This week's tablehopper: brosé all day.
Chef Sophina Uong’s best in show dish at Lamb Jam. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Actually, I’d just prefer some rosé all day, but brosé has been making me laugh for a few weeks, so let’s run with it. Hope your weekend was quality. Mine had some Amy bookends, starting with being completely gutted by Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary (if you even remotely enjoyed her music, really, don’t miss it—and I wish every single paparazzo had to watch it so they can see how awful they are to people who are in distress) to catching Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck with a gal pal. I’m still mulling it over—there were some brilliantly uncomfortable comedic moments to shake up the usual rom-com format, but I could have done without the melodrama. But wow, Tilda Swinton!
One of my favorite things about seeing flicks at Sundance Kabuki is getting the spicy tan-tan noodles at Waraku, so that happened too. Post-movie cocktails at The Progress, like the Shiro Drink, also a good move.
Sunday I was a judge at Lamb Jam, where I was completely blown away by second-time-winning chef Sophina Uong’s spin on a Burmese rainbow salad, with spicy lamb shoulder, corn pudding, seeds, legumes, nuts, and more. Wonder if she’ll put this on the menu at Berkeley’s Revival Bar + Kitchen? Here’s hoping.
Thankfully one of my fellow judges had some Ziplocks in her purse (now that’s a true food writer) and I brought home the leftover lamb belly pastrami by Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, which made the most amazing BLT the next day, let me tell you. (Hey, Thirsty Bear, you listening?)
Okay, the sooner I get this column done, the sooner I can hunt down a glass of something cool and refreshing. Have a swell evening. Ciao! Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Big Changes at Chino: New Chef-Partner Ron Pei Assuming the Reins After a Brief Closure
Some big news over at 16th Street and Guerrero: CHINO has gone dark for a couple of weeks, and when it reopens on Monday August 10th, there will be a new chef-partner, Ron Pei, and a new menu too. There will also be an updated kitchen and some interior design tweaks too.
It’s funny how things work out: Pei worked as a sous and eventually as chef at Laiola (where Tacolicious is now) back in 2009, and owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran talked about opening a dumpling-driven restaurant with him. But when Laiola closed and the first Tacolicious took off, Pei ended up moving to the East Coast, where he worked at Blue Hill Stone Barns and Commis in New York, and José Andres’s minibar in DC. But Pei recently came back to SF, and the timing was now perfect to bring him on to change the course of Chino (especially since Chino is Pei’s nickname from Laiola’s Spanish-speaking cooks).
Pei has cooking in his blood: his family is originally from Shandong, and after emigrating to the U.S. from Korea, his parents opened restaurants in the Midwest and eventually California—they ran Cafe Yulong in Mountain View until seven years ago. Pei says his father, who started cooking when he was 17, was his inspiration to become a chef. And even though pop is 70, Pei is getting him back into the kitchen and working with him to improve the dumplings and handmade noodles. He says, “I wouldn’t do it without him! He is my Chinese compass.”
As for the new incarnation of the menu, almost everything will be all-new. Pei explains there will be Shandong roots and flavor profiles in the dishes, but it will also be market-driven, with some Californian creativity. Pei also mentioned his travels will come into play, whether it’s inspiration from Taiwanese night markets to his Midwest background to skills he learned in New York. Pei has been thinking about this concept for years and is looking forward to having some fun with it.
Noodles will be made with wheat instead of rice flour (which is southern), and Pei will be using his dad’s recipe for some water-boiled dumplings (plus some other family recipes). Some dishes he mentioned include an updated version of clams with fermented black beans in a ham-hock jus with jalapeños—it will come topped with a scallion pancake made with bacon fat, mmmmhmmm. Another will be a larger family-style dish of slow-braised lamb shoulder mu shu, with seasonal plum salad, housemade plum sauce, green onion, and cucumber. Look for a Taiwanese beef noodle soup, made with quality boneless short rib, shank, and tongue too. Summer radishes with charred scallion dressing and tomato-orange salad with shiso, cabbage, and crispy rice were also featured on some test meals. A couple of Chino classics that will remain are the xiao long bao (although those are being tweaked too) and a version of the matcha soft-serve.
Some additional news: bar manager Danny Louie is also being brought on as a partner in Chino. Fun history: Louie’s father worked at Cecilia Chiang’s Mandarin and so did Pei’s father. How about that?
Founders Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran “intend to step back (a little) and let these two be the true A team, [and] we are personally funding the makeover because we believe in this restaurant.” I know I am not the only one looking forward to seeing what Ron Pei has in store for us—it’s gonna rock.
Chino - 3198 16th St. San Francisco - 415-552-5771
Wise Sons Back on Track with Their Commissary Bakery and Bagel Operation: Get Ready for Wise Sons Bagel
Like a phoenix rising from some tragic flames earlier this year, the WISE SONS DELI duo, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, have some great news to share: they found a new commissary location to replace the one they lost in the January Mission fire. And they’re going to be opening a bagel shop!
They reached out to me last week, letting me know they are currently gutting a space that dates back to the 1920s in the Fillmore, right across from State Bird Provisions. Not only will the 2,200-square-foot space (with 26-foot ceilings!) be a commissary bakery for their production of bagels, rye bread, their famed babka, challah, and rugelach, but they will also be setting aside 300 square feet for a retail section, Wise Sons Bagel. They look forward to keeping the space open and visible so people can see the baking operation, which is going to be pretty big. Good thing they salvaged their special bagel-forming machine.
As for the shop, you’ll be able to order at a counter, choosing from toasted bagel sandwiches (New Yorkers can go ahead and groan, just get it out), schmears, and sliced pastrami by the pound. They also plan to roll out some sable, lox, and sturgeon, plus other items will be in the grab-and-go case, all so your brunch spread at home will rock. There will be 10-12 seats for those who want to hang out, plus some seating outside and potentially 8-10 seats on the mezzanine. Coffee and espresso service will also be offered. The operation will be open daily, from the morning to the early afternoon.
Are they out to re-create New York’s Russ & Daughters? No, Bloom says that while Russ & Daughters is a wonderful and amazing place, that’s their thing, and Wise Sons Bagels will be different. Kind of like what the Bay Area is doing out here in regards to bagels. The New York Times piece “Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?” from the weekend was, in my mind, a bit off, with a headline that bordered on a Buzzfeed clickbait tone. The headline should have read “Why Local Bakers Don’t Give a Shit About Making a Facsimile of a New York Bagel in the San Francisco Bay Area?” Because that’s the real story.
Maybe it’s because our local bakers like to make bread products that are naturally fermented and full of flavor? I have been thoroughly enjoying our city’s NorCal, artisan, hand-rolled spin on bagels at places like Nopa, Marla Bakery, and 20th Century Cafe (I wrote an article about this more than a year ago). The East Bay’s Montreal-style Beauty’s Bagel Shop, Authentic Bagel Company, and Baron Baking are all making great product too. And then there’s the classic (since 1962!) House of Bagels on Geary, which has a dedicated local following. That’s fine, everyone keep complaining (especially you, New Yorkers) while many of us continue to enjoy all these rather excellent handcrafted bagels.
The article almost set Bloom and Beckerman up like they are going to save the day with their upcoming bagel operation and are here to fix THE SITUATION, obliquely dismissing these other bagel makers—which couldn’t be further from the scenario (hello, they serve Beauty’s bagels on the weekends at Wise Sons Deli). All our local bakers just want to do things their way, which is pretty much how the boys have run their deli from the beginning. (Thank you, don’t change a thing about your matzo ball soup!)
When asked about their bagels, Wise Sons say they will be traditional: “They are proofed for 36 hours and boiled with malt and baking soda so you get a chewy crust with those little ‘fish eye’ bubbles and a depth of flavor that doesn’t just taste like a white roll.” (And you know they are still going to hear all kinds of comments—just like they have from day one.)
Anyway, the bigger and more important point is that we’re going to have a new shop dedicated to bagels. And based on the quality of the other items Wise Sons make, that’s exciting. We deserve this.
It’s interestingly a full-circle kind of scenario for the neighborhood, which Bloom tells me used to have kosher butchers and other shops where SF’s Jewish community would come to do their shopping since so many synagogues were/are nearby. Bloom and Beckerman are looking forward to uncovering more history of the neighborhood as they research even further.
Bloom also wanted to express their profound gratitude to Bi-Rite Market, which has allowed Wise Sons to use their commissary space during this challenging post-fire transitional time and have been instrumental in helping them keep things going. If their projections are correct, they’ll hopefully be baking in the new space in October and probably starting the retail operation soon thereafter.
With future neighbors like BLACK BARK from 1300 on Fillmore, and the upcoming po’boy shop, BRENDA’S ORIGINAL PO’BOYS, from Brenda Buenviaje and Libby Truesdell, this section of Fillmore keeps making me really happy I have my gym right there too. 1520 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell.
