At Selby’s, where a 1940s era atmosphere prevails, a classic dry-aged roast crown of duck for two is among the featured items on the dinner menu.
(3001 El Camino Real, Redwood City, 650.546.7700, selbysrestaurant.com)
The good fortunes of the Bacchus Management Group are on a roll with the opening of its latest restaurant, Selby’s, tucked into a neighborhood strip at the edge of Atherton and Redwood City. For a high-end date-night restaurant with retro flair, this is the place, hands down. Classic American cuisine (steaks, seafood, duck) is served up by executive chef Mark Sullivan; the wine list by Andrew Green boasts more than 3,000 offerings; and servers wheel a martini cart around to make icy gin and vodka drinks on the spot. Sleek olive green interiors by Stephen Brady (formerly of Ralph Lauren Home), with art deco-inspired light fixtures, framed artworks from San Francisco’s Lost Art Salon and warm wood tones combine for a grown-up, clubby, stunning effect.
INSIDER’S TIP A hidden private dining room, known as the Poker Room, features a round marble table that converts to card table for up to eight. Popular for weekday business meetings, it’s more easily booked for fun on weekends, with a discount offered on Sunday nights.
(320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, 408.354.4330, manresarestaurant.com)
For the ultimate in refined American cuisine, head to David Kinch’s Manresa, the only three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the Valley. Hyperlocal ingredients boost the multicourse tasting menu ($295, optional beverage pairing $235), while master sommelier Jim Rollston’s wine collection has earned a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence since 2008. The restaurant’s interiors, updated in 2018, include artwork from Kinch’s multiple trips to France each year. INSIDER’S TIP Kinch's famous Into the Vegetable Garden is an ode to seasonality, so while it's a signature, don't expect to get the same dish twice.
(1067 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, 650.948.2696, chefchu.com)
If the chance sighting of a pop icon or billionaire tech exec isn’t enough of a draw, Chef Chu’s consistency and longevity give it the edge over other Chinese restaurants in the Valley. Chef Lawrence Chu, who opened the spot 50 years ago, is a cookbook author and the father of filmmaker Jon M. Chu, and loves his job today as much as he did day one. You’ll see him visiting tables and talking up ingredients in the Peking duck, chicken salad and homemade pot stickers. INSIDER’S TIP Ask for the full lobster—1 ½ pounds of crustacean cooked in ginger and white wine served over angel hair noodles—and learn why Chef Chu’s remains top of its class.
(Multiple locations, amber-india.com)
Founded by Swiss-trained chef Vijay Bist in 1995, Amber India, once just a single restaurant on El Camino Real in Mountain View, has grown into six establishments (each with individual menus and decor) stretching from San Francisco to San Jose. The consistency and breadth of regional and ethnic cuisines (Northern, Southern, Western Indian dishes and, now, contemporary Indian fusion) has created loyalists. INSIDER’S TIP C-suite execs say Bist offers the most refined catering of any Indian restaurateur in the Valley, from presentation of foods in copper and brass servingware to artistic garnishes, and that its palak chaat—batter-coated, deep-fried spinach leaves topped with yogurt, sweet chutney and pomegranate seeds—is a must.
At The Village Bakery, a tomato salad with herbs and cheese
THE VILLAGE BAKERY
(3052 Woodside Road, Woodside, 650.851.5555, tvbwoodside.com)
Tucked cheek-to-jowl with the Woodside Tennis Shop (family owned since 1975) and Buck’s restaurant (a diner famous for tech deals since opening in 1990) is newcomer,The Village Bakery. In just two years, it has become the under-the-radar hot spot for the quietly wealthy as a lunchtime institution. Created by the Bacchus Management Group (Village Pub, Spruce, Selby’s), the restaurant (with separate pastry shop) offers American fare for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch in a setting that devotees find unpretentious (although meals are not inexpensive). Ladies who lunch—and launch—are often spotted inside, but the rear outdoor patio centered around an old olive tree with twinkling lights and a fireplace has been the scene of many parties too. INSIDER’S TIP Because the Valley’s bottom-liners love a deal, all bottles of wine, including the $430 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Aux Beaux Bruns Chambolle-Musigny 2014, are half-price on Tuesdays.
A caramel mousse cake with raspberry cremeux and almond joconde from Alexander’s Patisserie
Alexander’s Patisserie is a one-stop destination for pastries and desserts of all kinds, from croissants to chocolates to macarons, but the gems that shine brightest are its full-size cakes (mousse cakes, opera cakes and Black Forest cakes) often done up with icing in eye-catching jewel tones. Chef Phuong Quach Fung not only knows and works with California’s bountiful fruits, but brings an Asian influence to her modern French cuisine. INSIDER’S TIP Fung will recreate a dessert, flavor or design from anywhere a client has traveled in the world based on a client’s description. A $50 private tasting session is required. (Deliveries, depending on time and date, are available within a 40-mile radius for $50.)
Photography by: Photos by Ed Anderson; Chris Schmauch; Marc Fiorito