Recently three of us had a very pleasant dinner at Julia's at the Berkeley City Club before attending a Christmas concert on a Saturday evening. If you've ever been to Hearst Castle, you'll immediately see some similarities as Julia Morgan was the architect for both places. Situated a block South of the Berkeley campus on Durant, this is a very convenient location for visits around the campus as well as an interesting destination by itself. Architecture is a mixture of Spanish, Mission and Moorish influences seen in other designs by Ms. Morgan. As the restaurant opens at 5 (bar at 4:30), you can park on the street for about $2 (metering expires at 6) and stay put for the remainder of the evening. Just be there early so you don't have to hunt about.
Despite good reviews, we didn't have the very highest expectations as Julia's is a restaurant situated inside a club. These sometimes fall victim to budget constraints magnified by limited traffic. However, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality and presentation of the food. Their menu appears to change from time to time, but suffice to say they offer an interesting mix of California cuisine. We started off in the bar area enjoying bar appetizers and some bubbly. At the anointed time, we wandered into the adjacent dining room. Dinner appetizers consisted of beet salads and a small braised beef pasta plate. Our main courses included Sole, Tenderloin, and Duck. Everything was savory and nicely presented. Service was provided by three individuals who did not intrude, but were always there to help. Delivery of the food was timed nicely and reasonably quick. We shared a dessert with a mixture of chocolate offerings; it was very nicely presented and quite delicious. The wine list, while not huge, is priced lower than most restaurants and a good value so don't bring your own.
While you visit, take time to wander around the common areas of the club and enjoy the warm and engaging environment. Julia's presents a wonderful mixture of building design and very affordable food that should serve your dining experience quite well. Cheers!
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