Author Archives: Kate Williams

SF’s Millennium aims to open Rockridge restaurant

Millennium, which is closing its Geary Street restaurant, hopes to reopen across the bay in Rockridge. Photo: Google Images
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San Francisco’s Millennium restaurant, which is closing its Geary Street restaurant in a few weeks, hopes to open again in the heart of the East Bay’s Rockridge neighborhood.

The restaurant’s owners — executive chef Eric Tucker and general manager Alison Bagby — have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the move. They are looking to generate $50,000 in donations, and as of this afternoon, have already raised close to $20,000 with 29 days to go. The proposed funds are only part of the money needed: Tucker and Bagby are contributing their own money, and have also raised investment capital.

In January, the venerable vegan restaurant announced that it would be closing its doors this spring. The owners of the hotel in which the restaurant is located decided to sell the building, and the new owners did not want to keep the restaurant. Faced with a deluge of disappointed customers, Tucker and Bagby insisted that they would find a new location.

Today, the pair announced the potential new spot — Rockridge — and it looks like they have their eyes on James Syhabout’s recently shuttered Box and Bells at 5912 College Ave. (at Chabot). … Continue reading »

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Bites: Fieldwork Brewing opens in Berkeley, more

Fieldwork Brewing Company menu. Photo: Fieldwork Brewing's Facebook
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Openings, closings…

FIELDWORK BREWING OPENS The newest West Berkeley brewery is up and running after previewing its beers during SF Beer Week. Fieldwork Brewing Company‘s taproom, at Sixth and Harrison streets, offers guests a rotating selection of seasonal and limited release brews in addition to its flagship offerings. Beers on tap right now include Fieldwork’s Double IPA, Rye Pale Ale, Burning Daylight IPA, Morning Time Breakfast Stout, and Hella Revolutionary, a collaboration with Altamont Beer Works in Livermore. On the food menu are British-style meat, vegetable and vegan pies (“pasties”) made by Oakland’s The Pie Shop. Fieldwork plans to host beer-pairing dinners in the future, as well as pairing seminars and scheduled tours. It is also selling beer to-go in 32- and 64-ounce refillable Fieldwork growlers. Leading the beer program is Alex Tweet, formerly of Modern Times Beer and Ballast Point Brewing, both in San Diego. Fieldwork Brewing is at 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the brewery on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Opening today: Tupper & Reed, a classic cocktail bar

Tupper & Reed opens tonight in Downtown Berkeley. Photo: Brian Sheehy
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The East Bay is becoming quite the drinking destination. With West Berkeley’s booming craft beer scene and Uptown Oakland’s growing nightlife scene, it feels like we are quickly catching up with San Francisco. More proof if it were needed: downtown Berkeley is now home to Tupper & Reed, the latest project from SF’s Future Bars team.

The long-awaited bar opens its doors tonight at 6 p.m. at 2271 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft). Tupper & Reed is modeled on the Future Bars‘ SF flagship, Bourbon & Branch, a speakeasy-style bar. It will boast a menu of 70 cocktails and hundreds of spirits, said co-owner Brian Sheehy, featuring classic drinks, twists on those classics and a number of cocktails created exclusively for the bar. In addition, Sheehy said, it will serve a small selection of beer and wine for “people who insist on not drinking cocktails.” … Continue reading »

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Thalassa space becoming music venue, beer garden

Site of new music venue and beer garden. Photo: Kate Williams
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The former Thalassa space in downtown Berkeley is not going to sit empty for long. The popular pool hall shut down last fall after losing its lease on the building, moved up the hill to Telegraph and Durant, and re-opened as Berkeley Public.

Now the enormous former pool hall, which is located at 2367 Shattuck Avenue between Channing and Durant, is being reconfigured as a craft beer garden and live music venue, says Alex Popov, who is spearheading the effort. Popov is a familiar name in the Berkeley food and drink scene; he founded Smart Alec’s in 1996 and Pappy’s Grill in 2012, and is running Liquid Entertainment, the company in charge of the music venue project.

