Bites: After Chez Panisse, Cal Peternell opens The Lede; Smokehouse update

The Lede shares its dining room and patio with Studiotobe.
The Lede shares its dining room and patio with Studiotobe, a co-working space and production studio for journalists in Old Oakland. Photo: Tracey Taylor

A STRONG LEDE On Monday, Chez Panisse veteran chef Cal Peternell opened his new Oakland counter-service restaurant and bar, The Lede, offering a menu of soup, fritters, sandwiches, salads and cookies. While The Lede will offer both take-out lunch and sit-down dinner by its official grand opening, Oct. 5, for now, it’s solely serving lunch to-go, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Before you head out the door to try it ASAP, The Lede announced via Instagram that it’s closed due to “technical difficulties” today, back open Thursday.)

As Nosh reported last May, The Lede is part of a multi-prong hub called Studiotobe. Found in the former Pacific Coast Brewing space, Studiotobe is a co-working space, a production studio for local journalists (including for Peternell, who records his Cooking By Ear podcast there), and now, Peternell’s restaurant.

At The Lede, the chef continues his tradition of offering a vegetable-focused menu using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, a style he’s honed for over 22 years at Chez Panisse, but with a more casual vibe and more affordable prices. On Tuesday, the menu offered a bowl of roasted tomato and eggplant soup for $8, zucchini and corn fritters with a salad for $11, and two options to try as a salad or sandwich: one with Sonoma County duck, another with tomatoes, roasted peppers, hard-boiled eggs and olives, for $11-$12. For dessert, there were sesame and chocolate wafers for $4. When we stopped in, Peternell’s son, Henderson, was helming the kitchen.

Starting from Oct. 7, hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; 5-10 p.m., Monday through Friday; noon to 10 p.m., Saturday. The Lede, 906 Washington St. (at Ninth), Oakland


Outdoor picnic tables in front of a lit-up restaurant. A glowing sign in the background reads Smokehouse
The Smokehouse in Berkeley has been closed since February after a grease fire ignited in its kitchen. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

IS SMOKEHOUSE REOPENING? Nosh has been contacted by several readers wondering if Smokehouse, the 68-year-old family-owned Berkeley burger joint that closed in February after a kitchen fire, would serve its budget-friendly charbroiled burgers again. A sign at the Telegraph Avenue restaurant touting a fall 2019 reopening has been taken down, and many note that there have been no signs of construction or renovation work on site. If anything, it appears to have been abandoned. Nosh reached out to Smokehouse general manager Shakaib Shaghasi, whose mother Saleha “Sally” Shaghasi owns the business. In an email sent to Nosh, Shaghasi said the Smokehouse will return, but not as soon as his family had initially hoped:

“At this time, we are applying an 80% chance of opening at the start of the New Year. We will have more clarity on an exact date as we pass more time. We originally anticipated opening this fall, but of course, given the age of the building, getting it up to code has added more time than expected to our plans. We thank the customers for their loyalty, and we promise that Smokehouse [will] never turn its back on them.”

Anaviv's Table, a communal farm-to-table dining experience serving just 12-14 diners a night, will offer a vegan dinner menu every Thursday, starting Sept. 26.
Anaviv’s Table, a communal farm-to-table dining experience serving just 12-14 diners a night, will offer a vegan dinner menu every Thursday, starting Sept. 26. Photo: Anaviv’s Table

PART-TIME VEGAN While we’re referencing Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Richmond is crediting Alice Waters for inspiring its new vegan tasting menu, which it will offer every Thursday, starting tomorrow, Sept. 26. Anaviv’s Table, a multi-course dining experience that serves just 12-14 people a night, recently collaborated with Waters to create a “meat as a side-dish” menu for attendees at a recent wellness summit. Although the weekly veg-friendly menu — created by chef Kadie Vita — will be completely animal-product free, Anaviv is calling it a “plant-based” because the restaurant feels “it is more inclusive than the word vegan.” This Thursday’s four-course meal will be accompanied by cocktails made with Gray Whale Gin and paired with California natural wines. A seat at the table costs $115. Anaviv’s Table, 600 Hoffman Blvd., Richmond

