San Jose Mother’s Day Brunch
Mom has fed you so many times, so this Mother’s Day, treat her to a special brunch. The whole family can enjoy everything from strawberry waffles with a cappuccino to a succulent plate of crabs’ legs paired with a Mimosa.
Arcadia Restaurant Review: With Arcadia, Michael Mina has created one of the most sophisticated dining spots in the south bay — a chic, elegantly appointed 130-seat restaurant located at the San Jose Marriott. The dinner menu includes Mina classics like the decadent Maine lobster potpie with truffle cream and seasonal vegetables served tableside by the very professional waitstaff. Another classic, whole chicken for two, is fried in duck fat and served with truffled mac ‘n’ cheese. Frying the bird whole crisps the skin and keeps the meat inside greaseless. The high-end steak menu includes filet mignon, grass-fed skirt steak and dry-aged New York strip as well as bone-in specialties like a 20-ounce cowboy rib-eye, Berkshire pork chops and Colorado lamb T-bones. If you’re not in a meat mood, go for delightfully fresh fish. You can also add seared foie gras, a butter-poached lobster tail and choose from more than a dozen sides. There are six sauces to choose from including green peppercorn and Worcestershire vinaigrette. Master sommelier Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group, has hand-selected a list focusing primarily on boutique wines from America. Arcadia also serves breakfast and lunch.
Bella Mia Italian Restaurant Review: The bones of a historic building—brick walls and aged wood—add to the romantic setting of this Italian-California eatery emphasizing fresh seasonal ingredients. The wraparound bar is a comfortable spot to sip a cocktail and wait for a table. Service is friendly and attentive, and when the weather is pleasant, many opt to sit outside on the patio. Lunchtime sees a high demand for dine and dash, offering dishes like a half order of lasagna or linguine with crab, shrimp and mushrooms in a white wine and butter sauce. Start your dinner with one of the tasty flatbreads or the toothsome almond prawn cocktail. Fresh pastas make up a large part of the menu: try the salmon ravioli or opt for an old favorite like spaghetti and meatballs. Featured entrées include grilled items such as top sirloin steak in a Madeira wine reduction. Be sure to save room for the cappuccino mud pie.
Dio Deka Restaurant Review: Former chef de cuisine Jeff Fitzgerald has assumed executive chef duties with the departure of Marty Cattaneo. The kitchen delivers classic Greek fare updated with local ingredients, as well as seasonal specialties and a dedicated steak and chop menu of Prime dry-aged beef. Try the caramelized Brussels sprouts served with slow-cooked egg enhanced with a touch of citron peel, or the mesquite-grilled octopus, rich with charred meat and a sprinkling of Marcona almonds to add a touch of crunch. Soups are updated regularly and burst with seasonal flavor. A house special of two double-cut lamb chops traditionally seasoned and mesquite grilled to medium rare can be made even heartier with additional chops for a per-chop fee. A dish of local mussels and squid served with crisp, fried olives and barrel aged feta is a highlight when available. The expansive wine list covers Greece, Italy, France, Spain and California, and includes rare wines from cult producers and Bordeaux’s best. There are also more than two dozen wines by the glass, and staff pairing choices are spot on. The large dining room features an exhibition kitchen, rustic honey-hued wood floors, contemporary wrought iron chandeliers and sconces, and dark wood columns throughout. A rough hewn wooden table near the fireplace is an ideal spot for a party, and the adjacent bar, cubby-holed with jewel-bright back-lit bottles, gives haven to those waiting for a table or just enjoying a drink.
The Grill on the Alley Restaurant Review: While its name says “on the alley,” this chain is often not on an alley at all but rather sometimes in hotels, sometimes in entertainment complexes. The look, like the food, is retro but stylish. Dark-stained wood and lots of leather give it masculine touches. The comfortable bar, showcasing vintage photos of San Jose, has become a magnet for downtown business people. Fried calamari, steamed littleneck clams, and huge salads are part of the starting lineup. Homey specials include chicken potpie and meat loaf. Some old-time dishes, like calf’s liver and onions, are also here, along with traditional prime rib, lamb chops, and a New York strip. There are also a few seafood dishes along with pastas and chicken dishes and a vegetable platter. The portions, especially the steaks, are enormous. The desserts have a made-somewhere-else taste and look.
Il Fornaio Restaurant Review: Everyone loves this sunny Italian trattoria, which brought rustic Italian breads to California years ago. Newspapers are available at the espresso bar, plump chickens turn on the rotisserie and that famous fresh bread is baked in the back twice daily. Enjoy the focaccia and breadsticks and stick with the Italian basics: salads, pizzas, pastas and that juicy chicken. Stop by in the morning for a steaming lattè, and don’t leave without picking up some fresh Italian breads or pastries in the adjoining bakery. Watch for monthly changing specials reflecting various regions of Italy. Service can be the weak link, unfortunately. Other locations.
