August 29, 2017

Lafayette: The Cooperage


Greater East Bay

The Cooperage  32 Lafayette Circle, (925) 298-5915.  L-D daily.  This bustling spot features an expansive open interior with several dining areas--including a large heated patio and a large bar area.  Comfort food and vintage cocktails are staples on the relatively small, regularly changing menu--think deviled eggs with bacon, mac’n cheese, Brown Derby salad (roasted rotisserie chicken, bacon, blue cheese, avocado, tomato, egg), and a house burger made with a custom grind of short rib, sirloin, and brisket (and served with a side of either fries in a sweet little bag or a delicious Caesar salad).  Burrata with cherry tomatoes and Petaluma brick chicken are also popular.  Well-executed drinks include a gin and tonic enhanced with floating flowers and juniper berries, a colorful and spicey blood-orange margarita, and a mix of scotch and amaretto called The Godfather.  


bar at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California
bar at The Cooperagein Lafayette, California


blood-orange margarita at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California
blood-orange margarita at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California


gin and tonic at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California
gin and tonic at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California

Brussels sprouts salad at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California
Brussels sprouts salad at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California

house burger at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California
house burger at The Cooperage in Lafayette, California
 The Cooperage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Lafayette.


More ideas for exploring Northern California.  


images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

August 25, 2017

Berkeley: Standard Fare


80 North

Standard Fare  2701 8th St./Carleton St. #118, West Berkeley, (510) 356-2261.  B-L M-Sat.  M-F 8:30-5, Sat 9-3.  The fare at this catering company is anything but standard.  And you’re never sure what you’re going to be offered because the cafe-bakery menu changes every day so (you can check the current day’s menu ahead online).  I adore the scones, which always seems to be different.  Today it was a perfect candied grapefruit-currant version.  I also picked up some baby biscuits with jam and butter for later.  Other past items have included a really good breakfast biscuit sandwich, cookies, brownies, pickles, rutabaga soup, and a sandwich with chicken pate, roasted chicken, and pickled vegetables.  The menu offers vegan and vegetarian options, and eaten in house are served on attractive earthenware bowls and plates.  Seating in this part-cafe/mostly-bakery venue is minimal--think a small window-ledge table with just a few stools.  I advise planning to take your order to-go. 

    Just next door are another pastry bakery and a bread bakery. 
La Noisette Sweets (#116  (510) 813-8300) makes fabulous French pastries, including a pistachio-raspberry and a smoked-salmon croissant.  Cakes, including a fruit-topped cheesecake, are also available. 

Morell’s Bread (#114, (415) 302-8609) is also superb.  Try the crispy-crusted sunflower whole-wheat loaf with a soft, moist interior, or the delicious rye.  Watch the bakers prepare the bread. 


exterior of Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California
exterior of Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California


counter at Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California
counter at Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California


daily menu at Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California
daily menu at Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California


baked goods at Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California
baked goods at Standard Fare bakery in Berkeley California


baked goods at La Noisette Sweets bakery in Berkeley California
baked goods at La Noisette Sweets bakery in Berkeley California


More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 23, 2017

Pleasanton: Sabio on Main


Greater East Bay

Sabio on Main  501 Main St./Rose Ave., located behind Starbucks in Pastime Plaza, facing Rose Ave., (925) 800-3090.  D daily, Sat-Sun Br.  Perhaps the classiest restaurant on this busy main street, Sabio--whose name means “wise” in Spanish--specializes in global tapas served with fine wines and artisan cocktails.  The California-centric wine list focuses on small local producers, cult and hard-to-get wines, and out-of-the-ordinary grapes and regions, and the latest technology is used to allow keeping more than 30 wines available by the glass.  Locally sourced craft beers are also available.  Seating is available at the bar (which features an arched undulating barrel-stave ceiling treatment, plus a dramatic wall of wine displaying the restaurant's extensive selection), in a bank of private booths, and at tables and chairs, plus outside dining is also an option.  Menu winners from the kitchen of Francis X. Hogan include tasty, fragrant, and even pretty (it’s the green garnish) chicken meatballs; meaty Gulf shrimp with satisfyingly crispy grits squares and Maitake mushroom gravy; and grass-fed flat-iron steak served with a cute little sunny-side up quail egg, colorful and garlicky chimichurri sauce, and tasty potatoes fried in duck fat.  Hope that on the menu when you visit is a delicious, warm, Sonoma goat cheese tart with colorful stone fruit from K & J in Winters and candied macadamias.  We enjoyed our meal with a dry, cool, blush-pink 2016 Vin Gris of Grenache from The Steven Kent Winery.  


bar at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
bar at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California


booths at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
booths at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
 
2016 Vin Gris of Grenache from The Steven Kent Winery at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
2016 Vin Gris of Grenache from The Steven Kent Winery at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California

salad at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
salad at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California

chicken meatball at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
chicken meatball at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California

Gulf shrimp at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
Gulf shrimp at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California

steak with quail egg at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
steak with quail egg at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California

fruit tart at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
fruit tart at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
Chef Francis X. Hogan at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
Chef Francis X. Hogan at Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, California
Sabio on Main Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 18, 2017

Berkeley: International House


80 North

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. 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.

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 15, 2017

Palo Alto: Oren’s Hummus Shop


101 South

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


More things to do in Palo Alto. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.  


images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

August 10, 2017

Oakland: Drake’s Dealership


880 South

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


More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.  

 
images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


August 3, 2017

Berkeley: Lucia’s Pizzeria


80 North

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. 
 
More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers