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Aug 19, 2013 16 min read

August 20, 2013 - This week's tablehopper: dry lightning.

August 20, 2013 - This week's tablehopper: dry lightning.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: dry lightning                    

Hot chicken by chef Carlo Espinas (Comstock Saloon) at the Night Market. Photo: ©

What the hell is going on in the cosmos right now? Not to be all hippie-dippie, but between the heavy full moon and last night’s freaky-deaky dry lightning show, I am ready for unicorn sightings next (no comment on that other thing that can take our city by surprise).

So I am watching my sister and friends prepare to go to Burning Man (good luck with all the prep, sweeties!), and of course am having some twinges of FOMO and sadness about missing the playa this year (and Marco Cochrane’s gorgeous 55-foot piece this year, Truth & Beauty). Le sigh.

But instead, I am opting to recharge with a long-overdue visit to Seattle and Lummi Island! I’m leaving this Thursday, and will be hanging out with Eva Soroken and Kylen McCarthy of Pioneer Square Pantry through the weekend—am very excited to have them show me their Northwest world. I will assuredly be documenting some delicious and gorgeous things on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter this weekend, follow along!

Could you believe the Street Food Festival on Saturday (and the Night Market the night before)? Again, just whoa on the turnout of tasty. Loved the global mix of flava, the creativity, and the nice price for it all. (Can The Whole Beast please open a lamb shawarma shop? That would be fab.) Thanks to everyone who contributed their talents—so much work went into all that food, drink, and organization (La Cocina, you are amazing). And grazie to everyone who stopped by the tablehopper table on Saturday, was great to say hi and hang out. Here’s a link to the tablehopper T-shirts in case you didn’t get a chance to come by (or back!).

I’ll see you next Tuesday—enjoy the sun (and big-ass moon!). Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Fog City: First Look at the Menu and More


Rendering of the front of Fog City by Michael Guthrie and Company. (Note: the outdoor seating configuration is not final.)


Rendering of the back of Fog City.

Things are getting close for FOG CITY, the reinvented concept opening in the former (and iconic) Fog City Diner. Come mid-September, you’ll be able to check out the brand-spanking-new 145-seat digs from chef-owner Bruce Hill (Bix, Picco, Pizzeria Picco, and Zero Zero) and founders Bill Higgins and Bill Upson (of Real Restaurants)—the place hadn’t been updated since it opened in 1985, so expect some ch-ch-changes.

tablehopper has the first look at the menu—Hill is calling the style San Franciscan cuisine, with a strong focus on items coming off the monster wood-fired grill, like a wood-grilled tomato soup ($6), mesquite-grilled local albacore ($26) or lamb skewers ($24), and grilled beef tongue ($17). Of course there will be a burger ($14), made with Bruce Hill’s special technique, which uses his patented Chef’s Press. There’s a wood oven that will also be blazing full time, cooking up clams and chicken. Erik Lowe, who was the chef at Bix the past five years, will be the chef at Fog City.

Hill and Lowe source ingredients that are tops in quality and seasonality, so look for a lot of seasonal salads and well-sourced proteins, from local halibut crudo ($14) to the grilled Brandt Beef rib-eye ($44). Many items are housemade, from the hamburger buns to the American cheese (even the hot sauce on the chilled oysters is barrel-aged). The menu is designed to share, and also has a variety of snacks (all $6), like deviled eggs and long beans in a beer batter. I’m also fired up to try the desserts by Aaron Toensing, which will include a “frozen custard” (using Straus Family Creamery milk) and French crullers made fresh to order.

The cocktail menu will include some classics (Bloody Mary, Irish coffee), plus newer-school creations, like barrel-aged and on-tap cocktails. Look for primarily local wines on the 16 taps, plus 7 beer taps.

The 4,334-square-foot space has been completely redone by architect Michael Guthrie, and is now much more open, with a V-shaped onyx-hued bar that seats 30 and an open kitchen. There will also be outdoor seating along Battery Street. The official opening party for Fog City (slated for mid-September) will be a fundraiser for Raphael House; the date, tickets, and details will be announced soon. Follow Fog City on Twitter: @Fog_CitySF. 1300 Battery St. at The Embarcadero, 415-982-2000.

