What’s new in East Bay food, XXV

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Toast Kitchen and Bar, at 5900 College Avenue in Rockridge, opened its new kitchen and dining room yesterday, which has nearly doubled the size of the restaurant. Photo: Courtesy of Toast

Openings…

The Station
Coming soon to the Claremont ‘hood: The Station. Photo: Sandy Friedland

THE STATION It’s been a long gestation period (we first tipped you about it in July 2012), but it looks like the former Viva Taqueria building in the triangle where Russell, Claremont Avenue, and Claremont Boulevard meet in Berkeley will soon be reborn as The Station. The painters are hard at work and the opening is slated for next month. [Hat tip: Sandy Friedland.] Think hamburgers and salads with coffee and pastries in the morning. The name refers to the spot’s original role as a train station, and later a gas station… and still later, a beloved burger spot named, appropriately enough, ‘The Station.” The Korean-American owner of The Station back in the 80s, Fred, specialized in delicious fresh blueberry milkshakes, but also introduced a generation of Berkeley youngsters to the wonders of bulgogi. [Ed: This last sentence comes courtesy of reader "Bishop George Berkeley.”]

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 11.57.37 AMBITTERSWEET BERKELEY The popular Bittersweet, which has cafés in Rockridge and downtown Oakland, is set to open a new Berkeley location in the former New Amsterdam Coffeeshop spot at 1952 University Ave. (Hat-tip: Diablo Dish.) Bittersweet, which specializes in chocolate, also used to make artisanal chocolate in West Berkeley. Expect the same offerings of yummy hot chocolate, coffees, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. New Amsterdam Coffeeshop closed after three years partly because its owners wanted to spend more time with their children. Bittersweet Berkeley hopes to open by the end of June.

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 11.55.56 AMSMITTEN ROCKRIDGE San Francisco’s Smitten ice cream is looking to open in the shuttered Great Harvest Bread Co. at 5800 College Ave., according to Tablehopper and Diablo Dish. Hayes Valley’s Smitten, a partnership between founder Robyn Sue Fisher and pastry chef Robyn Lyn Lenzi, mixes fresh ingredients and turns them into ice cream in 60 seconds with the help of liquid nitrogen and their proprietorial “Brrr” machine. Nothing set in stone as yet, so we’ll keep you posted.

LEVANT Shihadeh Kitami has been in the food business in Berkeley for close tolevantphoto2 (5) 25 years, first selling food on the Cal campus, then selling street food on Telegraph Avenue, and then opening Razan’s Organic Kitchen, which he has operated at 2119 Kittredge since 1998. But in the past few months, his food business has grown rapidly, first doubling, and now tripling in size. Kitami opened Arabica Mediterranean Cuisine at 2115 Kittredge, right next to Razan’s, on May 21. Now he and his brother Zaid Kitami and a young Tunisian investor, Haithem Bennour, are about to open Levant’s Organic Café just a few doors away on the corner of Kittredge and Fulton. Levant will be a casual coffee house and dining place, with organic free-trade coffee (probably Equator Coffee) and a salad bar. It should open sometime in July. Kitami isn’t finished yet, though. He plans to create an organic rooftop garden to supply his restaurants with fresh produce and herbs. That will be coming later this summer, he said.

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 11.49.47 AMRAMEN TOMO Just opened at 4390 Telegraph Ave. (between 44th St. and 43rd St.) is Ramen Tomo (as tipped by us in March). Early reviews on Yelp are mixed. We wait to hear your views.

SKETCH While on the subject of ice cream, Diablo Dish also reports that Sketch, which is in Berkeley’s burgeoning 4th and U area, may one day open a second location. Co-owner Eric Shelton told Diablo Dish that he and wife/co-owner, Ruthie Planas-Shelton, are looking around the East Bay for a possible second location, but that the process was very preliminary.

What else is going on…

ajantaFREE DRINKS AT AJANTA To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Ajanta in Berkeley is offering all dinner guests on the nights of June 9, 10 and 11 a free glass of wine, sparkling wine, beer, or a soft drink. The anniversary coincides with restaurant being voted “Best Indian” in the San Francisco Bay by Zagat Guide for the fifth year in a row. Ajanta, which also has the distinction of being named by Alice Waters as one of her favorite places, is at 1888 Solano Ave.

DISCHCRAWL OLD OAKLAND Dischcrawl, whose Alameda event we reported on in April, is hitting Old Oakland on Wednesday June 19 at 7pm. At Dishcrawl’s events, participants visit four restaurants in one night, sampling each restaurant’s specialties and meeting the chefs or owners. The names of the restaurants remain secret until the night, but Dishcrawl ambassador Jose Paolo Fernandez assures us they are “all awesome and highly praised by critics.” Tickets, which cost $45, are available online at Dishcrawl.

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):


Raising the bar in Oaktown: Cheers to Sidebar
Judge denies lawsuit to halt plans for Sprouts Farmers Market in Albany
Gin and tonic cake: A cocktail turned confection 
Farmacology: Farm to body lessons

Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant openings, happenings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to nosh@berkeleyside.com. Follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.