“What didn’t you like about that?” David Crombie asks. He’s spotted my empty plate, the one that had a meatball sandwich and a demitasse cup of gingery carrot soup minutes before, and deploys a time-honored bit of server banter. Crombie’s co-owner (with Megan Burke) of Local Café, which opened last week at 4395 Piedmont Avenue, next-door to Adesso.
It was more than two years ago that the Oakland City Council asked a couple of municipal agencies to look at the city’s 2001 mobile vending ordinance and recommend changes. And while there have been months of inquiries, commissions, studies, reports, and hearings, nothing has changed. Meanwhile, Oakland has watched as food trucks and other manifestations of street food have risen to rock-star status across the nation. Needless to say, proponents of legal street food in Oakland are a little, uh — frustrated.
Looks like Bites Off Broadway is back on for tonight.
Update, Aug. 26: Health Department okays Bites to resume. There’s been another glitch for Bites Off Broadway, the weekly Friday night street-food pod in Temescal.
Looks like the Temescal café formerly known as SadieDey’s is ready for its next chapter.
Hot on the heels of Bar Dogwood and the new Rudy's Can't Fail, yet another business has opened in Uptown: Make Westing, a new bocce (!) bar founded by East Bay natives Glenn Kaplan and Chris Foott and now occupying the former jewelry store across the street from Rudy's, on the West side of Telegraph. After what appears to be a fairly epic construction process (see cool photos here), the place officially started serving last night; here are our opening-night impressions, as well as some insights from Foott:
The design: Foott said he and his partners — including Matthew Maddy, who's overseen construction and design on bars all across the country — wanted to be respectful to the space while classing it up a little: "We wanted build something that could feel like it'd been there forever," Foott said. "And we wanted to keep the rawness and grittiness but give it a really beautiful veneer." In this case, that means industrial-chic all the way — the bar is salvaged slate, the walls are black and mostly bare, and the whole aesthetic is pretty minimal. There is, of course, a pair of indoor bocce ball courts off to the side of the main room, both of which were consistently full last night. Also worth noting: Make Westing feels significantly more spacious than most bars in the area — always a good thing.
The bocce ball thing: Foott said much of the inspiration for adding bocce courts came from his experiences living and working in England, where "pubs are all about going into somebody's living room." The property has the space for it, and in a crowded market, bocce's a way to stand out: "It's fun, it's different, it's a great drinking game — it makes us a little bit more than just a bar," Foott said.
Maybe yes, maybe no — not that Akiva Resnikoff can actually say. Resnikoff is the guy behind The Cookie Department, an Emeryville-based maker of functional cookies that launched in 2009. They’re available mostly at East Bay cafes (Fellini Coffeebar in Berkeley, for one), also gyms, and the snack counter at the Grand Lake Theater.
Javier Sandes is arguably the most dynamic food vendor ever to smoke up an Emeryville street. In May 2010, Sandes launched Primo’s Parrilla, an asador — or grill — like the ones in his native Argentina. Over a mix of almond wood and mesquite, Sandes grilled chickens and tri-tip, served up with chimichurri sauce.
Brace yourselves, fans of Off the Grid in North Berkeley (not to mention that other city west of Treasure Island): Off the Grid organizer Matt Cohen is bringing the biggest gathering of food trucks he’s ever attempted to Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley.
Last month I fell in love with bagels from Beauty’s Bagel Shop, a weekend venture by Oakland residents (and couple) Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen. Joffe’s a cook at Delfina in San Francisco, Remsen a server at Addie’s Pizza Pie on this side of the bay, same place they make the bagels after hours on Fridays. The couple sell Montreal-style bagels (boiled, then baked in a wood-fired oven) to Wise Sons, the Saturday S.F. popup deli (they also help out in the kitchen), also to Saul’s in Berkeley (again, Saturdays only). And last Sunday, Joffe and Remsen debuted a weekly stall at the Kensington Farmers’ Market (Colusa Circle and Oak View Ave., Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). They're also in negotiations for their own shop in North Oakland. I spoke with Joffe by phone recently to get the Beauty’s backstory, hints about the Oakland brick-and-mortar, and to find out: Why Montreal?