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Feb 22, 2016 13 min read

February 23, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: a perfect 10.

February 23, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: a perfect 10.
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This week's tablehopper: a perfect 10.                    

My idea of a perfect celebratory lunch: Scottish salmon and sable on an everything bagel (and bubbles!) at Baz. Photo: ©

Buon giorno! Can you see my huge smile beaming from New York? Yes, I have been having an epic first month here, but the grin is about a greater accomplishment: on Sunday February 21st, tablehopper turned 10! Crazy, right?! I sent out my very first tablehopper issue, all the way back in 2006. And here’s the very first tablehopper homepage. Awwww. Memories. Where has the time gone? (The same place as my waistline, I suppose.)

I know a bunch of you have been reading my column for years, so here’s a huge thank you for all your support, kindness, tips, feedback, and enthusiasm for my venture. You are an incredible community! I have so much gratitude for all of you who keep the hopper hopping, but especially to my brilliant team over the years, from my designers to technologists to copyeditor to ad sales managers to interns to associate editor to many contributors—and fabulous sponsors!! Yeah, it takes a village.

While I was a bit sorry to not be in SF to celebrate, I imagine I will be hosting a big party later in the year once I return home. I mean, really, I have a year to celebrate until this thing turns 11! But it was fun to be fully immersed in a New York moment on Sunday, enjoying a bagel and sable at a cute luncheonette counter (at Baz) by myself, bubbles in hand. (I posted this missive about it on Instagram or you can check it out on Facebook—thanks for all the kind words everyone, you got me all misty!)

In honor of the new decade, I thought it would make sense to launch a new section: the new yawker. I’ll be posting mini reviews about places and delicious things I’m eating while I’m here in NYC (like Lilia!) so you can keep track when you plan your next visit (all the posts will be stashed online here). And many of you live here, so I hope you enjoy it.

Speaking of NYC, if any of you are going to the Charcuterie Masters event this weekend in Flushing, let me know! Would love to meet you. It’s going to be meat-tastic. I’m also attending an aperitivo hosted by Elizabeth Minchilli next Thursday, see you there?

With love and thanks from the Big Apple! Here’s to 10 more, mwah! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Omakase Sushi Restaurant Ju-Ni Now Open on Fulton


Photo by Ju-Ni via Facebook.

Of course it takes leaving my neighborhood of 22 years to get a quality sushi place to open a block from my apartment—at least it will be there when I return to SF! We previously mentioned JU-NI was coming to the former Candybar, and Hoodline reports it’s now holding a soft opening.

The chef is Geoffrey Lee, most recently at the excellent Akiko’s on Bush. Look for an omakase format ($85, 12 nigiri selections, 15 courses in all), plus a full wine list put together by Justin Chin of Jaedin Markus Cellars. Open Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm. 1335 Fulton St. at Divisadero, 415-655-9924.

Brasserie Saint James Opens on Valencia on February 25th


The warm and approachable décor at Brasserie Saint James. Photo via Instagram (@sickspade).

The popular and award-winning brewery and restaurant from Reno, Nevada, BRASSERIE SAINT JAMES, is opening its second location in the former Abbot’s Cellar on Valencia. The soft opening to the public is on Thursday February 25th.

We heard from owner Art Farley (he is also behind Saint James Infirmary in Reno), who is thrilled to be a part of the SF community. He says the space now has a more classic/old-world brasserie design, designed to feel warm and whimsical, with a communal vibe. There are two new marble-topped full bars (with craft cocktails, whiskey, wine, and Champagne/sparkling wines, in addition to their highly acclaimed craft beers, made with head brewer Josh Watterson). The smaller bar at the front (overlooking Valencia) is more cocktail- and wine-focused, while the larger bar toward the back of the space is more beer-centric—it overlooks the full brewhouse (which is copper clad) and the fermentation area, which they added in the back of the restaurant. They’ll have 24 taps: 10-14 of their own brews and 10-14 rotating local and imported favorites.

