So I don’t think anyone particularly wanted to start the new year with the tragic loss of David Bowie from our planet. We reel. He represented so much, to so many people, for so many reasons. What talent, what style, what an amazingly fluid expression of gender. And then there’s the sheer depth of his music catalog—how many past boyfriends are wrapped up in his songs for me, for all of us? The Thin White Duke played a huge part in the coming of age for so many—and like a true vampire, he was timeless, and transcendent. Bowie, the world is going to have a hard time letting you leave us. Fortunately his music and impact are eternal.
I’m also having a hard time wrapping things up here in SF before my six-month departure for New York this Saturday morning. (SO. EXCITED. But oh my goddess, the list of things for me to do before I leave is terrifying!)
We were playing a lot of news catch-up this week, so we’re going to spill over into Friday as well (stand by for an update on the soon-to-open The Perennial, and more). I’m going to save my “ciao from SF for now” talk and an update on what you can expect from me (and the tablehopper column!) in coming weeks until this Friday. Cool? Cool.
For now, let’s dive in. Meow! Marcia Gagliardi
UPDATE: Opening Wednesday January 27th for dinner!
Earlier this year we wrote about FIORELLA, the neighborhood Italian restaurant, pizzeria, and enoteca coming to the Outer Richmond. To recap, Boris Nemchenok (of Lower Haight’s Uva Enoteca) is partnering with chef-partner Brandon Gillis (formerly Franny’s in Brooklyn and Bark Hot Dogs in Brooklyn and Manhattan). Fun fact: Nemchenok actually grew up in the Richmond just a few blocks away.
The opening menu includes antipasti like vegetables with hard-boiled egg and anchovy dressing, and pan-fried caciocavallo cheese with salsa verde, plus supplì al telefono, a variety of bruschette (chicken liver alla Toscana, and house-cured anchovies with mozzarella di bufala and butter), and Venetian polpette (meatballs) with lemon, vino bianco, and parsley. Pastas include linguine con vongole (clams) and pasta al ceppo with meat ragù (pasta al ceppo is a rolled pasta that looks like a cinnamon stick). Some secondi will also be featured, TBD for now.
As for the pizza, it’s a hybrid Bay Area style. Since their wood-fired Toscana brick oven (by Forni Valoriani) cooks pizzas in 2-1/2 to 3 minutes (instead of the usual 90 seconds for most Neapolitan pizzas), it’s going to have a crisper crust (Oakland’s Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe have the same oven). The menu includes a white pie (with ricotta, fior di latte, red onion, and oregano), of course a margherita, a New Haven pie (tomato, Parmigiano, olio nuovo), sausage and onion, clams and chiles, a spicy salami pie with caciocavallo, and The Alamo, with tomato, mushroom, rosemary, cream, garlic, and provolone picante (this pie was inspired by ingredients grown in the Alamo Elementary student garden—the kids will vote on their favorite, and if you order it, 10 percent of proceeds will go to the arts program).
Nemchenok knows his way around a wine list—look for Italian producers, along with domestic producers growing Italian varieties, plus an all-SF beer list.
The 40-seat restaurant has 8 seats at the bar and a communal table in the front window with room for 10. The interior has some fun details (by designer Melinda Turner), including white hex tile, dark woods, chic spherical lighting, and wait until you get a look at the Bay Area icons wallpaper, featuring Alice Waters, Angela Davis, E-40, Joe Montana, and Dennis Richmond of KTVU Channel 2 (LOL); it’s by Bay Area artist Matt Ritchie (via Flavor Paper)
Coming down the road will be weekend brunch, espresso drinks to go, and there’s a back garden that will have outdoor seating when the weather warms up. And they take reservations! It will be open nightly 5pm-10pm.
Chef Joey Elenterio (Wayfare Tavern, Chez TJ) is serving a progressive American menu, which you can explore as a four-course dinner for $49 (the house applies tax and auto gratuity of 20 percent, making the total cost just under $64 per person) in the reservation-only dining room (you book your seat via Tock on the website), or order off the à la carte menu in the bar area and at the communal tables, which ranges from appetizers to full-size dishes, and dessert.
The prix-fixe menu offers two options, either a vegetarian menu or one featuring seafood and meat. You’ll be presented with an amuse-bouche, a first course (on the vegetarian menu, the roasted baby carrots feature a range of textures, temperatures, and pops of flavor from pickled walnuts and wild rice aioli), a pasta course (either delicate hand-cut fettuccine with turnip beurre fondue and persillade, or wintery rabbit agnolotti in a roasted garlic jus with celery root milk), a main course (which includes grass-fed rib eye on the meaty menu), and one of the dessert courses included vanilla bean bavarian, banana pudding, chicory granité, and caramelized banana gelée—it was like a zhooshed up version of my childhood fave of banana pudding with Nilla wafers. Plating is very considered, and you’ll run through a variety of different dish styles through your meal.
The tiled bar in the back features cocktails from Chase Williamson (Maven, Prospect, Nopa)—there are some communal tables as well where you can post up. You’ll note many culinary elements in the cocktails ($13 each); a good one to start with is the Nectar, with Krogstad aquavit, sarsaparilla honey, lime, and cava. You can look at the wine list here, which has a focus on old world—you’ll find some well-priced selections and some splurges too (because, tech).
The 100-seat restaurant is pushing a look that differs from many others (G. Paoletti Design Lab is behind the design)—it has a loungy feeling, with eye-catching round “teacup” booths that will be the coveted seats for sure. There’s no missing the booths in the middle of the room with faux fur backs and look like they’re enclosed with Flintstone-sized wood ribs. Tables along the wall are backed with golden rods that put off a gentle twinkling light, and an upholstered banquette runs underneath. Lights are kept low, and the upbeat soundtrack keeps things energetic.
Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1446 Market St. at Polk, 415-851-8561.
By Dana Eastland. We first mentioned the new barbecue project from chef David Lawrence and his wife Monetta White back in December of 2014, and now BLACK BARK BBQ is here. On Wednesday January 13th (that’s tomorrow), the new fast-casual barbecue restaurant will finally open its doors after years (literally) of planning, recipe testing, and remodeling. Lawrence has been traveling and researching regional American barbecue for the new restaurant, and even brought on barbecue expert Edith Cheadle from Dallas, with more than 20 years of smoke under her belt, to help open the restaurant and consult on the food.
The barbecue here is not completely beholden to one style. Rather, it gravitates toward Texas style, with dry rubs, but also looks to the Carolinas and Kansas City for inspiration. Lawrence calls this “San Francisco-style barbecue,” and plans to offer his ribs, along with chicken, hot links, brisket, pulled pork, and a rotating pit master special, depending on mood and the best-looking cuts available. Many of the sides are made using Cheadle’s recipes, including bourbon mac and cheese with cornbread crust, smothered greens with ham hocks, and sweet potato casserole. In addition to all that barbecue, there will also be seasonal salads available. The drinks include 12 local beers on tap, as well as 6 wines, plus a selection of bottled options—look for plenty of ciders too.
The space is casual, with room for 56 diners in the open dining room. Ordering is done at the counter, and the open kitchen allows a view into the pit. There are televisions for watching the game, if that’s your thing, and on nice days there will be outdoor seating for 15. Hours are are Wed-Mon 11:30am-10pm, closed Tue. 1325 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-848-9055.
Divisadero Corridor keeps on crack-a-lackin’. The team opening Kinjo on Polk also have a project coming to the Divisadero Corridor, and we finally received a few details from them. It’s going to be called IJJI and will be a traditional nigiri sushi place, with a few small side dishes. There are only 16 seats, with 8 at the counter and 8 table seats. It will be dinner only, potentially open six nights a week.
The owners include the chef-owner of Saru in Noe Valley, Billy Kong, and the chef-owner of Seiya in San Carlos, Kuo Hwa Chuang, and Amanda Tsung. The name means perseverance, persistence, or dedication, which is what you need to open a restaurant in this town. Look for an opening the last week of January, just next door to the upcoming Indian Paradox (at 258). 252 Divisadero St. at Haight.
Chef Departures: Ron Siegel (Michael Mina), Sara Hauman (Huxley), Dennis Lee (Smokestack), Kevin Scott (Big 4), More
There are a lot of chef changes since the start of the year—let’s begin with the news that chef Ron Siegel has departed MICHAEL MINA. He tells Scoop he’s tired of the commute to San Anselmo, which he has been doing for 18 years, and teases he may have something in the works in the North Bay.
His replacement is Raj Dixit, previously in the Mina group at Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in SoCal, as well as at The Ryland Inn under chef Craig Shelton and at David Bouley in New York. He’ll be ramping up for an early February transition.
One more thing to note: Michael Mina Restaurant has named Martin Sheehan-Stross as the lead sommelier. He will be working with Mina Group’s corporate wine director Rajat Parr to grow the program (look for even more Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne selections). He was recently named one of Wine and Spirits Magazine’s Best New Sommeliers in 2015 and was previously the beverage director at Wayfare Tavern.
I was sorry to hear Sara Hauman has packed up her one-woman army and departed HUXLEY in the Tenderloin. Eater adds she is going to be working with Brandon Jew on his upcoming Mister Jiu’s (coming in a couple of months)—she previously worked with him at Bar Agricole. Owner Kris Esqueda closed the restaurant this week to make some minor upgrades to the space; look for a small beer tap system, more wines by the bottle, and new low-ABV cocktails. Stand by for a chef announcement soon.
We just received word from Namu’s Dennis Lee that he is leaving his chef post at SMOKESTACK and MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY due to professional differences; he will be dedicating his efforts on Namu’s upcoming Divisadero project, Namu Noodle (coming to Dogpatch this year), and Namu Jakarta (opening in Indonesia this year—it will be a two-tiered concept in a luxury high-rise with a finer dining room upstairs, and a more casual concept at the lobby/ground level). His last day with Magnolia will be in February.
Chef Kevin Scott—who helped update the BIG 4 menu and concept after the Huntington Hotel was taken over by the Scarlet Singapore (sorry not sorry, I refuse to call it the Scarlet Huntington)—departed after the holidays wrapped up; his last day was December 26th. He says he’s eager to get his own thing going, but in the meantime will be consulting and freelancing as he works on his next project. Best to you, Kevin!
The upcoming CITIZEN FOX (and recently opened Kit Fox) has lost their chef, Kevin Schuder. Eater reports “mutual differences in management” led to the decision to part ways. The Citizen Fox pop-up at 2293 Mission Street will continue with the kitchen staff in place there.
By Dana Eastland. Well-regarded pie pop-up BUTTER LOVE BAKESHOP has found a permanent home in the Outer Richmond, according to Scoop. The new location, from baker Esa Yonn-Brown and her husband Josh Perez, offers her classic all-butter crust pies, including savory potpies and seasonal fruit pies. There are also other pastries, including cookies, quiche, cakes, and scones made from the recipe used by the space’s former occupant, Nibs. If that’s not enough to entice you, they are also serving doughnuts, along with coffee from Mr. Espresso. 3717 Balboa St. at 38th Ave., 415-602-3988.
A La Cocina alum, Gabriela Guerrero, has opened a new restaurant in the former Salumeria space in the Hamm’s Building, Scoop reports. It’s called DELICIOSO CREPERIE, and Guerrero is serving crêpes with a Latin influence. Some of the fillings are French style, like ratatouille or a croque monsieur, but others offer choices inspired by Mexican food, including turkey with mole sauce and adobo pork. Peek at the menu here. Hours on Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. 1550 Bryant St. at Alameda, 510-334-9967.
Hoodline caught the news that the Upper Haight now has its very own sushi restaurant. It’s called GINZA, and they’ve moved into the former Great Indian space. The menu includes lunch specials like bento boxes and special rolls, all available for less than $20. On the regular menu you’ll find an omakase option, as well as sushi, sashimi, and hot appetizers. 1793 Haight St. at Shrader, 415-742-0552.
