A nice neighborhood bistro, Café Deluxe is one of those corner places where the outside seating is always packed. Inside is cavernous and a bit noisier, but you’ll still get the same excellent service.
On the menu, the nicoise salad with grilled salmon comes with asparagus and potato wedges, and the grilled tuna steak sandwich is nice and hearty, a meat-lover’s sandwich translated into fish. A grilled tilapia BLT is beautifully charred, but you may want to ask for less tartar sauce, since the bread is soaked in it. For dessert, don’t miss out on the cobbler of the day.
Top 10 summer salad recipes
Enjoy one of our sensational salads this summer. These colourful, flavourful dishes make the most of seasonal fruit and veg – perfect for al fresco dining and barbecues.
Make the most of long summer days by feasting outdoors with stress-free seasonal salads. These vibrant sharing dishes show just how creative you can be with a few simple ingredients. Combine fresh fruit and veg with nuts, seeds, cheese and meat for a mouthwatering medley of colour, flavour and texture. Our summer salads are perfect for al fresco dining – either as a barbecue side, or the centrepiece.
Epic summer salad
This colourful salad screams summer. Throw together vibrant fruit and veg, add black beans, salty feta and a zesty dressing packed with fresh herbs. All the chopping will be worth it when you dig into a salad that tastes every bit as good as it looks.
Who doesn’t want bread in a salad? The golden brioche croutons go perfectly with juicy peaches, lettuce and mozzarella. It’s fantastic on its own, but pairs very well with barbecued chicken too.
Discover more brilliant Italian-style bread salads from our panzanella recipe collection.
Barbecued bavette steak & tomato salad
Bavette steak is often overlooked, but this more affordable cut delivers plenty of flavour when barbecued. Mix with heritage tomatoes, artichokes, charred onions, chives and feta for a knockout salad.
Roast new potatoes and radishes
Potato salads are a summer staple. This unique take on the classic features roast new potatoes, radishes, pumpkin seeds and spring onions on a bed of creamy Greek yogurt. Sprinkle over chilli flakes for an extra kick.
Ham & piccalilli salad
Ideal for a hot summer’s day – this easy no-cook salad combines tender ham hock with cheddar, fresh peas, pea shoots and cucumber. Wipe up the last of the zingy piccalilli dressing with some crusty bread.
Tomato, goat’s curd & basil salad with raspberry vinegar dressing
Tomatoes are the star of the show here – use a variety of colours and shapes if you can. They taste even better thanks to vinegar puréed with fresh raspberries, creamy goat’s curd, aromatic basil and pistachios.
Seared tuna & cucumber salad
Try something different with our flavoursome Asian-inspired salad. Barbecued tuna steaks are mixed with radishes, cucumber, ginger, mooli, nori and herbs. Lime juice, wasabi, mirin and soy sauce make this an unforgettable lunch or dinner.
Summer allotment salad
Whether you have a bountiful allotment or not, this stunning salad is a celebration of seasonal produce. Spruce up new potatoes with whatever vegetables you can find. We’ve opted for a crunchy combination of cucumbers, radishes and onions, but you could easily customise with fennel, celery or spring onions.
Egg & parsley salad with watercress dressing
It’s not a proper picnic without an egg salad! As the star ingredient of this dish, the higher quality the eggs, the better. Top them with a punchy watercress dressing, shallots, parsley and chilli flakes.
Halloumi & quinoa fattoush
Our twist on the Middle Eastern classic, this fattoush has griddled halloumi and quinoa for extra protein and texture. The lemon, mint and dill add an irresistible, aromatic brightness.
Al fresco recipes
Transport your dining to the great outdoors with our easy sharing recipes to enjoy in the sunshine.
