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Jan 1, 2018 10 min read

January 2, 2018 - This week's tablehopper: pop Champagne!

January  2, 2018 - This week's tablehopper: pop Champagne!
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: pop Champagne!                    

This is how to do New Year’s Day dinner in LA: Dan Tana’s! Photo: ©

Happy New Year, sweeties! I know so many people are greeting 2018 with open arms. I am wishing you so much happiness and abundance and good health this year (and I found a big ole glass to raise to you!). Let’s rock.

Greetings from sunny Los Angeles, where I’ve been having a total blast catching up with friends, eating all kinds of pasta and French onion soup, and New Year’s Day dinner was in a booth at the classic Hollywood hangout Dan Tana’s, with a table covered in a red-and-white checkered tablecloth and hearty plates of chicken Parm and toasted ravioli and Manhattans. One of the better starts to the New Year I’ve had in a while (and a total hangover crusher). Filing that one away for a reunion.

I have also been down here touring local dispensaries and checking out the local cannabis scene and products. Recreational sales is so exciting—I kind of can’t believe it’s happening. Even though prohibition has ended, there are still some things that are underground, like cannabis dinners, which is the subject of my latest piece for KQED’s Bay Area Bites. Yeah, the hopper got a little high at a recent one. Tabletoker.

Another article I recently wrote was for Via, featuring the top 10 restaurant openings in SF in 2017 (with some casual spots I liked too). Take a look and see if you’ve visited them all. We’ve had some quality openings this past year.

We had such a fun and festive tablehopper holiday dinner a couple of days after Christmas at Maybeck’s, with beef Wellington, Scotch cocktails and pairings from Bruichladdich, and such a fun crowd. The highlight for me was that our little raffle over dinner raised $543 for the SF-Marin Food Bank! Tremendous thanks to everyone who attended and so generously contributed, and especially to Bruichladdich and the Maybeck’s team who rocked the evening out of the park.

Sad you missed the party? You can head over for grower Champagne and fried chicken tonight, or beef Wellington Wednesday tomorrow! (And the Blood and Sand we enjoyed at our dinner is on the bar menu right now and was a total crowd fave.)

Or here’s an idea: you should buy a ticket to the upcoming Pencils for Kids fundraiser on Wednesday January 17th that I have been working on! We have a wonderful lineup of restaurant, spirit, and wine partners, and it all goes to an amazing cause: providing children in rural areas with school supplies and helping to support their education. Take a look at today’s listing and get your ticket! Thanks for spreading the word and supporting this event—every guest helps tremendously. I need your help in selling this out, thanks everyone!

Okay gang, it’s also time for my annual rant, the bore, of 10 things I don’t want to see in the new year. I kind of can’t believe I have been writing that kvetch piece for 10 years—and I know many of you have been reading it for that long too! Thanks for being such dedicated subscribers.

I’ll be back with the news and more next week. Cheers and best wishes for now! XO! Marcia Gagliardi

the bore

No More... (my annual kvetch)

10 Things I'd Like to See Stricken from the Scene in 2018


Hey gurl. Sorry about your hair. Looks like it got a little fried. Photo: ©

There were a lot of things wrong with 2017. Really wrong. So when we turn to food for comfort and escape, we need restaurants to show up for us. Here are 10 ways I’d like to see SF restaurants try harder, do better, make us happier, or just be different. Longtime tablehopper readers know I prefer to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive in my column, but every year “the bore” is when I get to turn the spigot and get a little ranty (sorry for the swearing, mom!).

If you’re wondering why I didn’t call out unicorn food or toast, you can check out all my past issues in past issues here.

