There were platters of persimmon cheesecake at our Comfort Food fundraiser. Thank you for being such generous hosts, Le Marais Bakery Castro! Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hi gang. Enjoying the sunny weather? I feel like it’s the holidays in LA—it’s so weird seeing Christmas trees and it’s 60 degrees out. Which is why I must have been inspired to start thinking about taking a trip down to Los Angeles for the New Year…currently mulling. It has been way too long since my last jaunt. Feel free to send along any tips and new favorites to help tip the needle to yes!
This weekend is definitely going to be entertaining: I’m heading up to Santa Rosa to experience The Emerald Cup, “the largest, most respected, organic, outdoor, medicinal cannabis competition in the world!” The lineup of vendors is pretty staggering, duuuuuude, and the musical entertainment is a bonus. Bob Moses? Sweet! Looking forward to meeting some great people and checking out so many innovative products. And all the pretty flowers.
I’m also excited to check into the newly updated and totally adorable The Astro motel, a sister project to The Spinster Sisters restaurant, who have kindly been hosting some FEMA-eligible North Bay fire survivors. [Big love.] It’s also great to think of all the people who will be coming to the County this weekend and spending money in the community—the more visitors, the better.
While I’m up north in a purple haze, don’t forget this Saturday is SantaCon. Tread carefully around the city.
I want to give a tremendous thanks to everyone who came to our Comfort Food fundraiser at Le Marais Bakery Castro last week! It was such a special night, one of my favorite tablehopper events yet. The family-style seating in that beautiful space was cozy and fun, and chef Michael Siegel crushed us with deliciousness. We had a beautiful fall salad and probably the best brisket I’ve ever had, with garlic mashed potatoes from the gods. Le Marais doubled down on dessert (persimmon cheesecake, so good!), and the wines from Pomebandit and Artesa were perfect pairings.
We also had such generous donations for our silent auction, which helped us raise a grand total of $4,963 for Tipping Point’s Emergency Relief Fund! Way to go, you guys! Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. It definitely put me right into holiday spirit.
And now…it’s about time for holiday spirits! Cheers! Marcia Gagliardi
Opening this Thursday December 7th is BARVALE, the latest project from Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group, its 22nd restaurant, but their first Spanish tapas bar concept. They are opening in the former La Urbana, right at the corner of Divisadero and Grove.
As mentioned earlier in tablehopper, Patricio “Pato” Duffoo is the executive chef, who is making most items in-house and will be utilizing the grill a great deal. His menu features two sections: cold and hot tapas. Cold tapas will be available for $6 per portion, or 3 for $15, served with grilled bread. Some examples include boquerones (cured white anchovies, spicy Iberian sauce); tortilla de patata, pimento aioli, frisée; and garbanzo and pimentón purée, piquillo, grilled bread, mint (their house version of hummus).
Some hot tapas include charred cauliflower, romesco, grilled lemon; grilled sardines, shallots, guindillas (small yellow pickled Basque peppers), olives; gambas (olive oil-poached prawns from the Gulf of Mexico), grilled bread; and tempranillo-braised oxtail, mashed potato, mirepoix. In a fun twist, you’ll be able to order paella (shrimp, mussels, clams, aioli, lemon) by the portion instead of having to commit to an entire pan. It will come out every 30 minutes.
Over at the bar, you’ll find three daily pintxos (bite-sized and served on a skewer)—since they are designed to be accompaniments to their cocktails, sherry, and wine, you’ll find them at the bar only.
Jessica Everett is behind the cocktail list, which will have four gin and tonics, including one on tap, which you can order by the carafe. Jessica and her team tasted more than 40 different gins and worked with gin’s aromatics and tonic’s bitter quality before landing on the four flavor profiles that will be represented in the gin and tonics. One of them (No. 4) features infused Bols genever with pink peppercorn, saffron, and cardamom. She also has a strong eco focus and does what she can to make sustainable choices for sourcing and storage, eliminating as much plastic wrap as possible (bless) and only using eco straws.
There’s the La Urbana, an homage to the previous tenant, with mezcal, apple brandy, palo cortado sherry, and housemade banana liqueur. Or you can go for a low-ABV drink like the Arencia Highball, with dry and sweet vermouths, manzanilla, soda. I’m looking forward to the Salty Spaniard, a spin on a Bamboo, with gin, fino sherry, dry vermouth, orange bitters. Cocktails are $12 and under and designed to be approachable and beautiful; check out the menu here.
