Author Archives: Kate Williams

Bites: La PanotiQ, Monster Pho 2, Brooklyn West

Croissants from La PanotiQ. Photo: La PanotiQ/Facebook
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Openings, closings

LA PANOTIQ BERKELEY HAS CLOSED The Berkeley location of the Bay Area bakery and café chain has closed suddenly. A post on La PanotiQ‘s Facebook page read: “We are sorry to announce that our store is temporarily closed until further notice, and are sorry for inconvenience. Join us in our other locations @Campbell, San Francisco (Marina & Noe Valley), Mountain View, Livermore, & Burlingame very soon. You’re always welcome at #lapanotiQ!” La PanotiQ opened in the former location of Padi Restaurant (and Holy Land) Elmwood this spring, serving a selection of French-style sandwiches salads, cakes, pastries, freshly baked bread, coffee and tea. We have reached out to the La PanotiQ owners and will update you as we learn more. … Continue reading »

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Curry Up Now opening fifth restaurant in Oakland

"Sexy Fries," Curry Up Now's Indian-inspired twist on poutine. Photo: Curry Up Now/Facebook
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The tikka masala burrito is coming to Oakland, permanently.

Starting early next year, fans of the Indian-Mexican burrito will no longer need to check Curry Up Now’s food truck schedule to get a fix. The San Mateo-based mini-chain will be opening its fifth brick-and-mortar location in the former Mockingbird space in Uptown.

For the uninitiated, a tikka masala burrito is, well, basically what it sounds like: tikka masala curry made with chicken, paneer cheese, or gobi (cauliflower); rice; chana (chickpeas) and onions, all wrapped up in a giant tortilla. It developed a serious following when served out of Curry Up Now’s original food trucks several years ago, and is now one of many burritos on the menu. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Sturmfrei, Ippudo, Golden Squirrel, more

The bar at now-closed Nizza La Bella. Photo: Nizza La Bella/Facebook
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Openings, closings

NIZZA LA BELLA REPLACEMENT: STURMFREI Over the summer, we brought you the news of the closure of the well-loved Albany bistro, Nizza la Bella. The owner had decided to retire after 17 years of running the restaurant, and put the space, including its wood-fired oven, on the market. We’ve now learned that Nizza will be replaced by what sounds like a German restaurant called Sturmfrei. (The name, roughly translated, means “to have the run of the house,” or to have one’s place to oneself.) Owners Frieda Hoffman and Daniel Polsby have just filed an ABC license for the new restaurant, so its opening is likely at least several months off. It’ll be the first new project for Hoffman after selling her West Berkeley coffee shop, Local 123, to Highwire Coffee Roasters. Hoffman also works for the wine shop, Vintage Berkeley, according to her Facebook page. We’ve reached out to Hoffman to learn more about Sturmfrei, and we’ll keep you posted. UPDATE: We have heard from Hoffman, who says that she is currently looking for a tenant partner to manager the restaurant space, and does not have any concrete plans for the restaurant. She will have very little to do with the running of the restaurant. While she and her partner have filed for an ABC license, they are still under contract for the restaurant space. She said she has been talking to some “great people” who have good ideas for the future restaurant, but has not yet settled on a partner. The new restaurant will be at 825 San Pablo Ave. (between Solano and Washington avenues), Albany.Continue reading »

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From pie to turkey: Thanksgiving in the East Bay

Thanksgiving pie offerings from Oakland's PieTisserie. Photo: PieTisserie/Facebook
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It may be hard to believe it, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And whether you’re gearing up for a big family feast or a small, quiet affair, you may be looking for some help pulling off the event. Not to worry — plenty of East Bay food businesses and restaurants are here to help, with everything from creative, scratch-made local pies to pre-roasted turkeys. Those looking to escape the kitchen can look forward to pre-dinner crab feeds, all-day buffets and elaborate multi-course dinners across the East Bay. Take your pick. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Berkeley Social Club, Cosecha, more news

Checking the menu at Berkeley Social Club, which opened Nov. 8. Photo: Kate Williams
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Openings, closings

BERKELEY SOCIAL CLUB NOW OPEN The all-day Korean-American restaurant that replaced Perdition Smokehouse held its soft opening Tuesday, Nov. 8. Berkeley Social Club serves a mash-up of American diner dishes and Korean-influenced comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner — bulgogi breakfast scramble, Korean fried chicken and waffles, kimchi fried rice with SPAM, and hamburgers all grace the menu. Owner Steven Choi has brought the popular thick-cut, glazed “Millionaire’s Bacon” over from Sausalito’s Fred’s Coffee Shop, which he also owns along with Sweet Maple, Blackwood and Kitchen Story in San Francisco, and Kitchen Sunnyside in Mill Valley. As far as drinks are concerned, there was a rumor that Berkeley Social Club would maintain Perdition’s extensive tap list; however, it looks like the actual number of beers on offer is decidedly lower. The eclectic list features local brews from Calicraft, 21st Amendment, Trumer and Anchor, as well as out-of-state offerings like Blue Moon, Dogfish Head, New Belgium, Founders and Guinness. Berkeley Social Club is at 2050 University Ave. (near Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley.Continue reading »

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Caffe Med changing hands; last day will be Nov. 30

Caffe Mediterraneum in 2014. Photo: Ted Friedman
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After six decades on Telegraph Avenue, Caffe Mediterraneum will close — at least temporarily.

