This week's tablehopper: back to our summer romance with Karl the Fog.
My kind of shortcake: Susie McCulloch’s strawberry sablé (shortbread biscuits with Dirty Girl Farm strawberries and whipped cream) at The Growler’s Arms. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Buon giorno! I promise, today’s tablehopper issue isn’t as much of a beast as last week’s, so let’s all just inhale, exhale, right now. Ahhhh. Not only is today’s a shorty, I’m taking Friday off to attend to a pile of stories I need to write this week. Oh, deadlines.
But in case you’d like a little extra reading material, why don’t you take a look at my latest piece for Bacchus magazine on Devil’s Gulch Ranch? You can learn all about Mark Pasternak, his rabbits, and more.
Want more? Do you read Italian? Here’s a story I was quoted in for Corriere della Sera on our local tipping changes. My dad was happy with that one. Me too.
There is also an event recap and interview with me on the EatWith blog about the Aperitivo a Rimini event I hosted last week, my background, and more. I also need to share with you this absolutely dangerous piece of information: did you know that you can order from The Italian Homemade Company on Caviar? I know, their sick piadine, tortellini pasticciato, and lasagna can come straight to your door. Yeah, we are all so f*cked. Use my code for $15 off your first order. Buon appetito!
Have a great week, and maybe I’ll see you at Lamb Jam on Sunday? I’ll be sequestered away since I’m judging, but maybe after, yes?
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Coming Soon to Lower Nob Hill: A Hitachino-Affiliated Project with Chef Nori Sugie
ABC license activity can be such a fascinating thing! I was so intrigued when I saw this one ripple across the wires, a project that mentioned Kraft & Hitachino as the name and Noriyuki Sugie, aka chef Nori, whom some of you may remember from his days cooking at Nombe. (You can read more about chef Nori’s background here—he was previously in LA doing a pop-up ramen night at BreadBar a few years ago.) Of late, he has been cooking in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and most recently helping out a friend in New York.
We caught up with chef Nori, who shared some details about the project, which will be called KRAFT & HITACHINO (they will also use the kanji symbol for the word craft). Sugie’s connection to Hitachino is an established one: the Ibaraki-born chef (which is the prefecture where the Kiuchi Brewery—who brews Hitachino Nest—is located) has been collaborating with them for the past eight or nine years and even created a menu for the Hitachino Brewing Lab (a bar and home-brewing classroom) in Tokyo. Sugie says this next project was a natural evolution of their relationship.
They are going to be opening a craft beer bar, only serving Hitachino beers on tap from kegs, so it will be extremely fresh. There will also be some exclusive San Francisco brews made with special flavors. Guests will be encouraged to sample many of them, so look for plenty of specially sized tasting glasses.
As for the menu, diners will be able to come by for snacks or a full meal. Sugie says he will be doing a yakiniku-inspired format, but instead of diners having individual grills at their tables, it will be grilled for you at the kitchen counter. He wants to showcase authentic Wagyu beef from Japan, and of course there will be plenty of local vegetables featured too. Some of the other dishes will be a bit izakaya-like in style—we’ll update you as the concept takes shape in the coming months.
As for the location, the Lower Nob Hill space was Kyu Sushi, where the Fujiyoshi ramen pop-up and subsequent shop is located. (It’s a cool Deco building.) They are going to be working with a designer from Japan, who will integrate some of the stylistic elements from the Kiuchi Brewery, and there will be two counters: one for the bar and one long grill counter for guests. They are targeting a fall opening. 639 Post St. at Taylor.
As for Fujiyoshi, according to a post on Facebook, they will be moving, location TBD.
Old Bus Tavern Opening in Bernal July 23rd
A report by Dana Eastland. Last week we mentioned that Bernal brewery and chili spot OLD BUS TAVERN was getting ready to open with a series of test dinners, and now we’ve got an opening date: Thursday July 23rd.
The project, from partners Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky, and Bennett Buchanan, is part brewery, part bar, part restaurant. The space, which seats 49 in 2,000 square feet, was designed by Sarah Greenwood Design out of New York, with Thomas Pippin of Lifebox Studios. Their aim was to bring together the warmth and hospitality of a residential space (kind of like being at a party at your coolest, most design-forward friend’s house) and the cool, industrial feel of an active, functioning brewery. There is a 16-foot standing bar in front of the brewing space, so that beer lovers can check out the action, and a 22-foot bar for drinking and dining. The space is rendered in neutral colors in order to showcase a collection of colorful Navajo rugs from the 1970s. Along with some retro-chic accents, the vibe is rather American road trip, which is appropriate given the team’s beginnings in a 1971 Volkswagen bus. Speaking of that bus, they plan to have it up and running as a mobile beer and food business later this summer.
As for beer, they’re serving a selection of their own, along with 11 guest taps (all sourced from within 50 miles of San Francisco) and 12 bottles. House brews to look for include the chili porter, made with fresno and habanero pepper, and the lemon basil saison, brewed with Meyer lemon zest and basil.
The cocktail list focuses on three spirits—whiskey, tequila, and mezcal—with cocktails from bar consultant Christina Cabrera (previous projects include Novela and 15 Romolo), featuring full, fruity, spicy flavors. The spicy OBT margarita is made with tequila, orange curaçao, housemade poblano pepper syrup, and firewater tincture, while the Kerby Lane is bourbon, sherry, strawberry, fennel, and lemon. The bar will also offer two shandies made with Old Bus beers and five different shot-and-a-beer combos, like the Coal Miner’s Daughter (Irish whiskey with chili porter). Take a look at all the beverages right here.
As for food, the Cincinnati-style chili ($15) is a highlight of the small menu. It’s slow-cooked with beef chuck and pequin chiles, and you’ll probably want to order it with a side of buckwheat cornbread ($8) too. And of course we have to mention the burger ($18) with housemade bacon and fried onions (just LOOK at that bad boy). There are also bar snacks, like the pickled quail eggs ($8)—also with fried onions—and chicharrónes with black beans, scarlet turnip, and grilled roses ($8). Check out the full menu here.
Also worth noting: all menu prices include tax and service, so there is no need to tip. As they say on the menu and website, “Our revenue-sharing system allows us to pay our entire staff a living wage.” Old Bus Tavern hours will be Wed-Sun 5:30pm-12am, brunch coming later this summer. 3193 Mission St. at Fair, 415-843-1938.
Opening Thursday July 23rd: Middle'terranea at the New Mina Test Kitchen
Last month we covered the impending opening of the MINA TEST KITCHEN in the former Café Claude Marina space, where Mina Group chefs will be hosting pop-up dinners while exploring cooking styles from around the world and experimenting with new techniques.
The first pop-up series, Middle’terranea, is with Adam Sobel (RN74) and is all about the food Mina (who was born in Egypt) and Sobel grew up eating. Dishes will span from eastern Mediterranean cuisine to ingredients and flavors of Israel, Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon, with a California influence, of course. You can look at the menu here.
Dinner begins this Thursday July 23rd, and you can get a ticket to the multicourse dinner (served family style) for $45—exclusive of tax and gratuity—on Resy (link is on the site). The optional beverage pairing ($30) will feature a selection of beer, wine, mead, and cider. Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday, and the series will run for the next three months or so. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore, 415-310-8371.
Tidbits: Mescolanza Returns, Lord Stanley Starts Lunch Service, FOB Kitchen Filipino Pop-Up, Lasagna Day, More
We reported in February about an Italian restaurant changeup in the Outer Richmond. At the time, neighborhood staple MESCOLANZA closed and Luna Rossa opened in its place. We mentioned that Mescolanza had secured a new location in the former Ichiraku in the Inner Richmond, and Eater reports that the new location is now open. The menu is the same as the previous incarnation, and initial Yelp reviews from neighborhood regulars are positive. 3750 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave., 415-668-2221.
