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Thursday, February 17, 2022


Shelby's, a gem of a restaurant in Orinda, California

GUEST BLOG / By Holden DeMayo, Editor, I was a kid our family didn’t have a lot of disposable income to dine at higher end restaurants, but my parents were picky about where we did dine. They avoided both the expensive as well as the greasy spoons. We dined those places that offered a thrifty menu but also had a personality and for the most part good American comfort food. 

Albeit a chain, one of my dad’s favorites was Du-Pars in the Original Farmer’s Market/Wilshire Corridor part of Los Angeles. I loved Du-Pars, especially the pies. They served good food and good prices. They didn’t pretend to be more than they were. 

Far more recent, my wife and I discovered Shelby’s, a northern California contemporary cafe with a French accent.  We were sightseeing in the village of Orinda, a Norman Rockwell suburb east of San Francisco, when we came upon a welcoming cafĂ© with nice lighting and artistic decor. It reminded me a lot of Du-Pars. 

Located by the historic Orinda Movie Theater in the center of Theatre Square next to a fitness studio, Shelby’s was at the opposite end of another eatery jammed with bicycle and Tesla loving locals. 

Happy to be tourists, we picked Shelby’s at random for a Saturday lunch. Staff turned out to be friendly and not in a phony way. We relaxed and watched kids jam the ice cream parlor across the street. We were glad the locals didn’t swamp our new find. 

Our order took a bit longer than we expected, but we were not in a hurry. Our patience paid off. My BLT salad and her Belgian Waffle with mango and blueberries arrived well presented. This kitchen is experienced and the flavorful fare delighted us enough to wish to share it with you. My BLT was served with delicious and very fresh arugula and a large serving of avocado. I’d say the entire avocado greeted me this day. Seeing how well the food was presented overcame my concern over the longer wait. The bacon was three slices cut in inch long cuts and accompanied with half an tomato sliced in quarters. A delicious homemade salad dressing was the prize. 

Belgian Waffle with mango and blueberries

The waffle was a bit thin (unlike attached photo) for being Belgian but it tasted great. No skimping on the maple syrup and the fruit was fresh no limp servings. 

Shelby’s also serves alcoholic beverages but we added calories by sharing a side of frittes instead of booze. 

Fair prices and a flair for presenting delicious food is what we will remember about our lunch in faraway Orinda. 

If you click here for its website you’ll see the menu and read all about the chef behind this village delight. 

Here’s what the website said about the chef Arno Kober and his kitchen staff:

“…Our food is serious, but we want people to have a good time with it." A native of Germany, our Chef began his culinary career at a very young age. He served as an apprentice in Stuttgart in Southern Germany at the French Restaurant Soerenberg. 

After four years and completing his studies in the kitchen, he then relocated to Rudesheim on the Rhine River where he served as Commis de Cuisine in the upscale Hotel Traube. 

Continuing on his culinary journey, he then served as Commis De Cuisine at Hotel St. Raphael and Chef de Cuisine at Borchers Restaurant both located in Hamburg, Germany. 

 In 1994, our Chef relocated to Oaxaca, Mexico to work at the Hotel Victoria as Sous Chef. 

Two years later, he moved to California and served as Personal Chef for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. After working with the Railroad, our Chef took trips around the U.S to explore the flavors of New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles, Utah and Orlando. His experiences in Mexico and throughout the U.S. brought multicultural flare to his cuisine. 

He then settled in Oakland, California and served as Chef de Partie at the Waterfront Plaza Hotel at Jack London Square. 

Caesar and Shrimp salad worth the trip

In 2005, our Chef partnered with two friends and took over the Shelby's Restaurant in Orinda, California which became a destination restaurant known for its innovative, compelling cuisine. The restaurant features his French influenced Contemporary California cuisine presented in a pleasant space. 

It's all about the presentation: French lamb shoulder

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