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.
Looking for a Michelin-certified chef for your sushi purposes? Get yourself to Delage in Oakland, where chef Masa Sasaki of Maruya has signed on for a three-month run as the spot’s opening chef. The new place is a sister to chef-owner Chikara Ono’s AS B-Dama izakaya at Swan’s Market; it’s omakase-style only, which means that until an à la carte menu is introduced (which may or may not happen), your only choice is the tasting menu. Now in soft opening, with official festivities coming in May.
If you’ve been feeling ho-hum about the possibilities of Chinese food in town, do yourself a favor and get to Mister Jiu’s pronto. From Quince alum Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu is made for Chinese feasts of olden days: less takeout standby, more cause for celebration, sharing, and commingling with its banquet-style menu. It’s $69 a person for five course (salad, soup, rice/noodles, veggie and entrees, with “supplements” including salt-baked McFarland Springs trout and Heart Arrow Ranch barbecued pork. Of particular note: The dessert menu, designed by fellow Quince star Melissa Chou: We want the black sesame cake, with rosebud mousse, strawberry confit, and ginger.
There’s a war of aesthetics raging between advocates of streamlined mid-century wood-paneled watering holes and practitioners of Louis XVI pizzazz (see: tiki bars). Horsefeather is in the former camp, and it’s a beautiful example of the style, a fittingly pared back, Arts and Crafts-inspired environment that saves the exuberance for the cocktail menu. If you don’t know the owners’ names (for the record: Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo), you almost certainly know their past projects, which include Bourbon & Branch and Tsk Tsk, the slushie-centric pop-up that first occupied the Horsefeather space. Consider this a melding of the two, and expect those popular slushies to make a pop-up appearance of their own on the Horsefeather menu in the future.
Basalt may be reading straight from a page out of the Napa playbook — but to paraphrase David Mamet: Everybody needs Napa. That’s why they call it Napa. Think a 70-seat outdoor space around a fire pit, with seasonal California standards like blistered snap pears in a chile-garlic glaze, grilled asparagus salad with Peruvian fingerling potatoes, and Sonoma duck breast with morel mushrooms and English peas. Inside, you’ll find a huge dining space and a gorgeous bar. Why reinvent the wheel when you’ve practically perfected it?
The Company at MINA Test Kitchen
The latest pop-up concept from Michael Mina and his adventure-minded Test Kitchen, The Company takes its name from the East India Company, which (you may remember from high school history exams) conducted trade between Britain and India. This outing is considerably more modern but just as internationally minded: The food, a celebration if not officially a fusion of Indian dishes with a California spirit, comes courtesy of chef Vikrant Bhasin, a past Mina collaborator; it’ll be interesting to see how his northern India focus is influenced by his recent work in Hawaii.