Ready to feel at one with the balloons. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
I could tell you about a lot of fun things I did this week, but I’m going to leave it up to Instagram to tell those stories.
Really, all I want to say in my note today is PLEASE VOTE. Each and every one of you. Thank you!
I look forward to climbing out of our current pressure cooker and into a magnum of Champagne tonight. See you there?
Opening on Thursday November 10th is the latest beauty in the Bacchus Management Group portfolio, THE SARATOGA, which is unexpectedly nestled on the corner of Larkin and Post—yup, right there in the TenderNob, with Mr. Holmes Bakehouse just up the street and Jane on Larkin down the street.
When you see the space, you’ll see why principal Tim Stannard couldn’t resist the building, which was built soon after the 1906 earthquake—it dates back to 1907 (when it was the Elk Hotel) and then rebranded one year later as The Saratoga. Stannard says they discovered the spacious basement and were inspired to make it into a two-level supper club and bar.
They took care to highlight the Carnegie steel throughout the space, and there’s even an imprint on one of the support columns that says “Folsom Street Ironworks 189?” (they can’t make out the last digit). They also kept the original blade sign outside, of course, outfitting it with some new neon.
It’s rather stunning. As you approach the building, you’ll see the tremendous wall of backlit booze shimmering dramatically, along with a custom tiered chandelier designed by Stephen Brady and Magnus Schevene, who did a lot of the metalwork, including the bar shelves and details.
Upstairs is more of a dark yet warm industrial bistro vibe, with room for 64. Tables circle the stairwell that leads to the 23-seat downstairs—a more formal dining room with white tablecloths and a beautiful bar of Carrara marble and a tufted base. There’s also a small lounge area tucked near the stairs. The lighting is very sexy and flattering, and this swank downstairs bar is where you’ll want to start your next hot date, mark my words. Stannard was inspired by a favorite bar in Paris, and the grey mohair walls adorned with vintage art, selected by Lost Art Salon, add to a timeless, salon-style vibe.
The menu by chef Mark Sullivan and chef de cuisine Jason Wittek is a playful take on New American cuisine, but of course using the best ingredients, with produce from BMG’s SMIP Ranch. There are bites good for upstairs or downstairs, like seven-spice chicken sliders with ‘Bama white sauce and dill pickles, or ‘Toga tots with Fiscalini cheddar, chorizo, and scallion. Of course there’s a burger (with Taleggio cheese and slaw on an onion bun) and a fun Cubano frank, which is a deep-fried dog topped with slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and mojo relish on a Mayfield Bakery roll (yeah, it’s pretty amazing).
Vegetable dishes include a warm Chantenay carrot salad with avocado, toasted seeds, and vadouvan, or a bagna cauda-poached tomato, with grilled levain, garlic cream, and basil. The berbere-spiced chicken paillard is accompanied with labneh, while a classic Flannery dry-aged New York steak will come in Cognac-peppercorn sauce.
Desserts are full American nostalgia, from their version of a Ho Ho to Cracker Jacks to fried apple hand pies. Pricing couldn’t be confirmed at press time—you’ll need to check the site for the menu in a couple of days.
Barman Brandon Clements, who has been with Bacchus since he started as an hourly bartender at Spruce in 2007, is now a partner in this venture, and he has created quite the extraordinary list. He said he has been “hoarding” the past 1 1/2 years and has sourced some vintage and extremely rare spirits, more than 800 bottles in all and focusing on Chartreuse—he even has a Chartreuse from the 1920s on the list. (His goal is to be the number one Chartreuse bar in the country.) Other vintage herbal spirits are also highlighted, including Benedictine (from the 1940s and onward), Fernet (1950s-1970s), and there are other Pimm’s to try—he found #2, #3, #5, and #6. Vintage bourbons, rums, and more will be added too.
Obviously these come at a premium, so those who are just seeking a well-made cocktail will be happy to find an extensive and fairly priced list ($12-$14). The bar team is starting the first week with highballs and some shaken and stirred numbers, and the following week will ramp up with Chartreuse cocktails from all over, including some New York bar recipes.
And if you’re with a group, there are some stunning large-format vessels with enough to serve six people—Clements will be using old “Cocktail Bill” Boothby punch recipes (he found some that date back to when The Saratoga opened). Expect a fantastic wine list from BMG wine and spirits director Andrew Green.
Hours are Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. 1008 Larkin St. at Post, 415-932-6464.
Opening this Friday November 11th is a very special project, ONSEN, a combination bathhouse and restaurant in the Tenderloin. Owners and husband and wife Sunny Simmons and Caroline Smith took over a former auto shop and transformed it into quite the peaceful destination. Meet your new oasis. It has a Japanese and highly handcrafted aesthetic, with many artistic touches: Sunny is a carpenter/craft builder and Caroline is an artist and acupuncturist. I loved all the personal and crafty touches, and it’s quite apparent how much work and thought went into the space.
The 3,200-square-foot location opens in the restaurant area, which has 20 seats, a beautiful wood bar area, exposed brick, and tables made from old chalkboards. Chef George Meza—previously Oro, Ame, and Urchin Bistrot—will initially be offering dinner service, and his menu has a NorCal seasonal sensibility with Japanese influences and many housemade touches.
I recommend showing up before your bath for a small bite, such as rice porridge with miso kimchi hiding in the bottom of the bowl and a bright pink pickled quail egg ($7), or something light, like daily sashimi with cucumbers and preserved sweet pepper dashi with shiso. Enjoy your bath or treatment, get dressed, and then come back into the restaurant for some skewers off the binchotan grill, like charred artichoke hearts, miso, and seaweed ($7) or the tender braised kakuni lamb ($8) with mustard sauce, which will pair well with the housemade pickle plate ($6).
Additional plates include maitake dumplings soup ($12), with cabbage, bonito, and dill, or warm udon noodles ($12), Brussels sprouts, and egg yolk with trout roe and furikake, both perfect for a cool SF night. The food is as beautiful as it is flavorful—it really adds a unique element to the entire experience. The menu is easy to share, or you can come by for a solo meal—you don’t have to come to the bath, you can just come by for dinner. There are also some creative low-ABV drinks, local and imported sake, and beers. And tea, of course.
As for the rest of the space, there are six rooms where you can schedule healing treatments, from massage to acupuncture to reiki, and the highlight is the eight-person hot soaking pool under a skylight in the former mechanic’s pit (bring your friends!) surrounded by plants and a fun soundtrack in the background. Plus, there’s a redwood dry sauna (wait until you see the embedded Himalayan salt), groovy tiled steam room, and steampunky cold plunge shower.
Something that really struck me during my visit is how well Sunny and Caroline have gotten to know their neighbors. They really care; they aren’t just some callous gentrifiers opening a posh spa in the TL. Quite the opposite. In fact, they will be closed on Tuesdays so they can offer community services, including free acupuncture for veterans and sliding-scale services for neighbors who can’t afford alternative health treatments. They really want people who work in the area, like bartenders, to be able to come in and take care of themselves. This couple really walks the walk, and it’s a pleasure to witness.
Another cool thing: Onsen is going to be open until 1am on Saturdays, woot. Check the site for details on the different days for soaking. Open Wed-Mon 10am-10pm and until 1am on Sat. Dinner (to start) begins service at 5pm, and lunch will launch later. 466 Eddy St. at Hyde, 415-780-4987.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. After making the hard decision to close The Roosevelt Tamale Parlor last December, owners Barry Moore and Aaron Presbrey thought they had a buyer lined up for the restaurant. Well, the deal fell through, and after trying and failing to find other buyers, they decided to reopen the restaurant and do the concept that resonated the most for them. Meet THE ROOSEVELT SIP N EAT.
The gents want diners to feel like a guest in their home, a warm place that is casual. It’s like when your friend who really knows how to cook has you over, with really enjoyable wines and beers on the table. The tight bistro-style menu is going to be seasonal, simple, accessible, and refined casual—their motto is “Always thoughtful, never fussy.” Presbrey is going to be moving to back of house and acting as Moore’s sous chef, baking desserts, and managing the beer and wine list.
It’s also going to be affordable—you’ll be fed well, whether it’s the roasted Mary’s half chicken ($19) or Duroc pork shoulder ($17) with beet salad, beet greens, pork crackling, and tarragon oil. Barry’s famed Caesar salad will be on the menu ($12), and his love of green chile will be showing up in a curry ($15), with roasted root vegetables and basmati rice. I have a feeling I’ll be coming in for the short rib ragù ($17) with pappardelle and pecorino soon. All entrées will be $20 and under and will change with the seasons. They will be sourcing sustainable ingredients and look forward to having their own Oakland farm plot where they’ll be growing vegetables and more.
The wine list is going to have some great pricing, and they want to offer some lesser-known alternatives to the usual suspects. So instead of having a zinfandel, what about a nice tempranillo instead? Tweaks like that…and wines ranging from $8 to $12 by the glass.
