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Jun 23, 2014 18 min read

June 24, 2014 - This week's tablehopper: taste the rainbow.

June 24, 2014 - This week's tablehopper: taste the rainbow.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: taste the rainbow.                    

At the Soave lunch at Verbena, with the amazing squid dish (check out that black squid ink-infused watermelon peeking out in the middle!). Photo: ©

Damn, I guess Italy won’t be ruining any more of my mornings watching them play in the World Cup. (Big. Sigh.) Sadly, no one was listening to my grandmother’s wise words: “No fighting, no biting!” Meanwhile, I can’t wait to watch USA this Thursday morning! Sunday’s game was so exciting. We continue to update our where to watch World Cup games post, check it out and enjoy! Some great matches are coming up.

So it’s that time of the year when I start using the rainbow emoji a lot more in my texts. Happy Pride, San Francisco! Here’s hoping Karl the Fog decides to go on vacation this weekend, and I wish you all a fabulous time at all the week’s events, marches, parties, brunches, tea dances, happy hours, cuddle puddles, picnics, and shindigs. As David Bowie says, “Let’s dance!”

If you find yourself hungry and you’re in the Mission this weekend, be sure to pay a visit to Los Shucos, the subject of last week’s tasty review (and they’re open laaaaate on the weekend).

Another little tasty tidbit: last week I was invited to a special lunch at Verbena for a very educational tasting of Soave wines, and chef Sean Baker and his team have some exciting new dishes on the summer menu that made for some great pairings. Don’t miss his watermelon and squid salad (it’s a spectacular combo, with a nice kick), and I’d love to have the Little Gem salad with pumpkin seed milk and potato, corn, avocado, and beluga lentils in my life every week. I also need to get over there for weekend brunch!

Speaking of brunch, we have three new options for you in today’s column, plus a bunch of other news bites.

Have a gorgeous week! Happy Pride!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Changes at SFJAZZ: Charles Phan's South Closed, Relaunching with a Mexican Menu


The bar at South at SFJAZZ. Photo via Facebook.

Some changes to Charles Phan’s SOUTH AT SFJAZZ: the space is closed for renovations as of Sunday June 22nd, and when it reopens on Saturday July 12th, the Southern menu will be scrapped for a Mexican one. (No one can accuse Phan of being a one-trick pony, that’s for sure.)

The chef is Rymee Trobaugh (formerly Zuni), and the new menu will be “small plates, with rustic Mexican flavors,” with dishes ranging from $5-$19. We got an initial look at the preliminary menu, which includes dishes like flores de calabaza rellenas (stuffed squash blossoms with sheep’s milk ricotta and salsa de aguacate) and molotes (Oaxacan masa empanadas with black beans, roasted salsa), while larger plates include conejo en mole amarillo (rabbit in yellow mole with masa dumpling and carrots) and puerco con chile verde (pork in salsa verde, turnips, black beans, and purslane). With a menu like that, it can be appeal to more than just show attendees.

Cocktails will also be shifted to emphasize rum, tequila, and mezcal. Stand by for an update when the opening is closer. 205 Franklin St. at Fell, 415-539-3905.

Red Hill Station Open and Shucking Oysters in Bernal


An opening party (with live music) at Red Hill Station. Photo via Facebook.

We’ve been tracking the opening of RED HILL STATION in Bernal Heights, and we’re happy to report this 36-seat neighborhood restaurant is now open for dinner. Owners Amy Reticker and Taylor Pedersen are both longtime Bernal residents, and both worked at Anchor Oyster Bar. The seafood-focused menu has shucked oysters; a Caesar salad with bay shrimp; tuna carpaccio; sea trout with browned butter, asparagus, carrots, fingerling potatoes, and almonds; and skirt steak with baby carrots and small potatoes. Look for menu items to rotate nightly.

There are also four beers and four wines on tap, all local picks. The space was previously Blue Star Elephant space, and it now features a bit of an East Coast seafood shack vibe, with a soft blue and white color scheme, copper-topped tables, and industrial metal chairs.

Their current hours are Thu-Mon 5pm-10pm. There will also be a fish market in a month or so, and weekend brunch is also in the plans. 803 Cortland Ave. at Ellsworth, 415-757-0480.

Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers Now Open in SoMa


Big Chef Tom’s Banh Baby, Banh burger, from last year’s Outside Lands. Photo: ©

We were sorry to miss the pre-opening party of BIG CHEF TOM’S BELLY BURGERS last week, but we’ll be coming by for a belly burger soon enough! Tom Pizzica’s brand-new brick-and-mortar spot is now open in the former Taqueria Reina’s in SoMa. Congrats on moving on from pop-up status, Tom! (He was a contestant on The Next Food Network Star, and a host of Food Network’s Outrageous Food.)

As you can ascertain from the name, his burgers feature ground pork belly patties (although you can also get ground chicken thigh or a vegetarian patty subbed on any setup, and lettuce instead of a bun). The menu has all kinds of clever combos—I am a fan of the All-American, with rosemary mayo, sliced apple, and sharp cheddar cheese, but the Banh Baby, Banh is also damn tasty (Vietnamese caramel, sliced jalapeño, hard-boiled egg, and cilantro). You’ll find a number to choose from, plus some fried items on the side, like crispy onions and slaw;  on the beverage side, Eater mentions beer will be available in a couple weeks. Hours are daily 10:30am-9pm. 1550 Howard St. at Lafayette (in between 11th and 12th Streets), 415-513-1331.

Chef Kory Stewart Departs Americano, Josua Perez Taking His Place


Americano photo by Cesar Rubio.

Some changes over at AMERICANO and Hotel Vitale: executive chef Kory Stewart is departing after seven years (he is reportedly going to be a part of a restaurant that’s being constructed from the ground up in the Napa Valley—best wishes to you, Kory). His replacement is chef de cuisine Josua Perez, who has been with the Hotel Vitale for seven years (he began as a sous chef in 2007), and his background includes working at Zuni Café for five years under Judy Rodgers. He will continue the restaurant’s cuisine style of handcrafted Cal-Italian cuisine with locally sourced ingredients (it’s pretty handy having the Ferry Building just across the street).

Americano            - 8 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-278-3777

New Brunches at Loló, Palm House, The Square


Brunch at Loló. Photo courtesy Ryan Robles PR.

LOLÓ is bringing brunch to their colorful new Valencia Street location, every Friday (oh yeah!), Saturday, and Sunday from 11am-4pm. The menu includes the Mexican Benedict eggs, with corn gorditas, creamy poblano sauces, refried beans, and shishito peppers ($10), or check out the egg scramble with chorizo, spring onion, and peppers with tortillas. Chilaquiles with carnitas ($12), check. There is also a selection of brunch cocktails like La Dama with mezcal, St. Germain, watermelon, bitters, and celery seeds ($11), or the Francisco Reyes with Aperol, mezcal, Ancho Reyes, agave, lemon, and orange bitters ($11).

The recently opened PALM HOUSE is now serving brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am-2:30pm. On the menu you’ll find dishes inspired by tropical breakfasts from around the world, including a Pacific tuna ceviche with lime, orange, mint, cilantro, and mango pickle, or check out the fried eggs revoltillo with plantains, rice, beans, and Puerto Rican spices. There are also brunch cocktails, and their slushies will be available. 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-400-4355.

Over at THE SQUARE there are two new menus available. Starting Saturday June 28th, they’ll be open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am-2pm. Menu options include a smoked trout served with pickled onions and a bagel, or an eggs Benedict with braised greens, Surryano ham, and crispy potato. Then, starting Monday June 30th, they’ll be serving a new bar bites menu from 4pm-6pm Monday through Friday. There’s a Firebrand pretzel with melted cheese ($5), or roasted bone marrow with parsley salad ($6). There will also be some drink specials, including a Corpse Reviver No. 2 with gin, lemon, Lillet, and absinthe ($8). 1707 Powell St. at Columbus, 415-525-3579.

