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Looking for South Bay upscale-ish options

I'm looking to send a couple newlywed friends out for a nice dinner in the San Jose / South Bay area - any solid recommendations / new additions to the area? Any sage advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. Where will the happy couple live & what's the budget?

    Dio Deka
    Plumed Horse - completely remodeled, heard it is good but very expensive.

    Not so upscalish:
    Olio (very new)
    The Basin
    James Randall

    edit: Just thought about "upscale-ish". The Basin fits the bill. Located in quaint downtown Saratoga, restaurant has bar w/ TV off to the side, secluded back area, patio dining (I think). Haven't been to Olio in Campbell - menu looks good.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ceekskat

      Just went to the new Plumed Horse last night. While the tasting menu wasn't as adventurous as Manresa's, it has a lot to recommend it, and is a good value: $200 before t/t gets you 7 courses (relatively large portions compared to FL, Manresa, Chez TJ) plus wine pairings. We were also served a complimentary dessert and mignardises.

      Not all dishes and wines were successful, but several were spectaular and worth a return trip: foie gras w/ roasted tomato and duck jus; duck fat-fried potatoes w/ a "fondue" of cream, butter, garlic, and summer truffles that took them to another dimension - I could have licked the bowl!

      Service was great. When I didn't like one of the wines (a really wimpy white Burgundy) the sommelier substituted it with another, and then supplemented my Spaslese with a Sauterne on the next course.

      The main dining room is lit by 3 huge discs of lights, and the bar/lounge has a lovely, long fireplace, chic couches, and chairs. The women's bathroom is worth a visit to see the wash basins; my husband said the men's wasn't the same (based on my description). It's definitely a visual and culinary improvement over the old Plumed Horse.

      1. re: Claudette


        The Plumed Horse
        14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

        1. re: Claudette

          That's not much cheaper than Manresa's tasting menu, which is $220 with the cheaper wine pairing (which I found more interesting than the more expensive one).

          To me, if I spend that kind of money, every single thing should be great.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            None of the six of us liked our meals at Manresa. My lamb was full of gristle - inedible, and the maple syrup egg was the only thing that was memorably delicious. Perhaps it was an off night, but for the money we thought it was very over-rated. On top of that, our waiter was so condescending that I wanted to slap him.

            1. re: Claudette

              Huh, my experience was pretty much the opposite, close to perfect on every score. Seems like that's the rule there.

              Manresa Restaurant
              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I know the original post is over a year old - just wanted to say that we visited Manresa a week before Xmas '09 and it was an incredible experience... from the food, to the service. No hint of condescension at all. We were treated with genuine warmth by everyone, maitre'd, waiter, sommelier, GM, and David Kinch came out at the end of the night. We were taken back to the kitchen we we got to peek at the inner sanctum :) In fact I think $95 for the four course menu was a good value. I can't imagine doing the tasting menu, because I was incredibly full w/ four courses. The culinary experience continued to the very end of the night... as we were walked out our waiter kept urging us to take more and more of the house-made caramels... and after I ate my first one, I understood why. Manresa is not to be missed.

      2. I would heavily recommend Manresa. Even if the couple does not splurge on the tasting menu, a three/four course dinner would still be great.

        Le Papillon is decent, however for their price range, Manresa is a surer and more interesting experience.

        There are lots of reviews of Manresa here and elsewhere if you want to Google it.

        1. Chez TJ in Mountain View gets excellent reviews and 2 Michelin stars...if that matters. Do a search here.

          1. They all have great food, and the differences IMHO are:
            Manresa has the most innovative food.
            Chez TJ has the most intimate atmosphere.
            Dio Deka has the most lively atmosphere.
            Le Papillion has the most traditional setting and styling (but in a very good way)
            Plumed Horse is the most chi-chi high-end
            (How old is your couple? CTJ's, LP's, and PH's clientele might be a bit on the mature side; Manresa and DD usually have a younger clientele. )

            1. If your newlywed friends are young, I would recommend Pampas (brazilian/grilled meats) in Palo Alto. Dio Deka is also a fun choice if they're a youngish couple. Both Manresa and Plumed Horse have a pretty sedate atmosphere which can be interpreted as stuffy for most young folks. Young people also love La Fondue in Saratoga so that can be another choice. Chez TJ is very romantic although I haven't eaten there since the chef's change so I'm not sure what it's like now. Manresa would be the best choice if your friends are true food lovers with sophisticated taste levels.

              1. In Los Gatos:
                Manresa (expensive, bit stuffy)
                Trevese (great food, nice outdoor patio, value)
                James Randall

                In Saratoga:
                Gervais (French, value)

                In Woodside (farther north):
                Village Pub

                1. Village Pub in Woodside was really really good on our visit, Manresa is always a great choice, and I am dying to try Chez TJ. If steak is an option, Pampas in Palo Alto, or Forbes Mills steakhouse in Los Gaots- yummi!
                  Also, upscale-ish is Evvia in Palo Alto- Greek, and with wonderful fish!

                  1. Had to write that my last two visits to Village Pub were lacking ,but Bentleys in Redwood City /Atherton border was much superior. ( probably too north for you however) Check out La Foret website in Almaden

                    1. Just ate at both the Basin and Plumed Horse within three weeks of each other (concert & birthday) and was extremely pleased with both. Service was friendly at Basin, food was delicious, experience a delight. Found Plumed Horse to be a dream visit. Best fried abalone I have ever had and the foie gras with ravioli also a memorable dish. My daughter is allergic to fish which killed the tasting menu, so we ordered our own and they even subbed in a filet for her when she wanted the 2-person rib eye. Longer review of both recent meals under each restaurant. cheers.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mzscahlett

                        Welcome to chowhound.

                        I was going to ask you what you ate at The Basin since we don't get many reports, then I noticed on your profile that you have a blog with great photos and a wonderful write up.

                        Also nice write-up on The Plumed Horse

                        I noticed you posted these on the restuarant section of this website. Another option is to post the review here on the boards and click the box at the top that says "This is a review of a specific restaurant" It will put your review on the restaurant page AND increase the readers who see it since unless someone is specifically looking for a restaurant, they won't see your review. Posting on the board will open it up to a lot of readers who might never have looked there

                        Here's an example of my report I posted on this board. You can see it also shows up in the review section of the restaurant database ... and btw, reading your blog, I think you will really enjoy Eve and Commis on Piedmont might also interest you.

                        Also, at the end you can also paste a link to your blog which says that the review with photos can be found there.

                        It is best to provide the text on the boards and not just the links as peole usually don't follow blind links without knowing what it is about.

                        Anyway, hope you will be posting more on the boards. I hope you'll start a topic in the board about Miss Pearl's since there have only been brief mentions.

                        Again, great blog.

                        1. re: rworange

                          What a great idea. I only noticed the feature last night while trying to add a note. I'll defnitely keep that in mind! Thanks! Happy eating!

                        2. re: mzscahlett

                          A block away from the Basin and under the same ownership is Casa de Cobre, which has Mexican cooking using the same sorts of ingredients that The Basin uses. I haven't been to The Basin and have only been to Casa de Cobre once, but that one meal was very good.

                        3. Alexanders steakhouse in Cupertino. Asian inspired. Excellent. www.alexanderssteakhouse.com