Bites: What’s new in East Bay food XXIX

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Five-spice pork at China Village in Albany, which has just re-opened with a facelift after a fire last year forced the Szechuan restaurant to close down. Photo: China Village

Openings…

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Alchemy at 3140 MLK Way is moving

ALCHEMY CAFE COLLECTIVE Berkeley’s Alchemy Café Collective is moving at the end of August to a new space at Alcatraz and Ellis. Right now, co-owner Chris Myers tells us, the shop is too small. (It’s located in a small storefront next to the Firehouse Art Collaborative in the Lorin District.)  He said they have had to get city permits as a mobile cart because they didn’t have running water or electricity — it was all run out of a counter. In their new, bigger space, they’ll be able to run a slightly bigger operation and add a food menu (sandwiches, granola, maybe soups). Alchemy was opened in 2012 by six baristas, who want to be their own bosses and hire no employees. The collective raised $10,000 on Kickstarter to help launch their business, and they are turning to Kickstarter again to raise the money they need for the equipment at their new space. Read our August 2012 profile of Alchemy.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.03.30 PMCHINA VILLAGE China Village in Albany reopened this week after a fire in spring 2012 forced it to close down. The beloved Szechuan spot (pictured, top: its five-spice pork), which has been in Albany for 15 years, has had a makeover, according to Inside Scoop SF. There’s a beautiful new banquet room (pictured, right) and a new cocktail menu. But chef-owner John Yao knows to stick to the much-loved menu. So expect to see the tank full of live crabs, fish and lobsters and the exotic sweetmeats, such as Szechuan-Style Spicy Boiled Leaf Tripe and Fire Charred Pork Kidney. The full menu has a few new dishes, mostly in the “Chef’s Signature Dishes” category; there are also clay pot and hot pot tweaks.China Village is at 1335 Solano Ave. Follow the restaurant’s Facebook page for updates.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 11.52.35 AMEAST END PIZZA CO. East End Pizza Co. in Alameda has grown up. Previously primarily a take-out place, it now has a big space in the former Ching Hua spot at 1650 Park St., according to East Bay Dish.  There’s a full menu with soups, salads, sandwiches, small plates, and of course, pizza. Some of those small plates include pork belly (red lentils, mirepoix) and agnolotti (sheep’s milk ricotta stuffed pasta, wood-roasted eggplant puree, Basil). The owners suggest ordering a selection to share with your friends before tucking into the pizzas.

BreadBREAD WORKSHOP As we reported on Shop Talk earlier this week, after more than 20 years as an eco-friendly wholesale bakery and café, the Bread Workshop‘s retail space at 1398 University Ave. closed Sunday. Although he didn’t provide details about why he decided to close, owner Bill Briscoe wrote on his website recently that “all streaks come to an end.” Briscoe provided a bittersweet history of the bakery, which he founded with friend John Simmet in 1989 as a wholesale bakery focusing on “bread with a sustainable bend.” They started composting early on and used vegetable-made to-go containers and utensils, and barred ingredients like trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup from their kitchen. Eventually they opened the Bread Workshop Café alongside the bakery, serving soups, salads and sandwiches six days a week. “I intend to always keep my head in the sustainable game, even if my hands aren’t,” Briscoe wrote on the website. Although the café closed June 30, the Bread Workshop will continue producing bread for wholesale until July 15.

NATURAL GROCERY COMPANY Despite rumors that the Natural Grocery Company, at 1336 Gilman St., will close, general manager Bob Gerner  assures us that the neighborhood store is here to stay. Gerner, who has leased the space as Natural Foods for more than 40 years, said he recently renewed the lease and has no plans to move. In a comment on a Berkeleyside article earlier this month, Gerner wrote, “We are indeed a small employee owned neighborhood store and we intend to continue to be successful in this location.”

What else is happening…

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 3.37.01 PMTEMESCAL STREET FAIR Global eats are high on the agenda for this year’s Temescal Street Fair on Sunday July 7.  The family-friendly fair features three food courts and stages showcasing local performers, and 150 booths teaming with handmade crafts, local artistry and artisanship, representative of the area’s culturally rich milieu. The 10th annual Temescal Street Fair, Sunday, July 7, noon to 6 p.m. at Telegraph Avenue between 42nd and 51st streets in North Oakland.

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):

Berkeley Rasputin to sell organic ice cream on Telegraph
Coffee and spirits: The Firelit cake
It’s back! Inside the newly re-opened Chez Panisse (photos)
Comal owners plan new Berkeley restaurant in the Elmwood

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

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  • http://www.suzanneyada.com/ suzanneyada

    Good to hear about Alchemy. I stumbled on them once and was really impressed.

    Side note: have you folks seen Amadeus is semi-open, where Zaika’s used to be?
    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/06/18/shop-talk-the-ins-and-outs-of-berkeley-businesses-80/

    Grand opening is on Monday, the girl said. It’s stunningly fancy-pants (as in every piece of furniture is an ornate European import, fit for royalty). It also looks crazy expensive — $8 for a pastry?! — but admittedly, I’m intrigued.

  • http://berkeleyside.com Tracey Taylor

    We will go back to check out Amadeus. It sounds like it’s close to opening. Thanks for the tip, Suzanne. And Happy 4th!

  • serkes

    China Village is a real favorite!

  • Chris J

    JEEZIS…too many interesting spots. Alchemy Cafe…Bittersweet opening here in Berkeley…Bartavelle’s…Cafe Renaissance…at least they are all appropriate distances from each other for walkers or local folks such that competition might not be an issue. I look forward to the time when I can once again hang out for hours on end in a coffee shop…