Weekly Dish: Ike's Walnut Creek Opens
Ike's launches is Walnut Creek; more Trueburger and Blue Bottle coming to Oakland; a sneak peek of Tribune Tavern; a Golden State Warriors cocktail recipe from Pican; and more in this week's Dish!
Well, after several false starts, I promised you no updates until it was definitely opening and I'll do you one better: Ike's in Walnut Creek is open. While the grand opening isn't until Friday, the popular sandwich shop was open as early as Monday for a soft opening on the 1100-block of Locust Street near the movie theater. The place looks great, with a similar colorful decor to the Oakland and Danville stores; I even ran into Ike himself as owner Ike Shehadeh was on location making sure everyone was trained and the store was ready to go.
As for the menu, well you'll get all of the 200-plus varieties with infinite permutations and add-ons (like fried onion rings or mozzarella sticks for example). Shehadeh told me there are a couple sandwiches special to the Walnut Creek store including the Randy Johnson (a Livermore native, but close enough) with halal chicken, Southwest sauce, mushrooms and pepper jack. Other local menu additions include an Acalanes—ham, bacon, and American cheese—and Joe Starkey (Cal's longtime football radio announcer)—with chicken, BBQ sauce, and cheddar. Personally, I tried the Chris Wondolowski—he's a Danville-native and super nice guy who I once interviewed for a Diablo story—and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Shehadeh also told me there would be a Kryptonite sandwich-eating contest at the Walnut Creek location on Friday afternoon, with the winner receiving a year of free Ike's sandwiches. Go to facebook.com/ikes for more info on that.
More exciting news for Oakland as news leaks of another Blue Bottle cafe and Trueburger location coming to Broadway. Chron's Inside Scoop gets the scoop on the new Blue Bottle location, a 2,000-square-foot cafe occupying the gorgeous historic (and long abandoned) W.C. Morse building at 4296 Broadway across from Oakland Tech High School. Read the Chron's story for the full scoop, but as motivation for going into a somewhat underserved location, Blue Bottle owner James Freeman cited both the beautiful building, as well as (and this is cool) the fact that Oakland has been good to him and he wanted to pay that back by investing in the city. Opening date sounds like a very tentative "later this year." bluebottlecoffee.com
And just down the street at 4105 Broadway, Berkeleyside Nosh reports that Oakland's Trueburger is opening its second location, taking over the old carpet and linoleum building near the up-and-coming 40th Street corridor (home to Homeroom and the upcoming Hog's Apothecary). Walnut Creek-native Jason Low and Danville-native Greg Eng opened up their super-popular classic burger joint on Grand Avenue (house-ground meat, fresh-baked buns, hand-spun shakes) three years ago to instant lines, so this should be another nice addition to the neighborhood. Low told me that he picked this spot because it made a lot of sense, even it's not a thriving commercial area—yet. "It really hit on the center of all these neighborhoods—Piedmont Ave is just over the hill, lower Rockridge, Temescal, Kaiser hospital is a few blocks away—even if there's not much on that particular stretch. But we're hoping that could change now, especially with Blue Bottle coming in too." Expect a pretty-much identical menu, although the bigger space may allow for a few new additions like beer on tap and homemade lemonade. Low said they're hoping to open this winter ("although you know how these things go"). trueburgeroakland.com
I had a chance to swing by the new Tribune Tavern last Friday night for a little look-see, and it was hopping. Luckily we made a reservation, so we managed to navigate through the packed bar scene and snag a table near the little side outdoor patio (which was nice since it was a hot evening). My impression? Well, I've got to say, this place impressed me right out of the gate, particularly in the speed of service given how packed it was and how recently the restaurant had opened (just a few days before). It was clear that the kitchen, under the guidance of executive chef Huw Thornton, is already in mid-season form. In fact, we got our food almost too fast—I wouldn't have minded lingering a little longer but hey, that's a good problem to have.
It's an unapologetically meat-heavy menu filled with dishes like pork trotter fritters, steaks, chuck roast, buttermilk fried chicken, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie—I don't think there was one vegetarian entree option that night. And as a meat-lover, I'm totally cool with that, but it's not to say the food is overly heavy: Thortnon exhibits a pretty light touch. A grilled asparagus appetizer was nicely done with chopped egg and shredded fiscalini cheddar, and a side of sauteed mustard greens was delicious, albeit hearty for a veggie. We also tried the grilled ox tongue on the waiter's recommendation and it was actually delicious, super tender and not at all rubbery as you might expect, and served with a light celery root mash and a citrusy-savory caper sauce. I'd also highly recommend the shepherd's pie, which had flavorful minced lamb and braised beef with fresh English peas underneath a savory parmesan mash. Nicely done.
