Coming soon, Humphry Slocombe ice cream and New York-style BBQ | April 2, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - April 2, 2021

Coming soon, Humphry Slocombe ice cream and New York-style BBQ

Plus, a customer is taking over Palo Alto's Vino Locale

by Elena Kadvany

In the latest news on the Midpeninsula food scene, Humphry Slocombe confirmed plans to bring its wildly popular ice cream to downtown Redwood City, the owners of Vino Locale wine bar in downtown Palo Alto are handing over the business to a customer, and a recent transplant to Mountain View is opening a craft barbecue pop-up featuring an upstate New York specialty.

Ice cream expansion

San Francisco ice cream favorite Humphry Slocombe is coming to downtown Redwood City this fall.

Humphry Slocombe will open its first Peninsula store at 2075 Broadway, Suite 1, co-owner Sean Vahey confirmed.

"After opening two locations in SF and two locations in the East Bay, the natural area to expand is the Peninsula," Vahey said. "Our fans have been asking us for a location further south for a while and we found the perfect location in Redwood City. Broadway is such a great, dynamic street for food and we felt like there were a lot of complementary businesses there."

Vahey and Jake Godby opened Humphry Slocombe in 2008. Godby had worked as a pastry chef in San Francisco and Vahey was a food and beverage manager at the Hyatt and the Four Seasons. They soon became known for their inventive, often-changing ice cream flavors — in particular the "Secret Breakfast," bourbon ice cream with cornflake cookies mixed in. Other flavors have included balsamic caramel, brown sugar fennel, Meyer lemon pound cake and strawberry candied jalape?o.

Humphry Slocome also serves sundaes and ice cream sandwiches.

Humphry Slocombe has been delivering pints on the Peninsula since 2019, when the owners joined DoorDash's shared commissary kitchen in Redwood City. Humphry Slocombe also now delivers out of a ghost kitchen in Palo Alto.

In the months leading up to opening the Redwood City shop, the owners plan to bring an ice cream truck to Broadway to serve scoops, sundaes and floats.

Vahey and Godby are using a nontraditional approach to raising funds to open the Redwood City location: a San Francisco crowdfunding platform called SMBX, through which people can invest as little as $10 and get paid back in monthly installments with interest. Humphry Slocombe is aiming to raise $250,000 through SMBX, half to refinance existing debt and the other half for the new store.

Customer to take over Vino Locale

The owners of Vino Locale have sold the downtown Palo Alto wine bar to a customer with a passion for food and wine.

Co-owners JC Andrade and Debra Szecsei will be turning over the charming Victorian house on Kipling Street to Nima Alizadeh, they announced in an email. Alizadeh is a "customer-turned-owner who appreciates the unique charm and potential of Vino Locale," they wrote. He also owns Beta Lounge, a bar in Berkeley. Alizadeh will be refreshing the space and making some changes, the email reads.

The original owners, Randy Robinson and Harry Johnson, opened Vino Locale 16 years ago. Szecsei and other co-owners took over in 2012. In 2018, they opened a second Vino Locale in Santa Cruz, where Szecsei lives.

Szecsei said it became difficult running the Palo Alto wine bar from Santa Cruz, and she also decided to retire. Andrade left Vino Locale in 2019 but returned during the pandemic to help manage the wine bar.

"We've been through so much this past year, and we really appreciate just how special Vino Locale is to the community," Szecsei said. "Nima plans to continue what Randy and Harry started back in 2005. I really believe that Palo Alto needs a place like Vino Locale: an old Victorian turned into a wine bar, with outdoor garden seating year-round, offering local food, wine, art and music. It's home to so many."

Vino Locale adapted during the coronavirus shutdown by making food for people in need, delivering 2,600 donated meals to local shelters and low-income people.

The wine bar is open again for indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout and delivery. Live music will return to the backyard garden patio soon. Go to

Barbecue from Texas, Kansas and ... New York?

In upstate New York, where Brandon Irwin grew up, the spiedie sandwich reigned supreme.

The skewered chicken is typically marinated in herbs and vinegar for three days, grilled over open flames until charred and served on Italian bread. People compete to make the best spiedies at the state fair, along with other regional barbecue dishes.

"Upstate New York, to me, is one of barbecue's best kept secrets," Irwin said.

Irwin is bringing a taste of upstate New York barbecue and other styles to the Peninsula at B's Craft BBQ, a pop-up he's launching out of his Mountain View home this weekend.

Irwin is a former sports coach, university assistant professor and community organizer who was raised by a chef. Before moving to California, he spent time in Maine, Kansas and Los Angeles.

As a newcomer to Mountain View during the pandemic, it was hard to find work, so Irwin decided to start his own venture. He was surprised at the relative dearth of quality barbecue in the Bay Area, besides spots like Horn Barbecue in Oakland, Capelo's Barbecue in Redwood City and Mesquite & Oak in San Jose.

Irwin said his barbecue is rooted in upstate New York but also reflects Texas and Kansas styles. He makes smoked brisket with miso peach barbecue sauce, bone-in chuck short ribs and St. Louis-style pork ribs with jalape?o honey glaze. He cooks all the meats in an offset smoker, which has a fire box where wood burns, requiring skilled supervision.

"You're managing that fire by hand. You're usually cooking in smaller batches," he said. "That, to me, is what craft barbecue means. ... learning the craft of fire management and how it impacts the flavor and texture of a piece of meat 18 hours later."

The smoked meats — sourced from Creekstone Farms in Kansas — all come with pickled onions, brown butter cornbread and cider pickles. He cooks the cornbread in a cast iron skillet and serves it with whipped honey butter. Irwin also makes a mac and cheese, cooked over live fire, with aged cheddar, Parmesan, pepper jack and mozzarella, crusted with panko bread crumbs and herbs.

Whole cuts of smoked meat, fresh or cooled and vacuum sealed, are also available for purchase.

"I think of it as a project, an experiment," Irwin said of his pop-up. "The things I do well are grounded in this low and slow, Texas-style barbecue. I'm in the process of experimenting with combining these barbecue (styles) and these different flavors."

Going forward, he plans to release menus on Mondays for curbside pickup in Mountain View on Saturdays. Orders will close on Tuesdays or when sold out.

To order for opening day on Sunday, April 4, go to And look for the spiedies the following Saturday, April 10.

Email Staff Writer Elena Kadvany at [email protected]


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