Little Gem: What It Means to Eat in a Modern California Eatery

Little Gem

“It’s a pretty wonderful mix,” says Eric Lilavois, owner of Little Gem in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. “We had a couple come in last night and I think that they were fresh out of yoga and they asked, ‘Are we underdressed?’ And I said, ‘No, of course not.’”

Little Gem, a counter-service restaurant in origin that opened to countless accolades and a standing feature in Eater’s 38, has decided to open its doors to OpenTable reservations each evening. Opened by two alums of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, the restaurant certainly has fine dining in its pedigree – but the intent was always to elevate the experience of what it means to dine in a casual environment like the one where a post-yoga salad lives side-by-side a romantic Friday evening for two.

When asked how The French Laundry legacy has informed their new approach, Lilavois points to the core of it all: “The heart of hospitality, where there was such great emphasis on care and detail with everything that we did.” In their new project, where everything from all day café-style dining to now seated dinner for any level of occasion is on offer, “it’s that very same sense of caring, attention to detail, and awareness that we apply in a deeply casual way.”

Little Gem

Whether delicate lettuces with expertly poached chicken or divine salmon tartare are your thing or you’re simply craving a fried egg-topped bibimbap with heirloom brown rice, the restaurant’s gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free ethos make it the perfect place to indulge in just about any mild to serious craving (regardless of your dietary restrictions.) But it’s so much more than health food on the menu.Continue Reading

Produce Playoff Draft 2016: The Picks Are In!

Ahead of the third annual Produce Playoff to benefit No Kid Hungry at Betony on August 24, 2016, the players gathered in New York’s bustling Union Square Greenmarket to “draft” the stars of the dishes and drinks they’ll be creating next week. “Competing” chefs and beverage experts, including event founders Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey (Betony), Bo Bech (Geist), Daniel Burns (Luksus), Flynn McGarry (Eureka), Danielle-Innes (Cosme), Mina Pizzaro (Betony), Leo Robitshcek (The NoMad), Caleb Ganzer (Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels), and Dean Fuerth (Betony), spent the morning dashing around the market to stake their claim to the season’s best bounty in two lively rounds.

Catch the action with these shots from photographer Simon Lewis. Then, purchase your tickets to join us at the Produce Playoff on Wednesday to support No Kid Hungry in a most delicious way.

Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Let’s get it started in here.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Chef Bryce Shuman of Betony sounds the horn of Gondor.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Forget being true to your school; emcee Corey Warren of Betony is true to the #NoKidHungry cause.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see your name on the list.”
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Chef Flynn McGarry has a eureka moment when he spies ripe watermelon.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
The future of the fight against childhood hunger is so bright, we’ve gotta wear shades.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
2016 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Daniela Soto-Innes channels her inner fashion blogger after selecting freshly harvested corn.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Pretty sure this is the prettiest draft board we’ve ever seen.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
“I haz all the herbs.”
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Open up and say … “Ahh!”
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Flags were hoisted as the battle among the chefs for the best produce continued.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Despite going sleeveless, we’re pretty sure pastry chef Mina Pizarro of Betony has a special plan for this celery up her sleeve.
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
“No, seriously, I’m going to squash the competition.”
Produce Playoff Draft 2016
Which chef has her or his eyes on the prize of summer tomatoes?

Continue Reading

Restaurants and Bees: Where to Get Buzzed on Dishes + Drinks with Local Honey

Blog header Trace copyBe aware: Bees are getting a lotta love these days — in restaurants! Here are some sweet spots where you can get buzzed on cocktails as well as enjoy entrees and dishes—made with honey from on-site hives. The apiary trend is nationwide, but you’ll note that in Boston, restaurants and bees are, well, a thing.

City Table, Boston, Massachusetts
The bees that buzz on the rooftop at the Lenox Hotel forage at a distance of up to three miles for flower and plant nectar, returning for turndown service each night. They get the royal treatment: Beekeeper Dean Stiglitz travels to the hotel every Monday morning in season to tend to the bees. The hotel’s City Table restaurant features several honey-inspired dishes including Avocado Toast (fried egg, sticky honey, diced avocado, and red chili flake glaze). And the hotel’s City Bar serves cocktails that use the honey — sip The Queen Bee (gin, green tea, honey and prosecco) or Colonel’s Choice (Calvados, Maker’s Mark, Combier, honey and garnished with an orange slice). Make a reservation at City Table.

