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Dec 12, 2016 17 min read

December 13, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: time to put on your fat pants.

December 13, 2016 - This week's tablehopper: time to put on your fat pants.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: time to put on your fat pants.                    

Pro move/order: cilantro-kale pesto and bamboo pith jook topped with duck confit leg at Jook Joint. Photo: ©

Howdy. BIG THANKS to everyone who came to Jook Joint on Sunday, all 115+ of you! Yeah, we got slammed, but I’m glad that so many people got to taste chef Rob Lam’s amazing jook, with toppings like crab uni butter (check out my chef’s special at the end of the event!), duck confit and pomegranate, and his shrimp dumplings! The Lo-Fi Aperitifs cocktails by Claire Sprouse were as delicious as they were beautiful, including the Saturn Returns. I’m so pleased we were able to have such gorg brunch beverages at our event.

I also want to give a special thanks to The Napkins, who provided us with those fantastic high-quality napkins that so many of you noticed! We’re going to be busting out the silky bamboo napkins at our event this Friday. Only the best for you! :)

I really appreciate each and every one of you who showed up, thank you! And we also thank you for your patience with any service snags you experienced since it was crazy busy! That poor kitchen, we crushed them. But you all seemed to be having fun, so mission accomplished.

Things will be a bit more under control but just as crazy-delicious this Friday, when we are back at The Tradesman for our Family-Style Vietnamese Dinner. Chef Rob Lam is going to be serving perfect cold-weather dishes like bun rieu (crab and tomato noodle soup) and the tables will be covered with tasty skewers, like the chao tom (pineapple-sugarcane shrimp—you won’t find this version around town). Just wait until you taste the yuzu shrimp paste chicken wings—and the beautiful wine pairings from Ernest Vineyards! Just a few tickets remain at the main tables and the bar seats (only $80, all-inclusive!). I really hope to see you. Let’s eat. And drink!

I have a bunch of holiday dinners and events listed today, and I’ll have New Year’s Eve and Day options for you next week.

A note to restaurants and publicists: if you absolutely, positively have to be sure you get your holiday event listed in tablehopper, hit me up for a special event listing service I’m offering. You know where to find me—just hit reply to this email!

Quick reminder: last week I mentioned the annual “Adopt-a-Student” Holiday Drive for ECS students in the CHEFS culinary training program. You can buy a much-needed gift for students, such as shoes and clothes. The deadline to be assigned a student is December 16th, and you have until the 20th to have any gifts dropped off. Please contact Mallory Burke via email or call 415-487-3300 x1245 to be assigned an individual. It’s one of the better gifts you can give this holiday.

And if you’re hosting a holiday party or event and you have food left over, please don’t forget to contact Food Runners in SF or in Marin (this countywide food recovery program has delivered 825,000-plus pounds of food to 81 sites throughout Marin in 3 years). One more note: a generous donor is matching donations (up to $5,000 total), so you can donate money online or volunteer or donate food at

Ho ho ho! Marcia Gagliardi aka Champers the Elf

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Just a Few Tickets Left for This Friday 12/16's tablehopper Vietnamese Dinner with Chef Rob Lam and Ernest Vineyards


Chef Rob Lam of Butterfly. Photo courtesy of Butterfly.


Bun rieu/Dungeness crab noodle soup with fat rice noodles, rock shrimp, fish cake, fried tofu, Dirty Girl tomatoes. Photo: ©


Array of pork and shrimp skewers, with lettuce, herbs, sauces, and rice paper wrappers. Photo: ©


Canh ga chien/caramel chicken wings française with yuzu shrimp paste. Photo: ©

Did you ever get a chance to attend the two Vietnamese dinners I hosted with Feastly earlier this year? Did all the pictures from our event on Sunday, Jook Joint, make you hungry? Well, if you missed out on chef Rob Lam’s amazing food, or you would love to try some more of his dishes, here’s your chance, because we’re hosting another feast! And we mean feast: we’re gonna stuff ya!

This Friday December 16th, we’re hosting Family Style, a Vietnamese family-style dinner, paired with the restrained and elegant European-style wines from Ernest Vineyards, which are primarily sourced from carefully selected vineyards around Sonoma County. Wait until you taste these beautifully made and food-friendly wines! We did a preliminary tasting and were so happy to see how marvelously these wines paired with the menu. And since we’re partnering with Feastly, we’re going to be dining in a cool location in the Mission.

This Vietnamese feast will be prepared by chef Rob Lam of Butterfly, who is also a dear friend and one of my very favorite people to dine out with. I have been lucky over the years to enjoy some of his home cooking and dishes you won’t find on the menu at Butterfly, so here’s your opportunity to try his seriously delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Rob was born in Vietnam, and when his family moved to Southern California after the fall of Saigon, his mother opened a restaurant called Vien Dong, just outside of Los Angeles, so restaurants are in his blood. And since Rob cares deeply about using quality ingredients, expect things to taste extra-special, with many housemade sauces and more.

During the evening, we have Ernest Vineyards co-founder Erin Brooks and sommelier and wine educator Eugenio Jardim, winner of Sunset Magazine’s 2010 Sommelier of the Year Award, who will be walking us through the pairings and educating us on these exquisite, site-specific wines, from the Eugenia rosé of cinsault (which is going to become your new favorite) to the fresh and floral Edaphos chardonnay, plus a pinot noir and grenache too.

The dinner will begin at 6:30pm, starting with an amuse on arrival (including bo tai chanh/hanger steak carpaccio and tartare). You can view the menu and wine pairings here. There will be three courses of authentic and flavorful dishes—from fried chicken wings with yuzu shrimp paste to bun rieu (Dungeness crab, egg, and tomato noodle soup with fried tofu and shrimp cake)—and the main event will be the bountiful family-style skewers course, served with a variety of pork and shrimp skewers (including some you have never seen before!), sauces, lettuce, herbs, and DIY rice paper wrappers. Get ready to roll up your sleeves.

With each course, you’ll enjoy an Ernest Vineyards wine pairing. There will also be dessert at the end: warm chocolate pot de crème with Vietnamese coffee sauce and matcha chantilly. Mmmmhmmm. No pairing for that one—it stands on its own! We’re planning to wrap up around 9:30pm, but probably closer to 10pm—you know how these things go. Sorry we can’t accommodate vegetarians at this meal since it’s a set menu.

Tickets are available on Feastly for just $80, all-inclusive. Yes, this is a steal, so don’t delay on getting your seat, we only have a few tickets left! We are selling tickets to the bar seats separately, you can nab those here. I can’t wait to see you, especially around a table covered with delicious food prepared by one of my favorite chefs! See you!

               Friday Dec 16, 2016 6:30pm–9:30pm (ish) $80, all-inclusive more info

Jane the Bakery Now Open on Geary


The looooooong and loaded counter and case at Jane the Bakery. Photo: Bread & Butter.


Lemon and poppy knot at Jane the Bakery. Photo: Bread & Butter.


Pesto-artichoke flatbread at Jane the Bakery. Instagram photo via @janethebakery.

Newly open and adding a wonderful fresh-baked perfume to the neighborhood (and I’m not talking about the green stuff) is JANE THE BAKERY in the former KFC/Taco Bell complex, right next to Imperial Spa. This is owner Amanda Michael’s third location, and it’s more of a retail/production bakery than café—and you can watch the bakers at work!

Head baker Jorgen Carlsen (previously Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station and Craftsman & Wolves), executive pastry chef Alex Terazzas, and bakery manager Kellie Slingerland are cranking out an extensive selection of breads, pastries, and baked goods.

There are always some inventive touches, like mini cookies in peanut butter tahini or chocolate sourdough. There are many favorites, like their cookies and banana bread and cinnamon rolls, plus a full range of breads (walnut fig; olive, lemon, and thyme; ancient grains; baguettes) and braided challah on Fridays only, plus vegan and gluten-free options too.

Savory items include a spicy sausage, red pepper, and provolone croissant, and a pesto-artichoke flatbread (follow @JanetheBakery on Instagram for flavor updates!). You’ll also find grab-and-go salads, soups, and sandwiches.

Full coffee service is available (espresso, pour-over, cold brew), using their house blend, “Bread and Butter,” and there’s also a new line of housemade teas, house-pressed Juicy Jane Juices, hot chocolate, housemade chai, iced matcha, kombucha, and more.

There is limited seating, but you may get lucky with a space in the parking lot out front (score). Open daily 7am-6pm. 1881 Geary St. at Steiner, 415-658-7971.

Big Night Restaurant Group Taking Over Les Clos Space with Petit Marlowe


How they roll at Les Clos. Photo via Facebook.

The Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Leo’s Oyster Bar, Park Tavern, The Cavalier) can’t stop, won’t stop. Up next is PETIT MARLOWE, which they are opening in Mark Bright’s Les Clos space. The concept is to open a neighborhood wine bar and “oysterette.” Good news: they will be keeping Bright on as wine adviser, so fans of his sick cellar stocked with Burgundy, well, you aren’t getting cut off. Chef Jennifer Puccio will be rolling out quite the raw bar, plus steak tartare, charcuterie, cheeses, salads, egg dishes, and more, while pastry chef Emily Luchetti will be doing her dessert magic.

The 50-seat space is getting an old-world glam revamp under Ken Fulk, with flea market finds from Paris, plus maroon banquette seating, a Carrara marble bar, brass cocktail tables, crystal chandeliers, and mirrored ceiling panels (ooh la la). Look for an opening in March. Hours will be Mon-Wed 4pm-10pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-11pm. 234 Townsend St. at 4th St.

Openings: Slice House in Upper Haight, Taboon Bakery, Akira Japanese


A classic slice from Slice House. Photo courtesy of Slice House.


Feta cheese- and green olive-filled sambusak at Taboon Bakery. Photo via Facebook.


The counter at Taboon Bakery. Photo via Facebook.

This news definitely made me happy since it’s just a 15-minute walk away: Tony Gemignani’s SLICE HOUSE is now open in the Upper Haight, and expect some neighborhood influences on the shop. It ends up the space was originally Ron and Jay Thelin’s Psychedelic Shop (via Scoop), the first head shop in the West, and while you won’t be able to order a magic mushroom pizza, there will be some special pies and more on the menu that pay homage to the neighborhood, like the Purple Haze slice. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 1535 Haight St. at Ashbury, 415-552-2520.

Newly open in SoMa right in the thick of things at 6th Street and Minna, is TABOON BAKERY, the city’s first kosher bakery. I have been tracking this place since Hoodline mentioned the project quite awhile ago, which has three Israeli partners. They are focused on making traditional baked items, and partner Avi Edri tells me they have four different ovens to handle all the different kinds of dough Yanni (no last name) the baker is making (a “taboon” is a classic type of oven typically found in the Middle East).

The menu looks fantastic, from fluffy pita to sweet braided buns to rugelach, plus savory breads like onion and tomato sauce pizza, garlic bread, focaccia, and cheese burekas. And there will be sufganiyot, just in time for Hanukkah. There are also special dips they are making, and they use imported spices for maximum authenticity. They expect to ramp up with even more items soon. There are also some gluten-free items. Open Sun-Fri 8am-8pm. 132 6th St. at Minna, 628-444-3666.

Lower Pac Heights residents have a new sushi place near Japantown, AKIRA JAPANESE RESTAURANT. Take a look at the lunch menu and dinner menu, which look pretty straightforward. Open lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. 1634 Bush St at Franklin, 415-800-8498.

Meet Serpentine's New Chef-Owner, Tommy Halvorson


Serpentine photo via Facebook.

Restaurant owner Erin Rooney sold Slow Club to Paul Einbund last year, who recently opened The Morris, and now she has sold her other iconic restaurant, SERPENTINE, to Tommy Halvorson, who is the new chef-owner (Rooney will now be a silent partner). His background includes Foxtail Catering (currently), plus Bix, Chez Panisse, and The Phoenix Supper Club. Scoop reports that Halvorson will not be making many big changes, just some tweaks to the menu and the space, and he may be integrating some of his Southern background into some dishes. The revamp is happening from now into February—the restaurant will not be closing for any of the changes. It’s also going to be turning 10, so the time is right for a new haircut.

Serpentine            - 2495 3rd St. San Francisco - 415-252-2000

the sponsor

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

(Crowdfunding Ad): A Philz Coffee Cookbook Is Happening!

Do you have a serious Philz Coffee addiction, or just love damn good food? Well, a Philz Coffee-inspired cookbook is happening. Yes, cooking with Philz! It’s also the perfect gift for any foodie or coffee lover.

This is a Kickstarter project started by a couple of Philz fans that would love your support. Made with Coffee, created by Jerry James Stone and K.C. Cornwell, explores all that is delicious when cooking with coffee.

Years in the making, you’ll find tasty recipes such as Pastry-Wrapped Poached Pears with Coffee Caramel, Cocoa Roasted Beets, and Coffee & Pomegranate Lamb Chops. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or not, there is something for everyone in this cookbook.

Jerry lived in San Francisco up until a few years ago and is known for his unique spin on vegan and vegetarian cuisine. But this book is about coffee, and not vegetarianism, which is why it has contributors from Whole Foods Market and even Food Network.

