Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Tour of Best Of Lists:

In July I picked up several local papers that highlighted different great things about the wonderful place called Oz (aka Silicon Valley).

Now if you read my Yelp reviews you know I can be very disconcerting of an eater and the slightest hiccup usually makes it into my review.

Yet, I can't sit down at every bar, eatery, deli or foodie heaven because I would be drained of funds and gained about 100 pounds in the process.

So how would one tour the Best of List? Below is just a sample of the institutional restaurants I have to try. One is only opened for lunch on Fridays, One I actually live near and others I pass on a daily basis but how could I even begin a tour with such a list?

Such a quandry to have

Flea StreetSituated on Alameda de las Pulgas, or Avenue of the Fleas, this Menlo Park mainstay spotlights Jesse Cool’s longstanding dedication to sustainable cuisine, with dishes that rely on fresh, organic, local ingredients. The menu is divided into three parts (not including dessert), encouraging diners to share some smaller items—like various salads or the house-smoked trout ($20)—before enjoying the larger plates. While the lineup does change frequently, the ricotta and chives gnocchi ($18), pasture-raised chicken ($36) and braised short ribs ($38) are usually available. Tip: You can buy a dozen of the buttermilk biscuits ($18) to bake and devour at home. 3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, 650.854.1226 
Le PapillonIf you’ve been around for almost 40 years, chances are, you’re doing all kinds of right. And that’s certainly the case with this French fine-dining establishment, which offers several multicourse options ($75 for three courses, $85 for four and a $110 tasting menu with a $60 wine pairing available). The presentations showcase the kitchen’s attention to detail—from the velvety pea soup with shitake mushrooms to the pan-roasted beef tenderloin served with a potato gratin and bone marrow. End things on an exceptional note with the Grand Marnier souffle. 410 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, 408.296.3730 
EvviaFor more than two decades, Evvia has been serving up excellent Hellenic cuisine in a refined environment that imparts a bit of Old World charm (thanks to the stone fireplace and copper pans). Among the signature Greek dishes are the horiatiki ($12), which is better known as the Greek salad; moussaka ($21); and souvlaki ($18.75 for chicken, $23.75 for lamb). There’s also a range of delicious desserts, from baklava ($8.25) to yiaourti ($7.25), or homemade yogurt garnished with walnuts and dates. If any—or all—of this sounds good, book a reservation well in advance, unless you don’t mind 5:30PM dinner. 420 Emerson St., Palo Alto, 650.326.0983
Iron Gate
With service, ambience and food that is top-notch, it’s no wonder Iron Gate is still going strong—more than 50 years after opening. It’s old school in the best possible way. Savor classics like oysters Rockefeller ($20); tableside-made Caesar salad for two ($23); steak Diane, which is also prepared at your table ($47); and chocolate or Grand Marnier souffles ($24). For a real treat, go on a Friday or Saturday night, when there’s live music and dancing (in a separate space from the dining room). 1360 El Camino Real, Belmont, 650.592.7893
La ForêtA sister restaurant to Le Papillon (and a couple of years younger), La Forêt is housed in a charming creekside building that dates back to 1848 (the name translates to “the forest”). The menu is characterized by classic French fare, such as escargot in garlic butter and Pernod ($17), scallops over puff pastry with a saffron cream sauce ($16), tournedos of beef tarragon ($44), roasted quail accompanied by a huckleberry sauce ($36) and creme brulee ($9). There are also two tasting menus ($85 and $135 per person). Service, like the execution of the dishes, is impeccable. 21747 Bertram Road, San Jose, 408.997.3458
Chez TJA converted Victorian in downtown Mountain View has been the setting for superb dining for 34 years now. Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher’s menu, however, is decidedly modern, and aims to incorporate seasonal ingredients sourced within approximately 100 miles. Highlights at the Michelin-starred restaurant recently included Monterey Bay abalone, Liberty Farms duck and Sonoma-raised rack of lamb. Two tasting menus ($120 for seven courses, or $185 for about a dozen courses) are available.938 Villa St., Mountain View, 650.964.7466

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