Weekly Dish: Water Street Market Announced!
New Livermore liquor and Berkeley cocktail bar; hit the Tri-Valley Beer Trail; a James Beard semifinalist; and new Lafayette Chinese.
Jack London Square will soon become an even more exciting food-lovers destination. In addition to top-flight restaurants, an entertainment complex, and a thriving Sunday farmers market that makes the most of a stunning waterfront location, we will soon have Water Street Market, a food-dedicated marketplace offering dozens of artisanal purveyors at 55 Harrison Street in Oakland.
Last night, it was announced that Ellis Partners, DivcoWest, and Steve Carlin of The Carlin Company will develop a 32,000 square-foot space (about half the size of SF's Ferry Building Marketplace). Carlin is the well-known developer of Napa's Oxbow Public Market, who was also involved in the Ferry Building Marketplace development in San Francisco. The market building is LEED certified, with about 110,000 square feet of already leased office space above. No word yet on the food companies who will be represented, but I predict a cattle call of interest. Stay tuned for more details about an opening date. (Can't be soon enough, if you ask me.)
On the Distillery Front
With so much happening in the grain-to-glass libations category, the East Bay is more buzzworthy than ever. Last week, Dish announced the release of great new vodkas from Alameda’s St. George Spirits. This week, we have news about locally produced rums from Livermore’s Sutherland Distilling Company.
The Diablo Shadow California Gold rum (85 proof) and the Diablo Shadow Navy Strength (117 proof … yes, you read that right!) are splashing into locations throughout the East Bay, including The Last Word and Perry’s in Livermore, as well as Moraga Wine and Spirits, Jackson’s Wines and Spirits (in Lafayette), and BevMo in Pleasanton.
Aged in new American oak with a heavy char, these golden rums are smooth and sweet, and perfect both for serving straight or mixing. Sutherland, perhaps best known for its silvery vodka distilled from Sacramento Valley corn, is now working on a 100 percent rye whiskey that will be released later this year.
I caught up with Sutherland cofounder Eric Larimer, and learned that being a California distiller is about more than what goes into the bottle. Larimer is an active member of the California Artisanal Distillers Guild, a group that is working to change outdated California Prohibition laws. “In 40 states, even conservative Utah, you can walk into a distillery and buy a bottle at the tasting room. But not in California,” says Larimer. “We just want to have the same rights as the beer and wine industries. It seems funny that we can charge for a tasting, but we can’t sell a bottle.”
California Assemblyman Marc Levine is supporting the Distillers Guild cause, reports the Press Democrat, so perhaps by January 2016 folks will be able to buy a bottle at any of the dozens of new distilleries bubbling up across the state. For now, spirit lovers can visit Livermore’s Sutherland Distillery, where $10 will get you six quarter-ounce pours.
How About a Cocktail?
In Berkeley: An old-timey cocktail bar has just opened in downtown Berkeley. Tupper and Reed is named for the music store that once occupied the historic Shattuck Avenue building, and where today antique gramophones are spinning again. If you ask me, Tupper and Reed is about much more than music and modern mixology: Here, the classic cocktail is king. On the Balcony (the second-floor, reservations-only salon), the list boasts no less than 45 libations, served every which way from shaken or stirred to up to neat. The ground floor room, called the Stage, will soon feature live jazz entertainment. Classic, right?
Tupper and Reed is the first East Bay landing of S.F.’s Future Bars team that operates a handful of SF bars including Bourbon and Branch, Local Edition, Swig, Tradition, Devil’s Acre, and the CASK bottle shops. Tupper and Reed general manager Sevan Araneda tells me the crowds have been thick and the gramophones have been a huge hit. And, by all accounts, the cocktails have been fabulous, darling!
In Oakland: This Sunday, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m., Flora Oakland will hold a cocktail class led by bar manager Matty McGee on two classic whiskey drinks: the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. If “browns” are your thing, this may be the class for you, as you will learn to deconstruct the differences between bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey. The class is $75.
… Or a Beer?
