This week's tablehopper: more cowbell.
Beef cheek ramen at Nombe. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Boy, am I glad to be out of the bunker. There is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a honking deadline, or in my case, two. I had fun getting my swerve on Thursday night in North Beach, feasting at Chubby Noodle and having after-dinner drinks at Comstock Saloon (that Cherry Bounce will get you in trouble).
On Friday, a friend who is a member of the South End Rowing Club took me out on the bay on a beautiful wood boat—-what an epic morning. Beer for breakfast on the dock was quickly followed by a crab sandwich from the stand at Fisherman’s Grotto #9, and cracked crab from “the girls” at Alioto-Lazio Fish Company later that night.
And The Golden Glass on Saturday was fantastico—so many incredible wines, and the porchetta crew from Italy blew my mind. Am having fun reading more about the wines I liked in the brand-new Slow Wine 2012 guide—you can pick it up here.
I sure am pleased with how the weather synced up with my You Gotta Eat This! feature on KGO Radio today. Yup, I talk about three of my picks for ramen: Hapa Ramen, Kirimachi, and Nombe. Have a listen—it’s less than two minutes.
So Valentine’s Day is next week, as my overflowing inbox full of press releases keeps reminding me every 15 minutes. Since we have so many great bakers in town, I included a write-up of some sweet treats you can buy for your honey, or your friends, or your own damn self! Meanwhile, I was happily surprised with a delivery of beautiful white roses from Whole Foods last week, and Gary Rulli stoked me with a box of his delightful artisan chocolates at The Golden Glass this past weekend. Really took a lot of pressure off my imaginary boyfriend, let me tell you.
Love and kisses!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Hayes Valley Rising: Sarah and Evan Rich Taking Over the Paul K Space
The Scoop was the first to confirm that the liquor license activity at Paul K in Hayes Valley was in fact the exciting news that it appeared to be: chefs Sarah (Michael Mina) and Evan Rich (COI, Quince) are going to be taking over the space. Their restaurant doesn’t yet have a name, and the opening is slated for “later this year.” Evan Rich was quoted as saying, “We’ll keep it simple and represent what’s going on in San Francisco. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening, and we want to slide in and do our thing.” Those who have attended their Chefs’ Night Off pop-up dinners should have a sense for their progressive NorCal cooking style; look for some future dates in the meantime. And there’s the bonus feature of the full bar at the location. Good for them. Paul K remains open in the meantime. 199 Gough St. at Oak.
Rich Table - 199 Gough St. San Francisco - 415-355-9085
A Second Sauce Opening in the Trademark Bar on Belden
I received word from Ben Paula, the chef and one of the partners of SAUCE in Hayes Valley, that they are going to be taking over Trademark Bar on Belden Place. The Sauce crew is planning to operate it as Trademark for a month or so while they line up all the changes, but they can’t make major changes to the building until the ABC license is finalized. Paula will be cooking under the Trademark banner for a bit, but is implementing menu changes as soon as possible. There will be a grand opening for Sauce (targeting March) when they get all the ducks in a row. Stand by for more details in coming weeks. 56 Belden Place at Bush.
More Hayes Movement: Hayes Valley Bakeworks Starts Construction
I received word that HAYES VALLEY BAKEWORKS, the non-profit bakery and café originally set to open last November, has finally gotten their permits (after an unexpected zoning change) and construction began this week; the opening is now scheduled for early May. The non-profit Toolworks—which is responsible for the “social enterprise” part of the project—has been very busy working not only on their rustic American pastry selection (with loads of gluten-free options), but also on seasonal grab-and-go savories from chef Justin Nilson (formerly with Café des Amis) with additional help from Janet Rikala, a Postrio alumnus.
According to their Facebook page, they have created a “Celebrity Soup” program that will feature a changing roster of featured dishes from the likes of Roland Passot, Mitch Rosenthal, Russell Jackson, James Schenk, Sean Baker, Hoss Zaré, and yours truly, among many more civic-minded food folks who love the project’s core mission of providing a professional baking program with a path to employment for the disabled and formerly homeless. 365 Fulton St. at Gough.
Outerlands Expanding Into Space Next Door
I heard word that the fine folks at OUTERLANDS are expanding into Wo’s Chinese next door, which is about the same size as their current space. The owners are still in the very early stages, but the plan is to include a full bar (remember, they have a liquor license), additional seating (including large party seating), and extended service hours (potentially including a cocktail hour). They are hoping to be ready to go by summer—stand by for more details in coming months. Yup, your odds of scoring a table for brunch are likely to improve by 100 percent.
Outerlands - 4001 Judah St. San Francisco - 415-661-6140
Chef Michael Hung Departs Bushi-Tei; Restaurant Placed on the Market
I was sorry to read in Eater that chef Michael Hung has departed BUSHI-TEI in Japantown, and owner Tak Matsuba has decided to put the restaurant on the market. In the meantime, Hung’s former sous chef, Lisa Aoki, is going to run the kitchen in the interim while Matsuba looks for a buyer. She will be scaling back the menu a bit, but will still be serving dishes in Bushi-tei’s Californian-Japanese style. Hung is reportedly “taking some time off and ‘doing some stages’ as he decides where to go next.” Best wishes to all. 1638 Post St. at Laguna, 415-440-4959.
The Dancing Pig Now Open in the Castro
Another barbecue joint to add to the city’s ever-growing list: THE DANCING PIG is reportedly open in the Castro in the former Nirvana space, according to Grub Street. The owners are two bartenders and an owner at The Mix around the corner: J.R. Kleysteuber, Linda Holl, and Larry Metzger; the chef is Michelle Agnew (de Young Museum, Burger Bar). You can look at the menu here, which includes a mix of barbecue styles (which the owners are calling “San Francisco BBQ”). There are fried tasso oysters, a trio of sliders (pulled pork, beef brisket, and smoked chicken), poblano peppers stuffed with pulled pork, a few salads and sandwiches, and barbecue entrées (which come with two sides and cornbread) include St. Louis pork spare ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and more. The cocktails will reportedly have a bourbon-heavy slant. Didn’t hear back from the owners in time to include the hours and a phone number, stand by. 544 Castro St. at 18th St.
Quickie Updates on Openings, Changes, and Closures
After an initial tip-off from Chowhound back in November, it looks like there’s another make-your-own sushi joint in town: SUSHI TAKA, which has opened in the old Latte Express space. You can come up with all kinds of franken-rolls, like beef sukiyaki with Jarlsberg cheese, or teriyaki tofu with salsa, or…. I am going to stop right there. You can check out the menu here. And since I’m seeing eel and salmon on there, it looks like yet another new sushi place that doesn’t seem to care about sustainability. One other component: chef-owner Nick Ono makes the rice with green tea powder. Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm and Sat 11am-2pm. 600 Kearny St. at Sacramento, 415-362-4800.
Over in Noe Valley, Noe Valley SF notes SARU SUSHI BAR has opened in the former Tamasei Sushi space. Some posts on Yelp mention more new-fangled dishes (tasting spoons of halibut tartare with grated lime, yuzu juice, and Japanese sea salt, or kampachi with truffle oil, ponzu, garlic chips, and scallion, and “spicy tuna topped with avocado and cucumber over a slightly fried piece of seaweed”), classic nigiri, and rolls. Pics on Yelp show a stylish, traditional-meets-industrial interior and outdoor seating. Open Tue-Thu and Sun 12pm-2pm and 5pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-2pm and 5pm-10pm. 3856 24th St. at Sanchez, 415-400-4510.
A tablehopper reader tipped us off that CALABRIA BROS. Italian deli is opening their second location this Saturday in the former Sorrento Delicatessen in the Excelsior. 4763 Mission St. at Russia Ave.
Mission Loc@l mentions 780 CAFÉ will be taking the place of The Summit. More: “Jose Ramos, the property manager at 780 Valencia and former staffer with New College and the Mission Neighborhood Centers, will run the café, said Ashwin Navin of I/O Ventures.” 780 Valencia St. at 19th St.
Over in the Haight, Haighteration announces CUCO’S was served with a 30-day notice, and is sadly closing after 20 years in business (and serving many, many plantain burritos and chiles rellenos). 488 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-863-4906.
Eater reports LA TERRASSE in the Presidio has closed.
