Mid-Week Menu: Homestead Opens, Green Papaya Deli Closes, and a New App Allows Users to Trade Leftovers



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

1) A notable, slightly fancy-pants new arrival this week on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue: Homestead (4029 Piedmont Ave.), an upscale farm-to-table restaurant located in the former Zatis spot, opens for dinner on Thursday, August 1. Helming the kitchen are husband-and-wife co-owners Fred Sassen (Camino, Farallon) and Elizabeth Sassen (Waterbar, Farallon), whose menu will change frequently with the seasons, but may include things like pissladiere (a kind of caramelized-onion tart), duck confit tortellini, and chili-rubbed slow-roasted pork. And, like real homesteaders, the Sassens will not only be baking their own breads and making charcuterie, they might eventually produce their own cheeses and vinegars in-house as well.

The Barrel Rooms San Francisco location (via Facebook).
  • The Barrel Room's San Francisco location (via Facebook).
2) It’s a good time to be a boozehound in Oakland, isn’t it? Diablo Dish reports on the latest addition to the scene: The Barrel Room, a wine bar in San Francisco, is opening a second location in Rockridge at 5330 College Ave. The focus here will be on rare, small production wines from around the world, with a food menu designed to pair well with whatever the currently featured wine region is. ETA for the new Rockridge spot is sometime in September. Meanwhile, Eater notes the Concord-based Ale Industries is opening a new 6,000-square-foot brewery and taproom in Oakland’s Fruitvale/Jingletown neighborhood (3096 E. 10th St.).

3) Longtime La Peña Cultural Center tenant Cafe Valparaiso has moved to 1403 Solano Ave. in Albany, Tablehopper reports. The restaurant’s menu of empanadas, sandwiches, and other Chilean and Latin dishes appears to be largely unchanged. Back at Cafe Valparaiso’s old spot inside the cultural center (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley), Café La Peña, a new cafe managed by the cultural center itself, has opened. Berkeleyside Nosh has a detailed preview. The short, internationally-themed menu includes things like eggplant and tofu over rice, hummus and pita, and a selection of empanadas.

4) Inside Scoop reports that downtown Berkeley’s FIVE Restaurant (2086 Allston Way) has named a new chef, Stephane Tonnelier, to replace recently departed Banks White. Tonnelier's last gig was as sous chef at Boulevard, in San Francisco.

5) Chowhound user charliemyboy posts a bittersweet remembrance of the mok pa at Oakland’s Green Papaya Deli (207 International Blvd.), which closed recently (quite suddenly, it seems): “I was surprised how sad I felt— almost as if a friend had died, not just a restaurant had closed.”

6) For this next month, Berkeley food truck enthusiasts who regularly frequent the Thursday night Off the Grid in South Berkeley will need to look elsewhere for their weekly fix. As noted on Berkeleyside, the food truck gathering is taking a month-long break — business perhaps being a touch slower with Cal students away for the summer. The Southside Berkeley OtG will return at 5 p.m. on Monday, August 26, and every Monday evening thereafter — same Bat-Time, different day of the week.

7) West Oakland’s FuseBOX continues to extend its hours: Next Wednesday, August 7, the Korean-style izakaya will roll out Wednesday night dinner service. The restaurant, which started out as purely a lunch joint, will, at that point, be open for dinner four nights a week (Thursday through Saturday).

Chow mein, anyone?
  • Chow mein, anyone?
8) Here’s an idea you’ll find either brilliant or bizarre (or just plain gross): SF Weekly describes a soon-to-launch smartphone app called LeftoverSwap, which will allow users to post (and flip through other users’) pictures of half-eaten restaurant dishes. Use the app to trade your pepperoni pizza in for my duck confit tortellini, to charge me a couple of bucks for it, or to just give me the cot damn pizza for free — it’s your leftovers, bro! Whether local health departments will turn a blind eye to potential health hazards associated with an active leftovers market remains to be seen. (H/t to Bay Area Bites.)

9) Finally, ICYMI, Rico’s Diner is being reborn as Rico’s Hi Life, a pizza-and-beer joint that’ll stay open until 2 a.m. most nights, and a new West Oakland farmers’ market is raising money via Indiegogo.

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.