Bites: Venus expands to Solano Avenue, Berkeley and Albany will get new French bakeries

Catch up on the latest East Bay food news and events.

The owners of Venus, a popular brunch spot in downtown Berkeley, will offer its menu at Main Street Pizza Bar on Solano Avenue. Photo: Sarah Han

VENUS BRINGS ITS BRUNCH TO SOLANO Good news for brunch fans in North Berkeley — popular breakfast spot Venus in downtown Berkeley is expanding to Solano Avenue. Owner Deepak Aggarwal confirmed with Nosh that Venus will be taking over his affiliate restaurant, Main Street Pizza Bar (he also owns Tigerlily and Barbarian), bringing its favorite dishes — like the Venus smoked salmon eggs benedict, lemon ricotta pancakes and Cuban roast pork sandwich — to the menu there. In an email Aggarwal said, “Owing to the popularity of the Venus on Shattuck, we decided to open a second location. We have also added waffles and breakfast pizza to our menu.” Fans of Main Street need not worry, though, as the new Venus plans to keep its pizza and pasta on the menu, too. Aggarwal said the transition from Main Street to Venus will happen during the first week of June. Daily hours will be 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for breakfast; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner. Venus will be at 1889 Solano Ave. (between The Alameda and Colusa), Berkeley

French pastries from Pâtisserie Rotha in Albany. Photo: Pâtisserie Rotha

SWEET FRANÇAISE With the loss of two longtime Berkeley bakeries, Virginia Bakery and Toot Sweets, you may be wondering where to pick-up your next special occasion cake or spur-of-the-moment treat. Well, there are two new French bakeries on the rise that might become your next favorite sweet spot. Taking over the La Farine space on Solano Avenue will be Lavender Bakery & Café from the Silicon Valley group that runs La Patisserie in Cupertino and Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale. Lavender Bakery will specialize in custom cakes and pastries made with organic ingredients. An opening date has not yet been announced. Meanwhile, in nearby Albany, another French bakery called Pâtisserie Rotha will open on June 30. The shop is owned by Rotha Ieng, a baker with a “life-long passion for French pastry,” who studied at Ecole Ferrandi in Paris and trained with famed French pastry chef, Pierre Hermé. Pâtisserie Rotha will offer classic French pastries like croissants, cannelé, Kouign-amann, brioche, tartes and tartlettes. Lavender Bakery & Café will be at 1820 Solano Ave. (between Colusa and Modoc), Berkeley; Pâtisserie Rotha will be at 1051 San Pablo Ave. (between Marin and Dartmouth), Albany  

KRONNERBURGER IS CLOSED FOR GOOD Last week, Eater had the scoop that Kronnerburger on Piedmont Avenue is closed for good. Chris Kronner’s burger spot closed its doors in February after a kitchen fire was accidentally started by the cleaning crew and has been shuttered ever since. Nosh asked Kronner about the closure in early April, on the eve of his taking over the kitchen at Henry’s at The Graduate hotel in Berkeley. At the time, although he said the closure was temporary, he hinted that his namesake restaurant at 4063 Piedmont Ave. may not reopen due to complications (insurance, permits, etc.) from the fire. While the chef does not currently have plans to reopen Kronnerburger elsewhere, he told Eater he’d be open to it in the future. In the meantime, those with a hankering for his deeply meaty burgers have three options: 1) get the Kronnerburger’s cousin, the Henry’s Burger at Henry’s. While it’s definitely not the Kronnerburger (it’s not 100% dry aged, and it comes with shredded iceberg, onions and pickles on a Tartine bun), it tastes similar enough to be a good stand-in. Bonus, it comes with fries! 2) Buy Kronner’s new book, A Burger to Believe In, which features the recipes to make your own Kronnerburger at home, including steps on dry aging and grinding your own beef, making your own buns, condiments and pickles. 3) Follow @kronnerburger on Instagram to get the latest word on his latest pop-up appearances to get your fix.

The Well’s founder Marielle Amrhein (right) with the café’s new owner Anwen Cai Baumeister. Photo: The Well

THE WELL WILL RUN AGAIN Temescal’s alternative wellness café, The Well, has been on “an extended break,” to “reflect and restructure” since late last year. Founder Marielle Amrhein opened the café last June at the East Bay Community Space, which offered drinks like house-made herbal teas, tonics, elixirs and oxymels and health-focused fare like bone broths, porridges and sandwiches. But Amrhein found that the business was not financially sustainable, and closed the café for regular service (it was open intermittently for pop-ups) just before the holidays to regroup.

Last week, The Well sent out a newsletter announcing it was reopening, but under new ownership. The newsletter contained two letters, one from Amrhein and another from new owner, Anwen Cai Baumeister. Amhrein wrote, “it has become clear that I am no longer able to provide the leadership that is needed for the sustainability and thriving of The Well,” but that she would still be contributing by doing some “medicine making” for the café. Baumeister, a fellow herbalist from the North Bay who runs a sustainable farm and has past experience helping run a wellness café in San Rafael, laid out her plans for what’s to come when the Well reopens on Aug. 1.

Baumeister will keep the café’s focus on herbal drinks and food, sourcing from local, sustainable and ethical vendors when possible. She will also continue to offer workshop space for the community. But, she also plans to expand hours into the evening, add a cold case for grab-and-go fare, and offer two new noteworthy additions to the menu: kava and a line of organic Chinese teas. In addition, she hopes to organize tea ceremonies, open mics, art openings, workshops and other community events. In an effort to be more inclusive and accessible, the café will offer one pay-what-you-can rice bowl or herbal drink per day. The Well will launch an Indiegogo campaign on June 12 to help fund some of the changes to the space. On June 6, the café will host a reopening party co-hosted by Amhrein and Baumeister, featuring snacks, tea, kava and more. The Well, 5443 Telegraph Ave. (at 55th), Oakland 

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza on Durant Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

MORE EAST BAY ARTICHOKE BASILLE’S TO COME New York pizza chain Artichoke Basille’s announced last week that it is expanding its reach in the Bay Area with several new locations in the East Bay. Artichoke Basille’s first foray on the West Coast started in 2013, when franchisee Jim Trevor brought the brand to Durant Avenue in the Southside neighborhood of Berkeley. Now, Trevor is part of deal that will open locations in Temescal, downtown Oakland, Lakeshore and possibly another spot in Berkeley. The first Oakland pizzeria will open in fall on the popular stretch of Telegraph Avenue in Temescal, in what is currently occupied by Lanesplitter Pizza (4799 Telegraph Ave.). According to a press release from Artichoke Basille’s, the transition from the East Bay chain into the NYC pizza franchise is being coordinated with help from Lanesplitter owners Daniel Rogers and Vic Gumper, who were looking to downsize. In a statement given to Eater, Rogers and Gumper said their decision to close the Temescal Lanesplitter was “driven by family issues, and complicated by last year’s fires in Sonoma.” They do not foresee closing any other Lanesplitter locations at this time.

Warriors fans watch the NBA Western Conference Finals at Pappy’s Grill in Berkeley. Photo: Ted Friedman

PAPPY’S IS BACK IN ACTION Cal watering hole Pappy’s had recently had its liquor license reinstated by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control after a suspension for serving alcohol to minors back in February. And just in time for Southside basketball fans to enjoy a place to knock back beers and cheer on the Warriors amongst fellow fans. Berkeleyside tipster Ted Friedman sent Nosh photos of the revelry happening at Pappy’s on Memorial Day, when the Dubs clinched the Western Conference finals.  Pappy’s Grill, 2367 Telegraph Ave. (between Durant and Channing), Berkeley

Sarah Han is Senior Editor, Nosh of Berkeleyside and Oaklandside. Email: