Overview: is an upscale, down-home, country cooking eatery. You can find Southern roots in many of its menu items, but It's hard to nail down a specific style of cuisine for highly acclaimed executive chef Ross Hanson. Having fresh local ingredients inspire this California Culinary Academy graduate. Delightful surprises find their way on the specials' menu. General Manager Brenda Hammond and Hanson are a mother-and-son team that has worked tirelessly to create a harmonious dining venue. It's obvious they enjoy their work, which adds to the restaurant's welcoming atmosphere.
Décor: English manor meets country chic at Restaurant James Randall. Edison bulbs and chicken-wire lamps hang from the ceiling. Persian rugs cover floors and gently worn Victorian settees, covered with colored and embroidered pillows, invite patrons to relax. Tiffany style lamps are found in the restaurant's remodeled area, along with a raised communal table and tall chairs. Climbing a few steps, you'll find a more formal dining area. There's also the patio-terrace area that is reminiscent of garden dining.
Drinks: Endless Summer ($11.00) vodka, watermelon, lemon and simple syrup; and Pink Porcupine ($11.00) champagne, prickly pear syrup and grapefruit bitters stand out. A fine collection of wines is available by the glass, $10 to $24; by the bottle, $26 for a Saint Roch Cotes de Provence Rose and $255 for a Merryvale Profile 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Other choices are Sparkling Wine of the day ($10.00), Obsidian Stout ($7.00), Hopf Helle Weisse ($9.00) and Russian River Brewery ($9-$12.00) brews. The Hell or High Watermelon ($7.00), made with wheat and watermelon, is a craft beer trending with foodies and brew misters.
Appetizers: Ham and cheese are quintessential snack foods, especially when prepared with a sublime dry-cured Italian ham and a salty, moist and fatty cheese. Prosciutto di Parma and Gruyere Panini ($10.00) is one of those succulent combinations. Sweet-and-juicy, jewel-red tomatoes are found in Heirloom Tomatoes Stack ($11.00), sun-ripened tomatoes served with burrata cheese: a ball of mozzarella filled with cream, mozzarella pieces, dressed with basil oil and balsamic vinegar and garnished with fried capers. Taking a page out of the Mediterranean entertainment guide, James Randall offers classic Cheese ($11.00 and $18.00) and Charcuterie Plates ($11.00 and $18.00). Other elegant small-plate items include Duck Rillette ($9.00) a duck pâté served with crostini atop cherry relish and Bacon Braised Collard Greens ($5.00) accompanied with crème fraiche and black peppers. More rustic nibbles consist of chips and guacamole ($6.00) and cotija cheese; Fried Brussels Sprouts ($7.00) with mint and fish-sauce vinaigrette; and French fries ($8.00) seasoned with lemon zest, black pepper and Arbequina olive oil.
Entrees: Sticking with the classics, the James Randall Cheese Burger and Fries ($17.00) is a staple. It's made with aged cheddar, Applewood-smoked, bacon-roasted Anaheim relish and ketchup. Pacific Red Snapper ($27.00) is served with roasted fingerling potatoes, heirloom tomatoes and arugula-toasted garlic aioli. Grilled Flank Steak ($25.00) is accompanied by mashed potatoes, Romano succotash and chimichurri sauce. Pan Roasted Duck Breast ($29.00) features mashed yams, rainbow chard and ginger-plum sauce.
Sides: The green course includes butter lettuce ($8.00), radish, peas, croutons and Green Goddess dressing; Frisee and Egg Salad ($9.00) consists of a perfectly poached egg atop frisee greens, garnished with Applewood-smoked bacon and drizzled with Dijon vinaigrette; and Mixed Green Salad ($7.00) with manchego, candied pecans stone fruit and mint. The soup offering is a Sweet Corn Bisque ($8.00) adorned with crème fraiche and chive oil.
Desserts: Most of the desserts are dolled-up Southern favorites. Consider the Strawberry Shortcake ($8.00) Pinot-soaked strawberries topped with Chantilly cream. Blueberry and Apricot Crisp ($9.00) with vanilla gelato, and Apple and Raisin Bread Pudding ($8.00), served with caramel sauce, is just what the Kentucky Colonel ordered. The Chocolate Mousse ($9.00) is served with caramel-roasted peanuts.
Service: Excellent, friendly and accommodating. Reservations are encouraged.
Signature Dish: Fried Chicken and Waffle ($24.00) with bacon-braised collard green, chive butter and maple is a perfect combination of savory and sweet maple.
- Restaurant James Randall
- 303 N. Santa Cruz Ave.
- Chef Ross Hanson
- Cost: $30 to $65