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.

Fruitvale Days

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A lot of folks I meet who haven’t spent much time in Fruitvale, or in East Oakland in general, ask me what it’s like here. Well, this photo shows what it was like today on The Half Orange patio.

Interesting note: Germans initially populated much of Fruitvale, and for many decades the town was a regional destination for its beer gardens which basked in particularly sunny weather against a backdrop of fruit trees. It’s pretty easy to picture on a day like today.

Michael’s 40th Birthday Party and “Welcome back to California” party, October 14

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This dude turns 40 soon

If you didn’t know, Michael and Steph are back in California, living in the East Bay.

Their arrival happens to coincide nicely with Michael’s 40th birthday, so we’re having a combination birthday party and welcome-back-to-California party for them on Tuesday, October 14th, at The Half Orange.

Starts at 5pm. There will definitely be country ham. Probably some other treats, too.

Uncle Jesse Ice Cream

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Icecream

Luis Abundis of Nieves Cinco de Mayo is an alchemist who turned Ale Industries “Uncle Jesse” ale into delicious, hop-forward ice cream

The other day we were sitting around with Luis, who operates the amazing Nieves Cinco de Mayo artisanal ice cream shop adjacent to our restaurant The Half Orange, drinking beers from Ale Industries, which brews amazing craft beers a couple blocks from us.

It suddenly seemed very important that Luis make ice cream from the Ale Industries’ “Uncle Jesse” session ale. So he did. And it’s really good, with a distinct hop character in balance with the sweetness — just like in a great West Coast style ale!

Come in to the Half Orange and try it, it’s on the menu now until it sells out.

Los Pilares Wine Party, Thursday October 9 at The Half Orange

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Los Pilares tasting at El Take It Easy, August 2011

Now that their wine is possibly San Diego’s most well-regarded culinary export to the Bay Area, we get to brag that we’ve been friends with Michael Christian and the crew from Los Pilares since back in the day. We love both their philosophy and drinking their wine.

It wouldn’t even be too far to say that, when Katie and I started seeing Los Pilares wine pouring at Ordinaire and on the shelves at Bi-Rite Market, it helped me understand what some of the possibilities might be for me here, as a San Diego import myself.

In any event, we’re open now, and there’s wine, and it seems like a great time to celebrate. So on Thursday, October 8th, starting at 6pm, Michael will be in the house while we pour from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintages of Los Pilares red, and also taste some of their “garage” experiments that provided the foundation of their winemaking decisions. We’ll of course whip up some food pairings for the occasion, too.

These are the minimalist reds that attracted attention to San Diego wine from the likes of Jon Bonné, Alice Feiring, and many others. For us, though, this is about great wine from home, to be enjoyed with tasty food and friends old and new.

We hope you’ll join us.