Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Sea Salt’s New Name, a Former Express Critic’s Holiday Market, and Camino’s Crabby Mondays

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) As noted a couple of weeks ago, Berkeley’s Sea Salt (2512 San Pablo Ave.) has been sold, and Diablo Dish offers a few additional details: The restaurant will operate as Sea Salt through the end of the year, but in January it will close for a week and then reopen as Eat, under the direction of the same chef, Quyen Vu, but with a less seafood-intensive menu. Then, probably sometime over the summer, the restaurant’s side dining room will be converted into a cocktail lounge — thus the eventual name, Eat + Lounge.

2) North Oakland’s Victory Burger (1099 Alcatraz Ave.) is officially open — lunch only for now, Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The focus is on burgers, of course, but there are also a number of veggie-friendly and gluten-free (arepa-based) options. Scope out the full menu here.

Victory Burger (via Facebook)
  • Victory Burger (via Facebook)
3) Grub Street reports that chef Fred Sassen (of San Francisco’s Waterfront) and his wife Elizabeth will be opening a new restaurant in Oakland called Homestead, in the space currently occupied by the Mediterranean restaurant Zatis (4029 Piedmont Ave.).

4) Via Twitter, Berkeleyside Nosh brings word about Sliver Pizzeria, a pizza place (with an anti-slavery angle, apparently) that’s going to open in the Downtown Berkeley location currently occupied by Sportivo (2132 Center St.).

5) This Saturday, in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, pick up some food gifts for the holidays at the New Taste Marketplace’s holiday market (500 De Haro St., San Francisco), where over thirty local vendors will be stationed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We’re not much in the habit of reporting on goings-on across the Bay, but this was a worthy exception for a couple reasons: 1) The guy running the market is former Express restaurant critic Jesse Hirsch — further evidence that this gig is a launching pad for empires? More importantly for our purposes, 2) A slew of East Bay vendors will be hawking their wares at the market, a direct result of the connections Hirsch made when he was working at The Express. A few notable examples: Beauty’s Bagel Shop, OneNinetySeven Coffee, Studebaker Pickles, Oaktown Spice Shop, Little Shop Artisan Box, and Vignette Wine Country Sodas.

For some background about the market, check out the Q&A Hirsch did with Eater.

6) SFoodie tips us off about two Ethiopian pop-ups in Oakland: First, Tayitu started its two-week stint at Guest Chef (5337 College Ave.) last night, serving what appears to be a fairly traditional menu. Meanwhile, on the semi-permanent pop-up front, Sheba, an Ethiopian catering company, has been doing dinners at Downtown Oakland’s Clarion Hotel (371 13th St.) on Fridays and Saturdays for a while now.

Grilled Dungeness crab at Camino
  • Grilled Dungeness crab at Camino
7) Perhaps you’ve heard the news: Crab season's here. So Camino (3917 Grand Ave., Oakland) is now featuring Dungeness crab for its weekly Monday night three-course prix-fixe dinners — a different permutation each week, but the crab will usually (always?) be grilled in the restaurant’s fireplace. Coincidentally, I was there this past Monday, and for $34, I was served the following courses: an avocado and kabocha squash salad; half a grilled crab (in my case, a whole crab, for a $12 upcharge) accompanied by cauliflower, beets, and farro; and a dessert of barhi dates and candied orange peels. The crab was great, if pretty aggressively seasoned (a cold beer is in order); the veggie sides were even better.

A $46 meal is special-occasion dining in my book (it was a special occasion), but in all honesty it’s not a bad deal for a whole crab cooked at a restaurant of Camino’s caliber. (As a point of reference, last week I paid about $38 for so-so crab — just that one dish — at a local Chinese restaurant.

The crab dinners at Camino will run through at least the end of December, with each Monday’s menu announced about a day in advance. Crab should show up pretty frequently on the regular menu as well.

8) Tablehopper reports that Alameda-based St. George Spirits (2601 Monarch St.) will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this Friday, starting at 7:30 p.m., with a distillery tour, a panel discussion, and a night of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The event is being hosted by the Commonwealth Club, and you can buy tickets here.

9) Finally, in case you missed them, check out this week’s stories about Scream Sorbet’s entry into the local cafe/bagel fray and the bialys at Beauty’s Bagel Shop.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.


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