Appetite: Hookahs on Mission, gnocchi deals, Midi in FiDi, and more

Pub date March 24, 2009
SectionFood & Drink

A delicious-looking dish at Midi. See “Openings” below.

As long-time San Francisco resident and writer, I’m passionate about this city and obsessed with exploring its best food-and-drink spots, deals, events and news, in every neighborhood and cuisine type. I have my own personalized itinerary service and monthly food/drink/travel newsletter, The Perfect Spot, and am thrilled to share up-to-the minute news with you from the endless goings-on in our fair city each week on SFBG. View the last Appetite installment here.



Whew! There are a slew of openings this week. Here’s a rundown of four and stay tuned for many more …

Missionites’ new all-day cafe-wine bar-resto combo: The Corner
Weird Fish, the Mission’s quirky, sustainable seafood joint, debuted a sister spot next door last week, The Corner, which should begin all day hours this week. Seeking to be all things to all people, it’s a cafe with wifi and Four Barrel coffee in the am, BLT Paninis at lunch, and at night, DJs, unique wines by the glass and dishes like duck and medjool dates or fennel-crusted pork chops.
2199 Mission, SF.

Mission take two: Morak Lounge, a new Moroccan hookah bar
Sixteenth and Valencia has no lack of global eating options, all within a couple block radius. What it hasn’t had up till now is a chic, Marrakech-style lounge where you can smoke a double-apple flavored hookah while sampling Middle Eastern bites (the usual: hummus, baba ghanoush, skewers) or Cardamom-infused martinis. Enter Morak Lounge. Behind bronze doors, bright curtains and comfy cushions equal a sultry space to linger and puff away long into the night (open until big city hours of 3am on weekends).
3126 16th St., SF

Midi: FiDi’s new French Asian restaurant
Joie de Vivre luxury hotels debuted a new restaurant this past weekend, open for lunch and dinner with a downstairs bar open all day for the Financial District set. Midi, with Chef Michelle Mah of Ponzu at the helm, has been in the works for two years but is finally open in the former Perry’s space. The French Asian fare reinvents classics like duck leg confit with a ginger-rhubarb jus, with Euro-Asian offerings from Hawaiian kampachi crudo to pork rillettes with Dijon mustard. It all goes down nicely post-work (or during a lunch break) with a Lavender French 75 cocktail or with one of seven craft beers or 15 wines by the glass.
185 Sutter Street

Barlata, tapas bar from B44 chef, debuts Oakland
Chef Daniel Olivella has helmed Belden Lane’s mainstay, B44, for years… and still will. But he’s branching out with an anticipated East Bay locale, Barlata. Experience Spain from the mile-long list of tapas, bite-sized pinchos and paellas to share. Don’t forget Spanish wines, sherries or (non-Spanish) beers as you join friends at the marble bar or communal table to dine on boquerones, garlic soup, grilled sardines or oxtail in red wine sauce.
4901 Telegraph Ave, Oakl.



March 26: Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Toast of the Town
Another pricey deal, this one’s your chance to pretend that you’re the elite, sipping wine for a local charity at the classy War Memorial Opera House for Wine Enthusiast mag’s Toast of the Town gala. Dress up and splurge for the VIP gig at 5pm or buy slightly more reasonable 7pm tix to sip wines from over 70 producers and taste bites from 30 restaurants like Ana Mandara, Campton Place, Millennium, Rivoli, Shanghai 1930 and Slanted Door, to name a few. A charity auction for SF Food Bank gives some meaning to your decadent imbibement.
$75 Early Bird Online/$95 at the door
War Memorial Opera House
401 Van Ness Avenue


March 28: Whiskies of the World is back as part of Artisanal Spirits Fest
How can you not love that San Fran has been the setting for the unique Whiskies of the World celebration for 10 years now? Not only are there classes on Cigar Making or Mixology (using, what else? Whiskies), but the setting is downright idyllic. As the sun sets from aboard the San Francisco Belle, smoke your cigar (BYO or buy there) as you roam the deck while Celtic pipe and drum music plays, and sipping whiskies is the collective activity. Sampling booths cover three floors of the boat, staffed by spirits experts from distillers to blenders, while a dinner buffet shores up the stomach for all that imbibing. On top of whiskies, the Indpendent Spirits Fest portion means there’s also local vendors of other types of spirits like St. George Spirits, Charbay, Anchor Steam, Square One, and Osocalis. It’s pricey, yes, but I can think of fewer more enjoyable ways to go…
Sat/28, 6pm, $115-$120; additional classes: $15-20
San Francisco Belle, Pier 3



FREE Monday morning coffee at Four Barrel
I didn’t want to have to mention this and make the waits for a capp at Four Barrel longer than they already are, but as the word is leaking out everywhere this week, I thought I’d mention this generous turn from owner, Jeremy Tooker. Playfully calling it an “F.U. Recession” giveaway, get an 8oz. cup of French Press coffee, brewed just right… don’t say I didn’t warn you about looong waits for it, though!
Mondays through April 20th, 8-10am
375 Valencia, SF.

Weeknight prix fixe and Gnocchi Tuesdays at Bar Bambino
Every time I go to Bar Bambino, I walk away feeling like I was just in my favorite enoteca in an Italian town, sipping Italian wines, robust coffees from both North and South Italy, eating housemade charcuterie and cheeses Bambino’s been making before everyone in town was. Like many lately, they’re offering special menus like an early evening three-course prix fixe for $30. Primi (first course) could be soup, salad, or pasta. Main course is a meat or eggplant polpette, with gelato or signature Citrus Polenta Cake for dessert. Another fun element (for gnocchi fiends like myself) is their Gnocchi Tuesdays, playfully mirroring the tradition of Roman trattorias serving gnocchi dishes on Thursdays. Chef Christian Hermsdorf makes them from scratch, of course, different each week, with past gnocchi made of red kuri squash with sage cream sauce or a Venetian-inspired pumpkin gnocchi in cinnamon and brown butter. Yum…
Sundays-Thursdays, 5-7pm, $30
2931 16th St., SF

Jovino’s Saturday night Spaghetti Feed
Spaghetti with Niman Ranch meatballs sound good to you? What if you throw in a glass of house wine all for the price of the wine: $9? Now you have a deal. A low-key Cow Hollow cafe, Jovino is a good place to drop in and unwind — and fill up for less than $10.
Saturdays 6-9pm
2184 Union, SF