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Weekly Dish: Life of Pie

Thanksgiving's coming: order your pies now; Dungeness crab season kicks off at Walnut Creek Yacht Club; new owners for Sea Salt; details emerge for James Syhabout project; Tri-Valley food & wine fest; and more in this week's Dish!


Mixed berry pie from Junebug's Bakery in Danville

Wow, Thanksgiving is comin' on up. It's easily my favorite holiday: all about food, family, and friends. Another reason I love Thanksgiving? Pie. I love me some pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cream pie, almost any fruit pie... let's just say I'm a sucker for pie. So if you're not making it yourself, CLICK HERE for a little list of local, non-grocery store East Bay bakeries and what they have to offer. And order now: a lot of these places need a week's notice...

New details on Commis-chef James Shyabout's new Rockridge project courtesy of The Chron. The name: Box and Belles (just because it sounded good, apparently). As for the food? It appears to be quite an interesting mix of dishes in the works from Shyabout and the new restaurant's executive chef Benjamin Coe (currently a chef at Commis). According to the Chron, the two are messing around with dishes like "Boiled Peanuts; Country Style Pork Terrine with Grilled Soda Bread; A Jar of Duck Liver Confit with a Spiced Sugar Aspic and Sherry; Potato Boxty with Salt Cod and Herbs; Fried Chicken with a Raw Oyster Mayonnaise; Crock Baked Beans; and a USDA Prime Aged Cote du Boeuf for Two with a Fricasse of Snails and Watercress Salad. Also: country ham." So, I'm not sure how you'd classify it but it sure sounds interesting! Expect a series of pop-up dinners in January at Shyabout's Hawker Fare. CLICK HERE to read the whole story.

Poached farm egg yolk with alliums, smoked dates and malt at CommisAnd by the way, I took my special lady friend to Commis for her birthday the other day and we had an absolutely fantastic meal. I've eaten at Commis before and been impressed but not totally blown away. This time I was blown away with the inventive but purposeful flavors and textures, and the sheer quality of the food. Really, really, really good, and a decent deal (in my humble opinion) at $75 per person for seven courses, plus another $45 for wine pairings (great wines). Sure, that's pricey, but it's the kind of uniquely special restaurant experience that you'd pay a lot more for in San Francisco. It's not for everyone: there's a set menu that you don't even get to see beforehand, and the portions are predictably small (my father-in-law would not appreciate that), but if you're an adventuresome eater and want to be taken on a culinary journey and you have the cash to spare... well, it's a must. 3859 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 653-3902, commisrestaurant.com.

It's mid-November and that doesn't just mean turkey: it also means Dungeness crab. The Bay Area commercial fishing season is about to start. I touched base with Walnut Creek Yacht Club's Kevin Weinberg to check on the status of these tasty crustaceans. The official opening date is Thursday, November 15, and so far everyone is saying that will indeed be the day, but as Weinberg says, "they say that every year. They said it last year and it didn't happen." Basically, the fishermen and buyers still have to agree on a price per pound before crabbers start crabbing, but Weinberg said the word is that it's a little lighter catch this year, which will drive the price up, which might make negotiations smoother. UPDATE: Kevin just told me that prices have been set, pots can be pulled tomorrow, and the Yacht Club should have Dungeness on the menu by this Friday! Look for it chilled & cracked and served with regatta fries and coleslaw, or two off-menu ways: a Singaporean-style where the crab is stir fried in a spicy Asian chili sauce and served over Jasmine rice, plus a roasted crab with garlic, butter, wine, and herbs ("the hands messy, lick your fingers kind," according to Weinberg). You'll also see cioppino seafood stew back on the menu. Oh man, I'm getting hungry!

Another cool thing the Yacht Club is doing is their annual "Don't cook before Thanksgiving" Louisiana prawn broil on Wednesday, November 21, the concept being of course that you'll be doing plenty of cooking on Thursday so take the day off the night before. Sounds like a finger-lickin' good time, CLICK HERE for the full menu. 1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net.

As for places to eat on Thanksgiving? Well, there's quite a few of them. Check out Opentable, which has a great (and way more comprehensive than I could do) round-up of restaurant destinations for Turkey Day. There're some great ones...

Photo by Colin Burke McClureThis is pretty cool. A sort of DIY craft beer bar called the Diving Dog is in the works in Uptown Oakland. Here's the explanation from owner Rob Bailard on his new bar planned for 1802 Telegraph Avenue across the street from the Fox Theater:

"The craft beer bar will feature roughly 30 taps of craft beer from around the country, as well as Diving Dog's own craft brewed beer. The brew-on-premise will give customers the opportunity to "be their own brewmaster." They get to select from a number of styles and the Diving Dog provides a recipe, ingredients and personalized instruction on the equipment. After fermenting for about two weeks, the customer bottles their beer with a hand operated device, and then get to apply their personally designed labels, and take their beer home with them."

Sounds pretty sweet. Bailard said no kitchen, just bar snacks, at the new place, and he's shooting to open in early February next year.

Blackhawk GrilleBlackhawk Grille's new chef, Jason Bergeron, has unveiled a new menu at the recently renovated Blackhawk Plaza restaurant. CLICK HERE to check it out, but one thing that stuck out for me: a build it yourself mac 'n' cheese section with mix-in options like applewood smoked bacon, baby Portobello mushrooms, truffle tremor goat cheese, and even grilled shrimp, chicken breast, and BBQ pulled pork. Not to worry waist-watchers, there is also an expanded salad section and several seafood options. Make sure to check out our December issue coming out this Saturday for a full review. 3540 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, (925) 736-4295, blackhawkgrille.com.

East Bay Dish has the word on an interesting new place just opened in Grand Lake Oakland called Grand Lake Kitchen. It's sort of an upscale deli along the lines of the recently opened Stagg's Lunchette, and serves "traditional deli fare, seasonally driven dishes, and other foods we just plain love to eat." Appropriately, their logo is that shining beacon of Bay Area seasonality the persimmon (which I've never been a big fan of, but that's just me). Grand Lake Kitchen is the baby of husband-and-wife team David Wasem and May Seto, who bring some nice culinary chops over from San Francisco—Wasem was executive chef at Balboa Cafe and sous chef at Park Tavern while Seto was the GM at Delfina and Delfina Pizzeria. 576 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-922-9582, grandlakekitchen.com.

A little update on the Lafayette Park Hotel and its Duck Club restaurant. They not only have a new executive chef, Adam Carpenter, but also brought in Obadiah Ostergard to run the entire food and beverage programs. Ostergard was previously with San Francisco's Kimpton Group, which operates a number of lauded restaurants including the Fifth Floor and Grand Cafe. New general manager Nick Bozych also brings an extensive background in food and beverage, so this bodes well for the Duck Club's planned reboot happening sometime early next year.

Some Tri-Valley news courtesy of Patch: Flame Broiler in the Danville Livery held their grand opening on Monday and Mario's French Dip, a new spot focusing on French dip sandwiches with au jus, just opened on Livermore's First Street (replacing the shuttered Maggio's). Also, per Patch, Yan's Restaurant opened in Orinda in the former Hsiangs space, and Zachary's has pushed back the opening of its downtown Pleasant Hill restaurant until mid-January.

Couple of tasty upcoming dinners happening:

Meritage's dining room // Photo by Alex FarnumMeritage at the Claremont is hosting a five-course dinner with pairings from renowned Napa winery Domaine Carneros this Thursday. CLICK HERE to check out the menu from new Chef de Cuisine, Scott Quinn. Tix are $109, call (510) 549-8510 to reserve a seat.

SF Chefs is keeping the party going this fall with a series of chef dinners in San Francisco, kicking off with a dinner on Tuesday, November 27 featuring chefs from SF restaurateur Michael Mina's collection of eateries. Tix are $200. Go to sfchefsfoodwine.com/events for details on all the dinners.

