This week's tablehopper: happy alfresco feelings.
An incredible Sunday supper celebrating my dear friend Mr. Anthony’s birthday, with pollo verde tamales wrapped in kale leaves and extraordinary frijoles charros with chorizo and chicharrón! What a dream. ¡Gracias, chef Luis!
It may be the end of summer this week, but we San Franciscans know it’s just the beginning of the best weather in the City. I was gunning hard to send this early today so I can get a sunset beach walk in, my favorite. Last night was so beautiful with that luminous full moon hanging over the windless and fog-free city. Be sure to go for a stroll, go enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail outside tonight.
I’m going to hope for some beautiful fall weather in October, when I plan to host another weekend of one of my over-the-top garage sales. Mark your calendar for October 9th-10th, if you love vintage clothes and accessories! I will have a couple vintage-loving cohorts joining me, stand by for more details soon!
Last night was the new member induction ceremony for Les Dames d’Escoffier San Francisco, and yours truly is very honored to finally be a dame! What an inspiring group of women in food, beverage, and hospitality who are behind this philanthropic organization (the SF chapter was founded in 1989).
Speaking of fabulous dames, I wanted to be sure you know there’s a new film about Julia Child, Julia, from filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West (the duo behind RBG). It opens in November, but you can see it at the Mill Valley Film Festival October 9th and 13th (in-theater).
In case you’re looking for something new to watch at home, my latest faves have been Fantastic Fungi on Netflix (it’s truly mind-blowing, man) and 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything docuseries on Apple TV is so immersive (just wait for the Rolling Stones footage and stories during their time at Nellcôte).
One more quick item of note: I’m so thrilled to announce an upcoming sponsored partnership and amazing giveaway with Popmenu, designed to help and support one very lucky Bay Area restaurant. Stay tuned, and get ready to nominate your favorite place that could use a website and marketing upgrade!
Take care, enjoy your evening, and I’ll be back in your inboxes soon! Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Reconcepts and Reopenings, from Central Kitchen to La Bande to Barbacco, and More
The former Ne Timeas Restaurant Group is now the Flour+Water Hospitality Group, and their first project is the transformation of the former and upscale Central Kitchen into PENNY ROMA. This will be a more-affordable and Italian concept from chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow, with crudos, classic pasta dishes (like cacio e pepe and tagliatelle alla bolognese) priced at $22 and under, rustic secondi (bistecca alla fiorentina and roast chicken), and contorni that showcase vegetables from local farm partners. Check out the menu here. They plan to open in October, and will be open daily 5:30pm-10pm. 3000 20th St. at Florida.
More changes: the Flour+Water Pasta Shop will launch a casual enoteca menu in the evening, so folks can swing by for a glass of wine and bites on the shared patio. (Sandwiches, salads, and more will continue throughout the day at the shop.)
The other change is FLOUR+WATER is temporarily closing for a renovation after service on October 2nd, with plans to reopen in the winter. Stand by for the announcement of their design partner.
The chic, Kelly Wearstler-designed LA BANDE café on the ground floor of the San Francisco Proper is being relaunched as a Cal-Med apéritif and tapas bar, with a European-feeling outdoor patio where you can enjoy your Barcelona-vibey bites and beverages. Chef Jason Fox (Villon) has crafted a menu built for grazing, with warm and cold tapas, Galician conservas (including razor clams and tuna belly confit) served with housemade grilled bread, charcuterie (bring on the pata negra), cheeses, and a few courses off the plancha, like halibut cheeks and housemade Merguez sausage.
BVHospitality has assembled the list of craft apéritif cocktails (including a Special Gin & Tonic Service), and a vermouth program, plus notable Old World wines, Madeira from D’Oliveira dating back to the 1930s, and European draft beers. There’s also a retail section if you want to stock your pantry. Opening Friday September 24th. Hours: Tue-Sat 4:30pm-9:30pm. 1100 Market St. at McAllister.