Update on TBD (No, Really, That's the Name)


A view of the mezzanine and the bar overlooking the open kitchen. Rendering courtesy of TBD Restaurant.


An overhead look at the open kitchen. Rendering courtesy of TBD Restaurant.

We have some updates to AQ’s upcoming TBD RESTAURANT project that is coming to Mid-Market this fall. To recap, AQ’s chef Mark Liberman (working closely with his sous at AQ, Alex Phaneuf) will be focusing on cooking proteins and vegetables via open-fire grilling (on a Grillworks grill), as well as smoking, rotisserie cooking, and baking over a custom-built hearth.

It may all sound primal, but initial dishes include artichoke and Dungeness crab with spiced rhubarb and sea urchin ($6) from the “Grill + Plancha” section, fluke crudo with sunchokes and buttermilk ($18) from the “Smoked” part, and you’ll find a duck cassoulet ($12) in the “On the Hearth” section. There will also be a “Raw” section, dishes for sharing (including tableside carne crudo, $18), and you know you’ll find a version of s’mores for dessert (plus soft-serve ice cream).

The 50-seat restaurant features a mezzanine, plus bar and kitchen counter seating, a lounge area, and a communal table. The look is definitely going to have some Field & Stream-inspired elements, like red Dietz lanterns, retro plaid thermoses, and vintage ice chests, along with antlers, furniture made from raw wood, and other camping-inspired components juxtaposed against steel, wood, and clean lines.

Keeping things civilized: 50-plus global wines (assembled by AQ’s beverage director, Kristen Capella), 20 beers on tap, low-proof cocktails (under the direction of bar manager Tim Zohn), and an extensive sherry selection. Dinner will be served Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11:30pm. Lunch, afternoon snacks, and late-night dining are coming later. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

New Openings (Tamashisoul) and Coming Up: Ferry Plaza Seafood, Blueprint Tap Room


The view at Ferry Plaza Seafood. Yelp photo by Paige B.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, TAMASHISOUL SUSHI BAR has now opened in the former Bistro Unique space in Cow Hollow, and per the rumors I heard, the folks behind Sudachi are behind this new project. Urban Daddy mentions red banquettes, DJs, and some wacky maki (like Red Hot Chili Pepper rolls with spicy tuna and jalapeños) on the menu. ‘Nuff said. 1849 Union St. at Octavia, 415-346-1849.

Looks like FERRY PLAZA SEAFOOD is going to be leaving the Ferry Building Marketplace at the end of the year, and plans to reopen in the former Pasta Pomodoro in North Beach near Washington Square Park. Scoop also mentions some bonuses that will come with the new location, like a full kitchen and later hours. Also noted is the rumor that Hog Island Oyster Bar may be taking over the vacant Ferry Building space (lord knows they could use the space). Stand by. 655 Union St. at Columbus.

Coming very soon to the Design District is BLUEPRINT TAP ROOM. Eater mentions Chris Wong—the executive chef at Social Kitchen & Brewery and previously chef-partner of Luella—is behind the project. Local workers will be able to come in for American comfort dishes for lunch (check out the menu here), plus there will be happy hour and early dinners. There will be 20 beers on tap, and Blue Bottle Coffee will also be available. Hours are looking like Mon-Fri 11am-8pm; stand by for news about the opening soon. 680 8th St. at Townsend.

Jardinière Closed for a Two-Week Renovation


Jardinière. Photo: ©

On Sunday August 18th, JARDINIÈRE temporarily closed for its annual refresh. Although the biggest renovation was six years ago (when the J Lounge was added downstairs), this time around will feature updates like a new front door (the previous door with the martini glass was a heavy one) and removing the curtains from around the door area so people can see in. There are going to be new fixtures on the exterior of the building, and some interior tweaks and changes that some die-hard patrons will notice. The restaurant will reopen for service on Tuesday September 3rd, just in time for the symphony’s opening night. Cheers.

Jardinière            - 300 Grove St. San Francisco - 415-861-5555

Tidbits: Sightglass at the Farmers Market, Ramen Burger (In Case You Hadn't Heard), Brunch at Boulettes Larder, More


Sightglass beans, ready to wake you up. Photo from Facebook.

