Posts Tagged ‘temescal’


Restaurant Report: Winter 2011

February 25, 2011

Wow, look at what happens when you take a few months off! Last time I posted on neighborhood restaurants was last May (good grief) and there’s been plenty happening since then. Here’s a very quick rundown of what’s opened or is opening soon in the ‘hood…

Temescal/Pill Hill

  • Homeroom, a new macaroni-and-cheese restaurant, is now open at 40th and Shafter. We have yet to try it but it sounds tasty and has been met with great fanfare—even my sister in Denver heard about it (though in fairness, she does work for the American Cheese Society, so it’s her kind of place!) Full report once we make it there.
  • CommonWealth has been open at 29th and Telegraph for a while now. Check out the details here. [Side note: One review of CommonWealth describes its location as “where Uptown meets Pill Hill.” Discuss.]
  • Remedy has been open since forever at Telegraph and 43rd, but I realized I forgot to include them in the last list. Which is bad, because they’re awesome!

Piedmont Avenue

  • Shimizu Sushi is now open at Piedmont and Echo. Haven’t been yet, but have heard good things!
  • It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve wandered down Piedmont, so I have a feeling I’m missing some changes. (Or maybe it really has been quiet?) Updates after we get a chance to walk down that way!

Grand Lake/Lower Grand

  • Ikaros (Greek) on Grand and Caña (Cuban, with a cabaret license, it looks like?) on Lake Park are both open as of this month. Yum! [Yes, I know the Ikaros link doesn’t work yet, but hopefully it will soon…]
  • Lin Jia Kitchen has been open on Lakeshore for a while now in the old L’Amyx space; still on the list of new places to try!
  • Room 389 opened this fall where the Golden Bear used to be.
  • Mimosa (at Santa Clara and Grand) has closed again after a brief revival, and is reportedly going to reopen under a new owner as a larger Ethiopian restaurant later this spring. Hopefully the third time’s the charm!
  • Sadly, Di Bartolo Café has closed, but happily,  Boot and Shoe will be taking over their space, expanding to include a patio and reportedly opening for brunch and lunch. Mmm doughnuts…
  • The Flip Side on Lakeshore, a project by the owners of Flavors of India, will be serving up gourmet burgers. (This is the old Adam’s location.)
  • Restoration of KwikWay on Lake Park is well underway at long last! Hoping they’ll be open by the summer, but that might be overly optimistic. Last I heard, the plan was still to do an upscale version of the old burger joint, but we’ll see.
  • Zoey’s Afghan Bistro has sadly closed, not too long after it opened.

Uptown/Upper Broadway

  • 3000 Broadway is now open at, umm, 3000 Broadway. Still haven’t been, but very curious!
  • Plum has been open for a while now, and is slated to open a bar soon. We checked it out when they first opened and are headed for a second visit soon, so I’ll write that one up soon.
  • Next door to Plum, the Punchdown opened quietly last fall in Franklin Square Wine Bar’s old space. Still need to check this one out too!
  • Next door to Mua, Nex is open. Check out the review here. (Can you tell how long it’s been since I’ve done one of these updates?!?)
  • Café Randevu is open too, just across the way from Mua and Nex. They have an eclectic menu spanning a number of cuisines.
  • Bar Dogwood, a new venture by the former owner of the House of Shields, is now open for  “cocktails and cured meats,” which is definitely up my alley! It’s at 17th and Telegraph.
  • Shuga Hill, the soul food truck-turned-restaurant that was originally eyeing a location at 29th and Broadway, has instead settled on a location at 27th and San Pablo that seems to be coming along nicely.
  • Xolo, the new taqueria from the Dona Tomas/Flora crew, is still under construction. Still. They’re also working on a bar in the space between Flora and Xolo.
  • Just up the street at 18th and Telegraph will be Oakland’s own branch of Brooklyn’s Weather Up. They’ll also be serving up cocktails and snacks.
  • Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café is opening its second location next-door to the Fox Theater. Apparently my wish for cocktails and brunch (no, not together…well, sure, why not together??) has been heard!

