Best New Restaurant: Jose, Umi ... meet Bubba
The ill effects of 9/11 finally seem to be wearing off. The Contra Costa dining scene is a-poppin', senior cooks at Chez Panisse and Oliveto are spinning off into the community, and Oakland taco trucks are proliferating. But with a nod to Dopo (Oakland), Neumanali (Hayward), and Bistro La Rose (Berkeley), we're naming Jackson's Canvas in Montclair as the East Bay's best new restaurant. The eponymous brainchild of Peter Jackson, formerly of Montage and Lalime's, takes its name from the paintings wrought by Jackson's late mother that decorate the cheery yellow room. Jackson is the rare chef who can line the same menu with Mexican, Japanese, and Bubba influences, yet make them all work. His food is playful, morally righteous (free-range meats, organic vegetables), and damn fine. The service matches the food for quirkiness and flair. Welcome to the neighborhood.