Starting Saturday August 24th, you’ll be able to add an extra jolt to your trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market at the new SIGHTGLASS COFFEE cart. They’ll be offering their beans, plus espresso and pour-over coffee to help you get through the morning crowds. Look for them at a cart in the back plaza, next to Cowgirl Creamery.

There has been lots of discussion of the ramen burger phenomenon recently, and to keep up with the demand for the noodle beasties, NOMBE has made some menu changes. So here’s the deal: you can order the ramen burger nightly (but not at brunch), and you can now only get ramen for brunch or during Sunday dinner. The burger is $10 and there are two kinds available, either miso, shiitake, and blue cheese; or soy, cheddar, and bacon. On Wednesdays, be sure to pop in for Red Red Wine Wednesdays, when all bottles are 50 percent off.

It looks like BOULETTES LARDER is now serving Sunday brunch after a hiatus to get Bouli Bar up and running. From 10am-2:30pm they’ll have their beignets, of course, plus lots of other impeccably sourced brunchy dishes. 1 Ferry Building Marketplace, 415-399-1155.

Coming soon to SoMa is the new PICNIC ON THIRD, from a pair of ladies who met while working at Foreign Cinema. Leigh Loper (formerly of Quince) and Natalia Bushyager (previously at Camino and Chez Panisse) are hoping to open the lunch spot in the next six to eight months. The menu will change daily, with a roster of room temperature salads, a couple of changing entrees, and a “chef’s composition,” or recommended plate from the kitchen. They’ll be signing their lease next week, and a beer and wine license is already in the works. 493 3rd St. at Bryant.

Haighteration reports that THE GRIND CAFE in the Lower Haight is expanding into the former P-Kok space. They’ll mostly be using the new space to expand the restaurant’s kitchen and prep areas, which will allow for more seating inside. There may also be some upgrades in store. 783 Haight St. at Scott, 415-864-0955.

Closure Report: Luella, Mondo Caffe and Katz Bagels on Mission


The exterior of Luella. Photo from Facebook.

Scoop reports that LUELLA in Russian Hill is closing at the end of the month. Chef-owner Ben de Vries is closing up shop to spend more time with his family and friends, but is looking forward to working the stoves somewhere where he won’t have to work the books too. No word yet on the new takers for the restaurant. Luella will be taking reservations via phone for the rest of the month. Best wishes to the de Vries clan! 1896 Hyde St. at Green, 415-674-4343.

Thanks to a tip from a tablehopper reader, it appears that both MONDO CAFFE and KATZ BAGELS in the Financial District have closed. It’s not clear if this is a lease issue (the two are neighbors) or if something else happened. I remember going to Mondo for their focaccia sandwiches when I had my downtown ad agency job back in the late 1990s, so they have been around for a while. Awww, memories. 602-606 Mission St. at 2nd St.

Pop-Ups and One-Offs: Pig Roast, Dandelion Chocolate Guest Chefs


Pulled pork from Doc’s of the Bay. Photo from Facebook.

Local food truck DOC’S OF THE BAY is already renowned for their delicious burger, but now they’re branching out into pig territory. On Friday August 23rd, they’ll be at the SoMa StrEat Food Park from 5pm-10pm with a whole roasted pig feast. You get to pick your favorite two cuts of pork, two sides, plus there will be peach cobbler for dessert, beer, and corn bread. Tickets are $30, but use discount code piggypiggy for 20 percent off. Tickets will be $38 at the gate. 428 11th St. at Harrison.

DANDELION CHOCOLATE is continuing their guest chef series this month with a visit from pastry chef Allie Mueller of Jardinière. From Wednesday August 21st through Sunday August 25th she’ll be serving her pastries, some with Dandelion’s chocolate incorporated. There’s a chocolate torte, monster cookie, and fruitier choices like a lemon meringue tart. Then, from Wednesday August 28th through Sunday September 1st, catch Le Dix-Sept Pâtisserie at Dandelion. Look for French-style pastries, though a menu is not yet available. 740 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-349-0942.

