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Cuz’nz BBQ



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Just Opened

Cuz’nz BBQ 1355 S. California Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 930-0240, www.sunrisebistrocatering.com. This restaurant, located in the storefront formerly occupied by Sunrise Catering, is the work of the son of Sunrise owner Cindy Gershen, Joe Stein, and his cousin, Tanya Pearce. Pearce, a small but feisty young woman, works two Kansas City smokers, which she feeds with cherry, apple, and, occasionally, pecan wood. The results are marvelous: tender, juicy, smoky meat from marbled brisket, to crisp-edged pulled pork, to fall-off-the-bone chicken. The nicely reduced barbecue sauce has sweet notes but isn’t cloying. Zippy potato salad complements the meat perfectly, but sides of macaroni ’n cheese and Cuz’nz greens tasted so-so. Luckily, the cornbread rocked, and solid baking skills were also apparent in the coconut and red velvet layer cakes. Service couldn’t be more welcoming or helpful. Lunch and dinner daily. $$


New

Britt Marie’s 1369 Solano Ave., Albany, (510) 527-1314. You might think you’re in an Old-World village when you walk into this long-standing wine bar. Oilcloths cover the tables, local art hangs on the walls, and the big wood bar has hooks underneath it where you can hang your hat or purse. Britt’s has been on Solano Avenue since 1987, and like establishments in the European countryside, not much changes. That’s just fine if you’re in the mood for hearty, unpretentious wine and food. The wine list includes Californian as well as international bottles, but they’re all affordable. The menu goes from Greece to the Czech Republic with dishes such as spanakopita, stuffed cabbage in tomato sauce, and beef goulash. It’s not fancy fare, but it tastes honest and satisfies in a simple way. Lunch Tues.–Sat., dinner Tues.–Sun. $$


Update


Café Rouge 1782 Fourth St., (510) 525-1440, www.caferouge.net. This spacious Fourth Street restaurant has a meat counter in the back that sells cuts from small, sustainably run ranches. The same products are served in the dining room, and the sourcing is evident in the scrumptious flavor, from New York steak (dry aged in-house) with red wine shallot butter, to spit-roasted chicken seasoned with green garlic. On our visit, the steak came with crisp, golden fries and the chicken was paired with lively green and purple asparagus and spinach grits. A dish of deep-fried quail and ramps (spring chives) was also inspired. Service is professional, and cocktails are made with fresh fruit and quality liquor. You’ll want to save room for dessert—strawberry rhubarb crisp if it’s available. Lunch daily. Dinner Tues.–Sun. $$$


New


Koi Garden 4288 Dublin Blvd., Dublin, (925) 833-9090, www.koipalace.com. This dim sum house, an offshoot of Daly City’s famed Koi Palace, is easily the most elegant in the Tri-Valley. Plush green carpeting with a koi fish and lily pad motif and fresh orchids make for a sumptuous atmosphere, and the food is authentic Chinese. We loved the spinach dumplings, which burst with steamed greens and plump shrimp. Tender pork buns, chewy pot stickers, and a succulent dish of eggplant stuffed with shrimp also hit the spot. One very rich dish of wonderfully crackly, buttery phyllo threads filled with wild mushrooms was balanced out by an order of crisp, dark green Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. Service is prompt and helpful, and guests order from a menu rather than plucking plates from roving waiters. Lunch and dinner daily. Brunch Sat.–Sun. 234$$



New

Redcoats British Pub & Restaurant 336 Saint Mary St., Pleasanton, (925) 462-6600, www.redcoatspub.com. Redcoats British Pub stays true to its name with classic dishes from across the pond, such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and lager and lime, balanced out with California-style entrée salads and fried vegetable appetizers. Redcoats excels in the potato department, particularly with the bubble and squeak starter, a British hash brown dish of not-too-smooshed potatoes, cabbage, and peas served with a drizzle of horseradish sauce. Chipotle fries (another California twist) come smothered in an authentic spicy sauce, and the lamb hot pot—a delectable gravy-based stew spiked with cinnamon—is topped with a mound of creamy mashed potatoes. The American side wins out in the dessert contest, with the moist apple crumble and rich chocolate chunk brownie leaving the dry bread pudding in the dust. Lunch and dinner daily. $$

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