Bites: Lavender Bakery in Berkeley, pizza comes to Navi Kitchen spot, Zand’s update

A selection of cakes and pastries from Lavender Bakery in Berkeley. Photo: Lavender Bakery

THE PURPLE ONE In May, Nosh first reported on Lavender Bakery & Café, a European-style full-service bakery set to open in Berkeley on Solano Avenue, in the large corner space last occupied by La Farine. As word caught wind of the new bakery to come, curious locals signed up to receive an emailed notification about its grand opening, and on Oct. 10, a date was finally announced. Lavender Bakery & Café will host its grand opening event on Sunday, Oct. 21. Due to space limitations, interested parties were asked to RSVP. The response was so overwhelming that branch manager Ali Sadeghi ended up setting up four two-hour windows, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., for ticketed visitors to come by.

Lavender Bakery & Café is the third bakery from the family-owned company based in the Silicon Valley that owns La Patisserie in Cupertino and Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale. According to Sadeghi, Lavender will offer the most popular items from the company’s other two bakeries, like its burnt almond cake, tiramisu, croissants, coffee cake and gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. Within two months, it will offer a vegan option. Lavender will also make custom cakes for weddings and other events. Aside from cakes and pastries, there will be made-to-order breakfast items, sandwiches and salads, but those savory items will not be available for another month. To drink, there’ll be coffee drinks made with Mr. Espresso beans and organic green and black tea.

The 1600-square-foot location will have both indoor and outdoor seating. Sadeghi said its design is the most modern of the three bakeries his family owns; the style he’s going for is minimal, “modern European classic.” He revealed that the company decided to take over the La Farine space because it saw an opportunity in the area, especially with the closure of Berkeley’s longtime full-service bakeries Toot Sweets and Virginia Bakery. “The area deserves a good bakery,” he said, where customers can find a large quantity and variety of products.

Sunday’s grand opening event will feature samples of many of Lavender’s offerings, which Sadeghi said will help him determine what people like and what can be improved. Guests will also enjoy free coffee and receive a QR code to get a special coupon on their birthday. Unfortunately, if you didn’t RSVP already you will not be able to attend, but Lavender will open the next day to everyone. Hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily (hours may change once the bakery opens and things get settled). Lavender Bakery & Café will be at 1820 Solano Ave. (between Colusa and Modoc), Berkeley


Pizza Amigos in Emeryville. Photo: Sarah Han

PIZZA SPOT TAKES OVER NAVI KITCHEN SPACE Signage at the former space of Preeti Mistry and Ann Nadeau’s Navi Kitchen reveals the new tenants to come. Pizza Amigos, an Antioch-based pizza restaurant, will open a second location here. Nosh stopped by to talk with Umesh Sharma, the franchise owner, who said the dine-in, take-out and delivery restaurant will offer a similar menu to the original Antioch spot — thin and thick-crust “New York-style” pizzas by the slice and by the whole pie, along with salads, pasta, chicken wings and other sides. Specials painted on the windows boast combo deals that compare to chain delivery pizza restaurants, rather than the pricier, but more specialized Indian-inflected pies that Mistry crafted at Navi Kitchen.

Sharma told Nosh the restaurant is considering offering some Indian specials, like chicken tikka masala and lamb dishes, depending on the response of the clientele, but this is a coincidence, not an homage to Navi Kitchen. He said he came upon the space while looking for a location in Emeryville or Berkeley, and that he didn’t know much about the restaurant that was there before.

Inside, the restaurant hasn’t changed much since Navi Kitchen, but the side patio has new red picnic tables. Pizza Amigos is on the brink of its soft opening, perhaps as soon as this week, but Sharma said he was still searching for a delivery driver, which could hold up the opening. When it does open, soft opening hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Pizza Amigos, 5000 Adeline St. (between 45th and 48th), Emeryville

CHEF SMELLY’S GETS SHUT DOWN Earlier this month, after giving pop-ups a temporary reprieve from being shut down, the Alameda County health department presented its plan to legalize them. The department said it will allow for temporary restaurants to operate, as long as pop-ups are held within host facilities that are permitted to serve food. The host must also submit an application with the dates, times and menu of the pop-up.  In addition, pop-up operators will have to apply and pay for a permit through the Alameda County Environmental Health Department; and at least one of the operators must have a food safety certification. Pop-ups that set up shop in non-permitted space are not included in this plan and are still considered illegal. In September, East Oakland’s Chef Smelly’s Creole and Soul Food had to stop operations at Complex, a Downtown Oakland music venue it popped up at on Friday nights for the past three years. Since then, Chef Smelly, whose real name is Edward Wooley, has found a new spot, Roderick’s Barbecue on 98th Avenue in Oakland, but fans should follow him on Instagram for the latest info on where to find him.

