Ajanta changing hands, tacos to Telegraph

Lachu Moorjani of Ajanta. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Lachu Moorjani is retiring after running Ajanta since 1993. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Openings, closings

AJANTA’S OWNER RETIRING Big news for fans of Indian cuisine. Longtime Solano Avenue restaurant Ajanta is changing hands. Chef Lachu Moorjani opened Ajanta in 1993 and has been serving up regional Indian specialties ever since. Moorjani is known for his friendliness and humor as much as for his confident hand with chiles. Tablehopper had the scoop, reporting that Rajan Thapa of Taste of the Himalayas will be taking over the restaurant with business partner Al Satake. Thapa and Satake do, however, want to keep Ajanta exactly as it is today; Lachu told NOSH that he will work part time with Thapa for a few months, “primarily to supervise cooking as well as help out in the dining hall.” Afterward, he says, he plans to travel. “My wife an I are both fond of travelling and I wanted to retire so that we can travel before I get so old that I am not mobile. We already have a couple of trips planned for this year. A trip to Madagascar in October, and a trip to India in December.” Ajanta is at 1888 Solano Ave. (at The Alameda), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook

Chorizo and carnitas tacos from Tacos Sinaloa. Photo: Kate Williams
Chorizo and carnitas tacos from Tacos Sinaloa. Photo: Kate Williams

TACOS SINALOA HEADED TO TELEGRAPH One of East Oakland’s most popular taco trucks, Tacos Sinaloa, is opening its first brick-and-mortar location on Berkeley’s South Side, reported Inside Scoop. According to Tacos Sinaloa’s Facebook page, they have not yet set an opening date; however, an employee told the Scoop that opening could be as early as next week. Until this point, Tacos Sinaloa had resisted building a brick-and-mortar spot, instead preferring to operate out of its three trucks stationed around International Boulevard in Oakland. We visited Tacos Sinaloa during our 2013 tour of Fruitvale-area taco trucks, and we particularly enjoyed the chorizo, al pastor and shrimp tacos. Tacos Sinaloa will be at 2384 Telegraph Ave. (near Channing Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

The Lodge on Piedmont Avenue is close to opening. Photo: The Lodge/Facebook
The Lodge on Piedmont Avenue is now open. Photo: The Lodge/Facebook

THE LODGE NOW OPEN ON PIEDMONT Last month, we brought you news that Alexeis Filipello’s newest venture, The Lodge, was getting close to opening day. That day has come. As of Sept. 3, the Piedmont Avenue bar is up and running. Inside Scoop broke the news, along with more details about the operation. The interior of the bar is decked out with floor-to-ceiling wood and mounted animal heads and furs. On the menu are meat-heavy dishes like venison in pastry with mustard horseradish, boar sausage with bacon kraut, bone marrow with garlic parsley relish, and “chicken chicharrones.” A few vegetarian dishes, such as grilled cheese, avocado toast and a mixed vegetable sandwich on Dutch crunch are also available. However, Filipello told Inside Scoop that the focus is definitely on meat. “We’re just such meat people,” she said. “And you can’t really have a lodge for vegetarians.” Drinks include beer, wine, a few simple classic cocktails (plus well drinks) and newly popular “adult slushies.” The Lodge is at 3758 Piedmont Ave. (at MacArthur Boulevard), Oakland.

The dining room at Sabio on Main, which was designed by Jim Maxwell of Architects II (Gather, Tribune Tavern, Chop Bar, and The Cooperage). Photo courtesy: Sabio on Main
The dining room at Sabio on Main, which was designed by Jim Maxwell of Architects II (Gather, Tribune Tavern, Chop Bar, and The Cooperage). Photo: laniallenimagery.com

ALSO OPEN: SABIO ON MAIN The new Pleasanton restaurant is now up and running. Sabio on Main‘s head chef Francis Hogan (previously of Bluestem in San Francisco) has put together a menu that “showcases a range of global flavors,” with an emphasis on Spanish cuisine and techniques. As is typical these days, the kitchen will make use of whole animal butchery and locally sourced ingredients.  “I want to celebrate the connection between food, culture and society,” said Hogan in a statement. “With my Sabio menu, I pay homage to classic technique and preparation while at the same time putting a modern spin on dishes.” Small plates are abundant on the menu, including ssam glazed pork belly with salmon caviar, pickled mushrooms, kimchi and lettuce; oxtail empanadas; and salt cod croquetas with roasted peppers, Marcona almond relish and Green Goddess dipping sauce. Notable larger plates go heavy on the meat; a mixed grill with house sausages, BN Ranch lamb leg and Fallon Hills rabbit loin sound promising, as does a Wagyu bate steak with cabbage-peanut slaw, tamarind glaze, puffed rice noodles and cilantro. On the drinks side, expect a mix of classic and contemporary cocktails and a California-centric wine list with a focus on small producers and hard-to-find bottles. Local beers are also on tap. Sabio on Main is at 501 Main St. (at Rose Avenue), Pleasanton. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.


