CAFÉ EUGENE COMING JAN. 13 The newest project from the folks who brought us Little Star Pizza will open Café Eugene in Albany at the end of next week. The Pacific Northwest-inspired restaurant will open in the former Little Star location at 1175 Solano Ave. (Little Star moved next door.) Partner Ryan Muff has roots in Oregon, and the restaurant intends to highlight the flavors of the region with dishes like clam chowder pot pie; smoked fish pate with dill pickled vegetables, a soft-boiled farm egg and house-made black pepper fennel crackers; and build-your-own toast with toppings like house-cured salmon with cream cheese, sardines with marinated chilies and a boiled egg, or melted sharp cheddar cheese with sweet pear butter. Café Eugene will also serve “intriguing and unintimidating” cocktails, according to a press release; these include seasonally rotating warm cocktails like Spanish Coffee and spirit-centric drinks like the Knickerbocker (bourbon, amaro, Meletti, Amontillado sherry, Eugene Filbert Liqueur, orange twist). The restaurant will be open from breakfast through dinner, with a weekend brunch. Café Eugene will be at 1175 Solano Ave. (at Stannage Avenue), Albany. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
NABOLOM BAKERY TO RETURN Nabolom Bakery, home of cooperatively prepared cinnamon twists, blueberry cheese Danishes and morning buns, shut down last summer, much to the disappointment of many of its fans. Fortunately, the closure is not permanent. Nabolom will re-open under new ownership. Its new owner is Julia Elliot, who has worked at other worker-owned bakeries like Arizmendi and the Cheese Board. She bought out the bakery’s debts and will once again sell their beloved pastries. (It won’t be a cooperative, though.) Elliot had orginally hoped to reopen at the beginning of January but has met with delays, There’s no date yet on the re-opening, but we will have many more details for you soon. Stay tuned. Nabolom Bakery is at 2708 Russell St. (at College), Berkeley.
DANIEL PATTERSON TO OPEN LOCO’L IN UPTOWN Earlier this week, Daniel Patterson announced over social media that he and Kogi BBQ food truck founder Roy Choi would be opening a third location of their affordable fast-casual restaurant Loco’l. It will be in Uptown Oakland. Loco’l is intended to address the issue of healthy food access in underserved communities — it will serve familiar American fast food dishes like hamburgers, but with a healthier, affordable bent. Menu items will be priced in the $2 to $6 range and will include far more plant-based ingredients than its fast-food competitors. Burgers will made with tofu and grains in addition to beef, and salads, rice bowls, veggie bowls, falafel and tacos will also be on the menu. Loco’l is set to open its first location in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles later this month; a second location in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district will likely open at some point this year. Patterson told Inside Scoop that the Oakland restaurant will take the place of the original Plum restaurant. The space has undergone several identity shifts in the last few years; most recently it was merged with more-popular Plum Bar. Patterson will detach the two restaurants and transform Plum into Loco’l. “From [the DPG] side the bar just works better in its original format. And Loco’l is looking for spaces. It’s a perfect fit,” the chef told Inside Scoop. Work on the Oakland Loco’l is set to begin in February; no word yet on a targeted opening date. Loco’l will be at 2214 Broadway (at 22nd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
NICO’S HIDEAWAY OPEN We last brought you news about Nico’s Hideaway in September. The Italian-American restaurant, which replaced La Fable in North Berkeley’s Walnut Square, opened in December. According to the restaurant’s website, Nico’s Hideaway aims to be a destination for diners looking for everything from “an intimate night, a neighborhood bar where we know your name, or a family friendly ristorante where your kids are comfortable and love their food.” Early Yelp reviews are glowing, with praise for both the service and the food. The fried macaroni and cheese ball appetizers and crab cake Benedict are both popular, as are the bottomless mimosas at brunch. Other dishes on the relatively concise menu include Italian-American classics like spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan and fettuccine Alfredo. Nico’s Hideaway is at 1508 Walnut St., Suite B (at Vine Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
MODU TO REPLACE KUSHIDO The short-lived Japanese izakaya, Kushido, has been closed for renovations for four months, and we now have word on its replacement. Owner Jonathan Moon (also of Blackwater Station) has reimagined the restaurant as a pan-Asian fusion joint called Modu. He has brought in Albert Ok and Quang Le (both of Iyasare) to run the kitchen and Johnathan Saelee (of BDK Restaurant & Bar, Hawker Fare SF) to manage the front of the house. On the menu will be dishes that encompass a broad range of Asian influences — ramen, kimchi, and Thai basil will all play a part, Saelee told NOSH. Dishes will be shareable, and there will be an emphasis on libations like sake, shochu and Japanese beers. Saelee told us to expect an opening date sometime early this year. Modu will be at 4828 Telegraph Ave. (at 48th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
FRANKLIN BROTHERS MARKET REMODEL West Berkeleyans now have a new picturesque place for grocery shopping. Franklin Brothers Market, at the corner of 7th and Bancroft, underwent a dramatic transformation this fall, and re-opened in November. We received a tip on the reno on Facebook from one of our readers, who called the market “beautiful.” Owners Jennifer Freese and Brian Wright purchased the store in 2014, and operated it as it stood until last summer, when they closed the building for renovations, according to a story on the market in the East Bay Express. Franklin Brothers Market is part of a pilot Healthy Foods, Healthy Neighborhoods program sponsored by the city of Berkeley, which helps put healthy produce in corner stores in undeserved “food swamps” in the city. In addition to produce, the market is well-stocked in local goods like Catahoula coffee and Acme bread, plus fresh pastries, beer and wine. Franklin Brothers Market is at 901 Bancroft Way (at Seventh Street), Berkeley. Connect with the market on Facebook.
CASA CUBANA NOW UP AND RUNNING We last reported on Casa Cubana, the Cuban restaurant project from Sam Duvall and Joe Kohn of Izzy’s Steaks & Chops in San Francisco, in September. Eater now reports that it is open for business. According to its website, Casa Cubana “is a Cuban inspired experience featuring contemporary regional cuisine, fun craft cocktails, as well as showcasing one of the largest Cuban art collections in the country.” Its menu mainly sticks with the classics, like ropa vieja, ceviche and pollo con mojo de ajo. The speciality cocktail list is rum-heavy, with twists on daiquiris, mojitos and piña coladas. Local craft brews, macro imports and California-centric wines are also available. Casa Cubana is at 59 Grand Ave. (at Webster Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
DOWNTOWN BERKELEY MCDONALD’S UNDER CONSTRUCTION The downtown Berkeley McDonald’s is currently closed. A sign posted on the building’s window says that the closure is temporary while the location is under construction. We have reached out to the franchise owners for more details, and will keep you posted as we learn more. McDonald’s is at 1998 Shattuck Ave. (at University Avenue), Berkeley.
COMMONWEALTH MICROPUB CLOSED That was fast. Emeryville’s Commonwealth Micropub closed in mid-December after less than a year in operation. The East Bay Express had the scoop, and it was told by co-owner Ross Adair that, “we just didn’t quite resonate over there, not sure why.” The owners elaborated in a message on the mircopub’s Facebook page: “The concept did not meet the demand we anticipated for our efforts to be sustainable. … We are actively seeking an alternative solution with the hope that the community can enjoy the space again in the near future.” In the meantime, the owners will use the micro pub’s kitchen as a commissary for their sister operation, Commonwealth Café and Pub, as well as a site for pop-ups. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more news.
ALSO CLOSED: BUMA’S PIZZERIA One of Oakland’s top pizza joints has shuttered as of the New Year. Buma’s Pizzeria owner Jon Kosorek announced over social media that he was simply no longer able to make the commute from his home in Napa to downtown Oakland. The East Bay Express broke the news, bemoaning the loss of the shop, which won its award for “Best Pizza for Umami Lovers” in its 2015 Best of the East Bay awards. Buma’s was the second restaurant that Kosorek ran out of his storefront at 325 19th St.; Marrow, a whole-animal sandwich shop closed in July 2014.
MORE BAD NEWS: RUMBO AL SUR After four years in business in Oakland’s Glenview district, Rumbo al Sur has ceased operations. While the pan-Latin restaurant had been well-recieved by critics like The Chronicle’s Michael Bauer, owner Jack Knowles (who also owns À Cȏté in Rockridge) closed the doors over the holidays. He told Inside Scoop: “Creating a running a great restaurant takes a lot out of you. Rumbo being in Glenview made the logistics of management all the more difficult.” He also acknowledged rumors that he may choose to re-open the concept in the former Citron space next door to À Cȏté, but was non-committal. “We’ll see if it re-emerges,” he told the Scoop.
What else is going on…
BABETTE CAFÉ WILL RETURN TO THE BAM/PFA The newly renovated Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is set to re-open Jan. 31, and it will be bringing the beloved Babette Café along with it. The café, which serves a menu of internationally inspired dishes emphasizing fresh, locally sourced produce and meats, will continue to be owned and operated by Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker. “We have come to know so many of our customers over the past four years and it has been an honor to cook for and serve this community. We are excited to be part of this new artistic journey with BAMPFA and are grateful for the opportunity,” said Ellis and Hooker in a prepared statement. The café will be located on the second floor of the building in the cantilevered section above the entrance on Center Street. It will be open to the general public during the museum’s operating hours (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and diners will not be required to pay admission to the galleries or theater to eat. Because of the extended hours, the new iteration of Babette will be open for both breakfast and lunch, and will offer pastries and coffee in the morning. Beer and wine will be available in the evenings. Babette Café will be at 2155 Center St. (at Oxford Street), Berkeley. Connect with the café on Facebook.
HOPSY NOW DELIVERING ACROSS EAST BAY The first-ever beer growler delivery service and growler store launched in a limited capacity in December. As of Jan. 5, Hopsy is now available to customers from Oakland to El Cerrito. At its core, Hopsy provides a platform for customers to order draft beer from local breweries directly to their homes. The 20-strong brewery list includes Oakland’s Ale Industries, Alameda’s Alameda Island Brewing Co., San Leandro’s Cleophus Quealy, and San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing. What makes the delivery company special? Co-owner Sebastien Tron explained in a prepared statement: “We created a fully cold supply chain from the brewery to the home to ensure our customers get access to the freshest beer possible and local breweries no longer have to worry about the degradation of their beer through distribution.” Right now, beer is only available for pre-order — all orders need to be placed by Monday mornings for Thursday and Friday deliveries. Impatient beer drinkers can pick up growlers on a first-come, first-served basis at Hopsy’s storefront at 1173 Solano Ave from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hopsy is at 1137 Solano Ave. (between Kains and Stannage avenues), Albany. Connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.
DUNGENESS CRAB SEASON DOESN’T LOOK GOOD Unfortunately, it looks like the ban on local Dungeness crab isn’t going away. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that high levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid is still being found in local crabs. Domoic acid is produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish, sardines and anchovies. Exposure to the toxin can have effects ranging from relatively mild vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and headache to severe seizures, short-term memory loss and possibly death. The ban was supposed to be temporary, but it remains in place even though the algae blooms that produced the toxin have mostly dissipated. Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz, told The Chronicle that a late-January opening is possible for Dungeness fishing along the Central and Northern California coast. Cross your fingers.
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