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May 23, 2016 15 min read

May 24, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: au poivre.

May 24, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: au poivre.
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This week's tablehopper: au poivre.                    

The burger au poivre at Raoul’s. With duck fat fries on the side. And au poivre sauce. HOLD THE PHONE. Or just hold me. Photo: ©

Hi gang. I’m still recovering from the weekend, which started with this magical performance by Duke Riley, Fly by Night, presented by Creative Time. It was a balmy and still night at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an incredible backdrop for a unique and memorable performance with 2,000 pigeons swirling in the evening sky with LEDs attached to their legs! Wild. I love surreal moments like that! And I was so lucky the waiting list gods came through. Shazam!

Sunday my friend and I hit up the relatively new brunch at Soho classic, Raoul’s. And you know I had to get their au poivre burger, a spin on their famous steak au poivre, which comes in a limited supply each day and is usually only available at the bar during dinner. The Pat LaFrieda patty is coated in pepper—so good and crusty—and topped with Saint André cheese, the overall richness cut with watercress, red onion, and the brilliant addition of cornichons in there. And then you dunk the burger in the au poivre sauce that comes on the side, which is maybe just for the duck fat fries, but you say fuck it, it’s all getting dunked in there!

Yeah, that is how you start a Sunday Funday, because that burger held me through three disco parties and tea dances until 10pm at night, with wicked-strong gay dranks all day. (And would you believe me when I said this was all research for an article I’m putting together on the best disco parties in the U.S.? It’s true!)

So, the tablehopper and Vinho Verde Vietnamese feast in SF sold out in less than five hours. (What?! Wow, you guys!) But you still have a chance to win a pair of tickets, check out the sugar mama today!

Can you please help me spread the word to your New York friends that I’m hosting my first tablehopper event in New York, on Tuesday June 7th at New York Vintners! It’s in two weeks!

I’m hosting a Malaysian Feast with chef Mei Chau of Aux Epices, who is going to be cooking dishes from her home (which are not on her charming restaurant’s menu!), paired with Vinho Verde wines. I’m thrilled to have sommelier Betsy Ross (previously at The Progress in San Francisco) working with me on the event! Details are below, tickets here—thanks for spreading the word! Mwah!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Release the Jamón: Bellota Opens in SoMa


Sneak peek at Bellota’s booths. Photo via Facebook.


A preview look at the wraparound bar, complete with sherry barrels and lamps by Wastberg Designer Lamps. Photo via Facebook.


One of the four paellas. Photo via Facebook.

The latest (and sixth) project from The Absinthe Group has been a long time coming, but BELLOTA is finally opening its doors this Wednesday May 25th. The Spanish-themed SoMa restaurant is opening in 888 Brannan (aka the Airbnb building), and here’s a little factoid for you: it’s the first public restaurant in a building on the National Register of Historic Places. And it’s a spacious one, currently clocking in at 170 seats, with capacity for 210.

Chef Ryan McIlwraith was previously chef de cuisine at Coqueta, and he has put together a menu of imported charcuterie and cheeses from Spain. There’s also a fun spin on a seafood tower, which comes with some land-based bites, like grass-fed beef with oyster escabeche, harissa, and benne. Tapas get a creative upgrade, like a creamy clam and sea urchin fritter with pickled ramp and seaweed powder, or a raw sugar snap pea and tendril dish, with queso fresco dressing and cashew dukkah. There are four paellas, and there’s a wood-fired plancha, grill, and oven, too, with dishes like slow-roasted, Moorish-spiced lamb, flatbread, ember-roasted eggplant, hearth-baked bean, and cherry vinagreta. Take a look at the opening menu. Desserts are from Stephanie Kimura.

Of course, with Jonny Raglin—the director of bars for The Absinthe Group and co­-creator of  Comstock Saloon—at the helm, you know the cocktails are going to rock. Bar manager Collin Nicholas is overseeing the team and cocktails; expect plenty of sherries, dry cider, sangria, and Spanish ­style “gintonic.” Absinthe Group’s wine director, Ian Becker, has assembled an exclusively Spanish wine list (200 selections!), from small producers to classics.

Sagan Piechota Architecture (Boxing Room) is behind the design, working with design and furnishing adviser Kendall Wilkinson Design. The 5,300-foot-space includes Costa Brava blue leather chairs and booths, California bay laurel tabletops and counters, a jaw-dropping jamón display (want. all. the. hams.), Moorish light pendants and brass table ­lamps, and seating around the open kitchen. There’s a private dining room with space for 40 as well. Diners will enjoy the custom tableware, which comes from Jered’s Pottery and Mary Mar Keenan Tableware.

Some unexpected entertainment includes live lounge performances, and there’s even a baby grand piano! The restaurant is also tricked out with a Constellation sound system from Berkeley­-based Meyer Sound.