I think that’s it for now. I’ve undoubtedly missed a few openings and closings in these neighborhoods since I’ve been a bit out of the loop this fall and winter, so feel free to add them in the comments. And I promise to update this in a more timely manner next time around!


Restaurants coming out my ears (or: the spring restaurant report)

May 11, 2010

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted any restaurant news….which means there’s a whole lot happening to report! Here’s a quick pass at what’s coming up. (I’m quite sure I’m missing a bunch of stuff, since I haven’t been paying much attention to much of anything but work and wedding planning this spring….but I promise to catch up this summer!)

Temescal/Pill Hill

  • Little Mac, a macaroni-and-cheese restaurant (?!? sign me up!) that will also have craft beer and tasty sounding salads and desserts, is slated to open at 40th and Shafter this fall.
  • Commonwealth is due to open later this month at 29th and Telegraph, and will be a British-style pub. If they have good fish and chips, we will be regulars!

Piedmont Avenue

  • Sparky’s is indeed open. And it is indeed an extension of the burger place up in the hills.

Grand Lake
Grand Lake is kickin’ this spring!

  • Mimosa reopened as Mimosa Ethiopian Restaurant at Santa Clara and Grand.
  • YaYu Ethiopian is also now open on Lakeshore where Vine used to be.
  • La Taza de Cafe plans to reopen (yay!) where the Grand Lake Neighborhood Center used to be on Lake Park. There will apparently be a small Cuban takeout place next to a larger cabaret, says the Splash Pad newsletter.
  • Good Chemistry Baking, a gluten-free bakery, will open where Daily Delectables used to be.
  • Yogofina, another of the trendy tart yogurt shops, is coming soon on Lakeshore (and also to Montclair Village).

Uptown/Upper Broadway
…but not as much as Uptown!

  • Pakxe is going in at Broadway and 30th where Union Auto used to be on Auto Row. This is super exciting because it’s the first reuse of an auto space on the main Auto Row drag. (Mua also reused an auto space for their Webster Street place.) No clue what kind of food it will be, but the name suggests Laotian.
  • Plum, Daniel Patterson’s new restaurant,  is coming soon where Louisiana Fried Chicken used to be—and will be expanded in the coming months to include a bar where Franklin Square Wine Bar used to be. This is exactly what I was hoping for in this space. (Well, okay, I didn’t necessarily have a chef in mind, but broadly, it was the perfect timing to combine the two spaces and really make use of Franklin Square’s plaza, as FSWB was doing.) Go Uptown! Also, it is named after a William Carlos Williams poem that was one of my favorites in high school, which bodes well…
  • Xolo, the new taqueria from the Dona Tomas/Flora crew, is still under construction.
  • Uptown Café & Crêpes is now open at 21st and Franklin.
  • Bakesale Betty is open at Broadway and Grand! (Woohoo! Now if only they had weekend hours…)
  • More pizza! Hurray! (Because, in case you haven’t figured this out, D. and I really, REALLY like pizza.) Mua is expanding into the space where the short-lived Cafe Noir used to be on Webster, and will be making pizza for me (okay, and everyone else in town…) (Cafe Noir had a wood oven, so I presume it stayed with the space.) No details yet. (Incidentally, is this Uptown? Or Upper Broadway? Or still Auto Row? Curiouser and curiouser….one of our neighbors predicted we’d live in Uptown in ten years’ time, and I do have to say that it seems to be creeping this direction!)

And falling off the radar…

  • The third Pizzaiolo location in Uptown now has a “for lease” sign back in its window, which I presume means that project is toast. Boo. (But at least we’ll always have Boot and Shoe…)
  • Kotobuki Sushi on Piedmont has moved to Montclair.

Coming soon to an avenue near you! (Okay, or at least to one near me…)

October 7, 2009

…otherwise known as the fall restaurant update! It’s been a rough year for a lot of small local businesses and restaurants, so I was excited to see a bunch of new spots show up on the horizon this summer and fall to fill the empty spaces. It’s been a while since I last did a restaurant rundown, so here’s the latest and greatest.

