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May 30, 2016 18 min read

May 31, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: fishy.

May 31, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: fishy.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: fishy.                    

Keepin’ it real at Barney Greengrass, since 1908. Photo: ©

Greetings from sticky New York! It was a pretty sweaty weekend for anyone here, which is why I was thankful for mint juleps and rooftop parties and rosé and the beach (even if it was foggy). And an extra-special shout-out to my A/C and living on the 38th floor at the Ritz Plaza, because I can catch a little breeze in the evening. When I am home for a few nights next week, I’m sure Karl the Fog is going to feel great. Yup, bring on the June gloom!

Some of you are wondering if and when I am coming home! Well, my dream Stonehenge apartment wraps up on June 30th (sniff sniff), and then I’ll be staying at a friend’s place here in New York for the first couple of weeks in July.

But come mid-July, I will be off to Italy! I’m going to be in Rome for a few days, and then learning about artisan pasta-making and Abruzzo with the fine folks of Rustichella d’Abruzzo. Then I’m heading down to Sicily for a week of hard-core vacationing (as in off the grid)—I have been wanting to revisit la bella Sicilia for so long. It’s callllllling meeeeeeee. So if you have ANY tips you’d like to send my way for Palermo, Agrigento, Vittoria, and maybe Etna (I’m planning to head to COS, and Occhipinti, and maybe Graci!), I’m all ears. Thinking I’ll need an agriturismo or two, and some beach time too. Of course. Nothing like swimming in the Mediterranean.

And then I’ll be flying home to SF in time for Outside Lands, which starts on the first weekend of August. (You didn’t think I was going to miss seeing LCD Soundsystem, did you?) I should be home for a month or so, but then yours truly is planning to head back to New York in early September for a couple of months before the holidays. I’m going to try to work out this bicoastal thing. What does it all mean for tablehopper? Worry not! Things are status quo for now!

I’d like to ask one more favor! I am trying to spread the word that I’m hosting my first tablehopper event in New York, next Tuesday June 7th at New York Vintners! We still need to sell a few more tickets! And you have a chance to win some too.

It’s 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! Tickets here, $80 out the door—thanks for spreading the word to your New York friends for me!

Oh, and I am taking next Tuesday off—with my two events and travel next week, things are a little cray! See ya on June 14th.

Mwah! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Openings: Sababa, Evil Eye, K+O Kitchen


An array of salads and hummus at Sababa. Photo via Facebook.


Some of the vintage seating and styling at Evil Eye. Photo courtesy of Evil Eye.


Fried chicken sandwich at K+O Kitchen. Photo via Facebook.

Now open in the Financial District is SABABA, which we mentioned was opening in the former Paladar location. The fast-casual/takeout Israeli street food spot is from Guy Eshel, previously AQ.

He’s serving freshly made pita (it’s made on location, check out the Wood Stone oven!), which you can get stuffed with falafel, kofta (ground beef kebab), char-grilled chicken, or sabik (eggplant and egg). You can also order pita, hummus, and salad (like Israeli salad or quinoa tabbouleh or roasted beets), or a bowl with hummus and three salads. Quality ingredients and housemade items will be in heavy play here. Check out the menu. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm. 329 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-800-6853.

Opening Thursday June 2nd in the former Coco Frio (also previously Savanna Jazz) in the Mission is EVIL EYE. Husband-and-wife owners Matt and Piper Norris are opening a laid-back neighborhood bar in the space, with inventive cocktails served in vintage glassware. They will also be offering punch bowls, seasonal cocktails, and wine and beer too. Matt Norris was an owner and beverage director at Soluna. There will be small plates and bar bites from consulting chef Francis Hogan (currently chef-owner of Sabio on Main in the East Bay, and previously executive chef at Bluestem Brasserie and Soluna). There will be cheese and charcuterie selected by Mission Cheese, and Humphry Slocombe ice cream.

Piper Morris designed the space to have a “funky bohemian rock ‘n’ roll vibe” with vintage furnishings that are evocative of SF bars in the 1970s. There’s also a pool table and two classic pinball machines. Hours are Tue-Thu 3:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 3pm-12am. 2937 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-814-3779.

Right by the ballpark, Woodbury and Alchemist Bar are now serving food via K+O KITCHEN from executive chef and owner Ola Fendert and head chef Kelvin Ott. On the menu: sandwiches, salads, and hearty American classics (peep the menu here). Lunch includes a CBLT with organic Rocky chicken, oven-roasted tomatoes, bacon, aioli and arugula; and roasted beets with watermelon, watercress, Humboldt Fog cheese, pistachios, and a fresh thyme-Champagne vinaigrette.

