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 served inside a little glass jar. But classic is classic, and recent openings in Oakland reflect a resurgent interest in the tried-and-true pairing of sausages and beer: Uptown’s Telegraph and the new Rosamunde Sausage Grill outpost in Old Oakland.
The Hog’s Apothecary (375 40th Street), 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 (left) was the best man at Earle's wedding, in addition to being his business partner.
Streit, who will be the chef, was most recently the pizza chef at Emeryville’s Rotten City Pizza, but he also has the culinary pedigree of having cooked at much-acclaimed, higher-end restaurants like Pizzaiolo and San Francisco’s Pizzeria Delfina. Strait 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 idiosyncratic creations like a chicken-pancetta sausage with chanterelle mushrooms and figs, or an andouille sausage that will be smoked in-house with either fig or walnut wood. There will be a variety of house-made mustards and sauerkrauts, and Streit said he’s 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 serve craft brews from (predominantly West Coast) American microbreweries exclusively.
“There's such a great community of craft brewing going on in America right now,” Earle said. “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.”
- Progress on the interior as of about a month ago (via Facebook).
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 50 diners (with full table service), and, for bar patrons with a competitive streak, there will be dartboards and a 14-foot-long shuffleboard table.
Earle and Streit are aiming for a late-April or early-May opening.