo, let me tell you. Total cabin fever.
At least I’ve been exiting my abode a few times a week for some incredible meals. Yes, restaurant research rocks. I can’t even begin to tell you how blown away I was with my experience at Baumé Restaurant last week in Palo Alto. So worth the trip. Very much looking forward to writing that one up for y’all.
I also met up with friends for arancini with scamorza and wild nettle pizza (with an egg on top, of course) at Ragazza, and swung by Butterfly for their Lunar New Year/Dungeness crab menu (which you only have a few more days to enjoy). I adored the crab and sea urchin hand rolls with yuzu kosho vinaigrette and toasted nori, and the salt and red chile crab with crab fried black rice.
Am looking forward to hitting the The Golden Glass this Saturday—there are still (surprisingly) tickets left for this fantastic event. I am gonna hit the Librandi table so fast, you have no idea. The lineup of food artisans and restaurants is also notable.
I expect this weekend is going to be a whole hell of a lot better than this last Saturday, when I was greeted with the unwelcome news that a retaining wall came down on my beloved Alfa Romeo, crunching the nose and hood. Nope, so not meow. Looks like someone is going to be in the shop for a while.
Before signing off, here’s today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This, in which I talk about secret menu items on KGO Radio.
Have a swell week, and we will return to our regular tablehopper programming (which includes reviews) next week! Thanks for bearing with me—these writing projects have been a bear (I could also make a joke about feeling like a bear in a cave, but I’ll stop.)
North Beach was buzzing over the weekend, and I think some older folks were popping a little more Lipitor than usual before heading over to check out ORIGINAL JOE’S new home on Washington Square Park. The restaurant, which dates back to 1937, tragically closed in October 2007 after a terrible fire ripped through the Tenderloin location (on Taylor Street). The Duggan family ultimately decided to move the restaurant to the space that previously housed Joe DiMaggio’s, and prior to that, the historic Fior d’Italia.
Kudos to the Duggan family (and Anthony Fish of Arcanum Architecture) for doing such a great job in integrating the classic OJ’s elements into the new location. The signature burgundy red booths were brought over (and some of the counter stools), redwood panels, Art Deco mermaids, a vintage neon exterior sign, and the exhibition kitchen counter is also in effect. There’s a separate cocktail lounge with a piano, two private rooms, and look for sidewalk seating in the spring. NBC shot this fun segment about the reopening.
On the menu: the same classic Italian-American style of dishes, like veal parmigiana, linguini and clams, and of course Joe’s special (I like it with an egg and Tabasco on top), plus some new lighter items as well. You can view the menu here. Classic cocktails include a Manhattan, Aviation, and Vesper; check out the menu here. Hours are Sun-Wed 10:30am-10pm and Thu-Sat 10:30am-11pm. Reservations will be accepted starting in a couple of weeks.
Original Joe's - 601 Union St. San Francisco - 415-775-4877
A tablehopper reader tipped me off that after 18 years in business, REX CAFE on Polk Street is converting into a Spanish restaurant. Partners Bob DiFranco and Daniel Mougeot will close Rex at the end of February, and after a month of refreshing the space, will reopen it as MARBELLA, named after the coastal town in Spain. Instead of just small tapas plates, many dishes will be designed for groups to share. There will also be a new cocktail program, featuring fresh juices. Stand by for a menu and more details in coming months. 2323 Polk St. at Union, 415-441-2244.
One of the owners of TROYA in the Richmond, Berk Kinalilar, emailed me last week to tell me Troya is opening a second location, Troya Fillmore, in the vacant Citizen Cake space. The menu will have the same Turkish focus (have you ever had their delicate and delicious manti?), but the Scoop elaborates more on the menu: “it will incorporate the entire eastern Mediterranean region. Expect mezes, small plates, and a few larger plates; it will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with brunch on the weekends.” Look for an opening in a couple months. 2125 Fillmore St. at Sacramento.
Troya - 349 Clement St. San Francisco - 415-379-6000
David Lynch is going full-tilt over at ST. VINCENT, his upcoming project on Valencia Street (in the former Heart space). Scoop announces Lynch has hired Bill Niles (Bar Tartine) as the chef—although Chris Kronner will still be consulting on food operations. The impending food style is described as “hearty, polished California fare.”
More news: Lynch has hired cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski (previously at Monk’s Kettle) to be the beer director, although he’ll be acting as a consultant. He will be designing the beer list, and is coordinating an all-brewery-direct draft program to insure the freshest beer.
St. Vincent - 1270 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-285-1200
A tablehopper reader alerted me CAFE ALTANO in Hayes Valley has closed. (The owners are behind SOMA Restaurant & Bar in the Pickwick at 85 5th Street and Mission) Here’s hoping someone with some crazy-delicious food moves in there, it’s such a pretty corner space. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna.
Starting this Wednesday February 1st, NOJO in Hayes Valley is serving lunch Wed-Fri 11am-2:30pm. Dishes like the gyoza, a variety of soba dishes, a tonkatsu sandwich, and a bacon-wrapped hot dog (!) are all available. You can view the lunch menu here.
Nojo - 231 Franklin St. San Francisco - 415-896-4587
As previously mentioned in tablehopper, GILBERTH’S ROTISSERIE & GRILL, from Gilberth Cab and Julia Rivera of The New Spot and Oralia’s is now (softly) open, according to the Dogpatch Howler. The Latin-fusion menu will feature dishes with Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Central American influences, like roasted pork neck with plantain mofongo, and Cuban baby back ribs with a guava glaze, fried plantains, and gallo pinto. And, of course, chicken off the rotisserie. Open daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-10:30pm. 2427-2429 3rd St. at 20th St.
Further up, MERCURY LOUNGE in SoMa is closing, according to SFoodie. The last day for dinner service is February 18th, though bar bites and drinks will continue through March 1st. Mercury chef Dominic Ainza reportedly cites the economy and competition from food trucks as contributing factors. 1582 Folsom St. at 12th St., 415-551-1582.
SFoodie brings us news of an upcoming street food destination: SOMA STREAT FOOD PARK. Carlos Muela, who is behind the project, has just begun construction on the project at 346 11th Street at Division.
Inspired by Portland’s non-mobile street food scene, Muela hopes that providing a permanent street food park will make life easier for food truck vendors, who often have a hard time finding a place to situate themselves for business. The plan is for different trucks to rotate in and out of the park’s nine slots throughout the week, serving lunch and dinner (city permits allow them to serve until midnight). SFoodie also notes that “shelter for up to 200 diners, lights, and permanent restrooms” are part of the plans. The opening is still a couple months out.
Some new dishes to get you into trouble on the weekends. First, LAFITTE is partnering with Petaluma Farms to serve an all-egg brunch menu on Saturdays, starting February 4th. You can also pick up eggs to bring home. 10am-2pm.
You know that infamous Bacon Butter Burger at MAVERICK? Yeah, the one that’s 70% cured Meyer chuck, 20% Oregon sweet cream butter, and 10% Nueske’s bacon. Starting Saturday February 4th, you can now only get it during brunch, and they promise to not run out. This monster comes loaded with a bacon pepper marmalade, Gruyère cheese, an onion ring, and jalapeño mayo on an Acme bun—it comes with fries, all for $13.
Eater brings word of a new pizza on Saturdays (only) at UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA, the Apollonia. Named in honor of the Mangieris’ daughter, it comes topped with salami, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, Alder Lane Farm eggs, Parmigiano, and basil. For those paying attention, this will be the first pizza on the menu with meat on it.
On Friday February 3rd, Brass Knuckle will be popping up in GALETTE 88 with a four-course dinner called All Pigs Considered (click to see the menu and book your space). 6:30pm-11pm. $46. 88 Hardie Pl., off Kearny, between Bush and Sutter, 415-989-2222.
From Tuesday February 7th-Friday February 10th, OLIVETO is hosting its famous Whole Hog dinners. The menu will have “a simpler focus on the rustic ways of traditional farm families. There will still be plenty of extraordinary dishes, with the core of the menu coming from the farmhouse and time-honored preparations.” Menus will be posted later this week, but some selections include frittole (preserved Calabrian confit of skin and trim with cannellini beans, frisée, and lemon), nodino alla Veneziana (salt-cured chops marinated with chile flake and coriander, cooked under a brick), fegatelli di maiale al finocchio (Tuscan-style grilled fennel-seed-crusted pork liver and crostini), penne alla norcina (Umbrian pork sausage with garlic, cream, and Parmesan cheese), and fusilli con soffritto di maiale (Calabrian ragu of heart, liver, and kidney). Book your reservation now at 510-547-5356.
Oliveto - 5655 College Ave. Oakland - 510-547-5356
I was so sorry to read in Eater about the flue fire that broke out in between GREAT CHINA and RAZAN’S ORGANIC KITCHEN in downtown Berkeley. No word on when Great China will reopen (the damage sadly sounds pretty extensive) but Razan’s was not damaged in the fire. Razan’s, 2119 Kittredge St. at Fulton, Berkeley, 510-486-0449. Great China, 2115 Kittredge St. at Fulton, Berkeley, 510-843-7996.
