The bar at Starline Social Club. Photo from Facebook.
A plate from A Taste of Africa. Photo by Tasin Sabir via A Taste of Africa website.
By Dana Eastland. Oakland’s classic hall, ~THE STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB~, is reopening tomorrow, April 29th. The space, which is more than 100 years old, comes from a partnership of Sam White (one of the owners of Ramen Shop) and local artists Adam Hatch, Drew Bennet, and Eric Siemens. The space has an upstairs and a downstairs component, and each will serve a slightly different purpose. First, downstairs, there will be a bar and dining room serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Upstairs, you’ll find a music and events venue with an eclectic series of happenings, including live music, roller skating parties, and performance art projects. They’ve also installed a Meyer sound system to help meet all the different needs of the space. The bar is helmed by bar manager Crystal Wilson, who has previously worked at Duende and other East Bay watering holes. The cocktails will be a balance, White says, of really creative and interesting drinks (he mentioned one concoction with a salted rim and crème de banane) and well-executed classics like Manhattans. There will also be a tight selection of local wine and beer, which will likely change regularly.
As for food, chef Austin Holey is running the kitchen. He’s a Berkeley native and has also worked at Bones in Paris under James Henry. There will be a bar menu of approachable items that are always available, with items like shu mai-style dumplings, onion rings, and sandwiches, and then a heartier dinner menu. The dinner menu will change regularly and will give the kitchen the opportunity to highlight ingredients they’re especially excited about. White cites a Chez Panisse-style approach to their ingredient sourcing, with a focus on quality over quantity. For example, they may prepare a large cut of meat one evening, but once it’s gone, it’s gone until the next time they can get it. Downstairs hours are Wed-Sun 6pm-2am, and the kitchen will be open until 12am. Upstairs will open whenever an event is planned. 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at West Grand, Oakland, 510-593-2109.
Back in November, we reported on ~OK FALLS~, the new project in Oakland from restaurateur Doug Washington. Well, word comes from Scoop that he has decided not to pursue OK Falls after all, citing his other projects in the works, including ongoing construction at Grand Fare. The OK Falls space is back on the market, so we’ll see what ends up there. 1544 Broadway at 17th St., Oakland.
East Bay Express reports that Cameroonian restaurant ~A TASTE OF AFRICA~ has reopened in East Oakland. Owner Malong Pendar originally had a restaurant in Berkeley, but it closed in 2010. Since then, he’s been popping up at bars and events, and this brick-and-mortar location is making his many fans quite happy. The menu offers combinations plates for vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike, including fish dishes, lamb stew, and stewed black-eyed peas with spinach and yams.
The new space has a small seating area for 20, but a large kitchen, which will allow Pendar to offer daily specials, and possible catering. Not only does his food look amazing, but there’s a pretty sweet story to his opening: last summer, he nearly closed down entirely due to financial concerns, but friends put together a crowdfunding campaign and he raised nearly $5,000 in three days. As Pendar says, “The community is like my heartbeat.” Let’s support him and get that heart rate up. The restaurant is currently softly open and only serving dinner, but weekend and lunch hours should be coming soon. Current hours are Tue-Fri 3pm-8:30pm. 6638 Bancroft Ave. at Havenscourt, Oakland, 510-938-2000.