There’s a large open kitchen, with chef Don Duncan leading the charge. He grew up in the South, but has cooked all over the country. We have a copy of the dinner menu, which includes bone marrow “canoes,” an array of mussels (hello, it’s a brasserie!), a smoked fish plate, the Saint James Niçoise salad, poutine, and some Southern touches such as gumbo and rice, and Dixie chicken. There’s a nose-to-tail sensibility, and you definitely won’t go hungry.

Be sure to check out the beverage menu, with their year-round draft offerings, wines, and cocktails. They will be serving brunch/lunch seven days a week, plus a happy hour, and late-night hours Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until 2am. There will also be a small outdoor dining area. 742 Valencia St. at 18th St.

Le Marais Bakery Taking Over Samovar Castro Space


The future Castro location of Le Marais Bakery. Photo courtesy of Le Marais Bakery.

Fans of LE MARAIS BAKERY & BISTRO’s marvelous croissants, pastries, and breads will be happy to know they are opening a location in the Samovar Castro space. In a statement, owners Patrick Ascaso and Joanna Pulcini Ascaso say: “We just loved the space from the beginning. It reminded of us a French bakery café in Paris with the outdoor seating and open space inside. The entrances on the two sides work perfectly with our concept, so we’ll have a little bakery entrance on the side and a café entrance at the front.” They are excited to be a part of the neighborhood.

They will be offering a full bakery, with their pastry, viennoiserie, and bread, plus espresso drinks (from Stumptown). There will be a bistro menu based on what they offer at their original location on Chestnut Street, plus brunch items, like avocado toast, croque monsieur, and some new dishes as well.

The space will be getting a full redesign—look for it to feel very clean and bright, with some French touches, like old French mosaic tile at the entrance. The exterior will be repainted their Le Marais blue and will have a bit of a West Village café-meets-Paris flavor. (Joanna and Patrick both spent part of their lives in New York, and love corner West Village cafés and the restaurant Buvette, one of their favorites.) 498 Sanchez St. at 18th St.

Stanlee Gatti and Bill Grzywacz Opening a Food Market in the TenderNob


A sneak peek at the facade of the future market—such a sweet little building. Photo courtesy of Stanlee Gatti.

Consider this an exciting hors d’oeuvre for you: event planner extraordinaire Stanlee Gatti is going to be fulfilling a lifelong dream of his, one he’s had since he was a little boy in New Mexico selling breads and pastries at a little DIY stand (just like a lemonade stand). He’s going to be opening a food market in the TenderNob with BFF Bill Grzywacz, and they are targeting an opening by the early part of the summer.

It’s a sweet “little jewel” of a 1,000-square-foot building, which was once a car garage and then got covered up in materials during its most recent existence as a dry cleaner. We have a little preliminary peek behind the plywood for you here, check out the blonde brick.

The concept (and name) are still in development, but you can expect the market to be filled with items that meet Gatti’s criteria as delicious and what he’d consider the best—but he also says he wants it to be accessible and affordable too, and they want it to be a go-to spot for the neighborhood. Expect some fresh items, like milk or eggs, plus pantry items, wine and beer, and some seasonal prepared foods too—they are installing a full kitchen. Some of Gatti’s close chef friends, like Michael Tusk, Alice Waters, Cecilia Chiang, Charles Phan, and wine goddess Shelley Lindgren are contributing some suggestions and ideas about what to stock.

Right now Gatti is off to Paris, Barcelona, and San Sebastian for some additional inspiration—I’m inspired just thinking about those places. I’ll keep you posted as the project takes shape in coming months. 927 Post St. at Hyde.

First Look at the Menu for The Company at Mina Test Kitchen


Rasam. Photo by Kevin McCullough.


Kofta. Photo by Kevin McCullough.

The third and next pop-up is ready to roll on Tuesday March 1st at MINA TEST KITCHEN: this time it’s an Indian concept, The Company, with guest chef Vikrant Bhasin, who is visiting from Honolulu and working with chef Michael Mina and Mina Group’s wine director Raj Parr (you may recall this concept from a few years ago, which ultimately did not come to fruition). The name is a reference to the English East India Company.

tablehopper is the first to run the menu, which will be served in a family-style format. While many dishes will have a northern Indian influence, some dishes from other regions will be featured too. Dishes include pakora chaat (with cauliflower, onion, and English peas); spiced crab salad over papad (papadum); Punjabi fish fry (with chickpea flour, coriander, red chile, curry leaf); Kashmiri kofta (Sonoma lamb simmered in yogurt, cloves, ginger, red chiles, stinging nettles); housemade green onion paratha; strawberry lassi; plus an array of sides and additions such as raita, chutneys, slaws, and roti.

