Monday, 15 February 2010

A Taste of California

I always enjoy visiting the Bay Area and this time is no exception. We are based in the fashionable Santana Row in San Jose this time, and as well as some fantastic shopping we have been enjoying some wonderful food.

We arrived late on Sunday evening and of course the restaurants in Santana Row were pretty busy as it was Valentine's Day. Eventually my husband and I gave up trying to get a table anywhere and returned to the hotel we were staying at to try to get a snack in their popular Vbar. The friendly staff and convivial atmosphere were just what we needed after a stressful day's travelling, and we were delighted with the bar snacks that were available. Although billed as appetizers, the servings were incredibly generous and the dishes on offer were original and inventive. My husbands turkey club sandwich had the delightful addition of avocado and my beef quesadillas were spicy comfort food at its best. We also shared some delicious potato skins dressed with sharp cheese and crisp bacon. They also had a huge menu of drinks and cocktails, and although we chose to just have the more staid beer (for my husband) and wine (for me), we are looking forward to returning with a more adventurous spirit later in the week!

Yesterday we headed out to Los Gatos, and re-visited an old favourite, Steamers Grillhouse. Located just behind the quaint main street, Steamers is a wonderful place for seafood. Last time we were there we had the most wonderful three course evening meal, but we had an equally delightfulexperience at lunch yesterday. The service is friendly, efficient and discreet, and the food is fresh and creatively prepared. My husband's fillet of sole with lemon butter was beautifully flavoured and served with a side of homemade coleslaw.

I had a Shrimp Louis salad that was loaded with shrimp and had a traditional Louis dressing that was one of the nicest I have ever tasted. (Shrimp Louis salads and I go a long way back!)

Los Gatos is a great place to wander around on a sunny afternoon or balmy evening, and there are no shortages of cafés, bars and restaurants to enjoy. When we began to feel a bit tired later on, we stopped in at Great Bear Coffee for some delicious coffee. It's a great place to relax and there is free internet access ( you can charge your computer too!). The interesting art on the walls is for sale, and people seemed relaxed and comfortable chatting, reading, or in one case, playing Monopoly!

We were planning to meet up with friends back at Santana Row for dinner and as they were bringing their little girl we thought somewhere fun and casual would be the best bet. We were not disappointed by our old favourite The Cheesecake Factory at Valley Fair Mall, just across from Santana Row. As always the service was fantastic, the food delicious, the servings generous and the cheesecake something you definitely need to share! I just love their Luau Salad.

Made with giant fried wontons, chicken, fresh greens, peppers, carrots, macadamia nuts and sesame seeds, this salad is definitely not the low-cal choice, but wow is it ever delicious! My husband had one of their specials - a Salisbury steak, mashed potato and green bean comfort combo that went down a treat. Our friend had a fantastic cheeseburger which she really enjoyed and her daughter had a great choice of food on their kid's menu. The cute little sundae they brought her at the end was fantastic.

I'm looking forward to enjoying more of the great food and hospitality this area has to offer over the next week or so, so if you will excuse me, I am just off to the hotel gym!


  1. Hey, I notice you visited the hotel gym. Would you mind writing a review at


  2. I've posted one - apparently it takes a few hours for it to be put up but hopefully it's worked! I was pleased with the gym - I stay in a lot of hotels and it was definitely one of the better gyms out there. It's amazing how many places think one treadmill, a few hand weights and a mat is a gym! The gym at the Valencia was great with lots of equipment and a fair amount of space too. Also it had a lovely view out over Santana Row!


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