It’s officially gobble-gobble week, and my favorite time to torture my sister with imitations of Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving (“White meat, dark meat, all will be carved!”). I know it’s a chaotic week for many of you trying to travel to family (best of luck!), and it can be emotional remembering loved ones who aren’t with us, or feel lonely (I hope you have a sweet time at a table with chosen family). I know I have so very much to be grateful for, and one of those things is having my family live so close to me—my sister and I even live on the same street here in the City, how lucky is that?
Although, at this very moment, I’m feeling a bit unlucky in health! I can’t believe this, but I’m still sick as a dog. I just had another weekend canceling all my plans so I could stay home in bed and rest. I lost my smell and taste on Saturday, and feel like I have Covid again, but I just had it six weeks ago—I keep testing negative. All I know is I haven’t been the same since I last had it, my immunity has tanked.
I don’t know what’s going in, is this my second cold that relapsed like a sneaky beast? Or did I pick up something new (a third consecutive cold, are you fricking kidding me?) on my one night out when I was finally feeling healed up last week? Whatever this thing is, it has sunk its talons into me like a raptor with a fuzzy animal wrapped in smoked salmon and prosciutto and isn’t letting go. I’m cranky and tired but at least I’m going to be able to see the fam in a few days for Thanksgiving—we’re postponing our gathering to Saturday so I can get better in time. Meow.
I have brought out all the big guns over here: my neti pot, six pills of Wellness Formula twice a day, elderberry syrup, sea buckthorn tea from Russia, turmeric and ginger honey, propolis spray for my throat, my favorite colloidal silver nasal spray with olive leaf and elderberry, zinc, ginger in everything, chicken broth everything, garlic garlic garlic, hella kale and spinach, my apple a day, good sleep, naps, baths, snuggles with Fortuna, and restarted a Stamets 7 regimen. I even had a shot of grappa. The only thing missing is some matzo ball soup from One Market, but I’m saving that for when I can taste again, because otherwise it will just make me mad. Did I miss something? Do you have a magic remedy? The folksier the better. Calling all witches.
I’m going to have a roundup of holiday cheer outings and ideas and more next week (once I’m feeling more jolly).
Grateful for you! Have a heartfelt (and healthy!) holiday. May your mashed potatoes be buttery and silky.
Discover an Upscale Cocktail Lounge (with Late-Night Bites) in an Unlikely Location in Cow Hollow
Back in 2021, I reported on the new owners of the historic The Bus Stop (since 1900!), Joe Wallace and Robert Lemons, who took over one of the oldest sports bars in the City. Since they own the building, they were trying to figure out what to do with the upstairs offices since rentals aren’t exactly the hottest ticket at the moment. They decided to convert the space back to the apartment it originally was, put in a kitchen and a bar, and turn it into a high-end cocktail lounge that feels like a discreet and sophisticated living room on the second floor (quite the juxtaposition from the sports bar below).
The new lounge is called Left Door, named after the door you’re supposed to open in order to walk up the stairs to the second-story bar.
The owners brought on architect Gi Paoletti Design Lab and interior designer Sean Carino Designs, who collaborated with Nick Roberto on the bar design and buildout, creating a textured space that feels lush yet laid back. There are a variety of communal seating areas, including low-slung tufted couches, a teal curving divan, fuchsia velvet scalloped chairs, and club chairs at low cocktail tables, with patterned wallpapers, rugs, luxe light fixtures, and a fireplace. You can make reservations for groups from two–eight (and private areas can also be secured), but there will always be some spots for walk-ins to enjoy a spontaneous moment in a cozy nook. (I like that they’re asking guests to please limit phone usage.)
Cocktails by Victoria Chow are focused on the classics with a twist—martinis come with your choice of olive pairings (blue cheese, goat cheese, Meyer lemon rind, or caviar), the Negroni is made with mezcal, and there’s a Bamboo with pandan tincture (most cocktails are $21; there are two non-alcoholic options for $13). The wine list has 10 by the glass/35 in bottle, and leans Californian, with some French selections (including Sancerre and Champagne), while the four beers are all local (including Fort Point and Seismic Brewing in Sebastopol).
But you’re not just going to nibble on cheese and nuts here, there’s a full menu of elevated small plates from chef Paul Toxqui, who has spent time in top local kitchens like Acquerello as a sous, and he was chef de partie at Saison and SingleThread. Of course, there’s caviar service here (and the option to order just a bump for $12), and the raw bar includes oysters, seasonal ceviche, and a lobster crudo.
