This week's tablehopper: chasing summer.
“Tortellini in brodo” made with eggplant in tomato consommé with basil oil on Flour+Water’s Harvest Moon menu. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello there! This is going to be a short intro letter from me—I had to wrap up my column Monday night so I could hit the road early Tuesday morning for an event in Wine Country. (When you get an invite to SingleThread for an event with Cuzen Matcha that is right at your deadline, if you’re me, you figure it out. Priorities! Whoosh!) So, today’s column is a brisk one. Type tablehopper type!
Wanted to make sure you saw a few fun things on my Instagram feed since I’m eating for thousands of you: if you have a special occasion coming up, or you just feel like a glam night out, take a look at my post about Selby’s in Atherton—we had quite a swell night celebrating my Mom’s birthday last week. Best chocolate cake, ever.
As we move into this early fall period, you can enjoy all this gorg late summer produce in Flour+Water’s Harvest Moon menu, featuring seven courses (and five of them are pasta!); available through October 10th.
I had a craving for Hong Kong-style wonton soup, and enjoyed the version at Noodle Stop, though their housemade chile sauce is what really won my fire-eating heart.
Get some friends together and go have some inventive, flavor-packed dishes at Maybeck’s in the Marina and Copas on Market! If you can swing the $95 “let the chef cook for you” menu at both/either of these places, do it.
A dumpling fest at Bund Shanghai was another fun night out (before seeing The Empire Strips Back, LOL).
Before I sign off, I wanted to be sure you knew about the world premiere of The Art of Eating: The Life of M.F.K. Fisher at the Mill Valley Film Festival, both virtually and in-person. (I’m looking forward to seeing it here in SF at the Roxie Theater.) Oh, and if you’re a creative, or you just adore David Bowie, don’t miss Moonage Daydream before it leaves theaters. It’s a ride!
Ciao for now! Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Kuma Sushi + Sake Opening a Second Location
I’m so happy to have some positive news to report: owners Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson of neighborhood favorite KUMA SUSHI + SAKE in Lower Polk are opening a second location, Kuma Valencia, in spring-summer of 2023. After opening their first location in August 2017, they have steadily built up a loyal clientele who know this is some of the best nigiri in town (spicy scallop, you have my heart forever). They also feature some incredible sakes (they pour by the glass or carafe, so you can try different sakes without committing to a whole bottle, and their list is always rotating). It’s also one of the friendliest sushi counters, with a fun, local vibe (it’s so good to back!).
They plan to keep all these elements intact in their new location, which will be right across the street from Zeitgeist on Valencia. They said to expect some neighborhood flair to appear on the menu, like names and dishes inspired by local industry pals and businesses (e.g. there’s a Jackalope roll on their Kuma Polk menu, named after the nearby bar).
They’re opening in a new condo that used to be a garage/smog station. They’re excited for the sunny corner exposure, and are working with Pablo Ortiz (Pop /A Design) on the design/architecture. The plan is to have 12 seats at the bar (same as Kuma Polk) and 12-16 seats at tables inside; outdoor is TBD. There will be stone, metal elements, and wood screens, with dynamic lighting (which is going to be given special attention in this location, allowing for better photos for guests and the chefs alike—they’re currently using black cutting boards for more appealing images). They’re working again with general contractor Conor Sweitzer of Sweitzer Inc., who did their original location.
There will also be some custom ceramics by Ryo’s wife, Linnan Ye of Neko.Co.Neko., like sake cups and chopstick rests (you may have noticed them at Kuma Polk). I’ll keep you posted on how the project is going. 198 Valencia St. at 13th St./Duboce.
Marlena Reopens with a New Look, Causwells Also Has a Refresh
After being closed temporarily for an update to their dining room’s interior design, husband-and-wife chefs David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher of MARLENA are back in their Bernal Heights home, and their popular $65, four-course tasting menu is back with them, too! During the summer, they cleverly ran Summer Camp at Hotel Zeppelin as a pop-up (I wrote it up for Nob Hill Gazette). But now they’re open in their home base, featuring a significant redesign from M. Chad Kellogg of architecture and design studio AMLGM, bringing a comfortable, residential feel, with lots of curving elements to build a relaxed vibe. There’s spacious banquette seating, lots of plants, and soft lighting, too.