I’m happy to see a stretch of California Street in the Financial District coming back to life, with the opening of Michael Mina’s ESTIATORIO ORNOS on September 22nd, and now Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje’s BARBACCO is back. The updated menu has some new Spanish-inspired dishes (it’s the year of conservas!), but it still remains primarily Italian. Weekday lunch and dinner are available inside or in their outdoor Shared Space. Cin cin!
The newish LITTLE RED WINDOW in North Beach from chef Adam Rosenblum will now offer his delicious, smash-style burgers he’s known for at Causwells, plus fries, of course, and some salads, too. Managing partner Elmer Mejicano has added some inventive low-AVB spritz cocktails for their “spritz garden”—everything will be available for outdoor dining, takeaway, and delivery Wed-Sun 11am-9pm (until 11pm Fri-Sat), starting Wednesday September 22nd. Enjoy a 50 percent discount for all Little Red Window food purchased during the first week of the debut! 1500 Stockton St., next door to Red Window (at 500 Columbus Ave.).
Exciting News from The Cheese School (Including a Collaboration with Daily Driver!)
Some new things are happening over at THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO in Ghirardelli Square, starting with a change in management. Founder Kiri Fisher was in the process of selling the much-adored business just prior to the pandemic, and when the sale fell through, she was at a loss as to what to do with the business. (I remember going to classes at the tiny Cheese School back in 2006, and then their Mission location at the original Saison/now Stable Cafe, before it moved into the current and spacious Ghirardelli Square location in 2018.)
Enter Jeanine Egan, a Cheese School employee and friend of Fisher who wanted to save the business. Working closely with Fisher, she has taken over managing day-to-day operations and is in the process of acquiring it fully. There have obviously been some huge adjustments due to the pandemic, like launching virtual classes all around the U.S., Canada, and even Europe (thanks to so many corporate groups who have their teams working remotely), which are still going strong.
There have been some disappointing setbacks as well: they were sadly one of the businesses that was granted money by the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, but then funding was rescinded when discrimination lawsuits were filed against the SBA for prioritizing women/veteran/POC-owned businesses. (Ugh, every time I hear this story, I get furious.) You can easily show your support for all our beloved restaurants here.
But Egan and her team press on. The school is relaunching in-person classes in October (the first class already sold out!), and more offerings will be added slowly but surely as they get off the ground once again.
The school has had a light redesign and the retail cheese counter was downsized to be able expand the space to offer more customized, cheese-centered events and experiences. It’s a fabulous location for small and large groups, with two levels, a patio overlooking the fountain and stunning views of the Bay. (They also offer catering, gift baskets, and their popular monthly Cheese Club.)
You can now come by for a cheese-focused wine bar experience Thursday-Sunday afternoons and evenings, with seating inside and on the patio. The sophisticated cheese selection and excellent pairings make it an elevated experience that even discerning locals will want to show up for.
And now there’s an exciting addition to the offerings: the Daily Driver team—who have been close friends with Egan and The Cheese School—is an official collaborative partner, bringing their wood-fired bagels, Tomales Farmstead Creamery cheeses, and top-notch butter over to Ghirardelli Square. Daily Driver’s original Dogpatch location can be a schlep for folks on this side of town, so now there’s easy access to Daily Driver’s fabulous bagels and more every Thursday-Sunday, 9am-2pm.
Come by for bagel sandwiches, coffee, and grab-and-go bags of bagels, cream cheese, and don’t miss their butter (from new head cheesemaker Rachel Kleine). They have also added a reverse grilled cheese sandwich to the opening menu, featuring a grilled inside-out bagel with Point Reyes Gouda, which will only be available at The Cheese School location. Egan and Daily Driver look forward to continuing to collaborate on exclusive farm tours, classes, and more.
One more fun thing to note: come by for Fleet Week—there’s a ticketed public party on Sunday October 10th, with a front-row view to the air show, complete with abundant cheese boards and wines. 900 North Point St. at Larkin, Ghirardelli Square.
New SF Openings: Village Rotisserie, Equator Coffees' Round House Café, More
On Sunday evening, I was visiting a friend in Noe Valley and swung by the newly opened VILLAGE ROTISSERIE for a quick peek. This rotisserie chicken shop from an Aussie brother-and-sister duo is sure to be a takeout hit in the neighborhood, offering rotisserie chicken with your choice of sauces (peri-peri, Greek lemon-mayo, garlic, and chipotle mayo), plus fried chicken, pulled rotisserie chicken rolls (three kinds, like a green tahini roll with spinach and chile), bowls, fries, and all kinds of side dishes, like duck fat potatoes, carrots with caraway seeds, and roasted cauliflower with Kalamata olives. There are also a variety of salads, like green beans with potatoes and avocado dressing. If you remember the former Le Zinc space, there’s a nice patio in the back, where you can enjoy a glass of wine with your chook. Open daily 11am-9pm. 4063 24th St. at Castro.
I’ve been watching this place take shape in the Mission, and it just opened in the former burnt-out Maverick space: BRAZILIAN RESTAURANT BREWING. The menu has a variety of Brazilian bites (like croquettes and coxinhas), salads (like the classic heart of palm), and true to Brazilian cuisine, it has a meat-heavy menu (with espetinhos/kabobs), plus a few seafood dishes, including moqueca. Also: there are lunch specials. The beer list actually features domestic beers, so don’t expect some Brahma. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating in a Shared Space (with a mural of Rio de Janeiro on it). Open Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm and Fri-Sun 12pm-10:30pm. 3316 17th St. at Mission.
The next time you’re on a trail near the Golden Gate Bridge (or taking some visitors there), you can enjoy a coffee or espresso from Equator Coffees at the historic Round House Cafe. Enjoy an (almost) 360-degree view at this Art Deco site, not too far from their Fort Mason café. It makes me happy to know our visitors are getting some excellent coffee from a quality, female-owned roaster with sustainable values and socially responsible practices. There will be breakfast and lunch sandwiches (including a grilled cheese with Cowgirl Creamery cheeses), soup, salads, and all kinds of seasonal drinks, including the Fogsicle (Earl Grey tea, housemade vanilla and whipped cream, sparkling water, blood orange garnish). Hot tip: you can take $5 off your first visit when you order through the Equator Coffees app in the Apple Store/Google Play. Open daily 8:30am-4pm.
Honestly, some of these pasta combinations confound me (no shiitakes inside ravioli!) but FYI, a new pasta shop opened on Divisadero called PASTA BROTHERS, offering many types of fresh pasta (from pappardelle to ravioli), plus sauces, pizza, and ready-made dishes like eggplant Parmigiana and lasagna. There’s also a small market, with some cheeses, condiments, and pantry items. Open Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. 1734 Divisadero St. at Bush.
Oakland Updates: La Santa Torta Soft Opens Their First Brick-and-Mortar Location, Changes at Reem's Fruitvale
Big congrats to the LA SANTA TORTA taco truck team (cofounders Leo Oblea and Victor Guzman) on getting their first brick-and-mortar location (softly) open in the former Old Kan Beer & Co. taproom in West Oakland. The La Santa Torta trucks often pull up at breweries around the Bay, so this arrangement fits their usual M.O. The team is as known for their Jalisco-style quesabirria tacos as their charitable ways, from feeding vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic to fires, so their dedicated fans like to turn up and out for them.
There is both indoor and outdoor seating on a spacious patio (don’t forget to show your vax card), and since they have more room to cook, there are some new dishes, like whole shrimp aguachile, birria chilaquiles (OMG yes), and they’re even going to be making some birria gorditas and sopes (Guzman laughs over how much pushback he’s getting from the “hardcore Mexican ladies” that you don’t put birria in gorditas and sopes, even though he says it’s so delicious). As we get closer to the holidays, get excited for the return of their birria tamales, made by his Mom!