The restauranat is open for dinner Mon-Sat to start; lunch is coming later. 888 Brannan St. at 8th St., 415-430­-6580.

Coming Soon: Cajun Restaurant in Former Hapa Ramen


A pic from the team’s crawfish boil pop-up in the former Hapa Ramen space. Photo via Facebook.

There’s news about a taker of the former Hapa Ramen space in the Mission, and it’s the Causwells and Popsons team of Alvin Garcia and Adam Rosenblum. Eater reports they plan to open a Cajun restaurant in the space this fall (you may remember the Cajun pop-ups they held in the space last year). It ends up Rosenblum was a sous chef under New Orleans’ chef Donald Link (Herbsaint, Cochon); he will be offering dishes from shrimp and grits to housemade andouille sausage and dirty rice. With this restaurant clocking in as their fourth, Rosenblum is also now culinary director; he will be overseeing the chefs at all of the locations.

There’s a full bar, so Sazeracs will be in effect, and a frozen drink machine too. Late-night dining, brunch, lunch, springtime/summertime crawfish boils, and bar bites are also being discussed. Arcsine is in charge of the new look. Stand by for more in coming months. 2293 Mission St. at 19th St.

Tidbits: Teo Restaurant Opens, Horest (A Persian Pop-Up), StarChefs, Magazine from Heirloom


Stir-fried teo chew rice noodles at Tēo. Yelp photo by Kirk E.


A look at one of Horest’s pop-up meals. Photo via Instagram.

According to a new listing on Yelp, there’s a Chiu Chow-/teo chew-style Chinese restaurant in SoMa called TĒO RESTAURANT & BAR. Take a look at the menu here, which denotes many dishes from China’s Guangdong province, like fried shrimp balls, corn pancake, goose, and two kinds of soup using Hungmao chicken. The restaurant is currently having its soft opening; a limited menu and special pricing will be offered for the remainder of May. Cocktails will be available too. Soft opening hours: Mon-Sun 5pm-9:30pm. 1111 Mission St at 7th St., 415-626-8366.

If you’re interested in trying a Northern Persian dinner this Saturday May 28th, check out this pop-up called HOREST, founded by Ghazal Tabrizi. The meal will be prepared by Elham Rostamy, from Gilan province, who will be highlighting traditional techniques.

StarChefs just announced their 2016 San Francisco Rising Stars Awards and will be hosting the StarChefs Rising Stars Gala on Tuesday June 21st at The Julia Morgan Ballroom. The night will begin with an awards ceremony at 6:30pm, followed by a tasting gala from 7:15pm to 9:30pm. Twenty-two restaurants will be in the house, with beverage pairings and cocktails by the winning sommeliers and bartenders. Tickets are $100; VIP $175. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to La Cocina.

Matt Straus of HEIRLOOM CAFÉ just launched a quarterly magazine, Kitchen Work, “about what and how we eat and drink.” They are hoping to have the first issue in the mail by the end of the summer.

Heirloom Café            - 2500 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-821-2500

Closing Time: Sous Beurre Kitchen, Aziza for a Couple of Months, and Pampalasa This Summer


The exterior of Sous Beurre Kitchen. Photo via SBK.


A kamayan feast at Pampalasa. Photo via Pampalasa.

Thos of you who follow @tablehopper on Twitter already caught word of SOUS BEURRE KITCHEN closing after a year of business in the Mission. Chef-owner Michael Mauschbaugh closed the restaurant after service on Saturday May 14th. 2704 24th St. at Potrero.

Fans of AZIZA in the Outer Richmond should know chef-owner Mourad Lahlou has closed the restaurant for a design refresh, which should take a couple of months. Stand by.

Have you had a chance to check out Jennifer Villamin’s kamayan dinners (or Sunday brunch) at her SoMa restaurant, PAMPALASA? Well, you better hop to it, because Scoop reports she is going to close the restaurant at the end of the summer. It sounds like her rent is too much, so she’s looking for another location. Here’s hoping. 1261 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-590-3251.

Outside Lands Announces All the Things You'll Be Eating and Drinking This Year


Whoa, was there something in my beer? Nope, Outside Lands always delivers on the trippy lights! Photo: Tom Tomkinson.


Sababa’s falafel sandwich will be back! Photo: Cameron Neilson.

It’s time to start planning your lineup of artists and eats at Outside Lands, coming up August 5th-7th in Golden Gate Park! Let’s talk about what’s new this year, starting with Outside Clams. Just when you thought Outside Lambs was the punniest, but no. Woodhouse Fish Co. will be shucking raw oysters, and there will be barbecued oysters, lobster rolls, and clam chowder too. Pick up a refreshing wine at neighbor Wine Lands and you’ll be set.

