• Check my Insta

  • $15 OFF COUPON

  • Leftovers (Archives)

  • Popular Entrees

  • Still Hungry?

  • About Me

    © 2008-2017 Nicole (a.k.a. Bay Area Foodie)
    =

Enoteca La Storia Wine Bar


Did you know there was a new wine bar in Los Gatos? Me neither… okay, well it’s almost a year old but still fairly new. A couple people had asked me if I had been but I didn’t know where it was. Then I finally figured out it was not in the main downtown area that I walk every week but in a shopping center on the “other side” of Highway 9. Enoteca La Storia is operated by two ex- Santana Row Vintage Wine Merchant managers. Mike and I love that shop so we expected to love this establishment too. We stopped in one night late last year and had a leisurely dinner. They had a diverse group of customers… before 7pm the over 50 crowd, after 7pm the 30-somethings arrived. The menu included a variety of wines by the glass/bottle, cured meats, cheeses, salads and sandwiches.

We ate (good prices & portions)…

– Pesto crostini – average
– Porchetta panini – great
– Alba panini  – good
– Gorgonzola salad – fresh and huge. Feeds 2 easily.
– Carrot cake – just ok (but I’ve never been a big fan)

and we drank (small pours are very generous)…


– Sparkling Rose – awesome!
– 09′ lambrusco – a sparkling red from Italy, very interesting and refreshing, like drinking an dark fruity Italian soda
– St clair 09 – stinky nose, slightly sweet, a bit light for Mike
– Stoller Pinot 07 – very musty and earthy nose, sweet cherry taste, silky finish- a bit light for Mike
– Cain concept 06 – favorite of the night- big and bold, velvety finish, cedar nose, dark plum taste
– 08 menhir salento nzero – full bodied, sweet fruit of plum and berry, very nice

Note: the menu doesn’t say it but the sandos come with a little salad so it wasn’t necessary for us to order one…

We really enjoyed our first visit so much that we came back a few weeks later for a evening drink. We arrived around 9pm on a Friday and all the seats at the bar and tables were taken. We stood at the bar for a bit but no one would help us. People behind the bar would make eye contact, smile but then keep on with whatever they were doing. I was hoping for an — I’ll be with you in a minute or some kind of acknowledgment but we received nothing and ended up leaving.

I guess if you are not seated you get no service. Reading other reviews now on Yelp it looks like someone is supposed to work the front door to regulate patrons but that didn’t occur on the 2 nights we went…it left a bad taste in my mouth but we will try again in the future now that we know the procedure.

Rating:

Website: http://www.enotecalastoria.com/

Note 4/2/11: We went again and had a great visit … see the comments section for the updates.

Continue reading

Kara’s vs. Sprinkles — Cupcake Throwdown

sprinkvskara

Sprinkles (left) vs. Kara's (right)

sprinkvskara2

View from the Top

sprinkvskara31

Check out that cake to frosting ratio

The biggest cupcake rivalry that exists in Silicon Valley is Kara’s vs. Sprinkles!

As mentioned in the past I work in walking distance to Santana row. Kara’s cupcakes opened in October. I was actually kinda excited because I currently have to travel 25 minutes to get my cupcake fix from Sprinkles. When I arrived I was surprised to find a shop the size of a bread box. There is a counter and the door. You can fit maybe two people inside comfortably. I was all jazzed to try their java and banana cakes but the employee working told me that since the store is minuscule they can only make 1/2 of the flavors you will find at other locations. I guess they don’t get the concept of making different flavors each day. I had to settle for lemon, vanilla (pictured above), coconut, fleur de sel and peanut butter.

So how did they measure up to my beloved Sprinkles? There really was no comparison between the two. Sprinkles trounced Kara’s in flavor, variety and size. Kara’s cupcakes tasted like they were straight out of a grocery store bakery (and that’s not a good thing). The cake was dry, almost flavorless and the frosting tasted like a GIANT glob of shortening. The best of the bunch was the coconut.

I really wanted the tiny cakes to be good so I could fulfill my cravings on a more regular basis but I just can’t stomach them. So sad…

Note: An in-depth Sprinkles review can be found here

Pinkberry

pinkberry11 pinkberry2

Pinkberry has arrived in the Bay. All the hoopla in LA about this chilly treat had me intrigued. I went thinking I was for sure going to get the green tea because I love green tea ice cream, but after I tried a sample I changed my mind. It didn’t taste very good so I chose the original flavor. It was the first time that I had frozen yogurt that actually tasted like frozen plain yoplait yogurt. It was good but not earth shattering. I will give them props for giving large servings of froyo for a low price. The toppings… are another story. That’s where they get ya. I got a small with one scoop of fruity pebbles cereal which equated to about a tablespoon which didn’t come close to being enough to satisfy. Mike chose 2 scoops of raspberries and bananas (he is so healthy) and it was still not enough. I’ll probably be back once the weather turns warm to try again.

