The Story of Danville’s Bridges Goes Beyond the Food

Tuna stacked atop avocado and sticky rice at Bridges.

Tuna stacked atop avocado and sticky rice at Bridges.

 

On any given weekend at Bridges in downtown Danville, you’ll find smartly dressed couples, families, and wedding parties. It’s the place to be not only for a casual dinner but a celebratory occasion.

It’s also the place to enjoy a bit of cinematic history. Its dining room and kitchen were the setting for the big reveal scene in the beloved movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire.” On a wall leading to the restrooms, there’s even a framed movie poster signed by the late-great Robin Williams, the star of the film.

The success of the movie really put the restaurant on the map. It’s been wildly popular ever since.

When Chef Kevin Gin's mom told him at age 12 that he was getting old and needed to figure out what he wanted to be, he immediately said "a chef.''

When Chef Kevin Gin’s mom told him at age 12 that he was getting old and needed to figure out what he wanted to be, he immediately said “a chef.”

Built in 1989, the restaurant’s name refers to building connections between East and West, according to Chef-Partner Kevin Gin. The former Chinese restaurant there was torn down after the land was purchased by a wealthy Japanese businessman, who spared no expense in creating Bridges. Five types of Japanese wood were used, as well as imported Italian marble, European tiles, and even 24 karat gold painted onto the walls.

The handsome restaurant not only has a large dining room but an expansive patio, where live jazz music can be enjoyed on weekends.

A few weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant by Gin. The San Francisco native has been at the helm here for more than two decades, crafting California cuisine with Asian influences.

The restaurant has been in operation since 1989.

The restaurant has been in operation since 1989.

Signed by Robin Williams.

Signed by Robin Williams.

The “Bigeye Tuna — Japanese Rice Cake Stack” ($16) is a great opener with a bed of sticky rice piled high with a layer of avocado then tuna tartare dressed with sweet pea sprouts and a soy dressing. There were also thin slices of fresh Asian pear apple, which provided a nice surprise of crispiness and juiciness.

Dimpled focaccia bread basket.

Dimpled focaccia bread basket.

Lettuce cups

Lettuce cups.

Ssam Lettuce Cups ($18) is an assemble-it-yourself dish. A small bowl of soy-marinated sirloin strips arrives with lettuce leaves, and pickled carrots and radishes. Fold up a little of everything in a lettuce leaf and enjoy. The flavors are a little more Chinese than Korean, but tasty nevertheless.

My husband opted for the special that night, a veal porterhouse. It’s rare to see a big veal steak like this on a restaurant menu, so he was eager to try it. Imagine a veal cutlet — without the breading and as thick as a steak. That’s how it ate — with a milder, elegant taste than a more robust porterhouse from an adult cow. It was divine, and makes me wish more places would feature this.

The veal porterhouse.

The veal porterhouse.

Perfect swordfish.

Perfect swordfish.

My entree of swordfish arrived on a delicious gingery carrot puree. Swordfish is a meaty fish, and can be quite dense in texture at times. But here, it was incredibly moist and fluffy even.

An upscale version of S'mores.

An upscale version of S’mores.

For dessert, we shared the Campfire S’mores Tart ($9) by Pastry Chef Stephanie Yu. This modern version of a childhood favorite is beautiful to behold with a brick of rich rye whisky chocolate ganache strewn with graham cracker crumbs and garnished with a crisp coconut tuille. A syrupy strawberry caramel sauce was drizzled on the plate. There was no torched marshmallow or meringue but instead toasted marshmallow ice cream. I’m not sure I  tasted marshmallow prominently, but that didn’t detract from this being a treat to eat.

With a well curated wine list, food that satisfies, and the loving memory of an iconic comic and actor, it’s high time to cross over to Bridges, if you haven’t already.

 

ShrimpKamut

Another Place to Check Out in Danville: Danville Harvest

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