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Weekly Dish: Ike's Comes to Oakland

SF sandwich shop with cult following opening in Oakland; Fenton's project still alive in Lafayette; Guest Chef gives amateur cooks a trial run in Rockridge; 2,000 pounds of turkey available this Tuesday; and more in this week's Dish!


Good news sandwich-lovers. Ike's Place, the San Francisco sandwich shop with a cult-like following, is getting ready to open a new location in the East Bay. Specifically, Uptown Oakland, where it'll be situated in Franklin Square on 2204 Broadway near such hip eateries as Plum, Bakesale Betty, Luka's Taproom, True Burger, and The Punchdown Wine Bar (located directly next door).

Owner Ike Shehadeh told me he was hoping to debut the new store, his fifth in the Bay Area, by the middle of December. "I'm very excited to get there and get going," he said. "I have a great feeling about this location and am eager to get started."

So what's the big deal? Well, Ike's Place built up a devoted following after it debuted four years ago in San Francisco's Castro district by offering a huge variety (80 custom options and counting) of eclectic, sauce-centric sandwiches, including such creations as The Joker (meatballs, beer-battered zucchini, red pesto, and ranch sauce), the Menage A Trios (halal chicken, honey, honey mustard, barbecue, pepper jack, swiss, and cheddar), and the appropriately named Doomsday (roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, salami, turkey, bacon, ham, habanero salsa, mozzarella sticks, stuffed jalapeño poppers, and extra Jack). Ike's was so popular, in fact, that the neighborhood famously got fed up with the constant long lines and forced him to move to another location.

So this new Oakland store, with plenty of sidewalk space to accommodate lines as well as less residential density, should be a good fit. And don't let the Doomsday scare you: Ike's will make any sandwich you want and offers plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. And for you Ike's originals, Shehadeh told me that the new Oakland location would be bringing back Ike's Guilt-Free Air Fries (low-calorie fries using an air fryer rather than a deep fryer) as well as Ike-accinos, Ike's version of a frappuccino using real ice cream.

So what does Ike himself think about moving into this new location surrounded by so many hip eateries? "Well, I've never been afraid to jump into a location and be the first person there: Tthat's what we did in the Castro where we were there before any of these other newer restaurants," he said. "But here, with all these other places already there, it just seemed like a perfect fit. It was like 'hey, let me come in and hang out with all the cool kids!"

Ike's Place, 2204 Broadway, ilikeikesplace.com

Some good news for Lamorinda ice cream lovers. After a long period of silence, it sounds like the Fenton's Ice Cream parlor project proposed to take over the Park Theater is still alive and kicking. A specially formed committee is set to present a proposal to the Lafayette City Council in two weeks to create a special historic district downtown with reduced parking requirements that would essentially pave the way for the über-popular Oakland ice creamery to open up a new location. And while approval is far from a sure thing, Fenton's is apparently on board if everything goes according to plan, according to several city sources. Stay tuned for more details.

Also in Lafayette, Asian burgers will replace American at the shuttered Flippers. Taking over the space next to Chevalier at 960 Moraga Road will be Tao restaurant, serving burgers with an Asian twist. More details on that as they come in...

And here's some good news for vegans and lactose intolerant ice cream lovers. Berkeley-based vegan chef Barry Schenker just debuted his new Genuto vegan gelato and swung by the office for a taste test. Schenker has worked for the last three years with his wife, a physician, to create this ice cream substitute made from a probiotic nut emulsion. Yeah, I know, I wasn't expecting much either, but I have to admit, I was impressed. The nut emulsion means Genuto doesn't rely on any of the normal dairy substitute additives or chemicals. Rather, the ingredient list has only a small handful of mostly organic items, which comes through in the pure, clean, and surprisingly creamy flavors. Check it out if you get a chance, even if you don't count yourself a vegan or are lactose intolerant: It's a legitimately tasty substitute for the real thing. For now, Genuto offers six flavors (vanilla, pistachio, crystallized ginger, chai latte, chocolate cardamom, and espresso) available at the Berkeley Whole Foods at 3000 Telegraph Ave.

Photo by Cindy ChewI've written about Guest Chef a couple times before: It's an interesting new concept in Rockridge in which aspiring chefs can essentially take over a fully equipped restaurant for two weeks at a time as a sort of trial run towards running their own restaurant. There is no rent: Participants just have to supply the food and man-power to cook the meals (and hopefully a few guests). If the two-week trial is successful, there is the possibility of signing a full-time lease at one of several other commercial spaces that owners Scott Cameron and Jerry Bodum operate in Oakland.

It's a pretty ambitious, slightly out-there idea, and the experiment kicked off last week with its first chef, Eva Santillanes. Eva (pictured) is an amateur chef and mother of grown children from San Lorenzo who has cooked informally for most of her life, specializing in authentic Mexican recipes she learned growing up in Zacatecas, Mexico. I checked in on how she was doing Tuesday night and had some of the best chile rellenos I've had in a long time. Go to theguestchef.net to read more about the restaurant. And swing by if you get a chance: It's a pretty cool idea that gives regular folks a shot at fulfilling lifelong dreams of cooking in a real restaurant kitchen.

5337 College Ave, Oakland, (510) 658-7378, theguestchef.net.

Some quick hits...

Photo by Jamie KripkeLike truffles? Then, 2011 Diablo Food Awards winner Oliveto's yearly truffle dinners are a must. It kicks off today (Wednesday, November 16) and runs through Saturday. Owner Bob Klein travels to Italy himself to pick up these gourmet tubers and bring them back for the meals. It's new executive chef Jonah Rhodehamel's first crack at incorporating all those truffles into the menu, so it should be interesting (tagliatelle with walnut-black truffle pesto, perhaps?). CLICK HERE to see the full menu.

Its legion of fans probably already know this, but Peasant and the Pear has a new Happy Hour special that includes small bites (including pear quesadillas, calamari, and flatbread pizzas) and wine specials and P&P's signature pear cocktails for just $5. That's from Tuesday to Friday, 2:30-5 p.m. There's also a Sunset Special where if you eat dinner between 5 and 5:30, you get a free appetizer.

It's a little ways away, but Dublin's city council recently approved the new Taste of the Tri Valley Food and Wine festival slated to debut at Emerald Glen Park in September of next year. It'll be a one-day event featuring the area's best restaurants, wineries, and food trucks with a farmer's market feel. Sounds good to me.

A quick congratulations to Wente Vineyards, which was named 2011 American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The 128-year-old Livermore winery joins some prestigious company, including Restaurateur of the Year Michael Mina, among this year's winners, which will be officially announced in the December 15th issue of Wine Enthusiast. CLICK HERE to read more.

Spread the word. 1515 owner Tony Dudum is gearing up for his annual turkey giveaway happening this coming Monday (November 21) before Thanksgiving. Tony and his team will be giving away a whopping 2,000 pounds of turkey to anyone who needs one at his 1515 restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until they're all gone—usually around 1:30 p.m. And for the first time, this year he'll also be giving away turkeys at his two Alameda restaurants, Habanas and Linguini's, located at 1508 Park Street, starting around 4 p.m.

Opening alert! Rumbo al Sur, À Côté-owner Jack Knowles’ second restaurant will have its grand opening Thursday (November 17). Rumbo is kind of like a pan-Latin À Côté, with a menu of small plates and entrées influenced by Central and South America: think chorizo verde empanadas, chiles rellenos, and a gaucho steak. Cocktail list will focus on tequilas, piscos, and bourbons, while the wine list consists almost entirely of South American labels. The new place is located in Oakland’s quaint Glenview neighborhood near such great restaurants as Bellanico and Marzano, and if it’s anything like À Côté, it should be a hit. CLICK HERE to check out the menu. 4239 Park Ave., Oakland, (510) 479-1208.

Shout out of the Week!

This is something new: I'm going to try to give a shout-out every week to a restaurant where I've eaten recently that I really enjoyed and which we may not have mentioned for a while. So if you have any favorite spots out there that you think Diablo should check out, let us know at dish@maildiablo.com or tweet me at twitter.com/DiabloDish.

Introntro Ristorante, 455 Hartz Avenue, Danville, (925) 820-2349, incontrodanville.com.

Okay, funny one to start with considering this Italian spot is a perennial Diablo Food Awards winner. But not this year: The owners were busy during the 2011 judging process moving locations from a small space in San Ramon location to a beautiful, new spot in the heart of downtown Danville on Hartz Avenue. I finally had a chance to check out the new restaurant last week and am pleased to report: Same authentic Italian fare, better location, which includes a lovely outdoor patio (it was unfortunately raining on my visit) and eventually a full bar.

A little sampling of what we tried below. I didn't get a chance to try the gnocchi, but the pumpkin ravioli with crisped sage hit my autumnal comfort zone and the shrimp and mushroom pasta makes a great dish any time of year. So congrats to Incontro owners Gianni Bartoletti and Stefano Giovacchini on the big move, and check it out for yourself for lunch or dinner any day of the week except Monday.

Soup of the Day: Tomato basil ($5 for a cup) Agnolotti alla Zucca: Homemade yellow pumpkin ravioli with butter, sage, and parmiggiano ($13)
Spaghetti Mari & Monti: Spaghetti pasta with wild mushrooms and Gulf shrimp in a garlic and white wine sauce ($13) Gnocchi al pomodoro & basilico: homemade potato gnocchi with tomato-basil sauce ($13)



Foodie Events Below! (thanks to our excellent intern Yael Levy for helping compile this list)

November 16: SF Indie Spirits Expo 2011
Enjoy a wide range of small batch, unique and artisinal spirits from around the world at this event, which brings distillers, brand owners, importers, and spirits enthusiasts together. Stroll the expo for tasting features including vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, mescal, cognac, and more.
Mighty, 119 Utah St., San Francisco, 7-9:30 p.m., $55-75, (415) 626-7001, indiespiritsexpo.com

November 16: Wine at The Vine & Bottleshock Screening
From 6:30-7 p.m., enjoy a special wine tasting with McGrail Vineyards, Nottingham Cellars, and more. Then at 7:15 p.m., check out a special movie screening of Bottleshock, the film based on the 1976 wine competition in which California wine defeated French wine in a blind taste test. A panel discussion and more wine tasting from the four wineries pouring will follow the film.
The Vine Cinema, 1722 First St., Livermore, 6:30 p.m., $10, (925) 447-2545, vinecinema.com

November 17: Ruby Hill Winery’s Sip-N-Shop
Get a head start on your holiday shopping at Ruby Hill Winery’s Sip-N-Shop event. Local artisans and merchants will be on hand, sharing their designs, high-end jewelry, beauty items, wine-themed accessories, and more. Of course, there’ll be wine and yummy treats, plus 10% off all Ruby Hill Winery merchandise.
Ruby Hill Winery, 400 Vineyard Ave., Pleasanton, 6:30-9 p.m., free, (925) 931-9463, rubyhillwinery.net

November 17: Jill Silverman Hough Presents “100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy With Wines You Love”
Join Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley’s cozy Elmwood neighborhood for wine tasting, interactive exercises to teach how food affects the flavors of wine, and a discussion with Jill Silverman Hough, author of a cookbook series on food and wine pairing.
Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave., Berkeley, 7:30 p.m., (510) 704-8222, mrsdalloways.com

November 18: Taste & Tribute San Francisco 2011
Savor gourmet, four-course meals prepared by top Bay Area chefs¬—for a good cause. Table-side created meals, fine wines, and auctions of Tibetan art, spa getaways, mountain retreats, and other vacations will all benefit the Tibetan Aid Project.
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, 757 Market St., San Francisco, 5:30-10 p.m., $350, (510) 848-4238, tasteandtributesf.com

November 19: Bordeaux by the Bay
The 37th annual “Bordeaux by the Bay” features the top tier of reserve wines from Concannon Vineyard, including the highly anticipated release of their 2007 Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy a vertical tasting of celebrated vintages, with gourmet small bites.
Concannon Vineyard Tasting Room, 4590 Tesla Rd., Livermore, 11 a.m., $25, (925) 583-1561, concannonvineyard.com

November 19: Fenestra’s Holiday Wine Tasting
This event features the food of the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, so be sure to stop by and get some festive inspiration. New wines, gift items, and Belgian chocolate truffles filled with Fenestra Port are only a few examples of what will be offered.
Fenestra Winery, 83 Vallecitos Rd., Livermore, noon-5 p.m., $10, (925) 862-2292, fenestrawinery.com


Happy Hour Bar & Bites at
The Cooperage

Monday through Friday
3pm – 5:30pm


This isn’t your typical happy hour. This quintessential neighborhood spot offers high-quality craft cocktails on tap and tasty bites. Menu features: $10 cocktails on tap, $5 select beer & wine, $1 oysters, $7 bacon cheeseburger sliders, $7 crispy beer battered shrimp sliders, $9 sashimi-grade ahi tuna tartare. 

32 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
​Reservations: www.thecooperagelafayette.com or 925.298.5915

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