Dessert at the new location of Nico is a dream: cherry compote, tarragon granita, fig leaf English cream, and pistachio crumble. (And then the warm chestnut madeleines show up!) Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Dobryj dyen’! That’s Russian for “good afternoon,” which I really need to remember how to say since I’m leaving for Russia tomorrow! I know, crazy, right? I’m accompanying my father to World Cup for three weeks—he doesn’t miss one and has traveled all over the world for it, but this will be my first! We are seeing matches all over Russia, bouncing between Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Samara (yeah, we’re doing a lot of travel). It’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime with my pops. (And to my dear mother, I promise to bring him home in one piece!)
I’ll be posting pics of our adventure on @tablehopper (and to Facebook), and if you have any food and sightseeing tips, friends we should meet, or vodka bars we shouldn’t miss, hit me up! I’m also really excited that Julio Bermejo from Tommy’s will be in St. Petersburg the same time we’re there, so there will be an excellent margarita in my near future when I just can’t do any more vodka. Ha.
I’ll be taking a break on tablehopper issues until July 24th, when I will be back in your inboxes! I’ll be trying to continue my weekly Table Talk posts to KQED’s Bay Area Bites while I am away, but it all depends on access to secure WiFi during some pretty breakneck travel. We’ll see! I spent the weekend reading about data security in Russia, so fun.
Okay gang, I have a lot of packing and life wrapping up to do (I have 24 hours—the countdown is on!), so ciao for now!
I am so ready for caviar o’clock. Marcia Gagliardi
Back in August 2016, I broke the news that chef Claude Le Tohic (previously executive chef of Joël Robuchon Las Vegas) was involved with an upcoming Alexander’s Steakhouse project at 165 O’Farrell Street. And now we learn just how big the plans are: imagine a multistory French project, on the scale of China Live.
The 25,000-square-foot, six-story project will be called ONE65, with a French fine dining restaurant on the fifth floor (O’, a play on the O’Farrell address), ONE65 Patisserie (serving breakfast and lunch), ONE65 Bistro (65-70 seats, serving Cal-French comfort food, highlighting a Josper charcoal grill from Spain), and ONE65 Lounge & Bar, with a whiskey library and views of Union Square from the fourth floor. They anticipate a fall opening, we’ll have to see how that pans out. San Francisco-based D-Scheme Studio is overseeing the design, with a focus on sustainability: recycled and sustainable materials dictate much of the Bistro’s design, from the recycled cork flooring to recycled porcelain paneling. 165 O’Farrell St. at Powell.
Meanwhile, on the casual side of things, Alexander’s Steakhouse is also launching ALX GASTROPUB this summer in the retail space of a large office building in SoMa (the website actually says July). Also according to the site, executive chef Jessie Lugo (Alexander’s SF, who worked for Suzette Gresham at Acquerello) will be developing a menu offering “a contemporary take on the traditional public house fare…with private dining available for large parties and a beverage program focused on California craft beers, local wines, and specialty crafted cocktails.” 680 Folsom St. at 3rd St. [Via Eater.]
A tablehopper reader has been sending me pics and exciting news from the Inner Sunset: Tartine is taking over the former Standard Roofing Co. on 9th Avenue, where Four Barrel Coffee was planning to open a project a few years ago. After speaking with Tartine’s PR, they can’t confirm their exact plans at this time, or if there’s even a beer-and-wine license planned for the location, but any kind of opening would be next year (2019). But that location right next to Golden Gate Park makes me have visions of some very special picnic fixings.
When Hoodline wrote about the Four Barrel plans three years ago, they mentioned the 3,875-square-foot property had “exposed unfinished beams, a large skylight, and concrete floors,” but seeing how it has been completely gutted, we’ll just have to wait and see what the build-out plans are. Meanwhile, they are plenty busy opening Manufactory locations in Los Angeles and SFO. 1226 9th Ave. at Lincoln.
Poor KINJO on Polk Street had to close barely a year after it opened (and JUST after it earned a Michelin star) when a flood from the upstairs neighbor closed them down—for months. But good news, it has reopened, albeit with some changes. Eater writes that Takatoshi Toshi (Sushi Ran) has departed the project and is opening his own thing in Marin (Masa’s Sushi and Appetizer in Novato). Helming the sushi counter is guest chef Fujii Tahahiro of Japan, offering omakase sushi and a kaiseki menu. (Sushi bar seating is reserved for the full kaiseki menu, $135 per person, and table service is $80 per guest.) Open Wed-Sun 5:45pm-9:30pm. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-921-2222.
SF has yet another robotically made food item for you, and this time it’s actually a burger that looks pretty damn good! Meet the burger from CREATOR, the first restaurant to automate the preparation of a composed dish, from start to finish. We’re talking 600 unique parts. Humans, you are extraneous on this one (well, except for turning the machine on and off). Here’s a video showing some of it in action.
Founder and CEO Alex Vardakostas and co-founder Steve Frehn assembled a team of engineers, roboticists, designers, chefs, and restaurateurs representing companies like Tesla, NASA, Apple, Walt Disney Imagineering R and D, Chez Panisse, Momofuku R and D, and Fat Duck R and D. Montaag Design worked on the industrial design (founder Per Selvaag was a renowned Peugeot designer), while Pilot R and D (Ali Bouzari) was behind the culinary theory informing the machine.
Whole brisket and chuck (from pastured beef), tomatoes, onions, bread-and-butter pickles, and two kinds of cheese are all fed whole into the machine. Ingredients are then ground vertically (à la Heston Blumenthal and Head of R and D chef Kyle Connaughton’s technique) to order (this is a big bonus since most burger patties are made in advance each day), seasoned to order (with options like alder wood-smoked sea salt, jalapeño sea salt, and chipotle sea salt), grilled to order, and brioche buns are sliced and buttered to order. Sauces include ketchup and mustard, plus new, savory, and sweet-and-sour sauces they make in-house fresh every day, like oyster aioli, shiitake mushroom sauce, sunflower seed tahini, and garlic aioli.
While it’s thought-provoking to lose the human touch in preparing your food, one benefit here is that there’s more money to spend on the cost of ingredients—and they really want to make an awesome to-order burger harnessing the best technique and innovation. A perfectly seasoned burger. A freshy-fresh burger. For just $6. It takes less than five minutes, and one machine can make approximately 120 burgers an hour. When the restaurant in SoMa opens fully, there will be two machines in operation. They are also collaborating with local chefs like Nick Balla (Duna, Bar Tartine) and Tu David Phu on burger combinations.
The soft opening will last for a month, and Creator will only be open for two days a week (Wed-Thu, 11:30am-2pm) to advance ticket holders so the engineers and chefs can continue to fine-tune the experience. Obviously demand is furious on this one, so you’ll have to join the wait list for August. Visit the site for the ticket link (top right corner). If you want to dive deeper on this, check out this article on TechCrunch. 680 Folsom St. at 2nd St.
Folks in the Outer Richmond must be so stoked with all the new businesses opening, first Pearl and now VIOLET’S, a new bar and restaurant from Fiorella (and just a few doors down). It has a tavern style, with a raw bar, late-night menu, cocktails, and yes, a double-patty Tavern Burger.
The corner spot is from Boris Nemchenok, Brandon Gillis, and chef Dante Cecchini, while Patrick Poelvoorde (Park Tavern, Benjamin Cooper) consulted on the bar program, which includes some original creations and spins on classics too. One is the Negroni Mi Amore on tap (Treecraft gin, St. George Terroir gin, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Alessio vermouth, and Campari). The wine list will be focused on domestic picks, with plenty of bubbles.
The menu will include East and West Coast oysters, shrimp cocktail, chilled lobster, crudo, baked stuffed clams (!), plus some cured, fried, and grilled seafood. Bar snacks include devils on horseback (with dates, Nueske’s bacon, and Gorgonzola), along with steak tartare, wings, and a big artichoke with lemon aioli. Larger plates include a porterhouse steak for two, fried chicken with hot honey, and grilled lamb kebabs with warm potatoes and yogurt dressing. There’s also a shrimp Louie roll that sounds amazing.
Designer Melinda Turner does it once again with some fun Flavor Paper wallpaper (at Fiorella, it’s their Bay Area icons wallpaper, with Alice Waters, Angela Davis, E-40, Joe Montana, and Dennis Richmond of KTVU Channel 2) and a walnut bar, plus dark blue leather banquettes and blond wood bar stools, plus some shimmer from a large Capiz oyster shell globe chandelier.
Violet’s will be open for cocktails and dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-12am, with an all-day menu offered during weekend daytime hours coming soon. Violet’s will also offer a weekday happy hour Mon-Fri 5pm-6pm. 2301 Clement St. at 24th Ave., 415-682-4861.
Changes at Magnolia Smokestack and Brewery, Alfred's (Temporarily?) Closed, Umami Burger and Cafe Zitouna Close
Some news over at Magnolia Brewing Company’s SMOKESTACK: the barbecue joint (and bar) has closed for a reconcepting and is due to reopen in August as Magnolia Dogpatch. But Eater also reports that Magnolia Brewing founder and brewmaster Dave McLean is no longer a part of Magnolia. You may recall that New Belgium founder Kim Jordan, with minority partners Belgian brewer Oud Beersel and Dick Cantwell (previously head brewer at Elysian Brewing in Seattle), took over in 2017 when McLean filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
But now McLean has stepped away entirely (reportedly it’s a harmonious, amicable departure), and the new CEO is Brian Reccow (of the Specialistas hospitality management company), who will be overseeing the next iteration of the brewery and space and making adjustments so that it’s more neighborhood-friendly. Eater mentions: “A loading dock area that was mostly unfinished will become a beer garden with a custom set of bleachers, allowing for more volume and drinks like cocktails to be sold at lower prices. The kitchen is being remodeled completely, and the team is looking for a new chef.” Look for a reopening in August, stand by for more. 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.
Eater caught wind of ALFRED’S STEAKHOUSE temporary (?) closure, and it seemed it was only going to be until late June—Alfred’s voicemail mentions a remodel, but their listing on OpenTable says it’s permanently closed. Noooo. Obviously some changes are under way, we’ll just have to wait and see what’s next for this historic space before I get officially sad (as the former home of the Blue Fox, I have a deep, abiding love for it). 659 Merchant St. at Kearny.
Hoodline noted longtime Tunisian restaurant CAFE ZITOUNA has closed, which is going to make many fans of its homey cuisine very unhappy with this news. A post on Yelp mentions this potential explanation: “The only downside is that Najib (the owner) is having troubles with his landlord and previous partner. He does EVERYTHING himself, which is very impressive but also forces him to close early.” Hmmm. Let’s hope he finds another location. 1201 Sutter St. at Polk.
A tablehopper tipster informed me that the consistently underwhelming UMAMI BURGER in the Marina has closed. I’m not pouring anything out for that one. The SoMa location remains open. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore.
The second location of DABBA has opened, bringing its uniquely borderless fine-casual cuisine that is “comfort food just like your Californian-Indian-Cajun-Jamaican-Mexican Mom would make.” You got that? It’s delicious, healthy, and made with fresh ingredients, featuring customizable bowls, salads with grains, seasonal vegetables, chutneys, yogurt, and topped with a customer’s choice of Cajun chicken, Caribbean jerk pork, or curried lamb. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are also available.
Chef Walter Abrams (who formerly worked at The French Laundry and Spruce) has further developed family recipes that come from Marin County’s popular Avatar’s, another creative culinary concept. The location also offers local beer and organic wines on tap, a housemade turmeric-ginger-lime aqua fresca, nitro hibiscus tea, and soft serve. There are 26 seats, with another 12 on the sidewalk. Now through September 30th, in celebration of the opening, Dabba is donating a portion of proceeds from both Dabba locations to benefit Summer Search, a Bay Area nonprofit dedicated to helping students from low-income backgrounds strengthen the skills they need to become college-educated leaders who give back to their families and communities. Open daily 11am-10pm. 2240 Chestnut St. at Avila.
Some quick tips on more new openings that caught my eye:
WHAT THE CLUCK has opened in the Upper Haight, serving khao mun gai (chicken rice) from Bangkok native Koonz Vannasetta (which is enough to make me ignore the pun name). Hoodline reports you can also order your kmg with riceberry (a jasmine and black rice hybrid). There’s also chicken and rice soup, and a KMG version (“The Ultimate”) with poached egg, chicken liver, and extra sauce. Open daily 11am-8pm. 1782 Haight St. at Shrader.
There’s a new restaurant in the Mission called CASA DE LA CONDESA RESTAURANT, and the name should be your clue that there are some dishes from Mexico City on the menu. Just seeing pozole verde is enough to make me want to visit (weekends only), plus tortas, huarachitos, and gringas, which I never seem to find here—to be clear, I’m talking about flour tortillas with cheese and fillings, not girls in Lululemon in the Marina. Open Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-8pm. 2763 Mission St. at 23rd St., 415-829-3300.
A couple of upcoming openings include TSUTA from Tokyo. I heard a rumor it was coming to SF, and Eater confirms the Michelin-starred restaurant (the first ramen restaurant to earn a star) is opening in the Metreon. Chef Onishi Yuki also has two locations in Singapore, and the Tsuta group is also targeting LA, Vegas, Seattle, and Portland. While I’m not particularly excited about his signature bowl of shoyu soba with truffle oil, I’m excited to try his lighter dashi-shoyu broths (instead of the omnipresent tonkotsu we see more of here). Stand by for a fall opening.
A tablehopper reader alerted me to a sign that said OREN’S HUMMUS was coming to SF, and they have finally released some details. The South Bay’s famed and favorite hummus shop (with locations in Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Cupertino) is opening mid-July in Yerba Buena.
The first shop opened on University Avenue in Palo Alto in 2011. The owner, Oren Dobronsky, is from Tel Aviv and he partnered with his wife Nancy to bring the flavors of his homeland to California. They expanded their partnership to include Mistie Cohen (EyeSpy Critiquing & Consulting) and her husband, chef David Cohen, on the second location (and beyond), which has a “casually refined” dining room.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served daily, from Israeli breakfast and shakshuka to plates, bowls (like the hummus sabich bowl with classic hummus, fried eggplant, potatoes, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, chopped pickles, amba sauce, and fresh herbs) and pita sandwiches with fresh hummus and pita prepared numerous times throughout the day (there’s also a gluten-free pita that is reportedly delicious). For breakfast, mimosas, teas from neighboring Samovar Tea, Turkish coffee, and a full espresso bar will be available, plus beer and wine round out the all-day beverage menu. There will be 100 seats, plus a takeout counter and alfresco seating (28 seats). 71 3rd St. at Mission, 415-915-6736.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed last week, I saw a departure note from chef Yoni Levy of OUTERLANDS, who was at the restaurant for the past three years. He wrote a thoughtful shout-out to his crew, you can read it on Instagram here. He’s going to be spending more time with his family, and we’ll have to see what’s next for this talented chef (and who will assume his role at the restaurant). Enjoy your summer, Yoni!
Outerlands - 4001 Judah St. San Francisco - 415-661-6140
Unfortunately, I am all outta time, so here’s a quick roundup of news around the East Bay—click through for more!
Charlie Hallowell is returning to work at his remaining restaurants (Pizzaiolo, Penrose) after numerous sexual harassment accusations.
The closure of West Oakland’s DRIP LINE has bummed a lot of folks out with the departure of chef Nora Haron-Dunning. But good news, she has been popping up with her wonderful Southeast Asian food in other locations—follow her on Instagram to keep up (and see where her new restaurant location will be, possibly in a couple of months!). Drip Line is reformulating and should reopen soon with another chef and concept. [EBX]
The Oakland outpost of BELCAMPO opens in the former Bocanova space in Jack London Square on July 1st, with a 12-foot butcher counter, central bar, open kitchen, private dining room, and seating for 230 guests, including a large outdoor area on the marina. I’ll update you soon.
Berkeley’s TACUBAYA is moving into the recently closed Pompette at 1782 Fourth Street in mid-July, gaining twice the space, plus a tequila- and mezcal-focused full bar (with a new botanas menu to accompany the cocktails), a designated outdoor cocktail seating area, and additional seating for 30 in the mezzanine.
Have you heard? The Bi-Rite Family of Businesses and Sobremesa Culinary Tours are giving away the solo culinary experience of a lifetime: a five-day tour of San Sebastian and Spain’s Basque Country! You have one day left to enter!
Enter now to win your very own solo adventure as part of Sobremesa Culinary Tour’s Boutique Basque tour, October 15th-20th, 2018. The lucky winner will receive five nights’ accommodations in a four-star boutique hotel; all meals (except for two dinners); two bespoke cooking lessons; guided excursions and market visits; cheesemaking class and cider house tour; $500 toward airfare and $150 Bi-Rite gift card.
The contest ends June 27th, 2018 at 11:59pm!
Newly open in the former The Residence is LAST RITES, a Polynesian Noir hideaway from High Proof’s Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo (Horsefeather). Interior designer James Lagoc (Nopa, Bi-Rite, Horsefeather), designer-builder Brian Sullivan, and graphic designer-owner Justin Lew went to town on transforming the location so you feel like you are marooned in a tropical jungle (the bar is set in a repurposed airplane fuselage), replete with vintage plane jump seats at the bar, nine-foot stone idols, faux boulders, parachute fabric, and lots of foliage. You can totally live out your Indiana Jones fantasy here.
Tropical-inspired cocktails from Ian Scalzo and Forbidden Island alums Susan Eggette and Sevan Araneda are served in hand-cut repurposed bottles. There are more than 150 rums, and classics like a mai tai and large-format Fogcutter. And then there’s The Legend of Xtabay (pronounced eesh-ta-bai), with buttered popcorn rum, coconut cream, lemon, apricot liqueur, cocoa nib bitters, and pepper tincture, honoring the Mayan myth of a female demon who seduces men only to devour them. Seems like a good cocktail for our current times. Open daily 6pm-2am. 718 14th St. at Church, 707-825-1100.
An even darker concept is CURIO, newly opened in the former Vestry space adjacent to The Chapel in the Mission, with designer Michael Brennan taking some inspiration from the building’s past history as a mortuary (from stopped clocks to skulls).
There are craft cocktails from Darren Crawford (Bourbon and Branch) and an extensive menu from Mario Tolentino (The Market, Betelnut), spanning a California sensibility plus Southern/Low Country cuisine. You’ll find the Shut the Front Door shellfish tower, a Holy Grail burger, and fried chicken Benedict and shrimp and grits on the weekend for brunch (plus there’s the outdoor courtyard). Dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, brunch Sat-San 10am-3pm, and a bar menu 3pm-5pm until dinner kicks in. The Courtyard is open until midnight, while the Afterlife Bar remains open later. 775 Valencia St. at 19th St., 415-551-7306.
In the coming soon department, it looks like Future Bars (Bourbon and Branch, Tradition, Rickhouse, among many other bars) is taking over the former Gitane (which is moving to a nearby location adjacent to the Galleria Park Hotel). No details on their plans just yet. 6 Claude Lane/239 Kearny St. at Bush
A reader let me know that it looks like the former TONIC (2360 Polk St.) has found a new location: the former SF Coin Laundry space at 895 Post St. (at Hyde) in Lower Nob Hill. ABC transfer documentation confirms it, and it sounds like they are targeting fall.
Don’t miss out—get your tickets now for the Wine Country Big Q barbecue festival and competition in Petaluma on Saturday July 7th! Your ticket includes a POUND of barbecue, unlimited samples of beer, wine, and cider, live music, and FUN! Eat ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and MORE at this epic MEAT FEST!
Pitmasters from across the West come to the North Bay to compete and YOU come out the winner! There are very few opportunities to eat REAL barbecue in Northern California, so don’t miss out! VIP Bull Pen tickets include spirits tasting. A benefit for Sonoma County Vet Connect.