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.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

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

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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.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine in December.)

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.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

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

A Very Local Wine Country

Urban wineries are a major trend in several areas, including a growing number in the South Bay.

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

The concept of a “winery” has definitely evolved in recent years and need not include bucolic vistas of vast vineyards or even a single grapevine swaying in the breeze. San Francisco, in particular, has around two dozen operations where winemakers do their fermentation thing in warehouses and other roomy buildings smack dab in high-density environments, with other so-called “urban wineries” scattered around Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda. This trend is also thriving elsewhere, such as in Portland, Seattle — even in landlocked Denver — and has come to the South Bay, too. Continue reading

Sake 101

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in February 2018.)

There are plentiful options when it comes to choosing a beverage to accompany a Japanese meal. Since Japanese cuisine is frequently subtle, it can go nicely with well-chosen wine and beer is also a popular  accompaniment. However, those seeking the full Japanese experience should order sake (sock-ay) to go with their meal after first learning a few basics about this surprisingly complex beverage. First off, sake is not rice wine, as many diners believe it to be. Rather, it’s fermented from special rice varieties that have first been milled to expose the starchy core, then a special enzyme, koji, is added that helps convert starch to sugar while the sugar is turned into alcohol. Typically, the more the rice has been polished, the higher quality is the sake it produces, which is best consumed within a year of bottling in most cases. Continue reading