What the Fork previously noted the recent death of Soleil Banguid, beloved chef of Soleil’s African Cuisine, which for too short a time served some of the tastiest West African dishes around at the unlikeliest location — a bluegrass and country western bar in Alameda called The Frog and Fiddle (1544 Webster St.). Now comes word on the bar’s new plans for its kitchen program: Paul Skrentny, the paella-centric caterer and longtime standby at Oakland’s Guest Chef — having logged seven two-week pop-up stints — has taken over indefinitely.
Skrentny had his first official day of service last Friday, launching a tapas-based menu that includes many of the dishes he’s served during his various pop-up gigs. In addition to three paellas, he’s making a variety of small plates, none of which are traditional Spanish tapas per se: One is a take on a Scotch egg, that British pub classic — but made with quail eggs instead of chicken eggs. Another is Skrentny’s version of chicken and waffles, served as a taco: boneless fried chicken breast served wrapped inside a thin waffle, which serves as the “taco” shell. There’s also a burger on the menu, available in a full-sized version or as sliders for diners who want to keep to the small plates theme.
For Skrentny, who previously worked in the publishing industry, it’s his first full-time restaurant gig, but the future of the enterprise is still somewhat in the air: He said the owners of The Frog and Fiddle are looking to sell the bar and restaurant, and if they do, that would certainly put his tenure in the kitchen in jeopardy. But if his paella and tapas menu does well? Skrentny said he might consider putting in an offer to buy the place himself.
The kitchen at The Frog and Fiddle serves dinner Wednesday to Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.