Another day, another sausage slinger rises in Oakland. This time it's Brotzeit Lokal (1000 Embarcadero), a new sausage-centered restaurant and beer garden from Chop Bar's Lev Delany, which will softly open on Thursday, June 13.
Delany, Brotzeit's chef and sausage-maker-in-chief, spent two years working at a bar in Berlin, and he said the thing he loved about Germany was how everywhere you went outside of the city, you could always find a beer garden — a friendly, casual place to eat and enjoy a beer. As the Express's Ellen Cushing has noted, Brotzeit will scarcely be the first German-inflected sausage-and-beer joint to open in Oakland — it joins Rosamunde, The Trappist, and others. But the restaurant's waterfront location and its chefly pedigree should help set it apart. Here's what you need to know:
1) Although the German biergarten served as Delany's inspiration, the menu will have more of a "Sausages of the World" feel to it. In addition to traditional German sausages, Delany will also serve an American breakfast sausage and a Spanish chorizo bilbao, to name a couple of examples. For now, Delany is making seven different sausages in house (from Marin Sun Farms pigs), and he's buying another four to six from local vendors. He's also making sauerkraut — that most traditional of sausage accompaniments — and a variety of pickles.
2) Beyond sausages, Delany said he's excited about the family-style platters that he'll be serving: for instance, a whole chicken roasted in a romertopf (a traditional clay pot), served with fries, spaetzle, and seasonal vegetables — enough food to serve a family of four for about $40. There's also a burger, made with freshly ground Marin Sun chuck, for $9.
3) Delany said he envisions the place as a beer bar first and foremost — the food menu, as thoughtfully put together as it might be, will play a supporting role. To start out, there will be sixteen beers available on tap, plus an additional twenty bottled. The list will include several German and Belgian beers, but also a number of local options, including a German-style Altbier ("old beer") that's custom-brewed for the restaurant by Oakland's Linden Street Brewery.
4) The restaurant's outdoor patio (which will seat about seventy) should offer some fantastic views of the water. Perhaps Brotzeit's most unique feature is the fact that you can actually access the restaurant by sea. Delany's partners, Krista and Tony Granieri, are boating enthusiasts who have rented a few berths in the marina that will be available to customers. The Granieris' 45-foot Delta cruiser will also be available for rent. Call the restaurant (510-645-1905) to inquire about rates and availability. According to Delany, it's about a two-hour sail to Treasure Island and back. Coupled with a casual sausage-and-beer lunch, that sounds like a pleasant summer afternoon to me.
5) The restaurant might actually be tougher to find by land than it is by sea, tucked away, as it is, behind the Homewood Suites hotel complex. Be forewarned: As of this printing, Google Maps will lead you astray if you enter the street address; search instead by the restaurant's name. Brotzeit Lokal is located about a mile southeast of Jack London Square, so it's a bit of a challenge to get there if you don't have a car or bike.
If the food, view, and brews are as good as Delany promises, it'll be worth the effort. Hours will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
For more than a decade now, members of Meetup.com have used the online social networking portal to get together with complete strangers for activities based on some common interest — everything from the mundane (hiking, the collected works of Stephanie Meyers) to the somewhat obscure (foam-sword fighting, metaphysics).
For East Bay residents Michael Wilson and Jackie Kirschner, cooking was that shared passion. The pair has parlayed that passion into a vibrant Meetup group that has grown to include about 550 members. The group, the Culinary Addicts, convenes periodically, ten or twenty members at a time, for a cooking class taught by Wilson and Kirschner, followed by a communal meal.
During the next two weeks, Wilson and Kirschner will be bringing the Culinary Addicts' best dishes to the public. From June 4 to 16, the duo will serve a four-course $35 prix-fixe menu at Guest Chef (5337 College Ave., Oakland), as part of the recently closed restaurant's "Back from the Dead" series. Marisa Swartz, the founder of a related Meetup group called Food Sharks, helped develop the menu and will join Wilson and Kirschner in the kitchen, as will several Culinary Addicts members who have signed up to work the line — volunteering their time for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work in a real restaurant kitchen.
Wilson, who recently started a gourmet hot dog cart called Pop Boston's, explained that he sees the Culinary Addicts as more of a community than a formal cooking school. Participants pay a fee, but it only covers the cost of the ingredients. The first Meetup event, in July 2011, was a cheese and dairy class during which participants made goat cheese, burrata, and butter. Other themes have included a French picnic class, a series on craft cocktails, and an introduction to molecular gastronomy (which provided an excuse for Wilson to buy himself a sous vide machine).
Most of the events have been held at Wilson's Walnut Creek home, in a cottage on his property that he's converted into a makeshift demo kitchen. But Wilson hopes to find a larger, better-equipped space, so perhaps the Guest Chef gig will help him in that quest. After all, these Culinary Addicts won't be lowly amateurs anymore. They'll have run their own restaurant.