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Oct 24, 2016 14 min read

October 25, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: falling all over.

October 25, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: falling all over.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: falling all over.                    

Spectacular sweetbread dish (with corn and aji dulce) by Negro Piattoni at his pop-up with Joint Venture at Fitzcarraldo in Brooklyn. Photo: ©

Greetings from New York, which kicked in some nippy and chilly fall weather this week, brrrrr (tonight’s gonna drop to the 30s!). I’m still here eating and drinking and jazz clubbing and museum-ing and walking my way briskly through the city and kicking up leaves until the last minute, when I board a plane back to SF on Sunday afternoon. Yup, next week I’ll be trading slices for tacos as my core food group. It seemed like a good time to drop my second installment of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan this year, check it out in the new yawker.

Of course the big news in SF today is the Michelin star ratings, you can read the complete list of winners here. Congrats to Quince, who made it to the three-star pantheon, although why Atelier Crenn isn’t in there yet, I will never understand. The meal I had there this spring was fantastique. Read more in today’s column.

Since it’s World Pasta Day, it feels very timely with this exciting piece of news I want to share: after last month’s successful SF Amatrice fundraiser we hosted at 54 Mint, we had both participating restaurants (Delfina, Locanda, Octavia, Montesacro, 54 Mint) and friends (Pizzalina) generously add the funds they raised from their own restaurant amatriciana specials into our overall event and silent auction proceeds, which brings the total to $26,246 that we all raised for Amatrice. We are donating it directly to the town this week through our connection with the mayor. Incredible! I’m so impressed with how much we were able to raise together through everyone’s generosity. Grazie, tutti!

A presto! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Seeing Stars: The New Michelin-Starred Restaurants in the SF Bay Area


It’s that time of the year, when Michelin releases the latest meteor shower of stars around the Bay Area. You can read the complete list of 54 winners here. The highlights: Quince now has three stars, joining Benu, Saison, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Manresa, and The French Laundry in the three-star club. Lazy Bear earned two stars this year, and the new one-star additions are Hashiri, Ju-ni, Mister Jiu’s, Mosu, and The Progress in SF, Madera in Menlo Park, and Adega in San Jose.

Big congrats to all the winners. The Michelin Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country goes on sale tomorrow (October 26th), and the entire selection is also available on the Michelin Restaurants app available for free download.

Bar Tartine's Cortney Burns and Nick Balla Leaving at the End of 2016


Chefs Cortney Burns and Nick Balla. Photo by Chad Robertson via Facebook.

I know I’m not going to be the only one bummed over the news that Cortney Burns and Nick Balla are no longer going to be taking over the BAR TARTINE space and turning it into their restaurant, Crescent. It sounds like a deal couldn’t be reached, so they will be moving on after their last service on New Year’s Eve (December 31st). Scoop reports they will still try to find another location for the concept, ideally in the Mission. In the meantime, the duo will also be going full tilt on their new project, Motze, which is due to open on Valencia very very soon, possibly this weekend.

No word on what Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt have in mind for the space just yet, although they will be keeping it—and it has that monster oven still in there, so this should be interesting.

New Openings: The Bird, Elena Una


The fried chicken sandwich at The Bird. Yelp photo by Stephanie T.

Folks are lining up for lunch each day to try the new fried chicken sandwich at THE BIRD in the FiDi (the project is from Adriano Paganini). The fried chicken sandwich (regular or spicy thigh meat) is dressed with celery, housemade Fuji apple slaw, mayo, and pickles for $8. A few more details: the chicken is free-range, and it’s a berbere spice blend that gives it that extra oomph. The bun is also made every morning by a local baker. There are also curly fries on the menu. Open Mon-Fri 11am-10pm (or until they sell out). 115 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-827-9825.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a casual Filipino pop-up called ELENA UNA was coming to the Marina, and the opening is happening right on schedule, this Thursday October 27th. Tue-Sat 8:30am-2pm and 4:30pm-9pm. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.

Updates at Marla Bakery, Fable, and Latest Concept at MINA Test Kitchen


The main room at Marla Bakery. Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux.


