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PostHeaderIcon Silk Road Goes the Extra Mile

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On the larger scale, the Silk Road is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asian with the Mediteranean

On a smaller scale, Silk Road Restaurant is an inexpensive, no-nonsense Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of the Walnut Creek dining and shopping district.

world as well as North Africa and Europe. , it was not surprising to find Italian food on the menu.

The place is clean, well-lit and comfortable and the service is attentive but not overbearing. The menu is varied and offers not only Mediterranean food but also pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches. Appetizers, such as hummus, baba ghanoush, (mashed eggplant mixed with vegetables) tabbouleh, (Lebanese salad dish) and dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) are priced fairly at $4.95 and they don’t skimp on the portions.

At the start of the meal, we were brought an appetizer of Middle Eastern flatbread baked in a wood burning and a bowl of olive oil, vinegar and garlic dipping sauce at no charge. The dipping sauce, if you can manage not to eat it all with the bread, is great as a salad dressing as well.


I was tempted by the lunch specials because of their variety, but it seemed like a lot of food. There are three lunch specials priced at $9.95 and according to our waiter each includes a little taste of four items. Number one includes hummus, organic baby greens, a Greek burger and chicken kabob. Number two features hummus, a Greek salad, a grilled chicken breast sandwich and skewers of ground beef and Number three is hummus, a Caesar salad, a gyros sandwich and a chicken kabob.

I decided I’d try a lunch special when I didn’t have to go back to work. Instead, I ordered the Greek Salad with a chicken kabob for $10.95. The Greek salad was made with all the traditional ingredients: tomato, cucumber, white onion, feta cheese and kalamata olives. It was lightly dressed with mint and olive oil. The chicken kabob, which often run dry from overcooking, was tender and moist and served with a light but creamy garlic sauce that mixed well with the salad.

My dining companion had the falafel sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce for $7.95. The portion was enough for two, so she took half of it home for dinner.

The menu also includes many specialties, including baked trout with saffron basmati rice and garden fresh vegetables for $15.95 and moussaka, which is layers of eggplant and ground lamb served with a spicy red sauce for $14.95.

Because the historic Silk Roads were significant in the development of India, China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Rome, I wasn't surprised to find Italian food on the menu.

The pasta selection has traditional Italian favorites such as chicken fettuccini with mushrooms, carrots, dill, parsley, tomato and a light tomato cream sauce for $13.95 and seafood linguine with shrimp spinach, herbs, mushrooms and sun-dried tomato in a light tomato sauce. There’s also penne, angel hair vegetarian, and house-made ravioli priced between $12.95 and $13.90. Pizzas and calzones go for $10.95. Silk Road has a good selection of wine by the glass and by the bottle and beers on tap.

I had been to the Silk Road Restaurant & Lounge in Oakland’s Jack London Square a few years ago but the two eateries are not related. The Oakland location served Vietnamese fusion. Silk Road Restaurant in Walnut Creek has indoor and outdoor seating and is open from 11:30 to 10 p.m. Sun. to Thurs. On Fri. and Sat. the hours are 11:30 to 11 p.m. It is located at 1440 North Main St. in Walnut Creek. Reach them at (925)932-9090 or at http://www.silkroadwalnutcreek.com.--KB


Last Updated (Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:59)


PostHeaderIcon Get Creative at The Counter

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We all know where to go if you want to hold the pickles or hold the lettuce. But what about if you want to add roasted red peppers, corn and black bean salsa or grilled pineapple? If the same old burger doesn’t do it for you anymore, then head to The Counter in Walnut Creek to create a custom-made burger.

Established in 2003 (actually anti-established, according to their Web site, to buck the run-of-the-mill burger place trend), The Counter has franchise locations in nine states and two countries providing diners with an alternative to the classic burger joint. Mix and match from their list of fresh, somewhat exotic and mouthwatering ingredients to create more than 300,000 possible combinations.

Located on North California Boulevard, away from Walnut Creeks’ restaurant row, some friends and I arrived at The Counter and parked right in front, which I always find to be a good omen. Despite the excellent parking, we had to wait a few minutes for a table as the restaurant, which is stocked with chrome accents much like a '50s garage complete with a roll up door, was packed.

While my friends and I waited, we perused the menu, which is a clipboard that comes with a stack of order sheets so that diners can customize their burger.

Once we were seated, the real work began.

Step one is to choose your meat. The choices are beef, turkey and grilled chicken. Or go meatless and order a veggie patty. Then choose your size from a one-third, one-half or the giant one-pound burger options and decide what you want it on, a bun or an English muffin. Prefer to go bun-less? Opt for the burger in a bowl atop a lettuce blend instead.

I decided on the one-third beef patty on a bun.

Then comes the cheese. One type of cheese is included in the price of the burger. I selected horseradish cheddar from the list of 10, which included Danish blue cheese, which I noted for next time.

