This new Berkeley sports bar is reinventing the Hot Pocket

Berkeley’s newest sports bar, 4bells Public House, officially opens Thursday with lobster Hot Pockets and North African-inspired hot wings in the former Doc’s Refresher space, just in time for the Warriors game. NBA Finals.

East Bay’s latest sports pub concept spanned two years and is a collaboration between Jennifer Seidman, owner of Acme Bar & Company, known for its award-winning whiskey collection, and chef Sergio Emilio Monleón, known for his Spanish influences . tapas bar, La Marcha.

Monleón told SFGATE that the two restaurateurs have become close during the pandemic. Seidman operated the now defunct Doc’s Refresher space across from La Marcha, so they often leaned on each other for emotional support.

The old fashioned wooden bar at 4bells Public House.

Courtesy of 4 Bells Public House

These pep talks sparked the idea for the concept behind 4bells Public House, with Seidman imagining the cocktail side of the business and Monleón creating a food menu that draws from his childhood nostalgia and blends a variety of cooking styles. to which he was exposed through his family. diverse mix of cultures.

“I’ve been cooking professional Spanish for a long time, and while that’s definitely the lens through which I look at food, I’ve had a diverse upbringing,” he said. “So I was looking forward to doing a project that could really expand on a lot of these different things and not feel like it was limited to just Spanish ingredients.”

Monleón lived in Spain for three years with Spanish roots stemming from his father’s side. But he is also proud of his Mexican heritage, which he inherits from his mother. When her parents separated and remarried, Monleón said, it opened up a new world of flavors that included Italian, South American and Tex-Mex culinary influences. All of this led him to create his take on chicken and waffles, which includes a golden Belgian waffle that tastes like a sweet corn tamale.

“My stepdad, he made me a lot of fried chicken and waffles growing up, and my grandma on my mom’s side made a chocolate mole,” he said. “So I combined those two things and made a fried chicken and waffles. The waffle has some masa in it, corn masa, so it’s a total fusion of the two cultures.

Hot wings glazed with honey and harissa are on the menu at 4bells Public House.

Hot wings glazed with honey and harissa are on the menu at 4bells Public House.

Courtesy of 4 Bells Public House

As sports bars fill with rowdy Warriors fans across the Bay Area, Monleón said he’s also ready to feed patrons with a playful menu that stays true to sports bar classics such as Hot Wings. , but of course, with his personal touch.

“We have classics like buffalo wings, for example, but these are made the North African way, so they have a harissa honey glaze,” he said. “On my Spanish side, because of the Spanish Civil War, my family moved to Morocco, so my grandmother had a lot of Moroccan and North African influence in the dishes she made when I was growing up.”

Then there are the confit ribs, slow-cooked in their own lard with “tons of spice” and finished with a Tex-Mex-style barbecue sauce served with crispy fries. But the Hot Pocket lobster is one creation he’s very happy to serve on game day.

Tex-Mex Confit Ribs with Fries at 4bells Public House.

Tex-Mex Confit Ribs with Fries at 4bells Public House.

Courtesy of 4 Bells Public House

“It’s a homemade Hot Pocket, and it has lobster meat, a few different cheeses, a ton of herbs and spices, and we cook them fresh per order,” he said. “I even want to try to get the little cardboard sleeves they come in.”

With a mix of aged cheddar, asiago and manchego cheese, “a ton of chives and thyme”, caramelized onions and garlic, it’s a grown-up version of childhood after-school snack , composed of about twenty fresh ingredients. It’s the perfect portable fuel.

“We will have the Warriors game. We’re really excited for them to make it to the final,” he said.

4bells, 984 University Ave, Berkeley. Open every day from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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