Breakfast for Supper Sundays at Brenda's
You a fan of Bananas Foster French Toast for dinner? Yeah, me too. Which is why you will want to check out Breakfast for Supper Sundays at BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD, when the full brunch menu will be available from 8am-8pm. There will also be some dinner items available after 5pm on Sundays, like shrimp, catfish, or oyster po’ boys, red beans and rice, and the BFC (Brenda’s fried chicken).
Brenda's French Soul Food - 652 Polk St. San Francisco - 415-345-8100
Food Trucks, Parties, Pop-Ups, and Special Menus
Plenty o’ pop-ups and more this week, starting with HAPA RAMEN tonight at Wing Wings from 6pm-10pm. Sounds like the fryer is going to be put to good use with tempura Gulf prawns with fried Meyer lemon and kale ($10), plus fried local herring ($9; one of your last chances to try them before the short season is over), and three kinds of ramen with the option to add a smoked crispy trotter cake on top. 8422 Haight St. at Webster, 415-834-5001.
Starting this Friday February 10th, SOUP JUNKIE is going to be serving 150 portions of their trademark bun rieu ($11) every Friday at Vinyl Wine Bar from 6pm-10pm. Yeah, you want to check it out. Vinyl Wine Bar, 359 Divisadero St. at Oak, 415-621-4132.
On Saturday February 11th, MISSION MINIS is celebrating its birthday by having mobile food vendors (Brass Knuckle, We Sushi, Mama’s Empanadas, and Clairesquares) set up in front of the bakery, and MM will be giving away their signature cupcakes and serving beverages gratis. 7pm onward. 3168 22nd St. at Mission, 415-817-1540.
On Monday February 13th, chef Sarah Kirnon is popping up at BAR TARTINE for a dinner with beer pairings by cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski. Check out the two delicious-sounding set menu options here, and even three of the four brewers will be in attendance that night. Guests get to try Daily (B)red, the newly released beer that Linden Street Brewery fermented with Tartine Bakery’s sourdough starter. Bar Tartine is setting aside bar seats for walk-ins, and there are a few tables left on OpenTable. $49 per person (food and beer pairings included).
For the next two weeks (truffles permitting), RN74 is offering a four-course black truffle menu with decadent dishes including foie gras brûlée with shaved black truffle, hazelnut, and apples, and Hollander Farm squab with sautéed pork belly, foraged mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and sauce Périgourdine. The menu runs Thursdays through Saturdays; $74 per person, $60 per person for wine pairing.
Sweets for Your Sweet
A bunch of local bakers and chocolatiers are making some heartfelt options for you and your sweetie to enjoy on Valentine’s Day. Here are a few that caught our fancy.
The babes of THREE BABES BAKESHOP are holding a special V-Day pop-up, offering chocolate cream pies in jars from 10am-4pm. They’ve teamed up with Lila B. Design so you can also pick up a fresh, beautiful bouquet while you’re visiting the LSC (Little Shipping Container, outside of Stable Café, 2128 Folsom St. at 17th St.) Pre-order by email or drop by next Tuesday.
Dessert café DELISE launches their Valentine lineup this Friday February 10th, including special macarons (Dragon’s Passion, Szechuan pepper macaron filled with passion fruit milk chocolate truffle, and Perfect Pear, lavender macaron filled with white chocolate Pear William truffle). Their popular lychee-rose frozen yogurt will be back, plus a spiced chocolate sorbet made with a blend of aphrodisiac spices and cayenne. They’ll also have brownies with raspberry ganache frosting, heart-shaped shortbread with honey and black truffle, and vanilla Meyer lemon cheesecake with pine nut-rosemary crust. Feel free to pre-order. 327 Bay St. at Powell, 415-399-9694.
The bakery at BAKER & BANKER has quite a few specials lined up too. Choose from cakes like a conversation heart cake (says Hugs or Kisses), red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and dark chocolate cake with ganache frosting (6” $50, 10” $85); passion fruit cheesecake with guava caramel (6” $30, 10” $50); or cupcakes like strawberry-Champagne (4 for $14). A box of coconut salted caramel chocolates are $15 for a set of 6. Order by 5pm Sunday February 12th.
