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Weekly Dish: Piggy Piggy

Hog's Apothecary opens in Oakland; Petit Cochon coming to Berkeley; sweet dreams in Walnut Creek; new project for James Syhabout; Orinda Restaurant Tour; and more!


Some serious porcine news happening out there this week …

First off, Hog’s Apothecary quietly debuted on the 40th Street corridor (375 40th Street) of Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. As East Bay Express notes, the American-style beer hall hired certified cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski to run a beer program that includes more than 30 on tap. The meat-heavy menu, meanwhile, looks pretty interesting. Among the appetizers is the Li’l Salty (braised pork belly with cannellini beans and grilled escarole), while sandwiches include a Hot Italian, rapini garlic sausage, Moroccan lamb, and even a corn dog (elevated, I’m assuming). They also have some plates to share, including braised pork shoulder, and a mixed grill with rabbit sausage and quail. There are actually several vegetarian options, such as the Brewer’s Bread (eggplant mash, tomatoes, arugula, and ricotta salata), and Propogator’s Pie (seasonal vegetables in a puff pastry). Side of turnips in pig juice? Not so much …

Croque Monsieur at Bistro LiaisonAnd over in Berkeley, Todd Kniess, chef-owner of French eatery Bistro Liaison, is opening a new café next door at 1801 Shattuck Avenue called Petit Cochon (that’s “Little Pig,” for you non French speakers). The idea, he says, is to open a fast-casual patisserie version of the bistro that’s a little more affordable (prices less than $10) and accessible to Cal students.

“I’m tired of watching them walk by my restaurant without spending any money,” Kniess says, laughing. 

It’ll be order at the counter and the menu will be split up into soups, salads, sandwiches, and tart flambés—little French-style pizzas made with fromage blanc. Sandwiches will include a croque monsieur and roast pork cochon, and Kniess is also considering adding rotisserie chicken. In addition, there will be a retail component with for-sale gourmet French foods, mustards, charcuterie, and cheeses. Kniess is shooting for a mid-October opening.

Holy sweetness, Walnut Creek!

Beyond the Creek notes a couple of saccharine developments downtown. That includes The Candy Counter, which is opening across from CREAM on North Main Street in the former The Art and Science of Eyewear. Per their Facebook, Candy Counter will be selling bulk candy by the pound and will be operated by local family Mark, Carol, Meghan, and Laura Sherry. Look for an opening in November.

Also courtesy of BtC, another candy store, Kandyland, is coming to the Mercer Center next door to The Counter burger joint. Click here to read the effervescent, and K-heavy, press release, but it appears that Print Cates, who oversees the Powell’s candy shop franchises, will be involved. Target opening date is winter 2013.

Finally, I spoke with Walnut Creek resident Ashley Flowers, who recently started the gluten-free dessert shop Savvy’s Sweet Shoppeafter she discovered that both her daughter and her mother were allergic. Flowers has been selling her treats at the Orinda farmers market, but says she’s very close to signing a lease to open up a retail store in--you guessed it--downtown Walnut Creek. We’ll keep you posted on details, and in the meantime, check out the treats at savvyssweetshoppe.net.

Some more Walnut Creek news: This a bit sad. Cypress in downtown has closed permanently. According to a post on its Facebook page the restaurant was sold and closed as of September 16 (gift certificates can be redeemed at 1515 Main Street). Haven’t heard yet who is taking over the space, but rumor is it’s going to be something with “lots of beers on tap.” We shall see, but it did seem like the writing was on the wall after original Cypress chef-proprietor Rick Delamain left the restaurant in July. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more …

Calling all Lamorinda foodies: The Orinda Restaurant Tour is happening this Tuesday, September 24, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. A mere $40 will get you a trolley ride to sample tastes at various local restaurants. Click here for more.

Ditto for Tri-Valley-ites, as Splatter, Dublin’s food, art, and wine festival, is happening this Saturday from 12 to 8 p.m. at Emerald Glen Park. The event will include music, artists, entertainers, and, of course, food. The Tasting Pavilion includes around 30 tastes and samples from area eateries including Eddie Papa’s, Johnnie Garlic’s, and Tomatina. Click here for all the info.

Photo by James CarriereMore big news for James Syhabout (left), as the Michelin-starred owner of Commis, Hawker Fare, and the upcoming Box & Bells is opening another restaurant in Oakland. This one will be called The Dock at Linden Street, a beer-garden-slash-restaurant, and a collaboration with Linden Street Brewery-owner Adam Lamoreaux. Click here for the full story from Inside Scoop, but the project will be located at 95 Linden Street, in the same building that houses Lamoreaux’s brewery a few minutes outside of Jack London Square. The menu, according to Scoop, will be designed to go well with the beer, and will draw influences from Japan to South America. But while beer will be the focus, they do have a full liquor license, too, so expect craft cocktails made with local spirits (of course). As for opening date? Shyabout might be understandably gun shy after the delays with his Box & Bells project (opening sometime this year), so all that was said was that they are now beginning the permitting phase of the project. 

Inside Scoop also notes an interesting chef-switcheroo for Daniel Patterson’s Oakland eateries. Popular Haven chef Kim Alter is moving over to Patterson’s more high-profile Plum, taking over for Manfred Wrembel (who was just hired last year). Plum was closed for a week and just reopened with a new five-course tasting menu, one of Alter’s signatures at Haven. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson, former sous chef at Patterson’s Coi, will take over as head chef at Haven. As the East Bay Express notes, the change continues a remarkably high chef-turnover rate at Plum (seven in three years), so let’s hope this can provide a little stability for one of the flagships of Uptown Oakland's resurgent restaurant scene.

Some small bites ...

► New information has come to light about what’s replacing the shuttered Burmese spot Nan Yang in Rockridge. Per Inside Scoop, the new restaurant is slated to open next month and will be called Osmanthus. Owner Michael Chiang described the concept as “California-Asian” with influences from China, Japan and southeast Asia. The chef is Julia Klein, who previously worked at Terra in St. Helena.

► Also, I Squared has, at last, been replaced down the street at 5403 College Avenue. From the same owner, the new restaurant is called Homespun Fare. The menu appears to have a comfort food theme with dishes such as grilled pork chop, meatloaf, lamb shank, and polenta lasagna.

► In Berkeley, a new coffee shop called Artis Coffee is opening on Fourth Steet, according to Berkeleyside Nosh.

► Interesting collaboration between Umami Mart and Oaktown Spice Shop for an event next Monday, September 23, and Wednesday, September 25, called--appropriately--Umami in Spice. The class is designed to “demystify” umami, the somewhat mysterious Japanese "fifth taste." Sounds fun. Tix are $25, click here for all the info.

Gotta Eat Pita is close to opening, per their Facebook pageI spoke with owner Owner Yaniv Benaroya, the Alamo resident with a self-described “passion for pita," back when he first took over the hot dog joint. 

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