Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill 1520 Lakeside Dr./17th St. Situated within the beautifully repurposed 100-year-old Lake Merritt boat house, this restaurant offers a variety of venues: outside on a dock with its own bar and menu, inside at an 80-foot-long marble bar, upstairs in a formal dining room with a grand view. Highlights from past menus include lovely, very green English pea soup with ham hock and crème fraiche, delicate fried Petrale sole picatta served atop Yukon Gold potato puree and steamed watercress, and Liberty Farms duck with a roasted fig sauce. Barbecued baby back ribs, a half-pound burger, and assorted selections from the raw bar are all generally available. The fresh Dungeness crab Louie makes a great lunch paired with one of the specialty lemonades--pomenagranate-blackberry (my favorite) or guava-strawberry. Cocktails, mostly California wines, and the parent restaurant’s hand-crafted Beach Chalet beers (on tap) will quench most thirsts. Drinks here along with a few apps--perhaps the crispy fried calamari or the so so good Brussels sprouts--is also a good way to go.
Celebrating a special occasion? Consider surprising your dining companion with a romantic gondola ride leaving from the restaurant’s dock. Romantic authentic Venetian gondolas operated by opera-singing gondoliers are for hire at about half the price they’d go for in Venice through Gondola Servizio.
Allow time before or after to stroll around lovely Lake Merritt. In daylight you’ll see a variety of birds (the lake is a bird sanctuary), and from dusk on you’ll be enchanted by the encircling chain of lights.