New Restaurants, New Wine Happenings, & More

An artsy ice cream dessert from the upcoming Bocanova in Oakland. (Photo courtesy of Bocanova)

Oakland’s Jack London Square has definitely become the hot spot for exciting new restaurants.

The latest one, Bocanova, is expected to open Sept. 1 in a restored 1920s ice-house.

The flavors of Latin America, the Old World, and Northern California will be spotlighted in this Pan-American restaurant by Chef/Co-Owner Rick Hackett. A veteran of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Postrio in San Francisco, Bay Wolf in Oakland, and Oliveto in Oakland, Hackett will be turning out such delectables as Yucatan Seafood Stew ($15), Sea of Cortez Scallops with Brazilian Curry Sauce ($14), a 24-ounce “Ancho” Steak with Chimichurri Bernaise ($32), and whole Organic Rotisserie Chicken with Guajillo & Banana Salsa ($19).

Desserts are by Pastry Chef Paul Conte, formerly of MarketBar in the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Petrale sole picatta at the Lake Chalet. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Another newcomer to Oakland is the recently opened Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill in the historic, century-old Lake Merritt Boat House.

The restaurant is by the same team behind the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, and Park Chalet Garden Restaurant, both in San Francisco.

At the Lake Chalet grill, Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher serves up dishes such as English Pea & Ham Hock Soup, Dungeness Crab Cakes with Popcorn Puree, and Vande Rose Farms BBQ Baby Back Ribs.

New to downtown Campbell is the Cyprus Bistro & Cafe, which serves organic Greek, Turkish, and Mediterranean dishes, including house-made baklava. The wine list features a large selection of organic and biodynamic wines.

Also opening its doors in downtown Campbell is Chacho’s Taqueria. The eatery used to be located in San Jose, but closed a few years ago. Now, it’s reopened in Campbell, 266b E. Campbell Ave., serving its signature tacos, burritos, ceviche, and soups.

The new Heirloom Tomat-O Burger. (Photo courtesy of Best-O-Burger)

San Francisco’s Best-O-Burger has added two enticing summer treats to the menu.

First up, the Heirloom Tomat-O Burger ($4.88), a 1/3-pound Angus patty on a fresh baked roll with fresh heirloom tomatoes from Sonoma County.

Second, you’ll need something to wash that down with. So indulge in a Freez-O ($4.49), a blend of Haagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, and your choice of old-fashioned sodas.

Cool off with a Freeze-O. (Photo courtesy of Best-O-Burger)

Preserving the bounty is on the agenda in September at the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Sept. 9, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., sign up for “Sauerkraut Made Simple.” You’ll learn how to make your own “starter kraut” to take home. Tickets to the class are $30 each.

Sept. 10, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., it’s “Cheese, please! Making Mozzarella and Ricotta.” Participants will get to take home the cheese they make. Price of tickets still to be determined.

Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Todd Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen will demonstrate tomato canning techniques. Admission is free.

Saturday nights, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., enjoy “Flight Nights” at Ozumo Restaurant in Oakland.

Enjoy a four-course prix-fixe dinner with paired wine or sake for $39 per person. The menu will change weekly, too.

Sake lovers will want to head to Yoshi’s San Francisco on Sept. 10 for the sixth annual “Joy of Sake’‘ celebration.

One hundred award-winning sakes will be available for tasting, including 49 not normally available in the United States. Tickets are $50 in advance; $60 at the door.

Executive Chef Shotaro “Sho” Kamio also will be preparing a special menu of fall dishes to especially compliment the sakes, including Okinawa Rock Sugar Braised Short Ribs and Steamed Halibut Wrapped in Konbu Seaweed.

San Francisco’s Fifth Floor restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary by offering wines by the bottle and half-bottle for half-off through Sept. 7. To whet your whistle, here’s the wine list.

For more wine fun, Spruce in San Francisco will offer a series of monthly wine classes one Tuesday each month, starting in September. Each class, taught by one of the restaurant’s sommeliers, will be priced according to the wines sampled. The classes start at 6:30 p.m. and last about 90 minutes.

First up, Sept. 8, is “The Wonderful World of Wine,” an introductory course delving into the wine making process, major wine producing countries, a tasting of five wines, and a breakdown of how to blind taste. For reservations or more information, call (415) 931-5100.

A bevy of wineries will be pouring their latest releases, Sept. 6-7, at the 28th annual Harvest Wine Celebration in Livermore. The event is being organized by the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association.

Shuttles will be available on Sept. 6 to take visitors along three different routes to 20 wineries. Visitors also can enjoy live music, arts and crafts, and food at a Harvest Village that will be set up at Robertson Park in Livermore on both days, where 21 wineries will be pouring tastes. Tickets range in price from $45 for Sunday-only to $50 for a two-day pass in advance.

Donate cans of  soup in exchange for a free slice of cheesecake.

That’s what the Cheesecake Factory is offering in its “Drive Out Hunger Tour.” The restaurant chain will be collecting cans of soup that will be donated to hunger-relief agencies.

Sept. 2, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., the Cheesecake Factory at Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose will get in on the action by collection donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The first 500 people who donate two cans of soup there that day will receive a free slice of “Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake.”

The national can-drive will come to a close Sept. 30. On that day, any customer who brings in two soup cans when they dine at the restaurant will have 10 percent of their tab donated to the food bank. The Cheesecake Factory’s goal is to collect a total of 100,000 cans of soup.

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