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Feb 23, 2015 17 min read

February 24, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: who are you wearing?

February 24, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: who are you wearing?
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This week's tablehopper: who are you wearing?                    

In yo’ face! The Banh, Baby, Banh at Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers. Photo: ©

SF, why you so pretty today? Fresh air, clear skies, plum blossoms scattering on the sidewalks and perfuming our city, a cute songbird chirping outside my window, asparagus at the markets…spring is here, and I’m feeling it.

Another thing I was feeling was totally irked with how the Academy Awards completely overlooked Joan Rivers in their In Memoriam tribute. Really, you couldn’t boot the marketing executive listed (who I am sure was a wonderful person, no offense) for the grande dame of the red carpet? Please.

More award tawk: there was some excitement rippling through the industry last week with the announcement of the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists. Congrats to all! On Tuesday March 24th, we’ll hear who the final nominees are for what will be the 25th anniversary of the awards (which will be taking place for the first time in Chicago on Monday May 4th).

OK, yours truly has a lot more on her plate than usual, literally and figuratively, so I won’t be in your inboxes again until next week. This upcoming week is gonna be a pressure cooker. Tax time really sucks for us self-employed/freelance/boss of me types, ya feel me?

Ciao for now. Mwah! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Presidio News: Sessions Coming This Spring, Off the Grid Returns


The future home of Sessions in the Presidio. Photo from Facebook.


Lawn games and food trucks at Picnic at the Presidio. Photo from Facebook.

Michael Bilger and Evin Gelleri of the former Georges restaurant in the Financial District have a new project in the works. It’s opening in the former Dixie space in the Presidio and will be called SESSIONS. According to a press release, they’ll be offering “craft beer, craft cuisine, and craft cocktails,” so remember to bring your knitting. They want to keep the environment welcoming and cheerful, and the focus will be on session-style beers, or beers made with lower alcohol so you can enjoy more than one at a time (and all day and night on your back porch before you get hammered). They will also have local beers on tap, cask-conditioned beers, and some nitro beers.

As for the food, they’ve partnered with the organic farm at Skywalker Ranch in Marin for their produce, and will offer seasonally driven dishes designed for sharing. Lundberg Design—whose previous projects include Mourad, Quince, and Hard Water—is working on the space. They will use large windows and natural elements to bring the beauty of the Presidio inside, and the space will offer both indoor and outdoor seating. The plan is to open in late spring. 1 Letterman Dr. at Lombard.

Off the Grid is returning to the Presidio and Fort Mason after a winter hiatus. Picnic at the Presidio will debut on Sunday March 1st on the Main Post Lawn, with food trucks, food stands, mimosas and Bloody Marys, and music. Partay! It’s happening every Sunday after March 1st from 11am-4pm, until November. Picnic at the Presidio: Main Post Lawn, Montgomery St. at Lincoln.

Then, on Friday March 6th, catch the kickoff of Off the Grid Fort Mason, with food trucks, cocktails, beer from Magnolia Brewing, and wine pairings. You can continue to enjoy the party every Friday from 5pm-10pm. Off the Grid Fort Mason: Marina Blvd. at Laguna.

Coming Soon: Halal Guys, Sababa, and Sam Wo's New Location


The combo rice bowl from the Halal Guys in New York. Yelp photo by Danny L.

Eater reports that New York City’s famed HALAL GUYS are expanding to the West Coast, including San Francisco and the East Bay. Apparently the expansion includes two more shops in New York, as many as 50 in Southern California, and eventually 30 in the Bay Area and Las Vegas. To start, they’re planning to open one spot in Berkeley and another in San Francisco, then go from there. The current schedule is to open in February 2016, with more expansions coming after that. They haven’t nailed down exact locations yet, but word is they are actively shopping for spaces.

It looks like the folks behind AQ and TBD are getting ready to open a fast-casual falafel restaurant called SABABA. Eater reports that the new spot comes from AQ cook Guy Eshel, who not only trained at the CIA but also hails from Israel, along with Matt Semmelhack. The plan is to offer a limited menu of protein choices like falafel, eggplant and egg, chicken, and beef, available on a pita or in a salad bowl. Then, you’ll be able to customize from a selection of mezze and a toppings bar with pickles and sauces. They haven’t secured a location yet, but the plan is to be downtown. To test everything out, Eshel will be popping up at Deli Board every Monday in March from 6pm-9pm.

Some unofficial news on the SAM WO front about where it’s going to be reopening: according to this post on Chowhound, it’s going to be reopening in the Anna Bakery space in Chinatown. (Here’s our recap on why they aren’t reopening in their fabled space at 813 Washington.) We reached out to one of the owners, Julie Ho, who couldn’t comment at this time, so we’ll keep an eye on this one. Noodle rolls are imminent. 715 Clay St. at Kearny.

Burger Pop-Ups from Marlowe and Causwells


The Marlowe burger. Photo courtesy Marlowe.

After their move into a new location on Brannan Street, the team behind MARLOWE is opening a burger pop-up in their former location on Townsend. Originally, the plan was to have a “burger window” along the side of Marlowe’s new location, but the window’s popularity and nearby construction made that difficult. So instead, they’re going to be opening a burger pop-up and private dining space in the old Marlowe, called MARLOWE BURGER. Burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, fries, and cookies and pastries will be available during the day, and then in the evening it will become a private dining space. The new burger spot is scheduled to open April 1st. No joke. 330 Townsend St. at 4th St.

More burger pop-up action: the evil geniuses behind the burger at CAUSWELLS are going to be popping up in the Mission, so you Marina-phobic types don’t have to venture too far to sink your choppers into one of those bad boys. On Monday March 16th, hightail it to their pop-up, the aptly named BURGER. Adam Rosenblum (Causwells chef) and Alvin Garcia (Causwells partner) will be serving both single- ($6) and double-patty burgers ($8, and trust me, you want the double), plus fries (regular and duck fat), and shakes at BUFFALO CLUB from 6pm-1am. There will be paired cocktails too. 2331 Mission St. at 19th St.

Bakery News: Manresa Bread Opens, Craftsman & Wolves Expanding, Wise Sons Recovery


Baked goods at Manresa Bread. Photo from Facebook.

MANRESA BREAD, the bakery project from David Kinch, Avery Ruzicka, and Andrew Burnham that we reported on in November, is now open in Los Gatos. The bakery opened on Saturday February 21st, with a selection of seasonally changing breads and pastries as well as coffee from Verve Coffee Roasters. Some of the bread and pastry offerings include a pumpernickel rye, Manresa levain, chocolate brioche, and kale Parmesan scones. (Hmmmm, I wonder if Postmates can deliver them…) Hours to start are Wed-Sun 7am-3pm, but they’ll be open daily soon. 276 N. Santa Cruz Ave. at Bachman, Los Gatos, 408-402-5372.

Mission bakery CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES is expanding, with a second location in Russian Hill. They are moving into the ground floor of a new mixed-use building on Pacific Avenue, set to open in May. The menu will be similar to the Valencia location, with savory and sweet pastries, cube cakes, and lunch items. As part of the expansion, they’ve brought on pastry chef Angela Pinkerton, from New York’s Eleven Madison Park. While there, she received a James Beard Award, and her presence at Craftsman & Wolves will allow owner William Werner to focus on bigger-picture issues as the company expands. They are also bringing afternoon tea back to the Valencia location and launching an online store. Afternoon tea is available Monday through Friday from 11am to 6pm and is $27 per person or $50 for two. Details on the Russian Hill location are still sparse, but we’ll bring you more details when we’ve got them. 1643 Pacific Ave. at Polk.

After losing their commissary kitchen in a tragic fire earlier this month, it sounds like WISE SONS DELI is slowly recovering. Eater has an update on their progress. They were able to salvage their special bagel machine from the burned building, though they don’t yet know if it still works because it requires a special power setup to operate. They are also trying to find a new space for their baking operation and still plan to offer bagels soon, though their bagel operations has probably been pushed back 9 to 12 months. Good news: they are moving forward with their plan to open five nights a week, as of this week. You can now stop by their 24th Street location Tuesday through Saturday from 8am to 9pm, and they even plan to be open on Mondays soon.

Verbena Names a New Chef, Ryan Shelton


Ryan Shelton, the new chef at Verbena. Photo courtesy Verbena.

