The peaceful patio at the Kenwood Inn and Spa. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello, my fellow soggy friends. Yeah, it’s definitely soup weather out there. Fortunately the weather was still beautiful when I drove up to Glen Ellen on Saturday in my new Fiat 500, her first road trip. Zip zip! My wingman and I stopped at the HKG tasting room for lunch (they offer a variety of flavorful small plates from chef Khambay Khamsavoravong) before checking in to the Kenwood Inn and Spa, such a glorious hideaway (it feels like a Montecito mansion). We had an enjoyable rhubarb-influenced dinner from new chef Steven Snook while sitting next to the fireplace—and then the best part is just walking to your room and sinking into a glorious feather bed. Best night of sleep I’ve had all week. There’s nothing like getting out of the city, and even for 24 hours, it was quite the reset button. Stand by for more about the property soon.
After breakfast (we were back in front of the fireplace, oh you know it), it was time to head back to the city, but I wanted to do a quick stop at Ram’s Gate Winery to check it out. It’s quite an impressive setting, and they did a bang-up job with the design and chic décor—very welcoming service as well. Will have to return when I have more time to try some of the dishes on offer.
Have a good week—today’s issue should have plenty of opportunities for you to be well-fed and get toasty.
Last week the local media and some culinary colleagues received a teaser USB flash drive from William Werner (formerly Tell Tale Preserve Company) and Outfit Generic, loaded with images of his playful creations. There was also a cryptic image of an industrial roof, and I assumed it meant he was going to be opening his pâtisserie concept in the 740 Valencia space after all (it was the intended location for Tell Tale before investor woes monkey-wrenched the entire project).
As for this new project, the name has yet to be revealed, and timing is also a bit vague—all we know is spring. But the Scoop was fed a bit more info about the project, with confirmation that Werner will be joining Dandelion Chocolate, The Abbott’s Cellar, and other projects in landlord-developer Ron Mallia’s awesome property on Valencia. More details: hours will be 7am-8pm, serving sweet and savory items, Sightglass Coffee, Naivetea tea, and beer and wine (wine director Michael Ireland of Meadowood will be assembling the list) in the 1,200-square-feet space. Stand by for more in coming weeks. 746 Valencia St. at 18th St.
After hearing numerous rumblings that chef Elizabeth Falkner was moving to New York, the reason why has been revealed: she is going to be opening a Sicilian-inspired pizza and pasta place in Brooklyn. Scoop shares she will be working with Nancy Puglisi, who is partner and Director of Operations at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in North Beach, and Tony Gemignani will be consulting on the project. Also on the team: Darren Crawford, a bartender at Bourbon & Branch and Tony Nik’s (otherwise known as my waiting room while trying to snag a table at Tony’s).
Menu details and the exact location will be revealed soon (it sounds like it will either be in Park Slope or Boerum Hill/Carroll Gardens). How did this all come to be? Falkner is a huge fan of Tony’s pizzas (who isn’t?) and eventually became friends with him, and she even went to his school for certification as a Neapolitan pizzaiolo. Best of luck in this new venture.
Over at SPRUCE, executive chef Mark Sullivan has named one of his long-time sous chefs, John Madriaga, as chef de cuisine. He will take over the position in late April.
SFoodie notes some changes to the crew at RADIUS: seems managing partner Jon Whitehead has promoted chef de cuisine Peter Cham to executive chef, and current executive chef Chris Geremia will be heading to Nojo. One more addition: new sous chef Matt Kirk will be coming over from Spruce.
And over at PUBLIC HOUSE, chef Chris Wade (Prospect) is now part of the team, working closely with chef Traci Des Jardins. New menu items include pretzels, mac and cheese bites, grilled vegetable sandwiches, 4505 sliders, and more.
In honor of Pi Day this Wednesday March 14th, THREE BABES BAKESHOP will be selling and delivering pies for $31.41. On the menu: toffee apple, salted almond custard with caramel and blood oranges, salty honey walnut, vanilla sugar buttermilk, and the off-the-menu chocolate pumpkin (they’ve had requests for it, so they’re doing it!). Email to order.
Did you know Wednesday is Pozole Day at MIJITA? Perfect lousy weather for you to track it down this week; it’s quite popular, so come early before they sell out.
On Thursday March 15th, BELCAMPO MEAT CO. is hosting a Meat Up lunch, featuring beef chile verde topped with pickled vegetables and bacon cream, served with warm and handmade corn tortillas. A full selection of Blue Bottle Coffees and cookies will also be available. 12pm-2:30pm. Belcampo will be opening a modern-day butcher shop in July 2012, working with whole animals; all meats served will come directly from their farm in Shasta Valley and are 100% grass-fed. Blue Bottle Coffee, Jack London Square, 300 Webster St. at 3rd St., Oakland.
