A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself—designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas—remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.
The heart of the Kinara Lounge kitchen is its fiery clay tandoori oven, which crackles with baking naan breads and sizzling tandoori meats from noontime until dusk. Chefs bustle about the oven, seasoning pans of chicken, lamb, and seafood specialties with flavorful spices while peeking into pots filled with bubbling biryani rice. Servers transport plates to the dining room, where hanging red lights casts a glimmer on bottles of premium liquors and a flat-screen television. Come lunch time, the servers stack a sweeping buffet with simmering platters of fresh Indian specialties, enabling diners to sample a diverse selection of curries, tandoori dishes, and sauces.
Cheryl Burke took the dance world by storm in 2006 when she won "Dancing with the Stars" twice, once in the winter and again in the fall. In addition to fame, her performance on the show also netted her two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Choreography. When she's not busy with the show, an acting gig, or a magazine shoot, she still finds time to teach at her eponymous dance studio, Cheryl Burke Dance, which she co-founded with her mother in 2009.
The facility features three dance studios, including a sprawling 4,118 sq. ft. studio, as well as a veteran team of instructors, some of whom are National and World dance champions. Together, in private or group settings, they teach nearly 20 different styles of dance, including the Waltz, Rumba, and the Lindy Hop. Once students feel confident enough with their dance skills or the swelling from the surgery to repair their second left foot subsides, they can attend one of the studio's dance parties to show off their new moves.
Harpreet "Happy" Singh—also known as “The Beer Baron”—holds court over 22 taps of suds chosen from a rotating selection of craft beers. Singh, who also presides over Perry's Liquor and Craft Beer, adds his encyclopedic knowledge to every pint of Delirium Tremens or Armored Fist Black IPA that slides down the smooth wooden bar in his industrial-chic watering hole, nestled within the nearly century-old Schenone Building in downtown Livermore. Hanging metal lamps spotlight seats at the bar, where flat-screen TVs flicker with sports, and a candlelit back lounge lends tabletops to Greek food brought in from Demitri's Taverna. Hits from the '80s, '90s, and modern hip-hop scene fill the bar on Thursday through Saturday nights, when DJs enthrall crowds with alluring beats punctuated by tributes to Perry Como.
Around the burgundy-walled space of Sanctuary Ultra Lounge and Restaurant, guests sink in to plush chairs, savor bites of fire grilled gourmet pizzas, or get up and dance to music spun by a DJ. The lounge prides itself on effortlessly shifting from upscale restaurant to high-energy nightclub. A back room plays host to live musicians late into the night and even the morning when they all transform back into potted plants. For those more interested in dinner than karaoke, the kitchen grills up Angus burgers topped with portobello mushrooms or peanut butter, and prepares plates of braised pork and poblano tamales.
Supervised by a Culinary Institute of America–trained chef, kitchen staff at Arka simmer gourmet Indian fare, filling a colorful dining room with savory aromas. The seasonal menu fuses tastes from both the Northern and Southern sectors of the subcontinent to create rich curries as well as regional specialties such as chickpea masala or lentil dumplings. Waiters can suggest wine or beer pairings such as Indian Kingfisher beer or Spanish rioja, and printed symbols on the menu indicate which entrees are gluten-free, vegan, or favored by Batman.
Arka—which means "sun"—surrounds diners in brilliant color as they tuck into their elegantly plated fare. Crimson walls melt into goldenrod, lime green, and purple, and one surface hosts a mural of the restaurant's namesake celestial body.