There is also a complex wine and sherry list, featuring rare bottles sourced from friends in Spain, special wines (with a focus on certified organic and biodynamic wines), sherries, and ports. Two domestic Spanish-style wines from California are available on tap only and a bottle of completely natural and biodynamic txakolina is available as well.
The space is designed by Hannah Collins of Hannah Collins Designs, her 10th Back of the House restaurant. The spacious bar (with room for around 24) is the anchor of the restaurant, with a mural of a flamenco designer painted above the bar from local creative design studio Wall and Wall. There is also a communal table to the right, on decorative cement tiles (the original ones from La Urbana have been replaced). In the 65-seat dining room, there are punchy tomato red metal chairs, handmade pendant lights suspended with white rope, and tobacco banquettes.
In the former “Garaje,” the garage roll-up doors have been replaced with real walls and contained to create The Pintxo Room, which will be opening in early 2018 (end of Jan/early Feb). There’s a central bar, high-top communal tables, red terra-cotta walls, and art featuring a bull—all of which will create a dark, sexy space for large groups and private parties.
Open for dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. They will only take reservations for parties of six or more. 661 Divisadero St. at Grove.
I have been following up with Joshua Skenes of Saison for the past month about some rumors I have been hearing about him opening a project in the former Chaya space (at 132 The Embarcadero), and today his PR team has finally released some details.
Chef Skenes and wine director Mark Bright partnered with Terra Venture to form the Saison Hospitality Group in 2016, and their next project is to open ANGLER, an American raw bar and grill. They will be opening in the former Chaya space on The Embarcadero, which has fantastic views of the bay, and in Los Angeles. (According to Eater, the L.A. location will be in the Beverly Center, although Saison’s PR won’t confirm that detail.)
Each restaurant will each have a capacity of approximately 100 seats, with space for private parties. Here’s more from the press release on the look and style: “Both outposts will evoke a rich maritime setting, with rusted steel beams, exposed brick, elements of copper with a saltwater patina, mermaid tiles, and natural materials such as American walnut. Each will feature an entry room with a fireplace, full bar, and an inviting salon for diners to gather before and after their meal—or just stop in for a glass of wine, cocktails, and a quick bite. Angler will have an elegant and warm environment with an expansive and diverse wine cellar with a focus on Burgundy, Rhone, and Loire Valley.”
Skenes is known for his dedication to cooking on the hearth, and Angler will feature a massive 32-foot hearth with eight different zones for the various types of live-fire cooking Saison has developed over the years. Live tanks will hold local fish and shellfish sourced by Saison’s fisherman that will be cooked simply and carefully to highlight the products’ natural flavors and peak taste.
The à la carte menu’s sample dishes include raw bar items like oysters and clams; Mendocino sea urchin on grilled bread; cured rockfish with Meyer lemon; simple salad of lettuces and herbs; spot prawns grilled over a bed of seaweeds; California king crab steamed with drawn butter from their cows; Hopi cornbread baked with wild boar fat in a skillet near the fire; elk T-bone roasted over the embers with coffee beans and chiles; and for dessert, wild strawberry soup, and ember ice cream and espresso granita.
The targeted opening is summer 2018 for San Francisco, while Los Angeles will be fall 2018.
Back in 2015, it looked like QUINCE was going to be taking over the former Barrique, which was just across the street—the Tusks were planning to open a Spanish-inspired and casual spot (Bar Ventresca). That project didn’t pan out, but now an ABC license application shows the Tusks potentially starting a project in the former Chiaroscuro at 550 Washington, just a couple of blocks away from Quince and Cotogna. The name on the transfer is Verjus—we’ll have to wait and see when they are ready to talk about their plans. It’s a space that housed Daniel Patterson’s first restaurant (Elisabeth Daniel) and George Morrone’s Tartare (I’ll never forget the arched ceiling and dramatic soup bowls that looked like a manta ray). The space flanks Hotaling Alley, so let’s hope they get to have some outdoor tables. 550 Washington St. at Montgomery.
Quince - 470 Pacific Ave. San Francisco - 415-775-8500
I’m always happy to have some new brunch options in the mix, and when it’s Indian brunch, then I’m downright stoked. Starting Saturday December 9th, Kavitha Raghavan of INDIAN PARADOX on Divis is going to be serving brunch from 11am-2pm. (Sundays are possible down the road.)
