Cal Peternell, who was the chef at Chez Panisse for more than two decades, is finally returning to the kitchen after a couple of years off, effective today. He’s opening the Lede, a new lunch counter operating out of a creative space in a former brewery in Old Oakland. For the fine dining chef, these are definitely more chill digs and eats, starting with weekday lunches with a menu including soups, sandwiches, and salads.
Cal Peternell worked in the kitchen at Chez Panisse for 22 years, leaving to pursue a cookbook, podcast, and other creative projects outside of the kitchen. But when his podcast producers took over the former Pacific Coast Brewing space with a small kitchen, he decided to get back in it. The building dates back to 1877, with high ceilings, wood floors, brick walls, and big windows. The Lede is counter service only, but there are shared tables inside and a sunny patio outside, with a setup for private events on Sundays, too.
The Lede’s simple menu offerings reveal the same sensibilities as Chez Panisse, relying on Cal-Italian flavors and lots of seasonal vegetables, and pulling from deep relationships with local farms. The menu will change week to week, but to start, there’s one soup, a couple of sandwiches, and a couple of salads. A duck confit appears both as a sandwich with scallion bread and cabbage slaw and as a salad with smashed chickpeas. The pan bagnat is a fishy sandwich packing late summer produce and anchovy vinaigrette, but it’s also available without the bread, in a Nicoise-style salad. Prices range from eight to 12 dollars for the savory offerings, and a couple of cookies will satisfy sweet cravings.
This week is a soft opening for the Lede, which is only serving weekday lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. The grand opening is Saturday, October 5, at which point, hours will expand to include dinner. The dinner menu will have one side for bar bites, including a cheese plate, tinned fish plate, and Indian-inspired snack mixes and fritters. There will also be full entrees, including a couple of pastas and a whole duck leg, along with beer, wine, and cocktails.
Peternell says he’s proud to support (and feed) local journalists like his podcast producers, as well as the larger community. “We all love the idea of how good food facilitates conversations, letting stories flow around the table,” Peternell describes. “This space combines several of my passions, by bringing more affordable food to the diverse clientele that reflects Oakland.”
The Lede is now open for weekday lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The grand opening is Saturday October 5, at which point, hours will expand to include weekday dinners from 5 to 10 p.m., as well as full days on Saturday from 12 to 10 p.m.