On Piedmont Avenue:

  • The widely-anticipated Commis opened at the end of June to much fanfare. We finally checked them out earlier this month, and were duly impressed.
  • A new La Farine branch is coming soon now open! where Piedmont Lighting used to be. (I know, I’ve mentioned this several times already—but I’m so, SO excited to finally have good baguettes within walking distance!) The cases are in and the signs are up, so they should be open any day now.
  • Caffe Trieste is actually open! They’ve been in limbo for so long over the cabaret permit (longer than we’ve been in the house!) that I hadn’t even bothered including them in my “coming soon” list. But they’re here!!
  • Lush Gelato opened earlier this summer where Tango Gelato used to be.
  • Tutti Frutti, a tart frozen yogurt chain, is now open in that stretch of Piedmont, too.

On Grand and Lakeshore Avenues (Adams Point/Grand Lake):

  • The new Pizzaiolo spot where DiBartolo used to be on Grand is still “coming soon.” opening in early December! It will be called Boot and Shoe Service (though the website isn’t live yet).
  • Taste of Joy Southern Bistro has moved over to Upper Grand from Lakeshore, and is now in La Taza de Cafe’s former location.
  • …which, of course, means that La Taza de Cafe has closed, as has their brand-new tapas bar. Go figure.

In Uptown/Lake Merritt (Grand, Broadway, Telegraph, and San Pablo Avenues):

  • The Lake Chalet opened with much fanfare last month. Mmm—local brews on a deck overlooking Lake Merritt, walking distance from our house! We went for the first time last week, and were impressed—while the food isn’t out of this world, it’s solid, and the location is top-notch. (You have to wait long enough for a table as it is, so I almost think it’s a blessing in disguise that the food isn’t A+ quality…)
  • Farley’s East opened earlier this summer on Grand near Broadway, hopping on the Uptown bandwagon. We checked it out a few weeks back; my latte was great, while D.’s gibraltar was a bit on the milky side. Haven’t tried the drip yet, though. They hope to extend their evening hours in the future, so if that happens we’ll be able to hit them a bit more often.
  • Down the street, there’s now an Oakland Specialty’s location at Grand and Harrison for lunchtime sandwiches and cookies.
  • Mimosa Champagne Lounge is now serving dinner, desserts, and cocktails (and, of course, champagne!)
  • Still under construction: the second Bakesale Betty location, which now has an ETA of February March 2010. (I really am going to stop asking, I swear!) I’m almost afraid to ask these days, since every time I do it gets pushed back another few months…
  • In the space of a month, Café Noir on Auto Row got its liquor license, opened for dinner, and then abruptly closed “for renovations.” Umm. I really want to love these guys—they have tasty pizza and beer and great coffee, and they’re just down the street!—but they desperately need to get their act together. Let’s hope they’re really just closed for renovations (but really…what could they possibly be renovating?!?) and not for good, since the place was just oozing with potential….
  • Hibiscus, a nouveau Caribbean spot, is going in where Sweet Jimmie’s used to be on San Pablo between 17th and 18th, and sounds like it’s going to be excellent! (Their website doesn’t have much up yet, but their Facebook page has a running list of information on potential dishes and renovations.)
  • And another Pizzaiolo spin-off is going into Uptown, too. Still all papered up, but the liquor license notice went up in October—promising!

On Telegraph Avenue (Pill Hill/Mosswood/Temescal):

  • Subrosa Coffee is now open on 40th at Webster next to Manifesto Bicycles. Haven’t been yet, but I’m hearing good things—yay! Hours are 6:30 to 7 on weekdays, 7 to 7 on weekends.
  • Remedy Coffee is coming soon on Telegraph at 43rd, but is already selling out of a cart in front of their new storefront. They’ll be brewing Ritual beans.
  • Oasis Food Market, technically a small Middle Eastern grocery store, is getting some buzz for great prepared food as well. They’re across the street from Alta Bates  Summit on Telegraph at 30th. Hours are 6 am to 11 pm on weekdays and 8 am to 11 pm on weekends. We tried them for the first time this week—yum! And they have a small but complete and good-looking section of fresh fruits and vegetables, too, which means they’re a great late-night grocery option since the other local groceries all close by 8 pm. More on the food later….

So that’s the story for now….as usual this list just includes places I can walk to, so it doesn’t take into account the many (many!) new spots coming soon in other parts of the city, including Jack London Square, which is hopping these days. (I’ve spent more time there in the past two months than in the rest of the years I’ve lived here combined….and when Blue Bottle finally opens, it will be hard to tear myself away!)


Oakland Earth Day 2009: April 18th & 19th

April 9, 2009

Earth Day 2009 is coming up, and it’s time for Oakland’s annual cleanup extravaganza. Check the Oakland Earth Day website to find a project near you, and join in the weekend of April 18th and 19th.


40th Street Median Project, 9 am to noon
Meet at 40th and Shafter to clean up the median.

Mosswood Earth Day Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at Mosswood Rec Center to clean sidewalk, curbs, and medians.

Mosswood Dog Park Gravel Spreading, 10 am to noon
Meet at the Mosswood Dog Park to help spread new decomposed granite (yay!) that the City is supplying.

Richmond Boulevard/Glen Echo Creek Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 3600 Richmond Boulevard to cut, clean up, and plant.

Lake Merritt Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 568 Bellevue (off of Grand) to clean up Lake Merritt.

Lakeside Garden Center, 9 am to noon
Meet at 666 Bellevue (off of Grand) to clean up Lakeside Garden Center.

First Christian Church Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 111 Fairmount (at 29th) to clean sidewalk, curbs, and medians.

Glen Echo Park Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at Glen Echo Park (just east of Piedmont between Monte Vista and Montell) to clean up the park.

Morcom Rose Garden Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 700 Jean to clean up the Rose Garden.

Can’t come on Saturday? There’s a special Sunday event this year, too!


Mosswood Earth Day Cleanup & BBQ, noon to 5 pm
Meet at Mosswood Park near Broadway and West Mac to continue Saturday’s cleanup, have some food, and play some frisbee. Food will be provided by, among others, Bakesale Betty and Lanesplitter’s Pizza. (Plan to come? RSVP on Facebook.)


Dine About Oakland: Barlata

March 16, 2009

Okay, so I try to avoid back-to-back Dine About Oakland posts, but there are just more new restaurants opening than I can keep up with, so I need to play some catchup. (Recession? Did someone say something about a recession? Not in these parts!)

Anyway, the last two weeks saw the opening of a sea of new Oakland dining and nightlife spots near our house: on Piedmont Avenue, we finally picked up Adesso (by the crew behind Dopo), while in Uptown, Ave and Somar hit the scene. And over in Temescal, Barlata (by Daniel Olivetta of B44) made its debut—and since D. is a huge fan of Catalan food, we had to go check it out for opening weekend. It got a ringing endorsement from our group of four, and most importantly from D., who spent some time living in Barcelona and is consequently picky about his tapas. (He’s very lukewarm on both B44 and César, so finding a place he likes was a big deal!)

Barlata (literally “bar of the can,” named and decorated for the little cans that Spanish sardines and other tasty cured things come in) was still flying under the radar on its first Saturday night, so we were able to get a table for four without a wait. I don’t think this will last too much longer, though, given the crowd that had gathered by the end of the evening. It’s a lower-key place than big sib B44: there’s one large community table, a bar, and several smaller two- and four-tops. The mood overall was pretty casual, and we were comfortable in jeans and sneakers. Par for the course in Temescal, there were still a few small ones floating around when we arrived at 7 pm, and a few folks with strollers poked their heads in to check out the menu too.

