Diablo Dish: September
Lafayette gets American Kitchen; Concord gets a taproom; Diablo gets a new columnist.
Walnut Creek Century 14
Photo by Emmalouise B. Yelp.com
Rumors have been flying, and now a sign is in the window: Downtown Walnut Creek Century 14 theater has applied for a beer and wine license. If approved, expect it to be much like its Napa CineVino Wine Bar, with small-plate pairings. And that would mean it’s showtime in the East Bay! Please chime in to the Diablo Dish discussion online.
In other booze news, the new craft beer bar Hop Grenade Taproom & Bottleshop debuted in Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza. From the same folks behind the Brewing Network, Bottleshop’s lineup of beers, mostly Californian, is foamy and fabulous. Just in time for Oktoberfest.
At press time, Lafayette was set to welcome another impressive new eatery, American Kitchen, within sniffing distance of The Cooperage. Restaurateur Victor Ivry, previously of Orinda’s Table 24, has serious restaurant cred, and the all–American menu includes sandwiches, salads, chowders, rock crab rolls, and a raw bar along with pie and soft-serve ice cream for dessert.
After the opening of Revel, Yo’s on Hartz, and the new Sideboard, the restaurant scene in Danville is sweeter than ever. The always-delicious Peasant and the Pear, Rodney Worth’s flagship restaurant, welcomes talented new pastry chef Dana Farkas, who has worked at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and Oliveto in Oakland. Warm raspberry brioche bread pudding, anyone?
Then there’s Berkeley, where Gather has a new chef, Charis Wahl, previously of Rivoli and Ozumo in Oakland. Word is her steamed mussels with Calicraft Brewing Co.’s Cali Cöast, pickled green tomato, and cilantro are rocking. Also, rising star chef Dana Ryan, a former chef at S.F.’s State Bird Provisions and Michael Mina’s RN74, is firing up an eclectic menu at the new Townie, in the former Caffe Venezia location. Look for grilled Caesar salad and potato croquettes with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese.
In food trend news, the New York Times reports the “farm-to-table” movement (I am not making this up) is making serious money. Walnut Creek’s Tender Greens, one of 15 locations in California serving healthy, high-quality food, is raking in more than $3 million per store, impressive for a restaurant where diners order at the counter. Now that’s what I call a green restaurant.
September is a big month for food festivals and harvest fairs. One that is sure to draw crowds is the Eat Real Festival in Jack London Square September 19–21.
Finally, I’d like to introduce myself, Diablo’s new Dish columnist. I’m a longtime food, wine, and travel writer who finally settled down in Walnut Creek a decade ago, with my charming German-born husband and two daughters (now 14 and 12). In the B.C. era (before children), I traveled nonstop, writing for big magazines such as Travel & Leisure, Bon Appétit, Wine Spectator, and Town & Country. Now, in addition to writing Dish, I am writing a cookbook and a memoir, and running a video production company, filming wineries and hotels, and other beautiful things.