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Bay CrossingsCuisine

Barclay’s Sheppard’s Pie – a Scottish Tradition

By Mary Swift-Swan

Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub, located at the corner of Broadway and Water Sreet, at the edge of Jack London Square, is the "Cheers" of Oakland with a California difference. The food alone is a worthy reason to visit often enough that "everyone knows your name." The original Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub is in the Rockridge area, where Berkeley, Oakland, and Piedmont meet. In October of 2002, owner Gene Bromstead and Executive Chef Bill Foley branched out to open a second Barclay’s in Jack London Square. Both places were created to provide an extensive menu of micro brew beers and great food. To make it fun, they host a Barclay’s beer club that rewards those that try the rotating variety and new beers. Approximately 150 micro brews rotate through regularl, with 21-30 available any given day; over time, hundreds of new beers have been tried. A bell is rung when prizes are earned accompanied by pub patrons cheering.

Barclay’s, by design and intent, has "Restaurant" as the central part of the name. This is their stated commitment to provide truly good food as well as good beer. Chef Bill selects specials for the day from among his repertoire of family favorites, wonderful in-house rotisserie meats, and his extensive background in fine restaurants. With 28 years in professional kitchens, he can cook anything and, in turn, has trained his steady staff. Hank and several others have been with Barclay’s since the Rockridge restaurant opened 11 years ago. Whether it’s a hamburger or succulent lobster special, both kitchens follow Chef Bill Foley’s motto: make sure each dish is cooked just right.

In these times, the rising cost of living has many home chefs returning to basics. Sheppard’s Pie, a classic Scottish tradition, brings together good basic ingredients to create a hardy and savory dish. It is loved as a comfort food year round. Sheppard’s Pie appeared as an occasional special in lieu of rotating pot-pie varieties. Jack London area patrons requested Sheppard’s Pie so frequently that Chef Bill has made his Scottish grandmother’s recipe a signature dish at the Jack London Barclay’s.

Meat Filling

Preparation time 15 min.

Cooking time 1 hour

Serves 6 using a casserole or individual crocks.

1 lg Yellow onion–diced

2 clv Garlic chopped

1 lb Lamb stew meat 1/2" cubes

1 lb Beef stew meat 1/2" cubes

1 c Frozen peas

3 Carrots – diced

2 T Olive oil

1/2 c Cooking Sherry

3/4 c Water

2 Bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste




2 T Unsalted butter – melted

2 T Flour



Mash Potatoes

4 lb Red Potatoes, washed and quartered leaving skin on

2 clv Garlic chopped

2 T Unsalted butter

1/4 c Milk – low fat, whole milk or buttermilk all work

Salt and Pepper to taste

Parmesan to sprinkle on top

Step One

Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic – sauté for 1 minute to sweat out juices to mix with the olive oil. Bring up the heat to medium high, then add lamb and beef. Brown meat on one side. Add cooking sherry carefully and stir well. (SAFETY NOTE: Using a tall pan helps prevent flame up from alcohol in the sherry.) Then turn and brown on a second side. Add water and bay leaves, then reduce heat to low. Cook meat mixture on low for 1/2 hour until meat is tender.

Step Two

Put potatoes and garlic in a pot large enough to fully immerse potatoes adding an inch of water on top. Boil potatoes until soft, then drain (15 min.) Add butter, salt, and pepper and mix until smooth; then set aside.

Step Three

Add peas and carrots to the meat mixture and season the broth with salt and pepper. Make up the roux to thicken the broth. (TIP: Hot roux makes the best sauce, blending without lumps.) When smooth, add to the meat mixture and stir. Keep watch and add water if needed to adjust thickness continuing for 5 minutes to fully blend flavors.

Step Four

Put meat filling into a casserole dish or six individual crocks. Top with mashed potatoes while still warm. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees finishing the last five minutes with top heat to brown the tips of the potatoes for an appetizing appearance.

After removing the dish or dishes from the oven, allow to set for 5 minutes. While the crocks or casserole rest, prepare a simple green salad to serve with Barclay’s Sheppard’s Pie.


Chef Bill Foley

To earn money while going to college, Bill worked in a restaurant. It was his good fortune to be hired by a top French restaurant outside of Philadelphia in a town called Media. It was there he became an understudy to the former chef for President Nixon. From waiting tables and washing dishes, he became a lead chef. After finishing college with a political science major, he continued working at the restaurant for eight years, eventually overseeing three restaurant kitchens and a catering company. At age 25, 20 years ago, he headed west to take a break from his intense schedule. He worked at Heavenly Valley in Lake Tahoe, where he could ski or hike during his time off.

He had followed a lady to California , so when she headed to Berkeley for graduate school, he left Tahoe. That is when he truly fell in love with the San Francisco Bay Area and its outlying communities. She eventually went back to Philly and Bill moved to Contra Costa County, where he still resides with a delightful lady named Carolyn, who loves good food and good wine or beer. Bill smiled with warmth and appreciation that seemed to reach to his toes when speaking of Carolyn’s sense of fun.

"Cooking at home is great place to play. Carolyn and her 25-year-old daughter, who lives with us and works at Barclay’s, are both good cooks." He chuckled while imparting this, patting the few extra pounds that he’s accumulated from sharing experiments in dining and fun in the kitchen with his family. He said, "At home when I cook, I tend to cook simpler meals lacking the valued help of Feliz." (Barclay’s efficient dishwasher.) "With Feliz, I can hand him pans as I use them allowing full freedom and a constantly clean place to work. I sometimes make up marinades or sauces here to take home because Feliz is a pleasure to work with and Barclay’s is an efficient kitchen with room to be creative."