D. led the ordering, so we ended up with a smattering of classic tapas with a few veggie options thrown in for a friend who wanted to go fishless (which is trickier than it seems at first glance!) Between the four of us (all light eaters—you’d need more to feed a hungrier crowd) we tasted:

  • Patatas bravas (of course!), which were solid if basic (the romesco sauce was especially popular, though);
  • House-cured olives—yum!—and bread;
  • Tortilla española (Spanish tortilla, also a staple and also solid);
  • The cheese plate, which I’d pass on in the future—cheeses were on the mundane side, and even the manchego was so mild that it was almost unidentifiable;
  • Brandada de bacalao (salt cod with potato), which was good;
  • Vegetarian paella, which was excellent; and
  • Lata de piquillos (seafood-stuffed peppers), also excellent.

We topped it all off with a bottle of Spanish wine. The wine list is very reasonably priced and pretty diverse, and there’s beer as well, though they plan to get a full liquor license eventually.

Dessert was the only disappointment. We ordered the arroz con leche (rice pudding), which came as a parfait with strawberry sauce and cream, and the chocolate sandwich, which could best be described as toasted brioche with nutella in a sandwich (though I imagine it was a bit higher-end than that) with a crème anglaise alongside it. They weren’t bad, but certainly didn’t convince me to order dessert there again. Hopefully this is a temporary situation and they’ll get a stellar pastries person in soon who can hook us up with some crema catalana, flan, bread pudding, or some of the tasty Catalan pastries.

Overall, though, it was a great meal—and at $31 a head including a bottle of wine split four ways (but not including tax and tip), it was a bargain for Bay Area tapas! (It would probably also be a great place to get an early evening drink and a snack—though we keep saying that about À Côté, too, and somehow we’re always still there at the end of the night with a huge meal behind us….) Anyway, we’ll definitely be back to Barlata. Already on the wish list: the traditional paella, the mussels, fideuà negre, and the grilled beef. D. also wants to see whether they can add a version of cazuela de bacalao (a salt cod stew with garbanzos and miscellaneous other things baked in a little cazuela, and common at Barcelona tapas places) to the menu someday, too. On their first weekend, service was decent but still a little scattered—we had to flag down another waiter a couple of times when we couldn’t catch the eye of our server, and one dish came out a good ten minutes after we’d finished everything else—we thought they’d forgotten about it, and just when we were going to move on to the dessert menu, it showed up. The staff gets slack for it being one of the first nights on the job, though—the glitches should shake themselves out with time. Chalk up one more good dining spot up for the Temescal!

Update (3/31/09): Stopped in for a quick dinner with a friend who hadn’t tried Barlata yet, so we got to taste a few more dishes. The gazpacho trio is phenomenal. The ceviche, on the other hand, was a bit bizarre—in fact, it seemed like the seafood had all been cooked, which was pretty puzzling! We also tried the grilled steak with chimichurri sauce, but no one was a fan (though the fries that came alongside it were tasty). Wrapped the meal up with the house-cured sardines and the shrimp and citrus salad—both tasty. So, again, a somewhat mixed bag. However, as with our first visit, what was good was excellent, so we plan to stick it out as we learn the secrets of Barlata.

Grade: A−
Price: $$-$$$


Dine About Oakland: Aunt Mary’s Cafe

November 18, 2008

We love brunch, so when I heard that not one but two new brunch spots were opening up on Telegraph in Temescal, they had to go onto the “to do” list. Usually the brunching is done at Albany’s Sunny Side Café or Berkeley’s La Note or Rick & Ann’s, though I also love Cock-a-Doodle Cafe in downtown Oakland. But I’ve been hoping for more Oakland places to add to the list for a while now, and this one seemed promising. (Apparently I’m the one person in Oakland who is not in love with Mama’s Royal Cafe, the brunch place closest to our house….)

