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May 27, 2013 19 min read

May 28, 2013 - This week's tablehopper: meanwhile, back at the ranch.

May 28, 2013 - This week's tablehopper: meanwhile, back at the ranch.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: meanwhile, back at the ranch.                    

Stunning dessert by Melissa Perello at Outstanding in the Field (Devil’s Gulch Ranch). Photo: ©

So did you enjoy that soggy, misty Memorial Day? It made it a whole hell of a lot easier for me and my fab editorial assistant Dana to be inside cranking away on this column, let me tell you. Anyway, the rest of my weekend was fabulous, hopefully you can say the same. Friday was an impromptu night of cocktails (Trick Dog, Dalva), a burger and beer (Garaje—the nicest people work there, I swear), and then the dance floor (the legendary Gilles Peterson was in town, had to listen to the man spin for a bit at Public Works).

Saturday I was invited by Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Nicasio to come up early and check out the ranch. Wow, it’s so gorgeous up there. I got to see baby piggies, puppies, and week-old rabbits; who’s the lucky girl? I then joined the gathering crowd of folks (try 150 people!) there for Melissa Perello’s Outstanding in the Field dinner. It was a misty and chilly evening, and our massive table was set up right in the vineyard, drinking wonderful wines from Massican and Dutton-Goldfield (who make a Devil’s Gulch pinot noir). Of course Melissa’s menu featured Devil’s Gulch rabbit (polpettini) and lamb and pork in some sausage, with a gorg dessert—check out pics of the event here. It was marvelous—and my favorite part was the group of wonderful people I got to dine with. Family-style dinners are the best.

I scooted back into SF (just in time to see an epic moonrise over the city!) and headed out for another night out dancing—Osunlade was spinning at Mighty, which has a rocking new sound system. I managed to lose one of my earplugs—I guess that’s a sign that I was having a really good time.

Sunday was brunch (thankfully not until noon) at Roosevelt Tamale Parlor—riding my bike through Sunday’s Carnaval traffic in the Mission was like a video game on level eight. I couldn’t let my chilaquiles-induced food coma take me down, however, because I had way too much work to catch up on. Sunday evening I had to pull it on over. Work hard, play hard, it’s a way of life.

Was happy to see my first piece for the The Guardian U.K. came out, featuring my 10 favorite/must-visit restaurants in SF right now (although I wasn’t aware the article was going to be titled “Top 10 Restaurants in San Francisco”—any freelance writer can tell you, the headlines are always a surprise and almost never the one you submitted, and in this case, ditto the lede [lead/intro paragraph]). Yeah, it’s hard to be a control freak.

And I know I have said it a million times, but I know many of you can’t read every single tablehopper, so here we go again: I still have a few tickets left for this Thursday’s tablehopper singles wine event. There will be eight wines from the Languedoc, tasty food from E+O Asian Kitchen, and fab folks aged 35-49. Please share with your single male friends, I need to fill this event with cool dudes so it has an even number of ladies and gents, thank you! Help a sister out? Heck, a lot of sisters—you wouldn’t believe how long the waiting list is for women who want to attend. Seriously. SF, you are impossible!

Quick note: A16 Rockridge has moved their opening to Saturday June 1st—read all about this exciting new project in last Friday’s tablehopper issue!

And next Friday June 7th is SummerTini, the annual fundraiser for CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services), an organization I know you have heard me talk about. The event is going to be SO fab—it’s at the Bently Reserve, with food from restaurants like Nopa, A16, Perbacco, 4505 Meats, and more! And hello, cocktails from Comstock Saloon, Parallel 37, Rye, Elixir, Hakkasan, and Millennium! I’ll be talking more about this special event for the next two weeks. It’s a great cause, be a rock star and get your ticket now!

Tonight I am moderating this (sold-out!) panel at the Commonwealth Club: The Perfect Cup: Coffee Talk with San Francisco’s Finest Roasters. See you there? Thanks to SFoodie for this mention.

