Appetite: Absinthe gimlets, fancy ‘wiches, sparkling spirits, dinner in bed, and more

Pub date June 2, 2009
SectionFood & Drink

Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter,, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.


Grand Tavern dining room. Photo by Virginia Miller

The Grand Tavern opens in Oakland
Take a turn-of-the-century house on Grand Ave (near Camino) and turn it into The Grand Tavern, making use of each room (dining room with fireplace, lounge areas with chairs from Mission vintage shops, a dark wood bar, and patio)… add a menu cooked by Kay Eskind, aka "Mom", put the entire operation in the capable hands of her son, Temoor Noor, who has, with care and saavy, thought out each detail, from craft beer selection to beautiful artisanal cocktails (I’m ready to go back for the Absinthe Gimlet!), and you’re starting to get an idea of what kind of appealing hang out this tavern is.

With a $5-18 menu featuring rib-eye steak, Cornish hen with ginger and onions, and roasted squash with chili, onions and garlic sour cream sauce, it’s comforting gastropub fare, paired with an Affligem Blonde on tap or Devil’s Whiskers cocktail. The Kold Draft machine means they’re serious about perfect temperature and quality in their drinks, and the welcoming ease of staff and owner mean you can sip or sup in any room or move between them as you wish. They’re in soft opening phase right now but don’t let that stop you (in the first week along, I had a pretty seamless experience). Mi casa su casa.
3601 Grand Avenue, Oakland



6/1 – Supperclub 4-course Dinner with Jamie Lauren and Jennie Lorenzo
Dinner in bed? You’ll want to splurge for this one-of-a-kind night at Netherlands-based Supperclub’s one US location. Waited on hand-and-foot while lounging in Roman-style beds as you’re surrounded by opera singers, contortionists dangling from colorful fabric above you, even flaming sword-carrying belly dancers… who knows what might appear? Don’t worry, it’s not merely style sans substance. Launched in February, Supperclub’s “Uber Dinner” series started with a one-night-only dinner cooked by three Michelin-rated chefs from Europe and our own Elizabeth Falkner. Not bad, eh? Tonight it’s another rare gig… come and be surprised by an undisclosed four-course meal, paired with cocktails and wine (all included in the price). Highlighting Great Chefs of San Francisco, “Uber Dinner II”‘s guest chefs are Jennie Lorenzo, Exec Chef of Michelin-rated Fifth Floor, and Jamie Lauren, Exec Chef at Absinthe, and recently of, well, you already know… Top Chef. A night of exotic and sensuous feasting, this is one those meals engaging all your senses.
657 Harrison Street


Cocktail Party at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley
I love any excuse for a dress-up cocktail party, one with fine spirits, company, and tunes. In wine-centric Napa Valley, Yountville’s sparking wine queen, Domaine Chandon, is throwing a unique party this Thursday night with three hours of sparkling wine cocktails (created by Nopa’s Neyah White – yes!), small bites from on-site Etoile restaurant (which gets a 25 food rating in Zagat), and DJ Dukes providing the dance soundtrack, all in Chandon’s lovely open-air lounge and terrace, where you can roam under the stars in your little black dress or vintage suit. Sounds worth a trek up North.
1 California Drive, Yountville




Calling all cooks… sandwich contest where you can win $25,000
With the gourmet sandwich craze reaching an apex these days (Sentinel, Kitchenette, Pal’s, and so on), I couldn’t help but notice that Napa Valley-based Mezzetta, producer of jarred olives, peppers and specialty foods, launched a Summer-long contest for America’s Best Sandwich Recipe on Memorial Day. The eye-catcher? Grand prize is a whopping $25,000 (plus a trip to Napa) and two runners-up win $1000 each. Given the inspiration we have all around us in amazing sandwiches, I figured it’d be a natural to have a Bay Area winner, right? They say, "let your culinary imagination run wild", so now’s your chance to create a recipe to rival the great ones we eat all the time. Submit as many recipes as you want in three categories (Cold, Hot or Vegetarian), using at least two of Mezzetta’s products, from their peppers, olives, gourmet foods line, Napa Valley Bistro pasta sauces and olives, or Kona Coast teriyaki and BBQ sauces. I’d say those parameters are worth $25k. In these times, to win that much for a recipe is nothing short of a golden opportunity.