After Sean Baker left last month, it looks like VERBENA has a new chef. His name is Ryan Shelton and his previous experience includes Chez TJ in Mountain View, the fantastic Baumé in Palo Alto (the restaurant earned two Michelin stars), Le Cigare Volant in Santa Cruz, and, most recently, the Palo Alto Grill. He is currently in the kitchen at Verbena and is actively working on his new menu, which should be rolling out over the next couple of months. No word (yet) on what opening chef Sean Baker is doing next.

Verbena            - 2323 Polk St., San Francisco - 415-441-2323

Pop-Ups: Franklin Barbecue, New York's Zakary Pelaccio and Kevin Pomplun, More


The margherita pizza from Merigan. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

Get ready, barbecue lovers! Eater reports that Austin’s legendary Franklin Barbecue is coming to San Francisco for some pop-ups this spring. Eater says they’ll be here mid-May, as part of owner Aaron Franklin’s tour for his upcoming cookbook with Bay Area writer Jordan Mackay. While there’s no word about exactly where and when the pop-ups will occur, you can be sure the lines will be epic, but worth it. We’ll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, another import coming to SF is New York chef Zak Pelaccio (of Fatty Crab fame) and his co-chef of Fish & Game in Hudson, New York: Kevin Pomplun. The duo will be kicking off the guest chef series at BELCAMPO MEAT CO. Thursday March 5th and Friday March 6th. The five-course menu will of course feature Belcampo meats; $120, with an optional wine pairing for $40. Tickets here. 1998 Polk St. at Pacific.

There’s a new pop-up venue where you will be seeing some cool upcoming events: EATWITH, the social dining platform, has a test kitchen in SoMa where they will be hosting dinners (there’s room for 24 seated). Expect dinners from pro chefs like Jonnatan Leiva of the upcoming Bay and La Cocina chefs, plus unique events like the GastroSalon, which will focus on “the origins of our food obsessions,” and feature curated media and discussions over a gourmet meal.

We’re big fans of pizza over here (um, who isn’t?), and big fans of MERIGAN SUB SHOP, too. So we’re pretty stoked that chef Liza Shaw is doing a pizza pop-up at Merigan on Monday March 2nd from 5pm to 8pm. She’s a pretty serious pizzaiola (remember, she worked at A16 for years), and will be slinging pies along with wings, salad, and desserts all night long.

Merigan Sub Shop            - 636 2nd St. San Francisco - 415-536-2991

Tidbits: Chapel Hill Coffee Co., Cube Tea, Luna Rossa and Mescolanza Changeup


The interior at Chapel Hill Coffee Co. Photo courtesy Chapel Hill Coffee Co.

A fab reader tipped us off to this new coffee spot downtown, called CHAPEL HILL COFFEE CO.. We got in touch with owner Rafael Vizcaino, who opened the shop with his brother Jorge. They are currently softly open, with a grand opening planned for next month. They are serving Four Barrel coffee, along with pastries from Neighbor Bakehouse and tea from Chamois & Twig. The space was designed by Boor Bridges Architects (Four Barrel, Sightglass) and Kyle Minor Design (Farina Pizzeria), but some of the exterior work is on-going during the soft open phase. Hours are currently Mon-Fri 7am-2pm. 670 Commerical St. at Kearny, 415-948-8119.

Hayes Valley has a new place for boba tea, called CUBE TEA. It’s actually inside the Papabubble candy store, and they’ve partnered with Papabubble to make their “candy cubes,” a flavored spin on the usual boba tapioca. All the tea is brewed in-house and available with either milk or soy. Hours are Tue-Sun 11am-7pm. 488 Fell St. at Laguna, 415-355-1188.

There have been some changes at Italian restaurants in The Richmond, according to The Richmond Blog. Apparently, a new restaurant called LUNA ROSSA has moved into the former Mescolanza space on Clement. But it’s not a totally new restaurant; the owner, Jeff Piccinini, was one of the original owners of the space, years ago. They sold it to a former employee, but have now moved back in. Piccinini reports that they are currently softly open, and are offering classic menu items along with some new choices. The space has a pizza oven, and they hope to add more creative combinations to their pizza toppings and utilize more seasonal produce on the menu, which you can peek at here. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 2221 Clement St. at 23rd Ave., 415-379-4910.

