Uni pâté at Union Larder. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Brrrr, how you all doing in your chilly Victorian and Edwardian abodes? Well, at least that’s the current state of my apartment, which means flannel pajamas are the attire of choice right now. (So glad my boss is cool with PJ Mondays.)
I hope your holidays have been merry and bright—a visit to Tom and Jerry’s Christmas house on 21st Street is one surefire way to dial the bright part in. I have been eating far too well: my family’s annual Feast of the Seven Fishes somehow managed to get eight in there (because more is more), and you’d think it was New Year’s Eve already with all the Champagne I’ve been drinking. Yaaaaaas.
I’ll be celebrating the New Year in Los Angeles. When you get this email, I’ll hopefully be well over the Grapevine in my little Fiat by then (meep meep). Looking forward to hitting up a bunch of LA spots, it has been too long since I hung out down there. Thanks to everyone for your LA faves and recos you sent in! You da best.
For those of you looking for places to dine on New Year’s Eve, we’ve got you covered. And today’s issue also includes where to eat on New Year’s Day! And a shout-out to yesterday’s sponsor, Flywheel, who is offering $10 cab rides on New Year’s Eve, how ‘bout them apples?
And last but not least, today’s (abridged) issue includes my annual installment of the bore, when I talk a little smack/pour out a little haterade about what’s annoying me in our local culinary scene.
But since I don’t want to end this last missive of 2014 on a cranky note (that’s not my style), I’d like to point you to this video about cultivating chance that my pal Lisa Schiffman recently did for Creative Mornings—I hope it’s inspiring for you as we look to 2015, and everything that it holds! Let’s rock it.
Buon Anno! Marcia Gagliardi
As any longtime tablehopper reader knows, the end of the year means it’s when I put on my crankypants and talk some smack about things irking me about our local culinary scene. If you’re sensitive to the words “fuck” and “shit,” you may want to hop along to another section right now. In other words, don’t write and complain to me about fresh language like some lady did last year. Hilarious.
Before you start wondering why I haven’t ranted about tired items like reclaimed wood and juice bars, you’ll most likely find them in previous installments of the bore.
And if you’ve got your pitchfork out with me and you’re all ready to throw toast on the bonfire of bitching, well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not going to carp about toast. Toast is safe, for now. If anything, I’m just tired of everyone complaining about the pseudo ubiquity of bougie toast, or that $4 toast (which in actuality is $3.50 at the oft-cited The Mill, but whatever) is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with San Francisco right now. What’s wrong with San Francisco is greater than toast, and we all know it.
- Macarons. These little rainbow shits have become the new cupcake. So many places make and sell them in all their oh-so-whimsical colors and flavors, but they usually taste like Technicolor sawdust, all crumbly or too dense or too sweet. Unless you’re going to make Pierre Hermé’s eyes widen in sheer delight, please, leave the macaron experiments in your kitchen. I’m in no mood to taste the rainbow.
- Restaurants, can we please stop with the naming of your business after a street address number, or adding the number in your name? All those name-number combos are taken up now. Come on, you can do better. (And I’m watching you, don’t start looking at ampersands.)
- Since we’re on restaurant names, what’s up with all the dirty lately? Dirty Habit. Dirty Water. Dirty French. Ooh, so edgy. So cheffy. Dirrrrrty. Let’s keep the dirtiness between the sheets, and not at the table. Sweep it up.
- Ingredients plated on the far side of the plate. This lopsided action is beginning to make me laugh. What’s wrong with plating at the center? Does everything have to be on one side? No, it doesn’t. And it doesn’t make it more artistic or visually interesting. Find your center.
- Okay, more plating kvetching. If you are making a smear on the plate, chefs, please pause for a second and make sure it isn’t brown, or orange-brown, or anything that is going to make me think for even a second that I have a skid mark on my plate. LOOK AT YOUR DISH. DOES ANYTHING LOOK LIKE BABY POO, EVEN A LITTLE BIT? YES? THEN DON’T SERVE THAT SHIT.
- Did I really just get served a dessert with a mint sprig and a halved strawberry? Wasn’t that outlawed in 1987? It’s the parachute pants of garnishes. Stop it, right now. And put down that squeeze bottle, I see you’re about to squiggle some chocolate poo on there. Just don’t.
- Servers or somms (shudder) or winemakers who touch and tap the mouth of a wine bottle with their hands while talking about it. What’s with the patting of your hand over the rim of the bottle? I see this all the time at wine tastings, and I cringe. That’s so grubby. I don’t want to even think about what and who your hands have been touching all day. Knock it off.
