"Top Chef" news: Look for new Bay Area restaurants from two of the show's alums, Casey Thompson and Jen Biesty. Thompson, from Season 3, has taken over and renovated a popular Theater District spot on Geary Street in the Warwick San Francisco hotel that formerly housed La Scene.
At her just-opened eatery, Aveline, she's cooking a small, upscale menu that includes smoked lettuce velouté, a yolk beignet with wagyu and trotter sauce, along with larger plates such as Iberico pork with pig's ear and green tomato jelly.
As for Season 4's Biesty, she's moving across the Bay. The former executive chef for Scala's Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco has paired up with noted pastry chef Tim Nugent (Zuni, Scala's, Fresh Cream), himself a veteran of "Top Chef: Just Desserts."
Their Spanish-Mediterranean Shakewell Bar & Kitchen will open in July in Oakland's Lakeshore District for dinner, adding weekday lunch and weekend brunch later this summer.
Kid-friendly beer hall: Chuck Stilphen, founder of craft-beer meccas, such as Øl Beercafe in Walnut Creek and The Trappist in Oakland, has hit gold with his latest barbecue and craft-beer hall in Berkeley.
Unlike his other establishments, Perdition Smokehouse welcomes all ages, so you can bring the kiddies to enjoy Mikkeller SF executive chef Michael O'Brien's menu of classic dry-rubbed beef brisket, pork shoulder and hot links while you sample from the 43 taps of rotating American session beers. Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight for the first few months; lunch service will be added near the end of summer.
Silicon Valley suppers: "Dine Downtown San Jose Restaurant Week" is back, this time running through June 29, and a whopping 27 restaurants are participating. New entrants this season include First to Market, Farmer's Union, Blackbird Tavern and Bluefin Sushi. Those eateries and all of the returning restaurants will feature prix fixe menus ranging in price from $20 (Bella Mia) to $60 (The Grill on the Alley), with loads of options in the $30 range. As always, reservations are recommended. Go to www.dinedowntownsj.com. For every meal served, sponsor Sysco will donate a dollar to Loaves & Fishes Kitchen.
Surge protectors and sliders: On June 27, you can combine high-tech shopping with state-of-the-art snacking, as Fry's Foodie Truck Friday returns to the electronics giant's Sunnyvale store from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Head for the shaded tables in the parking lot at 1007 E. Arques Ave. and take your pick from the food trucks lined up nearby -- maybe lobster rolls from Sam's Chowdermobile, kalua pork from the Slider Shack, a chorizo street taco from Tacolicious or a wood-fired margherita pizza from Del Popolo's oven on wheels. For dessert, Twisted Chill will be scooping its gourmet ice cream into cups, cones and cookie sandwiches.
And here's the best reason to arrive early and shop: The first 300 customers who make a purchase of $10 or more from the Sunnyvale Fry's store that day will get a lunch voucher worth $10.