Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Independence Day Food Truckery and an Array of Openings and Closings

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Jul 4, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Happy Fourth of July, people! If you still haven’t nailed down your pre-fireworks dinner plans, you might consider checking out tonight’s super-sized, “Only in America”-themed Off the Grid market in North Berkeley (5 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Shattuck between Vine and Rose). The lineup of eleven food trucks will celebrate America’s cultural diversity through a selection of special dishes created especially for the event.

Off the Grid North Berkeley
  • Off the Grid North Berkeley
In addition to their regular offerings, the trucks will be selling new creations such as Punjabi beef Philly cheesesteaks (Kasa Indian), lemongrass beef hamburgers with pickled daikon (Little Green Cyclo), and grilled corn with fried shallots and smoked salt (Go Streatery). Also, Saul’s Deli will have a beer garden set up, with several Northern Californian microbrews available on tap. Check out the Facebook posting for more details, including a full list of trucks.

2) Somehow this news slipped through the cracks, but it seems Richmond’s Hidden City Cafe was shut down a little over a month ago. Apparent health code violations included the presence of rats in the kitchen — an ironically Ratatouille-like twist, as at least one blogger pointed out, given the cafe’s famed Pixar connection (it made an appearance in Monsters, Inc.). Here is chef-owner Shellie Bourgault’s goodbye video. It appears that the restaurant’s website has been taken over by malware, so you might want to stay clear. (On a related note, check out Inside Scoop’s post about Alameda County’s recent adoption of color-coded health inspection grades.)

3) Pappo (2320 Central Ave.) — perhaps Alameda’s fanciest restaurant — is closed for a big renovation project this week. The plan is to build a brand new wine bar and to upgrade the facilities to become Alameda’s first Certified Green Restaurant. You can follow the project’s progress on Facebook. The new and improved Pappo will reopen for dinner next Wednesday, July 11.

4) Meanwhile, the first of several Chinese restaurants to be shut down due to kitchen fires in the past year and a half is on track to reopen this week: According to a Chowhound tipster, El Cerrito’s L & L Chinese Seafood Restaurant (10140 San Pablo Ave.) will reopen for lunch and dinner tomorrow, July 5. It looks like the restaurant will now roast its own Chinese-style barbecued meats for the first time.

The other big opening that had been scheduled for tomorrow was Stag’s Lunchette. Looks like that launch is being pushed back until early next week.

5) Fans of free food may want to check out the feed-the-people community dinner being hosted by Nick’s Pizza (6211 Shattuck Ave.) on Sunday, July 8. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., chef Nick Yapor-Cox will crank out as many slices as he can, and the restaurant will provide salad and beverages as well. Free pizza eaters are encouraged to bring their own plates and cups if possible.

Celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson
  • Alex Lozupone
  • Celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson
6) Tablehopper brings news that a number of celebrity chefs will be promoting their books in the Bay Area this month. Two of them, in particular, will be making guest-chef appearances at Camino (3917 Grand Ave.). First up is Top Chef Masters champ Marcus Samuelsson, who is promoting his new memoir, Yes, Chef, and will cook at Camino at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11 ($85 per person, including wine) — the dinner is already sold out, but you can call the restaurant (510-547-5035) to put your name on the waitlist. Then, April Bloomfield, queen of the gastropub, will cook at Camino at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25 ($100 per person, including wine). You can make reservations via the Camino website.

7) Speaking of celebrity chefs, Eater ran a few pages from Anthony Bourdain’s outrageous new comic book, Get Jiro, which spins a tale about dueling chef-warlords. Included is one character, Rose, who appears to be a not-so-subtle swipe at Chez Panisse matriarch Alice Waters. (Warning: excerpt contains gory images of chef-on-chef violence.)

8) The men’s lifestyle site The Art of Manliness ran a fantastic interview with What the Fork alum, Jesse Hirsch, about the life of a restaurant critic. Check it out.

9) Finally, don’t miss my recent posts covering the latest in East Bay bagel news and this Friday’s launch of the Bueno Eats pan-Latin pop-up.

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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