Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Subrosa Coffee Expands its Reach in North Oakland

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 3:43 PM

COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER STURM, GHOSTFOTOGRAPHICS
  • Courtesy of Christopher Sturm, ghostfotographics

Longfellow has a new coffee shop, but it will probably look familiar to folks in the neighborhood.

That’s because it’s the second location of Subrosa Coffee, and the first Subrosa sits just a few blocks east on the southern tip of Temescal.

While Temescal’s Subrosa (419 40th St) is a 200-square-foot, standing-room-only cafe, the Longfellow edition (4008 Martin Luther King Jr Way) reaches 400 square feet  still cozy and personal, but big enough for a few bar stools.

“It’ll give us the opportunity to do more,” said owner Catherine Macken.

Macken already found a way to do a whole lot with her original cafe  flea markets, block parties, pet adoption days, and more, spilling out onto the sidewalk  and she plans to continue with more events in Longfellow.

COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER STURM, GHOSTFOTOGRAPHICS
  • Courtesy of Christopher Sturm, ghostfotographics

“The goal was to stay true to our approach, which is approachable and community-oriented, while still serving excellent coffee,” Macken said.

In Longfellow, Macken is brewing De La Paz and Linea, which are both roasted in Oakland  a change from San Francisco’s Four Barrel at the Temescal location. Subrosa also serves treats from Firebrand Breads and Pepples Donuts.

The new Subrosa, decked out in warm wood and blue tile, soft opened on Friday. The grand opening party takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, August 13, with a photo booth, pop-up by Tacos Oscar, and art on view by Michael Milano. Subrosa will continue to showcase local art via The Chetwood, the Oakland-based art residency program.


Subrosa is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. 4008 Martin Luther King Jr Way, subrosacoffee.com.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Draw Billiard Club Approaches its Downtown Berkeley Unveiling

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Draw Billiard Club's pool hall is literally underground. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • Draw Billiard Club's pool hall is literally underground.


It’s been a slow couple of years for Jason Kung and Paul Revenaugh. The pair have been working on their dream bar/restaurant/pool hall since 2015, but given the venue’s setting — in the basement of a historic building in downtown Berkeley — permitting hasn’t been easy.

But the end is in sight: Draw Billiard Club (64 Shattuck Square) is set to open next month, according to Kung.

The space looks nearly finished, with a classic-looking bar and open kitchen taking over what used to be Morgan’s Cafe on the first floor. The main attraction sits underground: 15 retro pool tables spread across 8,000 square feet.

“You can go to a bar with a pool table, but we’re providing an experience,” Kung said. The big difference is full service at all the pool tables, so “you don’t have to leave your game, wait in line for a drink, and come back 15 minutes later.”

With its basement setting, Draw Billiard Club is meant to have a speakeasy vibe, with 1920s decor to match. While the art deco influence is clearly present, it’s not overdone or cheesy. The place also offers plenty of quiet nooks and cozy seating areas for those looking to grab a bite or drink without a round of pool. Another notable choice is the near-lack of televisions. The upstairs and downstairs bar areas each have one small screen.

“We’re not a sports bar, but we love the Warriors,” Kung said, laughing.

In addition to a full bar, Draw will serve a small food menu focusing on individual-sized, Chicago-style, deep-dish pizzas. There’s no executive chef yet, but the pizza recipe comes from Revenaugh. Local businesses such as Emeryville’s McLaughlin Coffee Company and Alameda Point Craft Soda will also be represented.

Kung wouldn’t elaborate on price point — for the food or pool — but says it’ll be in line with competition in the area.

Kung and Revenaugh have both lived in the East Bay for ages. They opened another pool hall, Broken Rack Billiards, in Emeryville in the ‘90s, and Revenaugh went on to open The Sunny Side Cafe in Berkeley. After stepping away from those businesses, they reunited for this project.

The goal is for Draw to feel like a little getaway — “kind of like going to Las Vegas,” Kung said, “but in a good way.”


Draw Billiard Club will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. next month. 64 Shattuck Square, DrawBilliardClub.com.


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Friday, July 21, 2017

Izakaya-style Shinmai Opens Tonight in Oakland

by Janelle Bitker
Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 2:46 PM

Ocean trout at Shinmai. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEREMY CHIU
  • Photo courtesy of Jeremy Chiu
  • Ocean trout at Shinmai.


