Mid-Week Menu: Upscale Mexican for Uptown, Latkes for Hanukkah, and Legit Tacos for the Grand Lake Neighborhood



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

1) If you missed the big feature in last week’s Express about the “Oakland ’09ers” (the handful of young restaurateurs who boldly staked their fortunes in Oakland that year, recession be damned), you should check it out. Maybe the most exciting part of the story is the sidebar, which outlines a number of exciting new projects that are in the works: Italian food in Jack London Square, a beer garden on the water, a power lunch spot in the Tribune Building, a possible collaboration between the Linden Street Brewery and Commis’ James Syhabout, and more.

Eater adds a few more details about one of the projects, headed by Chop Bar’s Chris Pastena: a high-end Mexican restaurant (with lots of tequilas and mezcals) that will be located Uptown, as part of the next phase of the Broadway Grand Project.

Opening menu at Miss Ollies (via Facebook).
  • Opening menu at Miss Ollie's (via Facebook).
2) As noted by Inside Scoop (and in various exclamations that popped up in my Twitter feed), Miss Ollie’s (901 Washington St., Oakland), the long-awaited Caribbean spot from former Hibiscus chef Sarah Kirnon, had its first day of business yesterday. The concept is a rotating daily lunch plate (yesterday it was Kirnon’s famous fried chicken; today it’s goat curry), plus a short menu of other dishes — mostly smaller appetizers and sides, it seems — to round out your meal: ackee and salt cod, pikliz (a Haitian spicy pickled relish), rice and peas, and so forth. For now, the restaurant is only open for lunch (Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. until all the food is gone). Dinner hours will come later (along with the liquor license) — shortly after Christmas, if Facebook is to be believed.

3) East Bay Dish tipped me off to the fact that Tacos Sinaloa now has a new truck parked near Lake Merritt, in an empty lot at the corner of Lakeshore Ave. and Beacon St. The carnitas are indeed quite good, as are the shrimp ceviche tostadas. Nice addition to a neighborhood without a lot of legit taco options.

4) Chowhound user Ruth Lafler has the scoop on the fate of Ching Hua (1650 Park St.), the fancy-looking Chinese spot in Alameda Marketplace: Apparently the restaurant has been sold to Paul Manousos (owner of East End Pizza) and Jacob Alioto (chef at Luka’s Taproom), and East End Pizza — heretofore relegated to a small corner shop in the Marketplace — will expand into the larger space, adding more items their menu as well as a cocktail program. Stay tuned for additional details.

New sign in the window of Ching Hua (via Facebook).
  • New sign in the window of Ching Hua (via Facebook).
5) Inside Scoop reports that Richard Mazzera, co-owner of César Berkeley, has acquired Richmond’s Boilerhouse (1414 Harbour Way) and will eventually reopen the restaurant as Assemble, serving New American cuisine.

6) Berkeleyside has additional details about La Fournée, the new French bakery that’s opening soon in Claremont, in the former Bread Garden space. What to expect: the usual array of classic French breads and pastries, organic ingredients, Bicycle Coffee.

7) Hanukkah is just around the corner. To celebrate, the newly-opened Grand Lake Kitchen (576 Grand Ave., Oakland) will be hosting a series of special Hanukkah dinners from Saturday, December 8 through Saturday, December 15 (every night except for the Tuesday). Options for the $50 prix-fixe will include latkes and applesauce, chicken noodle soup, caraway brisket, and spiced ginger cake. For a couple of the dinners, there will be special guest chefs, including a vegetarian Hanukkah dinner ($40) cooked by Amy Remsen and Blake Joffe of Beauty’s Bagel Shop this Sunday. There will be two seatings each night, and reservations are a must. Check out all the details here.

Also for Hanukkah: Saul’s Deli (1475 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) will host a Latke Tent and Beer Garden this Saturday and Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The latkes will be available hot (for immediate consumption) or as a take-home item (either raw, partially fried, or fully fried) to enjoy over the holidays. The full Hanukkah menu for Saul’s is online.

8) Diablo Dish has a nice list of East Bay restaurants serving Dungeness crab. Any you’d care to add? Is the crab roll at Southie still as good as I remember? I know I’m praying for a swift return for the ma po tofu Dungeness crab at China Village (which doesn’t look like it’ll be open until early 2013).

9) Finally, check out this week’s good news for your sweet tooth: Sweet Bar’s "fauxnuts" and Starter Bakery’s espresso-custard kouign amann.

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.