Going underground: Dinners feature Berkeley wineries

Dinners in the new East Bay wine series will be prepared by Culinary Eye chef John Silva.

Berkeleyans will have the chance to dip their toes into the underground dining movement tonight as the first of a new wine club dinner series kicks off in a loft on Seventh Street.

Organized by the people behind the recently launched Beehive Market, the weekly Tuesday-night dinners will celebrate vintners who are working here in the East Bay, including in Berkeley.

Julia Fry, co-founder with Isaac Cronin of the Beehive Market, came up with with the idea of the Beehive Locavore Wine Club dinners as a way to promote East Bay wineries. It’s a good fit with the market’s mission to support local business. “We wanted to do wine events at the market [at the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo],” says Cronin, but because it is a BUSD property, state law prohibits display and sale of alcoholic beverages there.”

Instead, the dinners will be held at Beehive HQ’s workspace loft. “It’s an intimate, fun setting for underground dining. We have decorated it with the products made by Beehive Market vendors and with recycled materials as well.  Everyone sits at a large, long table, which serves as Julia’s cutting table for fashion design during the day. The winemaker and chef will discuss the wine and the food and how and why it is paired,” says Cronin.


The two Berkeley winemakers who will be featured at future dinners include Eno Wines, whose winery is on Camelia Street (October 5), and Two Mile Wines (November 16).

Tonight’s dinner, prepared by chef John Silva of Culinary Eye Catering, will feature Alameda winemaker Matt Smith of Blacksmith Cellars. On the menu: green bean salad with stone fruit vinaigrette and pepper whipped goat cheese crostini, oven roasted California halibut with confit potatoes and smoked toamato sugo, and Sling Coffee petite bread puddings with salted caramel and sweet cream. (Sling Coffee is also a Berkeley business. It recently opened its roasting facility on San Pablo.)

The dinners are very much on trend, underground dining being all the rage right now — witness dining as collaborative spectacle as practiced by a group of Chez Panisse chefs with their Open Restaurant initiative.

Visit Beehive for more information on the East Bay wine club dinners, including tonight’s for which some spaces are still available.