Field Notes: Restaurant, Hotel and Food News

San Francisco

Eat, Drink and Celebrate Prix Fixe

In the weeks before we tip into holiday season madness, the Bay Area restaurant community is putting on a show. For fourteen days, November 3–16, Fall Restaurant Week in conjunction with Eat Drink SF, means exceptionally well-priced menus at restaurants in all corners San Francisco. From Violet’s in the Richmond, to That’s Amore in Ingleside, countless restaurants are in for brunch, lunch and dinner menus. Or catch one of the special events, such as the curated chef collab, such as the opening celebration dinner which brings together chefs Jason Halverson and Ryan Cerizo from the Vault Steakhouse, Kim Alter from Nightbird, Sri Gopinathan from Copra, and Serena Chow Fisher from Jack & Remi.

Chef Hoss Zaré is Back, Baby

Chef Hoss Zaré (Zaré at Fly Trap) is once again cooking in SoMa. His latest venture, Movida Lounge, a multi-culti mashup of Persian and Mexican cuisine, opened in October. The cocktails, like a shishi with lychee and yuzu or a chilosa with gin, coconut and lime are from beverage consultant Carlo Splendorini and are downright gorgeous. Start with corn ribs brightened with sumac and tajin or a saffron chicken taco. The short rib birria tostada comes with crispy rice that would make a Persian grandma proud.

An Artist’s Noodles in a Fab Collab

I first discovered artist Windy Chien and her rope work years ago at an exhibition at the Bolinas Museum. I was fascinated by the perspective she brought to knots. Now Chien’s visual interpretations are part of a pasta collaboration with the co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow at Flour + Water restaurant.  From November 8–22, the trio’s collaborative shape, a.k.a. sinnetti as an ode to the sinnet family of knots (who knew?), will be featured on the pasta tasting menu. Fun!

Chef Collab: Dominican & Russian via New York?

In what may go down as the most unique chef collab of the season, Bravo TV’s Top Chef alumni Nelson German (SobreMesa, alaMar) joins Eater SF’s Chef of the Year (2022) Executive Chef Anya El-Wattar at Birch & Rye on October 29. In a one-of-a-kind dinner, Chef Anya and Chef Nelson find common bonds in presenting an exquisite five-course menu that embraces their individual roots in Russian, Dominican and East African cuisines. The menu sounds incredible:

  • First Course: a Little Gems Salad (Roasted Beets, Plantain, Quail Eggs, Spiced Candied Walnut, Dill & Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette)
  • Second Course: Empanada (Braised Chicken, Cauliflower)
  • Third Course: Rye & White Petite Bread (Smoked Sturgeon, Bacalao Salted Cod, Smetana Butter)
  • Fourth Course: Braised Oxtail Stew (Cabbage, Pickles, Sweet Plantains & Seasonal Vegetables)
  • Fifth Course: Bird’s Milk (Tres Leches Cake, Pecan’s Crumble, Pickled Pineapple). 

Make a reservation –  It’s sure to be a hootenanny of the first order.

Refreshed Wine Bar in North Beach

the bar at Waystone in North Beach
Waystone in North Beach

Owners Tom Patella (Causwells) and Billy Riordan (Barrio) reopened the original Barrio location as Waystone in North Beach after a three-year pandemic closure. No more Mexican, the new space is a wine bar and restaurant, with a small plates menu from Riordan (achiote baby back ribs, shrimp roll, buttermilk fried chicken bites) space that will double as an art gallery.  Patella sources the wines and holds classes and a  new Wine Tasting Wednesdays program to taste and learn about six different wines for $40. No reservation required. Sounds like a great spot for happy hour.

Michael Mina Makes Mexican

Chef Michael Mina’s restaurant group does a Global Grilling Series at International Smoke. From now through the end of the year, chef turns his attention to Mexico. In the family style way the restaurant is known for, International Smoke’s Mexican Fuego menu leans into grilled proteins and veg. Beef barbacoa sopes with shaved cabbage and pickled red onions; tacos dorados with crushed potato, cotija cheese and chorizo; and mole negro braised beef cheek with house made corn tortillas and nopales are just a few of the dishes to expect. Perfect with a margarita, don’t ch’ya think?


Flowers Wine Dinner at Petite Left Bank

getting ready at Petite Left Bank in Tiburon
getting ready at Petite Left Bank in Tiburon

Petite Left Bank in Tiburon is getting in on the wine dinner scene. The inaugural event,  Flowers Wine Dinner, is on November 9. The prix fixe starts with a sparkling wine reception before a five-course dinner (Fuyu persimmon carpaccio, kampachi crudo, agnolotti with chestnut and pumpkin, Liberty duck confit with root vegetables and chocolate pot de crème with quinoa brittle). Each dish is paired with Flowers’ inimitable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Reservations available via OpenTable.

Wine Country

Ride the Gondola Once Again at Sterling

Ascending to a wine tasting via gondola is one of the niftier wine tasting experiences in Napa. And, as of October 29, Sterling Vineyards is back in business after a three year closure. The self-guided winery stroll is one of my favorites but, if you prefer a guided tasting, they’ve got those, too.

The Return of the Pig!

One of the dishes from chef Janelle Weaver of the Bewildered Pig
One of the dishes from chef Janelle Weaver of the Bewildered Pig

If you read my piece in the November issue of Marin Magazine about Mendocino white wines, you already know about my joy in discovering the Pinot Gris and White Pinot Noir from Lichen Estate. The winery is hosting a pop-up luncheon starring chef Janelle Weaver of the now-closed Bewildered Pig.  Menu favorites and treats from the Lichen Estate library are sure bets. Like everything in Mendo, IYKYK, so hop to it or miss out.

The Prisoner Opened a Tasting Room in Saint Helena

Saldo Salon at Prisoner in Saint helena
Saldo Salon at Prisoner

From the company that brings you The Prisoner, a delicious red blend whipped up from Zinfandel with the unlikely mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Syrah, and Charbono, comes a new tasting room. The SALDO Salon at Prisoner opened in late September, just south of Saint Helena. Book a chocolate or culinary pairings and wine tasting. Or just go try the harder to find Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Finally, Kansas City Barbecue in Napa

Chef Darryl Bell's KC BBQ pop-up at Oxbow
Chef Darryl Bell’s KC BBQ pop-up at Oxbow

Chef Darryl Bell (Press) is getting ready to open Stateline Road Smokehouse, a Kansas City-inspired barbecue restaurant in the Rail Arts District of Napa in early 2024. While we wait for the brick and mortar to open, Bell is launching an extended pop-up of the concept at Oxbow Market on October 26. The plan is to keep it going through the very end of 2023 and re-evaluate then. For now, operating hours are Thursday – Sunday, from 12 p.m. until sold out. Line up for burnt ends, Stateline Road baby back ribs, and a salad made with cherry wood smoked maitake mushrooms,

South Bay

One-Michelin D.C. Chef Pepe Moncayo Drops by HMB

For the final Global Cuisine Series of 2023 at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, Michelin-lauded Chef Pepe Moncayo of Cranes in Washington D.C. is in town November 2–5. Known for finding intersections between Japanese and Spanish ingredients, techniques and viewpoints, chef Moncayo and the in-house team are planning a seven-course tasting dinner at the Ritz’s Navio restaurant, and a weekend brunch experience.

chef Pepe Moncayo