Tanya Holland Opens Vegetable-Centric Soul Food Café at Oakland Museum of California

Ricotta toast topped with blistered tomatoes, vegetarian muffaletta and fried chicken paillard are on the opening menu at Town Fare, Tanya Holland’s recently opened vegetarian cafe at the Oakland Museum of California.

Town Fare debuted Friday, coinciding with the reopening of the Oakland Museum. Pre-orders are already sold out for this weekend. And until further notice, Town Fare will be open only to museum visitors, so it is necessary to buy an entrance ticket to eat there.

Holland is an acclaimed chef loved for the soulful cuisine she serves at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. On the museum’s website, the fast-casual Town Fare is described as a restaurant “inspired by soulful, avant-garde Californian cuisine.”

At this time, Town Fare will be serving a limited menu of take-out picnic boxes, a la carte food and beverages. The boxes include meal sets like these ricotta toast with mixed cucumber salad and a chocolate chip cookie; or fried chicken paillard – an ode to Brown Sugar Kitchen’s fried chicken, but a boneless, skinless version – with salad, deviled eggs, potato salad and a crispy nectarine and blueberry. The muffaletta takes inspiration from other local food companies: olive relish, roasted peppers, zucchini and grilled eggplant are served on bread from the Oakland Firebrand Bakery with a Creole macaroni salad made with Community Grains pasta.

The à la carte menu will change daily; current offerings include deviled eggs and a spicy North African hummus with pickled vegetables and crostinis. Most of the dishes are recipes from the new Dutch cookbook which will be released next year.

“They call it the people’s museum,” Holland said of the Oakland Museum. “I tried to create a menu that is for people.”

Diners can expect to see an expanded menu and indoor dining at Town Fare when the museum’s main hall opens in August.

For drinks, Town Fare offers local beer, canned wine, cocktails, coffee and tea. Guests can eat and drink in the museum’s newly renovated gardens and other spacious outdoor spaces.

Holland said she actually wanted to open a restaurant at the museum in Oakland, California for more than a decade, when she worked for a catering company that served the museum. She studied art history in college and wanted to work in the art world before getting into cooking.

“It really marries all my interests,” she said.

City rate. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday. 1000 Oak Street, Oakland. museumca.org

Elena Kadvany is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @ekadvany

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