Ferragosto, the Ultimate Italian Picnic Day, Comes to Piccino


The exterior of Piccino at movie o’clock. Photo ©

You gotta love a culture that has a holiday set aside for picnicking. The great Italian summer holiday Ferragosto already happened on August 15th, when Italians were busy packing up their picnic baskets and heading to the beaches and the mountains to feast with their loved ones. You can make like an Italian and head to PICCINO, where they’ll be celebrating on Sunday August 25th with a party. Starting at 1pm, you’ll be able to check out a mini farmers’ market with goods from Mariquita and Tenbrink farms. You’ll also find a menu of picnic-friendly items, like composed salads of the tomato and pasta variety, salami sandwiches, fresh fruit, and pastries. They’ll be pouring a special wine fresca cocktail as well, and at 8:30pm catch a screening of What About Bob projected on the barn doors. Be sure to bring a blanket, because this city definitely doesn’t have Italy’s summer weather.

Piccino            - 1001 Minnesota St. San Francisco - 415-824-4224

510 News: Ramen Shop Party Tonight, Disco Volante Closes, More


Bowls of noodles at Ramen Shop. Photo from Facebook.

RAMEN SHOP in Oakland is throwing a Japanese street food party on Tuesday August 20th (that’s tonight!) from 7:30pm-11:30pm. The event is to raise money for some of the restaurant staff who have never been to Japan. They’re planning an eating and researching trip in late October, and all proceeds from the party will go toward their plane tickets. Guest chefs Chikara Ono of B-Dama and Jack Lin of Hopscotch will be in attendance, making sushi and gyoza, and there will be lots of stations set up in the restaurant serving different dishes, including onigiri and yakisoba. Tickets are $50. 5812 College Ave. at Chabot, Oakland, 510-788-6370.

Also tonight (Tuesday August 20th), ADESSO chef Chad Arnold will show you how to break down a whole chicken as part of their Salumi Club. It starts at 6:30pm, and is free. No reservation required, and they’ll have some drinks specials going too. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, Oakland, 510-601-0305.

Chowhounders report that there’s a new place for dumplings in Oakland: TIAN JIN DUMPLINGS. Early Yelp reports are also positive—sounds like it’s a husband-and-wife team doing handmade, Northern-style dumplings. They’re making small batches and it sounds like they sell out early; try to beat the rush! 989 Franklin St. at 9th St., Oakland, 510-459-6265.

In the unfortunate news department, a reader tipped us off to a Facebook post that announced the closure of  DISCO VOLANTE. Their last night in business was last night, Monday August 19th. No word on why or if there are any new plans for the space or the team. 347 14th St. at Webster, Oakland.

A tip via Chowhound reports that the Hotel Durant in Berkeley has finished renovating HENRY’S RESTAURANT and brought on chef Ryan Lafferty (previously of T-Rex). They’ve now reopened for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all of it focused on classic American pub food like burgers, sandwiches, and fried chicken. There are also cocktails, beer on tap, and wines by the glass or bottle. Take a look at all the menus here. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-10am for breakfast, 11am-2:30pm for lunch, and 5pm-10pm for dinner. From 2:30pm-5pm, they are open with a lighter bar menu, and the bar stays open until about 12am. On weekends, hours are brunch 8am-2pm and 2pm-10pm for dinner. 2600 Durant Ave. at Bowditch, Berkeley, 510-809-4132.

SLIDERBAR is continuing their expansion with a new location in Berkeley. Their grand opening is Saturday August 24th. To celebrate they’ll be giving away 1,000 of their sliders, so stop by if you like crowds of UC Berkeley students (starts at 11:30am). Look for brunch as well a happy hour special of $4 beer, as well. 2124 Center St. at Shattuck, Berkeley.


the sponsor

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


(Sponsored): This Summer Is High Season for New Zealand Wine

It’s an exciting time for New Zealand in the San Francisco Bay Area. Emirates Team New Zealand is on the water for the America’s Cup and doing a fantastic job at showing how New Zealand is the leader in nautical design and sailing. It’s not just on the water that the Kiwis excel, but in the wine world too! Local restaurants are joining in the antipodean fun and serving up world-class New Zealand wine with superb food, so you can see and taste what all the fuss is about.

Vibrancy, purity, and balance are why New Zealand wines pair so well with food. More than 20 of San Francisco’s leading restaurants and wine bars are featuring New Zealand wines by the glass, in flights, and in pairings with menu items throughout the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cup competitions (available through September 30th). Many of the Bay Area’s leading retailers are also offering a wide selection of New Zealand wines. Email here to learn more—we’ll send you an email (just one!) with everything you need to know.