Newcomers to the restaurant lineup include fast burgers and grass-fed hot dogs from Belcampo, Trestle, Neapolitan pizzas from Mozzeria, the awesome momos from Bini’s Kitchen, crab rolls from Fine & Rare, spicy tater tots from The Japanese Pantry, and a taste of gyoza and ramen from the newly opened Itani Ramen from Oakland. You’ll also be able to get cold brew from Four Barrel Coffee, and drip coffee and regular and vanilla cold brews from Artis. Check out the full lineup of all 79 vendors (!) here.

You’ll also get to taste brews from Harmonic Brewing in Beer Lands, thanks to curator Dave McLean, and the lineup in Wine Lands includes 12 new winemakers, such as Alysian Wines, Ca’ Momi, and Fount. Choco Lands, Cheese Lands, and Gastro Magic will all be in effect as well, and this year’s farmer’s market will be led by The Farmer’s Wife, which will offer fresh produce and apple and wildflower honey melts. Yup, Ranger Dave is ready to rock!

the new yawker

Dispatches from NYC (you talkin’ to me?)

A Tablehopper Malaysian Feast with Chef Mei Chau and the Wines of Vinho Verde


The wines of Vinho Verde. Photo: Erin Conger.


Penang laksa (a noodle dish with a tamarind fish base). Photo courtesy of Aux Epices.


Chef Mei Chau of Aux Epices. Photo courtesy of Aux Epices.


The beautiful Aux Epices on Baxter Street. Photo courtesy of Aux Epices.

I am so excited to host my first tablehopper event in New York! Coming up on Tuesday June 7th is the second in my series of Asian family-style dinners featuring wines from Portugal’s Vinho Verde. I asked chefs to cook their soul food and favorite dishes they enjoy at home for these special events in New York and San Francisco. We’ll be at New York Vintners, known for hosting all kinds of wine tasting and food events at their great space in Tribeca.

Our chef for this event is Mei Chau (Aux Epices), who has a charming French-inspired Malaysian restaurant on the edge of Little Italy and Chinatown (you’ll want to move in). For our event, chef Mei will be cooking dishes from where she grew up, a small fishing village on the eastern shore of the Malay Peninsula. Prepare to taste dishes you won’t find on her restaurant’s menu (or many others for that matter!), and she will tell us the background of the dishes and Malaysian cuisine and ingredients too.

We’ll be pairing many refreshing and versatile wines from Portugal’s Vinho Verde, and sommelier Betsy Ross (recently at The Progress, San Francisco) will be sharing insight about the wines and region. (So excited to have SF in the house!)

Chef Mei’s menu includes an array of starters: Chwee Kuah (steamed rice pudding cakes topped with salty pickled turnip), Sotong Sumbat (stuffed squid with spiced potatoes and spicy sambal sauce), and Pulut Kuning (turmeric sticky rice with coconut pulled pork), paired with two wines from Vinho Verde.

Next, we’ll enjoy a laksam course, featuring homemade steamed rice noodle rolls topped with mixed herbs, bean sprouts, and julienned cucumber, served in a coconut milk and minced fish soup, with wines from Vinho Verde. (Mei is known for her many laksa dishes at Aux Epices.)

The main course is a double play, with Otak-Otak (steamed fish mousse in banana leaf with coconut milk, curry, lemongrass, galangal), served with purple rice, and Daging Masak Serai (slow-cooked lamb with lemongrass and spices), paired with two wines from Vinho Verde. And for dessert, the finale is Bingka Pandan, a custard cake of baked screw pine (pandan).

These unique dishes should be pretty unfamiliar to most, and Mei is going to be bringing the flavor. I can’t wait to learn more about these dishes, and Betsy will have plenty to teach us about Vinho Verde!

Vinho Verde wines are like no other in the world. Located in the northwestern part of Portugal, the lush green landscape lends itself to the production of young, refreshing wines that are extremely versatile partners for all kinds of food, which is why we wanted to show you how well they will pair with a multitude of dishes. Best known for white wines, Vinho Verde also produces reds, rosés, and sparklers—all of which offer one of the best wine values on the market. Get ready to discover something new!

Tickets are $80, and you can purchase them here. This is a sit-down dinner, and there won’t be a reception, so please arrive on time at 7pm!

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle Coming to NYC, Take a Genuine Liquorette Master Class


Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle. Photo courtesy of Max Garrone.


Taking the Genuine Liquorette master class! @tablehopper photo via Instagram.

Fellow lovers of mezcal who happen to be in NYC, take a look at Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle, happening Sunday June 5th and Monday June 6th! It will be at Casa Mezcal, and more than 60 mezcals will be poured, including some that haven’t been available in the U.S., plus some tastes of unique cocktails and bites from Casa Mezcal’s kitchen and Botanic Lab Bar. There will be informal guided tastings, lessons on cocktail-making at home, special guests, and more.