Fragrant Thai drumsticks
Marinate chicken drummers in aromatic Thai red curry paste and sweet chilli for super tasty fingerfood
Rustic chicken & apricot pie
Rustle up a homemade picnic pie for your al fresco feast, packed with bacon, pork sausages and dried fruit
Herby feta & nectarine salad with lemon poppy seed dressing
Contrast salty Greek cheese with sweet and juicy fruit, fragrant mint, dill and coriander
Blend honeydew, Galia or cantaloupes into a cooling wine-based cocktail with apple juice and lime
Lime curd tarts with summer berries
Treat your guests to a sophisticated tangy tart with crisp, patisserie pastry and a creamy filling
Chicken with ham, spinach & pine nuts
A restaurant-style Mediterranean dish of roast chicken breast with stuffing and crème fraîche finished with a white wine sauce
Griddled asparagus with prawns & rouille
A light shellfish salad that's packed with flavour and dressed with Dijon mustard, saffron and garlic mayonnaise
Pea, bean & bacon tart
Make the most of peas and beans with this layered quiche combined with lardons and Parmesan cheese
Mediterranean potato salad
Swap a mayonnaise base for cherry tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers and fresh Italian herbs in this low-fat salad
Almond & lemon meringue roulade
This pudding from reader Elizabeth Clark is the perfect centrepiece, complete with chewy meringue, creamy lemon filling and retro decoration
A grown-up summer drink with a pleasantly bitter bite
Prawn bruschetta skewers
Enjoy a lazy lunch in the garden with these low-fat, prepare-ahead skewers - perfect for sharing
Barbecued saddle of lamb with lemon & rosemary
Bundle herbs and flavourings into the middle of the joint, letting the flavour permeate all the way through the meat
Herby lemon chicken with Tuscan beans
Try this summer alternative to a traditional Sunday roast, best enjoyed al fresco
Cold meatloaf with squashed tomato & pepper salsa
Thickly slice this meatloaf and serve in rolls as a picnic burger, or on its own as a tasty and economical cold cut
Best Of Al Fresco Dining Around the Five Boroughs
Summer has finally arrived. When you sit inside at a desk all day, the last thing you
want to do is sit inside a restaurant at dinnertime. Besides, one of the
pleasures of summer in the city is dining outdoors under the stars or sunning
yourself at brunch. There’s a
variety of atmospheres and options everything from Crispo’s charming garden with cobblestones and a a running fountain
to quirky tenement spots.
Take Max’s – an Italian haunt in Alphabet City that’s been around
forever – with its charming backyard, complete with a laundry line hanging
overhead. There’s plenty of
old & new restaurants to take advantage of the warm weather and fruits of
summer all over New York.
Address: 319 Graham Ave., nr. Devoe
Most New Yorkers are used to dining elbow-to-elbow with strangers, but
Brooklyn offers many alternatives to the typical, tightly cramped quarters and Motorino’s backyard garden
is one of the borough’s best. A
pizza and a bottle of rose sounds like the perfect night to me. While Williamsburg isn’t exactly
Naples, Chef Mathieu Palombino’s wood-fired pizzas definitely bring you a
little closer to Italy. I
recommend you start with Motorino’s cured meats, all excellent, especially the
mortadella – like bologna for grown ups – then try a spicy Soppressata Piccante pie. Both pair well with the Pinot Nero and the breeze.
Address: 158 8 th Ave nr.
18 th Street
Phone: (212) 675-6564
When I think of Paris, I think of cafes & bistros with al fresco
seating, where fashionable eaters are having red wine, cheese and crusty
baguettes. Okay, so we’re not in
Paris, but Gascogne (pictured right) takes you pretty close. All
the servers have thick French accents and the bistro
menus peppered with classics, including a cassoulet, baked snails and a
Croque Monsieur. During the
summer months, I like their mussels in garlic-butter sauce, the trout
almonds & haricot vert or even a cold terrine with rabbit, black
and Sauternes. Just like
Paris, you can savor Gascogne’s
bistro classics in the backyard garden.
