PLAJ RESTAURANT AND BAR
Introducing Pläj, San Francisco’s latest restaurant — and perhaps more interestingly, its first Scandinavian restaurant.
Chef-owner Roberth Sundell opened Pläj (pronounced similar to “play”) on Friday night at the Inn at the Opera. He says he’s quite pleased with how the opening weekend went.
“We are focusing on Scandinavian cuisine, but also we don’t do super traditional,” says the Stockholm-born Sundell.
“We are adding a lot of California flair to our food so it speaks to a broader experience. If we went too traditional, the only people will be the Scandinavian and they will probably only show up once a month,” he laughs.
Sundell came to America 18 years, and soon met his San Francisco wife. He’s cooked in Los Angeles, and more recently, at a private club in Tahoe. But when a friend approached him about the possibility of opening a Scandinavian place in the former Ovations space, he jumped at the opportunity.
“In eight weeks we painted the place, cleaned it up, added new furniture and new menu. And now we’re open.”
He describes the menu (in full below) as neither small plates nor large plates, but Goldilocks-appropriate medium sizes, with four-ounce servings of proteins. There’s the obligatory herring, meatballs and kumla, plus a Scandinavian twist on a charcuterie plate with salted lamb, cured pork belly and wild boar salami; here’s hoping for some reindeer eventually. Berries — lingonberry, cloudberries, gooseberries — are all over the menu, too.
There are 44 seats in the restaurant, with another six at the bar. Speaking of the bar, the entire beer list (also below) consists entirely of Scandinavian beers, as noted byEater a few weeks ago. The cocktail list has plenty of Northern European flair as well, with cameos from Bols Genever, elderflower syrup, rosehip syrup and of course, vodka (also, references to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
Open for dinner nightly, from 5pm to 11pm. Here are the food and drink menus:
333 Fulton Street, between Franklin and Gough.
City Lights and The Fillmore:
Copyright Jim Marshall Photography LLC
Creativity and innovation are hallmarks of San Francisco, where a startup mentality continues to define us. We routinely set foot on the hallowed grounds of storied cultural landmarks—unprecedented venues at their inception that remain progressive icons today. Here, insiders reminisce on the impact of four classic SF institutions to remind us why they epitomize the city’s special spirit. In this installment, we start with City Lights and The Fillmore. Next week, we’ll continue with Castro Theatre and Stern Grove.
City Lights Bookstore, est. 1953. By Lawrence Ferlinghetti, cofounder, publisher, and poet
In 1953, San Francisco wasn’t what it is today. At that time, paperbacks were not considered real books in America. Peter Martin, an editor I met in North Beach, had the brilliant idea to open the first paperback bookstore in the U.S. My idea was to make City Lights a literary meeting place. I was used to the literary scene in Paris cafes and wanted to create a public place where people could hang out and read all day.
As soon as we got the doors open—we started off with one little room and slowly expanded—the store attracted people because there was such a void in that space. This was a brand-new scene. Back then, bookstores weren’t open on the weekends or late at night. We changed that. We were the first to introduce a periodicals section and the first to carry gay magazines. There was a lot of demand for this new culture, and we rode the wave. Comedians like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl stopped in before gigs.
I was one of those New York carpet-bagging poets. I wasn’t really one of the Beats, but I got associated with them because I published them. City Lights, under my direction, was a publisher almost from the beginning, and this was another innovation—bookstores didn’t do that sort of thing. We printed Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956, at the start of the poetry revolution. The Beats articulated what later became the themes of 1960s hippie counterculture, antiwar demonstrations, and ecological consciousness. Kerouac’s On the Road was a sad book, but it turned everybody on because it expressed what his generation was feeling. Sociologists said it articulated the end of American innocence.
