The latest Chef Shuffle spread (Spanish tapas from Nick Rappaport). I’ll be sharing details on Instagram shortly. Check out this coming Sunday’s chef and menu at @chef.shuffle. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hi gang, how are you doing with this lame Fogust weather? One minute on Saturday I was enjoying the sun in Alamo Square with a friend, and about ten minutes later we got practically blown off the green with the wind and fog. So. Rude. It’s making things extra-brutal for restaurants trying to survive with outdoor seating right now. (Check my Highlights for ideas on alfresco dining options.) Bundle up, everyone. (At least we don’t have to wear our masks in 98-degree weather.) We are SF strong!
Or, be like me and get the hell outta town for a few days, if you can. Do it! My four-day break a couple weekends ago in Tahoe with my sis was so good for my soul that I’m doing it again—I’ll be off social media and email from Thursday night until Tuesday morning. C-I-A-O. I’ve been feeling worn out and stressed out (I know, aren’t we all?), and need another recharge with some sun and nature and a break from the news and endless updates over here. Inhale, exhale.
It’s why I am taking a little breather with recording a new On the Fly by tablehopper podcast episode—I’m trying to downshift a bit right now. I’ll be back at it in a week or so. (I also need to focus on some writing gigs and work that actually pays the bills.) In the meantime, please go back and see if you’ve listened to all our past episodes! And make the time to listen to the latest episode with Gwyneth Borden of Ground Floor Experiences and the Bay Area Hospitality Coalition—it’s an exhilarating interview, full of information and insight about what our restaurants are grappling with right now. A must-listen!
If you’ve been listening, you already know about our amazing Joanna Karlinsky, who has been directly feeding the unhoused in SF, and she just launched a new fundraiser since she’s paying for things out of pocket again—this angel and her team need some support, thanks! Anything helps. Joanna is also willing to promise Meetinghouse biscuits (frozen, raw dough) or Sweet Jo’s chili as rewards. Should you want some, you can contact her directly through the Facebook fundraiser.
Today’s newsletter is definitely a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. So sorry for all our friends going through closures. Let’s keep on showing support for the ones fighting to stay open (cruise through my Instagram feed for ideas!). And since many of us can’t afford to eat out at all, I hope you enjoy seeing today’s sponsored brunch giveaway from Scopo Divino! Good luck!
Another bonus: have you heard about the San Francisco Coffee Passport from Broke-Ass Stuart? There’s no better way to explore a place than to literally drink it in. This passport is amazing, you get 31 coffee drinks at 31 of SF’s best cafes for only $35. Use this time to explore (and support) different cafés all over the city! And you end up supporting a fellow SF indie publisher, like yours truly. Win-win.
I’ll be back in your inboxes in a couple weeks (August 25th). Take care.
While I was having brunch on Saturday at Scopo Divino (and taking pics for this week’s giveaway!), I heard the news that after delays (both Covid-related and the usual construction/SF delays), ROUTIER is finally opening from Belinda Leong and Michel Suas (partners in the neighboring B. Patisserie and B. on the Go) and chef John Paul Carmona (recently a private chef, but formerly chef de cuisine at Manresa, where he worked with Belinda).
Routier is opening in the corner restaurant space that was formerly Wild Hare, kitty corner to B. on the Go. The name refers a French roadside restaurant, although this will be a San Francisco interpretation of one, and obviously more of a to-go style for now. (Think: destination-worthy neighborhood restaurant that is casual and creative.) Their current menu will be designed for pick-up service, available Friday to Sunday (you’ll be able to pre-order starting this Wednesday).
They’re going to start with a set three-course menu (“Formule Routier”) for $39—a traditional “formule” is a quick but satisfying set menu for one, known for its value, and there will be a vegetarian option as well. The first menu will feature roasted beet and strawberry salad with shallot dressing, quinoa; caramelized beef brisket, potato pavé, and creamed kale (or whole-roasted cauliflower, creamed kale, and potato); and dark chocolate mousse, coffee crumble, and Chantilly cream for dessert.
Some à la carte options from a preliminary menu include swordfish rillettes, lightly pickled cucumber, dill ($13); pork rillettes, apple, and mustard ($12); marinated local tomatoes, albacore tuna sauce, capers, and crisp bread ($16); lamb shoulder braised with farro, preserved lemon, and broccoli ($25); and a really fun dish: lobster “Grand Aïoli,” served cold with raw and cooked vegetables, tarragon, and miso ($45). You can also order the dishes in the Formule Routier menu à la carte. Dessert includes fresh-baked Routier financiers ($13)—oui.
There’s going to be a special offering of wines and cocktails, selected by Renée-Nicole Kubin (she was a senior sommelier at Gary Danko for nine years, and the wine director/GM at Chateau du Sureau)—expect both Old and New World wines, and there will be plenty to discover that is new and interesting. The cocktails will put you in a Mediterranean summer mood: look for a variety of spritzes that guests will be able to pour over ice and top off with the tonic, soda, or sparkling wine provided. And we’re not talking about the usual suspects: there will be spirits like La Quintinye Vermouth Royal or Licor Pajarote.
Friday August 14th will be the first day of pick-up, from 5pm-8:30pm. Preordering on their Toast portal on their website should be available starting Wednesday, but guests will be able to order the day of as well. Follow along on Instagram at @routiersf for updates. 2801 California St. at Divisadero.
Now, this is a little teaser, but I thought you’d like a bite of some good news, especially if you live in Dogpatch or Potrero Hill. It ends up Pim Techamuanvivit (who lives in the neighborhood) is going to be taking over the Piccino team’s fast-casual Noon All Day space, which closed at the beginning of the stay-at-home order and sadly won’t be reopening. Pim will be opening a pared-down version of KIN KHAO, her Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, which is temporarily closed at its Union Square location—that neighborhood is pretty desolate at the moment. Kin Khao Dogpatch will just be taking over Noon’s space (and lease) for a year—Kin Khao received a PPP loan, and Pim is happy she can keep a number of folks on her team employed at this new location.
Guests will be able to sit at tables on the plaza and enjoy their food, but there won’t be table service—they will order at a counter and have their food brought to them in disposable containers, fast-casual style. (The staff will clear and clean the tables when guests are finished.)
Stand by for updates from me on the menu (although you can expect the famed wings, khao soi, and khao yum!) and timing and other details, but it’s happening soon. 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.
Now open in the former Jardinière in Hayes Valley is BAIA, originally announced in VegNews. This vegan Italian restaurant also launched simultaneously with a vegan sushi pop-up, Woodblock (more on that below). Since the restaurant is launching during Covid, they’re focusing on a casual and takeout-friendly version of their menu for now: A Taste of Baia. Chef Matthew Kenney (Matthew Kenney Cuisine) has developed plant-based menus and concepts for restaurants around the world with his team, and this one is in collaboration with Kyle and Tracy Vogt—Kyle is a co-founder of Cruise (the self-driving car), and Tracy is the founder of farm animal sanctuary Charlie’s Acres in Sonoma.
Baia’s weekly changing menu is focused on plant-based Italian comfort classics, from “mozzarella” sticks to “meatballs” to pasta to pizza, with main dishes like lasagna and a “Milanese Parm.” There are also batched cocktails (3-4 servings), wine, beer, and non-alcoholic options. Takeout/delivery is available Sun-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm. Call 415-861-0625 to pick up.
Meanwhile, WOODBLOCK is a plant-based, Japanese concept with bowls, sushi rolls (like spicy yuba or spicy “crab”), and vegetable side dishes, like green beans goma-ae (menu here). More at @woodblocksf. This temporary pop-up is available for takeout/delivery Sun-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm. (You can also order off the same list of cocktails, wine, and beer, plus sake.) Call 415-861-0625 to pick up. 300 Grove St. at Franklin.
The former TRES Tequila Lounge & Mexican Kitchen in SoMa/South Beach is now MERKADO, a tequila and mezcal-focused Mexican restaurant featuring Jaliscan street food from chef de cuisine Lorenzo Cauich. Fabien Santos, who was the general manager for 12 years at Tres, has taken over the location, and converted the parking lot into an outdoor restaurant and open-air market (you can also order takeout and delivery—and look for collabs and pop-up partners, like Eko Kitchen). Updates at @merkadosf. They offer some great pricing for happy hour (Tue-Fri 4pm-6pm), too. Dinner Tue-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat 3pm-7pm, brunch Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St.
