Tag Archives: San Jose restaurant

Fried Chicken, Paella, and More At Citrus at the Valencia Hotel

Let the good times roll at Citrus in the Valencia Hotel.

Let the good times roll at Citrus in the Valencia Hotel.

 

Chef Ocean Orssten acknowledges his parents were hippies who happened to be living in Capitola at the time he was born. Hence his unusual first name.

But the chef with the water-themed moniker also knows the land equally well. He grew up in the Napa Valley, raising heritage breed pigs at age 12 and developed a love for agriculture.

Is it any wonder that by the time he was a young teen, he knew he wanted to be a chef?

After stints at Arcadia in San Jose, La Folie in San Francisco, and Campton Place restaurant in San Francisco, Orssten took over the helm at Citrus at the Valencia Hotel in San Jose’s Santana Row in 2011.

It’s a restaurant I’ve longed wish more people would find out about. You have to know it’s there, as it’s not at visible at street level as all the other eateries at Santana Row. Instead, you have to take an elevator up to the third floor to get to it. But that trek rewards you once you arrive with a tucked away, intimate dining room that feels cloistered from the hubbub of the rest of the retail-residential center around it.

An unexpected and delightful goat arepas.

An unexpected and delightful goat arepas.

Recently, I was invited in as a guest to try Orssten’s recently revamped menu. There’s the expected rib eye and flatiron steak. But also offerings you don’t expect. Like the Jamaican curry goat arepas ($14). The stewed goat was tender and full of flavor atop the soft corn arepas. The poblano creme fraiche added a smoky, creamy heat, though, there may have been too much of it on the plate.

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Roots & Rye Plants A Stake at Santana Row

Say yes to loaded, smashed potatoes at Roots & Rye.

Say yes to loaded, smashed potatoes at Roots & Rye.

 

I have joked with Chef-Restaurateur Chris Yeo that some day he will end up operating every restaurant at San Jose’s Santana Row.

Which would be pretty impressive for a guy who describes himself as retired.

Yeo may no longer be in the kitchen these days, but he’s still plenty active. In fact in July, he opened his third restaurant at that upscale outdoor retail-housing complex.

Roots & Rye is a slight departure for Yeo in that unlike his other two restaurants here, Straits and Sino, this one is not heavily Asian-influenced.

Instead, it’s a gastropub, featuring New American cuisine, offered in both small and large plates, as well as about 100 different whiskeys on the menu.

The large lounge area.

The large lounge area.

The expansive, backlit bar.

The expansive, backlit bar.

What it does share in common with his two other establishments is a boisterous, lounge-y vibe with pulsating music playing noon and night. His penchant for bar hostesses in short, tight, black attire also has been carried over here. So much so that I jested that I hoped my husband would not end up with whiplash when we dined here one recent evening when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The front of Roots & Rye opens up to bring the outdoors in. The bar area takes up about half the restaurant and spills outdoors with chairs set up around cool-looking glass-fronted fire pits. The dining room toward the back makes for a slightly quieter area.

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Thrice-Changing Spot Morphs Into New Lark Creek Kitchen

Salmon tartare at the new Lark Creek Kitchen.

Salmon tartare at the new Lark Creek Kitchen.

 

It was once Yankee Pier. Next, it transformed into Lark Creek Blue. Now, this spot on the main drag of San Jose’s Santana Row reopened just weeks ago as the new Lark Creek Kitchen.

It’s the first such new concept by the Moana Restaurant Group since it took over operations of Lark Creek Restaurant Group’s stable in January with the exception of One Market restaurant in San Francisco, which remains independently run.

Not that the other two concepts lacked for diners, but Lark Creek Kitchen is Moana’s first action to refresh the brand. Other plans are in the works to redo Lark Creek Steak in the San Francisco Centre and to reopen the now-shuttered Fish Story in Napa as something else.

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Take a Seat at The Table — If You Can

Let's hear it for bone marrow in all its glory!

Chef de Cuisine Anthony Jimenez jokes that he and his crew have finally found the perfect late-night dining spot in San Jose.

The only problem?

They can’t hang out there — because they work there.

The Table, which just opened last month in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood, is a rarity in the sleepy South Bay — a non-greasy-spoon of a restaurant that serves food sometimes as late as 10:30 p.m. on weekdays. Although the restaurant officially closes at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jimenez says he keeps the kitchen going if enough people are still coming in later at night.

Another unusual aspect? They serve bone marrow. The caveman-like offal dish is de rigueur on many a San Francisco menu. But in the South Bay? Not so much.

The roasted bones, split to make it easier to scoop out the unctuous marrow to spread on grilled ciabbatta ($12), sells well, too, Jimenez says.

One of the colorful paintings and murals that adorn the dining room.

The inspirational quote above the kitchen.

The Table is the newest restaurant by Executive Chef-Partner Jim Stump of the Los Gatos Brewing Company in San Jose and Los Gatos. The long-time South Bay chef says he’s always wanted to open an intimate neighborhood establishment that’s all about farm-to-table  because “it’s not just a concept, it’s life.”

Diners seem to be embracing it with open arms, too, as the restaurant has been busy since opening day.

Seats are not easy to come by, especially when there’s only 60 of them at simple, bare wood tables. I was lucky enough to snag one recently when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The walls are adorned with colorful murals of over-sized pears and wine bottles, hand-painted by Stump’s friend, a restaurateur in Denver. There’s also a chalkboard over the open kitchen that sports inspirational quotes.

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