BOX AND BELLS IS DONE After about 15 months of operation in Rockridge, James Syhabout’s Box and Bells has closed. (Nosh previewed the restaurant in 2013.) The restaurant shut down Wednesday, according to a notice on the company website. Box and Bells, at 5912 College Ave. in Oakland, featured dishes inspired by staff meals at Syhabout’s higher-end Commis — think hearty comfort food like poutine, fried chicken and burgers topped with cheese curds. In an official statement posted on Inside Scoop SF, Syhabout explained that “despite our greatest efforts, the concept simply did not resonate with the neighborhood and result in the success necessary to sustain the restaurant.” Operations at Syhabout’s other Oakland restaurants, the Michelin-starred Commis, Hawker Fare and The Dock at Linden Street, will continue. And the closure appears unlikely to slow him down: Syhabout is gearing up to open a new Hawker Fare location in San Francisco later this month.
HAVEN: ON A BREAK Daniel Patterson is (once again) shaking things up at Haven, his Jack London Square restaurant serving elevated American comfort food. East Bay Express got word that the restaurant was closed for renovations through Jan. 23, and initially wondered if chef Charlie Parker was going to be leaving the restaurant post-renovations. After a somewhat heated Twitter exchange, Patterson explained that the reno simply reflected a menu shift and that Parker would stay in place as executive chef. Eater SF finds this change par for the course for Patterson, who has been consistently shifting the tenor and menus of both Haven and Plum, his second Oakland outpost. No word yet on the new menu direction. Haven is at 44 Webster St., Oakland. Connect with Haven on Facebook and Twitter.
TRUEBURGER OPEN ON BROADWAY As of late December, the second location of TrueBurger (Berkeleyside readers’ favorite burger) has come to the 4100 block of Broadway, in between the Temescal and Piedmont neighborhoods, reports Inside Scoop SF. Like the flagship location in Uptown, the Broadway TrueBurger will focus on freshly ground diner-style burgers, fries and milkshakes, but the new location offers far more space for hungry diners. In addition, owners Greg Eng and Jason Low have added garlic fries to the menu. TrueBurger joins Blue Bottle, Hog’s Apothecary, Cafe Underwood and Clove and Hoof in this up-and-coming stretch of Broadway. TrueBurger Broadway is at 4101 Broadway, Oakland (at 41st Street). Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Connect with TrueBurger on Facebook and Twitter.
LA SOMBRA BRINGS NEW BLENDS New Year’s resolution dieters now have a new place to find freshly pressed juice, reports East Bay Dish. La Sombra juice bar is the newest project from former Bissap Baobab manager Christy Osorio and Alana Corpuz, and specializes in flavorful, nutritious blends of fruit, greens and nuts. The juice bar is a pop-up inside Bissap Baobab’s Oakland location on 15th Street in Uptown. Expect homemade almond and coconut milk, green juices chock full of kale and spinach, citrus blends and hearty smoothies. La Sombra is at 381 15th St., Oakland. Open Tuesdays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Connect with La Sombra on Facebook and Twitter.
COMMONWEALTH MICROPUB TO EMERYVILLE A new watering hole is coming to Emeryville in the next few weeks in the former location of Cafe Biere, reports Inside Scoop SF. Helmed by CommonWealth Cafe and Public House owners Ross and Ahna Adair, the CommonWealth Micropub will be a similar concept to their original British-style pub in Oakland, but it will be scaled back to serve the smaller location. The micropub will not have an actual bar; rather it will have table service. In addition, the Emeryville location will serve a mix of local craft beers and ciders, all on draft, and a British- and Indian-inflected food menu, including fish-and-chips. The Adairs plan to open with exclusively evening hours, seven days a week, with weekend brunch to be added over time. CommonWealth Micropub will be at 3986 Adeline St., Emeryville. Connect with CommonWealth on Facebook and Twitter.
HEN HOUSE/DEEP ROOTS NEW IN SWAN’S Old Oakland’s Swan’s Marketplace continues to add to its line-up of restaurant concepts. The newest? A unique, Italian-inflected restaurant and bar called Hen House/Deep Roots, reports Inside Scoop SF. It sits smack dab in the middle of the communal dining area shared by Cosecha, B-Dama, and The Cook and Her Farmer, in the former 240-square-foot Periscope Cellars space. The new mini-restaurant was conceived by Periscope’s owner Brendan Eliason and features the food of Celeste Cooper (of Pizzaiolo) and Alexandra Lopez (of Oliveto). Hen House will serve food, including pizzas, a salad and a rotating entree, while Deep Roots will prepare drinks. Eliason has crafted a wine-based cocktail menu, which makes creative use of the bar’s limiting beer and wine license. Expect well-fortified libations like the Tuscan Punch, an intriguing mix of red wine, lime juice, spice syrup and additional booze. Hen House/Deep Roots is in Swan’s Marketplace at 907 Washington St., Oakland. Open Wednesdays through Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch, followed by dinner from 5-9 p.m. Connect with Hen House on Facebook.
