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Mar 17, 2014 24 min read

March 18, 2014 - This week's tablehopper: beast mode.

March 18, 2014 - This week's tablehopper: beast mode.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: beast mode.                    

A pre-Prince (at the Fox!) feast at Hawker Fare. Photo: ©

Whoa, busy day on the Twitter, blowing up with congrats to all the final nominees for the upcoming James Beard Foundation Awards in May. Big congratulations to all the writers, chefs, blogs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, bar managers, and more on your nominations, and am happy to see such a strong Bay Area turnout.

Today’s column is packed with so many new openings—you’re going to be busy checking them out for a while. And since the weather is just so damn gorgeous, maybe it’s time to hit the road? Here’s my latest Wine Country getaway column for the San Francisco Bay Guardian on some of the latest places to open and where to go in Healdsburg.

Coming up on Tuesday April 1st is a very sweet event at the JCCSF that I am excited to be a part of: Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen: A Celebration of Mothers, Grandmothers, and Food. The panel is going to be emceed by Joey Altman, and my fellow panelists include Craig Stoll and Traci Des Jardins, talking about our grandmothers, mothers, and others who have shaped our lives and cooking.

It ends up I have not one but two pairs of tickets to give away to tablehopper readers! All you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friend(s) about Beyond Bubbie! Be sure to Cc: or Bcc: me at so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Sunday March 23rd at 11:59pm. Hope to see you there!

Have a swell week, dollinks. Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Trou Normand, from Bar Agricole's Thad Vogler, Now Open Downtown


The bar and seating at Trou Normand, including art pieces. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Trou Normand. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The back room and communal table. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Menu design and postcards. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Mural by Ebecho Muslimova, piece on the right by Lizzy Marshall. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. As mentioned on tablehopper more than a year ago (back when it had a different name, even), Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole has a new spot in the works. It’s called TROU NORMAND and is now open in the beautiful Pacific Telephone Building at 140 New Montgomery. It’s an all-day bar and restaurant, serving breakfast in the morning straight through until dinner, with drinks and food available anytime. The idea is a little old-fashioned, not unlike old-school establishments from a bygone era that encouraged lingering at any hour of the day.

The space is a looker for sure, with soaring ceilings and windows to match. Boor Bridges (The Mill, Sightglass on 20th) designed the space, and they’ve kept the feeling contemporary without sacrificing or hiding the building’s great bones. The floor and all the cabinetry is dark oak, and all the tables as well as the impressive bar were made with reclaimed marble that was pulled out of the building’s elevator lobbies and honed to a matte finish. The walls were plastered and painted a clean white, and the ceiling was left unfinished, giving the space the feeling of an artist’s loft. Angular steel light fixtures (that match the bar’s foot rail and purse hooks) keep the space feeling tailored, and soft, tufted leather banquettes in a rich brown hue prevent it all from feeling too cold and hard.

A back room adjacent to the kitchen has a huge walnut butcher’s table, and the space can be used either as an additional prep space for the kitchen (it’s been used to butcher whole hogs recently), or as a private dining room for large groups. That’s not the only space that does double duty: the back of the entry has a sliding wall panel that opens to reveal some additional handicapped seating and a café counter for morning coffee.

Off the back is a huge outdoor patio that will feature a glass and steel canopy with integrated heaters, making the outdoor space usable year-round, rain or shine. Seth Boor, the architect on the project, reports that the building lit up at night is dramatic and quite gorgeous, and hopes that the patio will be installed in two months.

A great deal of attention has been paid to the interior design of the space, as well. Two graphic artists from New York, Erin Knutson and Grace Robinson-Leo of Study Studio, did all the art direction for the restaurant. That means that they’ve essentially “curated” a selection of art for the walls, all of it by women artists. They wanted to look at the cliché of the female nude in old-school bars through a contemporary lens. Particularly, they were looking to reexamine the 1960s bar culture, especially in France. To that end, they commissioned artist Ebecho Muslimova to design a female nude for behind the bar. It was painted by local New Bohemia Signs from a specially mixed paint made from raw milk, which gives it a more aged, matte look. Muslimova also created some humorous nude line drawings for the entryway (be sure to take a look at them) that offer a sassy take on the female nude (and charcuterie, wink).