Throughout February, you can order the special Valentine’s Day chocolate collection from SOCOLA CHOCOLATIER: Aphrodite’s Delight features the word “love” in several languages on the chocolates, and includes flavors like burnt caramel with sea salt, and their Hot Lava with raspberry pâte de fruit and Champagne ganache. Purchase online; comes in 4, 12, or 24 pieces.
Oyster and Wine Dinner with Secret Wine Shop at Dottie's
On Thursday February 23rd, the new DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE is hosting a special oyster and wine event in conjunction with the Lunny Family of Drakes Bay, the oyster team from Waterbar, local wine purveyor The Secret Wine Shop, and local winemakers all in attendance. The roof deck will be open. Some fun background info here on the oyster and wine pairings and here. $60 per person; tickets here. 7pm-9pm. 28 6th St. at Market, 415-885-2767.
Update on Jack London Market Plans
Some more details and clarification have emerged since last week’s (incomplete) post about the future of JACK LONDON MARKET. The market will feature a mix of on-site artisanal food producers and retailers; the concept has further evolved this year with the formation of a new management/development group and alliance partners who wanted the public market to reflect the growing local food movement in and around Oakland.
The food producer/retailer and restaurant/bar tenants already in and directly around the Jack London Square property (Baia Pasta, Miette bakery, Belcampo Meats, Blue Bottle Coffee, Haven, Bocanova, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon) are joined with a weekly farmers’ market, public events (including Eat Real and the new cycling-focused Pedalfest), and some office, retail, and recreation tenants. Look for more announcements about new tenants soon.
510 Openings: Oakland, Emeryville, and Berkeley
Opening sometime in May or June near Lake Merritt will be LA GRANDE JATTE KITCHEN. Owner May Seto (previously a GM at Delfina and wine buyer for The PlumpJack Group) is working alongside her mother to open this deli/diner that will be focused initially on lunch. Think healthy and affordable sandwiches and salads, which you will be able to enjoy at the 12-seat counter or at some outdoor tables—or get something to go and enjoy it while sitting by the lake. Seto will also have a selection of beer and wine—she wants the neighborhood to have a good retail option. Construction should begin in March. Hours are TBD, but it should be open Mon-Sat. Stand by for more in coming months. 576 Grand Ave. at El Embarcadero, Oakland.
A friend pointed me to some ads on Craigslist for HOT ITALIAN, an import from Sacramento. I got in touch with one of the owners for details about the location, and she declined to share any info (not hot). But The Sacramento Bee did get some info after all: the pizzeria will be opening in the Public Market in Emeryville. Diablo Dish chimes in with an anticipated opening of April. 5959 Shellmound St. at Powell, Berkeley.
Berkeleyside mentions FREE HOUSE in the former Adagia space. Some posts on Yelp (including some informative shilling) mention pub food like mac and cheese, and iceberg wedge salad, cassoulet, plus 15 beers on tap, a fireplace, and full bar. A tipster let me know the former chef at Monk’s Kettle (Kevin Kroger) is running the kitchen, so if some dishes seem familiar to you, now you know why. Mon-Fri 11am-12am, Sat 4pm-12am. 2700 Bancroft Way at College.
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
The Rock Bar Opening This Week
I checked in with Kevin Cline of the Front Porch on his latest project with Josey White, THE ROCK BAR, and sure enough, they are going to meet their intended opening date of Saturday February 11th that he told me about a month ago (well, if health inspections go well—in fact, they might even open sooner). The project was already mentioned on tablehopper, but to recap, as Cline puts it, “It’s going to be a fun neighborhood bar for people who like great classic cocktails, cool wines, cold beers, and geology!” Not only does the exterior have a lot of rocks adhered to it (a holdover from its days as the International Club), but both Cline’s and White’s families come from mining backgrounds, so they’re having some fun with that theme with the interior as well.
Cocktails include classics like the Sazerac, Vieux Carré, and Corpse Reviver #2, plus drinks like the Dirty Metamorphic (Tito’s, olive, Fresno chile), Real Thunderberg (Maker’s, Bunderberg, Underberg, lime), and the clever Inheritance International (“pick your spirit from our inheritance; we will make you something nice”). Follow The Rock Bar on Facebook for up-to-the-day updates on the opening. Open Mon-Wed 5pm-1am, Thu-Sat 5pm-2a, and Sun 11am-1am. 80 29th St. at Tiffany, 415-550-6664.
