Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Curses, Fires, and Absurdly Long Lines

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Berkeleyside reports on the latest casualty of the seemingly cursed restaurant location at 2826 Telegraph Ave.: The farm-to-fork restaurant Origen is now closed, about eight months after it opened. Neither of the restaurant’s two most recent predecessors in that space, Maritime East and Locanda de Eva, lasted past their first year either. Inside Scoop offers some insight into the difficulty of the space, beyond the supposed “jinx” — apparently, the kitchen is twice the size of the dining room, making overhead costs difficult to sustain.

2) On a more positive note, the same Berkeleyside report brings news that West Oakland’s (awesome) purveyor of buffalo wings, Red Buffalo, is opening up a new branch in Berkeley, at 2370 Shattuck Ave.

3) WTF previously reported on the recent fire at CommonWealth Cafe, which — sadly — has shut the pub down indefinitely. Yesterday, we got news of another fire casualty: Albany’s Da Nang Krungthep Thai Cuisine (905 San Pablo Ave.), where a severe kitchen fire may have been caused by a stove or oven that was left on after hours.

4) East Bay Dish has a nice report on a Puerto Rican food truck called Borinquen Soul, a new venture from a couple of Bronx transplants. Coincidentally, I spotted the truck on 9th St., in Old Oakland, last night — actually, I heard the truck first (they were blasting their tunes, so it sounded like there was some Latin street party going on). Anyway, I’d already eaten way too much, but I did snap a photo of the truck. EBD loved the fried plantains; what’s got me excited is that garlic tostones are sometimes on the menu.

5) Grub Street has the scoop on a new ramen place opening up in Rockridge, the project of Chez Panisse alum Sam White. The restaurant, which will bring a Northern California sensibility to traditional Japanese ramen, will be located at 5812 College Ave., in a former sushi shop. No word yet on when it will open.

6) Oliveto just re-launched its happy hour, which will take place in the downstairs cafe section of the restaurant from 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Monday to Friday, through the end of the summer. We loved it last summer, and this time around there'll be a bunch of summery specialty cocktails, plus a $2 discount on well drinks and wines by the glass. Also available will be a limited selection of FREE appetizers: fried ceci beans, housemade pickles, and carte de musica (“music paper bread”).

7) The latest outpost of the Off the Grid food-truck-event empire will be in downtown Hayward, the Mercury News reports. Off the Grid Hayward will take place in Five Corners Park on Monday evenings, from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (5 p.m.-8 p.m. in the winter). August 6 is the tentative opening day.

A coffee cupping at Blue Bottle.
  • A coffee cupping at Blue Bottle. (Via Facebook.)
8) Eater brings us “A Day in the Life of a Blue Bottle Barista.” Pure awesomeness or “purile [sic] trend sucking nonsense” (in the words of one commenter)? You decide.

9) Finally, Berkeleyside has a short feature on what might be the longest food lines in Berkeley: the lines for Ici ice cream, Cheese Board pizza, and the Thai temple brunch. What do you think? Are these worth the wait?

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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