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Weekly Dish: Residual Sugar Expansion Plans

Residual Sugar details plans for next-door eatery; dig into Walnut Creek restaurant week; opening updates on Mangia Mi, Baci Bistro, and Build pizzeria; get your Spanish fix at ... Prima? And more in this week's Dish!


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Courtesy of Residual Sugar // Photo by Matt Edge

So, rumors have already leaked out about Walnut Creek's popular Residual Sugar wine bar expanding to take over the recently shuttered bakery next door on Locust Street. Owner Jim Telford has been reticent to talk specifics since he was still in talks with the city, but things have proceeded far enough to where he was comfortable sharing his plans. Here’s the scoop…

Telford is in fact taking over the space next door, but it won’t simply be an expansion of Residual Sugar. Rather, it will be a separate restaurant that will focus on thin-crust, likely Neapolitan-style, pizza, plus beer (not wine) with an emphasis on small, local breweries.

Residual Sugar owner Jim Telford“It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel with the artisan thin-crust concept, but I think it’s an opportunity to do something that’s in demand that there still isn’t too much of in Walnut Creek,” he says. “It would be simple and straightforward, using local sustainable ingredients, sourdough crust; everything really good quality.” 

While there will be no common entrance to Residual Sugar, there will be a pass-through window, allowing Telford to substantially beef up the wine bar’s food menu, which was one of his main goals in taking over a space with room for a full kitchen. Ideally, the as-of-yet-unnamed restaurant will also free up some elbow room for the wine bar, which has been getting a bit crowded. 

Courtesy of Residual Sugar // Photo by Matt EdgeTelford’s original plan was to simply expand the wine bar with a common entrance between the two spaces, thereby adding a dining area with kitchen. However, it became apparent in talking with the city that the bureaucratic logistics of that would end up costing a lot more than just opening a separate restaurant (and Telford is still hopeful he can create some common front patio space for both). He also won’t be seeking a full liquor license, at least not at first, since it would likely delay any opening by several months.

Still, the plans sound pretty cool. Telford wants to install functioning see-through garage doors, a la Corners Tavern, for a strong indoor-outdoor feel. The restaurant will also be open for lunch as well as simple, to-go oriented breakfast with good coffee and baked goods made in-house (it did used to be a bakery).

If everything goes according to plan, Telford is hoping for a fall opening.


Hope everyone is out there enjoying Walnut Creek Restaurant Week. Plenty of excellent deals out there, CLICK HERE to check them all out. I had a great lunch yesterday on Prima’s glass-enclosed loggia front patio. I started with a nice mixed greens salad, followed by an excellent gnocchi al forro: vibrantly fresh braised broccolini and robust housemade sausage with fennel served atop pillowy gnocchi in a savory broth delicately spiced with Calabrian chile. That, plus dessert for just $20: not bad for a Tuesday. 

Speaking of Prima, they’re hosting an interesting non-Italian event tomorrow (Thursday) evening: a Spanish wine dinner. The theme should play in nicely with the restaurant’s relatively new chef du cuisine, Maggie Pond, who brings a Spanish-heavy culinary resume having served as executive chef for ten years at lauded Spanish tapas restaurant Cesar in Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto. The event gave me a good opportunity to chat with Pond: CLICK HERE to read the interview. And call (925) 935-7780 to reserve a spot at the dinner: it’s $88 a head, which gets you tastes of eight traditional Spanish dishes, plus sips of five Spanish wines. CLICK HERE to see the menu.


Some opening updates for you.

Yanni’s Taverna in Danville is now open for business, as is Build Pizzeria in Berkeley. Quick reminder: Yanni’s is Greek food from the same owner as Yanni’s café in Martinez, and Build is a Roman-style thin-crust pizzeria in downtown Berkeley on Shattuck in which you can actually construct your own pie, Seinfeld-style. And don’t forget about Tribune Tavern in Oakland, which is generating some nice Yelp buzz already after opening last week…

Checked on the status of the second location of Baci Bistro & Bar that’s replacing Strizzi’s near Blackhawk Plaza. Owner Michael Hughes told me there had been some delays, nothing unusual, and that he was hoping to open in another month. If you want a sneak preview of what’s to come, check out the Pleasanton location.