Also, looks like truffles are arriving shortly at Prima Ristorante so look for chef Peter Chastain's annual white truffle dinners starting next Monday. Word is, it's a great crop this year, and Prima will be offering a Tasting Menu the rest of that week with wine pairings for $68 per diner, plus whatever the weight of the truffle you want added on to the food Truffle season is here(about $40 per shaving, those white truffles are $285 per ounce). CLICK HERE for the menu and call (925) 935-7780 to reserve a spot. You can also buy them retail at Prima if you're so inclined...

Meanwhile, Oliveto's famed Truffle dinners are happening this week through Friday. CLICK HERE to check out the menu

And speaking of truffles, The Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley also has plenty of white truffles in stock throughout the holiday season for those who want to shave off some of these prized tubers for yourself.

The Jack London Square-based Belcampo Meat Co. debuted its first butcher shop in Marin County last weekend. Belcampo is doing some really interesting things. They've established an entire local, sustainable chain of supply for their meat. That means they actually started their own humane slaughterhouse, the 20,000 square foot Belcampo Butchery, a USDA multi-species certified meat-processing facility located in Yreka, as well as Belcampo Farms, a 10,000-square-foot farm located 15 minutes away where they raise grass-fed herds and flocks including hogs, cattle, poultry and rabbits. Go to belcampomeatco.com for more info.

Also in Jack London, per Tablehopper, Miss Pearl's has been sold to Chop Bar owner Chris Pastena, who will be taking over in January and apparently morphing it into a northern Italian concept called Lungomare. Early February anticipated opening. Pastena, whose culinary and personal background is Italian (he cooked at Acquerello and Rose Pistola in the city and has "two Italian grandmas") says there will be made-in-house pasta, a wood fired pizza oven, and several dishes inspired by the Ligurian coast and Tuscany region of Italy (including farinata, a kind of oven-baked chickpea cake).

The busy Pastena is also working on Tribune Tavern, in the old Oakland Tribune building downtown, a tavern and bar concept that he's hoping to open by March. Expect announcements on chefs at both restaurants coming soon.

OneUp Restaurant at the San Francisco Grand HyattGrand Hyatt and street food aren't two things you'd immediately associate together. Well, the Grand Hyatt San Francisco is launching its Grand Hyatt on Wheels, a mobile food truck that will serve tastes of OneUP Restaurant & Lounge, the hotel's new restaurant that debuted this week. Executive chef Ian Libberton and Chef De Cuisine Adam Nicholhas are offering a streamlined menu of "American bistro fare that draws from the best of the Bay Area’s locally-sourced seasonal ingredients," including dishes such as Marin Sun Farms Lamb Bourguignon with house-made pappardelle, hedgehog mushrooms, pearl onions, parsnips and lemon-mint pistou; and Milk Poached Niman Ranch Pork and Beans in white bean cassoulet with crispy shallots, pickled apple and arugula. The lounge will offer more casual items like Niman Ranch ham croque monsieur sliders, plus cocktails from Sf mixologist Scott Beattie. Go to grandsanfrancisco.hyatt.com for more info.

Some Dish hors d'oeuvres...

Spoke with Hugo Boye, who told me his Italian/Continental fusion restaurant Stelle Bistro (replacing the Chilis space in downtown Walnut Creek), is likely opening the day after Thanksgiving.

1515 Restaurant is celebrating its 5th anniversary with all-day happy hours this Thursday through Sunday.

Looks like Sea Salt will have a new owner. According to an ABC license report, Haig and Cindy Krikorian, owners of the K2 restaurant group, are selling their popular Berkeley seafood restaurant to a Sung Su Han. This comes just a few weeks after the Krikorians sold off their T-Rex BBQ. According to the Scoop, Sea Salt would remain open at least until the deal was finalized.

Ike Shehadeh, of Ike's sandwiches, told me he's still waiting to hear from the city of Walnut Creek to get the final go-ahead for his planned shop in Broadway Plaza next to Buckhorn Grill. He was originally hoping to open in December before Christmas but that's looking more and more unlikely. "I've done my part, it's on them now," he says.

