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May 11, 2015 19 min read

May 12, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: the other windy city.

May 12, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: the other windy city.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: the other windy city.                    

Mini éclairs at Marlowe, currently with a lemony coconut custard filling. Photo: ©

Buon giorno. Since you last heard from me, I have done quite a bit of tablehopping, from catching a special F-Market train taken over by Anchor Distilling  (the “F” is for “fiesta!”) on Cinco de Mayo, to having breakfast with the charming Sorted Food chaps at Outerlands for their U.S. #lostandhungry food tour, to attending one of the nicer tailgate parties of my life, hosted by Napa Cellars (complete with amazing pizza from Del Popolo) before watching a Giants game (sadly a losing one). I told the Napa Cellars folks they need to take that media event and make it into a paid-for event, it was all kinds of fun. Will let you know if that happens.

I totally snagged an evil pothole on Oak Street and managed to pop a flat (thanks, San Francisco!), but that did not slow me down. I still made my reservation for dinner at Aster that night, a rather fabulous brunch at Marlowe on Saturday, and that evening was Dalla Terra’s 25th anniversary, and you can bet I took a cab that night—all the Italian producers in their portfolio were there! Amazing. Auguri! Mother’s Day with the family included this totally delicious green strata with goat cheese (thanks, Melissa Clark, for the awesome recipe—perfect for brunch). Sunday night, I rested. Yeah, shocking. But I had a date with Don Draper.

If you’d like a cheat sheet on where to eat right now, here are my five places to check out this month. And if you’re planning to head to KronnerBurger, please note they had to move their dinner service to this Thursday May 14th—it’s lunch only for now! FYI.

Also, in case you missed it last week, I am hosting a fab wine tasting with Patz & Hall on Friday June 12th—not only will we be pouring their sparkling, well-crafted chardonnays and beautiful pinot noirs, but there will also be some killer charcuterie that chef Peter Temkin is making with some of their wines! Plus there will be some special Sonoma cheeses. God forbid, I can’t have you go hungry! Join us!

And hey, don’t blow away this week. Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Belga, a New and NorCal-Style Belgian Brasserie, Now Open in Cow Hollow


Belga’s dining room. Photo by Aubrie Pick.


The bar. Photo by Aubrie Pick, courtesy Belga.


Mussels and beer. Photo by Aubrie Pick, courtesy Belga.


Beverages. Photo by Aubrie Pick, courtesy Belga.

Open tonight (May 12th) is BELGA, the Cow Hollow Belgian-inspired brasserie from restaurateur Adriano Paganini (Lolinda, Beretta, Starbelly, Delarosa, Super Duper Burgers, Uno Dos Tacos). The space was previously Cafe des Amis, and while its gorgeous bone structure remains, the space got refreshed with the purpose of making it feel more casual and lively.

But first, let’s go over the new (and lengthy) Belgian brasserie-inspired menu. You’ll find some classic Belgian dishes, with French and German influences, and of course a California sensibility (chef Freedom Rains’s background includes Flour + Water, Boulevard, RN74, and Incanto). Dishes include oysters, snacks, housemade charcuterie (like liverwurst and country pâté), and starters like a salade Lyonnaise (instead of lardons, Rains is using ham hock) and genever-cured arctic char with fennel, radish, crème fraîche, and seeded levain. You’ll also find three variations of mussels (naturally), prepared with Allagash White; take a look at the dry-roasted style for something different.

There’s a wood-fired grill, which will be firing up housemade sausages, like currywurst, boudin blanc, and boudin noir. There are also a few steaks (the 7-oz. bar steak is a play on au poivre) and a grilled pork chop too. Some classics include a carbonnade (a Flemish beer stew, which Rains is making with boneless short rib and braising with bacon lardons and an abbey dark ale) and roasted half-chicken with preserved lemon, young artichoke, and dandelion. The side dishes are also really appealing—but check your cholesterol before taking on the endive and ham gratin. Rains did a lot of research on dishes (shout-out to Omnivore Books) and is excited about bringing some classics back, with his own updates. Most of the dishes are designed to be easy to share.

Since it’s a brasserie, beer is a big part of the menu. Not only is there an extensive (and nicely organized) list, but many dishes are made with beer and meant to be enjoyed with beer. There are 10 taps and 50 bottles available, with both Belgian beers and many Belgian-style craft beers made in the U.S., and ciders too. Look for some reserve bottles to be poured.