Quick update on THE WINDOW in SoMa: the March calendar is filling up with all kinds of street food vendors, so check out the latest online calendar and follow @TheWindowSF on Twitter for more. 1599 Howard St. at 12th St.
Switcheroo on Ritch Street: CENTO moved into John Whitmarsh Art Studios next door at 336/372 Ritch Street, and Little Skillet expanded into Cento’s old space (360 Ritch). Swing by for Cento Wednesdays, when the staff will prepare either a coffee or baked surprise for some “afternoon delight.”
A tablehopper tipster let me know about the SFDELIGHTS dessert truck, parking at 16th and Mission in the lot next to the Wells Fargo. Dessert items include crumble tea tart, Thai coffee tiramisu, and more.
According to this post on Hayeswire, GOURMET & MORE in Hayes Valley, otherwise known as French cheese heaven, is going to be opening its back patio by the end of the month, and is applying to serve beer and wine as well. 141 Gough St. at Lily.
Just this past weekend, SWEETWATER MUSIC HALL CAFÉ launched weekend brunch from 9am-3pm (featuring a live music Sunday brunch), plus breakfast and lunch (7am-3pm), and dinner (4pm-10pm) during the week in the soft-service café led by chef Gordon Drysdale. 19 Corte Madera Ave. at Lovell, Mill Valley, 415-388-3850.
A random lineup of closures around town: Inside Scoop announces GORDON BIERSCH BREWERY RESTAURANT’s lease expires April 28th, and since an agreement couldn’t be reached with the landlord, the brewery is going to move elsewhere. 2 Harrison St. at The Embarcadero, 415-243-8246.
A tablehopper tipster informed me JAVA WASTED CAFE has closed (it’s the old Jackie’s space, over by McCoppin). 105 Valencia St. at McCoppin.
A tablehopper reader alerted me to some changes at BERNAL SUPPER CLUB, the Monday and Tuesday pop-up at Caffe Cozzolino. It ends up Miles Carnahan has left the partnership, and since he’s been using the name Bernal Supper Club for the past 10 years, he’s taking it with him. Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton are now operating as the Hillside Supper Club, and according to their Facebook page: “Moving forward we are in the process of taking over the Cozzolino space, and plan on opening sometime this fall, stay tuned.”
And in the “not quite closed” department, SFoodie discovers CUCO’S in the Lower Haight is still open, in spite of the eviction notice it received a month ago—seems the closure date isn’t definite. 488 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-863-4906.
Some special dinners for your consideration: from March 11th-18th, AME is offering a special menu celebrating the culinary spirit of Miyagi, Japan, and 10% of the proceeds from this menu will be donated to benefit the Chefs United for Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. The five-course prix-fixe menu is $100 (wine pairings, $65), featuring dishes inspired by the region, like Miyagi oysters in ponzu sauce with momiji oroshi.
On Monday March 19th, JARDINIÈRE is hosting a special literary-themed dinner to help raise money for Litquake. The menu is inspired by the writings of M.F.K. Fisher and will include three courses and three wine pairings for $59, with $10 donated to Litquake.
Starting Sunday March 18th, OLIVETO is launching Sunday Italian Farmhouse Suppers. These rustic, family-style dinners are four courses for $40 per person. The initial Tuscan menu by chef Jonah Rhodehamel will feature rabbits from Hoffman Farm. Check here for each week’s menu details and more. Dinner service begins at 5:30pm.
On Friday March 30th, ALEXANDER’S STEAKHOUSE in San Francisco is hosting a foie gras dinner and benefit for CHEFS (the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards). Joining Alexander’s San Francisco chef Marc Zimmerman for the six-course menu will be David Barzigan from Fifth Floor, Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, Ken Frank of La Toque, Joseph Elenterio of Chez TJ, and Alexander’s pastry chef Dan Huynh. $250 (includes wine, excludes tax and gratuity). Reservations begin at 6:30pm.
Alexander's Steakhouse - 448 Brannan St. San Francisco - 415-495-1111
Thanks to a couple tweets, I learned the CURRY UP NOW folks are opening another restaurant and food truck called THE DOSA REPUBLIC in San Mateo around April 1st. You can peek at a preliminary menu here, which includes dosas served with a trio of chutneys and your choice of filling (check them out here), along with appetizers like samosa rolls and uttapam tacos. The brick-and-mortar restaurant will be at 2299 El Camino Real at 23rd Ave. in San Mateo.
