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Diablo Dish—April 2010

Metro Lafayette parts way with its chef; sleepy Montclair gets three new restaurants; and an Orinda Hofbräu is going upscale. All that and more, in the Dish!


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Former Lamorinda resident Michael Dellar was named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award in the outstanding restaurateur category. Dellar cofounded the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, which counts local favorites Lark Creek Walnut Creek and Lafayette’s Yankee Pier among its 10 fine-dining eateries. And Dellar’s not done: Fish Story is set to open in Napa this summer, followed by The Grill by Lark Creek in SFO next year.

Metro Lafayette parted ways with French Laundry–trained chef Kirk Bruderer, who says he was let go in February, less than six months after being hired. Former Metro chef Paul Liao was helping man the kitchen during the transition, said owner Jack Moore. Down the street, Sam Lim, owner of Lava Pit Hawaiian Grill in Orinda’s Theatre Square, is opening a spin-off, replacing the shuttered Kopitiam restaurant in Lafayette. Lava Pit Fire Grill, which will feature more BBQ and less Hawaiian, is set to open in April. Also branching out of Orinda are the owners of Europa, who are bringing Grille One Carvery to Montclair Village. The eatery (think upscale Hofbräu) will serve up fresh carved meats in the old La Salsa space starting in mid-April.

That’s not the only new turnover in old-school Montclair. Amba restaurant brings kosher/vegetarian offerings to Moraga Avenue, while Kakui takes over the Jamba Juice on Mountain Drive. Kakui offers sushi, robata, and an extensive sake and wine list out of an interior renovated with reclaimed, green materials. Also going green is Livermore’s First Street Alehouse, whose new 6,600-square-foot bar/restaurant (opening this month) features green building materials, compostable to-go containers, and energy-efficient operations—all mandated by owner Ron Witherspoon’s wife, Brook. “She made me do it,” Ron admits. “It’s kind of a passion of hers.” 

Lafayette’s long-awaited, much-delayed Whole Foods is still on target to open next year, but no such luck in the Tri-Valley—the high-end grocer has killed plans for a new store in Dublin. The city does hope to start a new farmers market in 2011, while fresh-produce lovers can check out Saladz n’ More in San Ramon, a new soup/sandwich/salad spot on San Ramon Valley Boulevard. Carnivores may get a double-double in Pleasant Hill. After receiving the OK for a new spot on Contra Costa Boulevard, In-N-Out Burger now wants to open a second location next to Black Angus Steakhouse. 

Plenty happening in the 510. Zoey’s Bistro in Grand Lake joins the East Bay’s Afghan food scene. On Piedmont Avenue, Adesso received a James Beard nod, this one for best new restaurant, while César switched its concept from Spanish to Central/South American–inspired. Flora’s owners have a new head cook (all mum on who) after “parting ways” with executive chef Jason Moniz. They also started construction on a new taqueria, Xolo, just down the street from their popular Uptown restaurant.

In Rockridge, Enoteca Molinari will bring a wine bar/small plates concept to a prime location next door to À Côté. Up College Avenue, the owners of Wood Tavern plan to open a bar next door, featuring a streamlined menu of sandwiches, soups, cheeses, and salumis made in-house. Finally, former restaurant critic Robert Lauriston is putting his money where his mouth is, opening up Locanda da Eva in the former Casa de Eva/Mazzini/Zax Tavern/Maritime East space on Telegraph in Berkeley. He’s planning a California-Italian menu in the vein of San Francisco’s Delfina.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.

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