In-room gin and tonic cocktail service at the Mandarin Oriental. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Okay, really wind? That’s about enough. It’s making any woman with long hair or anyone who rides a bike really fussy, and let’s just say I have both of those categories covered. Whatever, I’ll be burning off any of my wind-induced fussiness later tonight on the dance floor.
Personally, I am still reeling from the spectacular Dita Von Teese show at The Fillmore on Tuesday night, what a night to remember for all time! I was also lucky to stay the night at the renovated Mandarin Oriental. Nothing like having a view from the 40th floor—which isn’t very common in our city, it feels so much more New Yorky. The rooms reminded me a bit of the Wynn Las Vegas—very chic, with a calming and neutral color palette (and good art!). The fabulous team there also spoiled me and my cohort with in-room gin and tonic service before we headed out on the town—it was a preview of their upcoming bar program by Priscilla Young in the lounge at Brasserie S&P (stand by for more on that soon). Hell, I really could use some in-room gin and tonic service right now at Hopper HQ.
I am sure many of you have already peeled out for the three-day weekend (good for you), but for those of you still killing time in the office, here’s a little review of Park Tavern—if you’re looking for a new brunch spot to hit up, here’s your target. Oh, speaking of brunch, Slow Club and Serpentine will both conveniently be open on Monday from 10am-2:30pm (but closed for dinner, FYI). Don’t forget there is also a luau on Monday with the Namu gang. Last but not least, I have some 707 news for you, courtesy of new 707 Scout writer Heather Irwin.
Have a swell holiday weekend, see you Tuesday. Oh, and Happy 75th Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!
It’s a pleasure to see how much vibrancy has returned to Washington Square Park, with Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, the recently reopened Original Joe’s, and PARK TAVERN all breathing new life into an area of town that was limping along for a while there. All three places are handsome restaurants, but one thing I especially like about Park Tavern is that you can sense a woman’s touch in the design, from the snazzy wallpaper at the entrance to the purse hooks in the ladies’ room (Weinberg worked with Kendra Nicholas Nash on the design). It’s spacious, too, with a buzzing crowd packing the row of comfortable stools at the marble bar and at a communal table—there are plenty of wines by the glass to keep them happily hovering there for hours. Plus, there’s the large dining room (I like the round tables for groups, and the corner banquettes for date night), and the more casual café-like area in the front that is reserved for walk-ins. Servers zip around in striped aprons and white shirts, with a jazzy soundtrack in the background.
Co-owners Anna Weinberg and chef Jennifer Puccio created a citywide allegiance to the burger and Brussels sprout chips at Marlowe in SoMa (their first partnership), which you will find on the menu at their new, popular American tavern. They have massively expanded their offerings to match the square footage, with a flexible menu that has all kinds of options, depending on how you want to dine. One night, I swung by with friends for just a drink and a bite, cruising our way through cocktail-friendly food like the housemade charcuterie plate ($13) and smoky apps like the wicked deviled eggs served on a slate slab with bacon, pickled jalapeño, salsa verde, and chives ($2 each, but they’re worth it).
A hearty dinner started lightly with market vegetables and green goddess dip ($8), featuring crisp carrots, cauliflower, and watermelon radish. The Waldorf salad ($12) skewed a bit too sweet for me (I wanted some bitter greens to counter the sweet candied walnuts) but my dining partner loved it. Much has been written about the petit “poulet rouge” ($25), a plump and juicy chicken that is served whole and upright on a bed of Bloomsdale spinach and potatoes, but you can ask the kitchen to cut it up for you (or in our case, halve it since we were sharing it). Wait until you taste the dark meat on this bird—it’s ridonkulous, and the level of spice is tuned perfectly.
For dessert: the “birthday cake” ($9) is a rotating slice of cake each month (one night it was a tall slice of carrot cake), and it comes to the table with a burning candle. It’s your un-birthday, yo, make a wish! And I was surprised to be more charmed with the Arnold Palmer ($9) than the Fernet in the boozy floats section: the black tea ice cream, lemon gelato, and St. Germain (complete with a metal straw) was a fab finish.