Over in the Mission, the classic dive bar Jay ‘n Bee Club, which lasted for 60 years, is now a nautical-themed bar, LOST RESORT, according to Hoodline. There’s a bar menu with dishes like steamed mussels, a Cubano, mojo pulled pork tacos, a smash burger, and a fried chicken sandwich (according to their Instagram, they worked with Kurt Abney of Dottie’s True Blue Cafe fame on the menu).
Cocktails include a Mai Tai, blended drinks like a Floridita, a granita spritz, and wine and beer. And then there’s that enclosed patio, with well-spaced seating, plus some sidewalk seats. Enjoy the Mission sun! Nate Valentine (The Tipsy Pig, Padrecito, Harper & Rye, Fifth Arrow), Jeff Jurow, Britt Miller, and Bradley Burt are on the license. Open Tue-Sun 3pm-10pm for now. 2736 20th St. at York.
In SoMa, ROMA’S has opened from owner Matt Leum (in honor of Sister Roma), offering seasonal soups and salads, sandwiches, housemade pasta, and a couple mains, like eggplant Parm and a ribeye steak, all available for takeout or delivery (by chef Daniel Kuuk). They also opened an Italian gourmet market, featuring pantry items (including a wide selection of Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta), condiments, cookies, gelato, coffee, and Italian wine and beer. Open daily 11am-8pm. 489 3rd St. at Bryant.
On Potrero Hill, LINEA CAFFE has opened a café counter inside their recently opened roastery, offering espresso drinks, brewed coffee, and bags of beans, with treats from Neighbor Bakehouse and Dynamo Donuts. For now, the counter is open 7am-3pm. 1125 Mariposa St. at Mississippi.
Over in the Lower Haight, FARMHOUSE THAI has expanded their footprint with a casual, takeout concept called Farmhouse Thai Express in the former Thep Phanom. They’ve created some fun sets, like a birthday box or lunch set, along with offering some of their favorite dishes, like their panang neua, wings, noodle soups, and egg rolls. Available for pickup or delivery. 400 Waller St. at Fillmore. [Via Hoodline.]
Closures (Both Temporary and Permanent) Include Prairie, Great Gold, Serpentine, Anchor & Hope, 4505 Oakland, and More
Man, we have some tough closures to announce. Some are sadly permanent, while others are going into hibernation to reconcept and try to ride this out until indoor dining returns.
One of the quickest places (if not the first) to flip from a restaurant to a fully stocked general store/market was Anthony Strong’s PRAIRIE in the Mission. If there is anyone who embodies the true spirit of the pandemic pivot, it’s this guy. If you received his recent emails or read the product descriptions in his online market, you have undoubtedly chuckled at his cheeky humor and sass of late, a bright spot in these dark times.
Sadly, in an email this morning, Anthony announced he is closing Prairie—his first restaurant—this Friday August 14th. Here’s more from his heartbreaking farewell note: “Unfortunately, our restaurant won’t be able to survive the long-term effects of the pandemic. This sucks and it’s not what we wanted, but we’re proud to have given it everything we had, are honored to have served our community, and we greatly appreciate the support you’ve given us throughout all of this.
“We’d love to see you one last time, and if you’re down to help. Please place one more order and help us clear out the rest of our inventory. Alison just bottled her sour cherry grappa, Julian is making his last round of Impossible tamales, and we’re putting together one final dinner kit, calling it “PRAIRIE’s Last Supper” since the occasion seemed deserving of some dark humor…
“We have a GoFundMe setup for our team, most of whom won’t be able to receive state or federal assistance. Please donate if you can, it will help them get through what will undoubtedly be a rough stretch ahead. Swing by, say hi, and maybe do a farewell shot at the window.
“It’s been my dream to have a restaurant of my own in SF since I started cooking here 14 years ago. We were barely over a year old when COVID hit, but although this feels devastating and unfair, I’ll be forever grateful for having had the opportunity, and for all of the memories and lessons learned along the way.”
Please help this brother out, and his Prairie team, who are his family, in any way you can. Thank you for all the delicious meals and fun moments, Anthony. You gave it your all, and we are so sorry this happened. Best wishes to you and your crew.
Another Mission restaurant closing shop is GREAT GOLD on 24th Street from David Steele. Chef-partner Brandon Kirksey has been making some homey Italian American classics—like an awesome chicken Parm, and his crazy-delicious tomato bread—while using seasonal and quality ingredients, along with housemade pasta dishes. Lately, they’ve been offering meal kits and family meals to try to make it through.
From their Instagram post today: “The world is upside down right now and restaurants are doing all they can to stay afloat. Unfortunately the time has come for us to say goodbye to our home on 24th street. The last three years have been incredible, our neighborhood has been loving and supportive, we’ve met locals that have become close friends, we’ve given the community a place to feel welcomed. Whether you came in for soju slushies and fried chicken or a Nebbiolo and hand cut noodles, we love you and can’t thank you enough for your support in making our dreams come true. We love you 24th street! We love you mission district, we love you San Francisco! This is bitter sweet, big news to come. Stay tuned.”
Great Gold will be available for some final delivery this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so you can get one last fix. Take care, Brandon. Gonna miss your Parm (and sandwiches!) and fun booths.
Over in Dogpatch, Tommy Halvorson has temporarily closed SERPENTINE, which Erin Rooney opened in 2007, and he took it over three years ago. Read the article from Eater for details, and it looks like he’s going to hibernate it for now and see what he can create/rethink that will survive our impossible restaurant climate and current flawed model. For now, he’s focusing on custom food and drink boxes for virtual experiences at home with his catering business, Foxtail Catering.
In SoMa, our classic SF-meets-East Coast seafood spot from Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal, (the owners of Town Hall and Salt House), ANCHOR & HOPE, has closed after 12 years in business. The building they’re in is now for rent, and their restaurant space is up for lease. Be sure to visit the guys at Jersey, where you can pick up their incredible East Coast-style pizza and the famous Town Hall fried chicken. [Via Chronicle.]
Just shy of 30 years in business, BAKER STREET BISTRO in Cow Hollow has closed. Owners Danel and David de Betelu tried to hang on as long as they could, but have decided to focus their energy on their new venture, patisserie Maison Danel, which recently reopened on Polk Street. They have brought some Baker Street Bistro dishes over, including their beef bourguignon and cassoulet. [Via Hoodline.]
A couple weeks ago, Pam and Richard of CATHEAD’S BBQ announced their closure after 12-plus years of serving their barbecue and namesake biscuits in SoMa. Their last day was August 2nd. Thanks for feeding us all these years! Best wishes.
And closing this Friday August 14th will be MAUERPARK, the charming three-year-old German café in the Castro. You can read the note from owner Salome Buelow and more in the post on Hoodline. Auf wiedersehen. Sigh.
Over in Oakland, 4505 BURGERS & BBQ announced their indefinite closure in a post on Instagram: “To Our Oakland Community, It is with heavy hearts that we announce our MacArthur location is closing its doors indefinitely beginning today. As you all know, it’s been a tough year, and we are so grateful for our team’s hard work and the support of the Laurel community. Unfortunately this hiatus is the best option available to us. This was not an easy decision, but for the time being, it’s for the best.
“Our San Francisco location will still be open. Our goal is to bring our BBQ back to the East Bay in a new, creative way. There are a few things on the horizon, so stay tuned for more. Until then, stay safe and healthy. We’ll see you later, Oakland.” You can read more in this piece in the Chronicle.
Award-winning wine bar and home of the famous Bergey Burger, Scopo Divino is now serving brunch on their spacious and sunny sidewalk, featuring bottomless mimosas, freshly shucked raw oysters (perfect with their many sparkling wines!), fried chicken and waffles, a decadent breakfast croissant, banana pudding, brunch cocktails, and much more. (You can even stick around for happy hour, which begins at 3pm daily!)
Enter now to win a free brunch for two: includes your choice of two brunch or lunch entrées and two brunch cocktails (or two bottomless mimosas) total for your table.
To enter to win, all you need to do is: 1) Like this post on Instagram. 2) Follow @scopodivino and @tablehopper on Instagram. 3) Tag someone you want to have join you for brunch! (More tags = more entries!)
(You can also enter to win separately on tablehopper’s Facebook page! Look for the pinned post at the top. Double play!)
One Grand Prize winner will be selected on Instagram (and one on Facebook) on Tuesday August 18th at noon (Cali time), and one dozen more entrants will get a coupon for 1 free mimosa with the purchase of brunch! (Scopo Divino will be contacting you directly.)
Scopo Divino: 2800 California St. at Divisadero in Lower Pacific Heights. Open for brunch Sat-Sun 11am-3pm.