Mid-Week Menu: American Oak Reopens, Chez Panisse Soon to Follow; Guest Chef and Sumo Grub Close


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

1) The Los Angeles Times reports that Chez Panisse (1517 Shattuck Ave.) will reopen on June 21. The iconic Berkeley restaurant has been undergoing significant construction work ever since it suffered an early morning fire on March 8 — one that destroyed much of the restaurant’s facade and front porch area. Before you get too excited, we should note that the summer solstice reopening event won’t just be any ordinary dinner. Since it’s a fundraising event for Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project, a seat in the upstairs cafe will run you $1,000; tickets for the downstairs dining room are $2,500. For those whose pocketbooks aren’t quite that deep, the restaurant will begin accepting regular reservations by phone on Monday, May 27.

An early look at American Oaks remodel (via Facebook)
  • An early look at American Oak's remodel (via Facebook)
2) American Oak (2319 Santa Clara Ave.), the Alameda restaurant and whiskey saloon, reopened on May 16, having completed a major renovation after a December fire severely damaged the building and took out much of owner Melanie Hartman’s prized whiskey collection. Hartman told What the Fork that a consultant was brought in to help the restaurant revamp its menu. However, former chef Gabe Cortez (whose food we loved) had already departed prior to the fire.

3) In Oakland, Guest Chef’s (5337 College Ave.) year-and-a-half-long run of rotating pop-ups has come to an end, Zagat reports. Although the restaurant had its last official day of service on Sunday, it will host a series of “Back from the Dead” dinners while the space is on the market. The first of these, a $35 prix-fixe cooked by the Culinary Addicts (Jackie Kirschner and Michael Wilson), will run from June 4 to 16.

4) Berkeleyside Nosh notes that downtown Berkeley’s Sumo Grub (2235 Milvia St.), known for such health-food specialties as deep-fried Oreos and deep-fried mac ’n’ cheese, has closed. Owner Jason Sum is reportedly searching for a larger, more desirable space. Moving into Sumo Grub’s old Milvia St. location is The Mix Plus, a new restaurant featuring burgers, quesadillas, and other student-friendly fare.

Barkada (via Facebook)
  • Barkada (via Facebook)
5) Barkada, the new bakery and cafe in the old Remedy location (4316 Telegraph Ave.), is now open, East Bay Dish reports. During its soft opening period, the cafe has kept limited hours and a limited menu, but starting this Friday, the hours will expand and most of the items on the regular menu will be available.

6) Sunday, May 26 is World Sherry Day, and Uptown Oakland’s Duende (468 19th St.) is as good a place as any to celebrate, as the restaurant is offering free sherry tastings every night this week, plus — as a grand finale — a $10 tasting of ten different sherries on Sunday, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. That same night, there will be a flamenco performance at Duende — the $15 ticket for that show comes with a complimentary taste of sherry.

7) The Rockridge wine bar Toast Kitchen + Bar (5900 College Ave.) is putting the finishing touches on a significant expansion, as the restaurant has taken over the space next door. What that means, in part, is that the restaurant will now have a fully-equipped kitchen — the food and drink selection should also expand accordingly. It looks like the new part of the restaurant is just awaiting inspection and will be ready sometime next week.

8) Some more food TV love for Oakland: Several Oakland restaurants will be featured in an episode of Road Trip with G. Garvin that will premiere on the Cooking Channel on Tuesday, May 28, at 6 p.m. PST. The show focuses on Atlanta chef George Garvin’s exploration of Southern-inspired cuisine, as prepared at restaurants all over the country. The Oakland episode includes visits to Chop Bar, PieTisserie, and Savor Oakland’s food tour of the Jack London Square neighborhood.

9) Finally, ICYMI, check out What the Fork’s preview of this Saturday’s cottage food market in Berkeley, plus details about the fire that put East Oakland barbecue joint Genny’s BBQ out of commission.

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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