Also on SFoodie: Mary Ladd wrote such a sweet homage to the inimitable Mr. Gene Burns, who sadly passed away over the weekend. Sigh. He was the kindest man, so gracious with everyone. A class act, all the way. Sincere condolences to all who knew him, but especially to Joel Riddell and Robert Moon, who were so very close to him. Gene’s big heart, deep voice, and important presence in our food community will be missed terribly.

XOXO Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Kasa Indian Opening on Polk


Thali plate at Kasa. Photo from Facebook.

It looks like the former FOURTH WAVE COFFEE location on Polk has a new taker: none other than the fine folks of KASA INDIAN EATERY (thanks to tablehopper intern Rebecca Kinney for the tip!). Owners Anamika and Suresh Khanna hope to have the new spot up and running before June 25th, hopefully the week of the 17th. It’s a little uncertain at the moment, as owner Anamika Khanna is recovering from being hit by a car (take care, dear!).

The new outpost will have the same menu as their Castro location, with some more colorful design elements. They may also stay open later on weekends, to accommodate the Polk Street crowds. For now, hours will be 11am-10pm, and we’ll keep you updated with a firm opening date. Best wishes with your recovery, Anamika! 1356 Polk St. at Pine.

A Hardhat Look at Roka Akor


The grill and counter. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


The downstairs bar, made of walnut. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


Daniel Hyatt pouring cocktails (nothing says hardhat like plastic cups). Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously noted on tablehopper, international chain ROKA AKOR is opening an outpost of their well-regarded Japanese steakhouse and sushi empire here in San Francisco. Their new location, at 801 Montgomery St., is the former home of Cypress Club, Scott Howard, and Zinnia, and they’re giving it quite the revamp. Right now they’re in the middle of a major renovation, and I had a chance to take a peek (hardhat on, of course) last week.

The new space has two levels—the main dining room at street level and a subterranean bar—and has been designed by Arcanum Architecture. Take a look at this rendering to get a sense of how the two spaces will work together. The upstairs dining room’s main focus is the very large robata charcoal grill, where meats will be prepared over an open flame. The grill faces counter seating for 10, which should be a great place to watch the grill in action. The dining room seats 118, and the wall opposite the grill will have large windows at street level, to take full advantage of the natural light. The wood is primarily poplar, beech, and Monterey cypress, and a few of these light wood touches were visible during the hardhat tour. The mood is kept light with seafoam-green glass throughout, including over the very large hood above the grill.

Below the dining area is the Roka Bar, which is much darker and moodier than the upstairs space. The large L-shaped bar is made from reclaimed walnut, and the rest of the materials in the bar are also dark and a bit sexy. There is very little light below ground, and the goal of this space is to be quite timeless—you really shouldn’t know what time of day it is while you’re drinking here. The bar program is being run by former Alembic bar manager Daniel Hyatt. There will be a full list of cocktails, with infused liquors and Japanese whiskies as the highlight. Hyatt is excited to offer service that is hospitable, not stuffy or pretentious. He wants customers to feel comfortable ordering what they want to drink, not what they think they should want to drink. He’s been experimenting with infusions, particularly of shochu, and the infused spirits will be displayed in handblown glass jars along one wall of the bar area. They’ve also invested in an ice machine that produces 300-pound ice blocks, which will be hand-cut by the bar staff.

The executive chef of the project is Roman Petry, who also opened Roka Akor locations in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Hong Kong. He will be utilizing classic Japanese techniques, but with California products, which he is quite excited to have the opportunity to do. There isn’t a menu for the San Francisco location yet, but we do know the focus will be on grilled meats and seafood, and sushi, with some tempura and appetizers as well. The bar will have a separate menu of smaller bites to go along with all those expertly mixed cocktails. For a hint of how the menu will look, take a peek at the Chicago location’s current menu. They’re planning an opening in July, with hours in the dining room of Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. Look for lunch service in the fall. The bar will be open Mon-Thu 3:30pm-12am and Fri-Sat 5pm-2am. 801 Montgomery St. at Pacific.

