Friday, August 18, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, International House


International House  2299 Piedmont Ave./Bancroft Way, (510) 642-9490.  Opened to controversy in 1930 as a co-ed multiracial dorm, this I-House is one of the country’s four largest International Houses.  It was the second to open  (after one that opened in 1924 in New York City) and the first to open west of the Mississippi.  Founded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., its mission is to foster intercultural respect.  More than 600 students from the U.S. and more than 80 other countries are housed inside this lovely Spanish-Moorish building.  On the first floor, The Great Hall sitting room offers quiet respite, and internationally-oriented events are scheduled regularly and open to the public.

exterior of International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
exterior of International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia

The Great Hall at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
The Great Hall at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia

Two dining facilities are also open to the public:
    ●Cafe  On 1st floor.  Daily 7am-10:30pm; $.  If you’re not so hungry or want just a light snack, this is the place to go.  The menu is minimalist, but you can count on a few sandwiches and salads, plus drinks, pastries, and fruit.  The hamburger is ok but is served bare (no fries), and the butternut squash sandwich I ordered was tasty but the squash wasn’t well-cooked (who wants hard squash?).  I’ve heard good things about the inexpensive breakfast burrito, and the pastries do look tempting.  A seating area in the back offers big windows to the sidewalk and street traffic, and you can even see a bit of the bay.  Some outdoor seating is available adjacent.  This cafe is operated by an outside facility.

Cafe at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
Cafe at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia

Cafe at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
Cafe at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
International House Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Dining Room  On 2nd floor.  B-L-D M-F, Br&D Sat-Sun.  B/$8, L/$10, D/$12.  Menu  www.ihouse.berkeley.edu/dining/menu.php . Join the residents who live on site for an all-you-can-eat, buffet-style dorm meal that features a salad bar, pasta bar, daily soup, and rotating entrees.
There is a good selection of salads, soups, and breads.  Ethnic and international dishes are sometimes offered, as well as vegetarian and low-fat options, plus lots of different fruits, too.  The room itself is old-style European with a high ceiling, oversize Spanish-style chandeliers, and long dark-wood dining tables.  It is bright and airy with big windows offering bay views, and there is plenty of seating as well as a spacious outdoor terrace.  The vibes are good, and I enjoyed hearing people speaking many different languages.  All food is prepared in the kitchen, with the exception of most of the baked goods.

steps up to Dining Room at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
steps up to Dining Room at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
Dining Room at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
Dining Room at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia

Dining Room at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
Dining Room at International House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia


A few doors south, at #2307, is the Thorsen House.  Built in 1909 by the Greene and Greene architectural design firm, this bungalow-style home became the Sigma Phi fraternity house in 1942. 

Thorsen House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia
Thorsen House on U.C. campus in Berkeley, Calfornia



More things to do in Berkeley.
 
Way more thing to do in Berkeley.

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

101 South: Palo Alto, Oren’s Hummus Shop


Oren’s Hummus Shop  261 University Ave./Bryant St., (650) 752-6492.  No reservations.  Israeli-style hummus is the main attraction here.  A variety of flavors are available, but it’s hard to beat the classic.  The babaganoush is also exceptional.  Sides include mild steamed Moroccan carrots, delicious eggplant, marinated beets, and Israeli pickles and olives.  Among the salads are several tabules, fatush (chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion), and shredded cabbage-carrot.  The house-baked pita comes in white, whole wheat, and gluten-free.  Spicy sauces—a green harissa and a red chili-garlic--are complimentary, but you usually need to ask for them.  This popular spot is usually very crowded and noisy; expect to wait.  Or do take-out from the cold-case in the back.   

interior of Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto, California
interior of Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto, California


grab and go at Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto, California
grab and go at Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto, California

 Oren's Hummus Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Thursday, August 10, 2017

880 South: Oakland, Drake’s Dealership


Drake’s Dealership  2325 Broadway/23rd St., (510) 568-2739 x40.  L-D daily; $$.  Located on Auto Row inside the parts and service department of a former Dodge dealership, with brick walls and vintage lettering to prove that point, this place is a haven for beer-lovers.  It is tucked way back from the street in the Hive complex, with a large parking area in front that is, unfortunately private, but you can use it for a fee.  
exterior entrance to Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
exterior entrance to Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

Plenty of indoor seating is available,
interior bar and dining room at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
interior bar and dining room at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

but what I came here for is the very big outdoor beer garden with a gravel “floor” and even some trees strung with little lights.  When it fills up, it rocks with happy voices.  Several fire pits and some wood booths line the back garden wall, and Adirondack chairs mix with traditional tables and chairs--there is plenty of room, though sometimes there is a wait to get in.
beer garden at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
beer garden at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

beer garden at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
beer garden at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

Pours are 4-, 12-, and 20-ounce, and 32 brews are on tap (my choice is The Sun Never Sets, a delightful nitro English summer ale).  
beer service in beer garden at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
beer service in beer garden at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

The pub fare is pretty good and includes a variety of wood-fired pizzas (I loved the Old School topped with mozzarella curd, pecorino, and baby basil), 
Old School pizza at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
Old School pizza at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

salads (I liked the “Kudos” with cucumber, watermelon, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, arugula, and pistachios), 
Kudos salad at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California
Kudos salad at Drake's Dealership in Oakland, California

sandwiches (think barbecue pork and a burger), and more.  I was disappointed to find out too late that more goodies are in the Snacks section on the separate beer menu.  Next time I will be ordering When We Dip (toasted pizza dough with a garlic dip) and a bratwurst.  The entire place is kid friendly, and the garden is dog friendly.  Music is scheduled Thursday through Saturday evenings. 

