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Aug 31, 2015 27 min read

September 1, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: back to sea level.

September  1, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: back to sea level.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: back to sea level.                    

Ritzy room service: pancakes! Photo: ©

Hi there. Did you miss us? My week in Tahoe was just what my summer-craving self needed, with a daily bike ride and dip in the lake, cooking summery meals for dinner, catching up on my pile of magazines (I think I went through something like 50) and some excellent movies and documentaries (don’t miss What Happened, Miss Simone?—it floored me). And lots of sleep, that was awesome. There is nothing like mountain air to knock you out—although the little squirrels were a bit rambunctious at night on our cabin’s roof. Dudes, get some sleep!

I also had a fun 24-hour getaway to the lap of mountain luxury: a revisit to the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. That property is such a great resort (perfect for families, if you have the money), and we had a fun birthday dinner for a friend at Manzanita in one of their big booths—the restaurant is such a looker. (And check out the lamb and herbed gnocchi I had with wild mushrooms, mixed legumes, smoked lamb jus, and shaved pecorino.) The beds are some of the best in the biz—I slept like a rock. (And I totally had pancakes for room service breakfast in the morning, oh you know it—I didn’t want to leave!).

But now I am back from the mountains, and associate editor Dana Eastland and I had quite a bit of catch-up to do with today’s newsletter, oof. One piece of really exciting news (well, for me): I am going to be co-hosting the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Tour in October with Brian Boitano at Bimbo’s 365! I KNOW. Too excited. And the lineup of chefs is great—check it out in the socialite!

One more item: as some of you may know, I have been writing for San Francisco Travel over the years, and now they made a fun video with me, highlighting three of my favorite classic San Francisco restaurants: Yank Sing, Sam’s Grill, and the Big 4 (you can watch it on the tablehopper Facebook page). It was a blast to shoot (and we lucked out with the best weather that day), and even Bellina my little Fiat gets a cameo. I hope you enjoy it.

So Labor Day is here (yay)—we’re going to be back in your inbox next Wednesday instead of Tuesday since we’d like to take Monday off like the rest of you. Our deadline can wait a day! Am strongly considering brunch at Wise Sons on 24th Street (which will be open on Monday and serving brunch all day!). Pastrami and eggs, I hear you calling me.

Have a great loooooong weekend. Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Ooh La La, Bon Marché Now Open in the Twitter Building


The bar at Bon Marché. Photo courtesy of Bon Marché.


The dining room. Photo courtesy of Bon Marché.


Duck au poivre with preserved cherries. Photo by Spencer Brown, courtesy of Bon Marché.

A report by Dana Eastland: As previously covered on tablehopper, the latest project moving into Mid-Market is BON MARCHÉ. It’s from Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman of Mercer Restaurant Group (AQ, TBD) and is a big and ambitious project, with 7,500 square feet of space and all-day hours. Bon Marché is inspired by the Marais neighborhood of Paris and offers various sections in the restaurant with different specialities. There is a raw bar, as well as a coffee shop, dining room, brewery, lounge, private dining room, and even a flower shop.

In the dining room (which offers full service), Matthew Sieger is the executive chef, and his menu is all about French classics (with a seasonal, California twist, obviously). Think duck au poivre with preserved cherries, chilled watercress soup with smoked trout roe, steak tartare, and of course a bistro-style burger. They are also making pâtés and terrines in-house, and the raw bar serves oysters as well as shellfish and crudo. Check out the dinner menu here.

There is also a full bar from bar manager Eric Quilty, and the cocktails are all inspired by French films. If you’re feeling bourgeois, there’s the Discreet Charm, made with aged rhum agricole, pear liqueur, sesame-infused honey, and sparkling pear cider, or try the Love at Sea, with carrot-infused Campari, Benedictine, and Dolin dry vermouth.

As for that brewery, local cicerone superstar Rich Higgins consulted with the team on developing their beers, and they will offer two rotating selections inspired by French brewing. Look for L’Ouvrier, a French farmhouse beer, and Le Mistral, a Provençal-style pale ale. There are also guest beers—check out all the choices here.

Of course there is also plenty of wine—about 100 options, in fact. Allegra Angelo, an advanced-level sommelier, has created the list and organized it by price, region, and how it will pair with the space’s many food options. Oh, and there is that floral shop! It’s from the sister design duo Tango & Foxtrot, so you’ll never be without floral romance at dinner again.