Small plates feature boujee totchos (russet potato hash browns, Gorgonzola dolce, white truffle oil, Burgundy truffle, salmon roe; $25); wagyu carpaccio (yuzu aioli, lemon oil, buckwheat, prickly ash leaf; $21); mushroom pâté (seasonal mushroom, cashew “cheese,” olive oil crostini; $14); and the lamb buddy (braised lamb, Jidori gribiche, pickled pearl onion, peppercress, Mimolette; $18). The kitchen will be open until 11pm.
The opening is this Wednesday November 22nd, and after the Thanksgiving holiday, hours will be Tue–Wed 5pm–12am, Thu–Sat 5pm–2am. Book that reservation if you want to check it out soon. Sounds like the perfect spot for a holiday hangout or cocktail party. 1905 Union St. at Laguna.
New Openings Around Town
There’s a new, homestyle Burmese spot that opened in the former Hawker Alley space in downtown/Chinatown called Ar Har Ya Burmese Kitchen. It looks like a family affair, serving tea leaf salad, samusas, mohinga (catfish chowder), coconut curry chicken, beef curry, flaky paratha, and much more; they also offer lunch specials. There are a few tables if you want to eat on-premise, but it looks like it’s geared for takeout. Open Mon–Sat 11am–7pm. 357 Kearny St. at Pine.
Sashimi fanatics (and lovers of Kusshi oysters): there’s a new seafood counter and takeout spot in the Outer Richmond called Hokkaido Sashimi Marketplace. You’ll find trays of Santa Barbara and Baja uni, shuck-at-home oysters, and prepared foods, like chirashi and a variety of maki (including California rolls and spicy tuna) for just $10, and sashimi of kampachi, salmon, and bluefin tuna (I have no idea about any sustainable sourcing practices here). There are also some grocery items available. Open daily 11am–6pm. 5423 Geary Blvd. at 18th Ave.
Don’t Call It Fusion: KAIYŌ Revamps Japanese Peruvian–Inspired Menu Under New Chef de Cuisine
By Savannah Leone Bundy
Last week, KAIYŌ's Cow Hollow location hosted a party to celebrate the launch of their updated Nikkei menu and welcome chef de cuisine Kenji Sawada (formerly of PABU Izakaya and Ozumo) to the team. I had the absolute pleasure of attending, and am here to personally inform you that you’re in for a treat if you make your way over.
Nikkei cuisine is the result of a mass migration from Japan to Perú in the late 19th century, and draws from the rich culinary traditions of both cultures. Using the abundant array of produce grown in Perú to both complement and, at times, recreate Japanese dishes (think sashimi with ají sauce, or mochi made with cassava instead of rice), the style is less of a forcible “fusion” than it is a diasporic melding of two illustrious cuisines into one that is sui generis.
Chef Sawada—who has said that his motivation and happiness come solely from positive customer feedback—along with exec chef Alex Reccio, co-chef de cuisine Eddy Ramos, and sushi chef Lei Jones, have come up with a delightful demonstration of this team’s commitment to (and understanding of) the culture.
Small plates range from Japanese crispy shrimp (nori panko, onion, rocoto aioli; $12 during happy hour) to Nikomi beef empanadas (ají panca, housemade dough, rocoto aioli; $10 each), with more than a few things in between, but my personal favorite was the Nikkei oysters. Each dressed Pacific oyster had either rocoto ponzu or leche de tigre, a bit of tobiko, onion relish, and some sliced scallion, and you would think that these ingredients would have taken away from the flavor of the oyster itself, but nope! You could taste the sweet, briny goodness of the Pacific in every slurp—and they’re available during happy hour for just $2.50 each (Fri–Sun 3pm–5pm).
The nigiri selection features A5 Miyazaki beef (ají amarillo, quail egg, crispy chip) and aburi saketoro (salmon belly, lemon, gooseberry purée)—live torching included—plus a perfect, melt-in-your-mouth kanpachi (amberjack, cucumber pickle), hotate umami (marinated Hokkaido scallop, rocoto aioli, crispy quinoa), and chutoro zuke (zukeji-marinated medium fatty tuna belly, kizami wasabi, cancha), which was divine. You’ll have to see what else they’re cooking up for yourself, though. Open Tue–Thu 5pm–9:30pm, Fri–Sat 3pm–10pm, and Sun 3pm–9pm. 1838 Union St. at Octavia.