Starting this Saturday July 25th, Carrie and Rupert Blease of LORD STANLEY are starting their new lunch service. For now, it will only be on Saturdays, but will eventually be on Fridays as well. The clean and airy room will make for a perfect lunch destination. The format will be a prix-fixe menu ($45 for three courses, price includes service), with a choice from two starters, two mains, and two desserts. All the dishes are new and won’t cross over with dinnertime dishes. There will also be a limited wine menu and two mixed drinks, a wine spritz and a spicy heirloom michelada with the Reality Czeck pilsner. You can only make a reservation via OpenTable; tables are available from 12pm-1pm. 2065 Polk St. at Broadway, 415-872-5512.
There’s a new Filipino food game in town, called FOB KITCHEN. There are currently a couple of ways to get in on the action. They’ll be at Excelsior bar Doctor’s Lounge every Wednesday in July for dinner from 6pm to 10pm, and then on Saturdays they’re doing brunch at Cease & Desist from 10:30am to 2:30pm.
Do you love lasagna? Well, you will not want to miss the North Beach Neighbors first ever Lasagna Day Competition and Dinner on Wednesday July 29th at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in North Beach. Hoodline reports that the feast is a family-style dinner with salad, antipasto, lasagna for both meat lovers and vegetarians, wine, coffee, and dessert. Plus, a panel of five will judge the entrants and crown one the winner. Participating restaurants include Alimento, Da Flora, The Italian Homemade Company, Marcella’s Lasagneria, Sodini’s, and Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for kids, and can be purchased by email or by calling 415-307-8034.
Fab tipster Jason B. sent us a note about a new popsicle shop on Polk Street, which should come in handy as the warm weather continues. It’s called BLISS POPS, and it’s a tiny little spot for popsicles in lots of flavors like mango, strawberry, peanut butter banana, and cookies and cream. The business started with carts at events, and they still cater, but now you can check out the offerings at the brick-and-mortar too. **UPDATE: WE JUST SPOKE WITH THEM AND IT TURNS OUT THE STOREFRONT WAS TEMPORARY. BUT YOU CAN STIL FIND THEM AT SPECIAL EVENTS AND MOBILE FOOD PODS. FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER TO FIND WHERE THEY ARE. Oh, and did you know the popsicle originated in the Bay Area? Check out this food history on Bay Area Bites for some cool stories about the origins of the frozen treat. 1475 Polk St. at California, 650-549-4323.
Big Changes at BDK
It sounds like all is not well at BDK, the restaurant managed by Kimpton Hotels in the Hotel Monaco that opened earlier this year. Apparently, the hotel is no longer managed by Kimpton and is now going by the name The Marker. According to Scoop, there are even more changes afoot.
The original team—which included chef Heather Terhune, general manager Marc Peyer, and local barman Kevin Diedrich—has all left, and it sounds like it all happened rather suddenly. The Marker, meanwhile, is being managed by Destination Hotels, a company based in Denver. Right now, BDK is open as usual, with no word on who is running the kitchen or the bar. As for BDK’s former staff, we’ll let you know when we hear more on their plans for the future. For now, I spotted a retaliatory/eff you pop-up at Wingtip on Friday for their friends and fans—#POPUPFORABARTHATWONTBEMENTIONED—email for more details if you want to attend. The guest list caps out at 100 people, so RSVPs are mandatory. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-0101.
Luckyrice Festival Rolls in August 7th
The Luckyrice Festival returns to San Francisco on Friday August 7th with a feast of Asian flavors, presented by sponsor Bombay Sapphire East. The sixth annual party is hosted by none other than local chef and restaurateur Charles Phan and takes place from 8pm to 10pm at the Bently Reserve (VIP ticket holders gain entry at 7pm). Some of San Francisco’s best bars and restaurants will be participating, celebrating the many flavors and techniques of Asian cuisine, including Ichi Sushi, Azalina’s, Hawker Fare, Butterfly Kitchen, and Hakkasan. The cocktails will be flowing, with special drinks from Dirty Habit, Hopscotch, and Benjamin Cooper. Check out all the participating bars, restaurants, and their offerings right here. As for the feast, tickets are $88 for general admission of $150 for VIP. Bently Reserve, 301 Battery St. at Sacramento.
