Restaurant Watch: Oakland Restaurant Week Kicks Off, Surprising New Chef at Penrose

Plus a beer dinner that pairs Homestead's food with Trappist brews.

Owner Charlie Hallowell has fired his first chef and taken over the kitchen himself at his new Grand Avenue restaurant, Penrose, the East Bay Express reports. The Express reviewer gives a definite thumbs-up to the change. The menu's quite different from that at Hallowell's other Oakland restaurants, Pizzaiolo and Boot and Shoe Service, with many dishes drawing on the Middle East and North Africa for their inspiration. You may read the complete East Bay Express article here.

Over on Piedmont Avenue, Homestead is partnering with Trappist and Trappist Provisions to host a prix fixe "beer dinner" on Sunday, Feb. 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. It's $60 per person, reservations required. See the menu and other details here.

Oakland Restaurant Week kicks off Friday, jan. 17, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 26. Participating restaurants — and there are lots of them — offer prix fixe lunches and dinners at $20, $30 or $40. Among them: perennial Piedmont Avenue favorite Bay Wolf has a three-course dinner with a choice of chicken tagine or cassoulet and Park Boulevard's Bellanico has separate tasting menus for lunch and dinner.  Get the full details on Restaurant Week here.

Not a restaurant, but definitely food-related: The Pasta Shop at Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Ave., Oakland, is teaming up with Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams to offer free sundaes on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. Available toppings will include salty caramel sauce, butterscotch sauce and hand-whipped cream

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