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Delicious Happenings in the Peninsula and South Bay Region

Monday, 3. March 2014 5:26

Prime bone-in rib chop with blue cheese butter at Birk's. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Prime bone-in rib chop with blue cheese butter at Birk’s. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Birk’s Celebrates 25 Years

Birk’s of Santa Clara marks its 25th anniversary this month with a slew of specials.

Through the end of March, the restaurant, which has long hosted the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley, will offer a $25 three-course “Classic Americana” menu that includes choices such as prime rib, beef tenderloin fettuccine or stuffed petrale sole. To go with it, the restaurant also is pricing five select wines at $25 per bottle.

During “Happy Hour” during the month, look for 25-cent wings or a plate of a half dozen for $1.50. Pair that with an “89er” anniversary cocktail ($8.90) made with apple wood-smoked bacon infused Maker’s Mark Bourbon and garnished with maple foam.

What’s more, anyone born in 1989 who dines at Birk’s in March will receive a $25 gift card to use on a return visit.

With its custom split grill, back-iron broiler and a 250-pound capacity smoker, Birk’s is known for its chops and seafood. Executive Chef Maurice Dissels has headed the kitchen since 2001 at the Pat Kuleto-designed restaurant.

Doppio Zero Opens in Mountain View

A new Neapolitan-style pizza joint has opened in downtown Mountain View.

Its name is Doppio Zero for the highly regarded, finely milled flour used to make pastas and pizza crusts in Italy.

Zucchini, pepper and mozzarella pizza at Doppio Zero. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Zucchini, pepper and mozzarella pizza at Doppio Zero. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

The daily star-shaped pizza. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

The daily star-shaped pizza. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Pasta selections include house-made garganelli with sausage, broccoli rabe and pecorino; and house-made spinach fettuccine with morels, asparagus and shaved Parmegiano Reggiano.

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

The Lexington House Makes A Splash in Downtown Los Gatos

Friday, 28. February 2014 5:26

The dramatic bar is the focal point of The Lexington House.

The dramatic bar is the focal point of The Lexington House.

With its speakeasy vibe, complete with exposed brick wall, stone arches and impressive back-lit shelves stacked high with small-batch spirits, The Lexington House would be perfectly at home in San Francisco’s eclectic and electric Mission District.

But the surprise is that it’s actually in downtown Los Gatos.

No disrespect to that South Bay city intended. It’s just that this lively spot has a hipster personality that’s rare in this region.

That’s probably due in large part to its owners, Stephen Shelton and Jimmy Marino, who took the former Domus lifestyle store back to its roots, playing up its architectural features to the hilt. You can tell Shelton and Marino harbor a sense of fun just from the descriptions on the restaurant’s Web site, which state that, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy,” and that there is no dress code for diners, ” But please have all your most private areas covered at all times. Yes, that means you.”

The Lexington House opened last September. Already, it’s packing in the crowds, as evidenced by a recent Wednesday night when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

Co-Owner Stephen Shelton carefully crafting a cocktail.

Co-Owner Stephen Shelton carefully crafting a cocktail.

The Winter Fashion cocktail (front) and Pranqster beer (back).

The Winter Fashion cocktail (front) and Pranqster beer (back).

Shelton and Marino often can be found behind the bar, crafting the restaurant’s signature cocktails, such as the Winter Fashion ($12), a blend of cognac, walnut liquor, gum syrup and bitters. The cocktail menu is arranged from lightest to heaviest options. The Winter Fashion was positioned in the last third of the menu, and it was plenty strong yet caressed the palate with its orange notes and hints of nuttiness.

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Macy’s Valley Fair Welcomes the Food Gal and Centonove For a Cooking Demo

Monday, 17. February 2014 5:25

MacysCentonoveAd

If you’re a fan of great Italian food and wine, you won’t want to miss the next cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 6 p.m. Tues., Feb. 25. (Excuse the date typo in the ad.)

That’s because I’ll be hosting Chef Carlo Ochetti of the charming new Centonove in downtown Los Gatos, who will demonstrate how to make one of his prized Italian specialties. A native of Italy, Ochetti grew up cooking with his mother, before going on to attend culinary school. He’s the former chef of Il Fornaio in San Jose.

Also joining us will be Lisa Rhorer, Centonove’s owner and sommelier. She’ll not only discuss the finer points of Italian wines, but bring along the specific wine she’d most pair with Ochetti’s dish. Yes, folks, this is a two-fer: You’ll not only get to taste food but also the wine that best goes with it. How’s that for a deliriously good time?

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person, Restaurants, Wine | Comments (5) | Author:

TBD Fires It Up

Friday, 14. February 2014 5:26

A glorious BN Ranch ribeye for two at TBD.

A glorious BN Ranch ribeye for two at TBD.

 

Owner Matt Semmelhack and Executive Chef-Owner Mark Liberman have a playful way when it comes to naming their San Francisco restaurants.

Their first? AQ, which stands for “As Quoted,” the phrase used in place of a specific price on a menu for seasonal, specialty dishes.

Their newest? TBD, which of course stands for “To Be Determined.”

It’s a nod to the fact that fire’s tamability decides the dishes. That’s because the main mode of cooking here is by live fire via a massive, hand-cranked, multi-adjustable grill.

You get a sense of the powerfulness of this, particularly if you sit at a table opposite the flames. Even on a very chilly night, as when I dined there, I was plenty roasty-toasty as I sat with my back to the blazing grill.

Cooking by fire.

Cooking by fire.

Wood is a major theme here.

Wood is a major theme here.

Imagine a hipster lumberjack as the ideal customer, and you get an idea of the vibe here. There are animal heads on the wall, dramatically stacked cords of wood, and specially designed wood tables with drawers that pull out to reveal your menu and silverware.

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Hanging Out at Bar Terra in St. Helena

Friday, 7. February 2014 5:25

Chef-Owner Hiro Sone's likeness is the focal point of the bar at Bar Terra.

Chef-Owner Hiro Sone’s likeness is the focal point of the bar at Bar Terra.

In the Napa Valley, there are two Michelin three-star restaurants (the French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood), plus a host of other swank, white-tablecloth establishments.

But sometimes what you’re in the mood for is something a little more casual. Something a little more eclectic. Yet still refined in execution.

Bar Terra fits that to a “T.”

Three years ago, Chef-Owner Hiro Sone and his wife, Pastry Chef-Owner Lissa Doumani, remodeled their 26-year-old, award-winning Terra restaurant in St. Helena. The doorway divides the two dining rooms. On the left remains the elegant, hushed Terra. On the right was created Bar Terra, a more laid-back, livelier spot with a liquor license that brought forth a new cocktail menu with the likes of the “Hirotini” (Sveda vodka, sake, ginger and cucumber; $10).

You’ll find locals filling the chairs at Bar Terra, nightly. Doumani makes the rounds, greeting every familiar face. And there are plenty of them.

It’s easy to see the attraction: Bar Terra’s prices are lower than Terra. You can come in jeans. And you can even mix and match — ordering off either Terra’s or Bar Terra’s menu or both.

That’s exactly what I did when a friend and I dined there over the winter. Although we paid our tab, dessert was on the house, compliments of Sone and Doumani, who knew us both.

Abalone and shrimp -- from the Terra menu that you still can enjoy if you want at Bar Terra.

Abalone and shrimp — from the Terra menu that you still can enjoy if you want at Bar Terra.

We stuck mostly to the Bar Terra menu with one exception: The salad of Ezo abalone with shrimp, butter beans, fennel and pickled Meyer lemon ($18.50) from the Terra menu just called out to me. It’s hard to resist fresh abalone the rare times it appears on a menu. It didn’t disappoint, either, with its sweet, tender yet toothsome flesh brightened by the citrus.

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