The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
October 6, 2015

Photo of Corey Lee by Blair Sneddon Photography.

Leave it to culinary savant Corey Lee (Benu) to come up with such a groundbreaking restaurant concept, and yet at its heart, it’s based on imitation. Meet ~IN SITU~, his upcoming project opening in the new Snøhetta-designed SFMOMA in spring 2016.

The menu will feature rotating à la carte dishes from 80 international chefs that Lee is going to faithfully re-create. Recipes from innovative and legendary chefs like René Redzepi (Noma), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Martin Picard (Au Pied de Cochon), Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons de Bricourt), Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), and Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Kitchen) have been curated (like an art installation!) and contributed to the project. Lee is working closely with each chef on re-creating their signature dishes—and some of the dishes will be created specifically for In Situ.

Aidlin Darling Design (Bar Agricole, Scribe Winery) is behind the design, which will nearly double the square footage of the previous restaurant. There will be 150 seats, with a small area for reservations and a larger area available for walk-ins. The restaurant will be visible from the street and have a simple, comfortable, open environment, with a wood ceiling canopy. In Situ will serve lunch and dinner.

If you want to read more about the project, check out this article in WSJ. Magazine’s October issue, which has an exclusive, in-depth profile of Lee and the project. A quote from Lee in the piece: “Five years ago, I made the decision to tune out international trends, to stay away from cooking conferences and events, all to create an identity for Benu that isn’t easily identifiable. Now it’s the opposite. It’s all about immersion, building relationships and working with chefs from around the world in a deep and lasting way.”

A couple more notes: The fifth-floor café, Cafe 5, will also open in spring 2016, offering California dishes like flatbreads, organic salads, and open-faced sandwiches. It will be operated by McCalls, who also operate cafes in the de Young, Legion of Honor, and Asian Art museums. Guests will be able to dine in the rooftop sculpture garden and be served tableside.

On the third floor, Sightglass at SFMOMA will provide coffee beverages, espresso drinks, and pastries from San Francisco bakeries and pastry chefs. Guests will be able to bring their coffee into the museum’s new Photography Interpretive Gallery.


The garden at Grand Fare. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography, courtesy of UrbanDaddy.


The market hall at Grand Fare. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography, courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

Almost a couple of months ago, I had a chance to attend a preview party for ~GRAND FARE~, a beautiful new epicurean market with a spacious outdoor garden, just down the street from Penrose. It’s one of those places that only Oakland could have—San Francisco just doesn’t have the urban real estate available (nor the balmy weather to enjoy the patio). The garden reminded me of a dream location you’d find in Silver Lake or Los Feliz (in Los Angeles), with eclectic antique fixtures and a bohemian vibe.

This is all from the stylish minds of restaurateur Doug Washington (Town Hall, Salt House, Anchor & Hope, and Irving Street Kitchen in Portland) and his wife, artist Freya Prowe. When you walk through the antique iron gates, you’ll find a 3,500-square-foot courtyard to the right, full of tall trees, ivy-covered brick walls, native plants, and tables and chairs (75 seats in all), which is where you’ll want to sit with your cappuccino (they are using SF’s Linea Coffee) and a housemade pastry that you ordered from the 1946 Spartan Mansion trailer parked in the courtyard—take a peek inside, it got souped up with a mahogany and penny-tiled interior. Also on the trailer menu: sandwiches, gluten-free treats, and Humphry Slocombe ice cream. And then you’ll want to come back to the garden again in the afternoon for oysters and Champagne, or charcuterie and wine. See you there.

Meanwhile, to the left inside the building is the massive 4,500-square-foot epicurean market, which seems to take some visual inspiration from French markets and Ottolenghi’s deli in Notting Hill. (Washington worked closely with Robert Fink of Fink Architecture.) The space features its original concrete floors, plus an exposed beam ceiling that’s been painted white. The room is full of natural light from the tall plate-glass windows and oversized skylights. It has a clean and classic look, with white marble counters, British blue-painted cabinetry, and vintage slate accents. You’ll also note murals and paintings by Prowe, as well as a rotating collection of artwork by local artists.

There are counters and a center island with cases where you can purchase raw oysters (the raw bar has seven seats where you can perch), housemade charcuterie, seasonal farmers’ market salads (like kale salad with green romesco dressing, and seared cabbage with Medjool date vinegar and pistachio pesto), grab-and-go items, and an array of quality cheeses.

There’s also a rotisserie station, with hot savory dishes and sandwiches, like a leg of lamb sandwich from the rotisserie with stewed peppers and chimichurri and basil yogurt; a rotisserie porchetta sandwich with house sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and Gruyère; and whole-roasted peri peri chicken.

The culinary team includes executive chef Ben Coe (previously Box & Bells and Commis) and sous chefs Frederico Oliveira, Drew Boczon, and Eric Cordova. The team will be doing some excellent sourcing, and Ryan Voss serves as the house forager. All selections highlight artisan producers and feature local, organic, and handmade foods.

Whether you want to grab a bite and enjoy it on the patio, or pick something up to bring home for dinner, your bases are covered. There are also many grocery items in case you need to pick up some eggs and milk. You’ll also see cases full of domestic and imported wines (60 boutique wines in all) and beers (also on tap).

In the front of the space is Prowe’s first Brother & Sisters floral shop. Prowe has worked more than 20 years in the floral design business, so expect some gorgeous seasonal bouquets, planted arrangements, and she can work with you on event services too.

Look for upcoming public classes on workshops on everything from bread baking to coffee roasting to winemaking, plus other monthly events and ongoing collaborative projects. The entire team is really excited to open this unique space for the community to enjoy, a project they have been working so hard on for some time.

Hours: coffee service at the trailer 7am-10pm, market hours are 11am-10pm. Online ordering and curbside pickup will begin in November. 3265 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland, 510-899-9610.


The chef’s table at Octavia. Photo by Wes Rowe.

Just in time for holiday parties and gatherings is the new chef’s table at ~OCTAVIA~, an interactive dining experience for up to 12 people. The seating is in the center of the restaurant’s lower kitchen and offers a multicourse meal perfect for a festive occasion. It’s available any night the restaurant is open, and reservations are required. You’ll need to plan a menu and wine pairings in advance too. The chef’s table begins at $1,200, and reservations can be made via email.


Bagels from Leaven Bagel. Photo from Facebook.

A report by Dana Eastland. Holey bagel news, Batman! Bagels have been on everyone’s mind lately, and now two new businesses are taking on the chewy, boiled delight. First is ~LEAVEN BAGEL~, which has been serving bagels at the Fort Mason farmers’ market and via pop-ups (mostly in Santa Cruz). Owner Alison Lee is making the bagels by hand and boiling them properly for the right level of chew. She’s taking inspiration from the bagel styles of New York (density and texture), Montreal (a dash of honey is added to the dough) and San Francisco (she’s using a natural leavening style to get a touch of sourdough flavor). The menu offers classic bagel flavors as well as a seasonally changing special and housemade cream cheese spreads. Hours at the farmers’ market are Sunday 9:30am-1:30pm, but be aware they do sell out sometimes. You can also follow along on Instagram for information about upcoming pop-ups.

For a pop-up bagel experience, make your way to ~SHEGETZ BAGEL~ at PizzaHacker on Sunday October 11th. Their bagels are made with a sourdough starter, hand rolled, and freshly baked and boiled. They are only serving them cut and topped with house toppings, which vary and start at $5. The team behind Shegetz is Oliver Steele (Pizzetta 211), Ben Kaminsky (Blue Bottle), and Alex Rogers (Local’s Corner, 20th Century Cafe), and they are using “West Coast” methods, so come expecting something delicious—but maybe not a New York copycat, mmmmmkay? The pop-up begins at 10am and goes until they sell out; coffee and wine will also be available. H/t Mission Mission. 3299 Mission St. at 29th St.


Colorful trays from Lemonade. Photo courtesy of Lemonade.

Last week we mentioned that there were rumors that Los Angeles-based chain ~LEMONADE~ was in talks to move into some of the former La Boulange locations vacated by Starbucks earlier this year. Well, now it’s official: Lemonade has indeed secured three former La Boulange locations and will be opening their seasonal fast-casual concept in The Metreon, on University Ave. in Palo Alto, and in Walnut Creek. The plan is to open in spring 2016, serving fresh, seasonal fare in a relaxed, quick-service environment. While each location offers a slightly different look and menu, you can get a sense of the food from this menu, from their Pasadena location.

Maurizio Bruschi and Giuseppe Terminiello of Ideale in North Beach are teaming up for a new project, according to Hoodline. It’s called ~PICCOLO FORNO~, or “small oven” in Italian, and will fill a neighborhood niche for quality food that is still affordable. It’s in the same vein as an Italian rosticceria and will offer items all day long, including espresso, pastries, light lunch items, and plates of pasta in the evening. They are also planning to apply for a liquor license. Opening is currently slated for later this fall. 725 Columbus Ave. at Filbert.

On Wednesday October 7th, ~PROPER FOOD~ is opening a third location in the Financial District. The latest location will offer plenty of grab-and-go options for breakfast and lunch, including egg and sausage sandwiches in the morning, salads and sandwiches at lunch, and fresh juices. Here’s the menu. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm. 350 California St. at Sansome, 415-481-3217.

Bwok bwooook! If you’re a fan of chicken wings, you’ll want to hit up the ~WING WINGS FOURTH ANNUAL CHICKEN WING EATING CONTEST~ on Saturday October 10th at the SoMa StrEat Food Park. The party goes from 12pm-4pm, and there are two contests: a timed event and a “hella hella hot” event (and we mean hella). They’re still seeking contestants and donations for the raffle; more information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

If you just want to attend the event, you can! There will be plenty of wings and drinks available, plus raffle tickets and fun activities for kids and adults. The event is raising funds for The Precita Eyes Muralists. 428 11th St. at Harrison, 415-834-5001.


Pastries at Knead Patisserie. Photo from Facebook.

The Mission has lost a favorite bakery: ~KNEAD PATISSERIE~ closed on Saturday October 3rd, according to a tweet. For those missing their pomme d’amour and croissants, follow along on Facebook, because they mention plans to reopen within a year in Lodi. Shauna Desvoignes, the owner of Knead, has moved with her husband Jake to the country, though Jake will stay on as chef at ~LOCAL MISSION EATERY~. However, while they figure out his commuting and other shifts within the company, Local Mission Eatery is going to pause their brunch service and ramp up their small plates and by-the-glass wine offerings in the next few weeks. 3111 24th St. at Folsom, 415-655-3422.

Hawkeyed Chowhounds caught the closure of the Outer Richmond location of ~ENJOY VEGETARIAN~, and Yelpers confirmed it. The Chinatown and Sunset locations remain open, though. 5344 Geary Blvd. at 18th Ave.

Another oyster business in West Marin has attracted regulations and drama, and this time it’s the picnic area at ~TOMALES BAY OYSTER COMPANY~ that’s in hot water. As of Sunday October 11th, the picnic tables and grills will all be removed due to permitting issues with Marin County, SFist reports. The county cites concerns about traffic and safety, though the Marin County Planning Commission recently denied a request from Tomales Bay Oyster Company for a permit to add additional parking and legalize their current picnic setup.

After October 11th, the company will only be able to sell oysters to go on Fridays from 12pm to 5pm and Saturdays and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Since picnickers represent about 60 percent of the company’s business, they’ve had to lay off 13 workers and are concerned about their financial stability moving forward. For more information on nearby beaches where you can picnic after purchasing oysters on the weekends, head here. Please feel free to sign this petition in support of the multigenerational family business. The current plan is to reapply for a permit and hope for the best. 15479 Shoreline Hwy., Marshall.

Speaking of local politics and drama, The Bay Area Reporter has a very interesting article on vacant spaces in the Castro owned by neighborhood investor Les Natali. Apparently, after the announcement of the pending closure of ~ZAPATA~ last month due to a lease dispute with Natali, the Castro Merchants Association wrote an open letter to him, expressing concerns over the many empty storefronts he owns in the neighborhood (Zapata is due to close on October 16th, after being open since 1993). There are a few lawyers involved at this point and, of course, lots of opinions. Stay tuned.

Eater reports that Marina sushi spot ~YUZU~ has closed, and a note on their website confirms it. They hint that there are plans afoot to reopen elsewhere, perhaps in Sacramento. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned that ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ is moving to the East Bay, and just wanted to remind everyone that Friday October 9th is their last day in the Mission before reopening in The Hive in Oakland.


The interior of Asha Tea House, now open on Kearny. Photo courtesy of Asha Tea House.

By Dana Eastland. We love tea around here, and now there’s a new place in town to warm up (or cool down) with the delicious beverage. ~ASHA TEA HOUSE~, the already-popular tea spot in Berkeley, has moved west with a second location on Kearny in the Financial District. They are pouring teas from a variety of places, including China, Taiwan, Japan, and Britain, all impeccably sourced from farmers by owner David Lau.

There are a few different ways to experience their teas. You can try pure teas served tableside in their traditional vessel, with the intention of introducing customers to the ways various cultures approach tea service. There is also a variety of milk teas and boba teas, which are made from scratch, including housemade condensed milk. Or check out the variety of changing teas infused with seasonal fruits, with options like kumquat green tea, a housemade Earl Grey made with real, fresh bergamot, and even a pumpkin spice tea latte, made with real pumpkin. There is also a whole section of the menu devoted exclusively to matcha, as well as a selection of herbal tisanes. Here is the full menu for your perusal.

They also offer a large selection of retail items, including loose-leaf tea and lots of equipment for your own at-home tea service. And if you’d like to geek out on the origins of their teas, check out the page of their website devoted to showing where their teas come from. The San Francisco teahouse is currently softly open with hours Mon-Sat 11:30am-6:30pm. 17 Kearny St. at Geary, no phone yet.

In the Castro, the former 18th Street location of ~PHILZ~ has relocated to a much larger space on Castro. Hoodline reports that the new location not only offers more space for additional coffee stations (meaning faster service) and more customers, but also allows them to serve more food items, including breakfast burritos, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches. In the coming weeks, there are also plans afoot to add outdoor seating and additional food items. Hours are Mon-Fri 6am-8:30pm, Sat-Sun 7am-8pm. 549 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-321-6276.

And some big news: Peet’s Coffee and Tea bought Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters—you can read all about it in this Sprudge piece, which confirms that Stumptown will continue to operate independently.


Lidia Bastianich. Photo by Diana De Lucia.


Now that it’s really starting to feel like fall, it’s time to start thinking about the season’s lineup of authors and events around town. First, the ~JCCSF~ has a bunch of great speakers coming up as part of their Arts and Ideas series. Don’t miss the Essential Taste-and-Talk Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All on Wednesday October 28th. Richard Betts and Wendy MacNaughton will be talking about their new book, The Essential Scratch-and-Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All, which includes tasting notes on the delicious brown spirit, as well as MacNaughton’s illustrations. In addition to discussing whiskey and its many flavor profiles, they will also be leading a tasting and doing live, onstage illustrations. Tickets are $47 per person (10 percent off for all JCC members), and the event begins at 7pm.

