This beautiful beer is the Mako Pale Ale, brewed by our friend Nathaniel Schmidt at Agua Mala brewery in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Agua Mala made a bit of a splash (heh) internationally last year when they medaled at World Beer Cup, but they’ve been brewing great beer in Mexican wine country for a while before that. Their compact brewery sits on the bluffs above the Pacific, in the El Sauzal neighborhood of Ensenada. I can’t think of a brewery I’ve ever seen that gets as much ocean air as Agua Mala, maybe that’s the key to their success.
We’re stoked to be able to share this beer with you — it’s the first time any Agua Mala beer has been in Northern California. The Mako is a light session ale, with a both a delightful grain character appropriate for a 4.2% pale, and a bit of the contemporary West Coast aromatics from New Zealand hops. It’s a beer for people who like the palette of San Diego IPAs but want to be able to drink 2 or 3 during a backyard barbecue and still be able to walk a straight line.
Mako will be on tap through the weekend, or until whenever it sells out. Come by and try it, it’s a very appropriate match for our Shrimp Fenix dish, which originates about a mile away from the Agua Mala brewery.
Well that’s pretty self explanatory, I guess.
Starting this week our hours are:
Mon-Sat 11:30am – 9pm
Sunday noon – 8pm
Also, on Saturday and Sundays we’ll be offering a breakfast sandwich: house made sausage, fried egg, cheddar cheese, Korean barbecue sauce and kimchi on a Starter Bakery bun. It’s awesome, trust me.
See you this weekend!
You may already know that this week is the first week of Oakland businesses implementing Measure FF, which raises the minimum wage by 36% and, as a result, is raising wages throughout the entire restaurant industry in our city.
Most independent restaurant owners I know are, along with the 80+% of voters who approved the measure, really glad their employees will be now making more money. In many cases restaurant workers will finally be making a reasonable living wage, and that’s something that’s been too long in coming.
That said, I also want to acknowledge that most if not all restaurant operators are a little apprehensive of the possibility that the price rises required to implement this change may sharply reduce business and end up putting people and businesses out of work.
So, I just want to say, whether you support the minimum wage increase or just want to support locally owned businesses, this is a great week to show that support by patronizing independently-owned Oakland restaurants. Let’s face it, we’re all a little nervous about the uncertain future — and knowing you’re behind us means everything.
If you’re interested in wine at all, you may have heard of the recent surge in interest and popularity of “Pet Nat” — pétillant natural wine, naturally carbonated in the bottle, similar to bottle-conditioned beers.
Personally, I love these wines, and I *really* love that my friends are involved in making it and importing it.
This Saturday, we’re going to be showcasing 3 Pet Nat wines that our friends have either produce or procured, with all three being available by the glass for just $8/glass all day and night.
We’ll be pouring:
Los Pilares “BLACK PET NAT” (San Diego) 2014 – sparkling red wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, the latest release from our low-intervention winemaker friends from San Diego. We put together the “San Diego Special” La Posta #8 carne asada concoction as the pairing for this wine, I guarantee that it is the perfect match.
Los Pilares “LA DONA” (San Diego) 2014 – sparkling white wine made from Muscat grapes. Last year’s inaugural vintage of this wine was a favorite at my local wine shop, and made Jon Bonné’s best 100 west coast wines list as well.
Les Capriades “PET-SEC” (Loire, France) sparkling white wine made from Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. This is one of the French wines that got everyone excited about Pet Nat to begin with, and it was chosen and imported by our friend Cory Cartwright at Selection Massale.
Together, these three wines give a broad and delicious taste of some of the joys of Pet Nat. We hope you can come on Saturday and enjoy them. We’ll be pouring them by the glass ($8 each) from 11:30am until we close at 9:00pm. Salud!
PS Here’s that food pairing…
It often seems like San Diego’s biggest export these days is expats, and I think the one thing we all agree on is that we wish we could get some “x-Berto’s”-style taco shop cuisine. With the occasion of having two San Diego-related events on back-to-back weekends, I thought I’d see what we could do at The Half Orange to slake that thirst.
So, let me introduce the “La Posta No. 8″, a tribute to the most unique menu item from the 24-hour Hillcrest taco shop of the same name. This is grass-fed carne asada, with avocado, pico de gallo, and San Diego style hot sauce, wrapped in a double-tortilla quesadilla. It’s a lot of food, and delicious.
This will be available starting Friday, February 13th, when we’re hosting fellow SD expat Barry Braden and his new Berkeley brewery Fieldwork Brewing. On that day, in addition to Fieldwork’s IPA and Stout, we’ll be featuring Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point to make it a complete San Diego flashback experience.
We’ll be offering the La Posta No. 8 through Saturday, February 21, when we’ll be hosting another San Diego-themed event, celebrating the release of “Black Pet Nat” from our natural winemaking friends in San Diego, Los Pilares. This wine is a bottle-conditioned sparkler made from Cabernet Sauvignon, and we expect it will pair beautifully with this carne asada concoction. On the 21st we’ll also be pouring Los Pilares’ muscat pet nat, and the french pet nat Les Capriades “Pet Sec”.
