Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.
1) After months of anticipation, Hog’s Apothecary (375 40th St.) quietly opened on Monday, according to early reports on Twitter, Yelp, and beyond. After we previewed the North Oakland sausage-and-beer joint earlier this year, co-owners John Streit and Bradford Earle upped the ante by hiring Sayre Piotrkowski, a certified cicerone (i.e. beer service’s version of a sommelier), to run their beer program. At last count, Hog’s Apothecary has got at least 33 beers on tap, to go along with a selection of housemade sausages and other beer-friendly foods. No official word yet on whether Streit and Earle will be able to keep food prices as low as they’d initially planned (with most items under $10).
3) It looks like Oakland will be getting its first bona-fide Taiwanese restaurant. Diablo Dish reports that Pi Dan Noodle House is tentatively slated to open this coming spring at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Broadway. Specialties will include Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup and zha jiang mian — noodles topped with a bolognese-like sauce made with ground meat and fermented black beans. The food of my peoples! Owner Allison Chen said she plans to keep the prices low ($7-$10 a dish), but wants to create a more pleasant, modern space than your typical Chinese hole in the wall.
4) Changes are afoot at Daniel Patterson’s pair of high-profile Oakland restaurants. Inside Scoop reports that Kim Alter, the chef at Haven (44 Webster St.), will take over as the new chef at Plum (2214 Broadway) on September 16. Plum will be closed in the interim (though Plum Bar will remain open). No official word on the reason for outgoing chef Manfred Wrembel’s departure. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson, recently the sous chef at Patterson’s flagship restaurant Coi, will take over as Haven’s executive chef.
Plum, for its part, continues to have a notably high chef turnover rate for such a well-known restaurant: In the three years since the restaurant opened, its kitchen has been helmed by seven different chefs: Jeremy Fox, Lauren Kiino, Ron Boyd (the director of operations for what Patterson is now calling the DPG restaurant group), Charlie Parker, Rob Dort, Wrembel, and now Alter. We’ll see if Alter, who has been at Haven from the beginning, can bring some stability to the first (and, arguably, more widely lauded) of Patterson’s two East Bay outposts. According to Inside Scoop, planned changes include the addition of a tasting menu option (five courses for $65), which has been one of Alter’s signatures at Haven.
5) One more tidbit of Oakland chef news: Inside Scoop reports that James Syhabout has hired a new chef de cuisine at Commis (3859 Piedmont Ave.) — Aaron Martinez, who most recently worked as the sous chef at San Francisco’s Quince.
6) Zagat notes that Oakland will be getting a new coffee roastery and cafe called Jewel Box Coffee Roasters, a collaboration between Roast Co. head roaster Brad Joyce and Pizzaiolo bar manager Kate August. The pair are fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign that netted over $16,000, but with a full build-out still to come, it sounds like Jewel Box won’t be ready to open until next summer.
7) Fans of Ici Ice Cream now have a new spot where they can get their fix — and maybe bypass the original Berkeley shop’s legendary lines. The cafe/bodega section of Uptown Oakland’s Duende (468 19th St.) now serves Ici ice cream sandwiches and pre-packed grab-and-go sundae cups all day, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. The partnership makes sense: Ici owner Mary Canales is married to Duende’s Paul Canales.
9) One more food-themed event: The fifth annual Taste of Temescal culinary crawl will take place on Telegraph Ave. (between 43rd and 51st streets) on Tuesday, September 17, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Participating restaurants and shops include Barkada Bakery, Juhu Beach Club, Pizzaiolo, Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop, and yet-to-open newcomers Cholita Linda and Curbside Creamery. Check out the full list. Proceeds from the $30 tickets (available for purchase online), which will cover all food and drink, will benefit Emerson Elementary, Claremont Middle School, Oakland Tech HS, Women’s Cancer Resource Center, and Lions Center for the Blind.
10) Finally, ICYMI, What the Fork got to taste the East Bay’s first faux cronuts and sampled the sweet-and-salty delights at Oakland’s new Chicago-style popcorn shop.
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.