When I get chef Jerrod Doss on the phone, he wants to make one thing really clear: His new Oakland restaurant Shinmai may be an izakaya-style restaurant, but it’s only Japanese in concept.

“I wouldn’t want to say we’re a Japanese restaurant, nor would I feel comfortable saying that,” explained Doss, who has experience at fine-dining destinations such as Chez TJ, Aziza, and The French Laundry. “We are inspired by and driven by influences of Japanese culture and cuisine, and we want to highlight some of the traditions of an izakaya restaurant and put our spin on it  a Northern California or Oakland spin.”

Doss officially opens Shinmai (1825-3 San Pablo Ave, Oakland) tonight. It’s a spacious, 3,400-square-foot restaurant with 100 seats and high ambitions in a part of Uptown that recently saw the departures of similarly high-end restaurants Ozumo and Pican.

Doss is determined to beat the odds.

“I’m a really stubborn artist type by nature. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we’re a little different or have that edge,” he said.

With his fine-dining background, Doss says diners can expect Michelin-level execution and plating. At the same time, “the last thing I want is for this restaurant to feel stuffy or pompous,” he says.

Shinmai is owned by Yingji Huang, who also owns Montclair’s Kakui, and Andy Liu, who will lead the ramen efforts at Shinmai. Huang, Liu, and Doss all live in Oakland.

Shinmai's main dining room. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEREMY CHIU
  • Photo courtesy of Jeremy Chiu
  • Shinmai's main dining room.

The opening menu is fairly short, with small, shareable izakaya plates costing $5-$15, and two ramen options at $15 apiece. There are recognizable Japanese dishes and ingredients, but nothing reads particularly traditional. Doss expects the menu to change often and reflect the seasons but always have a few core offerings. He predicts one of those to be the fried chicken ($13): boneless, skin-on thighs marinaded for 24 hours in soy sauce, worcestershire, sake, and apple cider vinegar; dredged in potato starch; fried; and served with lemon, herbs, a tartar sauce made with miso paste, and a barbecue sauce spiked with Korean hot sauce gochujang.

The worcestershire comes from Doss’s upbringing in rural New Mexico, visiting his grandparents’ farm and eating lots of corn, potato salad, and barbecue. Expect other hints from his past embedded in the food.

Or, as Doss summarizes: “small town roots, Oakland funk, and artistic integrity.”


Shinmai opens at 5 p.m. Friday, July 21. 1825-3 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, shinmaioakland.com.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Daniel Patterson to Transform Oakland's Haven into Alta CA

by Janelle Bitker
Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 1:29 PM

Pork-sumac meatballs at Alta CA. - COURTESY OF ALTA CA ON FACEBOOK
  • Courtesy of Alta CA on Facebook
  • Pork-sumac meatballs at Alta CA.


At last, some news about Haven.

In March, Daniel Patterson “temporarily closed” Haven (44 Webster St, Oakland), his high-end American restaurant in Jack London Square. Today, Eater SF ran a feature on Patterson’s efforts to expand his San Francisco concept Alta CA, which currently has two locations, potentially into a national empire. Buried in the story was a nugget of news for us East Bay dwellers: the shuttered Haven will become an Alta.

“I don’t think that’s a big surprise,” Patterson told Eater.

Now, what can we expect from Alta in Oakland? If it’s anything like the locations in San Francisco, we’re in for a laid-back, California-style restaurant with extremely aesthetically pleasing food  the sort of place where you can go bold with smoked pork trotter or opt for a more familiar lineup of deviled eggs, a burger, and ice cream. San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer gave the original location three out of four stars in 2015, calling it “a destination worth seeking out.”

According to the Chronicle, Oakland's Alta is shooting for a spring 2018 opening.


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Kainbigan Team's New Restaurant Craft & Spoon Opens Next Week in Uptown Oakland

by Janelle Bitker
Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 9:18 AM

Craft & Spoon owners Michael Schlieke, Aima Paule, Charleen Caabay, and Christine De La Rosa. - COURTESY OF CRAFT & SPOON
  • Courtesy of Craft & Spoon
  • Craft & Spoon owners Michael Schlieke, Aima Paule, Charleen Caabay, and Christine De La Rosa.
When Charleen Caabay won Food Network’s Chopped, she put her popular Filipino comfort-food restaurant Kainbigan on hiatus and took off for the Philippines.


