An Early Peek at the Diamond Lil Bustaurant

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Tamara Palmer
The dazzling part of Diamond Lil.
​On Saturday at Broc Cellars winery in West Berkeley, Diamond Lil prepared for a debutante ball, her coming out party, so to speak. Lil's a gray 1957 Greyhound bus-turned-mobile home belonging to Mind Your Tongue/Free Range Dining, the underground culinary team of Kai Schoenhals and Daniel Isberg, who recently moved here from Poland and will debut a Hayes Valley restaurant later in the year. Until then, they plan to gut their bus, convert her to biodiesel so she'll run on the cooking oil she generates, and take diners on mobile eating adventures.

This hasn't happened yet, but Lil proceeded with her coming out party this weekend, warts and all. Gorgeous on the outside, she needs a whole lot of work inside to transform the suburban family feel into something befitting both of her exterior and of chef Daniel's vibrant food.

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Tamara Palmer
Daniel Isberg: A real live Swedish Chef.
​We arrived decked out in our best bus chic. Crawling into Lil, we peeped her wonky "before" state; relief arrived when we learned we were going to be eating outside in the back of the winery. Even when the bus is converted, we don't imagine it will seat all that many people comfortably, though we're still eager to find out for ourselves.

The entrance to Broc was paved with halved red bell peppers cleverly remixed into tea-light candle holders. There was wine tasting and a DJ spinning soft downtempo music with the edge of a butter knife in the main cellar.

In the tiny cask-lined backyard, the buffet table, where chef Daniel whipped up batches of veggie paella, was beautifully decorated with bunches of fresh green herbs, dried red chiles, and whole cloves of garlic, a simple but sincere tribute to produce.

We clumsily balanced bowls and plates of the paella as well as Swedish pickled herring (Isberg hails from Sweden), potato salad, and sliders of pork, the latter roasted in front of us and sliced for squishy buns. A cameraman filmed the cooking, probably for the Mind Your Tongue television show Schoenhals told Grub Street they're devising.

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Tamara Palmer
​We left with the distinct feeling that this is going to be a crew to watch.

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