This week's tablehopper: mood indigo.
Uncle Frank and my father making pasta at our annual Christmas Eve feast. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hi there. Am back from what was a heartbreaking journey to say goodbye to my dear Uncle Frank in his last days. It has unequivocally been one of the hardest, saddest experiences of my life. Nope, am not in the best of spirits right now, and I’m not really one to fake it, so apologies for the heavy intro. (Anyone who went to Saturday’s Lit Crawl event at Craftsman and Wolves expecting to see me hosting it, well, now you know why I wasn’t there. I hope you enjoyed the reading, I was sorry to miss hearing everyone’s travel stories.)
However, tomorrow evening, I will be at the Wine & Spirits Top 100 tasting event, parked at a table with my brand-new tablehopper T-shirts. And, yes, I plan to have a glass of excellent Champagne in my hand—I have someone very special to be toasting. It’s sure to be a lovely evening on the City View at Metreon terrace, come by and say hi.
Further distractions: my first episode of Hungry In… on YouTube’s Hungry channel has aired! Join me as I take you through the Mission to my four top places for breakfast, a sandwich (mmmm, tortas), a snack, and a sweet. All three of my episodes will include some of my favorite authentic places that are all about the immigrant experience in San Francisco—upcoming neighborhoods include Chinatown and North Beach. (Big thanks to Farm + Cellar/Third Street Works in helping me with the production.)
You can do me (and my fellow Citysearch scouts) a big favor by liking the video, commenting (anything to keep all the anonymous haters at bay, I swear), and subscribing to the Hungry channel so you don’t miss upcoming Hungry In… episodes (they air every Friday). Obviously I’d love to film more episodes, along with my other Citysearch scouts, but it’s only going to happen if our videos get a lot of views and likes. Thanks for your support!
Okay folks, that’s about it. Enjoy this beautiful Indian summer heat.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Mourad Lahlou (Aziza) Finds a Second Location
After AZIZA chef-owner Mourad Lahlou’s plans to open a Jackson Square restaurant fell through, it was just a matter of time before a new location would present itself. Scoop shares that Lahlou is going to open a project in the fabulous Art Deco Pacific Telephone Building in SoMa. (Yelp is also in the building, which is currently undergoing a massive renovation that is scheduled to be finished in September 2013.) Whether it will be called Aziza or something else, that remains to be seen, but Olle Lundberg is the architect behind the 6,000-square-foot project, which will feature 19-foot ceilings, 12-foot street-facing windows, 110 seats inside, a bar and lounge area, private dining, and a garden courtyard. As for the food, there won’t be a tasting menu, and the cuisine “will likely be more approachable than what’s currently served at Aziza.” The Outer Richmond location will remain, but the concept could also change. Expect more details in coming months; the projected opening is a year out (fall 2013). 140 New Montgomery St. at Mission.
Meanwhile, Grub Street posted a rumor that the other restaurant to open in the second downstairs space (2,400 square feet) may be a project from Bar Agricole—no confirmation on this yet.
A Couple of Food Trucks/Pop-Ups Hit the Brick-and-Mortar Big Time
There’s a new izakaya in town: ROKU, the brick-and-mortar location from the folks behind the JapaCurry food truck. Eater reports that they opened softly over the weekend, with a grand opening scheduled for tonight, October 16th. Their new location is in the former Hunan Garden space on Market Street (near Destino and Pisco), and the space is rather spare but comfortable. The menu, which you can find on Grub Street, is well edited and features izakaya classics like ramen, fried dishes, and rice with green tea. They’ll be open Tue-Thu and Sun 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1819 Market St. at Pearl, 415-861-6500.
Scoop reports that Eric Ehler of the Seoul Patch pop-up will be opening a permanent location later this fall. The new spot will be called GUNG HO, and it is moving into the former Rockstar Sushi location in the Design District, the neighborhood tucked between SoMa and Potrero Hill. You can take a look at a sample menu here, and look for their opening November. 680 8th St. at Brannan, no phone yet.
