This week's tablehopper: this column goes to eleven.
Here’s one way to end a perfect meal at Alfred’s: spumoni! Photo: © tablehopper.com.
I love it when a birthday coincides with my column’s Tuesday publishing date—because guess who is turning eleven today?! It’s crazy but true, this tablehopper has been here eleven years for you! (Yes, that rhymed. I have nothing but surprises for you.) Thanks for all the support over the years, I really have the best community of readers, this I know!
So shall we celebrate? Let’s enjoy a special tablehopper preview party at China Live (on Saturday March 11th). There will be cocktails from Duggan McDonnell and Anchor Distilling Co. and delicious dishes and more. I only have 20 seats available, so hop to it! China Live, the hotly anticipated Chinatown culinary destination, is opening their first floor this Thursday—I’m going to be checking it all out and reporting back on the project next week for you.
This past weekend was the perfect time for Netflix to release the latest season of Chef’s Table, don’t miss it. The episode with Korean Buddhist monk and chef Jeong Kwan is one of my favorites ever.
Also, big congrats to all the chef and restaurant 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalists—we’ll hear who the final nominees are on Wednesday March 15th. The awards gala will be in Chicago on Monday May 1st. (The 2017 James Beard Media Awards will be announced on Tuesday April 25th at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.)
Have a great week, and if you are attending the Academy of Friends this coming Sunday, please be sure to come visit me at the tablehopper table! You know I’ll be having some bubbles. I had a great time curating the restaurant lineup this year, we have some remarkable participants joining us, so I hope you enjoy it.
Cheers! Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Book Your Ticket for a tablehopper Preview Experience at China Live!
Are you excited to check out the upcoming CHINA LIVE, being hailed as the Eataly of Chinatown, with multiple floors of restaurants, retail, bars, and more? Yeah, me too. Here’s my in-depth piece from almost three years ago on the huge multilevel project. I’m going to be attending the media preview this Thursday and look forward to sharing all the details in tablehopper next week.
So after we give China Live a couple of weeks to get ramped up, I’m going to be hosting a late afternoon tablehopper preview on Saturday March 11th so you can get an insider look at the project. Director of beverage Duggan McDonnell will be walking us through his unique bar program, and we’ll learn about pairing Chinese food with various beverages, from cocktails to wine to beer.
Our event is in conjunction with Anchor Distilling Co., which means there are some cocktails that will be on the docket, oh you know it, including one on draft (!!) with Kavalan Whisky of Taiwan, Paul John Whiskey of India with blended Scotch, coconut rhum, fresh lemon, and housemade galangal syrup. You can also bet there will be some Anchor Liberty Ale, an insider choice you’ll be hearing more about, plus other surprises from Duggan.
We’ll be tasting plenty of dishes from The Market Restaurant, the street-level restaurant, from specialty dim sum to soup to vegetables to roasted meats and more. We’re just finalizing the menu, so if you want to wait and see it before buying tickets, you can, but no guarantee there will be any left! You’ll be well fed, trust, or this wouldn’t be a tablehopper event. I got you.
We’ll also get a firsthand tour of the project with stories and insights from founder George Chen, plus info about what’s coming next upstairs. It’s exciting stuff.
The event is Saturday March 11th, 3pm-5pm (think of it as a heavy teatime-meets-day drinking situation). $49 all-inclusive, you can get tickets on Feastly. I look forward to sharing an insider look (and experience) at this exciting new project with you!
Follow along on Instagram: @tablehopper @chinalivesf @anchorspirits
Saturday Mar 11, 2017 3pm–5pm $49 more info
China Live - 644 Broadway, San Francisco - 415-788-8188
New Taker for Berkeley's Café Rouge Space: Pompette
The sadness over the closure of Marsha McBride’s beloved CAFÉ ROUGE after 20 years on Fourth Street in Berkeley can be a bit softened with the exciting news of what is taking its place, POMPETTE. Chef David Visick, an alum of Chez Panisse and SF’s Cafe Kati (yup, we’re talking back in the DAY), is taking over the space with his wife, Caramia Visick, who worked at Bay Wolf (as well as Oliveto, Zuni, and Stars) before launching her jewelry line (Hotcakes Design) and shop (Favor) when their son was born—she will be running front of house.
Pompette strives to pick up the mantle of Café Rouge’s welcoming living room-meets-dining room reputation on Fourth Street, an easy place to swing by for a quick lunch or satisfying dinner (open daily), or an afternoon cocktail and a bite. They know how important the bar was to the neighborhood and want to preserve its role (there will also be some affordable wines too). And it ties in well with its name, which means “a little tipsy.”
Visick has been cooking at private events of late (oh, you know, for the Obamas and Clintons), and his style is very ingredient-driven, with impeccable sourcing, through the filters of French, Italian, and Spanish cuisines. The menu will feature bar snacks, medium-sized appetizers that you can easily make a meal of, with many vegetable-based dishes, like grilled artichokes with dukkah, saffron, and yogurt, plus a few bigger plates. Visick mentioned there will be a rotisserie, with nightly rotating meats. One example is rotisserie chicken coming off the spit every 30 minutes, served with a chicory salad, potatoes in the drippings, and salsa verde, enough for 2 or 3 people to make a meal of it. He’s having fun looking at some classics, like lamb Sainte-Ménehould vis-à-vis Elizabeth David, a dish of lamb belly (or breast) that is braised, then chilled, pressed, sliced into strips, coated in bread crumbs, sautéed, and served with sauce gribiche. Sign me up.
The room is getting a gentle update, with new paint, lighting, tables, and chairs, and the butcher shop has been converted into a counter for the rotisserie and more, plus some banquette seating has been added, making a little hideaway nook. There will be 110 seats all told, including the outside.
They hope to open at the end of March. I’ll keep you posted on the menu, to be released soon, and the opening date. 1782 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley.
Coming Soon: New Takers for Scotland Yard, Sicilian Pink Onion to the Mission
There’s a new taker for the former Bin 38/Scotland Yard space in the Marina. Barrel Room owner Sarah Trubnick has purchased the lease and is launching a concept with Barrel Room’s executive chef Manny Hewitt based on food and wine pairing—all dishes will have recommended pairings (one to complement and one to contrast). There will also be a reasonably priced themed tasting menu offered each night, plus a raw bar. There will be 50 wines available by the glass and half glass. The space is undergoing a full remodel, and construction starts in two weeks. I’ll have more to share as this takes shape; they are looking to open mid-May or early June. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut.
Opening soon (possibly next week) in the Mission will be PINK ONION, a Sicilian-inspired panino, pizza, and pasta place. It’s an extension of the Lo Coco’s restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley, but will be offering a pared-down menu. Look for panini and salads for lunch, and 3-4 handmade pastas and about 10 pizzas with “lively salads” and housemade bread at dinner. They are going to have 12 craft beers on tap and 6 wines on tap, primarily local.
As for the name, I thought it was a reference to Tropea onions, but it’s actually a play on Palermo’s regional colors, which are pink and black, and they also said they use a lot of onions, including some pickled onions, which give off a bright pink color. As they tell me, they “are trying to create a hip, accessible, Sicilian-influenced neighborhood hangout.” Cin cin! I’ll keep you posted on their opening. 64 14th St. at Folsom.
Team Updates at Coi, Sons & Daughters, Pabu/The Ramen Bar
Some staffing news around town for you, starting with who’s on deck at COI, working with chef Matt Kirkley. The general manager is Dan Page from Chicago’s L2O, wine director Courtney Olson was previously at Quince (Coi’s previous wine director, Mark Mendoza, has stepped into a larger role at DPG), new chef de cuisine Justin Mauz was previously at Joël Robuchon, Sixteen, Le Bec-Fin, Zahav, and L2O, and pastry chef Riley Redfern was at Jardinière and Quince (replacing Nick Muncy). Just in case you’re curious, the modern seafood tasting menu is $250 per person, while wine pairings are $180.
Meanwhile, after six years of working together as co-chefs and partners at SONS & DAUGHTERS, Matt McNamara is (amicably) stepping away, but will now be the sole owner of their bar and grill in North Beach, The Square. Teague Moriarty is now the sole chef-owner at S&D. Menu update: it’s currently nine courses for $150.
And over at PABU and THE RAMEN BAR, they have hired a new executive chef to oversee day-to-day operations, chef Shaun King, who will be working alongside managing chef Ken Tominaga. One of his mentors was Rick Moonen—he worked for him at RM Seafood in Las Vegas—who taught him a great deal about seafood and sustainability. He also worked at Sushisamba, restaurants in the Central Coast, and The Dawson in Chicago.
Tidbits: Pizza at The Mill Now Six Nights a Week
Fans of Josey Baker’s thin-crust pizza at THE MILL will be fired up to hear you’ll be able to come by for pizza every night (except for Tuesdays) starting this Saturday February 25th. You can also enjoy seasonal salads, beer, and wine, all from 6pm-9pm. And don’t forget you can also get sandwiches on his awesome bread every Thu-Sun, from 11am until they’re all gone. 736 Divisadero St. at Grove.
Cawfee Tawk: Verve Coffee Now Open in the Castro, Equator Opening a Fort Mason Café
We reported a while ago that Santa Cruz’s fantastic VERVE COFFEE ROASTERS would be opening a café in the Castro, their first in SF, and it’s now open. The 1,200-square-foot café was designed by LA firm Design, Bitches—look for a naturalistic look with deep blues, woods, plants, and glazed tiles.
You want the geeky tech sheet? OK, here goes: “The bar features a 4-group Kees van der Westen espresso machine with custom panels designed by artist Jeremiah Kille. The Simonelli Mythos grinders ensure a precise grind for each shot of espresso. Modbar Pour-Over units paired with Kalita Waves will handle By-The-Cup coffee for perfect pours every time.”
You’ll be able to order espresso drinks, brewed coffee, juices, and breakfast, brunch, and lunch options made with baked goods by Manresa Bread. You can also check out their retail goods and in-house publication, Farmlevel Digest, a photo-essay publication featuring coffee farms and farmers, shot entirely on film by the founders. Open daily 6am-8pm. 2101 Market St. at Church.
Meanwhile, EQUATOR COFFEES & TEAS is opening a new café at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture at the Gatehouse. The plan is to open in summer 2017. Boor Bridges Architecture is designing a clean, modern space by the Bay Trail, so it will be a new fueling station for the many cyclists, runners, and pedestrians along the waterfront.
510 Updates: The Wolf Opens in Former Bay Wolf, Paradita, Second Shiba Ramen, Haven Closes
Here’s a recap on other exciting news happening in the East Bay. Over in Piedmont, Rich and Rebekah Wood (Frascati, Wood Tavern, Southie) have opened THE WOLF in the former Bay Wolf, which closed after 30 years. They have partnered with executive chef Yang Peng, who is also the exec chef of both Wood Tavern and Southie. The menu is “French-forward California cuisine, featuring creative reimaginings of brasserie dishes and ingredients,” and you know there is some duck on the menu (a Bay Wolf classic). Cocktails are also available, and lunch is in the works. Open Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sat 5pm-10:30pm, Sun 5pm-9pm. 3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-879-7953.
Opening in April in the Public Market Emeryville will be PARADITA EATERY, a fast-casual concept from chef Carlos Altamirano (Mochica in Potrero Hill and Piqueo’s in Bernal Heights, La Costanera in Montara, Parada in Walnut Creek, and the Sanguchon food trucks). You’ll find classic Peruvian sandwiches, grilled anticuchos (meat skewers), pollo a la brasa (traditional rotisserie chicken), rice bowls, salads, and more, all made with responsibly sourced ingredients. You’ll be able to do quick takeout (there will be curbside service and some grab-and-go items), or you can hang out over some craft cocktails and wine. Hours will be daily 11am-9pm. 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville.
A second location of SHIBA RAMEN opens tonight in downtown Oakland from chemist couple Jake Freed and Hiroko Nakamura and chef Danny Keiser (previously Camino). There are seats for 40 and an extended bar program focusing on Japanese and local beer and sake. Look for new specials and more at both locations. Hours will be Mon-Sat 11am-10pm. 1438 Broadway St. at 14th Street, Oakland.
Over in Jack London Square, Daniel Patterson is temporarily closing HAVEN for construction on February 26th, no word yet on the plans for Haven 2.0. [Via Eater.]
Haven - 44 Webster St. Oakland - 510-663-4440
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Save on Your Ticket for Academy of Friends, Featuring Restaurants Curated by tablehopper
Join the Academy of Friends 2017 Gala (this year’s theme is Shanghai Nights!) on Sunday February 26th, 2017, at Midway SF. This marks the 37th Annual Academy Awards Night Gala benefiting Bay Area HIV/AIDS services. Enjoy bites curated by tablehopper from some of SF’s best restaurants (including Liholiho Yacht Club, Mister Jiu’s, Tartine Manufactory, Nomica, Dosa, Motze, The Saratoga, and more!) plus wine and bubbles from amazing vintners, along with a fun way to watch the 2017 Oscars.
Bid on hundreds of fabulous items in our silent auction, including many gift certificates from top restaurants. Win a 2017 CLA from Mercedes-Benz San Francisco or a seven-day European cruise from Celebrity Cruises. Be ready for our raffle drawings, live auction, incredible live entertainment, and then dancing with the DJs from Go BANG! Learn why this event is “THE PLACE to watch the Oscars in SF!”(Advocate magazine 2015) and the “Best SF Oscar Party” (SFist 2016).
Get tickets here (use code AOFtablehopper2017) and be sure to come by the tablehopper table and say hello!
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
The Benjamin Cooper Gents Opening a New Bar, The Douglas Room
The tradition of Mo Hodges and Brian Felley (Benjamin Cooper, Big) opening bars in old hotels runs deep, and here’s their third project to follow that path: THE DOUGLAS ROOM. It’s opening in the former Fish & Farm/Mark Twain Hotel in Union Square, which has been transformed/”reboutiqued” into the chic and stylish Tilden Hotel. There are 45 seats total, including the bar, and it has a spiffy look. They are planning to open by the end of the week.