Urban Picnic's Second Location Softly Open in the Castro


Urban Picnic’s newest Castro location. Photo by Trang Nguyen.

As we reported in January, Financial District Vietnamese-inspired restaurant URBAN PICNIC has moved in to the Castro in the former Zadin space. Their second location is now open, with a new look and some new menu items. Their downtown location is all about quick lunch service, but this one will serve their new neighborhood in a different way. They’ll offer their healthy choices at brunch, lunch, and dinner, with the addition of late-night hours and weekend service, plus beer (including gluten-free and organic beer) and wine. Like the original location, it also has a strong eco-friendly philosophy.

On the menu, look for new choices like a four-grain oatmeal porridge and egg banh mi sandwiches at brunch, and a new sriracha citrus chicken sandwich at lunch. They’ve also added the new superfood salad with kale, spring mix, cabbage, carrots, raisins, grapes, coconut, and sunflower seeds in a lemongrass ginger vinaigrette. They are softly open now, with a grand opening scheduled for Tuesday July 1st. Hours (which may change after the soft open phase) are Mon-Wed 10:30am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10:30am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm. 4039 18th St. at Hartford.

Tidbits: Papabubble, Dapper Dog, Market & Rye Now Calibur, More


The rainbow plethora of flavors at Papabubble. Photo from Facebook.


Dapper Dog. Photo courtesy Jason B.


Chicken wontons with spinach from Kingdom of Dumpling. Yelp photo by Janette L.

PAPABUBBLE, the Barcelona-based candy shop we reported on last year is now softly open in Hayes Valley, according to Hoodline. The space is a former sewing machine shop, where they’re making beautiful small-batch candies with a mix of traditional and unusual flavors. Look for options like root beer, sparkling wine, coffee, and bergamot, each with a different design. They can also do customized designs and flavors for special events, including a hilarious (and NSFW, if you work somewhere stuffy) lollipop for Pride. Watch your teeth on that one. Hours are daily 11am-7pm. 488 Fell St. at Laguna, 415-355-1188.

Tipster Jason B. sent us a photo of what looks like a new hot dog shop in the Castro. It’s called DAPPER DOG, and is owned by Bassel Khoury (not @thedapperdiner), according to Castro Biscuit. Khoury didn’t respond to our call in time, but his father Riyad Khoury owns the Castro Nail Salon on the same block, and confirmed that it’s his son’s project. 417 Castro St. at Market.

MARKET & RYE’s West Portal location closed on Sunday, and Scoop reports that there is already a new project planned for the space. It’s called CALIBUR and comes from partners Sean Patrick and Jorge Ortigas, who currently work together at Sysco Food Systems. It will be a burger joint with California style: think all-organic ingredients, including beef from Panorama Meats, hand-cut fries, and milk shakes with Three Twins ice cream. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will also be available. They are making limited cosmetic changes to the space, and plan to open in August. 68 W. Portal Ave. at Vicente.

As for Ryan Scott’s plans now that his original Market & Rye location is closed, he’s decided to focus on his Potrero location, as well as his upcoming project, MASON, which will be open for dinner in the evenings. He’ll be serving pizzas, small plates, and desserts there, and all items will clock in at less than $20. The new restaurant is set to open Monday July 21st, and will be open daily 4pm-12am, plus brunch Sat-Sun 10am-3pm and “power lunch Fridays” starting at 11am. 300 De Haro St. at 16th St.

Fans of the takeout dumplings from the Parkside location of KINGDOM OF DUMPLING will be happy to know they just got a change-of-use approval from the city to expand their Taraval Street retail location into a limited restaurant (this would be in addition to their 1713 Taraval Street restaurant). Stand by for details on the construction timeline soon. I just may have to go out there to get some dumplings and the full story. Heh. 2048 Taraval St. at 31st Ave.

