Town Crier: School’s back in, so drivers, be careful

HUTCH BAR & KITCHEN

View of Hutch Bar & Kitchen facade in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept.24, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

MONTCLARION: August 26, 2016

The last lazy days of summer are upon us — ushered in by a persistent fog bank that makes barbecues feel more like winter bonfires. In fact, it’s been so chilly at night, five of my neighbors have their Christmas lights on. It’s time to pry the kids away from the pool and send them back to school.

And that’s just what’s happening. Oakland schools have started up again, meaning more congestion in drop-off and pickup zones for students. Which leads me to a warning: Now that school bells are ringing again, let’s all be extra-cautious as we drive. Reader Sherrill Harrison recently saw an eye-popping four red-light runners in Montclair in one day.

“In a brief trip to and from the library,” she writes, “I saw a total of four drivers go through intersections against red lights.” And she says there’s no doubt they were red because the lights she was facing had already turned green.

Mindless entertainment: Speaking of warnings, Oakland police have put out an alert about the popular online game “Pokémon Go.” There’ve been a number of injuries — and even robberies — as a result of player distractions. When your head is buried in your cell phone, it’s hard to see what’s going on around you. Police say to be aware of your surroundings and even preprogram your cell phone with the emergency OPD dispatch number, 510-777-3211.

Around town: Work has begun on the new Thai restaurant going into the old Chowhaus locale at Medau Place and Moraga Avenue in Montclair. The co-owner is a trained chef from Thailand and is a partner in two other restaurants in San Francisco and Livermore. I’ll have more in coming weeks, but this restaurant looks like a winner.

True grits: The star of this show is chef David King, the owner of Hutch Bar & Kitchen on 20th and Telegraph (www.hutchoakland.com). I had some great cheese grits there the other day, along with fried oysters (dressed with warm blue cheese, pecan slaw and house hot sauce) and catfish. If that doesn’t get me ready for Southeastern Conference football, nothing will. Hutch is celebrating its third anniversary — a testament to its creative menu (Southern U.S. cuisine), generous portions and good ol’ Southern hospitality. Next time I go, I’m trying the jalapeño hushpuppies and the bourbon-cured trout.

Bottle shock: Shepherd Canyon Park has long been known for its after-dark parties, but someone, it seems, enjoys whiskey — a lot. Reader Jonathan Taylor has been cleaning the canyon once a month for 15 years under Oakland’s Adopt-A-Spot program. Over the years, he’s picked up mostly food and construction litter, and lots of car parts from accidents (which I’ll address next week). But lately, he’s been finding Kessler Whiskey bottles — 25 of them last month alone. It’d be one thing if they were unopened, but these are bone-dry. BevMo calls this whiskey “simply terrific,” but I think we’d all rather see the empties in a recycling bin than along the shoulder of Shepherd Canyon Road.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at http://www.” ginnyprior.com.

Town Crier: Izzy’s steak house breathes new life in old building

MONTCLARION: July 30, 2016

Some of Oakland’s oldest buildings are getting new life. Take the structure at Grand and Webster avenues in Uptown, which was built in the 1920s. If you look hard enough at the Izzy’s Steak & Chop House sign, you’ll see the faint words “I Magnin.” How cool that a steak house named after one of San Francisco’s most colorful characters, Izzy Gomez, is now open in this iconic space at 59 Grand Ave. Continue reading

Town Crier: Oakland chefs strike gold with La Marcha

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The tapas bar which features two dozen tapas is one of the popular features of La Marcha in Berkeley, which opened last fall by two Oakland chefs, Sergio Emilio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte. ( COURTESY OF PHI TRAN )

MONTCLARION: July 7, 2016

Sergio Emilio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte feel like pinching themselves. In just a few years, they’ve taken their passion for paella and turned it into a love fest. Continue reading