Longtime owner Craig Becker has transferred the lease of the iconic café, which is known, among many other things, as the home of the latte, to a group of restaurateurs. Its last day in its current incarnation will be Nov. 30. Becker will clean out the restaurant through the month of December and hand over the keys Jan. 1. After an extensive renovation, the café will reopen in 2017.

So far, it is unknown if the the new owners will keep the Caffe Mediterraneum name.

Read more about Caffe Med on Berkeleyside.

The lease transfer was a long time coming; Becker first listed the café in 2014, but it has taken this long to find the right people to take over, he said. “People had come by and wanted to lease it but they weren’t willing to do what we needed,” he said. “They wanted to do it halfway; we didn’t want that.”

What’s needed is a full kitchen remodel and the addition of wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. Other changes, Becker said, are still “undetermined,” and up to the new owners. Regardless, said Becker, “we’re really excited about the group.” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Smart Alec’s, Super Duper, Organic Coup

Smart Alec's Intelligent Food. Photo: Clément Wehrung/Flickr
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Openings, closings

SMART ALEC’S OUT, SUPER DUPER IN After 20 years on Telegraph Avenue, Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food is no more. Signs posted on the restaurant’s windows read: “Thank you Berkeley for the many good years. Regretfully, we are out of business.” A tipster added that he had heard that staff members were called into a meeting on the morning of Nov. 1 and told to “go put up signs and keep the doors locked.” Smart Alec’s, which was originally opened in 1996 by Alex Popov, who now owns Pappy’s Grill and soon-to-open Cornerstone, changed owners in 2009. It served a diverse menu of health-leaning fast-food items such as hamburgers on whole wheat buns, vegetarian sandwiches and “smart” air-baked French fries. Popov told Nosh that he speculated the reason for the closure was a large rent increase on the restaurant space. In Smart Alec’s place will open a branch of 6-year-old San Francisco-based Super Duper Burger, which serves burgers (obviously) made from humanely raised beef; Straus ice cream dipped cones; regular, oil-fried French fries; and free pickles. Veggie burgers and chicken sandwiches are also on the menu for the beef-averse. No word yet on an opening schedule; Stuart Baker of the Telegraph Business Improvement District, told Nosh that Super Duper will be undergoing a major remodel, so it may take a while. “We’re really excited,” he said. Super Duper Burger will be at 2355 Telegraph Ave. (at Durant Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Oakland’s Grand Fare Market has closed for good

Grand Fare Market courtyard. Photo: Michael David Rose
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The second time was not the charm for Oakland’s Grand Fare Market. As of this week, the market and café on Grand Avenue has closed, again.

“We tried many things over a two-year period to make it viable, but in the end, [the model] wasn’t financially sustainable,” co-owner Doug Washington told Nosh in an email.

That model was a novel one, with Grand Fare providing takeaway meals, coffee, pastries, flowers, specialty groceries and a seasonally influenced eat-in menu in a market-like hall with an attractive patio.

“It was our dream to have a place like this with a team like we had — serving this community,” said Washington. “It killed us to have to close it after trying for two years through two openings.” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Pathos closed, Cha-Am closing, more news

Pan-Seared Halibut with Fresh Fava-Green Garlic Purée and Moschifilero Beurre Blanc at Pathos in Berkeley which is celebrating its first birthday. Photo: Pathos
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Openings, closings

PATHOS CLOSED, AT LEAST FOR NOW Because of a “dispute” with the restaurant’s landlord, Berkeley’s Pathos is currently closed. Co-owner Nick Eftimiou told Nosh that “our landlord has decided to ask us to move and will seek another tenant.” The decision is currently under negotiation. He added, on behalf of his family and the entire restaurant team: “This unfortunate event was unforeseen and had happened very quickly. We have been devastated by this as we have had such loyal, loving employees and fan base with overwhelming customer support throughout the years. We feel as if we had made a true connection with the city of Berkeley and are saddened that, during this time, we have not been allowed to service our customers who we consider Family. We wish to thank the entire City of Berkeley for welcoming us with open arms and our local communities who have showed us its humility and generous hospitality.” Several readers contacted us to say they had arrived for dinner at Pathos in recent days, some with reservations, and found the restaurant to be closed. The family-owned Greek restaurant opened in November 2013. We will keep you posted as the story develops. Pathos Organic Greek Kitchen is at 2430 Shattuck Ave. (between Haste Street and Channing Way), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Few surprises in Michelin’s 2017 SF dining guide

Carne asada taco from Tacos Sinaloa Berkeley. Photo: Kate Williams
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Once again, Oakland’s Commis was the only East Bay restaurant to receive Michelin stars, according to the newly released San Francisco Bay Area list by the Michelin powers-that-be. The restaurant, owned by James Syhabout, received its first star in the 2010 guide, and received its second star last year. Berkeley’s Chez Panisse held one star for four years, but lost the star in the 2011 guide.

As in years past, the East Bay has performed slightly better in Michelin’s un-starred Bib Gourmand category. This list is made up of generally more affordable restaurants — they must serve two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less (before tax and tip) — that the anonymous Michelin inspectors say serve “high quality food” and that they often “frequent themselves when off the clock,” according to a press release. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Oakland Yard, 4505 Meats, The Cat House

Photo: Oakland Yard/Instagram
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Openings, closings

OAKLAND YARD WINE SHOP TO TEMESCAL The North Oakland neighborhood has craft beer in spades, but has yet to gain a specialty wine shop. That will change Nov. 7, when Oakland Yard moves in. According to a statement from the owners, Daniel Schmidt and Jonathan Davis, Oakland Yard intends to be both a wine store and a “community junction,” offering limited production European wines, a “large handful” of new-wave California winemakers, and other new world options. Notably, Oakland Yard will stock a central table of over 60 affordable red and white wines — they’ll all be priced under $17. Both Schmidt and Davis have, they say, an affinity for “fresh, lively wines” that are well-balanced, food-friendly and lower in alcohol. “I want people to pair these [wines] with the whole damn party… or a trip to the coast or an afternoon in the park or an amazing hike! What pairs with adventure? What pairs with awesome?” said Davis in the statement. Schmidt and Davis are both Bay Area natives; Schmidt worked in production at Copian Winery and Davis has worked at both Chez Panisse and Bi-Rite. They plan to hold two to three tastings per week. A grand opening party will take place Nov. 12 from noon to 4 p.m. with free sparkling wine, food and live music. Oakland Yard will be at 420 40th St., (at Webster Street), Oakland. Connect with the shop on Facebook and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Already a leader, OUSD ups ante on feeding students

Students in an Oakland Unified School District cafeteria. Photo: Courtesy OUSD
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On Oct. 26, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) will officially commit to a set of sustainability- and health-focused food purchasing standards for its district-wide meal program. These standards, outlined by the Center for Good Food Purchasing (CGFP), a Berkeley-based organization working to create a “transparent and equitable food system.”

Unlike organizations that do things like certify organic or non-GMO products, the CGFP works directly on food procurement for large institutions, primarily school districts. It aims to establish sustainable, ethical networks between farms and public schools, which helps to get money in the hands of farmers and healthy food in the mouths of school children.

The CGFP has outlined a values-based set of standards called the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP), which it helps school districts to adopt. The CGFP wants institutions to pay attention in particular to five key values of food suppliers: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition.

In short, institutions adopting the GFPP agree to show supply-chain transparency for all minimally processed ingredients (produce, meat, fish, etc), so that it is easy to trace each product back to its origin. Institutions also agree to meet at least a baseline standard for each value category. The CGFP helps institutions get familiar with these values, and helps get their vendors up to speed with the expectations. Each institution is evaluated annually, and CGFP helps “celebrate successes,” according to CGFP Executive Director Alexa Delwiche. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Navi Kitchen, Blue Bottle, Wingman, more

Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Openings, closings

PREETI MISTRY TO OPEN EMERYVILLE RESTAURANT Called Navi Kitchen, it will be Mistry’s second East Bay restaurant, and it will take the place of short-lived Basic Café at 5000 Adeline. Like her first, Temescal’s Juhu Beach Club, Navi Kitchen’s menu will emphasize market-driven Indian cuisine. Inside Scoop reports, however, that Navi Kitchen will be slightly more casual, with all-day counter service, a chai and coffee bar, and plenty of outdoor seating. On the food side, Mistry will serve a daily curry and rice tiffin, Indian twists on Neapolitan-style pizzas, masala-brined rotisserie chicken, and Straus soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes — basically, Indian twists on some American classics. The East Bay Express spoke with Mistry, who gave a few more details on her pizza. Unlike other Indian pizzas at places like Namaste Pizza, the crust will be thin, rather than puffy, and the toppings will be “subtle,” rather than over-the-top. Mistry also told EBX that Navi Kitchen will also have a spice bar offering freshly ground spice blends like garam masala and chai. Navi Kitchen will be designed by Mistry’s wife and business partner Ann Nadeau, who also created the colorful, fun decor at Juhu Beach Club. Mistry hopes to open the restaurant in spring 2017. Navi Kitchen will be at 5000 Adeline St. (near 47th Street), Emeryville.Continue reading »

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