Verdict:  Walk….don’t run…

Tasty Tip: Each and every day there are only 3 flavors of yogurt (original, green tea and pomegranate) so don’t go hoping for anything else.

Website: http://www.pinkberry.com/

Book signing with Giada

Mike and I spent Sunday afternoon with celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis. Actually we stood in line for 2.5 hours and talked to her for about 30 seconds.

So, I hear about a Q&A and book signing with Giada at Santana Row for her new cookbook Giada’s Kitchen. It sounded like fun so I purchased a book from Sur La Table and with it came a ticket to the event (I had #6). This was our first book signing so we had no idea what to expect. We arrived 45 minutes early to scope things out. Since it was a ticketed event I thought there would be no more than 50-100 people allowed to see her. I WAS SO, SO WRONG! When we walked up to Sur la Table there was already a line around the corner and into the 2nd section of the parking lot (at least 150 people). So what did we do? We got in line of course. Then I sent Mike on a recon mission to see why the heck the line was so long and what happened to the Q&A. He returned to tell me that the line was for the signing and that the Q&A was at the stage set up in the center of the row and that if I wanted to see it I would have to lose my place in line. The person in line before us had ticket number 395 which she had purchased the day before so there was potentially going to be 500 + people waiting with their bag-o-books. We decided not to leave the line and take turns going to hear Giada speak. She promptly arrived at noon and did a 10 minute Q&A which wasn’t super informative because I assume her die hard fans were standing in line. We heard about her new baby, taping of the upcoming shows … typical questions. Flash forward two hours and we had our signed book and a moment with Giada. If you know Mike he wasn’t gonna just say “Hi” and take his book he needed a little chit chit time (which he took 😆). She was nice and we were ushered to the side where you are allowed to take a photo.

The day didn’t go as expected but we can scratch this off our bucket list. I will think long and hard before going to another Sur La Table signing. I really think the function could have been run better. I was happy to hear that Giada was going to stay until the very last book was signed otherwise I’m sure you would have read about a pot & pan riot in the SJ Mercury news the next day.

Roux Louisiana Kitchen

Roux is a Louisiana style restaurant on the row. I’ve never had the pleasure of traveling to “The Big Easy” to try out the delicacies (possibly next year!) so I can’t tell you if it’s authentic, but I can tell you it’s enjoyable.

The lunch combo is the way to go if you want to sample a bunch of the restaurant’s cuisine for an affordable price. I ordered 1/2 the pulled pork Po’Boy with a side of mac & cheese as well as the etouffe. The mac & cheese is not your standard fare. It has breadcrumbs and tastes more like parmesan cheese noodles. They were good but don’t expect your mama’s mac & cheese. The etouffe with crawfish was tasty but the highlight of the meal was the Po’Boy. The sandwich was really delicious. Tender pork covered in bbq sauce AND a yummy rémoulade on a toasted french roll with lettuce, tomato and red onion. My taste buds were happy. The portions are large so be prepared to overeat or get a doggie bag.

After reading the not-so-positive reviews on Yelp, I wasn’t expecting much. I left pleasantly surprised and eager to come back to try some more.

BTW – Whoever invented the fried pickle is a genius!

Tasty Tip: M-F from 4-7pm they have a happy hour at the bar where they have a bunch of cheap eats.

Website: www.rouxkitchen.com

UPDATE – 2nd visit: I sampled the sweet potato fries and the fried catfish both were great. I tried the gumbo and was not impressed. Maybe I’m not a gumbo girl but I found the gravy/sauce to be overly fishy tasting. Also, the fried oysters were as big as my fist. Just not appetizing…

Roux Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sino


My office is walking distance to Santana Row so I have lunch there often. In the last 2.5 years I have never had the urge to go to Sino, the row’s version of a Chinese restaurant. I thought no way could this hip joint serve up some authentic eats.

Mike and I finally decided to give it a try. I was unsure about our decision as our leggy blond modelesque waitress took our drink order and Bobby Brown blared over the sound system. Along with the menu we were given a piece of paper with a list of dim sum items and one of those mini-golf pencils. We filled out the form and waited to see what would happen. One dish after the next was placed in front of us and to my surprise they were good. I have worked for Asian run companies for the past 8 years so I have had my share of dim sum and this really stood up. They didn’t try to do anything fancy to the dishes. They were prepared, portioned and presented just like any other Chinese establishment would. The one thing I missed was the rolling carts but getting my food served at well-timed intervals and pipin’ hot was a trade I’ll happily accept. You would think this place was insanely expensive but for 6 dishes we were only out $25 and we were stuffed. What a pleasant discovery…

Website: http://www.sinorestaurant.com/

Sino Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Village Bistro and Wine Bar

If you want to grab a cheap bite after a movie or work stop by the Village Wine Bar at Santana Row. They have a slammin’ happy hour every night from 3-6pm (weekends too!). Almost all small plates and cocktails are $6! The only downer is you have to sit in the bar area which is small and can get crowded. But the wonderful selection of wines by the glass and appetizers are worth the pushin’ and shovin’.

