Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Pop-Up Meatballs, Victory Burger, and Berkeley’s New Underground Breakfast Club

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 11:04 AM

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

1) Everyone seems to love a good pop-up dinner these days, and the one that Oakland’s Hopscotch (1915 San Pablo Ave.) is hosting in a couple of weeks sounds like a doozy: On Monday, December 3, from 5 p.m. until midnight, the proprietors of NYC’s Meatball Shop, Michael Chernow and Daniel Holtzman — formerly the chef at San Francisco’s SPQR — will be on hand to cook up a variety of meatballs and Italian heroes. First come, first served.

2) In other meat-centric news, Berkeleyside reports that North Oakland’s Victory Burger (1099 Alcatraz Ave.), the Actual Cafe spin-off, is very close to opening — maybe within a matter of days.

Sweet Bars apple tart with walnut-oatmeal streusel, for Thanksgiving
  • Sweet Bar's apple tart with walnut-oatmeal streusel, for Thanksgiving
3) Also opening soon in Oakland is Sweet Bar Bakery (2355 Broadway), former Michael Jackson personal chef Mani Niall’s new project. Niall’s most recent press mailing said he’s targeting a soft opening around the middle of next week. The bakery’s menu, which includes a variety of sweets and savories, is already online. In the meantime, Niall is doing a Thanksgiving Eve pop-up sale tonight — options include a pumpkin-yam pie ($20), apple tart with walnut-oatmeal streusel ($22), and several smaller holiday treats (all listed online). Call 510-788-4997 to place an order for pickup between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. tonight and, if there’s enough demand, during the morning on Thanksgiving Day.

4) Grub Street brings news of a new underground brunch club in Berkeley: The Catbird Breakfast Club, the latest project from Ciara Sanker, who also co-founded the (later controversial) Rogue Cafe. This time Sanker is hosting the breakfasts in her own garden (or inside her home, if the weather dictates) — you can request an invitation via Facebook.

5) If you still haven’t figured out your plans for Thanksgiving, here’s one more option: From 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. FIVE Restaurant (2086 Allston Way) is serving a family-style turkey dinner with all the fixins, for $55 a person ($25 for kids five and under). The menu includes include roasted Diestel heritage turkey, Niman Ranch glazed ham, winter squash soup, hot buttered biscuits, and pumpkin pie. There’s also a leak-and-mushroom bread pudding main course option for vegetarians.

6) As you may know, in Oakland the day after Thanksgiving is Plaid Friday, a conceit that’s designed to support local, independent businesses, many of whom will offer discounts or free gifts to customers who show up wearing plaid this Friday. East Bay Dish has a run-down of a few of the food-and-drink related promotions connected to the event.

Homeroom: where long lines for mac-and-cheese goodness spark seating policy controversy (via Facebook).
  • Homeroom: where long lines for mac-and-cheese goodness spark seating policy controversy (via Facebook).
7) On Chowhound, there’s a heated discussion underway about the seating policy at Oakland’s mac-and-cheese specialist, Homeroom (400 40th St.). In short, the original poster complained that the staff was unwilling to seat her group at a booth (with an incomplete party, mind you) even though it was an off-peak hour and she’d called to give the restaurant a heads up about their meeting. What do you think: Does the restaurant’s very specific seating policy demonstrate, as some posters argue, an astonishingly “low opinion of its customers”? Or is the restaurant simply doing what it needs to do to prevent a handful of entitled diners from making the already-long wait for a table that much longer for everyone else? Feel free to weigh in.

8) Just a couple other Oakland notes: The Express’s intrepid woman about town, Ellen Cushing, tipped me off that the natural foods deli at 376 17th St. is now Kiku Sushi to Go. Meanwhile, Tablehopper followed up on a Chowhound lead and reports that a sausage beer pub called The Hog’s Apothecary is coming to 375 40th St.. Eater made the additional discovery that the owners are Rotten City Pizza chef John Streit and Park Avenue Bar and Grill manager Bradford Earle.

9) Finally, if you missed my story about the chicken and waffles pop-up in Temescal, here it is. And here's my guide to food gifts for the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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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