Temporary and Permanent Closures, Including a Horrific Fire at Horn Barbecue
Just as I was putting the finishing touches on my column, a friend sent me this KTVU news piece about a devastating fire at Horn Barbecue that broke out very early Tuesday morning. It looks like it destroyed the restaurant (there are pictures in the story). Owner Matt Horn had just posted on Instagram about graffiti that vandals sprayed all over the building on Sunday night, and now this—it’s unimaginable and so terrible to see. The KTVU story says: “Oakland Fire Department spokesman Michael Hunt said the fire, which broke out about 4 a.m., is under investigation. He said it’s premature to declare that it’s arson at this early stage.” I’ll share more as I learn any details.
The timing is especially awful since Horn always gives away turkeys for Thanksgiving, which they still managed to do in the midst of the devastation. Huge condolences to Matt, Nina, and the entire team on this tragic happening. 2534 Mandela Parkway at 26th St., Oakland.
More sad news: after creating an iconic SF cornmeal-crust, deep-dish pizza 19 years ago (in 2004!), Little Star Pizza announced on Instagram that it will be closing its original location on Divisadero at the end of the year. Ugh. Owner Brian Sadigursky spoke with SFGate earlier this year about how the delivery apps have been contributing to the demise of his business, and in this latest piece, he also mentions sales being down and costs are up, which is happening across the City.
Fortunately, Little Star on Valencia (and in Albany) will remain open, so you can still order my personal faves: their spicy wings and off-menu Brass Monkey (which is basically a Little Star deep dish with a sausage upgrade, I request light on the garlic). It has been a godsend to have Little Star right around the corner from me for all these years, it will be missed by many. Go in and get a last pie and say thanks to the staff while you can. Open Mon–Thu 5pm–9pm, Fri 4pm–9pm, Sat–Sun 3pm–9pm. 846 Divisadero St. at McAllister.
Let’s finish with some good news: I have a positive update on Liguria Bakery!
We’re Feasting Early! Five Courses, Seven Fishes, and Wine Pairings on December 1st!
Grab a friend or coworker and kick off the holiday season at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards for a Feast of Seven Fishes expertly crafted by Michelin-trained and Top Chef season 16’s Michelle Minori! A culinary work of art, the dinner will showcase the best of seasonal seafood, a testament to her passion for Cal-Italian cuisine, sustainability, and supporting local farmers. Each course will be perfectly paired with Jacuzzi's premiere wines, curated by our team to highlight the fresh flavors of the seafood feast. Preview the menu here (there’s cioppino!).
Just 45 minutes north of San Francisco, the evening will take place at the winery, hosted by head winemaker Tom Gendall, who will guide you through the exceptional wine pairing experience. Expect rare library wines and insights into the art of winemaking, and an unforgettable start to the holiday season. This dinner is a rare opportunity to dine with the winemaker and taste Jacuzzi Family Vineyards’ most exclusive wines. Buon Natale!
Friday, December 1st, 6:30pm–9pm
$250 per reservation
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
24724 Arnold Drive, Highway 121
Sonoma, CA 95476
Due to the format of the dinner, we cannot accept menu substitutions. Dinner will take place in either our Barrel Room or our covered Grand Piazza (weather dependent).
Luck of the Irish: Harrington’s Bar & Grill May Live On
Back in October 2020, Financial District stalwart Harrington’s Bar & Grill closed after 85 years in business, yet another victim to downtown’s pandemic-induced implosion [via SFGate]. Third-generation owner Michael Harrington said the closure was permanent, but then in March 2023, Harrington and his son Ken Harrington (also an owner) were open to granting longtime upstairs tenant Ed Kim temporary access to the bar to host private fundraising parties (called Pub Sessions) so he could try to fundraise enough to transfer the liquor license and make some updates to the space [via SF Business Times]. It doesn’t look like that panned out, and the Pub Sessions have moved to the new Odetokyo “speakeasy” on Tehama.
So, what’s next? A longtime tablehopper reader tipped me off to some exciting gossip: Duncan Ley and Ben Bleiman, the founders of Tonic and the current owners of California Street Cannabis Company, are reportedly going to be the new operators. I reached out to Ley, who said “no comment,” but also told me to stand by. Obviously, we’ll have to see how this rumor pans out, but it’s seemingly hopeful news for another chapter of this storied, San Francisco Irish pub. Here’s to seeing that neon sign light up once again. 245 Front St. at Sacramento.