Restaurants and Bees

OAK Long Bar + Kitchen, Boston, Massachusetts
OAK is housed in the Fairmont Copley Plaza, which also houses three beehives located next to the rooftop herb garden. Best Bees Co. tends to the bees, which produce 30 to 40 gallons of the sweet nectar annually. The honey is used to make the Rooftop Honey Butter, which is served with the Hearth Baked Bread and the Buttermilk Panna Cotta, among other dishes. And, wait, there’s more buzz. Wild mason bees are some of the most effective pollinators on Earth, and the hotel just debuted its new Bee Hotel, located in the hotel’s herb garden next to the honey bee apiary. OAK will offer a selection of pollinator menu items like the Avocado & Peekytoe Crab Toast (the avocado is pollinated by the bees). Make a reservation at OAK Long Bar + Kitchen.

Restaurants and Bees

Fearrington House, Pittsboro, North Carolina
This restaurant located just outside of Chapel Hill has a beehive on property that’s overseen by one of the restaurant’s sous chefs and a local beekeeper who assists in the harvesting of the honey. Dishes in which the honey plays a cameo role include the Sweet & Sour Tuna with Fresh Chickpeas, Yuzu, Cucumber, Salsify, Avocado, and Fearrington’s honey. Make a reservation at Fearrington House.

Restaurants and Bees

Japengo at Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii
“The global decline in honeybee population has also seriously affected the Hawaiian honeybee population, resulting in legislation at the state level to encourage honey production and sales throughout the islands,” says a hotel spokesperson. And so, the hotel created its own honeybee colony and a honey program called Hula Meli, meaning “Dancing Honey.” The honey that’s harvested from the apiary is used in a signature cocktail served in all of the hotel’s dining outlets, including Japengo; the Bee’s Knees cocktail combines Hendricks Gin, triple sec, and fresh lemon juice with the honey. The cocktail is shaken with crushed ice and served in a tumbler with a garnish of fresh honeycomb from the hotel’s hive. Make a reservation at Japengo.

Restaurants and Bees

Randolfi’s, University City, Missouri
James Beard semifinalist and chef-owner Mike Randolph features classic Italian here — with a twist. A unique ingredient you might not find on your nonna’s menu is chef de cuisine Tommy Andrew’s honey. The chef moonlights as a beekeeper — he has two hives in his backyard, as well as others at a separate location. The menu features the honey in several dishes including the oven-glazed vegetables, the cheese plate, and honey ice cream, as well as some of the cocktails. Make a reservation at Randolfi’s.

Restaurants and Bees

Trace, San Francisco, California
Trace is the W hotel’s signature restaurant, and the hotel has been harvesting wild honey bees for four years and is now home to 40,000 bees and 10 hives located on the hotel’s rooftop on the 32nd floor; 40 pounds of honey per hive are produced per year. The natural honeycomb is used in the restaurant’s menus, including the Roasted Beet Salad with burrata, pistachio, baby greens, and honey, and its Ginger Pork Skewers with rooftop honey and sesame seed. Make a reservation at Trace.

Restaurants and BeesContinue Reading

Cindy Daniel on Creating the Healdsburg SHED Ecosystem

Healdsburg SHED

About 20 years ago, Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton moved to Healdsburg to follow their dream of starting their own farm. After they achieved that dream, they set out to conquer another three years ago: Healdsburg SHED, a celebration of food and community unlike anything else.

Healdsburg SHED has the primary quality that you may see on a thriving farm ecosystem: diversity. This beautiful two-story building is home to a restaurant, fermentation bar, coffee bar, retail shop, produce, farming tools, and a community gathering space. The mission of all of these components is to create a space that celebrates “good farming, good cooking, and good eating.”

After a tour from Doug, we sat down with Cindy to talk about the inspiration, concept, and construction behind SHED, including the different components that work together to make the ecosystem thrive. Some customers may come in daily for a cup of coffee and a pastry or heirloom seeds for their home garden. Ultimately, there are many different kinds of people who can relate to SHED in different ways — here’s how she engages them all.
Continue Reading