Weekly Dish: Labor Day Eats
The best Labor Day options for dining out; more deers on Charlie Hallowell's latest project; new wine bar concept coming to Livermore; sneak peek at Desco in Oakland; and more in this week's Dish!
Grab a German beer and sausage on the waterfront at Brotzeit Boathaus & Biergarten
So it's nearly the end of the summer, which is insane, but it’s not over yet! Labor Day is coming up and here are three food-related ideas this weekend to stretch out your summer!
1) Try out a new restaurant
Hey, it’s labor day, take a load off and let someone else do the cooking. Here are a few new restaurants worth a look-see.
⇒ Brotzeit Boathaus & Biergarten: This German-style beer garden from the owner of Oakland’s Chop Bar has been generating some great buzz (CLICK HERE to read EBX’s review). And guess what? It’s right on the Oakland estuary so you can enjoy some sun and waterfront views along with your beer and sausage. brotzeitbiergarten.com
⇒ Mangia Mi: The original Danville restaurant has built up a dedicated following by dishing out crowd pleasing Italian favorites using fresh, local ingredients. Find out if the second location, just opened on Main Street of Pleasanton’s quaint downtown, is as good. mangia-mi.com
⇒ Homestead: This just-opened Piedmont Avenue spot with an "upscale farm-to-table menu” has foodie roots—husband and wife chef duo Fred and Elizabeth Sassen both worked at San Francisco’s Farallon. Also they’re hosting a Labor Day BBQ this Monday from noon to 6 pm featuring a buffet spread for $20 (and beer from Trappist Provisions). homesteadoakland.com
⇒ Forge Danville: Another spinoff, Forge is the sister restaurant to the popular wood fired thin-crust spot that opened in Jack London Square earlier this year. This one is in downtown Danville, sharing a space with Lunardi’s. theforgepizza.com
⇒ Flavor: the newest addition to the Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden in Berkeley offers a mix of fresh Mediterranean and exotic Middle Eastern flavors from former Chez Panisse intern Ezra Malmuth. And if you’re not wowed, hey: you’re in the freaking Gourmet Ghetto! Plenty of other options… flavorberkeley.com
⇒ Cream Walnut Creek: Summer. Homemade ice cream sandwiches. Sounds like a winning combo. The Berkeley location has proved a hit with the Cal kids and now there’s a new franchise location on North main in downtown Walnut Creek. Creamnation.com
2) Try out a new culture
It’s really pretty amazing how many different cultural events are happening in the Bay Area. This weekend is no different, offering a diverse range of opportunities to check out other country's cuisines.
⇒ Sample fish and chips, scotch pies, or even haggis (sausage made of sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs) at the 148th annual Scottish Gathering and Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Saturday and Sunday, thescottishgames.com.
⇒ Try cheese bread, empanadas, and of course grilled meats at Brazilian Day in Berkeley, celebrating the country’s independence. Sunday, 11–7 p.m. brasarte.com/brazilian-day.html
⇒ Feta cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers, not to mention gyros, will be on the menu at the 50th annual Greek Festival in Sacramento this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. annunciation.ca.goarch.org/?q=content/greek-festival
3) Drink some wine
There are some excellent events this weekend revolving around one of the Bay Area's favorite local pastimes.
⇒ Harvest Wine Celebration: If you haven’t already, this annual event is a great opportunity to explore the up and coming Livermore Valley wine country. Its beautiful, is producing some surprisingly good wine, and it’s a lot closer than you think. $55 gets you tastes at more than 40 area wineries this Sunday and Monday, during the peak of the harvest season. CLICK HERE for details.
⇒ Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: Or you can head north for winemaker dinners, winery barbecues, and the food and wine extravaganza Taste of Sonoma, all in one of the state’s premiere wine producing regions, the Sonoma Valley. Saturday and Sunday, sonomawinecountryweekend.com
⇒ And don’t forget about the Vacaville Art Wine and Brew Festival and the Millbrae Art and Wine Festival, both happening this Saturday and Sunday. artwineandbrew.com, miramarevents.com/millbrae/?view=featured
More details have emerged about Charlie Hallowell’s new restaurant project across the street from his Boot & Shoe Service on Grand Avenue. I spoke with the Oakland restaurateur who told me that Penrose & Sons was making solid progress and that he was currently eyeing an early October debut. The restaurant will be a departure from the Italian–influenced, pizza-centered Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe Service. Penrose is more of a bar and grill concept, with a more open floor plan and a bigger emphasis on the bar area. Also, the food would be heartier, stressing grilled meats cooked in a wood-fired hearth.
