Anaviv’s Table - An Intimate Communal Dining Experience in Richmond
By Vickie Lewis | Photo credits: Stacy Ventura
In a somewhat desolate industrial location on Hoffman Boulevard in Richmond, next to a recycling yard and across from a Burger King Restaurant, a unique and fine dining experience awaits you. Although this may sound unlikely, once you step through the door of the warehouse that houses Anaviv’s Table Restaurant, you will immediately be exposed to the warm and cozy elegance of the dining room as you and a small group gather around the beautifully set table for an experience unlike any other in the local surrounding area.
Anaviv’s Table, which opened in September 2018, is owned by renowned chef, Arnon Oren, who for over thirteen years has been providing catering services in the bay area, offering unique menus featuring delicious and healthy farm-to-table food. Arnon is originally from Israel and received his culinary training in France. Prior to starting his catering businesses, he worked in several notable bay area kitchens such as Chez Panisse and Oliveto’s. His original catering business, Oren’s Kitchen, previously offered full-service catering, but currently focuses on providing corporate lunches and meals. A second catering business, Anaviv’s Catering and Events, which Arnon launched several years ago, now handles the full-service catering, including event planning and floral design, for small events to those with up to 500 guests.
Chef Oren’s extremely satisfied catering customers often remarked that they wished they could enjoy the delectable cuisine they’d enjoyed through their catering experience without having to host an event. These repeated comments inspired the eventual opening of Anaviv’s Table Restaurant, which is adjacent to Chef Arnon’s commercial kitchen, where all food preparation takes place for both catering businesses.
Anaviv’s Table features communal dining opportunities from Thursdays through Saturdays weekly, with one seating at 7:00 PM. The restaurant features a single long oak table that is built out of recycled wood from the old Cal Berkeley stadium. The table comfortably seats ten guests but can be expanded to accommodate up to sixteen. Dining at Anaviv’s Table is by advance reservation only, available on the website at https://table.anaviv.com/ at a cost of $127.50 per person plus tax. The price includes a multi-course tasting menu (dinner), a specialty cocktail, and wine pairings for each of the meal courses. All food and wine served during the evening are sourced from local farms, ranches and wineries, and the produce is organically grown and freshly acquired from local growers, usually via the San Rafael Farmer’s Market. Some produce used at Anaviv’s Table is also harvested from the local Victory Garden about a mile from the restaurant, which is tended by Kelli Barram, a master gardener with whom Arnon has partnered to sponsor the community “Plant to Plate Program.” In this program Richmond students learn gardening and cooking skills, and life skills that will foster a successful career. (Read more about this program in an upcoming Marketplace issue.)
I was fortunate to share this elegant dining experience at Anaviv’s with Contra Costa Marketplace General Manager, Julia Smith. We dined on a Thursday evening with eight other lovely guests, two of whom were visiting the restaurant for their third time, and who were treatong their friends to the experience. We were also joined by Kelli Barram and her husband, Michael, and two of their close friends. As we stepped through the door of the dining room, the beautifully set table loomed large, complete with numerous wine glasses at each seat, and a printed menu of the evening’s offerings atop each place setting. We were promptly greeted by our host and waiter, Angelo, who prepared and served each guest with the special cocktail of the evening. The cocktail was a blend of fresh peach puree mixed with bourbon and seltzer water, served over ice with sprigs of anise on top. While I don’t usually indulge in bourbon, I did enjoy this refreshing combination. The guests introduced themselves and conversed around the table until the resident chef, Kadie Vita, emerged to introduce herself and invite us into the kitchen for some small bites.
