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Nov 21, 2016 14 min read

November 22, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: turkey trot.

November 22, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: turkey trot.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: turkey trot.                    

Okay, so it’s not a turkey, but it’s the superlative honey-soy roasted squab (chim quay) at Bodega Bistro, which is as good as ever. Photo: ©

Hi gang. You scrambling to finish your work, pack your bags, catch that flight, make that pumpkin pie, dry-brine that turkey? Good luck with all that. Tonight, I’ll be home making our family giblet gravy. Gonna be smelling like some turkey all up in Casa Hopper.

It’s also so good to have such bountiful Dungeness crabs here right now. Sunday supper at Grandma’s had us all cracking around the table, with our glasses full of Iron Horse bubbles. I have a few crab feasts listed in today’s issue, so get crackin’.

Something you’ll want to put on your calendar: I’m going to be hosting two events with Feastly in December with chef Rob Lam! On Sunday December 11th, we’re hosting Jook Joint, a jook brunch that is going to blow yer mind, and then on Friday December 16th, we’re hosting another one of Rob’s abundant Family-Style Vietnamese Dinners, with beautiful wine pairings from Ernest Vineyards. We may have the menus and tickets up this weekend, which I will be tweeting out, and for sure linking to tickets in next Tuesday’s tablehopper. Hope to see you there, and maybe at both if you roll like that!

Something else you should do to treat yo’self is get tickets to Luzia, the latest Cirque du Soleil production. I went to the opening night last week and was totally taken with this story, which is set in Mexico. It’s dreamy, surreal, funny, and, of course, has some mind-blowing acrobatics, sets, and more.

All righty, here’s wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I know some of us are having a hard time with the idea of gathering if you have family members on the other side of the political barbed-wire fence. But let this heartfelt message from Van Jones inspire you right now. Stay human. It’s good advice. And the beauty of gathering with friends and family and giving thanks is too important. Thanksgiving deserves our best selves. As my Grandma says, “No fighting, no biting!”

I’m grateful for you! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

New York's Babu Ji Opens on Valencia


An array of dishes at Babu Ji. Photo: Katie Newburn.


Thali plate. Photo: Katie Newburn.


The private dining room at Babu Ji. Photo: Katie Newburn.

A couple of months ago I mentioned BABU JI was coming to the former Nostra on Valencia, and this playful-yet-precise Indian restaurant has now opened. Owners Jennifer and chef Jessi Singh are from Melbourne, but are known for their restaurant in New York.

The menu is very similar, with the signature chef’s tasting menu ($62) carrying over (wait until you see the thali plate that comes with it), plus à la carte options like their trademark yogurt kebabs, Colonel Tso’s cauliflower, brilliant tandoori chicken, and “unauthentic” butter chicken. Check out the menu here.

The self-serve fridge stocked with beer will also carry over, although this one will have many local beers in its 40-strong selection, plus there are small keg draft brews like Mikkeller. Rajat Parr is behind the wine list, and we’ll have some NYC bartender flava with savory cocktails by Vincent Chirico of Raines Law Room (scroll down to see the list). There are 74 seats in the dining room, with 16 in the private dining room.

Hours are pretty crazy for the next few weeks: open tonight Tue Nov 22nd 6pm-12am, open again Fri Nov 25th-Sun Nov 27th and then Wed Nov 30th-Sun Dec 4th 6pm-12am. After that, just let the Resy app tell you when it’s open. Starting Wed Dec 14th, hours will be 5pm-12am, closed Tuesdays. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St.

Openings: Phlox Commons, Hinodeya Ramen, Split Opens on Polk, Nabe #2, Troya Fillmore Relaunches


Dashi-based ramen at the new Hinodeya Ramen. Yelp photo by Keiko N.


The Split Ranger Burger. Photo courtesy of Split.


A new falafel bowl at Troya Fillmore. Photo courtesy of Troya.

A bunch of smaller openings for you to note, including PHLOX COMMONS, which just opened in the former Saha at the Hotel Carlton (the owner, Ryan Olson, previously worked at Saha—it ends up he’s a big hiker, and phlox is everywhere on his California hikes). The 49-seat room had a massive remodel from Hannah Collins Design (Belga, Delarosa Downtown) and feels light and bright, with a marble bar, blond woodwork, white tile, and shimmery wallpaper—a couple of skylights were revealed too.

It’s a casual spot, with a seasonal Cali comfort/gastropub menu (it’s on the site) that is priced right. Chef de cuisine Mina Kacos also makes some mad Old Bay chips, so you can always grab a seat at the bar for those and a glass of wine or beer (Brian Reccow of Specialistas Hospitality put together the list of 60 California-produced beers and wines). Breakfast Mon-Fri 7am-11am; weekend brunch Sat 8am-12pm and Sun 8am-2pm; dinner Tue-Thu and Sun 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1075 Sutter St. at Larkin, inside the Hotel Carlton, 415-500-2734.

HINODEYA RAMEN is opening Wednesday November 23rd in Japantown, which Hoodline says is serving dashi broth-based ramen (think: umami-rich stock made from seaweed and seafood) from chef Masao Kuribara. The menu will add additional dishes added as they ramp up. They will be open for dinners, 5-10pm (including Thanksgiving), closed on Tuesdays. 1737 Buchanan St. at Sutter, 415-757-0552.

I mentioned that the Mixt (formerly Mixt Greens) folks were opening a Split Bread in the former La Boulange on Polk, and now they shortened the name to SPLIT—and it’s open. To recap: the fast-casual menu highlights updated American classics.

Breakfast has chorizo hash with kale and squash, while the egg sandwich has housemade sausage. Lunch has a range of burgers, plus salads (which you can design yourself), sandwiches, and more. Dinner adds mains like fried chicken, Mt. Lassen trout, and a pork chop. Here’s a PDF of the entire menu with the prices—the sourcing is local and organic, with many housemade items. There’s also Four Barrel coffee, wine on tap, craft beer, and mimosas at brunch. You can also order online ahead of time. Open daily 8am-9pm. 2300 Polk St. at Green.

The popular Inner Sunset hot pot shop NABE has expanded to the Marina—just in time for the winter. Hoodline reports it features the same menu (for now) from siblings and owners Hilwin and Hubert Wong, with a modern look by Alan Tse. Dinner only, Sun-Thu 5pm-10:30pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 2151 Lombard St. at Steiner, 415-345-8344.

Starting this week, Turkish-Mediterranean TROYA FILLMORE is changing its format to more of a fast-casual menu with counter service. There will be mezes, wraps and bowls, and kebabs and larger plates. The wine list will reflect more Mediterranean selections, and the beer list will be expanded as well. The space got a refresh and will feel more relaxed. Hours: 11am-8:30pm daily.

Troya Fillmore            - 2125 Fillmore St. San Francisco - 415-563-1000

Coming Soon: Flores, China Live Sets Date, Italian Homemade Company to Hayes Valley, Tony Gemignani's Slice House to Haight


Chef-partner Alejandro “Alex” Morgan. Photo courtesy of Flores.


The dining area of China Live’s Market-Restaurant (with exhibition kitchen stations in the back). Rendering: AvroKO.


The classic piadina (at The Italian Homemade Company). Photo: ©

Adriano Paganini’s Mexican restaurant with operating partner Luis Flores has a name, FLORES, and it is opening Monday November 28th (it will be soft opening with a limited menu this weekend if you want to swing by). You can peep the dinner menu here, which covers a variety of Mexican regions. Chef-partner Alejandro “Alex” Morgan is going to be highlighting masa on the menu, from the handmade tortillas to crab tostadas, plus sopes, taquitos, and enchiladas de pato confitado (duck confit wrapped in a housemade tortilla, served with salsa verde, avocado, lettuce, and pickled radishes). Also: there are cocktails. Hours are Mon-Wed 5pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 5pm-12am. 2030 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-796-2926.

Great news: things are ramping up for George Chen’s CHINA LIVE, and they are targeting an opening for Chinese New Year in 2017. You can take a look at my last in-depth piece for an overview of this hefty, 30,000-square-foot project. They have also made some key hires to oversee its Market Restaurant & Bar, Oolong Café, retail marketplace, several bars, and Eight Tables by George Chen: Quinn McKenna (previously Lark Creek Restaurant Group) is the executive director of operations; Joey Altman is the director of culinary operations; and Chi-Feng Lin from Taiwan is chef de cuisine. 644 Broadway at Stockton.

Hot on the expansion path are the lovely Italians at THE ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY, who will be opening their third location in Hayes Valley. The husband-and-wife owners, Mattia Cosmi and Alice Romagnoli, along with business partner Mirco Tomassini, will keep spreading their gospel of housemade pastas, sauces, piadine, and cassoni. Lucky us. They will also sell pantry goods and hope to serve beer and wine. Hoodline’s report says to look for an opening in March or April 2017. 1 Franklin St. at Page.

One of my favorite slices in the city is from Tony Gemignani’s SLICE HOUSE, which is opening a sixth location in the former Big Slice Pizza. Hoodline caught a picture of the sign, but no word on when the opening is coming. 1535 Haight St. at Ashbury.

