Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: Bistro Tupaz; Rustic, Seasonal, A Hidden Gem.

Wikipedia defines Bistro as follows:
A bistro, sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. Slow-cooked foods like braised meats are typical. Bistro patrons do not necessarily expect professional service or printed menus.

Bistros likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public. Menus were built around foods that were simple, could be prepared in quantity and would keep over time. Wine and coffee were also served. The limited space for diners in these cramped corners prompted the tradition of adding table service to the footpath. As the idea caught hold, architecture and menus both became more specific.

California Culinary Academy trained Executive Chef Deo Tupaz has taken the principals of this Old world Parisian concept and translated it to modern California. In a part of San Jose where the strip mall is king and the fast food joint its queen Bistro Tupaz is a welcome deviation from the norm. In fact Chef Deo has vowed to abide by his mission statement:

“Provide a rustic style bistro that offers a seasonal menu and dishes made with customers’ well being in mind, using fresh ingredients whenever possible, supporting ingredients grown through sustainable farming, and avoiding ingredients which are detrimental to our health. We will never serve any dishes which we will not make for ourselves, families, and friends.”

The concept of bistro dining is a bit foreign to us here in San Jose. You order at the counter, pick up your table settings and take a seat. The staff at Bistro Tupaz takes it from there and provides some pretty fantastic table service. We have dined here twice now and both times the service was top notch. Having forgotten that we prepaid for our meal digging up some cash for the tip was the only problem we had.

Once seated the server brought us a basket of fresh house baked bread and grissini. This was served with a delicious blend of butter and goat cheese. I had ordered the French Onion Gratinee; Gruyere, Crouton, Veal Broth, a small crock for $5.95. This was rich, hearty, and delicious.

For the main course we ordered Wild Boar Osso Bucco; Braised Wild Boar Shanks, Gremolata, Herbed Polenta $27.95. Moussaka; Eggplant, Lamb and Beef served with Rosemary $15.95, and Seafood Fettuccini; Calamari, Prawns, Alfredo $14.95. These dishes were all beautifully presented and delicious. The freshness and integrity of the ingredients becomes apparent upon first taste and there is no doubt corners are not being cut here. We were shown by our server that many of the fresh herbs used in the preparation of our meals were grown right on the premises.

With the entrée out of the way the only thing that was left was dessert. Make sure you leave some room for dessert as Bistro Tupaz makes all their pastry in house in the classic patisserie style. From scones and biscotti, to opera cake and other fancy gateaux; Bistro topaz has a selection of pastry and desserts from simple to sublime. On this occasion we sampled a wonderful bread pudding and a gateau of three chocolates. Needless to say the three of us made quick work of the delectable sweet finale.

If you are looking for an escape from the usual chain restaurants and fast food options of south San Jose, and you want a place that will serve you a hearty, rustic meal that utilizes fresh, quality ingredients; Bistro Tupaz is the hidden gem you are looking for. Don’t wait until you can’t stand to eat one more pizza or wait in one more drive thru, get yourself to Bistro Tupaz.

Bistro Tupaz
5899 Santa Teresa Blvd
Ste 103

San Jose, CA 95123
(408) 578-5860

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review: Neal's Coffee Shop, Burlingame, CA

My reviews are usually quite long and detailed, however after the painfully mediocre dining experience I can't even bring myself to write a whole lot about Neal's.

Here's the short of it; lunch... not good! I ordered a Cobb Salad and got what appeared to be a salad of leftover ingredients; three slivers of brown avocado, four paper thin half slices of tomato and some grilled chicken crumbs. Don't let me forget the bacon; it was totally dried out and tasted like old deep fryer fat. On the bright side the lettuce seemed fresh and the blue cheese dressing was fine.

My lunch companion ordered the corned beef Reuben with green salad. Lets do the good stuff first; the side salad was OK and the marble rye croutons were nice. As for the sandwich; the filling was meager and the corned beef was full of gristle and as tough a shoe leather.

This place is like being time warped to the 80's; the menu, the food, and even the music. It's also the average age of both the patrons and the servers. My guess is breakfast is better here. How else would they get that four star rating that led me to walk in. I should have read more reviews...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Best Recipe In The West Casting Amateur Cooks!

Do you have a family recipe that has people begging for more? Is there a recipe that your family has passed down from generation to generation?

Perhaps it's something regional like Burgoo from Kentucky or Fish Taco from Baja. Is your recipe worthy of the title “America’s Best Recipe?”

PARADE Magazine along with a major network are shooting a Pilot episode to find "America's Best Recipe". They are casting for the Pacific Regional Pilot and you can be part of it by simply emailing them.

All the information is available is at the Parade magazine website.