Last Updated (Friday, 27 November 2009 15:05)


PostHeaderIcon 1515, A Number One Lunch Spot

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I could have made a meal out of the two complimentary dips the server brought to our table: the hummus dip and the roasted tomato, garlic, bell pepper and olive tapenade dip were paired with a glass full of crisp, slightly salty breadsticks and oh so delicious.

But I was out for a business meeting with two lady friends I hadn’t met before and hogging the appetizers wouldn’t have been very lady like thing.

Besides, the lunch menu at 1515 Restaurant Lounge offers something for every hunger level, taste and price point.

The Main Street restaurant and bar owned by Tony Dudum, the cousin of Jeff Dudum of Dudum Sports and Entertainment, earned a "Best of the East Bay" award for best new bar by Diablo Magazine last year.

My new friend Tracy ordered the pulled pork quesadilla, which is made with Cotija cheese, a salty cheese made from hard cow’s milk that is named after the town of Cotija in Michocan, Mexico. The stuffed flour tortilla was served with salsa, sour cream and guacamole for $12. She said every bite was different because of the many sides that came with the dish. Another Mexican dish that looked good was the fish tacos made with grilled swordfish, green and red cabbage, cold black beans, corn salad, fresh pineapple habanera and avocado tomatillo salsa for $13.

I had the Greek salad with cucumber, red and green bell peppers, red onions, kalamata olives, tomato, pepperoncini, feta cheese and balsamic vinegar topped with grilled prawns for $13. The salad was not only healthy, but filling.

My friend Linda also went with a salad, and although she had been to 1515 before, she again ordered the salmon nicoise, a generous portion of grilled salmon served on a bed of lettuce with fingerling potatoes, green beans, plum tomatoes, red onions, roasted bell peppers, kalamata olives, and egg. It was tossed in a light dijon vinaigrette. Linda also agreed that the salad portion was a filling meal and paired well with the crisp bread sticks.

The wait staff is attentive but not overbearing and you never feel rushed. We lingered for at least 30 minutes after eating and nobody bothered us. The nice thing about 1515 is you can sit outside on the patio or inside at a table. Or you can sit inside on the edge of the outside patio at a tall table, getting a slight breeze but also staying warm on crisp fall and winter days.

Other lunch options include flatbread pizzas for $15, hot sandwiches for $11 to $14, entrees, such as porcini crusted pan seared halibut for $20 and Italian sausage polenta for $14. While the lunch crowd is mostly friends out for a bite, and downtown Walnut Creek workers, 1515 has also emerged as hot night spot for the after-work crowd. With two flat screen televisions, a juke box, full bar and an impressive wine list that features wines and champagnes from around the world, the weekend crowd often spills onto Main Street on warm evenings.

The cocktail menu is unique and offers such things as a Pacific Breeze, made with Ketel One vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice, Aperol, muddled basil and splash of cranberry juice; a Lychee Blossum, made with Tozai sake, lychee liqueur, jasmine tea, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice; and a strawberry/basil gimlet, a combination of Bombay Sapphire gin, fresh strawberries and basil, squeezed lime and sour mix. But you can also get a margarita, mojito, or margarita if you want something familiar.

Best of all, the bar, done in black, cream and red with black wicker furniture, is completely partitioned from the restaurant so that diners can eat their chicken picata and penne primavera in peace.

1515 Restaurant Lounge is located at 1515 Main Street in downtown Walnut Creek and is open 7 days a week, starting at 11:30 a.m. for lunch. Dinner starts at 4 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Sun-Wed. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays they stay open until 1 a.m. and offer a late night menu. Check them out at: (www.1515wc.com)--KB


Last Updated (Wednesday, 06 October 2010 04:19)


PostHeaderIcon Carlos Santana's Maria Maria to Mark 5 Years in Danville

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In the 1960s and 70s, Carlos Santana pioneered a blend of rock, salsa and jazz fusion with his band Santana. These days, Santana and Chef Roberto Santibanez are involved with salsa of a different kind as they help run five Maria Maria La Cantina restaurants, including one in Danville, which opened in 2009.

Maria Maria takes over the corner spot in the Rose Garden where Armaranta closed earlier this year. With an outdoor patio, with two fire pits and awnings, a full bar and a roomy dining room, the operators, Dudum Sports and Entertainment, have high hopes for the success of the upscale eatery.

"Carlos has made a huge commitment to us and we want to make a huge commitment to him (with the Danville restaurant),’’ said Mark Wooldridge, the chief operating officer of Dudum and a San Ramon resident.

The restaurant is named after the song Maria Maria on Santana’s Supernatural album, which reached number one on the U.S. album charts. The single, Maria Maria, also spent 10 weeks on the number one spot in the spring of 2000. Supernatural sold more than 15 million copies in the United States, according to published reports.

