BREW MASTER Beer Baron is now open in Rockridge. As Nosh reported last June, the craft beer and whiskey-focused bar and restaurant took over the former Toast Bar + Kitchen on College Avenue. It is the restaurant’s fourth location, joining a line-up of others in Livermore, Pleasanton and Santa Rosa. The menu here focuses on foods that go well with drinks, so expect bar snacks and comforting bites but with a locally sourced, gourmet spin. Its popular burger, for instance, comes with duck fat fries; its guacamole is made with smoked olive oil and served with tortilla chips sourced from Oakland’s La Finca Tortilleria; and there’s a salad that comes topped with tea smoked Hodo Soy tofu, kimchi, pickled shiitake and a gochujang dressing. As for drinks, Beer Baron offers 25 craft beers on tap and more than 300 whiskeys. For lovers of the dark spirit, the restaurant has opened a new chapter of its whiskey club that members can join for $250 a year to taste rare and unique bottles only available to members. Note that Beer Baron is currently in soft opening and has somewhat weird hours (it was closed Sundays and Mondays, open 4-1o p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday), but starting this Sunday, March 25, its hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday). Beer Baron, 5900 College Ave. (at Chabot), Oakland
THE BIRD’S THE WORD Nosh tipster Sean Rouse spotted evidence of what’s to come at the space once occupied by The Melt on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. An application to sell alcoholic beverages has the name of the new restaurant to come: The Bird. The new spot will be the second outpost for the San Francisco fried chicken joint — its original location is in SOMA. The Bird is best known for its fried chicken sandwich, made with free-range chicken in a berbere spice blend and topped with an apple slaw. A sampling of other menu items at the SF location include a kale/romaine salad you can get with or without fried chicken, hot wings, three breakfast sandwiches and beer by the can. A spokesman for The Bird confirmed that the restaurant plans to open this spring, but could give us no further information about the new location at this time. We will share more updates as they come. The Bird will be at 2400 Telegraph Ave. (at Channing), Berkeley
ADIEU, MICHEL Four-time Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient, Michel Bistro in Oakland, is about to undergo a major transformation that will have the likes of Megan Calvet singing “Zou Bisou Bisou.” Michel Bistro, the cozy French restaurant, which opened in 2014 in the Grand Lake neighborhood, will close next month to become a mid-century-inspired eatery called Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.
Owners Seth and Jenni Bregman made the announcement last week, explaining in a newsletter they’ll be joining forces with chefs Anthony Salguero and Brian Starkey to create an “inviting, living room-inspired cocktail lounge with an intimate upstairs dining room.” The vibe will be “reminiscent of the comfort and elegance of a 1960’s-era dinner party,” and the menu will follow suit, featuring refined versions of old-school Mad Men-era classics like shrimp cocktail, meatloaf sliders, deviled eggs and classic spirit-forward cocktails served in vintage glassware.
For Michel fans, there are still a few weeks to get some last meals before the change-over. The restaurant is hosting a “Farewell Michel Menu,” from Thursday, March 22 through April 14, when it’ll offer all-time favorite dishes, as well as some new offerings. Michel will host a final farewell party on April 14, then remain closed for renovations until mid-May, when it reopens as Bardo Lounge & Supper Club. Michel Bistro, 3343 Lakeshore Ave. (at Trestle Glen), Oakland
JULIE’S TURNS ONE After a couple of quick turnovers at 4316 Telegraph Ave., (which was home to Barkada for a smidge over a year and Nick and Aron’s for seven months) it’s good news to hear that the newest tenant, Julie’s in North Oakland, has survived its first year in the space. Tonight, Julie’s is celebrating the spring equinox and its one-year anniversary with a little help from some friends. The coffee and tea café has invited East Brother Beer Co., Cacoco Drinking Chocolate and Tara’s Organic Ice Cream to join them from 6-9 p.m. for a party featuring free food, samples of new products, drink specials and live music. Julie’s in Oakland is the second location for proprietor Julie Baron, who opened her first namesake café in Alameda 13 years ago. Julie’s, 4316 Telegraph Ave. (at 44th), Oakland
