1800 Madison Street Oakland, CA 94612-4630 | 510.903.3771 | website
Mr. K and I used to live in the Lake Merritt area and always admired this grand historic building which houses the beautiful Terrace Room restaurant with splendid views of the lake. It was built in 1927 offering apartment-style hotel living along the shores of Lake Merritt in a Mediterranean Art Deco style that highlights the magnificent views. We had dinner there once years ago, but I only remember that the meal we had was frumpy and uninspired which discouraged a return visit. But last month Mr K and I were invited to dine as guests of the house to sample the menu which has been redesigned by their new Executive Chef Louis Le Gassic. The chef worked for many years at the highly acclaimed Bay Wolf restaurant where he cooked alongside Michael Wild who helped put Oakland on the culinary map. While bringing a fresh vision to the restaurant’s menu, Chef Le Gassic is maintaining the venue’s hallmark focus on New American cuisine prepared with quality local ingredients.
The grandiose building was festooned with festive holiday lights when we dined there last month. The main entrance breaks off to the right for the senior living area, and the dining room also provides meals for the residents of the 46-room hotel, so there is a distinct senior presence when we were there (granted we ate early, which is prime senior dining time)… We sat at a table by the window and I enjoyed a glass of Argentinian Malbec while Mr. K had a martini made with terroir gin from St. George in Alameda. We pondered the view and perused the menu, which is full of classics like Coq au Vin, Braised Short Ribs, Pan Seared Salmon, housemade pasta, and I loved that the salads are comprised of quality, local, seasonal ingredients that all sounded new and exciting – I saw no mention of iceberg lettuce on the menu!
We started off with warm sourdough bread with whipped butter, classic and old fashioned, but perfectly presented. The butter melted into the tender bread and we gobbled it up.
We shared a cup of the Roasted Pumpkin Soup ($5) which was a delight, a rich broth full of fall vegetables, thickened with polenta, and topped with spinach pesto. We loved this unexpectedly fresh and fragrant soup.
The salad of Mixed Baby Greens ($8) was topped with shaved Reggiano and lightly dressed with a dry sherry-shallot vinaigrette. The greens were impeccably fresh and crisp.
I almost missed taking a photo of this salad, it was so good. Smoked Salmon with Roasted Beets ($15) Avocado, baby arugula, & horseradish vinaigrette. The flavors were bright and tasty, the salmon was melt in your mouth velvety, the arugula crisp and peppery and the pieces of avocado were creamy and fresh.
Our server suggested the Goat cheese stuffed buckwheat crepe ($15) with fall roasted vegetables. The crepe was cooked to a delectable crisp in butter, filled with rich tart creamy cheese which paired nicely with the caramelized roasted vegetables and topped with the bright flavors of the lemon pine nut relish, each bite was a delight.
Because the chef came from Bay Wolf which had a reputation for their duck dishes, I ordered the Liberty Ranch duck à la orange ($26) with lentils, endive, orange gastrique. The flavors were good, the skin was crisp, the orange gastrique was tangy and rich but the breast meat was unfortunately tough and rubbery. There’s almost always one dish that lags behind the rest and this is the one…
I read that the pasta is made in-house, so we shared a half order of the Fettuccini ($13), which was delicious. A pile of tender pasta, tender calamari, blistered cherry tomatoes, red onions, pepper, and drizzled with a rich saffron aioli. We wanted to lick the plate clean, seriously…
We normally aren’t big dessert eaters and were pretty full by this point, but we shared the Creme Brûlée with blackberries and topped with a curlicue buttery tuille ($8). It was a solid rendition, the decadently rich vanilla custard was topped with a layer of crisp caramelized sugar that shattered when struck with my spoon, underneath was a rich silky custard.
And the Chocolate Souffle Cake ($8) also caught my fancy, it was velvety rich and cloudlike, we were surprised that we finished both desserts.
I’d like to thank the Terrace Room so much for the wonderful meal, we really enjoyed it, the staff was enthusiastic about the new menu and encouraged us to return for the trivia, or live music events, although I am more inclined to come back to see about their brunch, which features chicken and waffles. And plus during the day you can really enjoy the views…