Tickets are $70-$130. June 5th: 3pm-7pm and June 6th: 5pm-9pm. And here’s a handy little one-minute video about mezcal from 86 Orchard St. at Broome, New York.

If you’re looking to really up your game in the cocktail-making department, don’t miss a Genuine Liquorette master class with Eben Freeman, the director of beverage for AvroKO Hospitality Group (including Saxon + Parole, Public, Madam Geneva). Classes are held on Monday evenings at Genuine Liquorette (underneath Genuine Superette—grab a burger before class).

I learned a LOT about how to set up a station, proper jigger and pouring technique (and stirring and shaking!), basic cocktail construction, and more. It’s three hours of some serious bartending knowledge getting dropped, and plenty of tasting too. Hic. Classes are $75, 7pm-10pm—grab a friend and have a blast. 191 Grand St. at Mulberry St., New York.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Ales Unlimited Opens, the Rhone Rangers Gallop Into Town, IPOB Ends


Head on down to the Beer Basement! Photo via Facebook.

Folks who enjoy the well-stocked craft beer store Ales Unlimited in Pac Heights have a second place to enjoy Steve and Betty Smith’s selections—the former 222 Hyde in the Tenderloin is now the ALES UNLIMITED BEER BASEMENT. Hoodline reports there are eight taps with rare beers and ciders and 40-plus bottles. The stand-up comedy shows will continue, once their live entertainment permit is all clear. Hours are 4pm-12am. 222 Hyde St. at Turk.

The Rhone Rangers are back, with a series of events celebrating American Rhone-style wines, from Friday June 10th to the grand tasting on Saturday June 11th. Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, 135 Fisher Loop.

And it looks like it’s mission accomplished: In Pursuit of Balance has announced the end of operations will come after their final tasting event in November.

the socialite

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

Sunday June 12th Is CUESA's 6th Annual Summer Celebration


CUESA Summer Celebration takes place in the Ferry Building Marketplace. Photo courtesy of CUESA.

Event Info

Sunday Jun 12, 2016 6pm–9pm $100, but tablehopper readers get 15% off! Tickets                        Ferry Building Marketplace 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco

It’s time for CUESA’s annual dream walkaround feast at the Ferry Building Marketplace, Summer Celebration, with 40 top restaurants featuring the bounty of summer produce, plus 20 bars and wineries pouring cocktails and wine—you can raise a glass to CUESA launching the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market 23 years ago!

New additions this year include Mina Test Kitchen, Brown Sugar Kitchen, Haven, Cadence, Bar San Pancho, The Commissary, and Piccino.

There will also be music, a culinary treasure hunt to win prizes, and a silent auction. Proceeds from the night provide much-needed support for CUESA’s ongoing education initiatives, such as Foodwise Kids cooking classes and the Schoolyard to Market youth entrepreneurship program.

Tickets are $140, $100 of which is a tax-deductible donation. But with your special tablehopper link, you get 15 percent off! Have a blast!

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)

(Sponsored): Enter to Win a Pair of Tickets to the tablehopper Vietnamese Feast in SF with Vinho Verde


Enter to win two tickets here!


Your fearless event team: chef Rob Lam, the tablehopper, and Eugenio Jardim! Photo: Erin Conger.

Coming up on Saturday June 11th is the final (and sold-out!) event in a series of Asian “soul food” dinners tablehopper is hosting in concert with Vinho Verde wines, and you can enter to win a pair of tickets!

The dinner is once again with chef Rob Lam (Butterfly), who will be cooking a veritable feast of authentic Vietnamese dishes, made with a soigné touch and quality ingredients. The dinner will have a number of Vinho Verde wines paired throughout the meal. Sommelier and Portuguese wine expert Eugenio Jardim will be at the event to educate guests about the wines and region. The event will be hosted in the Mission, courtesy of Feastly.

Vinho Verde wines are like no other in the world. Located in the northwestern part of Portugal, the lush green landscape lends itself to the production of young, refreshing wines that are extremely versatile partners for all kinds of food, which is why we wanted to show you how well they will pair with a multitude of Vietnamese dishes. Best known for white wines, Vinho Verde also produces reds, rosés, and sparklers—all of which offer one of the best wine values on the market. Get ready to discover something new!

One lucky tablehopper reader will win a pair of tickets to the dinner (retail value $150). Click here to learn how to enter, and good luck! The deadline to enter is Monday May 30th.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

The Bern Is Not a Fan of the Burn?

Another Bernie Sanders sighting, this time for a late-night meal at Albany’s China Village. According to this post on Chowhound, “The owner sighed that Bernie didn’t know much about Chinese food, and didn’t like spiciness. Among other things, they had fried rice, those great lamb dumplings, and Mongolian beef…I forgot that they also ordered beer-braised duck, so that’s a +.” Pics and more here.

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