Appetite: Punch for pirates, watermelon soup, orzo mac ‘n cheese, and more

Pub date July 7, 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.

Delish cocktails at Rickhouse. Photo by Virginia Miller.

NEW OPENINGS Around the Bay

Bourbon & Branch and Cask debut a second bar: Rickhouse
Opening night, July 1st, at Bourbon and Branch’s highly-anticipated second bar, Rickhouse in FiDi, named after a storehouse for aging bourbon. The space, including front and back bars, is gorgeous, with wood planks above and below, and a little balcony area with gentle skylight glow. The Old World feel transports – you can almost imagine you’re aboard a pirate vessel or in an old English tavern. The word was way out on opening night, making for a bit of chaos, but a kindly doorman (replete in cap and vest) regulated so we weren’t body-to-body, while staff and bartenders are cheerful and welcoming. And, oh, that menu! Pages and pages of classic cocktails, punches (punch bowl for four, please!), flips, fizzes, and some wines and draught beers for good measure. This is a cocktail lover’s dream bar and I, for one, am already plotting my next visit.
246 Kearny, SF.

FIVE, Scott Howard’s latest, opens this week in Berkeley
We’ve been missing Scott Howard since his namesake restaurant closed, but he’s debuting Five this week in beautifully remodeled Hotel Shattuck, an elegant, modern space with oval, limestone bar, white pillars and dramatic glass chandelier. The menu (ranging from $5-21 at lunch, $5-28 at dinner), lists playful dishes like Deviled ‘Surf & Turf’ Eggs with Dungeness crab and ham, or Orzo Mac ‘n Cheese with Morel mushrooms and tomato jam. There’s classic cocktails and plenty of onion rings with ginger ketchup. Scott is back!
2086 Allston Way, Berk.

Commis: Hints of molecular gastronomy on Piedmont Ave
JoJo, Oakland long-time classic, closed some months ago, and chef/owner, James Syhabout, moved in with Commis, unexpectedly soft-opening last week. There’s one option: a $49 three-course meal (from a handful of choices in each course), laden with hints of molecular gastronomy since Syhabout’s resume lists the likes of none other than Manresa, WD-50 and Coi. I hear tell of menu items like crisp pork jowl on a poached egg, chicken cooked in malted ale with golden rice, and strawberry watermelon soup for dessert. Sounds like it’s time to make a reservation.
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakl.