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Little River WineryI don’t think anyone’s claiming that the recession has bottomed out, but there are three signs of new business activity on Main Street, two of them food/beverage related.  The first and probably most dramatic is that the Pleasanton Hotel will have a new restaurant — The Farmer.  According to Assistant Manager Beth Salazar, remodeling of the space has begun, and they hope to open by mid-July. No word on cuisine but expect a bar, music, and banquet rooms.

Further south on Main Street, Little Valley Winery, presently in Sunol, will either be moving to Pleasanton or opening a second location for its tasting room and light meals, according to an alcoholic beverage permit application posted at the site, which is the Los Pilares building at 739 Main, currently under renovation.

Rick's PicksAlmost next door, past the vacant lot formerly occupied by the Union Jack Pub, the third development is at 719 Main, where a discount retailer, Rick’s Picks, will occupy the space which was formerly Cattelan’s Antiques.  The building was recently re-roofed and partially remodeled.  According to a job ad, Rick’s Picks is a fast growing high-end discount store that primarily sell brand names at 40% to 80% off regular retail prices. […] We sell home décor, housewares, furniture, books, toys, candles, children’s clothing and much much more.” Their current store is in Danville and this would be a second location.  It does not sound as upscale as Domus, a non-discounter which was very popular but ultimately not able to remain in business on Main Street, but might expand the range of products available downtown without needing to drive to a big-box store in a shopping center.  On the other hand, if it’s something like Tuesday Morning, it might provide an eclectic but not particularly consistent selection. Rick’s Picks expects to open by July.


On Election Day I headed out to Nebraska to visit my SO Maggie and her family, and spent a pleasant week there — much of it celebrating the results of the election, which were largely encouraging nationally and in Pleasanton (except for the passage of Proposition 8). But now that the election’s over, I’ve had a chance to return to my projects, including updating a few items here. (There will be a corresponding update over at Berch on Food shortly as well.)

In rough order of significance, we start first with the renaissance of Tri-Valley Seafood. What a wild ride! After noting its appearance last October, I made it out there for several good dim sum brunches. Then it abruptly changed owners and cuisines (although it kept the name) and became a pho-centered Vietnamese restaurant. I stopped in at noon on a Sunday in the spring, saw the menu, kept going — I had a jones for dim sum — and ended up at Willow Tree in Dublin.  Later I stopped in for a bowl of pho, which was fine but not spectacular, and I meant to return to try the rest of the menu but never did. Now, as of October 18, it has reopened as a Cantonese and dim sum restaurant; it’s not clear if it is the original owners or new ones in charge, but some chatter on Yelp seems to imply that the Vietnamese interlude was always meant to be temporary. (No, I don’t get it, either.)  Reviews of the reborn Tri-Valley Seafood are enthusiastic and I’m going to check it out ASAP.

Another new place I haven’t tried yet is Amarone, which replaced Silver Palate on Main Street. Goodness knows, Pleasanton has no lack of Italian restaurants, but a good one is always welcome.  So expect a report.   Still no word on the opening of Cafe Main in the former Coffee Beans space at Main and Angela but the former Momiji on the same block has reopened as Main Sushi.

Some good news: two recent visits have convinced me that the popularity of Singapore Old Town Cafe in Dublin is definitely justified. On my first trip last September, I was a little underwhelmed, but as several people have pointed out, it’s less than ideal to judge a place on one visit, and even less ideal to judge it on the basis of take-out food.  So I went back and ordered a couple of the same dishes and some new ones.  Of the repeats, my Chinese doughnut stuffed with shrimp paste was definitely much superior — fried just right, moist, and with a tasty filling; however, the sambal belacan prawns were still just so-so, and underseasoned despite my request to use a healthy ration of sambal.  Of the new dishes, though, the Old Town pork ribs were exceptional — marinated and then fried to a crispy finish, with a sweet-savory glaze. Also delicious was the char kway teoh — fried noodles with prawns, Chinese sausage, eggs, and bean sprouts with a dark brown sauce.  On my return I had the char kway teoh noodles again, along with an excellent beef rendang (medium beef red curry).  Each time the restaurant was nearly full and seemed to be the most popular in the Ulferts Center.

One final item: as a reader noted, the Filipino grocery and prepared food shop Pacific Gourmet and Market, which I visited in January, closed a few months ago.  The food was tasty and the staff was enthusiastic and friendly, but I fear that sort of place needs a critical mass of an ethnic community to support it on a regular basis, and that just doesn’t exist in Pleasanton. (Plus, the new-ish 99 Ranch Market in Dublin probably had more Filipino groceries, though not the prepared foods. I wish the owners well in whatever their new endeavor might be.