Weekly Dish: Table 24 Owners Expand
Upscale Mexican coming to Orinda's Theatre Square; Turkey Day options abound in the East Bay; upcoming Tri-Valley brewery looking for community support; Vito's Express opens in Dublin; and more in this week's Dish!
Table 24 co-owners Michael Karp and Victor Ivry are giving it another whirl in Orinda. This time, they are joining forces on a new Mexican restaurant, just a few doors away in Theatre Square. Karp described the upcoming eatery’s fare as “traditional and authentic, using fresh, local ingredients.” The as-of-yet-nameless restaurant will sport plenty of reclaimed materials while featuring an open kitchen highlighted by a wood-burning char broiler and rotisserie oven. There will be a full bar with an emphasis on tequilas and a year-round front patio with fire pit, and the possibility of a seasonal rooftop “sunset patio” going forward. Look for a late March/early April opening. And Karp’s not done. The former Live Nation restaurant guru recently formed a new restaurant group, Le Bon Temps, and is working on several new dining projects around the East Bay. Stay tuned for more details.
A very happy Turkey Day to everyone out there. Hopefully everyone has plans, but if not, we put together a list of restaurants hosting Thanksgiving day meals: no muss, no fuss. CLICK HERE for the round-up...
I had a chance to speak with Ian Schuster the other day, the president of the as-of-yet-unopened Schubros Brewery. Along with three other partners, Schuster wants to open the first locally owned and operated craft brewery company in the San Ramon Valley, which will service the I-680/580 corridor specifically. Their goal is to open by Memorial Day of next year, but with economic conditions being what they are, the company has turned to a unique method of raising funds for the fledgling brewery: tapping the local community for support.
Today marks the debut of Schubros' "Yes in my Back Yard" (YIMBY) campaign, an attempt to raise $90,000 directly from the local community—no banks, no private investors—to help get the brewery up and running. Inspired by Kickstarter.com, an internet site that helps prospective businesses tap individual investors in the communities in which they operate, Schuster will offer perks (stickers, t-shirts, coupons) in exchange for varying levels of monetary support, from $5 to $2,000.
"The banks are really hesitant to loan these days, and institutional investors, they want a lot of rights and ownership of the company, and we didn't feel right doing that," Schuster says. "We're planning to give back one percent of all our future revenues back to the community, so we're hoping the community can help us out, at least initially—hence the YIMBY campaign. That money would give us the ability to grow and be safe so we don't end up having to compromise quality: YIMBY will put us over the top so we can focus on the beer and be able to cover and service the whole area."
The brewery's prospective product is as unique as its business plan. Schubros plans to design the flavor profile of each of its beers around the food with which it pairs best. In other words, its Nico American Wheat beer is brewed to pair well with certain cheeses as well as milder fishes, while the IPA (tentatively to be called the 680-IPA) is more geared to heavier, fattier foods like pizza and burgers. It's an interesting strategy, especially with the rise in interest in craft beer and beer-pairing dinners, but don't take my word for it: go to schubrosbrewery.com/yimby.html for more information on the campaign and how you can get involved.
Vito's Express, which I wrote about a few months ago, is officially up and running. The new pizza place with the sporty Vespa logo is located in Dublin's Grafton Station and offers an eclectic menu of New York-style thin-crust pizzas, including stuffed crust and salad versions, and even a dessert pizza (ricotta cheese with cocoa powder drizzled with chocolate). That's in addition to regular salads, wings, and a full bar inside (grab the table for two near the window for the chance to dine while sitting on real '60s-era Vespas). We shared some slices here at the office last week and the team dug the prosciutto and arugula, as well as the stuffed crust caprese. 4060 Grafton St., Dublin, (925) 967-9000, vitosexpressdublin.com.
Speaking of pizza, Inside Scoop reports that Gordon Drysdale and Bacchus Management Group (owner of Pizza Antica in Lafayette), have parted ways after 10 years. Apparently the new year will bring some minor tweaks to the four Pizza Antica locations but not to worry: Drysdale's famous Brussels sprouts salad dish will remain on the menu. Speaking of said dish, Pizza Antica got in the holiday spirit recently and shared the recipe with the pubic: CLICK HERE to check it out. Or better yet, just head on over to Pizza Antica, because honestly, it seems a little complicated to make at home... 3600 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 299-0500, pizzaantica.com.