WHAT WAS GOING ON AT THE WOLF? If you passed by The Wolf on Piedmont Avenue this past weekend you may have wondered about the large film production crew stationed out front of the restaurant. We confirmed with general manager David Johnson that filming had taken place on Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. Johnson said Waypoint Films had chosen the restaurant for an upcoming Honda commercial. “They wanted an upscale spot and were grateful they didn’t have to go into San Francisco,” Johnson said via email. When the commercial airs, you may not recognize The Wolf upon first glance as it will appear under a different name, Antonio’s Restaurante. We think a more appropriate pseudonym would’ve been Los Lobos. The Wolf, 3853 Piedmont Ave. (at Rio Vista), Oakland
HOLY MOLE If you often find yourself craving mole, Oakland’s Agave Uptown should be on your shortlist of East Bay spots to get your fix. Agave’s signature mole negro is its pride and joy, a sauce based on a family recipe developed by chef Octavio Diaz, using more than 20 imported Oaxacan ingredients, including Chilhuacle negro chiles. It’s such a favorite that last September, Agave began selling 16-oz. jars of the sauce (which is vegan and gluten-free) for fans under the name Mole Diaz Bros. On Saturday, March 24, the restaurant will host a free mole tasting from 2-4 p.m., when guests will enjoy a sampling of Agave Uptown’s appetizers (featuring mole, of course) and a selection of mezcals. At 4 p.m. Diaz’s own mother and father will give a presentation about the family mole recipe, although we have a feeling they won’t be sharing all the ingredients of this coveted sauce. Although the event is free, the restaurant asks guests to RSVP. Agave Uptown, 2135 Franklin St. (at Broadway), Oakland
ITALIAN EASTER EATS Several East Bay Italian restaurants will be celebrating Easter on April 1 with brunch:
At Lucia’s in downtown Berkeley, its Easter brunch menu is inspired by meals made by the owners’ grandmothers. Expect wood-oven roast lamb, lasagna al forno, eggplant parmigiana and a Neapolitan pizza with Asparagus and egg. Lucia’s, 2016 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley
Donato and Co. in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood will serve a $39 three-course Easter brunch featuring a torta made with lamb & spring vegetables, fresh pasta, and a classic Neopolitan dessert. Donato and Co., 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College), Berkeley
In Glenview, Bellanico Restaurant will offer a $27 three-course brunch tasting menu (add wine pairings for $13). Diners will have three choices for each course. Main course choices are a grilled lamb t-bone, cured salmon with soft scrambled eggs and a yellow foot mushroom, red onion and goat cheese frittata. If you want a smaller bite to eat, its regular a la carte brunch menu will also be available. Bellanico Restaurant, 4238 Park Blvd. (at Wellington), Oakland
The Easter buffet brunch at Lungomare in Jack London Square could be a good option for those who always find themselves wanting to taste a little bit of everything on a menu. Offerings will include ham, roast beef, orecchiette with braised rabbit, ricotta blueberry pancakes, house-baked pastries and more. $60 ($25 for 12 and under). Lungomare, 1 Broadway (at Water), Oakland
Salute e Vita Ristorante in Richmond’s Marina Bay will be serving a more curated version of its regular brunch menu for Easter. Expect three or four egg dishes, several salads and a couple of larger meat options, most likely a steak and a fish dish. All dishes will be offered a la carte. Salute e Vita Ristorante, 1900 Esplanade Dr., Richmond
And for those hosting their own Italian Easter brunch at home, Market Hall Foods will offer colomba pasquale (a dove-shaped sweet bread) and Easter confections from Italy (and beyond). Note that both Market Hall locations will be closed on Easter, so pick-up your foods before April 1. Market Hall Foods, 5655 College Avenue, Oakland and 1786 Fourth Street, Berkeley.
OPEN HAND, OPEN HEART San Leandro’s brewery with a funny name, Cleophus Quealy Beer Co., has always touted the importance of community. It frequently partners and collaborates with local individuals and organizations to make beer and host events. On the second Saturday of every month, for instance, it hosts a Saturday Social, with the goal of raising awareness and funds for a local non-profit. For its next Saturday Social, taking place from noon to 6 p.m. April 14, Cleophus Quealy has invited Project Open Hand, an organization that prepares meals and delivers food to seniors and people with life-threatening illnesses in San Francisco and Alameda counties. For $20, Saturday Social guests will get a special Cleophus Quealy mason jar glass and tokens that can be traded in for two beers at the bar. Additional beer tokens can be purchased for $5 each. A portion of proceeds will go to Project Open Hand. Cleophus Quealy, 448 Hester St., San Leandro