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Oct 29, 2018 13 min read

October 30, 2018 - This week's tablehopper: the end of rocktober.

October 30, 2018 - This week's tablehopper: the end of rocktober.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: the end of rocktober.                    

A special evening at the Italian Consulate to kick off the upcoming Week of Italian Cuisine in the World (November 12th–17th). When Viola Buitoni and Consul General Lorenzo Ortona are in the kitchen, you couldn’t be in better hands. What a beautiful feast! Photo: ©

Hi gang. Can you believe this October? The weather has been so incredible, one bright thing during these dark headlines. I was also super-uplifted to be part of the all-female panel for the Macy’s Culinary Council last week. Thanks to the familiar faces who turned out for the panel as we all shared some real talk about what it’s like to be a woman in the culinary industry. Fempire was in the house.

James Beard’s Taste America at The Fairmont on Friday evening was also a blast (I helped out with the auction)—loved hanging out with so many friends in our local culinary world, and the food was faboosh. Thanks to everyone who helped make that event so special.

The next culinary event I hope to see you at is the upcoming Saucy Awards on Monday November 12th—and it’s your last chance to nominate your favorite restaurant for the people’s choice award—voting ends November 1st.

I’ve been busy writing about some of my latest food finds in Table Talk over at KQED’s Bay Area Bites: here’s this week’s post (including the delicious Besharam!) and last week’s Table Talk has an awesome fish banh mi you’ll want to track down. And vegan tacos. (I promise, they’re so good.)

And just in case you’re canna-curious but you still haven’t subscribed to my other venture, mymilligram (whatcha waiting for?), here’s a post about five new edibles and beverages coming soon that I spotted at the Hall of Flowers cannabis B2B trade show last month. And if you don’t want to wait, here are five cannabis-infused beverages you can enjoy right now! Anything to take the edge off, especially now.

And please, next Tuesday November 6th, I know you’re going to vote! Spread the word. Those “I Voted!” stickers really are the sexiest thing. You’re so hawt.

Big XO. Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Openings: The Shota Opens in Former City Counter, the German-Inspired Mauerpark Café


The chic counter at The Shota. Photo via Instagram: @theshotasf.


The cheerful counter at Mauerpark. Yelp photo by Matt B.

Opening Thursday November 1st in the former City Counter space in the Financial District is THE SHOTA, an omakase-only sushi restaurant. Way to take over that long counter, it’s kind of perfect. Chef Ingi “Shota” Son will be offering both traditional Edomae-style sushi, integrating techniques like aging, curing, and marinating seafood flown in from Tsukiji Fish Market, plus some modern techniques as well. There will also be some kaiseki-style dishes using seasonal and local ingredients. There are two seatings Tue-Sat: 5:30pm and 8pm. 115 Sansome St. at Bush, 628-224-2074.

There’s a charming and stylish new German café that just opened at 17th Street and Church, MAUERPARK. Cyclists have probably been watching the transformation of the former laundromat into this cute café since it’s on two popular cycling routes. For those who know their German history (or don’t), Mauerpark was formerly the militarized land between the parallel barriers of the Berlin Wall (known as the “death strip”), and after the fall of the wall in 1989, has been transformed into a public space, park, and flea market.

Owner Salome Buelow, whose parents are German immigrants, is offering a menu of breakfast and lunch boards (with meats, cheeses, müsli and fresh fruit, and sausages), plus German pastries, sandwiches, daily specials, toasts, snacks, coffee and espresso service, beers on draft, wine, and some German sodas. The space is super-cute, with a counter, tables, and some comfy upholstered chairs. She wanted to create an open, inviting, inclusive space, where all are welcome—no walls here. Open Tue-Wed 7am-5pm, Thu 7am-9pm, Fri 7am-10pm, Sat 8am-10pm, Sun 8am-5pm. 500 Church St. at 17th St., 415-525-4429.

Bi-Rite Cafe Now Open in Civic Center Plaza


Owner Sam Mogannam in front of the new Bi-Rite Cafe at Civic Center Plaza. Photo: ©


The exterior awnings slide up and down when it’s time to open and close at the café. Photo: ©

Last week, I paid a quick visit for the awning-lifting ceremony at BI-RITE CAFE at Civic Center Plaza, which is now open. Congrats to everyone who brought this project to fruition, it was definitely a complicated one (there were a number of entities involved). Owner Sam Mogannam was beaming, and is proud to offer something to the city he loves so much that will hopefully help turn the tide of that beleaguered area (you can read more in this interview with him), along with the new playground that is adjacent to the café. The last time I walked by the corner of Grove and Larkin, I saw a guy shooting up in broad daylight, and now there’s a café and outdoor tables, with bunches of flowers for sale and kids running around. Thanks to the Helen Diller Family Foundation for setting this in motion with their considerable donation.

The café is like a fully outfitted kitchen kiosk, designed to serve the neighborhood, with visitors to the San Francisco Public Library and Asian Art Museum, City Hall workers, residents, and commuters all swirling by. (Kids visiting the library can get a sticker to redeem for fresh fruit at the café.)

They’re serving Sightglass Coffee and offering full espresso service from the window, plus Bi-Rite’s awesome breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, bagels, toasts, and more in the morning. You can also order sandwiches (like their bacon grilled cheese on crusty bread from The Midwife & The Baker), salads, healthy bowls, soups, and there is also a kid’s menu too. Check out the full menu.

Of course, they’re using quality, local, seasonal ingredients, but are still keeping things at $12 and under. They really want to try to feed the community as best they can without compromising their core food values. They developed the menu for the past 8-9 months, and look forward to offering seasonal specials with produce from their Sonoma farm.

Have a sweet tooth? Soft-serve is available (using Double 8 Dairy water buffalo milk), plus sundaes, ice cream cups, sandwiches, and there’s an affogato. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. 52 Grove St. at Larkin.

Coming Soon Report: Nari from Pim Techamuanvivit, Harborview from R&G Lounge


Kin Khao’s Pim Techamuanvivit. Photo: ©

Some things to look forward to: Pim Techamuanvivit (Kin Khao, Nahm in Bangkok) will be opening NARI in Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki in spring 2019. Look for a seafood focus (Kin Khao chef de cuisine Meghan Clark will be the lead), a larger space (95 seats), and it will be a bit more “grown up” than Kin Khao. The name, which means “women” in Thai, will pay homage to all the women who have taught Pim how to cook (and the cherished recipes from home). 1625 Post St. at Laguna. [Via Chronicle.]

More details on HARBORVIEW RESTAURANT AND BAR, which is taking over the former Crystal Jade on the Embarcadero: it’s from Kinson Wong, a founder of Chinatown’s popular R&G Lounge. Look for dim sum and classic Cantonese dishes (some R&G dishes will be coming over). They’re hoping for a late fall opening of the 200-seat restaurant. 4 Embarcadero Center. [Via Eater.]

Big Changes at Nomica--Chef Hiroo Departing to Launch His Project in LA


The famed chicken in brioche at Nomica (with miso butter, shiso chimichurri, and chicken essence poured over the top). Photo: ©

Have you ever had the chicken in brioche at NOMICA? Well, you better order it in advance and hustle over there if you want to cross it off your list, because chef Hiroo Nagahara is departing the Castro restaurant in a couple weeks to focus on opening his own project in the Arts District in Los Angeles, Bao Hiroo (remember, he was the chef behind The Chairman truck).

The team at Nomica tells me they are extremely happy for him, but super sad he is leaving.  The Nomica concept and his food will disappear after November 15th, yes, including the chicken in brioche. A new concept will be brought over by the team from Sushi Ran to 2223 Market. Details are still being discussed, I will keep you posted on what’s next. Best wishes, Hiroo! LA is lucky to have you. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez.

Bakery News: Le Marais Opens Commissary and Bakery, Vive La Tarte to Noe Valley, As Kneaded Bakery Opens


Le Marais serves their own custom roast from Verve. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.


The open kitchen at the new Le Marais Bakery in the TenderNob. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.


Baguettes from As Kneaded Bakery. Instagram photo via @as.kneaded.bakery.

Hope you love your carbs, because you’re going to be surrounded with new options. First up, LE MARAIS BAKERY just opened their 3,000-square-foot commissary and bakery in the Tenderloin (with a 2,000-square-foot basement!). Owner Patrick Ascaso sees it as a pastry incubator and lab, a croissanterie, and says this is his most Parisian café design—it’s unique to have the whole kitchen open, so you can watch everything being made.

Head pastry chef Hikari Hori, formerly of Fournée Bakery, is creating inventive pastries like lemon cream-laminated brioche, pluot and chai tea jam beignets, and croissant cones and ice creams (coming in November!), and also coming soon are brunch boards, avocado toast, and croques. For now, you’ll find croissants, pastries, cookies, quiches, and yogurt bowls, plus coffee by Verve Coffee Roasters, featuring their own Le Marais French Roast blend, darker and richer than most roasts. Espresso service is provided on their three-group Strada machine, their largest yet.

They’re ramping up for a busy holiday season for their partnership with Williams Sonoma, shipping croissants nationwide, and a pastry sampler, plus they’ll be offering a peppermint chocolate croissant that tastes like peppermint bark, cinnamon buns, apple swirl danishes, and pumpkin kouign-amanns. And coming soon: a truffle croissant.

The design has a similar look as the Castro, with Joanna Pulcini Acscaso bringing in a mural by Sabina Addis, Paris Metro reproduction tiles by Tabarka Studio, peacock chairs and vintage lights above the pastry case from Chateau Sonoma, lights by Schoolhouse Electric, and outdoor signs by New Bohemian. Hours are 7am-2:30pm, extending to 7am-7pm in mid-November with a brunch and café menu. 1138 Sutter St. at Larkin.

According to ABC permit activity, SoMa’s VIVE LA TARTE is potentially coming to Noe Valley in the former Bliss Bar—stand by for updates on timing. 4026 24th St. at Noe.

There’s also word that the Inner Richmond’s CINDERELLA BAKERY & CAFE may be taking over the building that housed La Victoria Mexican Bakery & Cafe, which just closed after 67 years in the Mission. (At least Cinderella has been around since 1953.) Stand by for news as this develops further, owner Mike Fishman knows this deal will take some time. 2937 24th St. at Alabama. [Via Mission Local.]

And anyone near San Leandro is going to want to visit the new brick-and-mortar location of AS KNEADED BAKERY from Iliana Berkowitz, who is known for her breads at wholesale accounts and farmers’ markets around the Peninsula. It’s an artisan bread bakery specializing in sourdough loaves, French baguettes, challah, and noshes, like bialys and bostocks. It’s the first artisan bread bakery in San Leandro, and one of just a few woman-owned bread-focused bakeries in the Bay. She’ll be open weekends, and is hosting a grand opening this weekend (Saturday November 3rd and 4th) from 10am-5pm—they are offering their first 100 customers a free brioche bite. 585 Victoria Court, San Leandro.

Closures: Il Fornaio, Bootleg Bar & Kitchen


Il Fornaio on Battery Street. Yelp photo by Ali R.

Wow, Italian stalwart IL FORNAIO has closed its SF location after 30 years at Levi’s Plaza (citing a rent increase, an aging building, and slow business). The other locations in Burlingame, Palo Alto, and San Jose are still open. 1265 Battery St. at Greenwich. [Via Hoodline.]

That construction on Van Ness has been an endless nightmare for many, and sadly it sounded the death knell for neighborhood bar BOOTLEG BAR & KITCHEN, which is closing on November 1st. Their last night, this Wednesday the 31st, they’ll be pouring at going-out-of-business prices: $7 for any liquor, $3 for beers. Read more about the shituation for other businesses on Van Ness as well, like Helmand Palace and Tommy’s Joynt. 2360 Van Ness Ave. at Green.

510 News: Brown Sugar Kitchen Closes, Rebecca Boice to Flora, Second Beauty's Bagel, More


BSK’s impeccable waffles (at its original location). Yelp photo by Pei K.


Flora in Oakland. Photo via Facebook.

After 10 years of serving the best fried chicken and waffles in West Oakland, Tanya Holland has officially closed her famed and beloved BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN at 2534 Mandela Parkway. It just wasn’t profitable, in spite of its popularity, and the maintenance and upkeep (trash, graffiti) was expensive. [Via Eater.]

She’s focused on her two upcoming locations (2295 Broadway in Uptown Oakland and the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace), and news just came out that she created a menu for Whole Foods Market Oakland’s Floodcraft Taproom (at 230 Bay Place). You’ll find snacks like yam wedges with Creole spice and sweet corn and jalapeño hush puppies, small plates like jerk pork belly sliders with pineapple-cabbage slaw, and larger plates like a Creole BBQ burger on a Firebrand bun and a fried chicken sandwich (it was all designed to pair with Floodcraft’s beer list). Best wishes to Tanya on her new projects, we’re all looking forward.

