Lake Merritt is one of my favorite places in Oakland. I spend a lot of time enjoying my walks and jogs around it. It was the passing of Bond Measure DD in 2002, the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks that was the road to improvements to Lake Merritt. The road seemed to be a long one, as the improvements didn’t start to show until a few years ago, shortly after the city partnered with the restaurant proprietors of Beach Chalet and Park Chalet in San Francisco. The historic Municipal Boathouse would be converted into a restaurant called Lake Chalet. The restaurant opened in August 2009, and I was so excited that I attended the public ribbon cutting ceremony. Between happy hours and lunches, I’ve been there at least six times and think it’s about time to blog about my most recent experience. It was a holiday luncheon for a fairly large group and I had to pre-order off a set menu in advance.
For my first course, I chose the puree of cauliflower and fennel soup with tarragon oil. This was absolutely fabulous! It was creamy, delicious, and made me happy. I had offered a spoonful of the soup to a disbeliever and I think she became a believer. Note to self – look up this recipe to make at home.
My second course was the house made herb gnocchi with butternut squash and brussels sprout. This was cooked in a balsamic brown butter sauce. I thought the dish was good, but the individual ingredients felt too separated. I don’t think it blended that well together, in other words there wasn’t much of a sauce at all.
The dessert I chose was the pumpkin cheesecake with crème fraiche. This was rich, creamy and pure indulgence. I loved it, but after a full meal, I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. I took it home and had later indulged more.
Lake Chalet is a good choice for good food in Oakland, but better than the food is the beautiful restaurant with amazing views of the lake. This is a restaurant that has shaped an important piece of Oakland landscape and that is why you should go.
Below are some photos of some of the other lunch options.