SF's best spots, deals, events and news
As long-time San Francisco resident and writer, I'm passionate about this city and obsessed with finding and exploring its best food-and-drink spots, deals, events and news, in every neighborhood and cuisine. I started with my own 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.
NEW RESTAURANT OPENINGS
Herb Caen glory days hang on as North Beach's classic WashBag returns
Herb Caen would be proud. When Washington Square Bar & Grill closed last year, many mourned the loss of one of SF's most beloved classics, a preferred hang-out of the aforementioned Caen, local writers and politicos ever since the '70's. Under new ownership, Liam and Susan Tiernen of Tiernan's (www.tiernans.com ), the historical spot returns with brasserie menu intact. Pull up to the long wood bar or dine on white tablecloths as you order the famed WashBag burger on Dutch crust bun. Bartender Michael McCourt is also back... so bring on the Mad Men -reminiscent martini lunches!
Washington Square Bar & Grill
1707 Powell, SF.
EVENTS - FOODIE DINNERS
March 18-20 - Jamie Lauren creates a four-course scallop dinner in honor of her Top Chef run
Ok, all you Top Chef  fans, Jamie Lauren is back to her home base of Absinthe , with an ode to Fabio's "Top Scallop" comment by cooking a special, four course Scallop Tasting menu (reserve quickly - it's sure to fill up fast!) Beginning with Bay Scallop Crudo, moving on to Scallop Clam Chowder, then a Hokkaido Grilled Scallop with sunchoke puree, artichokes, erbette chard and Meyer Lemon, finishing up with Seared Dayboat Scallops with asparagus, creamed green garlic and fava beans. Now you can pretend you're a Top Chef judge, giving props to our very own Jamie.
5:30pm throughout dinner service
$75, not including beverages, tax or gratuity
398 Hayes Street
March 16 - Splurge for a James Beard Dinner at Fifth Floor
Food fanatics, save up your pennies (and then some) for a rare James Beard Foundation  dinner at Fifth Floor , themed on the Cuisine of Southwestern France. The event honors famed cookbook author (and James Beard Award-winner), Paula Wolfert . Fifth Floor Sommelier, Emily Wines, selects wine pairings for the decadent six-course meal, including dishes like Foie Gras with shallot confit and quince compote or Braised Rabbit with sauteed crepes and dried plums. Headed up by Fifth Floor and Aqua's Laurent Manrique, each course is created by a different chef: Jennie Lorenzo and Lionel Walter (also of Aqua and Fifth Floor), Ariane Daguine of D’Artagnan in NYC, Jean Pierre Moulle of Chez Panisse and Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade. Whew, what a line-up! That crew can cook me dinner any time.
6pm reception; 7pm dinner
$165, including wine pairings ($150 for James Beard members)
12 4th St., SF
3/23-3/25 - Incanto's annual Head-to-Tail Dinner returns
Incanto  has long been my favorite Italian restaurant in the Bay Area, bar none, and when it comes to whole hog and offal, Chris Cosentino was doing it long before it was trendy. As a frequent Iron Chef (www.foodnetwork.com/iron-chef-america/index.html ) competitor and charcuterie master chef, his popular Head-to-Tail Dinners (http://incanto.biz/information.html ) come but once a year and book up fast. That leaves three nights for you to reserve for a five-course meal including Venison Heart Tartare, Goose Intestines with artichoke and fava bean (visions of Hannibal Lecter in my head), or a fascinating "Coffee and Doughnuts" dessert of pork liver, blood, chocolate, espresso. Adventurous eaters, this one will expand your horizons.
March 23-25 - 6pm
$75, not including beverages, tax or gratuity
1550 Church Street
DRINK NEWS and EVENTS
Don't forget to vote in the Guardian's 7th Annual Best Bartender in the Bay ... we'll award bartenders in the categories of funniest, sexiest, crankiest, best cocktail invention and more... based on your votes!
March 14 - Press Club offers education on wine basics with a Saturday School Program
Every Saturday through April 11, downtown's unusual don't-call-it-a-wine-bar wine tasting room, Press Club , launches a Saturday School program offering informal education on wine basics. If you haven't been to Press Club yet (and if you love CA wines, you should), it comprises eight Nor Cal wineries with tasting stations/bars in an urban-mod basement, with staff straight from the wineries offering tastings or helping you select the right glass or bottle. Five of the eight wineries host the Saturday sessions, the first one being Landmark Vineyards , who'll guide you through smelling essentials as you sample various wines (and food bites). If you've ever wanted to be able to talk more eloquently about "the nose" of a wine, this is your class (sign up on their email list or check the Web site for subjects of future sessions).
Every Saturday from March 14-April 11th
20 Yerba Buena Lane
Just for You serves up Cajun food and happy hour specials
Dogpatch's breakfast standard, Just for You , livens up late afternoons with a happy hour of $3 Pacificos, $2 MGD, $4 house red wine, with free chips and salsa or french fried yams. Cheap beers and wine pair nicely with their new Cajun specials like Seafood (Gulf shrimp, Washington oysters, Dungeness Crab), Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya and Shrimp Creole (all under $12 with salad and garlic bread). I've only been here for their popular brunch but these are some good reasons to head out for an early dinner.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays 4-6pm (happy hour), 4-9pm (Cajun specials)
732 22nd Street