The newly opened Cask & Cork Bistro & Pourhouse is probably the only restaurant in town with a giant metal octopus stretching its tentacles across the ceiling.
But it's the food that gets the most attention at the restaurant, which opened a month and a half ago at the RiverView shopping center at Friant and Fort Washington roads.
Chef Daniel Renteria previously ran a food distribution business that sold gourmet cheeses, meats and other high-end food. Now his menu reflects some of those foods, such as a baked goat cheese appetizer made with black truffle oil, and a charcuterie plate with chorizo, salami and prosciutto.
And he's big on bacon. The bacon is marinated overnight in Tabasco sauce, then sprinkled with brown sugar. It's then baked until the bacon has a "crusty, caramelized sweetness" that's added to burgers, pasta and beef medallions.
The restaurant also serves beer ice cream made with a dark wheat ale with coffee overtones.
Renteria said he is trying to bring something new to Fresno "to get people excited about food."
The Cask & Cork took over the space once occupied by the Yalla Yalla restaurant and Bentley's Bistro. It began serving lunch June 1.
Professional photographer Kelley Nelson is one of four partners behind the business, along with his wife, Stephanie Nelson, Kenny Smith and Jay Urabe, the owner of the former The Dirty Olive.
Nelson does a lot of commercial photography featuring food. If you've seen the bold photos promoting the Wassabi sushi restaurants on the sides of city buses, you've seen his work.
He has more plans for the restaurant, too. He wants to bump up the decor with more steampunk style -- which he describes as industrial revolution meets the Victorian age with a twist of science fiction.
The restaurant already has a heavy emphasis on wine and beer, and the owners hope to expand with a wine bar, tasting room and wine shop soon.
-- Another Panera Bread restaurant will open soon in Fresno, this time on West Shaw Avenue.
The newly built restaurant is scheduled to serve its sandwiches, salads and fresh-baked bread beginning June 25.
It's the third one in the Fresno/Clovis area.
This one is at 3590 W. Shaw Avenue Ave., near Marty Avenue.
One thing that makes this Panera different than the ones at River Park and Sierra Vista Mall: it has a drive-thru.
The company has been adding drive-thrus where it can, in about 130 of its 1,562 restaurants nationwide.
It will employ at least 50 people.
-- A little bit of Fresno could be showing up around the world in the form of Country Waffles restaurants.
The Fresno-based company, with 40 of its breakfast and lunch restaurants in California, announced it will expand its franchising operation to the rest of the country and the world.
Country Waffles International Inc. doesn't run the restaurants, but makes agreements with franchisees who do. So far, one franchisee has taken advantage of the move, with plans to open a Country Waffles in Seattle. Several others in Nevada are interested, said Fely Guzman, CEO of Country Waffles' parent company, Hearty Banana International.
H.T. "Chic" Brooks founded and still runs Country Waffles Inc. Brooks developed several restaurant chains in the area, including Happy Steak and Brooks Ranch. He also owns Jeb's Hill Country Cookin in Sonora and Jeb's Swedish Creamery in Kingsburg.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, email@example.com
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