14 Reasons Not to Cook if You’re in the Bay Area This Christmas

It’s almost a sin to slave away in the kitchen when Bay Area chefs are coming up with amzingly creative  yet traditional menus this holiday season. You couldn’t be in a better place for fresh, sustainable and locally produced offerings on Christmas and New Years. Let the area’s skilled chefs, from wine country to the south bay,  pamper you this year. No cooking plus no cleanup equals a happy holiday household. And stay tuned for New Year’s Eve and Day menus!

Christmas Eve

Aquarius at Dream Inn 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 831 4605 012
This newly opened modern American bistro in the landmark Dream Inn will offer a $40 buffet including roasted butternut squash with fresh sage, Yukon potato gratin, parmesan risotto, Dungeness crab cakes, Meyer natural beef sliders, rosemary-garlic crusted Berkshire pork, plus a chef’s dessert table of fresh baked cupcakes, pies and cobblers.

Madera at Rosewood, 2825 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park, 650 561 1500
This Silicon Valley hotspot will offer a four-course prix fixe menu from 5:30 to 10 p.m. for $95, which includes a glass of sparkling wine. Children age 12 and under are half price. They promise both unique and traditional dishes made with their wood-burning grill, sustainably harvested and produced seafood and meats and incorporating the seasonal harvest from nearby farming communities.

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, 1527 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena, 707 963 1200
Hit this St. Helena favorite for duck livers with pancetta, arugula and picked onions, chestnut soup, pan-fried sole meunière, androquembouche.  Price:  $55 per person; hours are 11:30-8:00pm.

Dry Creek Kitchen, 317 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 707 431 0330
Charlie Palmer’s wine country restaurant at the Hotel Healdsburg will serve a $65 (add $25 for wine pairing) three-course Christmas Eve menu from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. including roasted chestnut soup with sauteed bay scallops, spiced rum sabayon and crispy chestnuts, truffle crusted tournedos of beef filet with caramelized parsnip mousseline, and much more. The daily Chef’s Tasting Menu and a la carte selections will also be available. Read about the hotel’s holiday specials here.

Meritage at the Claremont, 41 Tunnel Road Berkeley, 510 549 8510
Savor a gourmet four-course, prix fixe menu from 5 until 10p.m. featuring winter butternut squash soup with smoked bacon, caramelized butternut squash and sage, roasted venison loin with black truffles, and lots more. Adults are $95, children from five to 12 are $35  Children under five are complimentary.

Marché, 898 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park,  650 324 9092
Executive Chef Guillaume Bienaimé will offer a $65 three course menu from 5:30 until 10:00 p.m., add $35 for wine pairings. Dishes will include leek adn bintje potato soup with long pepper and fried Wellfleet oyster, roasted filet of beef with creamed arugula, and warm chocolate cake.

Waterbar, 399 Embarcadero South, San Francisco, 415 284 9922
Lunch with a gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay this Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. while feasting on pan fried Dungeness crab cakes, a giant shellfish platter, Maine lobster, and grilled sea bass — all from sustainable sources.

Christmas Day

Aquarius at the Dream Inn, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 831 460 5012
Brunch and dinner buffets will be served for $30 and $40 respectively, featuring organic granola and yogurt, cured Italian meat, chocolate chip pancakes, chicken apple breakfast sausage, an omelet station, eggs benedict, and a dessert table of petite fors. Christmas dinner buffet will be the same as Christmas Eve (see above).

Asia de Cuba at the Clift Hotel, 495 Geary Street, San Francisco, 415 929 2300
Renowned restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow will offer up an Asian-meets-Latin sharing cuisine from 6 to 11 p.m. featuring kabocha squash and shrimp bisque, sesame puff pastry, cashew crusted sea bass, ginger garlic and shrimp dumplings, bok choy, yuzu caviar beurre blanc, and drunken rib-eye.

Ame at the St. Regis, 689 Mission Street, San Francisco, 415 284 4040
The regular menu will be available as well as special Christmas Day fare from 4 to 8 p.m. Ame’s new chef, Hiro Sone will showcase seasonal New American cuisine as well as a sashimi bar, a range of appetizer and entree plates, and an assortment of artisan cheese and desserts.

Americano at Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission St., San Francisco, 415 278 3777
Take your time and enjoy Chef Paul Arenstam’s slow food offerings: a three-course dinner will include marinated seafood with heirloom chicories, avocado and citrus vinaigrette, cream of sun choke soup with black truffle and chervil crema, piedmontese-style rib eye with Yukon gold potato and black trumpet mushroom gratin and Tuscan kale, pan seared Pacific black cod with Meyer lemon risotto and sweet onion tapenade, and chocolate cherry cake with toasted almond crème anglaise and kirsch cream.

cityhouse at Parc 55, 55 Cyril Magnin Street, San Francisco, 800 595 0507
Executive Chef Brian Healy will offer a $55 (add $20 for wine) three-course dinner at the new restaurant inside the recently-renovated Parc 55 Hotel. Dinner selections include Dungeness crab and artichoke chowder, roasted beef tenderloin, plus a holiday yule log with Gran Marnier mousse.

Brix, 7377 Saint Helena Highway, Yountville, 707.944.2749
The restaurant will be open from 2:00pm to 8:00pm with a 3-course prix fixe menu highlighting dishes from a traditional Italian “Feast of Seven Fishes” meal, including sweet shrimp risotto with spinach and garlic and crispy fried little neck clams with creamed brussels sprouts and bacon. $60 per person, wine pairings available at an additional charge.

Meritage at the Claremont, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, 510.549.8510
From 11a.m. until 7p.m., the Claremont will host a buffet featuring Sonoma duck breast with sundried cherries, wild mushrooms and glazed pearl onions, poached eggs on potato-vegetable hash, and lots more. Enjoy live piano while you celebrate with family and friends. $79 for adults and $25 for children ages five to twelve. Children under five are complimentary.