The entirety of the venue, whose name has not been finalized, is huge — 12,000 square feet in total — and will be able to host special food and drink events in addition to concerts. Popov says that they will make use of the two large store-front entrances, one on Shattuck and one on Durant, which allow the venue to have a separate entrance for both the music and restaurant areas. … Continue reading »

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Zella’s brings smiles and soul food to West Oakland

Zella's short rib and cheese sandwich. Photo: Kate Williams
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Even when the display case is empty, there are still plenty of smiles at Zella’s Soulful Kitchen. The first time we tried to stop in for lunch, the counter-service restaurant was closed to a catering event. The disappointment was quickly tempered by a cheerful, helpful explanation from the staff and their encouragement to come back the next week.

The following Monday, we were greeted by more smiles and friendly banter as we ordered up a veritable lunchtime feast.

Zella’s Soulful Kitchen is one of many successful businesses to come out of the La Cocina culinary incubator in San Francisco. Owner Dionne Knox calls the restaurant a “a tribute to [her] grandmother,” named Zella, and said that it was her grandmother who taught her the “ value of a great meal and the way in which it can unify people.” Knox baked and cooked alongside her as a child, but it wasn’t until she left a career in youth development and community advocacy in 2005 that Zella’s became a reality. Knox worked out of La Cocina until opening her deli counter in the Mandela Food Cooperative last fall. … Continue reading »

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Bites: PieTisserie, Kitchener Snack Bar, more

Jaynelle St. John (center) held a grand opening for her pie shop, PieTisserie, on Valentine's Day. Photo: PieTisserie
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Openings, closings…

PIETISSERIE SHOP HOLDS GRAND OPENING Oakland pie maven Jaynelle St. John held a grand opening celebration for her standalone shop in the Grand Lake district this past Saturday. PieTisserie specializes in unique pies, such as mojito custard and chocolate cream pretzel. St. John has been selling her pies for the last five years, but has moved her operation around Oakland; most recently she sold pies out of Nido, near Jack London Square, and she has also made appearances at Swan’s Marketplace in Old Oakland, and Kitchenette in San Francisco. Since parting with Nido in August 2013, St. John has been working on opening her retail space while selling her pies through her website and Munchery. PieTisserie, complete with its pie window, is at 1605 2nd Ave. (at Foothill Boulevard), Oakland. Connect with the bakery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Local rapper Lil B develops app with vegan brand

Lil B headshot. Photo: Lil B
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On Jan. 16, local rap artist Lil B launched his first corporate partnership. But rather than collect a check to represent a soda brand or fast-food chain, the Berkeley-raised rapper decided to take a step in a healthier direction by partnering with Follow Your Heart, the Los Angeles-based makers of the egg-free Vegenaise spread.

The app, called vegEMOJI, allows users to send vegan- and Vegenaise-themed emoji stickers through text or email. vegEMOJI also has a locator function, so users can find Vegenaise, and other Follow Your Heart products in their neighborhood.

Like other sticker apps, vegEMOJI is bright, colorful and a little silly. Stickers depict jars of Vegenaise wearing sunglasses or giving a thumbs up sign. Others carry Lil B-themed messages, like “Plant Based 4 Life” and “Cool People are Kind to Animals.” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Johnny B’s, Habit Burger Grill open, more

Johnny B's Café. Photo: John Bajek
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Openings, closings

JOHNNY B’S COMES TO WEST BERKELEY There’s a new spot to grab sandwiches and coffee in West Berkeley. Johnny B’s Café has just opened up shop next to Strawberry Creek Park on Addison Street, in the former Café Zeste location. Owner John Bajek tells us that his corned beef and roasted chicken sandwiches are his bestsellers so far. In addition, he is serving soups, freshly made salads and pastries, with plenty of gluten-free options. Johnny B’s is at 1250 Addison St., Suite 110 (near Bonar Street), Berkeley.Continue reading »

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Bites: More breweries to open; B-Side BBQ closes

Fieldwork growlers
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Openings, closings…

