Best Over-the-Top Brunch

Meritage at the Claremont

That its view through a row of grand windows is one of the East Bay's best — a surrealistically supersize panorama including palms, bridges, peaks, tennis courts, silver-blue bay, and shimmering metropolis — gives the Meritage top-brunch-spot status even before your first forkful of saffron-sauced salmon, Chioggia beets with goat cheese, sage-apple-chicken sausages, roasted-duck-and-Portobello-mushroom lo mein, sweet-pepper hash, crab siu mai, red-velvet cupcakes, quadruple-decker chocolate cake with a pistachio-fluff layer, and the dozens of other dishes served all-you-can-eat buffet-style. Soft piano music in a historic, lofty, Moorish-influenced space makes the limitless champagne taste even smoother and softens the blow of the $56-per-person price tag. The Meritage opened last November in the lush Claremont Resort, a local landmark since it opened in 1915. Executive chef Josh Thomsen, a Culinary Institute of America grad whose past gigs include Yountville's celebrated French Laundry, visits farmers' markets on Fridays and Saturdays to plan menus for his Sunday brunches.

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