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Mixx Adds to the Mix of Downtown Mountain View

Friday, 19. December 2014 5:27

Pork belly buns arrive in their own little steamer at Mixx in Mountain View.

Pork belly buns arrive in their own little steamer at Mixx in Mountain View.

 

It was a shame when the short-lived Palo Alto Grill shuttered its doors earlier this year in downtown Palo Alto.

But the good news is that its Executive Chef Ryan Shelton has landed just a little farther south at the new Mixx in downtown Mountain View. The casual restaurant, which opened in September, is a much larger venue. So much so that Shelton is still amazed that he’s often doing 300 covers in one night now.

His signature seasonal New American cooking is much on display. His wife, Pastry Chef Yoomi Shelton, who worked alongside him at the Palo Alto Grill, is not in the kitchen here. But her presence is still felt, such as in the addictive homemade pretzels baked in the shape of a wheat stalk here that’s her recipe.

On a sunny afternoon, you can enjoy lunch outside.

On a sunny afternoon, you can enjoy lunch outside.

Over lunch and dinner with two different friends, I had a chance to try quite a few dishes. Each time, we paid our tab at the end of the meal. You can make a meal from the small plates alone. But there are plenty of larger plates worth investigating, too.

Maybe it’s my Chinese heritage, but I can never resist a pork belly bao. Here, they’re billed as sliders ($12) and come three to an order. The pillowy clamshell buns are filled with big pieces of pork belly that are nicely crispy on the edges. The meat isn’t as fatty as other pork belly I’ve had, which may be a boon to some who feel guilty enough indulging in such a decadent porcine cut.

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Bradley Ogden Returns to the Bay Area with Bradley’s Fine Diner

Monday, 24. November 2014 5:26

Lassen trout seafood stew at the new BFD in Menlo Park.

Lassen trout seafood stew at the new BFD in Menlo Park.

 

In the 1980s and 1990s, he elevated the Bay Area dining scene and made a name for himself as executive chef of Campton Place in San Francisco and co-founder of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group.

Since then, Chef Bradley Ogden’s attention had been focused mostly outside of the region, as he opened restaurants in Las Vegas with his son, Chef Bryan Ogden, and one in Solvang.

But now, following a move to the South Bay two years ago, Ogden is back — in a big way.

Three weeks ago after a year of construction, the James Beard Award-winning chef opened the doors to Bradley’s Fine Diner in Menlo Park. He’s also working on opening three restaurants in Houston. They’re all part of his Bradley Ogden Hospitality group, run with son Bryan, and business partner and industry veteran, Tony Angotti. The projects are being financed by investor Chris Kelly, Facebook’s first general consul, who first met Ogden when he asked the chef to cook a dinner he was hosting for then-President Bill Clinton.

Chef Bradley Ogden in the kitchen at his new restaurant.

Chef Bradley Ogden in the kitchen at his new restaurant.

Bradley’s Fine Diner or BFD for short is pure Ogden. Situated across from the Caltrain station, it’s an artsy roadhouse with plenty of natural wood, plus fun and funky touches like silverware chandeliers and a decorative wall with old knives stuck into it as if a knife thrower had just left the building after a practice spree.

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Cozy Up to Zola in Palo Alto

Friday, 21. November 2014 5:26

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

 

If French writer Emile Zola was all about literary realism, then Palo Alto’s new Zola restaurant pays fitting tribute with its seasonal French cooking that keeps it real and all together soulful.

Chef-Proprietor Guillaume Bienaime opened his intimate downtown restaurant in late-September. The former fine-dining chef at Marche in Menlo Park has consulted on restaurants over the past couple of years. But Zola is his own venture and you can tell he’s poured his heart into it.

Recently, I met up with a friend for dinner there, with us paying the tab at the end of the meal. It’s a cozy space done up in denim-colored walls beside exposed brick, bare wood tables and classic cafe chairs.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

It’s the kind of place where you can come in jeans, and settle in with a glass of French Rhone wine and a plate of short ribs done Bourguignon-style, and emerge feeling restored.

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LV Mar — A Latin Party in Downtown Redwood City

Friday, 17. October 2014 5:26

A party on the plate -- and in the dining room -- at LV Mar.

A party on the plate — and in the dining room — at LV Mar.

 

Most nights, LV Mar in downtown Redwood City, offers up a taste of modern pan-Latin cuisine in small and large plates.

But once a month, Chef Manuel Martinez throws a veritable party — offering a prix fixe dinner themed to a different Latin cuisine, complete with a band, dancers and singers.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to experience October’s showcase on the Caribbean.

Martinez, who has cooked at Left Bank and One Market restaurants, also owns the more casual La Viga in Redwood City. LV Mar is his newer restaurant, which opened in November 2013. He’s been throwing these themed-dinners almost from the get-go.

Chef Manuel Martinez adorned for the occasion.

Chef Manuel Martinez adorned for the occasion.

When you check in at the hostess stand, you’re welcomed with Mardi Gras-like beaded necklaces to wear. All the tables are strewn with colorful star confetti to put you even more in the mood.

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Palo Alto Grill Grows Into Its Own

Wednesday, 2. July 2014 5:25

Mango cheesecake at the Palo Alto Grill.

Mango cheesecake at the Palo Alto Grill.

 

The Palo Alto Grill in downtown Palo Alto has undergone some tweaks.

When it first opened last year, it was decidedly much more of a steakhouse with a dedicated section of the menu devoted to various beefy cuts. That has been jettisoned, leaving just one steak on the menu.

For a time earlier this year, it also featured a separate menu of Croatian specialties in homage to co-owner Luka Dvornik’s heritage. That, too, has now been abandoned.

In its place now are dishes that lean more toward Modern American that highlight plenty of local, seasonal California products, sometimes with an Asian sensibility. The whimsy also has been turned up, as evident in the plating of several of the dishes.

Husband-and-wife team Chef Ryan Shelton and Pastry Chef Yoomi Shelton helm the kitchen with a fine eye for detail. Their previous experience includes stints at Baume in Palo Alto, and Randall Grahm’s former Le Cigar Volante in Santa Cruz.

Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant for a return visit to try out the new menu.

The bread basket you can't stop eating.

The bread basket you can’t stop eating.

A cocktail made with fresh blackberries.

A cocktail made with fresh blackberries.

You could easily fill up on the bread basket alone, as the offerings are superb. Shelton bakes them all in-house every hour, including airy brioche, fragrant walnut bread and a fantastic salted pretzel shaped like a wheat stalk. Alongside is a Dijon-parmesan sauce for slathering on.

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