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Apr 29, 2019 15 min read

April 30, 2019 - This week's tablehopper: teeny-tiny.

April 30, 2019 - This week's tablehopper: teeny-tiny.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: teeny-tiny.                    

I KNOW! The black swan taro puffs at Palette Tea House are just delightful. Photo: ©

Well, would ya look at that. A couple fabulous folks booked sponsored event ads on the hopper this week, so I’m writing this mini-hopper on my flights to and from St. Louis. Please take a look at their Cinco de Mayo events, many thanks to them for the continued support (it ends up both these rockstar sponsors also helped out at the Mexico earthquake fundraiser I organized a little over a year ago).

If you’re a restaurant or bar or brand with an upcoming event to promote, please keep tablehopper in mind. (I know you love it when I write it up for you for free, but I can’t include everything!) It’s an affordable ad space, and you get a mention on tablehopper’s Twitter and Facebook channels as well. Thanks for keeping the lights on, I don’t have to tell you how hard online publishing is.

I flew in late last night at midnight (joy, flight delays!) and while you read this, I’m now up in Santa Rosa for the next couple of days, learning about all the latest cannabis products at Hall of Flowers for my other media company, mymilligram (have you checked it out?). Chelsea Handler (!) and Gary Vaynerchuck will be giving talks at this well-organized B2B cannabis trade show full of the top Cali cannabis brands.

If you’ve been curious about cannabis, take a peek at this vidcast I just did with the fab ladies of The What (do you subscribe to their savvy and well-curated newsletter?). In the video, we chat about low-dose products and I even created a mini mymilligram microdoser guide to go with the vidcast, designed for people wondering where to begin with products to help with sleep, pain, pleasure, and mood. Thanks for taking a look, and being curious!

Okay, back to food: I wanted to share with you my second culinary profile for the Nob Hill Gazette! This time, it’s a feature on Kavitha Raghavan and the flavorful Indian street food brunch she offers at her colorful wine bar on Divis, Indian Paradox. If you haven’t had her eggs akuri, you’re really missing out.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve experienced two different tasting menus: one was at The Table at Merchant Roots, a stunningly creative and delicious meal available Thu-Sat evenings (you gotta see this over-the-top dessert course)—chef Ryan Shelton is launching a second theme now, Vanity Fair, and I expect great things. Great expectations. LOL. Partner and wine director Madison Michael and sommelier Chelsea Sawyer’s wine pairings are tops, and you’ll be inspired to buy a couple bottles to bring home from the well-curated shelves.

Over in Oakland, chefs Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkor have been running an elevated pop-up in The Gastropig on Friday and Saturday nights, Abstract Table, and they just launched their second theme/concept, Atolls (click for pics). It’s a casual affair (your wine will be poured in a Mason jar), but it’s also designed to be on the more affordable side of things (priced at $50-$70). Pics here.

And then there was the absolute feast my friends and I had at Beit Rima a couple weeks back. We had an unexpectedly large group, and ended up having such a fun communal meal in the middle of the restaurant. It was my second time there, and the well-prepared food is so full of flavor and soul (speaking of, don’t miss the ful!). The handmade bread and spreads, ah! I just wish they had some slightly more affordable wines on the list to go with the fast-casual format.

And my fellow dim sum lovers, get a group together and book at table at the new Palette Tea House from the Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux team, stat. Yup, you’re going to Ghirardelli Square. This past weekend, my friend and I were loving the upscale Cantonese dumplings (lobster har gow!) and fresh seafood (spot prawns!), with such playful and pretty presentations (the black swan taro puffs are beyond). You’ll feel regal when they float to your table.

I also couldn’t believe the seven-spice fried cubes of silken tofu (soooo custardy), and the gai lan in oyster sauce is some of the best I’ve had. The entire experience offers a welcome, modern update to the usual dim sum scenario (there are craft cocktails!)—it will be the perfect place to take out-of-towners, and wait until you try the desserts, like Hong Kong milk tea tiramisù with boba. Go check it out during their soft opening before it gets hectic.