“Going to the Philippines was like a little reset to get my creative juices again, see what I want to be doing with restaurants,” Caabay told the Express.

Somewhat surprisingly, that inspiration didn’t lead to a new Filipino restaurant.

Next week, chef Caabay will open her second restaurant, Craft & Spoon, with partners Christine De La Rosa (also of Kainbigan), Aima Paule, and Michael Schlieker. Formerly Uptown Juice, Craft & Spoon will have two entrances at 1629 Broadway and 1634 Telegraph in Oakland.

During soft openings earlier this month, folks came in expecting Filipino food and were instead met with panini and kale salad. Where was the lumpia? Where were the garlic noodles?

“I know it may be a shock to some, but it is a different restaurant,” Caabay explained.

Craft & Spoon’s menu is a full collaboration with Paule, who also owns Hey Bü Kombucha. And while there are some Filipino hints on the menu — there’s a grain bowl with yellow adobo and Filipino-style cured chicken tucked into a panini — the goals for Craft & Spoon are decidedly separate from Kainbigan.

Simply put, the queer-owned restaurant wants to serve the Uptown community. That means local artists showcased on the walls, a food incubator model, and, primarily, affordable lunch offerings in an area where there are surprisingly few.

You can take a look at the soft opening menu here, though Caabay promises more additions with the grand opening. In addition to lunch, Craft & Spoon will dabble in late-night eats and, eventually, add breakfast, and maybe even dinner.

Those food-incubator efforts are still in development. In addition to being a home for Paule’s kombucha, Caabay imagines opening the kitchen up to fellow chefs and sharing resources with local vendors.

Meanwhile, Caabay already has plans for a third restaurant, at 3000 San Pablo Avenue. However, unlike other reports have suggested, it probably won’t be another Kainbigan.

And as for the original Kainbigan, Caabay also isn’t sure when she’ll reopen it. For now, she’s just excited about the possibilities with Craft & Spoon.

“Closing was a big sacrifice but it made for a bigger reward,” she says.


Craft & Spoon, 1629 Broadway and 1634 Telegraph, Oakland, CraftAndSpoonOakland.com.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated Craft & Spoon would open on Saturday, July 15. The opening has been slightly delayed, but Caabay hopes it will still happen within a week of the originally planned date.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Temple Club: A New Kind of Traditional Vietnamese Restaurant Coming to Oakland

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 1:49 PM

Goi ca, a Vietnamese crudo. - GEOFFREY DEETZ
  • Geoffrey Deetz
  • Goi ca, a Vietnamese crudo.


After 16 years in Vietnam, chef Geoffrey Deetz is back in Oakland and ready to unveil his first local restaurant since he left in 2000: The Temple Club at 2307 International Boulevard, in what used to be Bakeshop Oakland. He expects to open in three to four weeks.

Naturally, the Temple Club is Vietnamese. But Deetz promises a decidedly different style of Vietnamese restaurant for the East Bay. It will offer a short menu, focusing on dishes from central Vietnam, along with some from the north. Instead of a cocktail bar, he envisions a juice bar. And once a week, he plans to host a special themed dinner, offering just one entree, like so many restaurants do in Vietnam. Expect loads of accompaniments — herbs, pickled vegetables, sauces, crushed nuts — specific to dishes you can't find at other area restaurants.

“We’re gonna serve the food exactly the way it’s served in Vietnam,” he says.

Before his move to Vietnam, Deetz was known for restaurants such as Spettro on Lakeshore Avenue, Gulf Coast Oyster Bar in Old Oakland, and Dragonfly Teahouse in Berkeley. In Ho Chi Minh City, otherwise known as Saigon, he went on to open a number of restaurants, including the much-lauded Black Cat.

Fast-forward to 2016, and Deetz returned with the goal of bringing his adoration for Vietnamese cuisine to Oakland diners — along with getting his young, half-Vietnamese kids an education in the United States.

The Temple Club will feature a large mural in a similar aesthetic to post-war propaganda posters that were plastered across Vietnam in the 1970s — not the ones picturing bombs and guns, rather, promoting community efforts. There will also be a mezzanine, upstairs patio and open kitchen.