Monier Attar, who operated Zand’s in Albany until it closed in June, is offering catering and cooking classes. Photo: Sarah Han

AFTER ZAND’S Monier Attar, the owner of Zand’s, the 30-year-old Persian grocery store and deli in Albany that closed in June, emailed Nosh with good news. After spending the last few months visiting friends and family in Iran and Europe, Attar says she’s back in the Bay Area and ready to start cooking again. Attar is currently taking catering orders for sampler platters of Persian and Mediterranean fare, including many of the dishes — like falafel, spanikopita and kookoo sabzi — she made and sold at Zand’s. For now, those interested in hiring her for catering can refer to the Zand’s website for more information, but Attar said a new website is in the works. Starting in November, Attar will teach cooking classes. The six-week course will focus on Persian and Mediterranean cuisine, and will be limited to a small number of students. She is currently working on securing a space for the classes, but those interested in reserving a spot can email her directly.

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY A new arcade bar is coming to Uptown Oakland, in the space formerly occupied by Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café. According to Eater SF, Chicago-based chain Emporium will open its second Bay Area location, following its massive San Francisco game bar that opened in a former historic theater on Divisadero Street last December. The Oakland space, located on the ground floor of the Fox Theater building, is less than half the size of Emporium SF, but will feature a full bar and kitchen, along with 30 arcade and table-top games. Eater says food service will likely be contracted to outside vendors or rotating partners, but Emporium may also decide to convert some kitchen space for more seating or games. The company hopes to open by the end of the year. Emporium will be at 1805 Telegraph Ave. (between 18th and 19th), Oakland

An Old Fashioned made with St. George’s Spirits’ Breaking & Entering American Whiskey. Photo: Jon Santer

BREAKING SPIRITS A few years ago, Alameda’s St. George Spirits introduced a new limited-edition bourbon called Breaking & Entering. The klepto-themed name was a play on the fact that distillers Dave Smith and Lance Winters used a blend of 80 sourced bourbons from distilleries in Kentucky, rather than made at St. George, to create the product. During its three year-release (from 2011 to 2014), it became a favorite amongst whiskey enthusiasts, so recently, St. George has decided to revive the Breaking & Entering line. For Breaking & Entering American Whiskey, St. George sources its bourbon and rye from Kentucky and Tennessee distilleries. The blend is then combined with its own California malt whiskey to create a final product that has a nose of toffee, candied orange peel, cinnamon and cherry bark, and flavors of pecan pastry, bittersweet chocolate, fruit preserves and spice. This month, Breaking & Entering American Whiskey will be available nationwide, but it has already started appearing at local liquor stores, like Cask on College and Ledgers in Berkeley, Uptown Market and Alchemy Bottle Shop in Oakland, as well as bars and restaurants including Beer Baron, Calavera, Chop Bar, Flora, Kon Tiki and Trabocco.


SAUCY EAST BAY The nominees for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s third annual Saucy Awards were announced last week, and six contenders are based in the East Bay: Nite Yun of Nyum Bai (Oakland) for Rising Star Chef,  Mr. Espresso (Oakland) for Outstanding Industry Service Provider – Partner, Alicia’s Tamales (Hayward) and Likha (Emeryville) for Exceptional Non-Brick & Mortar Restaurant of the Year, Hog’s Apothecary (Oakland) for Beer Program of the Year and Anjan and Emily Mitra, owners of Dosa (SF) and dosa by DOSA (Oakland) for Restaurateur of the Year. The Saucy Awards honor chefs, beverage professionals, restaurateurs and other industry professionals in 19 different award categories. This year’s winners will be announced at a gala at San Francisco’s Herbst Theater on Nov. 12, where they’ll each be given a copper saucepan trophy. Until then, food fans can take part by nominating and voting for their favorite Bay Area restaurant to win a Saucy People’s Choice Award. Nominations are open until Nov. 1.

A LOCAL PUMPKIN PATCH The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) is hosting its first annual Harvest Fest from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, in West Oakland. The all-day, family-friendly event will take place at two EBALDC’s venues: SPARC-It-Place, an outdoor community gathering space and the historic California Hotel located just next door, which it now operates as an affordable housing community. Harvest Fest will feature a pumpkin patch, eats from food trucks I Crave BBQ and Culinary Cruiser, live music, workshops, art and more. SPARC-It-Place and the California Hotel, 3419-3501 San Pablo Ave. (at 32nd), Oakland