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Jun 11, 2012 15 min read

June 12, 2012 - This week's tablehopper: ingredient-driven.

June 12, 2012 - This week's tablehopper: ingredient-driven.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: ingredient-driven.                    

The famed pomme d’amour from Knead Patisserie. Photo: ©

Yeah, that was a pretty gorgeous weekend, right? Shame I had to spend most of it indoors writing (sometimes I HATE the boss of me!), although I was lucky to be invited to dinner at friends’ homes both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Nope, there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal. Am hoping the nice weather holds up for Off the Cove at the ballpark tomorrow evening!

I’m already looking forward to heading up to Sonoma on Friday for a real weekend. The reason for my trip? Friday evening I’m co-hosting a salumi class (There Will Be Meat) with charcutier Peter Temkin at Ramekins. There are a few tickets left; care to join us? We’ll be tasting a bunch of locally made cured meats, drinking lambrusco, and talking mmmmeats! I’ve been watching the weather, and it’s looking like it’ll be a gorgeous evening.

Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I thought you’d like to see the updated list of Father’s Day dining options, plus a cool Japanese whisky tasting.

Yo, fellow self-employed types: don’t forget your tax quarterlies are due Friday. I know, it’s enough to drive one to drink. Fortunately there are options for you to help numb the pain in the lush, like punch bowls.

Later, alligator.

Marcia Gagliardi (Marcia rhymes with Garcia; bonus round: the second “g” is silent in Gagliardi)

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Soup Junkie Opening a Brick and Mortar Location in FiDi June 18th


Bun rieu. Photo courtesy Soup Junkie.


Braised pork bun. Photo courtesy Soup Junkie.

Well, this is exciting: after the success of their wonderful noodle soup pop-up, SOUP JUNKIE has found a brick-and-mortar location on Market Street in the Financial District. They will be replacing the former OISHII CAFE space at 388 Market Street, serving breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday. The opening is slated for Monday June 18th, so you won’t have to wait too long to get your paws on this stuff.

Hung Lam will be serving his excellent Vietnamese soups, including his signature bun rieu, which boasts a six-hour tomato and crab stock with a tender crab omelet, housemade pork meatballs, vermicelli rice noodles, spinach, and herbs. Yeah, it’s beautiful to behold, and, yeah, you should check it out. There will also be his usual exceptional renditions of beef and vegetarian pho, and Cantonese-style wonton soup with pork and shrimp filling. Oh, and if you weren’t sold already, that also comes with chicken, braised pork, and pork cracklings. There will be additional, non-soup vittles like Vietnamese crepes, braised pork sandwiches, and imperial rolls. And that’s not all, Lam says: “I’m also working a few new dishes that I plan to include as weekly specials such as rice bowls, dry noodle bowls, [and a] vegetarian dish with housemade vegetarian ‘fish’ sauce.”

For breakfast, you can look forward to pastries from Belinda Leong of b. patisserie and Gillian Shaw of Black Jet Baking Company and coffee from Bicycle Coffee Co. There will also be a Vietnamese iced coffee made from a custom blend that Lam’s mother and uncle created years ago. How adorable is that? Open Mon-Fri 7am-2:30pm. 388 Market St. at Fremont.

Chez Maman Coming to Hayes Valley


The famed Chez Maman burger. Photo via Yelp by Earl G.

My new tablehopper editorial assistant was doing some Hayes Valley scouting this morning, and discovered who is moving into the now-closed TERRA CAFE & BAKERY at the corner of Gough and Hayes: a second location of Potrero Hill’s CHEZ MAMAN. (It’s a ballsy move considering Absinthe is just across the street, but I do love their burger.) They plan to open this month. 401 Gough St. at Hayes.

Tidbits: Prime Dip, Crêperie Saint Germain, The Mill, and More


Lobster dip sandwich. Yelp photo by Steve S.


Hungry? Crêperie Saint Germain can help. Photo: ©

It’s official: PRIME DIP has landed at the old Jubili Yogurt location at 1515 Fillmore Street (thanks to a tablehopper reader for the tip). They are serving the well-stuffed, quality classic sandwiches made notorious at their Larkin Street location. Look out for lobster, prime rib, and pastrami dip sandwiches. Open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-8pm. 1515 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell, 415-800-8244.

