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Diablo Dish: April

New restaurants opening soon in the East Bay.


Corners Tavern partners Doug Washington and Mitchel Rosenthal, and executive chef Esteban Escobar (left to right)

Just call it Little Paris. A new restaurant is set to join the ranks of classic French and French-influenced eateries Chevalier, Artisan Bistro, and Metro in Lafayette. Brasserie-style Chanterelle, from French master chef Patrick Farjas, is planned for a late summer opening on Mt. Diablo Boulevard (next to Mountain Mike’s Pizza). Don’t know what a French master chef is? Neither did I, but apparently there are only a handful of Maîtres Cuisiniers de France anointed each year who are entrusted “to preserve, advance, and perpetuate the tradition of great French cuisine.” Farjas has quite the résumé to back up his title. He worked in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in France in the ‘70s and with such renowned U.S.–based French chefs as Daniel Boulud and Hubert Keller, and cooked in fine-dining French spots around the Bay Area since he came to the U.S. in 1980. At Chanterelle, he’s planning an intimate interior with a menu that will be French-influenced while using all local, organic ingredients—but with pretty reasonable prices (most entrées under $30). “I’m hoping to raise the culinary bar,” he says.  

Some details on the Corners Tavern project set to debut in Walnut Creek by the end of March: The head chef is Esteban Escobar, who worked with the restaurant’s copartner Mitchell Rosenthal in San Francisco at Wolfgang Puck’s seminal Postrio restaurant, and most recently served as executive chef for two Austin eateries. Escobar is planning a seasonal menu of “approachable and soulful American fare” that will feature plenty of lighter small plates along with heartier comfort food dishes (entrées in the $20-something range). The wine list is mostly from California/Oregon/Washington wineries, while the 20 beers on tap feature local microbrews plus a few Belgian-style beers. The design will be cozy but eclectic, including Egyptian sconces, antique snake traps, and two 40-foot black sumi ink murals.

Speaking of cool Walnut Creek projects, local developer Brian Hirahara won the bid to develop the prime piece of downtown Walnut Creek property at North Main Street and Mt. Diablo Boulevard. Why should foodies care? Hirahara and his BH Development were behind such restaurants as Va de Vi and Sasa, and his plans for the building include a restaurant with a rooftop terrace and garden. Nothing confirmed yet, but Spanish tapas and a farm-to-table concept are possibilities. 

Patrick David’s is set to undergo a makeover. The longtime Danville fine-dining standby will shut down for about a week, likely this month, and reopen as the rather ’80s-sounding Martini Sky. The new concept will still serve American comfort food with an Asian slant but with an affordable small plates–focused menu and more casual setting. And what’s up with the name? The cocktail list will carry as many as 75 different martinis, all using natural ingredients.

JuneBug’s Bakery joins the ranks of Danville sweets purveyors. At just 25-years-old, owner and local girl Junell Watson has already studied at Le Cordon Bleu in London, eaten her way through Europe, and most recently, created desserts for Mangia Mi, Sideboard, and Pres a Vi (Va de Vi’s ex-sister restaurant). Expect a more European style (not overly sweet) to her all-natural, non-GMO cupcakes, pastries, and cakes, plus cookies from Danville’s “Cookie Queen,” Lori Nader Gray.

There’s tons of news out of Oakland. For the full rundown, go to diablomag.com/oaklanddish.

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