Bon Marché is now open (their doors officially opened August 28th), and hours are Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm, Sat 4pm-12am. 1355 Market St. at 9th St., 415-802-1700.

It's Beer-Thirty: Sessions Now Open in the Presidio


The bar at Sessions. Photo by Kingmond Young.


The private dining room, plus the larger dining room in the background. Photo by Kingmond Young.


Panela cheese dumplings with cilantro-chile pesto, corn, and pepitas. Photo by Kingmond Young.


The pork rib eye confit on polenta with broccoli di cicco. Photo by Kingmond Young.

A report by Dana Eastland. The large new project in the Presidio, SESSIONS, which we updated you on in June, officially opened its doors on Monday August 24th. The bar and restaurant comes from partners Michael Bilger (who is executive chef) and Evin Gelleri, the general and business manager. The pair has brought on Nicole Erny, a master cicerone, to develop the beer list and educate the opening staff, and Jordan Spaulding, a certified cicerone candidate, to manage the beer list day-to-day.

The bar has an extensive beer list, with 100 options available, including 24 on draft. The bottle list will offer some larger-format selections for sharing among groups, as well as a selection of five session-style ales. They are also offering a daily bottle pour available by the glass, which will offer a chance to try more unusual beers without having to order the whole bottle, and there are daily rotating flights too.

The wine list will include 30 bottles, along with 12 by-the-glass selections and 10 wines on tap. There is also a cocktail list from Peter Ziegler (Urchin Bistrot), made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Their liquor license will also allow them to offer wine for off-premise sale (meaning retail, essentially), and they plan to sell wines from Skywalker Ranch in Marin for both in-house and off-site consumption. Take a peek at the full bar list here.

As for food, Bilger’s menu offers hearty, seasonal food built around their relationship with local farms, especially the one at Skywalker Ranch. There is an ample choice of small plates, again with a focus on sharing, including a charcuterie platter of housemade meats with cheese and their own “brewed” bread ($16/$29), freshly shucked oysters (A.Q.), and panela cheese dumplings with cilantro-chile pesto, corn, and pepitas ($10/$18). For main dishes, it’s California style, with seasonal influences, such as rye pappardelle with smoked beets, pea sprouts, preserved lemon crème fraîche, and poached egg ($19), or meatier options like the pork rib eye confit with mustard fruit, stone-ground polenta, and broccoli di cicco ($30). This being a beer place, there’s also a burger, of course, available “straight” with just pickles and fries ($15), or “chef’s style” with the addition of Wagon Wheel cheese and bacon-Anchor jam ($18). Check out the full menu here.

The space is large, clocking in at 3,500 square feet, with seats for 150 in the dining room, plus an additional 50 on the patio. There is also a private dining room with space for 16. Lundberg Design conceived the space, incorporating an acrylic and steel sculpture into the entry. It’s also worth noting that Sessions won’t be accepting tips, but will add a 20 percent service charge to every check. Hours are Mon-Fri lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, limited afternoon menu 2:30pm-5:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-10pm; Sat-Sun brunch 11am-2:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-110pm. 1 Letterman Dr. at Lombard, entrance at the Chestnut Gate at Lyon, 415-655-9413.

Che Fico! An Italian Restaurant Is Coming to Divis


The former garage at 834/838 Divisadero Street. Photo from Google Streetview.


A rendering of the restaurant by dmarc Studio (via Hoodline).

This morning, both Scoop and Hoodline percolated with the news that there is a taker for 838 Divisadero, formerly an auto body shop. David Nayfeld and Matt Brewer will be opening CHE FICO, a rustic Italian restaurant in spring 2016—the two-level space will also have a full bar. dmarc Studio will be designing the 115-seat restaurant (which will be on the second floor)—it sounds like the ground floor will have a patio and bike parking.

Bay Area native David Nayfeld has most recently been in Los Angeles (Fifty Seven), and his background includes four years at Eleven Madison Park in New York with Daniel Humm (he was a senior sous chef) and Cru.