La Foret Restaurant Review: If you’re tired of small plates, big trends and über-hip lounge fare, La Forêt is the place for you. Enjoy fine French cuisine in a beautiful old-country setting; relax at a window seat overlooking a meandering stream and the lush foothills of New Almaden. Choose from one of two six-course tasting menus or order à la carte. Start with scallops, escargots or chilled lobster tail. Entrées include a variety of meats, pastas, fish and poultry, but there are also variations for more adventurous palates, including a buffalo steak and a “wild game special.” End the meal with a fluffy Grand Marnier soufflé for two or a classic French dessert. The wine list focuses on California primarily with secondary attention to France and Italy. Service is attentive. The restaurant offers special holiday, banquet and brunch menus.
LB Steak Restaurant Review: Chef de cuisine Thomas Ricci helms this Santana Row LB Steak, one of two from Roland Passot (La Folie, Left Bank brasseries). Little luxuries include Kobe steak carpaccio with compressed Asian pear, Thai vinaigrette, lotus root chips and roasted peanuts. Prime steak is the focus: standard cuts, California grass-fed, dry-aged choices. A bone-in filet mignon, essentially a porterhouse without the New York strip, is a distinctive offering. For a standout steak meal, try the rib-eye on the bone for two (dubbed a tomahawk chop), displayed tableside before being cooked to order. Desserts are classic American comfort fare, such as white chocolate bread pudding. The global wine list includes grower-producer Champagnes and an extensive California selection. White and red tasting flights are a nice touch, as is the choice of three- or six-ounce pours. Abundant mahogany, delicate chandeliers and edgy artwork comprise the modern steakhouse décor, while a glass wall and sliding doors revealing the kitchen provide a unique take on the open kitchen concept. The draped, well-lit and heated outdoor dining space is reminiscent of a European café on a pedestrian-only street.
Left Bank Restaurant Review: Renowned for his wonderful French restaurant in San Francisco, La Folie, Roland Passot and team are opening Left Banks all over the place, and that’s a good thing—the brasserie offers topnotch French country food created with local farmers’ market ingredients. The menu changes with the seasons and features classics like onion soup des Halles with Emmental cheese crusted atop a rich broth; mussels steamed in white wine and shallots; a classic salad niçoise topped with rare ahi; free-range chicken coq au vin; and a delightful whole chicken for two roasted with vegetables. The lunch menu offers a rich and satisfying croquet monsieur with Parisien ham and Emmental (add a sunnyside-up egg if you prefer a croquet madame) as well as leg of lamb sandwich with roasted peppers and optional olive tapenade. Of course, the crispy pommes frites are a must, as is the Valrhona chocolate fondue pour deux. Service is friendly and professional and the first-rate wine list is a veritable tour de France.
Parcel 104 Restaurant Review: Consulting chef Bradley Ogden and executive chef Jonathan Hall source the Bay Area’s best ingredients each day to fuel Parcel 104’s menu. They select the pick of the crop from local farms and orchards, procure quality meat and poultry from area ranchers, and utilize fresh fish caught in local waters. Menus change on an almost daily basis, but you can expect such dishes as an Angus filet or a Berkshire pork loin chop, and Pacific halibut with oxtail marmalade and hearts of palm. Vegetarian entrées are always available. Among the desserts, we recommend the tapioca and the warm chocolate spoon bread. The cellars hold more than 400 wines, many of them from Central Coast winemakers.
Park Place Restaurant Review: Park Place’s straightforward, all-American menu centers on seafood and steaks. Located at the swank Cypress Hotel, this restaurant has a buzzing bar area and an outdoor patio. The comfortable main dining room is equipped with plush booths. The seasonal menu draws heavily from local farms and offers a number of satisfying salads. Particularly good is the port wine-poached pear and Bibb lettuce version with sweet bacon, crumbled blue cheese and shallot vinaigrette. Starters range from soothing (old-fashioned chicken noodle soup) to adventurous (pan-fried Dungeness crab and shrimp cakes). Main courses are divided into three sections—From the Sea, From Ray’s Kitchen and From the Grill—and you’ll find worthwhile entrées in each, including the roasted yellowtail in a sweet corn chowder, wild mushroom and squash risotto, and the grilled pork chop. The dessert menu features some nice boutique sorbets.
Three Degrees Restaurant Restaurant Review: The decidedly modern Three Degrees lifts hotel dining to new heights in Los Gatos. The space has been given a sparkling design that perfectly matches the spirited menu. The décor is dressed in warm earth tones that embrace hardwood floors, a fireplace and views of the sunken outdoor patio, which is a wonderful place to dine alfresco. The cozy bar is a fine spot for after-work cocktails, or to sample such small-plate offerings as the roasted beet and ricotta gnocchi, sautéed scallops, tea-smoked wild king salmon, and spicy sausage spring rolls. The kitchen does a particularly good job with fish. Don’t miss the moist, flaky salmon filet, which is spiced with cumin and turmeric and served over basil-whipped potatoes. The meatloaf, slathered in thick, rich gravy made from porter beer, will satisfy the toughest home cook. The chicken breast, roasted with tangy lemon and oregano and served over simmered zucchini and cannellini beans, is another winner.
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