Dinner includes fully loaded tots with pulled pork, pancetta arbol chili, mozzarella, and cheddar, and of course Ola’s 48-hour braised ribs with ginger-soy glaze and red cabbage and apple slaw, plus rotisserie chicken.

Open for lunch and dinner Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm and Sat 11:30am-12am. During baseball season and when the Giants are in town, they serve dinner only. 685 3rd St. at Townsend, 415-802-8398.

Tidbits: Flora No Longer at Da Flora, International Smoke, Lunch Updates


The inimitable and Venetian-inspired dining room at Da Flora. Photo: ©

If you come to North Beach icon DA FLORA, you won’t be seeing owner Flora Gaspar on the floor anymore—after opening it in 1994, she has sold the restaurant to her chef, Jen McMahon, and McMahon’s husband, Darren Lacy. Scoop reports she just turned 60 and it sounds like she wants to ease up and focus on her new shop just next door, Rialto Mercato, which we told you about at Christmastime. Don’t expect much to change (except maybe some more reservation-less folks will be let in—Flora was notorious for her watchdog stance at the door), and she will still be doing the wine list for Da Flora. 701 Columbus Ave. at Filbert, 415-981-4664.

Lunch deal alert: MICHAEL MINA, RN74, and PABU are offering a three-course lunch deal for $35 all summer long called Out to Lunch. Check out the menus here: Michael Mina, RN74, and Pabu.

One more note from Mina land: the latest pop-up concept at MINA TEST KITCHEN is International Smoke, which Mina is collaborating on with cookbook author Ayesha Curry (The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, and the Joy of Eating Well, and yes, she’s Steph Curry’s wife), featuring “the lighter side of barbecue, grilled, and smoked meats—with flavors from all around the world and fresh seasonal produce.” Here’s the menu. All dishes will be served family style; tickets are $45 for the four-course menu, and additional courses (like binchotan barbecue lobster) will be available for a supplemental price. Reservations are now available for tables starting Saturday June 4th. Open Wed-Sat. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore St., 415-310-8371.

Also on the lunch circuit: THE TREASURY in the FiDi has started serving lunch, and not just cocktails and bites in the evening. You can get a chopped salad with blue cheese and Madrange ham, or a grain salad dressed with coconut curry vinaigrette, plus a pork banh mi with sambal aioli or a tuna melt with albacore confit and Roncevaux cheese. Served Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, and the full bar opens at 3pm in case you want to make your Friday lunch a late one. 200 Bush St. at Sansome.

Are you over pancakes and everything with an egg on top for brunch? Then check out The Brunch Pre-Game, a new event series brought to you by Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters. This weekend (Saturday June 4th and Sunday June 5th), you’ll get to enjoy two kinds of Wrecking Ball’s coffee in their SoMa microroastery space, along with a duo of toasts and a “breakfast salad” made by two local pastry chefs (Krista Allvey and Kari Shaughnessy).

Should be a fun and communal dining experience. 9am-11:30am. Tickets ($18) and more info here—and they’re even making a donation to Seven Tepees Youth Program.

510 News: LocoL Opens in Oakland


The breakfast sandwich at Loco’L Oakland. Photo: Audrey Ma.


“Crunchies”/chicken nugs at LocoL Oakland. Photo: Audrey Ma.

Big congrats to Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi for getting their second location of LOCOL open (the first was in Watts). It has just opened in Daniel Patterson’s former Plum location in Oakland, and it’s an exciting continuation of their quest to offer food that is healthy and affordable in neighborhoods and communities that need an alternative to fast food. Their burgers and spin on chicken nuggets and other eats are made with quality ingredients and in a healthier manner that won’t fast-track consumers to diabetes and obesity. For example, the burger has some tofu and grains in the patty—it’s not straight-up feedlot beef soaking in grease and loaded with sodium and random “flavors.” So though the menu isn’t quite centered on vegan rice bowls, you actually can find a vegetable and crushed tofu stew for those who want to go in that direction.

Take a look at the menu: cheeseburgers are $5 (there’s also a barbecue turkey burger, vegetarian burger, and fried chicken), while bowls are $7 (from a noodle bowl to a chili bowl, and the hilariously named “Bulgar Language”). “Foldies” are like a quesadilla for just $3, and “crunchies” are the nugget replacement, available either as chicken or vegetarian, for $4. No sodas, so don’t ask. Enjoy an agua fresca instead.

There’s also a breakfast menu, with four versions of their breakfast sandwich ($5), French toast holes ($3), yogurt and granola ($4), and green juice ($3). Check them out, spread the word, and let’s support this venture, which is trying to make a positive change in the community. You can also check out their merch—any purchases help them keep this moving forward. Open daily 8am-8pm. 2214 Broadway near Grand, Oakland.

the new yawker

Dispatches from NYC (you talkin’ to me?)

Four New York Places I Am Loving for Bagels and Nova


This is what heaven looks like. But it’s at Barney Greengrass. All photos: ©


The counter at Barney Greengrass.


Russ & Daughters bagel sandwich.


My bagel and nova tower at Sadelle’s.


The welcoming dining room (and fish counter) at Sadelle’s.


The Mooch at Baz Bagel.


The bagel (and flagel) selection at Baz Bagel.

During my time here in New York, of course it’s OPERATION BAGELS AND NOVA, like, all the time. Here are some favorites so far.

Barney Greengrass I am so glad I finally had the time to hit this venerable spot on the Upper West Side. Since 1908, people! All hail the Sturgeon King! The soul of this place runs deep, so old-school New York. It has the same DNA as San Francisco’s beloved Swan Oyster Depot, with salty guys in white jackets, snappy conversation, decades of patina, and fantastic seafood.

I went with a friend for a late Sunday lunch, and after rubbing my eyes, I was absolutely bedazzled by the options (eggs and smoked fish! smoked fish platters! Barney’s special scrambles!). I went for scrambled eggs with a side of nova and sturgeon ($20.75), which comes with a fantastic bagel (reportedly from Davidovich Bakery) or a bialy that you can slather with some super-thick and creamy cream cheese. A breakfast fit for queens and kings, I tell you. Everyone needs to make a pilgrimage to this place. Often. It’s the real deal—and still family-owned. Open Tue-Sun 8am-6pm. 541 Amsterdam Ave. at 86th St., 212-724-4707.

Russ & Daughters The other beloved New York classic, this family-owned appetizing shop has been in the Lower East Side since 1914. It makes your heart beat with anticipation as soon as you see the case stocked with pink jewels of salmon in more variations than you knew existed (Gaspé nova, Western nova, Irish smoked salmon, Scottish smoked salmon belly lox…) although your heart can sink a little when you see the insane line this place draws, especially on the weekends. Take a numbah!

They recently started making their own bagels, which has really upped their bagel sandwich game. And even though I was more than a little peeved when I discovered my counter guy got my order wrong—and after a 30-minute ordeal of waiting to order—it’s the kind of thing you can move past, because in the end, getting an expertly sliced Gaspé nova salmon bagel sandwich with cream cheese is a rather magical thing for $12, even when it’s wrong. Ha-ha! I look forward to a do-over—and finally visiting their Russ & Daughters Cafe next week, where you can actually sit while enjoying a full-tilt platter of smoked fish delights. Shop hours: Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8am-5pm. 179 E. Houston St. at  Orchard, 212-475-4880.

Sadelle’s This spacious spot in Soho, with brick walls and a vaulted ceiling and mezzanine in the back, fortunately can seat a bunch of people during a busy weekend brunch, because there’s a rather strong draw here: incredible hand-rolled bagels that are boiled and baked on-site (right in the middle of the restaurant!) by baker and co-owner Melissa Weller (Per Se, Roberta’s). They are beauteous, full of flavor and with a satisfying texture. At the front of the space at the fish counter, you’ll see dowels poking out from the wall, where the fresh bagels cool and await their next customer.

And then there’s the carefully sliced array of smoked and cured fish, which will be served in a tiered caddy like you’re at high tea. It’s high fish! There’s a lot of care that goes into the accoutrements, too—I noticed my sliced tomato with chives was already seasoned. Nice.

There are decadent egg dishes (salmon eggs Benedict, anyone?), and caviar service, and classic sandwiches, and matzo ball soup…it all has an old-school/new-school New York/Jewish appetizing shop vibe. Love the vintage-inspired plates, and the staff in their Sadelle’s jackets, aprons, and bow ties. Sure, it’s fauxstalgia, but it works. (I just wish they’d put their prices on their website, hate that.)

The owners (Major Food Group’s Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone, and Jeff Zalaznick) transform the place into a candlelit brasserie at night—a friend said I should check it out for dinner. On it! Hours here. 463 West Broadway at W. Houston, 212-254-3000.

Baz Bagel Back in February when tablehopper turned 10 (!), I happily enjoyed a late brunch at this friendly counter in Little Italy, which has a charming luncheonette vibe, but also feels like it’s in Florida, with soft pink walls and palm frond wallpaper. Again, the staff here was SO NICE. The owner is Bari Musacchio, formerly a GM at Rubirosa—Baz is her nickname.

A lot of care goes into the traditional hand-rolled bagels they make, which are fermented overnight, and they make some mean flagels (a thin, pressed bagel) too! There are some clever cream cheese options, like beet and horseradish, or nova and chive (because, really, you want both!). They source their fish from the revered Acme Smoked Fish, and cure their own gravlax. There are about 10 bagel sandwiches to choose from, and my pick was the Mooch ($16), which satisfied my desire for Scottish salmon AND sable at the same time. Yes. Thanks for that.

