Author Archives: Kate Williams

Bites: Anvil Brewing to open in West Berkeley, more

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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Openings, closings…

ANOTHER BREWERY HEADED TO WEST BERKELEY Anvil Brewing will be joining the quickly growing community of West Berkeley beer breweries next spring. Co-owner and longtime home brewer Sean Wells is opening the brewery at 912 Gilman with another seasoned home brewer, Tim Sellmeyer. The pair is planning to serve a mix of small-batch, handcrafted brews, including both Belgian and American styles. Sellmeyer has a couple of award-winning beers that will likely grace the tap, like a nectarine wheat and a chile-based beer. Both Wells and Sellmeyer work as animal surgeons and plan to continue working in that capacity even as the brewery opens; they will likely hire a third brewer to join the team as they get closer to opening. We’ll keep you posted on their progress. Other West Berkeley beer destinations include Trumer Pils Brauerei, Pyramid Brewery & Alehouse, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room, The Rare Barrel and Fieldwork Brewing Company. Check out Nosh’s drinking map for the full run-down.) Anvil Brewing will be at 912 Gilman St. (between Seventh and Eighth streets), Berkeley. Connect with Anvil on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Port Kitchens merges co-working and cooking

Oakland Indie Awards at the Kaiser Center. May 30, 2013. Oakland, Calif. Photo: Bonnie Chan/Oakland Local
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Stepping off the elevator at the top floor of the Kaiser Center mall is like walking into an alternate reality. The doors open up to a quiet, perfectly manicured 3.5 acre garden that is completely hidden from the rest of downtown Oakland.

The Kaiser Center’s garden was commissioned in 1960 by Edgar Kaiser, Sr., son of Henry Kaiser, founder of Kaiser Steel and Kaiser Aluminum, to mimic the view Edgar saw of the Rockefeller gardens in his office in New York. Today, the space doesn’t see much action. Occasionally, an event or a wedding will rent out the space, but for much of the day, the garden sits empty.

That’s all about to change. … Continue reading »

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East Bay restaurants adapt to new minimum wage

Brunch at Camino in February 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On March 2, the city of Oakland raised its minimum wage by 36%. At $12.25 per hour, the new wage is  the highest in the country — for now. San Francisco matched this wage on May 1, and Emeryville will leapfrog both cities in July.

The wage increase was voted into law last November as a part of Measure FF. Over 80% of Oakland residents supported the measure. And while all Oakland businesses are now required to abide by the new wage, conversations about its benefits and repercussions and have been most active in the restaurant industry.

Restaurants have notoriously small operational budget margins, and are, according to Saru Jayaraman, the co-director of Restaurant Opportunity Centers United (ROC-United) and director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley, one of the largest employers of low-wage workers in the United States. Jayaraman reports that seven out of the ten lowest paying jobs in the country are restaurant jobs. … Continue reading »

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Bites: OVO, Sequoia Diner, Mad Oak and more

OVO Tavern and Eatery. Photo: Kate Williams
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Openings, closings…

OVO COMES TO NORTH OAKLAND OVO, a.k.a. “Oakland’s Very Own Tavern and Eatery,” has softly opened on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in North Oakland. The new bar and restaurant is an official viewing spot for the Golden State Warriors playoff games while it continues to tweak its menu and operating hours. For now, OVO is open only from 4-9 p.m.; owner DeWayne DeGuzman aims to hold a grand opening party at the end of the month. The menu features simple bar food like tater tots, chicken wings and burgers. DeGuzman said OVO will eventually be open in the morning, with breakfast pastries from Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts and Mr. Espresso coffee. The bar has a modest selection of beers, with space for six rotating local microbrews, and a potent-sounding OVO punch (think rum and lots of fruit). OVO takes the place of Bottom of the Ninth Bar & Grill, which opened in 2013 after Looney’s BBQ closed. DeGuzman hopes the restaurant will be a lively community gathering space, and he plans on keeping the concept and menu adaptable to the changing neighborhood. “We’re going to keep it fresh, just like Oakland,” he said. Ovo is at 5319 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (between 53rd and 54th streets), Oakland. Continue reading »

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12 East Bay restaurants make Bauer’s Top 100

The Dock at Linden Street. Photo: The Dock at Linden Street
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Michael Bauer’s list of the top 100 Bay Area restaurants causes a stir each spring. The San Francisco Chronicle food critic has been producing the compilation of his favorite spots for the past 20 years. His choices are typically San Francisco-heavy, but they do include a growing number — 12 this year — of East Bay restaurants.