Seems a lot of people were surprised with the news of the sudden closure of CAFÉ FANNY after 28 years, including the staff (fortunately the employees are getting two weeks’ severance). Alice Waters’ partners in the venture were her sister, Laura Maser, and her brother-in-law, Jim Maser, who are reportedly divorcing so it sounds like things got complicated. A follow-up Berkeleyside piece mentions Waters saying another café may be coming to the location, with the involvement of Acme’s Steve Sullivan and Kermit Lynch (they are all neighbors in the complex). Long live the memory of the perfect breakfast there: a poached egg on levain from neighboring Acme Bread Company, and a creamy café au lait. 1603 San Pablo Ave. at Cedar.
And now, a little glimmer of good news: SUYA AFRICAN-CARIBBEAN GRILL has opened, a fast-casual place serving West African and Caribbean-inspired skewers of meat, fish, and vegetables ($4.95-$8.95) served with flatbread. There is also jerk chicken, sides like roasted plantain, and a fruit punch called Chapman (non-alcoholic). It’s primarily take-out, with only four barstools and outdoor seating. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm. 2130 Oxford St. at Center, 510-981-8028.
It also looks like SUMMER KITCHEN BAKE SHOP collected enough signatures to become a quick-service restaurant with 33 seats instead of just a take-out spot, plus serve beer and wine, and to install a restroom. 2944 College Ave. at Ashby, 510-981-0538.
The name Mani Niall may be familiar to some, known for Mani’s Bakery in Los Angeles, and he also was the executive chef at Just Desserts up here. According to the East Bay Express, Niall is going to open SWEET BAR BAKERY in Uptown in the former Mimosa Champagne Lounge space, which in a twist of fate used to be a sweets shop called MacFarlanes from 1946 to 1976. Niall will serve baked goods and coffee in the morning, sandwiches in the afternoon, and beer and wine until 11pm. Check out his Kickstarter if you want to help him bring this to fruition quickly.
After wondering about an ABC licence, Diablo Dish has some news about CAMBER, a new bar and restaurant. Owner Irfan Joffrey “is planning a 5,800-square-feet restaurant … [that] will have an upstairs private lounge and serve Asian-fusion cuisine with a California touch—along with dry-aged steaks.” He hopes to open in June, along with a new bar called Feezy (1707 Telegraph Ave.). 1540 Broadway at 15th St.
What are you TRULY hungry for? Beyond the restaurants, the farmers’ markets, and your kitchen table—what is it that you deeply crave? What would make you feel deliciously well-fed in your life?
Rachel Cole is a certified life coach, retreat host, instigator of ease, and hunger-satisfier. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she’s spent years steeped in the vibrant Bay Area food community. She now guides women towards understanding and feeding their true hungers.
As part of her 12-city national tour, Rachel is bringing her incisive and heartful teachings to San Francisco on March 24th. Click here to learn more about this intimate gathering, hear what other attendees are saying, and get your ticket before they are gone.
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned Jeff Hollinger was going to be spending a bit more time with the ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR bar program, and it ends up there’s bigger news to share: Matt Conway, whom many of you will recognize from his three years at nopa, has been named bar manager. Conway has worked closely with Hollinger and Jonny Raglin at Comstock Saloon from day one—so he knows their approach and program well—and the past three months has been working behind the stick at Absinthe.
Conway will be collaborating with Hollinger (who will be there a couple days a week) on updating the cocktail list and selecting spirits, while continuing Hollinger and Raglin’s Absinthe legacy of having a focus on housemade ingredients. His first official day as bar manager is today, and you will find his new drink on the board, the Palermo Buck: 1.5 oz Bernheim whiskey, 0.75 oz Averna, 0.5 oz orange juice, 0.5 oz lime juice, 2 dashes orange bitters. Shake and strain into a Collins glass, top with ginger beer. Yup, I could have that for breakfast. Hey, Matty!
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590
The 29th San Francisco International Beer Festival isn’t until April 28th, but tickets go on sale on TicketWeb on Friday March 16th at 10am—since tickets sold out last year in less than an hour, you’ll want to get on it. For $65, you will get a bottomless mug of over 100 international and local craft beers paired with edibles from local SF restaurants. All proceeds benefit a local cooperative preschool.
On Monday March 19th, MONK’S KETTLE is hosting a Moonlight Brewing dinner with Brian Hunt. Check out the five-course menu here. $90 (tax and gratuity not included). 5:45pm door, 6:30pm first course—will last about four hours. Seats can be reserved by emailing Nat.
