Blanding Spices UpA week after the Little House Café opened (2300 Blanding Ave., 510-864-4044), the lunchtime lineup of hungry patrons stretched to the door. Many will know that this cute place, painted its can’t-miss green, emerged like the proverbial phoenix from what sat for a long time disguised as an abandoned house but was actually a historical building. “The house was picked up and moved here from down the road,” chef-manager Donna Meadows says between handing out meals and collecting cash. The “Please park on our grass!” sign outside encourages one to—yes, drive in and park on the grassy lot. It felt like a transgression until I read a pamphlet inside that said what looks like grass is in fact a form of paving that functions like asphalt. Little House Café serves breakfast, lunch and coffee. Ingredients are fresh, and there is a California theme to the regular menu and daily specials. Temptations on the breakfast menu include a roasted-veggie and Gruyere cheese (or ham) crepe ($6.50) and the “Breakini”—scrambled organic eggs, hickory-smoked bacon and cheddar cheese ($5.50). Among several sandwiches on the lunch menu, “The Farmers Market” (assorted vegetables with goat cheese and herbs, $7) is an alternative to the “Here’s the Beef” (adorned with mild horseradish sauce, watercress, tomato and cornichons, $7).
Gary Chan and his wife, Mary Ng, are the proprietors of Ohana Hawaiian BBQ (Alameda Bridgeside Center, 2661 Blanding Ave., 510-749-7777). The genial Chan—from Hong Kong (“but I’ve been to Hawaii twice!”)—says he and his wife (formerly the manager of Hong Kong City Seafood on Park Street) decided to open an Ohana location (one of more than 20 in the Bay Area) because Hawaiian barbecue is still a relatively new and appealing concept. Crowd pleasers include the chicken katsu (fried chicken with rich brown gravy, $6.25) and the three-flavor combo of seafood and barbecue ($8), which has panko shrimp, mahi mahi and a choice of barbecue beef, chicken or ribs.
—By Wanda Hennig