The food writers of the East Bay are surely in the midst of penning a half-dozen trend pieces on North Oakland's recent gourmet renaissance, which seems to span every current food fad: mac 'n' cheese, beer and sausages, third-wave coffee, and upscale burgers. Now comes news of yet another exciting food destination on its way: a whole-animal-focused restaurant called Clove & Hoof (4001 Broadway), located at the corner of Broadway and 40th Street.
The project, which also includes a neighborhood butcher shop, is a collaboration between Analiesa Gosnell, who recently worked as a butcher at Berkeley's Cafe Rouge, and chef John Blevins, whose résumé includes stints at Gather and Lalime's (both in Berkeley).
According to Gosnell, the butcher shop will sell responsibly raised meat, most of it broken down in-house from whole animals. The restaurant component of the business will primarily focus on lunchtime takeout, with a small dining room — about 24 seats — for customers who'd like to dine in.
Gosnell, who left a career in finance for her current trade, said she has spent the last couple of years preparing to open a butcher shop of her own. In addition to her brief stint at Cafe Rouge, Gosnell also apprenticed at Fleisher's, a well-known butcher shop in Kingston, New York. More recently, Gosnell and Blevins spent several months studying butchery and charcuterie in France.
In terms of inventory, Clove & Hoof will feature the standard butcher-shop selection of meats (beef, pork, lamb, and chicken), and possibly goat, rabbit, and quail as well. Gosnell and Blevins are still figuring out where they'll source their meat, so they're not yet sure whether the beef will be 100-percent local or grass-fed. "It's going to depend on what our neighborhood is demanding," Gosnell said, adding that the recent drought will make local sourcing more challenging for at least the next year. The butcher shop will also offer a variety of cooking and butchery classes in order to spread "the art of this old tradition a little bit more, too," Gosnell explained.
On the restaurant side, Blevins said Clove & Hoof will showcase "bold, intense flavors" and an eclectic menu that will mostly fall under the wide-ranging umbrella of New American cuisine. Blevins explained that because of the butcher shop's whole-animal ethos, for many of the sandwich offerings he'll use inexpensive or difficult-to-use cuts of meat and turbo-charge them with chefly technique and high-end, house-made condiments. For instance, a Middle Eastern-inflected sandwich will feature braised lamb shoulder, curried cauliflower pickles, fried chickpeas, sun-dried tomato pesto, and black-garlic aioli.
House-made salumi will also be prominently featured, as will various smoked meats: One of the kitchen's centerpieces will be a big commercial smoker, and Blevins, who originally hails from Georgia, has plenty of experience with Southern-style barbecue. Heartier entrées will include a pork confit stew with garlic sausage (smoked in-house), brisket ends, and Tarbais beans — like a cross between French cassoulet and American pork and beans.
Although the restaurant won't initially be open for dinner, it will offer reheatable packaged dinners to-go. In addition, Gosnell and Blevins plan to host monthly prix-fixe whole-animal-themed dinners, which will feature plenty of good wine and, perhaps, some kind of live butchery demonstration.
Gosnell and Blevins still have the entire (quite extensive) build-out ahead of them and are waiting for the go-ahead from the city before they can break ground. Look for an opening date sometime in the fall.
Haven Revamps Its Happy Hour
Fine dining can be a fickle thing, but everyone loves a good happy hour — at least, that's what Daniel Patterson is banking on. Haven (44 Webster St., Oakland), his evolving Jack London Square restaurant, just launched a new, expanded happy-hour program.
Since it opened in late 2011, Haven has been at least partly known for its relatively high prices and high-concept cuisine — a reputation that, according to chef Chris Johnson, might have been intimidating to the casual after-work crowd. So over the course of the past year, the restaurant has initiated a series of small-scale reinventions, including the addition of family-style dining options for both dinner and weekend brunch.
Johnson took over the kitchen at Haven in the fall after opening chef Kim Alter moved uptown to take over Plum (Patterson's other Oakland restaurant). His new happy hour menu might not be a step in an entirely new direction, but it does appear to be an effort to make the restaurant a little bit more accessible.
Haven's previous happy hour program was very short and very early (from 4 to 5 p.m. every afternoon), and was limited, food-wise, to a small selection of appetizers off the regular menu. Now, happy hour specials will be available for customers seated at the bar or in the lounge area from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 5 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There will be $9 cocktails (marked down from $11), $6 wines by the glass, and Linden Street draft beer on tap for $5.
Meanwhile, in addition to a selection of appetizers, Johnson has added several bar-snacky items to the menu, mostly in the $4-to-$6 range — things like kale chips with smoked paprika ($4) and crispy potatoes with fried garlic and rosemary ($5). Diners seated at the bar can also order Haven's new burger ($15), just unveiled last week, which features Schmitz Ranch beef, sharp cheddar cheese, horseradish aioli, a house-made onion-focaccia bun, and a side of fingerling potatoes.
The idea, Johnson said, is that customers could piece together a full meal just ordering off the happy-hour specials list — though his hope, of course, is that something on the regular menu might also catch their eye.
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