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Diablo Dish—August 2011

Sushi gone Japanese Brassiere and seven courses to help a great cause, plus the newest and hottest places to eat, all in the Dish!


Restaurant veteran Rick Delamain has signed on to open a “contemporary American brasserie” (with French influences) in the prime downtown Walnut Creek location vacated when Vesu closed in April. The new restaurant will be called Cypress (it’s located on Cypress street). Delamain hopes to open an expansive back patio and will add a baby grand to the front area, turning it into a piano lounge. As for food, the menu will be seasonal, with local ingredients when possible, along with a few standbys such as steak frites and mussels frites. Delamain has plenty of local experience, having worked at Le Virage, a now-closed French restaurant in Walnut Creek, for 18 years. Look for a late August opening. 

Some changes afoot in Blackhawk Plaza: The 20-year-old Blackhawk Grille is set to undergo a monthlong renovation starting in September. Look for the popular neighborhood spot to sport a warmer, more inviting “modern tavern” look.

The Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa promoted John Avalos to its executive chef position.

In Livermore, Kelly McFarland and Julie Racine are opening Winemaker’s Pour House on First Street, “right at the flagpole.” The Pour House is serious about local wines: McFarland says she hopes to carry labels from as many of the 54 Livermore Valley wineries as possible and will design her food menu to complement the wines. Look for a September debut. In Pleasanton, Elliston Vineyards owner Donna Flavetta is opening Grape Times Wine Bar & Bistro, on Railroad Avenue. Grape Times will be more wine bar than bistro, with a short menu of small plates, appetizers, and desserts to complement, you guessed it, a menu of Livermore Valley wines.

The long-awaited sister restaurant to Rockridge’s superpopular À Côté is tentatively set to open in mid-August. Located in Oakland’s Glenview neighborhood, Rumbo Al Sur (sounds impressive, doesn’t it?) will feature a pan-Latin concept, with its cuisine, spirits, and wine and beer all featuring Central and South American influences.

Also set for a mid-August opening is Origen, the new Berkeley eatery from former Nibblers co-owners Daniel Clayton and Trace Leighton. Clayton also debuted The Fig Tree, a comfy, casual American concept, in place of Nibblers in Pleasant Hill.

Owner Jason Kwon is turning Joshu-ya Sushi into Joshu-ya Brasserie and has serious ambitions for the Berkeley Japanese eatery. Kwon spent the last several years on the East Coast, running Couteaux Review, an organization devoted to promoting sustainable agriculture within the culinary industry. With plans to source the highest-quality, sustainable, local ingredients, Kwon says he aims to turn Joshu-ya into one of the top Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area and California. “I have big plans.”

More Oakland news: The former Farmers’ Market Bistro in Old Oakland is now 1015 Clay, a new casual-gourmet eatery (with housemade bratwurst) from Chop Bar co-owner Jesse Branstetter. Brown Sugar Kitchen owner Tanya Holland is set to open a new barbecue spot in August called B-Side BBQ at 3303 San Pablo Avenue.

The Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini will speak at Artisan Bistro on Wednesday, August 17. Proceeds from the $250 seven-course dinner will benefit Hosseini’s foundation to support Afghani women and children affected by the war.

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

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