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Jan 3, 2009 02:54 PM

Santana Row, Village Bistro at bat:

"The drink / wine menus were pricey--looks like they're trying to offset the relatively reasonable food prices with the higher drink prices. Some restaurants are so clever or should I say, think we're all so stupid! There's a recession going on you know!

The waitress even told us how lucky we were to be able to get a great deal on a half bottle of wine, it was ONLY $24 dollars! And there are 2 glasses worth of wine in a half bottle! $12 per glass--Yay! (I almost forgot about the financial disaster that is currently consuming the rest of the world! $24 dollars for 2 glasses of wine is a bargain!)

We, of course ordered a whole bottle of some french Chenin Blanc, poured into warm wine glasses, and told by the waitress that the wine didn't need a cooler because it was cold.

Signals: Red--Stop, Green--Go, Smile--Happy, Frown--Sad. You get the idea...
Feeling the glass, picking the glass up and feeling it--should signal to the waitress that something is troubling the diner. Especially when my guest noticed my signal of touching and looking at the glass and asked if we should get a wine cooler, to which the waitress told us the wine was cold enough. But not if it's being poured into warm wine glasses. Maybe I'm too picky, but when a bottle of wine costs $42 I expect the glasses to be the proper temperature! Hell, I expect that at any place that serves wine at any price!

Did I mention that the table was not sitting on the floor properly--one leg shorter than the rest--needed a wedge or something. I can't stand putting my arm on the table and shifting weight and the whole table rocks back and forth. Also, I couldn't put my feet straight down on the floor because the legs of the table limited where I could put my feet and move my chair. Bad place for a table.
We ordered:
Small plates
* Heirloom Beets on a bed of arugula with shaved Ricotta Salata cheese on the menu. Very nicely dressed, fresh and tasty. $10
* Confit of Duck leg with pear chutney, visually not what I was expecting, but creatively presented in a ring mold on dressed frissee and served with toast points--very delicious! The duck was moist and crispy and flavorful. The chutney was nicely laced with ginger and not overpowering. Assemble it all on a toast point--a winner! $10
* Braised Duck Strozzupretti: below... $16

Yes, I would say we eat on the slower side. You know take a bite, talk a little, drink some wine, talk a little, take a bite, talk a little, drink some more wine... You get the idea--the idea of the whole dining out experience thing!

The waitress did ask, from time to time, how everything was. In the middle of appetizers she did fly by, observed, and then told us that our entree would be there shortly. I thought that odd at the time because I would say that we were only through a third of our delicious appetizers. Signals! Remember to watch for the SIGNALS, still eating appetizers--DON'T BRING OUT THE ENTREE! Did I mention we asked for the apps to come out first then the entree?
So, after two more bites a different waiter shows up, looking to put down the entree that we were to share AFTER we had the appetizers. My guest did ask me if she could combine the two appetizers to make room, while the waiter stood there with our food. I said "NO," hoping he would get my SIGNAL and take the food back until we were ready for it. I got his signal that he wasn't going anywhere and my guests signal that I should be more reasonable--and I accepted her signal. After all...

Now, we pushed the delicious apps aside and started on the entree. Listed on the menu as Braised Duck Strozzupretti, a main dish of duck, told by the waitress it's actually pasta tubes with duck, mushrooms, broccoli rabe, pearl onions, and a brandy cream sauce. Sounded delicious, although, I still believe, not as advertised on the menu. Still sounded good. Small portion though, long pasta size made it hard to put it in your mouth gracefully, stingy on the amount of duck, and could have used a bit more flavor. The dish was pretty as a picture though. I did have to ask for cheese... The warm bread, for the table that I always enjoy, was perfect for dunking. Which I enjoyed more than taking forkfuls.

The waitress asked if we wanted dessert, but looking to drop the bill--was in hand motioning the drop. We asked to see the dessert menu, which the waitress brought us and at the same time dropped the bill! SIGNAL to us from the waitress--get the hell out!

Before we could even open the menu the waitress was back to ask us if we decided to get out or order dessert, actually she did this twice, just like she did for the original order. We said, "no," on the third ask and put the credit card on the bill. Which, ironically I might add, she was then in no rush to pick up and take our money!
My complete review at:


378 Santana Row
Suite 1035
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 248-9091

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  1. Gosh that sounds exhausting. Was the wine glass room temperature or actually warm ... like out of a dish washer? I'm not sure if all those signals you expected the server to catch were because you were with a guest and felt like communicating via words was unacceptable. Sometimes a guest can be such that actually talking to the server or manager can be a problem. When I'm doing a business meal, it is different than if i'm eating alone. In that case I excuse myself if things are going really, really wrong, get myself out of eye sight of my guest, and track down the server or manager and verbally smack them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and tell them to behave. I hope that you send a letter to the management about your visit. I don't really expect too much of anything at Santana Row ... except high prices and medicore food ... so my expectations would be lowered from the beginning.

    Village California Bistro and Wine Bar
    378 Santana Row Ste 1035, San Jose, CA 95128

    1. Hey! You must have sat at the table we sat at! But at different times, of course. :-)

      Our food and services experiences were similar to yours, and despite my protestations, my husband keeps wanting to go back because he's a ninny. He loves Santana Row for the atmosphere and will eat anything anywhere - definitely not a CH!

      1. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I agree about the drink/wine prices. We never have wine when we eat there. I always forget that they only have Republic of Tea bottled iced tea that is over $4.00 per bottle. Note to self: order a soda next time! Also because of circumstances usually we're there for brunch or lunch, almost never dinner. I'm usually there with girlfriends, and we do take longer, what with all the gossip and discussion of our non-chow purchases. I don't think I've had a problem with service, or with servers not noticing "signals", but maybe that is because I already have lowered expectations for Santana Row. In my mind I'm saying, at least the food is not as bad as Straits (this location is particularly BAD), and definitely better than Tanglewood (2 inch lobster roll anyone?) I like their weekend brunch options. Recently had the pumpkin buttermilk pancakes with ginger-honey butter. Super fluffy, and just the right amount of pumpkin. I fear overly pumpkin-y things. In the past I've had the brioche french toast which was also executed well. For lunch I've had a the crab crake club, which was tasty and had more crab than filling. My other favorite lunch thing is the salad with Loch Duart salmon. Lately the salmon around here (from markets, whether wild or farm raised) has been tasting particularly bland, so it was good to taste the "rich" salmon flavor. I just have to remember not to order the iced tea. LoL.