Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mid-Week Menu: Merritt Bakery Shut Down by Fire, Bites Off Broadway Returns, and Nick’s Pizza Is Serving Free Pizza TONIGHT

By Luke Tsai
Wed, May 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

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

1) Sad news early this morning in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood: The Mercury News reports Merritt Bakery and Restaurant (203 E. 18th St.) was severely damaged by a kitchen fire that broke out early this morning. No word yet on the exact cause of the fire and when the six-decade-old restaurant — popular among locals for its fried chicken, in particular — might reopen. In the Mercury News story, Battalion Fire Chief Coy Justice estimates that even in a best case scenario, the restaurant will be closed for several months.

2) Bites Off Broadway, Oakland’s other family-friendly food truck gathering, will make its season debut this Friday, May 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in front of the Studio One Art Center (365 45th St.). For the opening night, several longtime-favorite vendors will be on site: Annakoot, Blue Saigon Truck, Doc’s of the Bay, Fist of Flour Pizza Company, Go Streatery, and Tina Tamale. Live entertainment for the first week will include face painter Alana Dill. The mostly-monthly Pop-Up Shabbat (hosted by Kehilla Community Synagogue) will also be in full swing, with live klezmer music.

Coming soon to Nicks Pizza. (via Facebook)
  • Coming soon to Nick's Pizza. (via Facebook)
3) Nick’s Pizza (6211 Shattuck Ave., Oakland) is hosting its seasonal community dinner tonight, May 8,, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., in celebration of the restaurant’s one-year anniversary. Free slices, salad, and beverages will be served to anyone who stops by. In other news, on Tuesday, May 21, Nick’s will start serving lunch, and in late June the restaurant will launch a morning bakery and cafe program as well. There will be croissants, strawberry shortcakes, and other pastries on offer, as well as McLaughlin coffee.

4) East Bay Dish reports that Next Door, the new comfort food restaurant owned by embattled (and recently fired) former SF Housing Authority chief Henry Alvarez, is open at 290 Adeline St., in the former Addie’s Pizza Pie space in Berkeley. EBD’s Christina Mitchell enjoyed the fork tender, hearty braised short ribs. Check out the full dinner menu here. Brunch service launches this weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day.

5) Dave Cruz, former chef de cuisine at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc, will be hosting a series of pop-up dinners in Oakland, according to Inside Scoop. The first two will be five-course, $85 dinners that will take place next Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, in collaboration with the chefs of the s+s gastro grub catering company. As of this posting, the Saturday dinner is already sold out, but tickets are still available for Sunday — check out the menu here. (The location for the dinners will only be revealed after you purchase a ticket.) Meanwhile, two additional dinner events, priced at $67 including beer pairings, will take place on June 8 and 9, respectively, at The Trappist (460 8th St.).

Chef Banks White in action. (via Facebook)
  • Chef Banks White in action. (via Facebook)
6) Banks White, executive chef at Berkeley’s FIVE Restaurant (2086 Allston Way), has announced that he is leaving FIVE to open a new restaurant in Harlem. Berkeleyside Nosh has an "exit interview" that delves into White’s time in Berkeley.

7) Inside Scoop reports that Oliveto (5655 College Ave., Oakland) has hired a new pastry chef: Kam Golightly, previously the pastry chef at Yountville’s Redd and a former Food & Wine best new pastry chef nominee.

8) Bay Area Bites takes a look at the challenges facing Berkeley’s school cooking and gardening programs, which will lose $1.9 million in funding starting this October — a situation that places the very existence of these programs in peril. The bulk of the story looks at various efforts the community at large is making to raise funds to help prevent a massive dismantling of the overall program. One such effort is a May 30 Dine Out event, in which various Berkeley restaurants will donate a percentage of their sales to the cooking and gardening program. Check here for a list of participating restaurants.

9) Burrito connoisseurs, here’s a Chowhound discussion thread that might be of interest: Which East Bay restaurant, taqueria, or taco truck serves Mission style burritos that are as good or better than the ones in San Francisco? Feel free to weigh in!

10) Finally, ICYMI, check out What the Fork’s coverage of the new Cooking Channel show Pizza Cuz’s visit to the East Bay and a preview of Paul Skrentny’s new semi-permanent paella pop-up in Alameda.

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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