The Rec Room Cafe. Photo: Sean Rouse/Twitter
The Rec Room Café will be a restaurant and gathering place for parents and small children in South Berkeley. Photo: Sean Rouse/Twitter

Openings, closings…

THE REC ROOM A café and education space is coming to South Berkeley, hopefully by April. The Rec Room bills itself as a “family spot,” an indoor space where parents and caretakers can come with small children to eat, learn and chat. In addition to local, organic, and nut-free food, coffee and tea, The Rec Room will offer everything from free pre-school activities and child-minding, to classes on creative writing, cooking and science for elementary-aged children. The Rec Room will be at 3222 Adeline St. (between Fairview and Harmon streets). Connect with the café on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Octopus Literary Salon. Photo: The Octopus
The Octopus Literary Salon and café will open this month in Uptown Oakland. Photo: The Octopus

OCTOPUS LITERARY SALON Uptown Oakland is about to get a new performance space. The Octopus Literary Salon has just landed its beer and wine license and will begin hosting readings and speakers this month. According to its website, The Octopus aims to “engage and entertain readers and writers of all ages.” It will include a café, a small-scale specialty bookstore and publisher, and “a space for public readings and discussions as well as other literary spontaneity.” What’s up with the name? The Octopus says that its “name is inspired by the fascinating sea creature, muse, and symbol used in literature and myth, compelling and multi-faceted. The octopus is highly intelligent, and renowned for its playfulness and shape shifting. And, the Giant Pacific Octopus is a native animal to the San Francisco Bay Area so befits a traditional pub name.” The café will be open during the day to cater to local business people and will transition to a gathering and performance space at night. The Octopus will show Echo Brown’s one-woman show “Black Virgins are not for Hipsters” on March 27. More information is available here. The Octopus Literary Salon is at 2101 Webster St. (at 22nd Street), Oakland. Connect with the salon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

DARLING’S ELIXIRS OPENING TONIGHT The newest project from Alexeis Filipello of Bar Dogwood and Stag’s Lunchette will start serving soda fountain-inspired drinks tonight at 8 p.m. Darling’s Elixirs will function as a sister bar to Bar Dogwood; it is located right next door in a space that once housed Darling’s Pharmacy. As Tablehopper reported last spring, the new Darling’s will take its menu cues from its predecessor, and will specialize in adult versions of drinks like phosphates. It will also serve an expanded food menu, including Bar Dogwood’s cured meats, sandwiches, salads and crudos. Darling’s Elixirs and Bar Dogwood will be attached, so guests can move between the two bars. Darling’s Elixirs is at 1635 Broadway (at 17th Street), Oakland.

Oxbow Public Market. Photo Scott Beale
Jack London Square is getting a food marketplace like Napa’s Oxbow Public Market (above). Photo Scott Beale
Jack London Square is getting a food marketplace like Napa’s Oxbow Public Market (above). Photo Scott Beale

JACK LONDON SQUARE GETTING A FOOD MARKETPLACE As we reported earlier this week, Oakland’s Jack London Square neighborhood is going to be home to a new marketplace a la San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza and Napa’s Oxbow Market. In fact, the project is now being spearheaded by Steve Carlin, the designer behind both of those success stories. The intention for the waterfront development, called Water Street Market, had always been to install a market of local, sustainable producers inside the mixed-use building on the South End of the square, next to the Daniel Patterson restaurant Haven. However the downturn in the economy forced the developers to halt the project and the space has stood vacant for many years. Now that work has begun again, expect Water Street Market to open in 2016. Water Street Market will be at 55 Harrison St. (at Water Street), Oakland.

Photo: Steel Rail
Photo: Steel Rail Café

ALSO IN JACK LONDON SQUARE A new café and pub is headed to Water Street in April. The café, called Steel Rail, is the brainchild of Grand Tavern and Lungomare‘s Temoor Noor, Stadium’s Effie Speigler, and Steve Sparkes, according to Inside Scoop. The trio aims to serve affordable sandwiches, salads and Jamaican-influenced food, plus craft beers on tap. (Adam Lamoreauex of Linden Street Brewery is helping to plan the beer line-up.) Steel Rail will also have a service-oriented bent; Sparkes is the founder of the non-profit My Yute Soccer, which runs sports and mentorship camps for Oakland youth. Sparkes intends the café to be both a gathering spot for participating families as well as a source of employment for program alumni. Steel Rail Café will be at 439 Water St. (at Broadway), Oakland. Connect with the café on Twitter.

Merchants in the Telegraph Channing Mall have asked the city, their landlord, to offer help due to the tough economy. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Telegraph Channing Mall. Photo: Emilie Raguso

TEA SHOP COMING TO DURANT The Telegraph Channing Mall is undergoing a re-vamp, and one of the new businesses headed in is the tea shop Tearrific. Owner Marcella Gutierrez, plans to sell bobo flavored teas, shaved ice, smoothies and fresh juices, as well as French and Danish pastries. Tearrific will be at 2432 Durant Ave. (at Telegraph Ave.), Berkeley.

