Yes, it’s Award Season again and every year , around this time, I like to nominate my favorite restaurants in the area for recognition based on food, ambiance, consistency, service and value. These are my selections for 2016/2017. If you agree or disagree, please feel free to let me have your thoughts. As always I am happy to hear from you.
Best French Restaurant
We have seen some changes in the choice of French restaurants lately, with the departure of much-loved (but expensive) Chevalier and it’s replacement in the same premises by Reve Bistro in Lafayette. With La Sen Bistro in Concord, it still limits the choice in our area to only two but I consider both to be really good in every way. Therefore after much consideration, and mostly because the menu is more imaginative (and changes seasonally), I have to give the award to Reve Bistro.
Best Indian Restaurant
Many Indian restaurants struggle to survive in our area although those in Walnut Creek have been around a long time, yet I find all of them very average in every way. Fortunately there is one really good Indian restaurant in the area that is definitely worth a visit and that is Swad in Lafayette, recently moved to a new location there. I have enjoyed every dish I have tasted there and anybody who appreciates Indian breads should really try the parathas that are as good a sit gets.
Best European Restaurant
You have to dig around a little, but there are quite a few European style restaurants around if you know where to look. The one stand-out though is Cafe Attila in San Ramon. A cafe and bakery by day it is transformed into a cozy little bistro in the evening where the owner chef creates some imaginative. The cauliflower fritters make for a very tasty appetizer and I particularly enjoyed the duck breast served on a bed of lentils on a recent visit. Then providing you still have an appetite for more, the bread pudding is the best I have tasted anywhere.
Best Chinese Restaurant
Most Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area are extremely mediocre and the quality of ingredients can be very suspect. A major exception is Yan’s China Bistro in Walnut Creek. The food, friendly service and value for money are all outstanding.
Best Seafood Restaurant
Considering that we live so close to the coast, I find it surprising that there are not more seafood restaurants around although I know most restaurants offer a selection. Usually the same old unimaginative selection though. That brings me to the one seafood restaurant that must be one of the longest established restaurants of any kind in the East Bay, Scotts Restaurant in Walnut Creek. Here you will find a wide variety of fish and seafood dishes served in traditional, rather than trendy surroundings, some may say “dated”. The food is consistently good though and I always feel very comfortable there.
Best California Cuisine
My definition of California Cuisine is an eclectic selection of dishes that is influenced by a variety of local and international taste. There are a few contenders here but my choice goes to Rodney Worth’s Peasant and The Pear in Danville. Here you will find a diverse menu of quality food here at a wide range of price-points served in attractive surroundings.
Best Ambiance In A Restaurant
There are numerous new restaurants in Walnut Creek, Danville and other areas that have cost an unbelievable amount of money to set up. Most are catering to the trendy, younger set who certainly seemed to be impressed by them but I am generally impressed by the ambiance of restaurants that have been around a while or by restaurateurs who have imagination, rather than just lots of money, when it comes to restaurant design. With that in mind I have absolutely no hesitation in nominating Postino in Lafayette as the restaurant with the best ambiance. A building that seems very much like some restaurants I have dined at in France or Spain dating back to the 16th Century. Brick walls, flagstone floors, fireplaces, etc., plus a good selection of interesting food makes Postino a good destination for a special night out..
“And the winner is …. “
This is not an easy choice and I really do like all of the above restaurants I have mentioned but when I look at the combination of good, imaginative food, consistency, friendly service and comfortable ambiance, my choice is Cafe Attila in San Ramon. I know it isn’t a trendy new restaurant that has had loads of money spent on it but it is a genuine, family owned bistro, just like the ones I remember in England and all over Europe that generates a loyal clientele that just builds over the years. I hope to continue dining there for years to come.