On Kronnerburger and The Mural

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I don’t know if you’ve been reading about this, but I have. It kind of struck me hard because I know firsthand what it’s like to build out a restaurant in an old building, and how devastating some of the surprises can be.

I’m a big admirer of Kronnerbuger chef/owner Chris Kronner and his work. Also, like many people, I think the mural was great. I’m an aficionado of the history of the Key System. It’s a bummer the mural will be gone (and even more of a bummer that the Key System is gone).

That said, I’d like to suggest that it’s pretty harsh to paint Chris as the villain in its removal.

I managed a mural wall at the Linkery for several years, and we always tried to be clear beforehand with the artist and other stakeholders how long they could expect the mural to stay up before it was eligible for removal. It sounds like that wasn’t done here, nearly a decade ago when the building owner, the community group and the artist agreed to put the mural up. Perhaps that’s the ultimate source of everyone’s frustration.

The discovery that the mural wall was in grave disrepair must have put Chris in a real bind. Problems like that are years in the making, but then it’s the new tenant who’s left holding the bag. I hope that folks in Chris’ neighborhood will be understanding what a difficult position that is for a small operator on a limited budget to be put in. Most folks in the neighborhood probably prefer having small, independent operators to corporate or chain stores, and Chris is a thoughtful person who cooks really delicious food, the kind of business operator I think the community will really cotton to. I’d encourage everyone to consider giving him the benefit of the doubt in a difficult situation.

Cider Celebration at The Half Orange, Thursday

When we weren’t working on the Salsipuedes pop-up these last couple weeks, we’ve been busy installing the infrastructure at The Half Orange to offer a bunch of ciders on draft. And this week, my cider plan is at long last coming together [/rubs hands and cackles villainously].

We’re now offering 5 ciders (OK, 4 right now but 5 by the end of the day) by the glass plus a sixth, cellar-worthy local cider by the bottle. And this Thursday, December 18, we’re going to celebrate and show off our ciders by offering them all for half price. How do you like them apples?

Here’s the list:

BITE HARD CIDER off-dry 6.9% 8oz $3.95
BOONVILLE CIDER HOUSE Anderson Valley, California

WICKSON 2013 single varietal crabapple 7.7.% 8oz $5.50
WANDERING AENGUS Hood River and Culver, Oregon

BLACKCURRANT CIDER semi-sweet cider 6.5% 8oz $6.75
FINN RIVER Washington

SIDRE NOUVELLE VAGUE off-dry 5.0% 8oz $8.75
ERIC BORDELET Pays d’Auge, Normady, France

GRAVIVA! 2013 semi-dry Gravenstein 8.0% 8oz $9.95
TILTED SHED CIDERWORKS Sonoma County, California

BARRED ROCK 2013 Bourbon barrel aged 9.4% 750ml bottle $36
TILTED SHED CIDERWORKS Sonoma County, California

And remember, on Thursday, all these prices will be 50% off. So we’ll see you Thursday for a delicious cider-fest!

Salsipuedes Pop-Up, Sunday 14 Dec

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I know it’s been pretty quiet on the Salsipuedes front for a while, but we’ve actually been putting things together behind the scenes. And next Sunday, we’re excited to share with you a taste of what Salsipuedes is all about.

We’ll be popping up at The Half Orange location — but with a totally different ambience than you’ll usually find there. And we’re making a 7-course tasting menu to showcase the kind of cooking we intend to do at Salsipuedes, and offering local beer/cider pairings for each dish.

Salsipuedes is at its core a collaborative idea, and we couldn’t be doing this without the support and practical contributions from a bunch of our friends. A lot of talented people are chipping in help — this is not just the Jay and Katie show. Though we will be there, of course, to host this party.

Here’s the food menu for the night:

* Kumamoto oyster, lemon-lime granita, chorizo oil, little spinach

* Koji-marinated Pacific octopus, dashi, jalapeño-mint sauce, Ensenada olive oil

* wild Baja shrimp saltado

* grass-fed beef tongue, uni aioli, pickled pearl onions, guajillo jam

* duck breast and harvest pancake

* Bosc pear, ricotta, honey, black pepper

* dessert by Luis Abundis of Nieves Cinco de Mayo: Chile morita ice cream, sweet potato chips, Mexican chocolate

We’re still working out the beer and cider pairings a little. I’ll post them when I settle the last couple details.

This seven-course meal is $45, and beverage pairings are available for $25. There are two seatings — 5pm and 7:30pm; each seating is limited to about 15 people. To buy tickets, please go to The Half Orange online ordering portal and select “Salsipuedes Pop-up” under “Events”.

