The Berkeley Boathouse Is More Than a Typical Hotel Restaurant

Part of an $8 million ‘refresh,’ the Berkeley Boathouse opens within DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina with achef-driven menu.


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Photo by Lance Yamamoto

What’s edgier than chef-driven, locally and sustainably sourced, innovative California-cuisinish food and drinks — think Thai-green-curry mussels, mahi-mahi tacos, bison short-ribs, and kumquat panna cotta — served seven days a week, starting at 6 a.m.?

All of the above — directly on a waterfront with world-class views.

It’s been happening since September, when Berkeley Boathouse opened within DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina as part of an $8 million “refresh.”

Hotel restaurants are saddled with stereotypes, lamented Berkeley Boathouse general mananger David Legault.

“People tend to think that, because it’s in a hotel, it serves boring room-service food. And, technically, we’re an independent restaurant that’s located inside a hotel,” he said. “But we’ve elevated our cuisine to match this amazing place: Berkeley, of all cities, right on its marina — where, after spending their days on the water and in Cesar Chavez Park, people can come and enjoy our fireplaces, fire pits, and bocce-ball courts.”

They could also enjoy smoked-whiskey cocktails, kung-pao Brussels sprouts, horseradish mash, Almare gelato flights, and/or seared house-butchered salmon with Sardinian pasta and fresh peas.

“Seafood naturally needs to be a large part of our menu,” said executive chef Matthew Thomas.

“It’s part of our nautical flair — but augmented with flavors that represent Berkeley along with a hodgepodge of wonderful things from all over the world,” said Thomas, an Arkansas native who has cooked at San Francisco’s Aquerello and Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel. Thomas is a firm believer that sunchokes, parsnips, and celery root “are entirely underrated.”

Furthering that flair are buoys and oars adorning a beachily blue-and-tan interior whose 2,000-square-foot deck and floor-to-ceiling windows command arm’s-length vistas of vessels at work and at rest.

“Berkeley is an incredible area for restaurants. People in this glorious community have so many incredible choices,” Thomas said. “For anyone opening a new restaurant here, that fact is both a blessing and a curse. A foodie might love one place, but there are 20 more places in town that the foodie wants to try out before they go back to that first place. We all want our guests to remember the flavor, the service, the shock and awe — so that they do come back.”

 

Berkeley Boathouse, 200 Marina Blvd., Berkeley, 510-665-7162, BerkeleyBoathouse.com.

 

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