Claremont Club & Spa, an urban resort in the Berkeley Hills, has long been a draw for its spectacular setting and club amenities. Now, a new option offers another reason to visit as the Claremont welcomes Limewood Bar & Restaurant to its dining roster. Limewood replaces the former Antoinette’s which shuttered after a two-month stay. Where Antoinette’s favored a formal haute cuisine format, Limewood has reversed that theme with its casual elegance and a seasonal, locally sourced menu. On a recent visit I found Limewood a welcoming way station for both the local community and hotel guests alike.
At the front of the restaurant, the bar and lounge opens up to an expansive deck with show stopping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tam and San Francisco. It’s a convivial gathering spot with a celebratory atmosphere. A new drink menu features house-created cocktails accompanied by well-balanced regional wine offerings. I was especially impressed with choices by the glass that, during my visit, included a 2012 Keenan Syrah for just $14.
Beyond the bar, the restaurant half of Limewood supports an open concept kitchen. Tables offer well-spaced seating and views out over the hills. Limewood brings Chef Joseph Humphrey to the helm from Napa Valley where he served as executive chef at Michelin three-starred Meadowood Restaurant. His inaugural menu shows an appreciation for local artisans and growers with dishes rooted in farm to table cuisine, expressive of the season. On the opening menu, lamb chops stuffed with spiced lamb sausage as well as cured wild king salmon with fennel, orange and sassafras were featured. My dining companion raved about his dessert, the caramelized peach split with cherry sorbet and pistachios.
As part of the Fairmont Hotel family, Claremont Club & Spa’s Limewood represents a prime example of how an elegant hotel can thrive as a neighborhood social center. Open daily. For reservations, call (510) 843 3000. Reservations can also be made at the restaurant’s website: http://www.fairmont.com/claremont-berkeley/dining/limewood-bar-and-restaurant/
Built in 1915 and newly restored, the “Castle on the Hill” sits at the base of the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve and overlooks San Francisco Bay. Among the resort’s amenities are an impressive spa and club, tennis and fitness center and kids’ pool. The Claremont shares the Fairmont umbrella with such iconic hotels as The Plaza in New York, The Savoy in London and the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai. 41Tunnel Road. Berkeley, CA 94705. www.fairmont.com/claremont-berkeley