Openings: Mama Ji's Is Back with Dim Sum and Dinner, Kama Izakaya Open


Booths at Kama Izakaya; Yelp photo by Cathy K.

Fans of dim sum, rejoice: MAMA JI’S DIM SUM AND DINNER has finally reopened in the former Queen Malika’s space in the Castro, and since they got approval to put in a hood, they are no longer just a pop-up. Yup, they’re all grown up and full time now. Look for Szechuan dinner items, in addition to dim sum all day and night (plus coffee in the morning). Hours are 9:30am-9:30pm daily (10pm on the weekends). 4416 18th St. at Eureka, 415-626-4416.

The Kama Sushi (and Dash in San Mateo) folks have opened a fourth location in the Outer Sunset, but this time it’s KAMA IZAKAYA. For now, no sushi is served at this location—just hot dishes like chicken karaage and gyoza, plus ramen, udon, and more. Hours are daily 5pm-12am, and lunch is served Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm. Delivery coming soon. 2555 Judah St. at 31st Ave., 415-742-5670.

Tidbits: Acme Burgerhaus Closes on Divis, Dogpatch News, Suite Foods Opens in Bernal


The Black & Blue burger from Acme. Yelp photo by Gary B.


Gilberth’s dining room. Photo via Facebook.

Haighteration reports that the Divisadero location of ACME BURGERHAUS has closed. The closure comes right on the heels of the opening of a Tenderloin location for Acme at 620 O’Farrell, so you can still get your fill of their customizable burgers (and lots of beer, by the looks of it). Looks like Jay’s Cheesesteaks wins round one in Divisadero burger battles. 559 Divisadero at Hayes.

A tipster let me know there’s a grocery store that is supposedly coming to the AIC (American Industrial Center) in Dogpatch at 22nd Street and Illinois. Details are sparse on this one; do let me know if you’ve heard anything?

More Dogpatch gossip: ORALIA’S CAFE (2347 3rd St.) lost their lease and rumor has it that it’s going to become a pizza-by-the-slice place (although I don’t know who will be operating it). Oralia’s will be moving their sandwich operation into GILBERTH’S ROTISSERIE & GRILL (they have the same owner). I will keep you posted! 2427-2429 3rd St. at 22nd St., 415-913-7163.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, the 331 CORTLAND MARKETPLACE is getting a new shop on Saturday June 1st: the SUITE FOODS WAFFLE SHOP. Look for European-style waffles with sweet and savory toppings. Hours are 8am-5pm daily, closed Thu.

331 Cortland Marketplace            - 331 Cortland Ave. San Francisco

Cawfee Tawk: Gaslamp Cafe Now Open, Verve at Mister Bubbles


Gaslamp Cafe; photo via Facebook.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, GASLAMP CAFE is now open in SoMa. Look for Blue Bottle Coffee, Five Mountains tea, breakfast offerings like pastries and egg sandwiches, sandwiches for lunch, outdoor seating coming soon, and free Wi-Fi is with the purchase of a beverage or food. 1599 Howard St. at 12th St., 415-580-7493.

A tipster sent in news that the laundromat next door to Martuni’s, MISTER BUBBLES, is going to be serving Verve Coffee—there is quite the mini café setup in the window, with a brand-new La Marzocco GB/5. It should be open and serving coffee very soon—the team finished their training and are just waiting on final inspections. So yeah, you can get seriously caffeinated all along Valencia Street now. 8 Valencia St. at Market.

Bernal Cutlery Now Open in the Mission


The new Bernal Cutlery. Photo by Liam Passmore.

The wonderful knife shop BERNAL CUTLERY has moved their operation from Cortland Street in Bernal to the former Pot and Pantry space in the Mission. They’re celebrating their opening with a knife buyback program that allows you to drop off an old knife anytime in June and get credit in return, which is a pretty sweet way to score an upgrade. Stop by on Saturday June 1st from 5pm-8pm to say hello and welcome them to the neighborhood. For those in Bernal who need knife sharpening, you’ll be able to drop your knives off and pick them up at Avedano’s Meats. Bernal Cutlery is open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm. 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St., 415-902-6531.

Sean Lackey Popping Up at Truck, Tango & Stache Brunch at Dear Mom


Corn dogs by Sean Lackey. Photo from Facebook.

Chef Sean Lackey is popping up at TRUCK again this month, on Wednesday May 29th. He’s named the pop-up Bite Me, and this time around he’ll be showcasing the miracles of the deep fryer, with corn dogs made from Prather Ranch hotdogs and fresh corn, plus chicken liver pâté, deviled eggs with salmon, and a bourbon-braised brisket slider. Food o’clock is 6pm, and you can get menu updates on the event’s Facebook page. 1900 Folsom St. at 15th St., 415-252-0306.

This Saturday June 1st, Tango & Stache will be serving brunch at DEAR MOM. Last month featured the famed Flaco’s tacos, Huevos Stacheros (two sunny-side up eggs over a pile of either bacon fat or olive oil tortillas, plus vermouth baked beans, crispy panfried ham, whiskey-pickled jalapeños, and cilantro gremolata), and a bacon-stuffed buckwheat waffle with fried duck egg, maple syrup, and fresh strawberries. Looking forward to seeing what he has in store for our lipid levels this month. 11:30am-4pm. 2700 16th St. at Harrison.

Special Dinners to Start Summer Off Right: Soft-Shell Crab, Wild Foods, and an Homage to L'Arpège


Spruce’s SMIP Ranch, where many ingredients for their L’Arpège dinner will be sourced. Photo from Facebook.

You like soft-shell crab? Yeah, me too. Swing by BLUESTEM BRASSERIE on Thursday May 30th for the lastest stop on their “American Road Trip” rotating menu. That Thursday evening, chef Francis Hogan will pay homage to Maryland with crispy soft-shell crabs, served with blue crab cake, Old Bay roasted potatoes, braised red kale, and roasted garlic hollandaise, and Smith Island cake for dessert.

Get wild (rawr) with chef Kory Stewart at AMERICANO on Thursday June 6th for their annual Wild Foods Dinner (Kory loves foraging for mushrooms—he’ll be heading out with foraging expert and author Connie Green for the dinner). The dinner features four courses highlighting wild and foraged ingredients: possibilites include morel and porcini mushrooms, ramps, elderflower, and king salmon. The evening will open with a cocktail reception including drinks mixed with wild ingredients, plus wine pairings from Medlock Ames. The reception begins at 5:30pm (dinner at 6:30pm) and costs $85 per person, including beverages but not tax and tip. Reservations can be made by calling 415-278-3777.

At SPRUCE, check out a seven-course dinner from chef de cuisine John Madriaga on Monday June 10th. The dinner is an homage to Alain Passard’s Paris restaurant, L’Arpège, with a focus on hyper-fresh and seasonal produce from Spruce’s SMIP Ranch. The dinner includes wine pairings with each course, and you can check out the menu and wines here. The dinner costs $195 per person, not including tax and tip. Reservations can be made by calling 415-931-5100.

Spruce            - 3640 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-931-5100

Get High on the Hog at EPIC Roasthouse June 29th


High on the Hog 2012. Photo © GammaNine Photography via Facebook.

Enjoy some sunshine on the bay at High on the Hog at EPIC ROASTHOUSE on Saturday June 29th. The afternoon of barbecue, pinot noir, and live music runs from 1pm-4pm and costs $65 per person. You’ll find porky dishes from chef Jan Birnbaum like roasted fennel porchetta, maple roasted pork legs, and Manila clams with pork jowl and white beans, plus pinot noir from lots of local wineries like Flowers, Kutch Wines, and Hirsch Vineyards. You can get your tickets here (they go quickly), and if you order them before May 29th you get a free EPIC T-shirt. Bonus.

