Chef Daniel Boulud plating at the Pardon My French lunch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Why hello. Excuse me while I shake the caviar and Champagne out of my hair. No joke. Pebble Beach Food & Wine did not disappoint! It was great to return to the event after taking the last two years off.
Some highlights for me:
- running into chef Jan Birnbaum—who is looking great—at the opening night reception on Thursday evening.
- enjoying late-night sandwiches from Liza Shaw of Merigan Sub Shop and Justin Devillier (NOLA’s La Petite Grocery) at the after-party.
- waking up on Friday morning to a tasting of eight Champagnes from family-owned Billecart-Salmon (it gave me a deeper and different perspective on the house—the freshness of their Champagnes is so notable, although it was also fun to taste the Brut Sous Bois, a richer style that is 100 percent oak fermented and aged for six months, which is not normally the case at Billecart).
- watching Daniel Boulud and Dominique Crenn partner up for a fabulous lunch (“Pardon My French”) that featured an open kitchen that guests could watch while listening to French crooners in berets sing and we drank such delicious wines.
- listening to Philip Tessier talk about the rigorous training and all the innovation that went into preparing for the Bocuse d’Or at a fascinating cooking demo—it significantly raised the appreciation for the U.S.’s first-time silver win this year, everyone in the room felt some pride at the end of the presentation.
- experiencing Josh Ozersky’s Meatopia, which had chefs cooking with live fire on the beach (read The Dapper Diner’s interview with him for more behind-the-scenes details on the event). The weather was idyllic this past weekend, so it was a blast to hang out on the beach, get to know some visiting chefs more, and lose my mind over Zak Pelaccio’s spicy and grilled Monterey Bay spot prawns. (See, it wasn’t just steak.)
- the tasting tent on Saturday featured the most insane display of caviar I have ever seen at an event (thank you, Black River Caviar, and I can’t believe I won a half tin of caviar to share later that day!).
- Cosmopolitan Las Vegas always hosts the best Saturday afternoon party at the Inn at Spanish Bay by the fire pits. We had fun music, a raw oyster bar with the cute Morro Bay oyster guys, stone crab flown in from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami (!!), and caviar from California Caviar (guess who I was sitting next to), with magnums of Louis Roederer Brut Premier. Such perfect happy hour hedonism.
- the finale event for me was the delicious Beauties and Their Beasts dinner, featuring Jenn Louis of Lincoln PDX/Sunshine Tavern (who blew my mind with her pasta dish—I can’t wait to read her upcoming cookbook, Pasta by Hand), Anita Lo of Annisa, Elizabeth Falkner, Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat, and Liza Shaw of Merigan. Go ladies!
- I was also so fortunate to be able to stay in my friend’s aunt’s jaw-dropping Pebble Beach home that felt like a time capsule/flashback to 1961—Don and Betty Draper would have felt right at home.
Huge thanks to organizer David Bernahl and Coastal Luxury Management for throwing one of the swankiest food events—one that is a lot of fun, but also educational and inspiring. You also see so many chefs strengthening their ties, sommeliers bonding over bottles, and even us media folk getting to know each other more—it’s great community-building for all aspects of the industry.
I will include a link to my many photos from the event in our Friday issue—I want to be sure I have all the captions in!
In the meantime, here’s your monthly cheat sheet of five new places to check out!
All righty then, let’s dive into today’s column.
Do you remember that behemoth vintage oven we showed you back in November, the focal point of MONTESACRO, the Tenderloin/SoMa enoteca from Gianluca Legrottaglie? Well, that former baking beauty is all lit up, and it’s a jaw-dropping backdrop in this exceedingly charming pinseria romana/enoteca that just opened last night on Stevenson (a few doors down from Dottie’s). Legrottaglie, a partner and the wine director at the nearby 54 Mint, is a Roman who wants to pay homage to the Montesacro quarter—a hardscrabble Roman neighborhood where he worked for six years. (He says the Tenderloin reminds him a lot of that place.)
Legrottaglie also wants to introduce San Franciscans to the pinsa, an ancient style of flatbread—he uses Italian soy, rice, and wheat flour that he imports from Rome and is all GMO-free. The dough rises for 72 hours, and the dough balls are stretched by hand with rice flour and pressed to order into an oval shape, topped, and baked in the Cuppone oven for 90 seconds—it yields a crisp crust that is also light, with an enduring flavor that is unlike any dough you have tasted in SF. And since it’s not 100 percent wheat, it’s easier to digest as well (it’s also lower in fat and calories). And you won’t find burnt flour on the crust like you do from a brick oven—the Cuppone is an advanced electric oven that bakes very clean.
This ancient ancestor of pizza was sold outside Rome’s city walls, made by peasants who kneaded cereals (like millet, barley, oats, and spelt), salt, and herbs, and then pressed it (pinsa comes from the Latin for “pressed”) into an oval shape and seared it on hot coals. Let’s just say Virgil wrote about pinsa; is that old enough for you?
But this enoteca balances the past and present remarkably well. As soon as you walk in, it feels like such a discovery, with tall ceilings, a variety of seating areas, and an eclectic style that suits the old space very well. There is a communal table at the front, and tables with colorful vintage chairs from Indonesia in the 1950s that Legrottaglie found (the base of some of the larger tables are old sewing machines). The original colorful floor tiles, which are more than 100 years old, are a cool remnant from the space’s recently uncovered past history as a bakery that was once connected to a restaurant.
The pizza oven is toward the front, purposefully placed there so you can smell the pinsas baking upon entering. Toward the back is a wine bar, equipped with a classic Faema E61, more seating, and the glowing old oven (which is not in use, but lit up beautifully inside—it dates back to 1912-1914 or thereabouts). The walls feature vintage educational scenes from Rome that Legrottaglie actually found locally (one even includes a picture of the school he went to, such serendipity).
Legrottaglie has brought over two Roman pizzaioli, Claudio Gaetani and Alessandro Delle Rose, who have both been making pizzas (and pinsas) for more than five years. On the menu, you will find an array of 10 pinsas, like the capricciosa-like Centocelle ($17, mozzarella, tomato, artichokes, mushroom, olives, egg, prosciutto) and the Montesacro ($16, stracciatella, kale, peperoncini, garum). I can’t wait to return for the Pietralata ($19, mozzarella, bottarga, marjoram, extra-virgin olive oil)—the color of the bottarga they were shaving on top was marigold yellow. Fans of an amatriciana will enjoy the Quadraro ($17, tomato, red onion, pancetta, pecorino). You can cut it into pieces and share, and it’s very easy to pick up with your hands.
Also on the menu: some quality salumi and cheeses (choose 1 for $6, 3 for $15), or go for the mixed platter for $22. There are five kinds of salads, plus an array of vegetables under oil, like zucchini and eggplant, and lunchtime will feature three kinds of classic panini for $11 (including gambuccio e stracchino: prosciutto shank and soft crescenza cheese). There are also some desserts, like pinsa stuffed with Nutella and mascarpone. The menu is designed to be flexible and enjoyed throughout the day and evening, whether you want a small bite after work or dishes to share with friends over wine.
Speaking of wine, the international wine list extends beyond Italy, including other European selections, plus California and even New Zealand. I’m happy with the three sparkling choices, and there are some unique beers as well. Of course Legrottaglie will be pouring wines by the glass that aren’t even on the list, so it’s always good to talk and see what bottles he has open.
Hours for now are 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-11pm (we’ll keep you posted on when it’s open continuously all day). Meet your new hangout! 510 Stevenson St. at 6th St., 415-795-3040.
Consider this your public service announcement of two big openings that are happening this week; I won’t be covering in greater depth until next Tuesday’s tablehopper. First up, the much-awaited opening of Melissa Perello’s OCTAVIA is happening this Thursday April 16th. Her new Pacific Heights restaurant (which is opening in the former Baker & Banker and original Quince location) will have a little bit more of everything: more dishes (like squid ink noodles with fennel vinaigrette, green garlic, Marash chile, Cortez bottarga), more seats, and the bigger cellar means more wine selections from beverage director Paul Einbund. Reservations are available starting today, and there will also be seats reserved for walk-ins. Stand by for images and more next week. Dinner nightly 5pm-10:30pm. 1701 Octavia St. at Bush, 415-408-7507.