Grub Street highlighted an SF Business Times article about the change in plans at Jack London Square. Instead of the Jack London Market, the Ferry Building Marketplace-esque large public market that was supposed to open, “they are now, instead, looking for food manufacturing tenants to fill the vacant space.” Stand by for updates.
I learned in a Studio Gourmet email last Friday that chef Dean Dupuis was leaving Oakland’s PICÁN. More details have been officially released: Dupuis is leaving to join DC chef and restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier at Revel, an upcoming Atlantic City resort, where he will be the chef de cuisine. In the meantime, owner-founder Michael LeBlanc is going to be heading to the South to find a replacement chef.
Picán - 2295 Broadway Oakland - 510-834-1000
A post on Chowhound mentions a taker for Alameda’s ACAPULCO RESTAURANT. The post says, “Mike (owner of Paradise Grill and Best Burger in San Leandro and Paradiso at Willow Park in Castro Valley) has purchased Acapulcos and is revamping the interior and the food. He’s purchased the recipes, but says that, while he’ll use them as a basis, he plans to include homemade sauces, etc. Planning permits, etc. are troublesome in Alameda, but he hopes to open in March. Also, NO MORE wine margaritas. He’s working on the liqour license, too.” That was one informative post, thanks. 2104 Lincoln Ave. at Willow, Alameda.
Now open in Berkeley is ALCHEMY COLLECTIVE, a teeny-tiny coop café that some will recognize as the cart that was previously in the parking lot of BioFuel Oasis. The partners are serving Verve on a La Marzocco machine (it’s on the cart they built), and be sure to check out the custom drip contraption they made as well. 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at the Adeline split, Berkeley.
HowAboutWe.com is a new kind of dating site for people who want to get offline. It’s free to sign up and easy to use. Just say “How About We …” and fill in the blank with the date you want to go on.
“How About We … split a world-famous pie at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.”
“How About We … sit at the bar and eat nigiri at ICHI.”
You get the idea. Just say what you want to do, find other people who like what you like, and go out. Join free at HowAboutWe.com and start dating offline today!
Burgundy lovers already have February 22nd-25th marked off on their calendars, when renowned sommelier Daniel Johnnes hosts his 12th annual LA PAULÉE in San Francisco and Napa Valley. There will be a variety of wine tastings and dinners highlighting more than 30 of the most sought-after Domaines of Burgundy. Look for both newer releases and older vintages being poured by visiting winemakers and over 50 of the top sommeliers in the U.S.
Some events are already sold out, but there are still tickets to dinners, tastings, and seminars. At the grand tasting on Saturday February 25th (shockingly there are still tickets available, $300), there will be wines and winemakers from all 33 Domaines, over 100 wines in all, along with food prepared by top restaurants.
And the famed gala dinner ($1,400)— prepared by chefs Daniel Boulud, Romain Chapel, Thomas Keller, Christopher Kostow, and Michael Mina—will feature wines from all of the attending growers. In the tradition of La Paulée de Meursault, guests are invited to bring treasures from their cellars to share, knowing that their generosity will be reciprocated tenfold. There’s also a charity auction during the gala dinner, with 100% of the proceeds going to The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation and Meals On Wheels of San Francisco.
This year also marks the inaugural La Paulée de San Francisco Burgundy Week, from February 13th-24th. San Francisco restaurant partners (like Frances, Boulevard, A16, Benu, and more) will be featuring a special selection of Burgundies on their wine lists and menus. So even if you don’t have $1,400 to blow on the dinner of the decade, you can still enjoy some gorgeous Burgundies out on the town. Salud!
Monday Feb 13, 2012 – Saturday Feb 25, 2012 more info
Happy Birfday to DISTRICT in SoMa, which is turning five (yup, that’s five years of getting countless young professionals hooked up). As a thanks to patrons, during the month of February, all guests can order a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte Blue Label Champagne for just $5 (normally $20 a glass); limit of one glass per person per visit. 216 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-896-2120.
Every Tuesday evening at CAFÉ DES AMIS, the entire list of wines by the bottle is available for half price. Um, yeah. With over 300 French selections, and some from California, you have your work cut out for you. Tuesday nights, 5pm-11pm.
And on Saturday February 11th, you can stock up your Valentine’s Day stash at THE BUBBLE LOUNGE, which is hosting a second Love POP-UP Tasting & Sale party featuring grower Champagne from Thierry Thiese Selections (including Rene Geoffroy Rosé, Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs, Gaston Chicquet, and Vilmart), 12 selections from Return to Terroir, and The Bubble Lounge’s Bubbly Imports Champagne exclusives Fleury Carte de l’Europe and Couche Zero Dosage. There will also be a chocolate truffle-making atelier whereby guests can learn the art of making chocolate truffles, and buy them to take home, plus master saberer Marisa Ceballos, West Coast Director of The Bubble Lounge, will teach the skill and art of sabering.
