By Camilla Marais | Culture Editor
I, without a doubt, feel extremely lucky to live in the Bay Area. Technology, music, and food aside, we live in a ridiculously beautiful place. From nature to the architecture, I am continually in awe of the scenery around me. I had one of these breath-taking moments this weekend in Oakland on the shore of Lake Merritt, at the beautiful restaurant Lake Chalet. The lake is surrounded by both city and twinkling strings of lights, illuminating off the dark water. Lake Chalet itself is warm and inviting, resting upon the edge of the waters. As we had made a reservation the week before, we were seated immediately upon our arrival. As we made our way to the table, I was floored by the beautiful bar. From the industrial aesthetic to the glamorous decor using liquor bottles, this restaurant oozes minimalistic luxury. As we looked over our menu, we were torn between the many options, both from land and sea. To start, my more adventurous friend enjoyed the steamed mussels, while the rest dove into sweet potato fries. Personally, I have never been a massive fan of mussels, but upon smelling the richly flavored broth they came in, I had to. Biting into the succulent meat, my tongue was hit with salty, savory, smoky, and many other deliciously balanced notes. After much debate, we had placed our orders and took the chance to continue gazing at the city lights on the water. Soon, to our utmost excitement, our entrees began to arrive.
I ordered the baby kale salad, adorned with roasted mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, cauliflower, shaved parmesan, and prawns. The prawns were easily some of the best I’ve ever had; they were well-seasoned, succulent, and had the most amazing crust on them. The entire salad was delicious (apart from the dressing I had on the side, which I found too thick). As always, my friends and I sampled each other’s dishes, so I was able to steal a bite from different plates. Crispy pan-seared chicken was paired with creamy avocado, crunchy bacon, sweet and spicy pineapple and habanero salsa, a simple aioli, all atop luscious ciabatta bread. My other friends ordered two different salads; the first was an mixed greens, decorated with orange segments, crisp pears, creamy goat cheese, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and more of those delicious seared prawns. These combinations of flavors hit every single taste bud, like a beautifully crafted symphony for your mouth (that’s a thing, right?). The second was the Lake Chalet Louie Salad, which was adorned with chopped tomatoes, creamy avocado, bits of hard boiled egg, the signature Louie dressing, and Dungeness crab. The sweetness of the crab paired so well with the other flavors, and all of us ended our meal feeling extremely satisfied. While we did not order dessert this time (we are still fairly broke college students), I know I will definitely be back to try their white chocolate bread pudding, as the waitress said it was her all-time favorite dessert.
As we left the golden glow of Lake Chalet, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the serenity it held in the heart of Oakland. From the simple but luxurious menu, the classy decor, and the eye candy supplied by a glistening lake, Lake Chalet gave me another reason to fall in love with the Bay Area.