CRÊPERIE SAINT GERMAIN is opening a second location on Friday June 15th in the Bank of America building at 555 California St. You’ll be able to swing by for Zeynep (“Z”) Aynaci’s traditional French buckwheat and gluten-free crêpes made with organic ingredients, like the braised beef crêpe with avocado, jalapeño, cheese, tomato, and green onion, or the original sugar crêpe with lemon, butter, or cinnamon. Hours will be 5am-5pm. A third location will be opening in the Metreon Center at 135 4th St. in early July; hours will be 10am-12am.

According to this post on Josey Baker’s blog, THE MILL, the collaborative café and bakery with Jeremy Tooker of Four Barrel, is going to open a “teensy tiny coffee cart toast bar” any day now; the big opening is slated for August. 736 Divisadero St. at Grove.

A beer and wine license looks to be impending for THE WAY OUT CAFE, which opened at the end of April but has escaped my radar until now. Reviews on Yelp are surprisingly positive, mentioning a nice vibe, a foosball table, quality pastries and coffee (which come with the option of almond milk), and housemade espresso ice cream. 3188 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-240-2743.

License transfers from the former Chilayo on Chestnut point to a new business, BLACKWOOD THAI CUISINE. Scoop shares additional details that the owner of Sweet Maple in the Fillmore area, Steven Choi, is behind the project, which should be opening very soon. 2150 Chestnut St. at Pierce.

Departures and Hires: Nopa and Picán


Amy Brown’s amazing scone at nopa. Photo: ©

After five years as the oh-so-talented pastry chef at NOPA, Amy Brown has departed for her next venture. I caught up with nopa’s chef-partner Laurence Jossel, who said she was a huge contributor and that we have her to thank for brunch. Fortunately Amy’s recipes for the sopaipillas, scones, burger buns, bagels, French toast, and more will stay—and taking her place is Anna Lee, who has been Amy’s assistant for the past year.

Amy is going to be staging in Seattle for the next month (including Sitka & Spruce), and will then be off to Budapest and Istanbul for more inspiration for another month. (Funny side story: the Turkish president’s chef was in the restaurant recently and showed her how to make phyllo!) When she returns, she will be looking for a café space with her fiancé (Joe Wolf at Wise Sons Deli) in the Outer Richmond—stand by for more on that soon.

And over in Oakland, PICÁN has a new chef, Sophina Uong, previously at Waterbar, 900 Grayson in Berkeley, and Betty Zlatchin Catering. New dishes include Lake Pontchartrain blue crab profiteroles with hickory-smoked pimento cream, and smoked Berkshire pork belly with Creole mustard, cherry piccalilli, and pan-fried hasty pudding made from grits.

Closures (Permanent and Temporary)


The Steps of Rome Caffe. Photo from Yelp.

Last week, I received a call from Scott Holley, the owner of STEPS OF ROME CAFFE in North Beach, who told me that the Steps was now closed. About six months ago, he also closed the neighboring Steps of Rome Trattoria; he owned both businesses for 10 years. No more swarthy buskers with heavy accents, no more pasta alla vodka, no more tiramisu, and no more raucous parties during the World Cup. Oh wait, that was all fun in my 20s—it’s been awhile. 348 Columbus Ave. at Grant.

The Market Street location of CAFFE TRIESTE has closed. According to their website, the building has been sold, hence the closure. 1667 Market St. at Gough.

LiveSOMA noted that EDDIE RICKENBACKER’S has closed; Scoop picks up that Rick Howard (Harry’s on Fillmore, Bruno’s) is reportedly taking it over and will be keeping the name as is (although the motorcycles suspended from the ceiling are being auctioned off—those things always made me nervous). 133 2nd St. at Mission.

Was sorry to see that LA CICCIA will be closed from June 12th-17th for a family emergency; the restaurant will reopen on Tuesday June 19th.

Two Saturday Pop-Ups: Duende and Rice Paper Scissors


Canales’ paella. Photo from Duende website.