  1. Last year I was too busy taking on 10 things I didn’t want to see on Instagram anymore to call out poke, but you can trust and believe I was keeping it on watch, and now it’s on blast. How many goddamn poke places do we need? I groan every time I see another “Coming Soon!” sign with a fish and bowl on it. I understand it’s light and a convenient way for all those “carbs are soooo evil” folks to eat, but too much of that tuna is poor quality, overfished, unsustainable, sprayed with dye or carbon monoxide to boost its pink color. It may not even be tuna at all and may actually be some tilapia or escolar that was hit with some FD&C Red No. 4. Yeah, so healthy. If you’re going to eat poke, at least ask about its sourcing and support the places that do it right.
  2. Since we’re on fish…you know what makes me insane? When a sushi chef tells you, “This is my favorite fish,” and then proceeds to blast it with a torch. Ahhhh, yes, nothing like the taste of the odor manufacturers put into butane and propane now all over that formerly pristine piece of fish you just served me as part of my overpriced $170 omakase experience. Now I’m the one with the torch—watch me as I’m about to torch my bill and walk out the door.
  3. Let me tell you how the menu works…” Um, I think I have this: I see things I like on the menu, I order them. End of story. If you have to tell me how it works, your menu is what needs some work. If you want to tell me how many plates you recommend since you’re a shared plates joint, or if things are served family style, great, go for it, knowledge is power, but otherwise I think I’ve got it. Really.
  4. Man. I was waffling over this one, but I think I’ve finally had it with all the custom pottery, especially now with all the casual places with the faux handcrafted plates. I get it, pottery is beautiful, and personal, and feels good, and supports local craftspeople, and fits a total NorCal aesthetic and legacy we’ve had for a long time. But sadly it has become the latest piece in the omnipresent reclaimed wood/subway tile/Edison bulb SF-style story. What’s wrong with some gorgeous porcelain? Or at least pick some fun glazes and colors. Otherwise I’m gonna start yelling “Opa!” and get smashy.
  5. As a lover of burrata, it pains me to do this, but we really need to lay off the burrata as a default appetizer. So basic. There really isn’t that much you can do to it to make it interesting that I can’t do my own damn self at home. Maybe we need to relegate it to late summer only, during peak tomato season. (Note: A16 can keep theirs on the menu since they were one of the first to serve it.)
  6. Okay, this one is personal. There are very few foods I can’t eat, but weirdly shiitakes are one of them. If I eat them, I taste them for 48 hours—they obliterate my palate. And let me tell you, after a few hours of that they are beyond gross. (I have one other friend who shares this odd reaction.) So I guess it’s how those poor cilantro-averse people feel when they find cilantro sprinkled indiscriminately all over everything…because I can’t believe where shiitakes turn up. Shiitakes—especially the rehydrated ones—are so strong and assertive, and when used outside of Asian dishes, they pretty much suck. SHITakes. So why are there fucking shiitakes on an Italian funghi pizza? Unless it’s some kind of Asian fusion disaster pizza, those mushrooms have no business even looking at a pizza. Or in a vegetarian jambalaya? Or snuck into a stuffed pasta? No! (Dumplings, fine.) Personal aversion aside, I just think there are so many other delicious mushrooms for chefs to choose from. Go forage already.
  7. Crappy prosecco as the default sparkling wine by the glass is so mean, so lazy, so unnecessary. Is that really the best you could do? Was the deal for your restaurant so good you had to sell your bev director’s soul to Mionetto or La Marca? We’re not at some Olive Garden in Fresno, we’re in San Franfuckingcisco.
  8. Whenever a restaurant hands me a stemless wineglass, there’s a little part of me that dies. As a water glass, fine, go for it, but otherwise it makes me feel like I stepped into a Real Housewives episode and someone poured me a glass of cougar juice and just watch as my glass is going to get all warm and smudged with my fingerprints in about 10 minutes. Please, no basic bitch wineglasses unless we’re poolside.
  9. I understand that keeping little candles and tea lights lit all night in a restaurant can be a pain. Or open flame may be an issue. But those ugly little battery-powered tea lights are not the answer. You know the ones—the orange or icy blue/white ones that flicker? Yeah, those. They’re obnoxious. They’re artificial and tacky and cheap and have no place at the table. At da club, fine, but keep them away from my food.
  10. Toxic masculinity. Uh huh, the boys club is being raided and sexual harassment is finally 86’ed from the menu. So all of those abusive, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, oppressive, vile, egotistical, sexually predatory motherfuckers are being outed, called out, ejected, shamed, and need to clean their act up. Check your privilege, listen to HR, hire more women and put them in positions of power and just see how well a healthy business that respects its employees can operate. Otherwise we’re all going to stand here and watch the door hit you on the ass on your way out.


