Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.
1) Inside Scoop reports that Berkeley’s zoning board has approved plans for a multi-use complex in the former Cody’s Books space (2454-64 Telegraph Ave.) called Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media. The project is the brainchild of Rasputin Music founder Ken Sarachan, and will include a performance space; a store selling books, records, and tapes; a flower shop; and a full-service restaurant known as Commissar, which will serve mostly-vegetarian “upscale peasant’s and worker’s food.” According to Inside Scoop, the restaurant component will be run by Craig Becker of Berkeley’s Caffe Mediterraneum and Scott Cameron of Oakland’s Guest Chef.
Berkeleyside Nosh has more of Sarachan’s comments from the zoning board meeting, including this gem of a quote: “We’re not gonna have gangster rappers. We might have rappers more like Tupac, who have poetry, who speak to educate people, but … it’s not gonna be a dance club with DJs and bou bou bou bou stuff. That gives me a headache.”
2) Happy news for soul food lovers: Dimond neighborhood favorite Southern Cafe (2000 MacArthur Blvd.) — closed since 2008 — has reopened, according to Tablehopper. A frequently mentioned contender in “best fried chicken in Oakland” discussions back in the day, the restaurant had its grand reopening last month. So, after what had seemed to be a decline, Oakland is awash with good, inexpensive soul food options: Soul’s, Lena’s, Genny’s BBQ, and now Southern Cafe.
3) A new Latin-inspired, family-style restaurant called Bourbon and Beef is coming to the former Water Lounge space (5634 College Ave.) in Rockridge, according to Diablo Dish. Look for a late summer or early fall opening.
4) Berkeleyside notes Zensen Sushi Express’s impending arrival to 2516 Durant Ave., in Berkeley. The Taiwan-based fast food chain is your standard conveyor belt sushi operation — a convenient setup, and fun if you’ve never tried it.