In a nod to the increasing relevance and excitement of the East Bay food scene, none of the spots cut from the list this year came from our the right side of the Bay.

The two new additions to the East Bay list are both restaurants from James Syhabout. Bauer praised The Dock at Linden Street for its “uncanny skill for matching food to beer” and “unexpected” food combinations. He especially likes Syhabout’s crisp fried cranberry beans, curried lamb riblets with lime pickled chutney, and Caesar popcorn (“the best thing since caramel corn”).  … Continue reading »

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Bites: KronnerBurger, The Tap Haus, Kingfish Pub

KronnerBurger's signature burger. Photo: KronnerBurger
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Openings, closings…

KRONNERBURGER DEBUTS ON PIEDMONT Long-awaited KronnerBurger, the brick-and-mortar restaurant for Chris Kronner’s popular San Francisco burger pop-ups, is now open on Piedmont Avenue. The restaurant has been in the works for a couple of years now, and Eater has been chronicling Kronner’s search for a restaurant space. He found a home in the former J’s Mexican American, a unique triangle-shaped building at the corner of Piedmont and 41st Street. The building has been given a full revamp, with bright white walls and a modern interior. The space was designed by Wylie Price, who was also behind Rockridge’s Ramen Shop, and includes metalwork by Oakland artist Luigi Oldani. On the menu is, of course, Kronner’s signature KronnerBurger, which is made entirely from scratch (from buns to ketchup) and served with a side of bone marrow, plus a vegan burger, pork burger, and appetizers like a wedge salad and fries with beef cheek gravy. For now, the restaurant is only serving lunch, but will add brunch over the weekend and dinner service next week. KronnerBurger is at 4063 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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NOSH neighborhood guide: Berkeley Design Loop

Missouri Lounge at night. Photo: Steve Hanna/Flickr
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We know that there’s more to East Bay dining than Temescal, Rockridge and the Gourmet Ghetto. NOSH’s neighborhood guides explore the best of the rest. This month, we explore the south side of Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue, a.k.a. the West Berkeley Design Loop.

West Berkeley’s dining scene has been on fire the last few years. With the opening of the Gilman Whole Foods came a slew of restaurants on the city’s northwest corner. Yet the southern end of West Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue has long been a destination for barbecue and dive bars. Today, the neighborhood advertises itself as a design and antiques mecca — furniture stores, salvage yards and antique shops are everywhere — but there many great restaurants and bars, both new and old, to visit after shopping. Below are our picks for the best in the area, and we’ve included a handy map so you know precisely where they are. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Starline Social Club, Hella Vegan, Pho Ao Sen

Starline Social Club. Photo: Starline Social Club
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Openings, closings…

STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB REOPENS Oakland’s historic Starline Social Club is once again in operation. The building, on the corner of MLK Jr. Way and West Grand, originally opened as an Odd Fellows Club in 1893; over the past century it has housed a saloon, a dance club, and a social club for the deaf. Until recently, it stood empty. Over the last year, Ramen Shop‘s Sam White and local artists Adam Hatch, Eric Siemens and Drew Bennet, have renovated the space. They finally opened the doors on Wednesday, reports Inside Scoop. This newest iteration of Starline will showcase top-notch food from former Boot & Shoe Service cook Austin Holey, a “creative cocktail” program, and events such as monthly dance parties and live performances. The performance space has been enhanced with a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound system. (The Berkeley acoustics company has most recently re-designed the sound for restaurants Comal and Oliveto.) The club will only be open five days a week, but it will serve food as late as midnight. Starline Social Club is at 2236 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (at West Grand Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the club on Facebook and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Bites: Shiba Ramen, KoJa Kitchen to Public Market

Emeryville Public Market where a new Off The Grid food truck market will launch on Aug. 23. Photo:  Public Market Emeryville
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Openings, closings

EMERYVILLE PUBLIC MARKET TO GAIN TWO NEW RESTAURANTS Emeryville’s Public Market is about to get even more interesting, food-wise. The shopping and dining center added a full line-up of food trucks earlier this year, which will soon be joined by two new restaurants in the market hall portion of the building: Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen. We brought you news of the Shiba Ramen project last week; the fast-casual ramen shop is the brainchild of two ex-chemists who plan on bringing Japanese style service and noodle soups to the neighborhood. KoJa Kitchen will be the second brick-and-mortar location for the Korean-Japanese fusion food truck of the same name. (Its first location is at 2395 Telegraph Ave., at Channing Way, in Berkeley.) “We’re excited to welcome Koja Kitchen and Shiba Ramen to Public Market Emeryville,” said City Center Realty Partners’ Co-Founder Mark Stefan in a prepared statement. “They embody our vision for the new Food Hall — unique purveyors who want to be part of the community.” Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen are both part of a larger renovation project. This first phase includes adding food stalls and reconditioning the existing structure. The second phase of the project, expected to wrap up by this summer, includes installing a living wall, replacing the ball-pit with a new children’s play area, upgrading the entries, and putting up local artwork. Public Market Emeryville is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with Shiba Ramen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Connect with KoJa Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Bites: The Libertine to open, BUILD Pizzeria closed