- What the hell is going on with all these lukewarm espresso drinks? I have never had so many tepid cortados, and who said it’s okay to ruin a macchiato with a 1:1 ratio of barely steamed milk? Does anyone even know what macchiato even means? It sure as hell doesn’t translate as “cold-ass milky shot of espresso that feels like someone forgot about it on the counter for 10 minutes.” I don’t know who decided it’s de rigueur to flat white-ify everything, but any Italian or Cuban would kick these fucked-up tepid drinks to the curb, and I’d be happy to help them do so. Baristas, please, keep them to yourselves, because lukewarm milk sure doesn’t make me appreciate the nuances of the espresso more, and I’m tired of the cocked eyebrow if I ask for the milk to be hot.
- Crappy sushi places. I can’t believe how they keep breeding, like farmed salmon. Many of us are out here trying to eat sustainable sushi and attempt to show the ocean a little bit of respect and then yet another crap sushi place comes along and serves enough shitty sushi in one night to wipe away a year’s worth of one’s efforts to eat sustainably. Don’t patronize these cheap places, people, it’s like fast-food devil sushi.
- Uni. Trust, I love the stuff. A lot. I order uni all the time. But does it really need to appear on everything? It’s like the new runny farm egg.
And…scene. Until next year!
The Winter Fancy Food Show is coming to San Francisco January 11th-13th.
- Discover 80,000 specialty foods and beverages.
- Meet 1,400 exhibitors from all over the world.
- See what’s new to the marketplace and meet the industry’s newest producers in the New Brands on the Shelf Pavilion.
Be there January 11th-13th at the Winter Fancy Food Show.
Thursday Jan 1, 2015 – Thursday Jan 1, 2015
You can’t start 2015 without a healing brunch, can you? It’s the SF way, New Year’s Day is Thursday January 1st, and there are lots of places open to help make sure you can celebrate the new year (and maybe recover from the night before) in style.
Here’s one really fun way to ring in la nouvelle année: starting at 12:30am (!), the fine folks at LE MARAIS BISTRO & BAKERY will be serving egg and cheese croissandwiches, along with plain, chocolate, and a variety of other croissants all baked fresh at midnight in their deck oven, along with hot Valrhona chocolate, hot apple cider, and chai tea. It will all be served streetside from a Citroën H van parked in front of the bakery, on loan from their friends at Bulldog Coffee. Come on by until 3am. Then you can get some sleep and come back for New Year’s Day brunch starting at 11am. 2066 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-359-9801.
The recently opened MR. HOLMES BAKEHOUSE will be open on New Year’s Day from 8am-3:30pm. Swing by for doughnuts, croissants, cruffins (!), savory Danishes, and other baked goods, as well as good coffee. 1042 Larkin St. at Sutter, 415-829-7700.
Make 2015 a smart one and hit up WISE SONS DELI on 24th Street. They’ll have extended hours from 10am-4pm and will be serving their full brunch menu. Pastrami and eggs, oh yeah.
Also on 24th Street, ROOSEVELT TAMALE PARLOR will be open and ready to serve your their pozole (spiced up with guajillo and arbol chiles), along with other restorative brunch dishes. 2817 24th St. at York, 415-824-2600.
RICE PAPER SCISSORS will be offering a special New Year’s Day brunch from 11am-3pm, which also marks their one-year anniversary at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall. They’ll have some special menu items to celebrate, including a mapo scramble, a steak and eggs banh mi, crab imperial rolls, and char siu pineapple buns—with grilled pork and pineapple—and coconut rice pudding fritters. Plenty of recovery beverages will also be available. 1710 Mission St. at Duboce, 415-878-6657.
Not surprisingly, NAMU GAJI will be mixing up some satisfying brunch dishes on Thursday, including kimchi fried rice, a Hangtown Benedict with fried oysters and bacon, and bourbon French toast. It’s all served from 11:30am-3pm, and they’ll be closed for dinner.
Jook cures almost anything, including a hangover and the “2015 already?” blues. Fortunately, CHUBBY NOODLE MARINA will be serving it all day, from 10am-6pm. It’ll be the only thing on the menu (other than beverages, of course) and served with bacon and an egg on top. Bring it.
Also in the Marina, CAUSWELLS will be open bright and early at 9am serving brunch. Omelets, pastrami hash, buttermilk biscuits and gravy, and their brunch burger will all be there to help you out.
A New Year’s Day walk on the beach or in Golden Gate Park could certainly be lovely, especially if you have family in town. A brunch buffet at the PARK CHALET might fit right in. There will be bottomless sparkling wine, a carving station, omelet bar, shrimp and grits, pastries, and much, much more, all from 10am-2pm. The buffet is $37.50 for adults and $19 for children under 12. 1000 Great Highway at JFK, 415-386-8439.