Dining Outside at Shepherd & Sims

The delectable ahi tostada at Shepherd & Sims.
The delectable ahi tostada at Shepherd & Sims.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another chef who has left such an imprimatur on the South Bay as Chef Jim Stump.

In his early days, he was executive chef at Birk’s in Santa Clara, then the same at Le Mouton Noir in Saratoga, before launching the Los Gatos Brewing Company and downtown San Jose’s A.P. Stump’s.

In 2012, he debuted the popular The Table in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. Since then, his The Hot Behind You hospitality management group has opened Forthright in Campbell, The Vesper in Campbell, and most recently, Jim Stump’s Taproom & Kitchen at San Jose Mineta International Airport.

In fall 2021, during the throes of the pandemic, he also opened Shepherd & Sims in Los Gatos. The name is a co-mingling of the surnames of his wife and business partner, Angelique Shepherd-Stump and Stump’s birth name when he was adopted as a child.

A couple times a year, I play hooky from my home office during the week to enjoy a “ladies who lunch” outing with friends to celebrate one of our birthdays.

Shepherd & Sims sports a sizeable covered patio for dining, as well as a snazzy indoor dining room.
Shepherd & Sims sports a sizeable covered patio for dining, as well as a snazzy indoor dining room.

If you’re inclined to do the same — or to just enjoy a wonderful lunch outdoors on a sunny day — Shepherd & Sims is the spot to do it.

It has a sizeable covered patio, which makes dining al fresco there a real pleasure. Care was definitely put into this space that’s done up with both lounge seating and regular tables. Whimsical murals of peaches decorate the walls and columns, as well as one featuring the namesake “Los Gatos” cat.

The farm-and-sea-to-table menu boasts raw bar selections, salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.

You can’t go wrong with a selection of that day’s oysters on the half shell. We enjoyed Marin Miyagi ($3.75) from local Tomales Bay; Royal Miyagi ($4) from Dabob Bay, WA; Stony Point ($4) from Hood Canal, WA; and Hammersley ($4.25) from Puget Sound, WA.

A selection of that day's oysters.
A selection of that day’s oysters.

They were served with horseradish, mignonette, cocktail sauce, and hot sauce. All tasted as fresh as it gets, with the Hammersly especially delicious with its creaminess and the Stony Point with its sweetness.

The poke bowl ($26) was one of the best I’ve had and far superior to most of those poke bowl places now dotting every neighborhood. Slices of impeccable hamachi, tuna and salmon were draped over a bed of sushi rice and fresh mixed greens tossed in a miso dressing. Marinated cucumbers added a nice crunchy component. Sriracha aioli was drizzled on with the lightest hand — not drowned in it like other places have a tendency to do — adding just the right amount of creaminess and spiciness. It all added up to a well crafted poke bowl with everything perfectly in balance.

A poke bowl to really appreciate.
A poke bowl to really appreciate.

The ahi tostada ($16) was a beaut on a blue corn tortilla covered with smashed avocado, cubes of tuna, and smoky-spicy salsa macha.

That same care and attention was evident on something as simple as avocado toast ($13) that resembled a bountiful garden sprouting atop grilled bread. Levain slices were covered with avocado, wedges of soft-boiled egg, crunchy-seedy furikake, and a smattering of fresh herbs.

Doing avocado toast just right.
Doing avocado toast just right.

Often in our hectic lives, lunch is grabbed on-the-go or eaten more as sustenance rather than for true pleasure. Shepherd & Sims reminds you just how lovely and pampering a noon-time escape can be.

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