Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Where to Eat on New Year’s Day

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Brunch at Grand Lake Kitchen (via Facebook).
  • Brunch at Grand Lake Kitchen (via Facebook).
So many column inches are devoted each year to the bacchanalian excesses of New Year’s Eve, I won’t waste your time with yet another roundup. (That said, by all means check out the Express’ NYE roundup.)

But what about when you wake up on New Year’s Day, groggy-eyed and famished, your empty fridge staring you in the face like another year’s worth of regret? When it comes to finding a restaurant that’s open on New Year’s Day, it’s slim pickings to say the least, but here are a handful of East Bay options.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jon Kosorek to Reopen Marrow as a New York-Style Pizzeria Called Buma’s

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 5:33 PM

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The last time we heard from Jon Kosorek, the chef had just closed Marrow (325 19th St.), the miraculous little sandwich shop where he’d butcher a whole pig and turn it, variously, into porchetta sandwiches, tacos, and seared head-cheese breakfast plates. But the Uptown Oakland spot never quite caught on the way he’d hoped, and a series of challenges in Kosorek’s personal life helped solidify his decision to close Marrow in July.

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Best Bites of 2014

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 1:11 PM

BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / file photo
One of my favorite holiday traditions is compiling my annual list of top ten East Bay bites. It’s a time to scroll through hundreds of blurry cellphone food pics and make myself very, very hungry in the process. For whatever reason, this year’s batch of favorites skewed heavily toward Asian comfort food — steaming bowls of soupy noodles and the kinds of dishes best enjoyed over white rice.

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Lucky Three Seven’s ‘Non-Profit’ Day

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 8:22 AM

CHRIS DUFFEY / FILE PHOTO
  • Chris Duffey / file photo
Free food alert! The proprietors of Lucky Three Seven (2868 Fruitvale Ave.), East Oakland’s most happening Filipino takeout spot, have declared today a “non-profit” day. They’ll give out free meals all day long.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mid-Week Menu: Nightly Ramen, the Loss of a Mural, and a Juice Bar Inside a Senegalese Restaurant

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:11 PM

The original mural, via Rische-Baird.com.
  • The original mural, via Rische-Baird.com.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) The much anticipated permanent brick-and-mortar location of Kronnerburger (4063 Piedmont Ave., Oakland) has come under fire from a local neighborhood association over the removal of a beloved mural, Inside Scoop reports. The Our Oakland blog was the first to notice that a large section of the Key Route Plaza mural — artist Rocky Rische-Baird’s tribute to the historic trolley line that used to pass through the restaurant site — had been removed. Chef-owner Chris Kronner expressed regret for the loss, but said that the inside of that particular section of the wall was covered with black mold. According to Kronner, the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League never offered a realistic plan to save the mural.

In the meantime, when I spoke to Kronner recently, he said the recent rains have set him back several weeks. He’s now aiming to open Kronnerburger around the third week of January.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Hatch: Beer, Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs, and the Return of a Long-Lost Chef

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Beer taps at The Hatch (via Instagram, @thehatchoak)
  • Beer taps at The Hatch (via Instagram, @thehatchoak)
These are heady times for the Oakland beer buff: It seems like it’s almost every week that an interesting new brewery, beer garden, or craft beer bar opens its doors in The Town. The Hatch (402 15th St.), which opened in downtown Oakland last month, offers a compelling trifecta. The bar offers the kind of East Bay-centric beer list that locavores have come to expect, live entertainment, and, as an added bonus, the return of a beloved Oakland chef.

Rico Tiongco, the former chef-owner of Rico’s Diner, is a partner in the venture, and he’ll be getting back behind the grill to run The Hatch’s beer-friendly food program.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Return of the Kwik Way

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM

The Kwik Way is back (sort of). Via Facebook.
  • The Kwik Way is back (sort of). Via Facebook.
If you’ve been mourning the death of Oakland’s Park Way Drive In (500 Lake Park Ave.), aka the Kwik Way, here’s good news and bad news: Despite a developer’s plans to tear the building down and turn it into an apartment complex, the old-school burger restaurant will reopen in the meantime, albeit not strictly as a burger joint and only on a temporary basis.

