Spicy Korean-style fried chicken snuggled inside steamed buns at Cin-Cin.
A lot of changes have been underfoot in the past year or so at the ever-popular Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant in Los Gatos.
First, founder Lisa Rhorer, a former marketing professional-turned-sommelier, sold the restaurant that she opened in 2008 to husband-and-wife Pasquale and Andrea Romano. With Pasquale already a co-founder of her second Los Gatos restaurant, Centenove, it was a fitting choice.
Second, a new chef came on board in May. Executive Chef Chris Velasquez is a familiar face in the South Bay, having worked at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, Plumed Horse in Saratoga, The Table in San Jose, and Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell.
On his “free time,” Velasquez also teams with Chef John Shelsta (who’s especially famed for his kouign-amann and other buttery pastry delights) on pop-up Sunday brunches at Zola in Palo Alto, where Shelsta is manning the kitchen.
Head Chef Chris Velasquez.
Velasquez invited me in as a guest of the restaurant recently to see what he’s been up to. He revamped the menu, which used to be primarily centered around small plates. Now, he’s added more entrees and larger portions all around.
Soft serve with a chocolate magic shell and caramel sauce at The Catamount.
Following in the footsteps of Pizzeria Delfina, Gott’s and Tacolicious — all San Francisco restaurants that have ventured southward — now comes The Catamount in downtown Los Gatos.
It’s the newest establishment by restaurateur Ray Tang of the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco.
The handsome, 10,000-square-foot restaurant opened earlier this summer in the old California Cafe building. The interior was completely redone. The once open kitchen was closed off with trendy barn doors. The bar and dining room have been given the air of a modern plantation with breezy ceiling fans, plenty of rattan, and loads of windows to let streams of natural light in.
The old California Cafe redone completely.
The inviting bar.
Its name pays tribute to the town’s name (Spanish for “the cats”), as well as its surrounding mountainous landscape.
As we near the end of one year and ready for the start of a brand new one, allow me to toast my favorite dishes of 2014.
It’s never easy to narrow the list to just 10. But these are the tastes that lingered the most; the ones I’d want to eat all over again in a heartbeat.
Here’s my Top 10, listed in no particular order. I raise a glass from a lovely sample bottle of Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling, a blend of nine white wines, which give this method champenoise bubbly the complex flavor of apple, pear, peach and lemon. Here’s to all the chefs and restaurants that made 2014 so delicious and delightful.
Two of my favorite places in Los Gatos are joining for one night to celebrate “Fruits of the Vine,” a salute to summer heirloom tomatoes and stellar wines.
Sept. 15, the owners of Enoteca La Storia wine bar will be supplying copious amounts of their 25 varieties of home-grown, organic tomatoes to Restaurant James Randall for a vine-to-table five-course feast.
Chef Ross Hanson’s menu will include dishes such as Dungeness crab croquettes with tomato relish; tomato braised beef with creamy polenta and Pecorino; and roasted tomato and peach shortcake.
The 6 p.m. dinner is $95 per person, which includes wine pairings. Tax and gratuity are not included.
Advance ticket purchase is required.
Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will get a chance to attend the dinner with a guest — for free (though a tip for the servers would be appreciated, I’m sure). Entries, limited to those who can make it to Los Gatos on the evening of Sept. 15, will be accepted through midnight PST Sept. 8. Winner will be announced Sept. 10.
How to win?