Table Stakes: The Best of San Francisco Food and Drink
To keep tabs on every San Francisco restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past thirty (or so). Bon appétit.
Circa is dead, long live The Dorian. They had us from “dollar oysters,” but we’ll also show up for the heavy-on-the-classics menu items like deviled eggs, roasted Brussels sprouts, house picks, baked pretzels and other things our German grandmother liked to make. We’re also excited about the Avocado Toast with olive oil, smoked sea salt, and burrata, which she did not make, and the $40 burger with Dungeness crab and black truffle, because how would we know we were living in the era of the greatest creation of wealth in history if not for the $40 burgers with Dungeness crab and black truffle? It’s life-affirming, is what it is.
We’d go to Oro for no other reason than executive chef/owner Jason Fox’s blind tasting menu: Pony up $75 and hope for the best. It’s inspired, says Fox’s partner, Timothy Felkner of Vigilante Hospitality, by the tradition of chefs showing up at each other’s restaurants and leaving everything in the hands of the guy in the kitchen. The less adventurous can select from the California-meets-Mediterranean menu that carefully delineates private snacks-for-one (salt cod croquettes, grilled spot prawns in fennel butter) from the large plates meant to be shared, like roasted whole rock cod and porchetta with grilled cucumbers, potato, and horseradish.
We remember being a 30-year-old sophomore at SFAI on Russian Hill, when our teenage classmates would go to the Marina simply for the schadenfreude thrills of watching the olds mate at Safeway. Now there’s actually a good reason (just one) to get over there: Glaze Teriyaki’s brand-new take-out window. We don’t know why Paul Krug and Dennis Lake’s Korean-derived, “Seattle-style teriyaki” is better when it comes through a hole in a wall at quarter to one in the morning, but we know that it is.
Golden State of Cocktails
No dawdling on this one. We’re not entirely sure why the folks behind the Golden State of Cocktails decided to hold their full-on event in L.A. rather than here. We’d boycott out of indignation, but at least of the two preview events — here and San Diego — ours comes first. This weekend, to be exact. If you want to be the guy in the room who can knowledgeably talk about whiskey, use sake as a mixer, or has ideas for super-fun things to do on Sunday and Monday nights, check out their website now. Tickets on sale and hustling on out of here.
Hakkasan’s Golden Week
Anyone who’s ever been to China knows that restaurants actually in-country aren’t the General Tso’s affairs we have stateside. We’ll get interesting proof of that courtesy of Hakkasan, which this week unveils its menu celebrating Golden Week, a Chinese national holiday during which many travel. Some, presumably, will come to S.F., where the restaurant hopes to welcome them with a limited-edition “Supreme” dim sum platter “catered specifically to the traditional Chinese palate” and featuring a lychee and lobster dumpling, abalone shumai with caviar, an Alaskan king crab dumpling, and a Dover sole dumpling with black truffle oil. Is this a little bit like eating hamburgers and apple pie in Berlin? Not when it comes courtesy of Michelin-starred chef International Executive Chef Ho Chee Boon. Now til October 18.
Put it on your calendars: You may think the fourth Thursday in November is the big one in terms of food and drink holidays, but it’s actually the third: November 19, l’arrivée du Beaujolais Nouveau.