Deetz will start out just serving lunch, eventually expanding into dinner — with beer and wine — within a few months. He anticipates a price point of $5-$14 per dish, with smaller portions meant to be shared. That said, someone could also come in and just get a bowl of mì quảng (a dry noodle dish topped with shrimp, pork and rice crackers) and call it a meal. Don’t be surprised if there's no pho.

“If you want to talk about Vietnam’s most popular noodle dish, it’s instant ramen,” Deetz quips.
Shrimp and pork banh cuon with chả lụa. - GEOFFREY DEETZ
  • Geoffrey Deetz
  • Shrimp and pork banh cuon with chả lụa.

Instead, you might see more French influence — again, as it is done in Vietnam and not in a ‘90s fusion style. His signature dish will be one he first tried in the 1980s and still adores: goat curry, served with warm bread, butter, pate and a small salad.

When Deetz talks about this dish, and Vietnamese food and culture in general, it’s with an intense, palpable reverence. When I asked if he had any thoughts on cultural appropriation, given his role as a white guy opening a Vietnamese restaurant, he brushed it off as a non-issue. His stance in a sentence: “We all cook each other’s food, and that’s a good thing.”

The Temple Club will be located at 2307 International Boulevard. Follow along on Facebook for updates.


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Picán Restaurant in Uptown Oakland Closing ... For Now

by Nick Miller
Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 5:18 PM

Picán's Southern fried chicken and mac 'n' cheese, as photographed by the Express in 2009. - FILE PHOTO BY CHRIS DUFFEY
  • File Photo By Chris Duffey
  • Picán's Southern fried chicken and mac 'n' cheese, as photographed by the Express in 2009.

Picán Restaurant
opened in Uptown Oakland in March 2009, before the Broadway neighborhood evolved into a hip hospitality district. This Sunday, however, the expansive Southern dining spot will serve its final plate of fried chicken and close its doors.

Picán's general manager Trevor Little told the Express that he hopes the shuttering will be temporary. "We're looking at this as a hiatus," he said on Wednesday just before dinner service. "It's a great location. It's just unsustainable."

Indeed, Picán is one of the largest downtown restaurants, at 6,500 square feet, which Little described as "enormous." He praised his "wonderful, hard-working staff," but joked that they have to "run the length of a football field to bus a dish," and that it is very costly to staff for such a large room.

Ozumo, a similarly large Japanese restaurant on the same block as Picán, also recently closed in the fall of 2016.

Little also cited increased dining competition in Uptown, and what he described as a 30 percent increase in labor costs in recent years, as additional reasons for the hiatus.

In a 2009 review of Picán by the Express, critic Matthew Stafford wrote that Uptown Oakland "was a ghostly, decrepit shadow of those early-20th-century glory days" back then, but that Picán was "an anchoring restaurant worthy of the neighborhood's aspirations."

Today, Uptown is hopping — "and we’ve kind of fallen victim to the success," Little explained.

Nevertheless, Picán hopes to re-open in the same location, but with a smaller footprint. In the meantime, loyal customers can visit Playt, in Hayward (1036 B Street), “which is the same kind of Southern concept, but more causual,” Little explained.

Picán will serve dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and also brunch on the weekend. Learn more at PicanRestaurant.com.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Jamaican Jerk Cook Off Returns To Oakland On Memorial Day

by Momo Chang
Sun, May 28, 2017 at 12:51 PM

COURTESY OF JAMAICAN JERK COOK OFF
  • Courtesy of Jamaican Jerk Cook Off
Which local chef makes the best Jamaican jerk? This Memorial Day, head to The HIVE and Drake's Dealership for tastings of chicken, pork, goat and fish jerk at the Jamaican Jerk Cook Off to support My Yute soccer camp. Chefs competing include James Syhabout (Old Kan & Beer Co.), who took home the People’s Choice Award last year.

Other local chefs include Kristen Thibeault, who will be cooking jerk fish with the Nybll catering team. Chris Pastena of Chop Bar will make jerk goat. Drake’s will not only be serving cold brews, but their chef Taylor Smith will also prepare jerk duck. Berkeley’s La Marcha team, award winners from 2014, hope to reclaim the crown this year with a jerk chicken paella dish. August Varlack of Mohari Wellness Cafe is teaming up Howden Market to serve a whole roast pig.

