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December's East Bay Dining News

Michelin's Bib Gourmand gives a full out salute to the Bay Area, Wente and executive chef Arthur Wall part ways and a new farmers market pops up at Stoneridge Mall. All that and more, only in the Dish!


Oakland’s thriving restaurant scene may soon make waves in the Tri-Valley. Michael LeBlanc, owner of Oakland’s popular newcomer, Picán, hopes to open Heritage next fall in the gorgeous garden location vacated by Mudd’s in San Ramon. LeBlanc, whose Picán was featured as a well-priced Bib Gourmand selection in Michelin’s new guide to Bay Area restaurants, envisions a “grand old Creole home” feel with Southern fare that will take advantage of the vast backyard garden, letting the produce guide the menu. LeBlanc still needs final city approval, but he says talks are going in the right direction. Stay tuned.

Lafayette’s Chevalier also received a Michelin Bib Gourmand nod, and Michelin mentions six other Walnut Creek and Lafayette restaurants (Artisan Bistro, Kopitiam, Metro Lafayette, Prima, Va de Vi, and Walnut Creek Yacht Club), which is itself a coup—the picky French guide has never before glanced at the Contra Costa dining scene.

Another surprise was Michelin’s awarding a star to Oakland’s Commis. Just opened in June by Manresa and Coi alum James Syhabout, the eatery joins Chez Panisse to become the only starred East Bay restaurants.

Meanwhile, yet another switcheroo at San Ramon Market Place: Café Meyers, which recently replaced Nicole’s Diner, has itself been replaced with Thai Café.

Pleasanton shoppers can get their Lucky brand jeans and organic produce in one spot—well, sort of. Look for Stoneridge Shopping Center’s new Island Earth Farmers Market in the lot between Macy’s and Sears on Fridays and Sundays.

Former Va de Vi executive chef Kelly Degala will assume the same position at Sasa. The Izakaya-style (Japanese small plates) restaurant from the owners of Lafayette’s Blue Gingko is set for a mid-January opening in downtown Walnut Creek. On Newell Ave., Chef Jon Lee Asian Confusion Cuisine—yep, that’s really the name—took over Nalida Thai Kitchen’s location. Chef Jon, originally from Bali, mixes it up a bit with flavors from Asia, Italy, and the Polynesian islands.

In a sudden shift in Livermore, Wente and executive chef Arthur Wall “decided to part ways,” according to the restaurant. As of print time, executive sous chef Eric Berg was manning the kitchen as Wente searched for a new head cook.

In the 510, eVe was set to open in downtown Berkeley. Started by Le Cordon Bleu grads Christopher and Veronica Laramie, the 28-seat eatery features a prix fixe-only menu of “avant-garde but not sci-fi” New American cuisine. In Jack London Square, Eric Tucker, owner of San Francisco’s Millennium, planned a November opening for Encuentro, his “postage-size” cafe/wine bar, serving vegetarian small plates. Nearby, Blue Bottle Coffee Company opened its new roastery/cafe.

Finally, consider forgoing a few eggnog lattes to help out Open Heart Kitchen, openheartkitchen.org, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, foodbankccs.org, Alameda Food Bank, alamedafoodbank.org, and other East Bay charities that have seen increased demand for services but dwindling donations.

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