Photo: Grange Hall
Photo: Grange Hall

GRANGE HALL REPLACED WITH POP-UP Well that was quick. Temescal cocktail and comfort food joint Grange Hall is no more. Grange Hall general manager Jason Huffman told Eater that the restaurant will be replaced with a new, but still cocktail-focused, concept. While he irons out the details, Huffman has brought on Albert Ok and Jonathan De La Torre to run a semi-permanent pop-up in the space. Called Black Water Station, the pop-up will serve California cuisine with Asian influences. Menu highlights include Angus beef tartare and poached prawns and lobster with negi, mentaiko aioli and matcha bread toast. Huffman has, however, given the chefs “carte blanche” with the menu to put out “cool, good food,” so who knows how the menu will evolve. Eventually, De La Torre will take over the restaurant in a permanent position, while Ok will shift over to neighboring Kushido, which is currently closed for renovation. The Black Water Station pop-up is at 4901 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th Street), Oakland.

Mai Banh Mi. Photo: Sean Rouse/Twitter
Mai Banh Mi is replacing Nina’s Nutritious Cookies. Photo: Sean Rouse/Twitter

NINA’S NUTRITIOUS COOKIES CLOSED We received a Twitter tip this week that Nina’s Nutritious Cookies at 6100 Telegraph Ave. has closed. Nina’s specialized in pastries made with organic, whole grain ingredients and little sugar. Nina’s website has also been taken down. The retail space will be replaced with Mai Banh Mi. No word yet on the targeted opening date, but we’ll keep you posted. Mai Banh Mi will be at 6100 Telegraph Ave. (at 66th Street), Oakland.

SHARE TIME REPLACING T BUNZ Short-lived bubble tea and Chinese steamed bun restaurant T Bunz at 1938 Shattuck Ave. appears to have closed and will be replaced by a new bubble tea restaurant called Share Time. T Bunz appeared to have mixed reviews for both its tea and its steamed buns, which included fillings such as pork belly and roasted duck. We’ll see if the equally ambiguously named Share Time will fare better. Share Time will be at 1938 Shattuck Ave. (at Berkeley Way), Berkeley.

Kaleidoscope CoffeeKALEIDOSCOPE COFFEE MAKING PROGRESS We last brought you news about the soon-to-come Point Richmond coffee shop Kaleidoscope in March. Kaleidoscope will be a unique spot — owner Cassie Cushing hopes to merge coffee with storytelling by offering a space for performers of all stripes. She plans on hosting visiting storytellers as well as poets and acoustic musicians. Cushing has been doing much of the build-out herself, but she appears to be getting closer to opening. She’s now hiring for employees at the café and is closing in on construction. Kaleidoscope Coffee will be at 109 Park Place (at Washington Avenue), Richmond. Connect with the coffee shop on Facebook.

What else is going on…

Local Butcher Shop. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The Local Butcher Shop is raising funds for a new transport vehicle. Photo: Tracey Taylor

LOCAL BUTCHER FUNDRAISING FOR CHUCK WAGON The Gourmet Ghetto butcher shop just launched a Barnraiser campaign to fund the purchase of a delivery vehicle. The literal “chuck” wagon will allow The Local Butcher to more easily transport its products between the butcher shop, commissary kitchen and neighborhood farmers markets. Backers can get an array of meat-y rewards, from a sausage sandwich at the South Berkeley Farmers Market or a half-dozen lard-based chocolate chip cookies to an invite to a celebratory barbecue or a seat in a butchery class. The Local Butcher is at 1600 Shattuck Ave. (at Cedar Street), Berkeley. Connect with the butcher shop on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Fries of the Week at Victory Burger. Photo courtesy: Victory Burger
Photo courtesy: Victory Burger

VICTORY BURGER GETS A HAPPIER HOUR North Oakland’s Victory Burger has expanded its happy hour to include new food and drink specials every day from 3 to 7 p.m. Food items trend towards the greasy, gooey side of things, with “mac of the week” and “fries of the week” specials. Think chili-cheese fries with Five Dot Ranch chili con carne or smoked Full Belly Farm cipollini and Beeler’s bacon mac and cheese. Victory Burger has also expanded its selection of local Urban Legend wines, including the “Temescal” red blend, “Lake” Sauvignon Blanc and “There” Chardonnay. Beer drinkers might want to check out the ginger-lemon shandy (IPA plus sparkling ginger lemonade) to go with an order of fries. Victory Burger is at 1099 Alcatraz Ave. (at San Pablo Avenue), Oakland, CA. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photo: Plank
Plank is adding a “Tailgate” menu for football season. Photo: Plank

TAILGATE AT PLANK Jack London Square’s Plank, the 50,000 square foot restaurant-beer garden-entertainment space, will be adding a special “tailgate” menu for football season. The “sharable” finger food-filled menu items will debut Sept. 13. Offerings include barbecue and cheeseburger sliders, “fire grilled” sausages, six types of chicken wings (including Sriracha), barbecue spare ribs and chipotle chicken nachos. As always, there is a wide array of beers on tap and games to play, should you not want to park yourself in front of a television. Plank is at 98 Broadway (at Embarcadero West), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

FRONT PORCH FESTIVAL AT WENTE Those still looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend could venture down to Wente Vineyards in Livermore for the Front Porch Music Festival. The day-long event takes place tomorrow, Sept. 5, and will include independent music, food and plenty of wine. Two different stages will allow for double the music. Find out more information hereWente Vineyards is at 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore. Connect with the vineyard on Facebook and Twitter.


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