Whole Foods Market Potrero Hill has opened STEEP BREW, the store’s new full-service beer and coffee bar (the grand opening happy hour event is Friday March 30th from 5pm-7pm, with local brewers and beer guru Wesley Anderson, special pricing on some beers and nibbles, food samples, giveaways, and a raffle). There is a rotating selection of artisanal, local, craft brews served at 38 degrees Fahrenheit in a proper glass; featured tap beers include Ballast Point, Almanac Beer Co., Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Magnolia Brewery, Dying Vines, and Anchor Brewing, and special guest breweries and brewmasters will make appearances on Fridays (like Magnolia on March 23rd, 6pm-9pm). There is also a wide selection of local coffees, plus appetizers, cheeses, burgers, and more, plus flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi. Open daily 8am-10pm; happy hour Mon-Fri 5pm-6pm. 450 Rhode Island St. at 17th St.
Monk's Kettle - 3141 16th St. San Francisco - 415-865-9523
On Friday March 23rd, FIFTH FLOOR is hosting a winemaker dinner with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard. For that night, the restaurant will be offering a special seven-course menu paired with Bonny Doon wines, and Randall will be at the restaurant to talk to guests about his wines. The menu will be $95 and wine tastings will be $68 (taxes and gratuities excluded).
On Saturday March 24th, Champagne Socials and Planet Grape Presents are hosting a Champagne tasting and sabering event with Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis. Some of the evening’s featured Champagnes include: Perrier-Jouet, Champagne Mumm, L’Host, Piper-Heidsieck, Champagne Henriot, Monthuy, Champagne Taittinger. Yeah, not too shabby. The event will be held at the Nieto Fine Art Gallery. $30; tickets here. 7pm-9pm. 565 Sutter St. at Powell.
I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for cool party spaces, and THE OFFICE above Churchill looks pretty sweet. Thrillist mentions there’s room for 99 people, and you get your own private bar (a walnut-topped bar), a list of 15 high-end cocktails, two taps with your choice of kegs, plus audio hookups for DJs and plug-ins for live music, a shuffleboard table, three TVs, a 10’x5’ screen, and a full kitchen. Email for details. And don’t forget to invite me, mmmmmkay? 198 Church St. at Market.
Saturday Mar 17, 2012
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, lands on a Saturday this year, all the more reason to get your green and your Guinness on. Since you’re online already, here’s a vid from CHOW on pouring the perfect pint o’ Guinness from a can. Watch and learn.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, WILLIAM CROSS WINE MERCHANTS is highlighting green wines at their weekly tasting on Wednesday March 14th, 6pm-9pm. And by green, they mean organic, biodynamic, and/or sustainable wines from all over the world that you can feel good about drinking. 2253 Polk St. at Green, 415-346-1314.
BAKER & BANKER has the sweets covered with green cupcakes made of Guinness devil’s food cake with Bailey’s buttercream frosting.
Here’s an unexpected way to spend St. Patrick’s Day, perfect for cheese-lovers: DISCOVERY STREET TOURS will lead a special edition of their walking tour The Science of Bread and Cheese. They’ll focus on Irish cheeses and what’s special about the cows, milk, and cheese-aging microbes of the Emerald Isle. Ends with a bread-and-cheese picnic. $65. Tickets online. 1:30pm-4pm, meeting at Allyne Park at Green and Gough Sts.
Since Italian Father’s Day (aka St. Joseph’s Feast, March 19th) is so close to St. Patrick’s Day, PALIO D’ASTI is offering up an Irish-Italian feast of a menu this Saturday. Just reading it makes you want to loosen your belt a notch: eight starters (including house-pickled vegetables, Venetian-style crab-stuffed deviled eggs, polenta home fries, garbanzo bean and salami salad with mozzarella, fried baby artichokes with Meyer lemon aioli), three types of risotto (braised lamb, peas, pecorino, saffron; Tuscan-style spicy seafood, red wine; and smoked wild mushrooms), and several second courses (beer-braised corned beef and cabbage platter, spicy sautéed white prawns, rosemary and garlic crusted lemon chicken, slow roasted pork loin with mustard sauce, and grilled asparagus and baked potato gratin with Fontina cheese). Finish the feast with a grand Sicilian dessert sampler. Don’t forget they have a full bar. Adults $65, children under 13 pay their age.
Thursday Apr 5, 2012 6pm–10pm Included with museum admission. Info Exploratorium 3601 Lyon St. at Yacht, San Francisco
This sounds like one for the food geek in you: on Thursday April 5th, 6pm-10pm, the EXPLORATORIUM’s After Dark program is holding Gastronomy night, inspired by Modernist Cuisine, the six-volume compendium on the art and science of cooking.
