Tag Archives: Berkeley dining

Ms Barstool: Taking a trip at the East Bay Spice Co.

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When you enter the world of the East Bay Spice Company, allow yourself to be transported to a place far beyond the edge of the Berkeley campus.

While the tree-lined west side of campus is clearly visible from the window that looks out on Oxford Street, the interior will remind you of anything you might have learned about the spice trade. Scattered along the shelves lined with spirits behind the bar, you’ll find blue and white porcelain spice jars, wooden mills, glass jars full of nutmeg and other spices, and a large old-fashioned brass scale — along with a variety of nautical-themed items we couldn’t readily identify.

On a Friday night at the beginning of a holiday weekend, every available table and barstool — inside, outside, and upstairs — seemed to be occupied. We came into the intimate space in a celebratory mood, owing to the spring weather, the holiday ahead, and finding a place to park right across the street. After a brief wait, we settled at the bar and studied the menu. We are fond of clever titles and literary references on drink menus, and found several here that intrigued us.

While we certainly care the most about the composition of our cocktails, we are initially attracted to a play on words, which is why we hesitated briefly when we saw the Last in Translation (Wild Turkey rye, Green Chartreuse, Star Anise Porter reduction, and lemon) — before settling on the more literary Portrait of a Lady (Anchor Hophead vodka, Tru Organic gin, Weiss Cream ale, honey, lemon, and fennel bitters), a book which we are determined to finish reading some day. … Continue reading »

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New craft brewery, restaurant slated for Berkeley

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A large craft brewery capable of producing over 310,000 gallons of beer a year is set to open in West Berkeley, assuming the owners secure final planning permissions. The plan also calls for a restaurant and barrel-aging facility.

Far West Brewing already has a permit from Berkeley to manufacture beer at the 10,212-square-foot industrial building at 1150 Sixth St. (at Harrison).

In its application to the city for restaurant and retail operation permits, Far West, which was formed specifically to open this business, said it would brew six year-round beers, limited release beers, and a series of barrel-aged sour beers and American wild ales. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Alchemy Bottle Shop, kosher sushi, and more

Alchemy Bottle Shop
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ALCHEMY BOTTLE SHOP Upscale liquor shops seem to be quite the thing right now — must be because of those craft cocktails we’re all enjoying so much — and the latest entrant into the field is Alchemy Bottle Shop at 3256 Grand Ave. (within striking distance of restaurants like Boot & Shoe Service and Grand Fare). The store — whose design is as far removed from the stereotypical seedy liquor store as you can get, with fresh white-painted cabinets, varnished wood floors and lashings of light — offers a “handpicked selection of the finest craft spirits, featuring small producers and naturally made products.” Other high-end spots to pick up your favorite tipple include the Northbrae Bottle Shop, at 1590 Hopkins St. in Berkeley, which opened last spring. And soon we will have another similar destination at 3185 College Ave. in Rockridge. As we reported last month, Future Bars, the group behind San Francisco cocktail bars Bourbon & Branch and Local Edition, as well as the forthcoming Tupper & Reed cocktail bar in the old Beckett’s space in Berkeley, has taken over College Avenue Wine Spirits & Deli and is expected to re-open as Cask in a few months.   … Continue reading »

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Comal owners get OK for new Berkeley restaurant

A “very preliminary” rendering of the restaurant that has been approved for 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College) by the owners of  Comal. Image: Abueg Morris Architects
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Fans of Comal in downtown Berkeley can look forward to a new restaurant from its owners, John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, after the Berkeley City Council last night denied an appeal filed by a neighborhood group that argued the new business would create increased parking headaches in the area.

Those who opposed a restaurant moving into the old Wright’s Garage space at 2635 Ashby Ave. were outnumbered by dozens of supporters. Council had received more than 100 letters from residents, many of whom live within walking distance of the Elmwood shopping district. In emails, and also in public testimony, they spelled out how much they would appreciate having an upscale restaurant and bar with late opening hours in their neighborhood.

Denise Pinkston, for example, said she moved to the Elmwood with her family recently from North Berkeley because she wanted to live in “a vibrant, walkable mixed-use neighborhood.”

“I think a place open to midnight would be wonderful,” she said. “I’m 53 still stay up past 10 p.m., but feel like an octogenarian because there is nowhere to go in the evening with my husband and friends after the movies or theater.” … Continue reading »

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Artisanal vegan specialty shop opens in Berkeley

Republic of V, Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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It’s probably less of a surprise that a stylish, all-things-vegan shop has opened in Berkeley than the fact that it took so long to happen.

Republic of V opened less than three weeks ago on University Avenue east of Sacramento Street, and has won fast approval from vegans around the area.

“If you’ve ever been to Rainbow and felt like you were in a vegan toy store, your mind will be blown at Republic of V,” said one Yelper. Wrote another, “Vegan dreams are made a reality at this store!”

Recent Berkeley transplants Joe Haptas and Noelle Callahan opened Republic of V in mid-February, and have a grand opening celebration planned for March 16. Expect free tastings, “name that ingredient” food contests, team trivia, Gong Show-inspired festivities and more. … Continue reading »

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Just 1 Berkeley restaurant on Top 100 Places to Eat list

Pizza from Cheese Board
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Berkeley may be a foodie’s idea of heaven, but just one of the city’s restaurants made it into a recently released Top 100 restaurants in the country ranking — and it’s not the one you probably thought of first.

Move over Chez Panisse, it’s Cheese Board‘s sought-after pizza that puts the collective in the no. 16 spot in the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list compiled for the first time by Yelp.

The list is is something of a riposte to more elevated rankings like the Michelin Guide, in that it is based on the views of the ordinary man or woman on the street rather than food critics. … Continue reading »

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Contest: Name that nosh 02.05.14

Name that nosh, Jan. 28, 2014.
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Think you know food in the East Bay? Prove it by naming the restaurant and dish in the comments section below to win our latest contest. Continue reading »

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Bites: Tierra Mia Coffee and Bowl’d open in Oakland

Image: Tierra Mia Coffee
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Openings, closings…

TIERRA MIA COFFEE This new coffee spot that we tipped you about in December is now open for business on the ground floor of the historic I. Magnin & Company building at the corner of Broadway and 20th Street, next to the Oakland 19th Street BART station. It’s the Californian coffee chain’s second Bay Area store — it opened on Mission Street in San Francisco last July. The founder is Ulysses Romero, a 1999 UC Berkeley alum. Tierra Mia Coffee (pictured above) roasts its own micro-lot coffee and signature drinks include the Mocha Mexicano, Horchata Latte, Coco Loco Latte, Cubano con Leche, Horchata Frappe and Mojito Mint Tea Lemonade. … Continue reading »

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Easy Creole: Fun, über-casual Cajun joint in Berkeley

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Despite the fact that the Ming’s Chinese Food sign still hangs proudly above the small storefront on the corner of Alcatraz and Martin Luther King, it’s clear that the restaurant is no longer selling stir-fries. Instead of take-out menus and lucky fish tanks, there’s now an array of Mardi Gras beads and hot sauce bottles lining the windowsill. A precociously dressed mannequin stands watch at the door. And several sandwich board signs line the sidewalks up and down the block directing passers-by to the one and only Easy Creole, the über casual restaurant that has been serving informal Louisiana cuisine in the former Ming’s space since last spring. … Continue reading »

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East Bay’s craft beer boom is just getting started

Trappist by Colin Burke McClure
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Craft beer aficionados in the East Bay have had much to celebrate over the past few years with a veritable explosion of new spots specializing in small production, handcrafted beers from across the country and around the world — many of which serve delicious bites too.

Think The Trappist, Beer Revolution, Hog’s Apothecary, Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Room, Moxy Beer Garden, The Mead Kitchen, and more (check out Berkeleyside Nosh’s drinking map for a sense of what’s out there).

And evidence suggests the craft beer phenomenon is still on the upswing, with more beer destinations slated to open this year, including Westbrae Biergarten in Berkeley, and, in Oakland, Fruitvale Fermentation Factory from Ale IndustriesThe Good Hop Bottle Shop on Telegraph, and a new Drakes Brewery destination in the Hive development at the corner of Broadway and 23rd Street.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence that beer is where it’s at is to be found in Alameda, however, where Du Vin Fine Wines, an established player in the local wine scene for the past 12 years, has just morphed into Craft Beer & Wine. … Continue reading »

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‘Restaurant Week’ returns to Berkeley, Oakland

chicken dish
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January offers lots of special menus in Berkeley and Oakland for diners looking to explore the area’s eating options with “Restaurant Week” campaigns planned in both cities.

The event features “signature lunch and dinner menus and value­-added offers,” according to organizers. (See an interactive map of Berkeley and Oakland Restaurant Week locations in the story below.)

Oakland Restaurant Week runs from Jan. 17-26 with prix fixe lunches or dinners costing $20-$40. A similar event is happening in Berkeley from Jan. 17-31. Berkeley Restaurant Week will feature prix fixe lunch menus for $15-$20, and dinners for $20-$30.

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Hot East Bay restaurants, food news of 2013

Homestead, August 2013, Oakland, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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In 2013, Berkeleyside Nosh celebrated its one-year anniversary, and we’re looking forward to bringing you even more local restaurant news this year. Before 2013 recedes too far in the rear view, we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of our best stories and biggest happenings in East Bay restaurants over the past year. (We’ve included a few places that opened in late 2012, as well, as we didn’t do a round-up last year. Click any of the links below to see complete past coverage of places you want to learn more about.) Make sure not to miss our weekly Bites feature for all the latest restaurant news in Oakland, Berkeley and beyond.

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The man who turned Jimmy Bean’s into Lama Bean’s

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Ten years ago, Lodo “Lama” Rabten had vague dreams of owning his own restaurant, but the recent Nepalese immigrant knew only a few words of English and next to nothing about cooking. New to the Bay Area in 2002, he scored a job bussing tables at Fonda, foodie couple Haig and Cindy Krikorian’s upscale Mexican restaurant on Berkeley’s Solano Avenue. A hard worker with an intuitive eye for fresh produce, Lama quickly caught the attention of his bosses and began working his way up the restaurant ranks, first as produce shopper for the restaurateurs and, a few years later, as the manager at their 6th Street café, Jimmy Bean’s.

When the Krikorians began selling pieces of their small Berkeley empire – including T-Rex Barbecue and the now defunct Sea Salt – Lama was a natural successor. He bought Jimmy Bean’s at the beginning of September, changing the name to, what else, Lama Bean’s, but little else. … Continue reading »

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