          Complimentary tours are available of the San Leandro Brewhouse, where the Barrel House on-site brewery taproom and retail store provides a no-frills, warehouse-style tasting room set amidst the barrel and packaging storage area.

Drakes Dealership Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Way more things to do in Oakland. 

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, Lucia’s Pizzeria


Lucia’s Pizzeria  2016 Shattuck Ave./University Ave., downtown, (510) 225-9467.  D Tu-Sun, Sat-SunBr; $$-$$$.  Located in a narrow, deep space with rustic concrete walls and floors and a simple contemporary decor, this busy Italian spot serves Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in a Stefano Ferrara wood-burning oven imported from Naples (its special bricks are made in Sorrento).

interior at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
interior at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

Stefano Ferrara wood-burning oven at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
Stefano Ferrara wood-burning oven at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

The oven reaches the 950-degrees needed to produce a satisfying, chewy, blistered, and charred thin crust.  Handmade Old World-style dough made with Molini pizzuti flour from a small family-owned mill in the Campania region of Italy makes the pizza primo, and choices include both red and white.  Gluten-free crust and vegan mozzarella are available.  We opted for Lips of Fire with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and hot-and-spicy sopressata sausage with ghost pepper maple syrup.

Lips of Fire pizza at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
Lips of Fire pizza at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

The classic margarita topped with just tomato sauce, basil, and oregano is described as “divine.”  Several housemade pastas are also options, such as gnocchi with English peas, and pappardelle with Bolognese sauce (which we ordered and devoured).

pappardelle Bolognese at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
pappardelle Bolognese at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

Small plates and salads include a popular kale salad, a crunchy vegetarian fritto misto with lemony-mint aioli dip (this is how the Italian owner’s mother got him to eat his veggies),

fritto misto at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
fritto misto at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

and roasted Brussels sprouts.  Dessert brings on housemade chocolate-chip cannoli, affogato with soft-serve buffalo milk gelato from Petaluma (decaf is available), and more.

affogato at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
affogato at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

chocolate mousse at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
chocolate mousse at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

Wines are from California and Italian producers and are mostly organic and biodynamic, and pizza-friendly draft beers are available on tap.  Seating is varied--at an espresso bar, at a window bar with a view of street traffic, and at a bar overlooking the exhibition kitchen--as well as on a wood banquette along one wall and at both high and low communal tables.

bar seating at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
bar seating at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California

Lucia’s is family-friendly; a 20% tip is automatically added to the bill; and the fact that it is next door to Comal makes it the perfect place to duck into next time you run into a long wait there.  

reheating directions for pizza at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California
reheating directions for pizza at Lucia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California (I just put it in a wax paper bag and pop it in the microwave for 25 seconds--perfect!)


More things to do in Berkeley.
 
Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 
 
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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, Mezzo


Mezzo  2442 Telegraph Ave.  It’s back!  Though formerly known as Cafe Intermezzo (which burned to the ground in 2011), this incarnation has the same open feeling, long line, and window seats--though now it is in contemporary design and those windows are covered by a “cheese board” to keep the street people from staring in.

exterior of Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California
exterior of Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California

looking out through the "cheeseboard" from Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California
looking out through the "cheeseboard" from Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California

However, the servings of honey bread and salads are as good, and BIG, as ever.  As we used to do, my dining partner and I shared a Veggie Delight salad and were once again adequately fed.  That salad definitely belongs among the world's best and just might be one of the biggest.  It consists of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, corn, croutons, and red beans topped with a hunk of avocado, a hard-boiled egg, a hunk of honey bread, and wedge of watermelon--all tossed with your choice of a delicious (our is always sweet poppy dressing).  All this for US$10!  I enjoyed this salad many times in the past at Cafe Intermezzo and look forward to enjoying it many more times in the future at the new Mezzo.

overview of Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California
overview of Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California

Veggie Delight salad at Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California
Veggie Delight salad at Mezzo on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California

In addition to the salads, sandwiches and soup of the past, Mezzo’s new menu has daily toast specials, pastries, and breakfast burritos at breakfast, and throughout the day an espresso bar dispenses a variety of lattes (think tumeric or mint) as well as nitro brews and a variety of milk and sweetener options.  The cafe is connected with Raleigh’s pub and they share a back patio.

Mezzo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do on Telegraph Avenue.

