What’s new in East Bay food, XXXV

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The Cupcakin’ Bake Shop is set to open in November on Durant Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Frédéric Bisson/Creative Commons

Openings, closings…

CUPCAKIN BAKE SHOP Lila Owens has been catering in the East Bay for the past three years, and now she’s decided it’s time to open her own brick-and-mortar place and offer the world her cupcakes. She has taken the lease at the former Dome Fits hat shop in the Sather Lane retail complex at 2435 Durant Ave. in Berkeley (just west of Telegraph), and is currently building it out to create the Cupcakin’ Bake Shop. “I wanted to be in the Bay Area in a highly trafficked spot, and also somewhere non-pretentious,” Owens told Berkeleyside Nosh. As well as different cupcakes, some of which will be gluten-free as well as vegan, Cupcakin’ will sell a variety of mini-cakes. All the baked goods will be free of GMOs, Owens added. We’ll provide an update nearer opening time.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 1.57.46 PMSCARECROW POPCORN Brand new in Oakland’s Lakeshore neighborhood is this store specializing in — what else — popcorn. There’s caramel and cheddar dill, among other varieties, at the store which opened on Wednesday this week. Early reviews are good: “The popcorn melts in your mouth. If you are ever in the Oakland area it is a must try!!! Great service, clean and delicious!!!” wrote Catrina Conner-Rhodes on the shop’s Facebook page. Scarecrow Popcorn is at 3435 Lakeshore next to Lin Jia.

What else is going on…

DoughnutsDOUGHNUT DOLLY Doughtnut Dolly owner Hannah Hoffman has had to postpone the one-year anniversary party she had planned for the Temescal shop (and which we tipped a couple of weeks ago). It was due to take place on Sunday Sept. 1. Hoffman said she is working on pinning down a new date, and promises that when she does, “it will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys!” Check Doughtnut Dolly’s Facebook page for updates.

Benchmark1BENCHMARK PIZZERIA The good folk at Benchmark Pizzeria have introduced “Benchmark mornings.” According to co-owner Melissa Swanson, the Kensington restaurant is serving pour-over style coffee from Highwire (fair-trade, organic, roasted locally), homemade pastries and granola, and tea Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-11 a.m. “We have a great space for working and socializing,” she said, “as well as free wifi.” In other news Benchmark is expanding its menu to include a wider variety of appetizers and, this weekend, a non-pizza entrée —  braised lamb with chard and polenta — will make its debut. Benchmark is at 1568 Oak View Avenue, Kensington.

STATE BIRD PROVISIONS CHEF POPUP State Bird Provisions sous chef Steve Thorlton, along with Aleco Chigounis of Red Fox Coffee Merchants, and David Tai Bornoff of 1000 Glaciers, has launched Canoe Club, a roving pop-up supperclub in Oakland. The Aug. 31 inaugural dinner in the Oakland Hills is sold out, but diners interested in attending future dinners (expect appetizers and champagne, followed by five seated courses paired with local beer, wine provided by Selection Massale, and coffee from Red Fox for $125 per person) should check out Canoe Club’s website.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 3.42.18 PMICI AT DUENDE Oakland restaurant Duende is now serving frozen desserts courtesy of Berkeley’s “line-down-the street” Ici ice cream (Perhaps not so surprising given that Duende owner Paul Canales is married to Ici owner Mary Canales.) There’ll be a rotating menu of ice cream sandwiches, and “grab and go sundae cups”: a generous cup of ice cream topped with caramel or chocolate sauce. Ici ice creams are available in the Duende bodega all day long. Duende is at 468 19th St., Oakland.

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):

Nosh on the town: Dishcrawl in Jack London Square
Chef Stephane Tonnelier takes the helm at Five
Kitchener Oakland: Raising the bar for food artisans
Nosh Talk: Jason Kwon, Chef-Owner, Joshu-ya Brasserie


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. Catch up with previous Bites columns.