He has partnered with Matt Brewer, who has worked both front of house (the Hogsalt Hospitality Group: Au Cheval and Bavette’s, both in Chicago) and back of house (L20, also in Chicago). Look for a lot of the produce and meat to come from the Brewer family ranch in Glen Ellen. Also on the menu: housemade charcuterie and pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and seasonally driven dishes. We’ll keep you posted as this develops. As for the name, it’s an Italian expression for “how cool,” kind of like this project! 838 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

The Italian Homemade Company Expands to Union Street


The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy-delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: ©

Fans of the fantastic piadine and tortellini pasticciata (a bolognese with béchamel) and lasagna and all the other amazing housemade pastas at THE ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY in North Beach will be happy to know they have expanded to a location on Union in Cow Hollow (the former American Cupcake space). Yeah, carbs, they gonna get you!

Hoodline reports there are 45 seats, with table seating and a counter (the stools are made from Italian scooter seats, cute). You can also get pasta to go, and look for some new items to come onto the menu. Hours for now are Tue-Sun 11am-9pm; looking for morning hours to start soon. 1919 Union St. at Laguna.

Hoodline also notes owners Mattia Cosmi and Alice Romagnoli are potentially expanding their Columbus store into the space next door; we’ll see how negotiations go. (They’d love to open a full restaurant and pour wine and beer.)

Openings: Mathilde in SoMa, Coco Frio to the Mission


The newly refreshed interior of Mathilde. Photo from Facebook.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the former Le Charm Bistro in SoMa is home to a slightly different concept from (mostly) the same team. To recap, the new project is called MATHILDE, and Le Charm owner Lina Yew partnered with one of her longtime staff members, Mathilde Gravel, to refashion the space and reopen it. The chef is Thierry Clement (Yew’s husband) of L’Ardoise, and the menu is classic French bistro fare, with some California influence. Their Facebook page mentions that they are now open for lunch too. 315 5th St. at Folsom, 415-546-6128.

Back in July, we reported on the upcoming COCO FRIO, which is moving into the former Savanna Jazz space on Mission. The new spot is opening today, Tuesday September 1st, after being softly open for a bit. To recap, it’s from Manny Torres Gimenez and his wife Katerina De Torres of The Palace, who are bringing an island vibe to San Francisco.

The restaurant takes its inspiration from Torres Gimenez’s childhood visits to Isla Margarita, a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. The idea is that happy hour will actually be happening anytime the restaurant is open, with drink specials and small plates priced from $5-$10, or opt for the three-course tasting menu for $29.99 (or, um, just think of it as $30). Dishes are inspired from island street food and include arepas and lots of seafood. There is also a full bar, with tropically inspired cocktails including the signature Coco Frio ($15) for two, with rum, coconut rum, coconut water, and lime, all served in a fresh coconut. The menu will change daily, but you can check out a sample menu here. Hours are Wed-Sun 4pm-10pm. 2937 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-375-1185.

Closures: Spices!, Ino, Minami, La Boulange, Marlowe Burger, The Crème Brûlée Cart Shop, and Future Uncertain for Boogaloos


The counter at Ino. Yelp photo by Jenny Q.


The window at the Crème Brûlée Cart shop (photo via Facebook).


Photo courtesy of La Boulange.

Whooooosh, you ready for a bunch of news about closures? First up, stinky tofu HQ SPICES! has reportedly closed (thanks to Chowhound for the news). Fortunately, Spices II (291 6th Ave.) remains open, but here’s hoping they get some of their luster back—things have been slipping a bit there lately. (You can read our past review of both places here.) 294 8th Ave. at Clement.

We broke the news a couple of months ago that there was an ABC license transfer under way for INO SUSHI, with Ayumi and Kiyoshi Hayakawa of KOO SUSHI apparently taking over the space with a project listed as An Sushi. Sadly no one from Koo will confirm our queries, so the project details are TBD for now. But back to Ino: Ino-san and his wife are in fact retiring and closing the restaurant (Eater confirmed the closure is this week)—numerous people have been visiting to say farewell to Ino-san’s superlative ankimo. And now the city loses another one of its infamous culinary Nazi/control freak types. 22 Peace Plaza, Suite 510 at Buchanan, 415-922-3121.

Fans of the neighborhood-friendly MINAMI in the Outer Richmond will be sorry to hear it has closed its doors—reports on Yelp state the nice owners have retired. 1900 Clement St. at 20th Ave.