The new menu reflects the seasons, with dishes like shaved celtuce with kombu broth, tofu purée, and nori powder; a hamachi crudo with apple vinegar, green peppercorns, and sour gherkins; raviolini with smoked rosa bianca eggplant, early girl tomatoes, and baby leeks; grilled beef cheeks with beef sausage, honey nut squash, and broccoli di ciccio; and a kabocha squash “cheesecake” for dessert. There are also new supplements to the menu (“snax!”) and aged Liberty Farm duck breast as well. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 300 Precita Ave. at Folsom.
CAUSWELLS in the Marina reopens tonight (September 27th) with a refreshed interior, food menu, and cocktail program. I had a chance to check it out on Sunday evening, and am happy to see chef-owner Adam Rosenblum and beverage director/managing partner Elmer Mejicanos stretching their wings after being open for eight years (with owner Tom Patella). The menu has expanded with numerous small plates, like oysters with Angostura mignonette; light dishes like salmon tartare and heirloom tomatoes with melon vinaigrette; heartier bites like Detroit-style cheesy bread and juicy “Cali hot” chicken wings; mains include pork belly confit, salmon filet in a summer broth, and your table should tuck into the Causwells mac and cheese, featuring four cheeses and savory pasta from Bayview Pasta. Of course, the Americana burger sits tight on the menu, but now you have numerous other dishes to choose from, whether you want snacky bites or more of a proper meal (hello, date night).
The cocktail program is extensive and ambitious—you’re going to need to return numerous times to make your way through it. A great place to start is the Deconstructed Pimm’s Cup (as beautiful as it is tasty) and the Open Sesame, with Milagro tequila, bianco vermouth, cold-pressed poblano, lime, agave, and toasted sesame offered layers of savory, kicky flavors. A favorite at our table was the Cantélope Cruz, made with Reyka vodka, Lillet Blanc, cantaloupe juice, honey, ricotta, and lemon juice, topped with fresh-ground black pepper—it’s like cacio e pepe when you get a whiff of the pepper with the cheesy notes, so good. Fig News (Mommenpop, kumquat, green walnut, fig leaf cordial, sparkling wine) was a beguiling highball, and the Causwells Grasshopper is a hopper-approved liquid dessert. Have fun! (Check their website for the new menus soon.)
The interior has a luxe Deco flair, with a new, curving bar, bright yellow barstools, and richly toned wallpaper. Love the update, and the parklet is still there, with heat lamps. A new martini and oyster happy hour will run Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6pm, and late night Fri-Sat from 11pm to midnight. 2346 Chestnut St. at Scott.
Chef Eddie Blyden Is Now Director of Culinary Education at Old Skool Cafe
Some great news coming out of Bayview: my longtime chef pal Eddie Blyden is now Director of Culinary Education at OLD SKOOL CAFE, the youth-run, 1920s-style, jazz-themed supper club. He started in July, and has been getting situated and handling staffing (they have a new GM as well). He met founder/CEO Teresa Goines when he used to volunteer with kids in Bayview back in 2005, so this feels full circle for him.
All I can say is the youth who work at the supper club (who come out of the system of incarceration, foster care, and other challenging situations) are going to learn so much from this talented chef who has cooked all over the world (he’s originally from Sierra Leone)—they will become farmers’ market insiders, and chef Blyden also loves to grow his own food.
We met back when he was the opening chef at The Alembic, where he became known for his jerk-lacquered chicken wings and oxtails served as a two-cheese Welsh rarebit (unforgettable!). He has been private cheffing of late (“A lonely existence!,” he exclaimed to me), so it’s great to know he’s back in the mix. I’m seeing his touch on the international soul food menu, which includes his famous clam chowder from his days at Miss Pearl’s Jam House. You’ll see many names on the menu, which highlight recipes from students working at Old Skool, like Jordan’s fried chicken and Daniel’s gumbo; chef Blyden tells me some mothers come in to teach their family recipes, so amazing.
Each cohort includes 20-30 students (ranging from age 16-22) who learn cooking skills (some have cooked at home, but many are new to the kitchen), front-of-house duties, and they also learn life skills, like banking. Chef Blyden mentions they go on field trips to places like a horse ranch, and will be learning how to harvest walnuts in Colusa soon.
