Almost every morning, Pizzaiolo (5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) opens its doors early, not to sell pizzas or gin-and-tonics or frilly frisée salads, but instead to sling doughnuts, espresso drinks, and — most precious of all — the sweet, sweet nectar of a free wi-fi connection. The Temescal institution is one of a growing number of restaurants that are taking advantage of the morning hours, when their dining rooms would normally sit empty, to dabble in the coffee-shop business.
For the restaurants, it’s a win-win: The cooks are in the kitchen all morning anyway, prepping vegetables or tending to big pots of stock. Why not whip up some pastries, add an extra revenue stream, and generate a bit of goodwill in the community while you’re at it?
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.
1) On the heels of the Punchdown organic wine bar’s recent shuttering, Berkeleyside Nosh reports The Wine Bar is opening at that 2212 Broadway location in Uptown Oakland. Diablo Dish adds this intriguing detail: It appears that one of the names on the liquor license application is Ike Shehadeh, owner of the Ike’s Lair next door and, of course, of the entire Ike’s sandwich empire. Does that mean the wines will be spiked with “dirty sauce” and named after local celebrities? We look forward to finding out.
Tradition dictates that this is the time of year for self-reflection, and for sorting our feelings into easily digestible listicles, so I thought I would look back on the ten most delicious things I ate in the East Bay this year, which, as it turns out, were all in Oakland. (Read into that what you will.)
For the sake of brevity, I limited myself to restaurants that opened during the past year. Here are my best bites, listed in chronological eating order:
Fried Chicken at Miss Ollie’s
Okay, so this one might seem obvious. I could have also picked the rich cornmeal porridge I swooned over during my first visit to Miss Ollie’s or the addictive, hushpuppy-like Trinidadian pholourie that I’ve devoured several times since. But the fried chicken is what keeps me coming back. Well-bronzed, herb-infused, and juicy-as-all-get-out, the chicken at Miss Ollie’s whas taken its place as one of the Bay Area’s iconic dishes. Someday (a long, long time from now, we hope) they can write this for chef Sarah Kirnon’s epitaph: “She had a skillet. And damn could she fry some chicken.”
901 Washington St., Oakland, 510-285-6188
LIBA Falafel, one of the Bay Area’s longest-established “new school” gourmet food trucks, has announced that it will open its first brick-and-mortar restaurant location in Uptown Oakland, at 380 17th Street. Owner Gail Lillian, who founded the business four years ago, said she’s in the process of raising funds for the Uptown project but expects the restaurant to open by the summer of 2014.
The LIBA food truck will also continue to operate.
Better late than never: Welcome to this end-of-the-week edition of the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.
1) After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $11,000, the collective-owned Alchemy Cafe opened last week in its new South Berkeley location at 1741 Alcatraz Avenue. As previously reported, the new space is a big upgrade from Alchemy’s original cafe, which was only about a quarter the size and had neither running water nor a customer bathroom. Chris Myers, one of the worker-owners, told What the Fork that, in order to staff their growing operation, the collective has added three new members on a trial basis, bringing the total to eight. Meanwhile, the cafe’s expanded food offerings might include breakfast tacos, poached eggs, steel cut oats, and cinnamon toast for breakfast, and seasonal soup and a salami sandwich for lunch.
Now that Jay-Z and Beyoncé have started dabbling in veganism, it’s safe to say that plant-based diets are enjoying previously unimaginable levels of mainstream acceptance in the United States. Yet, for better or worse, the vegan restaurant scene is still dominated by funky little cafes and Buddhist temples of mock meat. “Vegan” and “fine dining” rarely go hand in hand.
Barry and Jennifer Jones Horton, owners of a San Pablo-based vegan catering company called Local Love Catering, want to change that. Having completed a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign, the husband-and-wife team plans to open Sanctuary Bistro, an upscale vegan and gluten-free restaurant they hope will set itself apart from the East Bay’s crowded field of casual veggie-burger slingers.
Since the Kickstarter campaign ended in September, the Hortons have been meeting with private investors and have scouted out potential locations, mainly between downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt, as well as in North Berkeley. They hope to secure a space by next February and to open sometime in the spring of 2014.
Fans of the decadent sandwiches and whole-animal ethos at Marrow (325 19th St.), Jon Kosorek’s walk-in closet of a takeout counter in Uptown Oakland, will be pleased to know that the chef-owner is making moves to expand his business to a full-service restaurant. On Marrow’s Facebook page, Kosorek recently announced that he has submitted a letter of intent on a larger space — also in Uptown, he told What the Fork. The new location would allow Marrow to morph into more of a sit-down restaurant, with a full liquor license, servers, a management team, and plated entrées that don’t need to fit within the constraints of a takeout container.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.
1) Great news for fans of Berkeley’s Great China (2190 Bancroft Way): Nearly two years after a grease fire shut down the popular Chinese restaurant, and after a long series of delays and false starts, the owners have announced — via the latest message on the restaurant’s answering machine — that Great China will likely reopen this week, sometime between Wednesday, December 11 and Saturday, December 14. We know we aren’t the only ones who have looked forward to being reunited with the restaurant’s sublime Peking duck, “double skin” noodles, and other regional specialties. Note that Great China is now located around the corner from its fire-damaged Kittredge St. location, in a newly remodeled space last occupied by a Looney’s BBQ.
When Lisa Curtis went to West Africa in 2010 as a member of the Peace Corps, the last thing she expected was to come out of the experience with a new career as a food entrepreneur. But that’s what happened: While in Niger, the Alameda native discovered moringa, a plant that some have touted as the next great “superfood” (“a multivitamin in a tree,” as Curtis put it), with edible leaves that are packed with Vitamin A, calcium, iron, and other nutrients. What’s more, when Curtis saw the potential for impoverished West African women to make a living by growing and selling moringa, she found something of a calling.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.
1) Doughnut Dolly (482B 49th St., Oakland), everyone’s favorite purveyor of “naughty,” filled-to-order doughnuts, will be opening a new Berkeley location that will be part of the Gilman District project (at the intersection of Gilman and 9th streets) — right next door to the new Philz Coffee. Owner Hannah Hoffman told What the Fork that the new shop will include seating and possibly some new savory menu items. She said she’ll be building out the space from scratch, so it’s safe to say that the opening is still a ways off. Stay tuned!