Brew mustache anyone? In honor of International Women's Day (March 8), "in an attempt to break the stereotype that beer is a masculine drink," the Belgium’s Brewers Federation is offering a free beer to every woman in Belgium who turns up at a designated bar on March 7 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Get your plane tickets now, ladies! Or maybe this is even better:
In Berkeley: Not to be outdone by high-octane libations, a new craft brewery has opened in West Berkeley, offering a raft of locally produced brews, including some from the Altamont Beer Works in Livermore. Fieldwork Brewing Company bills itself as a place of “honest beer making,” and by the look of things, it’s turning heads not only for its fresh brews, but for the eclectic menu that borrows old-world flavors from Oakland’s The Pie Shop in the form of English-style meat and vegan pies. Fieldwork has been making appearances at Pete’s Brass Rail in Danville as well as Caps and Taps in Dublin. From their Berkeley location, Fieldwork is selling beer to-go in refillable growlers.
In the Tri-Valley: Have you heard about the Tri-Valley Beer Trail and Passport designed by the clever people over at Visit Tri-Valley? With 16 great places to get your suds on, this may be just about the best way to enjoy all the craft brew options in Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, and San Ramon. Visit 10 on your passport and get free goodies.
Another way to rock the Valley’s new craft breweries: Black Tie Transportation. Choose from the recommended list of breweries and dash off on a custom tour, complete with your own private chauffeur. Black Tie sets up the reservations. Grain-to-glass has never been so easy.
In Danville: If sit-down brews are more for you than, uh, hop-around beer events, my money is on Revel Kitchen and Bar’s upcoming beer tasting event on March 15 with Alameda-based Faction Brewing. Passed apps and three-courses, including beer pairings, will be served. Now that’s a cool and frosty spin. Tickets are $49.
... Or Something a Little Healthier?
Pleasanton's Vitality Bowls will be giving away free bowls and smoothies to the first 50 customers following a Grand Opening ceremony this Saturday, March 7 starting at 10 a.m.
New Lafayette Chinese
I’m pretty sure it’s the dining—not the fireworks or the parade—that makes me love Chinese New Year so much. This Saturday, March 7, when the big parade takes to Chinatown in SF, I think I'll check out the new Chinese restaurant in Lafayette: Happy Valley Restaurant on Mount Diablo Boulevard.
I chatted with the new owners (no connection to the Happy Valley restaurant in Oakland, although they did own the Happy Valley restaurant in Berkeley until it closed last year). Somehow, it seems more than appropriate that an eatery of this name has opened in Lafayette, home to Happy Valley Road. Owner Amy Yee and her nephew, Adrian Siu, have taken over the former Lily’s House location, serving what she describes as Szechwan-style dishes. Yee tells me the most popular items include the Kung Pao prawns, the honey-glazed beef, and the crispy ginger chicken. Gung Hay Fat Choy!
James Beard Semifinalist
The semifinalists for Best Chef: West of the James Beard Awards include Oakland chef Russell Moore, of Camino. His competition is stiff and includes many San Francisco notables, such as Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, Corey Lee of Benu, Tyler Florence of Wayfare Tavern, and Matthew Accarrino of SPQR, among others. Good luck, Russell. We are crossing our fingers for one of our fave East Bay chefs!
Park Bistro and Bar, Lafayette: Baked Bistro clams
One part clam chowder, one part steamed clams, chef Adam Carpenter offers a new comfort-food take on a seafood classic by sprinkling garlicky breadcrumbs over steamed clams and finishing them in the oven. Flecked with pancetta and potatoes, the broth is creamy and rich. The dining room’s sea-blue décor brings you closer to the ocean than you ever imagined you’d feel in Lafayette.
Flora Oakland: Burrata with Brussels sprouts and lemon
The creamy softness of this good-to-the-last morsel housemade cheese melts cloud-like on top of a piece of toasted Acme bread. Shaved Brussels sprouts are salty and crisp, brightened with just the right amount of lemon zest for the perfect bite.
Shakewell, Oakland: Moroccan eggs
Alas, chef Jen Biesty has decided not to bring her many talents to Walnut Creek after all, so for a taste of her lusty, Mediterranean cuisine, I just had to go to her. These eggs, baked in a savory broth with chickpeas, roasted peppers and spices, are as close to unforgettable as any dish in memory. If you love Middle Eastern flavors, check out Shakewell for an out-of-the-ordinary brunch experience.