Weekly Dish: Petar's Closing
Beloved Diamond Dave haunt closes its doors for good; Ramen Shop set to open; Tri-Valley restaurant month kicks off; a shout-out for Miss Ollie's; and more in this week's Dish!
Some sad news for you Diamond Dave Hosley fans (CLICK HERE for our recent story on the legendary local singer/pianist/entertainer), as Petar's is shutting its doors. Saturday, January 5, will mark the last night at the longtime (50-plus years) Lafayette institution where Hosley has plied his trade for the last 26 years. While the food service may have slipped a bit in recent years, Petar's nevertheless was beloved by many in the community as the place in which everyone from St Mary's co-eds to 50-something married couples loved to cut a rug to the wonderfully diverse musical stylings of Diamond Dave. And while rumors have been swirling for years about Petar's demise, it still comes as a bit of a shocker to know that this old-school Lamorinda haunt will no longer be around.
As for what is replacing it? Well, I've heard several rumors about some big-time restaurateurs that have expressed interest in taking over the prime Lafayette spot located just across from the always-popular Chow restaurant. But nothing definite yet: we'll keep you posted...
In Walnut Creek, 1515 Restaurant-owner Tony Dudum closed his casual Pizza Place, located a few doors down at 1521 North Main Street. Beyond the Creek notes that next-door Sofa a la Carte has also closed and speculates that there could be plans in the works a business to move into those two spaces. Sounds like that's not far off. I spoke with Dudum, who confirmed that he is in the process of selling his lunch spot when he received "an offer I couldn't refuse." And word is on the street that the same person who bought The Pizza Place also nabbed the sofa shop next door, and is planning to open a new restaurant in the combined space, likely a Japanese/sushi spot. Nothing confirmed yet, but we will, of course, keep you posted...
Enough with all the closings. Looks like the much-anticipated Ramen Shop, from three former Chez Panisse alums on Rockridge's College Ave., is set to officially open this Friday, January 4. Tablehopper has a great little sneak peek into this new suped-up noodle shop that will feature ramen that is "ingredient-based, using seasonal produce and top-notch products." That includes spit-roasted Llano Seco pork for the chashu ramen and housemade noodles from a machine imported direct from Japan. Look also for a nice beer and wine list, a cocktail program highlighting liquor from Alameda distiller St. George Sprits, and coffee/espresso form SF-based Four Barrel Coffee. Looks like a really pretty spot as well. And should be a great lunch option to warm your bones during this recent spell of chilly winter weather... 5812 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 788-6370, ramenshop.com
Tri-Valley Restaurant Month kicks off this week. Each week throughout January will highlight a handful of restaurants from a different Tri-Valley city, each of which will feature a special three-course tasting menu (with proceeds going towards different food-based charities in the area). This week centers on Danville, where Amber Bistro, Incontro, and Piatti have all crafted special menus to benefit The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano counties. Coming up over the next four weeks are Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon. Go to EatTriValley.com for all the info and to scope out future deals—it's a good way to revisit local restaurants while supporting local charities at a time when they often need the most help: right after the holidays.
And as a head's up, look for separate restaurant weeks to start up towards the middle of January in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. Good deals on good eating: check visitcalifornia.com/Restaurant-Month for more details.
The Chron's head food honcho Michael Bauer released his best restaurants in the Bay Area of 2012, and there are a couple of East Bay eateries on the list. Berkeley Mexican hot spot Comal, as well as Oakland's cozy Hopscotch, both made the final cut. Congrats on the well-deserved honors for those two restaurants, which coincidentally, also made Diablo's top new restaurants in the East Bay (highlighted in our November food issue).
Got a message Dogan Ozdogan, owner of fellow Diablo 2012 best new restaurant winner Lokanta, who told me his Mediterranean restaurant now has a full bar and has converted its elegant back sunroom into a "martini lounge." Sounds like a fun time for sleepy downtown Pleasanton. 443 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 223-8074, eatlokanta.com.
SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK: MISS OLLIE'S
Had a chance to swing by Miss Ollie's for lunch last week. This is the new Afro-Caribbean restaurant from chef Sarah Kirnon, who has built up quite a loyal following cooking up elevated comfort food at restaurants like Emmy's Spaghetti Shack and the Front Porch in San Francisco, and Hibiscus in Oakland. Well, this is Kirnon's first solo project and it looks like a winner. First of all, it's in a great spot, located in a corner spot of the Swan's Market in Old Oakland, the revitalized section of that city's downtown that has seen great new eateries like Cosecha, District, and Borgo open in just the last year alone (and Rosamunde Sausage Grille is set to open next door within the week).
Miss Ollie's is named after Kirnon's grandmother, who raised her in Barbados, and that Caribbean theme is really prevalent on the restaurant's menu, which features regionally-specific dishes like salt fish & ackee and curry goat, executed with a modern interpretation and a Bay Area chef's focus on seasonality. It's also a small menu, with daily specials like fried chicken and oxtail complementing a handful of sides and reasonably priced mains (nothing more than $13).
I only had a chance to try the salt fish and ackee, which I thought was great. The concentrated salted fish provided an intense savory bite that effectively substituted for salt, and was balanced by the farm-fresh sautéed sweet peppers and fantastic, nearly caramelized plantains that served as the starchy base for the dish. (Ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica, is a sort of fleshy, creamy fruit that falls somewhere close to a bell pepper in terms of taste and texture.) This is a really comforting, vibrant dish that could have easily become jumbled flavor-wise, but instead shined under Kirnon's steady hand. Looking forward to tasting more of that menu... check 'em out!
901 Washington St., Oakland, (510) 285-6188, facebook.com/MissOllies.