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Thursday, September 30, 2010

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By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri KrasovIt’s fall on the calendar, but summer’s in the air. There is hardly a better way to celebrate the season than by having The Blue Lake cocktail at Lake Chalet, sitting by an open window and watching a gondola slowly gliding along on Lake Merritt. Beautifully restored, redesigned, and well-kept building – a century-old former boathouse; impressive dining room under an exposed-beam cathedral ceiling; long modern bar with spherical light fixtures, and red umbrellas over the tables on an open terrace overlooking the water make this place an elegant and comfortable choice for weddings, social events, and romantic dinners. However, its seasonal menu remains the main draw for large friends-and-family groups and dating couples alike.While Corporate Executive Chef Jared Doobs creates yummy recipes for all three establishments owned by restaurateurs Gar and Lara Truppelli (the other two are Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant and Park Chalet Garden Restaurant in San Francisco), it’s up to each place’s kitchen to deliver a plate of joy to every single diner. In our case there were several plates, all excellent and equally enticing.Brightly-colored heirloom tomatoes with balsamic reduction were counterbalanced in color, taste, and texture by creamy burrata cheese.Tuna tartar, plump and meaty, mixed with chunks of Asian pear, was enhanced by truffle oil, and served with chips made of nori seaweed, adding another layer of ocean-freshness.Salmon fillet served over potato puree and topped with bean sprout greens had tiny honshimeji mushrooms on a side – tasty, textured, and chewy. A glass of Belle Glos Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast nicely complemented the medium-cooked fish. Despite its emphasis on seafood, Lake Chalet goes strong with meat dishes as well.Flatiron steak marinated in Moroccan harissa, and accompanied by classic fries and watercress, was a delight with Pellegrini Cabernet Sauvignon – a double gold winner of SF Wine Competition.Then came two delicate desserts – chocolate molten cake, a.k.a. chocolate mini-volcano, and cool pale panna-cotta, dusted with Madagascar vanilla seeds, and surrounded by apricot water and fresh berries.As we’ve learned by the end of our dinner from the restaurant manager Nico Tzikas, new in-house chef Jeff Thurston took his place at the helm of Lake Chalet kitchen only a week ago. Originally from Toronto, Canada, he has years of upscale restaurant experience under his belt, and used to work in fine and very fine establishments all along the Pacific Coast, from Seattle to San Diego before coming to the culinary Mecca of the West. It only remains to hope that Chef Thurston is here to stay. Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill is located at 1520 Lakeside Drive in Oakland. Call for reservations 510-208-5253, or visit:


  1. That's the intrepid Chef Jeff "Thursty" Thurston. We grew up together as kids. I'll never forget the calm positive attitude he always has to the natural talent with food. Keep it going buddy!