As you know, the Mai Tai was proclaimed the official Oakland drink Sunday at the Conga Lounge. We missed it because our Sunday reporter got pulled away on another story. But here is some video of the festivities. Trader Vic would have been proud, I think. Tiki love returns this fall when City Councilmembers are expected to take up a resolution on the critical matter of the Mai Tai.
I was startled to find the CityTeam shelter transformed Sunday by colorful cafe tables and chairs, umbrellas and a “CAFE” sign over the door. “I just walked past here Friday night and it was not like this!” I told my boyfriend. Turns out, it was all a fantasy — a VW car commercial being filmed on Washington Street between Seventh and Ninth streets.
In fact, a fight was threatening to break out between two men over a bed on the Friday night I passed by, which was balmy and (otherwise) dreamy – notwithstanding the fact that I had just come from a trying evening of frustrating press announcements at OPD on Seventh after the arrest of Hasanni Campbell’s foster parents. (Looking at Glenn Dyer jail on Seventh, where the foster father was being held, from my rooftop patio I kept thinking about how strange it is that two realities could be so different yet within eyesight of each other.)
It’s amazing the Old Oakland neighborhood is as peaceful as it is with OPD, the courthouse, Glenn Dyer jail, the men’s shelter, a women’s shelter, several SROs and some kind of halfway house all within three blocks of chic hangouts, nail salon, realtor, etc. and three upscale condo/apartment buildings. I kind of like the mix (aside from a man – not a CityTeam resident – who occasionally performs normally private acts upon himself in front of Kai’s) but have wondered for about 10 years how long the shelters will last.
…is opening tonight (Tuesday Sept. 1) in the old Spaghetti Factory space on Jack London Square. Bocanova had a limited “soft opening” during Eat Real festival over the weekend serving drinks and a few appetizers. Tonight they roll out their “Pan American” menu. I wish the weather was as heavenly as it was this weekend for the restaurant’s patio seating.
I try not to get too personal about places I write about because not only is my taste (visual, culinary) peculiar but I’m also very particular. The way I see it, my job is to tell people what’s out there although I admit that in the beginning I was excited just by the fact that new places were opening. Patrons are going to taste the menus, try the drinks, judge the service and prices for themselves. Anyway, our Time Out section does the actual dining reviews six weeks after a restaurant’s opening. But I have to say that I like the way Bocanova looks because it is different than numerous places that have opened in the past year or so whose main distinguishing feature is what they put on the walls. Bocanova has a mellow, warm feel with low ceilings and weathered orange, yellow and brown sofas instead of benches. Cement pillars are lit by two rows of small white lights and covered by about three or four feet of muddled yellow-orange canvas curtain. The floors are slate-colored tiles and a big wood-fired brick oven in the open kitchen is opposite the entrance at the other side of the restaurant. The bar is in the center. On the far side toward are more tables and then the patio that faces the walkway along Jack London Square.
I wrote in the Aug. 28 Night Owl column about the new Lake Chalet that even sore feelings about Everett and Jones barbecue being turned down as operators of the Boat House restaurant were mostly healed. I didn’t mean to imply that Everett and Jones owners had gotten over it. Because they are most decidedly not and I got an earful about it.
Like it or not, the Lake Chalet is a hit right now. It doesn’t mean that the bigger issues and the history behind the decision should be dismissed — without me seeming to pit the two against each other. We can say move on already but the history seethes beneath the surface and will affect the way some people feel about the restaurant. There are several Oaklands in this city.
Speaking of which, I noticed that Kimball’s Carnival had a hearing with City officials Friday. I haven’t been able to get in touch with the manager but a sign on the door of the Second Street entrance Friday read that the club and the sports bar are allowed a max of 300 people by order of the Fire Department beginning Aug. 28.
Funny that Michael Krasny mentioned Oakland in a back-handed way on his FORUM show about SF’s entertainment commission. He said authorities might be worried that if SF is too unhospitable to night clubs they would go to Oakland or the East Bay. I have news for him: Oakland is much tougher than San Francisco.