Recommended eats: crispy Calamari, Heirloom Tomato flatbread, cheese stuffed figs and the crab cakes.

Website: http://thevillagebistro.net/

Tanglewood

Tanglewood serves up modern American cuisine. Located at the very end of Santana Row (across from the Crate and Barrel) the restaurant can be easily overlooked which is unfortunate. After a lovely dinner here a few weeks ago it is now my favorite dining establishment on the row. Their seasonal menu can be eaten on their nicely decorated, fully covered outdoor patio. No worries of getting a sun burn!

The grub for the night:

blt salad: baby iceberg, applewood smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes, point reyes blue cheese dressing

corn chowder

maine diver scallops, fennel puree, lentil salad, pernod poultry jus

maine diver scallops, fennel puree, lentil salad

maine lobster slider with homemade chips

maine lobster slider with homemade chips

I’m gonna keep the comments to a minimum. The pics say enough.
salad … mmm bacon
soup … silky sweet
scallops … perfectly seared
slider … if you’re hungry order 3!

We tried a couple desserts but the standout was the Lemon tart with honey gelato (sorry no photo). Give Tanglewood a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating:

Website: http://www.tanglewood.com/

Fun Wine

While wandering around the Vintage Wine Merchant store at Santana Row Mike and I noticed a display of wines for under $10. The low price is not what caught our attention it was the labels on two of the bottles. One was called Bitch and the other Pure Evil. As we chuckled we then saw a sign that said Bitch, a Grenache, and Pure Evil, a Chardonnay, received 90 point ratings from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

For that price and rating we purchased a bottle of each. Turns out they didn’t taste half bad. Pick up a bottle or two if you know an Evil Bitch.

Both are produced by R Wines in Australia.

Cocola Bakery

You may have passed by the Cocola Bakery in Santana Row and drooled over the delectable pastries, tarts and cakes on display. Many don’t know this, but they also sell a handful of specialty sandwiches. My favorite being the turkey breast with cranberry sauce and brie cheese on a fresh baked baguette. It reminds me of Thanksgiving. It’s a bit on the pricey side at $9.90 but a nice treat every once in a while. For a more affordable bite try the ham and cheese croissants. They also have great beverages…on cold mornings I will sometimes pick up a banana hot chocolate. Really good stuff!

Cocola Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thea Mediterranean

Mike and I stopped at Thea Mediterranean in Santana Row for a bite to eat after we went to see the Iron Man movie. It was a lovely night and they have a great comfortable outdoor seating area. Thea serves Mediterranean food with Greek influences. We started off with the fried calamari plate. It was very nice. The batter was just like I like…light. For my main course I had the moussaka which is a casserole of eggplant, lamb and beef smothered in a thick bechamel sauce. This was enjoyable but very filling. I took more than half home with me. It was even better the next day for lunch. Mike chose the Garides, prawns pressed in Greek spices over a zucchini cake and topped with an arugula salad. The presentation was fantastic. It was a light and flavorful dish.
On a previous visit I had the pita with regional spreads, the chicken souvlaki and the baclava. All were delicious. The food at Thea is fresh and tasty. I always leave satisfied. If you like Greek food, give it a try.

Rating:

Website: http://www.thearestaurant.com/

The Counter

the counterIf you’re at Santana Row in San Jose and you want a slammin’ burger, stop by the Counter. The beef/chicken is tender and always tastes extremely fresh. Be warned a little goes a long way. I always leave feeling stuffed. This is the only burger I usually end up eating with a fork and knife. It’s a tasty mess.

How it works: it’s a build your own burger or chicken sandwich shop. After you are seated you are given a clip board and a pencil and you choose your meat and toppings. I went with a burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and gruyere cheese. I kept things classic but they have more interesting options like herb goat cheese, grilled pineapple, roasted corn and black bean salsa or a fried egg.

  

Sorry about the blurry photos. First attempt at using images from my cellphone.

Don’t forget to try the onion strings and sweet potato fries. One order can feed 4 people. They come with 3 dipping sauces…good stuff. The shakes are yum too.

Website: http://www.thecounterburger.com/

Counter Santana Row on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: