A bountiful banquet from Chili House. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy and hello. I barely got this newsletter finished in time for you today—there is just an incredible amount of news to churn through right now, lawdy. I want to start this missive by thanking so many of you who contributed to my tip jar after the last issue, wow. Everything helps! It meant so much to receive your support since advertising income is very touch and go these days, and let’s just say my ability to host events is non-existent at the moment. Really appreciate the gas in the tank! You guys are the best! I am so grateful.
So, are you drooling over that spread from Chili House? It’s one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the city (a sister to Z&Y in Chinatown) and they’re offering a special deal of 15 percent off pickup or delivery orders that are $45 and more (use code IN15)! Some of my recommended dishes include their Beijing potstickers (be sure to warm them back up), dumplings with pork and napa cabbage, Szechuan chili lamb, tender fresh fish fillet boiled in Szechuan pickled mustard broth with tofu (this dish is phenomenal, don’t miss it—I like it even more than their fillet in flaming chile oil, which used to be my fave), and their sour bean fried rice with ham is a can’t-miss. Love this spot, enjoy a banquet at home!
I just spent the weekend visiting a friend in Sea Ranch, what a stunning place. So fun to drive up and back, love those winding roads. And now my coastal California adventures continue: I’m heading to Tomales this Thursday for the drive-in movie with William Tell House (I couldn’t miss seeing Jaws!) and am staying in their inn for a couple nights! (You can see upcoming drive-in movies here.) If you have any recommendations in the area (besides obvious winning locales like Hog Island Oyster Co., The Marshall Store, and Rocker Oysterfeller’s), I’m all ears! Favorite farms, beaches, bakeries, activities, trails, all is welcome, thanks!
Get ready for the twentieth episode of the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast, featuring a heartfelt conversation with our beloved Vinny Eng, who has been doing tremendous work with SF New Deal. It will be posted this week! I also want to thank Eater for including On the Fly in this recent article about pandemic podcasts: Your Favorite New Podcasters Are Already Bay Area Food Stars. I’m so grateful for the coverage.
Wanted to be sure you mark your calendar for Eat Drink SF Presents: 10 Days of Dining, Culture and Community, running October 23rd-November 1st from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. There’s an amazing lineup of chefs for the opening dinner at The Vault Garden, Restaurant Week-style prix-fixe menus, exclusive to-go offerings, virtual demos, ticketed outdoor seated dinners, and more.
One last thing: please take a moment and sign this petition for SF to extend the emergency 15 percent commission cap that delivery companies can charge for at least two years while restaurants continue their full recovery (and more). Our restaurants will thank you!
Oh, and I am hearing that the SF-Marin Food Bank really needs volunteers, especially folks with Spanish and Cantonese language skills! You can sign up here, thanks for looking into it and spreading the word.
Enjoy the sun, and take good care.
Boom, all of a sudden, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions and The Progress decided to swing open the doors to their latest project, THE ANCHOVY BAR, which just opened last week around the corner in the former Fat Angel (Wylie Price is behind the new look).
It’s meant to be an all-day kind of oyster and wine bar, where you could swing by for a snack or a meal, but who are we kidding? You’ll want to eat it all if you get a table. There’s a variety of oysters on the half-shell (six in all), and then there’s the Western Addition Oyster: two broiled Hog Island Sweetwaters, with smoky date sambal butter, and bacon. Uh huh. And then there are the steamed potatoes that you slather with cod roe and Mendocino nori butters. Oy.
There are a couple kinds of namesake anchovies you can try, served with toasted ciabatta, cucumber, crème fraîche, seasoned tomato, and radishes, and sign me up for the Strauss yogurt butter with fish floss and radishes. (There’s also a filetti di alici “deviled” egg with Caesar dressing and Parmesan.) Other seafood dishes include geoduck clam with tomato, basil, and olive with somen noodles, and our local Littleneck clams with chorizo on garlic toast. A couple heftier plates include Liberty duck confit schnitzel, and oxtail, short rib, and bone marrow stew. (Of course, Brioza and team inspire extreme gluttony and make you want to order one of everything, because even though dishes read simply, there’s always so much going on.)
There are a number of seasonal vegetable dishes, and I couldn’t say no to the Bellwether Farms ricotta and Black Mission figs, and how about some 18-month prosciutto di Parma to go with it? Good luck choosing just one of the trio of desserts from Nicole Krasinski (although I’ll have to start with the caramelized arlettes with Shaker Meyer lemon curd and coconut cream). Check out the menu here. You’ll also see a selection of aperitifs, three beers on draft (thanks to the former incarnation), and some inspiring wine selections to pair with all the goodies.
There are just six tables outside (a mix of deuces and four-tops), with three inside (plus a bunch of open windows). Reservations are released a week ahead of time, and even though the hours are all-day (Wed-Sun 11:30am-8pm), those tables disappear quickly. (There’s a chance you can snag a walk-in if the timing gods are with you, but a wait is very likely.)
Brioza says they aren’t offering takeout for now—they want to keep things on a short leash and get their footing with the demand (and it’s a small kitchen). But they’re happy to be hiring people back, and look forward to seeing you. You’ll also find a market inside, with some pantry items, housewares, wine, and more that you can bring home. Stand by for some food pics and a deeper update on the dishes from me soon on @tablehopper. 1740 O’Farrell St. at Fillmore.
Some quick updates for you: Central Kitchen is now CENTRAL KITCHEN WINE BAR, with a more-casual experience and menu from co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow, offering handmade pasta from the Flour+Water Pasta Shop team (previously Salumeria), like sweet potato and ricotta tortelloni with sage brown butter, along with dishes such as arancini, chicken liver mousse, and Aatxe mussels escabeche (menu here—you can enjoy a few plates or an entire meal). Wine director Samuel Bogue will continue rocking a list of natural and low-intervention wines. Enjoy the heated outdoor courtyard (reservations accepted), as well as sidewalk seating along Florida and 20th Streets; there will also be a number of seats each night for walk-in guests. Takeout and delivery available. Open Wed-Sun 12pm-6pm. 3000 20th St. at Florida.
Feeling like an OG SF lunch? How about THE OG SF lunch?! That’s right, SWAN OYSTER DEPOT built a parklet out front, WHUT. (And they now have an Instagram account, but that’s another surprise.) The Sanciminos would love to see you. Open Mon-Sat 8am-2:30pm. 1517 Polk St. at California.
BELLOTA from The Absinthe Group just reopened for takeout and delivery, offering their tapas, bocadillos, a Serrano or Bellota pintxo Box, and paella kits with step-by-step instructions (plus a paella pan). Bottled cocktails, sangria, and porrón kits include a bottle of Txakoli and your own porrón ($42) so you can practice at home. Available Tue-Sat from 12pm-8pm. 888 Brannan St., #110, at 8th St.
SAISON is now serving dinner on their new outdoor patio, and their October books have reservations available. Chef de cuisine Richard Lee has taken the helm since the departure of chef Laurent Gras. 178 Townsend St. at 3rd St.
AUGUST 1 FIVE just opened a new parklet, where you can enjoy their updated dine-in menu of upscale Indian dishes and cocktails (but was so sorry to see vandals quickly stripped its lighting and music setup, which August 1 Five already had to replace, ugh SF, why so hard?). They have also opened indoor dining, for those of you who are making that choice. Open Wed-Mon 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 524 Van Ness Ave. at Golden Gate.
Over at MERCHANT ROOTS, chef-owner Ryan Shelton has set up a charming parklet where you can enjoy their nine-course Elements menu, their first time serving meals since March (although they have been making some awesome cultured butter cookies—and will continue to do so). Tickets here, available Wed-Sat. 1365 Fillmore St. at Eddy.
And over at the SAN FRANCISCO PROPER, the Proper Patio will become a permanent restaurant on Market Street with an all-new, Mediterranean menu from chef Jason Fox. He has been reunited with his former team who all worked together at Commonwealth for over a decade: sous chef Yainiel Negron and senior sous chef Collins Anderson. The California-inspired bistro is open for casual dinners, offering a housemade charcuterie plate (and housemade burrata!), dishes like pork Milanese, and cocktails from Bon Vivants Hospitality (menu here). Thu-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1100 Market St. at McAllister.
I’ve been speaking with one of the owners behind UNITED DUMPLINGS and doing some taste-testing over the past few months, and am happy to say they are opening this week: Wednesday October 14th! Can you even imagine the headaches of opening a first-time restaurant in this pandemic? This project is from Sandy Zheng, the owner of Beijing Restaurant for the past 13 years, who is partnering with Julia Zhu Olson, who was a regular customer of Beijing and has talked about opening a restaurant for over seven years (she was a research scientist at UCSF, and of late has been working in e-commerce).
Julia’s family is from a rural city in China’s Shandong province, and has a deep, abiding love for dumplings. She says they are primarily for special occasions in Northern China, and loves it when the family gets together to make them, noting an auntie may be known for her fillings, while an uncle makes a good wrapper. She says, “Time serving dumplings are the happiest time.” (I think eating them is my happiest time.) She previously had a cart with her mother, operating with a farmers’ market permit, but now she’s opening this brick-and-mortar location with a seasoned operator and chef.
The extensive menu will include some classic dumplings (exquisitely made xiao long bao, and juicy sheng jian bao!), plus a couple of grandma’s recipes, and some fusion/freestyle dumplings, like the Mission potstickers with chicken, sweet corn, and mozzarella cheese, and Korean BBQ beef bulgogi dumplings. Take a look at the initial draft menu here. You’ll also find a bunch of small plates, like sweet-and-sour pickled cucumber to crunchy shrimp toast, plus Mongolian cumin lamb and hand-pulled noodles (as well as their Mission noodles with guacamole, order them cold, they’re perfect for this warm weather). There will also be a menu of frozen dumplings you can take home to boil (noodle kits are in the works as well). They are also proud of their unique drinks, from passionfruit to mango mimosas, and will be offering wine in a can and more.
They will start with serving at five outdoor tables in a parklet (built by Sandy’s father!), and offering limited pickups, then adding on delivery apps later on. Hours are Wed-Mon 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 525 Cortland Ave. at Moultrie.
Over in the Castro, I noticed on Insta that TANGLAD has opened in the former Slurp, offering a Vietnamese menu, with some pho, banh mi, and rice plates (even though the name is Tagalog for “lemongrass”—it’s run by a Filipino-Chinese family). You can read some additional details in this Hoodline piece (which includes some other Castro updates, including a new tenant in Amasia Hide’s Sushi Bar, and Double Rainbow returns!). 469 Castro St. at Market.
Fellow lovers of New York and LA-style Jewish delicatessens and temples to pastrami, you’re gonna love this limited pop-up from Michael Dellar and Mark Dommen of One Market: Mark ‘n Mike’s. The menu includes housemade Romanian hot pastrami, 12-hour smoked brisket on twice-baked rye (or challah), thinly sliced and cold-smoked (and completely decadent!) Bodega Bay salmon on Boichik bagels (the popular and New York-style bagel makers in Berkeley—now you don’t have to wait in line for them, or drive across the bridge), Mark’s matzo ball soup (such a tender matzo ball, and flavorful broth that is spiked with celery—this will be great for our winter), dill pickles, an awesome housemade potato salad and coleslaw, and meats by the pound. (I’ll be posting more of my own pics on @tablehopper this week.)
I was lucky to taste my way through some dishes, and as a complete sandwich fanatic, I’m telling you not to miss the Dellar’s special No. 18 with pastrami, thinly sliced Swiss, coleslaw, and Russian dressing ($18.50). If you’re familiar with the famous Langer’s in Los Angeles, you will recognize this as an homage to their famed No. 19, but Dellar chose 18 because it’s a spiritual number in Judaism. I adored this sandwich—the double-baked rye has great flavor (with caraway seeds) and texture, and the Russian dressing is housemade. It’s a beast.