THE TAP HAUS OPENING SOON? As we reported earlier this year, former Thalassa owner Doug Miller has opened a new billiards room called Berkeley Public on Durant Avenue. The plan was to expand into the space next-door (recently vacated by Zensen Sushi Express) and open The Tap Haus, a German-inspired beer bar. We’ve learned that the business has now been granted its beer and wine license, which means it may be well on its way to opening day. The Tap Haus will be at 2516 Durant Ave. (between Telegraph and Bowditch), Berkeley.

THE PUNCHDOWN WILL RETURN Uptown Oakland’s natural wine bar The Punchdown closed over a year ago, but Inside Scoop reports that it is making a comeback. Owners D.C. Looney and Lisa Costa have secured a lease at 1737 Franklin St., nearby the original Broadway location. The Punchdown will continue to focus on wines made with “minimal intervention and additives from grapes harvested in a sustainable, organic, or biodynamic manner,” and will continue to host happy hours, guest chefs, and wine events. The new location is larger, however, and will allow the owners to expand both their wine collection and their food offerings. Expect salads, dips, sandwiches, soups, and a “hearty meal of the day,” in addition to The Punchdown’s staple cheese and charcuterie plates. Looney and Costa hope to be open by the fall. The Punchdown will be at 1737 Franklin St. (at 19th Street), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook and Twitter.

RAN KANOM CLOSES We hear on Chowhound that the San Pablo location of the popular Thai restaurant Ran Kanom has closed as of February. The smaller take-out location, in the Pacific East Mall, remains open. Ran Kanom specializes in traditional Thai noodle dishes such as Kaw Soi, Pad See Ew, and Pad Pla-Kem. Ran Kanom is at 3288 Pierce St., Richmond. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

What else is going on…

Pav Sliders from Juhu Beach Club. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Pav Sliders from Juhu Beach Club. Photo: Emilie Raguso

JUHU BEACH CLUB CELEBRATES HOLI This Sunday marks Juhu Beach Club‘s second anniversary as well as the Indian festival Holi. Plus, the Temescal restaurant recently acquired its full liquor license. To celebrate, the restaurant is throwing a huge party, complete with free food and cheap cocktails, beer and sangria. Juhu asks that guests wear white and prepare to be pelted with colored powder. Find more information here. Juhu Beach Club is at 5179 Telegraph Ave. (at 51st Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Photo: Plank Oakland
Plank is one of many East Bay restaurants celebrating Saint Patrick’s day on Tuesday. Photo: Plank Oakland
Plank is one of many East Bay restaurants celebrating Saint Patrick’s day on Tuesday. Photo: Plank Oakland

SAINT PATRICK’S DAY Tuesday is Saint Patrick’s Day, and, while the East Bay isn’t exactly known for throwing huge, green-beer filled parties, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. Jack London Square’s Plank is going all out, with corned beef tacos and pizza, Boyne Valley rolls (think deep fried corned beef and sauerkraut spring rolls), and green-tinted beers from Altamont Beer Works and Guinness. In Berkeley, Longbranch Saloon has hinted on Facebook that it will serve special cocktails, whiskey flights and beer specials on Tuesday. Also in Berkeley, Henry’s at Hotel Durant will be throwing a day-long party with live entertainment, games and traditional Irish food. The first 50 to arrive receive a 50-cent drink. The Starry Plough throws a Saint Patrick’s Day party every year; 2015 marks their 42nd annual event. The bar won’t be serving green beer, but they will have traditional music and dancing, plus corned beef and cabbage and plenty of dye-free libations. Plank is at 98 Broadway (at Embaradero), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and InstagramLongbranch Saloon is at 2512 San Pablo Ave. (at Dwight Way), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Henry’s at Hotel Durant is at 2600 Durant Ave. (at Bowditch Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook. The Starry Plough is at 3101 Shattuck Ave. (at Prince Street), Berkeley. Connect with the pub on Facebook.

Wines from Wente Vineyards. Photo: Wente Vineyards
Wines from Wente Vineyards. Photo: Wente Vineyards

WENTE VINEYARDS WINE SEMINARS The Livermore winery’s restaurant is hosting a series of interactive seminars this spring, hosted by sommelier Jorge Tinoco. Each seminar will focus on a specific category of wine; current offerings include “Bubbles,” “West Coast Reds” and “West Coast Whites.” Ticket holders will also receive 15% off their meal, should they choose to dine at the restaurant. The next class, “Bubbles,” will be held on March 24. Tickets are $39 for non-members or $35 for Club Wente members. The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards is at 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

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Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...