Diablo Dish: Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto Closes After 128 Years
La Finestra finds a home in Moraga; check out the grand opening of As Kneaded Bakery; Blue Bottle Coffee heads to Piedmont; Danville Harvest owner looks to open new Mexican spot; Charlie Hallowell tries to make a comeback; and more Dish.
After 128 Years, Spenger’s Says Goodbye
Like Brennan’s (just a few blocks away and also recently closed), Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto was a Berkeley tradition—though very few traditions extend back to 1890, and sadly, “was” is now the operative verb.
The Fourth Street restaurant served its famous fish and French bread to generations of locals, but over time, its luster faded, forcing the spot to close briefly in 1998. Since then, several owners have tried to return Spenger’s to its former glory, but they could never master the old formula.
It’s unclear what’s next for the establishment and its future development, as the parking lot could potentially be above a Native American burial site. Regardless of what happens down the road, however, the fond memories of seafood meals gone by will remain.
La Finestra Is Back
After the devastating fire in July 2017 that destroyed the original La Finestra Ristorante in Lafayette—where the site still remains unused—the new La Finestra has opened in the Moraga Shopping Center, according to Beyond the Creek.
The menu looks much the same, but diners can now expect live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
40 Under 40 Honoree Opens As Kneaded Bakery
Those who read about Iliana Imberman Berkowitz in Diablo’s “40 Under 40” feature in the September issue will now find it even easier to sample her carefully sourced, handcrafted bread: Berkowitz’s As Kneaded Bakery—just a stone’s throw from the must-visit Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in San Leandro—is hosting its grand opening this weekend.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (November 3 and 4), loaf lovers can expect giveaways, family-friendly fun, Wheelys Café coffee drinks, and—of course—lots and lots of sourdough, French baguette, and challah for sampling at the new bakery.
Blue Bottle Coffee Comes to Piedmont Avenue
The seventh East Bay Blue Bottle Coffee location will have its grand opening Sunday, November 4, but since Saturday is Community Day, the shop will offer a free cup of coffee to customers between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
This Blue Bottle is housed in a red-brick building designed by historic Bay Area architect Julia Morgan and is a just a few blocks down from Fenton’s Creamery.
Danville’s Newest Mexican Spot Arriving in Late November
Cocina Hermanas—named for owner Darren Matte’s three daughters—is on track for a late November opening in the old Basil Leaf Cafe location on Hartz Avenue.
Matte—a San Ramon Valley local—also owns Danville Harvest, which is just down the street, as well as Per Diem in San Francisco. But Cocina Hermanas will be a departure from both restaurants, with Mexican dishes featuring fresh and local ingredients and, happily, a full bar with a variety of mezcals and tequilas to choose from.
Mixt Makes a Move to Oakland
With nine San Francisco locations, plus a couple in Los Angeles, Mixt and its fast-casual menu of salads, fish, chicken, and steak are coming to Uptown Oakland early next year. The 10-year-old chain’s formula of quality food and carefully crafted dishes should easily translate to Oakland—and success there means Berkeley can’t be too far behind.
Charlie Hallowell Resurfaces at Berkeley’s Western Pacific
Charlie Hallowell—one of the most prominent local chefs to be exposed by the #MeToo movement—has been out of the kitchen for almost a year, but now his hiatus is over.
Western Pacific, situated at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way, will open Thursday, November 1, and serve, according to Hallowell, “Cal-Italian soul food.” I have to say I have no idea what that might taste like, but even though Hallowell has a controversial past, his ability to deliver satisfying and enjoyable food was never in question.
Hallowell claims he’s learned his sexual-harassment lesson and even hired two women—Donna Insalaco and Janette Calderon—to play key roles in his new venture. Though the controversy may continue to haunt Hallowell, Western Pacific will rise and fall, as with any restaurant, depending on the quality of the food and service.
Tanya Holland Gives Oakland Whole Foods a Boost
Renowned chef Tanya Holland, whose Brown Sugar Kitchen will soon open on Uptown Oakland’s Broadway, will give grocery shoppers a reason to choose the Whole Foods Market at Bay Place and Harrison Street when she adds a soulful touch to the menu at the Floodcraft Taproom.
Expect Holland’s Southern specialties to pair well with the beer from Floodcraft Brewing Company, the first Whole Foods brewery in Northern California. It all starts Thursday, November 8.
Agave Uptown and Voces Cellars Pair Up
For $75, diners will enjoy a five-course, prix fixe menu with accompanying wines from Voces Cellars, which uses high-end Napa Valley grapes to create a small portfolio of quality wines.