Now Open: Fine & Rare in Civic Center
We reported in June that the FINE & RARE team (Scott Peterson and Ted Wilson) found a permanent location in the former Stars space. They are now open Monday through Friday, serving sandwiches and salads featuring their impeccably sourced seasonal seafood and produce.
The menu is tight, with just a few sandwiches that can also be made as salads, like the cold-smoked salmon pastrami and grilled skirt steak, all served on housemade bread. There are also a handful of sides, like carrot ginger kale chips, and watermelon, cucumber, and tomato salad. There are several wines available by the 8-, 12-, or 25-ounce pour (easy, tiger), including two whites, two reds, and a rosé.
The space has been refreshed, with a new coat of paint, but the cool ceiling and exposed brick remains. Vintage educational posters adorn the walls, with handcrafted wood tables and benches. You order at the counter and can then dine at one of their 35 seats or take your food to go. Hours are Mon 11am-3pm and Tue-Fri 11am-8pm, and you can still find them at Off the Grid events if you’re looking for them on a weekend. The hours will be especially handy if you’re looking for a bite before going to the opera or symphony. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness, 415-297-3980.
Tidbits: Kobani Mediterranean Grill, Twirl and Dip
Back in June, we reported that the Marina location of Udupi Palace had closed, and a new restaurant called KOBANI MEDITERRANEAN GRILL would be moving in. According to Yelp it is now open, and a great story on Berkeleyside Nosh explains even more about the project.
It’s from owner Emin Tekin, a Kurd who was born in Turkey and immigrated to the United States in 1999. The restaurant is named for a Northern Syrian city that’s been in the news a lot lately, and is a nod to his heritage. In addition to the Marina location, Tekin has also opened another location in Berkeley and is planning a third in San Francisco in the coming months. He is also helping his brother reopen Hayes & Kebab, which closed last year but will reopen in 2016. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-872-9911.
Meet new ice cream shop TWIRL AND DIP, which opened in Potrero just in time for a little heat wave this week. This is the first brick-and-mortar location for the ice cream truck, and they’re whirling up organic soft serve with a housemade TCHO chocolate hard-shell dip. They’ve also got a fun selection of toppings, including fruit sauces, honeycomb candy, and toffee pieces. Hours are Tue-Sun 12pm-8:30pm. 1717 17th St. at Carolina, 415-205-8261.
Pop-Ups: Uma Casa, Garden Party at Stem, Fried Chicken at Starbelly
On Sunday August 2nd, catch another fab pop-up from chef Telmo Faria’s Portuguese Uma Casa at Merigan Sub Shop. It’s happening from 6pm to 9pm, and no tickets or reservations are required. This week, the menu includes caldo verde, pasteis de bacalhau, salada de polvo, and a francesinha (I AM SO THERE), plus port, Madeira, and sherry cocktails from Nora Furst. 636 2nd St. at Townsend.
Celebrate our warm weather on the gorgeous patio at a garden party at STEM next Thursday August 6th from 4pm to 8pm. Several restaurants will be popping up in the outdoor space, and Stem will also be serving food and drink specials. There will be bocce ball, gardening demonstrations, and local CSAs will also be in attendance. The Commissary, Sea Star, and Public House will all be participating, along with Nomad Gardens and West Oakland Woods Farm. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St., 415-915-1000.
Don’t miss a fried chicken feast picnic party at STARBELLY on Tuesday August 11th. It’s happening on the back patio and includes fried chicken plus picnic classics like pasta salad, four-bean salad, corn bread with maple butter, and peach cobbler for dessert. Tickets are $45 including all food, and beverages will be available for purchase as well. Seatings are at 6pm and 8pm. (September 15th is a BBQ Ribs Summer Patio Picnic, and October 6th is A Whole Pig Picnic on the Patio.) 3583 16th St. at Market, 415-231-6267.
Closures: Urchin Bistrot, TAPS Social House and Kitchen
A couple of closures to report: URCHIN BISTROT—the restaurant in the former Slanted Door/Wo Hing space on Valencia from Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani—is closing after service this Friday July 31st. (Via Scoop.) 584 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-861-1844.
Meanwhile, Eater reports TAPS SOCIAL HOUSE AND KITCHEN has closed, and according to ABC records, a chain from Southern California, Killer Shrimp, is moving in. Huh. That’s, uh, interesting. Curious to hear where the talented chef Michael Lamina ends up next. 1516 Broadway at Polk.
