Seven Oaks is already Smitten with its new neighbor. Although the restaurant has only been in a soft opening since Nov. 18, eager fans have flocked to the new location eager for coffee and more.
"It's the same concept as downtown: same coffee, food and pies that everyone loves," said Stasie Bitton, who owns Smitten and Cafe Smitten downtown with husband Shai.
Yet there's much more to come. Although some new items are already on the menu (more on those below), Smitten's dinner service, launching Dec. 9, will put it on the local culinary map.
So what's on that new menu? Bitton said Shai took inspiration from Jerusalem, where he is originally from, and the restaurant's new Josper oven to develop the dishes.
"We saw the oven down in L.A.," she said of the charcoal oven from Spain. "It inspired us moving forward with a unique and different dinner program."
The Bittons know the value of specialized equipment — having opened Cafe Smitten in 2017 with a La Marzocco espresso machine from Italy and a Poursteady for perfect pour over coffee — and the Josper is no exception. The charcoal oven employs a high-heat, quick-cook method that imparts meats and other dishes with a wood-grill flavor.
Dinner options will include lamb chops, fish, chicken and a bone-in rib-eye steak.
"It (the oven) cooks it so fast that it maintains all the moisture," Stasie Bitton said of the rib-eye, her favorite, which will be served with housemade chimichurri and a peppercorn sauce.
Also on tap are new entree salads as well as shareable small plates, including french fries, house hummus and grilled shrimp in a Moroccan sauce. ("Everybody knows that sauce," Bitton said.)
Although the dinner menu has yet to launch, Smitten has some new items already taking off with customers. A Smitten burger has only been available at brunch but will be part of the dinner lineup. The certified Angus beef patty is topped with a housemade harissa mayo sauce and lettuce, tomato and onion, served on a brioche bun.
There are also two new shakes on the menu: PB + Joe, with cold brew, banana, peanut butter, almond milk and cocoa nibs; and Almond, with almond butter, cocoa nibs, banana, coconut milk and almonds. Both are available all day.
When dinner service launches Dec. 9, it will be available from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (no dinner served Sundays). Bitton said dinner will be full service and they have added experienced servers to the southwest location's staff.
The new Smitten already is making use of its expanded wine and beer selection with, respectively, Bakersfield's Tlo Wines and Central Coast wineries represented and 10 brews on tap, including options from Lengthwise and Kern River Brewing Co.
And, with a full liquor license secured, Bitton said cocktails will also be added down the road.
For now the couple is hard at work at the southwest location gearing up for the dinner launch and official grand opening.
"We're just expanding Smitten, bringing it to more people in Bakersfield," Bitton said. "Lots of people on this side of town ... they've been to Cafe Smitten but they don't go downtown. They're excited to have it on their side of town, closer to their neighborhood."
Smitten is located at 1407 Buena Vista Road.