Oakland Restaurant Week at The Half Orange – $20 Three Course Meal

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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

Harvest Pancake
Plancha Buns (sausage or shiitake mushroom)
Winter Salad
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

Dessert

Nutella-stuffed grilled sweet bun

We’re open from 11:00am to 9:30pm every day but Sunday. We hope to see you soon!

Gobernador Torpedo!

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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).

Selection Massale Wine Event, Saturday, Jan 10

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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 NVPetillant 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!

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.