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Of Note: Tempting Bites

by Trevor Felch

If you dine at One Market on a Friday or Saturday night, you can listen to Billy Philadelphia tickle the ivories while enjoying menu staples like this grilled Idaho trout.

Our inaugural roundup of goings-on in the culinary and hospitality scenes

In a welcome sign of San Francisco hopefully getting closer to “normal,” the Fairmont San Francisco’s beloved Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar has reopened Thursday through Sunday. The iconic tiki bar and lagoon on Nob Hill sadly spent most of its 75th anniversary year closed in 2020, but fortunately the mai tais and rainstorms are back. We sure could all use a tropical vacation right now, and this is the closest one to the Bay.

Savor the last Saturday of the season at the final installment of the 2021 Summer Dinner Series at the stunning new Brion winery outside Yountville. On September 18, Michael Chiarello will design the seasonal Italian-inspired menu with one of Brion’s winemakers, Julien Fayard, on hand to share the winery’s tremendous single- vineyard cabernet sauvignons.

The Giants and celebrated pizza chef Tony Gemignani have teamed up for a fifth year to benefit the George Mark Children’s House. Through September 26, enjoy Dickerson’s Double Header and Belt’s Monster Meat pizzas, designed by players Alex Dickerson and Brandon Belt at Gemignani’s four San Francisco and East Bay Slice House restaurants, and part of the proceeds from each pie (or slice) will benefit the charity.

Theorem Vineyards outside Calistoga is a standout for its estate cabernet sauvignon and stunning Mount St. Helena views. However, it’s also an under-the-radar culinary destination, thanks to the pairing menus crafted by its chef, Josh Mitchell. Reservations must be made in advance and there is a minimum wine purchase required — but, oh, what lovely paired wine and bites they are! — like crispy crab-filled bao with estate orchard-grown orange sweet-and-sour sauce, paired with a 2019 Chardonnay from Moon Mountain in Sonoma.

Eric Alperin co-authors a new book with Deborah Stoll about “life behind the bar.”

“Boutique hotel” and “Palo Alto” are terms that weren’t linked together until the Nobu Hotel and Clement Hotel opened in recent years. Now, there’s another one for visits and staycations: the sleek, sustainability-minded Hotel Citrine, which features 150 rooms and suites and the Wild Onion Bistro & Bar.

Bay Area diners should put Scott’s Chowder House on their restaurant must-try list for the fall. The new casual sibling to Scott’s Seafood has two recently opened San Jose locations — as well as a new San Francisco locale that opened last month — with one of the Bay Area’s marquee fine dining chefs, Laurent Manrique (Aqua, Café de la Presse), serving as a culinary adviser.

If you’re in the mood for a cocktail and an excellent poolside late summer read, check out Unvarnished: A Gimlet-Eyed Look at Life Behind the Bar by Eric Alperin and Deborah Stoll (she’s the sister of Delfina chef-owner Craig Stoll). It’s a captivating behind-the scenes tale about working at the game-changing L.A. speakeasy bar, The Varnish.

Who says the magic of downtown San Francisco is gone? For a timeless throwback experience, swing by the Financial District favorite One Market on a Friday or Saturday, when pianist Billy Philadelphia turns the restaurant into a grand supper club.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco has unveiled “Respite Concierge,” another reason to travel close to home. The personalized service includes a private sail on the Bay and one-on-one fitness classes or individualized tai chi lessons.

Finally, the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito are offering their own end-of summer “Golden State Getaway” through September. Each two-night package includes a pool day with a private cabana, plus special touches like a private yoga session on Miramar Beach, or private use of the Sense spa and a delicious poolside brunch designed by Liholiho Yacht Club chef-owner Ravi Kapur at Rosewood Sand Hill.

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