I also touched base with Peter Cedolini, chef-owner of Danville’s popular Mangia Mi, who told me that all the permits for his new Pleasanton restaurant have been approved and that he was now looking at a late-June opening on 234 Main Street. Meghan Carpenter former assistant GM at Va de Vi will be the general manager there.

Finally, OL Beer Bar and Trappist-owner (and Lafayette resident) Chuck Stilphen told me he’s close to opening up his new Mikkeller beer bar beer in San Francisco, which is on track to open in late-May/early-June. CLICK HERE for a full description of that ambitious project, but as a quick recap, it’ll be 3,000 square feet and feature 40 beers on tap (some of which will pour at different temperatures, i.e. lager and pilsners cooler, stouts and heavier beers warmer), hundreds by the bottle, and a private lambic/sour beer tasting room in the cellar.


Couple little Walnut Creek tidbits.

Mr. Pickle’s new Walnut Creek store is officially open—they had their grand opening at 1991 North Broadway on Tuesday. As you can see from this goofy photo, the sandwich shop with several East Bay locations wasted no time in making themselves at home in Walnut Creek…

Élevé is celebrating the launch of its new outdoor patio by serving up some complementary appetizers (including some Vietnamese barbecue) and wine tasting al fresco today (Wednesday) and tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m. Go to their Facebook, facebook.com/EleveRestaurant, to reserve a spot. 

I wrote last week that the lease had been finalized for Cream, the ice cream sandwich specialists, to come to downtown Walnut Creek. Owner Gus Shamieh was coy about the location, since they were doing a little treasure hunt contest with readers on their Facebook page, but the cat’s out of the bag now. It’s going to be located at 1372 N. Main Street in a section of downtown that’s quickly becoming Sweets Central: nearby are San Francisco Creamery, Gelateria Naia, Kara’s Cupcakes, and the new Lottie’s Creamery.

Speaking of Lottie’s, the artisan ice creamery is holding its official Grand Opening next Tuesday, April 23, and they’ll be handing out free scoops of limited flavors from noon 6 p.m. until close (9 p.m.).

Finally, according to Walnut Creek Magazine, there’s a Noah’s Bagels coming to the western stretch of Mt Diablo Blvd. next to All Star Medical Supply (at 1390 Mt Diablo)—located conveniently near the Diablo offices I might add… 


Some small bites in the (510)…

Saltfish and ackee and red beans and rice at Miss Ollie'sMiss Ollie’s got its liquor license, yet another good excuse to check out this great elevated Caribbean eatery in Old Oakland.

Korean fusion joint FuseBox in West Oakland has expanded its dinner hours to include Thursday and Friday nights—well worth a try if you’re in the hood.

A quick congrats to Hodo Soy. The Oakland soy manufacturer is supplying the tofu for Chipotle’s new veggie taco and burrito option, sofritas—shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices—which is now being rolled out in all Northern California locations.

Things continue to get complicated for ex-SF Housing Authority head Henry Alvarez. According to the Chronicle, Alvarez may be facing ethics violations for any possible financial interests for his planned Berkeley comfort food restaurant that posed a conflict of interest to his former gig in San Francisco. This stems from his interview in this column in which he announced his plans for the new restaurant while on medical leave from the Housing Authority. The Chron also details that his restaurant may face protesters from public housing residents and advocates if and when it does open. Alvarez hasn’t returned calls seeking comment.

Per Tablehopper, beer and burgers–centric Moxie Beer Garden is opening at 3136 Sacramento Street in Berkeley this Thursday at 5 p.m.


