Friday, August 10, 2012

Vitus, 1015 Clay Chef Re-emerges at Alameda’s Cafe Q

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Another day, and another promising restaurant opens up in one of the East Bay’s new culinary hotspots: Alameda. The latest contender? An unassuming spot called Café Q (2302 Encinal Ave.), which recently landed an Oakland chef with real culinary street cred: Jesse Branstetter, who, among other ventures, was a founding partner at Chop Bar.

When we last heard from Branstetter, the chef was toiling away at Vitus, the recently-shuttered (and now nomadic) Jack London Square club. Express critic Jesse Hirsch had filed a glowing review of Branstetter’s food, but was less impressed with the service and atmosphere at a venue that never felt like it was intended to be a dining establishment.

The disconnect caused Hirsch to speculate (presciently, it turned out) that Branstetter’s tenure at Vitus might not be long for this world — that Branstetter was too serious a chef “to cook in a place where food plays third- or fourth-string.”

In March of this year, that prophecy came true: With little fanfare, Branstetter left Vitus and dropped off the map for a while. Only recently did I find out what he’s been up to: a consulting gig at Café Q that eventually turned into a partnership.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Uptown Openings, Berkeley’s Belli, and an Array of Alice Waters News

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM

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

1) First up, Berkeleyside brings us the story of My Chan and Kim Phuong, owners of a Chinese vegetarian restaurant in North Berkeley called Vegi Food. After 28 years at their current location, the couple fears for the future of their business, as the building that houses the Vine Street restaurant has a new owner who wants to perform a seismic upgrade and, perhaps, replace Chan and Phong with more lucrative tenants.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Beyond the CSA?

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Full Circle, an organic produce company based in the Seattle area, recently expanded its farm box delivery service to include the San Francisco Bay Area. That in itself is no big news: Just a few weeks ago I wrote about a small Alameda-based organic produce delivery service called Golden Gate Organics, which implemented a near-identical business model more than a year ago. Both companies offer reasonably priced organic produce boxes delivered to your doorstep. Both pride themselves in their use of user-friendly, Web 2.0-ish online interfaces to optimize customer experience.

At the end of the day, it’s just a box of fruits and vegetables, though, and the Bay Area has those in spades — so ho-hum, right?

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Friday, August 3, 2012

A New Bagel Cafe Invokes ‘Old Brooklyn’

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 3:21 PM

A new cafe in Rockridge is boiling bagels in-house and claiming — at least by way of its chosen moniker — to offer a taste of Brooklyn.

You may recall that earlier this week I’d noted a tip from Our Oakland, a local blog, that Rockridge’s Cafe Zoe recently morphed into something called Old Brooklyn Bagels & Deli (6000 College Ave.). It’s an interesting development, given the fact that Jason and Mark Scott, the brothers behind Authentic Bagel Company, had originally planned to partner with Cafe Zoe’s owners on a similar concept. (That partnership fell apart, and the Scott brothers have since moved into their own space in Jack London Square.)

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Old Brooklyn, New Greek, and Pop-Up Sweets

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) About a month ago we reported that Authentic Bagel Company’s plans to turn Rockridge’s Cafe Zoe (6000 College Ave.) into a bagel cafe and deli had fizzled due to disagreements with the Cafe Zoe owners. ABC co-owners (and brothers) Mark and Jason Scott subsequently opened a smaller, somewhat less ambitious retail space in Jack London Square — the shop made its debut this past Sunday. But Our Oakland blogger Gene Anderson relays this interesting tidbit: Cafe Zoe has now morphed into Old Brooklyn Bagels & Deli, which is up and running and boiling its own bagels, according to one Chowhound report. The place doesn’t appear to have publicized its website or phone number yet (and there was no answer at the old Cafe Zoe number), but I’ll pass on additional details as I learn them.

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