The Bay Area's bar food scene has evolved to the point where boozehounds don't even blink when they encounter menu items like roast pheasant or poached halibut cheeks. But recent openings in Oakland — Uptown's Telegraph and the new Rosamunde outpost in Old Oakland, which we review on page 38 — reflect a resurgent interest in the tried-and-true pairing of sausages and beer.
The Hog's Apothecary (375 40th St.), an "American-style" beer hall coming soon to Temescal's 40th Street corridor, will be the latest contender to enter this meaty, boozy fray. Co-owners John Streit and Bradford Earle acknowledged that the sausage-and-beer combo is something of a "growing niche" in the East Bay restaurant scene right now. But they aim to set themselves apart from the crowd by making all of their sausages in-house — between seven and twelve of them on the menu at any given time — and offering a wide range of appetizers and thoughtfully composed salads as well.
Streit, who will be the chef, was most recently the pizza chef at Emeryville's Rotten City Pizza, but his résumé also includes stints at much-acclaimed, higher-end restaurants like Pizzaiolo and San Francisco's Pizzeria Delfina. He said he'll let customer demand dictate how far he'll stretch the menu beyond traditional sausage sandwiches to offer more ambitious, "gastropubby" dishes.
As far as sausages go, there will be a mix of standard offerings (bratwurst, frankfurters, etc.) and more imaginative creations like a chicken-pancetta sausage with chanterelle mushrooms and figs, and an andouille sausage that will be smoked in-house with either fig or walnut wood. There will be house-made mustards and sauerkrauts, and Streit is working with a local producer to make Bavarian-style pretzels in-house as well.
According to Streit, most items will be priced under $10, with a few larger plates in the $15 range.
In terms of libations, there will be 36 beers on tap, plus three taps set aside for non-beer drinks (ciders, sarsaparillas, and so forth) and two hand-pump-style taps that will feature special brews created especially for The Hog's Apothecary by local breweries.
Earle, who is currently finishing up his last month as bar manager at Piedmont Avenue's Park Avenue Bar and Grill, said The Hog's Apothecary will only serve craft brews from (predominantly West Coast) American microbreweries.
"We can get a Belgian-style beer that's made here, so we don't need to wait five months for it to ship overseas," Earle said.
The beer hall will be located in the former site of a Laundromat called Da House of Suds — "the dirtiest Laundromat I've ever set foot in," according to Streit — and an adjacent warehouse, both of which they've gutted out and are rebuilding from the ground up. Once complete, the restaurant will have seating for fifty diners, and, for bar patrons with a competitive streak, there will be dartboards and a fourteen-foot-long shuffleboard table.
Earle and Streit are aiming for a late-April or early-May opening.
An Offal Pop-Up
A pop-up event in San Francisco's Mission district next week will star a soba master from the Japanese countryside and two Japanese chefs from Oakland, all of whom share a penchant for cooking with offal — the animal and vegetable parts that typically get thrown away.
On Thursday, February 21, from 6 p.m. until late, Oakland chefs Chikara Ono (of the Piedmont Avenue izakaya B-Dama) and Sylvan Mishima Brackett (proprietor of the Peko Peko catering company) will hold court at Bruno's (2389 Mission St.) for an event they've dubbed "Mottainai-kai," or "Eat Every Little Bit."
They'll be joined by Kanji Nakatani, who runs two small soba restaurants (Soba Ro and Soba Ra) in Saitama prefecture (north of Tokyo), as well as Nancy Singleton Hachisu, a writer and Slow Food educator who lives on an organic farm in Japan.
Mishima Brackett, formerly the creative director at Chez Panisse, said the seed of the idea for this event grew from conversations with Ono, whom he'd met a couple of years ago at a Chez Panisse holiday party that Peko Peko catered. The two chefs found that they shared an interest in the concept of mottainai ("don't waste"), which in traditional Japanese cooking means that every edible part of a food gets used — not just the organ meats that Westerners typically identify as "offal," but also the parts of vegetables that are often thrown out: the leaves, the peel, the tops.
"[The concept] was probably borne out of poverty, but it also makes for pretty interesting food," Mishima Brackett said.
And so the two started making plans to collaborate on a dinner that would showcase "all of these weird bits," as Mishima Brackett put it. For next week's event, they'll serve dishes like grilled fish heads, stewed beef tendon, and pickled wasabi root tops.
For noodle lovers, the event's headliner is Nakatani, with whom Mishima Brackett trained over the course of several visits to Japan. Nakatani's cooking, too, is marked by the mottainai philosophy.
"We'd cut the outer skin off of daikon before making tsuma [garnish for sashimi] and would hang it in the sun to dry," Mishima Brackett recalled. "After [Nakatani had] collected enough dry daikon skins, he would rehydrate it and serve it as an otoshi — a snack that comes with the first drink."
For Thursday's dinner, Mishima Brackett noted that the setup will be something along the lines of a cocktail party — with good Japanese beer on tap. Tickets ($37.50, not including drinks) are on sale at GoodEggs.com/pekopekoevents.