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Diablo Dish—May 2010

Expansion is the name of the game, with Metro Lafayette and The Peasant and the Pear opening new spin off locations, plus downtown Berkeley is teeming with new places to dine. All that and more, in the Dish!


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Blackhawk Plaza has lured another top restaurateur to the shopping center. Rodney Worth, the chef-owner of Danville’s The Peasant and the Pear and Alamo’s The Peasant’s Courtyard, is taking over the space previously occupied by the hookah bar and café Pride of the Mediterranean. Worth’s The Little Pear, a casual, classic bistro with a modern twist, will be open breakfast through dinner and feature outdoor seating that takes advantage of the restaurant’s prime location, overlooking the lake. He hopes to open this month.

Also expanding is Metro Lafayette. The popular Lamorinda restaurant is opening another eatery just over the hills in Montclair, taking over, oddly enough, the Metro Café. With a planned May opening, Metro Montclair will have a more casual vibe than Metro Lafayette and a scaled-down menu. Meanwhile, owner Jack Moore decided on a full-time executive chef to replace the departed Kirk Bruderer, bringing back former chef Paul Liao to run the show at both locations.

Flora in Uptown Oakland has also brought in a new executive chef: Chris Dettmer, formerly chef de cuisine at the two-Michelin-star Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley. Around the corner, the long-awaited new Bakesale Betty opened in April, bringing its famous fried chicken sandwiches to the corner of W. Grand Avenue and Broadway. Meanwhile, rumors of a new Pizzaiolo spin-off opening near Flora are just that, according to a representative from the Temescal restaurant, who said any plans for a third eatery are still very much up in the air.

In Livermore, Concannon Winery is opening a new wine and small plates bar next to its tasting room to be run by Underdog Wine Merchants. Underdog Wine Bar will offer more than 60 off-the-beaten-track wines, from lesser-known French and Italian labels to local single-vineyard vintages. Gourmet caterer Barbara Llewellyn is overseeing the kitchen offerings, which include dishes such as an ahi tuna tower, burger sliders, and mini cupcakes. The wine bar is set to open Memorial Day weekend.

Say bonjour to La Boulange: The locally owned French bakery and café chain based in San Francisco is expanding to the East Bay. One café will go into the Lafayette Mercantile building next door to Yankee Pier around July while a second is planned for Danville’s Iron Horse Plaza shortly after that. In Walnut Creek, San Ramon resident and eighth-grade social studies teacher Jonathan Rim was set to open his fifth Blush Organic Frozen Yogurt store next to Whole Foods.

Finally, downtown Berkeley’s restaurant renaissance continues. Following the openings of Five, Eve, and Gather come two more high-profile dining spots. Amy Murray, chef-owner of Venus restaurant, is taking over the old Downtown Restaurant. Her Revival Bar and Kitchen will dive into the farm-to-table food movement with an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients. On Center Street, former Ozumo chef and Santa Fe restaurateur Christian Geideman is opening Ippuku, an überauthentic Izakaya-style (Japanese pub) restaurant with a focus on grilled chicken and 50 types of shochu (distilled liquor). To faithfully decorate the interior, Geideman partnered with ordained Zen Buddhist priest Paul Discoe, one of the masterminds behind Oracle-founder Larry Ellison’s famous multimillion-dollar Zen-inspired home.

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

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