UPDATED: Paulie’s Pickling on KQED’s “Check Please, Bay Area” Tonight

Paulie's Pickles

It’s showtime! Cortland’s Paulie’s Pickling, which may be Best Jewish Deli in San Francisco, will be the focus of tonight’s exciting episode of KQED’s Check Please, Bay Area.

Neighbors Paul and Liz, the soft-spoken proprietors of Paulie’s Pickling, didn’t give us the heads-up about this. No, we heard it from the street, in the Jweekly:

CHECK, PLEASE: A “Check, Please! Bay Area” episode featuring Paulie’s Pickling will debut at 7:30 p.m. April 24 on KQED-Channel 9, with many replays to come. Also, the show will air on KQED radio (88.5 FM) at 6:30 p.m. April 27.

“Check, Please!” features three Bay Area residents giving their opinions after sampling three local restaurants (each recommended by one of the participants). Paulie’s Pickling, a Jewish-style deli counter in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights, will be the first segment.

“I have no idea who nominated us,” said Paulie’s co-owner Liz Ashby, who was raised Orthodox in Newton, Mass. “But when the producers called and asked if we wanted to be on the show, I said, ‘Of course!’ Who would say no?”

Over a two-month period, the “mystery diners” came in to eat, and on two occasions, the KQED crew came by to do some filming and interview Liz and the other owner, her husband, Paul.

Neighbor Liz is right. Who would say no?

One quick P.S. about the whole “Best Jewish Deli in San Francisco” thing. There’s this. And there’s also this:

For Passover earlier this month, your Bernalwood editor had two actual Jewish grandmothers over for dinner. One Jewish grandmother was raised in Brooklyn; the other in Jersey City. With two actual Jewish grandmothers at the table, your Bernalwood editor did not want to run the risk of screwing up the traditional Passover brisket. So I asked Neighbor Liz from Paulie’s if I could order a few pounds of her rather amazing brisket instead, to serve to two actual Jewish grandmothers. Neighbor Liz said no problem, and it came with some wonderful gravy, and I heated it all up, and dayenu it was incredible. But you don’t have to believe me when I say it was dayenu incredible. Two actual Jewish grandmothers at our Passover table certified that the brisket from Paulie’s Pickling was dayenu incredible. They were very impressed.

So there you go.

Keep that in mind as you listen to whatever the mystery diners have to say on “Check Please, Bay Area” tonight. In your Bernalwood editor’s house, Paulie’s Pickling is Jewish Grandmother Tested and Jewish Grandmother Approved.

UPDATE: It’s live!

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

New Red Hill Station Seafood Restaurant Coming to Cortland


Alongside the planned perma-Kinfolk, EaterSF brings the news that Bernal Neighbors Taylor Pederson and Amy Reticker plan to open a new seafood restaurant at 803 Cortland, in the soon-to-be-former Blue Star Elephant space:

The new restaurant will be taking over from Thai spot Blue Star Elephant, which will shutter at the end of this month. Named for the Bernal neighborhood’s nickname of ‘Red Hill’, the new spot will be seafood-focused, with a raw bar (think oysters and clams) plus a rotating menu of seasonal, California-style cuisine. Pederson will helm the kitchen, and hopes to focus on sustainably-sourced seafood.

The new space will also serve as a fish market of sorts. Reticker, who’ll be running the front-of-house operations, says they hope to open at 4pm daily with an offering of market fish so that people can drop in, learn cooking tips from the seafood pros and take home something to prepare for dinner themselves.

In the meantime, Red Hill Station has planted flags on the Twitter, the Facebook, and the Interwebs. There’s a late February Facebook post which says:

we are excited and pleased to announce the birth of “Red Hill Station”!

we will be a small, 28 seat neighborhood place

there will be a raw bar, oysters, clams, mussels, tartares, in addition to an 8 item menu which will change daily…we plan on doing brunch saturdays and sundays.

It’s Official: Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar Is One of the Hottest Sushi Restaurants in the Galaxy Right Now


Bernal Heights is already, and officially, the hottest neighborhood in the entire solar system. Now we are an order of magnitude more hot, because Eater National just anointed the tasty new Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar on Mission Street as one of the Hottest Sushi Restaurants in America.


Truth be told, this comes as no surprise. Your Bernalwood editor has eaten at the new Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar many times since we first announced its glamorous re-opening in the new space in February. We haven’t written about it since, however, because (shameful confession) we didn’t want to have to compete with you for a table. In true Samuel Brannan style, the hypertastiness of the new Ichi+Ni is just a little something we’ve been keeping to ourselves.

Well, now the word is getting out.

Anna Roth at SFWeekly said:

The new [izakaya] space is still coming into its own, but once it establishes its own identity, Ni Bar is bound to become not only a staging ground for the sushi bar’s omakase, but a destination in its own right.

Critic Jonathan Kaufman reported that the sushi remains amazing as always, while the new izakaya-style zone in the back of the new space takes things in a rather delicious new direction:

Your resolve to hold out for sushi may be whittled away by the sanbaizu sunomono ($7.50)–pink commas of shrimp with pickled cucumber and frilly, crunchy tremella (white fungus)–and crisp-skinned fried chicken wings ($9.50), first cooked sous-vide with yuzu juice until the flesh is as tender as a ripe peach.

If you want to preserve your omakase aspirations, don’t order the clams ($8.50), which come with ground pork in a ridiculously savory miso broth swirled with black garlic oil.

Because you may have to order seconds.

I’ll second that. The Miso Asari Clams & Pork are mind-blowing. In fact, yes, I actually do get two orders of it, because it’s just that insanely good.

We’re in good company, because the Michael Bauer says the miso clams are one of his favorite dishes as well.


