Overview: is a chic and sophisticated restaurant, which takes an innovative turn on gastronomic style. By using California cuisine as the restaurant concept, its culinary fare is fresh and organic. Every four months the menu changes following the seasons and the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Chef Bobby Laggan is a firm believer of fresh-in-season cooking who loves the appeal of new flavor combinations. General Manager Daniel Anglikowski keeps the love of these flavors alive by offering opportunities to socialize, eat wonderful food and wine taste with Tasting Room Tuesdays.
Décor: California Café is a perfect go-to location for ambiance, elegance, and casual luxe. The restaurant has a massive interior dining area decked with wood and plush seating in the form of booths and linen-covered tables with comfortable chair. Because the dining room is so large there is not a lot of natural lighting and it is a bit on the dark side. However, there is a wonderful patio dining area warmed with fire pits that provides the diner with sweeping view of the Santa Cruz Mountains and ample opportunity for people watching.
Drinks: California Café leads their beverages' menu with a section called liquid therapy that highlights some creative concoctions of the house mixologist. Two of the drinks on the menu sound worthy of a try. One is the California Pirate ($10.25), which is prepared with Kraken Spiced Rum, tres leches cream, and root beer. The other is Spicy Lei ($ 10.25), which is made with El Jimador, pineapple juice, and jalapeno-mint cilantro simple syrup. Wine by the glass ranges from $6.50 to $18.50. Wine by the bottle includes Beringer White Zinfandel at $25.00 to Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon at $150.00. California Café offers wine flights that allow one to sample a number of beautiful wines for a reasonable price. Other beverages include a delicious house-made Lemonade ($3.50) and Strawberry Lemonade ($3.75). There is a full coffee bar and a wide selection of popular and craft beers.
Appetizers: Starters include Steamed Mussels and Clams ($15.25) prepared with andouille sausage, garlic tomatoes, wine, and saffron and garnished with grilled sourdough bread and Seared Potstickers ($9.75) stuffed with ground pork and cilantro pesto and served with a chili aioli and soy glaze. Wild Boar Ribs ($10.75) is a great pick. Coated in a blackberry ancho chili barbeque sauce, this dish is cooked to perfection. Other options are Crispy Sweet and Spicy Calamari ($13.00) Tatsoi, jicama, and toasted cashews; Salmon Wrapped Scallops ($8.00) crispy parsley potato, sautéed spinach, strawberry chutney; Tuna Poke ($15.75) pickled cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts, with sriracha and wonton chips; and Dungeness Crab Cake ($11.75) scallions, thyme, tomato, mache, a top a dollop of remoulade. The Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho ($5.75 and $7.00) is a twist on a classic Spanish cold soup and takes on new flavor elements with the addition of bay shrimp, rich crème fraîche and cilantro giving it a California flare. You can order king crab legs, prawns and oysters to create your own combination platter of Fruits de Mer ($ 2.75 to $14.25).
Entrees: I love the pairing of pork with something a little sweet and tangy and the Kurobuta Pork Chop ($24.75) with cranberry chutney, balsamic glaze, and demi glace fits the bill. An exotic option is the Green tea Encrusted Ahi ($24.00) served with pea tendrils and sauced with orange soy beurre blanc. The Buttermilk Marinated Prime Bottom Sirloin ($24.74) gains tang and moisture from the buttermilk. Dressed with a demi glace, this dish is served with Cajun fries. Other meal options are the Wild Alaskan Halibut ($33.50) accompanied by lemon risotto, toybox baby carrots and sauced with sun-dried tomato beurre blanc; and Herb Marinated Half Chicken ($14.50) with lemon cream and fresh corn salsa. The Angel Hair Pasta and Prawns ($11.25 and 18.75) is a menu fixture which speaks to its popularity with the patrons. The Margherita Pizza ($13.75) is a beautiful creation of brightly colored and sweet heirloom tomatoes, garlic, fresh
mozzarella, basil, and dressed with tangy balsamic reduction.
Sides: The Garlic Mashed Potatoes ($5.00) are to die for. Other delicious offerings are the Roasted Fingerling ($5.75); Sautéed Swiss chard ($5.50); Sesame Blue Lake Beans ($5.50); Grilled Delta Asparagus ($5.75); kings crumpet and prosciutto ($6.25); and Sautéed Spinach ($5.00).
Desserts: Indulgence is found in a ½-pound chocolate chip cookie ($8.00) accompanied with chocolate chip cookie-dough ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and Chocolate Raspberry Soufflé ($7.25) . The New York Cheese Cake (7.75) with fresh strawberries is a classic dessert favorite, but the milk chocolate whip cream really sets this sweet treat apart. The California Cheese plate ($15.75) features great accompaniments and becomes a wonderful meal-ender. There are also selected flavors of Gelato and sorbet ($6.25 and $6.00).
Service: Normally, it is not good to be double teamed, but at the California Café it is a pleasure because you have superstar servers that concentrate on your wants and needs. Great service is a gift and causes one to believe that you are being pampered. The wait staff at the California Café provided sincere and exceptional service.
Signature Dish: There are none since the menu changes regularly. A few items stay on the menu season to season. One of them is the Blackened Atlantic Salmon ($19.75), which is served with a shaved fennel salad and strawberry beurre blanc.
- California Café
- 50 University Ave. Suite 260, Old Town Los Gatos
- Chef Bobby Laggan
- Cost: $40 to $85