Selby’s Sizzles — Even Before It Opens

Halibut with Robuchon potatoes at the new Selby's.

Halibut with Robuchon potatoes at the new Selby’s.

 

You know a restaurant has got it going on when nearly all of its 48 main dining-room seats are already booked solid for the next two months and its private dining rooms already are sought after for Christmas soirees — and it hasn’t even opened its doors yet.

Such is the case of the hotly anticipated Selby’s in Redwood City on the edge of Atherton, which officially opens to the public on Tuesday, July 23 to serve dinner nightly.

It’s the latest project by the Bacchus Management Group, which also operates nearby Michelin-starred The Village Pub in Woodside, The Village Bakery & Cafe in Woodside, Pizza Antica in San Jose’s Santana Row, and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto; as well as Michelin-starred Spruce, and The Saratoga, both in San Francisco.

The 10,000-square-foot property on El Camino Real has been various restaurants since 1938, most recently Chantilly’s. For more than a year, including four months of construction, the Bacchus Group labored to completely transform the interior into a sumptuous establishment, as I saw when I was invited in as a guest of a media preview dinner last week.

The main dining room on the first floor.

The main dining room on the first floor.

The mixed media "Golden State'' art work created by Lost Art Salon proprietor Rob Delamater hangs above the fireplace.

The mixed media “Golden State” art work created by Lost Art Salon proprietor Rob Delamater hangs above the fireplace.

The swank bar.

The swank bar.

Local artist Magnus Scheven's focal point chandelier.

Local artist Magnus Scheven’s focal point chandelier.

Dark emerald mohair covers the walls not only to add luxury, but act as a sound dampener. I dare you to not spend at least a few moments caressing the walls (yes, really) that feel like plush velvet to the touch. Real gold leaf glitters on the back wall of the bar, as well as the ceiling of the restrooms.

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Going With The Grain Part II: Smoked Barley with Blistered Tomatoes & Burrata

Milky sweet burrata is the crowning touch on this smoked barley-charred tomato salad.

Milky sweet burrata is the crowning touch on this smoked barley-charred tomato salad.

 

If you’re a pyromaniac when it comes to cooking, this new cookbook is surely going to stoke your desire to light things up.

“Thank You for Smoking: Fun and Fearless Recipes Cooked with a Whiff of Wood Fire on Your Grill or Smoker” (Ten Speed Press) is not only a cleverly titled cookbook, but a very creative one, too.

The book, of which I received a review copy, is by Austin-based Paula Disbrowe, a grilling expert and veteran cookbook writer.

There are 100 recipes included. What’s really fun is that most go way beyond the norm of just throwing a steak or piece of chicken on a grill or in a smoker. Instead, Disbrowe really opens your eyes to possibilities you may never have even considered.

Just get a load of recipes such as “Smoked Arbol Honey,” “Dirty Martini with Smoked Castelvetrano Olives,” “Smoked Onion and Cheddar Tart,” Beef Tenderloin with Smoked Garlic Aioli,” and “Burnt Marshmallow Krispies.”

Thank You For Smoking

With its luxurious cream center that spills out of a ball of mozzarella, burrata is one of my favorite cheeses. So I just had to take a go at “Smoked Barley with Blistered Tomatoes & Burrata.”

Is it really worth it to set up a smoker and spend about 35 minutes to smoke barley grains?

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Going With the Grain Part I: Fig, Walnut & Freekeh Salad

The two F's: figs and freekeh.

The two F’s: figs and freekeh.

 

WTF.

As in what the freekeh?

If you don’t know this ancient grain, summer is the perfect time to give it a try.

It’s a lot like bulgur, except that freekeh is roasted young green whole wheat kernels, while the former is cracked, hulled parboiled whole wheat kernels. As such, bulgur cooks in a flash, while freekeh takes about 20 minutes or so. The tiny grains of both are packed with fiber and protein, and cook up with with a slight chewy texture. I think freekeh tastes just a little toastier.

Grains like these, which are staples of Middle Eastern cuisines, make incredible summer salads or side dishes. You’re probably already familiar with bulgar in tabbouleh salads. Freekeh can be used in the same way.

Enjoy it in this tasty, texture-tantalizing “Fig, Walnut & Freekeh Salad.”

SaffronintheSouks

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Saffron in the Souks: Vibrant recipes from the heart of Lebanon” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by John Gregory-Smith, a food and travel writer who specializes in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine.

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Free Scoops of Humphry Slocombe in Cupertino, Plus More

Betty the Truck will be doling out free scoops this Wednesday in Cupertino. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

Betty the Truck will be doling out free scoops this Wednesday in Cupertino. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

Humphry Slocombe Truck Rolls Into Cupertino With Free Scoops

From now on, you might want to time your shopping trips to Whole Foods Cupertino to take advantage of the fact that Betty the Truck, aka the Humphry Slocombe ice cream mobile, will be in the parking lot regularly.

In fact, this Wednesday, noon to 9 p.m., marks the start of this new attraction. For this inaugural date only, the truck will be doling out free scoops. Yes, free scoops of such creative, iconic flavors as Secret Breakfast (bourbon ice cream with house-made corn flakes), and Queer  Eye Cookies & Graham (chocolate cookies and graham crackers in olive oil ice cream).

Secret Breakfast cones. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

Secret Breakfast cones. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

You can also buy pints, including the newest Whole Foods exclusive flavor, Mango Mojito (mango ice cream with mint, lime and rum). It was created in collaboration with “Top Chef” competitor Chef Melissa King.

After this Wednesday free day, look for the truck in the parking lot at 20955 Stevens Creek Blvd. in Cupertino every day, noon to 9 p.m., unless it has prior commitments elsewhere. Just bring your wallet, though, as you’ll have to pay for those scoops from then on out.

Rev Up the Appetite for “Dine Downtown San Jose”

From July 19-28, you’ll find a host of special prix fixe menus, chef specials and other limited-time creations at 22 top San Jose restaurants.

It’s all part of the 11th annual “Dine Downtown San Jose.”

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Sushi Sundays at The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse

The Sunday Sushi platter made for two at The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse.

The Sunday Sushi platter (doubled in size here to serve two) at The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse.

 

After Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, now comes Sushi Sundays.

At least now at The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto.

The upscale seafood-focused restaurant with the chic, Tiffany-like blue dining room can be a spendy experience, often more suited to a special occasion or a business account meal.

But on Sunday nights from now through Sept. 1, the restaurant is featuring a chef’s choice sushi platter for a reasonable $35 per person. Recently, I had a chance to try the new sushi special when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

Sunday evenings are definitely a quieter time for the restaurant. Only a few people nursed drinks at the bar, while in the dining room, a few tables definitely seemed like they were celebrating a noteworthy moment.

The swank bar.

The swank bar.

The seafood theme carries over into the decor.

The seafood theme carries over into the decor.

We left ourselves in the hands of the kitchen and Executive Chef Yu Min Lin, who created a truncated tasting menu for us with the sushi platter included.

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