More of this sort of gush is likely to follow, because this week Eater National added Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar to their list of The 19 Hottest Sushi Restaurants In the US Right Now:

Already a favorite on San Francisco’s sushi scene, ICHI Sushi only got better earlier this year when it reopened in a new, bigger space. Eater SF took a look inside the new 30-seat sushi bar with an omakase counter, table seating, and an izakaya named Ni Bar serving booze and other izakaya-style plates.

Big congratulations to Ichi owners (and Bernal neighbors) Tim and Erin Archuleta.

If you haven’t already eaten at Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, get thyself there quickly, because it won’t be long before you’ll have to compete with every foodie in the United States to get a table. You have been warned.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Chef Tim, by Telstar Logistics. Below, Miso Asari Clams & Pork at Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar; photo by Inside Scoop

Kinfolk to Convert from Popup to Permanent Inside Former Pizza Express


Well, the rumors turned out to be true. Our foodie fwiendz at Inside Scoop confirm that Kinfolk, the Cortand popup restaurant launched by Bernal neighbor Greg Lutes, will open a permanent location inside the former Pizza Express space at 919 Cortland:

For the last several months, Kinfolk has been popping up regularly for brunch and dinner at 903 Cortland. Well, it’s moving up.

The chef-owner behind the project is Greg Lutes, and he’s finally found a permanent location — and as it turns out, it’s just a few doors down from 903.

Lutes has inked a deal to take over 919 Cortland Avenue, which was most recently home to Pizza Express, though it’s currently home to a dirt floor. After a full build-out, Kinfolk is hoped to open this summer, with 40 seats — double the size of its set-up at 903.

Elsie Street Library Opens Mysterious Main Branch

STEUER-mainbranch1 Neighbor Sharon found a secret public library tucked away along a leafy portion of Elsie Street north of Cortland. She has no idea how or when it got there:

I’ve always thought of Bernal as “Brigadoon” — a small town atop a hill in a city where even San Francisco residents ask “where is that?” when we mention it.

So whether, like Brigadoon, the Elsie Street Library Main Branch has always been there, or just appeared on certain days, to certain people, I can’t say for sure.

I walk the street all the time. I’m always looking at the houses and the flowers, seeing the paint colors and street plantings. I can’t tell you for sure when the elves set up this library, but we’ve never seen it before. I love it!

PHOTO: Neighbor Sharon

Clever Map Reveals Geography of Bernal Heights Coffee Shops


Some clever data-visualization geeks at MIT have created a very cool new map that reveals the social geography of San Francisco coffee shops. A Bernalwood-enhanced look at our portion of the map reveals which parts of Bernal align most organically with each of our local coffee shops:

This map shows the location of every independent coffee shop in San Francisco and the walking-shed community associated with it.

Independent coffee shops are positive markers of a living community. They function as social spaces, urban offices, and places to see the world go by. Communities are often formed by having spaces in which people can have casual interactions, and local and walkable coffee shops create those conditions, not only in the coffee shop themselves, but on the sidewalks around them. We use maps to know where these coffee shop communities exist and where, by placing new coffee shops, we can help form them.

We applied two steps to generate the data displayed by the map. First, we used the Google Places API to locate all coffee shops in a given city. Second, for each point in the map we queried the walking route and distance to its nearest coffee shop using the Google Distance Matrix API.

In the final map the colored areas represent a region which is walkable to a specific coffee shop (within one kilometer or 0.7 miles). The intensity of color at each point indicates its distance from its corresponding coffee shop.

Cool! But not perfect. The map was created by algorithms, not humans. So it reveals the logic of physical proximity, not social preference (thought the two often and naturally overlap). Also, the data might be a little old, because the transformative Cafe St. Jorge on Mission near Cortland is not present.

Nevertheless… cool!  Here’s how all of San Francisco looks without the Bernal annotations:


New Happy Hour at Holy Water Happens After the Kids Go to Bed


Happy Hour is lovely, but it’s not exactly convenient. During those precious early evening hours, you’re probably either still at work, or walking your dog, or wrangling your kids, or cooking dinner, or walking the dog while wrangling the kids while cooking dinner, or some combination of the above. The point being, there’s a lot of stuff going on during the time when most bars want you to be drinky for Happy Hour, which makes it hard to be drinky.

In recognition of these grim realities, Holy Water, the drinktastic new bar on Cortland, has hit upon a rather clever idea: shift Happy Hour forward a few hours, make it start at 11 pm, and call it 11th Hour.

Holy Water’s website brings the details:

Welcome to the 11th hour. Starting at 11pm nightly, Holy Water will be featuring a rare and unique selection of offerings. These will only be available after 11pm and won’t be on the regular menu. Offerings will rotate nightly depending on availability.

We have sourced rare and unique beers only bottled in magnums. many of them specifically for Holy Water. We will start popping them only after 11pm and pour them off until they are gone. These won’t be your typical beers

We have been sourcing rare and exotic spirits/mixers/tinctures/etc. and this is our time to play around and experiment with them. Come down and help us try out new recipes and cocktails that won’t normally be offered before 11pm DISCLOSURE… we are experimenting here, so some things will be amazing, others not so much. customers won’t be obligated to pay for what they don’t enjoy.

This is your chance to stump the bartender, or try something new. Guests can pick 2 ingredients and the bartender will make you something amazing. Do you love honey and compari? tell the bartender and they will come up with a cocktail you will (hopefully) enjoy. Or just sit back and let them concoct something from their mental rolodex of drinks.

Sample a flight of single barrel selections from all of our sister bars Churchill, Bloodhound, Prize Fighter, Brass Tax. This ranges from bourbons to rums to beers.

Offerings change nightly. More selections are in the works and will be unveiled over time.

PHOTO: Holy Water