Okay, whew, gang, your truly is off to Corfu next week! So completely, utterly thrilled to be heading back to Greece—my heart keeps saying, “Opa!” Looking forward to checking out their second Food and Wine Festival, and learn even more about Greek cuisine. THERE WILL BE (MORE) FETA.

I’ll be back in your inboxes on May 21st (publicists, please take note—no Mother’s Day pitches, sorry, thanks), and of course I will be posting up a storm on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter while I’m away. Corfu looks so dang beautiful.

Happy May to you all (and Mother’s Day!)—enjoy all the flowers. And congrats to the 2019 James Beard Media Award winners, and the upcoming winners at the James Beard Awards Gala on May 6th—you can tune in online!

XO Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Che Fico Alimentari Opens, Serving All the Things People Love (Namely, Pasta and Italian Wine)


A look at Che Fico Alimentari’s dining room. Photo: Ed Anderson.


Rigatoni all’amatriciana at Che Fico Alimentari. Photo: Ed Anderson.


The cozy alimentari-meets-wine bar style of the dining room. Photo: Ed Anderson.

Opening tonight, Tuesday April 30th, is CHE FICO ALIMENTARI, from partners David Nayfeld, Angela Pinkerton, and Matt Brewer, below their wildly popular Che Fico in the short-lived Theorita space. Anyone who has been fortunate to dine at Roscioli in Rome is going to be reminded of it here (it’s a market and deli that you dine in the middle of, just next to packed shelves and deli cases, and feast on some of the best pasta of your life).

Chef David Nayfeld is serving pasta dishes using Pastificio Gentile (imported, dried pasta from Italy), different from the handmade pasta upstairs. You’ll find bucatini cacio e pepe, rigatoni all’amatriciana (my favorite pasta on this earth), and spaghetti ragù alla napoletana.

The enoteca style will also mean there will be all kinds of antipasti, including salumi (both housemade and imported), cheeses (including mozzarella accompanied by a variety of toppings, like olive oil-cured anchovy, prosciutto di San Daniele, caviar, or truffle), a daily bruschetta, wild mushroom conserva, and as a nod to Nayfeld’s past time in Rome, carciofi brasati (braised artichokes). There will also be seafood dishes (clams and ‘nduja, or Santa Barbara prawn scampi), and larger secondi, like swordfish a la siciliana, braised short ribs with Tierra Farms polenta, horseradish, gremolata, and nebbiolo jus; and suckling pig with roasted potato and English peas.

You’ll be pairing your bites or meal with (mostly) Italian wines selected by wine director Francesca Maniace, whose background includes working with Shelley Lindgren at A16 and Francesco Grosso at Marea (New York). She has built a list representing many of the twenty regions of Italy, with a focus on Piedmont, Tuscany, and Sicily, and with more than 200 selections to start, from the affordable to rare collector’s bottles. (There are also Champagnes to choose from.) You can try wines by the glass and quartino, and look for some special bottles that can only be found at the restaurant. Wine tastings and winemaker dinners will also be happening.

While people miss partner and pastry chef Angela Pinkerton’s pies, she’s been busy developing a program of house-baked breads (including focaccia with whipped mascarpone and Ligurian olive oil). Bring on the ciabatta with Tuscan “butter.” Desserts include housemade gelati and sorbetti, and seasonal treats like cannoli, and a napoleon with strawberries, basil, and Heilala vanilla.

Jon de la Cruz of DLC ID is behind the cozy design, and like upstairs, you’ll note their signature red, more custom wallpaper (while the figs were amazing, this one features various kinds of salumi), weathered oak flooring, and plenty of products you’ll want to bring home, including olive oils, vinegars, dried pastas, flour, grains, spices, and herbs, plus 200 wines.

The open kitchen in the front has a 12-seat counter, plus there are high tables with bar stools; further back are red-striped velvet banquettes and regular dining tables. Up front at the counter, you’ll also be able to purchase Che Fico’s housemade salumi, local and Italian cheeses, housemade antipasti, loaves of fresh breads, cannoli, tiramisù by the slice, gelati, and sorbetti by the scoop, and Che Fico’s signature chocolate bars. Throwing a party? You can also pre-order a full tray of lasagna (call me), roasted porchetta, and more.

Open for dinner Tue-Thu 5:30pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 834 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-416-6980.

Openings: Refreshed Sam's Anchor Cafe, The Vault, Bini's Kitchen, and More


Welcome to the newly refreshed deck at Sam’s Anchor Cafe. Photo: Albert Law.


Yes, the lobster roll at Sam’s has arugula in it. But we’re in California and we do what we want. Photo: Albert Law.


The front bar at Sam’s is the kind you’ll want to belly up to. Photo: Albert Law.


The handsome and classic nautical design of the main dining room. Photo: Albert Law.


Booths and the subterranean style of The Vault. Photo: Kevin McCullough.


The bar and lounge area at The Vault. Photo: Kevin McCullough.


Singing pink bay scallop crudo (with roe, togarashi, radish, lemon). Photo: Kevin McCullough.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw all the pics of the newly renovated and updated SAM’S ANCHOR CAFE in Tiburon, and it really is a looker. Nothing like getting a big facelift at 99!

Redesigned by ROY (Hannah and Emily Collins) in an unheard of six weeks, you’ll find a classic nautical style that reminded me a bit of being at Sunnyside in Lake Tahoe, but with fab terrazzo floors (with an original brass inlay from 1920), chic seating, an exposed and original, old-growth redwood ceiling, and get this: the outdoor bench seating on the deck is heated (by Galanter & Jones)! Magic. Living up to its rep as “the most non-exclusive yacht club on the bay.”

The refreshed menu includes an extensive raw bar (oysters on the half shell, shrimp cocktail, poke, ceviche), plus an awesome fried rockfish taco, a Maine lobster roll (with thick-cut ranch kettle chips), Dungeness crab meat, and San Francisco sand dabs with mussels, new potatoes, asparagus, and sherry cream. If you want to skip the seafood, there’s also their signature burger (with fontal cheese) and Champagne (a pairing for $25).

They also revamped the cocktail menu, now with sharable punch bowls for two or more, such as the Aperol Spritzer with Aperol, grapefruit, and sparkling wine. On the next sunny day, this is where you want to be hanging out. Take a ferry over and enjoy. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-12am, Fri 11:30am-12am, Sat-Sun 10am-12am. 27 Main St., Tiburon, 415-435-4527.

The Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group (Trestle, Corridor, Fat Angel) has opened THE VAULT in FiDi, in the former bank vault at the base of 555 California Street, previously known as the Bank of America Center. Unlike their more-casual establishments, this one is more about fine dining, with executive chef Robin Song at the helm.

The Cali-American menu looks appetizing, with dishes like an abundant raw platter (perfect for expense-account meals), Riverdog Gem Caesar salad with pecorino, anchovy, and sourdough crumble; beef tartare with smoked egg yolk, cornichon, and shallots; Comtè-stuffed tortelloni with rye pasta, chanterelle mushrooms, and chervil pistou; and slow-cooked wagyu beef shortrib with pommes raclette, Swiss chard, and cornichons. I’m also glad Song brought over his killer bread service from Gibson, this time with Parker House rolls. Pastry chef Tara Lewis is creating desserts like a chocolate lava tart with stout-marshmallow ice cream, blackberry, and tahini caramel. There’s a bar and lounge with cocktails from bar lead Tyler Groom, some great-sounding bar snacks (kimchi-spiced almonds, or seafood fritters with gochujang and nori salt), and of course there’s a list of baller wines. The building has more than 5,000 employees at companies like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Microsoft, and tenants have exclusive access to private wine and liquor lockers to store their favorite bottles. It’s like a sequel to Bonfire of the Vanities.