There are also works from Allison Katz, Lizzy Marshall, Heidi Hahn, and a collective called Fort Makers. The art feels more considered than that found in many restaurants, and gives the space an almost gallery-like feeling. Fortunately, the art is playful enough that you won’t feel the need to whisper, but it does lend a cosmopolitan sophistication to the handsome space.

Knutson and Robinson-Leo were also thorough in their graphic design. The pair was responsible for crafting the menus, which are printed in classic type and then secured to slabs of glossy white acrylic and blond wood. They also created postcards that evoke a 1960s photographic pastiche, including a childhood photo of Thad Vogler. In the back, a walnut communal table can also be used for large parties (the room doubles as a private dining room).

As for the food and beverages, the cocktail list will include Armagnac, Cognac, and Calvados, much of it sourced directly from Europe. The name, Trou Normand, was inspired by a buying trip Vogler took to Normandy—it’s a tradition to throw back a shot of Calvados in preparation for or during a big meal to make room (“a Norman hole”).

You’ll see it all over the cocktail menu (all drinks $11), from the Bombay (brandy, sweet and dry vermouth, curacao, absinthe) to the Zamboanaga (Armagnac, pineapple gum, lime, maraschino). The house old-fashioned is made with Cognac, along with two types of bitters. There is also a wine list, dominated primarily by French and Italian selections. Two sparklers are available by the glass, as well as a rosé, four whites, and five reds.

The food is grounded in the charcuterie offerings, from chef Salvatore Cracco. His résumé includes Adesso and the butchery at Bar Agricole, and he’s apparently got quite the operation going on here too. He’s using Mangalitsa pigs from Devil’s Gulch Ranch to create at least 40 different varieties of cured meat, which will be available all day.

As for the rest of the menu, you’ll find breakfast items including sandwiches in the morning, while in the evening the menu focuses on larger entrées intended for sharing, like a red wine-braised pork shank ($50) or a halibut with salsa verde ($45). Sides are available as well, including choices like grilled spring onions ($7) and asparagus with brown butter and lemon ($9). For dessert, it’s ice cream ($7) only, or of course you could opt for another cocktail. Here’s the menu.

Hours will be 8am-1am eventually, but right now they’re opening at 5pm for dinner only. 140 New Montgomery St. at Natoma, 415-975-0876.

Il Casaro Now Open in North Beach, Serving Neapolitan Pizza and 'Cibo da Strada'


The counter and pizza oven at Il Casaro. Photo: ©


A pizza margherita at a test dinner. Photo: ©


The exterior. Photo: ©

Last week I swung by the brand-new IL CASARO in North Beach, which was running friends and family dinners and was softly open. The project is in the former Steps of Rome on Columbus, a second project for Francesco Covucci (the chef) and Peter Fazio of Vicoletto (which is just a few blocks away on Green). The Calabrese duo are offering a menu of authentic Neapolitan pizzas (yes, from a Stefano Ferrara wood-fired oven) with some classic Italian toppings ($12-$18), and I recognized the pizzaiolo previously at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Salvatore DiStefano.

The concept behind the menu is doing “cibo da strada,” the late-night street food you find in Italy, like arancini (Il Casaro’s have beef inside), fried cod, and crocchette (potato croquettes), all at a reasonable price point. There will also be pizza dough sandwiches (panuozzo) stuffed with either broccoli rabe, Italian sausage, and scamorza, or one with ground pork, pepe rosso, fennel seed, and french fries (uh-huh). Nope, there isn’t any pasta on the menu (for a change!), showing it’s not just another place geared at capturing tourists—Covucci really wants Il Casaro to appeal to locals. You can look at the opening menu here.

A highlight on the menu are the cheeses available (casaro means “cheesemaker”), which ranges from housemade fior di latte mozzarella to burrata to the rarely seen raspa dura, a cow’s milk cheese (young Lodigiano) that is shaved off the wheel and then served in a cone. Nope, no one is doing that in the city. There will also be some salumi plates too.

The space has a combination of regular tables and high-tops in the back, plus there’s a long L-shaped counter around the pizza oven. It has a simple and casual look, with lots of wood, and one fun flourish is on the wall, where Covucci had an artist paint some Italian sayings.

The wine list features all Italian wines (Campania is well represented, with falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, and Taurasi on the list, and of course I’m happy to see the Calabrese gaglioppo from Statti on there), and naturally there’s some Peroni on tap. Hours are Sun-Thu 12pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 12pm-12am. 348 Columbus Ave. at Grant, 415-677-9455.

Barrelhead Brewhouse Now Open in NoPa


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. As we covered last July in tablehopper, NoPa is getting a brewery and restaurant. It’s called BARRELHEAD BREWHOUSE, and it comes from owner-brewer Ivan Hopkinson, who previously was the assistant brewmaster at Park Chalet. The new spot is currently softly open.

The huge space at 1745 Fulton is the former home of Fulton Street Bar (which has been vacant for soooo long), and they’ve spent months working on it. Hopkinson and his team of builders, including Kieran O’Donoghue and Gerard Murphy, have made some majors changes to the space. They took out most of a loft that created a second floor, and now have a mezzanine that looks down into a main dining room with high ceilings and brewing equipment on display.

The mezzanine will be available to rent out for large groups, and there are two communal tables, one upstairs and one down. The space has some nice, personal touches, including a woodstove in the dining room and personal trinkets embedded into the lacquer on the reclaimed wood slabs.

The bar is under the mezzanine, and there are 43 beers on tap. The taps are fitted into a big, honking torpedo for a little rocket man charm. While we’re talking about beer, Hopkinson is still getting his own brewing operation up and running. Eventually, he’ll be able to offer his own brews along with some guest handles. For now, though, they’re all guests. Look out for options from breweries like Ballast Point, Ninkasi, and Goose Island. Once Hopkinson has his own beers going, he wants to offer a broad range of selections. There will be traditional, popular styles, as well as more adventurous ones.

The food menu comes from chef Tim Tattan, who previously worked as the sous chef at Monk’s Kettle. He’s already got a signature dish, the mini Cristo (that’s a deep-fried, miniature Monte Cristo), and his menu offers lots of pub-friendly food, like fish and chips, a burger, and smoked meats. Right now, they’re just serving snacks and dinner, but look out for brunch in the future. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-2am, Sat-Sun 10am-2am, kitchen open until 1:30am (but they’re still working all that out—might be a good idea to call ahead and make sure they’re open before heading over). 1785 Fulton St. at Masonic, 415-416-6994.

Chef Moves: Melissa Perfit Returns to Bar Crudo, Brett Cooper Splits with Outerlands


Chef Melissa Perfit. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Funny how things can sometimes go full circle. Talented chef Melissa Perfit, who has most recently been running the show at HARD WATER, is now back at BAR CRUDO—she was back in the Crudo kitchen as of last Tuesday. I spoke with partner Tim Selvera, who said that since his brother-partner-chef Mike is busy getting their Guerneville project—Seaside Metal—ready to open, they wanted to have a qualified chef to lead at Bar Crudo. Perfit will be overhauling the menu, although classics like the chowder and lobster salad will remain. Will be nice to see you back in the neighborhood, Melissa!

Last week I checked in with partner Lana Porcello of OUTERLANDS to see how their expansion into the space next door was coming along (they’re about a month out), and she had some much larger news to share: “I also wanted to let you know of a significant change in the restaurant: after a difficult decision-making process, we have decided to part ways with chef Brett [Cooper]. As you can imagine, this was a tough choice, but one that we feel will be the best for both the restaurant and to support the growth of his career moving forward. We are currently restructuring aspects of our service and look forward to sharing our vision for the next phase of the restaurant’s direction and growth.”

Wow, I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t see that one coming. Stand by for news on who snaps up the talented Cooper—I’ve been a fan since I met him when he was cooking for Stuart Brioza at Rubicon (he has also worked at Coi and Saison). As for Outerlands, I’ll keep you posted as the reopening nears.

Outerlands            - 4001 Judah St. San Francisco - 415-661-6140

Takers for the Wo Hing Space on Valencia


View of Wo Hing from the mezzanine. Photo: ©

I heard some rumors that Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone (Ame, Terra, Bar Terra) were taking over Charles Phan’s closed WO HING GENERAL STORE space on Valencia, but when I got in touch with Doumani for confirmation, all I got was “Can’t talk swamped by tax work. Rumors are generally rumors or outdated.”

Not that outdated, actually, and I guess someone got her taxes done since the Scoop ran the news that they are in fact taking it over just four days after I got in touch. Phan will still own the building, but Doumani and Sone have bought the liquor license. Look for an opening in July or August; details about the concept and design are slim for now.

Wo Hing General Store            - 584 Valencia St. San Francisco

Switcheroo: Pan Grill (at Butterfly) Now Sammy's Aloha


Sammy’s ahi tuna poke bowl (with an egg!). Photo courtesy of Sammy’s Aloha.

The to-go window at BUTTERFLY has morphed from Pan Grill (we previously mentioned it here) into Sammy’s Aloha, under the watchful eye of Sammy Kong Kee, a two-time ahi poke recipe contest winner both here and in Hawaii. The kitchen is still stuffing the same awesome housemade milk buns, but now the menu is doing more of a farm-to-table Hawaiian vibe, with the Porky Boy ($8, kalua-style pork, hoisin barbecue sauce, and kimchi), Ono BBQ Chicken Sandwich ($8, Kewpie mayo, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, fried onions), and a burger ($8, teriyaki glaze, sriracha rémoulade, and caramelized onion jam)—all the meat and poultry is natural. Well, except if you see some Spam on the menu, and you know it’s from Hormel.

There are also some rice bowls (ahi poke and loco moco, oh, you know it), noodle bowls, salads, bao, and more: check out the menu here. Check out the Spammy Fries ($5), with fried sushi rice and salmon roe. Fun fact: the rice is from the famous Ikeda’s market up in Auburn (both Yumegokochi white rice and black Thai sticky rice). Swing by the takeout window on the south side of the restaurant from Tue-Sun (11am-3pm). Pier 33, The Embarcadero at Bay, 415-864-8999.

Tidbits: Changes at Brass Knuckle and Cafe Flore, Kawika's Ocean Beach Deli, More


The Snoop Dogg from Brass Knuckle. Yelp photo by Earl G.

A Twitter tip from Cafe Flore tipped us off to some changes at recently opened BRASS KNUCKLE, and a call to the restaurant revealed some details. It turns out that Brass Knuckle has been bought by Tina Zamacona, and original owner Shellie Kitchen is no longer there (though she does still own a small percentage of the business). Zamacona has made some tweaks to the recipes, brought on a new chef, and added some decorative changes to the space, including a mural on the wall. 749 Larkin St. at O’Farrell, 415-567-2233.

It looks like Shellie Kitchen is the new chef at CAFE FLORE, according to their Facebook page. She also seems to have a new pop-up called Shot Gun that may or may not be popping up at Cafe Flore; unfortunately we weren’t able to get any information from either party, but we’ll let you know when we hear anything! 2298 Market St. at Noe, 415-621-8579.

THE CORNER STORE is now serving brunch six days a week, Tue-Sun (they’re closed Mondays). The new menu includes items from their weekend brunch menu, as well as some of their lunchtime favorites. The biscuit stack, chicken and grits, and burger are just a few of the items to keep your lipid levels elevated. 10am-3pm Tue-Sun.

As previously reported on tablehopper, there have been some changes at the Outer Richmond’s former Fredy’s Ocean Beach Deli. Owner Fredy sold the business to longtime employee David Nottage last year, and Nottage and his wife Joanne have reopened it as KAWIKA’S OCEAN BEACH DELI. The Nottages have kept many of the hallmarks of the deli intact: they’re still making their own sourdough bread, roasting turkey and beef in-house, and many of the beloved daily specials remain. They’ve added a few Greek items to the menu, and you’ll also find beer and wine available for dine-in or takeout. Hours are currently Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-5:30pm, though they’ll stay open until 7:30pm in the future. 734 La Playa St. at Cabrillo, 415-221-2031.

Chowhound has news that there is a new Xi’an-style restaurant in the Outer Sunset, called TERRA COTTA WARRIOR. The restaurant specializes in the food of Shaanxi province, with hand-pulled noodles, a variety of cold dishes, and lamb roujiamo (kind of like an awesome burger). For an in-depth look, check out Gary Soup’s review at Full Noodle Frontity, and check his Flickr page for menus. 2555 Judah St. at 31st Ave., 415-681-3288.

Driving around in SoMa, I noticed a huge banner announcing the arrival of CHANTAL GUILLON at 1309 Howard St. This popular maker of macarons is moving their kitchen in SoMa to this bigger location—seems there has been a high demand at their Hayes Street and Palo Alto stores. Guillon is still in the process of deciding if she will have a storefront at this location as well, in addition to the new kitchen, so stand by for an update from us if that’s going to happen. 1309 Howard St. at 9th St.

There’s a new pie to check out at Tony Gemignani’s restaurants, including CAPO’S, TONY’S PIZZA NAPOLETANA, and TONY’S OF NORTH BEACH. They’ve been working on it for six months, it’s called the sausage and stout pizza, and the dough is made with Guinness (who we are currently loving for dropping their sponsorship of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because of the parade’s rule barring LGBTQ groups from participating). Anyway, the pizza also has housemade sausage, caramelized onions, fontina, green onion, and a Guinness reduction. Yep, that’s a pie to hork. There are only 23 made each day, so claim yours early.

The Corner Store            - 5 Masonic Ave. San Francisco - 415-359-1800

Andytown Coffee Roasters Opening March 22nd


The counter at Andytown. Photo courtesy Andytown.

As previously reported in tablehopper, husband-and-wife team Michael McCrory and Lauren Crabbe are bringing ANDYTOWN, a new coffee roaster and café, to the Outer Sunset. We’ve been tracking them for some time, and the pair are getting ready for their grand opening this Saturday March 22nd (hurrah!), after some pretty major construction delays. McCrory is roasting their coffee on a small roaster, including an espresso blend named after the neighborhood in Belfast his father is from.

On the food side of things, many of McCrory’s family recipes will be used to make pastries and bread in-house. There’s soda bread cooked in cast iron, served with preserves, as well as bread and cookies. Hours are Tue-Thu 7am-12pm, Fri 7am-3pm, Sat 8am-3pm, Sun 8am-12pm. Eventually, they plan to open daily 7am-7pm. 3655 Lawton St. at 43rd Ave., 415-753-9775.

Closures: 903 Cortland, Hapa SF, and a Fire at Tavern at Lark Creek Means a Temporary Closure


The Tavern at Lark Creek. Photo from Facebook.

Eater reports (via Bernalwood) that 903 CORTLAND by Matsumi Takhara (of Sandbox Bakery) has closed in order to focus more on the catering side of the business. It sounds like the evening pop-ups (Kinfolk, Nute’s Noodle Night) will continue for now, and 903’s sandwiches and more will be on the to-go menu at Sandbox Bakery. 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

This one’s a bummer. According to a post on their Facebook page, the HAPA SF truck has closed up shop. Chef-owner William Pilz says he has started working at The Moss Room at the Academy of Sciences and is serving Hapa’s dishes on Thursday nights. He is hoping that more Filipino cuisine will make an appearance on the menu there moving forward too. Best of luck, William, and we can’t wait to keep eating your food wherever you go!

THE TAVERN AT LARK CREEK suffered a fire in the kitchen on Saturday morning. No one was hurt, thank goodness, though the restaurant will be closed for an unspecified amount of time while repairs are made. Hopefully they’ll be back up and running soon! 234 Magnolia Ave at William, Larkspur. 415-924-7766.

Bay Cuisine & Cocktails Pop-up, Michael Black at Local's Corner


Photo medley from a previous Bay Cuisine & Cocktails pop-up (via Facebook).

Chef Jonnatan Leiva, who is back from his five-year tour of cooking in New York and gearing up to open BAY CUISINE & COCKTAILS here in SF (it’s going to be in SoMa), is hosting a second pop-up on Monday March 24th at THE CORNER STORE. Leiva has most recently been cooking at Penrose in Oakland, and has left the kitchen there to focus on his own project (he is partnering with Khalid Lahlou and Chris Wright on Bay). Bay just launched their Kickstarter campaign; check it out and you can learn more about the restaurant concept.

So, the pop-up. Guests will be seated simultaneously, either at 6pm or 8:30pm. You can read the four-course menu here, hearalding the coming of spring. Each of the four courses will be paired with a handcrafted cocktail (created by Chris Wright and Tomofei Osipenko) or a glass of wine. $75, all inclusive. Get your tickets here.

It looks like Michael Black, of the recently shuttered Sebo, is going to be popping up at LOCAL’S CORNER on Sunday nights for a while. He’ll be preparing super-fresh, super-local plates, not unlike his chirazushi lunch plates currently available at Local Mission Market. The rice, fish, vinegar, and miso are all from California. He’ll also include some of Sebo’s non-fish specialties on the menu, like pork leg with kimchi. Look for salads with Japanese produce from Mariquita Farm too. Reservations can be made here. (H/t Scoop).

Local's Corner            - 2500 Bryant St. San Francisco - 415-800-7945

SF Chefs Changes Name to Eat Drink SF, Moves to Fort Mason


The end of an era: the Tasting Tent at SF Chefs, now Eat Drink SF. Photo © Gamma Nine Photography.

San Francisco’s celebration of all things comestible, SF Chefs, has changed its name to Eat Drink SF, and moved from its Union Square location to Fort Mason. The move comes about because the festival has become so well attended that it had simply outgrown the smaller Union Square location. Look out for more chefs participating, as well as more culinary tours and dinners happening all around the city.

The festival will continue to be focused around the tasting tent, though now it will be called the Tasting Pavilion. You’ll still find chefs serving bites, and great wines and spirits on offer, and of course lots of special dinners and demonstrations. Tickets to the event, which is happening this year from July 27th-August 3rd, will go on sale May 15th. Don’t miss out! Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd. at Laguna.

Now Open in Mill Valley: Molina


The stylish interior of Molina. Photo: Gamma Nine Photography.


Photo: Gamma Nine Photography.

There’s a stylish new spot in downtown Mill Valley MOLINA from chef-owner Todd Shoberg, who has worked in kitchens for the past 20 years at places like Town Hall Restaurant and Liberty Café (alongside Julia McClasky); he also helped Ed Carew open the Cottage Eatery. Most recently he was the executive chef at Piatti Mill Valley and culinary director for the Moana Restaurant Group.

This project is an intimate one, and very chef-driven: the space was originally a house and is centered around a historic Alan Scott) oven (the name, Molina, is a reference to someone who manages a mill). The menu very much reflects our local aesthetic: casual, farm-driven, wood-fired, and California coastal. The daily menu will highlight what’s freshest; take a look here.

The wine list was assembled by Jason Ruppert (sommelier and estate educator for Littorai Wines), highlighting local, small-production, and family-owned wineries.

The 55-seat space was designed by Claro, and it’s meant to have a welcoming, homey feel—there are some Nordic design elements (Shoberg is Norwegian and Finnish) mixing with a Northern California vibe. Open nightly for dinner 5pm-10pm. 17 Madrona St., Mill Valley, 415-383-4200.

510 Opening: Cugini Manzone Now Open


A pizza fresh from the new oven at Cugini Manzone. Photo from Facebook.

We first mentioned this project back in November, and now it’s open, according to Diablo Dish. CUGINI MANZONE is from owner Giuseppe Manzone, with his brother Michele and sister-in-law Leslie. They’ve installed a wood-burning oven from Italy, and will be using it to prepare wood-fired pizzas. The menu also offers salads, antipasti, and larger entrée dishes, as well. They are open for lunch, dinner, and in between for spuntino, when smaller snacks will be available. Hours will be Mon-Sat 11am-10pm and Sun 11am-9pm; right now, they’re opening at 5pm Mon-Sat and 4pm Sun. 2930 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley. 510-649-8600.


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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

First Look at SRO, Opening March 21st in Oddjob


The back room, home to SRO. Photo: ©


The intimate bar area. Photo: ©


The back bar at SRO. Photo: ©

Last week I swung by ODDJOB in SoMa for a sneak peek of the new cocktail-centric bar that I mentioned awhile back was going to be opening in the back area. It’s called SRO, a play on the fact the room is (mostly) standing room only, although there are also some SROs not too far away on 9th Street. Anyway.

The intimate back bar has a swanky look, with a vintage chandelier, dim lighting, a draped velvet ceiling, and diamond-shaped wall panels with burgundy bison leather in the middle. There are some seats at the small bar, but like its name hints, there isn’t a whole lot of seating. (It would be a great spot for a cocktail party—you can rent it out.) If you take a look at the front corner of the bar, you’ll see a rotating case all tricked out in velvet (previously at a pawn shop) that is now showcasing 32 bottles of high-end spirits.

Running the show is Joey Picchi, previously at Martins West. He comes from the local restaurant biz—his family owned Paul Joe’s in San Carlos. This is his first gig in SF, and he’s fired up. There is no cocktail menu—all the drinks are custom made and on the fly (you thought I was going to say bespoke, but no!). Picchi is making all his own syrups, bitters, and purées, and said he likes to feature adventurous ingredients. Since there is limited space, the spirits will veer toward the higher end. The cocktails will range from $14-$16, so don’t let that SRO name fool you.

SRO should be all dialed in on Wednesday, and the grand opening is this Friday March 21st. Hours will be Tue-Sat 5pm-2am. 1337 Mission St. at Washburn (near 9th St).

Fifth Floor's New Name Unveiled: Dirty Habit


A rendering of the patio at Dirty Habit. Rendering courtesy Dawson Design via Dirty Habit.

As reported in tablehopper in December, Fifth Floor in the Palomar Hotel has closed for a remodel and rebranding. The announcement has been made, and the new name is, er, DIRTY HABIT, perhaps with the intent of getting the Health Department’s attention right away? Or to make people think you’re meeting up at a strip club? Anyway, the new space is supposed to be “a mysterious and sultry space” with an edgy, urban vibe. Well then. The focus has shifted decisively to the bar area, where cocktails from bar manager Brian Means will be poured, with a full menu by chef David Bazirgan. There will also be a heated patio (featuring a fireplace, fancy!), where the full menu will be available. The opening is currently set for May. 12 4th St. at Market, 415-348-1555.

Booze Events: Whiskey Women and a Scotch Tasting at Elixir, a Mezcal Tasting with Tres


On Thursday March 20th, head to ELIXIR at 7pm for their Cocktail Club weekly meeting. This time around, author Fred Minnick will be there, discussing his new book, Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey. Books will be available for purchase, as well as tastings of SIA Scotch, from local entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski. The event is free, with books and drinks available for purchase. 3200 16th St. at Guererro, 415-552-1633.

Here’s a chance to taste lots of mezcal from lots of brands, all in one place. On Sunday March 23rd, TRES is hosting a mezcal tasting party called La Ruta del Mezcal, from 2pm-6pm. Twelve mezcal brands will be in attendance, including Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal and Mezcal Tosba. In addition to the mezcal tasting, they’ll be roasting a whole pig for street-style tacos, and you can order food off the menu too. Tickets are $35 and include mezcal tasting; all food will be available for additional purchase. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St., 415-227-0500.

Somm News (and a Wine Dinner) at Baker & Banker


Baker & Banker. Photo via B&B’s Facebook page.

BAKER & BANKER has brought on sommelier Mark Thompson (Saison, Masa’s, A16, Rubicon). Look for him to be making some updates to the list, and on Monday March 31st, he will be hosting Sonoma Coast’s Freeman Vineyard & Winery for a winemaker dinner. The five-course dinner is $65 for food and an additional $55 for wine pairings (exclusive of tax and gratuity). There will be sea urchin panna cotta with Monterey abalone paired with the  2012 Ryo-Fu chardonnay, and look for a variety of pinots with quail and Devil’s Gulch rabbit. Seatings at 6pm and 8pm. Reservations: on OpenTable or call 415-351-2500.

Baker & Banker            - 1701 Octavia St., San Francisco - 415-351-2500


the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

As You Wish, Specs, As You Wish

Broke-Ass Stuart spotted Robin Wright at Specs Bar in North Beach on Monday, according to a Tweet. She was there with her fiancé, Ben Foster. No word if Stuart proposed a “Meechum” or not.

The Softest Sounds at Authentic Bagel Company

Smooth jazz saxophonist extraordinaire Kenny G is apparently hooked on the bagel sandwiches at Authentic Bagel Company in Oakland. According to a tweet and a photo, he was there on Monday, getting his holey fix.

Desperate on the Wine Trail

Desperate Housewives actress (and Bay Area native) Teri Hatcher was spotted at Torc in Napa on Saturday. She and a friend enjoyed deviled eggs and the pakoras (good choice!).

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