The 32-seat space already had cute décor from the last go-round, but they are updating the interior again and will be adding some artwork this week. While they were sorry they couldn’t find someone to carry on the tamale parlor legacy, they still wanted to honor the place’s beloved history by keeping part of the name. They are excited to be there and serve people once again.
There will be a second round of test dinners this weekend (Thu-Sat)—please note it will probably be cash only this weekend until their POS system is up and running. They will officially be open next week, on Tuesday November 15th. Hours will be Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm, or maybe even until 10:30pm if that’s what the neighborhood needs. No reservations (unless it’s for a large party). 2817 24th St. at York, 415-824-2600.
Your mornings just got naughty: Oakland-based DOUGHNUT DOLLY is now open in The Market. Owner Hannah Hoffman is serving her filled-to-order naughty cream- and jam-filled doughnuts, with cherry jam, plus bourbon cream and dark chocolate. There will also be coffee from Algorithm Coffee Co. at the kiosk. Open daily 7am-4pm. 1355 Market St. at 10th St.
Nearby, another location of Pascal Rigo’s LA BOULANGERIE DE SAN FRANCISCO has (re)opened in the former La Boulange location in the Financial District. Eater reports the addition of a trio of chicken confit dishes to the menu. Open daily 7am-6pm. 222 Sutter St. at Kearny.
Over in the Outer Richmond, the former Americana Grill is now EAT AMERICANA, and former Rickybobby chef James Moisey is in the kitchen. Owner Tony Lai renovated the space and menu (it’s all about American comfort food and all-day breakfast now) and added outdoor seating. Open Wed-Mon 10am-3pm and 5pm-10pm. [Via Hoodline.] 3532 Balboa St. at 36th Ave., 415-387-2893.
There’s a new lineup of pop-up vendors that will be at the CUESA Saturday market at the FERRY BUILDING for the winter. There’s Kantine by Nichole Accettola, serving Scandinavian open-style sandwiches (smørrebrød) with a focus on whole, local ingredients; Volcano Kimchi from Aruna Lee, who plans to offer several varieties of kimchi as well as kimchi juice shots and kimchi fruitcake; Crumble & Whisk (baker Charles Farriér) makes creative handmade cheesecakes in flavors like harvest pumpkin spice, apple spice, and pecan crumble; Rasoi from La Cocina grad Heena Patel serves Western Indian dishes honoring Gujarati traditions and using local ingredients, like egg uttapam with avocado and pav bhaji; and Salt Pt. Meat Share offers handmade sausages and charcuterie sourced from pasture-raised animals from local ranches (Giovanni Betteo is a former 4505 Meats butcher and started Salt Pt. last year).
Ferry Building - One Ferry Building San Francisco - 415-983-8000
Some closures to report around town, starting with SUGARLUMP on 24th Street, which was a favorite café of many local laptop workers. It has gone through some ownership changes, and the latest ABC license transfer lists Alimento LLC as the newest owner, but after a call to Alimento in North Beach, they said they were not expanding. We’ll have to see what’s next for the space. 2862 24th St. at Florida.
A reader let me know another Mission café has closed: RODGER’S COFFEE & TEA. 3520 20th St. at Mission, 415-829-3405.
One of my favorite signs to shake my head over will no longer be flying on Franklin: KAKA UDON has closed. I know, their many delivery customers who loved their freshly made udon are saying, “Oh, crap.” 1535 Franklin St. at Pine, 415-577-2380.
And over in Glen Park, a tipster let me know OSHA THAI is closed and papered over with a new sign: ONE WAAN THAI. 2922 Diamond St. at Bosworth, 415-586-6742.
Whether you’re looking to amp up your holiday cookie game, tackle homemade ramen, finally master a killer cioppino, or perfect classic paella, San Francisco Cooking School has a new winter schedule of classes with something for every level of cook.
You’ll find a huge variety of skills-based classes plus lots of holiday help too—we’ve even got the chef from Plow coming by to teach you how to make a brunch menu at home that includes those insane potatoes! Or, if you really want to impress your friends and family, maybe Pastry Fundamentals is the way to go (holiday pies and stacked layer cakes anyone?).
Hands-on? Of course. Killer instructors? Only the best. A meal AND wine? Always. Gift Certificates? Got those too!
Look forward to seeing you in the kitchens soon.
Newly open at the Market, Taylor, and Golden Gate intersection—just next door to Popsons, Equator Coffee, and the Warfield—is WAYSTONE, a new wine bar and lunch spot from Tom Patella and his wife, Alison. (He is Alvin Garcia’s partner at Causwells, and Garcia tipped him off when he noticed the space next to Popsons was available.) Patella admits he has a crazy wine list, with 40 by the glass, but the list is designed to be approachable and navigable, so enjoy. There are also 25 beers, and soon there will be 4 total on draft.
