It’s not every day when you get to eat dinner in what feels like a castle.
But that’s the sensation you get when dining at Julia’s at Berkeley City Club. The restaurant, which opened in 2012, is hidden away on the second floor of the Julia Morgan-designed building. The dining room is a throwback to the days before wooden stools, communal tables and Edison lightbulbs became de rigueur — tables are large and covered with white tablecloths, chairs are cushioned, carpets muffle noise.
The menu, however, has modern touches. Executive chef Alaun Grimaud, who helped open the restaurant but left in 2015, is back in the kitchen, crafting modern California cuisine with strong French and Spanish influence. Of-the-moment dishes like burrata cheese with seasonal toppings and chicken liver terrine with pickled fruits appear alongside safer classics like New York strip steaks and fettuccini pasta.
Grimaud changes small details of the menu frequently based on the ingredients coming into the kitchen. He told Nosh that he is working on bringing back more local producers, as he did when he helped open the restaurant.
Drinks are on the simpler side — the cocktail menu doesn’t hold many surprises and the beer list reads like a “best of” list of craft brewers. However, the long wine list does point out local producers and, refreshingly, all of the women-run wineries on the list. (This women-centric philosophy is not new; the Berkeley City Club opened as the Berkeley Women’s City Club in 1930 and only started allowing men in 1965.)
Juila’s invited Nosh to a complimentary dinner in February. Take a look at the menu in photos, below: