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Feb 16, 2015 17 min read

February 17, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: ram tough.

February 17, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: ram tough.
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This week's tablehopper: ram tough.                    

A Sazerac and baked oysters Simoneaux at Boxing Room. Photo: ©

Hopefully you got enough vitamin D flowing in your system this past sunny weekend so you don’t care about this chilly and gray Mardi Gras. Whatever, we’re not under five feet of snow like other cities, so let the good times roll. Here’s a little roundup of some places where you can go get your Hurricane or king cake on tonight.

I started my Mardi Gras party early: on Saturday night I went to Boxing Room for a late-night burger (perfection) and Sazerac (remember, they now have a full liquor license!), and I was not going to pass up the baked oysters Simoneaux—named after the chef—who bakes them with tasso, trinity, and Parmesan cheese (I think it’s obvious that you don’t want to miss ‘em).

Earlier that evening, I went to check out a new SoundBox performance, Sticks & Stones, just behind Davies Symphony Hall. Whoa, what a cool new addition to our musical scene, it felt so very now. The space—normally used for rehearsals—is incredible: huge vaulted ceilings, cool clubby lighting and projections, comfortable lounge-like seating. There’s a full bar, and the musical artists are right in front of you in various spots throughout the room. It was a really unique musical experience. The next shows are March 6th-7th and April 9th-10th. Get your tickets ($25), this is a hot one.

And a happy new year to you: the lunar new year starts this Thursday February 19th! Here are some places where you can celebrate the year of the ram (or sheep or goat or Mongolian gazelle, whatever you prefer) in the coming week.

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Opening Thursday: Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company


A look into the spacious Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company. Photo: Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company.


A look down from the mezzanine into the dining room. Photo: Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company.

We caught up with Hilary Passman Cherniss of Devil’s Teeth Baking Company, and she confirmed that if inspections go well as planned this afternoon, she will be opening her Outer Sunset brewpub, SUNSET RESERVOIR BREWING COMPANY this Thursday February 19th! We mentioned the project back in March of 2014, which is opening in the former El Grande Produce Market.

The chef is Gavin Braid, who has worked in numerous kitchens, ranging from Mikkeller to Quince. His menu is live on the website, which includes grilled flatbreads and grilled oysters, too, beer-friendly dishes like steamed mussels and chorizo, and four different salads (including a Cobb). Entrées include a roasted half chicken with polenta ($20, from Mary’s); beer-braised pork shank ($26) with sriracha spaetzle, toy box carrots, and chives; and of course there’s a burger (this one has two patties, cheddar included, for $14). He plans to eventually make charcuterie in-house too.

Also of note: Passman Cherniss, a mother of four, wanted to make sure the menu and space is family-friendly, so you’ll find a kid’s menu and a welcoming attitude to little ones too.

The brewer is Aaron Weshnak, formerly with Russian River Brewing Company, who is brewing five house beers: dry Irish stout, wheat, double IPA, extra pale, and rye amber (you can geek out on more beer details here). There is also a full bar, managed by Jeff Koch, who has bartended in many Mission bars.

Geiszler Architects is behind the 160-seat space (Steve Geiszler designed and owns Faultline Brewing). There’s a raised dining area so you can watch the brewhouse and an upstairs mezzanine with its own bar (can you say future party space?). The space is clean but comfortable, and the bar top and tables use reclaimed wood from the ceiling—even the pallets from deliveries got reused.

Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm for food, and until 12am for drinks; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm for food, and until 2am for drinks. Look for lunch and brunch soon. 1735 Noriega St. at 24th Ave., 415-571-8452.

Meet Novy, Coming Soon to the Former Pasta Pomodoro Location in Noe Valley


The future home of Novy, on the corner of 24th Street and Noe. Photo from Instagram.

A report by Dana Eastland. Back in November we reported that the Noe Valley location of Pasta Pomodoro was closing, and it looked like the landlord of the building was making some major changes to the space. It turns out that the building’s owners, John and Vi Gianaras, have bigger plans for the space.

According to this story from 1997 in The Noe Valley Voice, the Gianarases have owned the building since the 1970s and operated a Greek restaurant there called Panos. They closed Panos in 1997, and Pasta Pomodoro moved in. But now John and Vi’s daughters, Kristen and Kathryn, are taking over the space and opening NOVY this spring. I had a chance to catch up with Kristen Gianaras on the family’s plans for the new project.

The new restaurant won’t be exactly Greek, but there will be some Greek inspiration on the menu. They’ve been working on it with Vi, who ran the kitchen at Panos, and Kristen says the food will be firmly rooted in seasonal California cuisine, with a Mediterranean influence. One section of the menu is devoted to burgers (including a Greek one), while another is all about big salads (including, yes, a Greek one). They’ve also been developing some pita bread wraps with souvlaki-style grilled skewers, a selection of seasonal pasta dishes, and quesadillas with Mediterranean flavors. In addition, there is a small plates section of the menu, with fried almonds and olives, grilled calamari, grilled halloumi cheese, and Greek-inspired spreads. The aim is for the food to be fun and inviting, and they want the many families of Noe Valley to feel welcomed.

In addition, Novy has a beer and wine license. To keep waste and prices reasonably low, they’ve decided to only offer beer and wine on tap (with the exception of sparkling wines). There are eight wines on tap, available by the glass or carafe (four reds and four whites), though they haven’t yet finalized the list. As for beer, they want to start with local favorites, so you’ll find choices like Anchor Steam, Drake’s hefeweizen, and Lagunitas IPA, as well as a hard cider for gluten-free drinkers.

As for the space, it’s been completely gutted and is receiving a major overhaul. They want it to feel inviting and casual, but also modern and chic. There is a poured concrete floor, lots of warm wood slats (but nothing too rustic or reclaimed looking), and big windows to take full advantage of the corner building’s light. The bar area has been designed to feel more relaxed than other spaces in the restaurant, with high, bistro-style tables at the windows and seating for four at the bar itself. They will also be keeping the corner spot’s popular outdoor seating.

Novy is currently scheduled to open on Tuesday March 10th, barring any delays in construction. When they do open, hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-9:30pm for lunch and dinner, Sat-Sun 9am-9:30pm for brunch and dinner. They may change the hours and add a happy hour in the coming months. 4000 24th St. at Noe, 415-829-8383.

Restaurant Moves: Pisto's Tacos to Mas Sake Space, Chez Maman Shuffles to Chez Papa, Radius Changes Too


Tacos at Don Pisto’s (photo from website).

There are quite a few switcheroos we’re going to report here, I hope you’ve had your coffee. First up, Pete Mrabe will be moving PISTO’S TACOS in North Beach to the former Mas Sake space (2030 Lombard Street at Webster) in three to six months, and in the meantime, he’s moving the Pisto’s Tacos daytime/lunch menu into DON PISTO’S (the last day serving at 1310 Grant Street will be Saturday February 21st). Fans of Pisto’s Tacos burritos, tacos, and quesadillas will be able to find them at Don Pisto’s (510 Union Street) Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, starting March 2nd.

Mrabe will also be moving the pop-up of CHUBBY NOODLE North Beach that’s inside Amante (570 Green Street) into the Pisto’s Tacos space, and will be tweaking the menu a bit. A few Chubby Noodle staples will remain, like the ramen, plus grilled skewers, soups (like seafood udon), and a raw bar. And beer. That should all be up and running in three months or so. As for Amante, it’s going to have a limited menu for now and Mrabe is going to be launching a new food concept in the space, stand by for more on that.

Over on Potrero Hill, we caught up with Jocelyn Bulow, who shares that he is moving CHEZ MAMAN from its smaller location (at 1453 18th Street) into the larger CHEZ PAPA BISTROT space on the corner (at 1401 18th Street). It will have the same menu with a few additions (and larger tables, of course). Taking over the cozy Chez Maman space will either be a chicken rotisserie concept, or something else he is mulling over. Look for Chez Maman to reopen by the first week of March; the new concept will come later in spring.

Another thing to note: PAPITO POTRERO (317 Connecticut Street at 18th St.) has a new chef, Efren Villalobos (previously Mamacita, Mexico DF, and Marino Restaurant), who is launching his new menu on Wednesday February 18th. Bulow has sold PAPITO WEST (in Hayes Valley) to the restaurant’s general manager, David Alexander.

Now let’s jump to SoMa, where RADIUS RESTAURANT AND CAFE will be closing after a five-year run on Saturday February 28th. Owner Jon Whitehead (now the sole operator) is going to reopen the café and back patio as CARAFE, a café by day (smoothies, salads, sandwiches) and a wine bar in the evening (offering small plates, oysters, cheeses, and charcuterie). The wine list will continue to reflect many local winemakers and urban wineries too. Stand by for what’s in store for the restaurant space. 1123 Folsom St. at 7th St., 415-525-3676.

More Marina Updates: Two New Projects on Scott Street


The former home of The Republic on Scott Street. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

Over in the Marina, we noticed last month some ABC activity for the closed THE REPUBLIC sports bar space, which listed former Fog City chef Erik Lowe and pastry chef Aaron Toensing (who are also both Bix veterans). We reached out for more details, but they spoke with the Scoop instead, who confirmed the duo plans to open an American restaurant in the 4,000-square-foot space with a full bar; details and a name are forthcoming. Meanwhile, Javier Montano (Grand Café, Limón) has taken over for Lowe at Fog City, with Alex Garay on desserts (via Eater). 3213 Scott St. at Lombard.

Just down the street, more ABC license activity shows that wine bar BIN 38 has been sold to Brian Cassanego (Noir Lounge in Hayes Valley), with a working title of Scotland Yard. Eater says to look for a closure in April, and Cassanego will be opening something similar in its place a few weeks later (the trinity of wine, craft beer, and food will remain). 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-567-3838.

Tidbits: Octavia, Tips Out at Benu, and New Openings (Home, Tavares)


Exterior photo by Craig Lee.


The interior at Home. Yelp photo by Cheryl W.

Back in October, we broke the news that Melissa Perello (Frances) was taking over the former Baker & Banker space, and now we have learned the name of this new project: OCTAVIA. Additional details (for now): the style of food will be similar to Frances, Perello is having Paul Einbund run the wine program, and there will be a communal table for walk-ins. The downstairs bakery area will be converted back to a private dining room, and the awnings will be taken down to allow for more natural light. We’ll have more in coming weeks on this exciting spring opening. [Scoop] 1701 Octavia St. at Bush.

If the Bay Area restaurant scene is any indication, the tipping model of paying food-service workers is on its way out. High-end restaurants have been making the switch from tipped compensation to other forms of payment. The latest to join the wave is BENU, Eater reports, which has raised the prices on their tasting menu and also eliminated tips. The price tag for dinner for two at Benu is now $228 per person, plus a blanket 20 percent service charge. Wine pairings are $160. Similar restaurants have also raised tasting menu prices and added service charges, including Atelier Crenn ($220 per person plus service charge) and Saison ($398 plus service charge). The linked article has a handy graph to illustrate the changes. This is a loaded issue, for sure, but ultimately the goal is to make sure that all food-service workers are paid fairly, regardless of whether they work in the kitchen or on the floor. As long as these policies aim for that end, we’re all for it.

There is a new café in the Sunset, called HOME. Yelpers report they are serving De La Paz and Four Barrel coffee, and a menu shows pour-over and espresso options, along with some more inventive choices like a coconut vanilla latte. There are also snacks on offer, including toast and pastries. 1222 Noriega St. at 20th Ave., 415-742-0038.

According to Yelp, the new café in the former Mason space has opened. It’s called TAVARES, and appears to be from Ivo Nesralla, who owns a similar spot in Sao Paolo. Initial reports say there are sandwiches, burgers, and salads on the menu, along with some Brazilian dishes like fish cooked in a banana leaf. 300 De Haro St. at 16th St., no phone.

Benu            - 22 Hawthorne St. San Francisco - 415-685-4860

Chef News and Moves: Slow Club, Centurion at SFO, BDK


Exterior photo from Slow Club’s Facebook page.

