To keep tabs on every S.F. 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.
Freds at Barneys
Why now: Will Barneys be able to replicate the power-lunch vibe of the Manhattan original, at this new edition of Freds? All the velvet banquettes say yes; time will tell.
Eat this: Proud San Franciscans will of course skip the imported items (like Mark’s Madison Avenue Salad, even if it is a classic, and delicious) and focus on the locally inflected options like the SF Club, with Dungeness crab and Oregon baby shrimp on seven-grain.
Why now: The Trick Dog team expands with this two-bar, two-level spot, which marries a California design vibe with grace notes from Africa and Southeast Asia. (The carved lions over the bar offer a solid hint.) The menu, though, is straight China.
Eat this: Dumplings are never better than at 1:45 a.m. — which is a terrific reason to head to Bon Voyage, given that they’ll be serving food until 2. Think “Explosive Kung Pao Chicken” and pork and shrimp wontons, with a couple of the Raffles-inspired “Slings.” We’ll start with the classic Singapore original, with Tanqueray gin, Benedictine, and cherry liqueur.
Why now: An Afro-Caribbean restaurant finds a welcome home in the Fillmore, in the space vacated by much-missed Black Bark — all courtesy of Jay Foster, chef-owner of the Tenderloin’s renowned Farmerbrown, along with his Isla Vida co-owners Matthew Washington and Erin Traylor, both Farmerbrown alums.
Eat this: The Jamaican jerk chicken, of course, with maduros (sweet plantains), black beans, and the grilled pineapple with coconut ice cream and caramel.
prairie (2 images)
Why now: From the highly pedigreed Anthony Strong — he’s known for his decade-long stint at Delfina, and his work as executive chef at Locanda — comes Prairie, a self-proclaimed “new-school Italian” designed for a super-social vibe. (Sharing plates is encouraged.)
Eat this: The guanciale-wrapped mochi with radicchio and aged balsamico, followed by the marrow bones with grilled bread and herb salad.
Why now: Chefs Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkor met at the San Francisco Art Institute before teaming up in the kitchen at Rockridge’s Duchess. Now they’re directing this pop-up dining series, which debuted in early October.
Eat this: The menu’s concept will change every few months — a recent Facebook post nodded to “goose, beech mushroom, quince, and kohlrabi demi-glacé” coming up in December. For now, expect a theme of “Fine Dining on Paper” with either five or seven courses, both of which involve Japanese mushroom soup, ocean trout and beef cheek with turnip.