A belated congratulations to Danville’s Incontro, which took home top chocolate dessert (Cypress won the People’s Choice) at the Chocolate Indulgence fundraising event earlier this month. The winning dish? This delicious-looking ravioli al cioccolato with dark and white chocolate, Varona chocolate ganache, strawberry sauce, and mint and white chocolate shavings. If you’re interested, it’s on the dessert menu at Incontro every night


Finally, Contra Costa College’s 6th annual Food and Wine event is happening this Sunday, April 21. Tickets are $35 in advance ($40 at the door), and gets you tastes from more than 40 participating Bay Area restaurants and wineries. Proceeds go to support Culinary Arts students: CLICK HERE for info and for tickets.


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Interview with Prima Ristorante chef de cuisine Maggie Pond

Diablo: When did you first get into Spanish cuisine?
Maggie Pond: My first exposure to Spanish food was working at a restaurant in Mill Valley in 1980: the food there was actually Spanish, not Mexican.

What did you like about it?
What I realized was that Spain had this huge diversity in cuisine with lots of influences. There was the Moorish history, Catalonia, they had Roman influence left over from that period. I liked the fact that there was this regional aspect to the food; I just knew, as most people did, gazpacho and paella, and I realized, ‘Wow, there’s a lot more to this.’ I found all of that really interesting.

Do you think Spanish food is still a little undiscovered in the U.S.?
I think there are things about it that are misunderstood. People think of olive oil as greasy, but they have incredible olive oil in Spain and it’s used in sauces instead of butter, so the food is actually fairly light. It’s also a very layered cuisine.

But there are definitely more and more people getting into it, who are traveling there and taking the time to understand it. During the time I was at César I saw the difference. There had been the World's Fair held there and the Olympics, which brought a lot of new people to Spain. It’s amazing now how many people now know about padron peppers. Everyone has smoked paprika: even Buy-Rite [in San Francisco] is carrying it now.

Have you traveled a lot to Spain?
Oh yeah. I went and did an internshop over there and I’ve gone back every year since and traveled around and ate. I’ve been to just about every part of the country: Mallorca, Galicia, San Sebastian, Barcelona, Madrid.

Any dish in particular that sticks in your mind?
That’s a tough one. I met someone the other day talkig about the Cal Pep tapas bar in Barcelona and I had a fabulous dish there of sweet sausage with cubes of fois gras and a port reduction on a bed of sautéed white beans. But there are plenty of classic dishes as well: there’s not much I don’t like.

What are you doing for the Prima dinner?

We're going to do some really fun things like spring onions with romesco sauce, we'll fry some calimaris with a Mojo Picón sauce from the Canary Islands, do some olive oil cured anchovies on toast. You've got to love a good paella, and we're doing a pretty good one that night. It should be a great event: we're setting up in the back parking lot patio, where we'll serve some of the tapas, grill the spring oinoins, and start the paella. It's spring, so I thought that adding the outdoor element would be fun—I'm just hoping that it will be warm!


Prima Spanish Wine Dinner Menu

Calamares Fritos con Mojo Picón (Fried squid with a sauce of dried chiles, red wine vinegar, and herbs)
Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco (Catalan Sauce of Sweet peppers, olive oil and thickened with bread, hazelnuts, and almonds)
Pan Con Jamon Iberco and Membrillo Alioli (Jamon on fresh bread with a spread of membrillo, garlic and oil)
Chupito de Gazpacheo de Pepino with Piquillo Pepper Relish (a shot of cucumber gazpacho)
Montaditos de Matrimonios (White anchovies and oil cured anchovies with on toast with Alioli)
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Ensalada de Escarola with Toasted Garlic-sherry Vinaigrette
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Paella Mixta: Clams, Mussels, Shrimp, Chicken and Chorizo in a Lobster Broth with English Peas and Piquillo Peppers
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Anise-Scented Flan
Panellets (Catalan Cookies made of sweet potatoes, almonds, sugar and egg)