The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
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. 

August 21, 2015

Exterior photo from Slow Club’s Facebook page.

There was a collective sigh among SF old-timers this week over the news about the upcoming closure of the ~SLOW CLUB~, after a 24-year run in the Mission/Potrero Flats. Erin Rooney, owner of the Slow Club since 1998 (Steve Decosse opened it in 1991), sent out an email saying the restaurant is closing on Sunday August 30th. That’s when many of us started running the tape in our heads: the first dates, the drinks, the late-night burgers, the brunches, the birthdays. So many. Damn. Thanks for all the memories, Slow Club. You were such a cool hangout.

As we noted in tablehopper in June, Rooney is also selling ~GALETTE 88~ downtown, but she will continue to be busy with Serpentine in Dogpatch.

At least that storied location is ending up in good hands: Paul Einbund’s, to be exact (many of you know him as the fast-talking and witty man behind the wine programs at Frances and Octavia). He is partnering with chef-partner Gavin Schmidt to open ~THE MORRIS~, in homage in Einbund’s late father. Einbund met Schmidt then they were both working at Coi (Schmidt was chef de cuisine). Schmidt has also worked at Elizabeth Daniel, Campton Place, Blanca Restaurant in San Diego, and trained under Laurent Gras; Einbund has loved his food for some time. Schmidt enjoys whole-animal butchery and reportedly has quite the hand with charcuterie.

While the menu has not been worked out (there will be time for that), Einbund says that he wants The Morris to still be a neighborhood place, and to feel like a newer, fresh version of the idea of Slow Club. It’s important to him to provide for the neighborhood and existing clientele, so expect a similar price point. And he also knows the legacy of the burger there is an important one. He assures, “Even if we were opening a sushi place, there would be a burger!” It also helps that Einbund is obsessed with burgers.

You know someone is excited to put together the wine, beer, and spirits list. And he is also fired up to reveal some selections from his beloved (and extensive) collection of Chartreuse.

Architect Charles Hemminger and designer Scott Kester (who has designed restaurants for the Daniel Patterson Group) will be working on refreshing the space; Einbund is pleased Kester worked on RN74 with AvroKO, so he understands wine storage well. Einbund’s wife, Vanessa Yap Einbund, will be helping with the design and will also do all the brand identity (she designed the identity for State Bird Provisions and The Progress). It’s a bit tricky to estimate with permits and construction, but they hope to open in winter 2015.

We’ll keep you posted in the coming months as things take shape (here’s The Morris on Twitter in the meantime). And go get that last Slow Club burger and cocktail while you can. Thanks for all the memories!

August 18, 2015

The exterior of the former Shimo, the future home of Fiorella. Yelp photo by Mona C.

Folks in the Outer Richmond are going to be getting a neighborhood Italian restaurant and enoteca this winter called ~FIORELLA~. The project is going into the former Shimo and is from Boris Nemchenok (of Lower Haight’s Uva Enoteca), who is partnering with chef-partner Brandon Gillis (formerly Franny’s in Brooklyn and Bark Hot Dogs in Brooklyn and Manhattan). Nemchenok actually grew up in the Richmond and is excited to head back to the neighborhood.

On the menu: pies from the wood-fired oven, fresh pasta, and of course a fantastic list of Italian wines, which is Nemchenok’s passion. Dinner and brunch will be served, and there will be around 40 seats. They are currently targeting December 2015 or January 2016 for their opening. We’ll keep you updated in coming months as things take shape. 2339 Clement St. at 25th Ave.


The bar at The Keystone. Photo courtesy of The Keystone.


Dining room at The Keystone. Photo courtesy of The Keystone.

A report by Dana Eastland. The former home of Annabelle’s in SoMa is reopening on Monday August 24th as ~THE KEYSTONE~. Earlier this month, we gave you a preview on the plans for the food and the new concept. The final details have been worked out and now it’s ready to open.

Chef Zack Freitas has created the new menu. To recap, the focus is on American comfort food, with a decidedly modern, California style; the menu is divided into categories like Morsels, Popular, Delights, and Ambitious. There is also a selection of desserts from pastry chef Jenny Yang, with an emphasis on seasonal fruit (though the fiend brownie is no joke, with chunks of macadamia nut, toffee, and chocolate). Kelly Naughton is the bar manager, and the drink menu is approachable and fun, with cocktails, 20 beers on draft, and 15 wines available by the glass, including 2 sparkling options. Plus, they are offering two happy hours, one from 4:30pm-6:30pm and again from 10pm-12am.

The space has been redesigned by D-Scheme Studio to simultaneously look back to the building’s history and to the future, with a modernized vibe. They’ve stripped down the space and exposed more brick as well as an original skylight. The bar is still the anchor of the space, but they’ve added seating on both sides of it, and opened up the dining room. It opens Monday August 24th, and hours will be daily 11:30am-12am. 68 4th St. at Mission, 415-777-1200.

Another blast from the past is getting a makeover: ~CADILLAC BAR AND GRILL~ has been resurrected and is opening in The Market on the ground floor of the Twitter building. The original Cadillac opened in SoMa in 1982 and closed in 1999 to make room for the Moscone Center South, and it was quite infamous for its giant margaritas, platters of fajitas, and generally good times. For a fun trip through the restaurant’s history, check out this visual history on their site.

History aside, the new location is serving an (almost refreshingly) un-updated menu with pitchers of margaritas, chile con queso, guacamole, mesquite-grilled fajitas, and their “puffy tacos.” Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-10pm (bar until 11pm), Friday 11am-11pm (bar until 12am), Sat 5pm-11pm (bar until 12am), closed Sun. Happy hour Mon-Fri 3pm-6pm. 44 9th St. at Market, 415-554-0181.


The former New Star, future home of the Black Cat. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

A couple of new projects are coming down the pike. Hoodline brings news of ~BLACK CAT~, a restaurant and bar opening in the Tenderloin at the end of 2015 from Fritz Quattlebaum. The all-day restaurant (which will also have full liquor) is moving into the former New Star space, which has been vacant for a couple of years. Gi Paoletti is behind the design, and chef Ryan Cantwell (Eccolo, Chez Panisse, Bar Jules, Zuni Cafe) will be leading the menu (American with global influences, primarily small plates), serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bites in between.

The project is in the Verona Hotel, which is home to the Mary Elizabeth Inn Supportive Housing Program, and Quattlebaum mentions there will be “an entry-level training program for residents of the neighborhood.” (No word if the project will be paying any homage to our city’s famous Black Cat Bar from the first half of the 20th century, read more about this amazing bar here.) 400 Eddy St. at Leavenworth.

Last week I noticed that ~PLIN~ on Valencia was closing and changing its name to Nostra. I reached out to chef-owner Alexander Alioto, who confirmed the news and concept change, but then released the details to the Scoop. He’s reportedly going to be creating a more neighborhood-friendly place where guests can choose from a variety of housemade pastas (8-12), plus sauces (6-10), seasonal vegetables, and proteins. Pricing should range from $12-$18. The bar area will become Bar Mia, focused on amari, amaro-based cocktails, and bites. Stand by for reopening details soon. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St.


Kale salad at The Plant. Photo courtesy of The Plant.

A few SF businesses are expanding, starting with the seventh location of ~THE PLANT CAFÉ ORGANIC~, now open in the AIC (American Industrial Center) in Dogpatch—their catering and test kitchen are in an adjoining space. The entire menu is going 100 percent organic, with some new items added as well. The Plant is also REAL-certified, “the nationally recognized mark of excellence for food and food service operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.” Hours are daily 8am-9pm, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 2335 3rd St. at 20th St., 415-801-5089.

Another local business we noticed is expanding is ~ONIGILLY~, which got its start as a La Cocina business and is now going to open a third location, in the Financial District. We connected with founder Koji Kanematsu, who said they plan to open in the second week of September. You’ll be able to come by for their tasty rice and seaweed snacks, perfect for all those busy FiDi workers who want a healthy and delicious snack. We’ll keep you posted. 455 Market St. at 1st St.

And now it’s time for dessert. Back in April, we mentioned that The Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley was expanding to the Castro, and now we’ve heard it’s going to be called ~THE CASTRO FOUNTAIN~. They are targeting a late fall/winter opening. They will serve ice cream and also hope to expand their selection of baked goods. 554 Castro St. at 19th St.


Photo courtesy of Sam’s Seafood Alley.


Photo courtesy of Sam’s Seafood Alley.

There will be a new spot to lounge around outside, feast on oysters and crab rolls, and enjoy a cocktail. Meet Seafood Alley, a new patio space opening outside ~SAM’S GRILL AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT~ on Belden Place on Thursday August 27th. Managing partner Peter Quartaroli has really taken the concept of an outdoor area to the next level, with a protective awning, hardwood flooring, comfy lounge seating, and quite the eye-catching teak burl bar. Considering the classic restaurant got its start in 1867 as a seafood stand, it’s nice to see some outdoor presence again—and in this case, the digs are pretty swanky.