There’s also a pastrami Reuben ($18.95) and a triple-decker Mile High on rye ($25.95). The menu has a “Big Fresser” package feast that includes four kinds of meat, cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, breads, pickles, rugelach, and jumbo macaroons for $125. Speaking of the rugelach and macaroons, chocolate lovers, you will be so pleased with both. Available through One Market for delivery or pickup Wed-Fri 11:30am-7pm (but things run out, so order early). 1 Market St. at Steuart.
In the last tablehopper issue, I broke the news about CALIFORNIOS moving from its Mission location to SoMa, and now I can share the location because chef-owner Val M. Cantu has the keys to 355 11th Street, the former Bar Agricole. I caught up again with Cantu about the news, and he said he’s thrilled they have been able to retain almost their entire kitchen crew, and will be pushing to be even better in this new location. He mentioned they now have their own molino to grind corn from small farms in Mexico and California (including Tierra Vegetables Farm in Santa Rosa).
Since there’s a spacious patio, Cantu envisions people starting their meal and perhaps having an end-of-meal nightcap out there, while they have the main part of the meal inside (somewhat like Single Thread). Again, he’s hoping to open before the New Year, but time will tell—the permit process is even more glacially slow than usual these days. 355 11th St. at Harrison.
Just wanted to give an update on FIORELLA Inner Sunset—according to a pic on Instagram, their new oven has arrived (it’s a big ‘un!), and now they’re hoping to open in the beginning of 2021 (the permit process was already slow as lava, and now it’s like time stood still). Like I mentioned last November, owner Boris Nemchenok and chef Brandon Gillis are opening this third location in the former Park Chow. Will keep you posted on how it proceeds. 1240 9th Ave. at Lincoln.
Oh, it’s sad to say the days of consommé and popovers with strawberry butter while gazing at Union Square (and watching models stroll by wearing clothes from different departments at Neiman Marcus) are over: THE ROTUNDA has closed indefinitely, according to this piece in Hoodline. 150 Stockton St. at Geary.
The piece also mentions the closure of ORSON’S BELLY, a cherished neighborhood hangout in the Richmond that has pretty much fought for every aspect of their survival over the past five years. Sigh.
Hoodline announced the closure of MIYABI SUSHI (253 Church St.), after 33 years! Man, that side of the street needs some love.
Friends, our beloved CUESA is hosting a virtual version of their annual (and crucial) Sunday Supper fundraiser this year on Sunday October 18th: A Farm to Home Feast! Even though we can’t all get together to celebrate, we can feast on a four-course meal made by some of the Bay Area’s top chefs in the comfort of our own homes, backyards, and porches. So get your quaranteam together (or order the meal and enjoy it separately over a Zoom dinner party). You can also listen to executive director Christine Farren in this On the Fly by tablehopper podcast episode.
This is a dream dine-in feast, including courses from restaurants like Delfina, Mister Jiu’s, Nightbird, Rich Table, State Bird Provisions, and Zuni Café (each Sunday Supper box will have a unique menu, including a course from four different restaurants).
Here’s a peek at some of the end-of-summer/early fall dishes that may appear in your Sunday Supper box:
Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu’s, featuring Root Down Farm and Lonely Mountain Farm Tea-Smoked Duck with Gooseberries, Maple, and Preserved Mandarin with Black Rice with Pine Nuts
Nate Morris, Zuni Café, featuring Dirty Girl Produce Mixed Chicory Salad with Fuyu Persimmons, Toasted Hazelnuts, Chives, and Creamy Mustard Dressing
Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions and The Progress, featuring Yerena Farms Vegan Chocolate Cake, Roasted and Fresh Strawberries, Fennel Seed Granola
The menu will be paired with specially selected wines and hand-crafted cocktails, and you pick up the beautifully packaged meal at the Ferry Building or have it home-delivered. There’s also a live virtual gala and an online auction to bid on one-of-a-kind food experiences.
Proceeds provide critical funds for CUESA’s farmers markets and food education programs. This event also supports our treasured restaurant community, and a portion of your ticket price will underwrite food and labor costs for each participating restaurant. The deadline is now!
Sunday, October 18, 2020, 7-8pm Feast for One: $250 ($175 is tax deductible) Please reserve ASAP!