Opening on Friday April 17th is AATXE (say “aah-CHAY,” like you’re sneezing with a Spanish accent), the latest project from the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group. Chef and partner Ryan Pollnow partnered with The Bon Vivants to open this Spanish restaurant and bar on the street level of The Swedish American Hall. The menu will highlight Basque tapas culture, communal dining, and dishes with both local and Spanish provenance. More highlights: grower-producer wines exclusively from Spain, plus aperitifs and contemporary cocktails served individually or in a carafe (and there will be a lot of gins and G&Ts too).
You can make reservations for parties of up to four guests, and reservations for the chef’s counter will be available only by calling 415-471-2977 (calls will be accepted starting Thursday April 16th). Walk-ins will find seats at the communal table and bar. Open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-471-2977.
Fans of the pork belly-filled buns from THE CHAIRMAN truck will be happy to know there’s a new brick-and-mortar location that just opened in the Tenderloin. Not only can you get the usual bao selections, but Scoop mentions there will be some new bao (like Japanese curry beef) and that you can opt for rice bowls instead of the buns (like a braised short rib bowl with fennel slaw, soy mushrooms, panchan carrots and cucumbers, fried egg, and tempura flakes for $12 plus $2 for an egg). You’ll also find chicken wings with yuzu kosho, a noodle salad, and some housemade fruit sodas. It’s meant to be a quick and casual bite, with just 15 counter seats. Hours are 11am-9pm. 670 Larkin St. at Ellis, 415-813-8800
The Castro has a new wine bar and casual restaurant, LARK, which just opened in the former Brandy Ho’s. Hoodline says the owners, Coskun Abik (Dunya) and partner Sertac Yildizhan, are offering a menu of New American and Mediterranean dishes (you can look at the menu here), which includes feta calamari, mussels, roasted chickpeas, salads, a burger, lamb skewers, and more; there are also some traditional charcuterie and cheese boards. The international wine list has affordable wines by the glass, with flights of three wines of your choice for $15 (whites) or $17 (reds). Open Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. Lunch and brunch will be added soon. 4068 18th St. at Hartford, 415-400-4623.
According to some posts on Yelp, there’s a new casual and petite spot in Lower Nob Hill called ROVE KITCHEN. The menu of American comfort food includes a tasty-looking burger and fried chicken sandwich. Looks like it’ll be an easy spot for folks in the neighborhood to swing by for a bite. (Details are slim at the moment.) 678 Post St. at Jones.
After holding down the corner of Powell and Green in North Beach for more than 50 years, CAPP’S CORNER is serving its last family meal and sadly closing its doors on Sunday April 19th. It’s not the usual situation of raised rent we keep hearing—Hoodline reports the landlord’s attorney made an unreasonable insurance request of owners Maureen and Tom Ginella, and they had to make the decision to close (read the piece for more—the attorney even blew off Governor Jerry Brown who tried to step in and set up a mediator, dude!). Fortunately the couple is planning to retire in Hawaii, but it’s a big loss for a lot of regulars who have been patronizing this old-school hangout for many years. 1600 Powell St. at Green, 415-989-2589.
Back in August of 2014, we reported that MINAKO ORGANIC JAPANESE CUISINE in the Mission would be moving in the fall, but then we learned in November that their lease was extended six months into the spring of 2015. Fast-forward to now, and tragically they were unable to stay in their space any longer and have closed (you can read their farewell note on their Facebook page). Seems the uncle of the landlord wanted the space. Hopefully the mother-and-daughter duo can find a new location, but first, they want to take a well-deserved break for a couple of months. [H/t Eater.] 2154 Mission St. at Sycamore, 415-864-1888.
Another old-timer that surprisingly closed is CAFE ABIR, which has been open as long as I have lived in the Western Addition (that would be 20 years, whoa). Hoodline confirms the rumors I heard about the closure and also mentions that the adjoining Corkage wine shop has closed as well. A follow-up post says the owners of the building, the Dajani Group, will be moving Tsunami Sushi into the more spacious Abir location, and adding an oyster bar. As for the Tsunami space (1306 Fulton), which remains open for now, there is talk of opening a spirits lounge, somewhat like the group’s Nihon Whiskey Lounge. We’ll keep you updated. 1300 Fulton St. at Divisadero.
Fans of SCHULZIES bread pudding in Hayes Valley will be surprised to see the space is being converted into a Project Juice shop, which will also include smoothies, in early June. From badass banana chocolate to kale and ginger. [Via Hoodline.] 364 Hayes St. at Gough.
Look, you love cheese, and I sure as hell love cheese, so let’s just say “yay” to the return of Cheese Makes Me Happy Hour at the CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO. Because we are San Franciscans and no one bats an eye at a cheese happy hour. Good news: after you pay Uncle Sam his blood money on Wednesday April 15th, you can head on over to the happy hour, where a bountiful cheese table will await you, plus some beers and wines to choose from (your ticket includes one glass). Hang out on the patio. Relax. Eat cheese. On Wednesday evenings, from now through June 24th. 5:30pm-8pm. $22 (advance ticket sales close at 3pm the day of the event) or $30 at the door. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-346-7530.
Next Tuesday April 21st, CUESA will be hosting an interesting panel, Evolving City, Evolving Restaurants, about our current restaurant landscape, with guest panelists Erin Archuleta (partner in ICHI Sushi + NI Bar), Joe Hargrave (owner of Tacolicious, Mosto, and Chino), and Thad Vogler (owner of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand). 6pm-8pm. $10. Tickets here. Port Commission Hearing Room, second floor of the Ferry Building, The Embarcadero at Market St.
Whatcha doing this coming Sunday? If you aren’t heading to Meals on Wheels or Wok on the Wild Side, we have a couple more options for you. First up, there’s La Gran Pachanga, a fundraiser for Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School. Families will be making homemade tamales, pupusas, and elotes, plus there will be ceviche from Basa Seafood, dessert from Sixth Course and Tartine Bakery, and more. Plus cocktails, beer, art, a silent auction, and music. Tickets are $25-$30. 6pm-9pm. Public Works, 161 Erie St. at Mission.
The new PARTIES THAT COOK space (formerly Tante Marie) is hosting a very springy multicourse pop-up dinner on Sunday evening from two Cyrus and Manresa alums, Sarena Stern and Kingsley Fuller. Tickets are $95, 6pm, details here. Don’t forget to bring some wine! 271 Francisco St. at Stockton.
Hog & Rocks - 3431 19th St. San Francisco - 415-550-8627
Fans of salty dog Anthony Bourdain will want to set an alarm on their calendar for this Friday April 17th at 9:59am, which is one minute before tickets go on sale on SHN for his nationwide Close to the Bone tour. His SF appearance is bringing him to Davies Symphony Hall on Sunday July 26th at 7pm. Tickets range from $67-$237. You can also call SHN Audience Services at 888-746-1799.
Here’s more on the one-man show: Tony’s appearance will feature “an unyielding, brutally honest monologue reflecting on diverse culture, street cuisine, and his travels to lesser-known locations around the world, followed by an open Q&A session.” Look for a deeper dive than what we currently see on his CNN original series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (season five premieres Sunday April 26th, by the way).
Nosh mentioned an Indian restaurant was moving into the former Captain & Corset space, BOMBAY B’S INDIAN BISTRO, and according to posts on Yelp, it is now open. It seems you can take your pick from two meat curries ($9.95) or vegetable curries ($8.95), which come with rice and salad. There are also some playful dishes like Indian tacos, burgers, kale pakoras, and masala fries. 2212 Broadway at Grand, Oakland.
If you’re looking for a new brunch spot, THE BEER SHED (from Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery and chef James Syhabout of Commis and Hawker Fare) is now serving a hangover brunch from 12pm-5pm every Sunday—and the alfresco setting means you’ll get maximum fresh air too. The menu will interestingly be prepared outside as well, with a lot of dishes coming from the grill (like grilled asparagus with a slow-poached egg). And then there’s the al pastor pork chop taco and a deviled egg sandwich. There will be hair-of-the-dog cocktails (including horchata-style rum and milk punch), micheladas, and yes, draught beers from Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery. Everything is less than $10.
One more thing to note: the next sunny evening, you’ll want to swing by for happy hour (Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6pm), with $1 off all draught beers, in addition to a $6 house michelada, a $6 seasonal rum punch, and a beer and a shot for $7. The full menu from The Dock will be available after 5pm in The Beer Shed in case you get snacky. 95 Linden St., Oakland, 510-338-3965.
Fans of mezcal won’t want to miss this tasting with Lucia Gonzales from Del Maguey on Wednesday April 22nd at DOÑA TOMÁS. You will be able to taste all nine of the Del Maguey mezcals that Doña Tomás stocks, available in a “copita” ½-ounce taste and a full 1 ½-ounce shot. 5pm-6:30pm, with free snacks like chips and guacamole. 5004 Telegraph Ave. at 51st, Oakland, 510-450-0522.
Attention restaurateurs! Don’t miss the Annual 3-Day Super Sale at TriMark Economy Restaurant Fixtures, featuring our lowest prices of the year on restaurant equipment and supplies.
Live restaurant equipment demonstrations, free valet parking, and thousands of items on sale at ridiculously low prices. Save big on commercial refrigeration and cooking equipment, cookware, china, glassware, shelving, cutlery, sinks, worktables, ice machines, food storage, and more. Factory representatives will be on hand to answer your questions.
Thursday-Saturday, April 23rd-25th, 8am-5:30pm daily. More information at TriMarkEconomy.com.
The PlumpJack Group has announced their plans for the former Sloane space in SoMa/Mid-Market: partners Hilary Newsom and Jeremy Scherer will be opening a bar called FORGERY this May. Running the cocktail show will be the talented team of Jacques Bezuidenhout and Ken Luciano (previously Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants). The 2,000-square-foot space will have exposed brick walls, concrete floors, leather banquettes, and a dark mahogany bar (Napa-based Shopworks is behind the design), and there is also a second floor with more seating. Trivia time: the space was once home to a glassblowing studio and a historic printing press. Forgery will be open six nights a week. Plans for the adjacent nightclub are still TBD, but it’s available for private events, FYI. 1525 Mission St. at 11th St.
In other PlumpJack news, don’t forget they are also taking over the LEXINGTON CLUB, which is having farewell parties next Friday April 24th and Saturday April 25th (details on their Facebook page). Their last night of service will be Thursday April 30th. Eighteen years! Damn. 3464 19th St. at Mission, 415-863-2052.
Last month we mentioned the upcoming TOFINO WINES from Mark Nevin and April Sack, and look at that, they are now open! The wine shop and bar is focused on wines from small, family producers in California, France, Italy, and Spain, with special attention to Champagne and Sherry selections and natural winemakers. Try wines by the glass at the bar, enjoy a bottle on-site for a $10 corkage, or bring it on home. Wine-friendly snacks are also available. It has a great look, with plenty of room at the bar, so come meet your new stylish wine clubhouse. Open Mon-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am, and Sun 11am-7pm. 2696 Geary Blvd. at Emerson, 415-872-5782.
Just in time for another blast of summery weather this week, DIRTY HABIT is offering a special selection of rosés for half off through April 30th! Sommelier and wine director Jose Aguirre has some selections that will inspire you to think pink, like Robert Sinskey Vin Gris Carneros 2014 for $38 and Champagne L.Aubry Rose NV for $76. He’ll be selling bottles right out of his Timbuk2 Dolores Chiller Bag on the patio, so you can pretend you’re at Dolores Park, but instead of the COLD WATER guy, it’ll be the cold pink bubbles guy instead. Check out some new spring dishes on the menu too. They open at 5pm and reservations are taken for parties of two to eight, plus tables are available for walk-ins.
Did your taxes drive you to drink? Seriously. Fortunately SPRUCE and THE VILLAGE PUB in Woodside are kicking off Whisk(e)y Wednesdays this week. Every Wednesday, the restaurants will be opening one very special and/or rare whisk(e)y and offering one-ounce pours at a price that is lower than list price. For Tax Day, they are going big by offering Pappy (why hello!). You can have a pour of the Van Winkle Special Reserve, 12 Year, Lot “B” for $20 (but it’s $30 down at the Pub for a different whiskey).
Spruce - 3640 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-931-5100
On Wednesday April 29th, head to the Ferry Building for an evening of CUESA’s Cocktails of the Farmers Market. This season it’s all about San Francisco’s fabulous neighborhoods, with bars from all over the city shaking up a cocktail inspired by their corner of town. Participants include Blackbird representing the Castro, Maven and the Alembic collaborating to represent both the Upper and Lower Haight, and La Urbana representing NoPa. Here’s the full list of participants and their drinks.
In addition to cocktails, you’ll also find bites from chefs across town, like Fine & Rare, The Whole Beast, and Loló. The evening runs from 5:30-8pm and tickets are $50 per person and include two full-size cocktails, unlimited sample-size drinks, food, and plenty of fun. Ferry Plaza at Embarcadero.
Saturday Aug 15, 2015 – Sunday Aug 16, 2015 San Francisco Street Food Festival Pier 70 20th St. at Illinois
It’s never too early to put La Cocina’s seventh annual SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD FESTIVAL on your calendar. This year, the festival is happening at Pier 70, where it’s moving after six years in the Mission. This year, La Cocina has partnered with Noise Pop and The Midway to bring the festival to Dogpatch.
Since they’ve got more space, the festival will be even bigger this year (in 2014 more than 80 vendors participated and there were more than 50,000 attendees) and will last for two days, Saturday August 15th and Sunday August 16th. While they haven’t released the final vendor list yet, look for lots of La Cocina businesses like Bini’s Kitchen and Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, along with local chefs and restaurants like 4505 Meats. There will also be live music and other entertainment, as well as plenty of beer, wine, and cocktails. We’ll keep you updated as more details emerge! Pier 70, 20th St. at Illinois.
The Napa Valley Festival del Sole is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the region’s cultural vitality and their Annual Festival Gala at Meadowood is going to be a big one this year. It’s happening on Sunday July 19th at Meadowood Napa Valley, and the theme is Hollywood + Vine. It’s all about the nightclub scene of Hollywood’s golden age, with none other than the fabulous Kevin Spacey in attendance, performing standards from the Great American Songbook. (I know, we just need Christopher Walken to do a dance number for us.)
In addition to the megawatt entertainment, Meadowood chef Alejandro Ayala will be serving dinner along with wines from the cellar of Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines. It’s all happening on Meadowood’s newly designed croquet glen and fairways, and should be a glamorous alfresco evening. More details can be found here along with passes to the gala, the weekend, and the whole festival. Tickets to the gala are $1,000 per person ($700 tax deductible) and table sponsorships are also available. Email for additional details, or call 707-346-5052, ext. 4. 900 Meadowood Ln. at Silverado Trail, St. Helena, 707-346-5052, ext. 4.
Rock ‘n’ roll royalty and lilac-coiffed former Fashion Police cohost and Dancing with the Stars contestant Kelly Osbourne was spotted at Lolinda on Friday March 27th. She was with a group of about 10 friends, and according to Instagram they were celebrating a friend’s bachelorette weekend. In fact, it looks like the friend is her makeup artist, which is fun. While there, they enjoyed cocktails, cava, and lots of small dishes. Congratulations to the bride!
Seems Mr. Vice President Joe Biden hit a few spots around town with his motorcade, stopping at The Plant Cafe on Saturday for pancakes (reportedly “with a lot of syrup”). The day before, he hit up The Melt. Eater confirms he munched a classic grilled cheese with tomato, tomato basil soup, and a chocolate shake.
Oscar-winning director, screenwriter, and producer Alexander Payne recently dined at Spruce. Unfortunately we don’t have any details about his visit, but he is known for his work on films Sideways, Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, The Descendants, and Nebraska.