New Projects: Crafthouse in the Former Joe's 24th Street Cafe, Dolce Amore on Van Ness
Details have emerged about what’s opening in the old-school JOE’S 24TH STREET CAFÉ in Noe Valley. New co-owners John Dampeer and Brendan Rees will be reopening the place as CRAFTHOUSE pretty soon, targeting November. Eater has the details, including a sample menu of tavern-inspired fare (sandwiches, hand-rolled pretzels, housemade sausage, and eight beers on tap) and some details on the decor (surprise: wood, gunmetal stools, and Edison bulbs). 3853 24th St. at Vicksburg.
A reader writes in to tell me DOLCE AMORE has opened on Van Ness (the soft opening was last Friday October 12th, and the grand opening is slated for Saturday October 20th). There are sweet things like gelato, pastries, and Norman Love chocolate, plus breakfast and lunch options—and miniature art. Open Mon-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 11am-9pm. 1477 Van Ness Ave. at Pine, 415-674-7716.
Another reader writes in: “It looks like MARTHA & BROS. COFFEE COMPANY is opening in the very long-shuttered Daily Dose spot at 401 Irving Street (at 5th Avenue) in the Inner Sunset. A neighbor says that the previous cafe closed in August 2001! It has been empty ever since.”
Spice Ace Now Open in Lower Pacific Heights
This place would be awesome, even if the holidays weren’t just around the corner. But what could make better host gifts than beautiful spice jars? The SPICE ACE is now open on Steiner Street in Lower Pacific Heights, hawking a serious array of spices in truly adorable little jars. According to the New Fillmore, the spot was opened by Olivia Dillan and Ben Balzer, who decided to open a spice shop while on their honeymoon in Italy (the “bel paese” can be inspiring that way). They’ve got 250 different kinds of herbs, spices, salts, and peppercorns from all over the world, and are really excited to help customers pick out the perfect blends. They’re open Mon-Sat 10am-6:30pm and Sun 11am-5pm. 1821 Steiner St. at Sutter, 415-885-3038.
Additions: Radius Now Open for Brunch, FuseBox Now Open for Lunch on Saturdays
RADIUS is now serving brunch on Sundays from 10:30am-2:30pm. The menu, which you can take a look at here, features some good brunch staples and fresh oysters. Coffee is from Ritual and mimosas are, of course, available. Seating can be had either in the dining room or on the sunny back patio, and reservations can be made by calling 415-525-3676.
Across the bay in Oakland, FUSEBOX is now open on Saturdays with their Korean plates and sandwiches. Their hours are 11:30am-2:30pm, but they sometimes close on Saturdays for their daughter’s soccer games. (So. Freaking. Cute.) Check their Facebook page or Twitter feed to make sure they’re open. 2311A Magnolia St. at W. Grand, Oakland, 510-444-3100.
Radius - 1123 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-525-3676
Deals and Late-Night Dining at Two Frenchie Bistros
A couple bistros in the city have some special offers. First, BISOU in the Castro (yes, the place with the lipstick kisses all over the signage and windows) is offering a new Monday night special: a three-course dinner with unlimited house red or white wine for $35. Yup, while dining on French onion soup, seared day boat scallops, and Black Mission figs with vanilla ice cream, you get to pack a serious buzz on as well. 2367 Market St. at Castro, 415-556-6200.
Meanwhile, over in Cow Hollow, BISTRO UNIQUE has launched a late-night menu, serving $1 oysters, charcuterie plates, a croque monsieur, and a classic burger after 10pm nightly (some nights they stay open until 1am, customers pending—just be sure to call before heading over). 1849 Union St. at Octavia, 415-218-4136.
Culinary Nerd Alton Brown at the Castro Theatre October 27th
Fans of science and food should definitely put Saturday October 27th on their calendars, because Alton Brown will be giving a presentation at the Castro Theatre that evening at 7pm. He’s appearing as part of the Bay Area Science Festival, and he’ll be doing his “Ten Things About Food I Feel Pretty Sure About” presentation, which should be pretty cool. He’ll be tackling a bunch of interesting topics, like what actually constitutes healthful eating and how to conduct safe at-home kitchen experiments. There’s a question and answer session planned for after the show too. Tickets are $35. 429 Castro St. at Market.
Oakland Update: CommonWealth Reopens, Along With Newcomers Destino and Fauna
Some Oakland residents were happy to hear COMMONWEALTH has reopened after suffering a fire back in July. East Bay Dish mentions limited hours while they ramp back up. 2882 Telegraph Ave. at 28th St., Oakland, 510-663-3001.
According to Chowhound, the Mexican restaurant DESTINO is now open next to Camino. As mentioned in tablehopper, Gary Rizzo of the former Somerset is behind the project, and the chef is from Morelia. 3909 Grand Ave. at Sunnyslope, Oakland, 510-788-4152.
Eater mentioned Flora has opened FAUNA, a neighboring bar with 22 seats, taxidermy heads, some Art Deco design details, and a short bar menu. 1900 Telegraph Ave. at 19th St., Oakland, 510-286-0100.
510 Buzz: Cheesy Event, Changes at Divino
Over in Berkeley, cheese appreciators should check out THE PASTA SHOP on Saturday October 20th. Blogger and author Kirstin Jackson will be there promoting her new book, It’s Not You, It’s Brie. You’ll be able to taste cheeses, play cheesy games, and learn a little bit more about the differences between French and American cheeses. The event goes from 1pm-4pm, and more details can be found here. 1786 Fourth St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-250-6004.
Berkeleyside reports that the short-lived DIVINO location has a new name and concept: PIZZA MODA. Details are scarce, but it look like the owners are trying to do higher-end artisanal pizzas and plan to open in November. 1401 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Events: PlumpJack Wines & Spirits Turns 20, A Nod to Boozing History at the Starlight Room
Twenty years in business is something to celebrate, so join PLUMPJACK WINES & SPIRITS at their flagship store in the Marina to celebrate the milestone on Saturday October 20th from 2pm-6pm. They will be hosting their first-ever wine tasting, featuring their favorite wines. And the best part? It’s gratis. You’ll also be able to score some eats from Wexler’s Back barbecue truck and the Crème Brûlée Cart. 3201 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-346-9870.
More free wine in the Marina! MEZÉS Greek restaurant is now featuring free wine tastings Mon-Fri from 5pm-6:30pm and Sat-Sun from 1pm-3pm. The pours focus on Greek varietals and wines, as well as some local producers. You can order their food at the wine bar, too, so bring a friend and try out some of their Greek small plates. 2373 Chestnut St. at Divisadero, 415-409-7111.
On Wednesday October 24th, head to HARRY DENTON’S STARLIGHT ROOM for a night with Dale DeGroff, bartender and author of The Craft of the Cocktail. The evening is billed as a “Tribute to Bars, Speaks, and Legendary Saloons,” and DeGroff will be telling stories and sharing sage knowledge about the history of cocktails in America. The Starlight Room will be providing cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and proceeds will benefit The Museum of the American Cocktail. The event begins at 6:30pm, and tickets are $40 in advance, or $45 at the door. Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 21st floor, 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.
Soda Popinski's Now Open on Polk
As previously mentioned on tablehopper, the former GOLD STAR BAR on Polk has been taken over by Duncan Ley and Benjamin Bleiman of Bullitt, Tonic, Lightning, and Mayhem. Grub Street has the news that the new spot, SODA POPINSKI’S, is now open. The name apparently comes from a Russian character in Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Accordingly, you can play video games there for free, or just get a drink if that’s not your thing. 1548 California St. at Polk, 415-857-1548.
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Check Out Art, Cocktails, and Food at SFAI
Saturday Nov 3, 2012 – Sunday Nov 4, 2012 5pm–10pm, 11am–4pm Return to SFAI Party is $40 until Oct. 22nd, then $55, Winter Art Festival is free SFAI Campus 800 Chestnut St. at Jones
Lovers of art and food should head to the San Francisco Art Institute for the Return to SFAI Party on Saturday November 3rd, from 5pm-10pm. The event will feature art and performances from notable SFAI alumni, including musicians Penelope Houston of The Avengers and Debora Iyall of Romeo Void. Cocktails from the Bon Vivants will be served, alongside appetizers from chefs like Dennis Lee (Namu Gaji), William Werner (Craftsman and Wolves), and Chester Watson (Trick Dog). Tickets are $40 until October 22nd, then they go up to $55. SFAI, 800 Chestnut St. at Jones.
Then on Sunday November 4th, SFAI is hosting their Winter Art Festival from 11am-4pm. There will be new art for sale by more than 200 of their current students, plus performances and video installations. If all the art makes you hungry, food trucks like Hapa Ramen and Le Truc will be on hand, so you can keep yourself going. The event is free, and all art sales will go to student scholarships. SFAI, 800 Chestnut St. at Jones.