Check 'em out if you get a chance... 401 13th St., Oakland, (510) 452-8742, tribunetavern.com.
Do you believe yet? Big win for the Golden State Warriors last night to even up their playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. Oakland's Picán restaurant is showing its support by offering a specially-themed cocktail called "54 at the Garden" (named after Warriors star Steph Curry's 54-point performance at New York City's Madison Square Garden). We happen to have the recipe so you can make one as you're cheering on the W's during their next game (Friday at 7:30 p.m.). CLICK HERE for the recipe.
Wente announced its summer concert series, with top acts including Huey Lewis & the News, Chicago, and Counting Crows and the Wallflowers. It's a pretty fantastic venue to watch a concert and the food is always top-notch—I had an unexpectedly great time at Foreigner last year. Go to wentevineyards.com/concerts/lineup to check out the lineup: tickets go on sale May 19.
A few small bites ...
Tonight (Wednesday), Blackhawk Grill is teaming up with local Tri-Valley brewery Schubros for a four-course Brewmaster's dinner featuring dishes like executive chef Jason Bergeron's buffalo chicken empanada and duck confit strudel paired with beers such as Schubros' Nico American Style Wheat and Diablo Sunrise Orange Imperial Stout. Brewmaster Mike Johannsen will be there to answer questions. CLICK HERE for the full menu: it's $45, call (925) 736-8261 to reserve a seat.
Looks like the Vanessa's Bistro 2 move is official. I reported a few weeks ago that the Vietnamese small plates restaurant would be taking over the Bosphorous space at 1512 Locust, and now an ABC license gives notice of ownership change. Owner Michael Nguyen told me then he was hoping to reopen in the new spot by late May, early June.
Checked in with Chris Amsden, co-owner of the planned new Rustic Tavern replacing Roya's Garlic Garden in downtown Lafayette, and things are progressing quickly. He told me the trio of Lark Creek alums were hoping to open as soon as May 1 at 3576 Mt Diablo Blvd.
Couple of ABC license change of ownerships to report: CU Sushi in Walnut Creek is changing hands, no word yet on what that means for the restaurant. Also, a place called Beaver Creek Smokehouse will be taking over Smokey D's at 601 Main Street in Martinez.
Rockridge's renaissance continues: The Chron has the scoop on Toast's planned expansion and relaunch into Toast Kitchen & Bar, which will include an actual built-out kitchen and expanded bar program.
Downtown Pleasanton's popular First Wednesday street party celebration is debuting next Wednesday, May 1. Go to pleasantondowntown.net for more info.
Via East Bay Express, it's Veg Week in Oakland. Also, Berkeley is hosting its second ever Cottage Food market this Saturday 5–9 p.m., at the Firehouse Art Collective at 3192 Adeline St. Pay on a sliding scale ($0 to $5) for "a variety of homemade baked goods, jams, and nut butters available for purchase thanks to the newly enacted California Homemade Food Act (through which home cooks can obtain a permit to sell their goods)."
For a good cause...
Five Star Night, the 26th annual fundraiser for Alameda County Meals on Wheels, is happening this Friday, April 26 starting at 6 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland. Organized by beloved local food personality Narsai David, the lavish four-course menu is prepared by 12 of the East Bay's finest chefs, including Bocanova's Rick Hackett, Bay Wolf's Louis LeGassic, Flora's Rico Rivera, and Lalime’s Haig Krikorian. Tickets are $250, just call (510) 777-9560 or go to feedingseniors.org.
Tonight, Wednesday, Maria Maria in Danville is donating a portion of all proceeds to One Fund Boston, Inc., supporting those most affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy. Likewise, Patxi's Chicago Pizza, which just opened a new Livermore store, is holding a fundraiser at all ten restaurants next Thursday May 2 in which 10 percent of all proceeds will be donated to One Fund.
1.5 oz Remy V
0.5 oz creme de viollette
0.5 oz lavender syrup
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz Bundaberg ginger beer
Combine all ingredients except for ginger beer in a mixing tin with ice. Shake and strain into a double rocks glass with ice. Top with Bundaberg ginger beer.
By Sam Babalola of Pican Restaurant