In the late 1990s, we restored the City Lights building because of a required retrofit, but the inside remains mostly the same. You’ll still see locals reading in the basement or up in the poetry room. We have so many events there, but the tourists don’t generally know about them—they’re just passing through. We also get a lot of professors and students from all over the country and an enormous amount of foreign visitors. Today, there’s not a literary revolution as there was when City Lights opened. Today, we have the electronic revolution, which is wiping out so many bookstores. We’re benefitting from being among the few that have survived. We could soon be the last man standing.”
—As told to Chris Trenchard and Allison McCarthy
The Fillmore, est. 1966 By Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle music critic, 1972–2009
I saw my first show at the Fillmore in 1967: Chuck Berry and the Grateful Dead. It cost $3 to get in. There were two walls covered with lights. The stage was small. About 1,100 people, absorbed in sound and lights, crammed into the room. The experience was truly authentic.
And to think that bands like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Otis Redding, Howlin’ Wolf, and the Grateful Dead all played on that tiny little stage. Bill Graham started renting the place from promoter Charles Sullivan in the ’60s. The thing was a success right from the word “go.” Bill wasn’t really a fan of rock music—he was originally a mambo dancer from New York. But he had plenty of street smarts. Over time, though, he figured out how to book that room. It became a tribal rite to play there, and that gave the Fillmore this kind of mystique. Groups like Traffic and Cream gave performances that ended up being fundamental to the acceleration of their careers. It became clear that this place was at the center of something very special. At the time, Chet Helms operated the Avalon Ballroom, which was the Fillmore’s primary competitor back then. He had this theory that the Fillmore’s Apollonian stage and proscenium were gateways to the gods. Promoters would leverage this mystique to get bands like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who would normally play at much bigger theaters. Then in the early ’90s, Tom Petty played 20 or 30 shows there over the course of a few months. Petty was definitely building on that mystique. It was quite a different place then. The old stage now lies (almost completely hidden from view) underneath the newer, bigger stage. But the Fillmore is still a space steeped in history and the ghosts of great performers. The guy who does the booking now, Michael Bailey, really knows the thrill of fandom. He’s been shrewd about capitalizing on the legacy of the Fillmore in the ’60s. Bands today are aware of the mystique—who hasn’t heard Cream’s Wheels of Fire: Live at the Fillmore? And it’s still a damn fine place to see a show.”
This article was published in 7×7’s June issue. Click here to subscribe.
The Weeknighter: Churchill
Churchill, Church Street at Market
Photo from Churchill’s website
Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Stuart Schuffman will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, giving you the lowdown on how and where to do your weeknight right. From the most creative cocktails to the best happy hours, Stuart’s taking you along on his weeknight adventures into the heart of the City’s nightlife. So, who wants a drink?
I was thinking of the line in “Steady Rollin’ ”, the Two Gallants song, that goes “You might’ve seen me ‘neath the pool hall lights/Well baby I go back each night.” It was a Monday night atChurchill and it was Andy’s turn to shoot. He was on my team while we played pool against Geri-Ayn, Tiffany, and Maggie; it was boys against girls. I was fucking with Instagram, trying to get a good picture that felt the way the night did, but got this one instead. Later on in the week and especially during weekends, Churchill is packed with people drinking and talking and trying to figure out if they’re going home alone or with someone else. The crowd is full of of gays, straights, and in-betweens, a reflection of one of The City’s best crossroads, where the Lower Haight, The Mission, and the Castro all collide and collude to make a place called Church and Market.
But like I said, it was Monday, and while there were other people in the bar, we had the pool table (and more importantly the jukebox) all to ourselves. Andy popped on Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” while Maggie lined up a shot, and I looked out the window and watched The City’s weird, sad parade of homelessness trudge by. “I need a drink. Who else wants one?” I asked and only Tiffany joined in, so we walked to the bar and she bought me a drink because I opened my wallet and realized I’d run out of money. The other people at the bar were imbibing pretty things with names like Bees Ness, El Diablo, and The Homefront. The cocktails at Churchill are seasonal so the drink list changes fairly often. But I got what I always get, a vodka soda with a lemon. I gotta watch my girlish figure after all.