On Thursday November 5th, the one and only Lidia Bastianich will be in conversation with Delfina owner Craig Stoll. The prolific author on Italian food will be talking about her new book, Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine. She’ll be sharing some of her kitchen secrets, and there will also be treats from Delfina available for sale. Tickets start at $57 per person and include a copy of the book; the event begins at 7pm.

Nigella Lawson, cookbook author and mega television personality, will be at the JCCSF on Monday November 16th, discussing her new book, Simply Nigella. Tickets to the event start at $32, and the event begins at 7pm. It will be preceded by a complimentary wine tasting. 3200 California St. at Presidio, 415-292-1200.

~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ also has a spectacular lineup of author events this fall that you won’t want to miss. You can see them all here, and be sure to check out a cocktail reception with chef Enrique Olvera on Tuesday October 20th at Bar Agricole from 6pm-9pm. He’ll be discussing his new book, Mexico from the Inside Out. The event includes food inspired by the book, as well as wine and cocktails. Tickets are $75, and copies of the book will be available for purchase.

There are lots more events at Omnivore to check out, including book signings with Karen MacNeil, David Lebovitz, and Yotam Ottolenghi, plus off-site events like another cocktail party at Bar Agricole, with Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. The whole lineup is here, and even if you can’t make it to the events, be sure to stop by your local bookstore to check out some of these great authors and their cookbooks.


The new Berkeley location of Flour and Co. Photo courtesy of Flour and Co.

By Dana Eastland. ~FLOUR AND CO.~, the Nob Hill bakery from owner Emily Day, has opened a second location in Berkeley (we mentioned it was coming earlier this year). The menu offers brunch and lunch items every day, including options like an English muffin breakfast sandwich, egg pie, granola and yogurt, and a seasonal, savory oatmeal. For lunch, there are daily changing sandwiches, salads, and soups, plus a combo of half a sandwich with either soup or salad. There is also a selection of pastries, like seasonal muffins and cookies, carrot cake, seasonal pies, and breads. There’s Stumptown coffee too. They are also offering breakfast and lunch catering, with delivery to Oakland and Berkeley. Hours are daily 6:30am-6pm. 1398 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley, 510-883-3650.

Berkeley’s Epicurious Garden Food Hall is home to the now-open ~HERBS N’ CHICKEN~, a rotisserie chicken spot serving whole birds for takeaway, as well as salads and sides. Peek (and peck) at the menu here. 1511 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, Berkeley, 510-529-4338.

Berkeley vegan deli ~THE BUTCHER’S SON~ tried to open a brick-and-mortar location earlier this year, but had to call off plans in June. Now, a liquor license application shows that they’ll be moving to the space on University currently occupied by Athineon. Peter Fikaris, one of the owners of Butcher’s Son, let us know that they are still in the process of securing the space but should have the keys sometime in December. After that, they plan to serve the same vegan dishes that have garnered them quite a following and hope to add dinner service to the lineup as well. Athineon will remain open until December. 1914A University Ave. at MLK, Berkeley.

October 2, 2015

Well, of COURSE we have to have the egg hopper at this event. Photo: Wes Rowe Photography.


Local halal goat stew (with beets, chèvre mousse, and red basmati). Photo courtesy of 1601.


An array of dishes from 1601’s tasting menu. Photo courtesy of 1601.

A glass of Scharffenberger Cellars Non Vintage Brut Excellence will be ready to greet you at the reception. Photo courtesy of MMD.



San Francisco is full of underrated restaurants, and if you have been reading tablehopper for a while, you should know what a fan I am of ~1601 BAR & KITCHEN~. Chef Brian Fernando is such a talented and skilled chef, weaving ingredients and flavor profiles of his native Sri Lankan cuisine into his elegant dishes. You’ll be totally inspired by the unique and refined combinations he puts together. (Beets and goat curry! Coconut and scallop and lime pickle!) And the wine pairings assembled by his wife and business partner Yuliya really elevate the experience. A meal here has a lot of heart and feels so personal. There’s really nothing like it in the city.

1601 recently launched a new tasting menu ($85), and I was so excited by the cuisine all over again—which is why I was inspired to host a special tablehopper supper on Thursday October 15th. Join us for dinner at what I consider one of the city’s hidden gems! It’s going to be an intimate affair, just 16 of us in all. We’ll be tasting some of my favorite dishes off the new menu. And we are going to have some fantastic wine pairings, courtesy of the folks at Maisons Marques & Domaines, who are generously pulling from their wine portfolio and sponsoring the wines for this special evening.

We are going to start with a reception at 6:30pm, with passed hors d’oeuvres, and not one but two sparkling wines from Scharffenberger Cellars, their Non Vintage Brut Excellence and Brut Rosé Excellence from Mendocino County. Then we will sit at 7pm in the private dining room for the remainder of the feast. Here’s the menu as it stands, please note some dishes may be added or altered:

First Course
Lime pickle, serrano
Masoor dhal, black pepper
Duck fat mayonnaise, mustard
Scharffenberger Cellars Non Vintage Brut Rosé Excellence, Mendocino County
Scharffenberger Cellars Non Vintage Brut Excellence, Mendocino County

Second Course
Burnt onion, crème fraîche, turmeric gel
Toasted coconut meat, black garlic-citrus vinaigrette, Parmesan
Jidori egg, sambols
Domaines Schlumberger 2013 Pinot Blanc, Les Prince Abbés Alsace

Third Course
Beetroot, chèvre mousse, red basmati
Chile-fenugreek vinegar
Carpe Diem 2012 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
Carpe Diem 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Fourth Course
Toasted curry, coconut lace cookie
Ramos Pinto Cellars Non Vintage Quinta de Ervamoira 10-Year Tawny Porto

We will learn about Sri Lankan ingredients and hear the stories behind the wines we’ll be enjoying too—from the family-owned Domaines Schlumberger to the historical Quintas of Ramos Pinto to the wines from our own backyard. And we will all have fun sitting around a table together, swapping food stories and more. I look forward to it!

Tickets are available on Sosh for $85, all-inclusive. We hope to see you around the table at this very cozy and special event.

September 29, 2015

Wexler’s exterior. Photo by Mathew Sumner.

Fans of oysters and lobster rolls will perk up with this news: the former Wexler’s space in the Financial District is going to become ~LEO’S LUXURY OYSTER BAR~ from the ever-busy Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Park Tavern, and the Cavalier). Scoop mentions chef Jennifer Puccio will be assembling a menu of classic raw bar items, plus seafood bisque, chowder, grilled oysters, salads, and more. Like, caviar sandwiches. To accompany it all will be Champagnes, rosé, and craft cocktails. Pastry chef Emily Luchetti will make sure you end the night on a sweet note.

The 40-seat space is going to have a small lounge in the front, with a large bar in the middle, and the back area will have banquette seating. Ken Fulk and Jon de la Cruz are designing the space (expect a midcentury look with marble and brass accents). The plan is to open by the end of the year.

As for the Leo in the name, it’s in honor of owners Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas’s adorable son. 568 Sacramento St. at Montgomery.


The Pine Street location of La Boulangerie de San Francisco. Yelp photo by J W.


The former La Boulange du Dome; Yelp photo by Luis C.

A report by Dana Eastland: Back in June, the news hit that Starbucks would be closing all 23 of the La Boulange locations the corporation purchased from Pascal Rigo back in 2012. Well, now that the dust has settled, The San Francisco Business Times reports that Rigo will be reopening six of the former La Boulange locations independently.

He can’t call them La Boulange, though, since he sold that name to Starbucks, so instead he’ll be calling them ~LA BOULANGERIE DE SAN FRANCISCO~. Rigo plans to open the Pine Street location first, on Thursday October 1st. He’ll follow that up by opening in five other former locations, one per week: Cole Valley, Fillmore Street, Hayes Valley, Union Street, and Noe Valley.

As for Rigo’s plans for the new(ish) locations, he’ll be keeping the menu focused on pastry, but “a lot more rustic than it was…big slices of everything, with lots of fruit and less cream,” he says. He also plans to keep the revamped mini-chain small and will be cautious about growth moving forward. As he says, after the Starbucks misadventure, “we want to be better than we ever were—we cannot screw it up.” As for the rest of the chain’s locations, including those in Los Angeles and the North Bay, Los Angeles-based chain Lemonade is reportedly interested in some of them, and we have news below about an exciting development at the Westfield Under the Dome location. The first La Boulangerie de San Francisco to (re)open will be at 2325 Pine St. at Fillmore.

The speculation over what will happen with the remaining Boulange locations continues (the Business Times referred to it as a real estate “feeding frenzy”), but at least one has been spoken for through the end of the year. ~LA COCINA~ will be moving into the Westfield Mall location, in the Under the Dome restaurant collection.

According to an announcement on Facebook, they’ll be opening the new location on Thursday October 1st. We heard from the La Cocina team that this will actually be a temporary café and market called ~EL MERCADO~. They’ll be selling Equator coffee, pastries from Hayes Valley Bakeworks and Pinkie’s, and goods from La Cocina businesses including Crumble & Whisk, Dough & Co, Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, A Girl Named Pinky, and Don Bugito.

To start, the café will be in a bit of a soft opening phase, but Fernay McPherson (Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement) and Adriana Lahl (Sal de Vida) will be employed by La Cocina as the cafe’s head chefs and will be adding more hot food options moving forward. Then, in November, the location will add dry goods and gift items for the holiday season, so you can get a bite and do plenty of holiday shopping all in one place. Right now, the plan is to stay open through the end of the year, but our fingers are crossed that they are able to stay longer! Hours are daily 10am-8:30pm. 865 Market St. at 5th St., Fourth Floor.


Kit Fox’s jackfruit “carnitas” sandwich, with fermented peppers, slaw, and cheese. Photo: Aubrie Pick.


Vegan French dip sandwich, with horseradish au jus. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

While the plant-based ~CITIZEN FOX~ ramps up (har) for its springtime 2016 opening in the Mission at 2205 Mission Street, the team is launching a side project, ~KIT FOX~, in Mid-Market’s The Hall.

This plant-based sandwich shop has Citizen Fox executive chef Kevin Schuder (Millennium, AQ, Boulettes Larder/boulibar) at the helm, serving vegan versions of a French dip (with housemade seitan and horseradish au jus) and a Reuben (with housemade seitan and sauerkraut), plus jackfruit “carnitas” with fermented peppers, slaw, and “cheese.” There will be a tempeh and portobello mushroom banh mi (they turn the tempeh and portobello into a pâté with honey-free hoisin) and a sourdough caprese sandwich, with “mozzarella” (made of mostly coconut and a mixture of nuts), tomato, and basil-arugula pesto. (Most sandwiches are $10 or $11.) Side dishes include kale and couscous salad with currants and citrus; herbed potato and sunchoke salad; and chopped broccolini with preserved lemon and chile.

Kit Fox is opening Wednesday October 7th, serving Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. 1028 Market St. at 6th St.  

In the meantime, if you are curious about Citizen Fox, you can swing by for Friday dinner or Sunday brunch at their temporary location at 2293 Mission St. (the former Hapa Ramen). The dinnertime seasonal menu includes dishes like smoked gnocchi with tomato confit, grilled corn, and summer squash, and binchotan-grilled carrots with black chanterelles, peas, chervil, and harissa. Friday dinner service runs 6pm-10pm; Sunday brunch is 10:30am-3pm.


The KoJa combo from KoJa Kitchen. Yelp photo by Keerati C.

~KOJA KITCHEN~ has opened up a new brick-and-mortar location on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond, according to Yelp reports and a Facebook announcement. The new location joins their Berkeley location and an upcoming Emeryville outpost, plus it looks like the brand has plans to expand and franchise in the coming months.

The location’s menu offers their signature KoJa, or sandwich made with fried garlic rice buns, plus tacos, rice bowls, and they’ve even got a beer and wine license. And, of course, the kamikaze fries are available. Hours are Sun-Mon 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. 343 Clement St. at 5th Ave., 415-463-5085.


Sandwiches from Pinkie’s Bakery. Photo by Maria del Rio.

A report by Dana Eastland: The transition of Bernal’s Sandbox Bakery to ~PINKIE’S BAKERY~ that we reported in June is now complete. To recap, Sandbox owner Mutsumi Takehara sold the bakery on Cortland to Cheryl Storms and Chris Beerman, co-owners of Pinkie’s. Their original location in SoMa is still open, and now the Bernal spot allows them to offer even more of their artisanal breads, pastries, and cakes.

They are currently providing bread to many restaurants around town, including the Parker House rolls at 4505 Meats, burger buns at Starbelly, and rolls at New England Lobster Co., and will be able to take on even more clients. Beginning next week, Bernal residents can find Pinkie’s signature pastries at the new location, including their cake slices (whole cakes available by special order), doughnuts, signature pastries (hello, bacon brioche), and whoopie pies.

In addition to their sweet goods, the new location will be offering an all-new menu of sandwiches, all served on Pinkie’s breads, of course. Because they’ll be using the Bernal location’s kitchen in addition to the SoMa one, you’ll now be seeing Pinkie’s pastries at Ritual and Equator coffee shops too. Hours are Mon-Fri 6am-3pm and Sat-Sun 7am-3pm. 833 Cortland Ave. at Gates, 415-642-8580.


1300 on Fillmore. Photo from Facebook.

It’s another week, which means even more news about chef moves. First up, while chef-owner David Lawrence of ~1300 ON FILLMORE~ ramps up in preparation of opening Black Bark (more on this upcoming barbecue place soon), he has named Jake Whitlock as chef de cuisine of 1300. Whitlock was previously at Ichi Sushi and will be updating dishes on the restaurant’s dinner, brunch, and happy hour menus, putting more of a focus on Low Country cuisine.

As originally noted in Eater: the talented David Wilcox (previously of Mill Valley Beerworks and Gjelina) is the new executive chef of ~AMOURA~ in South San Francisco. He’s there Monday through Thursday; he’s spending the rest of his time in Los Angeles, where he has pop-up dinners and is working on his own project. Look for a strong California influence on the updated Mediterranean menu. He has also brought in some former staff to help him execute his vision. 713 Linden Ave. at 8th Ln., South San Francisco, 650-754-6891.

Lastly, the city is going to be losing one of its most creative pastry chefs: Bill Corbett is leaving The Absinthe Group on Wednesday September 30th, as reported in Scoop. He was originally going to be opening his own restaurant project in Alameda, but that has shifted much farther south, and he will be going to Los Angeles instead. Details are TBD, but for now, he’ll still be around doing consulting while raising funds. Taking his place is sous chef Stephanie Kimura, who has worked with him the past two years.


The swank interior of Mina Test Kitchen, a holdover from the former Café Claude Marina. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

Hopefully you have found the time to book a spot at ~MIDDLE’TERRANEA~ before the temporary and inaugural concept at MINA Test Kitchen wraps up on October 24th. Coming in hot is Little Italy, the next concept inspired by chef Adam Sobel’s Italian-American upbringing (at least the gaudy brocade wallpaper is going to feel more on concept). The new pop-up starts Saturday October 31st, with a Sunday supper, “nonna is cooking” style to it, featuring dishes like stuffed peppers, manicotti al forno, and veal and eggplant Parmesan. It will be $49 per person, exclusive of tax, gratuity, and beverages. Take a look at the preview menu here.

The wine list will also shift, featuring 20 approachable Italian wines by the glass and bottle, including a house wine on each table available by the honor system. Italian beers and low-proof cocktails inspired by Italian classics will also be served. 

Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday nights, and tickets are now available. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.


The dining room at Bodega Bistro. Photo from Facebook.

A tablehopper reader sent us this unfortunate notice from the front door of ~BODEGA BISTRO~, showing that the SF Department of Public Health has closed the restaurant. We looked at the DPH records, but the specific infractions aren’t posted just yet. The notice dates back to September 14th, and a post on Yelp from September 27th says the restaurant is still closed; we have called the restaurant repeatedly and the phone just rings and rings. Here’s hoping they make the necessary changes and reopen soon.


The classic interior at Manor Coffee Shop. Yelp photo by Ed U.

Earlier this month, Scoop mentioned that Ray Jeung, the owner of the classic ~MANOR COFFEE SHOP~ in West Portal, was selling the coffee shop, after taking it over 25 years ago from his parents (who opened it in 1967). And now a tablehopper reader writes in to say Jeung has found a buyer and will be closing sometime in November. We called to confirm the news, but they didn’t want to commit to a closing date quite yet. Go say farewell to the vintage space while you can—no word on who the new owner is, or what their plans for the space are. 321-A West Portal Ave. at 14th Ave., 415-661-2468.


Some of the strong young ladies served by Girls Inc. Photo from Facebook.

As the fall season approaches, there are lots of opportunities to attend events that support some really wonderful causes. Here are just a few great ways to have a great time for a great cause.

On Wednesday October 14th, all you have to do is dine out in the Mission to raise money for Mission Graduates. This is the seventh annual Food for Thought event, and more than 20 Mission District restaurants are participating. Each participating restaurant agrees to donate 20 to 50 percent of their proceeds from that night to the Mission Graduates program, so all you have to do is eat. The participating restaurants include Bissap Baobab, Cease & Desist, Destino, Foreign Cinema, Panchita’s Pupuseria, Southpaw BBQ, and Hog & Rocks. Plus, there is a rockin’ raffle, with prizes ranging from vacations to tickets to local cultural institutions. Raffle tickets are $10 each, three for $25, or six for $50. Locations and prices of individual meals vary by restaurant.

Well, this is a kick-ass celebration of girls and women you won’t want to miss. Girls Inc. of Alameda County, an organization devoted to offering academic achievement programs and community service for girls in underserved areas, is throwing a benefit gala on Saturday October 24th called Taste 2015. Many of the Bay Area’s best female chefs have come together to create a four-course dinner, with a side of female empowerment. Participants include Julya Shin (Pizzaiolo), Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club), Sophina Uong (Revival Bar & Kitchen), and Jen Biesty (Shakewell). There will, of course, be beverages at the event too. Tickets start at $300 per person, with VIP options available. The event begins at 5pm and is being held at the Simpson Center for Girls, 510 16th St. at Telegraph, Oakland, 510-357-5515 ext. 233.

The National Kidney Foundation is hosting its Annual Authors Luncheon on Saturday October 24th at the Marriott Marquis. Authors include chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of New York’s Eleven Madison Park and Nomad and non-food authors like Diana Nyad and Yeonmi Park, plus it’s all emceed by KQED’s Michael Krasny. The luncheon is from 10am-3pm. Tickets are $135 per person, tables begin at $1,200, and sponsorships begin at $2,500; register here. Proceeds benefit the National Kidney Foundation. 780 Mission St. at 4th St., 415-543-3303 for sponsorship information.


The brunch crunch at Sous Buerre Kitchen. Photo by Wes Rowe.

The Mission’s ~SOUS BEURRE KITCHEN~ will begin weekend brunch service on Saturday October 10th, from 10am-2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu offers French-style classics like quiche Lorraine with bacon, leeks, and Comté cheese, or more creative choices like the waffle-fried duck leg with braised kale and dandelion greens, and rosemary maple syrup. There is also the “brunch crunch”: a soft-boiled egg inside sous vide hash browns with bacon and plum mostarda. They will be shaking up a selection of brunch cocktails like the South of France (Imbue Petal & Thorn vermouth, Concord grapes, lemon). Brunch is counter service, and no reservations are accepted. 2704 24th St. at Potrero, 415-874-9831.

~CALAVERA~ has added daytime service, both during the week and on weekends. Lunch is served Monday through Friday 11am-3pm, while brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm. The brunch menu offers egg-studded modern Mexican dishes, including the tacos de arrachera, or tacos with grilled hanger steak, scrambled eggs, and salsa, as well as enchiladas suizas with chihuahua cheese, smoked black beans, and a 63-degree egg. The bar is pouring cocktails, of course, including their margaritas and a piña colada mimosa.

As for the lunch menu, you’ll find their signature ceviches as well as tacos, including pollo en mole and cochinita pibil. There is also a selection of tortas, like the puerco con huevos, a braised pork shank with tomato, avocado, over-easy egg, black, beans, and salsa. Or try the pavo coloradito, a mole coloradito-rubbed turkey leg with queso fresco, pickled red onion, baby kale, and salsa xni pec. Hours are now Mon-Thu lunch 11am-3pm, regular menu 3pm-10pm; Fri lunch 11am-3pm, regular menu 3pm-11pm; Sat-Sun brunch 10am-3pm, regular menu 3pm-11pm. 2337 Broadway at 24th St., Oakland, 510-338-3273.


The paella mixta from La Marcha. Photo by Phi Tran.

A report by Dana Eastland: Sergio Emilio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte, chefs who co-own the Ñora Cocina Española catering business, are getting ready to open their first brick-and-mortar location in Berkeley. It’s called ~LA MARCHA~, and it’s opening in October. The name comes from the notorious late-night bar crawl in Spain, fueled by tapas and drinks. The restaurant will offer more than 25 different tapas, as well as 8 or 9 paellas.

The pair has already become rather well known for their paella catering, and they plan to offer the signature rice dish in traditional preparations, like the paella Valenciana, with rabbit, duck, snail, and green beans, and more creative choices, like the paella tres cerditos with chorizo, smoked pork belly, pork loin, lima beans, leeks, and apple cider. The menu will change with the seasons, as well.

The bar at La Marcha will focus on sherries, with a selection of more than 20 of the fortified wine. They will offer sherry tasting flights for both sherry newcomers and those more experienced with the beverage, as well as occasional sherry tasting dinners on Mondays. In addition, there will be 30 old-world, Spanish-style wines available, with a focus on affordability, as well as three wines on tap. Plus, they will be pouring a rotating selection of Spanish-style dry ciders and local craft beers.

The restaurant, which opens in mid-October, is designed by Restaurant Design Concepts and will feature warm rustic elements, like wood, terra-cotta tile, and bricks, with modern, colorful accents in blue, red, and white. Hours will be Tue-Sun from 4pm-12am, with not just one but two happy hours, one from 4pm-6pm and another from 10pm-12am, when tapas are offered for free with drink purchased. Dinner is served Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 2026 San Pablo Ave. at University, Berkeley.

~STEEL RAIL~, a new café from the reggae-loving team of Temoor Noor, Steve Sparkes, and Effie Speigler, is now open in Jack London Square, according to Scoop. The café serves soups, salads, and sandwiches, all priced between $6 and $7, along with beer and wine on tap. Here’s the menu and drink list. For now, the hours are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and Sat-Sun 8am-3pm. They plan to open until 8pm soon, with an extended menu that will include oysters, meat and cheese plates, and more. 439 Water St. at Broadway, Oakland, no phone.

Laurent De Barbier, who owns ~BRITTANY CRÊPES AND GALETTES~, is getting ready to open his first brick-and-mortar location in Berkeley in November. Brittany Crêpes and Galettes has already established quite a following, with their farmers’ market appearances and catering operation, and the new location will allow De Barbier to expand some of his offerings. De Barbier and his wife both hail from Brittany and bring authentic Breton style to their crêpes. For the savory crêpes, or galettes, they will be using the traditional buckwheat flour, while the sweet crêpes are made using white flour. The fillings will run the gamut from traditional (ham and cheese, strawberries and cream) to more seasonal and creative (braised leek with butter sauce). As De Barbier says, “there are no rules with fillings, it is dictated by the seasons and we can have fun.”

In addition to crêpes, look for entrée salads, charcuterie plates, and French-style ice cream. They also plan to offer beverages like wine, beer, and cider from Brittany. The space has seating for 35, and they plan to start with dinner service, then will add lunch and brunch later. And for those who love seeing De Barbier at their farmers’ market, don’t worry: he’ll continue to serve his crêpes there, as well. 913 University Ave. at 7th St.

If you love board games, listen up: Berkeleyside Nosh reports that there is a new café in Berkeley just for you. It’s called ~VICTORY POINT CAFÉ~, and it’s now open. They’ve got 750 (!) different board games, ranging from classics like Monopoly and Balderdash to the more unusual, like Munchkin and Qin. Here is a list of the games, but they will likely add more. They’ve also got coffee, tea, and snack bowls with nostalgic munchies like teddy grahams with raisins, yogurt-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered blueberries, and vanilla almond granola; you can peek the menu here. There is also a plan afoot to serve beer and wine. Hours are daily, 11am-late. 1797 Shattuck Ave. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-982-6325.

September 22, 2015

The dining room at Cala. Photo by Chloe List.


The communal table at Cala. Photo by Chloe List.


The communal table in the bar area at Cala. Photo by Chloe List.


The entry, with plants. Photo by Chloe List.


The famed Contramar tostada, now a trout tostada, with chipotle, avocado, and fried leeks. Photo by Chloe List.


Sweet potato with bone marrow salsa negra. Photo by Chloe List.


Halibut ceviche à la Mexicana with avocado. Photo by Chloe List.

After much local excitement building up, chef and restaurateur Gabriela Cámara—internationally known for the Mexico City restaurants Contramar and MeroToro—has opened the doors to her first SF project, ~CALA~. The name is Spanish for “cove,” and a fitting one for a restaurant that will be so seafood focused.

The 3,000-square-foot, 90-seat space (for now, it can accommodate even more seats) is quite fantastic: it’s near Hayes Valley and Civic Center, just next door to the Rickshaw Stop on Fell, with the Symphony, Opera, Jazz Center, and more nearby—there isn’t a Mexican restaurant of this caliber in the neighborhood, so its location is quite ideal. The space was a garage that dates back to 1919 and was most recently a recording studio.

Charles Hemminger Architects (State Bird Provisions, SF’s Heath location) worked closely with Cámara on the design on of the restaurant—it has a unique blend of industrialism with a tropical chic to it. When you first walk in, the dining room is separated by a row of fast-growing kangaroo vines that extend to the ceiling, an installation by Jeronimo Hagerman. There’s a semi-open kitchen, demarcated by a wall of textured gold, and the L-shaped limestone bar in the back right corner is equally shimmery with all its bottles. There’s a zinc-topped communal table (with an edge made of brass) and comfortable backed stools that mimic the style of the seats in the dining room (Cámara imported the same seats she uses for Contramar, but used a soft leather the color of turbinado for the seats here). In the center of the room, separating the bar from the dining room, is a fiddle-leaf fig tree (Ficus lyrata), again softening the concrete elements with lush foliage.

The lighting of the space is quite stunning—I love the custom-made barro negro clay orbs from Oaxaca that are suspended from the ceiling throughout the restaurant, with light emitting from the cutouts like a rustic disco ball. The ceiling also has numerous skylights, letting in soft light before sunset takes it away. This is also the first San Francisco restaurant to feature a Constellation Acoustic System from Berkeley’s Meyer Sound Laboratories, with a Libra acoustic image system.

Cámara’s first visit to the Bay Area was when she was a teen, and she remembers her parents taking her to Chez Panisse. Her business partner and the father of her child has been wanting to live abroad, and Northern California bubbled to the top of their list (they had already lived in New York).

A huge help with the project arrived in the form of Emma Rosenbush, whom Cámara met in Mexico City (Rosenbush ran an American brunch pop-up on the weekends, using locally farmed ingredients from somewhat urban gardens) but had moved to San Francisco. Rosenbush reached out to Cámara, acting like an on-the-ground location fixer and helping her find and look at spaces. Rosenbush was so instrumental in the project that she became the project manager, GM, and has a percentage in the business.

Be sure to read this piece on Hoodline about the unique and admirable staffing solution Rosenbush has launched at the restaurant. She used to work at the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, and in an attempt to reduce the rate of recidivism for recently released convicts, Cala has hired and trained a staff that is 70 percent comprised of employees with a prior criminal record. (Rosenbush has been working with the Adult Probation Department’s re-entry branch, Delancey Street, and the Young Community Developers.) It’s so admirable and unique—here’s wishing them much success in this progressive approach.

Cámara has been blown away by the hospitality of the city: “I have been feeling welcomed in the most extraordinary way—everyone has been so generous.” She has close ties with some of the culinary world’s most powerful muses, Diana Kennedy and Alice Waters, and has bonded with Gilbert Pilgram of Zuni. She will easily become the toast of the town—she is vibrant, energetic, and has a keen sense of hospitality. She is so obviously a people person.

Her menu will be focused on local and sustainable seafood, and seasonality will play a big part in what is offered on the menu, plus heirloom ingredients—she has a very Slow Food approach. She is even trying to find an alternative to bringing in limes from Mexico by using housemade fruit vinegars to lend acidity to her dishes. Her famed albacore tostada has morphed into a trout tostada, with chipotle, avocado, and fried leeks, and her pescado a la talla will be on the menu too. But, to be clear, there will be dishes here that you won’t find at Contramar. Nor will they be direct facsimiles of Mexican dishes—her mother is Italian, and growing up with her cooking has a strong influence on Cámara’s cooking style. She says she likes to make pleasurable food, and that is her guiding principle for Cala.

She found a source for native organic white corn in California, and they are nixtamalizing their corn in-house. Wait until you take a bite of a warm tortilla, slathered with a spread made of bone marrow and dried chile, with a mole-like complexity that is a total blast of umami. At a preview party, we sampled a restorative caldo de camarón, halibut ceviche, and there were also some delicious tamales, with the surprise of whole shellfish inside—one had a mussel, still in its shell, and another had a clam, tucked in with chile serrano. There were also sopes with midnight black beans, crema, and ricotta salata—expect plenty of vegetarian dishes on the menu.

Weekend brunch will eventually be a part of the picture, too, serving mollete (a sliced roll topped with beans, cheese, sauce, and pico de gallo), torta ahogada with fish “carnitas,” and more. Cámara is also working with Tartine Bakery on a special bolillo, like a little baguette roll.

The restaurant is currently in a soft opening mode, running a limited preview menu that will expand in the coming weeks as everything ramps up. In about a month or so, there will be a taco stand (Tacos Cala) launched in the back of the restaurant, opening on Hickory Street. The taqueria will be open for lunch, offering soft tacos de guisado, featuring seafood, meat, and vegetable fillings. It will be stand-up style, like you’d find in Mexico, with tacos that are meant to be eaten quickly with your aqua fresca. You’ll also be able to pick up tortillas to bring home. The space will transform into a private dining room in the evenings or be used for spillover from the dining room.

The bar is run by former Blackbird bar manager Regina Schauerte, highlighting mezcal and tequila, of course, plus unusual spirits like aged sotol too. Cocktails will be more on the simple side, but still carefully crafted. The house margarita is made with Amarás mezcal and housemade cane syrup infused with orange and lemon, while a variation on an old-fashioned is made with sotol and finished with spicy bitters and a brandied cherry.

Lauren Feldman—previously at L’Artusi in New York, and for the past three years, working in the hospitality program at Scribe Winery—missed the restaurant world and is managing Cala’s wine list. Since the menu is focused on seafood, she let that be her inspiration for the list, sourcing wines from coastal areas where seafood is central to the diet, like Spain, Southern France, Italy, Chile, and California. Her list features small producers, and ones working with indigenous grape varieties and ancestral farming methods—expect a focus on whites and rosés (you won’t find any pinot noir or cab on her list). There will be about 18 wines available by the glass, or you can go for a carafe or bottle.

Hours for now are Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm.


The lounge at Betelnut. Photo © Brooke Gray Photography via Facebook.

“Like they say, I guess all good things must come to an end,” says Real Restaurants’ partner Bill Higgins, when returning my call inquiring about the gossip I heard this past week about Betelnut’s closure. It’s sadly true. Twenty years after its 1995 opening, and serving countless minced chicken lettuce cups since, ~BETELNUT~ is closing on Sunday September 27th, after lunch and dinner service.

The lease was up, and the building owner did not renew, although the Real Restaurants crew were allowed to run through the summer month-to-month. But now, as we all sadly know, summer is wrapping up and it’s time for them to vacate. Looking back on the 20 years, Higgins shares, “We had a good run, with many periods of glory—the restaurant was emulated by many, and accomplished a lot. And it was a lot of fun. I think we showed many people a great time.” Most definitely. I have many fond (and blurry) memories there, from fantastic group dinners to having former chef Alex Ong’s versions of cha ca la vong and beggar’s chicken (thanks Cecilia).

As for their many talented and loyal employees, Higgins says they are helping the front and back of house find good homes. He quickly added, “The Betelnut staff has been phenomenal. It’s always a hard moment for a restaurateur, but they have been so great, with many staying until the end, for the final hurrah. Truly phenomenal.”

And so, another one of our city’s old-timers exits the stage. The ‘nut was an anchor on Union Street, and it will be strange to have it gone. Thanks for all the delicious meals and hospitality!


The dining room (The Drawing Room) at The Dorian. Photo by Michael David Rose, courtesy of UrbanDaddy.


The Circa 1986 cocktail, with gin, Calvados, raspberry jam, lemon juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. Photo by Amy Herold.


The shellfish tower, with Dungeness crab, shrimp, and Miyagi oysters. Photo by Amy Herold.


The Dorian’s house burger, with aged cheddar, “fancy” sauce, and fries. Photo by Amy Herold.

There is quite the swanky new spot to come to Chestnut Street, taking over the former Circa: ~THE DORIAN~. The project is from Anderson Pugash, Benson Wang, and Jack Herr of Palm House, Bergerac, and Audio, plus general partner Guri Walia and advisory partners Austen Afridi and Scooter Simmons.

The menu is all about classic American dishes designed to share, like a chopped Caesar salad, deviled eggs (naturally), shrimp cocktail, and steak tartare, plus mussels and fries, a flat-iron steak, and a burger. The chef is Chris Ricketts, the group’s executive chef. You can look over the menu here.

As for the cocktails, Fifty Fifty Cocktail Co. founder Anthony Parks has put together a crafty menu of classic cocktails and martinis made with premium spirits, from a Gibson to a Martinez, and a Fifty-Fifty made with the addition of a dry manzanilla sherry. For those of you “down with brown,” look for more than 75 fine American whiskeys and plenty of whiskey-based cocktails. Get thirsty while looking at the cocktail menu here. The wine list has a mix of international and local selections, including two rosés and several sparkling choices. It’s also worth noting that they have a solid selection of half bottles and larger-format bottles, for groups of different sizes. Peruse all the options right here.

The space is now airy and bright (some windows were added), with a shimmering chandelier in the Drawing Room (the dining area), with banquettes and booths, plus bright chairs the color of peacock blue and Fornasetti plates on the walls. The room is anchored by a round conversation settee in pistachio. It’s whimsical and fun, with some Victorian and fin de siècle elements presented in a playful way (Shelly Amoroso is behind the design). The spacious main bar (tricked out in brass) is flanked by booths upholstered in faux crocodile, and the peacock color is echoed in the barstools. There’s also the semiprivate mezzanine, now a study, that’s perfect for small groups.

Happy hour will be Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6:30pm, featuring $1 oysters and half-off bottles of rosé and Champagne. Hours: Thu-Sun 4:30pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4:30pm-2am. Brunch will come later this fall. 2001 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-814-2671.


Chefs Cortney Burns and Nick Balla. Photo by Chad Robertson via Facebook.

I knew that chefs and now owners of ~BAR TARTINE~, Cortney Burns and Nick Balla, have been working on a new name for the business since they bought it from Tartine Bakery (we originally announced the news here), and now they have decided on a name: ~CRESCENT~.

Talking with Burns about it, she says the name really resonates with them because it summarizes the ebb and flow of things, and the birthplace of civilization and food. It also doesn’t pigeonhole their cuisine and leaves them open and free, which is very much their style. She said to expect more of a sense and definition of the name when they share their new logo and identity. The new name should also be in effect in 90-120 days or so, all contingent upon completing escrow. Looking forward to seeing things take shape for the talented duo.


The future home of Caputo. Photo from Google Street View.

We have been reaching out to the ~CAPUTO~ team since April, and now they’re finally ready to release some details on the project. Coming to the former Sutra and temporary Slanted Door space, it’s slated to open in early October. As previously reported, the project comes from partners Sam Ramadan and Shah Bahreyni of Boca Tavern and Boca Pizzeria in Marin. It’s a California-style pizzeria and trattoria, with housemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and entrées from the wood grill. On the menu, look for fresh Italian options and some unusual proteins like braised lamb tongue. There are also classics from the wood-fired grill, like grilled octopus, porcini-dusted Wagyu steak, and chicken.

There is a full liquor license, and cocktails come from John Oyarzon, while the wine list comes from Paul Einbund and will include both local and international pours. The bar, which offers views of the bay, will have seating for 17, and a front patio offers seating for 40. As for the interior, it seats 100, and the design comes from Michael Brennan (Jardinière, Baker and Banker, Fleur de Lys, Farallon). There isn’t an exact opening date yet, but we’ll let you know when it’s set. 100 Brannan St. at Embarcadero, 415-543-9720.


The veranda at Le Colonial. Photo courtesy of Le Colonial.

In an unexpected turn, chef Laurent Manrique is consulting for ~LE COLONIAL~, working on a new direction for the 17-year-old restaurant (originally noted in Scoop). But it’s ends up that it’s not that surprising when you hear more about Manrique’s background: in 1990, Manrique’s first boss was Le Colonial founder Jean Denoyer, who sent Manrique from New York City to Vietnam in 1992, and that’s where Manrique found Le Colonial’s first chef (which opened in 1998).

Flash forward to a year and half ago, when Manrique was in Vietnam for his honeymoon and visited the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, reminding him of his original inspiration for Le Colonial. Funnily enough, Le Colonial’s GM, Andre Cortes, got in touch with Manrique soon thereafter—the timing of a collaboration seemed quite right.

Manrique is currently fine-tuning the Le Colonial menu, steering it back to the French-Vietnamese colonial style of cooking it originally offered. Look for dishes like a blanquette de veau made with coconut milk, a pho that will be more like a pot-au-feu, shared dishes like whole fish, and a spin on riz au lait (rice pudding) for dessert. He brought on executive chef Brian Bowen (previously chef de cuisine of Cavallo Point’s Murray Circle, and who also cooked at Meadowood and Mugaritz), saying, “I wanted a younger chef—he is going to bring a light touch and modern techniques.” There are also a couple of Vietnamese ladies in the kitchen who have been there for quite some time, and Manrique said it’s important that they stay—he said their skills are quite special (“You should see how they roll spring rolls!”).

It’s worth noting that the décor will stay as is, which is timeless—the new direction is really about bringing some luster back to the menu. The new menu will be in place in early November; we’ll keep you posted on how it takes shape in the meantime. 20 Cosmo Place between Sutter and Post and Jones and Taylor, 415-931-3600.

Over at ~LA MAR CEBICHERIA PERUANA~, Peruvian native Victoriano Lopez is now the corporate executive chef—he has been working with founder Gaston Acurio for more than two decades at Lima’s Astrid & Gaston; opening La Mar in Mexico City, Madrid, and San Francisco; and Tanta in Chicago. La Mar is turning seven on Monday September 28th, and you can enjoy two-for-one pisco sours and pisco punches all day in the bar.


The newest location of Onigilly. Photo courtesy of Onigilly.

~SHIDO~, the sushi restaurant we first mentioned was opening in the former home of Buck Tavern on Market Street last May, is now open. Eater reports that the restaurant opened Sunday September 20th. Wilson Ma is the chef, and the menu offers sushi, sashimi, kushiyaki meat skewers, and donburi. The sake list is almost entirely Japanese, and bar manager Karina Sha hints at the possibility of a tasting menu in the future. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-9pm, Friday 11am-10pm, Sat 12pm-10pm, and Sun 12pm-9pm. 1655 Market St. at Gough, 415-872-7187.

After closing their Haight Street location in 2010, ~MASSAWA~ has reopened, this time in North Beach. Hoodline reports that owner Asmerom Ghebrmicael has taken over the former HRD Smokin’ Grill space on Green Street and will be serving both Eritrean and American dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Eritrean options include meat and vegetable dishes, all served with injera. The breakfast choices are especially intriguing, with choices like shehanafil, or fava beans with tomato, onion, jalapenõ, feta cheese, and bread; and khicha fitfit with silsi, which is pieces of injera cooked with tomato sauce and served with yogurt. There are also American breakfast plates, like omelets and other egg dishes. Hours are 10am-11pm daily. 532 Green St. at Grant, 415-621-4129.

La Cocina alum ~ONIGILLY~ opened their third downtown location yesterday, September 21st. The new location offers the same fresh rice balls stuffed with a variety of fillings, including vegetables, seafood, and meat. There are also combinations with miso soup, seaweed salad, or edamame; here’s the menu. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-4pm. 455 Market St. at 1st St., 415-590-2494.

There is a new taqueria in the Mission, according to Yelpers. It’s called ~MATEO’S TAQUERIA~, and it has a fresh modern look. Reportedly, the food is fresh, too, with classic taco and burrito offerings, all made from scratch. Initial Yelp reviews cite fresh flavors and a low grease factor, as well as delicious aguas frescas in rotating flavors. There’s also a cold-brew horchata concoction called cochata. Hours are daily 10am-11pm. 2471 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-648-6000.

Yeral Caldas of Peruvian restaurant Cholo Soy has opened a second restaurant, called ~EL AJÍ~. Mission Local reports that the new location is larger than Cholo Soy, with 15 tables and an expanded menu that includes ceviche, lamb, chicken, and arroz chaufa, or rice fried with egg. 3015 Mission St. at 26th St.

~ARMSTRONG BREWING~, the South San Francisco brewery previously mentioned on tablehopper, is now softly open, according to Facebook. For now, it’s just beer, but food should be added in early October. Here is the list of beers on offer, and they’ve got a beer garden for enjoying the warm weather too. Soft opening hours are Wed-Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-10pm. 415 Grand Ave. at Maple, 415-745-2739.


Coffee from LAMILL Coffee, coming soon at the Corridor Café. Photo courtesy of LAMILL via Hi Neighbor.

Hi Neighbor restaurant group, the team behind Fat Angel, Trestle, and Stones Throw, is getting ready to open a new coffee shop in the 100 Van Ness building (we mentioned a project was coming to the building a couple of months ago). There are actually two projects moving into the building’s ground floor: ~CORRIDOR~ and ~CORRIDOR CAFÉ~. Corridor Café is all about coffee, in a partnership with LAMILL Coffee, a Los Angeles-based roaster. The café will offer speciality coffee drinks, many prepared with the same attention given mixed drinks or cocktails (but nonalcoholic), as well as sandwiches and other light lunch items. As for Corridor, it is a fast-casual concept offering lunch and dinner, with wine and beer. Both new spots are slated to open in the winter of 2015. 100 Van Ness Ave. at Fell.

Just in time for our Indian summer and its warm days, ~RITUAL COFFEE~ is adding nitrogen-infused kegged cold-brew coffee at their Valencia Street location. They’ve been serving the silky-smooth iced coffee at their Napa Oxbow location all summer, and now we can get a sip in the city too. They’re using their Don Guayo single-origin Guatemalan beans for the brew and then serving it from a pressurized keg. Get it while it’s hot! Or, um, cold. 1026 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-641-1011.

Back in June, we wrote about local coffee roaster ~BLUE BOTTLE~ discontinuing their wholesale operations. It ends up the last roast date is September 27th. A tablehopper reader wrote in about how one local coffee shop, ~SPECIAL XTRA~, was handling things: they started working on their own signature blends!

I spoke with owner John Quintos (he is also behind ~CENTO~ and Vega), and he said he is working with RoastCo (and roaster Julia Lancer) on what they’re calling the Clutch espresso blend, to mimic the darker style of the Hayes Valley Blend they love so much—it is chocolaty and bittersweet. For drip, they came up with African Presence, emulating Blue Bottle’s Three Africans, which is chocolaty with a mild berry finish.

Cento is 100 percent using these new proprietary blends (they are calling the private label Cento Coffee by RoastCo), and by September 29th, Special Xtra 1 and 2 will be 100 percent as they phase out the Blue Bottle. If other shops are interested in carrying these blends, Quintos said they will have the capacity to take on new accounts. He is also working with De La Paz on creating a couple of vibrant blends, both an espresso and pour-over. Look for those to be coming soon. Cento, 331 Ritch St.; Special Xtra, 46 Minna; Special Xtra 2, 138 Minna at John Colins.


The egg muffin sandwich for brunch at Scotland Yard. Photo by Wes Rowe.

By Dana Eastland. Looking for some fun food for your next, um, wake-and-bake weekend? Look no further than the new brunch at ~SCOTLAND YARD~ in the Marina. The menu is full of fun dishes, including chicken and waffle bites with Captain Crunch-encrusted chicken thighs, black pepper-maple caramel, and bread and butter pickles; and the bangers Benedict, an eggs Benedict made with housemade sausage and Worcestershire-marinated tomato. There is also an egg muffin sandwich that looks mighty fine, and their burger will also be available. Of course, there are brunch beverages to help any hangover or party, including a stout float with housemade ice cream. Brunch begins this Saturday September 26th and will be available Sat-Sun 10:30am-3pm. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-872-6853.

~YUZUKI JAPANESE EATERY~ has changed their hours. They are now closed Mondays and Tuesdays and have started opening a bit later for brunch (apparently customers weren’t coming in before 11:30am). They’ve struggled to find a second chef to help out, so in the interest of employee health and happiness, they’re cutting back until someone can be hired. Hours are now Wed-Fri 6pm-10:30pm, Sat 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sun 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St., 415-556-9898.


The bay views from the Epic Steak patio. Photo from Facebook.

With one heck of a view of the bay, it’s no surprise ~EPIC STEAK~ figured out a way to have a new patio bar, opening today (September 22nd). The enclosed patio and eight-seat bar will serve classic and original cocktails by beverage manager Nick Henry, plus food too. The upstairs Quiver Bar will continue, business as usual. 369 The Embarcadero, 415-369-9955.

Marina dwellers have a new late-night option to get their fingers sticky: ~GLAZE TERIYAKI~ has a new window that opens at 10pm, serving teriyaki plates (from steak to salmon to vegetarian), gyoza, spicy-yaki chicken wings, and cold soba. Bonus: there are also donuts available by Dynamo Donut, in homage to the space’s former incarnation as All Star Donut. Open Fri-Sat 10pm-1am. 2095 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-590-3193.


Tea in bowls, tins, and pots at the Tea Festival in 2014. Photo from Facebook.

Do you love tea? Don’t miss this chance to taste and learn about the bewitching beverage on Sunday September 27th at the SF International Tea Festival. The event is happening upstairs in the Ferry Building and offers opportunities to try tea from all around the world, see presentations from tea professionals, and win raffle prizes. You also won’t want to miss the Tea Market, where tea vendors will offering tastings of their teas, along with opportunities to learn more about the leaves. The event runs from 10am-5pm, and tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

We’ll be giving tickets away this week, too, so be sure to follow along on Instagram and Twitter for your chance to win! 1 Ferry Plaza, Embarcadero at Market.


Fall cookbooks are hitting the shelves, which means lots of great authors and chefs will be in town promoting them. Here are some to check out.

Tonight, Tuesday September 22nd, and tomorrow, Wednesday September 23rd, catch Nancy Singleton Hachisu cooking from her new book Preserving the Japanese Way at ~IZAKAYA RINTARO~. Both nights, there will be seatings from 6pm to 9:30pm, and she’ll be on hand to sign books and talk about her food and writing. The dinners cost $65 per person and will offer a set menu, not including drinks. Reservations can be made by email or by calling the restaurant at 415-589-7022.

On Wednesday September 30th, local chef and author Joanne Weir will be at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ for a book signing of her latest, Kitchen Gypsy. The book tells the story of Weir’s life as a cook and teacher through stories and recipes. The event is free, and wines from her own winery will be on offer. 6:30pm-7:30pm.

Then, on Thursday October 1st, another local will be at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~. Duggan McDonnell, bartender extraordinaire and badass writer, will be talking about San Francisco and our cocktail culture while promoting his new book, Drinking the Devil’s Acre. The event is free and includes a cocktail tasting, so don’t miss it. 6:30pm-7:30pm.

Culinary mastermind and icon Ruth Reichl is going to be in town with her new book, My Kitchen Year. She’s having a cocktail party on Tuesday October 6th at ~BAR AGRICOLE~, and you’re invited. The party includes recipes from the book, the opportunity to purchase the book and have it signed, and there will be plenty of cocktails and wine. Tickets are $75 per person, and the 6pm event is already sold out, so don’t delay! Tickets are still on sale for the event that runs from 8pm-10pm.

Meera Sodha is going to be at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ on Thursday October 8th. Her new book, Made in India, includes more than 130 recipes rooted in her Indian, Ugandan, and British heritage. There’s a section on desserts, too, like a fennel seed shortbread. The event is free and runs from 6:30pm-7:30pm.


Outdoor patio at The Yard. Photo courtesy of The Courtyard’s Facebook page.

CUESA has partnered with Bank of America and The San Francisco Giants to offer a Sunday farmers’ market once a month at ~THE YARD AT MISSION ROCK~. You can catch it on selected Sundays through the end of the year: September 27th, October 25th, November 22nd, and December 20th. Each market will have a theme, with products and activities built around it. September’s theme is preservation, and the market will offer relevant items from 10 to 15 farmers, as well as 5 restaurants. Plus, there will be cooking demonstrations, tastings, and hands-on kitchen experiences.

For more details on the producers, special events, and schedule for the markets, head here. Each market runs from 10am-2pm. 3rd St. at Terry A. Francois Blvd.


A plate from Tacos Sinaloa. Yelp photo by Raymond S.

Beloved taco maker ~TACOS SINALOA~ has opened a brick-and-mortar location, according to Berkeleyside Nosh. Owner Lupe Bueno has operated three well-regarded taco trucks, and this is the company’s first outpost without wheels. The menu offers tacos and monstrously large burritos, with lots of classic fillings including al pastor and shrimp. 2384 Telegraph Ave. at Channing, Berkeley.

There’s a new place for alfresco dining in Oakland, now that ~THE HALF ORANGE~ has completed their beer garden. They’ve added 40 seats outside, an outdoor bar, a television, and they even have some more taps, putting their grand total of draft beers at 13. Oh, and now they’re also serving weekend brunch, Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 3340 E. 12th St. at 34th St., Oakland, 510-500-3338.

Back in July, we mentioned new ice cream shop ~LITTLE GIANT ICE CREAM~. The ice cream shop, from owners Kevin Best and Neil Rideout, is making their ice cream from scratch, instead of using a base, which means they are able to create the flavor and texture they want from the very beginning. And according to their Facebook page, it’s now open, serving unusual flavor combinations, many booze-infused. Hic. 1951 Telegraph Ave. at William, Oakland, no phone.

Eclectic sandwich spot ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ is moving to Oakland to partner with Firebrand Artisan Breads, Scoop reports. The new partnership means that Pal’s will close its San Francisco location on Friday October 9th and will reopen in the multiuse space The Hive later this fall. 2343 Broadway at 24th St., Oakland.


A burger from Farm Burger. Photo courtesy of Farm Burger.

~FARM BURGER~, the small, Southern-based chain that opened its first West Coast location last year, has opened another Bay Area location. This time, it’s in San Anselmo, and they’re offering the same responsibly sourced items at reasonable prices (burgers start at $7.75) that can be found at their other locations.

The beef is sourced from BN Ranch, the pork from Llano Seco, and the chicken from Petaluma Poultry, while vegetables come from the Marin farmers’ market. Meat patties are available in classic beef, as well as pork, chicken, and a vegan quinoa and bean option. There are also special burger combinations, fries, snacks, and milk shakes. For beverages, look for local craft beers on tap, as well as local wines. The full menu is right here, including beverages and a kids’ menu. Hours are daily 11am-10pm. 882 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. at Shaw, 415-785-4802.

September 15, 2015

Seating and the Market Board at RN74. Photo courtesy of RN74.

While I was attending Heritage BBQ on Sunday, I noticed the executive chef for ~RN74~ was listed as Michael Lee Rafidi (who did an awesome job with his Korean-influenced pig dishes at the event). We reached out to the Michael Mina team, and while they did confirm Rafidi recently joined the RN74 team, they say he is still getting geared up and they won’t have his new menu in place until early to mid-October (he was the corporate executive sous chef for the Mina Group for the past couple of years). Then again, a few places online mention Rafidi has been RN74’s executive chef since June. Anyway. The team asked me to stand by for more details about his menu in a couple of weeks. As for talented former exec chef Adam Sobel, we imagine his runaway success with ~MIDDLE’TERRANEA~ at the Mina Test Kitchen has something to do with the change.

Some changes over at ~KIN KHAO~: chef Michael Gaines will be diminishing his role in the kitchen over the next few months, and Scoop reports that after the new year he will start on his own project (fingers crossed it’s in SF). We’ll wait to hear more on that one (we also hear that he and his wife have a baby on the way). Proprietress Pim Techamuanvivit mentions she is not looking for a chef (but looking for cooks, like everyone else)—Gaines’s right-hand man Narciso Salvador (who’s been there since day one) has been running the kitchen for a few months now and reportedly has everything down. He was sous chef at Izakaya Yuzuki and Central Kitchen and also worked at Ame and Ishikawa (in Tokyo).

Another chef leaving to pursue his own thing is Robin Song of ~HOG & ROCKS~. Scoop mentions he’s leaving after three years there at the end of September. Song is going to be focusing on launching Junju, his Korean concept (he has been hosting pop-ups at Hog & Rocks). According to the website, “Junju will focus on Korean BBQ with the traditional art of fermentation and preservation at its core.” Get a sneak peek of the menu here. Song is currently courting investors; we’ll keep you updated as this develops.

Looks like there’s some drama over at the newly opened ~THE KEYSTONE~, with chef Zack Freitas being let go just after he got the restaurant up and running. The restaurant says it was a mutual decision (you can read about it on Eater). 68 4th St. at Mission, 415-777-1200.

~FRANCES~ has officially announced that Michaela Rahorst is chef de cuisine; she is running the kitchen while owner Melissa Perello focuses on Octavia. Rahorst has been at Frances since it opened, working closely with Perello and will continue the culinary style we all know and love there (via Scoop).

Over at ~BARBACCO~, Miguel Peffer is the new chef de cuisine, after working his way up the past five years (he was a cook on the opening team in 2010). You’ll find a regional menu within the main menu each month; this month focuses on the cuisine of Campania.


The upcoming Reuben Danish from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Photo via Facebook.


A Board cheesesteak. Photo: Rena B Meyer.

A few updates around town for you, starting with some word from owner Aaron Caddel of ~MR. HOLMES BAKEHOUSE~. He mentioned there is going to be a new fall menu launching, and they’ll be throwing a party at Intelligentsia’s roasting facility in Potrero Hill (1125 Mariposa St.) at 7pm on Thursday September 24th (you can RSVP on their website, 21 and over). Expect some bite-sized versions of the new menu, drinks from a few partners, and some DJs too. New dishes you can look forward to include a Reuben Danish (with a house-fermented sauerkraut they’ve been working on for some time).

Last week we reached out to former Mr. Holmes baker and genius Ry Stephen, who abruptly left the bakery in June and he says he is currently in New York, so that’s that for now. In our earlier piece, we also mentioned Mr. Holmes is expanding to Los Angeles. Eater adds the news that Brittany Delval is the new pastry chef at Mr. Holmes (she was formerly a private pastry chef and recipe developer for King’s Hawaiian Bread); Eater LA shares more about the upcoming Highland Park location.

Over in SoMa, we have a few updates from ~DELI BOARD~ to share. Owner Adam Mesnick is launching a new nighttime pop-up series, Deli Board Nights, featuring a special Board cheesesteak and Board Buffalo wings on Thursday September 17th, a Fat Boy Burrito and Board Nachos on Friday September 18th, a gyro night on Thursday September 24th, and a “Newish Deli” night on Friday September 25th, with a brisket sandwich, matzo ball soup, mushroom farfel, grilled rye bread sandwiches, and Reuben-style Board rolls. The regular menu will be available, and BYOB is encouraged. 6pm-9pm. 1058 Folsom St.
 at Russ.

Mesnick’s other restaurant, ~RYE PROJECT~, has an expanded menu, with additions like the Bill Martin (Romanian pastrami, corned beef, turkey breast, muenster cheese, coleslaw, tysyacha sauce, rye), the B. Hold (Romanian pastrami, corned beef, Swiss cheese, haba kraut, tysyacha sauce, rye), and the Suzy G. (smoked trout, cream cheese, avocado, hard-boiled egg, pickled onion, dilled ranch, onion roll). Check it all out on the menu here. 180 7th St. at Natoma.

Looks like things are moving along for former Bix and Fog City chef Erik Lowe and pastry chef Aaron Toensing’s new Marina project that is opening in the former Republic. The name will be ~SPAGHETTI BROS.~, after all, and according to posts on Facebook, it looks like demolition ended in August and construction is under way. Stand by for more intel on when the meatballs and Negronis will be unveiled. 3213 Scott St. at Lombard.


A lobster roll at Lobster ME. Photo from Facebook.

Earlier this year, we reported that Jocelyn Bulow was moving the Potrero Hill location of Chez Maman into the former home of Chez Papa, also on Potrero Hill. Now we’ve got details on what is moving into the cozy Chez Maman location: Bulow’s latest project, ~DAT SPOT~. He’s brought on chef Brandon Peacock (Lungomare, Venticello) to run the kitchen, which is serving American comfort food. Think appetizers like fondue and baby back ribs, along with main dishes such as a pork chop, fish and chips, and rotisserie chicken. The new concept will open Monday September 21st. Update: we just heard from the team that, due to issues with city inspections, the opening date has been pushed back to Monday September 28th. Hours are 11:30am-10pm, with weekend brunch Sat-Sun 11:30am-3pm. 1453 18th St. at Connecticut, 415-872-6670.

Try out a taste of New England at ~LOBSTER ME~, UPDATE: NOW OPENING SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 26TH in the Westfield San Francisco Centre. This is the small chain’s first California restaurant, joining two locations in Las Vegas and another in Maryland. The lobster rolls are all made with sustainably harvested lobster and include choices like the Original Maine Style, with a touch of mayonnaise and chives, or the Connecticut, with warm butter in a brioche bun. As a nod to San Francisco, they’ve also added the Golden Gate roll to the lineup, with miso mayonnaise, scallion, sesame seeds, and shredded nori. Other menu items include lobster mac and cheese and the lobster grilled cheese sandwich.

To celebrate their opening, Lobster ME will be giving out free Golden Gate lobster rolls September 26th through the 28th to the first 100 customers at the shop. Hours are Mon-Sat 10am-8:30pm and Sun 11am-7pm. 865 Market St. at 5th St.


The bar at Pesce. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

With the closure of the ~PESCE~ location after a couple of years in the Castro this past weekend (ciao, sgroppino!), some rumors are percolating about what is going to open in its place (it has that coveted liquor license, you see).

One rumor making the rounds is Yoshi Tome of Sausalito’s venerable ~SUSHI RAN~ is opening a casual concept there. We reached out to the Sushi Ran team and heard this back: “Thanks for your interest, but it’s just a rumor. Will be happy to keep you in the loop if anything else comes up, but nothing yet.” It could very well be just a rumor, but you quite possibly will be hearing more from us on this soon. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez.


The interior at Picnic on Third. Photo courtesy Picnic on Third.

~PICNIC ON THIRD~ has been doing a booming lunch business since opening nine months ago and are now adding Sunday brunch to their repertoire. The brunch menu offers seasonal plates that will rotate frequently, including a chile-braised pork with polenta, collard greens, and poached eggs, and multigrain pancakes with spiced fruit and cultured butter. The brunch menu is right here (along with pictures), and you’ll also find smaller items like banana hazelnut bread and a daily soup. They are serving Contraband coffee, as well as Jittery John’s cold brew on nitro.

There’s also a great Gilt deal right now that gets you brunch for two at Picnic on Third for $25 (upgrade to mimosas for $38). When you invite a friend and sign up, you’ll get $25 off your first deal, which means free brunch! Just be sure to use this link and get the deal right here. Brunch hours are Sunday 10am-2pm, Saturday may be coming soon. 493 3rd St. at Bryant, 415-590-7121.

Hayes Valley wine bar ~BIRBA~ is now serving Sunday brunch, Hoodline reports. The compact, seasonal menu includes scrambled eggs on toast with corn and cheddar, and pancakes with nectarines. Brunch is served 11am-3pm. 458 Grove St. at Octavia, 415-519-5099.

Starting next Monday September 21st, the day before their fifth birthday, breakfast and brunch mainstay ~PLOW~ will be open Mondays, meaning they will now be open seven days a week. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-2pm, Sat-Sun 8am-2pm.

Newly opened Mission restaurant ~MYRIAD GASTRO PUB~ has started happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 6:30pm. They’ve got $5 wine, $5 beer, and $5 snacks, which keeps the math nice and simple. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-525-4335.


The burger at Spruce. Photo from Facebook.

It’s time for the second round of the Burger Battle at ~THE HALL~ on Sunday September 20th at 4pm. To recap, each month three local burger mavens will face off against each other in three rounds, and then in November the three winners will do battle in a final round. Last month, Wes Burger won the battle against The Whole Beast and Burger.

This month, Thomas McNaughton (representing Cafe du Nord), Mark Sullivan (Spruce), and David Goody (Alta CA) will will come to the contest, all to benefit The Cooking Project. You, too, can get in on the beef and vote for your favorite burger. Tickets to the event are $45 and include one half-size burger from each contestant, plus two beers. Round three will be October 11th, followed by the Burger Battle Royale on November 22nd. 1028 Market St. at 6th St., 415-558-8293.


Sopes with chorizo and potato by El Huarache Loco. Photo: © John Ater.

~LA COCINA~ has another rad project in the works, of course. This time, it’s a series called F&B: Voices from the Kitchen, and it’s a twice-yearly storytelling series paired with food. The first one kicks off at 5:30pm on Wednesday October 28th, with the theme of authenticity and its role in how we think about food. Storytellers include Bonnie Tsui, author of American Chinatown, Jordana Rothman and Alex Stupak, co-athors of the upcoming book Tacos: Recipes and Provocations, and La Cocina’s own Veronica Salazar talking about why she doesn’t make or sell burritos.

The speakers will incorporate performance, multimedia, and, of course, food and drink, in the presentations. The evening begins with a cocktail reception from the Bon Vivants, along with bites from the Swedish American Music Hall’s chef Thomas McNaughton and special guest chefs, like Salazar’s El Huarache Loco. You can find lots more information here, and tickets are $75 per person for general admission and $150 for La Cocina supporters, which includes a $75 donation to La Cocina. There are also $25 tickets available for industry workers and students who don’t have the budget for a full-price ticket. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez.


Clove & Hoof owners John Blevins and Analiesa Gosnell. Photo by Tim McCarthy.


The outdoor patio at The Dock and The Beer Shed. Photo: Vanessa Yap-Einbund.

~CLOVE & HOOF~, the butchery shop and restaurant that opened last year in Oakland, has started dinner service. Owners John Blevins and Analiesa Gosnell have their lunchtime sandwiches making appearances on the menu, including their signature cheeseburger and cheesesteak sandwich, as well as shrimp and grits with squash confit and cured salmon roe. There is a selection of starters, including chicharrón deviled eggs, fried pig’s head cakes, and salads, including one with burrata, tomatoes, cucumbers, sour plum purée, and puffed rice. Check out the whole menu here.

There is also a small selection of wines by the glass, beer on tap and in the bottle, and soft drinks. Dinner is served daily 5pm-9pm. Lunch is still 11am-3pm, with an interim menu offered 3pm-5pm, and the butcher shop is open 11am-8pm. 4001 Broadway at 40th St., Oakland, 510-547-1446.

Hyperseasonal Oakland restaurant ~OLIVETO~ has announced the dates and menu for their annual tomato dinners. They’re happening Wednesday September 16th through Saturday September 19th and are a celebration of all things tomato. The à la carte menu includes tomatoes at every turn, including appetizers, pastas, main dishes, and desserts. Take a look at the full menu here, and make your reservation right here.

Celebrate Oakland with the Town Eats party this weekend, Friday September 18th through Sunday September 20th, in Jack London Square. Oaklandish, Lungomare, Drake’s Brewing, and Hanger One have teamed up for the festival, which includes several special events. It’s all happening adjacent to the patio at Lungomare. On Friday night, September 18th, Drake’s and Hanger One will be offering $4 drink specials along with live music from 6pm to 12am. Then on Saturday September 19th, catch a whole pig roast five ways, with chefs from Lungomare, Chop Bar, alaMar, Haven, and ChowHaus. Each of the chefs will be roasting a pig with a Caja China outside. From 12pm to 10pm, tastes of the pork and sides can be purchased for just $4, or opt for the all-you-can-eat plate for $20, which is a pretty sweet deal. On Sunday, there will be even more drink specials, food specials, and fun events happening, from 11am to 5pm.

For a full schedule and details, head here. Proceeds benefit Planting Justice, an Oakland-based social justice organization that builds gardens and develops food justice programs in local schools. And while you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Eat Real Festival! Jack London Square, Water St. at Broadway, Oakland.

It looks like ~MOCKINGBIRD~, the charming bistro in Uptown Oakland, is moving to a new location at 418 13th Street. The space formerly housed Vietnamese restaurant Ba Vo, and Mockingbird owners plan to open there in the spring of 2016, according to East Bay Express. The new location will offer a liquor license, unlike their current one, but in the meantime you can still head to their current location and BYO. 1745 San Pablo Ave. at 18th St., 510-290-0331.

On Tuesday September 22nd, ~MISS OLLIE’S~ is hosting the kickoff opening night party for the Matatu Festival, a global festival of music and film in Oakland (more on that in a minute) with a special dinner. Special guests Saul Williams and Bryant Terry (a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award recipient) will be in attendance, celebrating the release of Williams’s book US(a.) and playing jazz records.

The menu from Sarah Kirnon looks killer, with dishes like cornmeal fritters drizzled with wild honey and flowering cilantro, twice-fried green plantains with pikliz and mojo sauce, and skillet-fried chicken summer succotash and smoked field greens. The event is 7pm-10pm, and tickets are $75 and include the family-style dinner, cocktails, and admission to the Saul Williams concert with the Black Spirituals on September 23rd. As for the festival, it features a ton of great programs and events, including fashion, dance, music, and film. Check it all out right here. 901 Washington St. at 9th St., 510-285-6188.

A couple announcements from ~THE DOCK~ and ~THE BEER SHED~ from owners Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery and James Syhabout of Commis and Hawker Fare. Their new chef de cuisine is Geoff Davis, whose food we got to sample at Heritage BBQ on Sunday. His background includes Aqua, Fifth Floor, and Cyrus, plus Haven, and he also worked in the tasting room at Unti Vineyards. His new menu shows a refined touch, with dishes like squash à la plancha with queso fresco, pepitas, pickled tomatillo, serrano, and epazote; and amberjack crudo with pickled cherries, blossom salt, upland cress, shiro vinaigrette, and daikon.

The cocktail menu has also received an update with new head bartender Tayler Buffington (Michael Mina in the St. Francis Hotel, Range). Look for the Pimm’s Cup Royale (made with fresh strawberry and cucumber juices) and the Casablanca Sour (brandy, fresh apricot, ras el hanout, and egg white). There are also large-format options if you’re with a group.

Lastly, there’s a new Sunday Supper in The Beer Shed from 4pm-8pm every Sunday. Expect communal seating and family-style American comfort food dishes, such as buttermilk brined fried chicken, a clambake, and more, with rotating sides. Have a look at a sample menu here. 95 Linden St. at 3rd, Oakland, 510-338-3965.

~ANGELA’S~ has reopened on Park Street in Alameda, this time across the street from their planned location. The San Jose Mercury News has the full story, but here’s a summary: chef and owner Saboor Zafari was planning to move his Mediterranean restaurant to a new location on Park Street last year, and just days before opening an arsonist started a fire and the restaurant was lost. Now, Zafari has secured a new location across the street, and it is now open! Initial Yelp reports call out the mezze platters and lamb, as well as the warm and welcoming service. 1640 Park St. at Pacific, Alameda, no phone.

Back in May, we reported on the newest location of ~PHO AO SEN~ (noise warning on that link), coming soon to Albany. A call to the restaurant’s Oakland location says they are opening the Albany location in a month, putting the planned opening date at mid-October. The new space is a former Sizzler. 665 San Pablo Ave. at Portland, Albany.

September 9, 2015

An array of bites (including halibut chicharrón). Photo: ©


Beef tartare with cured egg yolk. Photo: ©


Roasted whole trout with summer pepper and celery salsa. Photo: ©


Sweet corn ice cream with huckleberries and honey cake. Photo: ©


Salted date ice cream, cardamom marshmallow, sesame and chocolate granola. Photo: ©

Due to open this Friday in Mint Plaza is ~ORO~, a fitting name for a restaurant that is just across the plaza from the historic Mint building (it’s opening in the former Thermidor space). Executive chef and owner Jason Fox of Commonwealth has partnered with Timothy Felkner (founder of Vigilante Hospitality) and is offering a casual menu, with dishes that dip into seasonal and eclectic Californian and Mediterranean flavor profiles. Dishes are meant to be shared, although the single bites section is just for you, ranging from halibut chicharrón topped with salmon roe and crème fraîche to salt cod croquettes with preserved garlic aioli to flavorful grilled lamb on skewers—these bites make some great bar snacks too.

We attended a family test meal over the weekend (you can view the preview menu here), which featured small plates like a cool and smooth zucchini and mint soup with vadouvan oil on top—it’s a housemade masala (and a beautiful dish for Indian summer!). There’s a beef tartare with a crown of cured egg yolk on top and ancient grain croutons that get flavor-fied with beef fat (mmmhmmm), and another ideal warm-weather dish was the albacore tuna with melon, green beans, purslane, and dollops of whipped lardo. There’s a vibrant green salad, full of fines herbes; potato gnocchi with corn, chanterelles, and pecorino; and a grilled pork sausage with shelling bean salad.

As you can see, there’s a bit more rusticity to these dishes than Commonwealth’s soigné style (the chef de cuisine is Travis Day, formerly of Central Kitchen and Yoshi’s). Look for some charcuterie and whole-animal cooking too.

Large plates to share include roasted whole trout topped with a summer pepper and celery salsa and broccoli on the side; half a chicken with tomato, cress, and Swiss chard panade; and porchetta with grilled cucumbers, potato, and horseradish.

Another fun option is the blind tasting menu, which is like an omakase/chef’s choice scenario—the kitchen will send out dishes, including some off-the-menu picks. We don’t have prices for anything yet; look for the actual menu to post on the Oro website soon.

Appealing desserts include a fragrant honey cake with sweet corn ice cream and huckleberries (you want this), and salted date ice cream with cardamom marshmallow, and sesame and chocolate granola.

The bar manager is Randy Mariani (Tupper & Reed and Foreign Cinema), who has put together a craft cocktail menu with housemade ingredients like syrups, tinctures, shrubs, and infusions, and there’s specialty ice. Cocktails include the Granite Lady with cava, Cocchi Americano, dry vermouth, Strega, and lemon, and the 1854, with Scotch, smoked cherry heering, Benedictine, and Sightglass coffee. There are some large-format cocktails, too, good for four people, like the Octopus’s Garden with gin, Aperol, grapefruit, lemon, Peychaud’s bitters, and soda. You’ll notice the layout of the bar has changed to be parallel with the wall and now features a white marble bar top.

Wine director Kelly Evans (most recently head sommelier at Saison) has assembled a 100-plus bottle list—you’ll find many old-world selections, plus California’s latest. Ballers can request a reserve list. Local and imported beers will have their place on the list as well.

The 100-seat and multiple-level space continues its industrial look, and Roddy Creedon of Allied Architecture and Design has warmed things up with walnut tables, painted reclaimed-wood wall panels, and some texture from gray curtains. There is a fun custom chandelier made of miner-style lanterns at the entrance. The art program is also lending some pops of color—it currently features artwork from Erin Parish, and will rotate. Groups can find comfortable tables and nooks upstairs, and there are high-top tables in the bar area, ideal for walk-ins, snackers, and couples. They plan to start lunch on the patio in a month or so—although it’s tempting to drag your table out there right now.

Dinner is served Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. They plan to open this Friday September 11th, but you can confirm on their Twitter feed: @oro_sf. 8 Mint Plaza (at Jessie), 415-974-1212.


Kavitha Raghavan. Photo by Sweet Light Studios.


Green peas (pattani) sundal and Sancerre. Photo via Indian Paradox on Facebook.

When a beer and wine license filing for a place called ~INDIAN PARADOX~ for 258 Divisadero hit the wires a few weeks ago, I wasn’t only happy because an Indian place appears to be opening soon near hopper HQ, but more so because the name on the license was Kavitha Raghavan, a tablehopper reader, and host of the Indian Paradox pop-up, a wine pairing and Indian food event (with idlis, bhel puris, sundals, and dahi sev puris) she has hosted at 18 Reasons and Fat Angel. She was away in Chennai for a wedding, but she has returned; we were able to catch up and now we can release the details.

Kavitha is an electrical engineer, but wine is her true passion: she has been studying hard (she passed the Certified Specialist of Wine exam and is a Certified Sommelier [level 2] exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers), working at wine bars, writing a blog, and along the way was inspired to create a new concept. As Kavitha has been learning more about wine, she can’t believe that beer is always such the default pairing for Indian food. As she says, “How can the food of a billion people always be paired with just beer (or riesling)?” So it has been her passion and quest to find wines that pair well with Indian food and spices, like the high-acid wines of Northern Italy and wines without much oak.

She also loves the street food of India, calling it the soul of the country’s cuisine. So you can see where this is going… Kavitha is going to be opening a casual place, featuring street food and chaat from India with international wines. She wants to make guests feel like they are drinking wine on the streets of India—with the energy and color and upbeat vibe of that scenario—paired with street food from all over India, a delightful mash-up of East and West, a little bit Bollywood and a little bit French (although wines will be from all over the world). The paradox in action!

She keeps seeing the same street food dishes on menus here in the Bay Area and wants to feature new ones. She grew up in Chennai, so she wants to include some dishes from the beaches of home, like grilled corn and sundal (a chickpea salad with coconut), plus she is considering dishes from other regions, like dabeli (boiled potato, dabeli masala, chutney, and sev, all pressed in a pav [bun]), and dishes from Kolkata, like churmur (a crunchy and sweet-and-sour dish with chickpeas and potato), and ghoti-gorom (a cone full of sev, onion, green chile, and fruit). These dishes aren’t set in stone, but it’s to give you an idea of what she’s currently testing and tasting!