Old Skool Cafe serves dinner Thu-Sat 5pm-9pm (happy hour runs 5pm-7pm) and live entertainment is from 5:30pm-8:30pm. Saturday brunch has returned, with sweet potato waffles with fried chicken and honey pecan butter and live jazz, 10am-2pm. Plus, they added outdoor seating during the pandemic, and there’s also takeout and delivery. Please keep Old Skool Cafe in mind for holiday events, buyouts, and catering—your support makes a big difference. This impactful organization is also holding their 10-year gala on October 22nd, I will share more info on that very soon! 1429 Mendell St. at Oakdale.
Openings Around Town
Fans of the Detroit-style pies at JOYRIDE PIZZA will find them at two new locations: 685 Market Street (at 3rd St.) and inside craft beer bar Woods Lowside at 530 Haight Street in the Lower Haight. (Click the links for hours and menus.) You can get a whole pie or slice, and vegans, you should check out their pizza (they also make a gluten-free crust).
If you’re in Bayview, you’ll be waking up and smelling the coffee, because there’s another coffee shop that just opened: this time, it’s BUTCHERTOWN COFFEE. It’s a Mexican-American, family-owned business from married couples Octavio and Yessenia Gomez, and Eric and Irma Ramirez—Octavio and Irma are siblings. They partnered with a local master roaster here in town, and came up with their recipe of arabica beans “as unique as our neighborhood: sweet, smooth, robust.” Can’t wait to taste it. This new shop is serving coffee, espresso drinks, pastries, breakfast bagels, and breakfast sandwiches, and it’s open early: Mon-Sat 5:30am-12:30pm. 5191 3rd St. at Thomas Ave.
Coming Soon Tidbits!
Just wanted to get a few upcoming openings on your radar. First, I’ve been looking at XICA, coming to Levi’s Plaza this fall. This “Mexican kitchen, Chicana style” is an offshoot from Maria Esquivel’s Chica in Oakland, which opened six years ago—Nosh just reported the Oakland location closed on September 18th, in preparation for this new project. There will be homestyle cooking (her chilaquiles and pozole are delicious), indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar, private dining, and more. Stand by for updates. 1265 Battery St. at Greenwich.
Been seeing posts of test dinners and more for Tracy Goh’s Malaysian restaurant DAMANSARA, opening in the former Ardiana in Noe Valley, it’s looking like it’s almost open! Read more here, stand by for the opening date. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.
A recent newsletter from JOHNNY DOUGHNUTS mentions they are looking at an opening in early October at their new Pacific Heights shop (in the former Smitten) at 2404 California St. at Fillmore.
Roosevelt Tamale Parlor Closes, Outerlands Changing Ownership, Holder's House on the Move
Just in case you didn’t see these updates on social media (I post breaking news in my Instagram Stories all the time), after over 100 years in the Mission, ROOSEVELT TAMALE PARLOR has sadly closed. Owners Aaron Presbrey and Barry Moore (since 2012) cited pandemic-related challenges and uncertainty about renewal of their lease for the closure. Mission Local originally reported: “Pablo Wong, a commercial real estate consultant for MEDA, told Mission Local that the restaurant space is expected to host a new Mexican eatery that has already signed a 10-year lease: La Carreta Rotisserie is listed in city records as the new business on the block.” How sad to lose this iconic Mission business—for the past year, they tried to find someone to take it over. Best wishes to Presbrey and Moore, thanks for everything they did to keep it going during such exhausting, challenging times. 2817 24th St. at York.
Last week, Dave Muller and Lana Porcello of OUTERLANDS posted on their Instagram account that “After 14 incredible years, we will be stepping away from ownership of Outerlands at the end of this month.” Their last day was September 26th, and the post mentions: “After that, the restaurant will be temporarily closed, with plans to reopen, with all your brunch favorites, very soon.” According to SFGate, they are passing the keys and business on to new owners, who will be keeping things status quo, and possibly bringing dinner back, too. More on that soon.
Outerlands had many talented chefs come through their kitchen (including Brett Cooper, Yoni Levy, and Greg Kuzia-Carmel), contributed a great deal to San Francisco’s bread culture, and highlighted so many local makers. It was a pleasure to watch them grow over the years, adding and renovating the space next door, getting a full liquor license, expanding their pastry program, and more. Thanks for creating such a quintessentially San Franciscan experience and space. 4001 Judah St. at 45th Ave.
According to this Instagram post, Sarah Kirnon of HOLDER’S HOUSE (previously Miss Ollie’s) has announced their last day as a pop-up in the Forage Kitchen space in Oakland is October 7th. The post mentions: “Keep your eye on this IG for dates and times opening over the next 11 days. I’ll have 50 mason jars of pepper sauce on Wednesday made with local scotch bonnets, it’s a first come first served situation. I’ll be also announcing pop up tours of the bay over the next week.” Swing on by while you can, and I’ll signal boost any future pop-ups I see. I imagine Kirnon would appreciate any tips on pop-up venues/calendar openings/invites. 478 25th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Harlan Records Opens, WhiskyFest Returns October 28th
Back in July, I broke the news about HARLAN RECORDS, a vinyl bar opening in the former Bar Fluxus from Eric Passetti, Will Herrera, and Katya Skye, among others. Well, it’s now open, serving cocktails and playing entire albums from start to finish—the album collection includes nearly 2,000 vinyl records, featuring artists ranging from John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Taj Mahal, and Charlie Parker to Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, and Khruangbin. Here’s the part where you audiophiles can geek out: the in-house Hi-Fi system consists of a Thorens TD124, McIntosh 2210 amplifier, AdCom amplifier, NAD 1020 preamplifier, a set of Sony SA-7300’s, and a pair of JBL L100 monitors to achieve the truest sound.
No noisy shaken cocktails here: the cocktail program highlights drinks that are stirred, like Negronis and Old Fashioneds, as well as other whiskey and gin-focused drinks influenced by the songs, lyrics, and bands in the collection.
The space was designed by Marissa Jade Marsh (Macondray), with mid-century modern décor taking inspiration from recording studios, record shops, and albums. Large groups will want to take over the horseshoe-shaped booth, or the two nooks with tufted teal blue booths that sit under the record storage. Open daily 2pm to late. Hotel des Arts, 18 Harlan Place.
Whiskey lovers, get your ticket for Whisky Advocate’s WhiskyFest, coming to San Francisco on Friday October 28th at the Marriott Marquis. Sample hundreds of whiskies from around the world—including single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, bourbon, rye, Tennessee, Japanese, Canadian, French, Australian, Indian, and craft-distilled whiskies—and learn firsthand from experts during educational seminars. Friday October 28th. VIP ($375): 5:30pm; Grand Tasting ($295): 6:30pm-9:30pm. All tickets include a commemorative Glencairn crystal nosing glass, gift bag, admission to all seminars on a first-come basis, a buffet throughout the evening, and hundreds of whiskies to sample. 780 Mission St. at 4th St.
Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Foodwise Sunday Supper Returns to the Ferry Building on October 16th
Mark your calendar and get your ticket for the Foodwise Sunday Supper: A Farm to City Feast on Sunday October 16th to raise funds for farmers’ markets, food access, and education. The elegant, four-course feast and fundraising gala is back in person at San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building, after two years as a virtual event. Thirty of the Bay Area’s most celebrated restaurants will join Foodwise (formerly CUESA) in support of local farms and healthy communities.
Sunday Supper kicks off with a behind-the-scenes view of the action-packed kitchen in the front plaza of the Ferry Building, and an abundant reception of hors d’oeuvres and hand-crafted drinks. The four-course feast commences upstairs in the majestic Grand Hall. Each menu is created by teams of chefs who collaboratively plan the meal, using peak-season produce from Foodwise farmers markets, and each course is paired with premier California wines. This year’s roster includes BIX, Buddy, Frances, Nightbird, Nopa, Osito, Restaurant Abacá, Rich Table, Sobre Mesa, Spruce, State Bird Provisions, Villon at San Francisco Proper, and many more.
(Matchmaker): Delfina Restaurant Seeking Staff for October Reopening
After a 2 ½ year hiatus, James Beard Award-winning Delfina Restaurant will relaunch at the end of October 2022 with a brand-new look and feel.
We are seeking an experienced hospitality-driven staff to join our reopening team.
Located in the vibrant Mission District, Delfina has served food rooted in Italian tradition and driven by the Bay Area’s seasonal bounty for the past 24 years. Our Italian and Californian wine list is populated by clean, expressive, and terroir-driven wines. New to the reopening is a 30-seat private dining room and a full bar focusing on Italian-inspired cocktails and amari.
Owned by industry icon Anne Stoll and James Beard Award-winning chef Craig Stoll, Delfina Restaurant Group is a learning community with a basic belief in structured training, leadership, and education in a supportive, high-energy work environment.
Email résumé and cover letter here.