If you work in the area, you’ll want to come by for their sandwiches, soups, and salads, which range from a braised beef number to French jambon with Jarlsberg, arugula, Dijon, and butter on a soft roll, plus an abundant vegetarian sandwich. There’s a ploughman’s lunch, with cheeses, pickles, and bread, plus charcuterie from Pete’s Meats. Here’s the menu. Some heartier plates will be added for the evening, but for now, with this sunny weather, they’re talking about ceviches. The chef-partner is Billy Riordon, who has worked at La Mar and as a sous for David Wilcox when he was doing his pop-ups in the Bay Area. He was also at 21st Amendment and is behind the beer list at Waystone.
There’s a huge outdoor space with 22 seats, and there are 16 bar seats inside. Open daily 11:30am-10pm, and later hours will be coming soon for people to grab a bite and glass of something after shows at the Warfield. 992 Market St. at Taylor
Wine lovers, you have two events that should get your attention, starting with ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT’s annual Beaujolais Bash on Thursday November 17th. Instead of pouring Beaujolais Nouveau, which is traditionally celebrated on the third Thursday of every November, this event is about showcasing Beaujolais’s potential. Look for notable producers to be poured, like Foillard, Lapierre, Dutraive, Bertrand, Balagny, Chamonard, Descombes, and Damien Coquelet. There will be 54 wines in all! The event is $35; they can do presale if customers want it, but advance purchase isn’t necessary. 5:30pm-8pm.
Oh, and pssst, mark your calendar for my favorite event at Arlequin each year, their Champagne Celebration, which will be on Thursday December 15th, 5pm-8pm, $75! See you there!
Meanwhile, FARALLON is busy gearing up for their 18th annual PinotFest. This year, there will be 58 of the West Coast’s top pinot noir producers featured. Come by Farallon for dinner and taste flights with a special tasting menu for the two weeks leading up to the PinotFest grand tasting on Saturday November 19th (3pm to 6pm). Winemakers from Au Bon Climat, Byron, Calera, Domaine Drouhin, Kosta Browne, Littorai, Merry Edwards, Siduri, Saintsbury, Williams Selyem, and many more will be there, plus plenty of pinot-friendly hors d’oeuvres from chef de cuisine Jason Ryczek. Tickets are $125; available online.
Wines from Spain is pleased to host Spain’s Great Match for wine novices and connoisseurs alike to discover incredible Spanish wine and food. Experience the wonders of Spain at the City View at Metreon on Tuesday November 15th.
Taste more than 200 world-class Spanish wines paired with tapas created by San Francisco’s top Spanish restaurants, including Aatxe, B44, Canela, Coqueta, The Commissary, and more.
General Admission: $65, 6pm-8:30pm USE DISCOUNT CODE: TABLEHOPPER FOR $10 OFF Purchase tickets.
A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit SF-Marin Food Bank.
For more information about Spanish wine, visit winesfromspainusa.com
Must be 21 and over to purchase tickets. No on-site ticket sales and no refunds.
Join us for A Literary Feast.
Thirty of the world’s best-selling cookbook authors gather in one place to sip, sample sup, schmooze, and sign.
San Francisco boasts more award-winning cookbook authors than any other world-class city, and most of them happen to be women. And most of them happen to be members of the venerable international culinary organization Les Dames d’Escoffier.
On Sunday November 13th from 3pm to 6pm in the Grand Hall at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, many of the world’s best-known cookbook authors will gather to share insight, inscribe cookbooks, and offer tastes of their favorite recipes. Rarely do so many culinary leading lights—Teri Sandison, Paula Wolfert, Dorie Greenspan, Joyce Goldstein, Carol Field, Diana Kennedy, Leslie Sbrocco, Amy Guittard, and Georgeanne Brennan, among many others—gather in one place to offer you tastes from their cookbooks and pour you a glass of wine.
Funds raised through the sale of $10 advance tickets ($12 at the door) will benefit the Culinary Scholarship Fund of Les Dames d’Escoffier San Francisco. For more than 30 years, the organization has supported aspiring women chefs, authors, scholars, and hospitality professionals.
Advance tickets are available online here.
Oh, to be a server at this table. Monty Python’s infamous John Cleese and Eric Idle, who were in town for their two-man show, decided to dine at WATERBAR last week. One rabbit stew coming right up! Good thing Mr. Creosote wasn’t with them that night.