Mid-Week Menu: ‘Bohemian’ Food at Loring Cafe, Jello Shots at Hawker Fare, and Build-Your-Own Noodle Bowls at Toss


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Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) As noted last week, Lungomare (1 Broadway) — the new Italian restaurant from Chris Pastena (Chop Bar) and Temoor Noor (Grand Tavern) — opens for dinner on Thursday, February 7, in Jack London Square, in the space that until recently was occupied by Miss Pearl’s. In the meantime, Grub Street has some photos of the interior, and you can check out chef Craig DiFonzo’s dinner menu here. I’m intrigued by the interesting selection of fresh pastas, the Ligurian fish stew (pictured below), and the market-priced whole-fish option.

Ligurian fish stew at Lungomare (via Facebook)
  • Ligurian fish stew at Lungomare (via Facebook)
2) After some initial uncertainty, we now have confirmation: Uptown Oakland’s new “bohemian fine-dining” spot Loring Cafe (37 Grand Ave.) is open — for real, for real — for both lunch and dinner.

3) In other Uptown news, Hawker Fare (2300 Webster St.) just got its license to serve distilled spirits. Henceforth there will be punch bowls to go with your rice bowls! (And jello shots!)

4) A post on Berkeleyside alerted us to the opening of Toss Noodle Bar (2272 Shattuck Ave.), in downtown Berkeley. A quick perusal of the restaurant’s menu reveals a mix-and-match, build-your-own-noodle-bowl approach: Choose a type of noodle (or rice), a sauce or soup (I’ll have to check out the laksa), and a protein. Taken in combination with Build, the build-your-own-pizza spot (formerly known as A90) coming to Berkeley later this year, does this mark the beginning of a trend?

Laksa at Toss Noodle Bar (via Facebook)
  • Laksa at Toss Noodle Bar (via Facebook)
5) A handful of Valentine’s Day offerings for your perusal: If you’re looking to pick up a little something something for that special someone, the Fourth St. Pasta Shop location (1786 4th St.) will be hosting a chocolate tasting event this Saturday, February 9, from 2-4 p.m. Meanwhile, on V-Day proper, Bocanova (55 Webster St., Oakland) is doing a five-course surf-and-turf themed menu, priced at $45 a person. Or, if you’re really feeling flush, Oliveto (5655 College Ave.) is doing a $95 prix-fixe, featuring beef carpaccio with Perigord truffles and butter-poached lobster, among other indulgent options.

6) On another loosely Valentine’s Day related note, East Bay Dish’s Christina Mitchell is running in the Oakland Half Marathon to raise money for the Ella Baker Center. So, as a fundraiser, she’ll be teaching a cupcake baking class at Kitchener Oakland (372 24th St., Oakland) this Sunday, February 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. — so, cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, Kitchener is also hosting a Valentine’s Night Market on the 13th, and taking online orders for a variety of sweet treats you can pick up that same night.

7) Lots of buzz recently for The Rare Barrel, the all-sour, all-barrel-aged brewery and tasting room that will be opening in Berkeley, probably toward the tail end of 2013. Eater and Serious Eats both recently caught up with proprietors Jay Goodwin and Alex Wallash, who are still in the process of securing the permit for their tasting room. The gist of the matter: Because Goodwin and Wallash are focusing on sour beers exclusively, and because sour beers need to age for a long time, they’ll have plenty of time on their hands to experiment with and fine-tune the fermentation process.

8) SFoodie has lots of love for Local 123 (2049 San Pablo Ave.), which is still my favorite Berkeley coffee shop — praised here for being “the kind of place you want to sit down and bang out your e-mails, or a few bad poems, and then call all your friends to come play gin rummy over chai.”

9) Finally, check out my recommendations for restaurants serving great winter greens (with a bonus recipe) and this early look at Oakland’s first Off the Grid outpost.

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.