The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
February 2, 2016

Custom floral wallpaper at Leo’s. Photo via Leo’s Instagram.


Selection from the raw bar. Photo: Aubrie Pick.


The bar and banquette seating. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

Now open in the former Wexler’s space is ~LEO’S OYSTER BAR~ from the Big Night Restaurant Group (Park Tavern, The Cavalier, Marlowe), and it’s a looker, which is what happens when Ken Fulk is your group’s design director (he worked with Jon de la Cruz on the space). The custom floral wallpaper, hanging ferns, gilt scallop shell sconces, and bamboo-caned barstools lend an air of sultry, tropical glamour.

As you make your way past the “conservatory,” you’ll note the hand-waxed mahogany paneling, a hammered brass raw bar, banquettes, and uplit onyx cocktail bar. The 40-seat space will also be gaining a Champagne bar, due to open on Valentine’s Day.

The menu is heavily focused on seafood, with executive chef Jenn Puccio assembling a list of oysters (raw or hot, including a “carbonara” version with pancetta), crudos, and toasts topped with fried shrimp and bacon (a spin on the classic Chinese shrimp toast) or urchin. Housemade tater tots, gougères, and a couple of variations of french fries (don’t miss the burger fries, topped with cheddar cheese sauce, aioli, bacon, caramelized onions, and crisp shredded lettuce), all so properly built for Champagne. Louie salad with rock shrimp, crab, or a combo of the two, check.

Warm plates include seafood bisque, clam chowder, and larger plates like a lobster roll and mussels en papillote. And for those who aren’t leaning toward a seafood entrée can go for the braised short ribs. You can finish the night with desserts by pastry chef Emily Luchetti served in vintage glassware.

You can come by for afternoon cocktails (many are low alcohol) and bites starting at 3pm, and then make your way into the evening menu at dinner service. The list of Champagnes is extensive and deep, plus some local and international sparklers are available too. As for the name, it’s an homage to partners Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas’s adorable son, Leo.

Hours (for now) are Mon-Wed 3pm-10pm, Thu-Fri 3pm-11pm, and Sat 5:30pm-11pm; lunch will be added soon. 568 Sacramento St. at Sansome, 415-872-9982.


TBD’s dining area (on the main floor). Photo: Nathan Ziebell.


A preview of Sababa’s falafel pita sandwich at 2015’s Outside Lands. Photo via Facebook.

After ~TBD~ in SoMa closed after a nasty fire more than a year ago (insurance claims are a tedious thing), Inside Scoop reveals what’s opening next in the space: ~ FÉNIX~.

And here’s the surprise twist: Mercer Restaurant Group owner Matt Semmelhack and chef-owner Mark Liberman (AQ) have decided it’s going to be a Mexican restaurant. Look for a menu of small plates, shareable dishes, and sangria (it’s just beer and wine).

Semmelhack tells me the service style will have some similarities to a classic Korean barbecue joint (but without the grill in the center of the table). Diners will choose a couple main courses (probably 2-3 for a party of 2), and then a bunch of little bites and sides will come out automatically and quickly (like banchan), think 10-15 ramekins of salsas, plates of warm, housemade tortillas, beans, queso, etc. Mains will feature larger portions of meats and vegetables, many slow-roasted or from the plancha, and are designed to be shared.

They are working toward an April opening, with more details to emerge in the coming months. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

Another project coming from the Mercer Restaurant Group: after running a few pop-ups of ~SABABA~—the fast casual/Middle Eastern street food project from Guy Eshel (a cook from AQ)—he will be opening a brick-and-mortar location in the former Paladar in the FiDi. Eater reports the menu is Israeli-inspired and will have a healthy slant. The focus is on flavor, but the food is inherently healthy and includes many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

We checked in with Eshel, who tells us the menu can be enjoyed three different ways. First you select from these options: pita sandwich, bowl with selection of mezzo salads (like roasted beet salad with sheep’s milk lebne and za’atar), or a hummus plate. Next you choose your protein: falafel (their signature item), sabik (fried eggplant and slow-baked egg), shawarma-spiced chicken, and more. There are going to be extra toppings to customize your meal with such as olives, feta, toasted almonds, or avocado. There is also a self-serve and complimentary pickle bar with housemade hot sauces too.

They’re trying to source as much local and organic produce and meats as possible, and making everything from scratch. They will be baking pitas in a Wood Stone oven, a beautiful stone hearth that is gas-fired. It’s going to be primarily a take-out situation, with just 14 seats inside. Look for an opening later this spring—it’s a big remodel. 329 Kearny St. at Bush.


The Ijji Sushi crew. Photo via Facebook.

A few quick opening updates for you, starting with ~IJJI SUSHI~, which we mentioned was coming to the Divisadero Corridor and is having its grand opening tonight (February 2nd). To recap, this is a traditional nigiri sushi bar (served piece by piece, although you can request omakase, which starts with eight pieces), with seafood sourced primarily from Japan. There are only 16 seats (8 at the counter and 8 table seats), and it’s from the chef-owner of Saru in Noe Valley, Billy Kong, and the chef-owner of Seiya in San Carlos, Kuo Hwa Chuang, and Amanda Tsung. Ijji is open for dinner only, Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 252 Divisadero St. at Haight, 415-658-7388.

Meanwhile, over in Japantown, the Ramen Underground location has closed (Kearny remains open), and ~IZAKAYA UMAI~ is taking its place (the 65-seat restaurant is due to open Wednesday February 10th). The menu will include sushi, sashimi, maki, yakitori, donburi, shioyaki, bento boxes, ramen, udon, soba, and appetizers. It will be open for lunch and dinner. 22 Peace Plaza #530, 415-658-7196.

