Cafe Underwood (308 41st St.), a new-school Wi-Fi cafe, is now open in North Oakland and my first outing couldn’t have been more pleasant. As noted in What the Fork preview from last year, owner Dominick Scala’s idea was to take a neighborhood coffee shop and the (increasingly popular) idea of a rentable “co-working space,” and to essentially create a hybrid of the two — a place where customers can drink good coffee, grab a bite to eat, and get their work done without having to feel guilty about taking up a table. Even though some patrons were on their laptops, a number on a recent Thurs am were actually talking to each other or reading a book–my kind of loakal hangout. The gorgeous sun soaked wood deck with umbrellas outside is made for loitering. The staff is friendly and engaged.
I’m sure most customers are excited they are serving Highwire Coffee Roasters drip coffee, espresso drinks, and Howling Wolf nitro cold-pressed coffee, which comes out of the tap with a creamy head like a Guinness. There are several local beers and wines available on tap. I had a wonderful bowl of grits with reggiano cheese and a large pot of rooibos tea, whose flavor I learned to relish on trips to South Africa. The food menu is a bit limited but that’s all good as it includes a take on East Coast-style “garbage bread” — a stromboli-like creation stuffed with meat and cheese. A tea and grits cost me around $10. Next door, look for the opening of True Burger in the next few months from the look of things inside.
Aunt Mary’s is moving from its location along Telegraph to a new and slightly larger location up the street between 47th and 48th St. Long my favorite breakfast spot in Oakland, Aunt Mary’s serves authentic Southern style breakfasts with weekend specials. Expect to see long weekend lines when they open by Sept 25th or so. Owners Jack and Nu live in the neighborhood and they run a sweet space. The photo I took here shows the new space with some work still to do. They will enjoy a new mezzanine in the new location as well as be closer to where more of the restaurant action has been in the Temescal. That said, there is still no one set to take over their old lease. And with the sudden closure of Barkada a months back, only Arbor Cafe will still be going strong in that vicinity.
Bowl’d is my new go-to place for any rice dish and especially for their ahi poke on a delicious green salad. The variously colored roe and their crunchy texture make this my new pick me up when feeling like a healthy and low calorie craving. This affordable addition to the Temescal is in a beautiful building occupied many years ago by the post office. Their fusion take on Korean pickled treats with a California twist go a long way to make Korean food more palatable for Westerners such as moi. Owner Jess is often on hand at lunch time and she also owns the eatery with same name on Solano as well as Ohgane BBQ on Broadway.
Change, Change, Change
As noted in What the Fork, Good Bellies at 46th and Telegraph is closed and Rosamunde will be opening there in November. I can’t get all that excited about another sausage and beer locale but if their Old Oakland restaurant is any indication, Rosamunde will do well. Sadly, Barlata will also be closing in the near future as owner Daniel Olivella has moved to Austin and opened a restaurant of the same name there. Grange Hall, the new comfort-food restaurant and cocktail bar that’s replacing Barlata, should open sometime in the next month or so.