In addition to the festival, check out the new television series from founder Danielle Chang on CAAM. The schedule and more information on the series can be found right here.
Friday Aug 7, 2015 8pm–10pm general admission, 7pm entry for VIP $88 general admission, $150 VIP more info
510 News: La Borinqueña Closing, New Ownership at Kitchen 388, The Libertine Opens, More
In news we’re not at all happy to report, Oakland Mexicatessen LA BORINQUEÑA is closing after 71 years in business, Scoop reports. The shop and restaurant has been family-owned since 1944, when Natividad Ramos’s parents founded it. Now, Natividad’s daughters, Tina Ramos (of La Snackeria) and Isabel Esquivil, are retiring from the business, in order to help take care of their mother and take some well-earned time off. We’re terribly sad to see this wonderful business go, but we’re wishing the Ramos family all the very best. La Borinqueña closes Friday July 31st, so head in soon before it’s gone forever. 583 7th St. at Jefferson, Oakland, 510-444-9954.
KITCHEN 388 is now under new ownership, according to a note on their website and Yelpers. There are some additions to the menu, and they are working on bringing outdoor seating back, but otherwise it remains similar to the previous incarnation. They’re open for brunch Tue-Sun 9am-2pm. 388 Grand Ave. at Staten, Oakland, 510-893-3005.
Berkeleyside Nosh reports that THE LIBERTINE is now open in Oakland. The bar, from owner Aric Yeverino, who also owns The Dirty Bird in Hayward, is serving a tight list of drinks including a Moscow Mule, Last Word, rum punch, and shot-and-a-beer specials. Initial Yelp reports are positive and mention that cocktails are $9, which somehow seems like a steal. 3332 Grand Ave. at Mandana, 510-537-2201.
One more piece of surprising news: East Bay Express broke the news that the Berkeley’s PYRAMID ALEHOUSE is now closed after 18 years in business. The EBX post further states: “According to a press release sent out by Rochester-based North American Breweries, the company decided to close its Berkeley facility in order to prepare the building for sale—‘after an extensive evaluation process.’ ‘We have made the decision to focus our West Coast production in our Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington locations,’ CEO Kris Sirchio said in the prepared statement.” 901 Gilman St. at 7th St., Berkeley.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Announces Isaac Shumway as Bar Director
All the way back in 2012, we told you about the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA project moving into the New Mission Theater space on Mission Street. The project has been chugging along since then, and plans are to open in the fall of this year.
Now, they’ve announced some exciting news for the bar that will be inside the theater space. The bar will be called BEAR VS BULL, and owner Tim League has hired Isaac Shumway as the bar director. Shumway graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and has worked in San Francisco bars like Alembic, Bourbon & Branch, and Heaven’s Dog. His most recent position was as the bar director at Tosca Cafe, where he was on the opening team.
Shumway will be creating an extensive list of drinks for the bar, but his focus will be on hospitality. Shumway says, “This bar is not about what we serve. I want this bar to be about the great feeling and experience you get while hanging out with us.” As such, there will be a focus on classic cocktails and helping customers find the drink they will most enjoy. “Bear vs. Bull will have some of the best bartenders in San Francisco on staff to serve guests a favorite drink or guide them in trying something new from our extensive lineup,” Shumway says.
In addition to cocktails, there will be 28 local beers on tap, as well as a changing selection of wines from California. There are also plans for cold nitro De La Paz coffee on tap, blended drinks, and even some spiked milk shakes. All of that should go nicely with the five screens for films that League is planning for the space. Look for an opening in the fall of 2015. 2550 Mission St. at 22nd St.
