The burger at The WestWood on Valencia. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Yes, I just quoted Loverboy. So what’s on your docket for the weekend? Are you celebrating Bastille Day on Saturday? Are you coming to CUESA’s Summer Celebration on Sunday? I can’t wait. (And don’t forget to come by my table for a chance to win two tickets to the Sunday afternoon grand tasting tent for SF Chefs!)
Today’s review is of Cassava Bakery + Café in the Outer Richmond, a place you can swing by for brunch this weekend! More places for your radar: on 7x7.com, I wrote up three new beefy sandwiches, and you have to check out the awesome pic of 1058 Hoagie. Sadly, we have to wait until the brick-and-mortar location opens. Yes, I love me some sandwiches. This is what happens when you grow up in a family of delicatessen (and pizzeria) owners.
Okay, my fingertips need to freaking FLY across the keyboard this afternoon, so ciao for now!
While the tablehopper ticket giveaway is over, you can still buy tickets to Saturday July 14th’s Romancing the Rhones event, an amazing tasting experience featuring gold medal wines from California and Oregon.
tablehopper readers have access to a special offer: purchase a Silver Dollar ticket ($65) and be automatically upgraded to Gold Bar status (worth $85). Gold, baby! Just use code: Tablehopper.
The event is at the historic Old Mint in San Francisco. Dine with the winemakers at a gourmet Rhone Romance Luncheon, with cuisine by Chez Papa. Blind taste award-winning wines and vote for your favorites! Enjoy Rhone-friendly food and wine pairings. Discover new passions at the Grand Tasting, where 100-plus Rhones—including elegant whites, summer-ready rosés, smoky syrahs, and intriguingly exotic blends—await your tasting pleasure.
Don’t forget: purchase a Silver Dollar ticket ($65) and be automatically upgraded to Gold Bar status (worth $85). Just use code: Tablehopper.
There are some people in the restaurant industry who totally melt your heart, and the kind couple (Kristoffer Toliao and Yuka Ioroi) running the homey CASSAVA BAKERY + CAFÉ in the Outer Richmond have not only totally charmed me but a whole bunch of other customers and neighbors as well. It’s a tiny and cheerful space, with pretty flower arrangements in Saint Benoit yogurt containers, a rosemary bush in a planter out front, and a smiley staff outfitted in snappy striped aprons and ties.
But charm can only get you so far. You also need some cooking chops, and with one bite of the crust on the quiche, you’ll see they have that covered too. Chef Kris was most recently at Luce at the InterContinental Hotel, but he has also staged at a kaiseki restaurant (and Michelin two-star) in Tokyo, Kikunoi. Which is why you’ll want to consider ordering the Japanese breakfast on the weekend brunch menu. For $10, you’ll get an array of plates: a beautiful “onsen tamago” poached egg cooked sous vide; simmered hijiki with lotus root, carrot, and sesame; wakame salad; top-of-the-line koshihikari rice; a housemade natto with Meyer lemon and jalapeño kosho (the first natto I have ever really enjoyed, truly); and the crown jewel, the ichiban (the “first wash”) dashi miso soup, featuring an exquisite dashi—you can read more about ichiban versus niban (the second wash) here (the onsen egg features niban dashi and soy).
While this isn’t a breakfast for someone who usually likes, say, pancakes, I found it to be elegant and a nice break from the usual lineup. Oh, and I learned a useful tip on eating natto: hold the bowl very close to your mouth to diminish the spiderweb-like strings that can very quickly create their own comedy show. Just try eating natto outside at a breezy table—it was like a runaway train. Trust, I was cracking up at myself.
I will admit I am not a huge quiche fan—the crust is often too thick, or soggy, or just too much. Not so here. It’s a masterwork. Ends up chef uses pâte brisée dough for the crust, which means you get your weekly allotment of butter, all in one fell swoop. It’s flaky and delicate and gorgeous. The quiche ($5) that day came with Roma tomatoes and cremini mushrooms tucked into the custardy eggs, with a slice of melted Vermont cheddar on top and a good grating of pepper. Hubba.
Lunchtime brings a variety of sandwiches (from tuna melts to grilled vegetables on focaccia) and soups (would you care for some vichyssoise?), but the dish you’ll want to strongly consider is the meatballs in curry ($10). The tender and savory meatballs are Yuka’s mother’s recipe, made with a mix of tofu and beef, but the curry is like a good butter chicken curry—an Indian chef pal is behind the recipe. The meatballs come piping-hot with a little browned paneer or queso fresco on top, and you will scoop up every single bite as you start dunking the koshihikari rice into the sauce. I’m coming back for the white wine-poached shrimp and avocado sliders ($10) on challah buns, they look so fantastic.
There’s a pastry case with all kinds of baked goods—I brought the popular curry puff ($2) home to warm up later. After a couple bites, you will soon see why this curried beef and potato pastry is a hit. The peanut butter-cornflakes cookies are crumbly and delicious, almost the texture of Chinese almond cookies. They also serve Ritual coffee, and I was told they are the only ones doing siphon coffee with Ritual beans.
The couple has started special prix-fixe dinners ($45) during the week, but they seem to sell out quickly because the room is so small—follow Cassava on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all the news.
Since the space is so teeny-tiny, dress warmly in case you have to eat your meal outside. A bonus feature (well, in my book) is how the outside communal tables encourage conversation: I learned some awesome food tips from a couple that has been in the neighborhood a long time. Yeah, I got the hookup on where to find fried king crab. Gold!
If you’re looking for a worthy adventure to the Outer Richmond, maybe for lunch with a friend or a quiet morning by yourself after a walk on the beach, here’s your spot.
Cassava Bakery + Café - 3519 Balboa St. San Francisco - 415-640-8990
After several years of disputes and lawsuits between Healdsburg’s Michelin-starred CYRUS RESTAURANT and their HOTEL LES MARS landlords, it was announced that the restaurant will close October 29, 2012.
Crossroads Winery, LP, owned by investor Bill Foley, will take over ownership of the restaurant space inside the Les Mars in November 2012. Foley is the owner of Chalk Hill winery and Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma and Merus Wines and Kuleto Estate in Napa, as well as numerous other wineries. He co-owns the Les Mars with David Fink.
Despite a very public airing of their disagreements, Cyrus co-owner and chef Douglas Keane is positive about the ultimate decision to shutter his restaurant. ”It’s a good thing. This makes a lot of sense. Nick [Peyton, Keane’s business partner] and I are happy. There were a lot of misunderstood passions.”
The big question, however, is what’s next.
Cyrus will remain open for business until late October. Throughout the fall, Keane will showcase some of the all-time favorite dishes from the last seven years. After that, he and Peyton will continue to run Healdsburg Bar & Grill, their remaining project in Healdsburg.
As for Cyrus? They have maintained the rights to the Cyrus brand and recipes, but aren’t making any immediate plans to relocate or reopen a new restaurant right now.
“I want to have some fun. I have nothing solid planned,” Keane said. He does plan to spend some time working with rescue dogs and spending time with his wife. “Maybe we’ll bring back the two-martini lunch,” he laughs.