I know that the day after spending Thanksgiving with family, I'm ready for either a drink or a strong cup of coffee. Well how about both? Steeltown Coffee & Tea and E.J. Phair Brewing Company are joining forces to create a new coffee-infused stout to be released this Friday, November 25. Both Steeltown and EJ Phair are part of a new wave of businesses that have opened recently in an attempt to revitalize "Old Town" downtown Pittsburg, so it's cool to see them working together on a joint project—the beer is being brewed in E.J. Phair's brand new brewery located in Old Town. Steeltown French-pressed, by hand, 40 gallons of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee to infuse into the stout, "a smooth beer with a rich coffee flavor and sweet chocolate finish," according to EJ Phair owner J.J. Phair. Steeltown Coffee & Tea, 695 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg, (925) 246-5840, steeltowncoffee.com. E.J. Phair Brewing Co., 300 Cumberland St., Pittsburg, (925) 252-9895, ejphair.com.
Weekly Shout-Out: Koreana Kitchen
Maybe it's the cool weather, but this week, I'm giving a little shout-out to one of my favorite under-the-radar lunch spots, Koreana Kitchen. There's something about Korean food that just feels warm and comforting so I've found myself at this little joint in downtown Walnut Creek a couple times over the last few days and it's only reinforced my previous experiences: delicious, hearty food at totally reasonable prices.
Koreana Kitchen may not look like much from the outside (and to be honest, it's pretty bare bones inside as well), but it's clean and friendly, and everything is made fresh to order, including rice bowls, BBQ plates, noodle soups, udon and soba, and some great house specials—almost all for under $10. Plates are served with a couple of veggies and a tasty cole slaw (and I don't normally like cole slaw), plus a couple dishes of kimchee if you ask for it. A few of my favorites are the grilled mackerel (which takes a little longer but is totally worth it), barbecue chicken, and the two dishes pictured below: breaded chicken cutlet and the fantastic hot pork bowl: sweet, spicy marinated pork grilled to order on top of slippery cellophane noodles and a heaping portion of rice. Good stuff Koreana Kitchen, keep up the good work! And don't forget to let me know your favorites at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/DiabloDish.
Koreana Kitchen, 1546 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 938-5959
serves four of your favorite people
½ pound slab bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus 3 tablespoons for salad
6 slices country style bread, crusts removed and cut in ½ inch squares
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 large eggs
2-3 pounds Brussels sprouts (about 40 sprouts)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup canola oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Early in the day, prepare the mise en place: Cut bacon into ½ inch squares and cook over low heat until almost crisp, drain off most of fat and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil until just smoking and cook sliced onions over med to high heat until golden brown, drain and set aside. Toss cubed bread with extra virgin olive oil and toast in a 300 degree oven until golden brown and crispy (approximately 20-25 minutes), allow to cool to room temp and set aside. Cover the eggs with cold water, bring to scald, and let sit in scalding water for 8-9 minutes. Be sure the yolk is firm, but a little undercooked; run cold water over eggs to stop cooking, peel, and cut into small pieces; when cut reserve, covered, in the refrigerator.
Also early in the day, prepare your vinaigrette: Soak the garlic, shallots and thyme in the vinegar for 45 minutes, more or less, and slowly whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reserve, covered, for service.
While all the other items are working, clean the sprouts: Remove the first few dark leaves and discard. Cut off the stem, and separate the leaves one by one (this is not particularly fun). When you get to the light green center and can’t pull off the leaves, either slice the heart very thin or reserve for other uses.
To cook the salad (finally!): In a large sauté pan, heat remaining canola oil until almost smoking and add leaves. Toss until wilted, about 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, then add reserved onions and bacon and warm a little more until hot. When hot, add vinaigrette, toss to distribute and taste for seasoning. When seasoned correctly, add croutons and chopped eggs, toss to incorporate and serve!