There is a change at IZAKAYA YUZUKI, in addition to the chef shuffle we reported last week. The name has changed to YUZUKI JAPANESE EATERY. They’ve apparently dealt with some misconceptions about the term “izakaya”, and the new name should help avoid any confusion.

Get Your Pride On With These Special Treats


La Boulange’s Pride macarons. Photo courtesy of La Boulange.

This week in San Francisco is super-mega rainbow-powered, and here are a few places and treats you can track down to taste the rainbow (and bonus, all three of these places give back to the community with these purchases).

First up, when you’re bringing a couple of bottles of champers to various Pride brunches this weekend, a fab host gift would be a box of LA BOULANGE’s rainbow macarons. Each box contains seven flavors: orange, passion fruit, pistachio, cassis, chocolate, lemon, and vanilla, and will be available at all La Boulange Bakery locations in San Francisco. A box is $12.50, and La Boulange will donate $1 to the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF) for each box of Rainbow Macarons de Paris sold during the month of June.

Meanwhile, SOUVLA in Hayes Valley is topping their fab frozen Greek yogurt with “Rainbow Surprise,” a blend of classic fruity (sugary) cereals. For each of the Rainbow Surprise yogurts sold from June 24th-June 29th, Souvla will donate $1 to the San Francisco LGBT Center. 517 Hayes St. at Octavia.

More frozen action: THREE TWINS ICE CREAM has created some themed ice cream flavors to celebrate Pride weekend (available from Friday June 27th-Sunday June 29th). The newly reopened Lower Haight shop will be serving up Two Tops Don’t Make a Bottom, Hot Cookie, Tea Bag, and others! Hilarious. Just $3 for prepacked (hold the jokes, okay?) pints. Ten percent of sales will be going to a fund to help persecuted members of the LGBT community in Uganda. 254 Fillmore St. at Haight.

La Cocina Ramping Up for the Last Street Food Festival in the Mission


The Street Food Festival on beautiful Folsom Street. Photo from Facebook.

One of the best food events of the year is coming up August 15th-17th: LA COCINA’s Street Food Festival. This year, the party is going to be even bigger, because it turns out this is the last year they’ll be throwing it in the Mission. Wah! They’re scouting new locations, but if they don’t find one, it’s possible the festival may discontinue. We’ll update you with that news, but in the meantime, here are all the ways you can get pumped and celebrate the fabulous fête now.

First up, on Friday August 15th catch the Friday Night Fried Chicken Family Meal at the SOMA STREAT FOOD PARK from 6pm-10pm. Food vendors both local and far-flung will be on hand, frying up their tastiest birdies and slinging them into your bucket. There will also be a bar serving cocktails and craft beer, plus you get a filled-up flask upon entry. Nice touch. Tickets start at $50, and you can add lots of perks and VIP options during purchase.

Then of course there is the festival itself on Saturday August 16th. It will be from 11am-7pm on Folsom St. from 20th Street to 26th Street, and promises to be even bigger and better than before. We’ll have lots more details coming soon, but early bird tickets and passports are available now, as well as tickets to the unlimited Aperol Spritz brunch happening on Saturday from 11am-1pm. Are you fired up? Yeah, we are too.

Cawfee Tawk: Sextant Coffee Roasters, Café at Rainbow


The interior at Sextant. Photo from Facebook.

There’s a new coffee roaster open to SoMa, Eater reports, called SEXTANT COFFEE ROASTERS. Kinani Ahmed—who also owns Jebena Coffee and hookah bar Nile Cafe—is the owner, and he has a roaster in the back of the shop where he’ll do all the roasting. For now, he’s only using Ethiopian beans, though Brazilian ones might make an appearance in the future. There is also a back patio, and pastries are coming soon. In the meantime, it’s all about espresso and drip coffee. Hours are daily 8am-4pm, though expanded hours are coming soon. 1415 Folsom St. at 10th St., 415-355-1415.