               Saturday Jun 29, 2013 1pm-4pm $65 per person, all inclusive more info

EPIC Roasthouse            - 369 Embarcadero San Francisco - 415-369-9955

Keep It Classy: Upcoming Cooking Classes


On Tuesday June 11th, head to 18 REASONS for Gnocchi! A Primer, where you’ll learn to make potato-, semolina-, and vegetable-based gnocchi with Viola Buitoni. Tickets are $65 for the general public and $55 for 18 Reasons members, and the class runs from 6:30pm-9pm.

On Monday July 15th, learn all about the underrated and fabulous cuisine of Hungary with Michelle McKenzie at The Flavors of Hungary: Summer. You’ll learn three different dishes: an appetizer, main dish, and a dessert. The class runs from 6pm-8:30pm, and tickets are $65 for the general public and $55 for 18 Reasons members.

On Thursday June 13th, Urban Kitchen will be holding a Whole Fish Fabrication and Preservation class with Neil Davidson of Mission Gastroclub and WhipOut! Food Truck at CUESA’s outdoor Dacor kitchen. You’ll get a whole black cod to butcher yourself, with Davidson’s help of course, and then you’ll learn how to preserve the resulting fillets by smoking and poaching. Author and former commercial fisher Maria Finn will also be in attendance to talk about sustainability in the fishing industry. Tickets are $68 per person. Dacor Outdoor Kitchen, Ferry Building.

18 Reasons            - 3674 18th St. San Francisco

510 Reopenings: American Oak and Chez Panisse


Showing that flame who’s boss at American Oak. Photo from Facebook.

Here’s another one to add to the Phoenix rising file: East Bay Express reports that AMERICAN OAK in Alameda reopened May 16th after a December fire. They’ve revamped their menu too. 2319 Santa Clara Ave. at Park, 510-521-5862.

Just a reminder that CHEZ PANISSE is due to reopen on Friday June 21st, and they will be taking reservations once again via phone starting Wednesday May 29th at 9am (online reservations through their website and OpenTable will begin Thursday May 30th).

Chez Panisse            - 1517 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley - 510-548-5525


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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Bar News and Openings: Novela Opens Friday, Virgil's Sea Room Coming Soon


The lounge area at Novela. Photo by Lance Skundrich.


Books lining the walls at Novela. Photo by Lance Skundrich.

As previously reported on tablehopper, there’s a new literary bar in town. The soon-to-open watering hole, NOVELA has a “novel” theme (ha-ha), complete with vintage books organized by color, cocktails named after authors and literary characters, and furnishings evocative of a library.

The cocktail program comes from bar veterans Kate Bolton of Maven and Michael Mina, and Alex Smith of Gitane and Honor Bar. You’ll find historically inspired punch on tap, available by the pitcher, glass, or flight; take a look at all the options here. There are also cocktails like the Sherlock Holmes (pisco, apple brandy, zucca amaro, birch beer, and lime) or the Holden Caulfield (rock and rye, oloroso, and angelica bitters); here’s the full list for your perusing pleasure. There is also space for private groups in the Hemingway Room, which is probably the perfect place to enjoy a few of those punch pitchers with some of your rowdiest (and most literary) friends. Opening this Friday May 31st. Hours are Mon-Fri 4pm-2am and Sat-Sun 6pm-2am. 662 Mission St. at Annie.

Also opening soon, this time on the Mission/Bernal border, is VIRGIL’S SEA ROOM. The new bar takes over the former NAPS III space on Mission and comes from Lila Thirkield (owner of the Lexington Club), Gillian Fitzgerald (Nickie’s), and Tom Temprano (founder and DJ of the soul party Hard French and President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club). The goal is to create a neighborhood bar where all the many (and diverse) Mission residents can come together for a drink ranging from a beer to a vodka soda to an expertly mixed Sazerac. The space was designed by David Marks of Room 4 (they used to have a storefront on Valencia) and features the space’s original wallpaper and vintage furniture and light fixtures. They’re hoping to open in the next two weeks; stay tuned for an exact date. Hours will be Mon-Thu 4pm-2am and Fri-Sun 1pm-2am. 3152 Mission St. at Precita, 415-829-2233.

