This week's tablehopper: striking (out).
The kitchen counter at State Bird Provisions. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello, fellow soggy citizens. Should I feel guilty for not leaving my bed to work out in Alamo Square this morning? It was all kinds of gross out. I’ll just need to work it out on the dancefloor tonight instead. Fine by me.
Remember when I said I was going to have a review for you today? It’s like the universe is conspiring against me or something. Suffice it to say, there was a major snafu with my piece slated to run today, almost comedically so. (Almost. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.) So I am going to run a sneak peek for you of the brand-new Mission Bowling Club instead, opening Monday. I had a chance to swing by for a friends and family preview after a, uh, entertaining opening party at the new PENTHOUSE Club & Steakhouse (which is not my first pick for where I want to see and hang out with some of my work colleagues—I needed my own Champagne room, ha ha). As for the MBC, it’s going to be such a hit—read on for more.
I also realized I forgot to link to this week’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio in my Tuesday issue, which features exactly the kind of dish you want on a day like today: the katsikaki youvetsi (goat stew) at Kokkari. Listen in to the segment here!
Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow (I’ll be at the Vintage Fashion Expo, wearing something green)!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
A Sneak Peek of Mission Bowling Club (Opens Monday)
Opening Monday March 19th, MISSION BOWLING CLUB is going to be a fantastic addition to the Mission, hell, the city! A few former pieces are on tablehopper about this unique project opening in a former warehouse from owners Sommer Peterson and Molly Bradshaw.
As soon as you approach the spacious building, you get a sense that it’s going to be something different. The outdoor patio has a bit of a country-rustic vibe to it, with clever touches like an overhead and gleaming bowling ball installation (by Winslow Warren) that is actually made of cat food cans, and a living wall full of plants (the shelves are made from the metal gate that was previously on the property), with a bowling pin in the middle made from scrap wood from the project. There will also be at least six outdoor tables and covered bike parking.
Inside, there is a downstairs dining area along with an upstairs mezzanine (rentable for private events, with room for 20), a fully stocked bar, and there are six gleaming bowling lanes under a mural by Andrew Shoultz and Andres Guerrero (each lane has its own tufted leather couch). You can rent a lane from 3pm-6pm for $35 an hour (up to six people), 6pm-8pm for $45, and $55 an hour after 8pm. Some may scoff at the pricing, but keep in mind Presidio Bowl can go up to $7.25 per person per game, and you don’t get the ambiance and style you do here. Pardon the pun, heh heh, but Mission Bowling Company is in another league entirely. There will be three lanes available to reserve ahead of time via phone or the website, and another three that are first come, first served (the owners want to make sure people can always come by and bowl). Oh, and in the evening, wait until the black lights get switched on the pins. Groovy.
As for the menu, Anthony Myint (Mission Street Food, Commonwealth, Mission Chinese Food) and his talented team have crafted an approachable menu, and yet each dish that comes out shows a definite culinary pedigree and technique. This was only a test dinner, so things are going to change and be tweaked in coming weeks, but it was an impressive beginning. There are snacks like the flavor-packed Thai beef jerky ($5), which is actually made with beef and papaya; the everything pretzel ($5) with whipped lardo and mostarda that you slather on top; and a spring roll ($7) with peas, radishes, mint, cocoa butter, rice, and nori. Food on a stick includes a sausage corn dog ($6), a juicy sausage (it’s braised) with a light exterior of cornmeal, flour, and hominy—no overly bready corndog here—and wait until you dip it in the habañero crema. It’s served launching from a wood plate that was actually a piece of excess plank from the brand-new bowling lanes. It looks like an inappropriate, uh, meat rocket—and is sure to get comments. Hey, we’re all 14-year-old boys in our brains somewhere (some more than others).
There are three variations of salads, including a steak salad ($12) with thinly sliced hanger steak, olive relish, arugula, fresh mozzarella, and the always-welcome addition of thin potato chips. Larger plates include French onion casserole ($14), a half-chicken with little gems ($20), and the decadent and delicious ham ‘n’ Swiss bucatini ($14), a riff on a dish from a former Mission Street Food chef (Collins Anderson).
And then, of course, there’s the famed Mission burger ($15), a half-pound of beef (brisket, chuck, and hanger from Harris Ranch) that is aged and then granulated—a Heston Blumenthal technique—and then cooked in beef fat, which gives it an amazing crusty exterior. It comes with caramelized onions, Monterey Jack cheese, and caper aioli—you really want to split that bad boy with someone, trust (it’s a beast of a burger). $1 of every burger is donated to local, youth serving organizations. (Oh, and you can have the burger for $10 during happy hour, from 3pm-6pm, and in the evening after 10pm.) Vegans have their own burger ($10), a fritter of chickpea, kale, and shiitake, topped with spicy guacamole and fennel slaw.
Save room for dessert, like the coffee cake ($8), a layered cake of buckwheat financier with mascarpone, buttercream, and an exterior layer of chocolate, in a bubbly espresso bath. Everything is charmingly served on vintage plates.
The full bar has cocktails like the MBC Cooler, with rye whiskey, grapefruit, Dolin Blanc, soda, and allspice, and the TBD (to be named after the first person who bowls a perfect game), made with mezcal, dry vermouth, jalapeño jam, and lime (specialty cocktails are $10). The bar staff has some talented folks from neighborhood bars and Comstock Saloon. Beer lovers, you have nine on tap to choose from, including Lagunitas, Magnolia, Blind Pig IPA, and PBR ($3).
The space is full of artistic touches, from the suspended wood bowling pin and ball near the bar, to all kinds of cool pieces on the walls. The goal was to really reflect the neighborhood, and to create a comfortable space for people to hang out. (They succeeded.) For the first week, hours are 6pm-11pm. Starting Monday March 26th, MBC will open at 3pm, with happy hour from 3pm-6pm, and dinner service from 6pm-close. MBC will close at 11pm every night except for Thu-Sat, which will be midnight. They plan to open for Family Bowl at noon on Sat and Sun starting March 31st, and at 10am once brunch kicks in after a couple months. Families are welcome to bowl from 10am-7pm on the weekends, but MBC will be 21 and over Mon-Fri.
Mission Bowling Club - 3176 17th St. San Francisco - 415-863-BOWL
Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Spring Events and Happenings
By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.
FARMSTEAD restaurant in St. Helena has begun serving Sunday brunch from 11am-3pm, with a sweet little selection of breakfasty items from chef Stephen Barber, as well as some sassy drinks. Farmstead bacon bloody Mary? Don’t mind if I do. The Long Meadow Ranch market stand in front of the restaurant is also worth checking out, selling produce, flowers, honey, organic eggs, grass-fed beef, and more every Friday morning from 9am-1pm. Master gardener Laddie Hall (the creator of LMR’s gardens and co-founder of the entire operation) is usually on hand to show off the wares. 738 Main St. at Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena, 707-963-4555.
Competing for your Sunday morning stomach space, IRON HORSE VINEYARDS started yet another food tradition this month. Sunday March 18th will be the inaugural Oyster Sunday, featuring $2 briny beauties from The Oyster Girls, and a $15 flight (free for wine club members) of Iron Horse sparkling wines. The Oyster Girls are a roving raw bar affiliated with the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, who parade their bivalves around naked or dressed in your choice of infused mango mignonette, pink horseradish sauce, or rice wine mignonette. Mark your calendars for future Oyster Sundays on April 22nd (Earth Day), the release date for Iron Horse’s new Ocean Reserve bubbly, and also on May 20th. 9786 Ross Station Rd., Sebastopol, 707-887-1507.
Time and tickets are running out for the second BIG GAY WINE TRAIN on Saturday March 31st, which is rumored to be even bigger and gayer than last year’s. The ticket includes a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train, a five-course dinner prepared by chef Kelly MacDonald, and paired wines from local LGBT vintners—this year, Sarah Bennett of Navarro Vineyards, Greg Bjornstad of Bjornstad Cellars, Mark Lyon of Sebastiani Vineyards, and Jeff Durham and Joey Wolosz of Gentleman Farmer Wines. Gay revelers board the train at 6pm for a 6:30pm departure, which lets you watch the sunset cast purple shadows over the vineyards on the way to St. Helena—but makes the ride back to the station essentially pitch black (though hardly anyone is looking outside by that point). Seats in the plush Vista Dome car are already sold out, but you can still score a seat in one of the Gourmet Express cars for $160. Call the Wine Train to reserve. 800-427-4124.
On April 29th, Book Passage and LEFT BANK in Larkspur are hosting a special dinner to celebrate the release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new cookbook, At Home on the Range, a modernized compilation of her great-grandma’s recipe collection from 1920 through World War II. Since great-grandma Margaret Yardley Potter was a cooking columnist and early advocate for ethnic cuisine and farmers’ markets, the book offers a lot more than dreary, Depression-era staples. Dinner at Left Bank will be inspired by the book’s recipes; wine, coffee, tax, service, and a signed copy of the cookbook are all included in the $115 price tag. Reserve online here. 507 Magnolia Ave. at Ward St., Larkspur.
Paula Wolfert, the world’s most eloquent authority on Mediterranean cuisine, will be in downtown Sonoma Wednesday May 16th for “Dinner and Conversation” at Sheana Davis’ THE EPICUREAN CONNECTION. Davis and executive chef Jeff Mall of Zin Restaurant and Farm will prepare the meal so Ms. Wolfert can chitchat with you from 6pm-8pm. Call quickly for reservations, since space at the communal table is limited and Paula Wolfert is awesome. $60 per person. 122 W. Napa St. between 1st St. W. and 2nd St. W., Sonoma, 707-935-7960.