Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mid-Week Menu: Herb n’ Chicken, Free Tapas, and El Cerrito’s Inaugural Restaurant Week

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 12:36 PM

click image Chickens on the rotisserie at Herb n' Chicken. - YELP USER JOEL D.
  • Yelp user Joel D.
  • Chickens on the rotisserie at Herb n' Chicken.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) As previously reported, the folks behind nearby Tigerlily have taken over the Epicurious Garden’s former vegan spot, the Source Mini, and rebranded it as a salad bar and rotisserie. Now, the new restaurant — Herb n’ Chicken (1511 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) — is softly open for business and will serve a limited menu until its official grand opening on Friday, October 2. Overseen by Tigerlily sous chef Josh Gjersand, the menu will feature Rosie organic chickens cooked whole on the rotisserie, handcut fries, and an assortment of salads, including a build-your-own option. Herb n' Chicken — did you catch the pun? — is positioning itself as a healthy grab-and-go option for Cal students and families in the North Berkeley area.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oakland Has Its First Whiskey Distillery Since Prohibition

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 11:29 AM

Daniel Wright (left) and Earl Brown in their West Oakland facility. - SARA HARE
  • Sara Hare
  • Daniel Wright (left) and Earl Brown in their West Oakland facility.
It’s sweltering hot inside this nondescript warehouse building in West Oakland, and for the fifth or sixth time in the past twenty minutes, Daniel Wright hands me a glass tumbler full of freshly distilled brandy and asks me what I think. What I’m thinking about, really, is how to take as tiny a sip as possible so my throat doesn’t burn too badly, and I don’t have another coughing fit and lose face in front of this burly, thickly bearded tugboat-captain-turned-distiller-of-craft-spirits.

Also, as the afternoon wears on: that this brandy doesn’t taste half bad.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mid-Week Menu: Nature’s Express Closes for Good, Pal’s Takeaway Is Coming to Oakland, and 85ºC Adds to Berkeley’s Wealth of Asian-Style Baked Goods

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 3:42 PM

R.I.P. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • R.I.P.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) The recently-beleaguered vegan fast food joint Nature’s Express (1823 Solano Ave., Berkeley), which weathered a staff mutiny after a tumultuous ownership change last year, is now closed for good, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The post, presumably written by owner Josh Levine (also the owner Pepples Donuts), reads, “Nature’s Express is done and done. Ownership would like to express hearty thank-yous to all of those who stuck in, but the fact is Berkeley seems unable to sustain another vegan eatery. Our significant losses in the last year tell us this even though the place was run lean & mean. We tried.”

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Merritt Bakery Won't Move Back to Original Location, Seeks Larger Space

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 2:14 PM

The owners of the former Merritt Bakery space are looking for a new tenant. - BOB GAMMON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bob Gammon / file photo
  • The owners of the former Merritt Bakery space are looking for a new tenant.
Merritt Bakery, an Oakland institution for 63 years, will not be moving back to its original Eastlake location at 203 East 18th Street. In an email, owner Charles Griffis confirmed that the space — long closed for renovation — is now available for lease.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chowhound in Crisis: An Unpopular Redesign Prompts Longtime Users to Leave the Food Discussion Website

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 10:08 AM

Screenshot of the new Chowhound.com interface, which launched on September 10.
  • Screenshot of the new Chowhound.com interface, which launched on September 10.
It is a truism in the world of user interface design that if you make changes to a popular website, someone is going to complain — quite loudly, in all likelihood. Anyone who has lived through the past three or four iterations of Facebook can attest to that.

Even so, the overwhelmingly negative response to a recent revamp of the popular food discussion website Chowhound.com is notable for its intensity — and for its possible long-term ramifications on what had been a tight-knit, hyper-knowledgeable community, particularly here in the Bay Area. In the two weeks since the launch of the new site, longtime users have openly wondered if the Chowhound they had known and loved was either dead or dying, and at least one has already taken it upon himself to launch a new website as an alternative.

See also:
Chowhound Comes of Age (For Better or Worse) 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mid-Week Menu: Tomatoes at Oliveto, a $19 Minimum Wage Proposal for Berkeley, and Two New Urban Farms in the East Bay

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 4:03 PM

COURTESY OF OLIVETO
  • Courtesy of Oliveto
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Every year there’s such a narrow window of time for the Bay Area’s farmers’ market faithful to enjoy peak-season tomatoes before we have to face the prospect of mealy, flavorless specimens for the other ten or eleven months of the year. Well, that window is rapidly closing, and there’s no better place to enjoy one last hurrah than the annual Tomato Dinners at Oliveto (5655 College Ave., Oakland), which kick off tonight and run through Saturday, September 19.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Town Eats Offers a Lower-Key, Oakland-Centric Alternative to Eat Real

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 1:33 PM

towneats-logo-primary.jpg
As much as the Eat Real Festival is intertwined with the continued growth of Oakland’s vibrant food scene, at least two longtime Eat Real participants have decided that they’d like to organize their own mini food festival this year — one that’s more focused on representing Oakland.

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Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend’s Eat Real Festival

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Last year's Eat Real Festival brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Jack London Square. - ROB LEVY
  • Rob Levy
  • Last year's Eat Real Festival brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Jack London Square.
When Oakland’s Eat Real Festival made its debut in 2009, gourmet street food was still somewhat of a novelty in the Bay Area, and the national media was still several years away from deigning to recognize Oakland as a world-class food destination. Now in its seventh year, Eat Real simply feels like an inevitability. The sprawling three-day street food festival will take over Jack London Square again this weekend, with a lineup of eighty-plus food and beverage vendors — about a quarter of them making their first Eat Real appearance, according to Ally DeArman, director of the nonprofit Food Craft Institute that organizes the event.  

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mid-Week Menu: Tacos Sinaloa Comes to Berkeley, Mockingbird Plans New Nest, and Upscale Pool Hall to Serve Deep-Dish Pizza

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 2:40 PM

AARON QUINT / FILE PHOTO
  • Aaron Quint / file photo
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Tacos Sinaloa, a trio of popular taco trucks in East Oakland, will soon open a new brick-and-mortar taqueria near the Cal campus, at 2384 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, Inside Scoop reports. Winner of multiple Best of the East Bay “best taco truck” titles, Tacos Sinaloa is nothing if not versatile: One of the trucks is a good bet for cabeza, carnitas, and other meaty lonchera standards; another specializes in seafood; and I’ve been told, but have yet to personally confirm, that Tacos Sinaloa’s vegan tacos are some of the best around.

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Bar Owner Peter Van Kleef, an Uptown Oakland Pioneer, Dies at Age 65

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 1:34 PM

Via Facebook
  • Via Facebook
Sad news for patrons of the Uptown Oakland watering hole Cafe Van Kleef (1621 Telegraph Ave.): Peter Van Kleef, the bar’s eponymous owner, died yesterday at the age of 65, the Bay Area News Group reports. The cause of death was liver and kidney failure.

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