NIGHT EATS Los Angeles’ 626 Night Market started in 2012, taking a cue from the myriad street food stalls and late-night markets that come alive when the lights go down in many parts of Asia. The idea is to create a huge pan-Asian marketplace where hungry eaters can snag all manner of Asian snacks — from grilled meat on skewers and fragrant servings of stinky tofu to refreshing boba drinks and fried dessert buns. No surprise, the 626 Night Market was an instant hit, bringing in a Coachella-level swarm to its events. It eventually expanded to Orange County, and now, this year for its seventh season, the founders are bringing the market to the Bay Area for two weekends in July and September.
The NorCal Night Market will take place from 3-11 p.m. July 27-29, and then again September 21-23, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. The event will feature eats and wares from various vendors, as well as an art walk, games and live music performances. A few of the confirmed offerings include fish-shaped taiyaki soft serve cones from Berkeley’s Uji Time; bao bun sandwiches from SF’s Cross Hatch Eatery; Hong Kong-style egg waffle ice cream cones from Redwood City’s Bubble & Wrap; Chinese lamb skewers from LA’s Tasty Legend, anime-inspired Japanese snacks from LA’s Okamoto Kitchen and Filipino bibingka (coconut rice cakes) from South San Francisco’s Binka Bites. If the NorCal Night Market is anything like 626’s SoCal events, expect long lines and big crowds. Admission is $5, parking is $10 (cash only). NorCal Night Market, Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton.
BARREL ROOM CLOSED Last month, The Barrel Room in Oakland (at 5330 College Ave.) quietly closed. The wine bar-restaurant, which was opened by co-owners and certified sommeliers Sarah Trubnick and Carolyn Johnson in 2013, was a follow-up to an original location in Downtown San Francisco. At both locations, the concept was to have wine take the center stage, with the restaurant building its menu based on the current wine list, which rotated every couple of months and featured pours from different parts of the world each time. Although The Barrel Room had its share of fans in Oakland, the Rockridge outpost went up for sale this spring. Three months later, still without a buyer, Trubnick and Johnson closed the location on June 30. Trubnick told Nosh that landlord troubles were ultimately the reason for the shutter. “Our landlord was too difficult and wanted to drastically raise our rent, among other things,” she wrote in an email. “We stuck out our lease, then left.”
Unfortunately for East Bay Barrel Room fans, this will be adieu, at least on this side of the bay. Trubnick said that they are currently focusing on The Barrel Room on Sansome Street, as well as their new restaurant Parigo, which they opened in the Marina District last year with the knowledge they’d be closing the Rockridge spot.
ORIGINAL DINER CLOSED Berkeleyside reader Peter Shelton tipped us off that The Original Diner (at 2240 Shattuck Ave.) in downtown Berkeley has closed. The throwback ’50s-style diner with its red vinyl banquette seats, was once an Original Mels location. Sometime in 2006, the restaurant shed the Mels from its name and menu, but continued to offer similar fare, including burgers and fries, shakes and sandwiches. No, the Original wasn’t so original, but it was a dependable spot, open til midnight on weekends, for when you were craving a chocolate shake after watching a movie at Shattuck Cinemas next door.
PENROSE SOLD TO NEW OWNER Six months after sexual harassment accusations first came to light against Charlie Hallowell, the Oakland chef-restaurateur has sold off another of his restaurants. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Hallowell sold Penrose (3311 Grand Ave.) to Rico Rivera, the executive chef at Oakland’s Flora, who once was employed by Hallowell at Pizzaiolo. Rivera told the Chronicle he will take over in October and will change the name of the restaurant, but will keep the menu’s focus on local, organic California cuisine. Penrose is the second restaurant that Hallowell has sold since the scandal emerged last December. He sold Boot & Shoe Service (3308 Grand Ave. ) in April to another former employee, Jen Cremer and her husband Richard Clark. Hallowell and the Analog Food Conspiracy restaurant group still own the property at 2285 Shattuck Ave., the former Build Pizzeria location that they had originally planned as another Boot & Shoe Service location. That project is indefinitely on hold.
COOL DEALS July 15 is National Ice Cream Day. Not that you need an excuse to eat ice cream, but…
CREAM will celebrate with a special buy-one-get-one-free offer. On Sunday, July 15, and Monday, July 16, guests who purchase a scoop of ice cream (in either a cake cone or cup), can add a second scoop gratis. CREAM, 2399 Telegraph Ave. (at Channing), Berkeley; also 6300 College Ave. (near Claremont), Oakland; 2630 5th St. (near Singleton), Suite A, Alameda; 1372 North Main St. (between Cypress and Duncan), Walnut Creek
Fentons Creamery will offer its Black & Tan Jr. Sundaes for $1.24 all day (one per customer visit) on Sunday. Plus, from noon to 3 p.m., bring the kiddies for arts and crafts, face painting and more. Fentons Creamery, 4226 Piedmont Ave. (between Entrada and Glenwood), Oakland
JAM ON IT CUESA will partner with the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce for this year’s edition of the Summer Jam, taking place Sunday, July 15, at the Jack London Square Farmers Market. As the event’s name suggests, jam — as in sweet preserves you can spread on toast — is a highlight of the day. Starting at 10 a.m., amateur canners can submit their best summer preserves to be judged by the public and a panel of tasters. Entries must feature one or more California-grown fruits or vegetables from a Jack London Square farmers market vendor as the primary ingredient (see other rules on CUESA’s website). Winners will be announced at 1 p.m., but there are a slew of other activities to enjoy while you wait, including a jam-making demo with Becky Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm at noon and performances throughout the day by DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist. Jack London Square Farmers Market, Webster St. at Embarcadero West, Oakland
THE OTHER RED, WHITE & BLUE Market Hall in Rockridge will offer a day of French nibbles, discounts and giveaways from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, July 14, in celebration of Bastille Day. Highlights include samples of French cheeses and charcuterie, including Jambon de Bayonne (a French cured ham that’s similar to prosciutto), a 15% discount on all rosé at Paul Marcus Wines and a bounty of French ingredients and pre-made deli offerings. Market Hall Foods in Rockridge, 5655 College Ave., Oakland