This week's tablehopper: coming in hot.
Birthday dream menu: Deep-fried uni with Tabasco rémoulade at Butterfly. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The food world is reeling with the shocking news that chef Charlie Trotter was found dead this morning at the age of 54. The Chicago chef was a culinary icon, a pioneer, a great talent, and, yes, a notoriously difficult person to work for (but you should also read this piece about how great it was to work for him). Condolences to his family and friends for this unexpected and tragic loss—he touched and influenced so many people in his 54 legendary years.
This past weekend, I was definitely giving thanks for all the wonderful people in my life. Birthdays are a great time to take stock of your life. How lucky to have my grandma here for my (epic) birthday lunch on Friday, and an intimate dinner with sweet friends at Outerlands on Friday night. And how much fun did I have dancing to deep-crates disco with my dear friends at one of my favorite San Francisco clubs on Saturday night? I have been going to The Stud since I moved to San Francisco in 1994, and it was pretty awesome to meet someone on Saturday who was telling me about his memories of coming to The Stud for his first time in 1977! I bow down. (I also bought him a glass of bubbles. Hopefully someone will do the same for me 20 years from now.)
So, I was up late burning the midnight oil on this hefty column—we have a bunch of openings this week. Let’s dive in. I’ll see you Friday!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Stones Throw Opens in Russian Hill
Opening tonight (November 5th) in the former Luella on Russian Hill is STONES THROW. This welcoming neighborhood restaurant will feature Cal-American cuisine from chef Jason Halverson (previously Michael Mina)—some photos from test dinners looked marvy. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, he is partnering with general manager Ryan Cole, also an alum of the Mina Group, plus partners Jason Kirmse and Cyrick Hia (Fat Angel), and front-of-house and operations partner Tai Ricci, formerly of SPQR and Michael Mina. Yup, it’s quite a pack of industry folks who know what the hell they’re doing.
The dinner menu covers snacks for $8 (like potato puffs or duck pâté), starters (like sunchoke soup or squid ink conchiglie pasta, $12-$16), and mains (from duck breast to chestnut ravioli, $16-$29). The dessert menu should remind you of some childhood favorites (with a twist). The beer list is an extensive one (natch), with four draft beers nightly and craft beers from around the world. The wines will be value-driven, from the familiar to the adventurous, with 11 wines by the glass.
The restaurant has room for 49, and the 11-seat bar will be an easy place to swing by. There’s a bright yellow exterior (you can’t miss it), while inside there are large windows, wood tabletops and exposed rafters, banquette seating, and pendant barn lights. Since parking is such a nightmare in the neighborhood, you can take an Uber to the restaurant and receive 5 percent off your check—just alert the host or hostess when you arrive. Ta-da! Dinner is Tue-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, Sun 11am-2pm and 5:30pm-10pm. The bar opens nightly at 5pm. 1896 Hyde St. at Green, 415-796-2901.
TBD Restaurant (from the AQ Team) Now Open in Mid-Market
After a short delay, the latest Mid-Market/SoMa project from the AQ duo (Matt Semmelhack and chef Mark Liberman) is now open as of this evening. Introducing TBD RESTAURANT, a 50-seat restaurant with a menu focused on open-fire grilling, smoking, rotisserie, and hearth-baking methods for both meats and vegetables. Unlike Korean barbecue, they will handle it all for you, so no worries. You can check out the menu, which also includes some raw selections too (items range from $6-$24). And yes, there are s’mores (otherwise there would be a riot).
The look is full of nods to camping (inspired by the primal cooking methods), from the wool blankets to the red lanterns, plus there’s a lot of wood and taxidermy to add to the feeling of the great outdoors, minus the mosquitos and spiders. The dining tables each have their own drawer with your silverware and napkins inside (no word if it’s bear-proof). There’s a lounge and bar area in the front, with seating on the main floor and the mezzanine above; solo diners can find seats at the communal table and kitchen counter.
Since there isn’t full liquor, bar manager Tim Zohn has assembled more than 20 beers on tap, and there’s also a very clever list of low-alcohol cocktails (Alcademics did a fun preview), plus a bunch of sherries and of course plenty of wines curated by Kristen Capella (with a focus on Rhône varieties).
Dinner Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11:30pm for now, with lunch, midday snacks, and a late-night menu coming in early 2014. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St., 415-431-1826.