There’s a full bar; look for a particular focus on genever and gin, brandies from France, and even some beer-based cocktails by Nora Furst. The bar will have a craft focus—even the tonic is made in-house. There is also a list of four Kopstoot pairings (which means “head butt,” and is a beer and a shot). The wine list features lighter-bodied varieties from France, Germany, and the United States, and a large selection of sparkling (led by bar manager Ryan Murphy, a certified cicerone, previously at Pi Bar, Abbot’s Cellar and Monk’s Kettle, and the Boxing Room).

As for the design (by Hannah Collins of Hannah Collins Designs), you’ll notice the dining room feels a bit airier (they lowered some of the seat dividers), and the side of the room facing Buchanan Street has more light. (The kitchen was also opened up a little, to bring some of the noises of the kitchen into the room.)

The bar has a different look, with blue terra-cotta tiles behind the bottles and green penny tiles by the raw bar and coffee station. The bar stools were custom designed, with riveting around the soft gray leather (meanwhile, the leather banquettes in the dining room are a punchy cherry red). Local artist Melissa Wagner created some custom collage artwork to add some playfulness. The outdoor seating will continue to be popular as ever, and the private dining room also remains.

The restaurant will be open for dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, with lunch and brunch coming soon. The bar is open nightly 5pm-12am. Reservations available. 2000 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-872-7350.

New Hires, Departures, and Projects in Tacolicious Land


Telmo Faria at the Ferry Plaza with a taco. Photo from Facebook.


Donnie Masterson. Photo courtesy Tacolicious.

There are some changes to report from the TACOLICIOUS crew: after working with the team as executive chef/operations since 2009 (just one month after founder Joe Hargrave started the Tacolicious stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market), chef Telmo Faria is going to be diminishing his role with the company so he can start to focus more on launching his Portuguese project (he was born in the Azores, and this is a project he has been thinking about and planning for a long time).

You may have noticed the pop-up Faria has been hosting at Merigan Sub Shop, Uma Casa. His event on May 24th is sold out, but he’ll be hosting more on June 7th and 21st. We’ll keep you posted in the coming months as his concept takes shape. And to be clear, Faria will still be involved with Tacolicious and appearing at special events, but is working in a different capacity now.

A lot has happened for Tacolicious since those market days: there are now four locations, plus a line of Williams-Sonoma products and a cookbook. And now there is going to be a new project in San Miguel de Allende opening in late 2015 called the Tacolicious Taco Lab. Hargrave and Sara Deseran are going to partner with chef Donnie Masterson, who worked with Hargrave for four years when they were at Rose Pistola, LuLu, Zibibbo, and Azie. Masterson, who is half Mexican, lives in San Miguel and has a restaurant there called The Restaurant and his own farm. His extensive culinary background includes working for chef David Bouley and Patrick Clark, as well as the executive chef for Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group. He will now also be the executive chef of the Taco Lab and will function as the company’s overall culinary consultant.

Hargrave and Masterson plan to “tinker with new dishes” at the lab every quarter, and then have Masterson come up to SF to integrate the dishes at the Tacolicious locations. (Tacolicious team members will also have the opportunity to travel to San Miguel de Allende to work.) At the moment, they’re working on a new ceviche program, plus gorditas and panuchos.

If you happen to be in San Miguel de Allende for the Sabores San Miguel food festival in June (which is largely put on by Masterson), you’ll see Hargrave and Deseran there, along with Neal Fraser (Redbird and Vibiana, both in LA), and Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, NYC) and about 15,000 attendees.

Tacolicious            - 2031 Chestnut St. San Francisco - 415-346-1966

An Update on Contigo (and the Emersons' Expansion in Santa Cruz)


Elan and Brett Emerson when they were first opening Contigo. Photo via Facebook.


Contigo’s famed sardine and avocado toast. Photo: ©

Just in case you’re driving by CONTIGO and notice a “for sale” sign and have a moment of panic, don’t freak out just yet. I spoke with partner Brett Emerson, who confirmed the building is in fact for sale (he and his wife Elan live upstairs). The restaurant is not closing—the Emersons will just have a new landlord once the building sells.

Earlier this year, it was revealed in Edible Monterey Bay that the Emersons were planning to open a second tapas and Catalan-influenced restaurant in Santa Cruz, in the former home of Benten Japanese Restaurant (just across from Verve Coffee Roasters) at 1541 Pacific.

Here’s an update on the project: it will be called BARCELONETA, an homage to the seaside beach in Barcelona where locals go for paella and hanging out. Brett says they will continue to serve their seasonally influenced tapas at this new location and will be adding paella, served daily (at Contigo, it’s only served on Tuesdays). They want the vibe to be fun and approachable—and to help in that feeling, they’ll have a full bar as well. Lunch and dinner will be served daily.

Barceloneta is currently in the design phase, and they hope to open at the end of 2015 or early 2016. In order to free up some resources for the project (they’re doing a significant upgrade to the Santa Cruz space), they decided to sell their SF building. The couple will be spending time in both SF and Santa Cruz, and have promoted their sous chef and a manager to take more of the reins of the SF location during the transition. As for the listing, it goes live tomorrow if you want to be a future Noe Valley landlord.

Contigo            - 1320 Castro St. San Francisco - 415-285-0250

Openings: Barrel Room, Sugarfina, Glaze


A teriyaki plate from Glaze. Yelp photo by Sam F.

The San Francisco location of THE BARREL ROOM has taken over the former Georges space in the Financial District, which we reported in February. The full-service restaurant is now open, and soon there will be lots of expanded offerings, including a wine bar and tasting room, a retail shop, and a subterranean speakeasy-style full bar. The wine bar and retail shop will be opening in June.

The concept is an ambitious one: every three months, the restaurant menu, bar menu, and wine list will change completely. Each new menu will draw inspiration from a wine region of the world, including places like Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. The opening focus is on Latin America, with dishes like fish tacos with jicama and pineapple salsa, and rib eye with bone marrow-ancho chile salsa. As for the wine list, there are more than 200 bottle selections and more than 50 options available by the glass. Educational and regional flights will be offered, as well. Restaurant hours are lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm, dinner Mon-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. 415 Sansome St. at Commercial, 415-956-6900.

As Eater initially reported last month, Beverly Hills candy store SUGARFINA has opened a location in downtown San Francisco. The new shop, which is sort of a high-end candy salon for sweet-toothed adults, carries unusual and unique candies in appealing, design-forward packaging. They’ve got a line of boozy candy, too, including Champagne gummy bears, absinthe chocolates, and maple bourbon caramels. It’s all rather perfect for gift giving, and they even have sassy cards available too. Hours are Sun-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. There is a second location coming to Cow Hollow on May 15th, as well. 271 Sutter St. at Grant, 855-784-2734.

The former All Star Donuts space on Chestnut Street, which closed in September 2014, is becoming the second San Francisco location of GLAZE TERIYAKI. The new teriyaki outpost is opening on Wednesday May 13th, hours are daily 11am-10pm. And yes, the brilliant All Star sign remains. 2095 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-590-3193.

Dead Ends and Closures: American Masala, Cafe Gibraltar


The interior of Cafe Gibraltar. Photo from Facebook.

In November 2013, we were very excited to report that New York chef and author Suvir Saran planned to open a Mid-Market restaurant in the NEMA building. However, the project, which was called American Masala, has hit a wall, and Saran has decided not to move forward. Scoop reports that continuing delays and complications are the culprit. This is disappointing, to be sure, but Saran apparently is still hoping to open a restaurant elsewhere in San Francisco.

Beloved Peninsula restaurant CAFE GIBRALTAR has closed, according to Scoop. The restaurant, which made its home in Montara and then later El Granada, opened 17 years ago. The owners, Jose Luis Ugalde and Liam Durkee, say they want to spend more time with their family and take some well-deserved time off. They also report that the owners of Clay Oven Indian restaurants will be taking over the space. 425 Ave. Alhambra at Palma, Half Moon Bay.

Name Change for 398 Brasserie and New Service Too


The amazing côte de bœuf bone-in rib eye (and sides) at 398 Brasserie. Photo: ©

There are a few changes to Union Square’s 398 RESTAURANT AND BAR, starting with the fact it’s now 398 BRASSERIE, a name that definitely fits chef Sam Fechheimer’s style better. 398 is now offering breakfast (7am-11am) and lunch (11am-4pm) Mon-Fri, plus weekend brunch (7am-4pm), while next door, Klyde is now Klyde Wine Bar, opening at 4pm (you can order some dinner and dessert items). I enjoyed my dinner at 398, so I look forward to checking out the lunch service, which would be perfect for a downtown meeting. And don’t forget, Klyde has happy hour daily 4pm-7pm, with $5 glasses of wines. And then there’s the fabulous cocktails and oysters at Benjamin Cooper upstairs… 398 Geary St. at Mason, 415-654-5061. (Klyde Wine Bar is at 386 Geary St.)

Cawfee Tawk: Artís Coffee, Fora Think Space


The interior of Artís Coffee. Yelp photo by Alex L.

