In this golden age of pop-up restaurants and specialized small-scale artisan food makers, commercial kitchen space is as hot a commodity as it’s ever been. So in a small, 500-square foot kitchen, you might find one guy smoking a batch of pastrami, someone else straining fresh cheese, and yet another person pickling some radishes and carrots — one after the other, or sometimes side by side.
It’s a wonderful tribute to our diverse food economy — but for people with serious food allergies, for whom one tiny smidge of dairy or nut might be a matter of life or death? It’s a nightmare.
Continuing the tradition started by my predecessor, Jesse Hirsch, I'm happy to present the Mid-Week Menu, a weekly roundup of East Bay food news.
1) Grub Street brings news of a fledgling Puerto Rican pop-up called Cocina Criolla, to be held at Piedmont Avenue's Dopo. The project is the brainchild of Dopo cook Ian Hernandez — the first dinner is scheduled for Sunday, May 6, with a $45 four-course menu that includes octopus salad and skirt steak with rice and beans.
Good news for fans of seemingly short-lived Adams Point newcomer Kitchen 388: After an abrupt four-month hiatus, the popular breakfast-and-lunch spot is set to reopen, with dinner-only service starting next Wednesday, May 2.
As you may have inferred when Luke Tsai introduced himself as the new Express food writer, I’m moving on. I’ve received a few emails in the past week, asking for salacious dirt on why I’m leaving so soon. Sorry gossip-hounds, I don’t have much to give.
In a striking West Oakland industrial property, without a single restaurant or shop in sight, chef Sunhui Chang’s new street-Korean experiment Fusebox (2311A Magnolia Street, Oakland, 510-444-3100) is slated to open next week. Housed in a tiny space carved out from a former oxygen plant, Fusebox has preserved a stark simplicity well-suited for the neighborhood.
The Express has been sounding the air horn on Beauty’s Bagel Shop for almost a year, since shortly after Delfina chef Blake Joffe and his partner Amy Remsen started baking Montreal-style bagels at Addie’s Pizza Pie in Berkeley. More recently, the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, and Sunset have also given shout-outs. There's just one problem: Beauty’s shop still hasn't opened, and Remsen is afraid people are losing patience.
So! As you may have heard, San Francisco's The District is coming out with an East Bay offshoot, and while the butcher paper's still in the windows and the official opening isn't until next Friday, I stopped by this morning to
gaze longingly at all the wine get some background from Wine Director and Sommelier Caterina Mirabelli. According to her, the place'll be much like the OG District, with its upscale-ish feel; eclectic selection of forty-plus wines; and menu of shareable small plates, pizzas, and desserts ($4-$17; sample items include "applewood smoked trout, spinach, and fontina arancini," "pear and huckleberry pecan crisp," and the intriguingly-named "braised oxtail sombreros") — but this one has the added bonus of a slightly more "easygoing" vibe and an extra focus on spirits, including forty (!!) whiskeys. The emphasis, Mirabelli says, will still be on sipping — "just like with the wine, we want to introduce people to whiskeys. So many people say they don't like whiskey, but maybe they just haven't had the right one." A noble goal! (And, NB, for all you whiskey and wine-haters out there, there'll still be sixteen draft beers, a handful of cocktails, and your standard vodkas, gins, and tequilas).
Official address is 827 Washington, at the corner of Ninth Street; hours are Monday through Friday starting at 4 and Saturday starting at 5, with a happy hour from 4 to 6 on weekdays and Saturday from 5 to 7. As mentioned, opening date is next Friday, April 27, but in the meantime here are some photozzzz just for you:
It's my last week at the Express and wouldn't you know it: not a lot of fresh East Bay news. Luckily I'm a hoarder, and I've got some hot link action from the vaults.
In the East Bay barter economy, eggs are the hot ticket. “Everybody must be doing the backyard chicken thing, because we’re seeing tons of eggs right now,” said Kendra Poma, founder of East Bay Homemade Food Swaps. “Last fall I think everyone was making home-brewed beer … You start to notice trends.”