Mid-Week Menu: The Star Is on Its Way, Encuentro Is Moving, and Gregoire Is Serving Breakfast

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Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) The Star (3425 Grand Ave.), the new Little Star Pizza offshoot, is opening soon in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood — as early as this week, according to Diablo Dish. In addition to the cornmeal-crusted deep-dish pizzas that are Little Star’s calling card, The Star will also offer an expanded list of appetizers and salads, a selection of East Coast deli-inspired sandwiches, and — a real boon to solo diners — personal pizzas, available in both deep dish and thin-crust versions. The restaurant’s owner, John Guhl, was one of Little Star’s founders, but he and former partner Brian Sadigursky recently split up the company and aren’t using the Little Star trademark for any of their new solo ventures.

2) After three months of repairs and renovations following a March 8 fire that shut down the Berkeley institution, Chez Panisse (1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) is gearing up to reopen on Monday, June 24. A ritzy $1,000-to-$2,500-a-head fundraiser dinner to benefit Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project is scheduled for June 21, but for those who don’t have that kind of cash to drop, you can now schedule a reservation. However, as of this posting, the first available table for two in the downstairs dining room listed on OpenTable was a 9 p.m. seating on July 8. So plan ahead accordingly.

3) Chowhound poster Melanie Wong has the latest update on China Village’s (1335 Solano Ave., Albany) renovation and reopening saga — Mrs. Yao, chef John Yao’s wife, informed her that new target opening date is July 1, with a soft opening scheduled for the last week of June. But once bitten, twice shy: What the Fork has been reporting that the beloved Sichuan restaurant would open any day now since mid-March, based on estimates given by Yao himself, and the date just keeps getting pushed back. We’ll withhold celebration, then, until we sit down with our first bowl of Thousand Chili Pepper Fish Soup.

One more month of rotisserie chicken... (via Facebook)
  • One more month of rotisserie chicken... (via Facebook)
4) Brasa (1960 University Ave., Berkeley), the Peruvian rotisserie chicken joint will close in late July, according to Berkeleyside. Moving into the space on August 1 — and continuing the South American theme — will be Brazil Cafe, which currently runs a small outdoor shack a little further down University Ave.

5) Berkeleyside also has the scoop on Amadeus (2050 University Ave.), grill-centered cafe opening later this summer on that same stretch of University Ave. in Berkeley. The restaurant’s most unique feature will be a custom-designed grill that combines the direct-flame cooking of American grills with the box of hot coals (the brasero — basically a fire pit) that is the defining feature of Argentinian-style grills.

6) Eater reports that Encuentro Cafe and Wine Bar (200 2nd St.), Oakland’s only vegetarian wine-and-tapas bar, is moving to a new, larger space in Jack London Square, at 2nd and Clay streets. The new incarnation of Encuentro will feature an expanded menu, including full entrées. Meanwhile, the original location will remain open — under a new name, however — as a wine-and-beer bar with a limited food menu.

7) Pathos (2430 Shattuck Ave.), the organic Greek restaurant planned for downtown Berkeley, has had its opening pushed back by several weeks due to construction challenges, chef Nick Eftimiou told What the Fork. Eftimiou said he’s now hoping to open by late July. In the meantime, check out the menu.

8) Gregoire, the high-end takeout restaurant, is now serving breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., seven days a week, at its Berkeley location (2109 Cedar St.) only. The current menu features quiche Lorraine, sautéed pain d’épice, breakfast sandwiches (including one served on a house-made English muffin), shirred (i.e. baked) eggs, Bicycle Coffee, and more. It’s still a takeout concept, so customers are welcome to call in their orders ahead of time.

New Taste Marketplace
  • New Taste Marketplace
9) Saturday, June 22, will be the latest New Taste Marketplace artisan food market (500 De Haro St.), from noon to 5 p.m. Proceeds benefit The Food Pantry and St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. Again, the event takes place in San Francisco, but market director Maricela Yee explained that the majority of the vendors actually come from the East Bay. For this week’s market, East Bay representation includes (but isn’t limited to) Flan Flan Ta-Tas, Sugar Knife Artisan Sweets (makers of booze-infused marshmallows and brittles), Hella Lumpia, and Brilliant Elixirs (which markets its herbal tonics as an alternative to alcohol). Check out the full list of vendors here.

10) On Sunday, June 30, from 2 to 8 p.m., Pizzaiolo (5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) will host a County Fair-themed party to benefit the Conductive Education Center of San Francisco, a non-profit that runs a six-week summer camp for children with physical disabilities. The center’s founder (and organizer of the aforementioned “county fair”) is Tartine Bakery co-owner Elisabeth Prueitt, so, as you might imagine, the food lineup will be power-packed. Belcampo Meats, Bi-Rite Market, and Bar Tartine are donating sausages; Tartine Bakery will provide buns. Linden Street Brewery and Kermit Lynch will provide beer and wine, respectively. And a jam-making contest and pie-baking contest will be judged by local food luminaries. There will also be live music by the Arann Harris Farm Band and plenty of kid-friendly activities (balloon animals, face painting, etc.). Tickets are $50 for adults, but use the promo code on Tartine Bakery’s Facebook page to get 20% off. Kids under 10 attend (and eat!) for free.

11) ICYMI, this week What the Fork got the scoop on Grease Box’s new gluten-free restaurant coming to Temescal, Hutch Bar and Kitchen’s focus on grits, and celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson’s visit to Berkeley.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.

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