Summer is bringing us some exciting new pop-up events. Paul Canales, formerly of Oliveto, will be hosting a preview of his new venture DUENDE at NAKED KITCHEN SF. Canales has just returned from a culinary trip to Spain in preparation for Duende’s opening in the Fall, and will be sharing some of his discoveries at a five-course tasting on Saturday June 16th. Each course will be accompanied by Spanish wines and small batch sherry selected by Rocco Somazzi, Duende’s wine director and Canales’ collaborator in the venture. Seatings will be at 6pm and 9pm, and there are only 10 seats available per seating, so hurry to get your tickets now. The dinner will happen in the Mission; exact location to be emailed on the day of the event.

Also on Saturday June 16th, RICE PAPER SCISSORS will be celebrating summer with, what else, a Vietnamese grill pop-up at MISSION DISPATCH. They’ll be there from 11am-4pm, to satisfy both brunch cravings and weekend late lunch. They will be offering their bun with a choice of grilled toppings, as well as a grilled baby octopus small plate with salt, pepper, lime, and chili that sounds pretty killer. Of course iced Vietnamese coffee will be available, never fear. 1975 Bryant St. at 20th.

Hopscotch Opening in Uptown Oakland Friday June 15th


The dining room and bar. Photo from Hopscotch.


The counter at Hopscotch. Photo from Facebook.

Back in April, I mentioned the upcoming HOPSCOTCH in Uptown Oakland from chef Kyle Itani and co-owner Jenny Schwartz. It’s going to open this Friday June 15th (and the burger is supposedly outstanding). To recap, it’s a Japanese-inspired American bistro opening in the former Chef Edwards Bar-B-Que spot.

Here’s the just-released menu.

Start Chips and Dip: duck fat potato chips, yuzu aioli Little Green Salad: Little Gems, tomatoes, sea beans, cucumber, tarragon croutons Heirloom Tomatoes: marinated in dashi, pickled king trumpet mushrooms, tatsoi Beer-Steamed Clams: savory clams, lamb, duck fat potato chips Oyster on the Half Shell: daily oyster, Schramsberg mignonettes Yonsei Oyster: sea urchin, salmon roe, citrus soy Duck on Toast: foie gras mousse, shiitake duxelles

Main Sweet Potato Gnocchi: king trumpet, hen of the woods, and shiitake mushrooms; sage crème frâiche Corvina Sea Bass: pea shoots, salt cod-stuffed squash blossom, cedar-aged miso Roasted Chicken Loin: ginger stuffed, kabocha squash risotto, treviso Three Little Pigs: braised belly, prosciutto meatball, ham hock kale, apple-celery root mash, black garlic Uptown Burger: Black Angus chuck, pickled onions, sesame miso aioli, Kennebec chips First Base Burger: Black Angus chuck, griddled beef tongue, pickled onions, sesame miso aioli, Kennebec chips

There will also be craft beer, wine, and small-batch spirits, particularly Scotch. Cocktails include the Domino, made with Scotch, amaro, blackberry, jalapeño, and lemon, served up. The 40-seat space has a midcentury American diner look, with a Carrara marble bar (with 10 seats) and a cork checkerboard floor. Hopscotch will be open for dinner Tue-Sun. Reservations can be made via email or by phone. 1915 San Pablo Ave. at William, Oakland, 510-788-6217.

Nick's Pizza in Oakland Open for Saturday Brunch


Nick’s vegetarian brunch pizza. Photo courtesy of Nick’s Pizza.

Starting this month, NICK’S PIZZA in Oakland will be offering brunch on Saturdays throughout the summer. Brunch in pizza parlance means fresh eggs baked on top of both vegetarian and bacon pies, of course, as well as waffles with seasonal fruit and biscuits with housemade sausage gravy. Brunch begins at 11:30am and continues until 3pm, when they’ll switch to the dinner options.

Nick’s will also begin hosting community dinners every so often, and the first will be Sunday July 8th. Nick Yapor-Cox, the owner and North Oakland native, will be offering free slices and salad to anyone who stops by between 6pm and 8pm as a gesture of gratitude to the neighborhood for the ongoing support of his business. 6211 Shattuck Ave. at 62nd St., Oakland, 510-658-3903.

Olema Inn Purchased by Manka's Team


The porch at The Olema Inn. Yelp photo by Helen S.

