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 // By Andria Lo
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!