The new Wence's restaurant, which replaced Nibblers in Pleasant Hill, is holding its grand opening tonight (Wednesday). Been hearing some good buzz about Wence's, particularly their fish and chips...

A very happy birthday to Diablo Foods Owner Ed Stokes, who just turned 90 years young.

Kitchen 580, the restaurant attached to Livermore's (somewhat) new Casino 580 is now Bar Tatami, a "contemporary bar and restaurant serving handcrafted cocktails, local beers and wines, and Pacific Rim cuisine." CLICK HERE to check out the menu.

Chick fil A opened last Thursday to a mix of protesters (because of owner Dan Cathy's anti- same sex marriage comments) and hungry customers (the first 10 customers received vouchers for a free lunch every week for a year.). These chicken sandwiches must be quite something to generate all this controversy...

Looks like Sliver Pizzeria will be replacing Sportive in downtown Berkeley.

Parliament Bar, a cafe by day and dance bar by night, will be joining the Old Oakland party at 811 Washington Street.

Walnut Creek's gourmet popcorn store Cornology has opened a new location in the new Paragon Outlets.

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East Bay Pie Round-up

Walnut Creek:

What's available: The former Walnut Creek Baking Company is offering up the classics like pumpkin, pecan, and standard apple and mixed berry, all for around $18.
Order by: As soon as you can, but they'll take orders up to the day of Thanksgiving.
Pick-up: Bake is one of the few places open on Thanksgiving: you can pick up orders from 8 to 11 a.m.
Contact: 1686 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 988-9222.

La Boulange
What's available: Pumpkin and créme fraiche tart, pecan tart, rustic pear and cranberry tart ($21.50-$24.50).
Order by: Noon, November 21.
Pick-up: November 22 by 1 p.m.
Contact: 405 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 838-1200; 1348 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, (925) 274-1655; 3597 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-1001; laboulangebakery.com.

Sweet Affair
What's available: Eight pies, including all the classics plus banana cream, chocolate cream and coconut cream. 9-inch pies are $14.95 while they sell mini pies for $5.95
Order by: Monday, Nov 19.
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21 by 5 p.m.
Contact: 1815 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Ste F, Walnut Creek, (925) 944-1910, sweetaffairbakery.com.


What's available: Organic pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies ($24), plus pumpkin cheesecakes and bourbon-pecan tarts
Order by: Monday, Nov 19.
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 35 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, (925) 385-0202, cakelafayette.com.

What's available: Pumpkin, pecan, apple, banana butterscotch, coconut cream, and chocolate cream pies, plus ginger cake, bread pudding, and apple cranberry crisp ($15.95–$23.95)
Order by: Monday, Nov 19.
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 53 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, (925) 962-2469; 445 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 838-4510; chowfoodbar.com

La Boulange
What's available: Pumpkin and créme fraiche tart, pecan tart, rustic pear and cranberry tart ($21.50-$24.50).
Order by: Noon, November 21.
Pick-up: November 22 by 1 p.m.
Contact: 405 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 838-1200; 1348 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, (925) 274-1655; 3597 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-1001; laboulangebakery.com.

Susie Cakes
What's available: Seasonal cream ($18.95) and fruit ($24.95) pies, plus pumpkin, southern pecan, apple crumble, and some seasonal treats.
Order by: A week's notice is recommended to guarantee your order
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 3598 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 299-0210, susiecakes.com.

The French Bakery
What's available: Pumpkin, pecan, and boysenberry pies, plus pumpkin swirl cheesecake, ginger bread cake, and a French apple tart ($18–$33).
Order by: A week's notice is recommended.
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 71 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, (925) 283-2226, thefrenchbakery.biz


What's available: Pumpkin, pecan, apple, banana butterscotch, coconut cream, and chocolate cream pies, plus ginger cake, bread pudding, and apple cranberry crisp ($15.95–$23.95)
Order by: Monday, Nov 19.
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 53 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, (925) 962-2469; 445 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 838-4510; chowfoodbar.com

Junebug's Bakery
What's available: Apple, mixed berry (that's the one in the lede photo up top), pumpkin, and pecan ($12.99-$14.99).
Order by: Tuesday, November 21.
Pick-up: November 22.
Contact: 122 E Prospect Ave., Danville, (925) 553-7066, junebugsbakery.com.

La Boulange
What's available: Pumpkin and créme fraiche tart, pecan tart, rustic pear and cranberry tart ($21.50-$24.50).
Order by: Noon, November 21.
Pick-up: November 22 by 1 p.m.
Contact: 405 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 838-1200; 1348 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, (925) 274-1655; 3597 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-1001; laboulangebakery.com.

Old Town Danville Bakery
What's available: Pumpkin, pecan, apple, cherry, and cream pies ($12.50–$16.50).
Order by: A few days notice is recommended.
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 221 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 837-7844, danvillebakery.info

Tal's Patisserie
What's available: Pumpkin Pie, Lattice Apple Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, and Nusstorte (Swiss specialty, butter shell filled with walnuts and honey toffee filling). $16.60-$22.50
Order by: Friday, November 16
Pick-up: Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Contact: 304 Sycamore Valley Rd., Danville, (925) 820-8100, talspatisserie.com.


Southern Style Shrimp Boil at Walnut Creek Yacht Club
We are gathering at 6:00 on the Aft Deck
for appetizers, and we start the feast at 6:30

The Menu

Reverend Elijah’s Bourbon Punch

Trio of Southern Appetizers

Deviled Eggs
crab, smoked paprika
Fried Oysters, Onions & Pickles
creole remoulade
WCYC Pimento Cheese
house made wheat crackers, watercress

First Course

Iceberg Wedge & Bacon Salad
cucumber, radish, shaved fennel
buttermilk-scallion dressing

"The Boil"

Georgia White Shrimp
Louisiana Hot Links & New Potatoes
cooked in our special broth
cocktail sauce, tarter sauce
lemons, apple & cabbage slaw
cornbread muffins, honey butter

Sweet Ending

Chocolate Pecan Pie
bourbon whipped cream

family style seating & service

$65.00 per person Includes plenty of
iced cold PBR beer & Coral Wines
(tax and gratuity not included)

PRIMA’s Annual Celebration of the White Truffle

A Fall Piemontese Menu for White Truffles
$68 per diner plus fresh white truffle supplement of $285 per ounce, approximately $40 per shaving

Passato of Leek and Cauliflower
2011 Giovanni Almondo Roero Arneis ‘Bricco Ciliegie’

Risotto al Nebbiolo with Taleggio Fonduta
2009 Oddero Barbera d’Alba
2010 Cordero di Montezemolo Nebbiolo delle Langhe

Tolenas Ranch Quail Grilled with Frise e and Guanciale Served with a Sous Vide Egg
2009 Lorenzo Alutto Barbaresco ‘Rabaja’

Truffled Panacotta served with a Blueberry Compote
2011 Elvio Tintero Moscato d’Asti


Domain Carneros Dinner at the Meritage at Claremont

·     Amuse Bouche: Vichyssoise Terrine, Champagne Apples and Cilantro paired with Brut, Vintage Sparkling Wine
·     First Course: Cauliflower Salad with Curried Sultana Raisins, Marcona Almonds and a Pinot Clair Vinaigrette, matched with the Pinot Clair
·     Second Course: Sea Bass en “Sous Vide” with Confit Fennel, Pickled Grapes, Hazelnut Streusel and Sauce Veronique with La Reve, Vintage Sparkling Wine
·     Third Course: Braised Veal Breast with Pinot Noir Prunes, Parsnip Puree and Veal Jus, accompanied by Pinot Noir
·     Dessert: Blood Orange Panna Cotta with Vanilla-Huckleberry Compote paired with Brut Rose, Vintage Sparkling Wine

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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