The Libertine bar is replacing Kingman's Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue. Photo: The Libertine
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Openings, closings…

THE LIBERTINE BAR HEADED TO GRAND LAKE A new bar, The Libertine, is set to take the place of Kingman’s Lucky Lounge at 3332 Grand Ave. New owner Aric Yeverino purchased the bar earlier this year, but Kingman’s continued operating until April 12. As of this week, Yeverino has taken down the Lucky sign and begun renovations to change bring the bar up to code. He has posted images on his Instagram feed indicating that the new liquor license is active, so the switch should be fairly speedy. Yeverino is also the owner of the popular Hayward dive bar The Dirty Bird. The Libertine will be at 3332 Grand Ave. (near Mandana Boulevard), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Imm Thai a welcome addition to University Avenue

Duck Noodle Soup from Imm Thai. Photo: Kate Williams
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It’s all about the fish sauce.

The fermented, salty sauce seems almost ubiquitous now, but it wasn’t so long ago that one had to hunt through the aisles of Asian supermarkets to find a bottle. Ocean-rich umami and unapologetically funky, it is today the secret ingredient, not only in Southeast Asian cuisine, but in trendy restaurant dishes and blogger recipes alike.

There are several Thai and Southeast Asian restaurants across the Bay embracing the call of fish sauce funk, but these restaurants typically fall into two camps: trendy chef-focused spots looking for their next James Beard Award or a nondescript restaurant with two menus, one for Americans and one for Thais. You likely can’t bring your great aunt Mildred to either one.

These restaurants stand in distinct contrast to those generic, take-out-centric joints that populate student-heavy areas like Downtown Berkeley and serve overly sweet bowls of curry without a whiff of fermented fish. There hasn’t, until recently, been a restaurant that successfully bridges the gap between the funky and the generic. Enter Imm Thai. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Millennium on for Rockridge, Vampire Penguin

The Halo-Halo. Photo: Vampire Penguin
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Openings, closings…

VAMPIRE PENGUIN HAS THE GREEN LIGHT Berkeley will soon have its own shaved ice restaurant. We brought you news about Vampire Penguin, the popular Sacramento-based Taiwanese dessert restaurant, last fall. The restaurant now has its hands on a building permit, and manager Anthony Bai hopes to be open by mid-May. Vampire Penguin specializes in gourmet shaved ice — made primarily of fruit concentrate, sugar and non-dairy cream — with a variety of flavors and toppings like fruit, oats, taro, condensed milk, candies and other treats. It’s a potent combination; one Sacramento news outlet named the product, also known as “shaved snow,” the “best mouthgasam” in the city. Vampire Penguin will be at 2575 Telegraph Ave. (at Parker Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Kite Hill reinvents non-dairy cheese from ground up

Kite Hill's Soft Ripe cheese. Photo: Kate Williams
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The last time I ate dairy-free cheese, I was in college and experimenting with a vegan diet. At the cafeteria salad bar, there was a giant tub of Tofutti, ready for slathering over bagels and 9-grain toast. It wasn’t exactly delicious, but it was dairy-free.

Today, times have changed. An abundance of non-dairy products have emerged that make use of far more flavorful ingredients like cashews, coconuts and almonds. Two pioneering non-dairy cheese companies are headquartered in the Bay Area, one of which, Kite Hill, is in Hayward. (The other is the Fairfax-based Miyoko’s Kitchen.)

Kite Hill is currently producing a line of six cheeses, all made from almond milk. There’s a ricotta, two flavors of cream cheese (plain and chive), and three “artisanal” cheeses: two chèvre-like Soft Fresh cheeses (plain and truffle-dill-chive) and one Soft Ripened cheese with a soft bloomy rind, a la Brie or Camembert.

Nosh took a tour of Kite Hill’s creamery to learn more about what distinguishes its product, and, of course, to have a taste of the cheese itself. … Continue reading »

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