I hope you’ll come enjoy these events, and this little bit of Bertosness in your life.
We’ve done a few beer weeks before; heck, we even started a beer week once in a night of questionable judgement. But, this year, we get to participate in the grandaddy of west coast Beer Weeks, San Francisco Beer Week.
Here’s what we’ve got lined up at The Half Orange:
Monday, February 9: Explore the Bay Area through beer, with a 100% local version of our Monday beer special. Eight taps, all from local craft breweries, each for $2.98 + tax.
Wednesday, February 11: Meet The Brewer with Fort Point Beer Company. Brewer Mike Schnebeck in the house while we pour their St. Francis 12 (Belgian Quad collaboration with De Struise), Westfalia, Villager IPA and KSA (Kolsch).
Friday, February 13: Fieldwork Brewing Debut! Our former colleague from the good ol’ days in San Diego, Barry Braden, also moved to the East Bay and he started a Berkeley brewery, which will be releasing its first beer to the Bay Area today. Around noon we’ll be tapping the first of their beers, and Barry will be in house. We’ll also have a few of our San Diego favorites on draft to celebrate the good times. Details of this event are still in flux, keep checking back.
Saturday, February 14: Party at Ale Industries. We’ll be open at the Half Orange our usual hours (11:30am to 9pm), but we’ll also be at Ale Industries for a very special Beer Week versions of their Second Saturday party, with music, art, and Ale Industries beer. Join us at both places!
We hope to see you at one or all of these events, and we hope you really enjoy SF Beer Week. We will!
Our new dessert, Nutella-stuffed grilled sweet bun, that we put together just for Restaurant Week
Thursday marks the beginning of our first Oakland Restaurant Week (it runs January 15 through the 25th). We’re excited to roll out our menu at The Half Orange — it’ll be $20, and we hope you come try it.
Each restaurant week order includes a house made iced tea or house made lemonade, or substitute any of our draft beers for $2.98.
1st course, choose one
Plancha Buns (sausage or shiitake mushroom)
Corn Dog Tots
2nd course, choose one
Grassfed beef burger & fries
Sausage Sandwich & chicken chicharrones
Portobello Burger & fries
Shrimp Fenix (Ensenada-style shrimp tacos)
Curried Vegetable Wrap & macaroni salad
Nutella-stuffed grilled sweet bun
We’re open from 11:00am to 9:30pm every day but Sunday. We hope to see you soon!
If you haven’t taco’d around the border or the far north of Mexico, you may not be familiar with tacos gobernador, a shrimp taco with some combination of bell peppers, celery, onions, tomato, and sometimes cheese. It would be a shame if you haven’t had one yet, because they are delicious.
An awesome feature of tacos gobernador is that their actual composition still in a bit of state of flux — the world has not quite settled yet on what ingredients should go in the dish. Every taquero makes their gobernador a little bit different. This is how the California Burrito was during its infancy in the 90’s — if you ordered one, maybe it would have french fries in it, maybe it would have tater tots.
With that freedom of creation in mind, we’re introducing at the Half Orange our own gobernador — specifically, a gobernador torpedo sandwich (picture above). Our Gobernador Torpedo features grilled shrimp, green and red peppers, grilled onions, tomato, jalapeños, a touch of celery (it’s awesome — trust me), and oodles of melty cheese, all on a succulent hoagie roll from Starter Bakery.
This replaces the shrimp roll that was on our menu, ’cause this is better. Come try it, starting tomorrow (Wednesday).
A few everyday by-the-glass wines from Selection Massale at The Half Orange
If you follow the world of natural wines, you may well have heard of the very well-regarded Selection Massale, a wine importer based here in the East Bay. If you don’t follow the world of natural wines, you may be wondering, what the hell are “natural wines”?
Either way, we’ve got an event this coming Saturday at The Half Orange which promises to be delicious and enlightening!
Cory Cartwright, the co-owner of Selection Massale who lives here in East Oakland, will be on hand from 4pm to 8pm, pouring a selection of four of their wines:
Les Capriades “Pet-Sec” Petillant Naturel NV – Petillant Naturel aka “Pet Nat” wines are sparkling wine that are naturally carbonated in a manner more akin to bottle-conditioned beer than Champagne — here’s a brief article on the style in the Village Voice.
Les Dolomies Jura “En Novelin” Chardonnay 2012
Les Loges de la Folie “Velvet” (Gamay-Malbec) 2011
Bruno Debize “L’Homme a la Veste” Beaujolais 2013
One of the great things about these wines is that they are not particularly expensive. A flight of all 4 wines will be $10 on Saturday, and they will also be available each by the glass.
Here’s a little more about Selection Massale, from their website:
Selection Massale sells wines we truly believe in. We do not sell wines based on points, scores, blog hype or anything else besides what Guilhaume and Cory like. We sell wines that we drink from producers we stand behind and nothing else. These are wines made from smaller independent winemakers, many of whom haven’t been represented in the states before. These are wines that go with food, lighter wines made for drinking, not showing off. We will work to sell you these wines at the best possible price we can. These are things we can promise you.
See you at The Half Orange on Saturday from 4pm to 8pm, with Cory and a bunch of great wines!
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.