Seafood Alley will be open continuously Mon-Fri 11am-9pm for lunch, happy hour (5pm-7pm), and into the evening. It will have its own menu (take a look here), featuring local and sustainable seafood, including raw oysters, ceviche, bay shrimp or prawn cocktails, salads (including shrimp or crab Louie), chowder, and there’s also a steak sandwich, shrimp roll, and crab roll. You can kick back with a martini or Manhattan, beer and wine, and their new drink, The Alley Cat (cucumber vodka, Aperol, and cucumber on ice with a squeeze of lemon).


Wuxi-style wonton soup from Taste of Jiangnan. Yelp photo by Gary S.

~ORIGAMI MARKET~ is opening in SoMa on Wednesday August 19th. The healthy fast-casual spot comes from Kash Feng of Live Sushi and the newly opened Omakase and serves lunch and dinner in-house or for takeout. The menu offers Asian-influenced salads, bowls, and rolls, with lots of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free choices to satisfy everyone. Ingredients will be sustainable and well sourced, like Mary’s Chickens and Meyer Ranch for the antibiotic-free beef, and everything is less than $16. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-9pm. 669 Townsend St. at 8th St., 415-865-9788.

Clement Street has a new Chinese restaurant, with fare from the region of Wuxi, according to those ever-knowledgable Chowhounds. It’s called ~TASTE OF JIANGNAN~ (and has nothing to do with Crystal Jade) and is currently softly open. They aren’t offering their full menu quite yet, which means no noodles, but there are still initial positive reports. The wontons are reportedly a highlight, as are the braised “big bones” that are no joke for the carnivorously inclined. 332 Clement St. at 5th Ave., no phone.


The exterior of the future Réveille Coffee Co. flagship. Photo courtesy of Réveille Coffee Co.

Stylish brothers Chris and Thomas Newbury of ~RÉVEILLE COFFEE CO.~ are getting ready to open their fourth and largest location this winter. The new location is in Mission Bay and will serve as their flagship and headquarters, with a roasting facility, training center, and espresso bar. In addition to the roasting space, they will be opening ~CAFÉ REVEILLE~ next door, with a full kitchen and bar serving wine and beer. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be available, along with their coffee. The space requires a full buildout, so it will be awhile before the doors open, but they’re aiming for this winter. 610-620 Long Bridge St. at 4th St.

One-cup-at-a-time juggernaut ~PHILZ COFFEE~ is bringing their mint mojitos to yet another neighborhood. Their latest location is now open in Potrero, adjacent to the Design District. They’ve got all the usual coffees, and there are extended evening hours too. Hours are daily 6am-8pm. 1775 17th St. at De Haro, 415-814-8096.

~COFFEE BAR~ has introduced a new, special coffee concoction to check out: cold-brew horchata. It’s made in-house, using their cold brew from Mr. Espresso beans, along with rice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Hello, lover. It’s available at all of their locations.

Todd Carmichael, La Colombe Coffee founder and star of The Travel Channel’s Dangerous Grounds, has a new series premiering on the Travel Channel on Monday September 14th called Uncommon Grounds. He’ll be exploring the culture of different countries through the lens of their relationship to coffee, including trips to Japan, Paris, Havana, and Lusaka, Zambia.


Pork leg with fried eggs for brunch at Huxley. Photo courtesy of Huxley.

Weekend brunch at ~BAR TARTINE~ is changing a bit. Instead of the usual à la carte menu, chefs and owners Nick Balla and Cortney Burns are now offering a prix-fixe family-style menu, with more focus on their favorite way of cooking, which is how they cook for their friends and family. The new menu debuted on Saturday August 15th and will continue to accommodate vegetarian diners and others with dietary restrictions. The price will change depending on what is served, but will always be in the low- to mid-$30s. Take a look at a sample menu here. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays 11am-2pm.

Speaking of brunch, you can now get it at ~HUXLEY~ on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 2pm, starting Saturday August 29th. Their famous avocado toast is available, along with egg dishes like the pork leg with fried eggs, chickpeas, roasted peppers, tomatillo salsa, and cilantro yogurt, or a summer succotash omelet with chanterelles. Their brunch cocktails are also available, of course.

~BELGA~ has launched lunch, running Mon-Fri 11am-3pm. You can check out the menu here, which includes salads, a croque madame, roasted tomato soup and fried bread, and a hamburger and frites. And beer! 2000 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-872-7350.

We’re big fans of late-night dining over here, so it’s exciting to hear that ~HOG & ROCKS~ is now offering a late-night menu on Fridays and Saturdays from 11pm to 1am. A menu highlight is the sausage and beer pairing, which features a different housemade sausage paired with a selected beer for just $15. The special will change regularly, but right now it’s an all-pork sausage with zucchini pepper slaw and a Flying Dog IPA.


Party time at The Hall. Photo from Facebook.

Tonight, Tuesday August 18th, don’t miss a special happy hour at ~THE HALL~ from 5pm to 8pm. There will be live music, drink specials, food, and desserts for sale from CHEFS, and a portion of all proceeds benefit Episcopal Community Services, or ECS. This is a great, fun opportunity to give back a little and share community, and you know you were headed to happy hour anyway, right? 1028 Market St. at 6th St., 415-558-8293.


This event is a bit farther afield than our usual coverage, but when it’s Ruth Reichl, well, we know people will drive a fair distance for our grand dame of (the former) Gourmet. On Monday August 31st, she will be appearing in conversation with Michael Krasny at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, brought to you by the Peninsula Open Space Trust as part of their 2015 Wallace Stegner lecture series. 8pm. Tickets and more info here.

You can bet she is going to talk about her upcoming cookbook, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Changed My Life, coming out at the end of September. If you don’t make it for the POST talk, you can see her in October on her book tour. She’ll be at Bar Agricole (hosted by Omnivore Books) on Tuesday October 6th and hosted by the Commonwealth Club in Silicon Valley on Wednesday October 7th—mark you calendar.


Salty, rare, delicious burger slinger ~KRONNERBURGER~ is taking beef to the next level on Monday August 24th with Beefstro, a meat party par excellence. From 6pm to 11pm they’ll be serving a four-course menu that includes grass-fed rib-eye steaks that have been aged 90 days, for $65 per person. There will also be wine pairings available for $40, and the fine folks from Ordinaire Wine will be on hand to share some cave bottle selections. Reservations can be made by email. 4063 Piedmont Ave. at 41st St., Oakland, 510-823-2371.

I was sorry to learn that Seamus and Shelley Mulhall have decided to close their pet project, ~THE GROWLERS’ ARMS~ after less than a year of them being open. In a note to their newsletter subscribers, they say: “Dear friends and fans, and those of you that have become practically family, it is with great sorrow that we have to let you know that we are closing The Growlers’ Arms. During these last ten months, we have met so many incredible people who have supported us and have appreciated our vision. We would like to thank you all for your support and encouragement. Our final night will be Wednesday August 19th.”

They will be celebrating with a three-course dinner for $45, prepared by guest chefs from their days at Chez Panisse. You can also come by tonight for their last Tasty Tuesday menu, three courses for $30. Best wishes to the Mulhalls, I know their many friends will be so sorry to hear this news. 4214 Park Blvd. at Glenfield, Oakland, 510-328-1315.

August 11, 2015

You’ll get to see chef-owner Dominique Crenn at your table more than once. Photo: ©


The chic-yet-comfortable dining room. Photo: ©


Gougères. Photo: ©


Cauliflower gratin. Photo: ©


Whole Passmore Ranch trout. Photo: ©


Orange givrée. Photo: ©


The exterior of Petit Crenn. Photo: ©

Every once in a while, I walk into a restaurant space in San Francisco that makes me say, “Wait, whoa, we get to have this?” I had that feeling when I first saw The Progress, and Quince, and Saison. Sightglass too. And now, taking in the crisp, clean, white, modern lines of ~PETIT CRENN~, it makes me happy to see this place taking a stand against all the reclaimed wood and boring chairs and safe colors that are holding our city hostage. I grinned at the glossy and white resin pieces on the walls (by Lucky Rapp), with French phrases in cursive.

It’s more seaside restaurant than stark gallery: elements like the walnut tables (held over from the space’s previous incarnation as Bar Jules), pillows in varying shades of taupe and off-white, pendant lights suspended from white rope, ceramic cider boules (made by Issa Pottery in Sausalito), and antique silverware help create a feeling of rootedness, ease, and warmth, with a nod to Brittany’s maritime roots (echoed in the staff’s jaunty blue-and-white striped aprons).

Since this is chef-owner Dominique Crenn’s casual offshoot, her Michelin two-starred Atelier Crenn’s $200-plus tasting menu has been swapped out for a family-style, prix-fixe menu, which is $72 (inclusive of gratuity).

I went in for a soft opening dinner last week (it officially opens tonight) for a closer look. The family-style format means you will be dining with strangers, and while some couples will enjoy the unexpected conversation and experience, reserving a table for a group of four may mean you get your own table. Seatings are for 6pm and 8:30pm, and the food comes out in waves to all the tables at once. (My friend and I dined with another couple, happily who I already knew, but there was a funny moment of “aha!” when you realize you are sharing a table and dining with others. Crenn is trying to create a fun dinner-party vibe. Let’s play along.)

