Lake Tahoe magic hour. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy friends. Hope you are all hanging in there. I was so thankful to head to the mountains over the weekend and escape from the headlines of hate and horror for a while each day. Nothing like nature’s majesty to chill you the eff out. I went snowshoeing (Tahoe XC was a beautiful place to shoe around), and I went skiing for the first time in, oh, 14 years. (Homewood has a pretty sweet lift ticket and ski rental deal, and that view is hard to beat.) Considering it’s where I learned to ski when I was a little girl, it was so fun to be back on the slopes there. Granted, the drive back to SF on Sunday was unspeakably ugly—I have driven to LA faster—but it was still so worth it.
Had a great time with my girlfriends (aka the Powder Puff Girls), cooking up delicious mountain meals and drinking lots of wine (while I kept our flask full of Four Roses bourbon—had to keep our bellies warm, ya know?). The snow level at our Tahoma cabin and on the streets was unbelievable. Let’s just say it was pretty hilarious when I had to clamber over the mound/wall of snow when we arrived Friday evening to get into the cabin. Totally had to take a running start to get over it and have my friend help push my ass over. High comedy, that.
So it’s back to the grind. Many of you are making Super Bowl Sunday plans, and in case you’re looking for where to go on Valentine’s Day, today’s issue has some ideas for you. Or you could always take some inspiration from this cookbook and show your love you really care. Nothing says “I love you” like seafood in a melon basket. Ask me how I know.
Restaurants/publicists, if you’re bummed you didn’t make it in time into today’s Valentine’s Day roundup, drop me a line!
Loving you! Marcia Gagliardi
If you’re lucky, you may have already met the charming sisters behind THE CAVIAR CO., Petra and Saskia Bergstein, at some swish culinary events around town. (I attended a Ketel One vodka and caviar tasting during the holidays and enjoyed their fun yet informative attitude about caviar.) They supply national customers and a number of chefs and restaurants with their caviar and care deeply about sourcing sustainable and quality caviar, but they also like to offer affordable options so everyone can enjoy it.
The sisters are opening their first brick-and-mortar shop on Union Street, by Perry’s and right in the thick of things (they have just been online up to now). Visitors to the store will be able to ask questions and buy caviar and caviar-related items, like potato chips and mother-of-pearl spoons. The shop will stock their best sellers, like white sturgeon, local hackleback, spendier golden osetra, and smoked trout roe—perfect for your weekend brunch at home. And since they pack to order, their product is always fresh. Guests will also be able to pick up special orders at the shop, and their caviar club members will be greeted with a glass of Champagne (it will be their Caviar Clubhouse).
The room is going to be very Hollywood glam, with velvet, and there is also going to be a large marble table (with brass legs!) with room for 10, which is where they are going to hold special caviar tastings. When you book the experience, guests will have their own small jars to taste from and explore. Don’t have 10 friends to do it with? No problem, just talk to the sisters about what you want to do, and they’ll work with you. They also offer caviar catering for events and private parties and have a custom trike for events that you will see in the shop as well.
They will be doing a soft opening for Valentine’s Day needs, and the grand opening will be in March. Follow along on Instagram to keep up with the news (and here, of course). Hours are TBD, but are looking like 10am-6pm for now. 1954 Union St. at Laguna.
Back in 2015, we mentioned the closure of JOCELYN’S BAKERY in the Mission, and we have been tracking the progress of GARDEN CREAMERY, which is taking its place (some of you may know their bright watermelon-colored truck). Thanks to some longtime tablehopper readers, I learned Hawaiian-born owner Erin Lang and her boyfriend Donny Capozzi softly opened their first brick-and-mortar location over the weekend. And like the truck, you can’t miss it.
You will find flavors made with Straus organic dairy, as well as vegan ice cream (it’s coconut-based and sweetened with agave nectar) and sorbets. Some flavors include chocolate made with Guittard, Thai tea, mango chile lime, guabanero (guava and habanero), and rocky road sorbet. There are semifreddo pops and sandwiches that you can have dipped into all kinds of toppings, like a Strawberry Pretzel pop, with strawberry mousse dipped in white chocolate and salty pretzels, or a Crunch Daddy sandwich, with your choice of peanut butter or chocolate mousse sandwiched between cocoa or classic Rice Krispies treats. And there are brownie sundaes too.
Once their mixer starts behaving, they’ll also be offering chimney cones on the weekend, which are like Hungarian doughnut cones. Imagine a crisp and flaky cinnamon sugar-dusted cone with a soft interior holding a scoop of ice cream. Yeah, you want that. Hours are Tue-Sun 12pm-10pm. 3566 20th St. at Lexington.
A couple of Korean openings for you, starting with THE KOREAN KITCHEN, now open in the Inner Sunset and serving a menu of classics like bibimbap, tofu soup, jap chae noodles, and more. Open Mon and Wed-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm, Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm, closed Tue. 1220 9th Ave. at Lincoln, 415-566-5777.
There’s a new all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue place in the former Juban Yakiniku House in Japantown called BEQUE (it also has locations in Santa Clara and Newark). You can look at the menu and pricing here. Lunch is $15.99 and dinner is $21.99. Beer towers in effect. 1581 Webster St. Suite 145 at Post, 415-872-9868. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm and 4:30pm-12am, Sat-Sun 11:30am-12am.
Let’s move away from meats for a moment, because you also need some vegetables. Opening Wednesday February 1st in THE HALL is the second location of Oakland’s CORE KITCHEN, which claims to be the world’s first produce-only restaurant, making meals only from fruits and vegetables, without salt or oil. The location will be open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. Although it seems it will be short-lived since it looks like The Hall’s temporary existence is truly limited—Hoodline reports it will be closing at some point since plans for the building taking its place have just been approved, so demolition should be soon. 1028 Market St. at 6th St.
Great news for the ICHI SUSHI crew, who keep on trucking. They are now serving lunch during the week, including sushi rolls and a selection of Japanese hot dogs (like a kimchi dog, curry dog, and mapo tofu dog), plus seasonal side dishes. Grab a seat at the counter, crack open a beer, and congratulate yourself on knowing how to do lunch right. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm. 3369 Mission St. at 30th St.
Night owls and partiers: MEZCALITO on Polk Street is now open late, until 2am, with food available until 11pm. 2323 Polk St. at Green.
Just before Valentine’s Day, TOUT SWEET PÂTISSERIE is moving from the third floor to the ground floor at Macy’s Union Square, right at the Geary Street entrance. And to celebrate, the first 100 customers each day from February 1st-5th will receive a free Valentine’s Day Hot Lips, from chef Yigit Pura.
Was sorry to read that Emily Day is closing her Lower Nob Hill bake shop, FLOUR & CO., after almost four years. The Hoodline piece mentions she will continue to sell some items online, like her granola. 1030 Hyde St. at California.
It seems things were slipping for a while at KIJI JAPANESE on Guerrero with the new owners that came on last fall, and now it has closed. 1009 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.
Affordable and awesome meals are always appreciated, so here are a few to have on your radar. At BELCAMPO on Polk, they are starting a weekly Home-Cooked Sunday Supper series, a comforting three-course dinner for $35 per person. Each week, the menu will feature a recipe from Belcampo founder and CEO Anya Fernald’s cookbook, Home Cooked (and with the purchase of the Home-Cooked Sunday Supper, diners will receive 50 percent off the cookbook). Sample dishes include beef tartare or market salad; steak frites, spaghetti bolognese, the Belcampo Burger, or wild-caught fish; and dessert like warm seasonal crisp or flourless chocolate cake. 1998 Polk St. at Pacific, 415-660-5573.
First Fridays is when 1300 ON FILLMORE hosts Fried Chicken Friday. You get a three-course prix-fixe menu for $29: mixed green salad, David’s fried chicken with mashed potatoes, and chef’s selection of dessert. And look at that, this Friday February 3rd is a first Friday. Bwok!
Hard-core brunch partiers, one more to add to your repertoire is CHAMBERS EAT + DRINK, which has added bottomless mimosas every Saturday to go with your Eggs Royale (sous vide eggs, crispy hash browns, cold smoked trout, mandarin hollandaise, caviar, chive, dill, crème fraîche) and other tasty-sounding brunch dishes on chef Yosuke Machida’s menu. Just $18 to add bottomless mimosas with the purchase on an entrée. Sat only, 10:30am-2:30pm. 601 Eddy St at Larkin, 415-496-5178.
Now open in Oakland is CURRY UP NOW’s first East Bay location, adjacent to The New Parish, with 50 seats inside and 16 outside. Come by for their playful spins on Indian street food, like a tikka masala burrito and deconstructed samosa. They also serve classic street food dishes like bhel puri (puffed rice, potato garbanzo mash, cucumber) and two of my favorites, vada pav (mashed potato fritter sandwiched between an Amul buttered bun) and pav bhaji (a Mumbai slider with a mash of cauliflower, beans, carrots, potatoes, and peas).
New to the menu are kofta fauja singh (chicken or lamb kofta meatballs), Indian railway cutlet (schnitzel-like cutlet of crumb fried Maggi masala noodle and vegetables with sriracha aioli), and kababpav (chicken or lamb kofta meatballs on a Amul buttered bun with onions, chutney, hot sauce, and chips). Dine in or do takeout (off-premise catering is also available). Dishes range from $5.50 to $15. Beer, wine, and sangria are also served. Open daily 11am-9pm, with possible late night hours after New Parish events. 1745 San Pablo Ave. at 18th St., Oakland.
Merchants at the Marketplace will offer tastings and seasonal hors d’oeuvres ($2-$6 each), and Napa Valley Vintners will pour wine ($4 per taste). The event is free, with nominal charges for food and wine.
Marketplace shops will all be open from 5pm to 7:30pm for Valentine shopping on Friday night. There will be tango dancing and music to serenade visitors. Proceeds will benefit Slow Food San Francisco. Tickets will be available at the Ferry Building Friday night at tables throughout the Marketplace.
Friday Feb 10, 2017 – Tuesday Feb 14, 2017
Release the sea of roses and two-tops and oysters and chocolate desserts! Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday February 14th, and if you absolutely have to head out for dinner that night, here are a few things to do that caught my eye for various reasons.
I thought the five-course tasting menu at RN74 looked pretty fabulous (like lobster thermidor and morel raviolo). It’s $105 for the dinner and $85 for the optional wine pairings, which you know will be on point. An à la carte version of the five-course menu will be offered at the bar and in the lounge.
If you want to opt for more of a dinner and a show, head to BLACK CAT, which is hosting A Night in Paris. Chef Alicia Jenish-McCarron will feature a three-course tasting menu for $95 (excluding tax and gratuity), with dishes like crab bisque and red wine-braised beef short ribs. Miss Paula West, the fab jazz and cabaret singer, will be performing Saturday February 11th-Tuesday February 14th.
I think the seasonal French-Cal food and charming atmosphere at NICO is hard to beat. You’ll find a six-course menu for $90/person; standard ($65) and premium ($85) pairings will be available as well.
GARY DANKO, the HQ for romantic dinners, is running a special Valentine’s Day celebration Saturday February 11th, Sunday February 12th, and Tuesday February 14th with extended hours, 4:30pm-10:30pm, so you can snag that reservation if you just have to have it. The restaurant will be offering a three-, four-, or five-course prix-fixe menu with choices ($87, $106, and $124) or a tasting menu. All tables will receive a complimentary rose and chocolates. Awwww.
Pssst, AL’S PLACE isn’t normally open on Tuesdays, but they are opening for the big love holiday, and chef Aaron London has put together a special family-style menu highlighting some of their most popular dishes, with some surprises. $110 per person, with optional wine pairings.
Same thing at COI: it’s normally closed on Tuesdays, but is open for Valentine’s Day and chef Matthew Kirkley is serving an eight-course tasting menu, $295 per person.
Need something more affordable? TWENTY FIVE LUSK has a three-course menu for $65, with choices like Kusshi oysters with paddlefish caviar and roasted duck breast and, of course, their vanilla-lime posset for dessert.
And there are other ways to get into a lovey-dovey mood, like the annual Food from the Heart event at the FERRY BUILDING on Friday February 10th, from 5pm-7:30pm. Come by for small bites ($2-$6) and Napa Valley Vintners will pour wine for $4 per taste while you do Valentine gift shopping and enjoy tango dancing and music. Proceeds from purchases of wine and tastes will benefit Slow Food San Francisco.
Over in the East Bay, on Saturday February 11th, MARKET HALL FOODS ON 4TH is hosting their eighth annual For the Love of Chocolate event, where you can sample chocolate confections, bars, and truffles from a variety of chocolatiers while you do some Valentine’s Day shopping. You can also watch chocolate decorating techniques, try cheese pairings with dark and milk chocolates, and more. You should also pick up a chocolate pot de crème to bring home ($4.50). 1pm-4pm. 1786 4th St., Berkeley
Help share some love and kindness with PALMENTO A DOPO on Sunday February 12th, when they host their first-ever Pizza Party for a Cause. They will be donating 100 percent of all sales to Centro Legal de la Raza, an Oakland-based advocacy group dedicated to protecting and empowering the city’s Latin immigrant population. Staff will be volunteers, and the majority of products will be donated by purveyors. Come by from 2pm-7pm and enjoy pizza, beer, and wine and add your voice in saying that we stand in solidarity with our immigrant community. 4293 Piedmont Ave. at John, Oakland, 510-652-3676.
If you’re up in Marin, you don’t want to miss a night of top-notch Champagne from the one and only Dr. Champagne (Jerry Horn), who is hosting a special dinner with badass chef Ron Siegel at TIBURON WINE. $250 all-inclusive, which includes the Champagne pairings. Read more here, it’s sure to be a blast. 84 Main St., Tiburon.
Sounds like Joe Montana is quite the fan of THE SARATOGA and reportedly has come in a lot with his wife and friends. They seem to like ordering the salads and pork buns (good choice!) and chicken paillard or fish. He also likes Manhattans and old-fashioneds, cheers.
Scottish actor, singer, and author Alan Cumming was spotted dining at Montclair’s newly opened Southern Thai restaurant, DAUGHTER THAI. He was reportedly seated with a mixed-age party of six at the communal table—and it seems it was the day after Cumming’s 52nd birthday, so happy birthday (here he is crowd surfing). He was in the Bay Area this week to “Sing Sappy Songs” for a few nights at Stanford Live.
Chefs Amanda Freitag and Ariane Duarte were seen dining at FINN TOWN. Freitag is a New York chef, cookbook author, judge on Food Network’s Chopped, competitor on Iron Chef and Next Iron Chef, and co-host of American Diner Revival. You would recognize Duarte from Top Chef Season 5, and she has a restaurant—Ariane Kitchen & Bar—in Verona, New Jersey. (Finn Town’s chef, Ryan Scott, was on Top Chef Season 4.)