The Bay Area News Group reports that Alex and Charles Hahn, the owners of the Kwik Way building, have made a temporary arrangement with Merritt Bakery — another iconic, if recently beleaguered, Oakland restaurant — while they finalize their plans to sell the building to an unnamed developer. The bakery has already put up signs in the Kwik Way window and will open the restaurant as a second Merritt Bakery outpost sometime this month.

It’s unclear how long Merritt Bakery will occupy the space, but the Hahns told BANG that it would take the developer one to two years just to secure permits for the proposed construction project. (Whether the city will actually allow the historic Kwik Way building to be torn down completely remains to be seen.)

In an email, Charles Griffis, who runs 62-year-old Merritt Bakery, told What the Fork that he plans to open the restaurant as the Merritt Bakery Kwik Way “Bakery Department” as early as this week. Initially, the Kwik Way outpost will only sell cakes and other baked goods for the holidays, but Griffis said that starting in January the original Merritt Bakery location on East 18th Street will be closed for three months in order to install a city-mandated fire sprinkler system. At that point, Griffis said, the equipment used to cook the restaurant’s most acclaimed item, its fried chicken, will be transferred over to the Kwik Way — welcome news for those looking for an alternative to the KFC located a few doors down. Griffis didn’t respond to a request for further menu details, so it’s unclear whether burgers and milkshakes will be served as well.

The collaboration brings together two restaurant entities with tumultuous recent histories. The Kwik Way sat empty for years before restaurateur Gary Rizzo reopened it in 2011, only to close it again abruptly this past August: The kitchen was stripped of all equipment overnight, and an accusatory note directed toward the landlords, presumably written by Rizzo, was left on the window.

Meanwhile, Merritt Bakery has suffered serious financial difficulties. In recent years, the restaurant has been bailed out by a series of loans from the City of Oakland, and the latest renovation project comes in the wake of a major fire that temporarily shut the diner down last May.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mid-Week Menu: A Vegan Deli, a Downtown Oakland Wine Bar, and a Harvard Professor’s War Over $4 of Chinese Takeout

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM

The future site of The Butcher's Son (via Google Maps).
  • The future site of The Butcher's Son (via Google Maps).
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Last week brought news of The Herbivorous Butcher, which touts itself as America’s first vegan “butcher” shop and will set up shop in Minneapolis this coming spring. I’ll admit the first thing I thought when I read that was, “Oh, that would go over well in Berkeley.” Lo and behold: Berkeleyside Nosh reports that The Butcher’s Son, a vegan deli, is planning to open in Berkeley in February 2015 — earlier than its Minnesotan counterpart — in the former La Farine location at 1820 Solano Avenue. Co-owned by Peter Fikaris, one-time waffle entrepreneur and proprietor of Oakland-based Pretty Dog Hot Sauce, the new deli will feature vegan cheeses, vegan sausages (made from wheat gluten), and other fake “meats,” plus various pizzas, including a raw deep-dish.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Communitē Table: Now Open in the Laurel

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

COMMUNITE TABLE
  • Communite Table
The stated aim of Communitē Table (4171 MacArthur Blvd.), Michele LeProhn’s new restaurant and prepared foods business in Oakland’s Laurel District, is to bring simple, high-quality food to the working masses — to folks in the neighborhood who might not have time to cook themselves, but who appreciate being able to pick up a nice salad or chicken pot pie to supplement their home meal. Even more than that, though, she hopes the restaurant will become a gathering place for the community — or “communitē,” if you will.

As LeProhn put it, “People like to be known and to be seen.”

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After 42 Years, Berkeley’s Taiwan Restaurant Is Closing

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Beef noodle soup. - TAIWAN RESTAURANT
  • Taiwan Restaurant
  • Beef noodle soup.
The sign for Berkeley’s Taiwan Restaurant (2071 University Ave.) reads, “Since 1972 Same Chef.” That’s a claim that very few Bay Area dining establishments can match in today’s high-turnover restaurant scene, in which staying in business for even four years — much less forty — is cause for celebration.

It’s a minor miracle, then, that the restaurant’s distinctive pinkish-purple facade has held court — more or less unchanged — just off the corner of University and Shattuck Avenues for as long as it has. But the family-run Berkeley institution’s long run is finally coming to a close. According to the Lin family, who owns it, Taiwan Restaurant will close at the end of the year due to their inability to secure a long-term lease with their landlords.

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