Weekly Dish: Sideboard Opens
Danville cafe reopens; LA street eats in Walnut Creek; Off the Grid in Pleasant Hill; and more!
After months of dropping tantalizing hints on Facebook, Danville favorite Sideboard has reopened in its new location at 90 Railroad Avenue. The gourmet-casual café was pushed out of its previous spot on Hartz Avenue in early January because of the ongoing Danville Hotel development, and just about four months later debuted in a larger new headquarters down the street. The menu is pretty much unchanged, although a staffer there said they might be getting “a little bit more adventurous” in coming weeks. For now, you’ll just have to satisfy yourself with a fresh-baked maple scone, Prather Ranch cheeseburger, homemade tater tots, or one of Sideboard’s other popular staples.
On the flip side of the food coin comes news out of Lafayette that can only be described as a major bummer. According to the Contra Costa Times, the lease is up at the legendary Bo’s Barbecue on Mt Diablo Boulevard on July 31 and will not be renewed by property owner Tony Lukaszewski. It would mark the end of a 16-year run for owner Bo McSwine (right), a Lafayette resident, active community volunteer, and, as anyone who ever spoke with him would agree, an incredibly good dude.
Hopefully it won’t be the last smoked brisket for Bo's. McSwine, who learned to cook barbecue at his mother’s knee (he was one of 13 children raised on a Mississippi farm), told the Times that he was considering opening a new restaurant in San Francisco's Chine Basin. But even if that does happen, it’ll still be a sad day for Lamorinda diners: A mulitple time Diablo Best of the East Bay winner, McSwine prides himself on using only the finest cuts of meat--including Niman Ranch brisket--minimally seasoned and smoked low and slow for optimal flavor.
As for what will replace it? Lukaszewski would only tell the CC Times that several other restaurants or food-service-type businesses were interested in the space. Bo's will be a seriously hard act to follow …
In better smoked-meats news, Alameda will be getting a new BBQ joint come this fall. Popular family-friendly North Bay 'cue restaurant Best Lil’ Porkhouse has signed up to open a third location at the South Shore Center shopping complex. Owner Ken Flach is a St. Louis native who doesn’t mind mixing barbecue styles; his menu ranges from wet basted Midwestern-style ribs to Memphis-style pulled pork to Southern-themed sides such as fried okra and cornbread. The Alameda location will seat around 160 with outdoor seating, and offers a full bar in addition to wine and craft beer. Flach, a former professional tennis player who won a gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, also uses humanely raised pork and brisket, as well as organic Mary’s chicken.
Hey, a new Los Angles street food–style restaurant (of all things) quietly debuted in downtown Walnut Creek. 310 Eatery offers some seriously hearty comfort food with dishes such as the Westside Classic hot pastrami dip, a chicken Temescal (a nod, I’m assuming, to Bakesale Betty’s famous fried chicken sandos), bacon wrapped hot dogs, and, yes, a 50/50 burger—that’s half beef and half bacon, for the uninformed. Taking over the former Harvest Market space at 1633 Bonanza Street, 310 should be a popular stop for the downtown WC drinkin’ crowd. And, perhaps not coincidentally, it’s open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Also in downtown Walnut Creek, it sounds like 54 Mint’s new 54 Mint Il Forno Italian bakery is very close to launching in the former Walnut Creek Baking Company space at 1686 Locust Street, next to Residual Sugar. Owner Claudio Ricciolini told me he is tentatively eyeing an opening on Tuesday, April 15. But you know how these things go: delays are the norm, so check back next week for an update ...
Pleasant Hill food news alert: According to the city, the San Francisco–based Off the Grid food truck organizer is planning to start a weekly food truck gathering on Trelany Road behind City Hall on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Set to start next month if approved, the market would consist of a selection of nine rotating trucks. This would further expand the burgeoning suburban food truck scene; Off the Grid has already started weekly markets in Concord, and most recently in Pleasanton. OtG is also rumored to be interested in Walnut Creek, where another daily food truck market, The Bend, is planned to debut in late April at North Main Street and North California Boulevard (at least according to their Facebook).
Also in Pleasant Hill, Gotta Eat Pita, which recently opened in downtown Danville, already has plans to open its second location in the former Mazza Grill space. And according to the website, owners are opening a third location in Pleasanton at 5901 Owens Drive. Pita power, indeed …
AG Ferrari will soon be getting a makeover. The previously San Leandro-based Italian food specialties retailer has hired a new CEO prior to moving into its new headquarters in Alameda next month, according to the San Francisco Business Times. After declaring bankruptcy in 2011, the 95-year-old company was bought by San Francisco-based food and beverage investment firm Murano Group last fall. In addition to its plans for expanding the wholesale, e-commerce, and catering business, Murano also plans to refresh Ferrari’s six retail stores and is looking into opening additional locations.
Cool story in Berkeleyside about Berkeley Kitchens, a new hub for artisanal food manufacturing in West Berkeley that is home to around 15 local food businesses.
Tri-Valley-owned Ascona Pizza just opened its third location, this one in Pleasanton, at 6766 Bernal Avenue. Go and show ‘em some love.
For those of you who have moved beyond Jose Cuervo and Goldschläger: A couple of new upscale liquor shops are popping up in the 510. On Oakland’s hoppin’ Grand Avenue, Alchemy Bottle Shop debuted at 3256 Grand Avenue, offering a “handpicked selection of the finest craft spirits, featuring small producers and naturally made products.” And over in Berkeley, Future Bars, the group behind hip San Francisco artisan cocktail bars such as Bourbon & Branch and Local Edition, is opening a new branch of its high-end spirits retail store, Cask. Expected to open in a few months, the new store will take over the existing College Avenue Wine Spirits & Deli on College Avenue. Meanwhile, the group’s downtown Berkeley cocktail bar, Tupper & Reed, is scheduled to launch in mid to late-May.
Finally, Michel Bistro is set to open early next week on Oakland’s Lakeshore Avenue. French owners Germain Michel and Jean-Michel Fabregon’s Provencal-style 60-seat brasserie will serve traditional French bistro fare with California influences. Items on the dinner menu include vol au vent Burgandy escargots and mushroom in puff pastry; bone marrow with horse rasish and wild sorrel on brioche; and trout Lyonnaise with green almonds and dandelion. There will be a full bar, with Fabregon’s cocktail program centered around 10 or so different kinds of pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur popular in the south of France. It’s an all-French wine list as well. Co-owner Michel, by the way, also founded Amelie Wine Bar in San Francisco and a sister location in New York City in 2012.