Tomato festival at Lark Creek restaurants in San Jose, SF, and other Bay Area cities

Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled shrimp addition at Lark Creek Walnut Creek

Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled shrimp addition at Lark Creek Walnut Creek

Good news for heirloom tomato fans: September is the Heirloom Tomato Festival hosted by Lark Creek Restaurant Group and all the LCRG restaurants – including Lark Creek Blue on San Jose’s Santana Row, and Lark Creek Walnut Creek – are featuring delectable artisan tomato creations.

Even better news: there is an opportunity for one of you to win a gift card good at Lark Creek restaurants — see end of article for contest details. You can use the card during the tomato festival or at a future date.

LCRG chefs are preparing dishes made from tomatoes still warm from the garden. Restaurants will source Brandywine, Green Zebra, Yellow Marvel and Purple Cherokee heirloom varietals among others from local growers, including J+K Smith Farms. In addition, bartenders have crafted delicious heirloom tomato cocktails.
Chef Scott Wall of Lark Creek Walnut Creek has been cooking at Lark Creek for 14 years.  Of all the themed menus the restaurant does each year, the Heirloom Tomato is his favorite. “The tomatoes are so fresh and grown just miles away; (the festival) epitomizes the farm to table theory,” he shares. “As a chef, creating a menu based on these great local ingredients is almost effortless. There are so many combinations.”
For these special September dishes, Chef Scott is exclusively using tomatoes from Rose Lane Farm in Oakley. “We receive a tomato delivery four times a week. Each delivery includes tomatoes that were just picked.”  He says the farmer assures that each box is of the highest quality and sweetness.

I went to Lark Creek Walnut Creek for lunch in August, and really enjoyed the experience. I was with two other adults plus my three-year-old daughter, and the enclosed outdoor patio provided a comfortable atmosphere. We received extremely gracious, attentive service, and food standouts included fresh corn soup with pumpkin seed pesto, moist and delicious meatloaf, a savory Reuben, and a kids’ peanut-butter-and-jelly that already had the crusts removed!
Lark Creek Blue Chef de Cuisine Chad T. Ferry shares that he’s excited about this month’s festival because of “…the simple versatility of the tomato. Some take the tomato for granted, not knowing the difference between a roma and a beefsteak tomato. Heirlooms have a better, fuller flavor and we need to celebrate such a product when its at it’s peak.” Ferry encourages diners to “enjoy its simplicity and marvel at its complexity in flavors and textures.” I have dined at Lark Creek Blue twice, once for dinner and once for lunch, and each time it exceeded my expectations.

Special heirloom tomato selections will be available through the end of September 2014.

Highlights are below; see Lark Creek’s news site for links to all restaurants (including one in Southern California, in Newport Beach) and specific menus.

Food highlights
• Heirloom Tomato Salad with house-made mozzarella, balsamic dressing (see photo, which features the salad with an optional grilled shrimp addition)  from Chef Scott Wall at Lark Creek Walnut Creek ( 925.256.1234
• Grilled Swordfish- heirloom tomato and basil risotto from Chef de Cuisine Chad Ferry at Lark Creek Blue (  408.244.1244
• Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops- tomatoes, artichokes, olive oil mashed potatoes, lobster emulsion from Chef Mark Dommen at One Market Restaurant ( 415.777.5577
• Calabrese Pizza- heirloom tomatoes, ricotta, Calabrese peppers from Chef Marc Tennison at Cupola Pizzeria ( 415.896.5600
• Brown Butter-Poached Maine Lobster- Brentwood corn, grilled romaine, Copia garden cherry tomatoes, lavender, lobster coral emulsion from Chef Scott Ekstrom at Fish Story ( 707.251.5600
• Heirloom Tomato Salad- Italian peppers, cucumber, torpedo onions, green goddess dressing  from Chef Aaron Wright at Lark Creek Steak ( 415.593.4100
• P.E.I Mussels served with an heirloom tomato concasse, chipotle lime butter, from Chef Michael Dunn at Yankee Pier Lafayette ( 925.283.4100
• Grilled King Salmon & Heirloom Tomato Panzanella- pickled red onions, rocolla, torn sweet batard croutons, basil, watermelon from Chef Alex Marsh, Yankee Pier Larkspur ( 415.924.7676
• Heirloom Tomato B.L.T.- crisp Zoe’s bacon, butter lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, herb mayonnaise, toasted focaccia from Chef Heidi DiPippo at Lark Creek Grill  SFO (  650.821.9315
• House-Made Cheese Tortellini- sweet 100’s tomatoes, smoked tomato ragout, toy-box eggplant from Chef Jonathan Hall at Parcel 104 408-970-6104
• Heirloom Tomato Soup- basil oil, parmesan, olive oil croutons from Chef Heidi DiPippo at Yankee Pier SFO ( 650.821.8938

Selected Heirloom Tomato Cocktails

• “Tomato Haze”- smoked heirloom tomato bloody Mary- house-infused peppar vodka, pickled carrot at Lark Creek Steak (
• “New Morning” – roasted tomato water, Hanson Brothers cucumber vodka, mezcal, simple syrup, blistered tomato garnish at One Market Restaurant (
• “Italian Garden”- heirloom tomato juice, watermelon juice, Carpano Antica at Cupola Pizzeria (
• “Summer’s Bounty”- Gin, fresh watermelon juice, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, simple syrup, lemon juice at Yankee Pier Lafayette (

Prize: A $100 gift card to Lark Creek Restaurants
To enter, email your name to and include the words “Lark Creek tomato festival.” Deadline to enter is Wednesday, Sept. 17 2014 at 8 p.m.
This contest is open to readers of Tara Fatemi Walker’s and sites. Employees of are not eligible for this promotion.