Up in Marin, Inside Scoop reports that THE OLEMA INN has been taken over by Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong of MANKA’S. Grade reports to KWMR radio in West Marin that they will stay true to the building’s roots as a roadhouse (since 1876!) by keeping the menu and ambiance approachable and casual. She says they will open in the afternoon for folks looking for a late lunch or snacks, and offer a simple dinner menu until late in the evening.

There will be six guest rooms upstairs for those of you seeking a getaway (and who just want to walk up the stairs when it’s time for bed). Grade reports that they will not make any drastic changes to the location, but will be bringing the building up to code and layering their own sensibility over the current setup. No word yet on a new name, but after limited remodeling, the pair hopes to open for business in August. 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema, 415-663-9559.


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

(Sponsored): CUESA's Summer Celebration: The Best Bites and Sips of the Season

For one night only, the Ferry Building is transformed for a fabulous summer soirée: CUESA’s Summer Celebration. Chefs from San Francisco’s favorite restaurants (such as Cotogna, flour + water, Locanda, and Range) come together to create delectable hors d’oeuvres inspired by summer produce from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Bites are paired with Napa Valley wine, artisanal cocktails (from Bourbon & Branch, Comstock Saloon, Rye, and more), craft beer, and soda. And you’ll even find the tablehopper at her own table—be sure to hunt her down!

Meet the faces behind your food while providing much-needed support for CUESA’s ongoing education initiatives, including free cooking demos, farm tours, lectures, sustainability scholarships for farmers, and the Schoolyard to Market youth entrepreneurship program.

Purchase tickets now, and get an early bird discount of $25 off the $125 ticket with code “tablehopperearlybird” until June 22nd.

Sunday July 15th • 6pm-9pm • San Francisco’s Ferry Building

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Father's Day Whisky Tasting


Hibiki 12-year whisky. Photo via Facebook.

If you’re still struggling to find a good Father’s Day activity, look to whisky. UMAMIMART, CASK, and Suntory Whisky have partnered up for a Japanese whisky tasting event at LOCAL EDITION on Sunday June 17th. Suntory’s Neyah White will lead participants in a barrel sampling of Japanese whiskies. Whisky and education about an interesting, obscure crafting process? Not sure about your father, but that sounds like my dad’s idea of a good time.

Tastings will begin at 1pm and 5pm, so you can go after lunch or before dinner, depending on where and when you plan to take Dad out to eat. Tickets are $100, and include admission for two and a bottle of Hibiki 12-year whisky for Pop to take home. Tickets are limited to 30 per session, so your father will have ample opportunity to ask embarrassing questions about everything. Which, really, is how it should be. 691 Market St. at 3rd St., 415-795-1375.

Bottles and Bowls Menu Offered at the Starlight Room


Joel Teitelbaum behind the new bar at the Starlight Room; photo from Kimpton.

Got relatives visiting and not sure which landmark spot to take them? Or a group of boozehounds ready for a night on the town? HARRY DENTON’S STARLIGHT ROOM at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel will be offering summertime cocktails for groups on their new Bottles and Bowls menu on Thursday evenings from 6pm-10pm until August 31st (it all starts Thursday June 28th). They will be pouring house-bottled and carbonated cocktails in a variety of summery combinations, including gin with housemade tonic (perfect for your WASPy aunt, right?). Each bottle is 750 ml and serves up to four sippers. If your group is larger, go for a bowl of Peach Pimm’s Punch or Sangria de Nona, which will serve up to six people.

There will also be group-friendly snacks (in, yes, bowls) like truffle popcorn and french fries. Open Tue-Sat at 6pm; “Sunday’s A Drag” brunch shows every Sunday at 12pm and 2:30pm (doors open at 11am). Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 21st floor, 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.

Upgrades to Corkage and Giordano Bros.


The bar at Giordano Bros. in the Mission, now stocked with liquor! Photo courtesy of Giordano’s.

Just a couple of quick tidbits. First, CORKAGE, the sake and wine shop that flanks Tsunami, just expanded into Cafe Abir next door (bar seats have been boosted from 5 to 15). In the evening, you can now order a variety of both Japanese- and Italian-style dishes from 5pm-10pm by Tsunami’s head chef “Shin Shingo.” And Todd Eng is the new manager of Corkage, and he’s fleshing out the wine selection with locally made wines. 1302 Fulton St. at Divisadero, 415-567-6503.