After running the kitchen at SLOW CLUB since 2008, chef Matt Paul has stepped down. The parting is amicable, according to a note from the restaurant. In his place, two chefs from Slow Club’s kitchen have been promoted, Max Bauer and Marco Pool. Bauer has been the sous chef at Slow Club for more than a year and worked at Blue Plate and Firefly before that; Pool began working here more than 10 years ago and most recently was sous at Serpentine (Slow Club’s sister restaurant). The menu already has some of the pair’s new dishes on offer, and more new items will be appearing soon. Don’t worry, though, many of the restaurant’s classics will remain.

Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood (and holder of three Michelin stars) has left San Francisco Airport’s Centurion Lounge for American Express. To recap, Kostow joined the lounge in November of last year in an effort to bring fresh, seasonal cuisine to travelers at SFO. American Express cardholders have access to the lounge ($50 for regular cards, free for Centurion and Platinum members), and they are reportedly working on a replacement for Kostow. Jim Meehan, of New York’s PDT, is continuing to helm the cocktail menu. [Eater]

Over at the Hotel Monaco, the Kimpton Group has announced the team for the upcoming BDK RESTAURANT & BAR, opening this spring in the former Grand Cafe. Chef Heather Terhune (who is leaving Chicago’s Sable Kitchen & Bar) will head up the kitchen, while Kevin Diedrich (Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen, Bourbon & Branch) will run the bar. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-0101.

Slow Club            - 2501 Mariposa St. San Francisco - 415-241-9390

A New Bagel You Can Score on Sundays from Earl's Bread


An array of golden and delicious bagels from Earl’s Bread. Photo: ©


The sunny beer garden at All Good Pizza. Photo: ©

On our gloriously sunny Sunday this past weekend, I was happy to hop in my car and scoot over to ALL GOOD PIZZA in Bayview, where you can now find another player in our locally made bagel scene: Earl’s Bread (you can read about other locally made bagels in this piece I wrote for

Earl Shaddix is a familiar face to anyone who attends Bayview food events and farmers’ markets, and he has been working on his own bagel for the past year and a half. They’re delicious, with a great flavor and chewy texture.

The flour he uses from Central Milling in Petaluma is fresh-milled from organic, non-GMO wheat growers (he drives up there to pick up the flour every month). He makes the dough 24-36 hours in advance, hand-rolls them, boils them in malt and water, and bakes them in the deck oven at All Good Pizza around 5am on Sundays. You can come by from 8am to 10am for a freshly baked bagel ($10 for 6 or $19/dozen)—slip through the gate on the Flora Grubb side of All Good (Hudson Street) and head to the back door of the pizza truck. You can get plain, poppy seed, sesame, and everything, and Earl also does a dozen of Maldon salt-onion each week as well. Since he’s just making 10 dozen every Sunday, they usually run out by noon.

At 10am, All Good opens for brunch, and that’s when you can get a bagel with cream cheese ($3) or a plate with lox ($8.50). And a mimosa. And one of their breakfast pizzas. And a beer. Yes, you have options. Their sunny beer garden is full of picnic tables, and don’t forget you can pick up a cappuccino or whatever you like at the Ritual Café inside Flora Grubb Gardens, just around the corner. 1605 Jerrold St. at 3rd St.

Oyster Updates!


Oysters on the half shell at Piccino. Photo from Facebook.

On Sunday February 22nd, enjoy (another hopefully) sunny afternoon in Dogpatch at PICCINO’s annual oyster party. Beginning at 11am, they’ll be serving oysters both raw and barbecued, all from Two X Sea. There will also be lots of rosé available by the glass. Oysters will be available from 11am until they run out.

There is also a new place in town for $1 happy hour oysters: FERRY PLAZA SEAFOOD. The happy hour menu includes a fantastic oyster selection at various prices, plus a daily changing $1 option. There are also glasses of wine for $5, Anchor Steam for $4, and other bites to try (like their fantastic mussels and frites). 653 Union St. at Broadway, 415-274-2561.

Piccino            - 1001 Minnesota St. San Francisco - 415-824-4224

510 News: Itani Ramen, Aperitivo Hour at A16, Bites at the Lake


A look into the bar area and dining room at A16 Rockridge. Photo: ©

The ramen takeover continues, with the news from Scoop that Kyle Itani of Hopscotch is opening a ramen offshoot called ITANI RAMEN later this year. Itani only just signed the lease, though it won’t be opening until fall at the earliest. Once they do, you can expect a small menu, with only a few types of ramen on offer each evening, not unlike Itani’s Yonsei pop-ups from a couple of years ago. He wants to keep the project focused but casual, with an emphasis on fun. There is also talk of late-night hours, yes! 1738 Telegraph Ave. at 18th St., Oakland.

Enjoy this year’s early spring weather with the primavera aperitivo hour at A16 ROCKRIDGE every evening from 5pm to 6:30pm. There will be daily specials on batch cocktails ($6), Italian beer ($3), and wine by the glass ($6-8), as well as daily changing snacks ($4-6) like meatballs with tomato sauce, Grana Padano, and basil, or burrata with dragoncello, pistachio, sea salt, and crostini. There will also be complimentary nibbles like cheese, charcuterie, and nuts. Aperitivo hour is available in the bar only.

As of Sunday February 15th, there’s a new hot spot for eating outdoors in Oakland, Bites at the Lake. It’s happening on Sundays from 12pm to 3pm, in the Lakeview Library parking lot. Participating food trucks will change weekly, but look for folks like Liba Falafel, Fist of Flour, and Doc’s of the Bay; follow along on Twitter and Facebook for updates. The area offers plenty of lawn seating at Lake Merritt, so bring chairs and a blanket for picnic perfection. 550 El Embarcadero at Lakeshore, Oakland.


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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Wine Class at Heirloom, IPOB, Umami Mart Now Selling Beer (and More), Cider Summit


Some of the many fabulous Japanese beers now lining the shelves at Umami Mart in Oakland. Photo: Umami Mart.

Just in case you’d like to be tasting and learning about wine before getting ready for your Oscars party on Sunday February 22nd, here’s a class you can take at HEIRLOOM CAFE with owner Matt Straus (it’s a two-hour curriculum covering the building blocks of wine understanding and appreciation). You’ll taste eight wines and talk about some wine basics. 12pm. Tickets are $40.

Get your tickets now for In Pursuit of Balance, a tasting featuring 33 wineries (selected by the IPOB organization) pouring chardonnay and pinot noir. The San Francisco event is on Monday March 16th; it will also be happening in New York, Houston, and Tokyo and Osaka! $125.

Congrats to Yoko Kumano and Kayoko Akabori of UMAMI MART in Oakland, who just got their off-sale liquor license, allowing them to sell sake, wine, and beer at their shop, which means they will be the nation’s first Japanese beer shop! They are stocking around 25 Japanese beers (lots of microbreweries and plenty of Hitachino too), and you’ll also find mirin and vermouth! Read their blog post for even more background on this exciting development. 815 Broadway at 8th St., Oakland, 510-250-9559.

Cider lovers, mark your calendars for the second annual Cider Summit SF, featuring artisanal ciders from around the world, more than 120 in all. It will be held at the Civil War Parade Ground in The Presidio on Saturday April 25th, 12pm-6pm. Tickets just went on sale and are $35 in advance, $40 at the door; they include a souvenir tasting glass and 10 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets will be available for sale on-site at $2 per ticket.


the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Commander in Spruce

Bloomberg News reports that President Barack Obama dined at Spruce during his fundraising visit to San Francisco last week. We don’t know what he ate, but the man has a palate, so hopefully it was delicious and paired with excellent wine.

Six Forks Under

Peter Krause, star of HBO’s Six Feet Under and, more recently, Parenthood and Dirty Sexy Money, was spotted at Fork Roadhouse in Sebastopol. He lives near there and was seen enjoying brunch near the fire with his family. How cute is that?

You Better Belieb It

It turns out he hasn’t been deported to Canada (yet, anyway), because Justin Bieber was spotted at EPIC Roasthouse last week. Apparently he was there after a trip to the Apple Store and was accompanied by three friends. It’s not clear if the friends were people or just exotic pets of the week, but we do know that they enjoyed rib-eyes, burgers, fries, and a shrimp cocktail. Speaking of shrimp, have you all seen this SNL spoof of his Calvin Klein ads yet?

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