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Oct 2, 2017 16 min read

October 3, 2017 - This week's tablehopper: SF ❤️ MX.

October  3, 2017 - This week's tablehopper: SF ❤️ MX.
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This week's tablehopper: SF ❤️ MX.                    

One of my favorite ladies at Fonda Margarita in Mexico City—she fed us so well! And with so much love—I remember her coming by to check and see if I liked the chicharrón en verde. XO! Photo: ©

Oh, you guys, where to begin? I know we’re all reeling right now. So much pain, and suffering, and loss, and frustration, and anger, and shock, and heartache. It’s a lot. Too much. Let’s all be gentle right now. And strong. And helpful. Kind.

I know that doing something can help shift feelings, especially when things feel so out of control. The past week, I have been working hard on putting together a fundraiser for Mexico earthquake relief on Friday October 13th, SF ❤️ MX, and let me tell you, there is a lot of joy to be found when you help out. I have been so ecstatic and grateful for all the generous help and donations and kindness that has been extended to the fundraiser. We started selling tickets last night, and people have been so thoughtful with the sliding scale, it makes me well up.

Back in 1994, I was a recent graduate from UCLA and living in a Hollywood apartment with a couple of roomies. The Northridge quake rolled into town at the ungodly hour of 4:30am (why is it always in the middle of the night?) and scared the living hell out of me. I thought Loma Prieta was bad, but this was really a beast of a quake. For a few moments, when that thing just wouldn’t stop, I thought I was going to die—all I remember was yelling “I’m not ready!” as the apartment crashed all around me. But it finally stopped after 20 endless seconds, and I was okay. My place was pretty thrashed, with huge cracks in the walls you could see outside through—it was red-tagged a couple of days later. I ended up hiring two big strong guys to help me get some of my things out in the middle of the night and loaded all my roommates’ things into storage (they were on a trip to Australia).

After a week of dealing with shock and aftershocks and PTSD and sleeping on my friends’ couches, I decided to head back home to the Bay Area—my dad came down to get me at the word “go.” I lived with my parents in San Mateo for nine months and looked for work until I was able to move into a place of my own in San Francisco in September of 1994—that was 23 years ago.

Thanks to some assistance from FEMA, I was able to get back on my feet with some purchases, like a kitchen table, some dishes, bedsheets. I said to myself that I wasn’t allowed to bitch about paying taxes for 10 years, because that assistance was so immensely helpful in starting over. It was kind of amazing.

It’s why I am so committed to helping Mexico with this earthquake relief fundraiser. Mexico doesn’t have FEMA to help people get their lives back in order. So many people have lost their apartments in the quake, their homes, their shops…let alone the hospitals, schools, and other necessary buildings in their communities. And let’s not even talk about the loss of life and loved ones. It’s so heartbreaking. We need to give them a hand, to show how much we care for our precious neighbors, in spite of our current administration that is fixated on a wall and deportations.

I hope you’ll take a look and read through today’s post about the fundraiser. We appreciate anything you can do to help. Tremendous thanks to Cambria Gallery for hosting it in their beautiful showroom! I will keep updating you on participants and more.

And for those of you coming to this Friday’s sold-out opening party at Donato & Co., I can’t wait to see you!

Con mucho amor! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Join tablehopper for SF ❤️ MX, a Fundraiser for Mexico on Friday 10/13


Our poor world right now. I know we have all been feeling powerless watching the horrific aftermath of all these disasters recently. So much suffering and loss. So let’s do something! After the most recent quakes in Mexico, I partnered up with the wonderful folks at Cambria Gallery in SoMa to hold a happy hour-style fundraiser, SF ❤️ MX, serving bites and drinks for Mexico earthquake relief on Friday October 13th.

There will be bites from Loló (taco tropical), Sal de Vida Gourmet (cochinita pibil mini tostadas with pickled onions), Copita (ceviche), Don Pistos (tamales and albondigas), WesBurger ‘N’ More (queso), and others, including Green Chile Kitchen.

If you can  contribute food, please get in touch! And we still don’t have anything sweet! Thank you to everyone who is so generously providing food for the event.

The bar will be shakin’ with fantastic cocktails courtesy of Rye on the Road and El Techo, featuring top spirits from Campari America/Espolòn Tequila, Milagro Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes, plus cervezas generously provided by Cadillac Bar & Grill and Hard Frescos (they are a new brand making cold-fermented aguas frescas!).

We also have a fantastic silent auction taking shape, with gift certificates and more (thanks to Nopa, Nopalito, Flores, Uno Dos Tacos y Tequila, Campari America, Ginger Rubio Salon, and Joanne Weir/Copita)!

We are accepting donations of any kind to help with this event, from dropping off a dish to being there to serve your dish to silent auction items—everything and anything would help! We really need wine donations! And we’d love to have live music.

We need volunteers to help serve food, experienced folks to shake and pour batched cocktails behind the bar, and a few general helpers! Please get in touch if you can help!

This event will be a 100% donation to Omaze and Ambulante’s fundraiser, helping Mexico rebuild.

Tickets are on a sliding scale ($35-$150+), all we ask is you please pay what you can afford to donate, gracias. Most importantly, we just want you there!

Even if you can’t attend, if you can please help spread the word, we’d so appreciate it. Here is the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for liking and sharing!

And here is the event flyer you can link to, download, and share! (And here is a version in Spanish!)

Another way you can help: we are processing our tickets with Square, which kindly gifted our Mexico fundraiser with no processing fees for $750 of transactions, but that’s going to disappear quickly. If you can please sign up for a Square account (it’s free!), we will get $1,000 of free ticket processing! And so will you. :) Which means every cent that is spent on tickets will go to Mexico. Gracias!

See you on Friday October 13th! 6:30pm-9pm. 21 and over. Cambria showroom, 1045 Bryant St. between 8th and 9th streets.

               Friday Oct 13, 2017 6:30pm–9pm Sliding scale ($35–$150+) more info

Gibson with Chef Robin Song Now Open


Manila clams cooked in hay. Photo: Alison Christiana.


An array of dishes at Gibson. Photo: Alison Christiana.


Smoked trout with farmer cheese and cucumber on rye. Photo: Alison Christiana.

Back in August, I mentioned chef Robin Song was going to be opening GIBSON in the soon-to-be-renovated boutique Hotel Bijou in the Tenderloin, and boom, it’s opening this Thursday October 5th.

Song’s menu is contemporary American and will be driven by live-fire cooking. You can start with charcoal-grilled sourdough bread with seasonal accompaniments, like curried currant and cauliflower, duck liver mousse, or cultured goat’s milk with seaweed and trout roe. There are bites like charred cucumber with uni bagna cauda, or you can go for a caviar service from The Caviar Co. There’s also a dish of carrots cooked in embers with sunflower, Medjool date and Moorish spices; another vegetarian dish is potato dumplings from the oven with broccoli, pine nut, and fermented peppers.

Larger, meaty mains include Sonoma duck ($23) smoked over the grill with beetroot and blackberry, and grilled heritage pork ($19) with young turnip, kohlrabi, and apple. True to their word, dishes are affordable but not sacrificing quality and sophisticated technique. Song’s culinary background spans Bay Wolf, Plum, Ame, Central Kitchen, and most recently Hog & Rocks.

Beverage director Adam Chapman (formerly of Daniel Patterson Group) has put together an intriguing and culinary-driven cocktail menu, full of unique picks like the Clarified Japanese Bloody Mary (sochu, aged sake, heirloom tomato water, vinegar, spice) served in a ceramic pitcher. And of course, there are plenty of variations on the classic Gibson cocktail, such as the Sea (nori gin, liquid kelp, sake, and sea bean) and the Garden (French oak gin, herbed dry vermouth, green peppercorn, and radish fromage). Radish fromage? To be investigated. Mark Nevin of Tofino Wines is behind the wine list, with wines exclusively from California and France.

The 90-seat restaurant has an Art Deco-inspired style by Oakland-based Mister Important. There’s a bar and lounge, open kitchen, and ceiling mural by Italian artist Marco Battaglini, plus a private dining room and deep turquoise leather banquettes.

Open nightly 5:30pm-10:30pm. 111 Mason St. at Eddy.

New Openings: The Salzburg and Barnzu


The dining room at Barnzu, with 100-year-old brick walls. Photo via Facebook.


Barnzu’s royal rice cake with sirloin steak. Photo via Facebook.

Last week, I ran a preview of the about-to-open THE SALZBURG in North Beach, and co-owner Jay Esopenko has confirmed it’s opening this Wednesday October 4th. Here’s a look at the menu, which is going to get you thirsty and hungry. Hours will be Tue-Wed 4pm-10:30pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sun 4pm-10pm. 663 Union St. at Columbus.

There’s a new contemporary Korean spot from the folks behind the Kokio Republic fried chicken food truck called BARNZU in the TenderNob. It’s soft open right now, with a variety of dishes like jeon (savory pancake), sweet potato noodles with mushrooms, kimchi fried rice, stonepot, and three different kinds of fried items, including their trademark KFC. Beer, wine, sake, and soju round out the menu. Open Sun and Tue-Thu 5:30pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 711 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-525-4985.

Tell Your Sweet Tooth About These New Spots: Johnny Doughnuts, Les Gourmands Bakery


Hot, glazed doughnuts at Johnny Doughnuts. Photo via Facebook.


The tempting counter at Les Gourmands Bakery. Yelp photo by D.D.

Many JOHNNY DOUGHNUTS fans have been waiting (im)patiently for the first SF brick-and-mortar location to open in Hayes Valley, and it’s now softly open as of this past weekend. Take a peek at the main menu to see how truly doughnut-obsessed these folks are—they are not just making the same old, same old here. There’s even their “wheat-free fritter thang.” Daily hours are 7am-4pm (or until sold out). 392 Fulton St. at Gough. [Via Eater.]

Whoa, there’s another European bakery in SoMa, LES GOURMANDS BAKERY, focused on French pastries, viennoiserie, and brioches, all made from family recipes. Fifth-generation baker Sylvain Chaillout is working with his parents, Catherine and Serge, and they just opened in the Mosso apartment complex. The menu includes croissants (including almond) and pain au chocolat, and then there’s almond pain chocolat (whut). You’ll also find chaussons aux pommes, chouquettes, brioche, and a variety of sablé cookies (including coconut, white chocolate, and raisin). Can’t wait to check it out. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm and Sat 8am-7pm. 280 5th St. at Folsom. [Via Hoodline.]

La Cocina Launches Insider Walking Tours at the Street Food Festival (Sunday 10/15)


Do you have your ticket for La Cocina’s Street Food Festival on Sunday October 15th? I hope so. Because it’s wonderful to have it back. And there’s even more planned this year to add a more thoughtful layer to the experience besides stuffing your face with delicious foods made with love by all the participating La Cocina entrepreneurs and food businesses, plus friends of La Cocina too.

This year, they are offering special guided walking and learning tours throughout the day so you can get an insider’s view with back-of-tent access, connect with the makers, and hear some amazing stories. You get to skip the lines. And yes, have some incredible tastes and bites!

Some of the tours include Small Business, Big Change (led by Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture Fellow Shakirah Simley, with Reem’s, Sariwa, Bini’s Kitchen, Los Cilantros, and Tu David Phu); Latinx Foodways (led by Sal de Vida chef and cookbook writer Adriana Lahl, featuring Sabores del Sur [Chile], El Mesón de Violeta [Chile], Estrellita’s Snacks [El Salvador], Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas [Sinoloa], Los Cilantros [Cuernavaca], El Pipila [Guanajuato], El Huarache Loco [CDMX], and Delicioso Crêperie [CDMX]); and Bay Area Natives (with San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef and Bay Area native Fernay McPherson, featuring Peaches Patties, Mission Boricua, Smelly’s Creole & Soul Food Catering, Yvonne’s Southern Sweets).

The tours are just $30 and include admission to the Street Food Festival. La Cocina has even offered a special code that gets you a $5 discount on the tours (and on the “La Cocina T-shirt and ticket package”)—use code: tablehopper. So, book one!

And one more thing: I wanted to make sure La Cocina’s F&B: Voices from the Kitchen storytelling series is on your radar. On Thursday October 19th, it’s returning for the fifth installment examining “refuge” at the Swedish American Hall (6pm-8:30pm). And then on Friday October 20th, F&B heads to the San Jose Museum of Art for the very first time. All proceeds from the events benefit the work of La Cocina.

Chef Anthony Strong Back with Cibi Cotti, a Family-Style Pop-Up Dinner Series


Kyoto-style spaghetti with duck, ginger, Parmigiano, and sansho pepper. Photo courtesy of Cibi Cotti.


Tortelli neri with salt cod, ‘nduja, and celery hearts. Photo courtesy of Cibi Cotti.

After former Locanda chef Anthony Strong tried and then bagged his Young Fava delivery concept, I’ve been waiting to see what’s next from this talented chef. He’s currently entering lease negotiations on a space for a brick-and-mortar concept—more on that soon—but in the meantime, he really wants to be cooking and testing dishes. Starting this weekend is Cibi Cotti, his pop-up dinner series that runs Friday through Sunday evenings. For $75 per person (plus service), 24 guests can enjoy a multicourse Italian dinner served family-style. And it’s going to be abundant, like 9-10 courses. Yeah, he’s a feeder.

Don’t expect “traditional” Italian dishes—Strong is having fun, doing his own style and playing around. But he knows all about delicious, so it should rock. The name means “cooked food,” and that’s what he’s excited to be doing again—just cooking up some food. And he wants it to feel like a party.

You can get tickets on Tock for this weekend now, and they will be selling the second round early next week—sign up for the mailing list for a heads-up when they go on sale.

It’s BYOB (but you can also order wine from Local Mission Cellar at the event, which is just a couple of blocks away, and they will get it for you). Bring enough to share! Dinner is Fri-Sun at 7pm. 2670 Harrison St. at 23rd St.

News Tidbits, From New Service to New Chefs


The vegetarian barbecue platter at The Perennial. Photo courtesy of The Perennial.


Salmon carpaccio at Whitechapel. Photo courtesy of Whitechapel.

You know when Sunday evening rolls around and you’ve got a mad craving for a pinsa from MONTESACRO and you couldn’t do anything about it because they were closed? Well, no longer! Montesacro is now open on Sundays starting at 4pm. Mangia!

There are a couple of new chef posts to report, starting with Michael Andreatta as co-chef with Anthony Myint at THE PERENNIAL—he was a sous chef at Commonwealth years ago. With Myint back in the kitchen, look for a more playful, collaborative, experimental style to come to the menu—and more guest chefs. There’s a vegetarian barbecue platter with smoked kale rib, barbecued onion, carrot steak, black rice, beluga lentils, and chimichurri broth—but you can add on some crispy bits of barbecued meat as a condiment if you’d like. Look for an expanded housemade pasta selection made with sustainable grains too.

Co-founder Karen Leibowitz will oversee bread production and share responsibility with Myint and Andreatta for dessert creation. Opening chef Chris Kiyuna is helping with the transition and will be exploring interests outside the food world. 59 9th St. at Mission, 415-500-7788.

Meanwhile, over at WHITECHAPEL, there’s a new chef, Michelle Matthews—she was at 15 Romolo for four years, plus Gitane and Café Claude. Her new menu includes beetroot and gin-infused salmon carpaccio with fennel pollen, Devonshire cream, salmon roe, pomegranate, and basil oil ($14); and wild foraged mushroom flatbread with chanterelle, lobster, and nebrodini mushrooms, roast garlic purée, burrata, arugula, and lemon ($16); plus a new spin on the fish and chips beer batter and some other tweaks. There’s also a “Roast Beast” large-format shareable feast if you’re with a group. Full menu served until 10pm nightly, and a bar bites menu is offered until closing. 600 Polk St. at Turk.

