French Laundry South in Palo Alto

Soft, delectable ricotta dumplings that look like artwork are among the standouts at Protégé.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

Damning a serious restaurant as “too expensive” is as common as breadsticks at Olive Garden — whose prices seem to be what such self-appointed critics somehow expect for cutting-edge cuisine. However, savvier diners understand that meals at such exalted food temples with their precious ingredients and squads of culinary school grads aren’t about full tummies but rather delivering a unique experience, which doesn’t come cheap.  The South Bay has recently acquired one of these rarified dining spots, modeled on Napa Valley’s three-star French Laundry, no less. Continue reading

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Hola to Gourmet Tacos!

This classic Mexican street food is being transformed by creative chefs into an unlimited range of delicious offerings.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

Food trends can be fleeting; think raw food, cupcakes, molecular gastronomy and that rusty fondue set way in the back of your grandmother’s cupboard. But some trends have such broad appeal that they stick around, gather momentum and move into the mainstream. Upscale tacos are now in that favored spot, with this traditional Mexican street food having morphed into an anything-goes movement in which all sorts of delicious items are wrapped up — usually in a soft, heated corn tortilla but not necessarily — and snarfed down by a delighted public. Continue reading

Asa- Hot Newcomer in Los Altos

Restaurant Asa combines irresistible American-Spanish-Italian cuisine and friendly service in downtown Los Altos. Sidewalk seating is another plus.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December, 2018.)

Sleepy Los Altos with its affluent citizenry and cute-as-a-button downtown has long beckoned restaurateurs but the surprising failure rate over the years seems out of line considering the potential.  Fortunately for South Bay diners, this didn’t deter Andrew Welch, whose modern reinvention of his venerable The Basin in nearby Saratoga has been triumphant on tree-studded State Street. Opened in 2017, Asa, named for his baby son, is perennially packed, firmly occupying the happy role of the hottest restaurant in Los Altos. Continue reading

Talking to Cooking Star David Kinch

Mild-mannered cooking deity David Kinch is a modest, immodestly gifted chef who has brought fame to the South Bay.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December of 2018.)

In an era when chefs are often tattooed, self-promoting celebrities, with social media trumpeting their latest foul-mouthed exploits, the irrefutable king of the kitchen in the South Bay — and increasingly, beyond — is cerebral, low-key David Kinch, who’d rather be surfing than attending to a throng of groupies. He planted himself in the South Bay in the mid-’90s when, he admits, the region was a culinary backwater compared to the buzzy eating scene to the north. What drew him to this area was that “I found a place that I could afford,” he says, after coming up empty in pricey San Francisco, where he had excelled as the hired executive chef at various prestigious restaurants. Continue reading

Santorini in Downtown Palo Alto

With its cheerful antique blue door and outdoor tables, new Taverna is a Greek hot spot in Palo Alto.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine on October, 2018.)

If only the city fathers would allow tables to be set up all the way down Palo Alto’s Emerson Street, newcomer Taverna would easily fill them all.  Visiting this boisterous munchkin of a restaurant downtown is like taking a quick trip to the Greek islands due to the blue-and-white decor, wooden chairs and festive atmosphere, which has turned Taverna into the “it” dining spot of the moment.  Its piddling size means that the limited seating inside and at outdoor tables that hug the white walls of its corner location are hard to nab without planning ahead. Continue reading

Where to Find the Best Fresh Pasta?

The carb-y comfort of fresh pasta can be found locally, at exacting restaurants and pasta purveyors.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2018)

One of the world’s most addictive carbs is pasta, from the dried, boiled spaghetti with red sauce from a jar that busy moms serve their hungry kids to exquisitely handmade noodles enveloped by made-from-scratch sauce in fine restaurants. Although it’s abundantly available in markets everywhere — typically dried or mass produced — pasta purists often seek out the fresh, local variety.  A must-have on Italian restaurant menus, pasta has slithered its delicious way into the happy mouths of patrons in many high-end restaurants in general, where a pasta dish or two is now common. Continue reading

Seafood Extravaganza in the Row

Soft-shell crab sliders are crunchy, delicious, textural wonders among a vast assortment of choices.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in June, 2018.)

Imagine a restaurateur planning the menu for a new seafood place who scribbles down every beloved from-the-sea dish around, regardless of type (finger food, starter, voluminous entree)  and cuisine (European, Asian, Latin, regional American).  But rather than selecting a few, he includes them all.  This is the improbable but wildly successful premise of Santana Row’s new hit, EMC Seafood. Rumored to stand for “eat more clams,” this busy, contemporary spot serves sashimi, sushi rolls, fish tacos, Parisian-style towering platters of seafood, New England clam chowder and lobster rolls, shucked oysters, inspired seafood pasta preparations, grilled fish, elegant entrees and even that old standby, shrimp cocktail. Continue reading