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, July 21, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel


Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel  41 Tunnel Rd., at Ashby Ave./Domingo Ave.  9 stories; 276 rooms.  3 heated pools; hot tub; 4 saunas; 2 steam rooms; full-service spa; fitness room; ?10 tennis courts (fee; 6 with night lights).  4 restaurants; room service.  Resort fee $28/night.  Pets ok.  Parking fee.  Built originally by a Kansas farmer who struck it rich and wanted to fulfill his wife’s dream of living in a home resembling an English castle, the first incarnation of this hotel burned to the ground in 1901.  The current Victorian hotel, built in 1915, once charmed architect Frank Lloyd Wright into describing it as “. . . one of the few hotels in the world with warmth, character and charm.”  The hotel was rebranded to Fairmont in 2015 and has been redecorated in a tasteful contemporary style accented with contemporary art.

check-in desk at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
check-in desk at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The lobby has an assortment of conversation areas, and a sabre bottle opening of Champagne is held there every afternoon.  Just off the lobby, the Lobby Lounge and Bar offers the hotel’s famous views along with live music, while the colorful adjacent Hillary Tenzing Room celebrates the first climbers to summit Mt. Everest--Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay--and serves afternoon tea on weekends.   A brand new amenity is Edie, the Canine Ambassador.  She hangs out in the lobby by the check-in desk, welcoming people as only a sweet dog can (she’s a Boxer mix and was formerly at the Fairmont Pittsburgh).  A free 30-minuted Art and History Tour is available by appointment.

lobby seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
lobby seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

entertainment in the Lobby Lounge and Bar seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
entertainment in the Lobby Lounge and Bar seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Hillary Tenzing Room  at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Hillary Tenzing Room at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Edie, the Ambassador Canine at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Edie, the Ambassador Canine at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The hotel now provides all the amenities of a resort, but in an urban setting.  Some guest rooms boast a Jacuzzi tub for two and views of San Francisco, others have charm from the past—a deep closet here, a vintage tub there.  Some rooms have soaking tubs, and the go-for-broke Tower Suite includes a private roof deck with stunning views.

view from guest room at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
view from guest room at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

guest room bed at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
guest room bed at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

guest room bathroom at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
guest room bathroom at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The hotel’s pools and hot tub are surrounded by several long rows of chaise lounges--looking like something out of sunny Southern California or Hawaii, but certainly not Berkeley.  The basement spa features a whirlpool with a view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, a therapeutic “deluge” shower, 32 treatment rooms, and a hair and nail salon.  The resort fee covers guest use of the wet facilities (saline whirlpools, saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms).  The Club offers a fitness center with classes, tennis courts, swimming pools, and the casual Bayview Cafe (B-L daily).  Additionally, the Kids’ Club provides childcare and holiday camps.

spa whirlpool at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
spa whirlpool at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

view of The Club at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
view of The Club at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The romantic, upscale Meritage (B daily, D W-Sat, SunBr) offers refined steak and seafood dishes, enhanced with an extensive selection of wines.  Comfortable chairs invite sitting back and enjoying the spectacular bay view as well as the dramatic high-ceilinged interior dining room.  Sunday brunch is an extravagant buffet of salads, fresh fruit, seafood, and meats.  It includes a design-your-own-omelette station and a dessert table laden with fine cakes, chocolate ├ęclairs, chocolate fondue, and several flavors of mousse. 

view from Meritage at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
view from Meritage at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The more casual, bistro-style Limewood Bar & Restaurant (L-D daily)  also offers a great bay view plus seating in the entry bar, outside on an expansive terrace, and inside in booths and at an assortment of tables--including one long communal table with a view of the open kitchen.  The menu is short and changes regularly.  Dinner begins with superb chewy-crusted sourdough bread from the local Acme bakery https://weekendadventuresupdate.blogspot.com/search?q=Acme+Bakery,  It is possible to make a light dinner of just the canapes, think Devils on horseback (Medjool dates, blue cheese, pancetta), scallion-cheddar hushpuppies with honey butter, fried eggplant rounds with green goddess dressing.  We enjoyed our selections with cocktails--me, a colorful and thirst-quenching Tequila-based Kumquat Smash, and he, a classic Southern rye-absinthe Sazerac.  Appetizers include a very green, dill-dominated chilled cucumber gazpacho, and a fresh and light sprouting broccoli salad with burrata and delicious, crispy toasted shallots.  For our mains, my dining partner had tasty roasted wild ling cod with asparagus and caramelized onions, while I had a somewhat disappointing chicken with seaweed butter and baby turnips (I was expecting a bone-in chicken, but it was breast slices arranged haphazardly atop each other and was in desperate need of some mashed potatoes).  Sandwiches and a burger are available at lunch (the house Grass-fed Beef Burger is also available from the bar menu and by request during dinner service).  Our colorful strawberry shortcake with Bourbon-soaked berries was a choice ending.  


bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California


terrace at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
terrace at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

oyster bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
oyster bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Kumquat Smash cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Kumquat Smash cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Sazerac cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Sazerac cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

canapes at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
canapes at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

cucumber gazpacho at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
cucumber gazpacho at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

broccoli-burrata salad at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
broccoli-burrata salad at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

wild ling cod at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
wild ling cod at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

chicken with seaweed butter at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
chicken with seaweed butter at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

strawberry shortcake at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
strawberry shortcake at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.  

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers