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Diablo Dish — May '09

New Vietnamese and small plates in Walnut Creek; two new eateries in Pleasant Hill; more wine for Alameda; and more.


A Walnut Creek piano store on Locust will play a different tune this summer, reincarnated as VeSu, an upscale eatery with a global small-plate menu and full bar.

Tony Dudum of 1515 Restaurant Lounge and The Pizza Place serves as consultant to first-time restaurateurs Christopher Velez and Melisa Suitos. Meanwhile, Walnut Creek’s Sushi Groove has a new look and name: Shiro has the same owners and DJ vibe, but with a new “Asian fusion eclectic menu.” Élevé, a new Vietnamese fusion restaurant from the owners of Oakland’s Pho 84, is set to open at N. Main and Civic by late fall. The renovated two-story, 5,500-square-foot space will feature a sleek glass facade plus a full bar. A former fixture of the Walnut Creek scene, mixologist Manny Hinojosa, was headed to New York earlier this spring to shoot three shows with Food Network’s Guy Fieri, star of Guy’s Big Bite. Also this month, Lark Creek and Yankee Pier will take $10 off your bill if you have a teacher ID card.

Downtown Pleasant Hill gets Juste le Debut, set to open two doors down from another newcomer, Bubbles & Crepe, this spring. Owner Cherie Eubanks says her new place will offer a French-eclectic array of lighter fare, much of it to go, because the restaurant only has about eight indoor seats.

Danville’s popular chef Rodney Worth, owner of the Peasant and The Pear, was due to open a second restaurant last month in the former Courtyard Cafe in Alamo. The Peasant’s Courtyard will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, and will offer some of the same dishes as Worth’s Danville spot, as well as basics such as burgers and great wines by the glass.

The gourmet tea chain Teavana was set to open in early April in Pleasanton’s Stoneridge Shopping Center. Tea lovers can order specialty cold and hot teas, and choose from more than 100 loose-leaf teas.

For those who want to sip on something a bit more intoxicating, visit the tasting destinations at Alameda’s old Naval Air Station, home to St. George Spirits, Hangar One vodka, and now Rock Wall Wine Company. Owner Kent Rosenblum is consulting winemaker, and his daughter, Shauna Rosenblum, is winemaker. A tasting room will be open by June.

Chronicle Rising Star Chef James Syhabout will open his first restaurant, Commis, this summer in Jojo’s old spot on Piedmont Avenue. Syhabout, who has worked his magic at PlumpJack Cafe, Coi, and Manresa, plans locally sourced contemporary cuisine in a cozy “dinner party” atmosphere.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley emerges from a multimillion dollar renovation this spring with Five restaurant as its heart. Named for the five senses, Five will serve “great American favorites with Berkeley panache,” in a dining room with an illuminated grand bar reminiscent of the days Jack London visited. Executive Chef Scott Howard brings specialties from his past restaurants such as roasted sweetbreads and truffled potato puree.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.


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