As for other Japanese places on the horizon, the hotly anticipated ~MENSHO RAMEN~ could possibly open within the week (more from me next Tuesday on this place). I also hear ~MOSU~ is now targeting a couple of weeks out for its opening on Fillmore (more here), and ~JU-NI~ coming to Fulton Street should be close too.


Some of the different lattes available at Steep: matcha, taro, and traditional. Yelp photo by Alvin Y.

There’s a new coffee, tea, and boba shop in the former Twofish Baking on Ritch Street in SoMa: ~STEEP~. They are offering espresso drinks, pour-over coffee from Equator, and a variety of tea drinks, from regular steeped tea to milk tea with boba (not something so easy to find in this part of town) to Thai iced tea. You’ll also find some acai bowls, baked goods, and more, like taro and matcha lattes. Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm. 240 Ritch St. at Brannan.

Potrero Hill coffee fans will be sad to hear that ~FRONT~ has closed up shop after three years at their original location (150 Mississippi St.) and will be moving to the Mission. While the location has not been revealed, we’ll let you know when we hear the address!

The former Philz Coffee in the Castro is going to have Noe Valley’s ~BERNIE’S COFFEE~ move in to the space, their third location. Hoodline says there will also be baked goods from Raison D’Être and Nucha Empanadas. The opening should be happening very soon, they’re just waiting on an inspection from the Health Department. 4023 18th St. at Noe.

January 26, 2016

Chef Matthew Kirkley; photo via Coi’s website.


Chef Kirkley’s stunning turbot, winter vegetables, beurre Cancalaise. Photo via Instagram: @matthew_kirkley.

It’s a new year, which brings a lot of chef shuffles and moves and new menus. Let’s review.

Over at ~COI~, Daniel Patterson has transitioned out of the kitchen. Executive chef Matthew Kirkley (L20 in Chicago) is in place, and his new menu has debuted. You’ll note a seafood-leaning menu, with dishes like geoduck clam, lardo, Bibb lettuce, buckwheat; turbot, winter vegetables, beurre Cancalaise; and abalone, bone marrow, black truffle. Nope, the tasting menu doesn’t finish with beef! The new menu price is $225 (plus a 20 percent service charge). Dinner is served Thu-Mon.

We previously noted that chef Sara Hauman has left ~HUXLEY~, and taking her place is Manfred Wrembel (most recently at Schroeder’s, and previously Plum and Incanto). His new menu is up, with many local and seasonal dishes, including wild arugula, chicken liver ravioli, Half Moon Bay herring, and a burger, the Hux Deluxe. There’s also a small tap system, with beers on draft, and look for new bottles on the reserve beer list and new affordable wine selections as well. Open for dinner service Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm and brunch Sat-Sun 11am-2:30pm.

At ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~, executive chef Chris Jones has transitioned to overseeing all of owner Franck LeClerc’s Au Bon Repas properties (Gaspar Brasserie, Gitane, and Café Claude); taking his place in the kitchen is Adam Nichol, who has been working as chef de cuisine at Gaspar. He did whole animal butchery and charcuterie while at Central Kitchen and Flour + Water and will be doing some more for the charcuterie program at Gaspar. The menu has morphed into an all-day format, take a look here.

And over at ~FARALLON~, Jason Ryczek is working for chef-owner Mark Franz as the new executive chef—the two collaborated on the upcoming chef’s tasting menu for Valentine’s Day. Ryczek was at Waterbar for the past three years.


The punchy banquette in the dining room. Photo: ©

Just a quick heads up that ~STARBOARD~ is having their grand opening this Thursday January 28th. We shared all the details about this Mission hofbrau opening next door to Slate in our recent post, so you can catch up there.

The hearty and affordable menu is all about getting you fed: check it out online—dear lord, ROBUCHON MASHED POTATOES with hella cheese curd (their words). And get excited for these business hours too: Tue-Wed 5pm-12am, Thu-Sat 5pm-3am, with a special late-night menu. And wines. And beers. Brunch coming soon. Enjoy. 2919 16th St. at S. Van Ness, 415-465-5830.


Banh mi from DragonEats. Photo via Facebook.


The Popsons cheeseburger. Photo: Michael David Rose Photography.


Sneak peek of the new American Grilled Cheese Kitchen space. Photo via Facebook.


The new Smokin’ Warehouse in Laurel Heights. Yelp photo by Karen L.

Some local businesses are expanding with new locations around town, starting with Vietnamese fast-casual spot ~DRAGONEATS~, which opened a third location in the Upper Haight in the former Sunrise Deli. (DragonEats also has locations in SoMa and Hayes Valley.) According to their Facebook page, they are now open and serving their menu of banh mi, salads, bowls, and rolls. Open 11am-6pm. 1671 Haight St. at Cole, 415-795-1469.

While we’re waiting for the Causwells team to open ~POPSONS~ at 6th and Market in the Warfield Building this March, you can nab one of their outrageously good burgers at their new pop-up, starting today at 330 Townsend Street (the original Marlowe location, and then Marlowe Burger). They will be serving an array of burgers with different toppings, plus three kinds of fries, chili, and a salad; check out the menu. Lunch starts Tuesday January 26th (that’s today!), running weekdays 11am-3pm. Hours will extend to weekdays 11am-8pm on Monday February 1st. 330 Townsend St. at 4th St.

If everything goes according to plan, Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak of ~THE AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE KITCHEN~ will be opening their third location in the Broadway-Sansome Apartments (at 799 Battery Street) on Monday February 1st. Folks in the area will be happy to have a menu of AGCK’s cheesy sandwiches, salads, soups, and more (including shoestring fries and crispy maple Brussels sprouts), plus breakfast service (hello breakfast sandwiches), and beer, wine, and mimosas. Wylie Price designed the space, with 22 cozy counter seats and there’s some outdoor seating (12) as well. Initial hours are Mon-Sat 8am-3pm; look for hours to expand to 5pm on February 8th. (They will also be selling up to 10,000 grilled cheeses at Union Square for the Super Bowl, so someone is gonna be busy!) 799 Battery St. at Broadway, 415-872-9230.

We have been tracking the Laurel Heights opening of ~SMOKIN’ WAREHOUSE~ (in the former Eunice’s Café space) for a bit, and according to a tablehopper reader (and some posts on Yelp), they are now open. It’s definitely designed for takeout, and the menu includes beef and pork ribs, brisket, links, sandwiches or platters, sides, and burgers. Initial hours for now are Mon-Sat 11am-6pm; look for them to expand later. 3336 Sacramento St. at Presidio, 415-440-0088.

Fans of ~SMITTEN~ ice cream will be happy to know another location is coming to the Marina—so just when you get out of spin class, you can ruin your workout with a scoop of churned-to-order cookie dough ice cream with pretzels and chocolate chips! Founder Robyn Sue Fisher is excited to be moving into the former Judy’s Cafe this summer. In an interesting twist, Eastman Ice Cream operated in the space in the 1930s and ’40s. 2268 Chestnut St. at Avila.


Nojo Ramen’s spicy chicken soboro tossed noodles. Photo via Facebook.

It’s closed, it’s open, oh wait, it’s closed again. And the former ~NOJO~ in Hayes Valley has opened once again, this time as ~NOJO RAMEN TAVERN~, although original chef-owner Greg Dunmore is no longer involved with the project, so the menu is different.Hoodline mentions the focus is on five kinds of ramen made with a rich chicken broth (paitan ramen), and small dishes like gyoza and cucumber with spicy miso are available. Pictured here is their spicy chicken soboro tossed noodles, a soupless ramen. There’s also an extensive menu of beers, plus sake, soju, and wine. Hours are Wed-Sat 5pm-11pm and Sun 11:30am-7pm. 231 Franklin St. at Hayes, 415-896-4587.

This makes for a nice segue, since Nojo’s Greg Dunmore used to work over at ~AME~ at The St. Regis San Francisco in SoMa. Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone will be closing the restaurant at the end of February. Taking its place will be a pop-up concept—The Grill—for eight weeks, starting March 1st, under the direction of St. Regis San Francisco’s executive chef Franck Desplechin. A new concept will be unveiled later; stand by for updates. 125 3rd St. at Mission, 415-284-4040.

And Michael Mina is closing ~BOURBON STEAK~ at the end of March. Eater reports the lease was up, and Mina is looking for a new location—the restaurant opened in 2010. It looks like the restaurant’s brand-new chef Thomas Griese will be staying with the group (he was previously working for Mina in Miami), and it’s worth noting the bar Clock Bar will remain open.

January 15, 2016

The long bar at The Perennial. Photo courtesy of The Perennial.


The dining room at The Perennial. Photo courtesy of The Perennial.

About a year ago, we wrote about ~THE PERENNIAL~, the city’s most eco-minded project from Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz (Mission Chinese Food, Mission Street Food, Commonwealth, Lt. Waffle). Well, it’s opening Wednesday January 20th, and isn’t it a beaut?

To recap, their goal was to design a restaurant (and bar!) that would “lead the restaurant industry toward greater sustainability and deeper engagement with the most pressing issue of our time: climate change.” The level of thought that went into this project is staggering, from sourcing meat and dairy from ranches engaged in carbon farming (where managed grazing promotes carbon storage by perennial grasses) to using Kernza, a new perennial grain that counteracts climate change. And then there’s their aquaponic greenhouse to reduce food waste. (I wish I had more time to dive into this story deeper and share more with you, but this week is at Defcon 5 for me! You really should check out the Sustainability Fact Sheet attached here to read all the sustainable features they added—it’s fascinating stuff!)

Head chef Chris Kiyuna’s menu is up—he’s working with sous chef Richard Lee and pastry chef Nicola Carey. Kiyuna was previously chef de cuisine at Mission Chinese Food and has also cooked at Noma (Copenhagen), Coi, and even the Front Porch. The food will be accessible yet refined, and of course every ingredient will support their climate-conscious mantra. Snacks at the bar will run $8-$16, while à la carte dinner entrées will be $22-$28.

Bar director Jennifer Colliau (Small Hand Foods and founder of The Interval in Fort Mason) was tasked with making the bar program a sustainable one, which inspired a great deal of creative thinking and changes. Ice is a huge issue because of the water waste (with only 50 percent of the water you use goes into that Kold-Draft ice), so she created a different approach to cocktails. She will be using a cobbled ice/Scotsman machine instead—pebbled ice uses 95 percent of the water it takes to make it. They will be serving premixed and prediluted cocktails on draft (and chill the drinks in bottles in the freezer), as well as freezing ice in the glass. Blender drinks are also okay because you’re consuming the ice in the drink, and not shaking and straining it away.