New Zealand is best known for distinctive and refreshing sauvignon blanc. But have you tried NZ riesling, pinot gris, and chardonnay? How about some of the world-class pinot noir, which comes from the cooler regions? Warmer regions excel in red blends and syrah. Make some of these discoveries of your own by ordering a glass of New Zealand wine in the participating restaurants throughout the summer of racing. Email us here so we can send you an email with details! Cheers and enjoy the summer of racing!

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

An Update on Beaux (Coming to the Castro)


A rendering of the bar at Beaux. Courtesy Beaux.

As noted on tablehopper in March, the Castro is getting a new bar soon: BEAUX. The project comes from Tim Eicher, Rob Giljum, and Rob Cotterman, the owners of The Edge and Midnight Sun. The name refers to boyfriends or dandies, and one of the bar’s taglines is that you can “make Beaux your boyfriend” in the neighborhood.

We’ve got a couple of updates on the project. First, the former Trigger interior has been wiped away by Geremia Design, and is now divided into multiple sections to accommodate cocktailing, dancing, and conversation (and maybe some naughtiness—although nothing will compare to the shenanigans when the place was the Detour!). Take a look at a floor plan here. They’ve brought Scotty Kennedy of Tacolicious on board to get the drink list up and running, so look for cocktails that have a little more thought put into them than the average club drink. Right now, the plan is to open in September, although that is pending construction completion. 2344 Market St. at Noe, 415-863-4027.

Bar and Club News (and Guess Who Will Be Pouring Beer Next?)


The DJ booth and dance floor at Audio Discotech. Photo via Facebook.

There’s a new place to get your dance on in SoMa above the forthcoming Bergerac, which was previously mentioned in tablehopper. It’s called AUDIO DISCOTECH and, as the name suggests, it is all about the sound. The project comes from David Brinkley of Vessel, Anderson Pugash of Crossroads Nightlife Group, and Bruce McDonald of Foreign Cinema and Laszlo, and features a rotating roster of DJs and cocktails from Yael Vengroff and Russell Davis (some of those bevvies will put the hurt on you—be careful not to mix too much with the eight-foot infinity mirror), and lots of LED lights and a spring-loaded dance floor. Hours will be Thu-Sat 9pm-2am. Utz utz. 316 11th St. at Folsom, 415-255-9439.

Here’s an update on the former Stray Bar space in Bernal. As previously reported, Mike Goebel and Darren Brunson took the place over and now have a name: HOLY WATER. They should be opening up in a month or so. 309 Cortland Ave. at Bocana.

CURRY UP NOW on Valencia is verrrrry close to getting their liquor license finalized. Once they’ve got it, look for beer and wine on tap, and get ready for naughty naan to get a little naughtier (also coming soon: their “i’klektik” brunch). 659 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-735-3667.

Sake Class at Izakaya Yuzuki, Harvest Tasting Event at Press Club


Press Club. Photo courtesy of Press Club.

No plans Labor Day weekend? After hanging out in Dolores Park, you can get your sake on at a Sake Introductory Class at IZAKAYA YUZUKI on Sunday September 1st with sake sommelier Yoshihiro Sako. You’ll learn about the history as well as how to taste and order sake. $40. 4:15pm-5:15pm. RSVP here.

Mark your calendar for Sunday September 8th, when PRESS CLUB celebrates their fifth anniversary with a Harvest Tasting Event.  Wines will be poured from wineries like Caraccioli Cellars, Beauregard Vineyards, Philip Togni Vineyard, and Zepaltas Wines. 2pm-5pm (trade is invited 1pm-2pm). There will also be bites from Taste Catering’s Chris Borges, like chicken and pumpkin seed empanadas. Tickets are $45 online or at the door.

Press Club            - 20 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco - 415-744-5000


the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

A Convenient Quince

Former Vice President Al Gore dined at Quince on Thursday night. No word what he ate, but we’re sure it was delicious.

Dine Hard at Ame

Ame continues its star-studded month with a visit from none other than Bruce Willis. According to a Tweet, he enjoyed his meal immensely.

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