During this soft-opening period, they’re open on the weekends (Sat-Sun 12pm-7pm or maybe even until 8pm) and are looking at opening on Monday evenings for viewing the game over some tacos, stand by. Old Kan will be reopening their taproom in October, so you’ll be able to enjoy some of Adam Lamoreaux’s beers (with co-owner James Syhabout) with your birria. In coming weeks, the La Santa Torta team is busy staffing up, training, and getting ramped up for their grand opening on November 1st for Día de los Muertos.
Follow their Instagram (@lasantatorta) for updates as they get up to speed, as well as for their ongoing truck locations. Hours: Sat-Sun 12pm-7pm-ish (for now). 95 Linden St. at 3rd St., Oakland.
A little bit over a week ago, Reem Assil of Reem’s California announced on Instagram that the team is closing the original REEM’S OAKLAND location in Fruitvale. For the past year and a half during the pandemic, their Oakland team “produced thousands of meals a week in partnership with programs such as World Central Kitchen and SF New Deal, putting food into the hands of frontline medical workers and people experiencing homelessness, those most vulnerable and impacted by this pandemic.” She also mentions, “We have also worked to launch a wholesale program, making signature Reem’s products available in local grocery stores such as Good Eggs and Berkeley Bowl, an operation that took months of scheming, learning about food packaging, and perfecting our mana’eesh and fatayer production so you can enjoy Reem’s at home!”
Since the Reem dream team can’t stop/won’t stop, they’re also continuing to work on opening a worker-owned flagship bakery, and have moved their kitchen operations just a few blocks away to Restore Oakland on 34th Avenue and International.
As for the next tenant, there’s some great news: they are “proud to be passing along our original Fruitvale space to Crystal Wahpepah, an indigenous cook, activist, and educator from East Oakland.” Get ready for updates on her plans for the location. In the meantime, she’s running some teasers of coming soon dishes at @wahpepahskitchen! Hello, maple cream-squash blossom corn bread!
Bistro SF Grill in Noe Valley Closes
After generously feeding so many people for just $5.50 per meal during the pandemic, I’m sorry to see the generous duo (Senijad Felic and Hasim Zecic) behind BISTRO SF GRILL are closing their doors. (You can read more about their moving personal history here.) Their farewell post mentions they will be selling their stock of Mediterranean and Balkan wine and beer at a discount over the next few days, so you can swing by and say thanks. Best wishes, guys. 1305 Castro St. at 24th St.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Hôtel Biron and Bar Fluxus Return, New Owners of The Summer Place
A couple reopenings to report, starting with the return of the candlelit HÔTEL BIRON wine bar/den in Rose St. alley (by Zuni). A tablehopper reader (and regular) let me know there’s a slightly different management team than before the pandemic, and you’ll notice the new orange B sign and paint job (plus: HEPA air filters). Their artist shows are returning, and industry night is back on Mondays (tell them where you work and take 15 percent off). Cheers! Open Wed-Mon 5pm-1am. 45 Rose St. at Gough.
Downtown’s BAR FLUXUS has returned with a renovated outdoor space, artwork, and refreshed menus, thanks to owner Ludo Racinet. You can enjoy cocktails with premium spirits and fresh produce, wine, and local beers, plus cheese plates, charcuterie boards, and snacks. Plus: there’s karaoke in the evening (9pm-1:30am) and comedy shows on the weekend (Sat-Sun 6pm-10pm). Open Wed-Sun 4pm-2am. 18 Harlan Pl. at Grant.
One of SF’s classic dive bars—known for its vintage rock exterior and pinball machines (and was infamously one of the last family-operated bars where you could smoke inside)—Lower Nob Hill’s THE SUMMER PLACE closed [via Hoodline] in the beginning of the pandemic (after 23 years). But according to some ABC license activity, a new team (Brett Frost, Leonid Kaplan, and James Ruta) is taking it over. This post on What Now SF thankfully reports they’re keeping the name and the dive bar sensibility, but are making some light renovations (like raising the ceiling) and updating it into a “dive bar with class.” Stand by for a reopening date. 801 Bush St. at Mason.