Cheers to Vegetarian Awareness Month: Beyond the Salad + Sides at Saha in San Francisco

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As we bid adieu to Vegetarian Awareness Month — it’s been a good ol’ plant-filled time — we leave you with the message that it’s a big vegan-friendly world out there. Everywhere we look there are restaurants going plant-forward, with restaurants that showcase the most delicious of vegetarian and vegan cooking regardless of the meat on their menus.

Here in San Francisco at OpenTable HQ, we needn’t look far for unusual examples of the way in which what was once an alternative style of cooking and eating have merged with the culinary mainstream. Just blocks from our offices, a restaurant that was featured on our Top Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly dining list, is the perfect example of how numerous different cuisine types lend themselves creatively to meatless dining.

And, as we recently discovered, some of the most innovative stuff is happening a stone’s throw away. At Saha, an Arabic fusion restaurant located in the Hotel Carlton on Sutter Street in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, Mohamed Aboghanem offers a style of cooking all his own, where he rethinks traditional Yemenese, Middle Eastern and North African fusion in a healthier, beautifully presented, local ingredient-driven style.

“People come to [Saha] because, especially if you are vegetarian, you feel like you have equal rights with the carnivores,” says the chef-owner who trained at the Cordon Bleu. “Half of the menu is vegan and gluten-free.”

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Dietary designations aside, his food is full of flavor, coaxed from spices of all kinds (turmeric, ginger, cayenne, all spice, cumin, sumac, and za’atar, to name a few), unusual beans and grains, and organic produce. Soy is scarce; alternative flours like garbanzo flour (naturally gluten-free) are not. Take the vegan knaffe (pictured): a vegan shredded phyllo with vegan cream cheese and wild mushrooms baked in a ramekin and served over coconut chermoulah chipotle sauce. No deprivation there.Continue Reading

World Cocktail Day: Celebrate Like a Pro with Tips from Morgan Schick of Aaxte

May 13, 1806 marked the day that The Oxford Dictionary published and defined the word cocktail:

Cocktail (noun): An alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or several spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice, lemonade, or cream.”

We celebrate World Cocktail Day each year on the anniversary of that momentous day. But let’s be real; the cocktail has since become more than a simple wedding of ingredients and a flick of the wrist. To shed light on modern day cocktail menus and trends so that you can enjoy World Cocktail Day for all it has to offer, we sat down with Morgan Schick for a drink (or three!), the bar manager of revered San Francisco hotspot Trick Dog and the town’s newest Basque-inspired restaurant and bar Aatxe. A self-proclaimed charmer who openly admits to bringing his own liquor on long flights, Schick, who is part of the Bon Vivants, a nationally recognized cocktail, hospitality, marketing, and design firm, shares his secret recipe for understanding, mixing, and enjoying au courant cocktails.

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Have fun! Drinking is about a good time. Schick advises, “Take drinking seriously, but don’t be too serious.” Appreciate the craft and enjoy the art.

Ask the experts. “It’s hard to tell from a cocktail list if a drink will be sweet, sour, or bitter,” says Schick. Don’t hesitate to chat with the bartender, so you can feel confident about exactly what you’re ordering.

Write your own tale. A cocktail is an experience, not a drink. At Trick Dog, menus are conceptually themed and cocktails are named after colors, zodiac signs, and San Francisco landmarks. Give your home-mixed favorite a quirky twist by coining it after a memorable adventure, or order something extra exotic when out to make it a night to remember. Currently, the menu at Trick Dog is Chinese-themed, and anyone who dares to enter may order the Boduolige Shuang. Say what?  Count us in.Continue Reading

Announcing the Inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week, 1/21-30 #SFRW

SF-RestaurantWeek400pwOpenTable is thrilled to partner with The Golden Gate Restaurant Association for the inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week. Formerly known as Dine About Town, the all-new San Francisco Restaurant Week will take place January 21-30 and feature offerings from more than 100 restaurants in 23 neighborhoods serving 24 different cuisines — with two exciting options.

The classic restaurant week prix-fixe menu goes into overdrive with one-of-a-kind $25 two-course lunches and $40 three-course dinners — plus added treats such as an amuse-bouche, a paired beverage, an after-meal takeaway, or other yummy extras. New participants include Bartlett HallChino, and Le Marais Bakery and Bistro.

Available at select restaurants, chefs’ imaginations run wild with the special $85 discovery menu highlighting inspired food and beverage pairings. Hog & Rocks is partnering with High West Whiskey to feature a whiskey-themed dinner. Canela Bistro Bar will create a culinary tour through Spain with a special wine pairing. AQ Restaurant & Bar will offer a roots-themed tasting menu highlighting winter root vegetables set to music by The Roots. Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar will be serving signature beverages alongside a tasting menu and a seasonal produce-inspired dessert to end the night.

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#Hellastorm Affecting San Francisco: Please Call to Confirm a Restaurant Is #OpeninSF

San Francisco is experiencing severe weather and some areas are without power. While most restaurants are open for business, due to the intense nature of the storm, we encourage diners to phone restaurants to confirm reservations until conditions improve.

We wish everyone affected by this storm a safe few days.