RAINBOW GROCERY is adding a new outdoor café to their exterior, according to The Bold Italic. It’s moving into the corner of their lot, to the right of the garden area, at 13th Street and Folsom. They’ve been working with Stumptown on the coffee, right down to which machine to use, and are planning to offer a variety of small-batch, organic, and ethically produced beans, as well as tea from their bulk section. The opening is set for July. 1745 Folsom St. at 13th St., 415-863-0620.

Pop-Ups and Special Meals


Kombu-cured halibut from Peko Peko, Sylvan Mishima Brackett’s previous project. Photo from Facebook.

A few pop-ups for you to consider this week. The fabulous chanteuse Veronica Klaus is also a fantastic cook, so she’s back at TRUCK for another pop-up dinner (Miss V’s Vittles and Juke Joint!) this Wednesday June 25th. Details here. Three courses, and live cabaret featuring special guest Tammy Lynne Hall-Hawkins and Ms. Klaus! You get chocolate cake and a show, how’s that for a swell night? Get tickets and make reservations by sending $32 per person, details on the event link. 1900 Folsom St. at 15th St., 415-252-0306.

If you’re curious about the cuisine at Sylvan Mishima Brackett’s upcoming RINTARO, he is hosting a couple of izakaya dinners this Thursday June 26th at NAKED KITCHEN. Details and tickets here. 945 Valencia St. at 20th St.

From Tuesday June 24th-Sunday June 29th, NOMBE is offering a special offal menu, from spicy fried pig ear to assorted kushiyaki (skewers). $35 for a four-course menu paired with a flight of three Yamahai sakes. Order tickets or make reservations via OpenTable: visit online or call 415-681-7150.

Handlebar Now Open in Berkeley


The bar at Handlebar. Photo from Facebook.

Berkeleyside Nosh reports that West Berkeley has a new restaurant and bar, from partners Roland Robles and Jennifer Seideman. Robles, who owns the popular Fivetenburger truck, is running the kitchen, while Seideman, owner of Acme Bar & Company, is running the bar. The food menu is simple and small, with mac and cheese, burgers, a salad, and a small dessert. Though the menu may expand in the coming months, Robles intends to keep it small, simple, and good. The bar has a similar focus on simplicity and quality. Seideman wants to offer simple cocktails with quality spirits, so your bartender can focus on offering good service to the neighborhood regulars.

The space is set up more like a bar than a restaurant, though there is plenty of seating and all ages are welcome before 8pm. The bar itself is a remnant from a previous tenant, and it is a dramatic one, with wooden columns and large mirrors. They’ve also invested in some beautiful glassware and vintage silver-plated utensils, which are nice details that elevate the whole experience. As for that name, which is prominently displayed via the front marquee, it is indeed all about the mustache: Robles rocks a pretty serious handlebar. 984 University Ave. at 9th Ave., 510-484-5360.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Let's Drink Some Wine, Shall We?


The bucolic Bloomfield Farms. Photo from Facebook.

Looking for something fab to do tonight? There are still a few tickets left for Chenin-igans, a class led by the vivacious Vinny Eng at 18 REASONS. You’ll taste and learn about chenin blanc from someone who is very passionate about the wines being poured. 7pm-9pm, $30-$40.

Next Monday June 30th, STONES THROW is hosting another night in their Eat Like a Chef, Drink Like a Somm charitable dinner series, with a special dinner and wine pairings from Perbacco guests co-owner and chef Staffan Terje and co-owner and wine director Umberto Gibin. It’s $75 per person for the multicourse meal (inclusive of tax and gratuity), and $50 per person for beverage pairings. All proceeds benefit the SF-Marin Food Bank. Make your reservation from 6pm-8:45pm. Guests joining are also encouraged to donate a nonperishable food item to the drive. Look at the menu and reserve your spot here.

