Walnut Creek Yacht Club strikes again

I’ve written about how much I like the Walnut Creek Yacht Club before. You’ll remember my blog about last year’s Lobsterfest at the Yacht Club, but I’ve never actually written just about sitting at the bar, eating dinner, and enjoying my meal in a normal setting before. It has great bar seating, with a view looking outside and is one of my favorite bars to just eat dinner either alone or with a friend. The bar is also a great place to hang out to drink and socialize.

I recently went to meet my friend Victoria before going to a movie. Of course, we sat at the bar, I was running late and when I got there, she was socializing with a neighboring patron soaking up all the good WCYC vibes. I ordered Zarzuela de Mariscos – Spanish Seafood Stew with prawns, octopus, mussels, clams & rock cod tomato-shellfish broth, serrano ham, garlic, almonds saffron rice pilaf, grilled Acme levain bread, and lemon aioli for $29.00; the special for the month of May. It was like a tomatoey seafood risotto. Victoria had WCYC Fish‘n’Chips, with California ling cod beer battered in Anchor Steam, with WCYC tartar sauce, regatta fries and WYCY coleslaw for $18.00.

In the past, the service has always been top notch, this time, the bar service was a bit lackluster or aloof, usually they chat you up and are refilling your water and asking what else you might need, but this night was not to their standard tip-top shape. If you are local, you will usually run into someone you know and this evening was no different! Jodi was there socializing with friends and her new baby!

I love the food and the drinks and their special dinners and tasting – it is great to be a member. Of course, if you go often, you get some sort of gift at the end of the year and an envelope not to be opened until a specific date. After you open the envelope, you have to go back in and eat! Check them out!

New rooftop bars – behold!

According to this story, there are two new rooftop bars in the Bay Area! You can add this to the list of cool Walnut Creek spots, like Rooftop and Teleferic. We’ve touched on Teleferic before, but Rooftop is just one floor higher and also an awesome spot to eat and get a drink!

Credit: Diablo Mag

First, the bars in the story I linked above. Rooftop25 at Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco is sure to be the latest addition to the San Francisco rooftop bar scene to make some noise. It’s from acclaimed chef Matthew Dolan. In Napa, Sky & Vine at the Archer Hotel, which is apparently the only rooftop bar in downtown. There are supposed to be amazing views and plenty of seating to complement amazing food and cocktails.

Now, back to your regularly-scheduled Walnut Creek bar scene. If you’ve been to Teleferic, you may have also seen Rooftop. As the name implies, Rooftop is on the top of the three-story building and it takes full advantage of that location.

With a snazzy retractable roof over the dining room, a large bar and a deck that wraps nearly all the way around the building, you can’t find a better atmosphere in Walnut Creek from which to take in a sunset on Mt. Diablo while enjoying cocktails.

RooftopFinal1-1024x277
Credit: RooftopWC.com

Rooftop has the best view and patio, stealing customers from other classy, late-night spots in Walnut Creek who want to enjoy the views. So far, I have been there a few time.  Once for dinner and a couple of times to enjoy a drink and appetizers in the bar.  I sampled many of the “bar bites” which were all fantastic along with the designer cocktails.

The Buster Brown cocktail (bourbon-infused) was my favorite and Tuna Tartar with puffy rice crackers is divine. If the food tastes familiar, that might be due to Justine Kelly, former Chef de Cuisine at The Slanted Door, leading the way. According to the Rooftop website, Chef Kelly has competed on Iron Chef and cooked for President Bill Clinton.

Rooftop is a great, albeit slightly pricey, night out with friends and one of the must-be spots in downtown Walnut Creek. And if you’d like to go slightly outside your hometown, give these new spots in San Francisco and Napa a shot!

