Food & Drink

Bette’s Oceanview Diner: Berkeley favorite keeps it coming

Manfred Kroening is the tall, silver-haired Austrian who regularly greets customers at the front door of Bette’s Oceanview Diner. He and his late wife Bette (along with Sue Conley who went on to co-found Cowgirl Creamery) opened the diner on Berkeley’s Fourth Street in 1982. Fourth Street in the early 1980s was an unlikely neighborhood to start a homey, welcoming place for brunch. The nearby warehouse tenants were glassblowers and metalworkers in what was then an industrial neighborhood.  Speaking by telephone Kroening recalled that, “Back then, to work on Fourth Street, it was a bad zone at that time. Roaming dogs and upside-down shopping carts.” He felt that they were really taking a chance starting a business there. But they all thought, “Let’s try to work together and make a livin...

Grind On

Photo by Nathan Dumlao. Pattern recognition 101: Jack London Square, early morning. The steely grays of the sky and water meet the steely grays of the Bay Bridge in a fog dense enough to spatter my shoulders like rain—a fantastical composition of liquid; solid and vapor all in one color. By 10am the marine layer will be gone, replaced with high, brilliant skies. Beautiful in its own right, that high-def articulation of wave and girder, gesso-white gull feathers and grimy signage. But for now, nothing so crude as clarity. Glorious ambiguity, easy on the eyes, not revealing too much at once, leaving plenty to the imagination. That’s what we’re about around here at 6:30 in the morning, and the perfect beverage for that has to be the cappuccino, the beverage named for its supposed resemblance ...

Garagiste Bay

Photo by Road Trip with Raj I’m on a small stage in a swanky art gallery fashioned from an orphaned Wells Fargo branch—there’s a weird and wonderful installation in the vault, snacks are being served from the teller’s counter, paintings and sculptures spring up like a flush of tasty wild mushrooms from the decaying remains of Finance and all of this spells a metaphor we definitely need more of. A live jazz band pauses its set of bossa and old-school swing.  I’m pairing a flight of local wines with a flight of local poets, hoping to illustrate five characteristics common to both crafts: words like tension and structure and typicity. While each poet reads, the audience tastes a sequence of small-batch wines—a sauvignon blanc whose fresh grassiness strikes a surprising accord with certai...