This does not, however, mean the end of MESCOLANZA. Liquor license activity shows that they have relocated to a space on Geary at Second Avenue, in the home of the now closed Ichiraku. Their website reports that they will be opening soon, but no word on exactly when. 3750 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave.

Attention Fellow Fans of Vintage Restaurant Memorabilia


The kiosk you should be looking for! Photo courtesy of Jim McDonald.

You probably know how I feel about vintage SF restaurant menus (here’s Exhibit A), and it ends up the kind tablehopper reader who lent me a couple of designs from his private collection (like Players Club) contributed to this fun exhibit of SF restaurant memorabilia at the Kiosk Museum.

A former JCDecaux newspaper kiosk is now featuring an exhibit of cool menus from the Sinaloa, Oyster Loaf, and more, on display until April 15th, thanks to a partnership with Community Arts International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting public art. They may expand to an additional kiosk, depending on funding or finding a corporate sponsor. Look for a San Francisco nightclub exhibit later this year. It’s on the southeast corner of Stockton and Post.

510 News: PieTisserie, Double Standard, Buma's Pizzeria


Jaynelle St. John in the pie window at Pietisserie. Photo via Facebook.


The Double Standard interior. Photo from Facebook.

Jaynelle St. John has opened a permanent home for PIETISSERIE, according to Berkeleyside Nosh. Her new location is in the Grand Lake neighborhood and is rather small but apparently popular already, according to Facebook. You’ll find full-size pies, mini pies, and pastries on the menu. Hours are Wed-Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-6pm. 1605 2nd Ave. at Foothill, Oakland, 510-859-7437.

Bourbon & Branch alum Ali Tahsini has opened a new bar in the former Kim’s Backyard space on Telegraph, called THE DOUBLE STANDARD, according to Berkeleyside Nosh. Initial Yelp and Chowhound reports are positive, saying the cocktail menu is short but on point, there are good beers on tap, and the backyard is impressive. Hours are daily 5pm-2am. 2424 Telegraph Ave. at 24th St., Oakland, 510-879-7601.

We’ve been tracking this one on Facebook for a while, and it looks like they’ve opened! BUMA’S PIZZERIA is offering slices and whole pies out of the former Marrow space in Oakland. East Bay Express caught the news that Jon Kosorek would be reopening the space, but with this new, simpler pizza concept. Kosorek hails from Albany, New York, and is offering true New York-style pies here. The crust is crunchy and chewy, and the toppings are simple, he says. They’ve also got wings and some combo meals, and pizzas are available for delivery or pickup. Hours seem to have solidified and are Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, slices only 11:30am-2:30pm. 325 19th St. at Harrison, Oakland, 510-250-9885.


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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Bar News: Isaac Shumway No Longer at Tosca, Big Reopening in the TL, Bar 821's Remodel


Trouble in Paradise at Tosca. Photo: ©


The 21 Club’s vintage sign. Yelp photo by Brian J.

I was reading some Facebook news this weekend and was so sorry to learn that Isaac Shumway is no longer the lead bartender at TOSCA CAFE. Taking over his position is Joe Cleveland (formerly head barman at Coqueta and for Michael Chiarello’s restaurant group). Previously, he worked with José Andrés for Oyamel and Minibar in Washington, D.C.

A connection in our local real estate scene tipped me off that the pocket-sized bar BIG, known for its fantastic craft cocktails during its run under bartenders Brian Felley and Mo Hodges, would be opening once again, in the 21 Club in the Tenderloin (just across from Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi’s upcoming Loco’l). While Felley and Hodges are busy with their own soon-to-open bar, Benjamin Cooper, which we reported on a couple weeks ago, Scoop confirms this new Big is from Jordan Langer (Big, Oddjob), Pete Glickshtern (Jones, Oddjob), Ryan Melchiano, and Ryan Hisamune.

They will reportedly continue Big’s bespoke format: no cocktail list, just talk with the bartender and tell them what you like. The 21 Club will stay open until the license transfer is complete (you can read an homage to the dive bar here); look for a summer opening. I also learned this will be just the beginning of changes to the building, which is going to be revitalized. 98 Turk St. at Taylor.

