Berkeley’s Bartavelle to open Friday night wine bar concept called Bar Sardine

Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar in Berkeley. Photo: Hailey Johnson

Bartavelle, the popular café and wine bar in Berkeley run by Suzanne Drexhage and Sam Sobolewski, is launching a weekly Friday evening wine bar called Bar Sardine.

Bar Sardine was one of the names the mother-son owners considered for the spot on San Pablo Avenue before they opened it together in 2012. They also considered Black Wing (“but that sounded a little Goth and weird,” Drexhage told Nosh  in 2012) and Henry Green, a pen name for English author Henry Vincent Yorke, but they nixed all those ideas and eventually agreed upon Bartavelle, a type of pheasant.

Still, the moniker Bar Sardine resonated with them. “It feels appropriate to our diminutive space,” Sobolewski said. (Bartavelle, you may recall, was once Café Fanny, co-owned by Alice Waters and Jim Maser of Picante. Another piece of trivia: Waters was mentor for Drexhage, and helped come up with the name Bartavelle). Their LLC is called Bar Sardine, and recently, the mother-son team decided to use it for the name of Bartavelle’s new Friday night wine bar concept.


On Friday nights from 5:30-9 p.m., Bartavelle will transform into Bar Sardine, a cozy spot with candles and heat lamps on the patio, where guests can enjoy wines by the glass, carafe or bottle. Sobolewski said many of the wines will be imported by Bartavelle neighbor, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants (where his mom once worked as a wine purveyor back in the day), but they will also be bringing in a few special bottles, both domestic and imported, to feature on the wine list. They’ll also be rolling out vermouths and other wine-based bitters over the first couple of weeks of service.

Drexhage, who also does double duty as Bartavelle’s chef, will be creating a menu of wine bar snacks. Playing off the evening service name, there’ll be tinned sardines. Other bites include some regular Bartavelle offerings, like salt cod brandade (made with pureed salt cod, garlic, potato and cream) and its duck liver mousse and olives.

Bar Sardine will soft open this Friday, Dec. 7, with a grand opening on Dec. 14.