Omnivore World Tour Coming to San Francisco November 9th-11th
Friday Nov 9, 2012 – Sunday Nov 11, 2012 Times vary; check website for details. Prices begin at $9.99 for masterclasses. The Observation Post at the Presidio 211 Lincoln Blvd. at Graham
The OMNIVORE WORLD TOUR will be sweeping into town this November, with a variety of chef events, special dinners, and master classes. The tour is put on to encourage, support, and celebrate “100 percent Jeune Cuisine,” or young, innovative cuisine from young, innovative chefs.
There are a few different ways to check out the tour, from daytime workshops to evening parties. During the day on Saturday November 10th and Sunday November 11th, you can catch master classes on both food and wine taught by the likes of Danny Bowien, Dominique Crenn, and Mark Bright at the Observation Post in the Presidio. Ticket prices range from $9.99 to $14.99, and food trucks will be on hand between classes for a “lunch break.” On Sunday, there is also a cool class planned for kids, focused on the five senses. Chefs will set up five different stations, and each will focus on a different sense and how it’s reflected in food. A box lunch prepared by Le Cordon Bleu is included. The children’s class costs $14.99. For a full list of the classes available and to get tickets, go here.
Then, in the evenings on Friday November 9th and Sunday November 11th, check out the collaborative dinners at various restaurants around the bay. Each dinner features a local chef, plus an out-of-town guest chef, as they collaborate on special courses (like Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn is hosting Davy Schellemans of Veranda in Anvers, Belgium). Details about the dinners can be found here, and reservations must be made directly with the restaurants. Prices vary; contact restaurants for reservations and pricing. And please, try to ignore this line obviously written by someone who doesn’t live here: “Don’t miss this unique opportunity to rediscover Frisco’s best eateries.” (My eyes, they burn!)
On Saturday night, cap it all off with the Omnivorious Party (their spelling, not mine!), at the Observation Post in the Presidio. The evening begins at 6:30pm with French apertifs, and then moves on into DJ music and dancing, with wine and bites provided. Cost for the event is $39.99, including two glasses of wine and three bites.
Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Pinot Fest, Roshambo Dinner, Raise a Record-Breaking Toast
By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.
Pinot is keeno at the ninth annual PINOT ON THE RIVER festival on Sunday October 21st in Healdsburg. Paying homage to the noblest of grapes, the “Grand Artisanal Tasting” from noon to 4pm gathers more than 100 small-production pinot producers from the West Coast for a “full-immersion” (meaning you are fully up to your eyeballs in pinot noir) tasting. Riedel-worthy sips include Black Kite, Davis Family Vineyards, Donum Estate, J Vineyards, Littorai, Lioco, Patz & Hall, Siduri, and Roadhouse Winery. Held around the Healdsburg Square, the event is bottoms-up good without being, well, overly pinkies up. Tickets $75 to $150 per person, available online or by calling 707-922-6362.
Sonoma County is in the last throes of its summer harvest, making it the most lush time of year for a plant-based dinner (yes, that means vegan) at ROSHAMBO FARMS. Chalk Hill Cookery’s Matteo Sullivan (formerly of Greens, Millennium) opens the Saturday October 20th dinner with cashew cheese ravioli; followed by masala-spiced tikka with braised greens, heirloom tomato curry, and king oyster mushrooms; and concluding with cardamom carrot cake and handcrafted chocolates. The event is the last of the year before the ranch settles into hibernation. Tickets are $85 per person; call 415-994-7869 for details and to reserve a seat.
Let’s all raise a toast to, well, the world’s longest toast. On October 7th, 487 people raised their glasses, one by one, in the Guinness World Records-breaking relay wine toast. Known henceforth as “THE NAPA VALLEY WINE WAVE”, participants at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena roundly stomped the nearest competitors in Guangzhou, China, who had a mere 321 participants. Santé!
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
A longtime tablehopper reader spotted Melissa Fleis, a Project Runway finalist, at Craftsman and Wolves. The spotter reports: “She and what looked like her man sat across from us. We chatted a bit and she was super super nice and her guy was too. Very friendly. She let some people take a pic with her too.”