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Plancha Buns

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New on the menu at The Half Orange — plancha buns. Little bao, steamed on the plancha, filled with sausage or shiitakes and topped with a banh mi slaw and tangy sauce. I love them. Come try an order and let me know what you think.

Well-Reviewed

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I didn’t go into the restaurant business for accolades, but nonetheless I am always grateful when the hard work of our team is publicly recognized. So, a big thank you to Luke Tsai for his kind words about us in his review this week, in the East Bay Express.

It isn’t the most conventional formula for success: Create a restaurant whose menu is rife with kimchi, sausage links, and craft beer, and plop it down in the middle of a working-class Latino neighborhood in Oakland. The Half Orange, which took over the old Taco Grill space in the Fruitvale Public Market about three months ago, somehow makes it work.

Read the whole thing here. Bert Johnson’s pictures that accompany the piece are pretty cool, too (but why the hell didn’t I take the bamboo skewer out of my apron pocket!)

Fort Point Beer Nite, Thursday Nov 13

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Photo of Fort Point Manzanita beer lifted from Fort Point’s Instagram feed

This past September, I was lucky enough to participate in the Good Food Awards blind tasting for cider, and among my fellow tasters was Mike Schnbeck, brewer for Fort Point Beer Company in San Francisco. I already knew how good Fort Point beer is, but getting to know Mike a little made it clear why — he’s easygoing, fun, humble, has a great palate and loves food and beverage.

Shortly after that event, we brought Fort Point beer onto our list at The Half Orange, and it has been a consistent community favorite and a best-seller. I love these beers because they are balanced, food-friendly, refreshing, and super delicious. Most everyone who’s had them at our place seems to agree.

So, this Thursday, we’re celebrating our friendship with Fort Point, with a beer night featuring four unique Fort Point beers on draft. We’ll be pouring:

* Tosca – originally brewed as an exclusive for Tosca restaurant in San Francisco, this is a Kolsch-style ale that includes added yerba santa, foraged from Mount Tam, to complement chef April Bloomfield’s use of local herbs and spices in her cooking (by the way, if you haven’t eaten at Tosca yet — the food is amazing, you should check it out).

* Manzanita “smoked alt-bier”, a Westfalia-style beer made with smoked malts and charred manzanita. This beer is a 2015 Good Food Awards finalist.

* Villager IPA – This is Fort Point’s “San Francisco-style IPA”, which I find supremely balanced and as food-friendly as any IPA I’ve ever had (which in my opinion is appropriate for an IPA from the Bay Area).

* Pi Five – A Belgian Blonde brewed for the fifth anniversary of San Francisco’s Pi Bar (another place you should check out if you haven’t yet). I haven’t tasted this yet, but everyone I know who has, loves it.

All these beers will be $4.59 plus tax on Thursday. Also, some of the Fort Point folks will be in the house to meet and greet. The event goes from 5pm to 9pm and I hope you can make it.

Fresh New Dishes at The Half Orange

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Zac and I have recently been working on adding more dishes to the menu at The Half Orange that feature the pop of fresh produce, and also that are delicious vegetarian options.

We came up with a couple.

Above, pictured, is our new “harvest pancake”, a thick savory dish packed with broccoli rabe, shiitake mushrooms, summer squash and kale. We can throw some wild harvested Baja shrimp in there, if you like, too. It’s served with a sesame-soy dipping sauce that’s super addicting.

Below is a curried vegetable wrap, which highlights eggplant, summer squash, and roasted red peppers wrapped up with arugula and cucumber raita. You can also add a thick melty slice of Havarti cheese, which is a nice decadent treat.

Both of these are on the menu now, and our kitchen is open from noon to 9pm every day that’s not Sunday, to serve them to you.

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Fall Down Brown – Special Beer Night with Ale Industries, Wed, Nov 5

Not all pumpkin beers are created equal. Some taste like pumpkin pie…and others taste like smoke.

We’re pleased to announce that on Wednesday, November 5, we’ll be hosting a party at The Half Orange featuring only keg to be released this year of Fall Down Brown, the smoked pumpkin beer made by our awesome neighbors Ale Industries. Steve from AI says: “it’s an Imperial brown ale that we add 200 lbs of smoked pumpkin and some cinnamon and nutmeg to the boil kettle. Instead of a pumpkin pie flavor this drinks more like a German Rauch beer.” Naturally, we’ve got some smoky pairings in mind for this night, as well.

You’ll find bottles of Fall Down Brown in select stores this year, but if you’d like to try it on draft, well, we’ll see you here for a great kickoff to November!

PS If you haven’t been to Ale Industries’ tasting room yet, treat yourself to a visit. They’re on East 10th, a few buildings down from Restaurant Guadalajara, and their tasting room is open Friday 3-10, Saturday 12-10, and Sunday 12 until close.