Town Crier: Culinary wave may be hitting Montclair

MONTCLARION: July 25, 2014

For whatever reason, the culinary wave that’s been washing over Oakland has largely missed Montclair. Could that be changing?

When the Silver Palace closed last week after 28 years, reaction was mixed. Longtime patrons bemoaned the passing of a Montclair institution. “Another neighborhood loss,” one man wrote.

But the very next day, a work crew was there, with an eager new owner outside. Philip Norawong revealed there were two other restaurateurs bidding on the space and that he and his partner won out. Camber will open in September and serve Southeast Asian cuisine like its sister restaurant near the Fox Theatre in Uptown. And while I haven’t yet been to Camber Uptown, it’s getting plenty of play on Yelp. “The vibe is very chill,” wrote one reviewer. Don’t look now, but that culinary wave may be lapping at our shores.

Around town: Speaking of caf├ęs, a new Brazilian steak house is open in Old Oakland, on a street known for its restaurants. Galeto Brazilian Grill (1019 Clay) is already getting praise for its signature dish — free-range organic chicken bathed in a seven-herb marinade, roasted and served family-style. But there’s much more to this prix fixe menu, which includes skewers of tender prime beef and pork, carved at your table, along with pasta and a salad bar full of Brazilian delights.

Tea for two: Some of us are coffee people and others are tea lovers. I may cross the line and be both, after trying a pouch of Hale and Hearty from Montclair’s newest beverage shop — Sophie’s Cuppa Tea. What a yummy organic green tea — hand-picked by shop owners John Brown and Xiaobei Wei on one of their visits to China. John says there are 7,500 varieties of tea and most “don’t see the light of day in the U.S.”

Small world: Of all the people to run into the other night — a gaggle of Montclarions showed up to celebrate the 100th anniversary of San Francisco’s Chancellor Hotel. It turns out this iconic Union Square boutique property had hired an intern with Montclair roots — a marketing major named Kiley Pearl from the University of Alabama. Kiley planned the big birthday party and brought in family friend David Sarber to take photos.

Did I mention that Kiley is a third-generation Montclarion? I also met her parents, Jamie and Stephanie, and her grandma, Barbara. Stephanie brought her friend, Montclarion reporter Mimi Rohr, and I was with Kelly Powers, who lives in Montclair and manages membership and marketing for the Hotel Council of San Francisco. We were one big happy family, which seems only fitting since the Chancellor is one of the last family-owned and -operated hotels in San Francisco.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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