The Tablehopper

Meet your new spot for wine and pasta, plus Marlowe comes to Cow Hollow

Merchant Root’s cafe tables and woven fiber art piece by Meghan Bogden Shimek. Photo: Kassie Borreson/Fotografie


A long-awaited project (oh, San Francisco, why do you make it so hard to open a business?) has now opened on Fillmore: Merchant Roots (1365 Fillmore Street), which is a specialty food store, wine shop, casual eatery, and fine-dining restaurant, all rolled into one. So whether you want to come by for a mortadella sandwich, glass of wine, full dinner (launching soon), or pick up a bottle to bring home, your bases are covered. It’s all highly curated and crafted, and everything is made in-house, from the pastries to all the items in the larder.

This project is from life and business partners Madison Michael and chef Ryan Shelton (previously Baumé, Palo Alto). They are quite the power duo: She is a certified sommelier and cheesemonger, and he’s a skilled chef with a passion for all things Italian (it’s in his blood).

During the day, you’ll find salads and sandwiches (which you can also get to go), daily pastas, and more. And not just any sandwiches: there’s smoked carrot with shaved carrot, Point Reyes Toma, and raisin jam on focaccia ($9), and pasta like ricotta cavatelli with wild mushrooms, porcini cream, and sage pesto ($11). House-baked cannoli, cookies, and more will be there for you when your sweet tooth strikes. And coconut-lime doughnuts in the morning, which sounds good, too.

Launching in June is The Table at Merchant Roots, which will be offered three nights a week, featuring a themed tasting menu that will rotate every four to six weeks. There will be room for just eight guests, who will dine at the live-edge Monkey Pod wood table (by woodworker Ian Avidan of Berkeley-based Z&E Slabs). The Table experience will be $110 per person, with the option to add a wine pairing ($70) or partake by the glass.

It’s a petite 1,000-square-foot space, but they also managed to squeeze in quite the larder, stocked with their house-made food products, like salt blends, seasonal preserves, charcuterie (including salumi and uni pâté), and five kinds of dried pasta, including kale spaghetti chitarra and gnocchetti sardi. (You’ll see chef Ryan and his team making pasta at the counter). They also have Eric Miller (Maker’s Common, Mission Cheese) helping out on the cheese selection and in-house charcuterie program, which will need some time.

And then there’s the wall of wine. Madison has selected more than 80 bottles, highlighting rare finds, natural wines, and lesser-known grapes, both locally and internationally. You can grab a bottle for a party, or come by for some daily selections by the glass. The space is so pretty, you’ll actually want to do both.

There are live-edge wood cafe tables with copper wire chairs, and a show-stopping 30-by-5-foot custom-made woven wool fiber art piece by local weaver Meghan Bogden Shimek. Obviously so much thought has gone into this place, I can’t wait to check it out and soak in the details. And they have some great neighbors (like State Bird Provisions). That little stretch in the Lower Fillmore now has a lot going on. Tuesday–Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.


Details are slim at the moment, but coming to Cow Hollow in September will be another location of Big Night Restaurant Group’s Marlowe: Cow Marlowe (3145 Fillmore Street). The popular SoMa bistro is opening in the former Eastside West, and chef Jennifer Puccio will be adding some dishes just for that location.


Beer lovers are going to be thrilled with the news that Fort Mason will be getting quite the Bavarian beer hall. The beer-lovin’ folks behind Biergarten and Suppenküche are opening Radhaus in Fort Mason Center by early summer. The San Francisco Chronicle reports there will be some Cali-Bavarian food and beer and wine. The industrial space (it used to be a U.S. Army machine shop) is 3,700 square feet, offering enough room for a 200-foot ponderosa pine tree to be carved on site and transformed into a bar, communal bench, and tables. Envelope A+D is behind the new design. Stand by for more.

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