A couple incarnations ago the joint was called The Transfer. It was a skeezy gay bar with cheap drinks and had dance parties where everyone was young, wasted, and androgynous. It was a lot of fun and a lot of weird. Churchill has come a long way since then. The crowd is decidedly more upmarket and the interior is quite lovely, something that never could’ve been said about The Transfer. Dotting the big open space are fixtures reminiscent of another time. The theme here is WWII era watering hole so there’s a massive American flag with only 48 stars (sorry Alaska and Hawaii), ropes and repurposed wood for a ceiling, vintage lamps, and a portrait of the bar’s namesake, Winston Churchill.
After the pool game and a couple more drinks it was time to go. It was at least 1 am and people had to get up for work the next day and I needed to work on this article. So we all went our separate ways. While walking home I got to thinking about how wonderful my life is. The fact that it’s totally a normal thing to spend Monday night in an awesome bar with brilliant friends is a testament to San Francisco. People my age in the rest of the country had already been in bed for hours dreaming about how much they hate their bosses. I got to be out late and be paid to write about it. It reminded me of another line from the same Two Gallants song, “Out waltzing with the holy ghost/from the Bowery to the Barbary Coast/the land I’m from you know I love the most/steady rollin’ and I keep going.”
Stuart Schuffman has been called “an Underground legend” by the SF Chronicle, “an SF cult hero” by the SF Bay Guardian, and “the chief of cheap” by Time Out New York. He is also the host for the IFC travel show Young, Broke & Beautiful. Follow him @BrokeAssStuart.
Gay owned and operated,Explore San Francisco is pleased to announce Pride Tours 2012. Want to see the city above and beyond the parade, festival and the clubs? We offer the GLBT community tours and sightseeing within our community but outside of the box. Food tours, walking tours, running tours, 1970s Folsom District walk, or even porn studio tours. We accomodate groups and we offer sightseeing with transport provided by van service, SUV or town car. You may find the perfect choice from our regular itinerary or let us create something special for you. Please call the Pride Desk at 415.793.1104 or email email@example.com
Scenic RunningSan Francisco is the perfect city for running, incomparable scenery, varied terrain and mild temperatures. Take one of our scheduled runs or let us lead you on a custom run.
North Beach & Chinatown at NightThis tour is very social, we have fun and friendships are made. Maybe its the wine or exotic teas, good food, the company or the vibrant area, but if youre looking for a great evening, you cant go wrong with this fun event.This is part of our regular line up, 4 or more and well have a GLBT outing.
Side StreetsSan Francisco, California is one of the most walkable cities in the country. We have walking tours all over the city. Choose from our regular line up of tours, or let us design something for you. 415.793.1104
Folsom DistrictRelive the 1970s Miracle Mile and The Folsom District in all of its glory. See just the Folsom or combine this with a tour of the SF Armory, home of Kink.com. Select tours go to Treasure Island MediaUpon Request
Anniversary or birthday celebration, Pride Party to never forget, personal milestone, marriage proposal, business proposal, romantic evening or just something new and different. Give us your vision and let us expertly and meticulously make your extraordinary event a lifetime memory. 415.793.1104
Shuttle, Van or Town CarANapa, The Russian River, Black Sand Beach, or San Gregorio are all popular GLBT destinations within driving distance. We have transportation for any size group. Please call the Pride Desk for these spots or anywhere else you might like to see! 415.793.110
The Early Word on Gioia Pizzeria in Russian Hill
Tuesday, June 12, 2012, by Eater Intern
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76[Photo: Aubrie Pick]
With an established fan base in Berkeley, Gioia Pizzeria made it’s jump from a pizza-by-the-slice East Bay joint to a full fledged restaurant in San Francisco in mid-April. Started by Brooklynite Will Gioia and his wife Karen Gioia, the brand’s pizzas have been hailed a go-to for New York expats looking for an East-Coast-ish slice and what Karen calls “a California mentality.” Illustrating the kitchen’s pedigree from places like Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe, and Bar Jules, the Polk Street menu also has things like radiatore pasta with guinea hen ragu, and soft shell crabs when they’re in season. How has the leap to SF fared in the public eye? To the Early Word, for a read on the situation.
