This week's tablehopper: up and down.
This is what happens when your friend Matthew Wyne invites you over for a Saturday afternoon of Old Pals. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hey everyone, how are you? It has been such a rough past week with the passing of Anthony Bourdain. I know everyone has been profoundly shaken by that horrible, bleak, heart-wrenching tragedy. Such a huge loss. I posted some of my thoughts here. Let’s all take good care of each other.
I also heard our dear chef Jan Birnbaum passed this morning after time in hospice over the weekend (there has been a lot of confusion online about this, and I am so sorry I was misinformed earlier). He was such a kind man and cooked with so much heart and NOLA soul. Love and condolences to all who knew him and loved him. He was a mentor to many, and a friend to many more.
Today’s column is getting to you late because I was personally dealing with my own scare: my grandmother went missing for more than 24 hours, and my family was frantically trying to locate her. (It was the first time something like this has happened, so it was a shock.) Thank goddess she was found by a sweet couple who figured out things weren’t quite right and connected her to us this afternoon. Shout-out to all the good people in this world! There are many. All’s well that ends well, but damn, what a roller coaster of emotions, with a whole lotta angst corkscrews. Looking forward to a stiff drink, a date with my vape, and some sound sleep tonight. So thanks for ignoring any mistakes today, and there were some stories I just couldn’t finish—obviously, I’ve had a lot on my mind.
Just a few quick links for you, in case you have a voracious appetite for even more food news: here’s this week’s Table Talk on Bay Area Bites, including news about the Tacolicious guest chef taco lineup, a rosé tasting, the Refugee Food Festival, an all-cake dessert menu at Bluestem Brasserie, and where to find amatriciana pizza in SF (which I could use a large of right about now—and some cake).
Last week’s Table Talk takes a look at the rebranded Ritu Indian Soul Food (formerly Dum), Alexander’s Steakhouse launches The Feast, check out some fun (and tasty) Father’s Day deals, and more.
I’m also so happy with this spunky write-up about my new venture, mymilligram, in the SF Weekly’s Evergreen section. It’s a fun backgrounder on how and why I’m covering cannabis after writing tablehopper for 12 years. Take a look, it’s a fun piece.
If you’ve been curious about looking into low-dose cannabis products and CBD, I’m hosting my second mymilligram educational event next Wednesday June 20th, come on by!
And with that, I am signing off for the evening, with so much gratitude in my heart. Looking forward to spending Father’s Day with my fam, wishing you the same.
Take good care and all my love, ~Marcia
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Release the Smørrebrød: Kantine Opens on Market
Last Friday, I swung by the soon-to-open KANTINE for a friends-and-family sneak peek of this Scandinavian-inspired charmer from Nichole Accettola and husband Joachim Majholm. The name is the Danish word for canteen, inspired by Accettola’s decade living in Copenhagen, and will be open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch six days a week.
Many locals have become fans of Accettola’s sprouted rye bread, or perhaps tried her savory or sweet breakfast porridges at her pop-ups and her Cali-Scandinavian smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) at her Ferry Plaza Farmers Market stand.
Now, you’ll be able to enjoy all these items, plus breakfast treats and pastries like chocolate-rye buns, spelt scones with lemon and dried blueberries, and cardamom knots. And then there are the choose-your-own-brunch boards (5 or 7 items), which will include items like cured trout with elderflower, warm potato salad with lovage, poached egg cup with asparagus and herbs, fennel-smoked bacon, and three-lentil hummus, plus overnight muesli with oats, chai, hemp, orange zest, honey, bee pollen, and huckleberries. Seriously.
Smørrebrød toppings include trout rillettes; “summer salad” with hay-smoked cheese, radish, tomato, cucumber, and chives; and fried pickled herring with charred lemon, cultured butter, and dill, among others. Their wholesale offering of baked goods will be expanding now that they have a large space of their own. Helping her in the kitchen is her sous chef Evan Bertolli, who previously worked at Bar Tartine.
They’ll be offering Heart coffee from Portland (which was founded by a Finnish man and offers the kind of Scandinavian-inspired roast they want), plus an elderberry yogurt drink, hot cocoa, rhubarb lemonade, and beer and wine.
If the space’s design feels authentically Scandinavian in its simplicity and warmth, it’s because a Danish firm (ATM Design) designed it—they worked on it from overseas! The light, airy space features communal tables, beautiful white oak wood panels, and groovy lights (from the Swedish HEM) that look like they’re enclosed in fabric bags with a drawstring and cast a soft glow. The huge pane windows will also let in some lovely light, as well as the windows above with Deco shapes and angles. Some sound panels and a canopy of plants and artwork are all coming too.
Opening hours are Tue-Fri 7:30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm. If inspections go according to plan, they will open this Wednesday June 13th—follow along on Instagram for updates. 1906 Market St. at Octavia.
Chef Departures and New Plans: Robin Song (Gibson) and Marc Zimmerman (Alexander's Steakhouse) Both on the Move
I’ve been hearing rumors that chef Robin Song has departed GIBSON, one of my favorite openings last year, and he confirmed he’s no longer involved in the project. As for what’s next, he’s going to enjoy some family time for now (he has a new daughter) and is formulating his next steps—of course, this talented chef has some ideas.
Last week, I learned chef Marc Zimmerman has left ALEXANDER’S STEAKHOUSE after seven years as business development chef and executive chef of the San Francisco location, and now I’ve just been updated he has his own project in the works. He’s partnering with Rahman Berrada, a former general manager at Alexander’s, and previously at Spruce and Commis. They’re opening a project in SoMa, and the James Beard award-winning alm project (Benu, In Situ) will be designing the restaurant. The name, location, and more will be revealed as soon as the lease is signed. For now, it’s going to be a concept that is slated to have multiple locations, and they’re looking at a winter opening. I’ll keep you posted on deets.
Coming Soon: Noosh, Ungrafted, Cathay House and 601 Dupont, and More
There are some exciting new projects coming soon, starting with the revelation of what is going into the former Thai Stick on Fillmore: it’s going to be NOOSH from Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz, who have made quite a name for themselves with their Istanbul Modern pop-up series on Feastly. For this brick and mortar, they’re partnering with John Litz, formerly a partner in Lazy Bear, who secured the location and approached them after trying their food.
They have a fine dining background (working in East Coast Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin) and are steeped in technique (in addition to their pop-ups, she has worked at Saison and he has been at Mourad), but will be keeping things casual for this location. (Read: no tweezer food.) Look for Turkish flavors, in addition to inspiration from Israel, Greece, and Armenia, and housemade pita bread and more. Eater reports it’s due to open at the end of the year. And there’s full liquor, so stand by. 2001 Fillmore St. at Pine.
Over in Dogpatch, Rebecca Fineman (the world’s 25th female Master Sommelier) and husband Chris Gaither (Octavia, Gary Danko) are opening UNGRAFTED, a wine-centric restaurant and retail shop by early fall. Eater writes High Treason’s John Vuong is also involved. Look for street food-inspired small plates and pairings that play with high-low—more on this as it develops (and they hire a chef). Beer, wine, sake, nonalcoholic options, and education will also play a part. 2419 3rd St. at 22nd St.
The Chronicle reports Chris Yeo (Straits Restaurant, Sino) and his family (fourth-generation San Franciscans) will be taking over the historic Cathay House in Chinatown, which closed earlier this year. The massive space dates back to 1939, and has an extensive history. Building owner Betty Louie envisioned a similar revitalization scenario to what she inspired at the former Four Seas, with Brandon Jew transforming it into the glamorous Mister Jiu’s.
The plan is to have two restaurants on three of the four floors: CATHAY HOUSE upstairs (offering Cantonese cuisine, dim sum on carts, and a full bar), and 601 DUPONT on the ground floor (Dupont was Grant Street’s original name)—it will be a fast-casual concept (Cantonese roast pork, rotisserie chicken, chicken rice), which will open first. Charles Doell of Mister Important Design (Gibson, Gitane) is behind the remodel and design; look for a retro 1940s Chinatown style, bringing the exterior pagoda style within. I’ll keep checking in on this one. 718 California St. at Grant.
A couple of months ago, a tablehopper reader tipped me off that the folks behind Ju-Ni were planning something in the former Stelladoro pizza shop. I didn’t get a reply from owner Tan Truong, but it ends up the rumor was true. Along with Ju-Ni’s chef Geoffrey Lee, Eater reports they’re partnering with chef-owner Tommy Cleary to open a new location of his HINA YAKITORI, previously located in Temescal (he also spent two years at Ippuku). The 14-seat yakitori restaurant will offer a 16-course menu, featuring an Emmer & Co. half chicken that gets broken down into various cuts and prepared for each guest—all grilled on binchotan charcoal (not the easiest permit to secure in this city). Will keep you posted on the opening, it has been quite the construction scene. 808 Divisadero St. at Fulton.
And it looks like there is a new business taking over the classic-style hofbrau GEORGE’S BBQ on 24th Street in the Mission (named for George Prokopos, who was at Pete’s Barbecue in the Mission for 24 years before opening his own place in 2008). The new business is THE STORY OF RAMEN, and they will open for weekday lunch with traditional ramen items such as lekei (Yokohama-style) tonkotsu, vegan broth, as well as some Latin-fusion ramen broth items. For weekday evenings and weekends, their restaurant accepts advanced reservations for their educational and interactive ramen experience, when diners participate in making noodles and learning more about ramen and the broth. They plan to open around late July/early August, pending some minor renovation work and health department sign-off. 3231 24th St. at Mission.
April Bloomfield Taking Ownership of Tosca Cafe
In the last issue, I reported on the departure of TOSCA CAFE chef Josh Even and manager Dana Katzakian after negotiations to take it over didn’t pan out. But it’s now a bit more clear why that didn’t happen with the new details of April Bloomfield’s dissolution of her business partnership with Ken Friedman (in light of numerous allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct). She is going to now own and control their West Coast restaurants, Tosca Cafe (which she took over with Friedman in 2013) and LA’s Hearth & Hound. They’re doing a coastal split, with Friedman maintaining ownership of New York’s Spotted Pig—let’s see if he comes up with a clever renovation of “the rape room.”
In a statement to Eater National, Bloomfield says: “Today, I am announcing the end of my partnership with Ken Friedman. There is much hard work ahead, and it begins with taking full leadership of the Hearth & Hound in Los Angeles and Tosca Cafe in San Francisco. In New York, I remain chef at the Breslin and will begin work on reconcepting the John Dory Oyster Bar [ed. note: Ken Friedman will not be involved with either location]. My complete focus now will be on the welfare and opportunity for my staff and building a company I can be proud of. This has been a painful time for many people, my past and present staff especially, and I will have more to say at some point in the near future. For now, I am looking forward to forging ahead.” Let’s see if more time in San Francisco will make her a more vociferous feminist and champion of employee rights and safety as she restructures her business and team.
Tosca Cafe - 242 Columbus Ave. San Francisco - 415-986-9651
Tsunami Panhandle Moves into the Former Café Abir
An update on the Divisadero Corridor: the windows at CAFE ABIR have been closed since 2015, but now you’ll see them open and with people inside. The Dajani Group has moved their TSUNAMI PANHANDLE a couple doors down from its original location (at 1306 Fulton) into Abir’s corner space (the original location will be converted into a bar, stand by for what’s next).
As for the Abir space, it now holds Tsunami Panhandle restaurant and a shochu bar, with a list of 110 shochu selections (they want to be the city’s premiere destination for shochu, kind of like what they did for amaro at Bar 821). While they only gained 12 seats, they also added an oyster station with a pretty cool offer: purchase any bottle of shochu, wine, or sake during happy hour and you get a free dozen oysters. When is happy hour, you ask? It’s 5pm-7pm, and the restaurant hours are Tue-Sat 6pm-late. 1300 Fulton St. at Divisadero.
Service Updates: Cento Osteria Launches Lunch, Dinner Now at Besharam, New Brunch at Comstock
Some quick service updates for you, starting with the news that CENTO OSTERIA has started lunch service, Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm. Peep the menu here. Brunch is next! 100 Brannan St. at Embarcadero, 415-543-1000.
Meanwhile, over in Dogpatch, BESHARAM has launched dinner service, Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm, which means their wine list is in effect as well. Read more about this Gujarati restaurant in my post from the last issue. 1275 Minnesota St. at 24th St., 415-580-7662.
Over in North Beach, COMSTOCK SALOON launched a new Afternoon Saloon Brunch over the weekend from chef de cuisine Jason Raffin. The menu is inspired by the intersection of North Beach and Chinatown, and includes a breakfast poutine with housemade sausage, scrambled eggs, cheddar, and Szechuan gravy; char siu pork belly eggs Benedict with lemon hollandaise, nori chili flakes, and tossed greens; and herbed falafel shakshuka with eggs, truffled tomato sauce, and cheddar cheese. There’s also a brand-new menu of brunch-inspired cocktails by bar manager Anthony Cozeck. The hours are great for late risers too: Sat-Sun 11am-4pm.
Comstock Saloon - 155 Columbus Ave. San Francisco - 415-617-0071
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
The Alembic Reopens (With a Refreshed Look and Menu) Under New Ownership
Some brighter news over at THE ALEMBIC, after we have all been reeling from the unexpected death of barman extraordinaire Daniel Hyatt (you can read my homage to him), who helped establish the bar’s reputation for being a place for brilliant cocktails when it opened 12 years ago.
The new owners, Mikha Diaz (previously Two Sisters Bar and Books in Hayes Valley) and Christin Evans (Booksmith, The Bindery), are the third generation of owners and have reopened the doors after six weeks of giving the space a refresh. Bar manager Kathryn Kulczyk (previously Two Sisters) is joined by their new chef, Dillon Barry (previously Johnson’s Saltbox), while Branden Cardelli (Two Sisters) is overseeing the beer program and operations.
The cocktail menu features house cocktails and seasonal cocktails (an homage to the menu’s past style), and they have Daniel Hyatt’s trademark Southern Exposure on there too (nicely done). You can look at the food menu here, and yes, the duck hearts remain, with some new, casual additions too.
And true to the original Two Sisters concept, the enjoyment of cocktails and books in the space is encouraged—there will be books for browsing and for sale, selected by The Booksmith’s awesome staff. 1725 Haight St. at Cole.
Wine News: Verve Wine Now Open on Fillmore, Two Events Celebrating Women and Wine
Newly open in Pacific Heights is VERVE WINE, a West Coast location of a Tribeca (New York) wine shop from Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson (Eleven Madison Park, RN74, and you may have seen him in Somm), wine merchant Derrick Mize, and sommelier Eric Railsback. Look for 500 labels from small producers, natural/non-manipulated wines, and New Californian and old-world wines too, plus access to their larger online inventory of 3,000 labels, which you can have shipped directly to your home. The experience is designed to appeal to all levels of wine drinkers, from beginner to cork dork. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 12pm-6pm. 2358 Fillmore St. at Washington.
Coming up on Sunday July 15th is WINeFare: Women in Natural Wine Fair from The Vinguard, celebrating the many contributions women have made to the natural wine movement. Take a look at the lineup (including Donkey & Goat, Minimo, and Floraison Selections). There is also a charitable component to the event, with most of the proceeds benefiting the women and children of Soufra, a documentary film that follows the journey of Palestinian women from a Lebanese refugee camp who went on to start a catering business and food truck in Beirut. There will be a screening of the film at 12pm before the tasting begins for attendees who wish to purchase a ticket to the film. Any donations of more than $40 also get the cookbook, Soufra: Recipes from a Refugee Food Truck. The wine tasting is 2pm-5pm.
Ticket purchases and donations are tax deductible for this event. Tasting only: $30; tasting and film screening: $40; tasting, film and Soufra cookbook: $75. The Great Northern, 119 Utah St. at 15th St.
And up in Napa on Saturday July 28th is Bâtonnage, a daylong forum from founder Stevie Stacionis of Oakland’s Bay Grape wine shop, designed to open up the conversation surrounding women and wine, whether you’re a wine professional, consumer, and/or wine industry supporter. There’s an incredible lineup of participants, panels, and more, so check it out.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored Event): You're Invited: Chef Telmo Faria + The Midway's LED-Inspired Gallery Dinner
The Midway, San Francisco’s new destination for the creative arts, is excited to announce the second event in our Gallery Dinner series. On Friday June 22nd, chef Telmo Faria (Uma Casa Restaurant) and DJ Mario Tavares (Daybreak Sound) will celebrate the opening of The Midway Gallery’s new Halation exhibition with a dynamic edible and audible experience inspired by the work of Christopher Schardt, an LED artist widely known in the Burning Man community.
The event starts at 6:30pm with a reception with small bites from chef Telmo and music from DJ Mario, which will be followed by a four-course dinner from 7pm-9pm. Guests will be invited to stay until 10pm to enjoy the gallery and music.
Tickets are just $85/person, with cocktails, wine, and beer available for purchase at a cash bar. Our first dinner with Azalina Eusope sold out and we expect tickets to go fast!
Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Where LeBron and the Cavs Go to Carb Up, Get Their Sushi On, and Steak Too
We had quite the number of LeBron James and Cavaliers sightings while they were in town, including a dinner at QUINCE, PABU (where they dined on the Tokyo fried chicken karaage, rainbow rolls, and reportedly really loved the Ken’s Roll), and at EPIC STEAK (where they dined on filet, halibut, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and chocolate chip cookies).
Where Ludacris Didn't Need Anyone to Pass the Salt-N-Pepa
Both Ludacris and Cheryl James (“Salt” of Salt-n-Pepa) dined at WATERBAR. No details on this one, but we can be confident their meal was well seasoned!