This is what a burger at Sam’s at 3am looks like. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
San Francisco was so on fire last night, even in that incredible downpour! Let’s go, Giants! It’s going to be an exciting week.
Thanks to everyone who came by my table at the Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Tasting Event last Wednesday—that was quite the event (as it always is). Extra love to the fab folks who brought me a nice taste of Bouchard Père et Fils 2006 Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, aka Baby Jesus’ pantaloons (ha!). Was also a treat to see Bruno Paillard pouring at his table, and the Domaine William Fèvre 2008 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros was almost illegally delicious with the Hog Island oysters. Also, thanks to everyone who bought a tablehopper T-shirt or sweatshirt—I have to say, it’s so cool to see folks running around in them. Love it.
I also had fun this week getting into mischief with the boys, Tommy’s and Sam’s to be exact. The “Tommy’s followed by dinner at Aziza tour” is a wicked one-two, and I have to give thanks to Sam’s for saving my ass at 3am on Wednesday night. I got overserved (again!) at Comstock Saloon and needed to run some interference with a late-night burger.
Hey, do you know what a cecina taco is? Trust me, you want to know. Which is why you should hop on over to watch my Hungry In… the Mission episode on YouTube’s Hungry channel and learn all about it! Look for my spot in the right-hand column. And if you dig it, give it a thumbs-up (I’d appreciate it)! Josh Ozersky also tackles some Chinatown spots in New York in his episode from last week; it’s a good one.
A couple more tidbits: check out my monthly piece on 7x7 for five new restaurants to try, and congrats to the local restaurants getting phone calls right now about their Michelin stars (at this moment, Saison has two stars, Atelier Crenn now has two, and SPQR just earned their first!).
Okay folks, it’s time to rally! Black and orange: it’s not just for Halloween.
I’ve had this news under my hat for months, but now it’s official: A16 ROCKRIDGE will be opening in early 2013 in John Hurley’s now-former Hudson restaurant space. The executive chef is Rocky Maselli, a Bay Area native but he has been in Oregon the past 15 years, and was the chef-owner of Osteria Sfizo. He also packs a recent pizzaiolo certification by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN). Maselli’s roots are Pugliese, so look for some southern Italian favorites on the menu (I hope there will be some orecchiette and rapini).
A new feature is the full liquor license, so there will be a cocktail menu of Italian aperitivi, amari, and digestivi specially brought from Italy (including rucolino, a wild arugula amaro from Ischia). Of course Shelley Lindgren will be putting together the Southern Italian-inspired wine program, as well as collaborating on the cocktail program.
Cass Calder Smith of CCS Architecture will be in charge of the renovation—there will be an open kitchen with counter seating, plus bar seating and a private dining room. Look for more details in coming months. 5356 College Ave. at Hudson, Rockridge.
Was very pleased with the news that Rajat Parr (wine director of the Mina Group) is partnering with a lifelong friend (and chef) from India on a new project, THE COMPANY BAR & KITCHEN. The 5,200-square-foot restaurant will be opening in the former 1930 Shanghai space on Steuart Street; AK Design Network from Los Angeles (Katsuya Hollywood, select Viceroy Hotel Group properties, and The Fat Cow by Gordon Ramsay) is behind the buildout.
When it opens in summer 2013, you can expect a high-energy bar and 130-seat restaurant, with a focus on East Indies-inspired cocktails (say hello to gin and whiskey), Indian small plates (which will be shareable), and, of course, a killer wine list and craft beers. Interesting fact: before becoming the wine expert he is, Parr graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York—which is where he met and became close friends with the future executive chef of The Company (the chef’s identity is currently under wraps). Another factoid: the restaurant takes its name from the nickname for The East India Trading Company. I look forward to seeing this project take shape. 133 Steuart St. at Mission.