The Pizza News: Tasting Table, on the pizzas: “chewy but pliant enough to fold, and toppings are applied with a light hand.” SF Station’s Brad Japhe explains that the “East Coast-style thin crust pizza… comes crisp with billowing cornicion from a large Montague oven.” He recommends the Salsiccia pie: “[an] optimal blend of spicy and savory and I wish had another slice or 4 in front of me as I type this.” David Kover at Serious Eats digs the Julian, “a pie named for the Gioias’ four-year-old son, with toppings that change to match his temperament…the combinations on this pie usually have some heat. These days, it’s sweet and spicy prosciutto cotto, along with some chili, red onion, garlic, and provolone.” And Urban Daddy writes “We’d steer you toward the funghi pie”
The Decor News: “The design elements are as artisanal as anything you’ll find in the walk-in [fridge].” writes Meesha Halm at Zagat, and Tablehopper calls the decor “industrial-yet-rustic” and “appealing.”
The Compared-To-Berkeley News: “If you’re familiar with the original Berkeley locale, expect the opposite,” writes Urban Daddy and Halm at Zagat reviews, “this new buffed-out Russian Hill outpost bears little resemblance in (food, looks or seating) to the original.” FoodNut writes, “The San Francisco location is much nicer, with lots of tables, but you still need to go up to the counter to order your food.” and is overall “much more appealing than a pizza slice store.” SF Station reviews that it is “quite an evolution beyond the cozy pizza parlor vibe of the East Bay original. “
The Crowd News: “Dinner brought one-hour waits as Russian Hill swells and pie-freaks lined up to see what all the fuss was about,” Zagat writes. SF Station ensures that the “several notable additions make it well worth the wait.” On Four Square, john r. offers this advice: “Avoid dinner crowds. Eat there for lunch.”
The Lunch News:Food Nut describes how the “Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with Mozzarella, Chicken Cutlet, Parmesan, Marinara ($11) came on an Acme bun and proved to be a pretty large sandwich, fresh out of the fryer. Good stuff.”
The Entrée News: “Don’t let the pizza define the experience.” writes Tasting Table adding, “It would be a shame to miss the fried squid, broccoli and spring onions ($12), sided by a big dollop of aioli” as well as the “Five Dot Ranch skirt steak glistening with bagna càuda ($26)”
The Antipasti News: “the sous chef [Ryan Cantwell] has a thing for pickles” Zagat writes and they “can be ordered as a separate antipasti plate and occasionally turn up as a topping on the pizza.” SF Station reviews: “The housemade charcuterie as well as the Bellwether Farms cheese-stuffed shells appear to be standouts.” And simply put by Raffi K. on Four Square: “Best meatballs I’ve ever had.”
· All Gioia Pizzeria Coverage [~ ESF ~]
Part of the wave of Mission openings this spring/summer is one we haven’t forgotten: Pig & Pie (2962 24th Street), a new sausage spot in the former Discolandia space. Owner Miles Pickering contacted Grub Street to let us know that they appear on track for a soft opening on Sunday, June 24, pending their final health inspection and such. The preliminary menu of sausages, sides, and pies is still here, and once they open you can expect to find them open seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m., for lunch, dinner, and bar-crawl snacks until 1 a.m. on weekends (11 p.m. weeknights). We’ll update you to let you know if they hit their target date. [Earlier]
Has Food Killed San Francisco’s Edgy Music Scene?