She will also be creating flavorful citrus hydrosols by zesting citrus beforehand and distilling it in water in five-gallon copper pot stills, which they can spritz, and leftover juices will be used in sherbets (there’s a pisco punch dessert that will use it). As for my number one bar pet peeve: you won’t be seeing any tasting through disposable cocktail straws here. Bartenders will use a metal straw to extract a taste and put it onto their own personal spoon to taste. (Can everyone please do this?)

Colliau expects more changes will happen as the bar program evolves and as they learn about more companies, brands, and partners with a sustainable approach. (She also mentioned that companies who are good to their staff and community also plays a part in what they deem sustainable—it’s not just about carbon footprint.) To be clear, Colliau will still be at The Interval, and wine director Jay Latham is handling the beer and wine selections at The Perennial.

Not only will The Perennial be serving coffee from local roaster Paramo Coffee, but there will also be a café open 8am-5pm off 9th St.; at night, the café will be available for private dining. Five cents from every drink goes to supporting Straus Creamery’s conversion of grazing land to a carbon farming system.

The dining room (designed by master woodworker Paul Discoe, who did Ippuku—read more about the design details here) has room for 65, and there’s space for 40 in the bar area and 12 in the private dining room. The Perennial is open for dinner Mon-Sat, with potential to expand hours later. 59 9th St. at Market.


The original Hot House location. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. For a deep dive into San Francisco culinary history (one of our favorites over here), be sure to check out The Original Hot House from Playland pop-up at Al-Masri in the Outer Richmond on Saturday January 30th. From 12pm-3pm, you can try replicas of the famed Mexican restaurant’s cup-shaped tamales and their well-known red sauce. The original Hot House was in operation from 1934-1996, first at Playland at the Beach and then later on Balboa in the Outer Richmond, according to Streetwise.

Now, the son of the final owner, Eric Faranda, is hosting monthly pop-ups that include the famous tamales, enchiladas, and chile con carne. Be sure to follow along on Facebook for more details and to catch all of his pop-ups inspired by the San Francisco tradition. (Hat tip to Chowhound.) Al-Masri, 4031 Balboa St. at 41st Ave., 415-876-2300.


A group of performers at Red Hots Burlesque. Photo: ©

By Dana Eastland. The fine and foxy folks of Red Hots Burlesque will be performing during Sunday brunch at ~PIANOFIGHT~ downtown, beginning January 31st. The special brunch includes performances from the ever-changing Red Hots lineup, which includes drag, comedy, striptease, and circus-influenced acts, and performers of every gender, size, race, and country.

Tickets are $45 per person and include the show as well as your choice of brunch item, from a menu that includes eggs Benedict, apple French toast, and even options to keep vegans happy. Drinks are available for purchase as well. The doors open every Sunday at 11am, music begins at 11:30am, and you must be seated by 12pm. 144 Taylor St. at Eddy, 415-672-4735.


Oyster po’boy at The Bywater; Yelp photo by Kim N.


Red snapper court bouillon at The Bywater. Yelp photo by Adrienne L.

Let’s pop down to Los Gatos for a moment, because we always have to keep up with David Kinch! Open as of January 12th is his new casual project with partner Andrew Burnham, ~THE BYWATER~. As Kinch says, “The Bywater is the kind of place where I want to go after work or hang out on my day off. It’s casual, eclectic, and brings a bit of the food, drink, and atmosphere of New Orleans to this part of Northern California—music and all.” Kinch grew up in New Orleans and it’s where he started cooking, so you know this will be quite the love letter to the city and its evocative cuisine; he will, of course, also be highlighting many quality local ingredients.

There’s a raw bar with oysters like Pemaquid, Grassy Bar, Rappahannock, and Malpeque rotating on the list, fried green tomatoes, po’boys (dressed with fried oysters, homemade hot links, or shrimp), chicken liver mousse and tomatillo jam, gumbo z’herbes, fried chicken and butter beans, and red snapper court bouillon with andouille and shrimp. Look for nightly specials like Creole shrimp and grits on Tuesdays and cochon de lait on Thursdays. It will be hard to save room for dessert, but you really should try, because there will be an affogato with beignets and butterscotch pot de crème. Check out the lunch and dinner menus.

Working with Kinch is chef de cuisine David Morgan, formerly of August in New Orleans and Cyrus in Healdsburg. As for the cocktails, Chad Arnholt and Claire Sprouse of Tin Roof Drinking Community have put together a program of Crescent City Classics (featuring takes on classic New Orleans cocktails like the Sazerac and gin fizz), Exotic Delights (including tropical cocktails that reference the Caribbean influence on the city), and Creole Goods (showcasing culinary-inspired cocktails). American whiskey, bourbon, and rye will also be heavily featured, with some French brandies too.

There’s a 30-seat dining room, 10-seat bar, and a covered patio in the back with room for 20. The design is meant to be simple and casual, with the bright colors of the Bywater and some New Orleans details like grates and shutters and vintage signs—and Kinch helped curate the New Orleans artwork and photography. Get ready for some funky brass!

Open daily: Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Brunch is coming in early February. 532 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, 408-560-9639.

File this one under coming soon: a tablehopper reader sent in a pic of plans in a window for a second location of ~MANRESA BREAD~ at 271 State Street in Los Altos. We reached out to the PR team for details but they didn’t have anything to share at the moment, but according to a pic on Instagram, it’s happening! Follow @manresabread for updates on timing.

Another project to note in Saratoga: Sent Sovi (which long ago was Kinch’s first restaurant, with Aimee Hébert) closed last September, but chef-owner Josiah Slone is reopening it as ~RELISH GASTROLOUNGE~, with chef Timothy Uttaro leading the new direction (and he actually once worked at Sent Sovi). The space is getting a remodel as well, including a poured concrete bar.

The menu is designed to share, with dishes like peppered ostrich carpaccio (with preserved lemon, candied onion aioli, caper berries, wild arugula, cracked Szechuan pepper), porchetta sliders, and oysters on the half shell, plus a couple of salads, and larger plates like a classic steak frites with aged beef rib eye, housemade fries, and béarnaise, crispy Sonoma Duck confit, and a vegetarian terrine.

The new sommelier is Lynne Bryant, and look for a craft beer program featuring selections like Allagash Curieux, Mother Earth Wet Hop Dreams, and Knee Deep Simtra. It should be opening later this month—Thursday January 21st is the current target. 14583 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, 408-867-3110.

January 12, 2016

Fiorella’s Toscana oven by Forni Valoriani, built in Reggello, Italy. Photo by Jen Siska.


The interior. Photo by Jen Siska.


Wallpaper and lighting detail. Photo by Jen Siska.

UPDATE: Opening Wednesday January 27th for dinner!

Earlier this year we wrote about ~FIORELLA~, the neighborhood Italian restaurant, pizzeria, and enoteca coming to the Outer Richmond. To recap, Boris Nemchenok (of Lower Haight’s Uva Enoteca) is partnering with chef-partner Brandon Gillis (formerly Franny’s in Brooklyn and Bark Hot Dogs in Brooklyn and Manhattan). Fun fact: Nemchenok actually grew up in the Richmond just a few blocks away.

The opening menu includes antipasti like vegetables with hard-boiled egg and anchovy dressing, and pan-fried caciocavallo cheese with salsa verde, plus supplì al telefono, a variety of bruschette (chicken liver alla Toscana, and house-cured anchovies with mozzarella di bufala and butter), and Venetian polpette (meatballs) with lemon, vino bianco, and parsley. Pastas include linguine con vongole (clams) and pasta al ceppo with meat ragù (pasta al ceppo is a rolled pasta that looks like a cinnamon stick). Some secondi will also be featured, TBD for now.

As for the pizza, it’s a hybrid Bay Area style. Since their wood-fired Toscana brick oven (by Forni Valoriani) cooks pizzas in 2-1/2 to 3 minutes (instead of the usual 90 seconds for most Neapolitan pizzas), it’s going to have a crisper crust (Oakland’s Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe have the same oven). The menu includes a white pie (with ricotta, fior di latte, red onion, and oregano), of course a margherita, a New Haven pie (tomato, Parmigiano, olio nuovo), sausage and onion, clams and chiles, a spicy salami pie with caciocavallo, and The Alamo, with tomato, mushroom, rosemary, cream, garlic, and provolone picante (this pie was inspired by ingredients grown in the Alamo Elementary student garden—the kids will vote on their favorite, and if you order it, 10 percent of proceeds will go to the arts program).

Nemchenok knows his way around a wine list—look for Italian producers, along with domestic producers growing Italian varieties, plus an all-SF beer list.

The 40-seat restaurant has 8 seats at the bar and a communal table in the front window with room for 10. The interior has some fun details (by designer Melinda Turner), including white hex tile, dark woods, chic spherical lighting, and wait until you get a look at the Bay Area icons wallpaper, featuring Alice Waters, Angela Davis, E-40, Joe Montana, and Dennis Richmond of KTVU Channel 2 (LOL); it’s by Bay Area artist Matt Ritchie (via Flavor Paper)

Coming down the road will be weekend brunch, espresso drinks to go, and there’s a back garden that will have outdoor seating when the weather warms up. And they take reservations! It will be open nightly 5pm-10pm.

The plan is to open the week of January 25th. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook for updates. 2339 Clement St. at 25th Ave., 415-340-3049.


The bar at Cadence. Photo by Tory Putnam.


The dining room. Photo by Tory Putnam.


Booth seating. Photo by Tory Putnam.


Carrots. Photo by Tory Putnam.


Fettuccine. Photo by Tory Putnam.

Opening Wednesday January 13th for dinner in Mid-Market is ~CADENCE~, the restaurant adjoining the jazzy Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio from Jay Bordeleau (Maven).

Chef Joey Elenterio (Wayfare Tavern, Chez TJ) is serving a progressive American menu, which you can explore as a four-course dinner for $49 (the house applies tax and auto gratuity of 20 percent, making the total cost just under $64 per person) in the reservation-only dining room (you book your seat via Tock on the website), or order off the à la carte menu in the bar area and at the communal tables, which ranges from appetizers to full-size dishes, and dessert.

The prix-fixe menu offers two options, either a vegetarian menu or one featuring seafood and meat. You’ll be presented with an amuse-bouche, a first course (on the vegetarian menu, the roasted baby carrots feature a range of textures, temperatures, and pops of flavor from pickled walnuts and wild rice aioli), a pasta course (either delicate hand-cut fettuccine with turnip beurre fondue and persillade, or wintery rabbit agnolotti in a roasted garlic jus with celery root milk), a main course (which includes grass-fed rib eye on the meaty menu), and one of the dessert courses included vanilla bean bavarian, banana pudding, chicory granité, and caramelized banana gelée—it was like a zhooshed up version of my childhood fave of banana pudding with Nilla wafers. Plating is very considered, and you’ll run through a variety of different dish styles through your meal.

The tiled bar in the back features cocktails from Chase Williamson (Maven, Prospect, Nopa)—there are some communal tables as well where you can post up. You’ll note many culinary elements in the cocktails ($13 each); a good one to start with is the Nectar, with Krogstad aquavit, sarsaparilla honey, lime, and cava. You can look at the wine list here, which has a focus on old world—you’ll find some well-priced selections and some splurges too (because, tech).

The 100-seat restaurant is pushing a look that differs from many others (G. Paoletti Design Lab is behind the design)—it has a loungy feeling, with eye-catching round “teacup” booths that will be the coveted seats for sure. There’s no missing the booths in the middle of the room with faux fur backs and look like they’re enclosed with Flintstone-sized wood ribs. Tables along the wall are backed with golden rods that put off a gentle twinkling light, and an upholstered banquette runs underneath. Lights are kept low, and the upbeat soundtrack keeps things energetic.

Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1446 Market St. at Polk, 415-851-8561.


The counter and seating at Black Bark BBQ. Yelp photo by Eric M.


Black Bark BBQ from the outside. Yelp photo by Albertino M.

By Dana Eastland. We first mentioned the new barbecue project from chef David Lawrence and his wife Monetta White back in December of 2014, and now ~BLACK BARK BBQ~ is here. On Wednesday January 13th (that’s tomorrow), the new fast-casual barbecue restaurant will finally open its doors after years (literally) of planning, recipe testing, and remodeling. Lawrence has been traveling and researching regional American barbecue for the new restaurant, and even brought on barbecue expert Edith Cheadle from Dallas, with more than 20 years of smoke under her belt, to help open the restaurant and consult on the food.

The barbecue here is not completely beholden to one style. Rather, it gravitates toward Texas style, with dry rubs, but also looks to the Carolinas and Kansas City for inspiration. Lawrence calls this “San Francisco-style barbecue,” and plans to offer his ribs, along with chicken, hot links, brisket, pulled pork, and a rotating pit master special, depending on mood and the best-looking cuts available. Many of the sides are made using Cheadle’s recipes, including bourbon mac and cheese with cornbread crust, smothered greens with ham hocks, and sweet potato casserole. In addition to all that barbecue, there will also be seasonal salads available. The drinks include 12 local beers on tap, as well as 6 wines, plus a selection of bottled options—look for plenty of ciders too.

The space is casual, with room for 56 diners in the open dining room. Ordering is done at the counter, and the open kitchen allows a view into the pit. There are televisions for watching the game, if that’s your thing, and on nice days there will be outdoor seating for 15. Hours are are Wed-Mon 11:30am-10pm, closed Tue. 1325 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-848-9055.


Nigiri at Saru Sushi, Ijji co-owner Billy Kong’s restaurant in Noe Valley. Yelp photo by Grace C.

Divisadero Corridor keeps on crack-a-lackin’. The team opening Kinjo on Polk also have a project coming to the Divisadero Corridor, and we finally received a few details from them. It’s going to be called ~IJJI~ and will be a traditional nigiri sushi place, with a few small side dishes. There are only 16 seats, with 8 at the counter and 8 table seats. It will be dinner only, potentially open six nights a week.

The owners include the chef-owner of Saru in Noe Valley, Billy Kong, and the chef-owner of Seiya in San Carlos, Kuo Hwa Chuang, and Amanda Tsung. The name means perseverance, persistence, or dedication, which is what you need to open a restaurant in this town. Look for an opening the last week of January, just next door to the upcoming Indian Paradox (at 258). 252 Divisadero St. at Haight.


Chef Ron Siegel. (Photo originally provided by Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.)


Chef Sara Hauman. Photo courtesy of Huxley.

There are a lot of chef changes since the start of the year—let’s begin with the news that chef Ron Siegel has departed ~MICHAEL MINA~. He tells Scoop he’s tired of the commute to San Anselmo, which he has been doing for 18 years, and teases he may have something in the works in the North Bay.

His replacement is Raj Dixit, previously in the Mina group at Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in SoCal, as well as at The Ryland Inn under chef Craig Shelton and at David Bouley in New York. He’ll be ramping up for an early February transition.

One more thing to note: Michael Mina Restaurant has named Martin Sheehan-Stross as the lead sommelier. He will be working with Mina Group’s corporate wine director Rajat Parr to grow the program (look for even more Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne selections). He was recently named one of Wine and Spirits Magazine’s Best New Sommeliers in 2015 and was previously the beverage director at Wayfare Tavern.

I was sorry to hear Sara Hauman has packed up her one-woman army and departed ~HUXLEY~ in the Tenderloin. Eater adds she is going to be working with Brandon Jew on his upcoming Mister Jiu’s (coming in a couple of months)—she previously worked with him at Bar Agricole. Owner Kris Esqueda closed the restaurant this week to make some minor upgrades to the space; look for a small beer tap system, more wines by the bottle, and new low-ABV cocktails. Stand by for a chef announcement soon.

We just received word from Namu’s Dennis Lee that he is leaving his chef post at ~SMOKESTACK~ and ~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY~ due to professional differences; he will be dedicating his efforts on Namu’s upcoming Divisadero project, Namu Noodle (coming to Dogpatch this year), and Namu Jakarta (opening in Indonesia this year—it will be a two-tiered concept in a luxury high-rise with a finer dining room upstairs, and a more casual concept at the lobby/ground level). His last day with Magnolia will be in February.

Chef Kevin Scott—who helped update the ~BIG 4~ menu and concept after the Huntington Hotel was taken over by the Scarlet Singapore (sorry not sorry, I refuse to call it the Scarlet Huntington)—departed after the holidays wrapped up; his last day was December 26th. He says he’s eager to get his own thing going, but in the meantime will be consulting and freelancing as he works on his next project. Best to you, Kevin!

The upcoming ~CITIZEN FOX~ (and recently opened Kit Fox) has lost their chef, Kevin Schuder. Eater reports “mutual differences in management” led to the decision to part ways. The Citizen Fox pop-up at 2293 Mission Street will continue with the kitchen staff in place there.


The interior of Butter Love Bakeshop. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. Well-regarded pie pop-up ~BUTTER LOVE BAKESHOP~ has found a permanent home in the Outer Richmond, according to Scoop. The new location, from baker Esa Yonn-Brown and her husband Josh Perez, offers her classic all-butter crust pies, including savory potpies and seasonal fruit pies. There are also other pastries, including cookies, quiche, cakes, and scones made from the recipe used by the space’s former occupant, Nibs. If that’s not enough to entice you, they are also serving doughnuts, along with coffee from Mr. Espresso. 3717 Balboa St. at 38th Ave., 415-602-3988.

A La Cocina alum, Gabriela Guerrero, has opened a new restaurant in the former Salumeria space in the Hamm’s Building, Scoop reports. It’s called ~DELICIOSO CREPERIE~, and Guerrero is serving crêpes with a Latin influence. Some of the fillings are French style, like ratatouille or a croque monsieur, but others offer choices inspired by Mexican food, including turkey with mole sauce and adobo pork. Peek at the menu here. Hours on Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. 1550 Bryant St. at Alameda, 510-334-9967.

Hoodline caught the news that the Upper Haight now has its very own sushi restaurant. It’s called ~GINZA~, and they’ve moved into the former Great Indian space. The menu includes lunch specials like bento boxes and special rolls, all available for less than $20. On the regular menu you’ll find an omakase option, as well as sushi, sashimi, and hot appetizers. 1793 Haight St. at Shrader, 415-742-0552.

Financial District and SoMa workers have a new place for sandwiches and a salad bar. ~FAYALA~ is now open on Fremont, and according to Yelpers, it’s a sister restaurant of Chez Fayala on Pine. They offer sandwiches made to order, as well as an abundant salad bar and hot food buffet. Yelp reviews so far are very positive, with many citing good value, cleanliness, and fresh food. 215 Fremont St. Suite B at Howard, 415-757-0444.


Spicy Iza Ramen from chef Ritsuo Tsuchida. Photo via Instagram.

The folks behind Iza Ramen in the Lower Haight are launching a new pop-up at Blowfish Sushi since Iza is now up and running. (It started there as a pop-up—oh, and quick sidebar: Iza Ramen is now open for lunch Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm.)

Chef-owner Ritsuo Tsuchida is starting pop-up Ramen JuBay on Saturday January 16th and will be featuring a white tonkotsu ramen ($11), with angel-hair noodle in a tonkotsu pork broth with chashu BBQ pork,
 marinated egg, cloud ear mushroom, and pickled takana mustard leaf; there will be a spicy version for $12. The menu also includes karaage chicken wings, chicken pot stickers, and takoyaki. The pop-up runs on Saturdays 11:30am-2:30pm; expect it to stick around for six months or longer. Blowfish Sushi, 2170 Bryant St. at 20th St., 415-285-3848.


The old-school exterior of Manor Coffee Shop. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.


The Hayes braise at Little Gem. Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink, courtesy of Little Gem.

Some readers have been asking about news on the ~MANOR COFFEE SHOP~, which we warned was closing. It has now closed and was taken over by new owners, who aren’t quite ready to share lots of details but would tell us that they hope to open in mid-February, and they are planning to “keep the diner vibe going.” The menu will change, though they wouldn’t say quite how, only (and emphatically) that is would be “better.” 321-A West Portal Ave. at 14th Ave., 415-661-2468.

The recently opened ~LITTLE GEM~ in Hayes Valley is now serving breakfast and lunch. (To recap, this is the upscale fast-casual place that is wheat-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free, highlighting quality and local ingredients.) Breakfast includes a variety of grains and egg dishes, from their housemade granola to almond and quinoa flour pancakes to the Hayes braise (Swiss chard, black garlic, poached egg, almond-bacon crumble), while lunch offers a chance to check out their wrap sandwiches. Oh, and save room for their lemon custard. Hours are Tue-Fri breakfast 8am-10:30am, lunch 11am-4pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; Sat-Sun breakfast 9am-11am, lunch 11:30am-4pm, dinner 5pm-9pm. 400 Grove St. at Gough, 415-914-0502.

It sounds like ~ORIGAMI MARKET~, the fast-casual spot in SoMa that we mentioned in August, is closing and morphing into ~OKANE~. Kash Feng, who owned Origami Market and also owns Omakase, is still at the helm and plans to open Okane in mid-January. The new project is inspired by the izakayas of Japan and will focus on traditional dishes as well as sake and beer, plus a small wine list. In addition to the dining room seating, there are also plans for a sushi counter that seats four. Hours will be daily for lunch from 11am-3pm and dinner 5pm-12am. 669 Townsend St. at 8th St.