And while the 62-year-old musical legend spends much of his time on the road and working with his children’s educational foundation, Milagro, there is a chance he’ll be in Danville for the opening tonight, Wooldridge said. "We’d love to have him be there for the opening,’’ said Wooldridge, who has been in the restaurant business for more than three decades and said he has opened restaurants all over the nation.

Santana is involved in many aspects of the restaurant, including selecting artwork and Mexican memorabilia to enhance the restaurant. You won’t find any sombreros lining the walls at Maria Maria, Wooldridge said.

"What we’ve tried to do is get it out of the kitchy Mexican scene….’’ Wooldridge said.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:33)


PostHeaderIcon Tasty Tidbits Goes Cheap

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Dinner for four with four glasses of wine is just $44 when you take advantage of the happy hour pricing at Bridges Restaurant in Danville.

This is no ordinary happy hour, where if you have to wait for a signal or drive around the block to look for a parking space, you're in danger of missing some ridiculously short window of discounted prices. Bridges happy hour lasts from 5pm to closing, Monday through Friday.

Each month the restaurant features a blue plate special for $6. November's blue plate is the Croque Monsieur Sandwich with grilled black forest ham and havarti cheese topped with béchamel sauce and served with fries. Martinis and Bridges' house wine, which is much better than most, are $5 each. Beer and well drinks are $3.50.

In addition to the blue plate special, there are many pizzettas available for $6. While the blue plate is a full-size entree, the pizzettas are more tapas sized. Pair one with a salad, also on the $6 bar menu for a meal. Bridges famous cheeseburger (my vote for the best burger in town), which often makes the blue plate rotation, is available in November for $11.

The bar menu is available both in the bar and on the patio. Wear a sweater and sit near a heat lamp and enjoy. If nothing on the bar menu strikes your fancy, the main dining room offers a two-for-one entree available most nights with a coupon. To download a november coupon, visit Your Town Monthly's virtual magazine here.

Find the best deals in town at Bridges Restaurant, located at 44 Church Street in Danville. For a complete menu listing, visit www.bridgesdanville.com.



Last Updated (Friday, 06 November 2009 16:11)


PostHeaderIcon Tasty Tidbits Visits Vino

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People often ask me what my favorite "go-to" restaurant is. Hands down, it has to be Vino in Lafayette. I've recommended it to friends and family; I've taken clients there. The thing I love most about the tiny restaurant on Lafayette's Plaza Circle is that it's not just dinner; it's a complete dining experience.

Castro Ascarrunz is Vino's proprietor. He's also the chef, the waiter, the bus boy and as a master pianist. And he provides the evening's entertainment.

I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a family celebration at Vino, arriving at the restaurant in time to hear Ascarrunz pound out a few bars on the baby grand for the other diners. Although he didn’t stop, he acknowledged my presence. With a quick hand gesture - and without missing a beat - he told me where to sit.

Dinner at Vino started with complimentary dishes filled with white beans and olives along side a basket of sour dough with olive oil for dipping. After finishing playing, Ascarrunz took our wine order. Vino has a nice selection of moderately priced wines, but Ascarrunz always seems to have something better in back. When we ordered a bottle of cabernet he responded, "No, I'll bring you something better." And he did.

Vino features a small selection of tapas, which make great appetizers to split. I split the ahi tuna tartar, one of my favorites, and insisted that someone try the Basque meatballs. Thankfully, my cousins obliged and were willing to share. I promised they'd be the best the ever had and Ascarrunz did not disappoint. I've tried to get the ingredients from him before, but other than the obvious ground beef in a tomato sauce with garlic, onion and pepper, all he'll admit to is s a little of this and a little of that. Pair one or two tapas with a salad for a great, light meal.

Ascarrunz's creations don't have a lot of added fat and he never uses commercial sauces. Most entrees are oven roasted with herbs and spices drawing out the fresh flavor of the food. I enjoyed the oven-roasted scallops with bits of chorizo sausage. The scallops were tender, sweet and plentiful. There must have been at least eight, delicious, medium sized scallops on my plate. They were served with spinach sautéed with pancetta. Scalloped potatoes rounded out the plate.

Ascarrunz includes many fresh fish selections on the menu. In addition to the scallops, Salmon, petrale sole and Cajun prawns were all available. The salmon, also oven roasted, was fresh and moist and the large prawns, served on a bed of pasta, had just the right kick.

Chicken Parmesan, also served with pasta and a flat iron steak rounded out the entrees that we sampled that evening.

For dessert, Ascarrunz brought out a decadent slice of chocolate torte and a plate of tiramisu. On his way back to the kitchen he happily drowned out our rendition of "Happy Birthday" with an elaborate arrangement on the piano.

As with my other visits to Vino, the restaurant was filled with regulars. At one point, while Ascarrunz was busy at the piano, a guest from the table next to ours got up to bring menus to a couple who had just come in. Ascarrunz visits with each table telling jokes, providing an evening of great food, lovely music and lots of laughter.

Last Updated (Friday, 30 October 2009 14:29)

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