East Bay Dining: A Change of Seasons
From soups and stews to pastas and braised meats, the rich flavors of fall cooking have created some of my favorite dining experiences. Here are a few places in Lafayette, San Ramon, Pleasanton and Livermore that have seasonal menus for you to enjoy.
LAFAYETTE – While a trip to Paris may not be in the cards for me anytime soon, an excursion to Lafayette’s Reve Bistro settled my craving for French cuisine.
It’s starting to feel like comfort food season, so my date and I started with crocks of house-made French onion soup topped with Gruyere and croutons. The rich broth coupled with sweet onions was just what I needed to combat the end-of-summer blues.
While we generally end up with a favorite entrée, it was a toss-up between boeuf bourguignon and poulet basquaise. The bourguignon consisted of red wine braised beef cheeks, pearl onions and button mushrooms on a bed of mashed potatoes. The braised chicken over polenta with tomato, bell pepper, and onion sauce had a rich flavor you rarely associate with a chicken dish.
Entrées start at $21. Full bar. Open Tuesday-Thursday 5:15 – 9pm and Friday-Saturday 5 – 9pm. 960 Moraga Rd, Suite F., Lafayette. ReveBistro.com
SAN RAMON – Inspired by 5,000 years of culinary flavors, San Ramon’s The Salt is a gastronomical delight for foodies near and far. Tucked away above downtown, this is a neighborhood gem featuring a stylish, big city feel with a menu designed to be savored.
The Salt showcases a handful of entrées and several selections designed for sharing. My date and I started with a roasted head of cauliflower prepared with umami sauce, peas, fenugreek and sorrel. We paired this with two entrées: salmon verjus and lamb ribs. The salmon was encrusted in sumac and accompanied by a truffle and celeriac mash and a side of broccolini. While it was good, I loved the lamb ribs. The meat was tender and wildly flavorful. A beautiful and tasty crown of parsnip ribbons topped the dish, adding just a hint of sweetness.
Entrées start at $22. Full bar. Open Tuesday-Sunday 5:30 – 9:30pm. 500 Bollinger Canyon Way, #A1. TheSaltSanRamon.com
Sabio On Main
PLEASANTON – Drawing inspiration from the bounty of farm and produce provisions available in the Bay Area, Chef Francis and owner Jim McDonnell have created a chic dining experience at Pleasanton’s Sabio on Main.
Having been to Italy on a cooking tour, I was excited to sample the tempura squash blossoms made with local chèvre and oyster mushrooms. Although a little different from the ones I’m used to, I would definitely recommend trying these.
If you’ve got Oktoberfest on your mind, order the Jagerwurst sausage. It has a smoky flavor and comes with sides of sauerkraut, grits and for a hint of sweetness, baked apple.
The cavatelli, a small pasta that looks like a hot dog bun, with eggplant, peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes is a great choice.
Entrées start at $23. Full bar. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and brunch and daily for dinner. 501 Main St. Pleasanton. SabioPleasanton.com
Vineyard Table & Tasting Lounge
LIVERMORE – Livermore’s iconic restaurant at Wente Vineyards recently underwent a metamorphosis, becoming the Vineyard Table & Tasting Lounge. The result is a warm, inviting spot to enjoy seasonal, sharable plates and entrées.
We started our meal with fried halloumi and tomato salad filled with fresh fruit grown in the restaurant’s gardens.
For entrées, we decided on two of the sharable plates, mac and cheese and smoked pork tenderloin. The mac and cheese (my favorite) was made with orzo, giving it a little lighter feel and taste. It was a good accompaniment for the pork tenderloin with cranberry bean, pancetta and corn relish.
Plates start at $14. Beer and wine. Wednesday-Sunday 12 – 8pm. 5050 Arroyo Rd, Livermore. WenteVineyards.com
Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature on East Bay dining in the print editions of Your Town Monthly. A version of this article was originally published in the October 2019 East Bay editions.
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