Cawfee Tawk: Café Lambretta Opening in SoMa, Blue Bottle South Park Opens


A rendering of the upcoming Café Lambretta. Courtesy of Dahlin Group.


A look toward the front door of Café Lambretta. Rendering courtesy of Dahlin Group.


The sunny and light-filled Blue Bottle South Park. Photo courtesy of Melissa Ryan.

If you have been a longtime tablehopper reader and you’re an Italian scooter fan, you may remember reading about CAFÉ LAMBRETTA, which opened on Polk Street back in 2007 (also: enjoy looking at that almost ancient tablehopper issue!) and closed not too soon thereafter. Well, owner and Lambretta fanatic John Quintos has been busy with many other businesses over the years, including his Cento café and Cento Coffee roasting label, Special Xtra and Special Xtra 2 cafés, and more. And now he has a great opportunity to open his biggest yet, so he’s going back to where he started and opening Café Lambretta again.

The SoMa location is in an old building that dates back to 1913. There is 1,500 square feet for retail—fortunately the building owner was a Cento customer, and they were able to work out a deal. Quintos is going to be offering a menu for breakfast, lunch, and happy hour, with an extensive selection of in-house baked goods.

He’s working with Najla Turczyn (20th Century Café, Papa November) on the Italian-style breads and savory baked goods, while Christian Ciscle of Wing Wings is consulting on the rest of the menu. It’s going to be a little bit Parisian and a little bit Italian. Think croissants, either with chocolate or havarti and prosciutto for breakfast, plus a croque-madame, frittatas, scones, and more. Lunch will have a variety of sandwiches on house-baked breads, either grab and go or open-face with a meatball from a family recipe, plus some pressed panini as well as salads (bring on the panzanella in the summer, yes!). Happy hour will have some share plates, salads, and wine and beer. Catering and some wholesale business to local offices are also in the plan.

There will be 49 seats, with tables, booths, and of course, vintage Lambretta bikes installed throughout—the space is a beaut, with 18-foot ceilings. Quintos, a CCAC grad, is also creating an original art piece to be mounted on the wall: he’s taking apart a Lambretta and making the parts look like one of those old-school plastic model kits. Can’t wait to see it. He’s hoping to open in March 2017, I’ll keep you updated. Hours will be Mon-Fri 8am-8pm. 101 Townsend St. at 2nd St.

Not too far away, the new BLUE BOTTLE SOUTH PARK café has opened in the former Jeremy’s space, which is 1,200 square feet. It’s Blue Bottle’s first café designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. An extra room brings an expanded menu and coffee program and an iced coffee bar, or Cold Bar, which will serve zero-proof mixed coffee drinks. It also features the company’s first-ever Mavam espresso machine, with equipment that is built in beneath the counter. You can also enjoy the finely tuned audio off the vintage Klipsch speakers. Open daily 7am-7pm. 2 South Park St. at 2nd St.

New Service Includes Dinner at Tartine Manufactory, Brunch at Mason Pacific


The housemade ricotta with beets at a Tartine Manufactory test dinner. Photo: ©


The whole salt-baked petrale sole at a Tartine Manufactory test dinner. Photo: ©

If you’re looking for some new places to add to your roster, for your consideration:

TARTINE MANUFACTORY has their dinner service under way, served Wed-Sun 5:30pm-10pm. Take a look at the menu here. Obviously the bread service should be at the top of your list, and at a test dinner, the tartare and salt-baked petrale sole were notable. And then there’s that porchetta too. Vinny Eng is rocking the wine list, with some fantastic food-friendly selections.

Over on Nob Hill, the new chef at MASON PACIFIC, Max Mackinnon, has launched weekend brunch (Sat-Sun 10am-2pm). Dishes on the menu range from a sourdough waffle with maple and bacon to a classic omelet with Comté and green salad. Or you can go full tilt on a New York strip steak and eggs with potato and hollandaise.

Mason Pacific            - 1358 Mason St. San Francisco - 415-374-7185

The Maestro of Meat, Dario Cecchini, Is in Town for a Variety of Appearances


Dario Cecchini at Nopa. Photo: ©


Dario Cecchini at Nopa. Photo: ©

The one and only Dario Cecchini—the famed opera-singing, Dante-quoting butcher of Panzano in Chianti—is in the Bay Area for a variety of events. His visit has been organized by the Italian Consulate General and the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco, in collaboration with Italian food expert and cooking instructor Viola Buitoni, to mark the First Week of Italian Cuisine in the World.

I saw Dario conduct a butchery session about seven years ago at Nopa, and it was a marvel to watch. Try to catch one of these classes or dinners if you can.


