An incredible course at SPQR: broccoli and hen of the woods mushrooms, aged Gouda “budino di pane,” and acorn ham. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
So how are you all feelin’ out there? A bit like you’re in the Jabba Zone? Yeah, I’m with you. But that long weekend was such a treat—was nice to hang out with my fam, hit the Auto Show with my dad, and enjoy a decadent meal at SPQR with my friend in town from LA. Oh yeah, and the annual truffle brunch with my dear pal Roberta on Sunday was the icing on the cake, er, pumpkin pie. I hope your holiday weekend was lurvely.
December is on, and holiday shindigs are in effect, whether you like it or not. If you are going to be doing some shopping downtown, here is a piece I did for 7x7.com on where to eat and drink near Union Square.
Another piece that should come in handy is my “holiday spirits tour” on Mosey, have fun! (Although you may want to wait for this glorious rain to lighten up since it’s a walking tour.)
I think the news cycle is still on vacation (or in a food coma), so this week’s column is a light one (unlike its founder, ha-ha), and I have a big party I’m co-hosting tonight, so let’s dive in!
Cheers! Marcia Gagliardi
As we mentioned last week, the opening of Chris Cosentino’s latest project, COCKSCOMB, is here. Dinner service at the SoMa restaurant started last night. The appealing menu includes updated interpretations of San Francisco classics, ranging from celery Victor to tetrazzini (prepared with quail), and you’ll find Green Goddess dressing on Little Gems with crispy pig’s ear and radishes. Another SF classic: oysters, which you’ll find a variety of at the raw bar.
Since the space’s original wood-fired oven is still blazing, expect some dishes to have that special smoky kiss as well. The menu is not Italian, but you will find Cosentino’s extensive background in butchery and his love of offal apparent (yup, there’s a wood oven-roasted pig’s head on the menu). There are also some playful dishes, including Eggs, Eggs, Eggs (with chicken and duck eggs, trout roe, and tarragon aioli). Vegetarians, fear not: there are Cali-influenced dishes like toasted oats, with mushrooms, kale, and a poached egg.
This detail remains unconfirmed, but based on some social media tips, it looks like Ross Wunderlich—who was most recently the chef de cuisine at Charles Phan’s The Coachman (previously a sous at Hard Water)—is also in the kitchen. Cosentino’s business partner is Oliver Wharton, whose extensive background spans both back of house and front of house on both coasts, including director of restaurant operations for Michael Mina’s Aqua Development Corporation, and most recently partnered with José Andrés in Las Vegas for the opening of his two restaurants at The Cosmopolitan: China Poblano and Jaleo.
There’s a full bar, which includes Negronis on tap (and wine) and a focus on local gins, plus a dozen beers on draught and some ciders on the list (you can check it out here). And how handy, there are two bars: one is on the main floor, and there’s another on the upstairs mezzanine (there are 109 seats total). The loftlike space (designed by Celano Design Studio) has a clean and eclectic look, with an open kitchen and a long wood counter flanking it, artwork from local artists Jeremy Fish and Sam Flores, plus plenty of taxidermy, from roosters to a buffalo head. It’s great to see a new chapter for this special location. When it was Zuppa, and prior to that, Monk, it always had such a cool feeling—industrial and a bit edgy. Dinner is served Mon-Sat 5pm-12am. 564 4th St. at Brannan, 415-974-0700.
One more thing to note: a reader wrote in to let me know that PORCELLINO, owner Mark Pastore and Cosentino’s replacement for Incanto in Noe Valley, has closed. 1550 Church St. at Duncan.
Corey Lee’s MONSIEUR BENJAMIN has added brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-2:30pm. Chef Jason Berthold’s menu offers a section entirely dedicated to seafood, including oysters ($3.75-$4.25), poached shrimp ($14), and a Dungeness crab rémoulade ($16). Main courses offer French bistro-inspired fare, including grilled Paris ham with poached egg, gem lettuce, maple glaze, and hollandaise ($19) or a chicken croquette with fried egg, gribiche sauce, haricots verts, and fines herbes ($18). There are also vegetable and fruit juices, cocktails, and espresso. Check out the menu here.
Monsieur Benjamin - 451 Gough St. San Francisco - 415-403-2233
The Richmond Blog caught the news on a new pizza place in the Inner Richmond, called GRINDERS PIZZERIA, and it looks like it’s now open, according to Yelp. It comes from the husband-and-wife team of Joe Irick and Amanda Petrowski (Irick used to write a column on pizza for the Chicago Tribune), and they are offering both Chicago-style deep dish and a “California thin crust.” The toppings are definitely unique, especially on the thin crust, with specials including a “crab Rangoon” with cream cheese, crab, scallion, wonton crisps, and sweet and sour sauce. The deep-dish choices are a bit more classic, with a meat combo and Hawaiian. They’ve also got grinder sandwiches, salads, sides, and a massive chocolate cookie for dessert. Oh, and they deliver anywhere in the Richmond. 448 Balboa St. at 6th Ave., 415-933-6700.
We’ve been trying to get information on INDOCHINE for a while, and it sounds like they opened over the holiday weekend, according to a tweet. It’s in the former Mariachi space on Valencia, next to Sunflower (which remains closed, by the way), and has a menu of pan-Asian vegan dishes. The menu includes Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes like bibimbap, wonton soup, and clay pot—all of it vegan. There are also Americanized choices, like teriyaki and “fish” and chips. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri-Sun 11am-10pm. 508 Valencia St. at 16th St., 415-701-0700.
Apparently, it’s a good week to be a vegan! Or even just someone taking a break between Thanksgiving and the holidays. Anyway, it looks like GOLDEN ERA has reopened in their new location after closing last year. They are still in the Tenderloin, and the menu includes vegan Vietnamese dishes including clay pot, noodles, and rice plates. Yelpers report that the space has gotten an upgrade, as well. 395 Golden Gate Ave. at Larkin, 415-673-3136.
Way back, more than two years ago, we wrote about a new project from the Lefty O’Doul’s team moving onto Polk Street. Well, it’s opening in a week, and the name is SPINNERIE. It appears to be a fast-casual spot, with a focus on meats cooked in the rotisserie with international flavors, and their website states they “are changing the way the world eats chicken.” Okay then. The menu lists wraps, salads, sides, and different protein types, including salmon, tofu, and two flavors of that chicken (Mediterranean and piri piri, if you were wondering). They’ve got a beer and wine license, as well. 1401 Polk St. at Pine.
Celebrate the short days and cold weather with choucroute garnie at LE P’TIT LAURENT on Tuesday December 16th. The classic wintry Alsatian dish is made with sauerkraut, cured pork (including rib, bacon, and sausage), juniper berries, onions, potatoes, and white wine, and will be served along with a selection of wines from the Alsace region, as well. The dinner is $25 per person, and includes all the choucroute you can eat (pace yourself). Beverages can be purchased separately. 699 Chenery St. at Diamond, 415-334-3235.
If anyone knows about the short days of winter, it’s Scandinavians. PLÄJ is bringing the holiday spirit with their series of Julbord Holiday Dinners every Sunday until Christmas—December 7th, 14th, and 21st from 5pm-10pm. The five-course dinners begin with a traditional glogg, or spiced wine, and also includes a caviar course, as well as cured fish and meats such as gravlax and chicken liver mousse. The main course offers a pretty astonishing spread of hearty dishes: meatballs, prince sausage, Christmas ham, and a chanterelle and shrimp omelet, to name just a few. Check out the full menu here. The dinners are $65 per person, with pairings available for an additional cost; reservations can be made by calling 415-294-8925.
From now until December 23rd, BIX will be offering lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30am-2:30pm for their Holiday Lunch Club. The à la carte menu includes offerings like the Bix burger (a hopper favorite), braised beef short rib on polenta with winter vegetable ragout and preserved tomato, and a Dungeness crab cocktail. Don’t miss it!
