Mid-Week Menu: A Spanish New Year’s Party, a Coffeehouse Class, and Some Cal Food Truck Drama



We’re one day later than usual, but welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Duende (468 19th St., Oakland), Oliveto alum Paul Canales’ arty new project — part Spanish-inspired restaurant, part high-end neighborhood bodega, part art gallery and live performance venue — is in full-on pre-opening mode right now. Grub Street made note of a music event that took place last week. And Duende will also be hosting a New Year’s Eve party ($25) that will feature live music and picoteos (Spanish finger foods). The official opening date for the restaurant still hasn’t been set, but the latest I heard is that it’s going to be in late December or early January.

Duende is almost ready to open (via Facebook).
  • Duende is almost ready to open (via Facebook).
2) As reported in East Bay Dish, Nick’s Pizza (6211 Shattuck Ave.) is gearing up to start serving coffee and pastries in the mornings, probably sometime in the late spring or early spring. You might not know that owner Nick Yapor-Cox started his career as a pastry chef in New York, including a stint at Eleven Madison Park (with its many Michelin stars). When I spoke to him to fact-check this week’s review of Nick’s, Yapor-Cox told me the pizzeria will probably start serving lunch around the same time it launches the cafe/bakery.

3) I keep forgetting to mention: West Oakland’s FuseBOX (2311A Magnolia St.) is now open for dinner — just one day a week, on Saturdays, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Also, the restaurant has started taking credit cards! Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. Movin’ on up.

4) According to Inside Scoop, Walnut Creek’s Va de Vi (1511 Mt. Diablo Ave.) is looking for a new chef — Shane McAnelly is moving on.

The Asian fusion hot dogs from Dojo Dog might need a new home (via Facebook).
  • The Asian fusion hot dogs from Dojo Dog might need a new home (via Facebook).
5) Daily Cal reports that there’s some food truck drama brewing near the UC Berkeley campus: The City of Berkeley suddenly gave the owners of the food trucks routinely stationed near the intersection of Telegraph Ave. and Bancroft Way three days to clear out, to make way for an upcoming construction project. Needless to say, the owners of Dojo Dog, Healthy Heavenly Foods, and Kettle Corn Star aren’t happy.

6) Another tip from Inside Scoop: Blue Bottle’s James Freeman and noted food science authority Harold McGee are among the luminaries who will be instructors at an upcoming ten-week Food Craft Institute class, Coffee Bar 101, which will examine the ins and outs of starting your very own artisan coffeehouse. Lots of East Bay representation on the list of instructors, including the proprietors of Roast Co, Bicycle Coffee, Awaken Cafe, and Highwire Coffee Roasters. Anyway, at $3,000 for ten 6-hour sessions, this is a class for people serious about starting their own business — not hobbyists or curiosity seekers.

7) Berkeleyside has an interesting story about The Edible Schoolyard Project’s plan to bring beehives (and bees, of course) to each of Berkeley’s three middle schools by this upcoming spring, in furtherance of the students’ education on things like pollination and the Colony Collapse Disorder phenomenon. One unlikely supporter of the new hive program? The mom of a kid who has a lethal bee allergy.

8) On Chowhound, there’s a lively discussion going on about The Chronicle’s food critic Michael Bauer, specifically around the issue of anonymity. It’s a relevant topic for those of us in the trade, but what do you think, readers? To what lengths ought a critic go to stay anonymous? Is a cloak-and-dagger approach desirable or necessary? At the very least, should the kinds of industry events mentioned in the thread — hosted by restaurateurs and PR types — be off limits to a critic?

9) If you missed them, please do check out my stories about American Oak’s first steps toward recovery from a possible arson fire, Peko Peko’s baller New Year’s Eve bento boxes, and Off the Grid’s departure from North Berkeley.

10) Last word: I’ll have one more longish post up on What the Fork by no later than Friday — a juicy one, I promise, on the state of Oakland food truckery heading into 2013 — and then after that I’m on vacation for a week. Fortunately, the inimitable Cynthia Salaysay will be filling my restaurant critic’s shoes, so keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, see you in 2013!

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.