NEW: BERKELEY PUBLIC FOOD AND BILLIARDS As we reported on Berkeleyside earlier this week, it has only been a couple months since Thalassa closed, Nov. 9, but now the owners of the beloved bar and billiards spot have opened Berkeley Public Food and Billiards on Durant Avenue, next to Smoke’s Poutinerie. For the time being, Berkeley Public does not sell alcohol — there’s root beer and soda, along with bar food like burgers, pulled-pork sandwiches and mac n’ cheese. But the plan is that Berkeley Public will expand into a 2-story business next month, to include a German-inspired beer hall called Taphaus. The plan is to sell craft beer and liquor downstairs. When Taphaus opens, the upstairs Berkeley Public will close temporarily for further renovations, including the construction of an indoor stairwell to connect the two floors, according to Berkeley Public employee Kevin Shea. Berkeley Public is at 2518 Durant Ave., Berkeley. Connect with Berkeley Public on Facebook.
TAIWAN RESTAURANT SHUTTERED Taiwan Restaurant at 2071 University Ave. shut its doors at the end of December after 42 years in business, as we reported earlier this month in our Shop Talk column. The Lin family, which has run the place (well-known for its distinctive purple façade) told the East Bay Express that it was unable to secure a long-term lease with its landlord. That’s not the case, said John Gordon, of Gordon Commercial Real Estate, which holds the master lease on the building. The family was offered a long-term lease but turned it down, said Gordon. Regardless of the cause, the closure brings to an end an important piece of Berkeley history. When Taiwan Restaurant opened, it was the first in that part of town and the first to sell Taiwanese dishes like beef noodle soup and Chinese fried donuts. Jason Wu, a third-generation Lin family member, told the Express the family is planning to look for another location. Gordon said the space will be renovated and combined with a business next door.
NEW: A UNIQUE TEA STORE Walk into the new Luna Tea Company in Berkeley and you will find teas not available anywhere else. The owner, Jenni Curtice, blends all of them herself — not a huge surprise, she says, because she grew up with a mother who was a certified herbalist. Curtice sells black, green, white and herbal teas, and the biggest seller is Tea.K.O, a blend of chamomile, passionflower, valerian, catnip and peppermint. It helps people relax, said Curtice, something that is at a premium in our rushed world. This is Curtice’s first brick-and-mortar store. Read more in Berkeleyside’s Shop Talk column earlier this month. Luna Tea Company is at 2493 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley. Connect with the business on Facebook and Instagram.
SAFEWAY RETURNS TO ROCKRIDGE And, in case you missed it, Safeway opened this week on College Avenue in Rockridge. The new store is stocked with organic vegetables, a butcher shop (that starting in two weeks will only sell “prime” beef rather than “select”), a fish shop, an in-house bakery, a pharmacy and a florist. Safeway workers will make sushi and bread on site. The new store is 45,000 square feet and cost about $35 million to build, according to Chris Pattillo, chair of the Oakland Planning Commission, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The store employs about 160 people, and 65 of those union jobs are new, she said. See Nosh’s full report, published Jan. 16. Safeway is located at 6310 College Ave., Oakland. Connect with the store on its website, and on Facebook and Twitter.
What else is going on…
FOIE GRAS MAKES A COMEBACK Restaurateurs around the Bay celebrated as the 2-year-old ban on selling foie gras in California was overturned Jan. 7. While many diners have mixed feelings about the re-introduction of engorged goose liver on menus across the state, chefs have wasted no time bringing back the delicacy. The round-up of foie-inclusive menus is San Francisco-heavy, but rumors have circulated that Oakland’s Hopscotch and Berkeley’s Bistro Liaison have both brought it back too. There will surely be more to come.
KINGFISH PUB HAS MOVED Temescal’s Kingfish Pub successfully made its 35-yard journey this week. The 93-year-old bar was carefully transported across the street to make room for a condominium development. Now that the building is moved, owner Emil Peinert will supervise the addition of a back patio and a new foundation. Watch a video of the move from the Bay Area News Group. The Kingfish will re-open (hopefully) in March.
OFF THE GRID EXPANDS IN EMERYVILLE Nine-to-fivers working near the Emeryville Public Market now have new lunch choices. Off the Grid has added weekday lunch service to its regular Saturday stop at the shopping center, say our friends over at The E’ville Eye. The Public Market is currently undergoing an overhaul, and the food truck organization has stepped in to supplement the food offerings on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Licensed 2 Grill, Bacon Bacon, Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, SAJJ Mediterranean, We Sushi, and Meathead have all made an appearance so far.
Catch up on these great recent Nosh stories:
New Safeway on College Avenue opens to crowds
Restaurant Weeks are back, and bigger than ever
Saul’s applies to build a parklet in front of deli
East Bay artisans show strong at Good Food Awards
Philip Gelb: Popping up vegan in West Berkeley
Nosh on the town: Galeto Brazilian Grill in Oakland
Mark Bittman: Why I’m coming to UC Berkeley