Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, a weekly roundup of restaurant openings, chef arrivals and departures, and other nuggets of gossip from the East Bay dining scene.
1) An East Coast friend sent me this Oakland love letter from the Boston Globe. Weirdly, the writer doesn't know that Haven has been open for months. Maybe the story was written last year, but Boston was waiting for the official New York blessing?
2) A tipster gave me a heads-up on the newly opened Touch of Soul restaurant on San Pablo in Emeryville. "Solid soul food, if a bit overpriced," says the scout.
4) In related coffee news, Food Republic just released their top 10 "power ranking" list of fancy coffee people. Spoiler: James Freeman of Blue Bottle is number one, and Tom Owen at Sweet Maria's is number seven.
5) Awaken Cafe closed its 14th St. location in September 2010 and has been operating from a coffee cart since June of last year. Well they have a new downtown spot on Broadway (next to where their coffee cart was parked) and their grand opening bash is Friday. Beer and wine too.
6) "Help downtown Oakland get its first artisan bakery!" reads the Kickstarter campaign from Mani Niall, who's looking to open a big pastry shop at 24th and Broadway. Diablo Dish mentions Niall used to be Michael Jackson's personal chef in the '80s. So there's that.
7) The Chron interviewed bar manager Alex Conde at Hudson, giving him a chance to hold forth about his animal magnetism: "Do I get hit on a lot? Yeah. It's part of the deal. If you take the sex out of bartending, you're doing the craft an injustice, frankly."
Comments? Tips? Get in touch at Jesse.Hirsch@EastBayExpress.com.