You can get bagels to go, but if you have the time, really, come by and hang out. Breakfast all day. You’re in good hands here. Mon-Fri 7am-4pm and Sat-Sun 8am-4pm. 181 Grand St. at Mulberry, 212-335-0609.

Next Week! 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!

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Paint the Town Red: Negroni Week Returns June 6th-June 12th


Wise Sons’ special Negroni Week bagel. Photo: Grace Sager.


Bi-Rite Creamery’s “Happy Accident” Ice Cream Float. Photo courtesy of Bi-Rite Creamery.


Tropical Negroni at Bear vs. Bull at the Alamo Drafthouse. Photo: Wes Rowe.

Whooosh, NEGRONI WEEK is back in its fourth year (Monday June 6th to Sunday June 12th), and there are no shortages of cocktails, Negroni-inspired bites, events, and more for you to try. It’s pretty amazing to think Negroni Week started in 2013 with only 100 bars and restaurants participating, and it’s now an international event, with more than 3,500 bars, restaurants, and retailers participating in 44 different countries. In 2015, it raised more than $320,000 for charity organizations.

Plunk in your ZIP code to find events and more near you, whether you’re in SF or London. Here are a few highlights:

Negronis for Breakfast at Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery All week Swing by the new WISE SONS BAGEL & BAKERY for their Negroni Week creation: open-faced double poppy seed bagels topped with juniper cream cheese, Campari marmalade, and fresh fruit ($9), benefitting La Cocina.

Whitechapel’s SF-Marin Food Bank Happy Hour Tuesday June 7th (6pm-9pm) Come by WHITECHAPEL’S gorgeous back bar, the Gin Palace, for a special menu of classic Negronis and variations, with all proceeds being donated the SF-Marin Food Bank. In addition, get the Campari Key lime pie (Campari gel and meringue with gin and vermouth sorbet) for dessert.

Bi-Rite Creamery Celebrates PRIDE Month/Ice Cream Aperitivo Wednesday June 8th Not like you need an excuse to swing by BI-RITE CREAMERY, but they will be serving their Negroni ice cream, as well as the “Happy Accident” Ice Cream Float—inspired by the Negroni Sbagliato, this float is made of their Negroni ice cream and classic Madecasse vanilla ice cream with Boylan’s Orange Seltzer. One hundred percent of proceeds from the $9.99 float on June 8th will be donated to the Dyke March.

Negroni Week Matinee of La Dolce Vita at Alamo Drafthouse Saturday June 11th (4pm) and After-Party (6pm) The folks at ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE will be screening Fellini’s masterpiece, La Dolce Vita, and you’ll be enjoying Negronis and Boulevardiers from the tap, plus Malted Chocolate Negronis, Frozen Tropical Negronis, and more. The after-party will feature more Negroni variations from bar manager Isaac Shumway with special guest bartenders, and snacks too. They will donate $3 from Negronis (or Negroni variations) throughout the week to Tipping Point.

Keep tabs on the Negroni Week action on Imbibe’s Instagram and Twitter feeds (@imbibe) and tag your pics with the #NegroniWeek hashtag!

If you want to read about some fun New York Negroni Week drinks and eats, read my post in Time Out New York!

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)

(Sponsored): Enter to Win a Pair of Tickets to the tablehopper Malaysian Feast in New York with Vinho Verde


The first tablehopper Vinho Verde event. Photo: Erin Conger.


Enter to win tickets here!


Coming up on Tuesday June 7th is the second 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 to this New York event!

The dinner is with chef Mei Chau (Aux Epices), who will be cooking authentic Malaysian dishes from where she grew up, a small fishing village on the eastern shore of the Malay Peninsula. The dinner will have a number of Vinho Verde wines paired throughout the meal. Sommelier Betsy Ross (The Progress, San Francisco) will be at the event to educate guests about the wines and region. The event will be hosted at New York Vintners in Tribeca.

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 $160). Click here to learn how to enter, and good luck! The deadline to enter is Thursday June 2nd.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

"What Time Is Your Reservation?" "Oh, I'm With Her."

As if getting a table and eating the beef tongue and kimchi poppy seed buns at Liholiho Yacht Club wasn’t exciting enough…and then Hillary Clinton walks in for dinner with the Secret Service. Here’s a video clip from a guest. Applause!

Getting a Taste of California, Berkeley Style...Bernie Style!

Chef Amy Murray of Venus Restaurant in Berkeley had a special guest for dinner: Bernie Sanders! Here’s her sweet post about it: “OMG. That moment when the phone rings, followed by the hullabaloo of the Secret Service motorcade, followed by the honor of cooking dinner for the honorable, courageous, noble, and deeply compassionate Bernie Sanders!”

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