Back in the days of yore, San Francisco concertgoers used to sneak off to the bathroom to do bumps of cocaine or heroin in between sets. That’s the way God wanted it. Now local aural revelers prefer to luxuriate in such edibles as artisan pizza or bacon endive wrapped pancreas butt while listening to emasculated crooners with no visible ass. The marriage of music and food is about as edgy and creative as the Vh1 Fashion & Music Awards, or so hints Ian S. Port who penned this thought-provoking piece on food and music in SF Weekly. He claims that young “full-time freaks and out-of-the-way spaces that host them” are disappearing due to terrible tech ilk and the fine food they cram down their gullets. More or less.
Here’s how it goes: Creative people — not web designers or software developers, but artists, musicians, activists, writers, and other colorful types — tend not to make much money. As this city becomes less and less affordable, those people leave. And when those people leave, whom will the city’s entertainment events target? The people who can afford to stay: Young, well-off tech workers or high-income young couples, whose tastes and lifestyles are cushier, more conservative, less driven by purely creative aims, and, often — if only in comparison with the people they’ve replaced — dull.
These bougies-in-training will want events to practice their conspicuous consumption, whether on food, booze, music, or all at the same time. And they’ll get it at events like Noisette. This kind of high-minded consumerism — fun as it is — will become the norm, even more than it already has. So while it was once a respite for low-income creatives and real deviants, who would pay $5 or $10 to go a show or a party (at the Eagle Tavern, or Annie’s Social Club, or Kimo’s, remember those?), swill cheap whiskey, and watch something freaky and loud until early in the morning, San Francisco will slowly become one big pork-belly party, an amusement park for well-off residents to discover some new consumer good to become picky over, or for bridge-and-tunnel types to visit on the weekend, go to an overpriced club, and meet a hookup. Big concerts will draw kids from the ‘burbs paying $50 or more a head. They’ll never believe they could be rich enough to actually live here.
Or, maybe most twentysomethings really are into food that much? This New York Times article seems to suggest as much. And from what few twenty-year-old types we selectively keep in our social harem of unbridled lunatics, they sure do go on and on and on about pop-ups and gastronomic thingamajigs. (Hand to God, if just one of them brings up another pop-up restaurant into conversation, we shall steal their youthful essence Charlize Theron-style.) After all, punk is dead and more of a distant Gen Xer memory, yes? Then again, the music scene here in SF is admittedly quiet, so… who knows? Maybe your pork slider is the cause of it all. And if it is, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Anyway, Port goes on to point out a harrowing future, one involving…Oakland. He writes:
The freaks and creatives won’t go too far — they’ll go to Oakland, where there’s much more space, at much lower cost. The kinds of reckless energy that powered San Francisco music from the ’60s through the ’90s will trickle away, as much of it has already. And the city will be worse for it.
Read the piece in its entirety. It’s a good read.
Update: Grub Street editor (and SFist contributor) Jay Barmann weighs in as well. He says that, hey, this is what people want, adding, “the times are a-changin’, and on the bright side, at least the food is way better here than it was ten years ago.”
Contact the author of this article or email firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions, comments or tips.
San Francisco Carnaval
The huge two-day festival & parade comes to the Mission this weekend
The 2012 San Francisco Carnaval Festival transforms Harrison Street into a wonderland of miscellaneous food, music, dance, art, crafts and other fun activities and events on several stages for the entire family to enjoy.Spanning seven blocks, this two-day annual street festival will take place on Harrison Street between 16th and 23rd streets, plus a big Grand Parade on Sunday.
Spanning seven blocks, this two-day annual street
festival will take place on Harrison Street between
16th and 23rd streets, plus a big Grand Parade on Sunday.