Fable’s mohair banquette, plus animal portraits. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©


The cozy dining room at MINA Test Kitchen. Photo via Facebook.

There are some changes in kitchens around the city, starting with MARLA BAKERY in the Outer Richmond. Co-owner and baker Amy Brown is taking over the savory offerings (instead of being so focused on the baking side of things). Her chef de cuisine is Max Newman (formerly of Zuni and Black Jet Bakery). New dishes include city ham and pea greens flatbread (from their oven) with leek cream, provolone, and cherry bomb chile paste;
 and whey-brined roasted half chicken with citrus-glazed sweet potatoes and carrots, pasilla cream, nora pepper butter, and pea greens.

Sean Ehland, most recently the pastry chef at Aster, has also returned to Marla and is now a partner overseeing the bread program, and Nicole Walsh (formerly of Mission Pie) runs the pastry program, adding desserts like the strawberry bay parfait, with layers of dark fudge cake and strawberry-bay leaf gastrique topped with bay nut cream. 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave.

Some changes at FABLE in the Castro: chef-partner Jon Hearnsberger let me know he has sold his share to his business partner Erik Rhoades and is no longer involved with the restaurant. Stand by to see what Hearnsberger does next; he hopes to have a new place in the coming year, after taking a much-needed break. 558 Castro St. at 19th St.

The ever-changing series of dinners at MINA TEST KITCHEN continue. Up next (launching November 12th) is Postcards from La Costiera, a concept featuring coastal Italian cuisine. Chef Adam Sobel’s menu will highlight seafood like crudos, shellfish, pastas, and whole fish. Sobel and Mina are currently touring Italy with Livio Colapinto, hitting 23 destinations, from Cetara to Catania, so expect plenty of inspiration. The five-course, family-style menu is $59, classico wine pairings are $30, $40 for the riserva. Italian-inspired cocktails by Brian Means are also available. Tue-Sat dinner. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.

Special Dinners Include Diwali, Perbacco Turns 10, Yuzuki Turns 5, Chengdu Food & Cultural Festival


The sunny dining room at Yuzuki. Photo courtesy of Yuzuki.


Celebrating Diwali at Dosa in 2012. Photo via Facebook.


Pulling the noodles at M.Y. China. Photo courtesy Creative Mint.

Loosen that belt, it’s going to be too tight after this lineup of deliciousness.

PERBACCO is turning 10 and is hosting a fancy dinner tonight (Tuesday October 25th), but you can also dine throughout the week (until Saturday October 29th) and enjoy a selection of exceptional wines for $10 a glass. They will also be gifting each table at lunch this week with a complimentary appetizer as a token of their gratitude.

On Wednesday November 9th, help YUZUKI celebrate their fifth anniversary with a special modern sushi kaiseki dinner. $100, including a complimentary beer or glass of sparkling wine. Sake pairings will also be available for an additional $50. Make your reservation or call 415-556-9898.

You can celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, at a couple of locations in the Bay Area. DOSA ON FILLMORE is hosting their annual Diwali Celebration on Sunday October 30th, from 5pm-11:30pm, with a special menu ($55), housemade Diwali sweets, music from DJ Nix, complimentary henna art, and more. Reservations are filling up; book online or call 415-441-3672.

AJANTA in Berkeley is celebrating on Sunday October 30th and Monday October 31st—with party decorations in effect. They are offering a special $42 prix-fixe lunch and dinner menu that will include paired wines by the glass. (A vegetarian version of the menu is $39.) All guests will be served complimentary mithai, which are traditional Indian sweets during Diwali days.

There’s a Chengdu Food & Cultural Festival coming to SF November 10th-18th, thanks to chef Martin Yan. Chengdu is considered the culinary capital of the Sichuan province and is also Asia’s first UNESCO city of gastronomy. Unfortunately we can’t attend the gala at City Hall featuring a team of Sichuan’s finest chefs, but five restaurants are also taking part with special Sichuan-themed culinary events hosted by chef Yan and the visiting chefs, who will be working closely with the staff in each venue. Release the heat!

