Upscale restaurants crop up in the South Bay

Restaurants

Even when all the tech money was flying in the silicon-savvySouth Bay, the better-known city by the bay got more press when itcame to dining. Engineers and paper millionaires drove north tospend their take in San Francisco's hot restaurants and bars. Butnow, at last, a half-dozen high-profile restaurants have opened inSan Jose and neighboring Santa Clara, raising South Bay diningstakes by a whole plateful of computer chips.

Arcadia, in the new San Jose Marriott, made a big splash lastspring when it debuted as the first South Bay eatery of chefMichael Mina, who opened San Francisco's Aqua. The menu featuresAmerican classics dressed up in finery fit for the opera: The corndogs, for example, are filled with lobster.

Chef Bradley Ogden, of Marin's Lark Creek Inn, opened Parcel 104in Santa Clara in December 2001 and Yankee Pier at San Jose's newmall, Santana Row, in December 2002. Parcel 104, named after theproperty's lot number in the formerly agricultural valley, offersorganic and seasonal dishes, such as Sonoma foie gras withstrawberries. And Yankee Pier, like the restaurant of the same namein Larkspur, is a California interpretation of an East Coast clamshack, with standout lobster rolls and creamy clam chowder.

In fact, there are a number of noteworthy restaurants at SantanaRow, among them Chris Yeo's Straits Café, with a Singaporeanfusion menu, and Cazuelas, offering traditional Mexican food.

Seven Restaurant & Lounge, a few blocks from downtown SanJose, is the brainchild of identical twins Russel and CurtisValdez, along with Hugh Parker. It opened last summer with anindustrial-chic dining room and a bar meant to draw the post-dinnerdowntown crowd.

What these restaurants have in common, besides filling a SouthBay dining void, is menus that reinterpret a range of comfort-foodclassics, from roast chicken at Seven to chili-spiced beef atStraits.

Ogden says business at his two South Bay restaurants is good,despite the area's economic slump. "People will drive miles to goto a good restaurant. That's been proven many times over."

If San Franciscans feel left out, they can always headsouth.

DINING OUT IN THE SOUTH BAY

1. Arcadia. Elegant dining room in downtown San Jose.Fancified American classics and an elaborate salad menu. Good winelist. 100 W. San Carlos St., San Jose; (408) 278-4555.

2. Cazuelas. Mexican dishes with a few French-inspiredtouches. Great guacamole. 377 Santana Row, San Jose; (408) 260-7082.

3. Parcel 104. Delicious interpretations of American comfortfood, with a menu that changes daily. Wine list offers a goodrepresentation of local wineries. Santa Clara Marriott, 2700 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara;(408) 970-6104.

4. Seven Restaurant & Lounge. Tasty, hearty Americanclassics such as braised beef short ribs and stuffed chicken. 754 The Alameda, San Jose; (408) 280-1644.

5. Straits Café. California-influenced Singaporeanfare. Interesting drink menu; front bar has view of mall scene. 333 Santana Row, San Jose; (408) 246-6320.

6. Yankee Pier. East Coast-style clam shack, with picnictables out front. 378 Santana Row, San Jose; (408) 244-1244.

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