Financial District and SoMa workers have a new place for sandwiches and a salad bar. FAYALA is now open on Fremont, and according to Yelpers, it’s a sister restaurant of Chez Fayala on Pine. They offer sandwiches made to order, as well as an abundant salad bar and hot food buffet. Yelp reviews so far are very positive, with many citing good value, cleanliness, and fresh food. 215 Fremont St. Suite B at Howard, 415-757-0444.
The folks behind Iza Ramen in the Lower Haight are launching a new pop-up at Blowfish Sushi since Iza is now up and running. (It started there as a pop-up—oh, and quick sidebar: Iza Ramen is now open for lunch Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm.)
Chef-owner Ritsuo Tsuchida is starting pop-up Ramen JuBay on Saturday January 16th and will be featuring a white tonkotsu ramen ($11), with angel-hair noodle in a tonkotsu pork broth with chashu BBQ pork, marinated egg, cloud ear mushroom, and pickled takana mustard leaf; there will be a spicy version for $12. The menu also includes karaage chicken wings, chicken pot stickers, and takoyaki. The pop-up runs on Saturdays 11:30am-2:30pm; expect it to stick around for six months or longer. Blowfish Sushi, 2170 Bryant St. at 20th St., 415-285-3848.
Some readers have been asking about news on the MANOR COFFEE SHOP, which we warned was closing. It has now closed and was taken over by new owners, who aren’t quite ready to share lots of details but would tell us that they hope to open in mid-February, and they are planning to “keep the diner vibe going.” The menu will change, though they wouldn’t say quite how, only (and emphatically) that is would be “better.” 321-A West Portal Ave. at 14th Ave., 415-661-2468.
The recently opened LITTLE GEM in Hayes Valley is now serving breakfast and lunch. (To recap, this is the upscale fast-casual place that is wheat-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free, highlighting quality and local ingredients.) Breakfast includes a variety of grains and egg dishes, from their housemade granola to almond and quinoa flour pancakes to the Hayes braise (Swiss chard, black garlic, poached egg, almond-bacon crumble), while lunch offers a chance to check out their wrap sandwiches. Oh, and save room for their lemon custard. Hours are Tue-Fri breakfast 8am-10:30am, lunch 11am-4pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; Sat-Sun breakfast 9am-11am, lunch 11:30am-4pm, dinner 5pm-9pm. 400 Grove St. at Gough, 415-914-0502.
It sounds like ORIGAMI MARKET, the fast-casual spot in SoMa that we mentioned in August, is closing and morphing into OKANE. Kash Feng, who owned Origami Market and also owns Omakase, is still at the helm and plans to open Okane in mid-January. The new project is inspired by the izakayas of Japan and will focus on traditional dishes as well as sake and beer, plus a small wine list. In addition to the dining room seating, there are also plans for a sushi counter that seats four. Hours will be daily for lunch from 11am-3pm and dinner 5pm-12am. 669 Townsend St. at 8th St.
By Dana Eastland. San Francisco Restaurant Week returns this month from January 20th through the 31st. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association is once again running the show, with lots of partners like OpenTable and Lyft to help make your restaurant-going experience a smooth one. More than 120 restaurants from all over the city are participating, including Belga, Aatxe, Ichi Sushi, Zero Zero, and 1300 on Fillmore (and Les Clos is running a good offer for both lunch and dinner, with wine pairings!). Check out all the participating restaurants here.
How it works this year is that all of the restaurants will offer special prix-fixe meals, at two different price points for both lunch and dinner: lunch is two courses at either $15 or $25, dinner is three courses and either $45 or $60. You can also follow along on Facebook, and if you attend four or more meals and post a photo, you’ll even be entered in a drawing to win $1,200 in gift certificates! Locations, times, and meals served all vary; see website for additional details.
For those of you in the East Bay or looking to explore, Oakland Restaurant Week is happening January 14th through the 24th. There are more than 100 restaurants participating, with the option of prix-fixe lunch or dinner menus of $20, $30, $40, or $50 per person. Participating restaurants include Calavera, A16 Rockridge, Salsipuedes (which includes their drowned fried chicken torta!), Desco, and Juhu Beach Club. The whole list of participating restaurants is here, so you can start planning your visit now. Locations, prices, and hours vary per restaurants; see website for details.
Berkeley is also getting in on the action, with Berkeley Restaurant Week happening from January 21st through the 31st. There are over 20 restaurants participating, including Comal and Revival Bar + Kitchen, with options ranging from a $20 prix-fixe lunch to dinner for either $25 or $35. Here’s the full list of restaurants, along with menus and details. Locations, prices, and hours vary.
The East Bay has plenty of new projects to look forward to, starting with the news that IPPUDO is coming to downtown Berkeley (it’s known for being one of the tastier tonkotsu ramen bowls in New York, but has locations around the world). Berkeleyside mentions it’s coming to Shattuck (next to Berkeley’s first Blue Bottle café, which will also be arriving); no word on timing. 2011 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley.
Meanwhile, Eater and Inside Scoop both caught Daniel Patterson’s Instagram announcement that he’ll be opening a LOCO’L with Roy Choi next door to Plum Bar in the original Plum (the first location is opening in Watts in LA on January 18th). Sounds like the SF Tenderloin location will come after Uptown Oakland, and there’s a mention of East Oakland too. 2216 Broadway at 22nd St., Oakland.
Opening Wednesday January 13th is the 60-seat CAFÉ EUGENE in the former Little Star Pizza in Albany from the team behind Little Star Pizza and Boss Burger (Jon Guhl and Ryan Murff). They want it to be a neighborhood restaurant, and the menu will highlight influences from California and the Pacific Northwest for brunch (like baked steel oats with honey baked pear and cardamom coconut milk) and dinner (like clam chowder potpie) daily—the chef is Amanda Joost Gehring (Lalime’s, Café Rouge).
Cocktails include some inventive Bloody Marys and warm cocktails like Spanish coffee. Outdoor seating has room for 15. Open Sun-Thu 9am-9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-10pm; brunch runs 9am-3pm, dinner starts at 5:30pm, with an interim menu in between. 175 Solano Ave. at Cornell, Albany, 510-647-9999.
We’ve been following CASA CUBANA’s Facebook page for a while, and they are now open. To recap, it’s from Sam DuVall and Joe Kohn (Izzy’s Steak and Chop House) in the former Vo’s, and the Cuban-inspired menu can be viewed here. Cocktails and art also play a big part. Open for lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, happy hour runs 4pm-7pm, and dinner 5pm-10pm. 59 Grand Ave. at Webster, Oakland.
The West Coast’s largest specialty food event is right around the corner, and top producers and buyers from around the world will soon be arriving in San Francisco. They’re gearing up to see and sample the most innovative foods and beverages of 2016—and to discover their next big sellers.
There’s more. This year also marks the West Coast debut of Specialty Food Week. Activities will include the chance to meet rising food stars and explore the Bay Area’s hottest retailers on a professionally guided tour. Add to that parties, networking, and other special events, and it promises to be a great week!
About six months ago, I heard the historic dive GANGWAY was up for sale (nooooooo), and I have to admit I shuddered at the thought that SF’s first and oldest gay bar (since 1961—although the bar has been in existence since 1910, which makes it 105!) could potentially be in peril. And then I just saw the pending liquor license transfer to “Breaking Chad, Inc.” (noooooooo) and called the bar. And then I heard the last thing I wanted to hear from my favorite bartender there: that a couple straight guys are reportedly taking it over. NOOOOOOOO. Now, this isn’t confirmed or final final, but it definitely doesn’t bode well.
I will keep checking in with the bar on any updates, and I also reached out to “Breaking Chad’s” legal rep to relay a message and see if they have any comments on their plans. Now, excuse me while I start crying into my really strong drank, because that’s all the Gangway serves (well, and a whole lot of dive bar realness). SIGH. 841 Larkin St. at Geary, 415-776-6828.
By Dana Eastland. CUESA’s seasonal cocktail fest is back, this time with Winter Cocktails of the Farmers Market on Wednesday January 27th. From 5:30pm-8pm, the Ferry Building will be filled with bartenders offering their take on the art of the modern drink, with beverages inspired by modern art. The evening is a partnership with SFMOMA, which is reopening the spring, and includes plenty of cocktails, bites, and fun.
Thirteen bartenders from all over the city will participate, including Crystal Chasse (Blackbird, Dirty Habit), Megan Daniel and Alex Smith (Whitechapel), and Jack Bates (Alamo Drafthouse), with cocktails made from spirits sponsors including Disaronno, Heaven Hill PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, and Rémy Martin. And of course, all the drinks will feature seasonal produce from CUESA’s farmers’ market.
There will also be chefs from local restaurants serving appetizer bites, including Ryan Shelton (Reverb Kitchen & Bar), David Murphy (Whitechapel), and David Bazirgan (Dirty Habit). Tickets are $60 per person and include three full-size cocktails, unlimited sample-size drinks, and tickets to try the bites. You can also purchase a “season ticket” to all of the three upcoming cocktail events for $150. Ferry Building Grand Hall, Embarcadero at Market.
Wednesday Jan 27, 2016 5:30pm-8pm more info
Ferry Building - One Ferry Building San Francisco - 415-983-8000
By Dana Eastland. We mentioned it in December but don’t forget that San Francisco Beer Week is coming up soon. It’s from January 22nd through 31st, and there are lots of great sudsy events to check out.
A few to consider: on Saturday January 23rd, Red Dog is hosting chef Beau Schooler of Juneau, Alaska, and Almanac Brewing for a special Alaskan Seafood and Almanac Dinner complete with seafood from both Alaska and California (and yes, there will be crab!). Tickets are $150 per person and include food and beer.
Then, on Sunday January 24th, Red Dog is hosting Almanac again, this time for a Chef’s Night Out dinner complete with some of the industry’s favorite chefs. Dishes inspired by attendees Liza Shaw (Merigan Sub Shop), Tim Archuleta (Ichi Sushi), and Lauren Kiino (Red Dog) will all be on offer. Tickets are $145 per person and include food and beer.
On Wednesday January 27th, Black Hammer Brewing and chef Mark Liberman are hosting a special event in the former TBD space, which will include a sneak peek of the space’s future. The special sneak peek includes beer from Black Hammer, including some completely new brews, as well as lots of small bites to try.
There are tons of beer events happening the whole week, on all sides of the bay. Be sure to check out the schedule here, and get ready for brewing madness. Event locations, times, and costs vary; see each event for details.
Friday Jan 22, 2016 – Sunday Jan 31, 2016 more info
By Dana Eastland. Indie star Parker Posey was spotted at Fable on Friday night, following an appearance at The Castro Theatre for Sketchfest. She was there with two comedians, including Derek Waters of Drunk History, and the group reportedly enjoyed the pork chop over bread salad with frilly red mustard greens and kumquat jus. They were all very friendly, and apparently many customers recognized them but left them to enjoy their dinner in peace. Hopefully, at the end of their meal, Ms. Posey was able to find her Tic Tacs.
By Dana Eastland. Champagne Papi, as we like to call Drake around here (because of course), has been spending even more days in the East…Bay, that is. This time, he was at Brown Sugar Kitchen the day after Christmas, and even stopped to snap a photo with chef-owner Tanya Holland.
By Dana Eastland. Actor, writer, and comedian Seth Rogen spent a weekend at the Hotel Healdsburg over New Year’s, along with his wife, actor and director Lauren Miller, and their dog, canine actor Zelda (no, seriously—she appeared in The Interview and This is the End). The couple enjoyed dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen on New Year’s Eve along with friends from New York, and our source also reports that the couple was returning to the property after their wedding there in 2011. Awwwww.