“I brought you a steak knife so you don’t smush the tomatoes” the server offered as she sat down my Caprese salad. Thick slices of heirloom tomatoes layered with house-made mozzarella in an offset pattern across a rectangular plate. Drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with a basil chiffonade. Composed of several tomato varieties: Variegated, yellow, Green Zebra, and traditional red. The salad tasted like summer.
Lark Creek-Walnut Creek is located in San Francisco’s East Bay area, downtown Walnut Creek, California. The restaurant offers seasonal, farm-fresh produce as the foundation for its American comfort meals. The farm-to-fork ingredients are locally sourced. Ingredients are organic. The restaurant’s freezer contains only ice cream and sorbets. Everything is fresh, not frozen. The upside is the fresh taste and resulting healthy feeling. The downside is your favorite dish may be gone on your next visit. Off the menu until next year at this time. Oh my yearning for the butternut squash soup!
American Comfort Food
It’s traditional American comfort food with a modern spin. Bacon braised cabbage with pomegranate arils definitely doesn’t take me back to the braised cabbage of my childhood. That would have been avoided at all costs. The salty smoky bacon flavored cabbage springs forth with pops of tart pomegranate. Who knew braised cabbage could be so appealing! As a staff member mentioned, cabbage can be an affordable yet tasty vegetable on a budget.
My favorite dinner dish became the filet mignon topped with a demi-glace, unless of course it’s February when it’s topped with crab sauce. In either case, it sits on a potato cake and is accompanied by a seasonal vegetable. The children’s menu includes such favorites as grilled cheese sandwiches, mini cheese burgers, and fresh fruit plates. Classic Sunday brunch items (available until 3:00 pm.) include cinnamon brioche French toast or eggs benedict.
Specials rotate nightly. For example, every Thursday it’s roast turkey, sage cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, yams and cranberry relish. Some days change seasonally; others, like Thursday, are consistent. Satisfy your craving for Thanksgiving dinner in August!
All meals start and finish the same; but, different depending on the season. Starting with a complimentary amuse-bouche, one or two bites of a featured seasonal item. A button mushroom stuffed with cheese or salmon croquette with an outer crunch that took me back to my childhood of Friday salmon patties. Each meal finishes exactly the same, with a complimentary quarter-inch cube of house-made caramel pecan fudge. But before the fudge, leave room for dessert!
Chef/Owner Bradley Ogden opened the restaurant more than 25 years ago. It has grown into an award-winning 15 restaurant group. The restaurant received a 2015 Open Table Winner – Readers’ Choice Award.
Ogden grew up in Traverse City, Michigan on farm fresh produce. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and is a James Beard Award Winner. He published two cookbooks so that you can recreate his food at home, in the event that you can’t make it to one of his restaurants.
The exhibition kitchen showcases a wood fired oven, perfect for flatbreads. Several settings co-exist within the casual, yet elegant restaurant. There’s the street-side patio, private dining room, white-clothed tables and the more casual booths. There’s the outside reserved long communal table partially covered space for special events. A full bar offers 125 American wines and local tap beer. The attentive servers dressed in black pants, white shirts with ties, vests and long white aprons provide helpful, friendly service.
“What makes butterscotch pudding your signature dessert?” I asked. “Real butter, real Scotch” the server quipped with a smile. I was skeptical, picturing Jell-O instant pudding; but, I had to place my order. After all, it is their signature dessert. A small white bowl of butterscotch pudding topped with a quenelle of Chantilly cream and a short bread cookie on the side appeared. Thick, smooth and rich. The server explained that this pudding recipe has been improved upon from the chef’s mother’s original recipe. If you aren’t traveling to Walnut Creek soon, try Chef Ogden’s Butterscotch Pudding recipe below.
Even though I know I can’t get a tomato for my cheeseburger in January, I know I can always get the butterscotch pudding. It’s always in season.
• Use a seriated knife to cut tomatoes, for a smooth, even slice.
• When making the butterscotch pudding use the extra egg whites to make an egg white omelet or a Pavlova with mixed berries.
Lark Creek – Walnut Creek
1260 Locust Street
Walnut Creek, California 94596
Phone: 925 256 1234
Reservations are accepted.
Lunch: Monday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Brunch: Sunday: 10:00 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: Sunday – Thursday: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday: 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Bar: Beverage service is available from opening until almost one hour after the end of dining room seating.
Lark Creek Walnut Creek Butterscotch Pudding
1 ¾ quarts heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
12 ounces butterscotch chips
10 egg yolks
¼ cup brown sugar
1/8 cup water
¼ ounce scotch
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
1. Put heavy cream and butterscotch chips into a saucepan. Split open vanilla bean and scrape the inside into the cream. Bring all to a boil and set aside.
2. Place the egg yolks into a large bowl. Slowly add the above cream mixture while whisking. Set aside.
3. Mix the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and let mixture caramelize. Remove from heat and carefully pour in the scotch and cream. Return to heat and stir until all is melted. Pour this into cream and egg base mixture. Add salt.
4. Strain mixture into oven proof ramekins. Bake at 250 degrees in a water bath until custard sets. Place in refrigerator. When cool, top with whip cream and serve.
I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.
Oh wow, that caprese salad sounds amazing. I used to grow green zebra heirloom tomatoes and they are my all time favourite. Thanks for including the recipe for pudding as well .. there’s always room for dessert!