The Company Bar & Kitchen - 133 Steuart St. San Francisco
A report by Dana Massey-Todd. Here’s some downtown news for ya: ROSA MEXICANO opened today in a spot on Mission at Embarcadero. The chain made a big splash when it first opened in New York in 1984, and now has locations all over the country, including Los Angeles, Miami, and Atlanta. Of course, a lot has been made of the fact that opening a high-end, authentic Mexican restaurant in California is a whole different ball game than opening one in New York. Jonathan Gold of LA Weekly went so far as to call the whole Los Angeles project “an insult to L.A.,” so that should give you a hint as to the sort of criticism they’ve fielded here on the Best Coast. After all, what Californian in their right mind would take Mexican food advice from a New Yorker? That’s like me telling a Philly native they’ve got their cheesesteak all wrong.
That said, though, the team behind Rosa Mexicano is definitely making an effort to take notes from San Francisco, not the other way around. Management is working hard to demonstrate their commitment to seasonal and local ingredients. Their location around the corner from the Ferry Building helps; executive chef David Suarez says he visits the farmers’ markets every week for inspiration and products. On my recent press tour, I was told many times that if I wanted to know the provenance of any ingredient, all I had to do was ask. Further, according to Suarez, about 35 percent of the opening menu is unique to the San Francisco location, and their hope is that this location will serve as an incubator for their other locations, thereby informing their style as they expand. Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto, New York), who is also a Chez Panisse alum and luminary of California cooking, is at the helm as “Culinary Advisor”, too, and his influence should further this goal.
This isn’t a taqueria-style spot, but rather a full-service, sit-down restaurant with a full bar. The dining room seats 170 people, and 60 more can fit at the bar. On nice days, there are an additional 60 seats outside. Large groups will be right at home here. The decor is certainly tasteful and festive, if a little generic. There are playful touches, like the flashes of neon pink throughout the space, which is the restaurant’s signature color, and one whole wall is a fountain with sculptures designed to mimic the cliff divers of Acapulco. Roof tiles from Mexico were used to build the coat closet, and a vibrant mosaic fronts the bar, which along with string lights give off a festive vibe. The bar is big and has a television for sporting events; there’s also a lounge area if you’d rather avoid the screen.
The food I tried was pretty good, and the tequila selection is well curated. There is a broad range of taco offerings, from a seasonal vegetarian option that currently features mint-cashew spread with roasted mushrooms and sliced figs, to a pork belly and scallop take on surf and turf. The guacamole is, indeed, prepared tableside, which would be unbearably gimmicky if it wasn’t so damn delicious. Each order includes plenty of ripe avocado, onion, cilantro, tomato and jalepeño mixed in a pig-snouted molcajete.
Rosa Mexicano has a lot to live up to here in San Francisco, but they seem to be approaching it with the right balance of humility and confidence. And points for the oh-so-adorable pink tortilla warmers. They’re open for dinner now, Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. As of Monday October 29th, they’ll be open for lunch and happy hour, too. Lunch is daily 11:30am-2:30pm, and happy hour is Mon-Fri 4pm-7pm. Note that they will be closed Sunday October 28th. 30 Mission St. at Steuart, 415-874-4300.
Oooooh, this is exciting: according to some posts on Yelp (via a tip on Chowhound), the new CHILI HOUSE in the Inner Richmond is a sister restaurant to Chinatown’s excellent Z & Y, one of my favorites. Sure enough, chef Han is listed on the website, and the menu is the same. Houston, we have liftoff. And score, for the month of October, mention code 6688 for 10 percent off your first visit. Open daily 11am-10pm. 726 Clement St. at 8th Ave., 415-387-2658.
After mentioning on tablehopper last month that EJI’S was coming to 331 CORTLAND MARKETPLACE, I’m happy to report it’s now open (vegans will be happy too). Be sure to try Eji’s signature dish, misir wot, a plate of spicy red lentils with injera and sautéed greens. Open Fri-Wed 11am-6pm.
North Beach is getting its own OFF THE GRID. As of Wednesday October 24th, food trucks will be parked at the Joe DiMaggio Playground every Wednesday evening from 5pm-9pm. For updates on which trucks will be in attendance, check out their Facebook page. Lombard between Mason and Powell, no phone.