On Friday November 11th, KOI PALACE is hosting a dinner from 6:30pm-9:30pm, $128 per person, call 650-992-9000. M.Y. CHINA is featuring a special Chengdu-inspired menu November 12th-30th, and CRYSTAL JADE is hosting their dinner on Wednesday November 16th from 6:30pm-9:30pm, $188 per person, or call 415-399-1200.

Other dinners include Chef Chu in Los Altos (Nov. 13th, $100 per person) and China Stix in Santa Clara (Nov. 14th, $65 per person).

M.Y. China            - Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St., 4th Fl., San Francisco - 415-580-3001


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the new yawker

Dispatches from NYC (you talkin’ to me?)

My Favorite Restaurants Where I Ate in New York (Part Two)


A classic start to a New York evening: a martini at the Russian Tea Room bar. All photos: ©


Eggz at Le Coq Rico.


The famed radishes and butter at The NoMad.


The “China-quiles” at Fung Tu.


Escarole with favas, mint, lemon, and pecorino at Via Carota.


The Via Carota Svizzerina.


The epic lasagna at I Sodi.


Table favorite: gao choi gao at Joy Luck Palace.


Little piggy custard buns at Joy Luck Palace.


Summertime fabulousness at El Rey: tomatoes, boquerones, nopales, and coriander vinaigrette.

Here’s the second installment of my favorite places where I ate in New York this year—Manhattan, to be exact. (Take a look at Part One of my Manhattan spots, in case you missed it.) I’ll be doing a separate list of Brooklyn restaurants since I have been doing a lot of exploration while staying out here this fall. I also have a pizza list and burger list AND sandwich list under heavy construction, stand by!


Le Coq Rico If you really count yourself as a lover of chicken, you’ll want to grab a few friends so you can order a whole chicken (they run $100, bwok, but they are very special poulets) at this Parisian import—or you can sit solo at the long kitchen counter and get a quarter Brune Landaise chicken and perfect green salad for $24. What else to get? The charmingly named Eggz section had a soft-boiled egg with salmon roe, and I was happy to see the rare offering of en meurette. Desserts are also fantastique! The ile flottante is worth going in for on its own, seriously, and there’s a mille-feuille for two. Expect charming French waiters who will upsell you in two winks.

The NoMad It’s funny, a place like this couldn’t exist in SF—it’s so very New York. The theatrical space, the heavy and butter-laden French (borderline Continental) cuisine, the breathtaking price tag. But there are some of chef Daniel Humm’s dishes you definitely need to try, including the next-level radish and butter course: the radishes are dipped in warm butter and then get a liquid nitrogen blast for perfect butter adhesion. Now that’s some tasty science. Plus the famed roast chicken ($89 for two) really is all that (a tour de force of foie and black truffle and brioche that’s presented with total tableside theater). Even if you can’t afford dinner, it’s worth coming in for brunch or a cocktail to take in the modern opulence.

Fung Tu I totally dug the personality and creativity at chef Jonathan Wu’s Lower East Side Chinese spot, a place where shrimp chips get matched with ‘nduja with Sichuan oil. The “China-quiles” was just like chawan mushi with Sichuan pork sauce; also loved the expertly prepared steamed fish, and rice noodles with chorizo and shishitos. Lots of housemade touches, like bok choy with housemade shrimp paste. Feels like a kindred cousin to what Brandon Jew is doing at Mister Jiu’s in SF.

Via Carota I have such a soft spot for all-day places, which always seem to be there for you, because, well, they are. Jody Williams (Buvette) and Rita Sodi (I Sodi) want to feed you, and their love of vegetables and seasonality makes this California girl feel right at home. This is where you go when you want a beautiful escarole salad, or classics like vitello tonnato (chilled veal in a tuna-caper sauce, one of my favorite summertime dishes). The Svizzerina, a bunless burger with hand-chopped grass-fed steak, is a burger for tartare lovers—it’s presented simply with salt, pepper, rosemary, and cloves of roasted garlic, and seared. Boom. Come by for antipasti and a glass of Vietti arneis, or lunch with your vegetarian friend, or a late-night bowl of pappardelle with wild boar ragù at the bar. The rustic window-lined space is equally beautiful in the summer or winter.

