Diablo Dish: Lafayette’s Artisan Bistro Closing
KoJa Kitchen and Burger Lounge arrive in Walnut Creek; Revel now offers more than dinner; new brunch options in time for spring; and Walnut Creek Restaurant Week is almost here!
Artisan Bistro Bids Adieu
After nearly eight years in business, Artisan Bistro in Lafayette will permanently close its doors this Sunday. Manager Elizabeth Marquez said the restaurant is shuttering due to rising rent, food, and labor costs.
Chef John Marquez’s French-forward eatery was known for its unpretentious fine cuisine and its elegant yet cozy atmosphere. Artisan Bistro also influenced Lafayette’s fine-dining scene, paving the way for other upscale restaurants to open in the area.
Diners will still be able to find Marquez in action at Lima in Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza, where his Peruvian dishes take center stage. Still, Artisan Bistro has been a special-occasion staple in Lamorinda since 2009, and it will be sorely missed.
KoJa Opens in Walnut Creek
KoJa Kitchen, a local fast-casual chain specializing in “reinvented Korean-Japanese food,” is now open in the space formerly occupied by Citra Grill in downtown Walnut Creek. KoJa specializes in gourmet sandwiches made with crispy garlic rice buns and spicy meats (think short ribs, beef, chicken, and braised pork), but also offers Asian-fusion bowls, tacos, and salads.
The food truck–turned–restaurant already has East Bay locations in Berkeley and Emeryville—and another will be opening soon to Alameda—so there will be plenty of opportunities to pair a classic KoJa sandwich with umami fries (waffle-cut fries topped with miso-coconut braised pork, spices, and fried onions). One word of warning: Get plenty of napkins before you start digging in.
A Healthier Burger Option at The Orchards
The first Northern California location of Burger Lounge will open on Monday in The Orchards at Walnut Creek shopping center.
Burger Lounge offers handcrafted burgers made with non-GMO, grass-fed beef (though turkey and bison are also available) as well as salads, sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes (plus beer and wine!). The restaurant chain makes food with only fresh ingredients and follows sustainable practices—it even converts unused cooking oil into fuel for delivery trucks, and uses recycled water bottles to make the tabletops.
Burger Lounge is also a step up from a typical fast-casual burger joint, as the staff takes care of drink refills and brings customers napkins, silverware, extra sauces, and whatever else might be needed.
It all sounds good to us!
Revel Reveals Lunch and Brunch Menus
After three years, Danville’s Revel Kitchen and Bar is now offering lunch Monday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday.
The lunch menu includes such goodies as meatball and crispy cod sandwiches, along with Revel staples like the Wagyu beef burger and hand-cut pasta. The Sunday brunch offers traditional breakfast dishes—check out the new offerings between 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Celebrate the Start of Spring with Brunch
There’s no better way to start a spring day than with a scrumptious brunch, and there are now two more Oakland options:
Duchess: Duchess has been high on our list since it opened in the Rockridge neighborhood in December, and the casual eatery has finally finalized its brunch menu. It’s hard to go wrong with the corned beef hash, chicken and waffles, or morning tacos featuring scrambled eggs and chorizo, but there are plenty of other options—and all are available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Agave Uptown: Agave Uptown’s brunch menu is only available on the weekends—but it does offer bottomless mimosas for $5, which wouldn’t work nearly as well during the week. Head to the Mexican restaurant to try Oaxacan-influenced breakfast dishes, such as the delicious chilaquiles, on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Get Ready for Restaurant Week
It may be a month away, but it’s never too early to start planning—read: make reservations—for the fifth annual Walnut Creek Restaurant Week. The fun begins on April 23 and continues through April 30, giving foodies the chance to enjoy special meals at reduced prices at numerous downtown restaurants. We spoke with Walnut Creek Downtown Event Coordinator Christy Lund to get all the tasty details.
Q: What makes Restaurant Week special?
A: You are offered unique and value-priced meals. Each restaurant creates prix-fixe menus that are $20, $30, or $40, which are bargain prices for places like Lark Creek, Va de Vi, and Massimo Ristorante. We’ve also added a $10 prix-fixe lunch option for several of the restaurants to go along with the $20 option we had in the past, so lunch is even more affordable.
Q: How do people take advantage of these deals?
A: The Restaurant Week specials are automatically available at each participating restaurant. We highly recommend making reservations though, especially on the weekends.
Q: The restaurants are offering really good deals. Could they potentially wind up in the red?
A: The restaurants love it! We have 32 restaurants this year—up from 23 last year—and a lot of people who usually don’t go downtown wind up going there for Restaurant Week. We want diners to try new restaurants and explore new cuisines, without having to max out the credit card. This way, someone who’s never been to True Food Kitchen, for example, can check it out without spending more than usual and experience something different.
Q: Will people be able to look at the prix-fixe menus in advance, or will they just have to take their chances that kale won’t be an ingredient in every dish?
A: We already have some of the menus live on the website, and all of the menus will be up the first week of April. We hope everyone has fun planning out a week of good food at great prices.
To Gilbert Khoury of Livermore, who won two free tickets to the Barrels, Bottles, and Brews event in Livermore. Thank you to everyone who participated in our special giveaway!
Last Week's Dish:
In-N-Out Coming to Walnut Creek
Well that’s the plan at least, which means In-N-Out fans may soon be able to grab their favorite burger, fries, and secret (or not-so-secret) menu items in the northern part of town.
According to the East Bay Times, the fast-food restaurant will be located at the corner of Second Avenue and North Main Street. If approved, it would be part of a development that includes a new Starbucks. It would also be the sixth In-N-Out to open in Contra Costa County, as there are already locations in Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Brentwood, Pinole, and Pittsburg.
That Walnut Creek intersection isn’t exactly a hot spot right now, but if all goes well, burger lovers will descend en masse—and start ordering those 3x3s, “animal-style” fries, and maybe even a chocolate shake.
We’ll keep you posted on any developments.
Bunzas and Beer at Dora’s in Berkeley
Dora’s recently joined the University Avenue fun in Berkeley, offering a combination of locally sourced beers and old-fashioned stuffed sandwiches called bunzas. There are 12 brews on tap (half are from Fieldwork Brewing) that can be enjoyed with an array of bunzas—brioche dough stuffed with such delicious fillings as chicken korma and Vietnamese pork.
The spot was formerly A Dora Pie, and while there are still pies and cookies and other baked goods available, Dora’s is now largely focusing on beer. The taproom has 20 seats inside, but there’s room for 80 more people in the outdoor beer garden, which also features views of a lovely rose garden. Let's hope the recent break from the rain continues so folks can actually sit outside …
Bring Out Your Inner Irish This Weekend
Rustic Tavern: If you’re hankering for some traditional Irish fare on Friday, Lafayette’s Rustic Tavern is offering plates of house-smoked corned beef, boiled potatoes, and cabbage for just $21. But get there early, because there’s only so much food to go around.
The Terrace Room: You can get an early start on your Gaelic lessons at Oakland’s Terrace Room, as the $35, three-course dinner menu will offer an array of specialties, such as spinach soup, Guinness braised lamb neck, and gingerbread with a boozy sauce. There will also be a special weekend brunch menu featuring apple and cheddar waffles, baked eggs, and corned beef and cabbage—so the festivities can continue past Friday.
Warriors Fans Can Get Even Happier
Along with Steph Curry’s three-pointers and Andre Iguodala’s dunks, Warriors fans have another thing to be excited about: an extended happy hour at the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill in Oakland. The waterfront restaurant is now offering happy hour from 3 p.m. to closing during all weekday Warriors home games. (Note that the regular Monday through Friday happy hours will remain in effect on non-game days.) Lake Chalet has also expanded its happy hour offerings to include sliders, specialty cocktails, and handcrafted ales.
Get into March Madness at Itani Ramen
It’s tournament time, and Uptown Oakland’s Itani Ramen is making it easy to enjoy the ups and downs that come with March Madness. During all NCAA games, pitchers of Sapporo will cost $12, and gyoza will only cost $1. Of course, additional drink specials are available during Genki Happy Hour (every day from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close), so you can celebrate your alma mater’s win—or drown your sorrows when they get eliminated.
Fun with Flamenco at Telefèric
Make Monday night special and head to Walnut Creek’s Telefèric Barcelona, where you can enjoy a flamenco dance performance by Caminos Flamencos between 6 and 9 p.m. The showcase of Spanish culture also extends to the food—especially the pintxos cart featuring bite-sized snacks, such as truffled deviled eggs and Spanish ham.
A night of food and flamenco seems like a great way to end a Monday …
Start the Week with Wine and Italian Food
Livermore’s Nottingham Cellars and Danville’s Locanda Ravello are teaming up to brighten your Monday with a decadent winemaker dinner. For $85, guests can join Jeff and Collin Cranor of Nottingham Cellars for an Italian feast featuring beet salad, pasta ragout, braised short ribs, and millefoglie pastry along with award-winning wines. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. at Locanda Ravello.
Celebrate Spring at Bridges
The changing of the seasons isn't going unnoticed at Danville’s Bridges Restaurant and Bar, as executive chef Kevin Gin and wine director Brandon Jamieson are partnering with Calistoga’s Frank Family Vineyards for a special wine-and-dine spring special on Tuesday.
The night will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a wine and appetizer reception, which will be followed by a four-course dinner with wine pairings from Frank Family Vineyards. The event costs $100, but you’re bound to go home happy.
Barrels, Bottles, and Brews—and Free Tickets, Too!
Livermore is starting a new spring tradition: Barrels, Bottles, and Brews. The two-day event expands on the previous barrel tasting weekends in Livermore Valley by adding beer and spirits to the mix.
This year, three breweries and two distilleries will join 30 wineries in pouring locally made beers, spirits, and wines. Guests may even get to meet the brewer, distiller, or winemaker at the participating locations, adding to the fun. Many locations will also offer live music, arts and crafts vendors, and discounts on bottle purchases and food.
The event take places on March 25 and 26 from noon to 4:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $45 (and $55 the day of)—and ticket buyers will receive a souvenir GoVino tasting glass, reserve tastings at participating locations, access to special activities, discounts, and an event map.
Oh, and did we mention we have some free tickets? A lucky Diablo Dish reader will get to spend the weekend without spending—just fill out the form below, and we’ll randomly pick a winner who can savor the whole experience along with a guest for free.