Over on Divisadero, Dajani Group’s BAR 821 just reopened after a monthlong remodel. Changes include more seating at the extended bar and a bigger back bar, highlighting a large selection of amari and a new amaro-themed cocktail list. 821 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

Future Bars Open Tupper & Reed This Week in Berkeley


The exterior of Tupper & Reed. Photo courtesy of Doug Dalton.

Sound the trumpets: TUPPER & REED is opening this week, a new bar from the Future Bars team (Bourbon & Branch, Swig, Local Edition, Devil’s Acre, Wilson and Wilson, Tradition, Rickhouse, Cask) in the former Beckett’s in Berkeley. Brian Sheehy and Doug Dalton are taking the space back to its roots, way back, when it was a music store (Tupper and Reed), which John Tupper and Lawrence Reed started in 1906 and opened in the storybook structure in 1925.

You will see many elements that highlight the building’s early musical heritage, from the original signage that is back up to signs painted on the brick walls, plus lots of rustic wood, pendant lights, and archways over the doors. The space has two levels: the upstairs bar has a reservations-only area (you can reserve here), with a library of rare and hard-to-find spirits (Pappy in the house), and 110 seats. There are two fireplaces, and you’ll find one in a listening room, along with an Edison gramophone (which was originally sold in the Tupper and Reed store!) and old Victrola records—but there’s room for just a couple of people in the listening room.

There’s a huge wooden staircase, and downstairs is where you’ll find another 2,000 square feet, with a bar and 120 seats. The menu will include some elements from their other bars, like punch bowls, and you’ll find some classic cocktails on the menu too.

The plan is to soft open this Wednesday February 25th, and officially open for business on Friday February 27th. Hours will be Mon-Sat 4pm-2am, closed Sun. 2271 Shattuck Ave. at Bancroft, Berkeley, 510-900-2588.

Events: Rum Party, When Sipsmith Met Sherry, Rhone Rangers


The busy tasting scene at Rhone Rangers; photo courtesy of Rhone Rangers.

Tonight, Tuesday February 24th, catch the Agricole Rum Extravaganza on the patio at K&L Wines in SoMa. As the name would suggest, the party is all about rhum agricole, with legendary rum fiend Ed Hamilton. They’ll be shaking up drinks and opening rare rum bottles all night, and there will also be snacks like jerk chicken wings, salt cod fritters, and goat curry. The party runs from 6pm-9pm, and tickets are $50 per person. 638 4th St. at Bluxome, 415-896-1734.

Don’t miss this When Sipsmith Met Sherry cocktail party at LOLINDA on Wednesday February 25th from 5:30pm until 9:30pm. Lolinda’s Nora Furst has paired up with Trick Dog’s Caitlin Laman and Sipsmith’s Leilani Vella to create cocktails using sherry and gin, all to benefit those who have been displaced by Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco, with proceeds going to the San Francisco Tenants Union. You can take a look at the cocktail menu here; all cocktails will be priced at $12.

The Rhone Rangers are swinging into town March 27th and 28th, for their fab annual Bay Area Rhone Tasting. Events include a winemaker dinner in the Presidio on Friday March 27th, a grand tasting in Richmond on Saturday March 28th, and the seminar series on American Rhones wines. Tickets begin at $75, and prices for the different events vary. You can also buy weekend passes and packages; head here for details on prices, locations, and time of specific events.

Lolinda            - 2518 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-550-6970


the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Full Glam at Spruce

Fabulous actress, Academy Award winner, badass feminist, and all-around glamorous person Kate Winslet dined at Spruce on Friday night. She was accompanied by two of her children and her husband, whose name is Ned Rocknroll. No joke. They enjoyed a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, olive, mussels, gnocchi with truffles, and duck. Reportedly, they were very nice and gracious, which surprises exactly no one.

Come to My Window...for a Biscuit


Melissa Etheridge and Brenda Buenviaje (right). Photo courtesy of Brenda’s.

Melissa Etheridge dined at Brenda’s French Soul Food on Polk last week. She was there not only to have the amazing biscuits and soul food, but also because she wanted Brenda Buenviaje to carry her special line of cannabis wine. How would that be for the munchies? Wow.

The View From Perbacco

This might be the most literal Starlet ever: Star Jones, whose real first name is “Starlet,” was spotted at Perbacco last week. In case you can’t remember why, exactly, she’s famous (we understand), she’s a lawyer, journalist, and general television personality best known for her time on The View.

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