Situated on top of Berkeley Hill, the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa offers a breath-taking view of the Golden Gate Bridge—I personally think it’s best at sunset. Complimenting the view is the resort’s restaurant, Meritage, and its introduction of a brand new chef and menu! Dining Columnist Sherry H. joins fellow media to enjoy a feast to remember.
Scott Quinn, the new Chef de Cuisine, joined Meritage in October 2012. Prior to this position, Quinn was Chef de Cuisine at Bagatelle in Los Angeles. With more than 15 years of kitchen experience, Quinn presented an impressive menu that masterfully combined contemporary Californian cuisine with an extensive selection of wines.
NOTE: All of the courses tasted are available on Meritage’s current menu. Estimated spending for a 3-course dinner for two with a bottle of wine is $193. Also available: a prix fixe 4-course wine pairing menu (tasting menu) for $85/person without tax or gratuity
Join me and taste your way through an 8-course dinner (okay, more like 1 canapé, 6 courses, 1 dessert, and lots and lots of wine).
The delicious meal started with bacon—Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates—and, by one of life’s small ironies or delightful coincidences, it also ended with bacon—”Elvis” Bread Pudding (sprinkled with bits of bacon). I have no complaint about the arrangement for (1) I love bacon (2) I love bacon and therefore enjoyed the whole sweet-and-savory bread pudding experience, including added crispy bacon bits for texture. Yes please!
One course followed another, and it was like a merry-go-round ride. Beautiful in presentation, each dish dazzled and screamed ‘I am made with fresh seasonal ingredients!’ It was a sumptuous feast! One of my favorites was the Oxtail Rillette paired with two pieces of baguette and pickled vegetables. The rillette looked suspiciously like orange jello with the caramel-colored layer of oxtail fat on top and so I was hesitant when I spread the rillette on top of my baguette. I took a bite and thought: Hmm, definitely crunchy. Then, a moment later, I experienced an explosion of flavors. The rillette was rich, savory and with just the right amount of fattiness. It was perfectly counterbalanced by the tartness of the pickled vegetables. What a dish! It has gotten it all: the flavor, the kick, and the bite.
I was thoroughly delighted by Quinn’s interpretation of ‘Californian’ cuisine. He not only presented a diversified menu, he also prepared the foods in such a way that brought out depth and complexity. Furthermore, I was deeply impressed with the selection of wines sampled and loved all of them.
The Meritage dining experience was fantastic!
For Valentine’s, would you consider this romantic spot?
2013 Tasting _ Menu
- Bacon-Wrapped Medjool Dates
- Champagne Poached Pear Salad vs. Domaine Carneros “Le Reve”
- Roasted Baby Beet Salad vs. “Di Bruno” Sanford & Benedict, Pinot Grigio
- Yellow Fin Tuna Tar Tar vs. Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
- Maine Sea Scallops vs. Barnett-Sangiacomo Vineyard, Chardonnay
- Oxtail Rilette vs. Chimney Rock, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Sonoma Duck Breast vs. Kokumi, Pinot Noir
- “Elvis” Bread Pudding vs. Arrowood Late Harvest Riesling
PHOTO CREDIT (for all photos): ALVIN TAI
The Meritage at Claremont Hotel Club and Spa 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley Beautiful ambiance, great service; the perfect place to take your date. Price Range $$$
Published in News for Chinese (Mar 1, 2013). Click here for 中文報導
Mmmmm the Oxtail one Rilette sounds so good! I was salivating as I was reading. By the way, I never knew California had it’s own ‘cuisine’. What exactly is it?
It was beautiful! California cuisine, which started in Berkeley (proud to be a NorCal girl), is all about using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. You’ll love it!
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