On Sunday July 13th from 4pm-9pm, head to Bloomfield Farms in Petaluma with David Lynch, Bill Niles, and the crew at ST. VINCENT for a three-course farm dinner with lots of wine (but only if you’re not still drunk and rowdy from the World Cup final game at noon that day!). They’ll transport you to the farm, with HenHouse Saison, Wind Gap rosé, and a snack for the ride. Then, you’ll get to tour the farm, hang out in the sunshine, and enjoy dinner in the barn. The menu features produce from Bloomfield Farms and their neighbors, and there will be lots of wine from Wind Gap, Kutch, and Banshee. Tickets are $165 and include tax, gratuity, and transportation (but not the $10 service fee).

Now Open in Uptown Oakland: Drexl Bar


A look from above (on the mezzanine). Photo courtesy of Drexl Bar.


The bar area. Photo courtesy of Drexl Bar.

We told you about DREXL BAR at the end of last year—a bar coming to Uptown Oakland from Demetrius “Deech” Chapin-Rienzo (a partner in Vintage 415) and Adi Taylor—and we’re happy to announce the bar is now softly open. To recap, it’s meant to be a neighborhood hangout, with well-made (but not too fussy) cocktails, plenty of room to chill, and there’s also a mezzanine with Skee-Ball and Pac-Man for those who would like another way to forget their workday.

Howie Slater is running the bar, with cocktails like a Navy-strength Jamaican rum collins with maraschino liqueur topped with Schofferhofer grapefruit beer; a variation on an Americano using Carpano Bianco vermouth, Cocchi Americano, and sparkling wine; and some classics like the Vieux Carré, Boulevardier, Scofflaw, Last Word, Remember the Maine, and the Corpse Reviver No. 2. You’ll also find wine on tap (white, red, and rosé) and good beers. There are other local bartenders pulling shifts, so you may see some familiar faces, and Sundays and Mondays will probably draw an industry crowd.

The interior has some industrial and metal finishes, softened with faintly glowing globe lights overhead, natural-modern wood stools, weathered murals on the walls (vintage wallpaper and exposed plaster were uncovered during demolition), and wood floors. It’s a high-ceilinged space, with tall windows that let in nice light in the early evening. There’s a variety of seating, whether you want a spot at the black-tiled bar, a high-top table by the window, or the more loungy area with booths and cocktail tables. There’s also the upstairs mezzanine, with couches, more tables, and the games we mentioned.

Drexl is conveniently a couple of blocks from The Fox, so you can swing by for a pre- or postshow drink, and the early hours also make it a good after-work spot. There are plans to add some bar snacks and bites, stand by on that. Initial hours are looking like Sun-Thu 5pm-12am and Fri-Sat 5pm-2am (subject to change as needed). 382 19th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

Hawthorn to Open Downtown July 1st


Hawthorn’s lounge area and bar. Photo by Mike DiMonaco of Mad Imaging.

On Tuesday July 1st, the subterranean HAWTHORN is opening downtown in the former Lot 46. It’s a cocktail lounge and club—with a very souped-up sound system—from partners Chadwick Baumbach (Kimpton Group, La Costanera) and Gabriel McWilliams, with Jenny Kiely (Mars Bar) running the front of the house and Nate Mezmer (EyeHeartSF) doing the talent booking. They aim to offer a bar and lounge experience in the earlier evening, followed by dancing and music later at night.

Ethan Terry, an alum of Alembic and 15 Romolo, created the bar menu, with twists on the standard nightclub drinks, like a high-end take on the Midori sour called the “Mucho Melon Sour” with vodka, fresh cantaloupe, and housemade jalapeño juice, lemon, Chareau Aloe liqueur, and egg white. As for that sound system, it’s a custom-built Void Tri Motion from the U.K. (apparently the first in North America). Hours will be Tue-Wed 5pm-12am, Thu-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 7pm-2am. 46 Geary St. at Kearny, 415-693-9255.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Good Things at ICHI and Tartine

Queen of all things beautiful, crafty, and perfect, Martha Stewart was at ICHI Sushi on Thursday. Then she hit up Tartine Bakery on Friday for some morning buns and a ham and cheese croissant. She was in town for a book signing at Macy’s, and, yes, she did manage to tweet some mediocre food photos while she was here.

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