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Rich Table and Grandeur at the Magic Theatre

Rich Table

Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

Rich Table is one of our favorites and not only for the Sardine Chips. Unfortunately advanced planning is necessary if you want to go on a specific date and any time between 5:30pm and 9pm. Every once in a while, there will be reservations available within the 30 day mark, but only if you don’t mind eating after 9pm. Otherwise, it is well worth setting the alarm on my calendar for 30 days in advance of the reservation I am hoping for.

Rich Table was opened  in 2012 by Evan and Sarah Rich, who met in New York while working at Bouley. When they came back to the Bay Area, he worked at Quince and she worked at Michael Mina before they coming together again at Coi. Michael Bauer says, “It shows how influences from other chefs pepper the menu, but the Riches take what they’ve learned and make it their own.”

PHOTOS: JEFFREY CHIANG

There were five of us this evening and we had the great booth in the back. We were having trouble deciding what to order, so we went with the Chef’s Picks menu. This is done a bit differently than the usual family style prix fixe dinner. Sometimes, dishes were served in the traditional way, with a large plate in the middle and everyone taking a portion. Other times, we were each served an individual dish but of the same item. The idea was that you ate part of it and then traded dishes with someone else. Because we had an uneven number, we sometimes got three different items to share among the five of us. That was fun.

We had so much food that it’s hard to me to remark about each thing individually, so here is a list:

  • Summer vegetables, goat cheese, berries, chicken skin
  • Burrata, ajo blanco, sunflower, pluot, summer squash
  • Tajarin, asparagus, trout roe, mitica sardo
  • Soft shelled crab english pea lo mein, ginger, scallion, black pepper
  • Rigatoni, brown butter, cotija, bee pollen
  • Aged beef agnolotti, horseradish, pistachio, gouda
  • Ricotta pierogis, creamed morels, pea chimichurri
  • Lind cod, fermented blac k bean, apricot, yellow corn
  • Aged NY strip, patatas bravas, romesco, caramelized garlic
  • pork chop char siu, bok choy, peach mustard
  • Dried porcini doughnuts, raclette
  • Sardine chip, horseradish crème fraiche
  • Pork pate, ramp kimch i avocado, grilled brea d
  • Bittersweet chocolate panna cotta yogurt mousse, sorghum
  • Strawberry shortcake buttermilk ice cream, cilantro
  • Cherry ice almond ice cream, shiso

From http://www.raccoonstar.com

Every single dish was delicious but Rich Table seemed to do especially well with the meat dishes: the aged beef agnolotti, the NY strip, and the pork chop. Of course the items everyone talks about in the reviews were great: the porcini doughnuts and the sardine chips. Especially wonderful were the desserts, a panna cotta dish and a couple of ice cream dishes.

The last time we were at Rich Table, maybe a year ago, our friend John was still hungry when we left, but we had ordered lightly off the menu. Although Ken and I have been to Rich Table on several occasions, this was the first time we tried the Chef’s Picks menu which is not inexpensive but is well worth it, especially with a group when you can try so many things!

An additional note for you is that Ken and I have also stopped by Rich Table and had burgers at the bar. These were really good too. Another time when we didn’t have time for dessert, the server suggested that we stop by after our concert and have a drink and dessert, and now that we’ve tasted some of those desserts, we’ll definitely think about too the next time we’re out of the show on the early side.

Rich Table: 199 Gough St, San Francisco. Open daily 5pm-10:30pm. Reservations available 30 days in advance on OpenTable.com.

Grandeur

AP

You will not be able to stay home, brother.

You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.

You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and

Skip out for beer during commercials,

Because the revolution will not be televised.

On the webpage Gil Scott-Heron: the essentials, Kiah Welsh writes, “’The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is an anthem for African-American activism. In an interview, Scott-Heron said the song is all about your mind. ‘You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. The thing that’s going to change people is something that no one will ever be able to capture on film. It will just be something you see and all of a sudden you realize, ‘I’m on the wrong page,’ he says.’”

Born in 1949, Scott-Heron  published his first novel The Vulture and a book of poetry Small Talk at 125th and Lenoxat age 21. Right after that, he recorded his first album of the same name as the book of poetry. Over the next 20+ years, he received an M.A. in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University, taught Creative Writing at Federal City College in Washington D.C., and published two novels, three books of poetry and recorded fourteen albums. His work dealt with issues of apartheid, addiction, poverty, racism and love. He himself struggled with drug addiction and disappeared from view for years. In 2010, he released his final album, I’m New Here, and died a year later.

Writer and MacArthur Foundation Genius grant recipient Han Ong takes up the narrative right after the release of Scott-Heron’s last album. In this two-act one-set play, a young journalist, named Steve Barron, hopes to jump-start his career with an interview with Scott-Heron. Another character in the play is Julie, a young woman who lives with and cares for Scott-Heron, his niece but not his niece.

Playwright Han Ong. Photo by Magic Theatre.

All three characters are well written, but the play is driven by the story of Gill Scott-Heron, where he went in those quiet years in his own mind and in the minds of his public. In an SFGate article, freelance Bay Area writer Brandon Yu writes, “Referring to a concept explored in the play itself, Ong notes that theater often starts with a central thesis followed by characters being situated around its idea, as opposed to starting with the characters themselves and following from there. “Grandeur” falls in the latter category, driven by a journalist who, with his own personal emotional investment, holds a mirror up to Scott-Heron of his younger self, where some of the dynamism still exists in the artist.”

After the play, Lauri asked what we thought the relevance was of the title, Grandeur. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and for me, grandeur is the essence of the Gil Scott-Heron’s work and legacy, especially as viewed from the outside or from afar. The essence of the person provides a different view, of an artist who tried be a voice that mattered and of a man struggling with addiction.

Photo: Adam Levonian

This is a play worth seeing, although it still feels rough around the edges, especially the first act. Director Loretta Greco and set designer Hana S. Kim set the mood and tenor well with their use of space on the set, reportedly was based on GSH’s actual apartment, where sheets covered the window to keep the light out. Rafael Jordon as Steve Barron and Safiya Fredericks as Julie were good in their roles. The real beauty though was in Carl Lumbly’s brilliant performance as GSH and the lines by Han Ong which he delivered with conviction, beauty, and musicality.

Grandeur: Closes June 25, 2017. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., Bldg D., San Francisco. Tickets available on the Magic Theatre website.

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