WALNUT CREEK, CA (Feb. 1, 2024) — If Michelin readily bestowed stars on the Contra Costa side of the Caldecott Tunnel, Main Street Kitchen and Bar in Walnut Creek would be a worthy candidate.
Their combination of quality ingredients, innovative seasonal recipes and excellent service makes it one of the best places to dine in the region. Owner-executive chef Arash Ghasemi and his wife Lauri serve a diverse brunch, lunch and dinner menu seven days a week.
Immigrating from war-torn Iran, Arash learned the restaurant trade working his way up the ladder from being a dishwater in Holland. He moved to the United State in 1996 in search of better culinary opportunities.
It was in San Francisco where he met and married Chicago native Lauri. The two operated a small café in Oakland prior to opening Main Street in 2015.
Changing brunch menu
The couple has distinguished themselves with a changing brunch menu that depends on availability of fresh products from local vendors. These purveyors of fish, produce, meats and dairy provide the foundation for Main Street’s success.
This was evident on a recent visit featuring a chanterelle mushroom omelet, accompanied by home fries and an order of Painted Hill thick smoked bacon. They also offer a unique egg dish showcasing Medjool dates and Laura Chenel goat cheese.
Each breakfast item comes with a fresh fruit compote jam that changes with the availability of fruit.
The favorite at my table was the French toast made with Berkeley’s Acme Bakery Levain sourdough, served with a small vessel of house-made cranberry-banana-pumpkin mascarpone. Real maple syrup completed this masterpiece. This concoction was so popular, my family ordered a second helping.
Also noteworthy are the Eggs Benedict utilizing a couple of pouched organic eggs covered by a made-to-order Hollandaise sauce. Main Street has a chicken and smoked salmon version that I look forward to sampling during a future visit.
If one desires non-brunch items, Main Street has the answer. Our table shared a delicious pear salad with a pistachio Meyer lemon dressing. Also of note is the roasted beet salad with dates, avocado, persimmons and almonds covered with a yogurt sauce.
The menu also features burgers, pizza, and fish and chips, along with other lunch items.
With such diverse offerings, one wonders how Arash and Lauri can put so much time into making Main Street a success. It helps that his parents and Lauri’s mom assist them in raising 9- and 12-year-olds boys at their Danville home. This arrangement allows the couple to serve a dinner menu that rivals the quality of what they put out earlier in the day.
In the evening, we started with marinated fresh green olives and fried calamari. Next on our agenda was an incredible Bartlett pear pizza featuring onion cream mozzarella and tangy Point Reyes Blue cheeses. For more traditional fare, Main Street has Margherita, sausage, pepperoni, and prosciutto, pizza. These are ideal options for younger diners.
Our favorite entree was the Chicken al Mattone. It consists of a pounded chicken thigh covered by a Brussels sprout/butternut squash/brown butter/sage combo. In the spring, the chef plans to use spinach, mushroom and feta cheese for this dish.
Also on the dinner menu is wild Alaskan halibut provided by Paul Johnson’s iconic Monterey Fish. Sierra Nevada Farms’ bone-in pork chops, a half-pound Wagyu cheeseburger and Bavette (flank steak) provide tasty carnivore options.
Drinks and desserts
Main Street has a full bar with foo-foo drinks and extensive wine selections. They are a bit pricey, so I enjoyed an East Brother’s Pilsner.
As might be expected, the dessert menu meets all expectations. Two people can easily share the apple crisp covered with a scoop of rich Straus vanilla ice cream. We also tried the lemon persimmon panna cotta that featured a delicate yogurt cream pudding.
Main Street Kitchen and Bar should be at the top of local gourmet’s destinations.
They are open 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday-Friday. They open at 9 a.m. weekends and close at 8 p.m. Sunday at 1358 N. Main St., Walnut Creek. For more information, call 925-933-1001.
Contact Richard Eber at email@example.com