Recently the team launched weekend brunch, and the sunny space is built for it. A star on the menu is the ruby red grapefruit brûlée, with a swipe of crème fraîche and a chiffonade of mint ($6)—it actually makes me want to eat grapefruit for breakfast. The selection of toasts are clever, and I especially went nuts for the sourdough topped with Dungeness crab and green goddess dressing ($9). (I’ll be back for the sourdough rye with smoked salmon.)
The ladies are not afraid to hit you with some hearty entrées, like slices of country ham steak topped with poached eggs and hollandaise ($17), with savoy cabbage and fingerling potato slaw, and grainy mustard on the side—even though this dish is built to be an English muffin-less Benedict, request a side of toast. One of my favorite new brunch dishes in the city is the veal schnitzel ($18), with bacon fat-basted eggs (the best way to cook eggs, truly), marinated Spanish anchovies on top, and frisée aux lardons. Formidable!
If you had a rough night, the boozy smoothie ($10) will get you back in action, a healing combination of Bulleit bourbon, banana, and espresso. Kudos to beverage director Casey Doolin for coming up with that one, seriously. There are also a few pitchers o’ cocktails to choose from in case your table wants to be party central.
This is not to say everything on the extensive menus is perfect—each visit, I’ve experienced dishes that were overseasoned (all seafood, actually) or things were too heavy or oily, like the Bloomsdale spinach with the poulet. The atmosphere is a lively one but magically doesn’t get too loud, and as the starlet section in tablehopper can attest, Park Tavern has become quite the living room for the well-heeled and well-connected set. Ed Moose must be smiling to see his famed dining room so shiny once again.
Park Tavern - 1652 Stockton St. San Francisco - 415-989-7300
By 707 correspondent, Heather Irwin.
Call it a reverse evolution or maybe just a return to its roots, but RAVENOUS CAFE has reopened in its original eight-table space next to the Raven Theater after shuttering the 420 Center Street bungalow it inhabited for nearly a decade. On the menu are dishes like roasted tomatoes with fresh balls of mozzarella, pesto, and pine nuts; crab cakes with cilantro aioli and roasted eggplant; fresh fish tacos; and mascarpone cheesecake with swirls of lemon curd. The famous Ravenous burger was off-menu at our visit, but appeared at a regular’s table by request. Results may vary, but it’s certainly worth asking for. Open Wed-Sat for lunch and dinner (11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-9:30pm), and Sun for brunch (10am-2:30pm) and dinner (5pm-9:30 pm). 117 North St. at Center St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1302.
Welcome to Beer Country: Pliny the Younger, a triple IPA made by Santa Rosa’s RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING, was named Best Beer in the World by Beer Advocate last week. Cheers to that, but don’t get too excited to sip one anytime soon. The beer is allocated just once a year (usually in February) for two short weeks. After that, it’s gone. Also in Santa Rosa, the recently opened SPRENGER’S TAP ROOM has laid claim to the most beers on tap north of the Golden Gate (a whopping 40) with the majority hailing from the Bay Area. 446 B St. at 7th St., Santa Rosa.
ARISTA WINERY hosts its fourth annual Pinot & Paella Party Saturday May 26th from noon-3pm with flamenco guitar, wagon wheel-sized pans of paella from paella guy Gerard Bebesky, and, of course, Arista’s top-notch pinot noirs. 7015 Westside Rd., Healdsburg.
Eat their homework: making fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, pretzel bread sandwiches, Vietnamese banh mi, muffalettas, and steaming bowls of cioppino is all in a day’s schoolwork for students of THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA AT GREYSTONE. Working toward their degrees, the toques-to-be manage the new Bakery Café, open for breakfast and lunch. With all dishes less than $10, it’s a steal of a deal. Professors oversee their work, so you’ll never be saddled with anything less than straight-A work. Open Tue-Sat from 10am-5pm. 2555 Main St. near Deer Park Rd., St. Helena.