Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Father-Daughter 'Guest' Duo, Stag's Lunchette Launch, and a Couple of Chef Interviews

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) One of the most highly anticipated culinary teams to debut at Guest Chef, the Oakland restaurant with its endless rotation of pop-up guests, turns out to be a couple of amateurs: David Hung — the founder of a San Francisco-based biotech company — and his daughter Maddy Hung, a recent high school grad who's heading off to Harvard in the fall. Apparently, the two have been inseparable in the kitchen ever since Maddy was a little girl, and they've always dreamed of opening their own restaurant. I'd hoped to blog about the father-daughter team's Marco Polo-themed menu, featuring Chinese-Italian fusion dishes like Red Wine and Soy-Braised Spaghetti (with Szechuan chilies) and "Peking" Porchetta (served with mandarin pancakes). But their two-week stint at Guest Chef, which ends on Friday, was more or less completely booked before the restaurant even began officially taking online reservations.

Too bad. Anyway, the Hungs' efforts seem like the kind of thing I just want to applaud, not review. Can you say best graduation present ever? I'm filing the idea away for when my own little girl comes of age. Inside Scoop offers a few details from the Hungs' first night of service: thirty or forty covers and a lifetime of memories, I'm sure. If any of you readers managed to snag a reservation, please do give a report in the comments!

The theme for David and Maddy Hungs stint at Guest Chef
  • The theme for David and Maddy Hung's stint at Guest Chef
2) Earlier this week I touched base with Alexeis Filipello, owner of Dogwood and the soon-to-open Stag's Lunchette (362 17th St., Oakland). Originally the artisanal sandwich shop was slated to open this week, but Filipello told me she's pushed the launch date back to next Thursday, July 5, so as not to have her first week spoiled by people's Independence Day travels. Stag's opening menu will feature several tasty-sounding sandwiches, including suckling porchetta with pickled radish radish and Meyer lemon aioli with spicy habañero-yam sauce; green garlic crabcake sandwiches with fennel, romaine, and aleppo aioli; and house-made pastrami basted in butter and demi with emmenthal, ginger kraut, and piquant dressing. There will also be half-sour pickles, a selection of salads, and — for breakfast — bagels from Baron Baking (mentioned at the end of this recent bagel story). Once open, the restaurant's hours will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and until 5 p.m. on Saturdays — they'll be closed on Sundays.

3) Diablo Dish reports that from-scratch Mexican meal delivery service, Nido, will be opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Jack London Square neighborhood, at Oak and Fourth streets, possibly in September. Chef-owner Silvia McCollow will be collaborating with PieTisserie's Jaynelle St. Jean, who will sell her homemade pies at the restaurant.

4) A couple other tidbits from that Diablo Dish report: It sounds like the new restaurant replacing Old Oakland's B Restaurant will in fact be an Italian bar and cafe called Borgo Italia. The Old Oakland website notes an expected late-summer opening. Meanwhile, the Dish also reports that The Claremont Hotel & Spa's executive chef, Josh Thomsen, is leaving to become chef and part-owner of a new restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey.

5) Downtown Richmond's new farmers' market launches today, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Richmond Main Street Farmers' Market is located at Nevin Plaza (at 13th St. and Nevin Ave.) and will run every Wednesday through October.

6) The Berkeley branch of the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay is kicking off its summer food series with a panel discussion titled "The Gourmet Ghetto: A Taste of the Neighborhood." Andy Altman-Ohr, food columnist and managing editor of The Jewish News Weekly, will moderate a discussion featuring Matt Cohen (founder of Off the Grid), Monica Rocchino (co-owner of The Local Butcher Shop), and Karen Adelman (co-owner of Saul's Deli). Food will be provided by Saul's and The Cheese Board Collective. Tickets for the event are $8 ($6 for students, seniors, etc.).

7) Berkeleyside posted a nice interview with the very French-looking Grégoire Jacquet, owner and founder of the eponymous gourmet takeout joint, Gregoire Restaurant. Jacquet says if he had to leave Berkeley, he'd move to the French countryside. Him and me both.

Khao Mun Gai at Hawker Fare
  • "Khao Mun Gai" at Hawker Fare
8) Meanwhile, Inside Scoop chatted with James Syhabout, whose two Oakland restaurants — Commis and Hawker Fare — have both enjoyed tremendous success. For me, the biggest takeaway is that, despite all of the accolades, Syhabout doesn't plan on jacking up the prices at Commis: "Yes, we could do more courses or buy more caviar, but at the same time, I want to stay within this price point.”

9) Finally, if you missed my stories about Bill Niman's seasonal grass-fed beef or the brief appearance that Schmendricks' bagels made in the East Bay, check them out.

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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