Chef Nori (Formerly of Sushi Ran) Is Opening a Place in San Francisco
I was following up with SUSHI RAN’s owner Yoshi Tome about some ABC license activity I spotted: It looks like his executive sushi chef, Mitsunori “Nori” Kusakabe, is planning to open a place with a current DBA of KUSAKABE in San Francisco (the license points to the Machka location in the Financial District, which is currently open—Nori wrote in to say escrow should close by mid-November, but obviously everything isn’t final just yet). Nori is leaving Sushi Ran in mid-December (he had been there since 2004!) and he will be replaced by master chef Takatoshi Toshi.
I’ll report back on Nori’s plans for his own place (due to open in 2014) once I hear something concrete, but for now, this is very, very intriguing. 584 Washington St. at Columbus.
Big 4 Closing in January for a Remodel
Well, it looks like this will be the last holiday season we’ll be able to spend in the BIG 4 as we know it. The new owners of The Huntington Hotel, Grace International (a Singapore-based company) have announced they will be closing the 66-year-old hotel and the Big 4 from January 4th, 2014, to spring of 2014 for a $15 million remodel.
Details are sparse: Is it a massive renovation? Will the piano remain? What is to become of chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls (a dead ringer for Liza Minnelli, by the way), and her annual Big Game Dinners? What about all the amazing artifacts, including the vintage map of SF bordellos and opium dens in the men’s room? There’s a whole lotta history in that dining room. All I do know is I am going in for one last cocktail (or two), getting a few cheeky jokes from Ty the bartender, and tucking into a chicken potpie or lamb burger (or trying to convince Gloria to make her venison chili for me). Yes, there are some things that could definitely stand to be updated in the bar and dining room, but there’s a lot that really shouldn’t be touched (hopefully the owners take a page out of the recent Tosca playbook). As soon as I hear anything detailed, I’ll let you know. Sigh.
Big 4 - 1075 California St. San Francisco - 415-771-1140
The Impending Return of Julius' Castle
Wow, can you believe that after five years of laying dormant, that someone is restoring JULIUS’ CASTLE on Telegraph Hill? I know! I also can’t believe the damn thing caught fire last week—thank God a neighbor quickly noticed the fire on the roof and the damage isn’t too significant.
The SFGate piece reports the new owner is Paul Scott, a resident of Telegraph Hill, who wants to restore the place to its former glory. I know, it isn’t some tech guy who wants to convert it into the ultimate playpen. I’m thrilled to hear this historic location (since 1922!) is gonna get another run out on the track—that bar was fabulous (and a favorite of my grandfather’s). You can read more about its history here. Stand by for updates as they come in. 1541 Montgomery St.
Suvir Saran Opening His First SF Restaurant in Mid-Market
I heard a few months ago that the talented chef Suvir Saran (previously of Dévi in New York, a cookbook author, and a contestant on Top Chef: Masters) was planning to open a restaurant in San Francisco, and now the location has been revealed. He is opening his new restaurant (which will be utilizing 8,500 square feet) with business partner Paresh Ghelani in spring 2014 in NEMA, the new building in the Mid-Market neighborhood (near Alta and AQ). Details are a little vague at the moment, but look for a seasonal and innovative menu with Indian ingredients, plus a modern bar and lounge. I can’t wait! 10th and Market streets.
Andalu to Become Chino from Joe Hargrave (Tacolicious) and Brandon Jew
I was happy to read that there are some changes coming to the corner of 16th Street and Guerrero: someone has finally taken over the highly desirable ANDALU location and is doing something new with it. And that someone is Joe Hargrave (Tacolicious), who is partnering with Brandon Jew to open CHINO, a modern Chinese restaurant that will highlight dumplings, noodles, and other small plates. Since Jew’s upcoming restaurant isn’t opening in Chinatown until 2015, the timing should work out well. The space will be getting a refresh, with the bar getting elongated, and there will be an open kitchen.
Andalu has held down the corner for the past 12 years, and will remain open through New Year’s Eve for a final blowout. How convenient, it’s on a Tuesday, so I imagine chef-owner Calvin Schneiter will be going nuts with the ahi tuna tacos. (Via Scoop.) 3198 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-621-2211.
