Weekly Dish: Tender Greens Coming to Walnut Creek
Farm-to-table meets fast-and-affordable in downtown Walnut Creek; win an iPad at Pleasant Hill's new farmer's market; teachers get a break at Lark Creek restaurants; and a new executive chef for Berkeley's FIVE restaurant.
Another interesting new restaurant is coming to Walnut Creek. Tender Greens, with four locations in Southern California, is opening their first NorCal spot in the old Forward Motion Sports next to Lark Creek on Locust Street. This mini-chain has been generating some buzz down south with their concept: fresh, locally-sourced ingredients served fast and affordable. The locally-sourced idea is nothing new, most new restaurant are on that bandwagon these days, but Tender Greens co-owner Erik Oberholtzer seems perhaps more committed than most, pledging to work with local farms and food purveyors for the majority of the menu. What is new is the fast and affordable angle: it'll be cafeteria-style, order at the counter, and all entrees, salads and meats, are $10.50—pretty reasonable for the quality of food that Tender Greens plans on serving. "In many ways, slow food, farm-to-table, is still something you see only in the high-end market," Oberholtzer says. "Me and the chefs that work with me have come out of that slow, high-end market, and the point of Tender Greens is to make it accessible to a broader demographic."
Oberholtzer has history in the Bay Area, having worked in kitchens from Aqua and Chez Pannise to Lark Creek and Left Bank before he moved to southern California, and he's bringing in a chef for the Walnut Creek restaurant who also has East Bay experience: Orinda-resident Charles Hechinger, former executive chef at the Claremont Hotel, Club & Spa. Owners are shooting for a late summer, early fall opening, says Oberholtzer, who didn't appear to lack for confidence when asked whether he was looking to open up other Bay Area locations. "We're going to hit it out of the park at Walnut Creek and go from there." The new Tender Greens will be located at 1352 Locust Street in Walnut Creek, tendergreensfood.com.
Lark Creek restaurant group is doing their annual good deed for local teachers. For the whole month of May, Lark Creek is holding Teachers Appreciation Month at all their restaurants (including East bay locations Lark Creek Walnut Creek and Yankee Pier in Lafayette).That means that any teacher or school employee with proper ID gets $10 off their bill (excluding alcohol and gratuity). There's no limit to the number of times you can use it or a minimum amount you have to spend—that's a lot of free $10 lunches. larkcreek.com
Pleasant Hill is pumped up about the new downtown location for their summer Farmer's Market, running 8 a.m.–noon Saturday mornings on Crescent Drive in front of the Century Theaters. Check out their grand opening this Saturday: there will be live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, plus a raffle for a chance to win a free iPad. ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/cctimes_PHmarket
Finally, Hotel Shattuck Plaza's FiVE restaurant have promoted Banks White to executive chef of the new-last-year Berkeley restaurant. White, a Texas-native and graduate of New England Culinary Institute (don't see that combo too often), replaces Scott Howard, who according to several reports, will be taking over Izzy's in Corte Madera and turning it into Brick & Bottle (late-May opening). Howard will still be involved as a consultant for FIVE to help maintain his farm-to-table, locally-sourced philosophy for the restaurant. 2086A Allston Way, Berkeley, (510) 225-6055, five-restaurant.com.
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