Golden Week and English Breakfast and Southern Fried Night


Hakkasan’s chile crab dumpling for Golden Week. Photo courtesy of Hakkasan Group.


There are some fun special dining events and menus coming up, including the current Golden Week limited menu at HAKKASAN, which is fortunately running for more than a week (from now through October 22nd). The menu is a collaboration between Hakkasan Group’s executive chef Tong Chee Hwee and chef Dabiz Muñoz, owner and executive chef of StreetXO in Mayfair (London), who has a reputation as the “enfant terrible of Spanish gastronomy,” so look for an intersection of Cantonese and Spanish influences. Even the bar team is in on the menu with the Oriental Frontera (Belvedere vodka, plum sauce-infused fino sherry, pink grapefruit, chile, and Hakkasan sweet and sour). Dishes include hot and sour soup with foie gras; lamb dumpling, chocolate, and mint; chile crab dumpling, black sesame sponge, soft-shell crab; Spanish tortilla dim sum, truffle, quail egg; stir-fry rib-eye beef, gnocchi, and lily bulb; enoki mushroom noodle; three-ways crispy egg fried rice with paprika; and Naranja Cheng, with calamansi curd, orange and tarragon sorbet, tomato crémeux.

In case you ever get a craving for an English breakfast, you can now find one at LORD STANLEY! Owners Carrie and Rupert Blease are launching it this Sunday October 8th, and if it goes well, they will plan to continue doing English breakfast every first Sunday of the month. The Full English is $25 and includes fried eggs, toast, baked beans, black pudding, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, bacon and sausage, and brown sauce. Draft beers, wine, coffee, tea, and fresh juice are available. It’s a later breakfast service, served from 11am-2pm. And what a beautiful room to brunch in. See you there?

Underway at HOG & ROCKS on Tuesdays is Southern Fried Night, which some of you may remember from Maverick (RIP). It features the infamous Maverick fried chicken (half for $30 and two fixin’s or whole for $50 and three fixin’s) with Southern-inspired fixin’s such as cornbread stuffing, charred green beans, mashed potatoes, collard greens, and mac and cheese. You also get B&B pickles, biscuits and waffles, burnt honey syrup, and Youk’s Hot Sauce. You have until December 19th to come by.

Hog & Rocks            - 3431 19th St. San Francisco - 415-550-8627

Closures Around Town...and a Comeback


The interior of Vicoletto in North Beach. Stand by for a reconcepting. Photo via Facebook.

I have a couple of closures to report around town thanks to reader tips. First, VICOLETTO in North Beach closed two weeks ago. I got in touch with co-owner Francesco Covucci, who said they are reconcepting and will be opening something else in the space—he’s just a little busy with getting his plans for the Pantarei space lined up first. 550 Green St. at Stockton.

Tablehopper reader Lisa B. let me know that BRASSERIE 398 in Union Square was papered over and closed. At least we can still find chef Glen Schwartz’s tasty vittles over at The Douglas Room. 398 Geary St. at Mason.

And just when we thought Vietnamese restaurant  MAU in the Mission was closing, they are back from the brink. Tablehopper reader Gina P. came into the restaurant to have a last meal and there was a sign on the window saying they worked things out with their landlord and will be reopening at the end of October/early November, after they regroup. Call it a comeback! 665 Valencia St. at 18th St.

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)

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the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

A Molto Mario Trip to the Bay Area

A family friend let me know Mario Batali was in Half Moon Bay over the weekend for his son Benno’s 21st birthday, (visiting BARBARA’S FISH TRAP!) and it looks like they also came into SF to dine at BENU. Lucky Benno!

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