Sunset Dining At The Claremont’s Limewood

A perfect dish of wild salmon at Limewood. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

A perfect dish of wild salmon at Limewood. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

 

With so many independent restaurants to choose from in the East Bay, why drive to one in the Oakland hills in a fancy hotel?

Because at sunset the view is killer.

And it’s a chance to experience history.

Limewood Bar & Restaurant is located inside the majestic Claremont Club & Spa, a 103-year-old historic landmark spanning 22 acres of greenery on the Oakland-Berkeley border.

You can’t miss the sprawling, castle-like structure when you glance toward the hills. It’s as imposing as it is impressive.

Even if you’re not splurging on a night’s stay at the luxury hotel, you can still enjoy a meal at the restaurant with its open kitchen, clubby atmosphere and bank of large windows.

The historic Claremont Club & Spa. (photo courtesy of the Claremont)

The historic Claremont Club & Spa. (Photo courtesy of the Claremont)

Arwi Odense, hotel executive chef; Joey Hattendorf, Limewood executive chef; and A.J. Thalakkat, executive pastry chef, all joined the property less than two years ago.

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A Sneak Peek at Northern California’s First Shake Shack

Get ready for fried chicken on a potato bun at the Bay Area's only Shake Shack.

Get ready for fried chicken on a potato bun at the Bay Area’s only Shake Shack.

 

You might as well get in line right now because hordes are no doubt going to descend upon Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto on Saturday when the first Northern California Shake Shack finally opens.

Yes, the wildly popular gourmet burger chain by New York’s Danny Meyer will finally open its doors in the Bay Area. It is right next to P.F. Chang’s in the ritzy outdoor mall.

Opening hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. And the first 100 people through the doors on opening day get a free Shake Shack travel bag.

Last night, I had a chance to get a sneak peek and taste when I was invited to a media preview party.

The Palo Alto Shake Shack in Stanford Shopping Center.

The Palo Alto Shake Shack in Stanford Shopping Center.

The menu boards.

The menu boards.

The interior features reclaimed and repurposed materials.

The interior features reclaimed and repurposed materials.

The 2,491-square-foot former Wells Fargo bank building features outdoor as well as indoor seating, including tabletops made of reclaimed bowling alley lanes.

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Nik Sharma’s Roast Leg of Lamb

Set this down in front of your guests for real treat.

Set this down in front of your guests for real treat.

The holidays practically demand a showstopper entree, something with heft and presence that will make guests not only sit up and take notice, but eager to dig in with complete abandon.

For me, that’s long been bone-in prime rib crusted with salt and rosemary, fresh Dungeness crabs with their deep orange shells that give way to snowy fluffy meat, a glazed ham enveloped with a thick glistening layer of juicy fat or a massive leg of lamb cooked on the grill with copious amounts of garlic.

Now, Nik Sharma of the award-winning A Brown Table blog ups that leg of lamb option by adding a load of irresistible ginger, cardamom, turmeric, juniper, cloves, almonds, pistachios and luscious yogurt to the equation.

His “Roast Leg of Lamb” marinades in that creamy, unctuous sauce tinged the color of daffodils for a full day before being slid into the oven.

Season Cookbook

The recipe is from his first cookbook “Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food” (Chronicle Books) cookbook, of which I received a review copy.

Sharma is an Oakland-based writer, recipe developer and photographer (yes, he took all the wonderfully evocative images in his book) who writes a weekly cooking column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Three Gourmet Gifts For Friends, Family — Or Yourself

Rice crackers and cheese puffs are among the treats inside this Bokksu box.

Rice crackers and cheese puffs are among the treats inside this Bokksu box.

Elevated Snack Attack

Founder Danny Taing has elevated the snack box — big time — with his Bokksu subscription service.

Every month, he curates a selection of premium Japanese snacks, which — yes — can include such coveted treats as the newest Japanese Kit Kat flavor — that are mailed directly to you from Japan.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sample box. They come in two sizes, the $25 “Tasting” size and the larger $39 “Classic” size, which is the one I had sent to me.

Each month, there is a different theme for each box. For the November one, it was “Tea Story,” which meant everything inside — about 20 items — married well with Japanese tea. With every month’s box, there is always tea included, too.

Everything is tucked inside a custom box.

Everything is tucked inside a custom box.

Voila!

Voila!

The snacks arrived in a sturdy, custom logo box, which is a nice touch if you’re giving it as a gift. Inside, there’s a pamphlet with a primer on tea (apparently, it originated in Japan in the 9th century by Buddhist monks as a religious practice), as well as descriptions of the items inside. That’s a handy guide, too, since much of the information on the actual packages is in Japanese. It even identifies possible allergens in the various products.

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Howling For The Wolf

Get to know fried biscuits with chicken and duck liver mousse at The Wolf.

Get to know fried biscuits with chicken and duck liver mousse at The Wolf.

 

Expectations are always high whenever a newcomer takes the place of a 40-year-old stalwart beloved by the community.

Such was the case when The Wolf opened last year in the iconic Craftsman building that for so long housed the iconic Bay Wolf restaurant.

But diners needn’t have worried. After all, The Wolf was opened by Rich and Rebekah Wood, who also own Wood Tavern and Southie, both in Oakland. In fact, Wood Tavern Chef Yang Peng made the leap to helm the kitchen at The Wolf.

The chic bar.

The chic bar.

The classic bones of the restaurant remain, but the place has been brightened with an open kitchen and a sleek solid stone bar that’s illuminated underneath.

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