TWO NEW EAST BAY BREWERIES Two new breweries are getting very close to up and running. In Berkeley, Fieldwork Brewing Company, which we reported on in both April and August last year, is putting the final touches on its beers. Fieldwork will be sharing some of its brews during SF Beer Week, and will hold a few private tastings in the coming weeks. Further south, Park Street’s Alameda Island Brewing Company reports on Facebook that all of its tests and inspections of its brewing facility are complete. Its tasting room looks pretty spiffy, too. We’ll keep you posted on the opening days for both of these new spots. Fieldwork Brewing Company will be at 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison), Berkeley. Follow Fieldwork Brewing on Facebook and Twitter, and on its website. Alameda Island Brewing Company will be at 1716 Park St. (at Eagle), Alameda. Connect with Alameda Island Brewing on Facebook.Continue reading »

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The best bets for SF Beer Week in the East Bay

Far West Brewing plans to open a craft brewery, barrel-aging facility and restaurant in North West Berkeley. Photo: Quinn Dombrowski
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SF Beer Week, which kicks off on Friday, is a monster of an event, with countless happenings hosted across the Bay Area over the course of ten days. Its online schedule is almost impossibly long, even when it filters out events outside of the East Bay. But don’t be discouraged — we’ve done the hard work for you and picked out our best bets for the week, including three Pliny the Younger sightings and an array of sweet (and less-so) events for Valentine’s Day.

TAP TAKEOVERS AND TASTINGS

“Lost in the Woods” at The Good Hop This New Belgium-sponsored tasting is your only opportunity to taste the 2015 La Foile, a Flanders-style sour brown ale, and the 2015 Transatlantique Kriek, a lambic produced in collaboration with Belgium’s Oud Beersel. They’ll also be pouring a third New Belgium barrel-aged sour one-off and will hold a web-toast with the different brewers. The $40 event includes three 5-ounce tastings, food pairings, a globe glass and one 22-ounce bottle of La Folie or Transatlantique Kriek to take home. Those not wishing to pay the ticket price can still taste the beers on their own, but they will be served at full price.
Saturday Feb. 7, 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. The Good Hop, 2421 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.Continue reading »

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Bites: MeloMelo and Zing Café open in Berkeley

MeloMelo Kava Bar
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Openings, closings…

MELOMELO OPENS ITS DOORS Berkeley residents looking for an alternative bar atmosphere now have a new destination. MeloMelo Kava Bar (pictured above), a coffee- and alcohol-free watering hole, opened softly this past Tuesday. As we reported in September, kava is a Polynesian drink, made from the roots of the kava-kava plant, that has a mild sedative effect. Along with a rotating selection of kava, MeloMelo is serving kombucha on tap and a weekly “kava koncotion” special. You can learn more about the history and science of kava on MeloMelo’s website. MeloMelo Kava Bar is at 1701 University Ave., Berkeley. Connect with MeloMelo on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Rockridge Food Tour tells story of a neighborhood

La Farine: one of the stops on the Rockridge Food Tour. Photo: La Farine
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On a somewhat dreary day this fall, I walked up to Lauren Herpich and was immediately greeted with a big smile — as well as a sweet, flaky morning bun. Picked out fresh that morning from La Farine on College Avenue, the pastry was a lovely start to the the Rockridge Food Tour, for which Herpich is a guide.

Launched in June 2014, this trek is a relatively new addition to the East Bay’s line-up of food tours — Savor Oakland, Edible Excursions, and Dishcrawl all carve out their own neighborhood niches — and it is the first to feature the Rockridge neighborhood.

Herpich is no stranger to the world of food-focused excursions. Before moving to the area last January, she was a tour guide for Chicago Food Planet, which has been leading hungry diners around the Windy City since 2006. Chicago Food Planet emphasizes the inclusion of well-researched neighborhood history into their food tours, and Herpich has brought this focus to Oakland. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Haven re-opens, Kingston 11 shines, more

The newly designed interior of Daniel Patterson's Haven. Photo: Alanna Hale
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Openings, closings…

HAVEN REOPENS TONIGHT Haven, in Oakland’s Jack London Square, is reopening with a new concept tonight. The 3-year-old restaurant, part of the Daniel Patterson Group, gave Nosh and other food media a sneak peek last night, showing off its new décor in the form of greenery and glass votives hanging from the ceiling, and a new family-style menu. While previously diners had the option to order a tasting menu from Chef Charlie Parker (and Kim Alter before him), now that’s all they can order. It comes mostly family-style, with the exception of the entrée. … Continue reading »

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