Diablo Dish: April
Look forward to Walnut Creek Restaurant Week, new ice cream shops and more food news in April!
Photo by Samantha Schneider
Va de Vi landed a replacement for the departed Shane McAnelly, and the new executive chef’s résumé looks tailor-made to the Walnut Creek hot spot. Dublin resident Andy Phillips brings experience from top-end suburban East Bay restaurants Wente and Esin. And most recently, Phillips served as executive chef of Palo Alto’s Gravity Bistro and Wine Bar, with a small-plates and wine-centric concept similar to Va de Vi. While Phillips says he’ll bring a lighter touch designed to showcase quality ingredients, don’t expect big changes to the global small-plates menu. “It’s a perfect format for me. I like to cook whatever the mood strikes me with; I like to cook everything.”
Plenty of dining news to report in Lafayette. Following the news that McCormick and Schmick’s scion Andrew McCormick is taking over Petar’s, word is that three Lark Creek alums are opening Rustic Kitchen in the former Roya’s Garlic Garden space across from Postino. Chris Amsden, and Gary and Tressa Rust all worked together at Lark Creek 10 years ago. They are planning an eatery serving European-influenced California cuisine with an elegant-rustic vibe, reasonable prices, and a full bar; former Walnut Creek Yacht Club mixologist Manny Hinojosa is helping kick off the cocktail program. The trio is looking at an early April opening. Also, local resident Harjinder Singh hopes to launch his T’s Fire House this month, serving Indian tandoori and barbecue, at 3707 Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
Lottie’s Creamery debuted in downtown Walnut Creek in time for the summer months, scooping out ice cream that is literally made from scratch. Co-owner and chef Deb Phillips makes the ice-cream base herself on-site, in her own pasteurizer. Meanwhile, the popular Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, with two stores in Oakland and Berkeley, is opening up a new location at 349 Main Street in Pleasanton in late spring.
Over in Blackhawk Plaza, the vacant Roti 8 space will be taken over by The Field House Sports Grill and Tavern this summer. First-time restaurateur Mike Banducci plans to create an über family-friendly vibe that caters specifically to the region’s plethora of young athletes and their parents. The restaurant’s motto: “cleats welcome.” In downtown Danville, That Bar was rebranded into McGah’s Pub and Pianos, an homage to Eddie McGah, a former minority owner of the Oakland Raiders and great-grandfather of co-owner Sherratt Reicher. Dueling pianos remain, along with Irish-inspired gourmet pub fare.
In Oakland, food truck pioneer Jon Kosorek, founder of Jon’s Street Eats, has turned in his wheels and is planning a brick-and-mortar lunch spot in the city’s Uptown/Lake Merritt area. Set to launch this month, Marrow will offer a “meat-centric” menu that focuses on whole-animal cookery: sourcing all the cuts from one animal at a time. Memphis native David King is opening up Hutch Bar and Kitchen in Uptown around the same time. The menu’s emphasis will be on the raw bar as well as Southern-influenced specialties, including a whole section devoted to grits. Finally, a new development on Broadway near Picán will bring in several food tenants, including the new HQ for Numi Tea, a pizzeria/beer garden from Drake’s Brewery, and a Mexican eatery from Oakland restaurateur Chris Pastena.
More than two dozen eateries will offer special prix fixe menus for Walnut Creek Restaurant Week, April 15–21. Go to walnutcreekrestaurantweek.com for details.