Expect the menu to change in time, you can check for updates here. Just to clarify, guests choose if they want 7, 9, or 11 dishes, and the kitchen will create a menu based on the number of dishes—guests don’t choose specifically which dishes they want for their dinner. The Company will also be serving cocktails (look for some East Indies flair) and wine pairings will have a focus on syrahs and rieslings.

Tickets via Resy are $49 for 7 courses (plus $29 for the optional beverage pairing); $59 for 9 courses ($35 beverage pairing); and $69 for 11 courses ($40 beverage pairing). Dinner is served Wed-Sat. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.

One more quick note: the Michael Mina Group has brought on Bill Freeman as the new CEO of Mina Group, which will allow Michael Mina more time to do what he does and loves best, which is spend more time in the restaurants and with the teams, focus on operations and the culinary aspects, and work on new concepts. Freeman was most recently CEO and Chairman of Bertucci’s Italian Restaurants (primarily located in New England), McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks, and B&B Restaurant Ventures.

Tidbits: Halal Guys to SF, FOB Kitchen Finds a Permanent Spot, More


Classic Halal Guys combo platter. Photo: ©


Pork sinigang (with tamarind broth, bok choy, green beans, and daikon) at FOB Kitchen. Photo via Facebook.


Looks like some tasty king crab at Won Kok. Yelp photo by Rocky C.

Some quick tidbits for you. It’s kind of fun to be reporting on a business that is just blocks from me in New York that is coming to SF: Blatteis Realty reached out to let us know that THE HALAL GUYS are opening a location in the Tenderloin in the former Naan ‘n’ Curry space. Eater mentions there will be 26 seats, and construction starts in a few weeks. (You may remember, they will also be coming to Berkeley, in the former Le Regal space at 2126 Center Street, although now it looks like SF will open first.) Bring on the white sauce (and their crazy-hot red sauce!). 336 O’Farrell St. at Mason.

Fans of Filipino food will be happy to know that pop-up FOB Kitchen has found a permanent home at GASHEAD TAVERN in the Mission. Come by for first-generation chef Janice Dulce’s home cooking—they make their own longanisa and housemade Spam; Eater mentions they’ll be serving dishes like sinigang and beef mechado as well. Dinner is served Wed-Sat 6pm-10pm, brunch (featuring organic and cage-free eggs on dishes like pork adobo fried rice) is Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 2351 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-756-9844.

And over in the TL, TSELOGS of Daly City has opened a new location in the former Kare-Ken. Spamsilog (Spam, egg, and garlic fried rice) is in the house, and there are other home-style dishes on the menu too. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm. 552 Jones St. at Geary, 415-658-7142.

Pete Mrabe can’t stop, won’t stop. Last week we mentioned PETE’S was up and running in the former Amante, and now he has opened CENTRAL STATION DELI just down the street (we have been talking about this deli since 2012). The menu has six well-thought-out specialty sandwiches, including The Captain, with double Dutch crunch, mesquite-smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, Swiss, lettuce, onion, tomato. All sandwiches are $11, and you can also make your own combo. Soft opening hours are 10:30am-3:30pm, cash only. 728 Vallejo St. at Stockton, 415-658-7310.

A tablehopper tipster let us know a chef from R&G Lounge joined some owners and opened WON KOK out in Sunnyside (in the former Ming Garden, just by Shanghai Dumpling King). Yelpers mention that the Cantonese menu contains some R&G classics, like salt and pepper crab and the clear broth beef stew clay pot (the steamed chicken with ginger and green onion sounds like a winning dish, FYI). More info and pics on Hungry Onion. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm. 700 Monterey Blvd. at Gennessee, 415-587-1826.

Cawfee Tawk: Réveille Coffee Opens in Mission Bay, Bean There Closes


The back bar at Café Réveille. Yelp photo by Mike L.


