Category Archives: Dining Outside

Dining Outside at JiuBa

Pork and shrimp dumplings in chili oil at JiuBa.
Pork and shrimp dumplings in chili oil at JiuBa.

Last summer, the incredibly splashy iChina opened its doors in the Westfield Valley Fair, bringing an air of Vegas to this Santa Clara-San Jose shopping center.

Standing two stories tall, sporting a virtual-reality private dining room with projection screens all around, and dripping with sparkly, shiny jade-hued glass and gold accents everywhere, this restaurant is a true sight to behold.

If you’re like me, though, and limiting yourself to dining outside at the moment, the bad news is that iChina, which means “love China” in Mandarin, offers only indoor dining.

However, its first-floor bar and lounge, JiuBa, does have outdoor seating.

JiuBa, which means “bar” in Mandarin, serves a much smaller menu. However, it is definitely possible to compose a full and satisfying dinner from it, as I found when I was invited in as a guest last week.

The bar inside shares the same opulent look as the rest of the restaurant, as if an enormous jade-emerald-diamond ring was the inspiration.

The glamorous bar inside JiuBa.
The glamorous bar inside JiuBa.
Would you believe this is the bathroom?
Would you believe this is the bathroom?

Even the all-gender bathroom looks as if it belongs in a modern-day Chinese palace.

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Dining Outside at Broma

Spanish octopus in chili glaze at Broma.
Spanish octopus in chili glaze at Broma.

To the mix of amphitheater, movieplex and Google headquarters on this stretch of North Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View came a swank new hotel last year.

In June, that property, the 200-room Shashi Hotel, positioned itself as even more of a destination when it opened its restaurant, Broma, with Chief Culinary Director Jarad Gallagher, formerly of Michelin-starred Chez TJ in Mountain View, and Executive Chef Aubree Arndt, formerly of Loma Brewing Company in Los Gatos.

This is the first restaurant by the Shashi Group, which also owns the Aloft hotels in the South Bay and The Nest boutique hotel in Palo Alto.

Last year, the Shashi Hotel opened its Emerald Hour bar and cocktail lounge. Still to come are a coffee shop called Carte Blanche, and a fine-dining restaurant, Belle Terra.

Executive Chef Aubrey Arndt.
Executive Chef Aubrey Arndt.

Last week, I had a chance to check out Broma, its Spanish-Portuguese restaurant, when I was invited in as a guest.

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Dining Outside at Saffron in Burlingame, Né Rasa

India meets China in General Tso's cauliflower at Saffron in Burlingame.
India meets China in General Tso’s cauliflower at Saffron in Burlingame.

At this Burlingame spot, you will find a refashioned brighter interior, an added parklet, a new menu and name change, and owner Ajay Walia no longer greeting you in a sharp suit, but casual shirt and slacks.

In June, Walia closed his former Michelin-starred, fine-dining Rasa on this property, and morphed it into the second outpost of his Saffron (the original is in San Carlos). It was a difficult decision, he says, but one necessitated by the challenges of the pandemic.

Yet despite the transformation, Walia doesn’t believe anything is radically different.

“We’re still buying the same ingredients, and cooking with the same standards,” he says. “The only thing that has changed is people’s expectations.”

A feast al fresco.
A feast al fresco.

Indeed, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week to dine outside, I found the food as delightful as ever.

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Breakfast Is Served At Abbey Road Farm — And How!

Karaage fried chicken and cornmeal waffle, part of the five-course breakfast at Abbey Road Farm.
Karaage fried chicken and cornmeal waffle, part of the five-course breakfast at Abbey Road Farm.

On a road trip to Oregon last week, I ate very casually and exceedingly well.

But by far, my most memorable and breathtaking meals came surprisingly at breakfast — sitting on a screened-in porch on a farm where I slept overnight in a converted grain silo.

You don’t typically expect a five-course, gourmet spread like this in such rustic surroundings. Sure, the herbs for the meal are hand-picked from the property’s culinary garden, the honey harvested from its own hives, and the eggs courtesy of its own chickens. But you’ll also find on the premises a chef who goes the extra mile to make his own cherry blossom syrup, garum (Italian fish sauce) and shio koji (Japanese fermented grain marinade) — all used to great effect in breakfast.

When I was invited to stay as a guest at the 82-acre Abbey Road Farm in the town of Carlton in Oregon’s Wine Country, its web site promised “one of the best breakfasts in Oregon.”

That was no hyperbole. Because Chef Will Preisch more than delivered on that.

The culinary garden at the farm.
The culinary garden at the farm.
Purple artichokes grown in the garden.
Purple artichokes grown in the garden.

Preisch, who grew up in Cleveland where his dad ran a 24-hour diner, is a bona fide fine-dining chef with serious chops.

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Dining Outside at Edge Restaurant

A stunning halibut crudo with aguachile at Edge in Sonoma.
A stunning halibut crudo with aguachile at Edge in Sonoma.

Sometimes the best things hide in plain sight.

And if you’re very lucky, you stumble upon them before the rest of the world finds out.

Such is the case with Edge Restaurant in downtown Sonoma.

Steps from Sonoma Plaza square, this fine-dining restaurant operates inside a renovated Victorian home that you might easily pass by if you weren’t paying attention.

Fortunately, its management team reached out to invite me in as a guest of this sensational restaurant that’s operated by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma.

The restaurant is owned by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, just a few miles away.
The restaurant is owned by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, just a few miles away.
The front of the restaurant.
The front of the restaurant.

The winery is owned by Leslie McQuown and her husband Mac McQuown, a serial entrepreneur who also co-founded the Chalone Wine Group and Carmenet Winery.

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