The menu is written on the wall on a blackboard, a nod to French bistros (and Bar Jules!), so you don’t need to order anything—just sit back and let it happen. Crenn’s roots are in Brittany, so she wanted to reconnect with the food of her childhood and showcase seafood, vegetables, and a simpler style of cuisine. She pays homage to her mother and grandmother with this location (Atelier Crenn was in honor of her father). Her executive sous chef, Aaron Thayer, was previously sous chef at Atelier Crenn.

The menu unfolds beautifully, starting with a classic, baby radishes with salt and butter, followed by Morro Bay Miyagi oysters with smoked tomato gelée and sea beans, and the silkiest rolled omelet with tarragon. Hopefully you have ordered your bubbles by the time the gougères filled with clouds of Navarrais cheese appear.

I went crazy for the stylish ice bucket designed by Tina Frey (it’s going on my wish list), which our bottle of sparkling chenin blanc from Vouvray’s Vincent Raimbault ($52) got plunked into. Personally, I found the list of Champagnes to be far too spendy (the least expensive bottle was from Hubert Paulet for $130), so be sure to check out the “Not Champagne” section of the wine list if you love bubbles but don’t have a big budget.

You’ll also see a list of five ciders (local and French), but I’d like to see at least one poured by the glass, especially considering how extensive and fabulous the by-the-glass selection is (17 in all). Francophiles will enjoy navigating wine director Courtney Humiston’s French-heavy list (with many natural wines), and there a few other European (Italian, Austrian) and California selections as well.

Back to the parade of dishes. There was a tureen containing escargot with a spoonful of mushroom broth and chanterelles, and fortunately there is some bread by Josey Baker on the table, which you will use to mop up the cheesy goodness from the blistered cauliflower gratin with Espelette and smoked bread crumbs (many ingredients get a kiss from the Argentine-style grill). Our table was totally taken with the simplicity of the cabbage with shallots and charred leek vinaigrette.

And then the main event comes out: a Passmore Ranch fire-roasted trout for two, filled with huge leaves of sage from Crenn’s farm, grilled lemon, and thyme, and topped with a cider sabayon. The savory part of the meal concluded with a Little Gem salad and the surprise of slices of a washed rind cheese from Brittany.

And then our table was delighted with the Meyer lemon mousse and lemon granita layered into little hollowed-out oranges, with a flick of fennel pollen (Crenn said her mother used to make this dish, orange givrée, for her). The finale of mignardises signals the end of your dinner party, and it’s time for the next seating to take your place. The meal moves at a good pace, and it’s fun to lose track of the menu and forget what’s coming next.

A few notes: be sure to alert them to any dietary restrictions 72 hours before your reservation. Obviously the menu will change with what’s in season and available. You can request the chef’s table (room for six, $120 each), and there are 10 seats at the bar facing the open kitchen, where you can come by for a glass of wine, oysters, and other à la carte selections (5pm-10pm, no reservations needed). To repeat, seatings are Tue-Sat at 6pm and 8:30pm, reservations required.

Petit Crenn will eventually morph into an all-day café in September, serving a light breakfast (pastries, omelette français, and oeuf à la coque) and lunch (crêpes, tartines, and salads); we’ll keep you posted. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-864-1744.  


Chef-partner Ron Pei. Photo courtesy of Chino.

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the changes happening at ~CHINO~ in the Mission, with chef Ron Pei taking over the kitchen after a temporary closure. The restaurant has reopened, and you can look at the new Cali-meets-Chinese menu here (from clams in bacon-jalapeño broth with scallion pancake to Taiwanese beef noodle soup with hand-cut noodles). You’ll even see Pei’s 70-year-old dad there, helping with the housemade noodles and dumplings, like his fish and leek dumplings. Also on the menu: some updated cocktails from bar director-partner Danny Louie.

Over in the Upper Haight, ~PEOPLE’S CAFE~ is sporting a new look, new owner, and new menu (sounds pretty straightforward); check it out in Hoodline. Open daily 8am-9pm (stops serving food at 8pm). 1419 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-553-8842.


An exterior rendering of 450 Hayes Street. Rendering courtesy of DDG Partners.


Lenore Estrada and Anna Derivi-Castellanos of Three Babes Bakeshop. Photo courtesy of Three Babes Bakeshop.

The 450 Hayes development has signed on a restaurant concept from Adriano Paganini’s restaurant group, which also operates Super Duper Burgers, Belga, Beretta, Lolinda, Starbelly, and Uno Dos Tacos. The space is in the construction project next to Flipper’s Burgers, and the restaurant will be moving into the ground floor. There’s no word currently on what it will be, but a press release drops some hints, including that it will be an entirely new concept for the group—and for the neighborhood. Paganini says the project will be approachable and affordable. “We’ve heard from the neighborhood that there needs to be a casual, affordable neighborhood restaurant that makes just as much sense to visit on a Monday or Tuesday as it does on a Friday or Saturday,” he says. Construction on the building is scheduled for completion in early winter of 2016. 450 Hayes St. at Octavia.

Fans of banana cream pie and empanadas will want to tune in to this news. You may have noticed the Three Babes Bakeshop ladies at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8am-2pm, but now they’re going to be opening a kiosk inside the ~FERRY BUILDING MARKETPLACE~! What this means is that they’ll be able to serve their pies by the slice or whole pie, and you’ll be able to order cream pies, too, since they’ll have some refrigeration, plus pick up some pie-related baked goods, like their pie cookies. They are moving into the El Porteño space and hope to open in mid-October. In the meantime, don’t miss the babes this weekend at the SF Street Food Fest: they’ll be serving banana cream pie, peach shortcake, and pie cookies!

Meanwhile, ~EL PORTEÑO~ is moving into a larger space in the Ferry Building Marketplace: what used to be Kingdom of Herbs, across from Cowgirl Creamery’s Sidekick. So Argentines, don’t cry, you’ll still be able to get Joey Ahearne’s beautifully buttery empanadas and alfajores, and he’ll also be able to start offering milanesa sandwiches, soups, facturas (Argentine pastries), and yerba maté drinks. It’s a win-win for all.


The interior of Soap Box Cafe. Yelp photo by Sandra S.


The Two-Fer from Go Jojo Mojo. Yelp photo by Joseph C.

In June, we mentioned that there is a new café coming to Nob Hill called ~THE SOAP BOX CAFE~. They are serving Vietnamese sandwiches and fresh spring rolls, as well as bagels, salads, and beverages. Yelpers are reporting that everything is pretty good, and the prices are reasonable (banh mi come in at less than $5, salads are less than $10). There is also Vietnamese coffee and a selection of “fizzes,” including lemon-lime and salted plum. Check out the whole menu right here. 1800 Hyde St. at Vallejo, 415-829-7139.

We mentioned back in April that Vietnamese mini-chain ~PERILLA~ was moving into the former Ming Yao H space in the Lower Haight. Hoodline reports that they are now open and serving a menu of Vietnamese restaurant staples, including garlic noodles, vermicelli bowls, rice plates, banh mi, and appetizers. Hours are Sun-Thu 10:30am-10pm and Fri-Sat 10:30am-11pm. 525 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-872-6718.

~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ has launched a new Saturday night jazz series, inspired by the midcentury jazz scene in Paris. Every Saturday night from 7pm to 10pm, a different jazz performer will play in their downstairs space, while the bar will offer vintage-inspired drinks. There is also a prix-fixe three-course dinner option for $45, with old-school favorites also inspired by the era. Head here for the weekly menu, to find out who’s performing, and to make reservations.

In November of last year, we mentioned the opening of L’Emigrante on Mission Street. Owner Irfan Yalcin also purchased the former Dante’s Weird Fish and had plans to open it as Le Bistro Bon Vivre, according to Mission Local. However, Capp Street Crap reports that locals and regulars told Yalcin how sad they were to lose Weird Fish, so he got permission from former owner Peter Hood to offer a similar menu and some signature dishes. The restaurant is now open and is called ~URBAN FISH~. They are serving vegetarian, vegan, and seafood dishes. 2193 Mission St. at 18th St., 415-863-4744.

There’s a new regular food truck at the Duboce Truck Stop, and it looks like a good one. ~GO JOJO MOJO~ is serving Korean fusion food, including Korean burritos, breakfast items, and the totally insane-looking Two-Fer, a double Sloppy Jojo with spicy pork and apple slaw (take it easy there). Check out the menu here, and find Jojo at the Truck Stop Mon-Sat 11am-evenings (hours may change depending on weather and availability). 55 Duboce Ave. at Woodward.

Yelpers report that ~LAWTON TRADING POST~ is now open in the Outer Sunset. The bottle shop sells wine and beer, as well as grocery items and housemade café items including soups, salads, and a banana French toast that is being called out as especially delicious. 3645 Lawton St. at 43rd Ave., 415-340-3654.


Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. Yelp photo by Amanda S.

~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY~ is getting a new chef…well, kind of. Dennis Lee of Namu Gaji has been running the kitchen at Magnolia’s Dogpatch restaurant Smokestack since it opened last year, and now he’ll also be taking over at Magnolia. Hoodline reports that Lee has started transitioning into Magnolia already, getting used to the crowd and notoriously small and awkward kitchen. He isn’t planning to make a lot of changes and will keep the focus on California comfort food.

Scoop adds that Lee will be able to use Smokestack’s space for some Magnolia prep projects, including aging meat and making sausages, and they will also incorporate produce from the Namu farm in Sunol. Plus, fried chicken will be on the menu every day now, not just Thursdays. Expect a new menu in the next few weeks.

The Park Chalet has a few things to announce, starting with its new name: ~PARK CHALET COASTAL BEER GARDEN~. There is also a new chef, Ian Hockenberger, who is continuing to serve a seafood-focused menu, with dishes like a bacon crab melt and a seared ahi sandwich. Guests can also now enjoy cracked crab on the lawn of Golden Gate Park as well as a seafood boil. Liter steins from the neighboring Beach Chalet will be on offer starting August 26th, and radlers and shandies are now available. The space also got a bit of a refresh (new paint, carpeting, and a refinished bar). 1000 Great Highway, 415-386-8439.


Nojo’s dining room. Photo from Facebook.

There are changes afoot at ~NOJO~ in Hayes Valley, Scoop reports. Chef-owner Greg Dunmore has sold the restaurant to a Japanese company called AP Company, which operates hundreds of restaurants in Japan. Nojo will reopen as their flagship restaurant in the United States, and Dunmore will serve as the corporate chef for U.S. projects (he’ll be here until the beginning of the new year, when he will then start work on other locations). Nojo will close on Friday August 14th and should reopen on October 1st.

Downtown restaurant ~CLAUDINE~ is closing on Friday August 14th after almost four years in business. Scoop reports that Franck LeClerc’s Au Bon Repas restaurant group decided to close the restaurant, but will be turning it into a fast-casual concept. In addition, nearby Café Claude is adding two of Claudine’s popular features to their lineup: happy hour and prix-fixe menus. 8 Claude Ln. at Bush, 415-762-2677.


Oysters on the grill at OysterFest 2014. Photo from Facebook.

On Sunday August 30th, ~WATERBAR~ is hosting the seventh annual OysterFest on their bayside patio. Waterbar is well known for their eclectic and extensive selection of oysters, and this event will only feature sustainable oysters from Waterbar and other oyster shuckers from around town. Look for plenty of bites from Waterbar, EPIC Steak, Farallon, Fish, and A16, plus Napa Valley wines and local beers (including Anchor Steam, Trumer Pils, and Speakeasy). More than 5,000 oysters were served last year, so come prepared to eat! Oh, and there will be live music, an oyster-shucking contest, and even a hot sauce competition. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The San Francisco Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans and beaches. The party runs from 12pm-3pm, and tickets are $75, all-inclusive.


The Hot Wes burger. Photo courtesy of Wes Burger.

~SUPER DUPER BURGERS~ is celebrating Eat Drink SF with a week-long guest burger chef party, from Monday August 17th through Friday August 21st, at their Kearny Street location. The guest chef burger will be available all day, and a portion of the proceeds from the special burger will go to a charity of the chef’s choice. Then, from 2pm to 3pm, the guest chef will stop by, and 100 percent of the proceeds of all special burgers purchased during that hour will be donated. So who will be the participating chefs, anyway? On Monday, Thomas McNaughton will be the guest, followed by David Bazirgan on Tuesday, James Syhabout on Wednesday, Brandon Jew on Thursday, and last but definitely not least, Michael Mina on Friday. More information here. 346 Kearny St. at Pine, 415-677-9936.

The title of best burger is an ongoing and contentious battle around these parts (and don’t even get us started on best burrito), and ~THE HALL~ is wading into the fray with their Burger Battle series. The first one kicks off on Sunday August 30th, when three burgers stars will face off against each other (for charity, of course). The Whole Beast, Wes Burger, and Burger will each be serving half-sized versions of their burgers, and you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite. The winner will advance to the next round.

Tickets are $45 per person, and include three half-sized burgers and two beers. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit Bay Leaf Kitchen. The battle begins at 4pm. 1028 Market St. at 6th St., 415-558-8293.


Kick-ass Portland chef Jenn Louis will be in town this week promoting her new book, Pasta by Hand. The book includes 65 recipes for rustic Italian pasta shaped by hand, with a particular focus on dumpling-style pastas (you may have seen her article on gnocchi in Saveur earlier this year). First up, tonight, Tuesday August 11th, she’ll be at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ from 6:30pm-7:30pm, reading from the book and sharing some of her favorite tips learned in Italy. It’s completely free to attend, and there will be wine from Baker Lane too. Books available for purchase at the event.

Then, on Wednesday August 12th, catch Jenn Louis at Williams Sonoma in Union Square for a cooking demonstration. She’ll be sharing her technique for orecchiette with pesto and showing off some of the tricks she learned in Italy. The event is $30 per person, and tickets are available. Walk-ins are also welcome. 340 Post St. at Stockton, 415-362-9450.

Home cooks and lovers of New Mexican food will be excited to hear that Mollie Stone’s Markets are celebrating Hatch chile season with special chile roasts at various locations this month. The first roast will be at the Castro location on Sunday August 16th from 10am to 2pm and again at the Tower location on Sunday August 30th. Check their website for more details on the roasts and some additional information on what makes the chiles so special. Various locations in the Bay Area.


Cioppino at Salsipuedes. Photo courtesy of Salsipuedes.


The patio at Millennium. Photo courtesy of Millennium.

By Dana Eastland. ~SALSIPUEDES~, the new full-service restaurant from Jay Porter (The Half Orange), Luis Abundis (Nieves Cinco de Mayo), and Bradford Taylor (Ordinaire Wine Shop) that we’ve been reporting on since 2014, is now open in Oakland. It’s a bit of a soft opening, with a grand opening planned for August 20th, so be aware that some touches to the interior are still being worked out.

The kitchen is up and running, though, and Marcus Krauss is manning the stoves, as we mentioned in May. The menu is modern, eclectic Californian, with global influences. Prices are reasonable, ranging from $3.50 for snacks to $18 for larger meat dishes. They’ve even got a Tuesday night “burger and fries” special, with a chicken katsu torta, tempura sea beans, and a draft beer for $20.

As for beverages, Porter created the beer list, while Taylor headed up the wines. There are five beers on tap, available either by the liter or the 350-ml pour, including the Sirena pilsner from Cerveceria Agua Mala, and the Cherry Kush from Ale Industries. On the wine list, you’ll find four white selections by the bottle or glass, as well as three reds, a rosé, and a sparkler. In addition, they are serving Sutton Cellars vermouth, straight up or with soda, “San Sebastian style.” They are open Tue-Sat at 5pm. 4201 Market St. at 42nd St., Oakland, no phone yet.

Last year, we broke the news on the expansion under way at ~RAMEN SHOP~. Eater reports that construction is complete and the new space is now up and running. The perpetually busy restaurant has added a cocktail bar space in the former luggage shop next door, which is where you will now enter (you can grab a drink and some bar snacks), and there’s a small front patio too. Next door, there are around 20 new seats in the dining room. All the additional space is intended to help alleviate the long wait times at the restaurant, and they’ve also added a special room for two new noodle-making machines from Japan that will allow them to double the quantity of noodles they’re making. There are even plans to add lunch and possibly even takeout in the coming months. It just keeps getting better over there.

There’s a new spot for alfresco brunch in Oakland now too. ~MILLENNIUM~ is now serving brunch on Sundays from 10:30am-2pm, and their gorgeous patio is the perfect place for it. They’re even taking reservations! Don’t forget to check out their cocktails too. 5912 College Ave. at Chabot, Oakland, 510-735-9459.


The bar at Calavera. Photo courtesy of Calavera.


The dining room at Calavera. Photo courtesy of Calavera.

By Dana Eastland. The Hive, a new mixed-use complex in Uptown Oakland, had two new restaurant openings, the Business Times reports. First up is a new Mexican restaurant called ~CALAVERA~. The huge project (it seats 150) comes from partners Jessica Sackler (Coqueta and José Andrés’s Oyamel in Washington, D.C.), Michael Iglesias (Coqueta, Bottega, and Oyamel), and Chris Pastena (Chop Bar and Lungomare).

A full bar is stocked to the gills with more than 400 different types of mezcal and tequila, and plenty of cocktails. There is a variety of margaritas, including the Sandia with Pierde Almas mezcal, watermelon, cilantro, lime, chile pequín, and salt, or try the Salt Air, with Milagro blanco tequila, Luxardo Triplum, lime, and salt.

Chef Christian Irabien crafted the menu, which offers a selection of snacks, including guacamole (of course) and Chihuahua cheese dip served hot with huitlacoche. There is a selection of ceviche, and tacos served on nixtamal heirloom corn tortillas. Look for the lamb sweetbreads taco or the cochinita pibil. There are also larger plates, including birria and a whole red snapper. Plus chef Joe Raffa, who worked with the opening team at Oyamel, is out to help open the restaurant with them. Hours are Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. 2337 Broadway at 24th St., Oakland, 510-338-3273.

Also open is ~DRAKE’S DEALERSHIP~ from San Leandro-based Drake’s Brewing Company. The huge pub seats 350, including a large beer garden with fire pits and a stage for live music acts.

Taylor Smith (Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant, Jasper’s Corner Tap) is the executive chef, and the menu is all about classic bar food. They’ve got a pizza oven, so there’s a selection of pizzas, as well as a burger, a vegetarian black bean burger, some salads, french fries, and snacks. Eater has a copy of the menu to peek at.

The beer is from Drake’s, of course. There are 32 beers on tap, including some limited releases that can’t be found anywhere else. Drake’s classic brews will always be available, but you’ll also have the chance to try some limited and experimental options. They’ve even got three wines on tap, a white, a red, and even a sparkler. Bar hours are Sun-Wed 11:30am-1pm and Thu-Sat 11:30am-1am; the kitchen is open Sun-Wed 11:30am-10pm and Thu-Sat 11:30am-11pm. 2325 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-833-6649.

August 4, 2015

The interior at Gardenias. Photo: ©


Socca cake with roasted kadota figs and corn. Photo: ©


Gardenias anti bowl. Photo: ©


Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino. Photo: ©


Looking out to the patio. Photo: ©


The front of Gardenias. Photo: ©

I’m thrilled to report that ~GARDENIAS~ is softly opening this week for some trial dinner service, starting Wednesday August 5th. Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino of Woodward’s Garden (it was theirs for 22 years!) have transformed the former Roostertail into quite the beguiling space, one that will be perfect for a few bites and a glass of wine in the early evening, or a full dinner date, and eventually lunch on their back garden patio.

The ladies are positively giddy over all the additional space—it’s like moving from a Tokyo-sized studio into a full flat—but don’t fret, all the charm and coziness of Woodward’s is still there (even a few décor items made their way over, like the chandelier). They have also been having fun installing new items, like little French door signs they picked up long ago. It’s like decorating a new house.

There is ample bar seating at a counter facing the open kitchen (partially obscured by frosted glass, but you can still see who’s in the kitchen—say hello to sous chefs Nick Fields and Ana Cabrera), and there’s a counter in a sunny nook by the front windows. Wood tables have comfortable space around them, outfitted with vintage silverware, fresh flowers, and classic bistro napkins. The walls are a calming Prussian blue—all the better to offset the vintage framed images of ladies and eclectic but deliberately chosen artwork and soft lights in the glass globes.

The tranquil back garden patio is enclosed with wood slats, umbrellas, and blooming vines, with three tables that can seat six comfortably. It will be quite the coveted place to sit, especially on our warm Indian summer nights (although heat lamps are going to be installed in time, because San Francisco).

The menu (which you get to see first, dear tablehopper reader!) is designed for whatever your appetite demands or the occasion calls for, starting with small bites like gougères with blue cheese and pink peppercorn, and chicken liver crostini with pickled cherries to go with a couple of aperitifs on the menu. Just look at that antipasto plate, with Olympia Provisions capicola, Parmigiano, cauliflower, Castelvetranos, olive oil, and chile.

“Beginnings” are more appetizer-sized, tempting plates like socca cake with shallots, corn, and roasted kadota figs and a summer minestrone. Mains include quality meats coming off their rotisserie (lamb, chicken) with seasonal sides (the lamb is paired with smoked eggplant, zhug, spiced carrots, fingerlings, za’atar), plus seafood (like steelhead with corn and favas with quinoa and salsa verde) and a vegetarian selection. And somehow nothing is more than $26, even though they use such beautifully sourced ingredients.

Save room for dessert, because saffron ice cream with spiced pluots and olive oil cake with kadota figs, anise seeds, and labneh await (plus coffee and espresso from Scarlet City).

They enjoyed sourcing quality wines for their taps, and succeeded admirably. On the list, you’ll find a Macon chardonnay, plus local selections from Skylark and Broc, and a list of affordable wines in bottle, again with many food-friendly California selections, peppered with some international picks too.

Hours to start are dinner Wed-Mon, starting at 6pm. Happy hour is coming quite soon. Weekend brunch and lunch are in discussion. Welcome to your new and lovely space, Woodward’s ladies! 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore, 415-621-7122.


The bar at Black Sands. Photo courtesy of Black Sands.


Battered cod at dinner. Photo courtesy of Black Sands.

By Dana Eastland. As of Saturday August 1st, ~BLACK SANDS BREWERY~ is fully open and operational in the Lower Haight. Last time we reported on the project, they were softly open in the mornings serving coffee and breakfast, but now the entire operation is up and running. What does that mean? Well, Black Sands is first and foremost a brewery, with a focus on education and transparency. In addition to their own in-house brewery, they run a home brew supply store next door and will share their expertise and recipes with anyone who is interested.

To that end, they have also focused on keeping things simple. As they say in a press release, “Beer is getting complicated these days, and we don’t think it has to be.” They are also offering their signature SMASH series of beers, which is an acronym for “single-malt and single-hop beers,” which are simple, minimal, and allow you to taste the specific malts and hops. This way, drinkers can learn about how each individual malt and hops taste, as well as learn more about their palate and what they enjoy drinking.

In addition to their beers, they also have a full bar with cocktails from bar director Nicolas Torres, whose previous experience includes Lazy Bear and the Hideout at Dalva. The drink list is approachable, with a focus on using spirits produced with the same care they are putting into their beers. Look for drinks like the Quinine ‘n’ Pine, with genepy, amontillado, lime, cherry pine shrub, bitters, and tonic, or the Fiddy-Fiddy, with gin, Brown Label vermouth, and apricot.

Chef Eric Ehler is offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are both pared-down affairs, with only a few dishes offered at each meal. At breakfast, check out the DFT torta, with housemade chorizo, Tapatio, cilantro, avocado, egg, paprika mayo, and pickled red onions. For lunch, there’s a Korean fried chicken sandwich and a kale salad, along with rotating daily specials. At dinner, it’s all about refined pub food that pairs well with beer. There’s a burger on the menu (duh), as well as fried chicken with farro, corn, and cashews. You can check out all the menus here.

Currently, hours at the café are Wed-Sun 8am-2pm, with breakfast available 8am-2pm and lunch from 11am-2pm. The brewery and bar are open Wed-Sun 5pm-12am, and the kitchen is open for dinner 6pm-11pm. 701 Haight St. at Pierce, 415-534-5194.


The exterior of ‘Wichcraft. Yelp photo by Luis C.

With the closure of the ‘Wichcraft location in the Westfield San Francisco Centre in June, it was only a matter of time before we were going to hear an update from Perbacco and Barbacco’s Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje on their plans for the space. While earlier rumors pointed to a potential Scandinavian project (Terje is from Sweden), it ends up the project is going to be a modern European brasserie serving primarily contemporary French cuisine, with a few Scandinavian dishes making appearances on the menu; both lunch and dinner will be served. Scoop reports the project will be called ~VOLTA~ (Latin for “turning point”), and Cass Calder Smith (CCS Architecture) is designing the 7,200-square-foot space. Look for an opening around late fall. 868 Mission St. at 5th St.


The escarole Caesar from The Keystone. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Cranberry bean gratin with peppers. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Pickle assortment. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A preview by Dana Eastland. Back in July we mentioned the new plans for the former Annabelle’s space in the Mosser Hotel. The space has been revamped as ~THE KEYSTONE~, a modern American tavern, and a new team has been brought on to run the show.

The overhaul takes the restaurant back to its roots, while also modernizing it for contemporary diners. Even the name is a nod to history, as the hotel used to be known as The Keystone. Zack Freitas, the new chef, is looking back to distinctly American food traditions with the menu, which means lots of classic American dishes, of course, but also the addition of preserved items like pickles, jams, and more. A selection of snacks opens the menu, including chicken wings with Parmesan, ranch, and celery; oyster shooters with mignonette, lemon, and hot sauce; and carbonara fries with egg yolk, bacon, black pepper, and pecorino (whoa, nelly). The flatbreads from their pizza oven, with seasonal toppings, are ideal for sharing. There are some modern takes on common dishes, like a Caesar salad made with escarole and brioche croutons, and a mussel chowder instead of the usual clam offering. Naturally, there is a burger on the menu, and additional meaty entrees including a Berkshire pork chop and grass-fed rib-eye. Vegetarians will also find options, like the asparagus tart with English peas and goat cheese.

The menu is perfectly set up for the after-work crowd, with selections that will appeal to everyone and lots of easy-to-share dishes. There are also plans to offer happy hour specials on many of the snacks. They will offer a daily lunch menu with selections for $10, $13, or $15, and a lunch box special for $25 that includes a half order of salad, soup, and a sandwich. The dessert menu comes from pastry chef Jenny Yang and is heavy on the seasonal fruit desserts, which on the opening menu includes a stone fruit crostata with feta and basil, and a rose almond cake with apricots, coffee liqueur, and pistachio. For chocolate lovers, be sure to check out the Fiend Brownie (it’s actually on the “morsels” menu), with toffee, nuts, and chocolate chunks.

Kelly Naughton is the bar manager, who keeps the classic American vibe going with a cocktail list that includes the Keystone Cup, a riff on a Pimm’s cup, with house-infused “Pimm’s,” lemon, seltzer, and seasonal garnishes. There is also a Porcini Negroni, made with porcini mushroom-infused gin. (They are still working out the details of the wine list.)

As for the space, it’s been redesigned by D-Scheme Studio, and the bar is still the anchor of the main room. They’ve opened up the space, though, and now offer seating on both sides of the bar as well as a chef’s counter up against the open kitchen. There is also a private dining room with AV capabilities for groups. They’ve kept the tile on the floor and added wood and copper touches to the bar. There are new light fixtures, leather banquettes, and all-new furniture. The opening is currently slated for Tuesday August 18th. Hours are daily 11:30am-12am, with happy hour from 4:30pm-6:30pm and again from 10pm-12am. 68 4th St. at Mission, 415-777-1200.


Chef David Kinch, from his book Manresa: An Edible Reflection.

David Kinch, the chef and owner of Manresa, and his partner, Andrew Burnham, are opening a more casual restaurant this fall called ~THE BYWATER~, just down the street from the original. The new project takes its name from a neighborhood in New Orleans, which is appropriate, since they’ll be serving food inspired by that great city. Chef David Morgan of August in New Orleans and Cyrus in Healdsburg has been brought on to run the kitchen. While Manresa is a much more formal affair, the Bywater will be much more low key, “the kind of place where I would want to go after work or hang out on my day off,” says Kinch. Eaton Hall Architecture of San Jose and San Francisco-based designer Robert van Horne are creating a comfortable space with a 10-seat bar, a dining room for 30, and a back patio. There will be plenty of accents inspired by the Big Easy, including neon lights, shutters, and a bright color palette.

As for the food, look for plenty of New Orleans, French, and classic Southern dishes, including fried green tomatoes, po’boys, and a raw bar. Chad Arnholt and Claire Sprouse have been brought on to run the bar, and they are planning to offer a selection of drinks on tap. The drink list will be heavy on the New Orleans-style beverages, including a Sazerac, gin fizz, and milk punch, along with some lower-proof selections like spritzes. 532 N. Santa Cruz Ave. at Thurston, Los Gatos.


Coi. Photo by Maren Caruso.


A housemade charcuterie plate at Kuleto’s. Photo via Facebook.

Some big news from the Daniel Patterson Group regarding ~COI~: chef and owner Daniel Patterson has decided to step down from his role as executive chef, and Matthew Kirkley (previously of Chicago’s L20, where he earned two Michelin stars) will be the chef, starting January 12th, 2016. In a personal note on the Coi website, Patterson shares that after nearly 10 years of 90-hour workweeks, he wants to step back a bit to have more time with his family (especially since things are also heating up with Loco’l, his joint project with Roy Choi). The Daniel Patterson Group will continue to own, operate, and support Coi (in addition to the group’s other restaurants: Alta CA, Plum Bar, Haven, Aster, and Kim Alter’s upcoming restaurant).

Another big piece of news: after 28 years at ~KULETO’S~, chef Bob Helstrom has decided to leave. (Seems the latest ownership/management company is a bit too focused on cutting expenses, and it didn’t jibe well with Helstrom’s commitment to quality.) He is now enjoying working with a firm doing commercial kitchen design and consulting. Good news: he reports his salumi-making skills are in demand, so even though we won’t be able to swing by for a plate of his excellent salumi at Bar Norcini, I’m glad his talents are still being put to good use!


Tacos from La Alteña. Yelp photo by George Z.

After a tragic fire destroyed their space in January, ~TAQUERIA LA ALTEÑA~ has reopened just across the street. Mission Local reports that they’ve found a new home adjacent to Cava 22 at the corner of 22nd Street and Bartlett. The taqueria is actually owned by Ramon Valle, who opened it in the late 1980s, and Cava 22 is owned by his brother Samuel Valle, so the merging of the two businesses into one space makes a lot of sense. In addition to taqueria classics like tacos, burritos, tortas, and menudo on weekends, you can also order a margarita from Cava 22 to enjoy with your meal! 3239 22nd St. at Bartlett, 415-642-7224.

As of last Monday July 27th, downtown’s ~MOURAD~ is serving lunch Monday through Friday. The lunch menu includes many of the dishes from the dinner menu, minus the family-style large-format plates, and also offers some new items, including avocado toast with albacore, grapefruit, cress, and marash ash, as well as a chicken dish with fregola, mushroom, olive, berbere cream, and citrus. There is also a selection of lunch cocktails. Hours are Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm. 140 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-660-2500.

According to Yelpers, there is a new boba tea and snack café on Irving, called ~IRVING CAFE~. There is a large menu of drinks, including rose tea and several different jelly options for your drink. There are also snacks like egg puffs with various toppings, and rice bowls. 716 Irving St. at 8th Ave., 415-664-1366.


The future home of George and Lennie. Photo from Instagram.

The Tenderloin is about to get a new coffee shop from a Four Barrel alum, Hoodline reports. It’s called ~GEORGE AND LENNIE~, which may ring a bell for readers familiar with the Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. Owner Brett Walker decided to name the shop after his favorite book, since it’s the realization of a longtime dream, not unlike the never-realized ranch the novel’s characters speak of at length.

The shop will be opening in the next few weeks on the ground floor of the Lofts at Seven building, a new complex with residential units above. There will be some food options that Walker is still figuring out, and he’s also applying for a beer and wine license. He’ll be using both Four Barrel and De La Paz beans for the coffee too. 277 Golden Gate Ave. at Hyde.


A po’boy from Brenda’s Meat & Three. Photo from Facebook.

The Castro location of ~A.G. FERRARI~ has closed, according to Hoodline. The company’s other five Bay Area locations remain in operation, though, despite some financial hard times for the local chain. 468 Castro St. at 18th St.

Back in July, we reported that Iza Ramen had filed for the ~SQUAT & GOBBLE~ space on Fillmore in the Lower Haight. Hoodline is reporting that the location is now permanently closed, but there’s no word on when Iza might be moving in. 237 Fillmore St. at Haight.

We’ve been tracking Brenda Buenviaje’s po’boy shop on Fillmore Street since 2012, but sadly it looks like that project is now dead. According to The New Fillmore, Buenviaje has decided not to move forward with the project. Though she declined to say why, the ongoing construction delays surely had a part to play in the project’s dead end. However, ~BRENDA’S MEAT & THREE~ is still offering many of her signature sandwiches, so you can still get them there. 1406-1408 Fillmore St. at Ellis.


A stage and the crowd at Outside Lands 2011. Photo via Facebook.


Photo of the 2009 SF Street Food Festival via Facebook.


Don’t miss the food and cocktails at Eat Drink SF. Photo by Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine Photography via Facebook.

Yup, the GastroMagic stage returns to Outside Lands this weekend, with the return of the Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia & Brenda’s Soul Food, karaoke with Morimoto, World Pizza Cup Champion Tony Gemignani spinning dough to DJ MoPo, and more. (Kudos to partner ChefsFeed for the pairing of Karl Denson and Guittard Chocolate Company for Sexual Chocolate.) There will be a variety of performances and acts each day, and some will even offer tastes from the show. Seats are complimentary and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 10 fans to arrive before that particular performance; details will be released via the Outside Lands mobile app.   

Nearby, you’ll find some adult beverage fun with Talk Like a Pirate Bar, Uh-Oh It’s Magic, Let’s Get Fizz-ical, and Mission Agave, featuring bartenders from Bon Vivants, 15 Romolo, The Boxing Room, and Nopa. And don’t get lost in BaconLand.

The San Francisco Street Food Festival (on August 15th) just announced a few updates for this year’s gathering, starting with a new and expanded beverage program. Mission Bowling Club, Cafe du Nord, Odd Job, Smokestack, Third Rail, Locanda, and Sweets Collection will making cocktails (tasters are $8, large drinks are $12). The Whole Foods Market Hops & Crafts Beer Garden will serve brews from Magnolia, Goose Island, Anchor Stream, Calicraft, 21st Amendment, Stone Brewery, and Fort Point. There are also some general bars that will offer well drinks, wine, and a selection of beers. And good news: you won’t be relegated to the beer/cocktail garden this year—guests can cruise and eat with their beverages.

The Whole Foods Market Live Cooking Stage will include demos from Anthony Strong of Locanda, pie secrets from Three Babes Bakeshop’s Lenore Estrada, and more. Don’t miss a visit to the Maker’s Market, highlighting winners of WFM’s regional Small Producer Grant program, offering packaged food and crafts from vendors.

Eat Drink SF is August 20th-23rd, and has announced their main stage lineup and consumer classes. On Friday August 21st, Elizabeth Falkner and The Slanted Door’s Charles Phan will be in the house during the Grand Tasting, while Saturday August 22nd’s afternoon Grand Tasting will have Ryan Scott and former Olympian Brian Boitano, Tony Gemignani, and Chris Marchino of Cotogna and Michael Tusk of Cotogna and Quince on stage, with Michael Chiarello of Coqueta, Wesley Shaw of Presidio Social Club, and Master Beer Sommelier Marc Stroobandt of Stella Artois during the evening Grand Tasting.

While you’re at the Grand Tastings, be sure to take a look at the San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom, with workshops including Bubbles, Bubbles, & More Bubbles; Que Syrah Syrah; Wines Around Sicily; and Cabernet Is King. The Grand Tastings will be at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center.

There will also be some consumer classes, from cocktails to beer pairing. On Saturday August 22nd, yours truly is going to be emceeing the Classic Cocktail A-Game: The Art, Stories, and Up the Sleeve Tricks with Leilani Vella for Sipsmith Gin. You’ll learn the fundamentals of constructing a cocktail, techniques that turn a good cocktail into a great cocktail, and more—I hope to see you there! Get 15 percent off the class with promo code SIPGIN. 2pm-3:15pm. Ticket prices start at $30 for the consumer classes. The consumer classes will be at the Firehouse at Fort Mason Center.


The exterior of Nabolom Bakery. Yelp photo by Tina J.


The pastry case at Crispian Bakery. Photo from Facebook.

The second restaurant from John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, the pair behind Comal, is officially opening Friday August 7th. It’s called ~THE ADVOCATE~ and marks a departure from Comal’s Mexican cuisine. They’ve brought on chef John Griffiths, who hails from Michigan and previously worked at Truffles and was the opening chef at Larry Forgione’s An American Place in St. Louis, followed by The Kitchen in Sacramento. The menu will be firmly rooted in California style, with influence from North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Matthew Campbell is coming over from Comal as bar manager, and the drink list will offer twists on classic cocktails, by using local products and housemade bitters and infusions. Corin Weihemuller is the wine director, and the wine list will offer 40 to 50 selections, mostly from California winemakers. And music and sound geeks, The Advocate will also feature Meyer Sound Laboratories’ Constellation acoustic system (Comal was the first restaurant install), while the sound dampening Libra panels will be printed with images from antique postcards of Berkeley. Hours are Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. Brunch coming in the fall. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley, no phone yet.

~NABOLOM BAKERY COLLECTIVE~ in Berkeley is closing after almost 40 years of business, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. The bakery, which is well known in the Elmwood neighborhood for their challah, morning buns, cinnamon twists, and blueberry cheese Danishes, seems to be shutting down due to financial issues, though the specifics are unclear. 2708 Russell St. at College, Berkeley.

One bakery closes, and another opens. We’ve been tracking ~CRISPIAN BAKERY~ in Alameda, and they’ve officially opened their doors! This is the brick-and-mortar location for Beth Woulfe and Christian Fidelis de Goes, who met working at Bouchon in New York and have been selling their goods at the Alameda farmers’ market. They are selling bread from Fidelis de Goes, and Woulfe runs the pastry side of things. They’ve got croissants, seasonal fruit cakes, cookies, loaves of bread, and more. The small space offers seating for about 10 guests, and of course you can take your goods to go. Hours are Tue-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 7am-3pm. 1700 Park St. at Buena Vista, Alameda, 510-239-4751.

~LOS CILANTROS~ is now serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday, according to those ever-watchful Chowhounds. Hours are Tue 10am-2pm, Wed-Sun 10am-2pm and 5:30pm-9pm. 3105 Shattuck Ave. at Woolsey, Berkeley, 510-230-7350.

July 28, 2015

Chef-partner Ron Pei. Photo courtesy of Chino.


Fresh housemade tofu with fried garlic, shallots, and chile oil. Photo courtesy of Chino.


Taiwanese fried chicken with fried herbs. Photo courtesy of Chino.


Ron Pei with his father. Photo courtesy of Chino.

Some big news over at 16th Street and Guerrero: ~CHINO~ has gone dark for a couple of weeks, and when it reopens on Monday August 10th, there will be a new chef-partner, Ron Pei, and a new menu too. There will also be an updated kitchen and some interior design tweaks too.

It’s funny how things work out: Pei worked as a sous and eventually as chef ​at Laiola (where Tacolicious is now) back in 2009, and owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran talked about opening a dumpling-driven restaurant with him. But when Laiola closed and the first Tacolicious took off, Pei ended up moving to the East Coast, where he worked at Blue Hill Stone Barns and Commis in New York, and José Andres’s minibar in DC. But Pei recently came back to SF, and the timing was now perfect to bring him on to change the course of Chino (especially since Chino is Pei’s nickname from Laiola’s Spanish-speaking cooks).

Pei has cooking in his blood: his family is originally from Shandong, and after emigrating to the U.S. from Korea, his parents opened restaurants in the Midwest and eventually California—they ran Cafe Yulong in Mountain View until seven years ago. Pei says his father, who started cooking when he was 17, was his inspiration to become a chef. And even though pop is 70, Pei is getting him back into the kitchen and working with him to improve the dumplings and handmade noodles. He says, “I wouldn’t do it without him! He is my Chinese compass.”

As for the new incarnation of the menu, almost everything will be all-new. Pei explains there will be Shandong roots and flavor profiles in the dishes, but it will also be market-driven, with some Californian creativity. Pei also mentioned his travels will come into play, whether it’s inspiration from Taiwanese night markets to his Midwest background to skills he learned in New York. Pei has been thinking about this concept for years and is looking forward to having some fun with it.

Noodles will be made with wheat instead of rice flour (which is southern), and Pei will be using his dad’s recipe for some water-boiled dumplings (plus some other family recipes). Some dishes he mentioned include an updated version of clams with fermented black beans in a ham-hock jus with jalapeños—it will come topped with a scallion pancake made with bacon fat, mmmmhmmm. Another will be a larger family-style dish of slow-braised lamb shoulder mu shu, with seasonal plum salad, housemade plum sauce, green onion, and cucumber. Look for a Taiwanese beef noodle soup, made with quality boneless short rib, shank, and tongue too. Summer radishes with charred scallion dressing and tomato-orange salad with shiso, cabbage, and crispy rice were also featured on some test meals. A couple of Chino classics that will remain are the xiao long bao (although those are being tweaked too) and a version of the matcha soft-serve.

Some additional news: bar manager Danny Louie is also being brought on as a partner in Chino. Fun history: Louie’s father worked at Cecilia Chiang’s Mandarin and so did Pei’s father. How about that?

Founders Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran “intend to step back ​(a little) ​and let these two be the true A team, [and] we ​are personally ​funding the makeover because we believe in this restaurant.” I know I am not the only one looking forward to seeing what Ron Pei has in store for us—it’s gonna rock.


The future home of Wise Sons’ bagel operation and commissary bakery. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.


Construction at Wise Sons Bagel and commissary. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.


The exterior of Wise Sons bagel space on Fillmore. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.


Bagels! (And a very happy Leo.) Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.

Like a phoenix rising from some tragic flames earlier this year, the ~WISE SONS DELI~ duo, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, have some great news to share: they found a new commissary location to replace the one they lost in the January Mission fire. And they’re going to be opening a bagel shop!

They reached out to me last week, letting me know they are currently gutting a space that dates back to the 1920s in the Fillmore, right across from State Bird Provisions. Not only will the 2,200-square-foot space (with 26-foot ceilings!) be a commissary bakery for their production of bagels, rye bread, their famed babka, challah, and rugelach, but they will also be setting aside 300 square feet for a retail section, Wise Sons Bagel. They look forward to keeping the space open and visible so people can see the baking operation, which is going to be pretty big. Good thing they salvaged their special bagel-forming machine.

As for the shop, you’ll be able to order at a counter, choosing from toasted bagel sandwiches (New Yorkers can go ahead and groan, just get it out), schmears, and sliced pastrami by the pound. They also plan to roll out some sable, lox, and sturgeon, plus other items will be in the grab-and-go case, all so your brunch spread at home will rock. There will be 10-12 seats for those who want to hang out, plus some seating outside and potentially 8-10 seats on the mezzanine. Coffee and espresso service will also be offered. The operation will be open daily, from the morning to the early afternoon.

Are they out to re-create New York’s Russ & Daughters? No, Bloom says that while Russ & Daughters is a wonderful and amazing place, that’s their thing, and Wise Sons Bagels will be different. Kind of like what the Bay Area is doing out here in regards to bagels. The New York Times piece “Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?” from the weekend was, in my mind, a bit off, with a headline that bordered on a Buzzfeed clickbait tone. The headline should have read “Why Local Bakers Don’t Give a Shit About Making a Facsimile of a New York Bagel in the San Francisco Bay Area?” Because that’s the real story.