More Off the Grid news: Hayeswire reports that Off the Grid will also be discontinuing their Proxy Project location in Hayes Valley. Seems the departure was planned and amicable, but a bummer for folks in the neighborhood. Octavia and Hayes.
331 Cortland Marketplace - 331 Cortland Ave. San Francisco
After just a month of leading the helm at MAU on Valencia Street, the partners and chef Sante Salvoni have parted ways. Salvoni’s last shift was on Friday—the restaurant is currently closed while they regroup. Salvoni said the partners (Hung Dang of Tin Vietnamese in SoMa, and husband-wife team Annie Abbott and Luke Wendler) are now basically thinking of opening a second location of Tin, which features more classic, straight-ahead Vietnamese dishes (the name will potentially remain MAU, however). Salvoni was surprised by the sudden decision and is going to take some time off to regroup and plan his next move—I know I am not alone in hoping he stays in the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, I received a press release from the CORINTHIAN YACHT CLUB in Tiburon announcing that chef George Morrone (Aqua, Fifth Floor, and Redwood Park, and Boca in Novato) will be acting as executive consulting chef for the club. Working with him is Joe Gentempo, previously chef de cuisine at Hog & Rocks. The space also hosts private events, so expect some quality catering for upcoming America’s Cup events.
After 12-plus years in business, ANA MANDARA in Ghirardelli Square is closing at the end of dinner service this Friday October 26th. In a note from chef Khai Duong, he says, “We will miss stepping into Ana Mandara each day and are grateful to the guests, staff, and vendors we have built relationships with over these years.” 891 Beach St. at Hyde, 415-771-6800.
A tablehopper reader wrote in to say: “Just heard that the entire kitchen staff of TI PIACERÁ walked out at this Polk Street eatery last Thursday evening!” While this remains unconfirmed, another reader who lives in the neighborhood sent me the accompanying pic in the window on Monday morning. Sounds like some changes are afoot; will let you know when I learn more. 1507 Polk St. at California, 415-771-9946.
Also heard from Preeti Mistry that she has gone separate ways with her business partner and will no longer be opening JUHU BEACH CLUB at 2146 Mission Street. She is currently scouting new locations in SF, and also Oakland—stand by for news of a new location! And it’s hopefully soon—I want another one of her tasty vada pav.
As previously reported on tablehopper, the space at 5800 Third Street that many hoped would be a new SF outpost of Tanya Holland’s BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN didn’t pan out. But we have word now from the 5800 Third blog that the space has been scooped up by Ali Azad, of the MAX’S CAFÉ franchise. The new place will be called CORNER CAFÉ, and word is they’ll serve lunch and dinner, plus breakfast on weekends, with main dishes at just less than $10. They’ll be adding weekday breakfast as soon as things get going too. There will also be a bar with sports on the television, as well as room for families. Details are still pretty scarce, but the spot is supposed to open in early November, so hopefully there will be more info and a menu soon. 5800 3rd St. at Carroll, no phone yet.
There’s a new spot in town to get your brunch on: MARKET & RYE on De Haro Street in Potrero Hill is now open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, from 8am-3pm. There will be seasonal brunch staples, some sandwiches, and an array of griddled and fried goodies; take a peek at chef Ryan Scott’s full menu here. 300 De Haro St. at 16th St., 415-252-7455 .
News just came today that BARTAVELLE COFFEE & WINE BAR opened this morning over in Berkeley. As previously reported, they’re moving into the space formerly occupied by Café Fanny. The project comes from Suzanne Drexhage of Kermit Lynch (and a former Chez Panisse server), so look for collaboration from other Chez alums. For now, they’re open softly, with Sightglass Coffee, beer, and wine available. They’ve got a limited menu of crostini with Acme bread (their neighbor), and some Starter Bakery pastries. Next week, when they open grandly, there will be a more extensive menu, but what exactly it will be like is still a bit of a surprise.
For now, they’re open Tue-Sun 7am-6pm and closed Mondays. But call ahead if you’re going on a Sunday, as they may end up deciding to open a little late or close a little early, depending on how busy they get. 1603 San Pablo Ave. at Cedar, Berkeley, 510-524-2473.
The fall book release season is in full swing, and that means there are a bunch of opportunities for you to catch the authors in action (yes, my in-box is currently being pummeled with press releases). Here’s a roundup of some cool options for ya.
This Thursday October 25th, check out two books at once at the SFMOMA. Todd Selby will be there to promote his new book, Edible Selby, along with James and Caitlin Freeman of Blue Bottle, who will be there with their new book, The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee. The evening will begin at 5pm with book signings, then from 6pm-7pm catch the three authors in conversation. At 7pm, they’ll move on to a reception at the SFMOMA’s rooftop Blue Bottle Coffee Bar. The event is free with museum admission, and the books will be available for purchase. (Hey, if you’re an SFMOMA member, you get a 10 percent discount too!) For details, check out the event’s Facebook page. 151 Mission St. at Minna, 415-357-4000.
Then, on Friday October 26th, head over to MIJITA in the Ferry Building, where Bruce Aidells will be promoting his new cookbook, Great Meat Cookbook, in conjunction with Omnivore Books. He’ll be preparing a three-course, family-style supper for your enjoyment at 6pm, and the cost of the dinner includes a signed copy of the book. Dinner is $85, including tax and gratuity, and reservations can be made by email. 1 Ferry Building at Embarcadero, 415-399-0814.
Sunday October 28th brings us a lunchtime event from Book Passage with chef Matthew Accarrino and wine director Shelley Lindgren of SPQR. The pair will be at A16 promoting their new book, SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine. The lunch begins at 12:30pm and features four courses from Accarrino, plus wine pairings selected by Lindgren. The cost per person is $115, including a signed copy of the book, four courses, wine, tax, and gratuity. Reservations can be made here.
On Sunday November 4th, catch Diane Kochilas at the Annunciation Cathedral, where she’ll be signing copies of her new book, The Country Cooking of Greece. Books will be available for purchase at the event, which begins at 12:30pm, and is free. 245 Valencia St. at 14th St.
Then, on Monday November 5th, she’ll be in San Mateo at Draeger’s Cooking School to demonstrate her techniques. The class begins at 6:30pm and costs $55. Tickets can be purchased here. 222 East 4th Ave. at South B, San Mateo, 650-685-3704.
Lastly, be sure to check out OMNIVORE BOOKS for a full list of upcoming events—they’re always hosting lots of fab authors coming through town!
Omnivore Books - 3885a Cesar Chavez St. San Francisco - 415-282-4712
The SAN FRANCISCO CHEESE SCHOOL is hosting a fun “meet the cheesemaker” event on Thursday October 25th, from 7pm-9pm. The event is their annual fundraiser for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and lots of cheese luminaries will be on hand. Cheesemakers from Bellwether Farms, Cypress Grove, and Bleating Heart will be at the event. Laura Werlin will be in attendance with two varieties of mac and cheese from her new book, Mac & Cheese Please!: 50 Super Cheesy Recipes, and there will be fondue and wine too. The cost is $35, and you can get the full details and tickets here. The Cheese School, 2155 Powell St. at Francisco, 415-346-7530.
Despite the elating Giants news this week, it has been shadowed by a very upsetting loss within the San Francisco food community.
Last week, as many have heard, there was a large brawl at 16th Street and Valencia. Caesar Chuc, a cook at Serpentine in Dogpatch, was taken to the hospital after the fight, which co-workers suspect may have resulted from an attempted robbery. Tragically, after some time on life support, Chuc passed away at SF General. Very little is known about the particulars of this incident at this time; anyone with any details about the incident can and should call the SFPD tip line at 415-575-4444.
Chuc was working at Serpentine as a cook to support his wife and four children in Mexico. He was known at the restaurant as a supportive gentleman and rather legendary cook. Mission Mission has some words from Eric Ehler, his co-worker a Serpentine, including this: “Caesar was a family member to everyone who worked at Serpentine, and a friend to dozens of other cooks and restaurant workers in the City. Serpentine ran, because of Caesar.”
There isn’t very much to say in the face of such a devastating loss, but our thoughts are with his family and friends through this unspeakably difficult time.
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A few weeks ago I mentioned that it looked like new owners were taking over DECO. While I can’t seem to get any info on the new owners and concept, the Deco folks wrote back to let me know the last day of operations is Monday November 5th. Leading up to the closure, check out the site for a variety of special events. Wah waaaaah. 510 Larkin St. at Ellis.
Another gay bar sadly bites the dust: Eater breaks the news that REBEL is closing, and the space will be 1772 Market Street, rentable for public and private events. It comes with a full kitchen, DJ booth, and stage, and the entertainment license means you can rock out until 4am. 1772 Market St. at Octavia.
And just across the street, Hayeswire announces former city supervisor Chris Daly’s BUCK TAVERN is closing after a Halloween blowout party. 1655 Market St. at Gough.
It’s always a good time to be a good mixer of drinks, but the impending holiday party season might be the best time to know your way around the bar. Brush up on your cocktail-makin’ skillz at the Market Fresh Cocktail Class at the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts on Thursday October 25th, with bartender Brian MacGregor of the upcoming Wingtip (and formerly of Jasper’s and Jardinière). He’ll be mixing up a bunch of drinks using seasonal ingredients and will send you on your way with ideas for what to mix in the coming months. The class includes all the materials and booze you’ll need to mix the drinks in class, and you get to try it all out too.
Tickets are $95, but tablehopper readers can enter promotional code “tablehopper” at checkout for a $20 discount. Get your tickets and details here. 7pm-9pm, 1161 Mission St. Suite 120, at 7th St.
The Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts - 1161 Mission St., Suite 120 San Francisco
On Thursday October 25th, Sunset Magazine will be at JARDINIÈRE as part of their guest bartender series. From 6pm-8pm, they’ll be in the lounge serving the special Pisco Sunset drink, made with pisco, cucumber, and pomegranate. Paired with the cocktail special will be a tasting plate of grilled beef heart, pepper, and chimichurri. Yup, beef heart! The drink and tasting plate each cost $9, and all proceeds will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Then, on Tuesday November 6th, celebrate the end of the election cycle with a drink at BLACKBIRD in the Castro. From 6pm-8pm St. George Spirits will be on hand, serving cocktails made with their Botanivore and Terroir gins (yup, tasty stuff). Representatives from St. George will also be in attendance, answering questions about their gins and serving tastes, so you can try them un-mixed too. The event is free, and the special cocktails will be $6 each. 2124 Market St. at Church, 415-503-0630.
Jardinière - 300 Grove St. San Francisco - 415-861-5555
The final CUESA cocktail event of the year is coming up on Wednesday November 7th at the FERRY BUILDING, so get your tickets while you can. The theme for this month is Election Hangover, so whether you’re celebrating a victory, drowning your sorrows, or not sure you care, there’s a drink for you. You’ll get two full-size cocktails, plus nine sample-size sips to try out. It’s all accompanied by nibbles from local restaurants, too, to soak up all that booze. Particpating bartenders include Aurora Siegel (Hotsy Totsy), Claire Sprouse (Rickhouse), and Edgar Tamayo (Azucar), to name just a few. Tickets are $40, and can be found here, along with the full list of participants.
Wednesday Nov 7, 2012 5:30pm-8pm $40 more info
Ferry Building - One Ferry Building San Francisco - 415-983-8000
Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 – Thursday Nov 1, 2012
Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s one of my favorite holidays. Here in San Francisco we get the added bonus of Día de los Muertos too. There is a bunch of fun, scary, and delicious stuff to do this year.
On Sunday October 28th, over in Oakland, the fine folks at Jupiter Olympus will be throwing their second-annual creepy cocktail shindig, Cocktails from the Crypt, from 9pm-1:30am at Ye Olde Hut. There’s a costume contest, of course, so come in your Halloween finest. Cocktails will be mixed from sponsored liquors like Don Julio Tequila and Ketel One Vodka, and are $10. Admission is free, and punch is included. To RSVP, visit their Facebook page. 5515 College Ave. at Lawton, Oakland, 510-653-2565.
