September was an interesting month in the Bay Area dining world. It saw the opening of a wine bar and restaurant unlike anything we’ve experienced before, the opening of a new super-high-end Chinese restaurant that sounds amazing, but that we definitely can’t afford, two new spots that are serving up tasty Japanese food and all of the sake, and a cookie dough shop that no one knows how to feel about.
Seriously: who knew a cookie dough shop could be so controversial? Apparently not the owner of Doughp, who managed to both piss off and delight people with the opening of her Castro spot. Is she guilty of cultural appropriation? Is a single scoop of cookie dough topped with sprinkles in a waffle cone worth eight bucks?
We can’t answer all of your burning questions. All we can do is give you the information and suggest you go try it out for yourself. After all, the crazy food and drink scene is one of the best reasons to live here, even if you don’t always love it. Or, sadly, can’t afford it.
San Francisco has lots of great wine bars. It also has lots of great restaurants with great wine. What it didn’t have—UNTIL NOW—was a restaurant that takes the food and wine pairing experience to the next level.
At most restaurants, it’s the job of the sommelier or wine director to find wine that pairs well with whatever dishes the chef creates. At Parigo (which translates from Esperanto to “pairing”), it’s the exact opposite. Yup: they pick the wine list first, and then the chef creates dishes that pair with the wines.
Oh, but wait. It gets even better. (And this is our favorite part.) Not only do they suggest two wines that complement every dish, they also suggest two wines that contrast it. See, whereas a wine that complements the dish will, well, complement the dish, the contrasting pairings are meant to bring out new flavors in the food you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
And just because the pairing experience begins with the wines doesn’t mean the food plays any less important of a role in your experience. In fact, all of the dishes we tried were incredibly thoughtful (and rather indulgent). Favorites include the veal tenderloin, the salmon tartare, and the seared foie gras with warm salt-and-pepper cookies and huckleberry jam, which are on the menu as a starter, but which we enjoyed for dessert.
Pairings are available by the glass or half glass, which means you can play around and figure out what you like best and why. We found we were more into the contrasting wines, but that didn’t come as a huge shock, since people have recited “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” at us since we were five.
Also, if for some reason the idea of the pairings puts you off, don’t worry: Parigo also offers 50 excellent wines from around the world by the glass, and dozens and dozens more by the bottle.
Oh, and there’s outdoor seating and a fire pit. Which just feels like something you’d want to know.
Okay, just so we’re clear, there’s no way in hell we could ever afford to eat at Eight Tables, the new fine dining Chinese restaurant from founder and executive chef George Chen on the second floor of China Live (and right down the hall from our favorite bar of 2017, Cold Drinks).
That’s because the eight-course dinner costs $225 per person (with an optional $125 wine pairing). Still, based on what we’ve seen and heard, if we could afford to drop $600 on dinner for two, we’d be at Eight Tables in one second.
Of course, that might be a little difficult since Eight Tables only has, yup, you guessed it: eight tables. If you do score a reservation however, you’ll enter through a back alley and a secret elevator, at which point you’ll be greeted with warm towels, a record player spinning vinyl, a guestbook that you’ll sign, and a mobile bar cart with cocktails.
The menu will change frequently, but you can expect dishes like a shrimp dumpling served on uni and topped with caviar, red braised pork with fava beans, black cod wrapped in banana leaf, and a foie gras pot sticker.
It all sounds totally decadent and utterly delicious. If only we weren’t set on the iPhone X.
You probably think of the Public Market in Emeryville as somewhere to go during the day to grab lunch, but not a place you’d hit up at night. But thanks to The Periodic Table, a new taproom and sake bar, that’s all changing.
The goal of The Periodic Table is to introduce Japanese drinking culture to a wider American audience, which means you can expect a lot of sake, Japanese whisky, and shōchū, as well as Japanese-inspired cocktails. If you try it and find it’s not your thing, no worries: there are also plenty of craft beers on the menu, including a great local selection.
Snacks include smaller bar bites, like a pickle plate, charcuterie, cheese plate, and lotus root chips, through to heartier fare, like the TPT Burger with yuzu kosho mayo, shiso, griddled onions, and house slaw served on sesame pain au lait ($11). You can also order food from next door sister restaurant Shiba Ramen, including fried sesame pepper Shiba Wings ($7.50 for six pieces, $13 for twelve pieces), Chashu Pies stuffed with miso pork chashu ($4), and, of course, bowls of ramen ($10.50 – $13.50).
We were bummed when Mamacita, the Mexican restaurant on Chestnut Street, ended its 12-year run a few months ago. Luckily, there’s a new friend in town to fill the empty spot in our hearts.
Mamanoko is a Japanese izakaya and sushi bar from (most of) the partners involved with Mamacita. The space features lots of cedar throughout, and Japanese Akari lanterns from the Noguchi Museum hang from the ceiling, providing light and ambiance.
The menu is nothing crazy or unique (okay, other than the brownie dough ice cream roll), but it’s all super tasty, if a little pricey. Expect items like tataki ($20), dumplings ($12), a selection of nigiri and sashimi ($8 to $19), as well as house specialty rolls ($16 – $19) and “the usual suspects” ($10 – $15).
There’s also a full bar with tons of Japanese whiskies, beers, and sakes, so expect this Marina spot to be pretty lively, especially on the weekends. A little like Umami back in the day, which is something the neighborhood has been missing.
Are we already over the cookie dough shop trend? Yes. But just because we don’t see the point in paying $6 for a scoop of safe-to-eat raw cookie dough doesn’t mean that you are, so even though it’s not for us, we still wanted to let you know about the opening of Doughp (pronounced “dope”), a hip-hop influenced cookie dough spot where you can get six flavors of cookie dough from a rotating lineup of over a dozen ($6 for one scoop, $10 for two scoops, and $15 for three scoops) served with toppings like Fruity Pebble and rainbow sprinkles (though they’ll cost you another 50 cents) served in a sugar cone ($.50) or a flavored waffle cone ($1.50).
As far as the potentially problematic lexicon goes (the white 20-something owner referred to herself as a “dougph dealer” until she got called out by the Chronicle), it does appear that it’s been dialed back a little, so we’ll chalk that one up to an embarrassing misfire and life lesson.
Anyway, not our thing, but maybe your thing and we don’t have to agree on everything!