Category Archives: Restaurants

Sneak Peek of New Food Offerings at Levi’s Stadium

The Organic Coop, the country's first USDA-certified fast food, joins the list of vendors this year at Levi's Stadium.

The Organic Coop, the country’s first USDA-certified fast food, joins the list of vendors this year at Levi’s Stadium.

 

Are you ready for the first preseason home game for the San Francisco 49ers this Saturday (against the Denver Broncos no less)?

Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara sure is. This year, it’s added more food options. At a special media event yesterday, I had a chance to sample some of the new eats.

I also had the opportunity to tour the rooftop farm, the first of its kind in the NFL. Danielle York, wife of 49ers CEO Jed York, came up with the idea. It was such a success from the start that its original 4,000 square feet has swelled to 7,000 square feet. In the past year, the garden has provided nearly 2 tons of produce that was featured in dishes for private events crafted by stadium concessionaire Centerplate.

The greats on the wall at the BNY Melon Club West at Levi's Stadium.

The greats on the wall at the BNY Melon Club West at Levi’s Stadium.

What will fans have a chance to nosh on this season?

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Sweets and Savories Galore — Plus A Whole Lot More At The Village Bakery & Cafe

Mango sorbet profiteroles for dessert at the new Village Bakery & Cafe.

Mango sorbet profiteroles for dessert at the new Village Bakery & Cafe.

 

As a Woodside resident, Tim Stannard knew full well the small town could use another restaurant.

But the founder of the Bacchus Management Group of restaurants admits he also had a selfish reason for opening his newest establishment, the Village Bakery & Cafe, on the main drag there a couple of weeks ago.

“I had gone to the old bakery there almost daily. It was where I grabbed my pre-coffee after dropping my son off at school, before heading to Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto (another Bacchus establishment) to have more coffee. It’s embarrassing,” he says with a laugh. “That may still be my routine. It will just be better coffee now.

That’s because Bacchus’ own Oakland-based RoastCo beans are featured at the new Village Bakery & Cafe, which occupies the space previously held by the Woodside Bakery and a neighboring art gallery.

I had a chance to check out the new place last week, just days after it opened, when I was invited in as a guest.

It’s right next door to folksy, quirky favorite, Buck’s. It’s also just yards away from Bacchus’ Michelin-starred Village Pub. If you’ve been to its sister property Mayfield Bakery & Cafe, the concept will be familiar. There is a full-fledged bakery, as well as a bar and restaurant.

The bakery portion.

The bakery portion.

The fresh bread selection.

The fresh bread selection.

Temptations behind glass.

Temptations behind glass.

If you come for dinner, it pays to come a little early when the bakery is still open, so you can snag baguettes, coffee cake, fruit tarts, and big-fisted cookies to enjoy as a midnight snack or the next day for breakfast at home. You also might want to arrive a little early because the parking lot can fill up fast.

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Wine — And A Whole Lot More — At Wente Vineyards

Blue Jade corn growing in the Wente Vineyards produce garden.

Blue Jade corn growing in the Wente Vineyards produce garden.

 

That Livermore’s Wente Vineyards makes first-class wines is a given.

But the oldest, continuously operating family-owned winery in the United States makes so much more on its 2,000 acres in Livermore, as I found out when I was I was invited for a tour recently.

Extra virgin olive oil. Herbs, fruits and veggies galore grown in its own garden. And even beef.

Yes, The Restaurant at Wente gets 12 steer a year from its own herd that graze on the hillsides. Like Japan’s famed Wagyu, these Black Angus cows get some special treatment, too: two glasses of its Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon daily for the last 90 days of their life.

Chef Mike Ward.

Chef Mike Ward.

Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk.

Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk.

“We don’t get them drunk,” Wente Chef Mike Ward says with a chuckle. “It helps them metabolize food better so they can eat more.”

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Give It Up For Nopalito’s Tacos De Pescado Al Pastor

Fish tacos with a rich adobo marinade -- from Nopalito's new cookbook.

Fish tacos with a rich adobo marinade — from Nopalito’s new cookbook.

 

Not to interject too much politics here, but I had to laugh last year when a political supporter tried to inflame anti-immigrant fervor by decrying that if this country didn’t take measures, we’d end up with a taco truck on every corner.

We should be so lucky.

In fact, if we had a Nopalito in every neighborhood, we’d be quite fortunate, indeed.

The beloved San Francisco restaurant is headed by Executive Chef-Partner Gonzalo Guzman. Born in Veracruz, Mexico, he came to the United States as a child. His first restaurant job was as a dishwasher at Kokkari in San Francisco. He soon rose through the culinary ranks there, as well as at San Francisco’s Boulevard, Chez Nous, and Nopa.

In 2009, he partnered with Nopa owners Laurence and Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak to open Nopalito on Broderick Street. It was so successful, it led to a second Nopalito location on Ninth Avenue, near Golden Gate Park.

Just one taste, and you know why the restaurant has such a devoted following. This is food that is vivacious, with flavors that are punchy and complex, yet also clear and true.

NopalitoBook

Even if you don’t live near Nopalito, you can now enjoy a taste of its craveable dishes in the new cookbook, “Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press) by Guzman with food journalist Stacy Adimando.

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The Charter Oak: A Michelin Three-Starred Chef’s Foray Into Casual

Chef Christopher Kostow at his new, more casual restaurant, the Charter Oak.

Chef Christopher Kostow at his new, more casual restaurant, the Charter Oak.

 

The name references a massive oak tree that was once the focal point of the property before it was mowed down in a train derailment long ago.

Now, what has opened there is creating a big bang all its own.

The Charter Oak, which debuted just over two months ago in St. Helena, is the new hot spot in the Napa Valley. It can’t help but draw all comers when it was opened by Chef Christopher Kostow of the Michelin three-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, and his business partner Nathaniel Dorn, Meadowood’s restaurant director. Katina Hong, former chef de cuisine at Meadowood, heads the kitchen at the Charter Oak.

It’s also enticing tourists, curious to see what has become of the storied stone building that housed the popular Tra Vigne restaurant for nearly three decades.

The hearth, where much of the cooking is done.

The hearth, where much of the cooking is done.

Like its namesake, the restaurant embodies wood throughout — from the polished wood tables to the expansive wood bar to the kindling used in the kitchen hearth where beef rib is grilled over cabernet barrels to the wooden cutlery drawers underneath dining tables to the pocket-sized “The Observer’s Book of Trees” that the bar menu gets tucked into.

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