The duo are working with two ex-Rx bartenders, Michael Carlisi and Keith Bracewell, who will be the managing staff. While the craft cocktails at Benjamin Cooper are known for changing up a fair amount, the ones at The Douglas Room will be holding steady. You can take a look at the preview menu of original cocktails here. They’re as clever as always, like the Tele Novela (Partida tequila, celery, strawberry, Chareau, aquavit, kümmel, verjus, lemon) and the Tennessee Pillow (Jack Daniels No. 7, Lo-Fi sweet vermouth, lemon, egg white, dill). Wine, beer, sherry, and more will also be available.
There’s not only a bar but a full kitchen as well, so Hodges and Felley are working with chefs Glen Schwartz (398 Brasserie) and Tim Malloy (who is back from Seattle, previously at Local’s Corner) on a cheeky menu that pays homage to some East Coast favorites, including an Italian hoagie (ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayonnaise) on an Amoroso roll that’s flown in from Phildelphia; ditto the Philly cheesesteak Whiz Wit, with rib-eye, caramelized onions, and Cheese Whiz on an Amoroso roll.
You’ll find some Cali seasonality in the Dougie Fresh Salad, and the tagliatelle with green garlic, fava greens and beans, and a farm egg. Even the bar snacks are a touch upscale (and truly reflect the bar provenance), with sweetbread nuggets made with Ancho Reyes BBQ sauce (that sounds hella genius) and Hudson Valley duck wings with Cointreau and Calabrian chile. Burger, check. Baked oysters too. You can take a peek at a preview of the food menu here.
Good news: the kitchen will be open until 1am nightly, with bar hours from 5pm-2am. Hours will eventually be expanded to include lunch and weekend brunch as well. 345 Taylor St. at O’Farrell.
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Mardi Gras Celebrations Around the City
Monday Feb 27, 2017 – Thursday Mar 2, 2017
You ready to let the good times roll on Tuesday February 28th? Here’s a sampling of Mardi Gras parties happening around the city.
The updated THE ELITE CAFÉ is holding an unlimited crawfish boil, including a welcome Hurricane, for $40/person (tickets here—they will be $50 at the door). You can also order a Sazerac and a frozen Hurricane (at extra cost) while listening to live music by the jazz and blues Charles Wheal Duo from 6:30pm-9:30pm. The party starts at 6pm.
BOXING ROOM is hosting their sixth annual Mardi Gras party from 5pm-11pm, with specials like a crawfish boil, alligator-andouille sausage po’boys, and king cake, as well as Sazerac Jell-O shots and live music from Gaucho Gypsy Jazz. If you want to skip the party, you can still come by during the day for crawfish and king cake, starting at 11:30am.
One of the biggest Mardi Gras parties is at TOWN HALL, which really pulls out all the stops. Look for bottomless Louisiana-style Hurricanes (keep an eye on those!), Abita beer, Leblon caipirinhas, and all-you-can-eat fried chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, barbecued shrimp, and oysters. There will be live music as well as samba dancers and face painters. Get ready to partay—and it always sells out, so don’t lag. 6pm, $85, tickets here.
The new ALBA RAY’S in the Mission is throwing a party, with live music, classic New Orleans dishes including boudin balls, pimento cheese on crackers, gumbo, charbroiled oysters, a jambalaya station (meat and vegetarian), a crawfish boil, beignets, and, of course, BEADS! Your $65 ticket includes a welcome Hurricane cocktail, a spread of NOLA food, live music, and beads. Additional drinks are available for purchase.
The new FINN TOWN is the Castro will have three special offerings: a Louisiana Hurricane ($12), a French dip special ($18), and a traditional king cake ($8). Customers who wear purple will receive a complimentary slice of cake, and the lucky winner who finds the “king” in the cake will receive a $50 gift card to the restaurant. 5pm-12am.
BLUESTEM BRASSERIE is running a king cake special during dinner service from Monday February 27th through Thursday March 2nd. Bluestem’s pastry chef Lori Baker will be serving a limited number of king cakes ($11), and one cake each evening will hide a special prize (the winner will have their entrée for free that evening).
One more thing: Carnaval San Francisco is hosting four free Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras celebrations at different venues for all ages, 6pm-9pm. The venues include Balançoire, the Make-Out Room, Latin American Club, and Bissap Baobab. You’ll find live samba drummers, dancers, and lively music, from salsa and soca to cumbia and rumba. Guests are invited to wear costumes and bring the family.