Report by Daisy Chow, tablehopper editorial assistant. This Thursday March 8th, chef Eskender Aseged will introduce the brick-and-mortar site of RADIO AFRICA & KITCHEN, serving the Cal-African-Med cuisine that’s been the star of his pop-up for the past seven years. Located on the ground-floor of the new condominium building at 4800 Third Street in the Bayview, the restaurant will initially serve dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch will launch in April.
I spoke with chef Eskender about the restaurant’s concept, and it sounds like a natural extension of his Radio Africa & Kitchen pop-up—what he calls the “flavors of Africa with a touch of California.” He’ll continue creating modern versions of North African and Middle Eastern dishes, with influences from countries like Ethiopia, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Nigeria, and Senegal. He also wants to reflect the local neighborhood and plans to add dishes that include oxtail and black-eyed peas.
But there’s more than a touch of the California in Eskender’s cuisine, and it’s no wonder, given he’s worked under such big California names as Jeremiah Tower, Joyce Goldstein, and Nancy Oakes. Eskender says his philosophy is simple but spiced up with interesting regional flavors, and he’s also sourcing mostly organic and local ingredients. Some produce will come from gardens in the Mission and the Bayview, especially herbs, and some from local farmers markets and places like the Berkeley Bowl.
Expect dinner offerings to change weekly; in fact, Eskender plans to serve an entirely different menu each week, though variations of favorites, his roast leg of lamb for example, will likely see heavy rotation. The opening menu this Thursday will include edamame and fava bean hummus with green garlic ($6), saffron prawns with long beans and sea urchin harissa ($9), roasted leg of lamb with eggplant relish and couscous ($18), and grilled chicken breast with okra stew and polenta ($14.50).
Lunch service, set to begin on April 3rd, will be a straightforward counter service. There’ll be 5-6 sandwiches (meat, poultry, and vegetarian options will be available), 3-4 green salads, a couple soups, and 1-2 specials.
The 55-seat restaurant will also serve coffee from Coffee Bar, where Radio Africa was previously holding their weekly pop-ups (which will become a special event once or twice yearly), and where they also received their coffee training. A beer and wine license should be coming any day; in the meantime, try drinks like housemade lemonade and in mid-spring, drinks with lemon verbena. Dinner Tue-Sat 5:30pm-9pm, possibly until 9:30pm. Lunch, starting April 3rd, Tue-Sun 11am-3pm. 4800 3rd Street at Oakdale, 415-420-2486.
Radio Africa & Kitchen exterior. Photo: Daisy Chow. © tablehopper.com.