The Tablehopper

December will have you visiting some great new markets and brunch, too

Steak and eggs at the new brunch at The Saratoga. Photo: courtesy of The Saratoga


The vegan and gluten-free Seed + Salt (2240 Chestnut Street) closed at the end of November; owner Mo Clancy plans to reformulate the business (the space is too small and limiting growth). Moving in will be a second location of the extremely delicious Dabba from chef Walter Abrams and CEO Andy Mercy, known for their Indian- and global-inspired bowls, burritos, wraps, and more. And Dabba is inheriting the Seed + Salt staff, so that’s a nice transition. Stand by for an opening date.


The Cheese School of San Francisco plans to move from its Mission location (in the former Saison at Stable Café) to Ghirardelli Square in late spring 2018. Owner Kiri Fisher says she hopes it will be a pretty seamless transition, and they’ll only go dark for a couple of weeks tops. The new location will be the two-story Apartment House (just behind the fountain on the main plaza). They will be launching a new culinary program, a counter-service cafe serving cheese-centric dishes from around the world (and wines by the glass or bottle), and a retail space, with cut-to-order cheese and charcuterie counters. Classes will be held on the second floor, which will be outfitted with a catering kitchen and pizza oven, with space for 28 participants.


Now open is Giovanni Italian Specialties (629 Union Street) from Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. This Italian shop and grocery store is stocked with house-made pasta, focaccia (with toppings), Italian meats, piadine (a sandwich made with flatbread, like Italian pita), pantry items, and some cookware. Daily noon–7 p.m.

An unfortunate (and I hope temporary) closure: after 27 years, the classic L’Osteria del Forno (519 Columbus Avenue). It’s supposedly closed for renovations, but a sign in the window also reportedly says they “weren’t sure where the restaurant was headed once the work was done,” so they wanted to “thank everyone that made this 27-year journey possible.” Their phone is disconnected and their OpenTable page is down, but I did receive a message they are closed to retrofit, so fingers crossed they return. It’s such a special, nostalgic place.


Starting Sunday, Dec. 3., The Saratoga (1000 Larkin Street, 415-932-6464) will offer brunch (11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.), which means if you hang out long enough, you can slide right into dinner at 5 p.m.

Chef de cuisine Francisco Baca’s menu is divided into “Snack,” “Sweet,” and “Hearty” sections, with dishes like his mom’s mole flautas (made with braised chicken, red cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema); steak and eggs; and The TL Omelet, with Taleggio cheese and melted leeks.

Barman-owner Brandon Clements has all kinds of options in a new brunch cocktail menu, divvied up into “Bloody,” “Frothy,” “Fizzy,” “Hot and Boozy,” and “Boothby Bowl.” There are three Bloody Mary recipes (classic, root, and verde), and you can get really crazy by adding a fried pickle, house-made jalapeño poppers, brisket beef jerky, fried chicken, and more.

Just half a block away is the spiffy new high-end market Meraki Market (927 Post Street, 415-351-1970) by Stanlee Gatti and business partner Bill Grzywacz. There are all kinds of quality goodies, from gorgeous produce, to well-sourced and unique pantry items, to all kinds of stocks, fresh salsas, and house-made butter in a cazuela you can keep. Breads are from Acme, plus croissants and a couple of breads from Jane. Cheese island, check.

Freshly made items include salads and couscous to pâté to sandwiches (a Waldorf-inspired chicken salad, egg salad, and tuna, all $10–$12). Chef Mouhssine Benhamacht (previously Meritage Napa and Spice Market Atlanta in the W) does some seriously good fried chicken available by the piece, and you can get a whole roasted chicken for $23. Rotating dishes include chili relleno, pozole, boeuf bourguignon, two kinds of soup, and more. The menu will change by 75 percent each day. There is also seafood and some marinated meats you can cook yourself. And caviar, naturally. Breakfast and coffee service is in the works. Daily 8 a.m.–9 p.m.


A Tablehopper reader reported the unfortunate news that just after winning their first Michelin star and just shy of a year of being open, the fantastic Kinjo (2206 Polk Street, 415-921-2222) suffered severe flood water damage (from an apartment neighbor above). The restaurant is saying they will be closed until Jan. 15 for repairs, and I’m hearing it will possibly be even later. I’ll keep you posted.


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Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, Tablehopper, about the S.F. dining and imbibing scene; get all the latest news at Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more culinary finds!