Pläj - 333 Fulton St. San Francisco - 415-863-8400
By Dana Eastland. Ready, set, cook! And bake. The holidays are here, and that means there’s a lot of cooking to do, if that’s your thing. Here are some great holiday cooking classes to try, and be sure to get your tickets soon, because they do sell out.
On Sunday December 21st, Viola Buitoni returns to 18 REASONS with her Paste di Natale class. She’ll show you how to prepare classic Italian holiday classics, including spaghetti alla spoletina in black truffles and anchovy sauce, tortilla di magro made with spinach and chard, and a Neapolitan pasta pie (yes, timballo!). The class goes from 4pm-8:30pm and includes all instruction plus a dinner with food and wine. Tickets are $95 per person or $85 for 18 Reasons members, and there are only two left, so snatch them up!
For another take on an Italian-style holiday, check out Maria Capdevielle’s Italian Holiday Cookies and Confections class in Berkeley on Saturday December 13th from 3pm-6pm. She’ll demonstrate how to make five different cookies and candies from different regions of Italy, all of them ideal for gifting to friends, family, and as host gifts for all those parties. Tickets are $75. Playing Life Academy/Footfire Soccer, 1645 4th St. at Virginia, Berkeley.
Join Reem Assil for a class on sweet Arabic treats, or helou, for the holiday season, or really any season. There are actually two parts to the class: the first on Saturday December 13th and the second on Saturday December 20th, both from 11am-2pm. On the 13th, learn all about baklava, including how to get the phyllo sheets just right and experimenting with some different fillings. For the second class, learn about ma’amoul, semolina cookies with nuts and dried fruit. Both classes take place at the ARAB CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY CENTER and cost $33 each for the general public or $30 for center members. 2 Plaza St. at Laguna Honda, 415-664-2200.
Always wanted to offer a beautiful cheese plate to your guests or host? The San Francisco Cheese School has just the class for you. Taught by owner Kiri Fisher, Bounty & Beauty: How to Build a Dazzling Cheese Platter will teach you everything you need to know about cheese, accompaniments, and plating to make sure your holiday platters are gorgeous and delicious. Plus, you get to take the platter you make home with you, and the class includes wine. Hic. Tickets are $75 per person. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-346-7530.
To learn how to make cookies like a pro, check out the Holiday Cookie Swap class at THE SAN FRANCISCO COOKING SCHOOL on Saturday December 13th from 10am-2pm. Not only will you make lots of cookies, including sugar cookies with icing, English toffee shortbread, and peppermint pinwheels, but you’ll also learn some great techniques for making sure your cookies turn out just right every time. The class includes a light lunch, wine, and a cookie swap at the end—plus you get to take lots of cookies home! Tickets are $160 per person. 690 Van Ness Ave. at Turk, 415-346-2665.
Master some of the dishes for the Jewish holiday table at Not Your Grandma’s Latkes at the JCCSF on Monday December 8th from 6:30pm-9pm. In addition to latkes, instructor Michele Pfeifer will teach you how to prepare other dishes for Hanukkah, including brisket and applesauce. Tickets are $95 per person or $85 for JCCSF members. 3200 California St. at Presidio, 415-292-1200.
This isn’t exactly a class, but it is a good guide for those vegans out there, or those who are cooking for a vegan. Jerry James Stone of Cooking Stoned is offering his book, A Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays, for free. It includes lots of recipes, and all you have to do is sign up for the Cooking Stoned newsletter here to receive a digital copy of the book.
There are also lots of great events to help celebrate the season, including the 12 Nights of Chocolate at DANDELION CHOCOLATE. Starting tonight, Tuesday December 2nd, you can check out a different chocolate-themed event with lots of different guest chefs and restaurants participating. The full schedule of events can be found here, but highlights include an event with Marla Bakery and Sean Ehland on Wednesday December 3rd from 7pm-9pm, with a buffet of sweet and savory chocolate treats and bubbly from Chris Deegan. Tickets are $50 per person. On Saturday December 6th, learn all about pairing cheese and chocolate with Alex Ourieuf of Vagabond Cheese and Jenna Nicolas of Dandelion from 7pm-9pm; tickets are $45 per person. Check out a full list of collaborations and details right here. Ticket prices vary, and all proceeds benefit the SF-Marin Food Bank, which needs as much support as possible this time of year. 740 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-349-0942.
12/11/14 UPDATE: POSTPONED! Need a break from all the holiday madness? THE RAMEN BAR has declared Thursday December 11th Godzilla Day, which means they’re throwing a party (though apparently there is a real Godzilla Day, but it’s on November 3rd. Who knew?). The original Godzilla movie from 1954 will be playing, and happy hour specials on food and drinks will be available all night long. Plus, a special “King of the Monsters” menu will be on offer for the monstrously low price of $30 that includes a glass of Kirin, gyoza, your choice of ramen, and a green tea parfait. And try your hand at Godzilla trivia, with prizes! The party runs from 3pm-9pm. 101 California St. at Davis, 415-684-1570.
It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate producers of good food from all over the country at the GOOD FOOD AWARDS. The 2015 awards will take place from Thursday January 8th until Saturday January 10th, starting with the Gala Awards Ceremony on Thursday January 8th at the Palace of Fine Arts. The ceremony begins at 5:30pm and is hosted by none other than Alice Waters. It’s followed by a delicious reception, where the winning products will be served. There will also be cocktails (made with the winning spirits, of course), beer, and plenty of opportunities to chat with the people who make our world so delicious. Tickets to the gala are $120 per person. 3301 Lyon St. at Bay.
Then, on Saturday January 10th, check out the Winners Marketplace at the Ferry Building from 9am-2pm. More than 70 winners from 25 states will be serving their goods for you to try, plus you can check out the Cider, Beer, and Spirits Garden at Gott’s Roadside from 11am-2pm. Tickets to the event are $5 at the door, or spring for VIP tickets for $16 and access at 8am. Tickets to the Cider, Beer, and Spirit Garden are $16 and include five tastes plus general admission to the marketplace. 1 Ferry Plaza at Embarcadero.
Ferry Building - One Ferry Building San Francisco - 415-983-8000
Looking for a unique holiday gift for your favorite dining partner? Have you had a chance to check out the very custom tablehopper t-shirts and hoodies? All our shirts and hoodies are based on vintage designs and graphics from old-school bars and restaurants in San Francisco (hmmmm, someone can’t stop collecting vintage menus and ephemera), so you can show your city some love too. Oh, and they’re super-soft and flattering.
There are five tees in all, whether you want to go classic with the Blue Fox or sassy with Players Club or boozy with The Camel. If you’re looking to stay warm, check out the Blue Fox hoodie for a little protection from Karl the Fog. (Click the links for a little story about each place too…)
The eye-catching designs are all printed on quality cotton t-shirts (thanks to our local pals at Poppy Promos) that have a nice fit for both men and women—and did we mention they are super-soft? Tees are $25, and the Blue Fox hoodie is $45 (it’s really plush). Order online right here.
Tuesday Dec 23, 2014 – Wednesday Dec 24, 2014
Christmas Eve is traditionally the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes and lots of places around town are celebrating accordingly, with special seafood menus.
A16 and A16 ROCKRIDGE will both be offering seafood menus on December 24th. The menus will be different, but both are serving a four-course prix-fixe menu with optional wine pairings. Wine pairings will be available at three different levels: classic, rosso, and rare and unique. Check out the San Francisco menu here and the Rockridge menu here.
PALIO D’ASTI is offering Christmas Eve dinner again this year; it’s six courses and includes choices. The regular menu will also be available. Cost is $79 per person.
You’ll also find the seven fishes at AQ, but on Tuesday December 23rd, when a six-course menu will be on offer. The menu hasn’t been finalized, but early hints suggest there will be Dungeness crab, scallops, and sea bass. Tickets are $68 per person.