So anyway. Aunt Mary’s. It’s oozing with potential, though it isn’t quite there yet. Our food was all very good, but some of it was cold (presumably because it was waiting for the other orders?) The service was a bit wonky in general—they brought us coffee right away, but then forgot to come take our food order for 20 minutes or so. Afterwards, they completely forgot to bring the check for another long stretch. Luckily, we weren’t starving and were happy chatting, but it was a little disconcerting given that the place wasn’t anywhere near full. The one super attentive worker was the ten-year-old with a giant sign around her neck that said “I do this because I want to! My mother makes me wear this sign.” She leapt up to greet us and help clear the tables as we sat down, but unfortunately then she settled down to read for the rest of the morning (because, you know, the child labor thing and all). Oh yes—they do have a reading and toy nook if you have small people who are into that sort of thing. And in fairness to the staff, we were there only a few weeks after they opened, so they get some wiggle room to get the kinks out.

Food has a southern flair (though not on the scale of, say, Luka’s, or even Blackberry Bistro) and comes with homemade bread, cornbread, or biscuits. We had the latter two, which were both tasty. Menu has a huge range, from the traditional (waffles and eggs) to the innovative (intriguing scrambles and sides like calas, New Orleans rice fritters) to the exotic (congee even makes an appearance!) Coffee was fine; not incredible, but it is fair trade organic, which gets them lots of points. Atmosphere was a bit odd and a little sterile—we spent a while debating what the space had been in its past life, since none of us could remember. I think when the place is filled with people, it will have a much better vibe. (They did have great art on the walls, though!) Prices are on par with most of the other local brunch spots, which is to say you’ll easily spend $10-$12 a head with coffee.

As for the food, our table had an order of the Southern Bubble & Squeak (described as a potato and greens cake with eggs), which was excellent;  two of the Veg & Asiago “Rumble” (a scramble made with asiago, chard, and roasted tomatoes)—also good but less unique; and a fourth dish that I continue to blank on (since apparently it wasn’t another bubble & squeak), but that might have been “Zorba the Omelet.” The Small One who was with us munched on a buttermilk pancake quite happily, though she’s not picky about such things. Oh, and breakfast came with Blue Chair jams, which were tasty as always! The one disappointment on the food front, aside from the eggs being a bit cold, was that they forgot to come refill our coffee, so after a while we had to go ask the cashier. (Oddly, they had coffee carafes sitting on the counter, but didn’t want us to fill our own—it might make sense to just make it a do-it-yourself kind of gig like Bakesale Betty has going on.)

All told, Aunt Mary’s has a great deal of promise. Check back this time next year, and I think there’ll be a line out the door on weekend mornings. (The lunch menu sounds like it could have some winners, too.) They have a great location and a patio to boot (though it looks out onto Telegraph). We’ll definitely be back, but I think we’ll give them another month or so to figure out the service thing. They also now seem to have some specialty brunch menu items featured each weekend, something new since our visit. (One of the things that brings us back to Sunny Side week after week is their innovative “tasting menu,” which changes with the seasons; for $30, two people get small plates of most of what’s featured that week, plus giant glasses of orange juice and a cup of fresh fruit. If only it included coffee or tea too, it would be the perfect breakfast deal! Maybe Aunt Mary’s will catch on to this plan and debut it in Oakland??)

Update (11/30/08): We made a repeat visit to Aunt Mary’s this morning, since a friend who used to live in Temescal was visiting and he wanted to check out the old ‘hood. Wow! They’ve definitely gotten the service issues together—on this visit (about six weeks after our first), there were multiple servers floating around, each asking to help. Coffee and service were quick and good. We started with the calas, which were okay but not great. Everything after that was wonderful, though. Our group had the breakfast burrito, which came with the most delicious home fries; the red flannel hash, a mix of root vegetables and beet sauce with poached eggs, also terrific; and a repeat of the Southern bubble and squeak. The last dish has changed a bit since we enjoyed it last month and now has a much more prominent sauce, but D. pronounced it “even better!” All of the food arrived piping hot, and coffee refills were plentiful. They also now have glasses instead of the plastic cups they were serving cold beverages in last month, which is a marked improvement. Our friend mourned that Aunt Mary’s hadn’t opened while he still lived a block away, and sighed, “the East Bay is so much better than DC….” So, yeah. Good food—give them a try.

Grade: B+ A-
Price: $$