SaveSave

American Kitchen in Lafayette is cute, cozy and comforting

A friend recently treated me to dinner at American Kitchen in Lafayette for my birthday. This was my first visit and I enjoyed the atmosphere, service and food. What I am most excited about is a having a new place for breakfast! Tucked in between Chow and some non-descript office buildings in downtown Lafayette, American Kitchen is a hidden gem among the other well-known restaurants and bars.

It is actually an 80-year-old converted farmhouse that is run by locals Victor Ivry and Sariah May. They emphasize American comfort food and use the freshest, healthiest, most local ingredients. The coolest part about the space itself isn’t necessarily the adorable indoor dining area. It’s their “front yard,” which has a fire pit, a patio and multiple seating areas. It gives off the vibe that you’re enjoying your meal at a homey picnic more than a restaurant, which I loved.

I had the Gingered Squash & Pear Soup and a small Autumn Chopped salad with chicken, along with a glass of champagne. I was so enjoying my dinner and conversation that I forgot to take pictures of the food, but there are enough of the venue to entice you to try American Kitchen. They also have “themed nights,” like burgers on Monday, “Breakfast for Dinner” on Tuesday, and grilled cheese on Sunday.

It is truly a family spot, with drawings from the kids posted at the front door and only beer and wine being served. Stop by American Kitchen and give it a try for breakfast, lunch or dinner – I would love to hear your review.

Overall, I give American Kitchen 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

Road Trips: Mt. Rose

Winter is here, and it’s time to hit the slopes! Hopefully, we get some more snow this week! I love going up to Tahoe to ski, especially when the sky is blue and the snow is powdery. But, unlike many who probably prefer Northstar, Squaw and Heavenly, I love Mt.Rose!  It is where I learned to ski growing up, it is a local’s resort and it has some great runs, especially if the chutes are open.

skirose.com

Mt. Rose is the highest peak in Tahoe and usually gets the most snow every winter. But it’s also just a cool place to hang out! Most of the mountains in Tahoe have villages, bars, restaurants, ice skating rinks, and other things to help you relax and recover after a day on the snow. And Mt. Rose is no exception, but it has a more casual local vibe with fun activities on the mountain and just some great runs (“Northwest” is my favorite), including a few with a view of Lake Tahoe!

In fact, they have some unique events like the Santa Crawl, where you can get heavily discounted lift tickets by dressing up as Santa for the day while you’re on the mountain. They also do a Beerfest, New Year’s Eve spectacular, poker runs and many other events throughout the year. Recently, they also added a “Magic” lift, a dual conveyer belt for one of their hills (it’s the 1st one in North America and only the 2nd one in the world!).

skirose.com

I always have a great time when I go to Mt. Rose. Usually, I stay in Reno and then it is just a 20-minute drive up the hill, but it is also easily accessed from Incline or Kings Beach; even from Northstar. They have a newer lodge on the old Slide side of the hill and many locals on a nice day will tailgate in the parking area. The Mt. Rose lodge is more crowded, but the bar is my favorite, with no kids allowed and a taco/burrito bar.

Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebabs to fish, they always make their dishes with savory flavors that keep me happy. Here in Walnut Creek, we just got a new place for all you foodies to try and will probably give Opa a run for their money: Lokanta!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lokanta has menus for all types of occasions: brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, dessert, kids’ menu and more. I tried the Lokanta Classic Martini – it was perfect! The St. George Botanivore Gin made a big difference. Of course, the flaming cheese is an attraction (and delicious) along with the mixed platter.

Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and their delicious appetizers (hummus, pita, meatballs, dolmas, soup, salad, calamari, lamb burger, shish kebab…to name a few) are all $10 or less at that time. Beers and wine are $5 or less and they have bottomless mimosa brunches both Saturday and Sunday.

Lokanta has another popular location in Pleasanton, but only recently opened its doors on Locust St. in Walnut Creek where you will see the owner making his rounds to ensure that everything is running smoothly and the customers are happy.

For you wine-lovers, there is a half-off wine deal on Mondays and no corkage fee on Tuesdays if you want to bring your own bottle to the restaurant.  The atmosphere is cozy, a great bar area and a community table to eat at as seats become available.

All in all, I highly recommend giving Lokanta a shot next time you’re downtown or craving some Mediterranean/Greek food in Walnut Creek. I give it 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

Broderick doesn’t live up to the legend of Hubcaps

My son Jackson and I tried Broderick recently. And as much as I loved Hubcaps, which formerly occupied the space there, I have to say Broderick was slightly disappointing.

I used to go to Hubcaps for burgers before movies, and it was a Walnut Creek classic. But it definitely needed a remodel, so when the owners shut it down with the intent of rebranding as Broderick, I was pretty excited.

There’s a definite decor and lighting change, and a better bar-sitting situation if you want to watch a game while eating. The casual atmosphere is nice, and updated compared to its predecessor. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the positives went.

Jackson ordered a burger and I ordered a fried chicken sandwich. I had visions of the fried chicken you get at Tender Greens, however, I got a thickly, breaded, heavily-seasoned coating that separated from my chicken. Jackson’s burger was ordered medium but only had a tiny bit of pink in the middle – and was dry.

This may sound like a funny complaint, but we also had so many fries on our plates that there was no room to put ketchup. Speaking of the fries, they had weird seasoning on them. The sriracha-mayo doused my chicken sandwich and made the whole situation sloppy and hard to eat.

The huge pickles on the sandwiches were good, and the artisan buns were great. They do have brunch there and the wait staff was attentive, but did not ask us about our meal. The food just wasn’t special and it cost $38 for two burgers, fries and a beer.

Overall, I give it 2 Mt. Diablo’s out of 5.

Sauced Opens in the old Pyramid Location

Pyramid Alehouse was a long-standing favorite in downtown Walnut Creek, but has recently given way to a new barbecue joint called Sauced.

The owners are cousins (one raised in Pleasanton, one in the South) and imported everything from the South – from the wood used in the restaurant to the menu and drinks. Their goal is to bring authentic BBQ to Northern California, but they did not bring southern pricing to the table.


Where the old Pyramid brewery tanks were is now a huge, open bar and that seating area looks massive with the new layout. They do trivia on Tuesday and Bingo on Wednesday each week, and the dining area also has plenty of space for big groups.

I had the brisket which was served with apple coleslaw (very good) and a slice of corn bread with whole kernel corn (authentic and tasty) plus two drinks. It was rich and I had a food coma for a few hours, but maybe the drinks attributed to the feeling.

The food and ambiance is good; my son ordered a Cubana, which includes a fried pickle in it and two sides, the cost $20. The BBQ I have had outside of Austin, TX would cost much less and is just as good, but we can’t all go to Austin for some down-home BBQ and I am sure our rents are much higher, thus Sauced is local and may be the next best thing if you are hunkering for BBQ.

They do have a great bar area, tons of mico-brews to choose from and a daily happy hour. It is a great place to gather with friends and enjoy a game. Pyramid left some pretty big shoes to fill, considering its popularity, so time will tell if Sauced can keep the seats filled. I do hope they continue the live music on the patio in the summer and would love to hear what you think and if you know of any other great BBQ spots!

Urban Remedy pops up in Walnut Creek

img_9278In August, Urban Remedy opened up next to Veggie Grill on Locust St. in downtown Walnut Creek.

The space is tiny, as it’s more of a grab-and-go joint than anything else, but they offer a lot of good healthy, paleo options to go along with their delicious organic jui ces.

As Walnut Creek continues to do away with fast food options like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, they are bringing more and more healthy options to the downtown scene.img_9277

Urban Remedy, which joins Mr. Green Bubble, Pressed Juicery and a few more in the organic juice movement hitting the East Bay.

Besides juice, Urban Remedy offers salads, bowls, wraps, rolls, soups, dressings, snacks and desserts. Check out their options here!