Friday, March 11, 2011

The Kitchen Sink: Plum's Opening a Bar; Asian Street Food Coming to Uptown; the Triumphant Return of Jon's Street Eats

By Ellen Cushing
Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 11:27 AM

This week: Uptown's getting gourmet Asian food from the likes of Commis' James Syhabout; Plum's getting a bar; Boot and Shoe Service is getting bigger; Alice Medrich is getting honored; and much, much more.

1) The folks behind Uptown's Plum are planning on opening a bar space in the building between the restaurant and Bakesale Betty, manger Ron Boyd tells the Kitchen Sink. With the new business — which will likely open in 3 or 4 months and be called something to the effect of "Plum Bar" — Boyd said he and his partners intend to apply the restaurant's culinary ethos to cocktails. That means seasonal ingredients, inventive preparations, and classed-up takes on American standards, all at what Boyd promises will be affordable prices. They'll also grow their own herbs and flowers in a "green room," which will also be open to patrons. Meanwhile, the original Plum will also be getting a full liquor license, roughly on the same timeline as the bar.

2) In more Plum news, chef Daniel Patterson has announced plans to open what he's calling a "food lab" in Oakland— essentially, an experimentation-oriented space where chefs can develop and test new dishes outside of the typical space/time/bottom-line constraints of a standard restaurant. More details forthcoming.

3) Commis chef James Syhabout announced that he's opening a casual Southeast Asian street food joint at 2300 Webster in Uptown Oakland. The Michelin-starred Oakland native told Grub Street that the restaurant, to be called Hawker Fare, will specialize in snacks and lunch fare (all made with locally grown and organic produce, obvi) like spicy fried chicken wings, salted and candied cashews, and aromatic poached chicken. Best of all: nothing's over $10. Hawker Fare should be open for lunch within a few weeks.

yum.
  • yum.
4) Get excited, carnivores: SoCal cult favorite Umami Burger is looking into opening an Oakland location as part of its northward expansion, according to Grub Street. The small chain, which currently has five restaurants in the LA area, is also apparently setting up shop in San Francisco as well as in the East Bay; both are expected to open sometime this summer. While we await more details, here's GQ's Alan Richman waxing rhapsodic on Umami, which he named the Burger of the Year:
[Chef Adam Fleischman's] face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of the burger world.

...Fleischman is credible because he has focused on flavor, not chemistry. He studied umami tastes, most of them having to do with aging or fermentation, and made certain they were sprinkled on, poured into, and piled atop his burgers. I tasted his patty the American way, plain, with nothing on it, and it was pure and wonderful. I tasted it the Asian way, served with toppings, rubs, and sauces, and a different sort of brilliance emerged. It was deeper, more sensuous, both head-spinning and mind-expanding.

Hear that, East Bay? A HAMBURGER that's nothing less than "head-spinning and mind expanding."

5) Grand Lake pizza joint Boot and Shoe Service will be opening a casual lunch spot right next door, in the space vacated by Cafe DiBartolo. According to Ethan Fletcher at Diablo Dish, the as-yet-unnamed restaurant, set to open in the summer, likely won't serve dinner, but it will offer lunch, baked goods, and coffee — and, Fletcher points out, could allow the perpetually crowded Boot and Shoe to open up the shared patio behind the restaurant.

6) Last month, we reported that Jon Kosorek, founder and chef of the much-loved gourmet street food venture Jon's Street Eats, would be selling the business in order to take a restaurant job in Napa. This week, we've got some good news: Kosorek's cart has apparently been bought and will be resurrected in April by John Betteo of Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay. Inside Scoop reports that Betteo will be keeping many of Kosorek's recipes, so prepare to say hello once again to deliciousness like lavender ice cream and chanterelle risotto. No word yet on where Betteo intends to set up shop.

7) Berkeley pastry chef Alice Medrich is on the shortlist for the International Association of Culinary Professionals' cookbook awards for her delicious-looking cookie bible, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. Incidentally, Medrich will be talking about the book at Cafe Rouge on the 22nd. Award-winners will be revealed on June 2.

8) Chron food critic Michael Bauer just came out with a list of the loudest restaurants in the Bay Area, and out very own Adesso is on it. Though the loud accusation isn't necessarily an insult: "I could eat any of the 30+ house-made salumi and be totally satisfied," he wrote.

9) Sad news for sweet tooths: last week, Charles Chocolates announced on Facebook that it would be shutting down after 6 1/2 years. According to founder Chuck Siegel in a post-mortem on Inside Scoop, he and the company "bet the ranch" on an expansion project that ultimately fell though, forcing the whole business to shutter its operations.

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