Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 2:03 PM
replaces Oakland Hills stalwart Montclair Bistro
later this fall. Mostly, though, the husband-and-wife team hopes to create something they believe their neighborhood has been missing: a family-friendly community gathering place.
According to Belock, best known for her recent gigs as head chef at Tribune Tavern
and the now-shuttered Disco Volante
, she and her husband drew inspiration from the chop bars (roadhouses/neighborhood hangouts) of West Africa and the gasthouses — family-owned, community-oriented taverns — that are found in many small German towns. And so Chowhaus will be a seasonally focused restaurant in the typical Northern Californian farm-to-table mold, but more than that it will be a place that’s available to the community from morning to night — for everyone from commuters who want to grab a cup of coffee in the morning to teenagers who’d like to have a corn dog as an after-school snack.
“We want the place to be open all day,” Belock said.
Belock will run the kitchen, and Schnell, who most recently worked as a private chef, will man the front of the house. In the mornings, there will be coffee (courtesy of a well-regarded Bay Area “third wave” roaster, still to be determined), house-made pastries, and some other light breakfast fare. For lunch, there will be interesting sandwiches that will feature house-made bread and the products of what Belock says will be a fairly extensive in-house charcuterie program.
Belock said she plans to build upon her recent experience in elevating bar- and tavern-style food, but that the Chowhaus menu will also draw on German, Italian, and Southern influences. Likely dishes will include Belock’s takes on pork schnitzel, chicken pot pie, and a Scotch egg (crispy house-made sausage wrapped around a soft-yolked egg). There will also be fresh pastas — again, all made in-house — and a variety of vegetarian options.
Meanwhile, the restaurant will have a full liquor license. Craig Lane, the bar director at San Francisco’s Bar Agricole
, will create the cocktail list.
Belock and Schnell will take over the restaurant at some point in September, at which point they’ll take on a fairly extensive remodel of the interior — most notably, they plan to open up the ceiling to reveal the building’s original wood beams and skylights. They expect to be ready to open by mid-November.
With all of its virtues — its sweeping bay views and old-fashioned charm — Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood has hitherto not been known as much of a dining destination. Two longtime Montclair residents, Tracey Belock and Joe Schnell, hope to change that when their new restaurant, Chowhaus (6118 Medau Pl.),