Hoodline filed a report of the closure dates of the 23 LA BOULANGE locations throughout the Bay Area this month and also floated the rumor that Pascal Rigo is potentially taking over the leases of some of the locations. Nothing is confirmed for now, so we’ll wait to hear from Rigo on what’s next.

Looks like the folks at Big Night Restaurant Group realized they can make more money using the MARLOWE BURGER location as an event space, so they have stopped service and it’s now a private dining space (Marlowe @330). You can book it for a cocktail party reception, a burger party, or a seated dinner, with room for up to 60 guests (standing).

Another space change: Curtis Kimball listed his brick-and-mortar location in the Mission for his CRÈME BRÛLÉE CART business, stating that his business was better suited for the evening, and the area is more of a daytime vibe. Looks like he got a taker for the space, starting today, September 1st. Best to Curtis, who will continue with his carts, and doing catering and special events (here’s another ad he’s running for help). 3338 24th St. at Bartlett.

Brunch mainstay on Valencia, BOOGALOOS, has suffered a crazy rent increase, and now the space is listed on LoopNet. They’ve been in that location since 1994, what the hell. A comment on Facebook from the restaurant says, “Boogaloos lovers! We are not dead yet. Stay tuned for updates as we search for a new location. In the meantime…Order Up!!” Eater reports GM Peter Hood is going to remain open “as long as we can for our employees. Our main concern is keeping our current staff employed and helping them find new jobs.” 3296 22nd St. at Valencia.

Tidbits: Papa Mak's Burgers, Pao Jao, Eatsa


The SFPD Blue burger at Papa Mak’s. Yelp photo by Michael A.

Looking for an after-beach burger? You’re in luck because PAPA MAK’S BURGERS has opened today, Tuesday September 1st,  just a few blocks from Ocean Beach in the Outer Sunset. The menu includes a lamb patty, chicken sandwich, and even a duck burger, with lots of toppings. Of course, there is also a classic beef option. You can also opt for one of their specials or build your own. Initial Yelp reviews are positive and call out the burgers, as well as fresh salads and good fries. Hours are daily 11am-9pm. 3755 Noriega St. at 45th Ave., 415-340-3171.

Yelpers also caught the opening of PAO JAO in the International Food Court in the Financial District. The lunch spot serves a mash-up of ramen and Korean-style dumplings (both thick-skinned pao and thin-skinned jao)—initial reviews are mixed but mention the king dumpling as a winner, and the price is right. 380 Bush St., Suite 6, at Kearny, 415-781-0201.

If you think the problem with your dining experience is having to deal with actual people, never fear. A new restaurant called EATSA is here to spare you that pain, with a completely server-free experience. Misanthropes, here’s your spot! Eatsa has developed an automated ordering system, cubby system for pickup, and an automated pay station. All the bowls are quinoa-based and vegetarian, and cost $6.95 each. You can add extras, order additional sides, and there is also a selection of house beverages. Check out the menu here and start speculating about what’s next. Delivery via Google self-driving car, perhaps? 121 Spear St. at Market.

Updates in the Presidio: New Hours at The Commissary, Transit, and Arguello


The patio at Arguello. Photo: © Henrik Kam 2014.

We’ve got a bunch of quick updates on hours at Traci Des Jardins’ projects in the Presidio, mostly about service hours. Ready? First, THE COMMISSARY is no longer serving lunch, but you can catch dinner Mon-Thu 5:30pm-9pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. Mon-Fri, they also open at 5pm for light bites and drinks. 101 Montgomery St. at Sheridan, 415-561-3600.

TRANSIT has expanded its hours to include Saturdays. You can find them Mon-Fri 7:30am-5:30pm and Sat 9am-5:30pm. 215 Lincoln Blvd. at Graham, 415-561-5300.

And last but not least, ARGUELLO is now open for lunch on Tuesdays. Hours are now Tue lunch only 11am-4pm; Wed-Fri lunch 11am-3pm, bar menu 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; Sat brunch 11am-3pm, bar menu 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; and Sun brunch only 11am-4pm. 50 Moraga Ave. at Graham, 415-561-3650.

Shop News: Another Belcampo Meat Co. and San Francisco Wine & Cheese Company


One of the many cases of meaty products at Belcampo Meat Co.’s new Mission location. Photo courtesy of Belcampo Meat Co.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the 4505 Meats shop in the Mission has closed, and a new location of BELCAMPO MEAT CO. has moved in. Their latest location is now open, just as a retail shop (no restaurant). They are selling their meats, sausages, stocks, and other meaty culinary building blocks, as well as grab-and-go meals to reheat at home. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm and Sat-Sun 10am-7pm. 1909 Mission St. at 15th St., 415-914-0637.

When mega cheese mothership GOURMET & MORE in Hayes Valley closed, many in the neighborhood were worried it might be gone forever. Well, not quite, according to Hoodline. Gourmet & More owner Laurent Recollon has sold the business to two friends, married couple Shirley Ng and Phithak Resakual, who have been supplying cheese to Recollon for years. They have more than 30 years of cheese experience between the two of them.

The new project will be called SAN FRANCISCO WINE & CHEESE COMPANY and will continue to offer gourmet cheese, though they may shift away from the mostly French focus and offer more local choices. There will also be wine available by the glass, as well as sandwiches and some meats, plus they’ll be adding local chocolates to the lineup. The space has a nice back patio, where they will serve tea and house-roasted coffee. They plan to reopen in the next few weeks. 141 Gough St. at Oak.

Join the SF Food Bank for Hunger Awareness Month and the Hunger Challenge


Volunteers sort bell peppers at the SF-Marin Food Bank. Photo from Facebook.

We’ve talked about food insecurity before on tablehopper, and it always bears mentioning that even as our beautiful city becomes a bastion of good food and good drink, many in our community are struggling to put food on the table. In fact, as San Francisco becomes more expensive, it’s even more challenging for many families to get by.

To bring attention to the challenges of eating on a very strict budget, the SF-Marin Food Bank is participating in Hunger Action Month this September. In addition to its major push as kids head back to school and families get ready for the holidays, the food bank will be working to match a pledge from Riverbed Technology for $100,000, matching every dollar they raise in September. For more information on how to donate, head here.

You can also participate by joining the Hunger Challenge from Monday September 14th through Friday September 18th. You’ll be challenged to eat on just $4.50 a day, the food stamp average. The Food Bank will provide recipes on their website and will moderate a conversation on Twitter about the experience.

While you take the challenge, tweet what it’s like, and share with them at @SFMFoodBank. Encourage your community to think about hunger with the Hunger Challenge in a tweet: can you live on $4.50 a day? Take the #HungerChallenge and share your experience with @SFMFoodBank.

You can sign up for the challenge right here, and don’t forget to continue the conversation on Twitter!

510 Retirement Report: New Owners Slated to Take Over Ajanta in Berkeley, a Farewell from BayWolf, Bucci's Closing


The dining room at Ajanta. Facebook photo by Marty Snortum.

I know people deserve their retirement, especially folks in the restaurant industry, because it’s like dog years. But still, it’s tough to learn about folks like the kind Lachu Moorjani of AJANTA leaving us! (He opened the restaurant in 1993.) I noticed an ABC filing, and reached out to Lachu, who confirmed that the owner of Taste of the Himalayas, Rajan Thapa, is buying Ajanta, along with partner Al Satake. The sale is not final at this time—it’s contingent upon transfer of all the licenses and the lease. The guess is that it will probably take about month and a half for all the transfers.

The good news is, the buyers want to keep everything exactly the way it is and have asked Lachu to stay for a while (the man is a font of recipes and special dishes!). He will be working with them full time for about 15 days after close of escrow and has committed to work part-time for at least 6 months thereafter. After that, he says, “My wife and I are both very fond of travelling and we want to travel as much as we can, before both of us are too old. I am so looking forward to doing that.” And they so deserve it. Thank you, Lachu and Shanti, for everything you have done to promote beautiful eating and cooking! This just means we’ll all need to cook more from their book, Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India.

Another retirement: the team behind BAY WOLF has closed the restaurant after 40 years. We mentioned the closure was imminent a couple of months ago, but we wanted to be sure you saw the farewell letter from Michael Wild, Larry Goldman, and Michael Phelps. Enjoy your vacations, gents! 3853 Piedmont Ave. at Rio Vista, Oakland.

One more retirement to hit the 510: Amelia Bucci, Paul Camardo, and Les Julian of BUCCI’S in Emeryville will be closing the much-adored restaurant on September 30th, after serving more pasta and meatballs than anyone could possibly count (since 1988!). You can read more in the Mercury News. Again, enjoy your well-earned vacation and travels! 6121 Hollis St. at Doyle, Emeryville, 510-547-4725.


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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

The Lord George Opens in the Former Nova


The bar at Lord George. Photo by Marcell Turner Photography.


Design details at Lord George. Photo by Marcell Turner Photography.


The exterior window. Photo by Marcell Turner Photography.

At last, Ezra Berman and Miles Palliser (The Corner Store, San Francisco Athletic Club) are ready to reveal their plans for the former Nova space in SoMa, because, well, their new place is open. (Well, softly open—the grand opening is this Thursday September 3rd at 7pm.) Meet THE LORD GEORGE, a “cocktail house” designed to appeal to neighbors and Giants fans, both when the game is on and when it isn’t.

The name takes its inspiration from “Lord” George Gordon (i.e., not a lord, although he acted like one), who built South Park and helped create a little slice of well-to-do London in San Francisco in the 1850s.

The executive chef is Nick Adams (The Corner Store, formerly Salt House, Town Hall), who is putting together a menu of shared plates, with food designed for gathering (and drinking). Dishes include an array of tartines (whipped avocado with goat cheese, lemon, soft herbs, and blossoms; crispy duck confit with plum, five spice, and shallots; roast strawberry with ricotta, pistachio, and honey; and one with prosciutto, Gruyère, and egg), salads (a chopped salad with Green Goddess and an heirloom tomato panzanella), plus a couple of soups (seafood bisque, summer corn). Oysters will be served from the marble raw bar up front (look for three or four kinds nightly) and served late (along with some cheese and charcuterie and other bar snacks after 10pm).

Dustin Sullivan (formerly Fog City, Picco) is the cocktail and beverage director and will be offering a top-tier bar, with quite the list of cocktails, 18 in all. There are two lists: the simple and the fancy, depending on what you’re in the mood for. Maybe both. The simple side of the list includes a French 75, gin martini, and Manhattan bottle service for four to six people for $45. On the fancy side, there’s the Inside Job (rye, spicy ginger, maple, lemon, seltzer, bitters) and the Oxford Comma (Armagnac, aquavit, dry vermouth, maraschino, grenadine)—and yes, we love the name. All cocktails clock in at $10-$13. There are six wines on tap, including one sparkling, and 20 or so bottles (old and new world).

The space was designed by Clinton Miller of Parisa O’Connell. The long bar was refinished, and the back bar was built out in mahogany (the oak floors were also refinished). The banquettes were taken out, and six high-top tables built for socializing were put in. There’s a green tufted leather booth in the back, with a marble-topped table (matching the marble used for the oyster bar in the front). For a touch of glimmer, there are three Deco-looking chandeliers, but when you look more closely, you’ll see they are made of test tubes with corks inside. The interior is meant to feel classy and fun and vibrant all at once—stylish but not stuffy.

Hours are Mon-Thu 11:30am-1am, Fri 11:30am-2am, Sat 10am-2am, and Sun 10am-1am. 555 2nd St. at Bryant.

The Lodge on Piedmont Opens in Oakland (Cue Craving for Fondue)


The chic cabin interior of The Lodge. Photo courtesy of Alexeis Filipello.


Wood paneling forever. Photo courtesy of Alexeis Filipello.

We are thrilled to announce that after teasing us on Instagram with sneak peeks of taxidermy, Alexeis Filipello (Bar Dogwood, Stag’s Lunchette, Darling’s Elixirs) and Matt Eiseman are ready to open THE LODGE ON PIEDMONT. As we previously reported, it’s opening in the former Egbert Souse’s in North Oakland, but you will hardly recognize the place. What was a dark and rather dodgy bar has been transformed into quite the lodgelike atmosphere. It has some Tahoe cabin throwback kitsch to it, starting with the exterior, which  has new framed windows to let in some light and a log cabin set on the roof. You can’t miss it.

Inside, there is a 30-foot redwood bar with room for 25 (the front of it was made to look like tooled leather); walls made of redwood, alder, and nutmeg; a paint-by-numbers mural that Filipello commissioned for the space (she collects paint-by-numbers pieces); custom lighting (yay, smoky glass); two-top and six-top tables; and of course plenty of taxidermy, plus a brown bear pelt a friend gave to them (which they installed on the ceiling). They really enjoyed working with Ecological Builders on the space and had such nice things to say about them (and their landlord, the Weinsteins).

