Weekly Dish: Christmas Eve Dinners
X-mas Eve meals; Paul Martin's American Bistro in Walnut Creek; Dumpling Factory in Dublin; and more!
Did someone say burgers? Yes, the latest player in the neo-burger renaissance is opening this weekend in Lafayette: Roam Artisan Burgers. Roam, which has two locations in San Francisco, is debuting its newest restaurant in Fiesta Square this Sunday in the former AG Ferrari space. Committed to sourcing local and sustainable meats and produce, they'll features a menu with several burger options, such as the Sunny Side (organic free-range egg, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, and a sweet chili sauce), the French and Fries (truffle parmesan fries, gruyere, avocado, caramelized onions, and, dijon mustard), and the Tejano (pepper jack, jalapeño relish, avocado, tomato, white corn strips, and herb ranch). There are also bison, turkey, and veggie options, and you can choose between a traditional sesame seed, whole grain, or gluten-free bun (or a lettuce wrap). There are also salads, house-made sodas, and Straus Family Creamery shakes. The new Lafayette location will be open lunch through dinner, daily.
Speaking of Fiesta Square, The Cooperage, the big new bar and grill concept replacing Petar’s, looks like it's still on pace to open in mid-January.
Quick side note: The Dish will be taking a little one-week breather for Christmas next week, so let me take the opportunity to say Happy Holidays! Also for those not disposed to cooking on the night before Christmas, CLICK HERE for a list, courtesy of OpenTable, of East Bay restaurants with special menus on Christmas Eve (or that are simply open for business).
Okay, let’s get a few more updates of places coming up in the New Year …
I finally managed to get ahold of someone for the new proposed Yo’s on Hartz that’s replacing China Paradise on Danville’s Hartz Avenue. Owner Evelyn Tang is running the restaurant with her daughter Cathy, and they’re planning a lounge/bar/restaurant concept. There will be a full bar with cocktails, and the food will be Asian fusion. Tang is hoping to be open in another month or so.
Speaking of Asian concepts, I received some new details about the proposed Dumpling Factory in Dublin’s Grafton Station, and it sounds pretty interesting. According to the architect, the owner (developer Jim Tong of Charter Properties, which owns the shopping center) is going all-out for the planned 8,000-square-foot Chinese restaurant. The ambiance and décor has been compared to that of San Francisco’s very upscale and elegant Hakkasan, with the centerpiece of the restaurant being an eight-foot tall statue of a silver-and-gold mosaic Ming Dynasty horse. Food will be high-end Chinese, with emphasis on Shanghainese-style steamed dumplings (pictured). Look for an opening in mid-January.
Staying on the Asian theme, there’s a new restaurant going into Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood at 4828 Telegraph Avenue, called Kushido. According to an informed source (AKA the dude who was in there working on the space), it’s going to be a Japanese yakitori-focused eatery. Take that with a grain of salt though—I'll bring you more info as I get it …
Also, it’s past time I posted an update on Sunol Ridge, the new upscale gastropub restaurant that’s replacing Cypress (which replaced Vesu) in downtown Walnut Creek. Owners aren’t quite ready to release specifics (CLICK HERE to read the initial details in a previous column). However, I was told that progress is being made and that we can expect an opening in a month or two. Should have more specifics in a couple weeks, so make sure to check back.
Get ready wing-lovers, the newest East Bay location of Buffalo Wild Wings will be opening at 1790 North 1st Street in Livermore on January 6, according to the Chamber of Commerce. But wait, there’s more: The first 100 customers will get free wings for a whole year. Start camping out now …
And finally, we’re talking way out there now (as in 2015), but I did get news that the retail-housing development project at 1500 Newell Avenue in Walnut Creek near the Kaiser hospital, has signed up a couple of dining-oriented tenants for the ground floor. One is a Starbucks (yes, another for downtown Walnut Creek), but the other signing is more interesting: Paul Martin’s American Bistro. The latest from the folks that created PF Chang’s and Fleming’s Steak House, Paul Martin's looks to be a similarly upscale concept with a focus on American-style bar and grill classics such as steaks, burgers, cedar plank salmon, and brick chicken—with an effort to source seasonal, local, and sustainable ingredients. Don’t expect an opening until summer of 2015.
► The new restaurant proposed by the operators of the popular Comal in downtown Berkeley has been approved to go into the city’s Elmwood district. Berkeleyside Nosh notes that co-owners John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman survived Berkeley’s occasionally rough-and-tumble community hearing process and were given the okay by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board to open a 100-seat restaurant with a full bar serving California cuisine. Should be a nice addition to that quaint neighborhood.
► Berkeleyside also notes that a place called The Wine Bar has filed an ABC liquor license application to replace the shuttered Punchdown wine bar at 2212 Broadway in Uptown Oakland. What they didn't mention is that one of the owners listed on that application is none other than Ike’s sandwich maven Ike Shehadeh (who has a shop right next door). The first ever sandwich/wine bar? Can we dip our roast beef sammies into an au jus wine sauce? Wine flights paired with fried mozzarella sticks? The possibilities are endless, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to track down any specifics—I’ll post ‘em when I get ‘em …
► East Bay Express tips that Jon Kosorek, owner of the great, but tiny, whole animal butchery meat-heavy Marrow, is looking for a larger location in Uptown Oakland.
► Per Beyond the Creek, The Salad Spot opened up at 3003 Oak Road in Walnut Creek.
SHOUT-OUT OF THE WEEK: OSMANTHUS
I’ve been slacking on my weekly shout-outs, but I did want to mention one place that I’ve been frequenting recently. Maybe it’s an example of the boom times in the Oakland dining scene that a beautifully renovated new restaurant with very good food can open up and barely cause a stir in local foodie circles. But that seems to be exactly the case for Osmanthus, the new Asian fusion eatery that replaced Nan Yang at 6048 College Ave in Rockridge.
First of all, it’s a very pretty space, done up in a sort of modern Chinese teahouse motif. But more importantly, the food is really good. I’m generally a little suspicious of Asian fusion fare, as it can tend to lose the vibrancy and uniqueness of the cuisines from which it borrows. That's not the case at Osmanthus, where all the dishes I tried displayed strong, interesting flavors. The dry-fried green beans (pictured) were blistered with concentrated taste and topped with sharp crispy garlic (a recurring ingredient). The smoked trout fried rice was nicely light (not greasy), but still offered excellent flavor, courtesy of the delicious smoked fish, plus fried garlic and ginger. Short ribs were drop-off-the-bone tender; the chili broth noodles (pictured) had a sweet and spicy sauce with succulent ground pork; and a stewed, saucy eggplant dish was just plain yummy.
Anyway, for whatever reason, this place hasn’t generated much buzz yet—it did open recently, and the location is a little wonky (the opening is slanted at a weird diagonal angle)—but it’s a restaurant that’s well worth patronizing and supporting. So check ‘em out!
Osmanthus, 6048 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 923-1233, osmanthusrestaurant.com.