SF Beer Week Event: Belgian Brunch with Cleophus Quealy at The Half Orange, Sunday Jan 31

On the final day of SF Beer Week — Sunday, January 31 — come and join us brunch at The Half Orange’s beer garden, with our friends from Cleophus Quealy. Beer delights will include:

* Fig Barleywine
* Maple Tripel
* Strawberry/rhubarb sour
* Sweet Henrietta (coffee milk stout)

Paired food will include Belgian (Brussels) waffles, nutella pancakes with strawberries, our full regular brunch menu, and full lunch menu. The event will go from 11am to 3pm. I hope you can make it.

Salsipuedes Beer Dinner with Ale Industries, December 2

beer-aging barrels at Ale Industries

beer-aging barrels at Ale Industries

We’re pleased to be hosting our friends from Ale Industries* at Salsipuedes on Wednesday, December 2, for a unique beer dinner showcasing some of their lesser-known specialty beers. We’re highlighting fruits and spices for this one, so think of it as your holiday fruitcake. But way more delicious, and with beer.

Owner/brewer Morgan Cox from AI will be on hand, pouring these beers:

Pink Drank sour blonde with raspberries aged in oak barrels (6.0%) paired with grilled puntarelle and shrimp

La Niña Fresa a spontaneously fermented Farmhouse Ale brewed following the same process as Tepache, which is a traditional fermented beverage originating in Mexico City. The naturally occurring brettanomyces and lactobacillus on the skin of the pineapple converts this ale into a wonderful and lightly tart, refreshing beer (4.2%) paired with sturgeon al pastor and fermented potato flatbread

Weisse Edict this strong white ale is dry and spicy with notes of cinnamon; aged 9 months in whiskey barrels (8.0%) paired with Peking quail

Cherry Kush California native tea beer (a gruit — made with no hops) with tart cherry juice (4.4%) paired with churros and house made ice cream

Because we share your fear of commitment, we do beer dinners a little differently than most folks. No reservations needed, no tickets, just come on in. Each pairing is $15, try one or try them all. Or you can buy all 4 pairings for $40.

We’ll see you here!


* Our neighborhood brewery in East Oakland that, as of this writing, has yet to sell itself to a major corporation for a billion dollars.

The Return of Green Beans


So these old friends are back — now at the Half Orange. Grilled local green beans in a ginger-shoyu marinade. This is the first dish I ever put together for sale in a restaurant, about 11 years ago; fortunately it’s been pretty popular over that time.

I hope you enjoy having it at The Half Orange.

Nutella meets #CinnamonChicharronCrumbles

We have a new dessert at The Half Orange.


Nutella parfait, local raspberries, house made whip cream, and cinnamon chicharron crumbles (made with chicken chichharones, fwiw). It’s super delicious and you should have one. Available whenever we are open.

Gastro-Cantina 2010

I was looking for something the other day, and stumbled on this — a promotional menu for the opening of El Take It Easy, in 2010.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.21.43 PM

It gave me two simultaneous thoughts:

1) I love this menu. I would eat the hell out of this restaurant. I can recall the taste of every dish listed, they were really delicious too. Max was cooking some seriously great food, and this menu was just beautiful.

2) What the actual fuck were we thinking? I doubt that this weird-ass menu would sell in the most progressive food markets in the country, let alone in a city known for a conservative palate and cultural insularity. Seriously, Porter.

So, anyway, to all the folks who came to this restaurant, and the hundred or so loyal regulars we had, I can’t express our gratitude enough. You were truly exceptional.

Live and learn, I reckon.

On The New No-Tipping Wave

Since we moved to the Bay Area about three years ago, my answer to the question “if we could eat one meal at any restaurant in San Francisco, which would it be?” has been answered more often than not with Heirloom Cafe. I like to say it’s SF’s best restaurant that doesn’t get much attention; it’s not impossible that it may just be the City’s best restaurant. Every time I go there, the food, wine, hospitality and vibe are immensely enjoyable. Notably, it’s small (50 seats), and owner/chef/sommelier Matt Straus is deeply involved in all aspects of the restaurant, from the back door to the front.

Matt recently posted an essay “In Defense of Tipping”, which is worth a thoughtful read. I’d encourage you take a few minutes to check it out.

I tend to agree with almost everything Matt wrote in his piece. The only difference I have is that, based on my experiences replacing tipping with a service charge, I suspect he’d find it easier to achieve his goals for his restaurant and service team if they operated in an industry where tipping wasn’t the principal method of compensation. That said, 1) I could be wrong, and 2) he knows more about the dynamics of his particular restaurant than I ever can.

More importantly, Matt is correctly, I think, sussing out what the new wave of no-tipping models means for the industry, and, like most sea change in the contemporary world, the results will not tend to favor people on the ground.

When Union Square Hospitality Group or Joe’s Crab Shack adopts a no-tipping model, their prime motivation is not to create a more humane industry; their motivation is to create a business model that will scale to a quite large level.

Large businesses depend for their success on the fundamental unimportance of each employee. It’s just the math of the thing. If you’ve ever worked in a large business you don’t need an explanation of it.

By eliminating tipping, the large business can exert fine-grained control over the take-home pay of front-of-house employees. Yes, partially that allows the businesses to accommodate raises in the minimum wage and redistribute money to the back of the house; more importantly to larger companies, this model allows them to have many more “entry-level” (low paid) employees per higher-compensated (managerial) employee.

The giveaway here is that these bigger companies are not eliminating tipping in favor of a line-item service charge which will be distributed to their team on top of the minimum wage; instead they are choosing a “service compris” (service included) model where they raise prices by 15-20% and request that the diner not tip. The principal change here is to eliminate all transparency, so that neither the diner nor the server has any insight into how the money is being distributed.

Note that it is the transparency of the tipping (or service charge) system that is the real problem for capital here. The minimum wage increase, and wage inequities between cooks and servers, are providing cover for big players in the industry to assert control over a revenue stream they’ve coveted for a long time; their first order of business is to remove this revenue stream from public view. I think it’s clear that the endgame here will have most restaurant jobs be comparable to working at Wal-Mart. That’s just how profit is maximized; and companies beyond a certain scale don’t really know how to do anything but attempt to maximize profit.

I don’t want to be misunderstood to be saying that service compris is itself bad; it’s just that larger companies are using it as a tool to change the industry in ways that will prove to be negative. For that reason, I hope that, as tipping recedes, more restaurants choose the service-line item model that Comal and The Advocate use, instead.

Toodles to Tiradito

Our tiradito (like a lightly cured sashimi) of black cod has been one of our most popular dishes at Salsipuedes since we opened, and it’s probably the dish that’s most evocative of the Ensenada culinary scene. However, the local black cod fishery is closed this year for November and December, so we won’t be seeing that dish again until January.

In the meantime, however, we have this! Bay scallops, diver-harvested from the Sea of Cortez, with pear, wakame, and fermented Chinese black beans. It’s earthy, cool and delicious, you’ll be digging it.


We open at 5:30 today, see you then!

Chickening Out, By Popular Demand


Surely you’ve heard by now that Gertrude Stein’s famous quote about Oakland, “there is no there, there”, is widely misinterpreted. She wasn’t talking about some lack of core or culture in Oakland. She was just grousing that The Half Orange didn’t offer a fried chicken sandwich.

Well, we’ve finally fixed that oversight and have added to our menu this most essential Oakland dish. There is a bit of a twist in that ours is fried in a light, golden batter rather than the breaded style that is most often seen in these parts. Hey, Oakland thrives on diversity, right?

The sandwich comprises Mary’s chicken, batter-fried, with cabbage-kale slaw and jalapeño aioli, on a Starter Bakery bun for $9.95. It goes perfectly which pretty much any beer or cider on the menu, and I also love it with white wine. The sandwich is also available in a lunch combo Monday-Friday 11am-3pm.

See you here!

Salsipuedes is Now Open!

The restaurant I moved to the Bay Area to open, Salsipuedes, is now open and serving to the public at 4201 Market in Oakland.

I’m proud of the creative food menu that Chef Marcus Krauss (who most recently cooked at The Restaurant at Meadowood) has put together, and we’ve also got a poppin’ wine list from Bradford Taylor of Ordinaire, ice cream by Luis Abundis of Nieves Cinco de Mayo, and a craft beer program by yours truly.

We’re open Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 10pm. We’re building up to our Grand Opening on August 20th, but we’d love for you come check it out now.