The Tablehopper

Brenda’s Meat & Three serves up tasty choices


As of early November, Le Marais Bistro and Bakery (2066 Chestnut Street, 415-359-9801) has a new chef, Max Snyder (Quince, Saison, and Coi, as well as Eleven Madison Park and Marea in New York and Qui in Austin) after the departure of Nicolette Manescalchi. His bistro menu is a bit more classic, with a cheeseburger, black cod en papillote, and Caesar salad appearing alongside more contemporary dishes like beets with pomegranate, black olive, and burrata; or a chicken dish with smoked confit, chickpea, radicchio, and citrus.


Fans of big breakfasts and hearty dinners will be pleased to know Brenda’s Meat & Three (919 Divisadero Street, 415-926-8657) is now open. Brenda Buenviaje and her partner Libby Truesdell (Brenda’s French Soul Food, Libby Jane Café) opened this project in the former Blue Jay Cafe (they didn’t buy the business from the current owners, André and Jennifer Larzul, but they are now majority/part owners). It’s a classic Southern diner, with stuffed johnnycakes, calas fritters, and a breakfast one-eyed jack — an egg inside of one of Brenda’s famed cream biscuits (with creamed gravy).

Lunch brings low-country gumbo, a Bibb lettuce and fried oyster salad (with buttermilk dressing, bacon, and cherry tomatoes), and a great lineup of sandwiches, including pulled pork, a seafood po’boy, spicy fried chicken, and fried bologna with pimento cheese (I am excited for that sandwich, I am the first to admit it). Supper is all about the “meat and three” action, which are listed on a board. You can choose from five or six proteins, like fried chicken, oxtail, fried catfish, and country ribs, and then you pick your three sides, with up to 15 in all, like bacon fat fries, smothered green beans, mac and cheese, creamed biscuits, and some seasonal sides, too, with plenty of vegetables (vegetarians will be able to make a meal of sides). The meat and three combos will range from $18–$22. Other items on the supper menu include the picnic board (bread and butter pickles, pimento cheese, ham jam, tiny biscuits, and crackers) and rock shrimp hush puppies.

The place was really cleaned up in the remodel — there’s a new paint job, new counters, and a fun mural of a pig (by Mural Arts). The horseshoe counter is still with us (yay), but it’s trimmed a little bit in the back to make more room for seating, so now it’s more of a “J” shape. There are some antique/distressed mirrors on a wall, and you’ll find new yellow chairs on the back patio. It’s looking cute. Hours are Wednesday–Monday 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Weekday breakfast is 8 a.m.–3 p.m., lunch 11 a.m.– 5 p.m., and dinner 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Weekend brunch hours are 8 a.m.–4 p.m. and dinner 4 p.m.–10 p.m.


Satin Chopra of Michelin-starred All Spice in San Mateo has taken over the former Masa’s space with his wife, Shoshana Wolff. The new restaurant is called Game (648 Bush Street, 415-874-9481), with Zach Freitas, an All Spice alum, as executive chef, and Rodrigo Ormachea on pastry (a Peruvian native who has worked at Dry Creek Kitchen, Revival Bar + Kitchen in Berkeley, and Plum and Haven in Oakland) and Conor Carroll (most recently at Burritt Room + Tavern) as sommelier.

The menu offers two choices for dining: You can order à la carte or go with the chef’s five-course tasting menu. Whatever you decide, the kitchen is focused on game, including duck with pan-seared polenta, yogurt, and blackened alliums ($35), and a roasted venison with trumpet mushrooms, pumpkin, and watercress ($36). There is also a freekeh porridge (which is officially a trend item, it would seem) with charred cabbage, boletes, and palm. You can also try an elk burger ($21), but there are only 21 (a nod to the game blackjack) available every day.

As for the storied space, it has been opened up to include an expanded bar, and a front window allows more light into the dining room. Designer Michael Brennan’s original paintings of animals playing cards adorn the walls, giving the space a whimsical feel reminiscent of a Wes Anderson movie. (We’re happy to see Masa’s toile-upholstered chairs have stayed put.) The dining room seats 50, in addition to a private dining room for 12. As for wine, Carroll and Wolff worked together on the wine list. Carroll also developed the cocktails, which adhere to classic recipes, but with some unexpected savory ingredients incorporated into the drinks.


Sam’s Grill And Seafood Restaurant (374 Bush Street, 415-421-0594) has reopened after a hiatus and refresh. To recap, the old-school spot was saved from an uncertain future by a group of regulars, while owner Phil Lyons transitions toward retirement. Its building was recently sold, and only three years remain on their current lease (let’s hope they get a good renewal worked out). In the meantime, though, there’s new paint, curtains, and some other polish. The menu is mostly the same, too, though it’s been a bit edited to ensure offerings are sustainable and high quality. Hours are still Monday–Friday 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

The beautiful Garden Court at The Palace Hotel (2 New Montgomery Street, 415-512-1111) is now open again at night, after a decade of being closed in the evenings. The hotel, which opened in 1909, is serving bites, desserts, cocktails, and wine under the historic glass-domed ceiling every evening from 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Cocktails include the 1909, with bourbon, lemon, house-made ginger syrup, and Lagavulin, or the Landmark 18 with Spirit Works sloe gin, Bummer & Lazarus gin, orange juice, and house-made almond bitters.

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Marcia Gagliardi is the founder of the weekly Tablehopper e-column; subscribe and get more food news and gossip at Follow her on Twitter: @tablehopper; e-mail: [email protected].