Over at FLORA RESTAURANT & BAR in Oakland, Rebecca Boice (previously Zuni Cafe) is the new executive chef. She’s integrating some Italian influences on the menu—look for comforting “cucina della nonna” and dishes inspired by her travels, like calia e simenza (
a Sicilian street food snack of crispy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds), housemade focaccia, market-driven salads, pasta, grilled meats, braises, and meatballs. 1900 Telegraph Ave. at 19th St., Oakland.

There’s a second location of BEAUTY’S BAGEL SHOP now open in Uptown. Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm for now. 1700 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.

Whoa, over in Berkeley, SPENGER’S FISH GROTTO unexpectedly and abruptly closed after being open since, oh, 1890. Jamestown, the investment and management company that owns Spenger’s, along with the Fourth Street development it’s part of (as well as Ghirardelli Square) announced this: “”We look forward to repositioning Spenger’s with an innovative concept that makes the most of the DNA from the pre-1950s.” You can read more in this Berkeleyside post. 1919 4th St. at University, Berkeley.

the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

(Sponsored Event) Calling All Industry Folks: Last Chance Before the Holiday Parties Party!

Poached Jobs and Chrome Industries are partnering to host a Last Chance Before the Holiday Parties Party!

Bars and restaurants are going to be packed from Black Friday until after the New Year, so Poached Jobs and Chrome Industries are throwing their Last Chance Before the Holiday Parties Party. This event gives industry workers a chance to relax and mingle before getting another pop cover of Jingle Bells stuck in their heads. No RSVP necessary.

Where: The Chrome HUB at 962 Valencia Street. When: Tuesday November 13th, 2018 Time: 6pm to 10pm

Poached Jobs and Chrome Industries will hold a free raffle for gifts like a Chrome backpack, a limited edition Chrome apron, and the coveted Chris Cosentino x Chrome knife bag. And since there’s more to life than free stuff, they’ll also be offering free booze: beer, wine, and a sneak preview of Chris Cosentino’s “Hazey Gin” made in collaboration with Swallowtail Spirits.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Piccino Getting Full Liquor, Elbo Room to Really, Truly Call it Quits, Iron & Gold Closing


The Elbo Room. Yelp photo by Omar K.

A few quick news bits for you: first up, Dogpatch restaurant PICCINO is in the works to have a full liquor license! You can just imagine how fab their cocktails are going to be. I couldn’t get any more info from them, so stand by for more details on their plans soon.

And now some bad news. It’s official: after some delays and saves and stays of execution, the Mission’s beloved ELBO ROOM is truly closing on January 1st, 2019. There’s a countdown timer on their site, ugh. Their lease was not renewed or extended, and the entire building is on the market for $4.2 million. Sadly, the condo developers win this round. At least the Elbo Room’s second location in Oakland’s Jack London Square will be keeping their groovy spirit alive. 647 Valencia St. at Sycamore, 415-552-7788.

More sad news, this time over in Bernal Heights: a tablehopper reader let me know that neighborhood hangout IRON & GOLD is closing in December after lease negotiations went south. According to this post in Mission Local, owner Mathias Kornfeld may try to find another location. 3187 Mission St. at Powers.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Scorpion Season Brings Drake to SF

After performing two of three nights at Oracle Arena for his world tour, Drake hung out post-show Saturday and Sunday at FIFTH ARROW in Union Square, the bowling alley, bar, and restaurant adjoining August Hall. Bowling and playing Pop-A-Shot were the reported highlights.

Drake was also spotted dining at WATERBAR Sunday night with a crew of seven. They dined on the imperial shellfish platter, salads, the jumbo prawn platter, steaks, and pasta dishes, along with some pinot grigio and Don Julio 1942.

Beck Doubles Down on Dinner from Trestle

So nice, he had it twice. Beck dined at TRESTLE in Jackson Square with a couple guests, and enjoyed his meal so much that he reordered the exact same dishes before his performance at AT&T Park (he’s currently on his 15-month Colors Tour). So what did he have? The delicata squash salad with arugula, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and blue cheese; the aged white cheddar risotto; and the flat-iron steak with creamed spinach, roasted sunchokes, and mustard jus.

Tony Hawk Was Getting Jag

A tablehopper reader let me know that Tony Hawk was spotted at LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB a couple weeks ago. He was in town to speak at #SIGNALConf by Twilio. Ends up he has been in a couple times before, often with his skate team in tow.

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