Says Hallowell, “I think Oakland kind of needs that: a really good bar with super delicious food that’s a little different, not just burgers. Something that’s a little more adult.”
A few more details according to a Craigslist ad Hallowell posted. “I would like this place to be a little more radical than Pizzaiolo, a little more of a push into different kinds of food, think North Africa, think middle east, think simple elemental.”
Longtime Tri-Valley caterer Eduardo Posada is opening up his own tapas wine bar in Livermore. Posada, who has run Posada Catering for nearly a decade in and around Livermore, is taking over the taqueria at 988 Murrieta Blvd just off First Street downtown. His self-named Posada will be intimate—around 36–40 seats—and will serve Southwestern-style tapas designed to pair with a carefully curated all-Livermore Valley wine list featuring smaller boutique wineries such as Cuda Ridge, Retzlaff, and McGrail. A couple examples of what to expect for food: barbecue duck atop a blue corn pancake with pickled slaw and sweet pepper sauce, and a three cheese ponzu quesadilla with berry-mango chutney. Expect a late September, early October debut.
Speaking of wine bars, a new one just opened in downtown Berkeley. According to Berkeleyside Nosh, Botella Republic will open on the ground floor of the Berkeley Central building at 2055 Center Street. Owners of the combo wine shop-wine store are a husband and wife team, Christopher Clarke and Lauren Brody-Clarke, who plan to offer the “best small production wines, craft beers and artisanal meats and cheeses" at affordable prices, per their website. Look for an opening early next year. botellarepublic.com
You won’t have to wait to try out Ordinaire (left), another wine bar-wine shop hybrid, which just opened on 3354 Grand Avenue. Ordinaire (it was originally to be called Red Whale but turns out the name was already taken) is run by Bradford Taylor, a Grand-Lake resident currently pursuing his Ph.D. in English literature at U.C. Berkeley—appropriately, his dissertation is on the subject of taste. Ordinaire specializes in featuring small, boutique wineries, mostly from California, but also from France, Italy, and Germany. Taylor is also offering a very small food menu with locally cured charcuterie, artisan cheese, and simple salads. ordinairewine.com
One more bit of Oakland news. ABC liquor license activity reports a new place in the works at 66 Franklin Street called Jack’s Chowder House. Details are scarce, but an intensive bit of googling revealed a possible connection to this project and Bocanova owner Rick Hackett. No confirmation on that yet, but it would make sense considering Bocanova is basically next door to the proposed location. More details as I get ‘em!
Also, the new Bourbon & Beef in Rockridge has its menu posted: CLICK HERE to check out the latin-inspired fare…
Off the Grid has made its food truck comeback in south Berkeley, where it'll be popping up Monday evening going forward. Happening at Telegraph Ave. and Haste Street from 5 to 9 p.m., the mobile eats gathering is offering a range of mobile eats options—last week featured Frozen Kuhsterd, Me So Hungry, Hapa SF, and KoJa Kitchen. Go to OffTheGridSF.com for more info.
Fallon Gateway has a couple new dining options headed its way in a couple of months. According to Dublin city officials, there are three new restaurants headed to the shopping center, including a Hawaiian grill restaurant, as well as Gum Kuo, this sister restaurant to popular little Chinese/BBQ eatery in Oakland’s Chinatown district. The third restaurant? Well, I can’t say anything quite yet, except that its a bit more high profile than the other two and should be well received. Hopefully more details next week!
And Dublin officials also confirmed that two restaurants, Little Sheep, a Mongolian barbecue chain, and The Dumpling Factory, are both headed for the city’s Grafton Station shopping center.
Torpedo Sushi will soon be coming to Uptown Oakland, serving up torpedo-like sushi rolls along the lines of a Japanese burrito, all sporting sustainably caught fish. Go to torpedosushi.com for more deets.
And I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going into the former CU Sushi spot at 1690 Locust Street in Walnut Creek. Well I swung by there on Tuesday and it looks like the replacement is already open! The stealthy new owner is Hiro Sushi, which according to signage is a Japanese tapas/fusion restaurant. More details as I get em ...
Finally, I had a chance to swing by Desco, the new Italian restaurant that replaced Borgo Italia in Old Oakland. Same beautiful, 1800s-era brick building; new Italian menu from Donato Enoteca chef-owner Donato Scotti. I tried an hierloom tomato salad, which was quite good, a prosciutto appetizer that featured a fried dough puff similar to Borgo Italia’s wonderful torta fritta, and a tasty seafood pasta featuring al dente noodles with fresh mussels, clams, and calamari, topped with shaved bottarga and a nice smear of squid ink. Glad to see that the space was occupied so quickly and the new operators know what they’re doing. Check ‘em out! descooakland.com