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Happenings on the Peninsula: New Bakeries and More

Monday, 29. September 2014 5:26

The "chocolate burger'' at Alexander's Patisserie. (Photo courtesy of the bakery)

The “chocolate burger” at Alexander’s Patisserie. (Photo courtesy of the bakery)

Alexander’s Patisserie to Open In Mountain View on Oct. 16

The folks behind Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco, as well as The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto, are expanding their mini empire by opening a patisserie in downtown Mountain View on Oct. 16.

Led by Executive Pastry Chef Dries Delanghe, the new Alexander’s Patisserie will offer breads, sandwiches, cakes, tarts, cookies, macarons, chocolates and other confections, as well as Equator Coffees.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, General, Restaurants | Comments (6) | Author:

Hult’s — A Fine Additition to Downtown Los Gatos

Friday, 26. September 2014 5:26

A gorgeous tuna tartare at Hult's in Los Gatos.

A gorgeous tuna tartare at Hult’s in Los Gatos.

 

Coffee cake and home fries have given way to octopus carpaccio and “A7 Wagyu beef” ribeye.

The venerable Hobee’s spot in downtown Los Gatos was transformed late last year into the fine-dining Hult’s restaurant.

It’s a family affair owned by Alexander Hult, a former pro hockey player who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks, but spent most of his career playing in Europe. During the hockey off-seasons, this native of Sweden would help his mother in the restaurants she managed there. His wife and co-owner of the restaurant, Sarah, a San Jose native, was crowned Miss Nevada 2011 and now works as a vice principal at a local private school.

The kitchen is overseen by Chef Jose Esparza, a veteran of Viognier in San Mateo, Madera in Menlo Park, LB Steak in San Jose’s Santana Row, and The Grill on the Alley in San Jose.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (4) | Author:

Six Chefs, Six Dishes of Foie Gras — Yes, In California

Friday, 12. September 2014 5:26

Miniature duck dogs with foie gras torchon on pretzel buns by Chef Victor Scargle.

Miniature duck dogs with foie gras torchon on pretzel buns by Chef Victor Scargle.

 

It was a veritable swoon fest when 50 hand-picked guests came together to salivate over course after course of foie gras.

Yes, in California — the only state in the nation that bans that specialty product made from the fattened liver of a goose or duck.

That was the scene on July 5 at La Toque restaurant in Napa, which famously held a “State of American Foie Gras” lunch to publicize the fact that it’s been two years now since it became illegal to produce or sell foie gras in the state. Which is why La Toque gave it away — charging guests nothing for the lunch. Instead, the restaurant held a contest, asking people to write in about why “California’s foie gras ban is foolish.” Twenty-five winners were chosen, each of whom were allowed to bring a guest.

Scargle preparing his dish.

Scargle preparing his dish.

The guest chefs in the kitchen (L to R): David Bazirgan, Patrick Mulvaney, Mark Dommen, Douglas Keane and Victor Scargle.

The guest chefs in the kitchen (L to R): David Bazirgan, Patrick Mulvaney, Mark Dommen, Douglas Keane and Victor Scargle.

Nearly  200 people entered. Kelvin Kwan, 40, of San Mateo was only too happy to attend after his wife, Diane Wong, 40, won the seats. “Whenever we travel out of state – whether it’s for work or pleasure – I guarantee that at least one meal will have foie gras,’’ says Kwan, a high-tech entrepreneur. “Now that we can’t get it in California, we always look for it on menus elsewhere.’’

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Restaurants | Comments (2) | Author:

St. Helena’s Press Welcomes A Most Appropriate New Chef

Wednesday, 27. August 2014 5:25

The very clever carrot "hot dog'' at Press in St. Helena.

The very clever carrot “hot dog” at Press in St. Helena.

 

Earlier this summer, Press in St. Helena welcomed a new executive chef — Trevor Kunk, who was the chef de cuisine at Blue Hill New York for seven years.

It’s a most apropos choice, given that Blue Hill is renowned for its almost painstaking use of locally grown ingredients, including those from its own farms, and the fact that Press is very much a root-to-shoot, nose-to-tail steakhouse with the bulk of its provisions coming from its 13-acre Rudd Farms and Chef’s Garden.

In Kunk’s hands, the food at Press embodies the garden even more so now, as evidenced by my recent dinner there when I was invited in to dine as a guest of the restaurant. My dinner was a week ago, prior to last Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake in Napa. Fortunately, no damage occurred at Press, which is operating as usual.

Press was founded by Wine Country mover-and-shaker Leslie Rudd, who also owns Rudd Oakville Estate and Dean & DeLuca. The graceful restaurant was designed by Howard Backen, who has been responsible for the look of the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Archetype in St. Helena, Kokkari in San Francisco, and a slew of premiere wineries including Harlan Estate, Ram’s Gate, Dana Estates and Bond Estates.

You can't miss the sign on Highway 29.

You can’t miss the sign on Highway 29.

The beautiful, light-filled dining room.

The beautiful, light-filled dining room.

The soaring barn-like restaurant fills with natural light, lending a casual but elegant ambiance. With an old-fashioned, hand-crank grape press as its logo, Press takes wine seriously. There are more than 1,500 Napa Valley selections, with a specialization in Cabernet Sauvignon, that you can thumb through on an electronic tablet. Or just put your hands in Sommelier Angela Stem’s hands. After all, with a surname like that, how can you go wrong?

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Travel Adventures, Wine | Comments (10) | Author:

California Pizza Kitchen Attempts to “De-Chain the Chain”

Friday, 15. August 2014 5:26

Roasted garlic chicken -- a new item at California Pizza Kitchen at Valley Fair shopping center.

Roasted garlic chicken — a new item at California Pizza Kitchen at Valley Fair shopping center.

 

Back in the day, California Pizza Kitchen was the place to go for an inventive yet accessible take on pizza with a decidedly breezy California influence.

Barbecue chicken pizza, anyone?

But over the years, as pizza turned artisan, the choices for truly hand-crafted pies proliferated and greatly overshadowed California Pizza Kitchen’s offerings.

As such, I admit it has been quite some time since I last ate at a California Pizza Kitchen. But when I was invited in as a guest recently at the outpost in the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in Santa Clara, what nudged me in was the opportunity to try some new menu items aimed at “de-chaining the chain.” Indeed, the new menu additions, which rolled out in June, are available only at the locales in Santa Clara, Sacramento, Beverly Hills and Solana Beach so far.

Among the new beverage items is the Blueberry Ginger Smash ($10.89), a highball glass of Jack Daniel’s, agave nectar, Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur, fresh blueberries, lime and cranberry juice. Garnished prettily with a skewer of blueberries and a sliver of candied ginger, it’s quite fruity and refreshing with the warmth of the booze hitting you on the finish.

The Blueberry Ginger Smash.

The Blueberry Ginger Smash.

A half-size of Harvest Kale Salad ($10.99) was made with curly, rather than the more popular lacinato, kale. Toasted farro, cabbage, red grapes, cranberries, Marcona almonds, goat cheese and the surprise of shaved rainbow carrots gave the salad a big splash of color and texture. A quite sharp citrus vinaigrette added punch along with an unexpected touch of spiciness.

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Category:General, Restaurants | Comments (3) | Author: