Page 59

The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013

(champagne laced with black currant liqueur), and you’ll start to experience la vie en rose. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Thurs.–Sat., brunch Sat.–Sun. 13$$ Meritage 41 Tunnel Rd., 549-8510, meritageclaremont.com. The Claremont Hotel Club and Spa’s former stuffy showcase restaurant has made way for a new more contemporary and diner-friendly incarnation. The menu at Meritage has a dozen or so farm-fresh main dishes, grouped to match various wine styles, and priced affordably (all dishes are available in half portions, too). To start, we loved the warm, crispy terrine of chiveflecked Laura Chenel goat cheese layered with paper-thin slices of buttery potato. Brunch can be erratic, but silky smoked salmon, all-you-can-eat shrimp, and handcarved prime rib can justify the prices. As Meritage has moved Claremont dining into the 21st century, one thing will continue to attract diners as long as the fog is clear—the priceless panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline. Dinner Tues.–Sat., plated brunch Sat., buffet brunch Sun. 24$$$ O Chamé 1830 Fourth St., 841-8783, ochame.com. On a foggy day—no, any day—duck into this intimate retreat on busy Fourth Street for the best noodles around, whether buckwheat soba or the fat white udon. Don’t miss the fish specials, either. Chef-owner David Vardy brings a high aesthetic and considerable prowess to everything he prepares. The waitstaff will bring you beer or wine, but ask them about the selection of fragrant Japanese and Chinese teas. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. 13$$ Paisan 2514 San Pablo Ave., 649-1031, paisanberkeley.com. Paisan is a case study in high-end casual dining. Wood tables, paper napkins, and canisters of silverware keep the atmosphere light, while southern Italian cuisine with a California twist makes the menu enticing. The focus is mainly on traditional pastas, like fettuccine Bolognese, and contemporary thin-crust pizzas, like the potatoartichoke pie with bacon, rosemary, and Fontina cheese. But don’t miss innovative entrées such as the ribollita, a rich Tuscan stew of braised beef, kale, and borlotti beans, spotted with toasted bread and parmesan. As is practically required for any new Bay Area restaurant these days, meats and produce are often sourced from local distributors and farmers markets, before being turned into appetizers like fried cauliflower or an amazing chicory salad with white anchovies. Pass on the bland ricotta cheesecake, though. Lunch and dinner daily. 234$$ Paragon Restaurant & Bar 41 Tunnel Rd., 549-8585, paragon restaurant.com. With its sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and magical setting in Berkeley’s Claremont resort, Paragon has long been a popular spot for drinks and a bite. The killer cocktails still go down smooth, while the hotel has revamped the food menu to offer a more contemporary selection of American brasserie–style dishes with an emphasis on local ingredients. The cheese board offered melt-in-your-mouth fresh Burrata and delicious wedges of grilled in-season persimmons. Our Caesar salad had crunchy freshbaked croutons and ocean-fresh anchovies, but the romaine lettuce had been dressed for too long. The burger, grilled cheese, and bamboosteamed chicken dumplings were great, as was the huge pork chop, brined for juicy tenderness and served with black lentils and sweet braised red cabbage. Lunch and dinner daily. 234$$$ Revival Bar & Kitchen 2102 Shattuck Ave., 549-9950, revival barandkitchen.com. Theatergoers and empty-nesters spread across the spacious, plainly decorated dining room at Revival, while hipsters flock to the bar for the artisanal cocktails. Chef Amy Murray, dividing her time between here and Venus down the street, spearheads a menu that is bold on flavor and robust on portions. The mixed pig plate is a case in point (while also showing off the kitchen’s “snout to tail” philosophy). Stuffed pork tenderloin, tender pork shoulder, pork belly, and sausage are served with scalloped potatoes, green beans, and pickled peaches. Wild halibut was overcooked on our visit, but the side of chanterelles, corn, grilled basil, and potato puree with watercress sauce was delicate and creative. The chocolate cherry parfait, with cherry liqueur–soaked devil’s food cake, thick cream, and a dusting of chocolate “dirt,” was outstanding. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sat. 245$$$ Rivoli 1539 Solano Ave., 526-2542, rivolirestaurant.com. Chef Wendy Brucker has been packing the house at her cozy two-room restaurant ever since she opened in 1994. Her portobello mushroom fritters, with their crisp coating, sprinkling of parmesan, and bracing caper vinaigrette, are legend. They’re the perfect introduction to Brucker’s imaginative California- Mediterranean cuisine. We were dubious of ricotta and leek ravioli dressed in a braised lamb sauce and sprinkled with spiced chickpeas, but the North-Africa-meets-Italy entrée came off elegantly. The silken, fresh pasta filled with tender ricotta was a pillow of mellow flavors, and the deeply flavored accompaniments were the perfect foil. You’ll find plenty of excitement on the wine list, too, and if you’re lucky, you may spy the restaurant’s two nonspraying “pet” skunks in the backyard garden. Dinner daily. 2$$$ Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen 1475 Shattuck Ave., 848-3354, saulsdeli.com. A Shattuck Avenue mainstay since 1987, this formerly cramped deli-café took over the ice-cream store next door in 1999 and doubled its space, making room for more tables. Now, Saul’s is large and airy—and busier than ever. Traditional Jewish deli favorites such as Reuben sandwiches, matzo ball soup, blintzes, and sliced-to-order corned beef fill the hearty menu. Anyone with a sweet tooth might want to complement the cheesecake and macaroons with a celery soda or egg cream. And not to be missed are the delicious potato latkes—the very definition of Jewish comfort food—served with sour cream and applesauce. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 23$$ theberkeleyoaklandbook.com 57


The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013
To see the actual publication please follow the link above