Souvla Opening in the Former Sebo Space in Hayes Valley
Last week, Hayeswire was the first to catch the license transfer news of which business is taking over the now-closed Sebo location. It’s going to be the home of SOUVLA, a concept that was originally mentioned in tablehopper almost two years ago. This modern souvlaki and gyro joint is from Charles Bililies, and you can read all about it in my original post. The targeted opening date is February 2014—stand by for updates after the holidays. Yup, this town is finally gonna have some decent souvlaki (with some beer and Greek wines to go with ‘em). 517 Hayes St. at Octavia.
Local Mission Market Now Open on 24th Street in the Mission
The chaps behind LOCAL MISSION EATERY and LOCAL’S CORNER, Jake Des Voignes and Yaron Milgrom, have opened their latest venture, LOCAL MISSION MARKET. This is not your standard market, since everything is made in-house, from the vinegars to the smoked fish to the pickles to the pastas to the breads (from baguettes to bagels to boules). Put a bird on it. And if it wasn’t made in-house, then it was locally sourced—like the fruit and vegetables—up to 90 miles away, plus you’ll be able to get local fish, meats (including some charcuterie), and cheeses. So no, there won’t be bananas, but a few non-local essentials like coffee (roasted locally), tea, chocolate, spices (from local importers), and sugar will be available, plus some bulk goods.
There will also be some helpful items for home cooks, like stocks and sauces, as well as snacky items like crackers and spreads. Look for seasonal dishes too, like roasted kabocha squash soup, pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin bread, pumpkin purée, roasted pumpkin baby food, and red kuri squash with wheat berries and grilled scallions. You can look into some memberships as well if you would like delivery or don’t want to schlep your goodies home. Open daily 9am-9pm. 2670 Harrison St. at 23rd St.
Breaded: Marla Bakery Opening a Mission Café, Guest German Baker at The Mill
Carb lovers, here are two tidbits for you. While Amy Brown and Joe Wolf of MARLA BAKERY are busy getting their Outer Richmond bakery up and running (opening in 2014), they are also opening a walk-up café at the commissary kitchen where they do all their current wholesale baking. They’re calling it Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal, and it should be opening mid-November. You’ll be able to walk up and get bread, pastries, plus espresso and coffee from Wrecking Ball Coffee, and some lunch boxes too. Hours to start will be 9am-3pm (via Scoop). 613 York St. at 18th St.
If you notice a German accent on some of the breads at THE MILL in the coming weeks, it’s because baking fiend Josey Baker is working alongside guest baker Josef Wagner from Bavaria, who will be baking there from Tuesday November 5th-Saturday November 23rd. The duo will be collaborating on new creations and techniques for the next three weeks, so come on by! Ja wohl! 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton, 415-345-1953.
Cawfee Tawk: Pop-Up Coffee Stands in SF, New Cafés in the 510
There are a couple of new pop-up coffee stands happening around the city. First is BANDIT from Erica Davie, who serves Contraband Coffee pour-overs and iced coffee and organic hot teas. She bakes all her sweet treats, including candies, pumpkin seed brittle, cookies, and baked goods, like snickerdoodles and rosemary-lemon butter cookies (mostly organic). You can find her at the Urban FarmGirl’s holiday event on December 14th, and All Good Pizza’s Etsy event on December 15th, all in Bayview. She will also be at Firehouse 8 in Russian Hill on December 8th and 21st. Keep up with other Bandit appearances on Facebook.
SFoodie has a piece about PROYECTO DIAZ, a coffee stand from Fernando Diaz, who sources his beans from his grandfather’s farm in Oaxaca, plus another producer in Chiapas, and then roasts them locally—he works closely with his friend Travis Cabello. Look for their folding table at locations on 24th Street in the Mission and outside of Adobe Bookshop on Sundays from 11am-4pm, at Alleycat Books from 10am-1pm, and at Modern Times Bookstore Collective on Fridays from 11am-3pm. Follow Proyecto Diaz on Twitter: @proyectodiaz.
Over in the 510, the OurOakland blog mentions the opening of BLACK SPRING COFFEE COMPANY from owner Ryan Stark. Sounds stylish and like the place has an eye on quality. Open daily 6am-9pm. 2930 Telegraph Ave. at 29th St., Oakland, 510-697-0089.
East Bay Dish notes that KAINBIGAN now has a pop-up in the morning called Cafe Clinton. They serve organic coffee from Scarlet City Coffee Roasting, plus scones and other breakfast items until lunch starts. You’ll also find Uptown Juice Company’s organic cold-pressed juices. Open Mon-Fri 6am-10am. 2101 14th Ave. at E. 21st St., Oakland.
TIERRA MIA COFFEE is continuing their NorCal expansion and opening next in the former Café Madrid location in Uptown Oakland (in the former I. Magnin). Eater says the plan is to open in January. 2001 Broadway at 20th St., Oakland.
Another move eastward: PHILZ COFFEE is opening a second location in Berkeley, according to Scoop. Look for an opening in summer 2014. 1313 9th St. Suite 110 at Gilman, Berkeley.
It's White Truffle O'Clock
What’s that funky perfume you’re smelling? No, it’s not socks or Mary Jane. It’s white truffle season, and local restaurants are ready to shave them with abandon over your plate. Make it rain! Here are a few places where you can get your fix (don’t forget your credit card).
ACQUERELLO always does a great job with showcasing truffles. This year chefs Suzette Gresham-Tognetti and Mark Pensa are offering dishes like risotto with Parmesan and shaved white truffles, plus a new dessert: white truffle gelato, cocoa crumb, and shaved Valrhona dark chocolate truffle.
PERBACCO kicks off its annual truffle celebration on Wednesday November 6th (through November 23rd). Every dish will be served à la carte with three grams of truffles shaved tableside. Boom. Dishes include: insalata di carne cruda all’albese (tartare of veal scented with garlic and Langhe hazelnuts); sformatino di topinambour (Jerusalem artichoke custard with Castelmagno fonduta); and the classic dish of tajarin (hand-cut tagliatelle with prosciutto di San Daniele and a 63°C hen egg).
PALIO D’ASTI will be serving its annual truffle dinner from November 11th-16th. The special five-course prix-fixe menu is $98 per person; with Italian wine pairings available for $55. Some of the dishes include gnocchi fritti (lightly fried potato pillows), risotto con tartufi bianchi, and grilled filet mignon in white truffle demi-glace.
On Tuesday November 12th, SPRUCE is hosting a white truffle dinner at 6:30pm, with some very special wine pairings. $250, exclusive of tax and gratuity.
DELFINA is hosting its annual truffle dinners from Monday November 18th-Thursday November 21st; look for a special à la carte menu of classic dishes that pair well with truffles.
POGGIO is hosting its Festa di Tartufo—10 days of white truffles—starting on Thursday November 14th. Dishes include carne crudo, day boat scallops with sunchoke purée, and risotto with lobster.
OLIVETO celebrates truffle season in style. This year, its truffle dinners will run from Tuesday November 19th-Friday November 22nd (menu forthcoming).
The recently opened DESCO in Old Oakland is serving some “tartufo bianco” menu items, like uovo al tartufo, for $55, and raviolo all’uovo, a large raviolo with egg yolk, ricotta, and tartufo bianco for $60. 499 9th St., Washington St., Oakland, 510-663-9000.
Chef-owner Donato Scotti is also offering a four-course “tartufo bianco” tasting menu at his restaurant DONATO ENOTECA in Redwood City for $195. 1041 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, 650-701-1000.
Tidbits and Events
Some quick notes and events for you. Let’s start with some great news: ICHI SUSHI is now taking next-day reservations (and beyond)! All you need to do is call before 4pm. The magic number is 415-525-4750. Remember: Same day reservations are not available.
Looking for something fun to do this Friday November 8th? Chef Gordon Drysdale and his wife, Susie, are starting a series of four pop-up dinners at CIBO in Sausalito. This Friday’s theme sounds delicious: “A Caja China Pig Meets a Vaguely Korean Demise.” There will be passed apps, a David Chang-inspired buffet with Korean bo ssäm (mmm hmmm!), desserts, a DJ, and art! Plus you get two adult beverages, holla. 7pm. $75 per person; available via Brown Paper Tickets. Cibo, 1201 Bridgeway at Pine, Sausalito.
Upcoming dates include: Friday November 22nd (“…What Would James Beard Do?”), Friday December 6th (“¡Viva La Raza with Pancho Y Gordito!”), and Friday December 20th (Holiday Frolic: “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa!”).
And lastly, this Sunday November 10th, PICCINO is hosting one of their sidewalk oyster shucks, with oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co., plenty of wine, and let’s hope the sun stays with us! 12pm until they run out.