Dining out with San Francisco Restaurant Week. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. San Francisco Restaurant Week returns this month from January 20th through the 31st. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association is once again running the show, with lots of partners like OpenTable and Lyft to help make your restaurant-going experience a smooth one. More than 120 restaurants from all over the city are participating, including Belga, Aatxe, Ichi Sushi, Zero Zero, and 1300 on Fillmore (and Les Clos is running a good offer for both lunch and dinner, with wine pairings!). Check out all the participating restaurants here.

How it works this year is that all of the restaurants will offer special prix-fixe meals, at two different price points for both lunch and dinner: lunch is two courses at either $15 or $25, dinner is three courses and either $45 or $60. You can also follow along on Facebook, and if you attend four or more meals and post a photo, you’ll even be entered in a drawing to win $1,200 in gift certificates! Locations, times, and meals served all vary; see website for additional details.

For those of you in the East Bay or looking to explore, Oakland Restaurant Week is happening January 14th through the 24th. There are more than 100 restaurants participating, with the option of prix-fixe lunch or dinner menus of $20, $30, $40, or $50 per person. Participating restaurants include Calavera, A16 Rockridge, Salsipuedes (which includes their drowned fried chicken torta!), Desco, and Juhu Beach Club. The whole list of participating restaurants is here, so you can start planning your visit now. Locations, prices, and hours vary per restaurants; see website for details.

Berkeley is also getting in on the action, with Berkeley Restaurant Week happening from January 21st through the 31st. There are over 20 restaurants participating, including Comal and Revival Bar + Kitchen, with options ranging from a $20 prix-fixe lunch to dinner for either $25 or $35. Here’s the full list of restaurants, along with menus and details. Locations, prices, and hours vary.


A bowl of Ippudo Ramen in New York. Yelp photo by Crystal H.

The East Bay has plenty of new projects to look forward to, starting with the news that ~IPPUDO~ is coming to downtown Berkeley (it’s known for being one of the tastier tonkotsu ramen bowls in New York, but has locations around the world). Berkeleyside mentions it’s coming to Shattuck (next to Berkeley’s first Blue Bottle café, which will also be arriving); no word on timing. 2011 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley.

Meanwhile, Eater and Inside Scoop both caught Daniel Patterson’s Instagram announcement that he’ll be opening a ~LOCO’L~ with Roy Choi next door to Plum Bar in the original Plum (the first location is opening in Watts in LA on January 18th). Sounds like the SF Tenderloin location will come after Uptown Oakland, and there’s a mention of East Oakland too. 2216 Broadway at 22nd St., Oakland.

Opening Wednesday January 13th is the 60-seat ~CAFÉ EUGENE~ in the former Little Star Pizza in Albany from the team behind Little Star Pizza and Boss Burger (Jon Guhl and Ryan Murff). They want it to be a neighborhood restaurant, and the menu will highlight influences from California and the Pacific Northwest for brunch (like baked steel oats with honey baked pear and cardamom coconut milk) and dinner (like clam chowder potpie) daily—the chef is Amanda Joost Gehring (Lalime’s, Café Rouge).

Cocktails include some inventive Bloody Marys and warm cocktails like Spanish coffee. Outdoor seating has room for 15. Open Sun-Thu 9am-9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-10pm; brunch runs 9am-3pm, dinner starts at 5:30pm, with an interim menu in between. 175 Solano Ave. at Cornell, Albany, 510-647-9999.

We’ve been following ~CASA CUBANA~’s Facebook page for a while, and they are now open. To recap, it’s from Sam DuVall and Joe Kohn (Izzy’s Steak and Chop House) in the former Vo’s, and the Cuban-inspired menu can be viewed here. Cocktails and art also play a big part. Open for lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, happy hour runs 4pm-7pm, and dinner 5pm-10pm. 59 Grand Ave. at Webster, Oakland.

January 5, 2016

Get ready for the Second Sunday Brunch Buffet at Parallel 37 at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Parallel 37.


The raw bar, full of fresh seafood. Photo courtesy of Parallel 37.


Chef Michael Rotondo. Photo courtesy of Parallel 37.

Looking for somewhere new to brunch? Ritz-Carlton Hotel brunch buffet spreads are pretty legendary—I remember the one they used to host on the patio at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco fondly, and the one they hold in Half Moon Bay is also rather fabulous, so I was pleased to hear the ~RITZ-CARLTON SAN FRANCISCO~ is launching a Second Sunday Brunch Buffet at ~PARALLEL 37~. And with chef de cuisine Michael Rotondo leading the charge, it should be a good one.

The first one will be Sunday January 10th, and after you make your way to the Bloody Mary bar, it seems the raw bar will be your next stop, with oysters, crab claws, shrimp, and other fresh seasonal seafood on offer. You’ll also be able to select dim sum, sushi, salads, local and international cheeses and charcuterie, and I’m always a fan of some hand-carved meats (prime rib, anyone?) and rack of lamb, which you’ll find at a “chef action station,” along with king salmon “Wellington” and eggs Benedict. Smoked salmon with mini bagels, paddlefish caviar with blinis, check and check. You can survey the entire sample menu here.

As you have probably expected, it’s not cheap: the cost per person is $115, exclusive of tax and gratuity, but think of it like this: it will be your one opulent meal of the entire day!

Brunch runs from 11am-2pm, and upcoming dates include February 14th (how’s that for a Valentine’s Day date?), March 13th, April 10th, May 8th/Mother’s Day (book it!), and many second Sundays moving forward.

To place a reservation, visit or call 415-773-6198.