The next time you’re getting an all-in-one at GIORDANO BROS. in the Mission, you’ll be able to order cocktails—and not just a beer from the 24 taps. The spirits list will include local and independent distillers, and look for some ingredients from their in-house pickling stash. 3108 16th St. at Valencia, 415-437-BROS.


the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

Meaty Events: High on the Hog and Two Barbecue Parties


 Event Info

Saturday Jun 30, 2012 – Saturday Jul 14, 2012

If yesterday’s weather was any indication, summertime is soon to be in full effect, and summer is the perfect time for barbecue. These upcoming meaty events should fit the bill perfectly, whether you’re in the city, the East Bay, or the 707.

Cue the ‘cue on Saturday June 30th for High on the Hog at EPIC ROASTHOUSE. The alfresco patio will serve as the stage; the bay views, the backdrop for an afternoon of wine tasting, barbecue, and live music from locals Joey Altman and the Soul Peppers. Executive chef Jan Birnbaum will be serving slow-roasted fennel porchetta, maple-roasted pork legs, roasted Manila clams with pork jowl and white beans, molasses-honey-roasted pork spare ribs, and homemade maple ice cream cones with bacon brittle. Meaty indeed. The menu will play opposite pinot noirs from Freeman, Flowers, Calera, Cobb, Miura, Kutch, Goldeneye, Freestone, and more. 1pm-4pm. $75 (includes tax and gratuity).

‘Cue for a cause at the second annual Bay Area BBQ Championship (BABC) and fundraising event for Alternative Family Services on Saturday July 7th at 10am at the Oakland Coliseum. Amongst the many activities, attendees get to enjoy barbecue samples from world-class pro-am teams, a BBQ & Beer Pairing Tent, and live music and entertainment. Special guests include SF-based chefs Scott Youkilis and Hoss Zaré, “Dr. BBQ” Ray Lampe, and author and food blogger Amy Sherman. General admission tickets are $33/adult and $12/child and include BABC access, five tasting tickets, and an A’s vs. Mariners game ticket. VIP tickets, $78/adult and $41/child 14 and under, also include entrance to the special Blues, Brew & BBQ preview party on Friday July 6th, 2pm-4pm at the Coliseum. All proceeds from the event benefit Northern California foster children, youth, and families served by Alternative Family Services. 7000 Coliseum Way at 66th Ave., Oakland.

‘Cue up for the Wine Country BIG Q in Santa Rosa on Saturday July 14th, 1pm-5pm. Billed as Sonoma County’s only national barbecue competition, the event will have West Coast pitmasters competing for cash and prizes and for your vote in the People’s Choice Award. You should also check out the Winery Big Beef Challenge, where Sonoma County wineries will pair their wines with barbecue, and the Firehouse Bold Bean Challenge (hot firemen, anyone?). Your ticket includes a pound of award-winning barbecue, wine tasting, live entertainment from PETE [stringfellow], and giveaways. $45/adult, $20/youth. Wine Country Big Q is a benefit for the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. Sonoma Academy, 2500 Farmers Ln. off of Kawana Springs Rd., Santa Rosa.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Lunch with the POTUS


The President and Willie Mays. Photo by Moanalani Jefferey.

This isn’t exactly a typical starlet sighting, but since we’re talking about El Presidente, we can make an exception over here at Hopper HQ. Last week, Janet and Clint Reilly held a sold-out, reelection fundraising event at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in honor of President Barack Obama, and Credo’s executive chef Gustavo Romero Veytia was in charge of cooking for the 250-person luncheon. On the menu: summer salad with upland cress, red frilly mustard greens, watermelon, and plum vinaigrette, and an entrée of grilled coho salmon with sea beans and baby purple artichokes in a lemon-caper sauce. Also present at the luncheon: Willie Mays!

Yo, Adrian

A friend wrote to tell me she was sitting next to Adrian Grenier at Samovar Tea Lounge in the Castro (he was “with his posse”).

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