Chanukah, O Chanukah, come bite the plethora!
The plethora of interesting foods being served up at a handful of local Chanukah dinners, that is.
For the second straight year, the San Francisco restaurant Baker & Banker will have a four-course Chanukah menu available, either prix fixe ($55) or à la carte. The items will be offered for six nights starting on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
In addition, the Old World Food Truck is hosting its second annual Chanukah pop-up. The $55, five-course dinners are Sat-urday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Coffee Bar, a spacious coffeehouse in San Francisco.
Across the bay, the new Grand Lake Kitchen in Oakland is hosting seven nights of Chanukah dinners ($40 to $50) starting Saturday, Dec. 8. Two of the nights will be turned over to guest chefs: Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen of Beauty’s Bagels in Oakland, and East Bay caterer Risa Lichtman.
All of the dinners are open to the public. The full menus (and other details) can be viewed at http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/67183/san-francisco-chanukah-menus-for-2012
“Last year people were really excited about the Chanukah menu, so we decided to bring it back this year,” said chef Jeff Banker, who co-owns Baker & Banker with his wife, pastry chef Lori Baker. “Growing up, my mom always cooked during Chanukah. The inspiration comes from what my mother used to make.”
Banker’s menu includes a traditional chicken matzah ball soup, latkes served with house-smoked trout and pickled beets, and beef brisket pot-au-feu (a brisket served as a beef stew and poured tableside).
While that might sound eclectic, it has nothing on a Chanukah dinner that was served Dec. 5 at the Fifth Floor restaurantt in San Francisco. Guest chef Jason Fox of Commonwealth and host chef David Bazirgan collaborated on a $125, seven-course tasting menu that included terrine of quail and black truffle with a Manischewitz gelée, and a wood pigeon pastrami double consommé with matzah balls made of homemade matzah, fresh local eggs, toasted caraway seeds and a touch of soda water — “my take on matzah ball soup,” Bazirgan said.
The menu at the Old World Food Truck includes two kinds of latkes (parsnip and celery root, and sweet potato and leek); pickled veal tongue served with watercress, raisin verjus and pumpernickel croutons; and sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts. Vegetarian options are available with each course.
Although reservations have been slow — the two seatings planned per night have been reduced to one, at 6 p.m. — owner Kenny Hockert said he is “excited about the menu.”
Hockert launched his Old World venture with a pop-up Chanukah dinner in 2011, then rolled out his food truck five months later. Hockert has strived to establish strong ties to the Jewish community; he and his truck have worked events at Jewish community centers in San Francisco, San Rafael and Palo Alto, at Urban Adamah in Berkeley and at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.
While Banker and Hockert are each taking second spins at a Chanukah menu, the Grand Lake Kitchen in Oakland is trying it for the first time. The restaurant, a deli near Lake Merritt, was opened on Nov. 14 by Dave Wasem, a former sous chef at Park Tavern in San Francisco, and his wife, May Seto, a former manager at the city’s Delfina.
A Chanukah dinner has been scheduled for each night of the Festival of Lights except on Tuesday, Dec. 11, when the restaurant is closed. Wasem and Seto will handle the menu on five of the nights; it features latkes with sour cream and applesauce; caraway brisket or black cod; and spiced ginger cake. Guest chefs Joffe and Remsen are doing a vegetarian menu on Sunday, Dec. 9, and Lichtman will close it out with her menu (including persimmon sufganiyot) on Dec. 15.
Information on the dinners is available from Baker & Banker, (415) 351-2500, www.bakerandbanker.com; Old World Food Truck, (415) 630-0205 or www.oldworldfoodtruck.com; and Grand Lake Kitchen, (510) 922-9582 or www.grandlakekitchen.com.
In addition to the chefs’ menus, several local Jewish food purveyors have their own special Chanukah offerings.
Saul’s Restaurant and Deli in Berkeley once again will have a latke tent and beer garden with live music on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, from 12 to 4 p.m. each day. Customers who want to buy take-away latkes can choose from three types: already fried and ready to reheat at home; pre-formed and ready to fry; or raw batter. Other items include applesauce, sufganiyot, babka, kashka varnishkes and beer-braised brisket. For information, call (510) 848-3354 or visit www.saulsdeli.com.
Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco is offering a variety of items — from latkes to mandelbrot to brisket — that can be ordered online and picked up on a specified date from Dec. 7 to 16. Co-owner Leo Beckerman suggests trying the strawberry-filled sufganiyot made for Wise Sons by Marla Bakery, a relatively new shop run by Amy Brown, former pastry chef/baker at Nopa. Wise Sons also has started limited home delivery on orders over $45. For information, call (415) 787-3354 or visit www.wisesonsdeli.com.
Deli Board in San Francisco is selling 11- to 12-pound fully prepared briskets by preorder. Owner Adam Mesnick said they’ll cost about $80 to $90 each, but they will be sliced and “dropped in gravy” and will serve at least 10 people. For information, call (415) 552-7687 or email catering @deliboardsf.com.
Moishe’s Pippic in San Francisco sells brisket by the pound every Friday. For information, call (415) 431-2440.
Beauty’s Bagels in Oakland is selling a dozen latkes with organic homemade applesauce and crème frâiche for $24, as well as sufganiyot (by Marla Bakery). For information, call www. beautysbagelshop.com or call (510) 788-6098.