Sunday 11/27, 4pm-6:15pm Arclinea, Showroom 160 2 Henry Adams, SF (between Rhode Island and Vermont, Alameda and Division) Demo class on whole hog butchery with lecture on responsible and ethical consumption of animals, followed by prosecco and tastings of two of Dario’s signature delicacies. Presented by 18 Reasons. $65; $55 for 18 Reasons members. Register.

Monday 11/28, 10:30am-12:45pm New Seasons Market Evergreen 5667 Silver Creek Valley Road, San Jose Demo class on whole hog butchery with lecture on responsible and ethical consumption of animals, followed by prosecco and tastings of two of Dario’s signature delicacies. Presented with Community Cuisine. Tickets.


Monday 11/28, 5:30pm-10pm A16 ROCKRIDGE 5356 College Ave. (between Manila and Bryant), Oakland Special dinner menu with six specialties from Antica Macelleria Cecchini prepared by his right-hand woman Simonetta with the restaurant’s kitchen crew. Dario will greet guests and also do a butchery demo during the evening. Prices will be à la carte; to reserve, go to the restaurant’s website or call 510-768-8003.

Wednesday 11/30, 12pm-2pm MONTESACRO Pinseria 510 Stevenson (between 6th and 7th Streets), SF Special porchetta sandwiches served on Montesacro’s special pinsa bread; must be booked in advance, only 50 available. There will also be a live butchering demo from Dario for the first hour; the sandwiches will need to be preordered with the restaurant. Click to buy a ticket, $35, includes glass of wine.

Wednesday 11/30, 5:30pm-10pm BOULEVARD Restaurant 1 Mission St. at Embarcadero, SF Special dinner menu with four specialties from Antica Macelleria Cecchini, prepared by his right-hand woman Simonetta with the restaurant’s kitchen crew. Dario will greet guests, talk about his specialties, and his philosophy during the evening. Prices will be à la carte; to reserve, go to the restaurant’s website or call 415-543-6084.

Holiday Brunches and Crab Feasts


Brenda’s Hangtown fry. Photo via Facebook.


Release the Dungeness crabs! Photo via Fine & Rare’s Facebook.

A couple of fun and out-of-the-ordinary brunches for you this week: guess who’s open for brunch on Thanksgiving? BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD! They are normally closed for the holiday, but this year they had to close this Tue-Wed for maintenance, so they decided to open for Thanksgiving brunch from 8am-3pm. Their usual weekend brunch menu will be served, plus a deep-fried turkey plate lunch and pumpkin pie pancakes with gingersnap streusel.

And then on the day after Thanksgiving (I refuse to call it Black Friday), instead of battling stampeding people over flat-screen TVs, you can stay in your fat pants and head over to HOG & ROCKS for brunch. There are $1 oysters from 11am-5pm, plus new dishes like chorizo migas, biscuits and gravy, duck confit French toast, and eggs Benedict. Plus, they’re open all weekend. And they take reservations!

‘Tis the season for Dungeness crab, and ALAMAR KITCHEN & BAR in Oakland is hosting the ultimate pregame feast on Wednesday November 23rd, their Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Crab Feed, featuring all-you-can-eat chile crab, salad, grilled Firebrand bread, and vegetables. Limited menu available from regular dinner menu. $55 per person. Children ages 2-5 are $25; under 2 are free. No leftovers can be taken home. A 20 percent gratuity will be added to the final check. There’s a two-hour time limit for all parties. 5pm-9pm. Reservations are required. 100 Grand Ave. at Webster, Oakland 510-907-7555.

In SF, FINE & RARE’s 3rd Annual Crab Feast is happening Saturday December 3rd. For $75, you’ll get unlimited steamed Dungeness crab, seasonal salad, garlic noodles, sourdough garlic bread, and bottomless beer or mimosas. Two seatings: 11:30pm-1:30pm and 2:30pm-4:30pm. Tickets here. Proceeds will be donated to Golden Gate Salmon Association. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness, 415-297-3980.

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

(Sponsored): New Cooking Classes at San Francisco Cooking School

Whether you’re looking to amp up your holiday cookie game, crack and cook with crab, finally master a killer cioppino, or bake and join a cookie swap, 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 chef Alexander Ong coming by to teach you how to make pho! 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.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Van "The Man" Jones Takes a Break from His Brilliant Truth Telling to Enjoy a Meal

Activist, CNN commentator, and pretty much my favorite articulate and insightful voice in this messed-up post-election world, Van Jones came in to The Commissary for a meal on Friday night. Everyone should take 30 minutes out of whatever it is you’re doing and watch the three episodes of his latest show, The Messy Truth, on CNN. Ready for more. Thank you Van.

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