Print out the coupon (click here) and bring it in for an additional 10% off (you can also use the discount all month long in the e-boutique). Large orders placed on Saturday can be delivered on Monday the 13th, and discounts will be offered on half and full cases along with free membership for the new Bubble Lounge Bubbly Club. 2pm-7pm. $10 (to be redeemed upon purchase). Also, submit your love story of 500 words or less by February 9th to enter to win a $200 certificate to the Love Pop-Up store online or at the event on the 11th. 714 Montgomery St. at Columbus, 415-434-4204.
Tuesday Feb 14, 2012
If there was a night I’d like to stay in and cook with my imaginary sweetheart, VALENTINE’S DAY would be it. But since there are a bunch of folks out there who insist on dining out on THE DAY, here are a few menus that caught my eye at places I’d consider appropriate for the occasion. Truth be told, every restaurant in town is doing something that night.
Loretta Keller and Michael Morrison of COCO500 have this special V-Day tasting menu lined up: chilled oysters and spicy grilled sausage, or hearts of palm salad, pistachio, chèvre, medjool dates; farm egg raviolo, black truffle, parmesan, or potato gnocchi, Cape Cod scallops, tatsoi, Meyer lemon; grilled New York strip, cauliflower leek spoonbread, mustard greens, or roasted sea bass, artichoke, porcini mushroom hollandaise; and bittersweet chocolate and coffee vacherin, or tropical fruit triptych. $85, wine pairing additional $40.
ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR will offer a three-course, American-influenced French brasserie dinner. Your choices will include Sonoma foie gras torchon with Asian pears, citrus confit, pistachio butter, and brioche; pan-roasted ivory salmon with butter beans, Brussels sprouts, and blood orange-black mussel broth; and vanilla cheesecake with hibiscus meringue, rooibos tea, pistachio crumble, and olive oil cake. $68 excluding tax and gratuity, wine pairings menu additional $39.
Relative newcomer AQ is giving you a choice of ordering from a limited à la carte menu, or their prix-fixe Love & Passion tasting menu with dishes like lobster and sea urchin with radish braised with apple juice and preserved pink pepper; pumpkin swordfish crusted with seeds, sweet potato, and ginger; rabbit roasted with laurel leaves with herbed cereals and walnuts with salsify; and rib-eye aged on the bone smoked in hay, root beer, fennel, and parsnip. Vegetarian tasting menu available upon request. $65 excluding tax and gratuity.
FOREIGN CINEMA’s four-course Valentine’s Day prix-fixe will have options available for the second, third, and dessert courses, and includes a glass of Champagne. Plus they’ll have music (6:30pm-10pm) by the Gaucho Gypsy Jazz Band. $105 excluding tax and gratuity.
East Bay diners and those on a budget, AJANTA in Berkeley is serving their regular à la carte menu, or choose their three-course chef’s tasting menu ($25) with a choice of three appetizers and four main courses including chicken, lamb, or seafood. It all comes with a vegetable, rice, onion naan, chutneys, pickles, yogurt raita, and dessert. A vegetarian prix-fixe option is also available ($22).
One more tip: there are a bunch of openings on OpenTable—take a look and see what comes up (Ideale in North Beach had tables open—Florio on Fillmore does too, and cute little South Park Café). And remember, if you have your heart set on a place, it’s always a good policy to call the restaurant and see if you can get a table.
Update: One more V-Day option: catch Dinner and a Flick with graffEats, Noise Pop, and the Disposable Film Festival for a five-course meal featuring “covers” of dishes from the Bay Area’s best chefs, plus three drink pairings, pre-dinner cocktail hour, and BYOB with no corkage. $85 suggested donation; 21+. 7pm. 34 Page St. at Franklin.
Wednesday Feb 8, 2012 – Monday Feb 13, 2012
Dinner out on Valentine’s Day is pretty much expected, so maybe you’re looking for a different way to celebrate on a day that’s a little less crazy. And singles, especially single cyclists, there’s an event here for you too.
La Luna Cupcakes, Neo Cocoa, and Kika’s Treats are working in conjunction with La Cocina to host a VALENTINE’S DAY SWEETS class on Wednesday February 8th, 6:30pm-9pm. Students will make truffles, caramels, and cupcakes, then box up the handmade goodies to make a special handmade gift. The class includes a sit-down dinner with red wine. Tickets are $65, $95 with apron. 2948 Folsom St. at 25th St.