Piccino - 1001 Minnesota St. San Francisco - 415-824-4224
Explore Slow Food at Headlands Center for the Arts February 28-Mar 2
This winter, the HEADLANDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Marin is holding weekends focused on the slow movement. From Friday February 28th through Sunday March 2nd, join them for a weekend of slow food, including workshops and activities like fishing with ocean forager Kirk Lombard, a bread-baking workshop, and discussions with the fabulous Samin Nosrat. There are two ways to experience the weekend: you can stay up there, which includes all activities, meals, and accommodations, or you can do just the activities and meals. Either way, this is a pretty rad immersive experience, and can we say very Northern California. Registration for the weekend, including accommodations, costs $450 per person ($380 for members), or $275 for just meals and activities ($235 for members). 944 Fort Barry at Simmons Rd., Sausalito, 415-331-2787 ext. 26.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
More Room for Boozin' at Hi Lo and La Urbana
The changes continue over at HI LO. Opening Wednesday November 6th is a new 10-seat bar inside the dining room, plus 10 new cocktails from Michael Lazar and Saul Ranella (here’s the menu). An item of note: for the month of November, 100 percent of the proceeds from the Jalisco Heat cocktail will go to the Friends of Maverick Foundation, raising money for the neighbors displaced by the fire. Chef Robin Song has also launched a new menu, with additions like Duroc pork ribs (served both wet and dry), coal-roasted beet salad ($10), and winter squash cooked in the smoker’s firebox.
LA URBANA has opened their annex bar, Garage Urbano, to handle spillover from the main bar, and has more of a hangout vibe (think folding chairs and table games like dominoes). There’s also a $5 honor bar with craft Mexican beers and agua de jamaica, or you can order cocktails from the main bar from servers in the garage as well. Open Thu-Sat 5pm-1am.
La Urbana - 661 Divisadero St. San Francisco - 415-440-4500
Calling All Belgian Beer Lovers and Sancerre Fans
For the month of November, 21st Amendment and Magnolia Brewery are hosting their fifth annual BRU/SFO Project, aka Belgian Beer Month. They will be releasing 12 Belgian-style beers during the month of November, along with incentives to try them all (like you need an incentive). Pick up a Boarding Pass for the BRU/SFO Project at either pub and start collecting stamps for each Belgian beer you drink—collect all 12 stamps and receive the BRU/SFO Project commemorative glass at either brewpub, while supplies last. There’s also a little social media contest (#BRUSFO)—read the details here. Cheers.
Love Sancerre? Want to get to know it more? Get your tickets for this Sancerre tasting event on Wednesday November 13th with Pamela Busch at 18 REASONS. She’ll be choosing a variety of different styles for you to try. 7pm-9pm; $40 for 18 Reasons members, $50 for the general public. Tickets here.
18 Reasons - 3674 18th St. San Francisco
the sugar mama
(Sponsored): In Time for the Holidays-Gift A Feast! Enter to Win a Feast of Appetizers.
Gift A Feast relieves some holiday stress for tablehopper readers this year. Based in Noe Valley, we curate the Bay Area’s tastiest artisan treats into delicious gift sets, wrap each product by hand with your choice of luxurious papers and festive ribbons, include a handwritten note card with your personal message, and ship nationwide. In just a few clicks, you can share all you love about Bay Area food with friends, family, and clients.
One lucky tablehopper reader will win A Feast of Appetizers to share at their Thanksgiving celebration. This Feast includes Fra’Mani salami, Central Coast Creamery’s “Seascape” cheese, Good Faith Farm raw Lucques olives, baked goods from Rustic Bakery, and sweet nibbles: Toffee Talk toffee and June Taylor’s candied Meyer lemon peel. Delightful!
To enter to win, all you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to one friend (but even more would be so very fabulous) or a link to this piece, and add a note to your friends about Gift A Feast. Be sure to Cc: or Bcc: me at email@example.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Saturday November 9th at 11:59pm! We’ll notify the winners soon thereafter and get your Gift A Feast package in the mail to you! Happy feasting!
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
The Sundance Kid Got Thirsty
The news was just released about the closure of the Big 4, and who should come in for a drink at the bar but the one and only Robert Redford (thanks to Dapper Diner for the sighting). Yet another compelling reason why we need to keep that bar intact and not mess with it: Robert Redford goes there for a drink.
Nice Girls Lunch at Zero Zero
Anne Hathaway came in to Zero Zero for lunch on Saturday. My spy says her table ordered the avocado and chickpea bruschette.