The duo really wanted to create a neighborhood bar, so while the cocktails will feature some quality spirits and fresh ingredients, they won’t be too precious—just simple and good. Look for four or five classics, plus well drinks to fit everyone’s budget. Filipello did mention there is an adult slushie machine, which they will be making an amazing piña colada with, featuring agricole rum and no sugar—cane syrup is more their style. There will also be some local beers, and Spanish and Italian wines.

As for the menu, you’re the first to take a look. You’ll be able to snack on a house-smoked pork and cheese plate, spicy Rocky wings with habanero and aji (that you can dip into smoked blue cheese sauce), and chicken chicharrones with lime-chile dust and bird’s eye chile sauce. Yeah, good stuff.

There’s also boar sausage made with St. George Terroir gin, housemade venison and veal sausage in puff pastry with spicy mustard and caramelized onion, and a steak sandwich with cheddar beer sauce. No fear, vegetarians, there’s a vegetable sandwich on Dutch crunch, a customizable grilled cheese menu, and avocado toast. Filipello only uses quality ingredients, and everything the menu is still less than $10 (except for the steak sandwich, which is $15, and the smoked pork and cheese plate for $12). It will be a limited menu to start; look for mac and cheese soon and a full fondue spread in the winter, oh you know it.

Pssst, there’s also a small outdoor space in the back, with German hofbrau tables. Go ahead and let that be a local’s secret. Also of note: there is a TV in the back of the space, but it will only be playing big games and won’t always be on.

For the first few months, The Lodge will only be open until 12am, but hours will extend soon. For now: Mon-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sun 12pm-12am. 3758 Piedmont Ave. at MacArthur, Oakland, 510-350-8470.

Bar Shots: From The Bubble Lounge to Barbarossa, Elbo Room Gets a Stay of Execution, Help the Riptide, The Alembic Reopens


The Elbo Room. Yelp photo by Omar K.


The original interior at The Alembic. Photo by Jennifer Yin via Postcard Communications.

Hoodline reports that the Bubble Lounge, which closed in May, is now reopening as BARBAROSSA. Owner Eric Benn has brought on Arash Ghanadan of Novela as a new partner and is giving the space a facelift. When they reopen, the bar will have a Barbary Coast theme, as a nod to the building’s previous incarnation as a prison (oooh) and wholesale liquor warehouse. They’ll be focusing on happy hour, with a cocktail list, good beers, and wines available by the glass. There will still be plenty of Champagne and dancing too. The plan is to open in mid-October. 714 Montgomery St. at Washington.

It sounds like the beloved ELBO ROOM might not be closing imminently, as expected. KQED reported that owner Matt Shapiro posted an announcement on his Facebook page stating that the club’s lease has been extended another year, and it will go month-to-month in 2016. They could still have to close after that, but this is certainly good news for fans of the live music (and strong drink) venue. 647 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-552-7788.

The Elbo Room is passing along good vibes to another local gem of a bar that needs it right now. As you likely know, THE RIPTIDE was badly damaged in a fire on August 18th. The bar sustained at least $600,000 in damage and is currently closed until repairs can be made. But you can help! And this is a bar, so you know the effort will be fun. Friends of the Riptide and Elbo Room are coming together on Thursday September 3rd to raise money for the rebuilding of the fabulous bar. The party is at Elbo Room starting at 8pm. There are more than six bands playing, plus DJs spinning music. There will be drink specials, a raffle, silent auction, and more to raise money. Check out all the details (and tell your friends!) on the Facebook event page. And if you can’t make it, never fear! You can also donate here. 647 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-552-7788.

Good news: THE ALEMBIC has reopened, but the new/expanded space isn’t quite open yet. You can take a sneak peek on Hoodline (there will be more room for groups, yay), and we’ll update you on the final unveiling. We’ll also be telling you about new executive chef Dave Faro’s menu soon (Broke-Ass Stuart shared the news of Ted Fleury’s departure here).

The Alembic            - 1725 Haight St. San Francisco - 415-666-0822

Let's Drink Some WINE


Wine and pizza at Ragazza. Photo from Facebook.