The sunny and airy interior of Café Réveille. Yelp photo by Mike L.

Back in August, we announced that brothers Chris and Thomas Newbury of RÉVEILLE COFFEE CO. were preparing to open their fourth and largest location in Mission Bay, and it’s now open. The location will serve as their flagship and headquarters, with a roasting facility, training center, and espresso bar.

Next door is CAFÉ RÉVEILLE, with a full kitchen and bar serving wine and beer, plus there’s an outdoor seating area. You can enjoy baked goods from Starter Bakery and Neighbor Bakehouse, and a breakfast and lunch menu along with their coffee. Dishes like chia pudding, avocado toast, congee, and hot cakes are on the breakfast menu, while lunch has a burger, kale Cobb salad, fried chicken sandwich, and more. Open daily 7am-4pm. 610 Long Bridge St. at 4th St.

Was sorry to read in Hoodline about Lower Haight’s BEAN THERE being abruptly squeezed out after 21 years—it’s the same old SF story, it seems: landlord and lease woes. Owners Susi Weissmann and Mike Fakhoury are reportedly looking for a new location. 201 Steiner St. at Waller.

the new yawker

Dispatches from NYC (you talkin’ to me?)



Grilled clams. All photos: ©


Fettunta of cured sardines.


Ricotta gnocchi with broccoli pesto, basil, and pistachios.


Mafaldini with Parmigiano and pink peppercorn.

One of my favorite meals in my first month in New York, the food at LILIA really spoke to me. Chef-owner Missy Robbins has been in the Italian fine dining world (Spiaggia in Chicago, and most recently A Voce in New York), but this is her first solo venture.

The food is just rustic enough, but with the air of someone who could make it really soigné if she wanted to but is keeping it real, with the flavors hitting a pitch-perfect note. It made me think of Melissa Perello’s food at Octavia—if she were cooking Italian.

Cocktail snacks are hearty enough to hold up to a Negroni, like the cacio e pepe frittelle ($7), the savory doughnut of your dreams, and grilled bread slathered with chestnut crema and topped with a generous slice of pancetta ($8).

The seafood is exemplary, like the grilled clams ($16) cooked just right, nestled in their shells with Calabrian chile soaking into the bread crumbs, and fettunta (bruschetta) of lightly cured sardines ($13) that really lets the freshness of the silvery fish shine. A Little Gem salad ($11) is dressed just so, delivering much more flavor and delight than its description on the menu.

Pastas are straight-up magic. Silky but still substantial ricotta gnocchi ($19) are napped in a broccoli pesto with basil and pistachios, while the pappardelle in nutmeg-spiked veal bolognese ($21) is the belly-warming winter pasta dish you rightfully deserve—it screams for an Italian red.

The table favorite was the mafaldini ($18), which look like the ruffly edge of lasagne noodles. The dish is like a spin on cacio e pepe, but with Parmigiano and pink peppercorn—Robbins tells me she had some excess pink peppercorns at home and gave it a whirl on her pasta one night. It has a fantastic fruity brightness. Pop pop!

Lilia is in a former auto body garage in Williamsburg; it has an industrial modern look, but still manages to have some warmth and coziness. There’s a main dining room with a bar and open kitchen, and we were seated in the much quieter side room. There’s also a café open in the mornings. I can see this place blowing up, it’s full of charm and soulfulness. Look forward to returning for grilled fish and meats—and definitely more pasta. 567 Union Ave. at N. 10th St., Brooklyn, 718-576-3095.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

A Pants-Splitting Night at Pabu

The ever-hot Lenny Kravitz, who was in SF performing at the Masonic Center last night, came into Pabu post-show for a bite. He was reportedly with some of his backup singers and friends, along with Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce). Lenny ate mostly vegetarian/pescatarian, dining on salads, tofu, the miso black cod, and nigiri. Meow.

Please Stand By While I Eat These Gnocchi, Thanks

The lovely Dakota Fanning, known for her roles in the Twilight films, The War of the Worlds, and as the voice of Coraline, was spotted having lunch at Rose Pistola with some of her film crew (she is currently filming Please Stand By). She also turns 22 today—happy birthday.

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