Weekly Dish: Big News from Elevé
Walnut Creek’s Elevé to become Library on Main; Whole Foods opens in Dublin; the Warriors and Peet’s partner up; and a beer garden in Lafayette.
Courtesy of Library on Main
Big news from Elevé Restaurant and Bar, the Vietnamese fusion restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek that has been a perennial Diablo magazine Food Awards winner. Michele DuRye, the chef/owner, has decided to start a brand-new restaurant in the location of her five-year-old landmark restaurant.
"Elevé is making a ‘getaway,’ ” DuRye says with a laugh. “I'm a creative person, and sometimes I need to change things up. This is an exciting departure for me. I’m done with Vietnamese. Now I want to cook American cuisine."
Elevé will soon become a restaurant called Library on Main, a reference to the original Walnut Creek library that was built in 1916 at the restaurant's current location on the corner of Civic Drive and Main Street, across from the police station and city hall.
DuRye and partners plan to serve “New American” cuisine they describe as "American fare meets global small plates.” “Think buffalo chicken wings meets Moroccan chicken skewers,” says DuRye. Library on Main will extend Elevé’s wildly popular hand-crafted cocktail bar program to include a more extensive selection of wines, possibly including wines on tap. It will also bring on an unnamed executive chef with “serious cooking chops,” marking yet another restaurant with hot-chef status to open east of the Caldecott.
Elevé will close at the end of June while the interior is redesigned by big-name Bay Area design firm, Larson Shores (the designer of Oakland's Homestead restaurant, among others). The new interior will feature a retro library theme, walls of books, quotes from famous writers, and other nods to the written word.
DuRye plans to open as Library on Main by August 1.
A book drive to collect old and leather-bound books is currently underway at Elevé. DuRye invites anyone who would like to re-purpose their old books to come into the restaurant with their donation soon. Book donors and loyal customers will be included in the invitation-only "Bon Voyage" party that will take place on Saturday, June 27, Elevé’s last day of operation, when pitchers of beer and handcrafted cocktails will be served. DuRye suggests stopping by Elevé for dinner in the coming weeks to see how you can get on that exclusive invitation-only list.
A Whole New Whole Foods Opens in Dublin
And, says Diablo editor Susan Safipour, “this is not your grandma’s A&P.” Ha! Here’s her report:
“The new Whole Foods has a juice bar, a Nona Lim Noodle bar, and, this week, an Ahi tuna experience, where the store will get a whole tuna and customers can custom design their own poke. The store will stock the usual prepared foods and ready-to-go meals, but the Dublin location is also equipped to make food to customer specifications with advance notice. If you don’t like avocado in your sushi roll, for example, just tell ’em, and they’ll make what you like. It sounds like a fast-casual grocery store.”
Amazing, right? In addition to a stellar food program, Whole Foods Dublin has teamed up with Livermore wineries. They even have a “wine lie down” storage area. You can get wines by the glass, perhaps accompanied by a dozen fresh-shucked oysters, to enjoy in the tastefully decorated outdoor seating area. (Fun fact: The Livermore wine AVA extends to Danville and includes Dublin and Pleasanton.) Don’t miss it.
A Beer Garden Grows in Lafayette
I was poking around Lafayette the other day, and I gotta say, there’s a lot to love about the dining scene in the city that has ‘Love Lafayette’ in its tagline. There are lots of reasons to celebrate, too. For one thing, it was crazy to see the huge crowd of families at American Kitchen for Dog Day Tuesdays, a totally fresh idea and a nice change from Taco Tuesday, don’t you think?
And now, in the side yard of the charming outdoor patio, American Kitchen has launched Beer Garden Thursdays. The first open-to-the-public beer garden event will take place this Thursday, May 28, when a brewer from the East Bay’s own E.J. Phair will be pouring Shorty’s Revenge, an English Strong Ale and Plank Walker Pale Ale.
Next Thursday, look for the beer of the Lagunitas Brewing Company. While sipping in the sun, you can enjoy the usual AK lineup of casual burgers, sammies, and salads.
Ice Cream Season Begins
Just as Dish was blasting last week, I got a tweet from Danielle Lombard, co-owner of the new Crafts Creamery in Danville, telling me that she was finally opening the doors of her, uh, very cool (and steamy) ice cream shop. When I stopped by the next day, the place was thick with liquid nitrogen steam and the crowds were almost as deep.
Using the same cryogenic method employed at Smitten, Crafts Creamery offers customers the choice of five different bases: premium, organic, low fat, coconut milk, and non-dairy granita in a market-basket selection of flavors, including the usual suspects and dee-lights such as Lucky Charms, caramel popcorn, and black sesame. And I haven’t even mentioned the toppings! Stop by the Clock Tower square for a lick. Check out previous Dish coverage here.
We all scream for … Little Giant! I just got a tip that another artisanal ice cream shop, called Little Giant, will open in coming weeks on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.
Also, has anyone seen the electric ice cream truck that has been buzzing around the East Bay the last few days handing out free ice-cream scoops? Ben and Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Tour was spotted yesterday in Berkeley, and now there’s a rumor that it’s coming to Walnut Creek. Ben and Jerry’s is calling on leaders of the developed nations and the United Nations to tackle climate change at the upcoming summit in Paris. Check out the latest on B&J’s Twitter feed.
From Cool to Hot
What could be hotter than the Golden State Warriors, right? Maybe a cup of Peet's! In the team’s honor, Emeryville-based Peet's Coffee and Tea has created a special coffee blend called Warriors Grounds. The 10-ounce, pre-ground bags are available for $9.99 in all Bay Area locations until supplies last. Let’s see if the Warriors can take it all the way. Five percent of the proceeds—up to $10,000—will go to the Warriors Community Foundation for youth in the Bay Area.
Talk about a coffee break
Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee Co. just opened their first shop in Tokyo, Japan and according to a recent news report, the wait for a cup of coffee by the artisanal roaster has been as long as four hours! Now that's what I call a coffee break.
Esquire magazine has just released their annual list of the best bars in America and Emeryville's Prizefighter received a nod: Here's what Esquire had to say:
"This quintessential California bar is tucked away in a gritty industrial area across the bay from San Francisco and a thousand miles from the city's high-concept ways: low-key and casual, with a large patio and a clientele from all, or at least a great many, walks of life, and only the best of everything to drink."
For all you cat lovers (and that includes me …) here’s a little tidbit from San Francisco Eater about the expansion that’s planned for the now-infamous Cat Café in Oakland.
Emeryville’s charming eatery Townhouse Bar and Grill is now celebrating 25 years of crafting rustic American cuisine. Chef Ellen Hope Rosenberg, who cooked at notable restaurants such as Spago in Los Angeles before opening Townhouse in 1990, says she hopes you will stop by soon to enjoy something special from the new spring lineup.
May 30: This Saturday, from 2 to 3 p.m., join New York Times columnist Mark Bittman at The Pasta Shop Rockridge Market Hall for a signing of his newest book, A Bone to Pick. His How To Cook Everything Fast and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian will also be available. While waiting, one of Bittman’s recipes, roasted nuts with ginger, soy sauce, and honey, will be offered.
June 3: Next Wednesday is the first Wednesday street party in downtown Pleasanton. Live music, nearly 200 vendor booths, a wine garden featuring a guest brewery, and the Pleasanton Farmers Market will bring the suburbs to life from 6 to 9 p.m. Don’t miss the entertainment garden in the 500 block of Main Street for special food offered by the Food Truck Mafia. Big City Country Boy, Out of the Cave, Hongry Kong, Kona Ice, and Southern Comfort Kitchen will serve up delicious cuisine.
June 3: Also next Wednesday, the clever folks at Doña Tomás in Oakland have created a little “first Wednesday” celebration of their own, this time to highlight special regional dishes of Mexico. The cuisine of Oaxaca will be featured in a special prix fixe menu that includes quesadillas with mole amarillo, pollo, epazote, and housemade queso Oaxaca; a shrimp and scallop cocktail; pork and beef albondigas with chichilo negro; mole coloradito for the main course; and a traditional cheese pie with Oaxacan chocolate. Amazing, right? In July, the cuisine of Mexico City will be featured, followed by the cuisine of the Yucatan in August, and the cuisine of Guadalajara in September.
Dana’s, Danville - Steak Salad
The elegant Dana's in the Danville Livery is hitting all the right notes. Great service. Fine food. And this just might be the perfect lunch salad packed with just enough decadent blue cheese crumbles, steak cubes and fried onion strings to get you through the rest of the day. The salad is artistically dressed and garden fresh.
Rancho Cantina, Lafayette - Guisado de Carne y Nopal
Ahhhh, the guisado, a savory stew of braised pork, cactus and chile peppers. I'd been waiting to try this one, having heard about it from talented chef Jorge Hernandez. Last week I convinced my book group to head over to this California ranch restaurant and we were all wow'ed by Rancho Cantina.
Forge, Danville and Oakland - Watermelon Salad
A jumble of bitter greens (radicchio, chicory and more) is the perfect foil to the sweet watermelon and mint. Crumbled feta makes this salad a party. Chef Jeff Amber, a Walnut Creek resident and former chef/owner of Gigi in Lafayette, certainly knows what he is doing. The bartender does, too. Don't miss out on the bartender's choice, a refreshing lime gimlet cocktail!