If you are looking to try coffee on a whole new level, this is your next cookbook! The campaign ends December 19th.

the socialite

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

Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Other Holiday Meals


Fancy holiday vibes at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Photo via The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.


Two of the pastas from my family’s Cenone/Feast of Seven Fishes—our favorite anchovy and bread crumb pasta is the carb mountain in the front. Photo: ©

Event Info

Tuesday Dec 13, 2016 – Saturday Dec 31, 2016

There are so many holiday dinners, festive events, buffets, and brunches happening around town. Here are a few that caught my eye below; you can find more ideas and reservations on OpenTable (here are places open for Christmas Eve, like Octavia and Spruce), and here’s Christmas Day (The Cavalier would be cozy for dinner, 1300 on Fillmore would be fun, Campton Place is fancy, and there’s brunch at Scala’s Bistro too). Who knows what will pop up on Resy since you can’t see that far in advance… More below!

Christmas Eve

Chef-owner Kim Alter is serving a multicourse “Cratchit Meets Scrooge” dinner menu at NIGHTBIRD during the week leading up to Christmas Eve and the night of (so December 20th-24th). The festive menu includes goose with kale and applesauce, and rib roast with potato, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy; $145 tasting menu. There’s also Wassail Punch with hot apple cider, winter spices, rye, and brandy, and the Altered Eggnog with apple, brandy, and eggnog. She’s also serving a Hanukkah menu from December 27th-30th, with challah bread service, gravlax and caviar, chicken consommé with smoked egg and matzoh, latkes, brisket, babka, and more. Wow, SO GOOD. $125.

I thought the menu at JARDINIÈRE looked fantastic, with potato and leek soup with truffled hen, duck breast, and bûche de Noël. $95, $59 sommelier pairings.

In case you feel like doing something irreverent, NAMU GAJI is doing a noodle night, like foie gras wonton mein and braised oxtail shoyu ramen, plus dumplings, chicken wings, okonomiyaki, stone pot, and burger. Reservations recommended, or call 415-431-6268.

If you have some family in town and want to show them the glory of the California coastline, you should stop by THE RITZ-CARLTON HALF MOON BAY for a variety of holiday events in the on-site restaurant, Navio, whether it’s breakfast with Santa this weekend (plus a holiday market), Christmas Eve brunch or dinner, plus some very special events on Christmas Day, too, with even more visits from Santa plus entertainment.

Feast of the Seven Fishes (also Christmas Eve)

The Gagliardi family will be preparing our annual veritable feast for Christmas Eve,  although I’m never quite sure how many fish we’re doing each year. What I do know is we’re all waiting for the anchovy and bread crumb pasta—all 33 of us. Here are a few places below that are doing their version of the Cenone.

A16 is celebrating the Feast of Seven Fishes with a prix-fixe seven-course family-style dinner for $100 per person.

LOCANDA is hosting their annual Feast of the Seven Fishes, with two seatings, check it out (prices include tax and tip). The menu includes rigatoni and Dungeness crab and a gran fritto misto di pesce, with some really fab wine pairings. (Although Italians would protest over the lardo butter on the uni toast. Delicious as that may be, you’re supposed to abstain from meat and have a meat-free menu.) Housemade panettone for dessert, impressive.

I was laughing over the dual menu at PALIO D’ASTI, featuring a traditional fish menu or the option of a meaty menu, which owner Martino DiGrande said would piss off his nonna (you know she is shaking her hand at you for having that meaty menu, Martino!). And the proofreader in me wants to fix all the typos, but that octopus salad is successfully distracting me. (They are also opening on Christmas Day for dinner.)

If you want to get closer to a traditional Cenone, and maybe take a little road trip, VIA UNO CUCINA ITALIANA in Half Moon Bay is reflecting the Calabrese owners’ roots with dishes like crab croquettes with a spicy Calabrian chile sauce, baked and stuffed calamari in a cherry tomato and white wine sauce, and I love that they’re serving cannariculi (fried ridged pastry with warm honey glaze) for dessert. 2810 Cabrillo Hwy 1 North, Half Moon Bay, 650-560-8858.


Wiped out from the night before? LUCE at the InterContinental San Francisco is hosting a 
Christmas Day brunch buffet with an omelet station, dim sum, and unlimited bubbly for $85 per person, $45 for children 4-12 years old; prices exclude tax and gratuity. 11am-2:30pm. 88 Howard St. at 5th St., 415-616-6566.

It’s pretty tough to beat the view at the TOP OF THE MARK AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL MARK HOPKINS, which is where you’ll find a Christmas Day brunch (9:30am-1pm) with omelet and waffle stations and a dinner buffet (until 7pm) with whole suckling pig with apple brandy cream, plus live piano music ($135 per adult and $65 per child ages 4-12). Reservations required, call 415-616-6941; there are also holiday teas and other events too.

MKT RESTAURANT-BAR at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco has a nice view of downtown holiday lights from its floor-to-ceiling windows and will be hosting a Christmas Day feast from 11:30am-8pm. The four-course menu is $115 for adults, $57 for kids under 12. Reservations required, call 415-633-3838.

Other Festive Dinners and Holiday Events

Swing by the JCCSF for Hanukkah FRYdays all month long, offering fried pickles, lumpia, and, of course, latkes and doughnuts every Friday afternoon in December. Free and open to the public. Lineup and hours here.

POESIA in the Castro is hosting a Cenone di Natale on Tuesday December 27th, with special guest chef Giulia Michetti. The menu includes granseola alla triestina (Dungeness crab salad, citrus, aioli), tortelli mantovani (butternut squash tortelli, colatura di alici, green tea, and parmigiano),  housemade cotechino with lenticchie (traditional Christmas pork sausage served with “Castelluccio” lentil stew and polenta), and cartellate (Italian pastry served with vin santo and pomegranates) for dessert. Just $45 for the food, $25 wine pairing (not including tax and gratuity). For reservations, call 415-252-9325.

This Saturday December 17th, LE COLONIAL is hosting a Holiday High Tea Party to benefit Compass Family Services. Come by from 12pm-3pm guests for a pot of loose-leaf tea, tea sandwiches, fresh baked pastry served with strawberry jam and lemon curd, and an assortment of mini French pastries prepared by executive chef Jean-Paul Peluffo, plus there will be live piano musical entertainment; $30 (doesn’t include tax and gratuity). Glasses of Champagne, mimosas, and Bellinis an additional $10 each. Thirty-three percent of the afternoon’s proceeds will be donated to Compass Family Services, which ensures that families waiting for a shelter room to open up have access to health care, personal hygiene items, legal assistance, and case management. Reservations required, call 415-931-3600.

Chef-owner Trish Tracey of MYRIAD GASTRO PUB in the Mission is doing a 12 Days of Christmas menu every night until Christmas Eve, with the first one tonight (Tuesday December 13th) with Colombian-inspired pernil asado, or roasted pork shoulder, served with plantains and rice. Here is the menu for each evening. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-525-4335.

There is also a variety of holiday pop-up meals and more on Feastly, check out the array of dinners, from a Cambodian holiday hot pot to a South Indian spread!

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

An Italian-Style Star Sighting You Won't Be Able to Fugettabout


Martin Scorsese and owner Francesco d’Ippolito.

Auguri to Poesia in the Castro, who got to host the iconic Martin Scorsese for a private dinner and buyout in their restaurant after his screening of his movie, Silence, at the Castro Theatre. Marty came with lots of VIPs, including George Lucas, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, Issey Ogata, and Thelma Schoonmaker.

Owner Francesco d’Ippolito said they prepared a special Sicilian-style menu, which included arancini, grilled calamari salad with delicata squash, pickled currants, and chile; pasta con le sarde; roasted branzino with eggplant caponata; and, of course, cannoli for dessert. Fun fact: he really liked the food and the fact they were playing Fellini’s 8 1/2 on the wall (according to his editor Thelma Schoonmaker, it’s one of his top five favorite movies of all time).

Hunter Pence's EPIC Wedding Reception

Wild-eyed Hunter Pence, beloved San Francisco Giants outfielder, celebrated his wedding reception at EPIC Steak on Saturday, November 26. Hunter and his bride, Alexis Cozombolidis, hosted a “Harry Potter meets Game of Thrones“-themed reception (the mind reels). Some high-profile guests included Larry Baer, Bobby Evans, Sergio Romo, Brandon Crawford, George Kontos, Joe Panik, Brian Sabean, Matt Duffy, Greg Miller, and Melvin Gutierrez, among others.

You may recall a few years ago, Pence’s beloved scooter was stolen outside of EPIC Steak, which the restaurant team helped him recover, but no, the new couple did not scoot away after the reception.

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