510 News: Trouble Coffee, k.pop!, Little Giant Ice Cream, Matsuri Festival
East Bay Express reports that TROUBLE COFFEE now has a location in West Oakland. The tiny, original Outer Sunset location of Trouble Coffee kicked off the $4 toast trend and received national media attention for owner Giulietta Carrelli’s fascinating personal story. This is the third outpost for the shop, which added a Bayview location in 2013 in addition to the original. In Oakland, there is no posted menu, so you have to talk to your barista (and yes, the Yelp page offers a wide range of opinions on that choice), and it’s an electronics-free zone, so no computing or pic-snapping. 1545 Willow St. at 16th St., Oakland, 510-735-9214.
On Monday August 3rd, chef Paula McDade is doing a pop-up at Juhu Beach Club called k.pop! There are two seatings for the dinner, one at 5:30pm and another at 8pm. The four-course prix-fixe includes dishes like pork belly “tacos,” octopus pancake, and braised short ribs. Tickets are $55 and include food but not drinks or gratuity. 5179 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland, 510-652-7350.
Uptown Oakland is getting an ice cream shop, Scoop reports. It’s called LITTLE GIANT and is from owners Kevin Best and Neil Rideout. The pair is making all their ice cream on-site, with lots of unique flavors. Most ice cream shops purchase a base from creameries like Straus, but Little Giant is working with their own pasteurizer so that they can customize their ice cream from the very beginning. This also means they can alter the base for boozy flavors, like Negroni and old-fashioned. Their creamery will be walled off with glass, so you can check out the action while licking your scoops too. They’ll be serving scoops out of a trailer in front of the shop on Friday August 7th at Oakland’s First Friday event, giving out free samples and offering tours of the shop, and will open the shop a couple of weeks later. 1951 Telegraph Ave. at William, Oakland, no phone.
On Tuesday August 11th, UMAMI MART is celebrating their third annual birthday with a bash, Matsuri (which means “festival” in Japanese). They’ll be taking over their back parking lot with food from the likes of Hopscotch, J-Shack Truck, and Casa de Kei, and there will be Japanese beer on tap from The Trappist. There will also be fun activities, including a live taiko drumming performance from Emeryville Taiko, J-Pop music from DJ Chungtech, and screen printing from Team Print Shop. The party runs from 6pm-9pm and is free to attend. Food and drink available for purchase. 815 Broadway at 8th St., Oakland, 510-250-9559.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Scotland Yard Opening in the Marina Thursday July 30th
The former Bin 38 space in the Marina was taken over earlier this year by Brian Cassanego and Jeff Gabrielson of Hayes Valley’s Noir Lounge, with a project called SCOTLAND YARD. The Victorian-themed bar is opening its doors on Thursday July 30th, serving craft beer, wine, and food from Bin 38 chef Jason Raffin, with a menu of seasonal, California-style bites.
Menu items include baby Yorkshire puddings with aerated cheese and leek powder ($7); bone marrow with parsley, fennel, and toast points ($14); kale Caesar with poached egg, cherry tomatoes, and fried shallots ($7/12); clam chowder puff pie ($14); and a yard burger with bone marrow aioli, aged English cheddar, and cornichon remoulade ($13). The beers are generally local, craft brews, and wines are sourced from smaller/low-production wineries.
Gi Paoletti designed the new space, which is heavily influenced by the opulence and indiustrialization of the Victorian era. A wall in the dining room was removed to create a more open space, and a zinc-topped standing bar has been positioned in the front of the room. Toward the back is the main bar, made with dark wood and accented with iron straps, while metal and glass pendants are intended to evoke the classic London streetlamp. There is also flocked wallpaper, lots of metallic touches, and gold chandeliers to keep the whole thing feeling “phancy.” They’ll officially open on Thursday July 30th. Open Sun-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1:30am. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-872—6853.
Belle Cora Now Pouring in North Beach
We broke the story in April that Teague Kernan of Tupelo has a new project in North Beach called BELLE CORA. Now Hoodline reports it officially opened its doors yesterday, Monday July 27th, in the former Dell’Uva space. The interior has gotten a refresh with help from Julie Brown of Re:Design, with lots of wood, red paint, and leather, evocative of North Beach’s history and old-world style. There is also lots of outdoor seating on the front patio, with room for 32, along with the 34 interior seats.
For Kernan, it’s all about providing an inviting, comfortable atmosphere for the neighborhood. There are 30 wines available by the glass (prices range from $8-$12) from wine consultant Paulina Krol, who has made sure there is something for everyone to enjoy. There are lots of European selections, as well as some more unusual choices from other parts of the world. There are also 7 beers on draft and an additional 30 available by the bottle. The menu comes from chef John Kenner and is designed with sharing in mind. They don’t have a full kitchen, so they’ve been creative with crafting dishes that don’t require a gas oven, grill, or fryer. They’ve got a German pretzel, cheese and charcuterie plates, and some seafood options like ceviche. They are doing weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays 10am-3pm, with Benedicts, French toast, and bottomless mimosas. 565 Green St. at Columbus, 415-872-5451.
Upcoming Wine (Graci from Sicily) and Spirits (Craft Spirits Carnival) Events
On Tuesday August 4th, LOCANDA is hosting Alberto Aiello Graci from Graci winery in Sicily for a special winemaker dinner. There will be a special menu inspired by Sicily, with dishes like a gypsy pepper and tuna conserva, housemade busiate pasta with Trapani pesto, and coniglio alla Siciliana. The dishes will all be available à la carte, so you can choose which dishes to pair with your wine selection. Reservations are available for 5:30pm, 7:30pm, and 9:30pm.
For a major tasting of booze, don’t miss the Craft Spirits Carnival on Saturday and Sunday August 15th and 16th at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. The weekend includes 200 different spirits from more than 80 different distilleries, plus beer and wine. Fortunately, there will be food vendors on-site to keep you going, and you can check out the full list of participants here. You’ll also be able to purchase bottles of spirits you like. The tasting runs from 2pm-5pm both days, and tickets start at $80 for general admission and $150 for VIP, which gives you access to the wine lounge and 1pm entry. There are also trade tickets available for $25. Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Blvd. at Laguna.
Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Cochon Heritage Fire This Sunday!
The outdoor, open-fire meat fest COCHON HERITAGE FIRE is happening at Charles Krug in St. Helena this Sunday August 2nd. The meat-tastic party is part of the Cochon 555 national tour, which aims to celebrate and promote chefs who are using responsible, sustainable, and quality ingredients in their cooking. The Heritage Fire party focuses on meats cooked over open fire, in a most idyllic Wine Country setting. Featured meat items include smoked duck, dry-aged beef, spit-roasted rabbit, and roasted goat. There will also be seafood, including oysters and clams, plus cheeses, grilled vegetables, and more. In all, more than 3,000 pounds of meat will be served during Sunday’s event.
As for who’s actually doing all this cooking, more than 25 local chefs will be participating, including Sophina Uong (Revival), Adam Sobel (RN74), Robin Song (Hog & Rocks), Chris Marchino (Cotogna), and Kim Weiss (Antica Napa Valley), to name just a few. This being Wine Country, of course, there will be plenty of wine, including selections from both California wineries like Clif Family, Cornerstone, and Charles Krug, as well as a selection of German wines from Wines of Germany. In addition to all the food and beverages, there will also be fun activities, including lawn games, butchery demonstrations, and more.
The party runs from 4pm-7pm, and tickets are $100 for general admission or $160 for VIP, which includes entry at 3pm, some exclusive dishes, and access to the magnum wine bar. 2800 Main St. at Deer Park, St. Helena, 707-967-2200.
the sugar mama
(Sponsored): Win Tickets and Indulge Yourself at Eat Drink SF
Eat Drink SF is the Bay Area’s premier food, wine, and cocktail festival celebrating our world-class chefs and restaurants. Four days of events highlight the culinary talent the Bay Area is known for.
Experience a signature Grand Tasting event at Fort Mason with dishes from more than 35 top restaurants, more than 70 beer, wine, and cocktails, demonstrations by celebrity chefs, wine classes taught by the San Francisco Wine School, a cheesemonger cave, lawn games in our Backyard Bites area, and more! VIPs get a premium experience with a private lounge area, exclusive food and beverage options, the Club Caravan Airstream ice cream parlor, a Collet Champagne bar, and private restrooms.
Don’t miss this fabulous culinary affair.
One lucky tablehopper reader will win a pair of VIP tickets to one of the Grand Tastings at Eat Drink SF (retail value $350-$400), which includes everything in the Grand Tasting, plus access to a private lounge area with exclusive food and beverage options and four exclusive restaurant stations on each day.
To enter to win, all you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to one friend (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friends about Eat Drink SF, your favorite chefs in the city, or why you read tablehopper! Be sure to Cc: or Bcc: me at email@example.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Sunday August 2nd at 11:59pm. We’ll notify the winner soon thereafter. Good luck!