There will be six new street food dishes on the menu, like chile cheese toast ($9), with warm whole-grain white bread generously topped with a green chile, bell pepper, and garam masala cheese blend, and then grilled to golden brown goodness (sign me up); a masala omelet ($11); and egg akuri ($10.50), a soft-scrambled egg cooked with Parsi masala, ginger, garlic, turmeric, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, served with a buttered toast. And then there’s disco fry eggs ($12), which is almost like a savory Indian (French) toast—the eggs and brioche buns pressed with onions, chiles, cilantro, chaat, and garam masala, exclusive only to the streets of Mumbai. Yum, see you there! 258 Divisadero St. at Haight.
Over in Bernal, OLD DEVIL MOON is also kicking off weekend brunch on Saturday December 9th. Chef Sarah Duncan (previously The Broken Record) is behind their new Black Magic Brunch, with $13 dishes like huevos rancheros, loco moco, shrimp and griddled grits, cheddar biscuits and gravy, and more. Most dishes include a side of smashed potatoes, fruit, or a side salad, and they are happy to offer some vegetarian options of some of the dishes. Here’s the menu. They’ll be serving Sat-Sun 11am-3pm.
You’ll also find mimosas, Bloody Marys and Marias, a michelada, a Pimm’s Cup, mai tai spritz, Negroni spritz, and Grandpa’s Coffee with Red Whale nitro cold brew, Irish cream, and a nip of Old Grand-Dad bonded bourbon. 3472 Mission St. at Cortland.
It’s that time of year again! BIX is the perfect setting for a holiday lunch, which is why they are open every weekday for lunch through Friday December 22nd. If there was ever a time for a two-martini lunch, well, this is it.
On the flip side, it’s the time of the year when LA TAQUERIA in the Mission takes a break from making us taco dorados and closes for a winter break. This year they will be closed Monday December 18th-Wednesday January 10th.
And then there’s the spot that is taking THE BIG BREAK. As you know, UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA is closing after almost eight years of business because proprietor Anthony Mangieri is moving back to New York and opening a location in the Lower East Side. I went in for a farewell margherita last Friday, and they said they’d be open for one or two more weeks, but definitely closing before Christmas. And you’ll also want to head in early—at 7:45pm, they were counting down the final dough balls for pizzas that night. Open Wed-Sat.
The 510 has a bunch of new brunches for you to check out, starting with DONATO & CO. in Berkeley, serving ciambellone, assorted pastries, and Italian-style egg dishes, including scrambled eggs with guanciale, and a potato-and-cheese frico cake with poached eggs. Chef Gianluca Guglielmi is making all kinds of breads, from ciabatta to tigella to focaccia. Available Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. (They are also serving lunch during the week 11:30am-3pm and apericena from 3pm-6pm.) Take a peek at all the menus here. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley.
Over in Montclair, chef Rob Lam has launched Sunday brunch at PERLE WINE BAR, with food coma-inducing dishes like foie gras French toast and a duck rillette croque-madame. Don’t forget the Lipitor. (There are also lemon soufflé pancakes and an egg white and avocado frittata, so don’t fret.) Check out the menu. You’ll have plenty of bubbles to choose from, and cocktails like the Bix Bloody Mary and a French 75. Saturday brunch will launch in the new year. Sat 11am-3pm. 2058 Mountain Blvd. at Antioch Ct., Montclair.
Lastly, ALAMAR KITCHEN + BAR in Oakland has launched an all-day Sunday brunch from 11am-6pm. The rotating menu features new items each week, plus staples from chef Nelson German, such as braised oxtail hash with poached egg and black pepper hollandaise sauce, and Dominican eggs Benedict (think oxtail or crab on a bed of mofongo—garlicky mashed green plantains—instead of an English muffin). There’s a boozy coffee and a special cocktail inspired by a popular Dominican beverage, Morir Soñando. Chef Nelson says, “My all-day Sunday brunch pays homage to the New York City trend of late brunches where you can recover from a hangover and still roll out of bed in the afternoon without the fear of missing brunch.”
You should also know they’ll play Oakland Raiders games if they coincide with the timing of brunch. (Whether you find that to be a bonus or not is entirely up to you.) There’s also a dog-friendly patio with heaters. 100 Grand Ave. #111 at Valdez, Oakland.
Don’t tell the other months, but December is our favorite at Bi-Rite Market. With so much good food, good wine, and good people to celebrate, what’s not to love? Our shelves are stocked with this year’s best foodie gifts, and our chefs have planned flavor-packed holiday menus, like Vegetarian Enchiladas and Braised BN Ranch Beef Brisket.
Then when you realize New Year’s is right around the corner, click over to Bi-Rite Catering and get the crew to prepare your Cheesemonger’s Choice platter along with some Butternut Squash Arancini…and maybe one or two other delectable bites.
P.S. The annual Wine Sale (20 percent off any 12 bottles or more) ends December 24th, so there’s still time to snag some for this year’s Secret Santa exchange.
Some exciting news at TARTINE MANUFACTORY: they have landed a Type 47 liquor license and will be launching a full bar program in the spring. Overseeing the boozy magic will be Julian Cox, Tartine’s new director of bar operations. Cox was most recently director of beverage for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago, and previously was making a name for himself in Los Angeles at Rivera, Redbird, Bestia, Otium, and Sotto. In 2014, Food & Wine named him one of the 10 most influential bartenders in the past 10 years.
As for Tartine, he plans to create a bar program based around the seasonality and deep sourcing that guides the culinary side: “I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the amazing regional produce and discovering new distilleries we can highlight at the bar.” Look for small producers, housemade bitters, cordials, and tinctures, plus fresh juices and some experimental zhoosh with dehydrated ingredients. He’ll also be using blocks of ice from a Clinebell machine, so expect some impressive ice too.
Another SF establishment that will soon be slinging drinks is STARBELLY in the Castro, which has been serving beer and wine and wine-based cocktails for the past eight-plus years. But come January (or so they’re hoping and aiming for), actual boozy cocktails will be on the list as well—they bought the license from the closed Forbes Island.
The team is currently tasting through the list and drinks—they will continue to follow their cocktail style of refreshing and citrus-based drinks, with fresh fruit and herbs. The Pimm’s Cup will now get a little bit of actual liquor, along with other drinks that will be more fortified, and there will be some amaro as well. 3583 16th St. at Market.
Another week, another new bar. Wait, make that two. And an arcade.
Now open on 24th Street in the former Jack’s Club is JUNIOR from Matty Conway, Anthony Healy-London, and Josh McAdam (Brass Tacks), who joined up with David Ruiz (most recently the bar manager at Padrecito). It’s spacious, and Sayre Ziskin (who designed Brass Tacks and Anina) did a gorgeous job, with a colorful painted ceiling and wall murals, groovy light fixtures, large windows, and plenty of seating. Take a look at Ruiz’s menu here, which has a range of cocktails for $12 and plenty of beers to keep you happy. And they open early! Hours are Mon-Fri 2pm-2am and Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. 2545 24th St. at Utah.
Last week, I swung by the preopening party for THE SNUG, which is now open on Fillmore and Clay in Pacific Heights. Partners Zack Schwab, Shane Matthews, Brian Shin, and Jacob Racusin (The Alembic) wanted to create a neighborhood bar, offering well-made cocktails, plus craft beers and bar food that is definitely a level above the usual.
The cocktail list features creative spins on classic recipes, highlighting housemade ingredients and seasonality. There are a couple of exclusive bourbon selections, cocktails on tap, and 14 taps of beers and ciders, plus a cask ale and plenty of bottles highlighting sours, stouts, and strong ales.
Chef Brian Shin (Alinea, Corton, Benu, In Situ) is making some creative and well-executed bar food, from Korean fried chicken wings to a Spam musubi lettuce wrap with housemade Spam. He also is utilizing the space’s tandoori oven (it was previously Mehfil Indian Cuisine), with dishes like sesame naan and shiitake hummus. Check out the menu here.
The space has an approachable and clean look, with a long bar top (31 feet of Douglas fir!) and plenty of other wood elements, from the round swivel bar seats to the high-top tables with room for six each across from the bar. The front area flanking the street has low industrial/metal stools, which won’t be the coziest in the winter, but you’ll just need to drink more; there’s also an upstairs mezzanine with more seating. Britt Hull of Tide Design Co. is behind the design. Open Sun-Thu 4pm-12am and Fri-Sat 4pm-2am; kitchen until 11pm. Brunch and outdoor seating will come next. 2301 Fillmore St. at Clay.
And after being vacant for almost as long as I have lived in the Western Addition, and three years of construction, the Harding Theater on Divisadero was saved from demolition and is now open again and home to EMPORIUM, an arcade bar and event venue. The space is massive (more than 12,000 feet) and dates back to 1926—you’ll note some original architectural details, like the molding along the ceiling. There’s room for 900 guests, with a stage, original balcony level with some seating, and a skydeck with a second bar and pool tables.
There are more than 50 games, including Skee-Ball, air hockey, pinball, vintage arcade games like Pac-Man, plus Killer Queen and more. The 30-foot movie screen and 19-foot-tall projection screen will come in handy for viewings and big games, and there are plenty of display screens for private events too. Live music, DJs, and more will be programmed as well.
The cocktail list is still being tweaked, but there are a couple on tap, along with all-American craft beers—20 taps overall. They will be rotating beers often, but some initial selections include Social Kitchen & Brewery pils, Altamont Maui Waui IPA, Fieldwork Sensee Party Hazy IPA, and High Water Campfire nitro stout. There are also canned beers too. Interestingly there isn’t a food offering/kitchen, but outside food is allowed in.
The project is from Danny and Doug Marks, who also have three locations in Chicago. 21 and over. Business hours this week are Mon-Thu 4pm-2am, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. 616 Divisadero St. at Hayes.
‘Tis the season (to be drinking), and let’s start with my favorite seasonal event, the Grower-Producer Champagne Tasting event at ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT. There will be more than 45 grower Champagnes, including pours of Agrapart, Tarlant, Vesselle, Egly-Ouriet, Soutiran, Bérêche, J. Lassalle, Collin, Chartogne-Taillet, and Marie Courtin. And when you choose your favorites to buy, you get 10 percent off the retail price! $75. Thu Dec 14th. 5:30pm-8pm. (You can also say hello to the new beverage director Phillip Acquafresca, formerly of Cask and Slanted Door.)
More Champagne: if you have some family in from out of town and they want a view and some bubbles, EPIC STEAK is hosting their Champagne Hour every Wednesday from 5pm-7pm (so it’s actually two hours), pouring Veuve Clicquot at 50 percent off—and they’ll saber a bottle at kickoff time. So that glass of Veuve Yellow Label is just $13 instead of $26 (or get a bottle for $52), and a bottle of Grand Dame 2006 is $150 (original price: $300).
Need something stronger? Tonight, Tuesday December 5th, CAPO’S is hosting their fifth anniversary on National Repeal Day. There will be live music, actors in 1920s looks, standing passed bites at the bar, and the first 33 people will receive a free flask to commemorate the year 1933, when Prohibition came to an end. 4pm-10pm. (Capo’s is also collaborating with the nearby The Speakeasy.)
This event has been rescheduled to Thursday January 18th. On Thursday December 7th, Reza Esmaili is hosting a hands-on tequila and whiskey mixing class, partnering with Casa Noble Tequila and High West Whiskey. You’ll enjoy cocktails, bites, and learn some tips and techniques behind the bar. 6:30pm-8:30pm. $59, tickets here. At TRACE upstairs at W San Francisco, 181 3rd St. at Howard.
MONK’S KETTLE is celebrating their 10 year anniversary (Sat December 9th-Mon December 18th) with a series of events called Ten Days for a Decade; check out the party lineup here. They will also be giving a take-home beer glass to all patrons that week, until they run out.
Another spot celebrating 10 years is THE TRAPPIST in Oakland on Saturday December 9th. Ten of their favorite brewer friends have each made a special for beer (including Jackie O’s in Ohio and Allagash from Maine), which they will be releasing at the event on draft (and several are also available in either bottle or can). Details here. 12pm to close.
Beer lovers will also want to note SF Beer Week is running from February 9th-18th, and tickets for some of the events are on sale now (like the gala, which always sells out).
On Wednesday December 13th, the ARGUELLO team is hosting a night of boozin’ and tequila education (er, tasting) with El Tesoro. For $65, you get a welcome beverage, bites, an interactive cocktail salt-making session, and four one-ounce tasting pours. Tickets here. And don’t forget to drink water!
If you want a festive backdrop to your holiday beverages, be sure to check out my piece from last week.
Former President Bill Clinton was in town for World AIDS Day (he made a speech while at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, which he designated a national monument 21 years ago). That evening, he dined at SAM’S GRILL AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT with friends Mark Buell and Susie Tompkins Buell. He had the pan-seared halibut and roasted acorn squash. He was gracious and kind and offered to take a photo with the staff at the end of the evening.
Owner Peter Quartaroli said: “He told us all that he has eaten all over the world. There are times that the ambiance is great and the food isn’t so great; and times the food is great and the ambiance isn’t. He said we have both great food and ambiance, he felt very comfortable and loved the evening. We were very pleased to have him here.”