the socialite

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

Get Your Ticket for Small World Big Flavors, a Fundraiser for Pencils for Kids (Featuring Asian Restaurants Curated by Yours Truly)


Chef Rob Lam (Perle Wine Bar) is going to be making his amazing oxtail stew with soft Hodo Soy tofu…bun bo Hue style! Photo: ©


Megawatt smiles and cuteness during a Pencils for Kids visit to the Praratchadamri Church Project in Chiang Rai. Photo: ©


The chic Cambria Gallery in SoMa is the perfect party venue, and the bar is going to be well stocked and hoppin’. Photo courtesy of Cambria.

Event Info

Wednesday Jan 17, 2018 6:30pm–9:30pm $75 Tickets                        Cambria Gallery 1045 Bryant St. between 8th and 9th Streets

As many of you already know, I visited Northern Thailand this past May to be a part of the 10th anniversary mission of Pencils for Kids, Inc. It’s an amazing nonprofit that raises funds to deliver backpacks filled with school supplies and uniforms to children in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand every year. In 2017, PFK delivered more than 2,200 backpacks to children in need!

My visit to the villages in Chiang Rai to help deliver backpacks was incredibly moving, and as someone who cherishes my education and independence, it felt good to help encourage access to education for others who are less fortunate. And it’s why I’m helping Pencils for Kids with their annual fundraiser in San Francisco this year, with 100 percent of the event proceeds going directly to supply children with backpacks.

As an Honorary Chairperson and Ambassador for Pencils for Kids, I’m curating the restaurants and wine and spirits for their fundraiser event in San Francisco on Wednesday January 17th, 2018: Small World. Big Flavors. We are hosting the event at the stylish Cambria Gallery in SoMa (the same fab place where I hosted the fundraiser for Mexico in October!). I’m so excited for us to be back there; it was the perfect party pad, with wonderful hosts!

We’re going to be hosting a walk-around tasting with restaurant partners making Asian street food for the event. We have the new Perle Wine Bar in Montclair joining us (chef Rob Lam is going to be making his amazing oxtail stew with soft Hodo Soy tofu…bun bo Hue style!), the Burmese Grocery Cafe (which has a new location in Jack London Square in Oakland), Cassava (I hear a rumor they’ll be making some Japanese-inspired ribs!), and Indian Paradox (one of my favorite hidden gems on Divisadero for Indian street food—and they just launched brunch!). We also have Cambodian Nyum Bai joining us—Nite Yun will be serving a salad (she is opening her brick-and-mortar location in 2018!). And you can check out the flavorful Thai-Laotian dishes from the new Esan Classic (from the Lers Ros team)!

You’re definitely going to want to save room for dessert, because Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie is going to be making something sweet!

There will also be cocktails (courtesy of our generous sponsor Rémy Cointreau) and beautiful wines kindly provided by Chambers & Chambers (those of you who came to the SF Loves MX fundraiser remember those two gorgeous French rosés!). The fine folks at HelioRoast are also going to be offering coffee service—you’ll get to taste their local, microroasted coffee! If there is someone who would like to donate beer for the event, please get in touch!

We will also have a silent auction and raffle with some fantastic items (we’re happy to have any contributions!) and a goodie bag!

Tickets are only $75 (the event is 6:30pm-9:30pm), and since it’s a tablehopper event, you know you’ll be well fed (and beveraged, heh) while doing a whole lot of good. All the holiday parties are over, so let’s have some fun in January! I really hope to see you on Wednesday January 17th!

If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a donation, please visit PFK’s donation page, thank you!

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