Weekly Dish: Trappist Comes to Rockridge
New Belgian beer bar on College Ave, Guest Chef talks TV deals, New York-style deli in the works, and more Rockridge dining news; all in this week's Dish!
Photo by Colin Burke McClure
The popular Belgian beer bar The Trappist in Old Oakland will be pouring its rarified European-style brews soon in Rockridge. According to co-owner Chuck Stilphen, the new place will be a small (800-square-feet) bottleshop hybrid called Trappist Provisions. Replacing the former Heartware home goods store on College Avenue a few doors down from Wood Tavern and Southie, Stilphen said the newest store would feature a typically large bottle selection along with five to 10 taps similar to Stilphen's ØL Beercafe, which he opened last year in downtown Walnut Creek. No word yet on when Provisions may open, but it should provide a nice nightlife spot for an area that, despite being known for top-notch dining, tends to shut down pretty early.
All right, here's a little run-down on the Rockridge dining scene since we're on the topic ...
The folks at Toast were also hoping to tap into the neighborhood's underserved late-night scene when they decided to take over the building next door and turn it into Toast Bar, which would be open as late as midnight. There've been a few snags in the process, so the opening has been pushed back a little, likely until later this summer. In the meantime you can preview the cocktails to come at the original Toast lounge, which now has its full liquor license. Toast also expanded its patio dining for the summer and is now open for lunch, dishing out snacks (such as the addictive Parmigian nuggets with truffle honey), salads, cheese and charcuterie, and sandwiches like the spicy lamb meatloaf sandwich with tomato sauce and shaved pepato cheese, and a grilled cheese with roasted poblano chile, white cheddar, and pumpkin seed pesto. 5900 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 658-5900, toastwinelounge.com.
A couple doors down from the future Trappist Provisions, Southie is now open in the mornings with coffee and espresso and just a few carefully selected breakfast items (like a breakfast burrito), while the ever-packed Wood Tavern has a new executive chef. Yang Peng replaced the departed Miximilian DiMare at the beginning of the year, and is slowly putting her stamp on the food without changing too much from the popular menu.
Down College Avenue, new owners are planning a Big Apple makeover to the formerly ho-hum Cafe Zoe. Brothers Mark and Jason Scott run Authentic Bagel Company, a wholesale business out of a commercial kitchen in Emeryville that supplies bagels to around a dozen East Bay cafes. Now the Northeast-bred brothers have a storefront of their own and are planning on turning the space into a New York-style bagel shop and deli. Mark described the concept as being somewhere between Noah's Bagels and Genova Deli, in which the focus would be on real NYC-style boiled bagels (apparently most bagels on the West Coast are steamed), along with New York deli items such as corned beef and pastrami on rye bread, smoked white fish, lox, etc., with all the curing and pickling done in-house (including homemade pickles, sauerkraut, and coleslaw). You'll be able to get straight cold cuts as well as sandwiches, and Mark said they're aiming to provide a quick, affordable, take-out option for a higher-end neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of that available. The Scotts hope to close for a week or so and open back up as Authentic Bagel Company sometime by around mid-June. 6000 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 658-4963, facebook.com/abagelco
2011 Diablo Food Award winner Oliveto is now offering a special family-style Sunday Farmhouse Supper prix fixe every week. The idea came from executive chef Jonah Rhodehamel's riff off of the restaurant's annual whole hog supper, in which Rhodehamel served up dishes using just the basic ingredients that would have been found in poor families’ kitchens. Says owner Bob Klein, "the food is different from what Oliveto serves on the regular menu—less excessive, and over-the-top. It's authentic, pure delicious Italian regional farmhouse food, not elevated for restaurants." The suppers are served in addition to the regular menu and run $40/person, plus $40 for a bottle of wine. CLICK HERE for more information and this week's menu. 5655 College Avenue Oakland, (510) 547-5356, oliveto.com.
I checked in with Guest Chef owner Scott Cameron, who said that things are good at his innovative little eatery. As a reminder, Guest Chef allows aspiring chefs (or established chefs) take over its fully equipped and staffed restaurant for two weeks at a time, rent-free. The idea is to let the aspiring chefs get a risk-free taste of what its like to actually cook in a restaurant, and gives established chefs a chance to try out new dishes, menu items, or ideas on a two-week trial basis. It's a bit of a crazy idea to say the least, but Cameron says that after a slow start Guest Chef has found its footing and is even running a profit—not too bad considering it's less than a year old. He also said he's looking to expand the concept to San Francisco (he nearly had a location locked up before it fell through at the last minute). In addition, Cameron said he is in conversations with television producers to turn the idea into a reality TV show and should have an announcement on that front soon.
So who's coming up at Guest Chef? The interesting lineup really does reflect the diversity and quirkiness of the concept: Starting this Sunday, May 13, is Alex Marsh, a professionally-trained chef who has worked at such lauded restaurants as Campton Place, Solstice, and Brick. After that comes Susie Farber and Dale Schmidt, two foodies with no professional cooking experience. And maybe the most interesting guest chefs of the bunch are David and Maddy Hung, a father and daughter team who take over this June 19. David runs a multi-billion dollar San Francisco biotech company and is teaming with his daughter on an Asian-Italian fusion menu before she leaves home to attend Harvard this fall. Interesting concept, interesting stories: CLICK HERE to read more. 5337 College Ave, Oakland, (510) 658-7378, theguestchef.net.
Had enough Rockridge yet? Couple more things: À Côté and Rumbo al Sur-owner Jack Knowles checked in from Jazz Fest in New Orleans to say that development of the former Citron space next door to À Côté is on hold for now while he focuses on opening his Preservation Hall West music hall/restaurant project in San Francisco's Mission district. And Hudson-owner Justin Hafen told me that all is status-quo at his popular Rockridge restaurant, but that they had completed the expansion of his Glenview eatery Marzano. The always mouth-watering Pasta Shop in Market Hall is offering a steady stream of cookbook author appearances, including Alice Medrich on her Sinfully Delicious Desserts at the Berkeley location this Sunday and chef Erik Cosselmon on his Kokkari cookbook on June 9. And this isn't technically Rockridge, but Oakland-native Nick Yapor-Cox is now spinning out pies using high-quality, seasonal ingredients at his just-opened Nick's Pizza on 6211 Shattuck Ave.
Want to get a little taste of this area for yourself? This Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m. is the Rockridge Spring Jazz and Wine Stroll. Just BART on in...
OK, enough Rockridge. Lamorinda diners, make sure to check out the 10th annual Taste of Lafayette restaurant walk happening this Tuesday, May 15. A mere $45 gets you access to a wine reception at Lafayette Plaza (5:30-6:30), tastings at some of Lafayette's finest restaurants (6:30-8:30), and coffee and dessert back at Lafayette Plaza (8:30-9:30). Participating restaurants include Chevalier, Postino, Yankee Pier, Patxi's Pizza, Uncle Yu's, and Pizza Antica. Go to lafayettechamber.org/events/taste-of-lafayette for more info and to get tickets.
Get your chocolate and wine on at downtown Danville's Wine & Chocolate Stroll this Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. Select businesses will be staying open late and pouring some of the area's best wines paired with gourmet chocolates provided by Danville Chocolates. Tickets are $25, CLICK HERE for details.
Also in Danville, Patrick David's transition to Martini Sky could be complete as soon as this weekend. Owner Al Sisto said he was shooting for Saturday to open back up with the new International small plates menu (Spanish ham and chicken cakes, lobster potstickers, Asian spare ribs) from executive chef Jose Campos, formerly sous chef at Bing Crosby's. And, true to the name, you can choose from a selection of around 50 different types of martinis. Just call to make sure they're open... 416 Sycamore Valley Road West, Danville, (925) 838-7611, martinisky.com.
A couple of closings to report. Stephen's Pasta Cafe closed in the San Ramon Market Place: a restaurant called Wild Rice, about which I have few details, is apparently taking its place. Also, Singaporean Old Town Cafe shut down in the Ulfert's Center in Dublin.
A big happy anniversary to Walnut Creek Yacht Club, which on Monday celebrated 15 years of serving some of the freshest seafood this side of the Caldecott Tunnel. Celebrate the Yacht Club, and mom, together on the 13th when the usually-closed-on-Sundays eatery will be open for Mother's Day and offering a $30 three-course prix fixe in addition to their normal menu. CLICK HERE for more details on the prix fixe, as well as on chef Kevin Weinberg's Mediterranean-themed "Last Wednesday" dinner on Wednesday May 30. 1555 Bonanza Street, Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net.
Speaking of Mother's Day, don't forget to take mom out for to eat this Sunday. There're a ton of great restaurants offering special brunch menus, a few of which we detail below (CLICK HERE to read). For a more comprehensive list from Opentable, CLICK HERE. Reserve soon, tables are filling up...
A major congrats to Chef Nancy Oakes, whose Boulevard restaurant just won a James Beard Foundation award for outstanding restaurant. That's a big deal, by the way...