The subterranean space was designed by D-Scheme Studio and has room for 215 guests, with plenty of booths and a private dining space that seats up to 25. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm, there’s a bar menu in the afternoon, martini happy hour 4pm-6pm, and dinner service begins at 5pm. Sat dinner starts at 5pm. 555 California St. at Kearny, 415-508-4675.

I was so happy to see that BINI’S KITCHEN is now open, serving La Cocina grad Binita Pradhan’s famed Nepalese momos. Also on the menu: a Nepalese burrito (with chicken, pork, or kwati: five-bean Nepalese chili), and a choose-your-own plate with some of her awesome curries and momos on the side. Yes to all of it. She has come a long way, and worked so hard for this, her first brick and mortar. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm. Take a peek at some pics over on Eater. 1001 Howard St. at 6th St. [Via Chronicle.]

Also in SoMa: I’ve been driving by FALAFELLAND on 6th Street and it looks pretty dang good on Yelp. The Yemeni owner is also making kabsa rice plates with lamb shank or chicken (and sandwiches), soup, and housemade sauces. Check it out—I’m going to! 133 6th St. at Natoma.

Dumpling lovers will be pleased to know DUMPLING KITCHEN has reopened in Parkside, but under new ownership, so no idea how their XLB and pan-fried Shanghai buns stack up against the former ones. The space was remodeled, and now they take credit cards! (Closed Wed.) 1935 Taraval St. at 30th Ave., 415-682-8938. [Via Eater.]

Quick News Updates (Besharam, Hashida, Commonwealth, More)


The talented and stunning Heena Patel at the friends and family party for her new restaurant, Besharam. Photo: ©

Some fast bites:

Heena Patel of BESHARAM at Minnesota Street Project has parted ways with Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group (a mutual decision) and has assumed full operational control of the restaurant. She will be making some changes to the concept, becoming more family-friendly in format, plus some other tweaks. She will also be launching an all-day chai service (Tue-Sat 11am-5pm), featuring her housemade chai and Gujurati snacks. Expect the new version to launch in July 2019.

I was sorry to read that COMMONWEALTH’s Mission location is in jeopardy due to a rent hike (er, it’s doubling) and some lousy lease terms when chef-partner Jason Fox’s lease comes up in September. According to Eater, they may be able to find another location—they hope to remain in the neighborhood. And they have certainly given back to the city, raising more than $400K over the past nine years for charities through their tasting menu donations. Here’s hoping for some good news for their good karma.

After reporting on the upcoming HASHIDA in Union Square, it ends up they are no longer opening in SF. A tablehopper reader received this email: “We regret to inform you that Hashida Sushi San Francisco is no longer opening due to some uncontrollable matter.” Then update your social media and say so, Hashida. 125 Ellis St. at Cyril Magnin.

It also looks like ALLEGRO ROMANO is back open after their temporary closure (there was a notice of suspension). 1701 Jones St. at Broadway.

the sponsor

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

(Sponsored Event): On Friday 5/3, Experience Agave, an Immersive Tequila and Mezcal Tasting Event

6th ANNUAL CRAFT AGAVE TEQUILA and MEZCAL TASTING Friday May 3rd, 2019; 5:30pm-8pm Hotel VIA rooftop (138 King St., SF)

Overlooking The City and Bay skyline 14 floors up, join the gents of and to experience the magic of agave spirits.

Learn the heritage and production standards of Mexico’s most prized spirits. Industry experts will pour samples of multiple expressions during this interactive experience.

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*Enjoy samples of classic tequila cocktails from our demo bar, featuring instruction by SF bartender Enrique Sanchez. Kike will share recipes and techniques required to create balanced cocktails at home. *Salsa, Mariachi, and Tropical Breakbeats w/ DJ Antonio Chavez *Hotel VIA will be serving full-sized cocktails, beers, and tasty appetizers at à la carte prices.

