Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

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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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

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

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

Tasty Brews and ‘Cue

A mini-sampler of fresh beer at the reborn Dan Gordon’s brewpub in Palo Alto.

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

Rebirth is a popular theme in books and films but a recently born-again restaurant in downtown Palo Alto has also been making diners smile — particularly those picky about their brews and ‘cue. The former Gordon Biersch brewpub that was launched in 1988 has now gone full circle, reopening last year after an interior renovation as Dan Gordon’s, whose eponymous owner was the gifted brewmaster half of the original team and now wants his new brewery-restaurant to have an enticing 21st century vibe. That means a farm-to-table approach in the kitchen, serious smoked meats, extensive whiskey selection, beer-inspired cocktails, even more fresh beers on tap, industrial chic decor and sports playing on the giant tv screens. Alas, the resounding noise level is also in keeping with modern trends. Continue reading

Tippler’s Delight in Santana Row

Fancy cocktails and tasty food are a winning combo at Roots & Rye in swanky Santana Row, a popular hangout for younger patrons.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in October, 2017.)

Historically, bars have been dimly lit places dedicated to the flow of booze while offering minimal, forgettable edibles.  Some older drinkers can recall that dubious snack mix in their favorite watering holes possibly dating from the Reagan administration.  Well, that was then.  In our modern era with its relentless reinvention of  food and drink, distilled spirits have been overhauled and up leveled, with fine whiskies having become particularly trendy.  But no self-respecting proprietor would serve stale pretzels and petrified popcorn so the bar food accompanying high-end hootch is often a draw all on its own these days. Continue reading

Bodacious Basque Tapas in Los Gatos

One-bite wonders at Pintxos Pote in Los Gatos keep diners coming back, like this combo of egg, shrimp, olive and aoili.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2017.)

Pintxos — those luscious bites found in Spain’s Basque region — are to tapas what porterhouse steak is to beef.  At least, that’s what any visitor to the incredible foodie capital of San Sebastián on the Atlantic near the French border would tell you. This thriving Basque city has Michelin stars like other towns have gas stations and the top activity seems to be devouring mind-blowing mouthfuls in the city’s hundred-plus pintxos bars.  But South Bay residents don’t have to go nearly that far to munch on outrageously tasty pintxos in a friendly environment. Continue reading