Here in the City, you can head to Bernal Heights’ ROCK BAR on Wednesday October 31st for special drinks like Ghouly Punch. They’ll also be screening a bunch of classic horror films and playing creepy, Halloween-themed music. Rock Bar will be keeping it spooky from 4pm-2am. 80 29th St. at Tiffany, 415-550-6664.
If you’ve got kids to amuse, try weaning them off the Snickers this year with a Hayes Valley Gourmet Halloween Sweets Tour on Sunday October 28th. You and the little ones can sample macarons and artisanal chocolates, instead of waxy, individually wrapped candies. The walk includes eight different samples, so bring a trick-or-treat bag! Costumes encouraged, of course. The walks begin at 11am or 2pm, and tickets are $38 per person.
If your Halloween taste runs a bit more vintage and refined, HEIRLOOM CAFÉ has you covered with their third-annual Vintage Ball, a five-course dinner with wine pairings on Wednesday October 31st. They’ll be keeping it ghostly with a Titanic theme, as 2012 is the hundredth anniversary of the legendarily doomed ship. There will be live Dixieland music, and dress from the era is admired but not required. The special menu will be available in addition to their regular menu, and reservations can be made for anytime they are open, from 5:45pm-10pm. You can check out the special five-course menu here.
On Thursday November 1st, head over to the Mission’s TACOLICIOUS for their Supper of the Souls dinner. The dinner features three courses of family-style Mexican dishes, and while you’re there you can check out a Día de los Muertos altar and art from local artists. The dinner costs $75, which includes one cocktail and three courses. Additional beverages, tax, and tip are separate, and $25 from each ticket will benefit the Mission Cultural Center and Mexican Museum. Reservations are available from 6pm-9:30pm, and can be made by calling the restaurant. 741 Valencia St. at 19th St, 415-626-1344.
If you’d rather cross a bridge, head up to Sausalito on Thursday November 1st for a special menu at COPITA. The restaurant will be decked out with an altar, marigolds, and chalk drawings outside. A special menu will be available all day long, so check it out. They’re open 11:30am-10pm, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 739 Bridgeway at Spinnaker, Sausalito, 415-331-7400.
To prepare for your own Día de los Muertos feast, take a class from Luis Vazquez of Chaac-Mool on the sweet bread served during the traditional Mexican festival. On October 24th (that’s tomorrow—act fast!), he’ll be teaching a class on pan de muerto from 6:30pm-9pm at LA COCINA. Tickets are $65, and include dinner and drinks too!
If your interest in the season skews more toward a harvest celebration, check out the Harvest Festival at the FERRY BUILDING on October 27th and 28th. On Saturday, during the market, there will be a bunch of cool, old-fashioned events and demos, like apple pressing, butter churning, and wool spinning. You can get a start on your fall harvest shopping while you’re at the market too. Then, on Sunday, take the kids (or just your own inner child) and check out live music, face painting, pumpkin decorating, and even a petting zoo. More details can be found here.
Friday Nov 16, 2012 5pm Tickets begin at $350 per person The Four Seasons 757 Market St. at 3rd St.
For a truly outstanding lineup of chefs, get tickets now for the Taste and Tribute event on Friday November 16th at the Four Seasons. The dinner event is a benefit for the Tibetan Aid Project, which aims to preserve and strengthen Tibetan culture. More than 20 Bay Area chefs will be participating, including Bruce Hill (Bix), Sean Baker (Gather), and Joseph Humphrey (Dixie). The dinner includes four courses, cooked tableside by a pair of chefs, plus an hors d’oeuvres and Champagne reception before dinner. For a peek at the menus these chefs are planning, go here.
There will also be a silent and live auction, with some seriously luxurious options, so bring your checkbook. Tickets to the event begin at $350 per person, though group and VIP options are also available. They’re also doing a contest on their Facebook page where you can win a pair of tickets if you “like” and “share” the event with your friends, so check it out!