Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

Selby’s Sizzles — Even Before It Opens

Halibut with Robuchon potatoes at the new Selby's.

Halibut with Robuchon potatoes at the new Selby’s.

 

You know a restaurant has got it going on when nearly all of its 48 main dining-room seats are already booked solid for the next two months and its private dining rooms already are sought after for Christmas soirees — and it hasn’t even opened its doors yet.

Such is the case of the hotly anticipated Selby’s in Redwood City on the edge of Atherton, which officially opens to the public on Tuesday, July 23 to serve dinner nightly.

It’s the latest project by the Bacchus Management Group, which also operates nearby Michelin-starred The Village Pub in Woodside, The Village Bakery & Cafe in Woodside, Pizza Antica in San Jose’s Santana Row, and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto; as well as Michelin-starred Spruce, and The Saratoga, both in San Francisco.

The 10,000-square-foot property on El Camino Real has been various restaurants since 1938, most recently Chantilly’s. For more than a year, including four months of construction, the Bacchus Group labored to completely transform the interior into a sumptuous establishment, as I saw when I was invited in as a guest of a media preview dinner last week.

The main dining room on the first floor.

The main dining room on the first floor.

The mixed media "Golden State'' art work created by Lost Art Salon proprietor Rob Delamater hangs above the fireplace.

The mixed media “Golden State” art work created by Lost Art Salon proprietor Rob Delamater hangs above the fireplace.

The swank bar.

The swank bar.

Local artist Magnus Scheven's focal point chandelier.

Local artist Magnus Scheven’s focal point chandelier.

Dark emerald mohair covers the walls not only to add luxury, but act as a sound dampener. I dare you to not spend at least a few moments caressing the walls (yes, really) that feel like plush velvet to the touch. Real gold leaf glitters on the back wall of the bar, as well as the ceiling of the restrooms. There’s even a secret poker room upstairs that doubles as a private dining room.

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Sneak Peak Taste of Midsummer At Plaj

"Wine & Flowers'' cocktail on the new midsummer menu at Plaj.

“Wine & Flowers” cocktail on the new midsummer menu at Plaj.

 

In Scandinavia, midsummer begins June 22. And it’s a very big deal.

After a long, harsh winter of darkness with a mere four hours of light per day if you’re lucky, Scandinavian residents get rather giddy when summer approaches. Can you blame them?

Swedish-born Chef-Owner Roberth Sundell offers up a taste of that exuberance from his home country by presenting a special midsummer menu at his Plaj restaurant in San Francisco.

Located inside the boutique Inn at the Opera hotel, Sundell opened the restaurant in 2012 with his wife Andrea to showcase modern Scandinavian cuisine with California influences. They followed that up in 2017 with the fast-casual Stockhome in Petaluma.

Plaj is a phonetic spelling of the word “play.” And that’s just what the couple wants you to do when you visit this intimate dining room.

The bar.

The bar.

The dining area beside it.

The dining area beside it.

Recently, I was invited along with other media to try some of the offerings on the new midsummer menu, which will be available June 19-25.

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Step Inside The Vault

The seafood sampler at The Vault.

The seafood sampler at The Vault.

 

The iconic Bank of America skyscraper in San Francisco’s Financial District holds a special place in my heart.

It’s where my Mom worked for years at a brokerage firm. And it’s where I’d work high school and college summers in her office for her boss, sorting and filing papers. The company was located on the 32nd floor, high up enough that when the Blue Angels were in town, you could gawk at the planes — and feel a rumble — as they whizzed by the windows practically at eye level. Now, that was something.

It’s been many years since I’ve been back inside that building. But recently, I had the chance, when I was invited in to dine as a guest at the new The Vault, located on the concourse level.

The newest concept by the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group, it is also quite something to behold. The restaurant group may be known for its relaxed, neighborhood spots — Trestle, Corridor, and Fat Angel — but The Vault, which really is in the bank’s old vault area, is total swank.

As Hi Neighbor partner Ryan Cole told me, “It’s a different crowd than SOMA.”

The place where power people imbibe.

The place where power people imbibe.

Private liquor lockers for patrons.

Private liquor lockers for patrons.

That meant a different vibe was in order. After all, the building still houses some of the top financial services firms around. While one could easily still walk in here wearing the usual skinny jeans uniform, you will see far more suit jackets and blazers than you ever would in the South of Market area.

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The Marriott Santa Clara Welcomes Bosc & Bartlett

The ahi trio at the new Bosc & Bartlett.

The ahi trio at the new Bosc & Bartlett.

 

The Santa Clara Marriott, a hop, skip and a jump away from Levi’s Stadium, is undergoing a massive $30 million-plus renovation that will be completed this fall.

Step inside and you’ll already notice big changes — from the new gift shop, redesigned lobby, updated guestrooms, and a new restaurant and bar.

Fine-dining Parcel 104 is still there going strong, with Executive Chef Sergio Morales and Pastry Chef Carlos Sanchez, so don’t fret. But the Marriott has added another more casual concept, Bosc & Bartlett, that’s been quietly open since October.

Like Parcel 104, which takes its name for the land designation for the former pear orchard property, the new eatery’s name also pays homage to that fall favorite fruit.

Chef Jason Kina helms the new restaurant, a sister establishment to the hotel's Parcel 104.

Chef Jason Kina helms the new restaurant, a sister establishment to the hotel’s Parcel 104.

Walk toward the lobby and you can’t miss Bosc & Bartlett because it’s wide open with an expansive square-sided bar at its center that seats 32. High bar-height tables ring it. To the side is also more lounge-y seating with couches and tables, all done up in calming, sandy tones. The restaurant also now services a newly redone pool-side patio just out back.

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Of Smoke and Cocktails at Gibson

This is what a chicken nugget looks like at Gibson in San Francisco.

This is what a chicken nugget looks like at Gibson in San Francisco.

 

There are restaurants where cocktails and hearth cooking are strong supporting players.

At Gibson in San Francisco, though, they are center-stage stars.

Located in the Hotel Bijou on the edge of Union Square, it offers up a unique dining experience, as I found out recently when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. It’s a place that does some mind-blowing things with live-fire cooking. And it’s where you can enjoy not just a prix fixe dinner with wine pairings, but cocktail pairings instead if you are so inclined. That latter is what we went with.

With an al fresco ceiling, lots of brass and Art Deco touches, it’s a little like walking into a bustling Eastern European cafe in feel. Yet it’s all modern and whimsical in its approach.

The ceiling.

The ceiling.

Operation Director Adam Chapman mixes up specialty drinks at the bar.

Operation Director Adam Chapman (right) mixes up specialty drinks at the bar.

Sit at the chef's table just inches outside the kitchen to see and hear all the action.

Sit at the chef’s table just inches outside the kitchen to see and hear all the action.

We were seated at the chef’s table, a four-seat banquette that is right in front of the wide-open kitchen. How open? I literally could have gotten up from my seat, taken two steps and been right beside the cooks. From that vantage point, it’s almost like watching live theater before you.

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