Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Great China’s New Plan, Sunday Brunch at Kitchen 388, and Lots of Berkeley Action

By Luke Tsai
Wed, May 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Last week, I gave an update on three Chinese restaurants that are currently out of commission due to kitchen fires that took place over the course of this past year. Days later, a post on Chowhound tipped me off to the fact that for at least one of those restaurants, there has already been a change in plans: Great China will no longer be reopening at its original (fire-damaged) Kittredge St. location. Instead, as per the restaurant's website, it will open one block away, in a newly remodeled space at 2190 Bancroft Way — the former Looney's Smokehouse location. Unfortunately, this means the reopening will be pushed back to spring of 2013.

Pop tart at Kitchen 388
  • Pop tart at Kitchen 388
2) A few weeks back I'd delivered the good news of Kitchen 388's long-awaited reopening and launch of dinner service. East Bay Dish offers a few updates: Now, patrons at Room 389, the bar across the street, can call in food orders to Kitchen 388 off a limited menu. Also, back due to popular demand, the restaurant has started serving Sunday brunch again, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (During a recent brunch visit, I was happy to see that the café had brought back its signature strawberry-rhubarb pop tarts — they're now $4 apiece, though, up from $2.95.)

3) Excitement continues to build about the new coffee and wine bar, Bartavelle, that's slated to open in the former Café Fanny location about one month from now. Berkeleyside has an interview with owner Suzanne Drexhage. Of note: Drexhage eschews nostalgia and says she hopes the new spot will appeal to a younger generation too.

4) All this talk about Café Fanny reminds me of a great essay that ran in the New York Times Lives section a couple of weeks ago, "All I Wanted Was for Alice Waters to Feed Me," in which former Chez Panisse Foundation employee Daniel Duane reminisces on the time an indulgent Waters served him her famous Egg — you know the one where she builds a fire in the fireplace, rubs the bowl of a long copper spoon with olive oil, cracks an egg in, and then cooks it in the fire. Hat tip to Grub Street for the find.

Alice Waters, circa 2007.
  • David Sifry
  • Alice Waters, circa 2007.
5) Other goings-on in Berkeley: Grub Street reports that San Francisco-based grilled cheese chain The Melt will be opening a new location at 2400 Telegraph Ave., right near campus. And Berkeleyside brings news that The Bread Garden is closing after nearly 40 years at its Domingo Ave. location. The owner, David Morris, plans to open a new bakery in Paso Robles.

6) Also from Berkeleyside: a Google Maps-powered guide to urban foraging in Berkeley, which marks the exact locations of forageable persimmon trees and raspberry bushes (with little notes like "ask permission" or "looks public to me!").

7) Just in time for your summer travel plans, Eater has put up a dining guide for Oakland International Airport. I had forgotten that East Bay favorites Fenton's and Otaez both have OAK outposts.

8) Finally, don't forget that Off the Grid's new market in Alameda launches this Saturday at South Shore Center. And read my story on the Institute of Urban Homesteading's urban farm tours, which will take place next Saturday, June 9.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.

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