The East Bay Vintner's Alliance's Passport to the East Bay Wine Trail is happening this Saturday. The event offers tastes of 21 award-winning wineries and stops at ten tasting rooms in Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda. Price is $40 if you buy online today, $50 at the door, and you can ditch the wheels and get a pass for shuttle service between wineries for $10. CLICK HERE for all the deets.
For all you hungry Giants fans, cool event happening outside AT&T Park this Monday, May 14. To help whet your appetite for SF Chefs restaurant week in late July, the one-time SF Chefs at the Park will bring together some of San Francisco's finest chefs and restaurants (Traci Des Jardins of Mijita and Public House, Antelmo Faria from Tacolicious, Ryan Farr from 4505 Meats) for a two-hour tasting event from 5 to 7 p.m. in Seals Plaza outside the ballpark. Tickets include entry to the Giants/Rockies game afterwards: CLICK HERE for more info and tix.
The Nature Conservancy is calling all foodies. Send them your choice for the best green restaurant in the Bay Area and you'll be entered to win a gourmet salsa and avocado basket donated by Petty Ranch and The Best of VC Marketplace. Semifinalists will be announced on June 4 and on June 26, the Conservancy will announce the people's choice winner of the Nature’s Plate Award.
The sun is shining, flowers are in full bloom, and Mother’s Day is just around the corner. If you are looking for a delicious way to show your mother your appreciation, here’s a go-to guide of local restaurants offering Mother’s Day specials this Sunday. —by Elizabeth Schroeder
Top of the Mark
Splurge on treating Mom to a lavish spread while listening to live piano music provided by pianist Michael Athens. Brunch items include banana fosters French toast and bourbon-maple glazed bone-in ham. Order mouth-watering classics such as San Francisco cioppino or the duck confit flageolet bean compote. Finish off your extravagant meal with several desserts including Mom’s choice of strawberry rhubarb crisp, French apple galette, or Mark Hopkins famous bread pudding. Each mother will leave with a lovely tulip stem.
Reservations required; $99 for adults and $59 for children (4-12 years of age), 10 a.m.–2 p.m., 1 Nob Hill, San Francisco, (415) 616-6199,
In addition to serving its regular a la carte menu, this sophisticated Indian restaurant will also dish out a $26 “Best of the Best Chef’s Tasting Menu.” Enjoy tastings of three appetizers and four main courses including chicken, lamb, seafood and eggplant, accompanied by vegetables, rice, onion naan, chutneys, pickles, yogurt raita, and dessert. A $23 vegetarian tasting menu is also available.
5:30–9:30 p.m., 1888 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 526-4373, ajantarestaurant.com.
If your Mother’s Day plans don’t find you sampling Gather’s sustainable grub during brunch, the restaurant has you covered for dinner. It will offer an impressive a la carte menu showcasing fresh, local ingredients including baby vegetables from Lindencroft Farm and Magruder sheep. Mother’s Day highlights will include sheep osso bucco with smoked tomatoes, grits cooked in goat whey and lamb belly, spring vegetables with a sea palm vinaigrette, and roasted strawberries with goat cheese. Relax with Mom as she enjoys The Mirage, a featured cocktail that combines Fortaleza Blanco tequila, St. Germain, lemon, lime, Gran Classico, apple cider, and a splash of Regan’s bitters.
Brunch 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Dinner 5 p.m.–10 p.m., 2200 Oxford St., Berkeley, (510) 809-0400, gatherrestaurant.com
Mom will enjoy soaking up the sunshine while sampling Japanese and Spanish-style cuisine on the outside patio. A la carte menu specials include eggs benedict, California omelets, a pulled-pork “Samich”, a classic bistro burger, custard French toast, and cranberry-almond spinach salad. Mothers will be treated extra sweet while indulging in a complimentary dessert.
9:30 a.m.–3 p.m., 2441 Dwight Way, Berkeley, (510) 848-5260, joshu-ya.com
Revival Bar & Kitchen
After enjoying a sunny day filled with outdoor activities, hop on over to Revival Bar & Kitchen to wind down with Mom. Chef Amy will be hard at work preparing farm-to-table spring delights including handmade pasta, spring vegetable ragout, Field to Family Farm’s roast chicken, asparagus formato, and McCormack Ranch goat. The restaurant will open a little earlier than normal, so hurry on over to snag a spot and relax with a cocktail specially made in honor of “Mamma.” To top of the evening, Chef Amy will bake up a batch of lavender cookies as a parting gift for the moms in the house.
5 p.m.–9:30 p.m., 2102 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 549-9950, revivalbarandkitchen.com
Make Sunday morning special with live music and Italian-inspired cuisine. All moms receive a complimentary glass of sparkling wine to accompany the restaurant’s specials, which feature a California twist on Italian classics. Don’t miss the rich lobster hash with toast and poached eggs, topped with hollandaise. If Mom wants to keeps things light, try the roasted beets with turnip puree, toasted hazelnuts, grilled asparagus, watermelon radishes, and Tuscan cloud foam, or indulge in a Dungeness crab omelet with ricotta and goat cheeses, tarragon, and hollandaise.
10 a.m.– 2 p.m., 2220 Mountain Blvd. (at Montclair Village), Oakland, (510) 482-8094, italiancolorsrestaurant.com
Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill
Brunch will include decadent menu items like the crab and asparagus omelet, salmon benedict, and classic French toast. Starting at 3 p.m., a special dinner menu will feature grilled salmon, Meyer lemon paparadelle, and succulent whole crab. In addition to dining room seating, outdoor seating on the dock allows Mom to enjoy the spring weather and direct views of the sun glinting off Lake Merritt. All mothers will receive a complimentary spring flower.
10 a.m.–3 p.m., 1520 Lakeside Dr., Oakland, (510) 208-5253, thelakechalet.com
Lark Creek Walnut Creek
Pamper Mom while she enjoys a wide selection of all-American wines outside on the sidewalk seating or in front of the famous exhibition kitchen at Lark Creek. Sit back and relax as Executive Chef Scott Wall prepares seasonal, farm-fresh American fare and fresh takes on classics such as the house eggs Benedict, served on a black pepper biscuit with Berkshire ham and citrus-tarragon hollandaise. House-made desserts provide a sweet conclusion to the celebratory brunch.
10 a.m.–3 p.m.,1360 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 256-1234, larkcreek.com
French outpost Chevalier will open early with a special Mother’s Day lunch and dinner menu. For lunch, try starting with a terrine du chef (house-made pate served with cornichons, pearl onions, Dijon, and nicoise olive bread), followed with steamed mussels or pan-seared skirt steak. In the evening, adventurous moms can opt for an escargot, and then keep it classic with boef bourguignon, a slow braised beef stew in red wine served with fresh tagliatelle pasta.
960 Moraga Rd., Lafayette, (925) 385-0793, chevalierrestaurant.com.
For lunch and dinner, Pizza Anteca offers seasonal, Roman-inspired cuisine as well as a few new dishes sure to please Mom and even the little ones! Reservations are not accepted, but call 30 minutes in advance so you can snag a table on the beautiful tree-lined patio.
11 a.m.–10 p.m., 3600 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, (925) 299-0500, pizzaantica.com.
Bridges Restaurant & Bar:
Bring Mom to Bridges for its Mother’s Day brunch, which includes specialties such as truffled crab and bay shrimp omelets and champagne cocktails. The restaurant also offers an elevated kids menu, with items like blueberry marscapone French toast, for families with younger members. For dinner, Executive Chef Kevin Gin will dish out pan roasted California halibut with lobster hash, roast filet mignon, and braised osso busso. Top off the night with a decadent double chocolate mousse torte, or opt for the frozen lime yogurt if Mom’s afraid she’ll need to be wheeled home.
Brunch 11 a.m.¬–2 p.m., dinner 5–8:30 p.m., 44 Church St., Danville, (925) 820-7200, bridgesdanville.com.
Piatti Ristorante and Bar
Celebrate Mom’s Day with Piatti’s signature menu, prepared by Executive Chef Michael Baker. Items include a variety of Italian-influenced breakfast classics, gluten-free options, and a family-friendly kids menu for children under 12. If you can’t make it to brunch, order a Piatti Gift Certificate online and slip it in a card so Mom can visit on her own time.
Reservations recommended, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., 100 Sycamore Valley Rd. West, Danville, (925) 838-2082, piatti.com
Pop open the bubbly at Blue Agave on Sunday in honor of your mother. During the Mexican restaurant’s Sunday champagne brunch, sample from a buffet featuring to-order omelets and eggs, Mexican favorites such as chilaquiles and carnitas, and, of course, champagne. With both a front and back patio, Blue Agave has plenty of outdoor seating to pair with the bubbles.
$30 adults, $13 children under 13, 625 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 417-1224, blueagaveclub.com.
Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
For sweeping views of the vines, head to Wente for an unforgettable Mother’s Day brunch. The special prix fixe menu opens with sour cream coffee cake, followed by your choice of five appetizers (ranging from Maine lobster bisque to citrus-cured gravlax), six main courses (including nettle risotto and morel polenta), and three desserts (choose from a Kahlua-kissed chocolate cream pie, pistachio marble angel food cake, or a vanilla rhubarb ice cream float).
$49, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, (925) 456-2450, wentevineyards.com.