"Soccer is really a huge part of Spanish culture, and isn't as popular here in America," said La Marcha's co-chef and co-owner Sergio Monleon, who will be cooking with co-chef and co-owner Emily Sarlatte. "My Yute is helping spread soccer here in America to kids that otherwise wouldn't be able to participate."

The fundraiser supports My Yute Soccer camp, an Oakland-based nonprofit, which runs a free youth summer camp and teen mentoring program, as well as mini camps during the year. Rovel "Steve" Sparkes, president and founder of My Yute Soccer, is originally from Kingston, Jamaica and wanted to bring his passion for soccer to local youth, as well as bring his hometown flavors to the annual fundraiser

Kids under 12 are free at this family-friendly event, where they can enjoy a jumpy house, face-painting, and of course, some soccer. Singer Sharon B and Tropixx band will provide live entertainment on the steel drums.

A $25 ticket will get you two tastings at any jerk or beer station (additional tastings are $5 each), or go for unlimited food and drink tastings ticket for $60. Craft brews provided by Drake’s, Old Kan Beer, Ale Industries, North Coast Brewing Co., Federation Brewing, Line 51 Beer and 41 Hills Brewing Co. Calavera serve cocktails at the event.

Monday, May 29, 1-5pm, $25-60, The Hive, 2335 Broadway, Jamaicanjerkcookoff.com

Friday, March 24, 2017

Corporate Beer Overlords AB InBev To Open Golden Road 'Craft' Beer Garden in North Oakland

by Nick Miller
Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 10:21 AM

feature_lead.jpg
AB InBev, the world's largest macro beer corporation — owner of such brands as Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois ... you name it — is coming to North Oakland.

The beer empire's arrival will be clandestine, however, in the form of Golden Road Brewing, one of formerly craft-beer brands that AB InBev gobbled up in the summer of 2015.

Permits filed with the city of Oakland this month show that Golden Road is planning to open a 7,000-square-foot brewery and beer garden in North Oakland, which will take up three lots on 40th Street between Broadway and Manila Avenue.

According to this application with the Planning and Zoning Division, Golden Road intends to brew on site, serve food, and also feature an outdoor beer garden with fire pits. The entire structure will be — wait for it — constructed out of shipping containers.

There are several locally owned breweries within a mile of the proposed Golden Road site, including newly opened Temescal Brewing and Drakes Dealership.
golden-road-brewing.png

The AB InBev incursion into Oakland isn't its first announced foray into Northern California. Last year, the corporation released plans to open a similar Golden Road beer garden in Sacramento's Midtown neighborhood. AB InBev also purchased Oakland-based Horizon Beverage Company, a distribution outfit, in 2015.

Golden Road co-founder and president Meg Gill said in a statement that the company "happened to have found two great markets in NorCal that embraced Golden Road’s Flipflop Pub (our concept of a nano-brewery made out of container), that also both have a relaxed, yet active, outdoor atmosphere.”

Last year, when the Express spoke to Tom McCormick, head of statewide advocacy group the California Craft Brewers Association, he said the No. 1 threat to the thriving craft-beer industry is AB InBev's takeover of independent breweries:
"If you were to ask me the greatest threat to our industry now, that is far and away it," he said of macro beer. "And it is clear now what their strategy is: If you can't beat them, buy them."
Also last year, AB InBev paid more than $100 billion to absorb its chief competitor, SABMiller , an acquisition that the Department of Justice antitrust officials (inconceivably) green lit.

AB InBev now controls more than 30 percent of the global beer market.

Correction: A previous version of this story reported that AB InBev owns MillerCoors. That is incorrect; when AB InBev acquired SABMiller, the MillerCoors holdings were not part of it.

AB InBev also does not own Modelo; they are owned by Constellation.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Complex Oakland to Focus on Coffee and Creole Food Instead of Clubbing

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Available Friday nights at Complex Oakland: Dungeness crab, blackened shrimp, and garlic noodles. - INSTAGRAM @CHEFSMELLY
  • Instagram @chefsmelly
  • Available Friday nights at Complex Oakland: Dungeness crab, blackened shrimp, and garlic noodles.

Oscar Edwards saw all of the shiny new high-rise apartment buildings planned for Downtown Oakland and figured the writing was on the wall: There probably wasn’t much of a future in running a nightclub in that neighborhood.

More …

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