Bartender and Wine Director Hires
Some bartender updates: Alcademics reports Joel Baker (Bourbon & Branch, nopa, and Burritt Room) is now the bar manager at TRES in SoMa. More details: “Baker told me he’d look into expanding the tequila program into other agave spirits including adding more mezcal and sotol. They’ll begin serving tequila shots with a choice of sangrita chasers in red or green as well.” Look for some new cocktails on the menu as well.
Meanwhile, over in the East Bay, the talented Aurora Siegel (Rose Pistola) is now working at BAR DOGWOOD in Oakland. She just started last night.
And on the wine side, CAVALLO POINT LODGE has hired Gillian Ballance as wine director. She was most recently a wine consultant for the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco and Bottega Restaurant in Napa Valley, and was formerly the PlumpJack Group’s wine director between 2004 and 2009.
Get Your Beer On at These Events
Lots of opportunities coming up to get your beer on—at brunch, in a beer-making class, and even on Valentine’s Day. Beerunch is back at PUBLIC HOUSE on Sunday February 12th, 11:30am-2:30pm, with a brunch-focused food and beer pairing menu. Some of the featured pairings are MateVeza and Mill Valley Beerworks Morpho Herbal Ale (aged with lactobacillus) with El Porteño pollo empanadas, Moonlight Toast (Slightly Burnt) with chicken waffles with salsa verde, and Marin Three Flowers IPA (cask) with potato chip-crusted fried mac and cheese bites with mimolette, Jack, smoked Gouda, and Gruyère. Tix required and do sell out. Get ‘em online here.
Get your beer on again the next day at a beer-making and cooking class in the Hands On Gourmet loft kitchen—it’s the SF stop of the BROOKLYN BREW SHOP BEER MAKING BOOK TOUR. Students cook with the Hands On Gourmet chefs while the Brooklyn Brew Shop demos their Spring Lager and explains the beer-making process from grains to glass. The beer and food pairings include Bourbon Dubbel with barbeque duck and green papaya salad, Jalapeño Saison with grilled lamb kebabs and mango chutney, and Gingerbread Ale with vanilla bean ricotta cannoli, citrus, and pistachios. Monday February 13th, 7pm-9pm. $50, includes book, beer tasting, and food pairing. Tickets online. 2325 3rd St. #409 at 20th St.
Also at Public House, they’re putting tongue in cheek for a Valentine’s Day party on Tuesday the 14th they’re calling “Bitter, Sour, Single”, otherwise known as a singles event with specials on bitter and sour beers all night, including Tartar and Cuvee de Bubba (both sour), as well as Jack London Bitter. You get a free sample flight of bitter and sour beers with purchase. How’s that for an anti-Valentine’s Day party?
And don’t forget, it’s SF Beer Week February 10th-19th! So many great events, check it out!
Sunday Feb 12, 2012 – Tuesday Feb 14, 2012 more info
Tre Bicchieri Returns to SF on February 15th
This month is all about an abundance of Italian wines: just last week was The Golden Glass, and on Wednesday February 15th, the TRE BICCHIERI world tour makes its stop in San Francisco. For 2012, 375 labels attained the “tre bicchieri” status out of over 20,000 wines that were tasted by Gambero Rosso panels; only “tre bicchieri” winners will be poured at this top-notch tasting event at Fort Mason Center. Trade 2pm-6pm; public 3pm-6pm. And please note a newly designed Italian Wines 2012, the English-language version of Vini d’Italia, will make its first appearance in its trimmer format.
Wednesday Feb 15, 2012 Trade 2pm–6pm; public 3pm–6pm. more info
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Sean Penn at Tosca Cafe
Another Sean Penn sighting from last week: according to Leah Garchik’s column, he was at Tosca Cafe in North Beach, and “met up with the three American hikers released after being incarcerated in Iran.” (According to Reuters, Penn had a hand in helping with their release.)
It Was Hammertime at Bluestem
According to a tweet, MC Hammer was in Bluestem Brasserie last night. He was holding court with a friend for four hours, and was seen eating one of pastry chef James Ormsby’s “cookie jars” for dessert with hot tea.