Also on February 8th, the SF Bicycle Coalition is putting on a dating game for cyclists, and you’re invited to join in, whether you just wanna watch folks pedal off on a first date, or you want to be a contestant yourself! LOVE ON WHEELS starts at 6pm at Public Works, and don’t forget there’s a raffle. $5 for members and $10 for non-members; proceeds benefit the SF Bicycle Coalition. 21+ only. Complimentary bike valet provided. 161 Erie St. at Mission.
For the second year, the UNION STREET HAS A CRUSH ON YOU VALENTINE WINE WALK will have businesses on Union Street (Gough to Steiner) and Fillmore Street (Union to Lombard) offering wine samples, finger foods, and special treats to those who’ve purchased a ticket/wristband. This wine tasting event takes place Thursday February 9th, 4pm-8pm; you’ll be provided with a wine glass and a map of all the tasting locations. Participating this year are Terra Sávia, Real Food Co., Alder Springs Vineyard, American Cupcake, and many more merchants, restaurants, and wineries. See the complete list here. Tickets are $30 online, or $35 the day of in front of The Metro (2055 Union St. at Webster).
Here’s your chance to get out on the field at AT&T Park: HEARTS AFTER DARK, benefitting San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, will have ball park-inspired hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and music under the stars, plus chef Hubert Keller is one of the DJs. Thursday February 9th, 7pm-10pm. Tickets online: $75 general admission, $175 VIP. 24 Willie Mays Plaza at 3rd and King Sts.
Browse the Ferry Building the evening of Friday February 10th, 5pm-8pm, for FOOD FROM THE HEART, a fundraiser for Slow Food San Francisco. Amidst candlelight, tango dancing, and classical music, merchants and restaurants will offer seasonal hors d’oeuvres and chocolate tastings ($2-$6) while vintners pour Napa Valley wine samples ($4). Entrance to the event is free. On Saturday February 10th, continue the pre-Valentine preparations with special offers from merchants while music fills the air.
Ok, so this one is a dinner option, but it’s a good one if you want to celebrate early. JARDINIÈRE is offering a Monday night (February 13th) prix-fixe menu that’s less pricey than their V-Day menu but still festive: they’re calling it Love Is in the Air, and it’s $49 for three courses including wine pairings. Here’s the menu: celery root bisque, local Dungeness crab, tarragon, and preserved lemon (paired with Qupé “Bien Nacido ‘Y’ Block” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley 2010); Meyer Ranch hanger steak, wild mushroom and potato pavé, sauce Bordelaise (Catena Malbec, Vista Flores, Argentina 2008); and chocolate, toffee, vanilla, and passion fruit (Warre’s “Otima” Ten Year Tawny Port, Portugal). The featured cocktail ($10) will be the Bourbon Enchantress (bourbon, ruby port, Combier, lemon, orange bitters). Reservations required.
On Friday night, Ashton Kutcher came in to Zero Zero with two other people and had a few cocktails at the bar. My spy says, “He was wearing a baseball cap and hoodie, and seemed like he wanted to be under the radar. I think they had a good time!”
On Saturday, a tablehopper reader was enjoying a late lunch at Bouchon in Yountville, and who was at the other table but David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, and their baby Harper Seven. My spotter notes, “No bread or alcohol on the table (why eat?!), but I didn’t get to see exactly what they ordered. They had a long lunch. DB was looking EXTRA cute!”
My question is this: as cute as his new H&M underwear ad? Now, that’s cute.
A cryptic tweet from @bluebottleroast also alludes to a potential sighting here in the city.
On Wednesday, a tablehopper reader went to see the Eddie Izzard and Greg Proops conversation at the Palace of Fine Arts as part of SketchFest. Afterward, the reader went to dinner at nopa and who should come in but Eddie and Greg with some friends? Good taste all around.
While downing bottomless mimosas on Sunday at Eastside West, a gaggle of gals spotted musician/reality show star Ryan Cabrera (known for dating Ashlee Simpson and others). He was sporting his signature porcupine ‘do under his fedora and sunglasses indoors (yeah, totally normal) while sipping Manhattans.
Rumor has it Ben Flajnik of The Bachelor was also there that morning.
49er tight end Vernon Davis dined not once but twice at the new Oryza Bistro Asiana that just opened in San Jose’s Valley Fair Mall across from Santana Row. He liked lunch so much that he and his wife came back for dinner within a few days; he tweeted, “I must say that Oryza has the potential to be on my all time favorite restaurant list.”