Tickets start at $35.95 each for couples (two-ticket minimum), $45.95 for individual tickets.

Find the event on Facebook and share that you’re going!

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Get to Know DecantSF, a New Wine Bar and SoMa Shop from Two Talented Somms


The chic and clean design of DecantSF. Photo: Joseph Weaver.


It’s caviar time. And the DecantSF owners know exactly what to pair with it. Photo: Joseph Weaver.


DecantSF’s Cara Patricia and Simi Grewal. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

Now open in SoMa is DECANTSF, a chic wine shop and tasting bar from Advanced Sommelier Cara Patricia and Certified Sommelier Simi Grewal. And folks who loved the space when it was City Beer Store (which has moved a few blocks away) will be happy to know there are plenty of beers and ciders to try as well.

The space has gotten quite the update from ROY, now much airier and lighter, with white tiles, white oak wooden shelves, some touches of pink, plants, brass lighting fixtures, and chic seating at the tasting bar. It feels very California, and will be a fun place to unwind.

If you’re just running to a dinner party (or to your own abode!) and need to pick something up, there’s a quick-grab cart featuring bottles $25 and under. Head over to the shelves for more of the mid- to high-priced wines, from well-known producers to plenty of lesser-known wines too, and I was happy to see an entire area dedicated to Champagne and sparklers.

There’s a pink neon “Drink For Yourself” sign, and you’ll also see it above the three refrigerators that are full of cheeses, charcuterie, chilled wines, and beers. Cara and Simi are there to act as in-house sommeliers, guiding you to the glass or bottle you’ll be happy with, and without any attitude, whether you’re new to wine or quite the oenophile. They even request wine reps to bring their wines in for tastings brown-bagged and to only tell them the price and region—the ladies really want to focus on what tastes great, and not be swayed by reputation or a cute wine label (or an ugly one, for that matter).

You can come in for a glass or two (there are eight to choose from), but an option they want to encourage is for people to buy a bottle and enjoy it, even an expensive one, without the usual mark-up. You can buy a bottle at retail, and just pay $12 for corkage (if it’s $75 or over, you pay just $8 to crack it open). So that glass of Azul y Garanza garnacha rosé on the list is $10 by the glass, but you can open a bottle off the shelf for $14 plus $12, so $26. Yeah, that is my kind of math. (Beers/ciders are $2 to buy retail and open in-house, or $4 if 22 oz. or over.)

There’s also a DIY aspect to the snacks. You can choose a couple artisan cheeses and meats from the refrigerators, and they’ll unwrap and plate them with accoutrements (like mostarda and crackers) for $7. (So, you’re eating for yourself too.) Or, just grab some to bring home.

DecantSF is also offering unique wine club memberships (check out the Self-Care Club), weekly tastings, educational courses (including cheese and beer!), and Sommelier Sundays as things ramp up.

Open Tue-Thu 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-10pm, and Sun 12pm-8pm. 1168 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-913-7256.

the sponsor

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

(Sponsored Event): Cinco de Mayo Weekend 2019!

Come celebrate Cinco de Mayo all weekend long with us at the Cadillac Bar! We’re opening up especially for Cinco de Mayo on Sunday May 5th, so come drop in for ice cold, hand-shaken margaritas, draft beers, and delicious Tex-Mex food!

Friday and Saturday, festivities start at 5pm and go until 11pm. Sunday: 3pm-9pm!

  • FREE entry all weekend long
  • Live Salsa Band & Dancing
  • Aerial Performances
  • Shooter Girls with shots of tequila and beer samples
  • Food & drink specials
  • $5 raffle tickets available for purchase to win one of 5 cool prizes
  • 21+ after 7pm every night

Call us at 415-554-0181 or email for more information.

We’re located at 44 9th Street in San Francisco, CA 94103 on the ground floor of the Twitter Building.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, too!

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