Expect food-themed activities and high-tech demos, like liquid nitrogen ice cream, fruit juice “caviar,” sous vide eggs with Cooking for Geeks author Jeff Potter, and a demo from Modernist Cuisine’s head chef Maxime Bilet and SeattleFoodGeek.com author Scott Heimendinger. Centrifuges, homogenizers, hydrocolloids, and emulsifiers will be discussed. Plus you get to find out if you’re a “super-taster,” learn the cultural history of the orange, and take home some asparagus experiments. There’s also music, a cash bar, and free parking.
All very intriguing stuff, but leave the kiddos at home, it’s for the 18+ crowd. After Dark: Gastronomy is included with museum admission. 3601 Lyon St. at Yacht, 415-561-0399.
By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.
NAPA VALLEY BISCUITS opened Saturday March 3rd to an overwhelming wave of customers that forced them to shut down operations by mid-afternoon. According to co-owner Tara Lindley, the predicted 100-check day had seen more than a hundred people within the first two hours, and supplies obviously were running way too low to keep serving dinner as planned. After several more slammin’ services and forced early closures, the restaurant voluntarily closed its doors Saturday afternoon for a whole week, to install more cold storage space and fryers for their fabulous chicken biscuit sandwiches.
I barely made it in for their first (and so far, only) dinner service last Friday night, since they barricaded the door shortly after 7pm, but the early report is good. Preparations were fresh, real, and simple, and priced accordingly. The most expensive thing we got was the $8 “Big Mamma” sandwich, a towering biscuit-clad figure stuffed with bacon, juicy fried chicken breast, and housemade apple butter. Sides like the back to basics mac and cheese and braised greens were $2.50 each, and the Carolina-style pulled pork “Wilber” sandwich was just $7.75. Vintage sodas like Cheerwine and spicy Blenheim Ginger Ale are $2.50 as well, making a meal out very easy on the wallet. Let’s hope these renovations don’t take longer than a week, because Napa clearly needs this place. 1502 Main St. at Napa St., Napa, 707-265-8209.
Another newcomer to downtown Napa has seen booming business of late. Snazzy TARLA MEDITERRANEAN GRILL in the West End has been packed every time I’ve visited, with a line of people waiting at the front (no reservations). The menu takes its inspiration from the eastern Mediterranean, with lots of Greek and Turkish specialties like spanakopita, saganaki, meze platters, shawarma, and kabobs. The wine list has a minimal markup, and several very good Turkish options as well as the requisite retsina. White copper water glasses and accented Turkish bartenders lend a refreshingly exotic touch to the downtown scene, which may account for some of the female public’s cultish fascination. Definitely worth checking out, especially on a sunny day (sidewalk seating on First Street has full sun most of the afternoon). 1480 First St. at School St., Napa, 707-255-5599.
Edward Norton has been on the town, dining at Twenty Five Lusk restaurant with about 14 people (including his brother) at the chef’s table (he ordered soup and risotto). Executive chef Matthew Dolan also sent out a 16-pound red snapper for the group.
He also came in to Park Tavern with a group that included his dad and his new fiancée, comedy producer Shauna Robertson, who works with Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad). They had the crudités, chicken, and tuna.
Beach boy Gerard Butler, who is starring in the upcoming Of Men and Mavericks, and the Iron Cross film crew visited the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company last night until 11:30pm, along with some local big wave surfers, including Grant Washburn. Mr. Butler is a fan of chef Gaston Alfaro’s fresh seafood sampler and oysters, which he consumed while seated in front of the fireplace in the bar.
On Saturday evening, Sofia Vergara, the stunning Colombian vixen who plays Gloria on ABC’s Modern Family, came in to Venticello with friends and family for a meal. Based on her Twitter feed, she was in town for a whirlwind weekend visit of sightseeing.
Also on Saturday, @thetomatotart spotted Sofia at the Ferry Building.
Over the weekend, William Shatner came in to Grand Café with his wife and another gentleman (Shatner was in town to perform “Shatner’s World” at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday.) The group had the Grand Plateau (the raw plate with oysters, clams, and shrimp), and Shatner enjoyed the French onion soup, chorizo omelet, and three pots of white orchard herbal tea.
Another well-known guest: Alton Brown dined in the Grand Café bar area with his family. Diners noted they seemed to be having a great time (one spotter thinks they were nibbling on one of chef Alicia Jenish’s duck flatbreads).
A tablehopper tweeter spotted culinary duo Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert at Bouchon on Saturday, and Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapaport spotted The Ripper at Ad Hoc on Sunday. (Ripert and Rapaport were in town to judge the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.)