A sign at the former Cantina Del Sol restaurant on Solano Avenue announces a new taco and beer-focused eatery from Los Moles.
A sign at the former Cantina Del Sol restaurant on Solano Avenue announces a new taco and beer-focused eatery from Los Moles. Photo: Moriah Van Vleet

TACOS, BEERS IN ALBANY Popular Bay Area Mexican spot Los Moles is opening a sister restaurant on Solano Avenue in Albany. 5 Tacos & Beers will take over the space last occupied by Mexican sit-down restaurant, Cantina Del Sol, which closed last December after less than one year in business. Los Moles founder-chef Lito Saldaña currently operates three Los Moles locations in Emeryville, El Cerrito and San Rafael; the restaurant is an off-shoot of now-closed Cocina Poblana, which also had three locations across the Bay Area. Saldaña told Nosh 5 Tacos & Beers will likely open in the next three months, after it gets its alcohol license and completes remodeling. This is a case where the name practically says it all — yes, tacos and beer will be the draw here, but Saldaña shared some more details: The restaurant will serve five different tacos every day (made with handmade tortillas and organic meats and produce) and about 30-40 beers from local craft breweries. There will also be craft cocktails and a breakfast menu. Stay tuned on Nosh; we’ll have more details as opening nears. 5 Tacos & Beers will be at 1175 Solano (at Stannage), Albany

The bulb in front of Mr. Dewie's and Souvenir Coffee in Albany will be the site for a new combination parklet-bus stop.
The bulb in front of Mr. Dewie’s and Souvenir Coffee on Solano Avenue in Albany will be the site for a new combination parklet-bus stop. Photo: Google Maps

SOUVENIR COFFEE UPDATES We checked in with Souvenir Coffee Company owner, Jeremy Bled, about the status of two big projects coming to his Berkeley and Albany cafés. On Claremont Avenue, at the original Berkeley location, Bled said the café is about halfway through building its back patio, which he hopes to open in October. When Bled opened in October 2017, the patio was not permitted for use, and during the approval process, the plans came upon some initial resistance from a handful of parties who were concerned about potential noise. After determining the patio would cause minimal impact for surrounding residents, the zoning board gave its unanimous approval. When it’s completed, Bled said he plans for the patio to open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The extra seating will allow him to convert some inside seating to a food preparation area, in order to bring back more food service to the café. He may also consider offering beer and wine sometime down the road, he said.

Over at the Albany café, Souvenir Coffee has partnered with neighbors Mr. Dewie’s scoop shop and AC Transit to construct a combination parklet-bus stop in the bulb in front of the two stores. The project was started by Mr. Dewie’s owners, Ari and Andrew Cohen, when they realized the bus stop was being installed there, but Souvenir joined the effort in January, when it opened the café on Solano Avenue. Last Friday, Souvenir hosted an all-day pop-up at the bulb, where a temporary parklet was put up for residents to get a sense of what’s to come. The event was also an awareness-raising effort to bring attention to the bus stop’s new location, and a chance for locals to give feedback about the project. Bled said the parklet design has already been approved by the city, but funding has been holding up the project, which will cost around $100,000. The business owners plan to cover the remainder of the budget, once AC Transit contributes its portion for the bus stop. The wood parklet will accommodate seating for 30-40 people, including people waiting for the bus, customers at surrounding businesses and anyone else who wants a place to sit. There will also be parking for about 10 bikes.

When both of these projects are completed, Bled said he’ll finally have time for another big project — expansion. Although he couldn’t go into detail, Bled hinted new sister shops might be coming to the Bay Area, perhaps in conjunction with other coffee roasting companies and coffee shops. But currently, those grand plans are on hold. “Right now, we’re just trying to finish what we got,” Bled said. Souvenir Coffee, 3084 Claremont Ave. (at the Uplands), Berkeley and 1114 Solano Ave. (at Kains), Albany

The former Kronnerburger location on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland will open as Charm Thai Bistro from the owners of Anchalee Thai Cuisine in Berkeley. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

SECOND TIME’S A CHARM The big, white building on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and 41st Street has remained vacant since last February, when a kitchen fire shuttered Kronnerburger. But Nosh just got word that new tenants will be cooking once again at the space in Oakland. This time, married couple Chuck and Anchalee Natasiri will open Charm Thai Bistro there. For the past 12 years, the Natisiris — Chuck, the chef, and Anchalee, running front of house — have offered classic Thai dishes at the homey West Berkeley neighborhood favorite, Anchalee Thai Cuisine, on Dwight Way. We reached out to the Natisiris to hear more about what they’ll be offering at Charm and when we can expect at opening. Charm Thai Bistro will be at 4063 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st), Oakland

PATATAS REBOOT TO COME Patatas Kitchen in Emeryville has been closed since Sept. 3. In a letter posted on the restaurant’s door at 3986 Adeline St. (and on the Patatas’ website), chef-owner Marcos Quezada explained the closure is temporary: “We hope to return soon with new food offer and new delivery formats for our customers.” Chilean-born Quezada opened Patatas in June 2017, offering Latin and Spanish-inflected dishes like empanadas, paella and herb-roasted chicken. The restaurant offered dine-in service, but part of the business was also dedicated to catering and take-out offered via delivery apps like Caviar, UberEats, Grubhub and Postmates. In the letter, Quezada writes that although the restaurant is currently closed, customers can still order Patatas food — sandwiches and brown rice bowls — via app delivery.

The Dirty Boba, Feng Cha Teahouse's most popular drink.
The first 25 customers in line on Saturday will get a free Dirty Boba, Feng Cha’s most popular drink. Photo: Sarah Han

FENG CHA GRAND OPENING This Saturday, Feng Cha Teahouse in Southside Berkeley will celebrate its official grand opening. On that day, all drinks are buy-one-get-one-free, with a limit of two free drinks per guest. For those who don’t mind waiting in line, there are a couple promotions for early-comers — the first 25 customers in line will get a free Dirty Boba (Feng Cha’s most popular drink, made with caramelized brown sugar boba and a creme bruleed topper) and the first 150 will get a raffle ticket to win one of 20 available $25 gift cards.

Berkeley’s Feng Cha Teahouse is the second Bay Area location run by franchise owner May Liao; the other store is in Newark. When it soft-opened earlier this month, it featured many, but not all, of the drinks on its menu. Liao told Nosh the complete menu will be available by Saturday. Grand opening hours are noon to 11 p.m. 2528-A Durant Ave. (between Telegraph and Bowditch), Berkeley

FRIULIAN WINE DINNER On Friday, Baker & Commons in Elmwood is hosting a third event in its wine dinner series with neighboring wine shop, Vintage Berkeley. A five-course dinner will be paired with wines from the Friuli region of Italy, an area that Vintage Berkeley owner Dan Polsby says makes some of Italy’s best, most elegant wines that pair beautifully with food. Friulian wine expert Alex Corazza will be on hand to offer facts about the five (or more) wines that’ll be poured during the dinner. Speaking of the meal, Baker & Commons chef Miles will be making a baccalà mantecato with romesco and crostini; squid ink pasta with lobster, tomato and fennel; swordfish in saor; braised osso buco with fresh shell beans and mini fruit crostatas with vin santo cream for dessert. Space is limited to 38 people, so jump on a reservation if this sounds up your alley. The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $90 (with tax and service included). Reservations can be made by emailing dan@vintageberkeley.com. Baker & Commons, 2900 College (at Russell), Berkeley 

ELMWOOD WINE WALK Last, but not least, Polsby also reminded Nosh that these are the last days to buy advance (read: cheaper!) tickets to the upcoming Wine Walk in the Elmwood, taking place 1-5 p.m., Oct. 6. Tickets are currently $25, but the price will jump to $35 starting Sept. 28. Fifty percent of proceeds from the wine walk will go to Emerson Elementary School.