This week's tablehopper: so bored.
The exquisite special bento box from Hayato Restaurant in Los Angeles. A veritable treasure chest of flavors and textures. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Happy 2019, friends! A new year is here, and I know many people are so ready for it. May all your plans, hopes, and wishes come to fruition. May you be healthy and happy. And let’s have fun!
I just returned last night from a week in Los Angeles—it was more like a staycation, spent catching up with friends (and on my sleep), watching movies, visiting my favorite inexpensive massage place (let me tell you, those guys will work you OUT), and hitting up my favorite vintage shops and flea market. And eating tacos.
New Year’s Eve dinner was at an only-in-LA kind of place: Colombo’s, a red sauce joint and jazz club that was like an Italian Regal Beagle, with a live band playing songs by Neil Diamond and Redbone (“Come and Get Your Love”) that had the entire dining room singing along. Too much fun. Thanks to our hosts Carrie and Hal for putting this dinner party together!
I know, you’re scratching your head and wondering why you’re receiving a tablehopper issue on a Thursday, but it’s time for my annual rant: the bore! Feel free to email me any of your own personal kvetches, I know some of you have your own mental list of gripes you’ve been compiling all year. You can look at all the past bores here (just be sure to scroll down), which is where you’ll find bone broth, deviled eggs, poke, and other boring things.
I’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday with the news! In the meantime, I have some very tasty Table Talk columns for you on KQED’s Bay Area Bites: this week’s post features spicy beef noodle soup and made-to-order dumplings in the Outer Sunset, authentic Greek baked goods in an unexpected location, Danish tebirkes, California Eating’s release party (on Saturday!), and The Cheesemonger Invitational.
A previous Table Talk post features Detroit-style pizza at a San Francisco pop-up (next pop-up is January 10th) and Chilean empanadas!
Enjoy the short week!
XO! Marcia Gagliardi
It's 2019, Time to Send These Things to the Guillotine
Oh hey, look at that, it’s a new year, and as is tradition over here, it’s time to call out some of the crappy food trends and poor food choices showing up on menus and tables in our fair city that need to take a hike. It’s up to us to avoid becoming a city of lemmings documenting and chasing every stupid thing on Instagram, again and again and again. And it’s a tough time for SF restaurants right now, which is even more of a reason to tighten things up.
You can catch up on previous years of kvetches here (just be sure to scroll down). The first bore was posted in 2007, and I can’t believe we’re still seeing hamachi crudo. Anyway, let’s dive in!
- I get it, we’re in California and we love our avocados and can eat them all year, but criminy, does avocado toast have to be on every damn menu? Really? And anyone who wants to order it as an appetizer in a restaurant needs to live a little—come on, try something you can’t make at home for breakfast with your eyes closed.
- Fried chicken sandwiches. I’m bored. I think we already have enough good ones to choose from, no need for more. Bwok.
- Omakase everything. Omakase everywhere. Expensive AF omakase. And at many places, it’s not even omakase—it’s more like a fixed menu. No surprises. No customization. No specials. Everyone gets the same thing. Just call it a set menu or a tasting menu. NOmakase.
- Salt makes most things taste better, but some folks need to lighten up on the fleur de sel on top of their chocolate chip cookies. There’s a sprinkle, you know, just a hint of salt for a little pop, and then there are salty AF cookies that have me reaching for a glass of water, and that is wrong. It’s happening too often. I just want a tasty chocolate chip cookie, not a salt lick.
- I can’t believe I’m still encountering slippery, satiny napkins with polyester in them. Those things are the worst: they slide off your lap, fail to absorb anything, and are just tacky. What is this, a dining scene in Dynasty?
- Enough with restaurants copying Instagram bait décor: the neon signs, the tiled floors and entrances that say something so we get #stupidpicturesofyourfeet, the wacky wallpaper in the bathroom that inspires people to stage a selfie photoshoot instead of getting the hell out of there so the folks waiting outside can use the facilities.
- Speaking of Instagram bait: can we just stop with the tiki bars? I’m ready to sharpen a spear and capture some bartenders, tie them to coconut trees, garnish them, and force them to drink their entire menu.
- There sure is a lot of crappy matcha out there, and it’s making its way into everything. Mucho matcha. And I can’t believe some of the garbage matcha lattes people are drinking. Insist upon the good stuff, you deserve it. Really.
- Activated charcoal is also fired. Ooooh, black food, so goth and metal and soooo ready for Instagram, but it doesn’t taste like anything, and did you know it can potentially interfere with some medications? It’s the opposite of unicorn food, but the same dumb gimmick.
- Italian restaurants that give you a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to go with your bread are full of shit. Just find me an Italian restaurant that does that in Italy. And lemme guess: the server is going to offer you a cappuccino after your dinner.
Basta! Until next year!