Weekend Beveraging: A Rum Adventure, Cider Tasting, and Aperitif Cocktail Competition
Well look at that, we’re already thinking of the weekend for you. On Friday July 24th, there is a rum tasting event at the CLIFT HOTEL called Parasol: An Exotic Rum Journey. Some quality rums—like Brugal, Denizen, Don Q. Flor de Caña, Mount Gay, Plantation, Papa’s Pilar, and more—will be available to sample (and you can learn about them too). Local bartenders will be doing some classic cocktail demonstrations and offering drink samples; be sure to check out the moves of Puerto Rican Flair Bartender Champion Luis Ortiz. There will even be some calypso sounds from the steel drums and two rum-influenced appetizers available for purchase, plus cocktail specials on the à la carte happy hour menu. Discounted tickets on Living Social are $29. 6pm-9pm. Pssst, follow tablehopper on Twitter and watch for a chance to win a pair of tickets on Wednesday. 495 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-775-4700.
On Saturday July 25th, head on over to BAY GRAPE in Oakland for their all-day cider tasting. The preliminary round of tasting will run 1pm-5pm, when they will be pouring three special ciders for $15. Then the Cider Die party and walk-around tasting will run 6pm-9pm, with six cider makers pouring their ciders for $20 (you can pay at the door). And you can shop, too: more than 20 ciders will be on the shelves, from the dry to the fruity. 376 Grand Ave. at Ellita, Oakland, 510-686-3615.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! BURRITT ROOM + TAVERN is hosting an Aperitif Cocktail Competition on Sunday July 26th, with some great local bartenders. Burritt Room bar manager Josh Trabulsi is welcoming Mo Hodges of Benjamin Cooper, Kinson Lau of Alchemist, Carlo Splendorini of Pabu, Eric Giardina of Devil’s Acre, and Summer Jane Bell of Suerte Tequila for a friendly face-off with Carpano vermouths.
Burritt Tavern chef Luke Knox and guest chef James Wong will offer a selection of bites and housemade pizzas for you to nosh on while tasting the cocktail flights prepared by the guest bartenders, because you are going to vote on your favorite of the evening. 5pm-8pm. $35 per person, purchase here. 417 Stockton St. at Sutter, 415-400-0561.
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Don't Forget: San Francisco Street Food Festival Coming August 15th and 16th
Saturday Aug 15, 2015 – Sunday Aug 16, 2015 11am–6pm Free to attend, passports begin at $50 Tickets and Information Pier 70 20th St. at Illinois
We haven’t talked about the SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD FESTIVAL from La Cocina since April, so it seemed like a good time for a reminder. The seventh annual festival, which is always one of the biggest, most delicious blowouts in the city, is now happening on Pier 70 in the Dogpatch on Friday and Saturday August 15th and 16th. It runs both days from 11am to 6pm and features tons of the best food available in San Francisco and beyond.
This year, there will be more than 70 food vendors, including locals like 4505 Meats, Kin Khao, Los Cilantros, El Huarache Loco, El Buen Comer, Lanxang Kingdom, and The Whole Beast, to name just a very few. For the full list of vendors and their menus, head here and get ready for hunger pangs. There will also be plenty to drink and live music to keep you grooving all weekend long.
This year, La Cocina is also launching two new programs for the festival, Islands and Chef’s Counters. The islands will be separate areas entirely devoted to one of three food themes—tacos, dumplings, and seafood—where you can explore various interpretations of those foods. The chef’s counters will offer an intimate, sit-down counter environment for only 12 people at a time, where you’ll be served be the chef directly and have the opportunity to learn about their dishes.
In addition to the festival, meat lovers will also want to check out the spit-roasted pig supper on Saturday August 15th at 6pm, and be sure to get your tickets and passports now to save a bundle and show up prepared.