- Three stages of continuous live music from around the globe
- Salsa & Samba dance classes and competitions
- Children’s activities (inflatable bounce houses, face painting, a kid’s music camp and more)
- Beer gardens
- Arts & Crafts Vendors
Kick Off Spring with These Three Art Shows
Katharina Wulff, Die Verbindung (The Connection), 2008; oil on canvas;
48 1/16 x 68 7/8 in. (122 x 175 cm); Olbricht Collection; © Katharina
The city’s museums now have their major exhibitions out and swinging (you’ve seen Foto Mexico and Gaultier; the ads plastered over town are maybe coaxing a return visit) and the gallery circuit is on the cusp of exploding into a big spring season. Our suggestion: take this weekend to explore some of the Bay’s slightly smaller, considerably less hyped, but no doubt equally fascinating museum shows. Here are three picks.
New Work: Katharina Wulff at SFMOMA
Katharina Wulff is unmistakably contemporary in how freely she channels the modern. Befitting for an institution that hangs the likes of Matisse and Dalí, Wulff’s whimsical and captivating paintings are at turns Fauvist, Surrealist and Dada. The whole of art history is the Moroccan-based artist’s playground.
Consisting of twenty works, this showing marks the artist’s first ever solo exhibition in the U.S., and, more importantly, her west coast debut. What can you expect? Much in the way of fantastical landscapes, confused perspective, bizarre-looking animals and still more bizarre-looking people. They brim with color and intrigue, never staying too long in any one place.
Katharina Wulff runs through September 4, 2012, at SFMOMA, 151 3rd Street
Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes at Oakland Museum of California
Don’t call them comic books. The twenty first century graphic novel has elevated the panel-illustrated narrative to unprecedented heights. It’s been a thrilling and lucrative progression, and Oakland’s own Daniel Clowes has been at the forefront from the beginning. Some accounts would place this remarkably gifted illustrator, who has over fifty publications under his belt as well as an academy award nomination for screenplay, as the genre’s reigning patriarch.
The OMCA’s sprawling, installation-based show marks the first major survey of Clowe’s work to date. Complete with original drawings, artifacts and an extensive full-color monograph, this form of recognition is long overdue.
Modern Cartoonist runs through August 24, 2012, at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street
Femmescapes at Mills College Art Museum
A group of Mills College students were given a pretty amazing opportunity: to freely mine Lenore Pereira and Rich Niles’ marvelous collection of contemporary work by women artists. With names like Louise Bourgeois, Ann Hamilton and Francesca Woodman on the roster, this is a trove that many professional curators would probably kill for a chance to have at.
The resulting exhibition, Femmescapes, explores the various conceptual and metaphorical intertwinings of femininity and environment – nature as a woman, woman as land (lush, fertile, barren, etc.), body as landscape. Featuring about 40 works of painting, video, photography and sculpture, this is a unique glimpse not to be missed.
Femmescapes is on view Saturdays and Sundays only, through May 6, at 70 South Park
San FranciscoGay Bars and Clubs, a Sampling
4086 18th St., San Francisco CA 94114; Tel. 415.431.8616
1270 Valencia St., San Francisco CA 94110; Tel. 415.285.1200
2124 Market St., San Francisco CA 94114; Tel. 415.503.0630
Twin Peaks Tavern
401 Castro Street (at Market), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.864.9470
2367 Market St (at Castro), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.861.3846
440 Castro St (at 18th St.), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.621.8732
Sixth St. & Harrison, San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.357.0827
1351 Polk (at Pine), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.885.4535
The Lexington Club
3464 19th St., San Francisco CA 94110; Tel. 415.863.2052
4 Valencia St. (at Market), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.241.0205
Mint Karaoke Lounge
1942 Market (at Duboce), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.626.4726
- Mayor Lee praises the importance of nightlife to SF (sfbg.com)
- Things to Do in San Francisco: Recreation & San Francisco Activities (fairmont.com)
- Eater SF : The San Francisco Restaurant, Bar, and Nightlife Blog (exploresanfrancisco.biz)
- Folsom District Armory Tour (exploresanfrancisco.biz)
- Photos: 7×7 Spring 2012 Nightlife Guide Launch at The Brixton (7×7.com)
- Armory Tours (exploresanfrancisco.biz)