More News and Parties: Changes at Alembic, Negronis for Okies, Hi-Lo Club's Anniversary


View of the bar at Hi-Lo Club. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

Since Daniel Hyatt left THE ALEMBIC, there have been a few changes with the staffing. Gregory Quinn has become the new general manager and has a pair of intrepid bar managers now too: Danny Louie and Ethan Terry. Louie has been a bartender at Alembic for a long time, and Terry signed on after leaving Heaven’s Dog/AQ. The two will work together on crafting the cocktail list, though Terry’s role will be more operational. He’s spent the last three weeks working some bar shifts and will be transitioning into his more active role going forward. The two have worked together previously on their project Cocktail Lab and are excited to have the chance to rekindle their barmance. Rock on, guys, and we can’t wait to check out some of your concoctions.

Join local bars in supporting the relief effort in Oklahoma with Negronis for Okies this week. In conjunction with Imbibe Magazine’s Negroni Week, you can get Negronis all over town, with the proceeds benefitting the Oklahoma Education Foundation and going directly to the schools affected last week. This evening, Tuesday May 28th, head to Alchemist in SoMa, who will be offering their Negroni special from 5pm-8pm. In coming days, look for Negronis at Rye, Elixir, Trick Dog, and 15 Romolo, to name just a few. Check out the full list and schedule here. Raise a glass to recovery and rebuilding. 679 3rd St. at Townsend, 415-746-9968.

The HI-LO CLUB is celebrating their first anniversary on Wednesday June 5th with a Bourbon & Bacon Happy Hour from 6pm-10pm. Seriously, nothing says happy birthday like bourbon and bacon. Order any bourbon or whiskey from their extensive list, and you get a side of applewood smoked bacon from neighbor Morty’s Deli. You can also pick up one of their Bourbon & Bacon T-shirts for $20. Bottoms up to (delicious) birthdays! 1423 Polk St. at Pine, 415-885-4788.

The Alembic            - 1725 Haight St. San Francisco - 415-666-0822

Mugsy Pop-Up Wine Bar at El Rio This Friday


Barbara Gratta with her wines. Photo from Facebook.

Get your wine-loving self to EL RIO on Friday May 31st for another installment of Mugsy Wine Bar. This time around, they’ll have Gratta Wines, plus bubbles from Rock Wall and Brown Estate, and even some bites (you’ll be able to taste some of the bread from Fox and Lion). Mugsy happens on the back patio from 5:30pm-8:30pm (pray for nice weather), and glasses will be in the $7-$8 range. 3158 Mission St. at Precita, 415-282-3325.

Beer Dinners at Nojo Throughout June


The interior at Nojo. Photo: ©

NOJO will be offering two beer dinners in June for all you beer-loving folks out there. Each of the Monday night dinners includes five courses paired with beer from a changing roster of breweries, and costs $85 per person. Reservations can be made on SeatMe or by calling the restaurant. First up is a dinner with FiftyFifty Brewery on Monday June 3rd, with sardine katsu and a yakitori squab set on the menu.

On June 10th, check out the “Gypsy Beer Dinner” with various local breweries like Pacific Brewing Laboratory and Almanac Beer Co. On that menu, look for honey- and shoyu-lacquered duck with pickled rhubarb, basil, and shungiku, with pairings from different nomadic breweries. They’ll also have dinners on June 17th and 24th. Check out their website for full menus and more information on the dinners later in June.

Nojo            - 231 Franklin St. San Francisco - 415-896-4587


the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Drinks About Nothing at the Starlight Room

Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander, who plays the neurotic and hilarious George Costanza, was spotted at the Starlight Room on Thursday night. He’s in town directing When You’re in Love, the Whole World Is Jewish at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre. He was there with a group of 10, and they stayed for two hours. When he left, he told the general manager that “the club has it going on.”

Keep That Bike Rolling

Oakland native, former pro cyclist, author, and Tour de France announcer Bob Roll popped into Coqueta on Thursday. Owner (and avid cyclist) Michael Chiarello snapped a picture too.

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