It looks like there’s a new wine bar in the Excelsior/Mission Terrace, called SIP WINE BAR. It’s above Bottoms Up and is actually owned by the same people, according to the liquor license. They are offering a changing wine list with wines from all over the world, as well as local selections. There are also four beers on tap, as well as soju and sake. The space, which has been remodeled with a sleek, modern vibe, is also available for private parties. Hours are Wed-Sat 6pm-2am. 4704 Mission St. at Persia, 415-337-1678.

Darling little pizza girl RAGAZZA is turning five this month, can you believe it? Toast to their half decade in business with half-priced glasses of wine this month. The specials are happening Monday through Friday, 5pm to 6:30pm until September 30th. Buon compleanno, Ragazza!

Catch a special winemaker dinner at SPRUCE on Tuesday September 22nd. Italian winemakers Ar.Pe.Pe. from Lombardia will be in attendance, pouring their wines to pair with the four-course dinner. Ahhhhh, Valtellina! Chefs Mark Sullivan and John Madriaga have created a menu inspired by the region and the wines, while Isabella Pelizzatti, from the fifth-generation family of winemakers, will be talking about their winery and pours. Check out the menu and get tickets here. Tickets are $190 per person and include wine, dinner, and gratuity.

Spruce            - 3640 Sacramento St. San Francisco - 415-931-5100


the socialite

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

Taste America, Italian Style, with Brian Boitano and the tablehopper, on October 23rd and 24th


Raising a glass at James Beard Taste America 2014. Photo by Gamma Nine Photography.

Event Info

Friday Oct 23, 2015 – Saturday Oct 24, 2015 Cocktail reception at 5:30pm, Dinner at 7pm General admission $350 per person, or $3,250 for a table of 10; VIP tickets are $425 per person or $4,000 for a table of 10 Information and Tickets                        Bimbo's 365 Club 1025 Columbus Ave. at Union

By Dana Eastland. The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Tour is coming to San Francisco on Friday October 23rd and Saturday October 24th with a bunch of ways to celebrate good eating. On Friday October 23rd, you won’t want to miss the Night of Culinary Stars. It kicks off at 5:30pm with a cocktail reception and is followed by a 7pm dinner. This year, the party is focused on Italian cuisine and will take place at the iconic Bimbo’s 365 Club in North Beach.

All your favorite chefs with Italian restaurants will be there, including Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia in Chicago, who is preparing dinner. He’ll be joined by Suzette Gresham (Acquerello), Chris Marchino (Cotogna), Rocky Maselli (A16), Craig Stoll (Delfina), and Staffan Terje (Perbacco), so you know the food will rock. Pasta in the casa!

As for wine, Mark Bright (Saison), Kimberly Charles (Charles Communications), and Shelley Lindgren (A16 and SPQR) are chairing the wine selections, and their pairings promise a fun and delicious evening.

Oh, and the best part? This evening of Italian celebration is going to be emceed by Marcia Gagliardi, the tablehopper herself. She’ll be running the show along with the fab ice skating champion Brian Boitano of the Food Network’s What Would Brian Boitano Make?—no doubt they’ll keep everyone giggling all night long.

The event is a fundraiser for the James Beard Foundation’s excellent scholarship program, which provides money for culinary students and aspiring chefs for their education. For more information on the scholarship program and its many alumni, head here.

Tickets to the evening are general admission $350 per person, or $3,250 for a table of 10; VIP tickets are $425 per person or $4,000 for a table of 10 and include preferred seating, a chance to meet the chefs, and a special gift. 1025 Columbus Ave. at Union.

Then, on Saturday October 24th, Sur La Table on Union Street will be hosting cooking demonstrations from Tony Mantuano (10am) and Rocky Maselli (12pm). Reservations for the demonstrations can be made here starting October 10th.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Never Dull Your Dumpling for Somebody Else

Supermodel and superwoman Tyra Banks was spotted at Chino on Saturday evening. She was with a group including her mother and a pair of friends and their son. The group ordered steamed buns with bacalao, XLB, cucumber salad with chile-miso, eggplant salad, kung pao ribs, fish and leek dumplings, and tomato salad. Reportedly, the group was lovely to the staff and even boogied a little to the evening’s music selections.

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