MONTCLARION: January 13, 2016
It’s the dead of winter. The holidays are history and tax season doesn’t exactly inspire joy. Thankfully, Oakland Restaurant Week is underway (this Thursday through Jan. 24) with 100 of the city’s best eateries offering prix fixe lunch and dinner deals.
The timing couldn’t be better, as our food scene continues to make headlines in publications like USA Today, which calls Oakland one of the Best 10 Local Food Scenes in the nation.
You can see the list of restaurants and menus — and even make reservations at www.oaklandrestaurantweek.org. The website lets you search by neighborhood, cuisine and lunch or dinner deals.
Dining dish: Looking for a little light therapy with your meal? Bay Wolf’s celebrated chef Louis Le Gassic is now cooking at the Terrace Room in the Lake Merritt Hotel. The view of the water and its soft string of lights adds an elegant ambience to this Art Deco destination. The last time I was there, I had the chef’s savory roasted pumpkin soup with a classic dish — coq au vin — (chicken with bacon, potatoes, roasted carrots and mushrooms). Bay Wolf’s former pastry chef makes the desserts, with the apple streusel tart the perfect meal topper.
Terrace Room was a popular music and dance venue right before and after World War ll, and that tradition is coming back. On Thursday evenings and during Sunday brunch, live jazz gives this destination an edge over its competition.
Even the happy hour is extraordinary. A generous schedule — Mondays through Thursdays from 5 to 10 p.m. offers $6 cocktails crafted by Montclair bartender Jackie Walts, a two-for-one glass of wine and reduced prices on appetizers. The bar is an inviting space off the main dining room with a captivating 1956 mural of Lake Merritt painted by Andre Boratko. It’s bound to spur discussion when I bring my book club to Thursday night happy hour for live jazz and libations. What better way to shake off the early-winter blues?
Oakland angel: For the third year in a row, Joaquin Miller Elementary fifth-grader Luissa Kilgore has used her allowance and birthday money to buy 35 Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children in Oakland. Mom Susan Portugal says her daughter loves to put smiles on the faces of these kids. A $250 donation from an 11-year-old. Now that’s the spirit!
Book it: North Carolina author David Joy is reading from his new novel “Where All Light Tends To Go” on Feb. 4. The 7 p.m. appearance at Montclair’s A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., is bound to be popular. Joy’s drama about a meth-dealing family is being compared to “Winter’s Bone,” “Breaking Bad,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Justified.”