ARTÍS COFFEE has opened in Hayes Valley, Hoodline reports. The new coffee shop, which we mentioned in October, already has a location in Berkeley and offers more than just a spot to get a cup. They roast all their own beans on-site and have an extensive retail operation that includes roasting beans by the pound to your specifications and preferences. You can select from a variety of beans (at least four different ones that will change seasonally), and then they put them in the roaster while you wait. There is also espresso, pour-over coffee, and pastries. 537 Octavia St. at Ivy, 415-655-3576.

Here’s a new spot for coffee meetings and laptop afternoons: FORA THINK SPACE, now open on Broadway. They are offering coffee and espresso from Roast Co., as well as pastries, sandwiches, salads, and a space for meetings and events. They even offer a conference room with AV services for rent. Initial Yelp reviews report good cold-brew coffee, lots of power outlets, and friendly service. 150 Broadway St. at Front, 415-685-4754.

Things We Love: Pasta and Philly Cheesesteaks


Housemade pasta at Flour + Water. Photo from Facebook.


The Deli Board cheesesteak. Photo by Rena B. Meyer.

From now until Sunday May 17th, FLOUR + WATER is celebrating six years in business with a special six-course pasta menu every evening. For $70, you’ll get to try six of chef Thomas McNaughton’s favorite pastas from the restaurant. Wine pairings are also available for an additional $50, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Any Philly transplants missing a good steak should know that Adam Mesnick is hosting a pop-up cheesesteak night at his DELI BOARD. Not only can you get a rib-eye cheesesteak with white American cheese, cherry peppers, and his hous Board sauce on Amoroso rolls flown in from Philly ($11), but there are also stuffed Board egg rolls (filled with things like pepperoni, house marinara, and a cheese blend; an artichoke-spinach dip; and then there’s the cheeseburger version, whoa), plus Rocky Jr. buffalo wings (eight wings for $10). It’s also BYOB. 7pm-10pm. Upcoming dates are all on Thursdays: May 14th, May 21st, and May 28th. 1058 Folsom St. at Russ, 415-552-SOUP (7687).

Bay Leaf Kitchen Has Two Great Fundraisers Coming Up


Kids exploring in the kitchen at Bay Leaf cooking camp. Photo courtesy Bay Leaf.

BAY LEAF KITCHEN, a wonderful program that teaches kids how to cook, has two upcoming fundraisers that will make it easy for you to support their cooking camps and other great programming. The first is an aperitivo hour on Tuesday May 19th from 5pm to 8pm. Dario Barbone (Baia Pasta) will be preparing a variety of aperitivo-appropriate bites, including charcuterie, frittata, and tartines, along with pouring Almanac beer and Parducci wines. The party is happening at Feastly headquarters in the Mission, and tickets are $24 per person.

Then, on Monday May 25th, there will be a special donation day at 4505 BURGERS & BBQ. Five percent of all the restaurant’s proceeds that day will go directly to help support Bay Leaf and its scholarship programs. 705 Divisadero St. at Grove, 415-231-6993.

510 Updates: Mad Oak Bar & Yard Now Open, Breakfast Is Served at Casa Latina


The bar at Mad Oak, before opening. Photo courtesy Mad Oak.


The patio, which is in progress. Photo courtesy Mad Oak.


Huevos con chorizo from Casa Latina. Yelp photo by Manny H.

Last summer, East Bay Express mentioned that Old Major’s was coming to the former Oasis in downtown Oakland. Some things have changed since then and now, so here’s an update on MAD OAK BAR & YARD (the project’s new name), opening to the public on Saturday May 16th. The partners behind the new space are brothers Daniel and Benjamin Cukierman, who were formerly behind Shattuck Down Low and also own Room 389.

While the Oasis space was formerly known for plenty of late-night boogie sessions, this new incarnation is definitely a bar, with some food on offer as well. The space is a hefty one, including a bar in the main room, a 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio with picnic tables, and a 2,000-square-foot roof deck upstairs—perfect for your next party. (They completely gutted the space and even added a new structure—you can check out some pics of the demo and construction by Black Creek Builders here.) You’ll see plenty of reclaimed wood, natural light, and some dartboards too.

There will be 40 beers on tap, from local selections and West Coast picks to Belgians, plus a full bar (stocked with fresh ingredients). The plan is to have different food businesses in the kitchen every six months. The first is Javi’s Cooking, serving Argentine food, like empanadas, plus a limited menu of sandwiches and some other bites. There will also be food trucks on the patio. Come check out your new summer hangout. Hours will be Mon-Fri 3pm-2am and Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. 135 12th St. at Madison, Oakland.

CASA LATINA in Berkeley is now offering breakfast all day, in addition to their pastries and savory items. Chowhounds caught the news and report “excellent” chilaquiles and a potato and egg empanada. The space underwent a remodel last year, too, so there’s even more room. 1805 San Pablo Ave. at Delaware, 510-558-7177.


the sponsor

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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Drink to La Dolce Vita with a Negroni on May 18th, Plus a Team Negroni Cycling Team Ride


On Monday May 18th, catch a big fab Negroni party at BURRITT ROOM celebrating the release of the new book, The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita, with Recipes & Lore. It was written by Gaz Regan, with photography from the talented Kelly Puleio, and is all about the vermilion Italian libation. The book includes 60 recipes for different Negronis, plus beautiful photography. The party includes lots of complimentary bites and $5 Negroni specials at the bar, from 5pm-8pm. 417 Stockton St. at Sutter, 415-400-0561.

Speaking of Negronis, the time is now to sign up for the annual Team Negroni Cycling Team ride, part of the Negroni Week festivities in June. It’s happening on Tuesday June 2nd, and registration is right here. The ride begins at Campari America, and then heads north through Marin; check out the route map here. Donations can be made here, to raise money for Helen David Relief Fund to assist women in the bar industry coping with cancer.

Wine Notes: Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant Construction, Tasting with Neal Rosenthal at Heirloom


The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant wine bar. Yelp photo by Winne L.

THE FERRY PLAZA WINE MERCHANT is closing the wine bar early tonight, Tuesday May 12th. It will close at 6pm and will then remain closed until Wednesday May 20th, for construction and improvements. The retail store will be closed on Wednesday May 13th only, and will remain open regular hours while the wine bar is undergoing renovation. These dates are all contingent upon inspections and construction timelines, so don’t hesitate to call before going over to make sure they’re back up and running. One Ferry Building, Shop 23, Embarcadero at Market, 415-391-9400.

On Tuesday May 19th, Neal Rosenthal of Rosenthal Wine Merchant and author of Reflections of a Wine Merchant will be at HEIRLOOM CAFÉ from 5:30pm to 7pm. He will be pouring six different wines from Rosenthal and discussing cellaring affordable wines with Heirloom’s owner Matt Straus. Tickets to the event are $50 per person and include the tasting, bites of duck confit Époisses burgers (oh yeah), tax, and gratuity.

Heirloom Café            - 2500 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-821-2500

Place Pigalle Closes, Team Opening Up in La Movida


La Movida. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

After all the drama we reported on at PLACE PIGALLE, the space has officially closed as of Sunday May 10th. However, Scoop reports one more item: that the owners, New Parish Entertainment, have taken possession of LA MOVIDA on 24th Street in the Mission. They plan to open in the space this week, but don’t look for lots of changes. They’ll be keeping the name, menu, and decor for now, though some changes may come in June. 3066 24th St. at Treat, 415-282-3066.


the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

It's Time to Get Your Tickets for Summertini


Some of the fab food at Summertini 2014. Photo by Heidi Sandoval Photography via Facebook.

Event Info

Friday Jun  5, 2015 6:30pm–9:30pm (early entry at 5:45pm for honorary committee) Information                        Bently Reserve 301 Battery St. at Sacramento

Get ready to enjoy some marvelous food for an even more marvelous cause at the 11th annual SUMMERTINI bash, which is going to be a fabulous and tasty party. It’s all going down Friday June 5th at the Bently Reserve from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. This year’s lineup of participating restaurants is sure to rock your world, too, with places like A16, 4505 Meats, Commonwealth, and Parallel 37, plus cocktails from Trick Dog and Michel Bistro.

The evening is a benefit for CHEFS, the outstanding local program that fights poverty and homelessness through job training and placement in the food industry. A live and silent auction will give you the chance to snag rad prizes, too. (Seriously, bring your credit card. Donors this year include the French Laundry, Octavia, and The Progress.) Oh, and the whole evening will be emceed by the always charming Leslie Sbrocco, the host of KQED’s Check, Please!. All in all, not an evening to miss! I hope to see you there!

Tickets are $130 for general admission or $200 for honorary committee, which includes early admission at 5:45pm. And as a special bonus, tablehopper readers can get $15 off general admission tickets with code “tablehopper” at checkout. Bently Reserve, 301 Battery St. at Sacramento, 415-487-3300 ext. 1244.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

The Whole, Grateful Enchilada

Grateful Dead member Bob Weir dined at Copita on Cinco de Mayo. He and chef-owner Joanne Weir aren’t related (that they know of), but apparently have a bit of a connection: stoner pranksters have been calling Joanne for years to ask if “Bob’s home.” Apparently Bob had the enchiladas and said they were the best he’s ever had. The long lost not-relatives even posed for a cute photo.

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