Maybe it’s because our local bakers like to make bread products that are naturally fermented and full of flavor? I have been thoroughly enjoying our city’s NorCal, artisan, hand-rolled spin on bagels at places like Nopa, Marla Bakery, and 20th Century Cafe (I wrote an article about this more than a year ago). The East Bay’s Montreal-style Beauty’s Bagel Shop, Authentic Bagel Company, and Baron Baking are all making great product too. And then there’s the classic (since 1962!) House of Bagels on Geary, which has a dedicated local following. That’s fine, everyone keep complaining (especially you, New Yorkers) while many of us continue to enjoy all these rather excellent handcrafted bagels.

The article almost set Bloom and Beckerman up like they are going to save the day with their upcoming bagel operation and are here to fix THE SITUATION, obliquely dismissing these other bagel makers—which couldn’t be further from the scenario (hello, they serve Beauty’s bagels on the weekends at Wise Sons Deli). All our local bakers just want to do things their way, which is pretty much how the boys have run their deli from the beginning. (Thank you, don’t change a thing about your matzo ball soup!)

When asked about their bagels, Wise Sons say they will be traditional: “They are proofed for 36 hours and boiled with malt and baking soda so you get a chewy crust with those little ‘fish eye’ bubbles and a depth of flavor that doesn’t just taste like a white roll.” (And you know they are still going to hear all kinds of comments—just like they have from day one.)

Anyway, the bigger and more important point is that we’re going to have a new shop dedicated to bagels. And based on the quality of the other items Wise Sons make, that’s exciting. We deserve this.

It’s interestingly a full-circle kind of scenario for the neighborhood, which Bloom tells me used to have kosher butchers and other shops where SF’s Jewish community would come to do their shopping since so many synagogues were/are nearby. Bloom and Beckerman are looking forward to uncovering more history of the neighborhood as they research even further.

Bloom also wanted to express their profound gratitude to Bi-Rite Market, which has allowed Wise Sons to use their commissary space during this challenging post-fire transitional time and have been instrumental in helping them keep things going. If their projections are correct, they’ll hopefully be baking in the new space in October and probably starting the retail operation soon thereafter.

With future neighbors like ~BLACK BARK~ from 1300 on Fillmore, and the upcoming po’boy shop, ~BRENDA’S ORIGINAL PO’BOYS~, from Brenda Buenviaje and Libby Truesdell, this section of Fillmore keeps making me really happy I have my gym right there too. 1520 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell.


The interior of Fine & Rare. Photo courtesy of Fine & Rare.


Fine & Rare’s crab roll at an Off the Grid event. Yelp photo by Jenny Q.

We reported in June that the ~FINE & RARE~ team (Scott Peterson and Ted Wilson) found a permanent location in the former Stars space. They are now open Monday through Friday, serving sandwiches and salads featuring their impeccably sourced seasonal seafood and produce.

The menu is tight, with just a few sandwiches that can also be made as salads, like the cold-smoked salmon pastrami and grilled skirt steak, all served on housemade bread. There are also a handful of sides, like carrot ginger kale chips, and watermelon, cucumber, and tomato salad. There are several wines available by the 8-, 12-, or 25-ounce pour (easy, tiger), including two whites, two reds, and a rosé.

The space has been refreshed, with a new coat of paint, but the cool ceiling and exposed brick remains. Vintage educational posters adorn the walls, with handcrafted wood tables and benches. You order at the counter and can then dine at one of their 35 seats or take your food to go. Hours are Mon 11am-3pm and Tue-Fri 11am-8pm, and you can still find them at Off the Grid events if you’re looking for them on a weekend. The hours will be especially handy if you’re looking for a bite before going to the opera or symphony. 555 Golden Gate Ave. at Van Ness, 415-297-3980.


Dipped cones with almonds and sprinkles from Twirl and Dip. Yelp photo by Julia K.

Back in June, we reported that the Marina location of Udupi Palace had closed, and a new restaurant called ~KOBANI MEDITERRANEAN GRILL~ would be moving in. According to Yelp it is now open, and a great story on Berkeleyside Nosh explains even more about the project.

It’s from owner Emin Tekin, a Kurd who was born in Turkey and immigrated to the United States in 1999. The restaurant is named for a Northern Syrian city that’s been in the news a lot lately, and is a nod to his heritage. In addition to the Marina location, Tekin has also opened another location in Berkeley and is planning a third in San Francisco in the coming months. He is also helping his brother reopen Hayes & Kebab, which closed last year but will reopen in 2016. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-872-9911.

Meet new ice cream shop ~TWIRL AND DIP~, which opened in Potrero just in time for a little heat wave this week. This is the first brick-and-mortar location for the ice cream truck, and they’re whirling up organic soft serve with a housemade TCHO chocolate hard-shell dip. They’ve also got a fun selection of toppings, including fruit sauces, honeycomb candy, and toffee pieces. Hours are Tue-Sun 12pm-8:30pm. 1717 17th St. at Carolina, 415-205-8261.


Plating at a recent Uma Casa pop-up. Photo from Facebook.

On Sunday August 2nd, catch another fab pop-up from chef Telmo Faria’s Portuguese Uma Casa at Merigan Sub Shop. It’s happening from 6pm to 9pm, and no tickets or reservations are required. This week, the menu includes caldo verde, pasteis de bacalhau, salada de polvo, and a francesinha (I AM SO THERE), plus port, Madeira, and sherry cocktails from Nora Furst. 636 2nd St. at Townsend.

Celebrate our warm weather on the gorgeous patio at a garden party at ~STEM~ next Thursday August 6th from 4pm to 8pm. Several restaurants will be popping up in the outdoor space, and Stem will also be serving food and drink specials. There will be bocce ball, gardening demonstrations, and local CSAs will also be in attendance. The Commissary, Sea Star, and Public House will all be participating, along with Nomad Gardens and West Oakland Woods Farm. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St., 415-915-1000.

Don’t miss a fried chicken feast picnic party at ~STARBELLY~ on Tuesday August 11th. It’s happening on the back patio and includes fried chicken plus picnic classics like pasta salad, four-bean salad, corn bread with maple butter, and peach cobbler for dessert. Tickets are $45 including all food, and beverages will be available for purchase as well. Seatings are at 6pm and 8pm. (September 15th is a BBQ Ribs Summer Patio Picnic, and October 6th is A Whole Pig Picnic on the Patio.) 3583 16th St. at Market, 415-231-6267.


The bar scene at Urchin Bistrot. Photo from Facebook.

A couple of closures to report: ~URCHIN BISTROT~—the restaurant in the former Slanted Door/Wo Hing space on Valencia from Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani—is closing after service this Friday July 31st. (Via Scoop.) 584 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-861-1844.

Meanwhile, Eater reports ~TAPS SOCIAL HOUSE AND KITCHEN~ has closed, and according to ABC records, a chain from Southern California, Killer Shrimp, is moving in. Huh. That’s, uh, interesting. Curious to hear where the talented chef Michael Lamina ends up next. 1516 Broadway at Polk.


East Bay Express reports that ~TROUBLE COFFEE~ now has a location in West Oakland. The tiny, original Outer Sunset location of Trouble Coffee kicked off the $4 toast trend and received national media attention for owner Giulietta Carrelli’s fascinating personal story. This is the third outpost for the shop, which added a Bayview location in 2013 in addition to the original. In Oakland, there is no posted menu, so you have to talk to your barista (and yes, the Yelp page offers a wide range of opinions on that choice), and it’s an electronics-free zone, so no computing or pic-snapping. 1545 Willow St. at 16th St., Oakland, 510-735-9214.

On Monday August 3rd, chef Paula McDade is doing a pop-up at Juhu Beach Club called k.pop! There are two seatings for the dinner, one at 5:30pm and another at 8pm. The four-course prix-fixe includes dishes like pork belly “tacos,” octopus pancake, and braised short ribs. Tickets are $55 and include food but not drinks or gratuity. 5179 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland, 510-652-7350.

Uptown Oakland is getting an ice cream shop, Scoop reports. It’s called ~LITTLE GIANT~ and is from owners Kevin Best and Neil Rideout. The pair is making all their ice cream on-site, with lots of unique flavors. Most ice cream shops purchase a base from creameries like Straus, but Little Giant is working with their own pasteurizer so that they can customize their ice cream from the very beginning. This also means they can alter the base for boozy flavors, like Negroni and old-fashioned. Their creamery will be walled off with glass, so you can check out the action while licking your scoops too. They’ll be serving scoops out of a trailer in front of the shop on Friday August 7th at Oakland’s First Friday event, giving out free samples and offering tours of the shop, and will open the shop a couple of weeks later. 1951 Telegraph Ave. at William, Oakland, no phone.

On Tuesday August 11th, ~UMAMI MART~ is celebrating their third annual birthday with a bash, Matsuri (which means “festival” in Japanese). They’ll be taking over their back parking lot with food from the likes of Hopscotch, J-Shack Truck, and Casa de Kei, and there will be Japanese beer on tap from The Trappist. There will also be fun activities, including a live taiko drumming performance from Emeryville Taiko, J-Pop music from DJ Chungtech, and screen printing from Team Print Shop. The party runs from 6pm-9pm and is free to attend. Food and drink available for purchase. 815 Broadway at 8th St., Oakland, 510-250-9559.