The expansive kitchen was impressive and sparkling clean, appearing as though all the stainless steel had recently been polished. Beautifully displayed on the counter before us was a selection of “delicious bites” for us to partake as we had the opportunity to interact with Chef Kadie. There was a lovely Cheese Board consisting of numerous local goat and milk cheeses with crudité; fermented pickles and other vegetables; and toast points served with a house made rabbit rillette spread. While we enjoyed these treats, Chef Kadie prepared for us pan fried Shisito peppers. We were all impressed to watch her in action, tossing the peppers in a pan over an open flame. The peppers were delicious and were eagerly consumed by all in our group. Kadie interacted with the group easily, as if we were old friends, sharing sourcing and preparation for each delicious item in which we indulged.
We then moved back to the dining room, eagerly awaiting to enjoy each of the delectable dinner courses and wine pairings that were described on our menus. As we waited, the conversation flowed easily, as though we were at a dinner party hosted by a close mutual friend. Soon Angelo and Kadie emerged from the kitchen with the first of the five courses, placing a beautifully presented plate of Roasted Asparagus in front of each of the guests. Once all guests were served, signaled by the ringing of a small bell to command our attention, Chef Kadie described the preparation of the fresh asparagus, which had been roasted in brown butter and was served with capers, and a micro radish highlight. Then she returned to the kitchen to prepare the second meal course, as Angelo seamlessly moved around the table, pouring the wine pairing for this course, a locally produced 2017 Sebella Chardonnay. The pairing was excellent and the plump asparagus spears were unequivocally the most delicious I’ve ever eaten! The first course of our meal was just a preview of the culinary delights that would follow.
Each subsequent course was served at the perfect pace, allowing for continued conversation and wine consumption. The second course of the evening was Charred Monterey Squid, cooked over wood-fire coals, sautéed in a cast iron pan, and marinated with herbs. The squid was served with fresh herb salad and drizzled Garlic Scape Aioli. Once again, the presentation was beautiful, and Chef Kadie introduced the course as she had done previously. The wine pairing for the second course was a 2018 Habit Sauvignon Blanc, which was a wonderful complement to the food. Having only indulged in fried calamari previously, I was a bit dubious about eating the charred squid that lay before me. But once I took the first bite, I found it to be extremely tender and flavorful, greatly enhanced by the fresh flavor of the herb salad.
Course three followed soon after, Slow Cooked Iacapi Farms (Half Moon Bay) Gigante Beans with Fennel, Cured Tombo Tuna, accompanied by an Herbed Focaccia Crisp. The beans resembled Lima Beans but were larger in size. Earlier when we visited the kitchen, Chef Kadie had spoken of the cured tuna, explaining the process that had been used to preserve leftover tuna from a previous event. She’d shown us the preserved tuna, which was formed in a small block suitable for grating and said that we’d be enjoying it atop the beans that evening. Before taking the first bite of course three, I was skeptical, believing that the beans would taste like Lima beans (which I do not like) and was also pondering how I felt bout tuna being mixed into the beans. But once I took the first bite, all skepticism was erased, as the beans were delicious! Everyone around the table commented about how much they enjoyed the beans! The flavor of the tuna was not discernable but I’m sure it added to the overall flavor of the dish. The wine pairing for the bean course was a 2018 Broc Cellars Rose, which also was very delicious and a great complement to this course.
The fourth course capped off the savory portion of our meal, and featured Fig Leaf Wrapped Local Swordfish, cooked in Chili Sauce, with King Trumpet mushrooms, Chili d’Arbols garlic olives, and Agrodolce, a condiment from Italy. Once again, Chef Kadie outdid herself, as the intense flavor and moistness of the swordfish was unlike any I’ve previously eaten. I found myself (as did others!) wanting more of this delectable swordfish! For this course, Angelo poured a 2018 Pax Valdigue, a light-bodied red wine similar to Pinot Noir. Again, the pairing was excellent, and the wine was delicious!
Of course, no dinner is complete without dessert, which comprised the fifth course of our meal. Chef Kadie prepared a Brandied Cherry Clafoutis, a traditional custard-like French dessert. The dessert was served warm in individual cup-sized bowls with the brandied cherries visible on top. At the bottom of the dessert, it seemed as though there was a soft crust-like layer, which is likely from the sweet rice flour that Chef Kadie had used in the preparation. The dessert was creamy and delicious, and not overly sweet.
You may be wondering who is this talented Anaviv’s Table chef who preps the meals, cooks, helps with serving, and then provides a narration of the food origins and preparation? Chef Kadie is a young woman who started working at Anaviv’s Table in January 2019. She is originally from Southern Florida where she grew up in a single-parent Italian family where food was always a focus and cooking was often a family event. Although she originally started college with a goal to become a veterinarian, she later re-evaluated her career choice and decided to pursue something she really loved. She switched her major to Restaurant and Food Service Management and pursued a formal education at the University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality. In 2009, Kadie studied cooking abroad in Florence, Italy “where she found a new appreciation for the natural beauty within each ingredient.” She spent eleven years working in restaurants and the culinary world, spending six years in server and bartender roles, followed by five working in kitchens. Prior to becoming the Chef for Anaviv’s Table, Kadie worked for Chef Arnon as a caterer for over two years. Her years as a server and bartender allow Katie to easily converse and interact with guests. She exudes enthusiasm for her work and clearly takes a lot of pride to ensure excellence in everything she prepares.
The menus for Anaviv’s table are created by Chef Kadie in collaboration with Chef Arnon and change every two weeks to showcase seasonal ingredients. Quite a variety of different and unique culinary offerings have been featured on previous menus, to the delight of those repeat customers who get the opportunity to enjoy a different menu on each subsequent visit. Kadie shops weekly at the San Rafael Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, and usually has menu ideas in mind before she arrives; however, these are subject to modification based on what she finds on her shopping excursion. The new menus are posted to Anaviv’s Table’s website every week on Tuesday, providing those considering a visit to the restaurant with an opportunity to review the selections before booking. Noteworthy is that dietary customizations can be accommodated with advance notification (when making reservations.)
The name Anaviv derives from the Hebrew word, “Anav” which Chef Oren says means to live with humility. He trademarked the name “Anaviv” when he opened the second catering business. To reinforce the concepts of humility and modesty, Chef Arnon has strategically posted the Guiding Principles of the Haas Business School in locations around the kitchen, which are embraced by his employees:
• Question the Status Quo
• Confidence without Attitude
• Beyond Yourself
• Students Always
Chef Arnon commented that he is fortunate to work with a great group of people who share the same values.
Julia and I had a wonderful time at Anaviv’s table! Neither of us really knew what to expect before we arrived. The external environs belie the warm and welcoming atmosphere that awaits. When you enter, you truly leave the world behind and become enmeshed in the overall experience. Julia shared, “I love the communal table aspect of dining at Anaviv’s Table. I highly recommend doing this as this truly added to our dining experience. It was fun to learn about other people’s backgrounds, how they found the restaurant and more. It made for a very enjoyable and different kind of evening.” Whether you’re looking for an extraordinary place for a special celebration, or maybe just a food and wine connoisseur, you should consider booking a seat at Anaviv’s Table. Reservations can be made well in advance, and some dates are already fully booked, so don’t delay! While Anaviv’s Table restaurant is only open for reservations on Thursdays through Saturdays, private bookings are available on off nights by pre-arrangement. The space can accommodate a seated dinner or cocktail reception. Contact the restaurant on their website for arrangements.
I plan to treat my family to dinner at Anaviv’s Table for a special celebration later this year, as this is a unique opportunity to enjoy delicious, locally sourced food and wines, and to meet and dine with new people in an intimate setting. Julia commented, “I just loved the atmosphere, the food and the people behind the establishment! I will definitely be back with friends and have already recommended it to many!” We encourage you to experience Anaviv’s Table at your earliest opportunity.
415-376-1400 | 600 Hoffman Boulevard, Richmond | table.anaviv.com
We offer one tasting menu from Thursday through Saturday, with one seating at 7pm.
Available by Reservation Only.