Kavitha has been working on this idea for years (more than five!) and finally found her dream location: the Divisadero Corridor (it’s her favorite neighborhood). Indian Paradox will be opening in the former King Foot Subs space and will have a variety of counter seats, tables, and some high tables for perching as well. She is pleased the space has soaring ceilings and plenty of windows as well.

She is thinking of opening in the afternoon and serving until midnight or so, and will consider opening earlier in the day, brunch, and later hours as she feels out the neighborhood and what it needs. Right now, the hoped-for opening is early December—she is pushing hard. Kavitha is also looking for someone who can assist her in the kitchen, and help her develop and fine-tune the recipes while relating to her vision. We’ll let you know when the opening is close, can’t wait for this one. Follow along on Facebook for upcoming pop-ups and more. 258 Divisadero St. at Haight.


Lasagna from Marcella’s. Photo: ©

The delicious Dogpatch lasagna specialist Massimo DiScullo of Marcella’s Lasagneria is opening a second location in SoMa, right downtown. His second location is called ~MASSIMO’S LASAGNERIA~ and is located inside the new Rincon Center. The menu offers seven different choices, including several vegetarian selections, and a lunch special of $12.95 for a piece of lasagna, a salad, and a drink. Plus, they do catering, including events, lunches, or take-and-bake trays (especially good for wake-and-bake days). Hours are Mon-Fri 10:30am-3pm. 101 Spear St. at Mission, 415-974-6959.


The Sunflower sign glows again. Yelp photo by Lily A.

While I was enjoying my sandwich on the beach at Lake Tahoe, I received a text from a bartender with a cold, proudly proclaiming that ~SUNFLOWER AUTHENTIC VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT~ in the Mission had reopened, and he had a delicious bowl of pho in front of him to prove it. Well, Sierra/high-altitude brain got to me and I forgot to write about it in my column last week. (Thanks to Mission Mission for the reminder.) It has the same ownership and cooks—seems like they concentrated on the Potrero location, got it dialed in, and came back. So mysterious. Anyway, you can get your imperial rolls again. 3111 16th St. at Valencia, 415-626-5022.


Charles Phan; photo via The Slanted Door website.

File this under “interesting”: the Los Angeles Times (via LAist) reports that Charles Phan will be opening a location of the ~SLANTED DOOR~ in the City Market South development in downtown L.A.’s Fashion District. Olle Lundberg will be designing the space (like all his other locations). Plan on an early 2016 opening.

Are you a server? Then please check this out: “Calling all restaurant servers in the Bay Area—I want to interview you! My name is Sara Curtis and I’m an independent radio producer and a UC Berkeley Food and Farming Journalism Fellow. I’m interviewing servers working in all types of restaurants, from fine dining to diners. I would love to talk with you for an hour or two, record your observations, and give the server perspective a home on the radio.

I’m interviewing during the whole month of September and the beginning of October. If you are interested in being interviewed or if you know a server that likes to talk, please email me. You can find me on Twitter @sbcsays and on my website. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!”

Sustainable Seafood Week will be running upstream and downstream in San Francisco from September 13th to 20th. We love our seafood here, so here’s your chance to learn more about it. Local, sustainable seafood will be the focus of Industry Lab discussions; a pop-up gala event (on the ferryboat Eureka!) will feature food from Scoma’s, Fine & Rare, Waterbar, and more; seafood food carts will be highlighted at SoMa StrEat Food Park; and there’s a Fisherman Wharf’s sustainable seafood crawl, among many other activities. And look for restaurants like State Bird Provisions and Homestead in Oakland to be highlighting sustainable seafood dishes through a partnership with OpenTable. Some of the events are kid-friendly; be sure to check them out.


The bar at Pesce. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

The Castro has a lot of places shuttering this week, starting with ~PESCE~, which moved to 2223 Market Street from Polk Street two years ago. SFist first reported on the closure, citing issues with the larger location. A new buyer is rumored to have already claimed the space, but no one is saying whom. In the meantime, Pesce will close forever on Sunday September 13th, so you’ve got until then to stop in one last time.

According to Hoodline, Castro Mexican restaurant ~ZAPATA~ is closing on October 15th. Owner Jorge Perez cited the end of their lease as the cause (the building’s owner is Les Natali, who owns several empty storefronts in the neighborhood), but said they are hoping to open elsewhere in the area. 4150 18th St. at Church, 415-861-4470.

The Church Street location of ~CHILE PIES~ has permanently closed as of Saturday September 5th, Hoodline initially reported. In fact, the closure is part of a larger change within the restaurant group (which includes Green Chile Kitchen, and additional Chile Pies locations on Baker Street in San Francisco and another in Guerneville). The 601 Baker Street location is temporarily closed this week for a refresh (they’ll reopen on Friday September 11th), and when they reopen, the name will be ~CHILE PIES BAKING CO.~. In addition to the new look, they will also have expanded offerings, including cakes with flavors like mocha, German chocolate, and lemon poppy seed. In order to focus on the expanded bakery, though, the Church Street location was closed. You’ll still be able to find their pies and cakes at Baker Street, as well as on trips to the Russian River in Guerneville. 314 Church St. at 15th St.

Yelpers and tipster Jason B. noticed that ~JOCELYN’S BAKERY~ in the Mission has closed. The space was more than just a bakery and also served vegetable and fruit juices, tamales, and pupusas, and was well known for friendly service. No word on what’s moving in quite yet. 3566 20th St. at Lexington.

In the Financial District, we noticed an ABC change of ownership for ~PALADAR~, known for its Cubano sandwiches (which I always found to be rather lackluster). We called and an employee confirmed it will be closing (timing is TBD). Taking its place is a project from the Megana Corporation; a post on Chowhound notes the CFO was the original owner of Million Thai on Van Ness, although we’ll have to see what opens in this location. 329 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-398-4899.


Tostadas de tinga from El Pipila at the 20th Street Block Party. Photo by Bites & Bourbon/Brenda Ton.

The third annual ~20TH STREET BLOCK PARTY~ is coming up on Saturday September 12th. Ne Timeas Restaurant Group and Noise Pop are hosting the event, which takes over 20th Street in the Mission between Harrison and Bryant from 12pm to 6pm. The party includes cooking demonstrations from Thomas McNaughton (Ne Timeas, Flour + Water), Telmo Faria (Tacolicious, Uma Casa), Ryan Pollnow (Ne Timeas, Aatxe), and Anna Derivi-Castellanos and Lenore Estrada (Three Babes Bakeshop). Check out details and the demonstration schedule right here. Plus, there’s live music from Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Nick Waterhouse, Dominant Legs, and Fine Points, plus many more; here’s the full lineup of musical acts.

Of course the event offers plenty of opportunities to eat and drink, with vendors from the neighborhood and beyond offering lots of tasty goods, including Trick Dog, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, paella from Ne Timeas’ Aatxe, Burma Bear, and tostadas de tinga from El Pipila. Check out all the participants here, along with special deals on offer during the afternoon from local shops, bars, and restaurants.

The event is completely free to attend, with food and drink available for purchase. There are also VIP tickets available for $95 per person, which include access to a private lounge, restrooms, free food and drinks, and special stage view areas. 20th St. between Harrison and Bryant.


Meat on the spit and over the fire at Heritage Fire. Photo by Galdones Photography courtesy of Cochon 555.

Barbecue lovers, you’ll want to get your ticket to the first Heritage BBQ event in San Francisco, happening this Sunday September 13th at Magnolia Brewing Company in Dogpatch. Cochon 555 is putting on the five-city tour, promoting heritage breed pigs, old-world cooking techniques, and global traditions and flavors.

There will be five chefs competing (Dennis Lee of Smokestack/Namu Gaji, Geoff Davis of The Dock, Michael Rafidi of RN74, Nicolai Lipscomb of The Battery, and John Madriaga of Spruce), with each one cooking one whole, family farm-raised, 180-pound heritage pig for a group of 20 judges (and guests, of course). In addition to sampling the competitors’ dishes, your all-inclusive ticket includes “BBQ Traditions,” a tasting inside the event where 10 notable chefs prepare one dish from their favorite barbecue culture, from al asador to Caja China. There will also be wine, beer, cider, and spirits, with some cocktails, artisan cheeses, and sustainable seafood too.

Tickets for general admission (at 5pm) start at $100, and VIP tickets for early admission (at 4pm) are $200. Magnolia Brewery, 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.


A cheese plate at Cheese Fest. Photo from Facebook.

Cheese lovers (and we know there are many of you), you’ll want to get this event on your calendar. The California Artisan Cheese Guild is launching SF Cheese Fest. There will be some pairing workshops and events in Oakland and Dogpatch on Friday September 18th, and on Saturday September 19th will be the Cheesemaker Celebration. More than 20 cheesemakers, plus mongers, Bay Area brews (Magnolia Brewing Company, Fort Point Beer Co., and Harmonic Brewing), and local makers of artisan foods (like Josey Baker Bread and We Love Jam) will all be in the house at Dogpatch WineWorks (2455 3rd St. at 22nd St.). VIP tickets ($125) include early entrance at 6pm, live music, special bites provided by Piccino, and prizes; and general admission ($75) is from 7pm-10pm. (The event will be this year’s primary fundraiser for the California Artisan Cheese Guild.)


Street food at the Eat Real Festival in 2014. Photo by Linc Chu courtesy of Eat Real Festival.

Oakland’s seventh annual ~EAT REAL FESTIVAL~ returns to Jack London Square from Friday September 18th to Sunday September 20th. The festival, from the Food Craft Institute, is free to attend and features street food from local purveyors and restaurants, all for $8 or less. There are chef demonstrations, including a celebration of global fast food on Fast Food Friday, with chefs Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club), Dominica Rice-Cisneros (Cosecha), and Rick Hackett (Bocanova), as well as Anya Fernald (Belcampo Meat Co.), where they’ll be talking about street food and quick snacks from all over the world.

Butchers from Belcampo Meat Co. will also be on hand with butchery demonstrations, and then on Sunday you won’t want to miss the Flying Knives Butchery competition, where local butchers will compete to break down a whole hog as fast as they can. And of course, there are the food vendors, including Baia Pasta, KoJa Kitchen, Bok Ssam, Bombzies BBQ, and Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement. Check out all the vendors here.

There are lots of special events to check out, too, and of course opportunities to imbibe. The Drink Real portion for the festival offers wine, beer, cocktails, and lots of nonalcoholic options like coffee from America’s Best, House Kombucha, and Hidden Star Orchards. There is also a new cider saloon with offerings from the likes of Two Rivers Cider Co. and Sonoma Cider. As for wine, look for pours from Dashe Cellars and Lacuna Wines, to name just a few, along with beer from more than 25 local breweries and local spirits like Hangar One and Darjeeling Gin. Here’s a full list of the beverage vendors. Festival hours are Fri 1pm-9pm, Sat 10:30am-9pm, and Sun 10:30am-5pm. Free to attend. Jack London Square, Broadway and 1st St., Oakland.

On Sunday September 13th, Maria Capdevielle will be teaching a class on homemade Italian pastas in Berkeley, including pumpkin ravioli and spinach pappardelle. The class is almost sold out (two tickets are still available), and tickets are $80 per person including instruction and food. Then next month, she’ll be offering another class on Saturday October 10th on the fall cooking of Piemonte. Tickets are $80 per person or $150 for a pair. Both classes take place at the Playing Life Academy/Footfire Soccer Center, 1645 4th St. at Virginia, Berkeley.

September 1, 2015

The bar at Bon Marché. Photo courtesy of Bon Marché.


The dining room. Photo courtesy of Bon Marché.


Duck au poivre with preserved cherries. Photo by Spencer Brown, courtesy of Bon Marché.

A report by Dana Eastland: As previously covered on tablehopper, the latest project moving into Mid-Market is ~BON MARCHÉ~. It’s from Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman of Mercer Restaurant Group (AQ, TBD) and is a big and ambitious project, with 7,500 square feet of space and all-day hours. Bon Marché is inspired by the Marais neighborhood of Paris and offers various sections in the restaurant with different specialities. There is a raw bar, as well as a coffee shop, dining room, brewery, lounge, private dining room, and even a flower shop.

In the dining room (which offers full service), Matthew Sieger is the executive chef, and his menu is all about French classics (with a seasonal, California twist, obviously). Think duck au poivre with preserved cherries, chilled watercress soup with smoked trout roe, steak tartare, and of course a bistro-style burger. They are also making pâtés and terrines in-house, and the raw bar serves oysters as well as shellfish and crudo. Check out the dinner menu here.

There is also a full bar from bar manager Eric Quilty, and the cocktails are all inspired by French films. If you’re feeling bourgeois, there’s the Discreet Charm, made with aged rhum agricole, pear liqueur, sesame-infused honey, and sparkling pear cider, or try the Love at Sea, with carrot-infused Campari, Benedictine, and Dolin dry vermouth.

As for that brewery, local cicerone superstar Rich Higgins consulted with the team on developing their beers, and they will offer two rotating selections inspired by French brewing. Look for L’Ouvrier, a French farmhouse beer, and Le Mistral, a Provençal-style pale ale. There are also guest beers—check out all the choices here.

Of course there is also plenty of wine—about 100 options, in fact. Allegra Angelo, an advanced-level sommelier, has created the list and organized it by price, region, and how it will pair with the space’s many food options. Oh, and there is that floral shop! It’s from the sister design duo Tango & Foxtrot, so you’ll never be without floral romance at dinner again.

Bon Marché is now open (their doors officially opened August 28th), and hours are Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm, Sat 4pm-12am. 1355 Market St. at 9th St., 415-802-1700.


The bar at Sessions. Photo by Kingmond Young.


The private dining room, plus the larger dining room in the background. Photo by Kingmond Young.


Panela cheese dumplings with cilantro-chile pesto, corn, and pepitas. Photo by Kingmond Young.


The pork rib eye confit on polenta with broccoli di cicco. Photo by Kingmond Young.

A report by Dana Eastland. The large new project in the Presidio, ~SESSIONS~, which we updated you on in June, officially opened its doors on Monday August 24th. The bar and restaurant comes from partners Michael Bilger (who is executive chef) and Evin Gelleri, the general and business manager. The pair has brought on Nicole Erny, a master cicerone, to develop the beer list and educate the opening staff, and Jordan Spaulding, a certified cicerone candidate, to manage the beer list day-to-day.

The bar has an extensive beer list, with 100 options available, including 24 on draft. The bottle list will offer some larger-format selections for sharing among groups, as well as a selection of five session-style ales. They are also offering a daily bottle pour available by the glass, which will offer a chance to try more unusual beers without having to order the whole bottle, and there are daily rotating flights too.

The wine list will include 30 bottles, along with 12 by-the-glass selections and 10 wines on tap. There is also a cocktail list from Peter Ziegler (Urchin Bistrot), made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Their liquor license will also allow them to offer wine for off-premise sale (meaning retail, essentially), and they plan to sell wines from Skywalker Ranch in Marin for both in-house and off-site consumption. Take a peek at the full bar list here.

As for food, Bilger’s menu offers hearty, seasonal food built around their relationship with local farms, especially the one at Skywalker Ranch. There is an ample choice of small plates, again with a focus on sharing, including a charcuterie platter of housemade meats with cheese and their own “brewed” bread ($16/$29), freshly shucked oysters (A.Q.), and panela cheese dumplings with cilantro-chile pesto, corn, and pepitas ($10/$18). For main dishes, it’s California style, with seasonal influences, such as rye pappardelle with smoked beets, pea sprouts, preserved lemon crème fraîche, and poached egg ($19), or meatier options like the pork rib eye confit with mustard fruit, stone-ground polenta, and broccoli di cicco ($30). This being a beer place, there’s also a burger, of course, available “straight” with just pickles and fries ($15), or “chef’s style” with the addition of Wagon Wheel cheese and bacon-Anchor jam ($18). Check out the full menu here.

The space is large, clocking in at 3,500 square feet, with seats for 150 in the dining room, plus an additional 50 on the patio. There is also a private dining room with space for 16. Lundberg Design conceived the space, incorporating an acrylic and steel sculpture into the entry. It’s also worth noting that Sessions won’t be accepting tips, but will add a 20 percent service charge to every check. Hours are Mon-Fri lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, limited afternoon menu 2:30pm-5:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-10pm; Sat-Sun brunch 11am-2:30pm, dinner 5:30pm-110pm. 1 Letterman Dr. at Lombard, entrance at the Chestnut Gate at Lyon, 415-655-9413.


The former garage at 834/838 Divisadero Street. Photo from Google Streetview.


A rendering of the restaurant by dmarc Studio (via Hoodline).

This morning, both Scoop and Hoodline percolated with the news that there is a taker for 838 Divisadero, formerly an auto body shop. David Nayfeld and Matt Brewer will be opening ~CHE FICO~, a rustic Italian restaurant in spring 2016—the two-level space will also have a full bar. dmarc Studio will be designing the 115-seat restaurant (which will be on the second floor)—it sounds like the ground floor will have a patio and bike parking.

Bay Area native David Nayfeld has most recently been in Los Angeles (Fifty Seven), and his background includes four years at Eleven Madison Park in New York with Daniel Humm (he was a senior sous chef) and Cru.

He has partnered with Matt Brewer, who has worked both front of house (the Hogsalt Hospitality Group: Au Cheval and Bavette’s, both in Chicago) and back of house (L20, also in Chicago). Look for a lot of the produce and meat to come from the Brewer family ranch in Glen Ellen. Also on the menu: housemade charcuterie and pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and seasonally driven dishes. We’ll keep you posted as this develops. As for the name, it’s an Italian expression for “how cool,” kind of like this project! 838 Divisadero St. at McAllister.


The fantastic lasagna at The Italian Homemade Company, one of the many crazy delicious pasta dishes they make. Photo: ©

Fans of the fantastic piadine and tortellini pasticciata (a bolognese with béchamel) and lasagna and all the other amazing housemade pastas at ~THE ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY~ in North Beach will be happy to know they have expanded to a location on Union in Cow Hollow (the former American Cupcake space). Yeah, carbs, they gonna get you!

Hoodline reports there are 45 seats, with table seating and a counter (the stools are made from Italian scooter seats, cute). You can also get pasta to go, and look for some new items to come onto the menu. Hours for now are Tue-Sun 11am-9pm; looking for morning hours to start soon. 1919 Union St. at Laguna.

Hoodline also notes owners Mattia Cosmi and Alice Romagnoli are potentially expanding their Columbus store into the space next door; we’ll see how negotiations go. (They’d love to open a full restaurant and pour wine and beer.)


The newly refreshed interior of Mathilde. Photo from Facebook.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the former Le Charm Bistro in SoMa is home to a slightly different concept from (mostly) the same team. To recap, the new project is called ~MATHILDE~, and Le Charm owner Lina Yew partnered with one of her longtime staff members, Mathilde Gravel, to refashion the space and reopen it. The chef is Thierry Clement (Yew’s husband) of L’Ardoise, and the menu is classic French bistro fare, with some California influence. Their Facebook page mentions that they are now open for lunch too. 315 5th St. at Folsom, 415-546-6128.

Back in July, we reported on the upcoming ~COCO FRIO~, which is moving into the former Savanna Jazz space on Mission. The new spot is opening today, Tuesday September 1st, after being softly open for a bit. To recap, it’s from Manny Torres Gimenez and his wife Katerina De Torres of The Palace, who are bringing an island vibe to San Francisco.

The restaurant takes its inspiration from Torres Gimenez’s childhood visits to Isla Margarita, a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. The idea is that happy hour will actually be happening anytime the restaurant is open, with drink specials and small plates priced from $5-$10, or opt for the three-course tasting menu for $29.99 (or, um, just think of it as $30). Dishes are inspired from island street food and include arepas and lots of seafood. There is also a full bar, with tropically inspired cocktails including the signature Coco Frio ($15) for two, with rum, coconut rum, coconut water, and lime, all served in a fresh coconut. The menu will change daily, but you can check out a sample menu here. Hours are Wed-Sun 4pm-10pm. 2937 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-375-1185.


The counter at Ino. Yelp photo by Jenny Q.


The window at the Crème Brûlée Cart shop (photo via Facebook).


Photo courtesy of La Boulange.

Whooooosh, you ready for a bunch of news about closures? First up, stinky tofu HQ ~SPICES!~ has reportedly closed (thanks to Chowhound for the news). Fortunately, Spices II (291 6th Ave.) remains open, but here’s hoping they get some of their luster back—things have been slipping a bit there lately. (You can read our past review of both places here.) 294 8th Ave. at Clement.

We broke the news a couple of months ago that there was an ABC license transfer under way for ~INO SUSHI~, with Ayumi and Kiyoshi Hayakawa of ~KOO SUSHI~ apparently taking over the space with a project listed as An Sushi. Sadly no one from Koo will confirm our queries, so the project details are TBD for now. But back to Ino: Ino-san and his wife are in fact retiring and closing the restaurant (Eater confirmed the closure is this week)—numerous people have been visiting to say farewell to Ino-san’s superlative ankimo. And now the city loses another one of its infamous culinary Nazi/control freak types. 22 Peace Plaza, Suite 510 at Buchanan, 415-922-3121.

Fans of the neighborhood-friendly ~MINAMI~ in the Outer Richmond will be sorry to hear it has closed its doors—reports on Yelp state the nice owners have retired. 1900 Clement St. at 20th Ave.

Hoodline filed a report of the closure dates of the 23 ~LA BOULANGE~ locations throughout the Bay Area this month and also floated the rumor that Pascal Rigo is potentially taking over the leases of some of the locations. Nothing is confirmed for now, so we’ll wait to hear from Rigo on what’s next.

Looks like the folks at Big Night Restaurant Group realized they can make more money using the ~MARLOWE BURGER~ location as an event space, so they have stopped service and it’s now a private dining space (Marlowe @330). You can book it for a cocktail party reception, a burger party, or a seated dinner, with room for up to 60 guests (standing).

Another space change: Curtis Kimball listed his brick-and-mortar location in the Mission for his ~CRÈME BRÛLÉE CART~ business, stating that his business was better suited for the evening, and the area is more of a daytime vibe. Looks like he got a taker for the space, starting today, September 1st. Best to Curtis, who will continue with his carts, and doing catering and special events (here’s another ad he’s running for help). 3338 24th St. at Bartlett.

Brunch mainstay on Valencia, ~BOOGALOOS~, has suffered a crazy rent increase, and now the space is listed on LoopNet. They’ve been in that location since 1994, what the hell. A comment on Facebook from the restaurant says, “Boogaloos lovers! We are not dead yet. Stay tuned for updates as we search for a new location. In the meantime…Order Up!!” Eater reports GM Peter Hood is going to remain open “as long as we can for our employees. Our main concern is keeping our current staff employed and helping them find new jobs.” 3296 22nd St. at Valencia.


The SFPD Blue burger at Papa Mak’s. Yelp photo by Michael A.

Looking for an after-beach burger? You’re in luck because ~PAPA MAK’S BURGERS~ has opened today, Tuesday September 1st, just a few blocks from Ocean Beach in the Outer Sunset. The menu includes a lamb patty, chicken sandwich, and even a duck burger, with lots of toppings. Of course, there is also a classic beef option. You can also opt for one of their specials or build your own. Initial Yelp reviews are positive and call out the burgers, as well as fresh salads and good fries. Hours are daily 11am-9pm. 3755 Noriega St. at 45th Ave., 415-340-3171.

Yelpers also caught the opening of ~PAO JAO~ in the International Food Court in the Financial District. The lunch spot serves a mash-up of ramen and Korean-style dumplings (both thick-skinned pao and thin-skinned jao)—initial reviews are mixed but mention the king dumpling as a winner, and the price is right. 380 Bush St., Suite 6, at Kearny, 415-781-0201.

If you think the problem with your dining experience is having to deal with actual people, never fear. A new restaurant called ~EATSA~ is here to spare you that pain, with a completely server-free experience. Misanthropes, here’s your spot! Eatsa has developed an automated ordering system, cubby system for pickup, and an automated pay station. All the bowls are quinoa-based and vegetarian, and cost $6.95 each. You can add extras, order additional sides, and there is also a selection of house beverages. Check out the menu here and start speculating about what’s next. Delivery via Google self-driving car, perhaps? 121 Spear St. at Market.


The patio at Arguello. Photo: © Henrik Kam 2014.

We’ve got a bunch of quick updates on hours at Traci Des Jardins’ projects in the Presidio, mostly about service hours. Ready? First, ~THE COMMISSARY~ is no longer serving lunch, but you can catch dinner Mon-Thu 5:30pm-9pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. Mon-Fri, they also open at 5pm for light bites and drinks. 101 Montgomery St. at Sheridan, 415-561-3600.

~TRANSIT~ has expanded its hours to include Saturdays. You can find them Mon-Fri 7:30am-5:30pm and Sat 9am-5:30pm. 215 Lincoln Blvd. at Graham, 415-561-5300.

And last but not least, ~ARGUELLO~ is now open for lunch on Tuesdays. Hours are now Tue lunch only 11am-4pm; Wed-Fri lunch 11am-3pm, bar menu 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; Sat brunch 11am-3pm, bar menu 3pm-5pm, dinner 5pm-9pm; and Sun brunch only 11am-4pm. 50 Moraga Ave. at Graham, 415-561-3650.


One of the many cases of meaty products at Belcampo Meat Co.’s new Mission location. Photo courtesy of Belcampo Meat Co.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the 4505 Meats shop in the Mission has closed, and a new location of ~BELCAMPO MEAT CO.~ has moved in. Their latest location is now open, just as a retail shop (no restaurant). They are selling their meats, sausages, stocks, and other meaty culinary building blocks, as well as grab-and-go meals to reheat at home. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm and Sat-Sun 10am-7pm. 1909 Mission St. at 15th St., 415-914-0637.

When mega cheese mothership ~GOURMET & MORE~ in Hayes Valley closed, many in the neighborhood were worried it might be gone forever. Well, not quite, according to Hoodline. Gourmet & More owner Laurent Recollon has sold the business to two friends, married couple Shirley Ng and Phithak Resakual, who have been supplying cheese to Recollon for years. They have more than 30 years of cheese experience between the two of them.

The new project will be called ~SAN FRANCISCO WINE & CHEESE COMPANY~ and will continue to offer gourmet cheese, though they may shift away from the mostly French focus and offer more local choices. There will also be wine available by the glass, as well as sandwiches and some meats, plus they’ll be adding local chocolates to the lineup. The space has a nice back patio, where they will serve tea and house-roasted coffee. They plan to reopen in the next few weeks. 141 Gough St. at Oak.


Volunteers sort bell peppers at the SF-Marin Food Bank. Photo from Facebook.

We’ve talked about food insecurity before on tablehopper, and it always bears mentioning that even as our beautiful city becomes a bastion of good food and good drink, many in our community are struggling to put food on the table. In fact, as San Francisco becomes more expensive, it’s even more challenging for many families to get by.

To bring attention to the challenges of eating on a very strict budget, the SF-Marin Food Bank is participating in Hunger Action Month this September. In addition to its major push as kids head back to school and families get ready for the holidays, the food bank will be working to match a pledge from Riverbed Technology for $100,000, matching every dollar they raise in September. For more information on how to donate, head here.

You can also participate by joining the Hunger Challenge from Monday September 14th through Friday September 18th. You’ll be challenged to eat on just $4.50 a day, the food stamp average. The Food Bank will provide recipes on their website and will moderate a conversation on Twitter about the experience.

While you take the challenge, tweet what it’s like, and share with them at @SFMFoodBank. Encourage your community to think about hunger with the Hunger Challenge in a tweet: can you live on $4.50 a day? Take the #HungerChallenge and share your experience with @SFMFoodBank.

You can sign up for the challenge right here, and don’t forget to continue the conversation on Twitter!


The dining room at Ajanta. Facebook photo by Marty Snortum.

I know people deserve their retirement, especially folks in the restaurant industry, because it’s like dog years. But still, it’s tough to learn about folks like the kind Lachu Moorjani of ~AJANTA~ leaving us! (He opened the restaurant in 1993.) I noticed an ABC filing, and reached out to Lachu, who confirmed that the owner of Taste of the Himalayas, Rajan Thapa, is buying Ajanta, along with partner Al Satake. The sale is not final at this time—it’s contingent upon transfer of all the licenses and the lease. The guess is that it will probably take about month and a half for all the transfers.

The good news is, the buyers want to keep everything exactly the way it is and have asked Lachu to stay for a while (the man is a font of recipes and special dishes!). He will be working with them full time for about 15 days after close of escrow and has committed to work part-time for at least 6 months thereafter. After that, he says, “My wife and I are both very fond of travelling and we want to travel as much as we can, before both of us are too old. I am so looking forward to doing that.” And they so deserve it. Thank you, Lachu and Shanti, for everything you have done to promote beautiful eating and cooking! This just means we’ll all need to cook more from their book, Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India.

Another retirement: the team behind ~BAY WOLF~ has closed the restaurant after 40 years. We mentioned the closure was imminent a couple of months ago, but we wanted to be sure you saw the farewell letter from Michael Wild, Larry Goldman, and Michael Phelps. Enjoy your vacations, gents! 3853 Piedmont Ave. at Rio Vista, Oakland.

One more retirement to hit the 510: Amelia Bucci, Paul Camardo, and Les Julian of ~BUCCI’S~ in Emeryville will be closing the much-adored restaurant on September 30th, after serving more pasta and meatballs than anyone could possibly count (since 1988!). You can read more in the Mercury News. Again, enjoy your well-earned vacation and travels! 6121 Hollis St. at Doyle, Emeryville, 510-547-4725.