Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

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

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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

Luscious Portuguese Cuisine in San Jose

adega-1Adega brings comfortable, modern decor and its first Michelin star to San Jose

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in February 2017)

Spanish food has been having a long moment but the cuisine from its neighbor Portugal might as well be from Liberia when it comes to awareness among American diners.  However, gifted young chefs David Costa and Jessica Carreira are changing this oversight; reservations at their Portuguese restaurant Adega are now the hottest ticket in the South Bay.  Of course, it didn’t hurt when Adega was awarded a Michelin star in the fall of 2016 even though it had only opened the previous year, just the second such honor for a Portuguese dining spot in the country and, remarkably, the very first star from the tire folks for a San Jose restaurant.  Continue reading

Take a Trip Around the World at Kumino Restaurant

kumino-ramenNoodles and rice bowls were never like this!

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December 2016)

There’s an unfortunate bifurcation when it comes to eating out in the South Bay. Given all the fine cuisine and storied chefs in the region, diners expect a restaurant meal involving superb food will come with a hefty bill and be a pricey form of entertainment. Meanwhile, grabbing a quick mouthful for a small price is largely the territory of forgettable spots whose goal is simple fuel with low culinary expectations. With Americans now spending more on away-from-home meals than grocery buying, it’s not surprising that less-costly eateries get more of our food dollars than higher-end restaurants, which many people can’t afford. Continue reading

Slurping Great Oysters at Forthright

forthright-3These luscious bivalves are well represented at Forthright in Campbell.

Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December, 2016.

The freshness frenzy of modern diners coupled with today’s more adventurous palate has helped revive the fortunes of a storied ingredient that was once a cheap, plentiful food for the working poor before over-harvesting turned these yummy mouthfuls into an upscale item. It’s hard to find something fresher than oysters, consumed while still alive, so the increasing availability of these mollusks on South Bay menus is welcome news for discriminating eaters. The best place to find the most prodigious offering of this pricey bivalve is definitely the new Forthright Oyster Bar & Kitchen in Campbell. Continue reading

Black Sheep Brasserie Zips Up French Classics

black_sheep-1This handsome new spot in Willow Glen is the brainchild of four successful restaurateurs.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in October, 2016.)

Black sheep might be considered outcasts but there’s nothing disgraceful about the buzzy new dining spot of that name in the heart of Willow Glen. Opening late last year, Black Sheep Brasserie brings some classic Frenchness to town, but wrapped in modern sensibilities, from the chic food preparations to the decor. For example, snails here aren’t just the longtime Parisian iteration featuring garlic butter and herbs but rather are basil-fed crawlers steeped in Pernod butter. Meanwhile, the high-ceiled space is modern and handsome with a muted gray-neutral color scheme enlivened with occasional pops of bright red. Continue reading