I Sodi I can’t mention Via Carota without mentioning I Sodi again, one of my favorite New York standbys for a Negroni off their amaro-lovin’ list, their fried artichokes (or artichoke salad, also good), and the famed lasagna, with impossibly thin layers of pasta, more than you can count. Pasta lovers need to make a pilgrimage, whether it’s for the cacio e pepe or housemade tagliatelle. It’s a cozy West Village spot, ideal for a solo dinner at the bar, or a date at one of the tight tables. Wait, is that Matt Dillon at the corner table?

Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong If you’re into Korean BBQ, you need to posse up and pop by K-town and get in line for this super-quality spot (there’s also a popular location in LA), with carefully chosen meats (make sure to do a combo to try a couple), a fun banchan setup (wait until you see the trench of egg and corn), belly-warming kimchi stew, and the least-smoky setup I have ever encountered. Bring on the meat sweats (it’s especially perfect in the winter). Late hours, K-pop, big groups, beer, shochu, you do the math.

Joy Luck Palace 98 Mott St. at Canal, 212-431-8383 This ended up being one of my favorite dim sum experiences—this Chinatown place is packed, a full-tilt banquet room with feasting parties sharing round tables together. Standouts included the har gow (with plump shrimp and silky wrappers), incredible char siu bao (the delicate buns are so sticky, with a rich filling), the juicy shumai were notable, and be sure to get the gao choi gao (shrimp and chive dumpling), our table’s favorite. Also: the egg custard bao decorated with pig faces, I mean, come ON.

Skip the xiao long bao in this Cantonese joint—the gingery filling was good, but there was no broth to speak of—and head to many of the neighborhood’s Shanghaiese places for that particular treat (or go to The Bao in the East Village at 13 St. Marks Pl. for really, truly excellent XLB!). Our party feasted for $15 each at Joy Luck, so don’t hold back and order up. Pro tip: BYOB some bubbles.

Saravana Bhavan This chain of Indian vegetarian restaurants has a couple of locations in New York, which will fulfill all your South Indian dosa and uttapam fantasies, plus there are thalis and mini tiffin meals. At my preferred Lexington Avenue location, I loved their ghee masala dosa and the kaima idly—mini idly fried and tossed in a saucy spice mix. Wallet-friendly and great for lunch.

El Rey It was my last night in New York before wrapping up my first six-month stint, and I was so lucky to find a perch at the tiny window counter here overlooking the Lower East Side parade happening on the sidewalk, the balmy evening air making me drink my rosé even faster with my lady friends. And then the chef (Mason Lindahl) recognized me from his time in San Francisco, and it all felt like home.

El Rey is a coffee shop (the Mexican iced coffee!) and luncheonette from Nicholas Morgenstern, which serves a next-level healthy lunch (kale salad, poached eggs, grains, you know the drill, but it’s so much more) and transforms into the cutest little candlelit restaurant in the evening. The market-driven menu is like a dream of Cali-inspired small plates, full of vegetables and creativity and bright layers of flavor combinations, like squid with sesame and masa-fried kumquats, or burnt sunflower butter with chorizo. Kindest staff. Hearts!

For Part One of my Manhattan list, click here.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

New Wine Director at Quince and Cotogna


Beautiful bubbles at Quince. Photo: Paul Dryer.

Michael and Lindsay Tusk have brought sommelier Jeff Kellogg over from Union Square Hospitality Group’s Maialino in New York City, and he will now be the director of wine and beverages for QUINCE and COTOGNA. Kellogg was recently voted one of the Sommeliers of the Year by Food & Wine, and he also previously worked at RN74 and Redd in Yountville. Look for upcoming wine dinners each month as well.

Quince            - 470 Pacific Ave. San Francisco - 415-775-8500

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