Address: 288 Smith
Sackett Street (Brooklyn)
Smith Street wasn’t always an exciting dining destination. For many years, it flew under the radar
to most Manhattanites, who ate on the island of Manhattan, that is until
alums Sharon Pachter and Charles Kiely opened up shop in 1999. With its creative, market-driven
menu and pedigreed chefs, The Grocery blazed a trail for young chefs to
outside the city. Their top-notch,
New American cooking has received considerable attention and their
area happens to be one of the most spacious in the borough. For diners who want to escape the
sun, but soak up the breeze, the tables are equipped with umbrellas. Right now, the menu features roasted
beets with goat cheese ravioli, seared scallops and a warm rhubarb
with vanilla ice cream.
Address: 240 West 14 th
Street nr. 8 th Ave
Phone: (212) 228-1818
This Northern Italian standby is great all year round, but it’s
in warm months when the backyard garden’s open for dinner. Crispo boasts incredibly
charming, outdoor seating, outfitted
with romantically lit chandeliers, marble-topped tables and even a
fountain. I don’t blame diners for lingering over
a cheese or charcuterie plate prosciutto and a wine list nearly as
lengthy as War and Peace. Frank
Crispo’s spaghetti carbonara is
legendary, but some of the seasonal specials are worth a try, like the
homemade, blue crab tortelli glossed in brown butter and
Address: 308 Bleeker Street nr.
Phone: (212) 675-2009
We couldn’t do an outdoor dining round-up without highlighting a seafood
joint, and Choptank’s unlike any other in Manhattan. The menu features “Maryland-bent fare,” with summer classics
like, boardwalk fries and peel n’ eat shrimp, seasoned with Old Bay
spices. There’s a heated patio out
back where guests can gorge themselves on Chesapeake Bay favorites, the likes
of crab cakes with more crab than filling, crab chowder or crab claws with Old
Bay-spiced vinegar. If you’re prepared to get messy, take advantage of their all-you-can-eat,
blue crab fest with plenty of crackers and wet naps on the weekends.
Water Taxi Beach Long Island City
Address: 54-34 2 nd
It’s always a party at this sandy spot with terrific views of the
skyline and some good comfort food.
If you’re looking for something super casual where can you have a
and a beer, the Water Taxi Beach
is the place to do it. There’s a
live DJ and a bacon-chili-cheese dog with fries, or if you want
little more low key, you can sit waterside and try the famous “Motz
created by the author of Hamburger
America. This is the original
of three Water Taxi Beach around the city and it’s still our favorite.
Address: 51 Avenue B between 3 rd
and 4 th streets
This old-school, red-sauce joint has managed to stake its place in the
city’s dining landscape for over a decade. The best seats are in their uniquely spacious backyard
where none of the guests seem to mind the laundry line either. A quintessential New York spot, Max has
bragging rights to one of the finest meat lasagnas and meatloafs in town.
15 Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Al Fresco Party
Summer should be laidback, not stressy. Same with the outdoor parties you’ll throw. Since hosting any kind of party can be rife with anxiety, in summer you need to be extra smart and organized to make sure things stay chill, both for your guests and (this is essential) you. Here are 15 tips to make it so.
1. Block the burn
Some guests will want to bask in the sunshine, others will want to find some cover. Prepare for both options. The sun just takes Mother Nature’s cooperation, but for shade, consider investing in a canopy or even a large sun sail to stretch across part of the backyard.
2. Think of everything
Provide an easily accessed stash of guest amenities: sunblocks of various SPFs hats for women, men, and kids mosquito repellant and umbrellas or parasols.
3. Take a seat
If you don’t have enough indoor chairs, stools, blankets, and benches to drag outside, consider rentals. You can usually rent a couple of dozen basic folding chairs for less than the cost of a couple of six-packs of craft beer.
4. Keep it comfy
Nobody likes to be perched on a hard seat or regretting that they didn’t pack a hoodie when the evening chill descends. Supply hard seating with cushions or blankets, and drape outdoor seats with throws.
5. Draft a bug plan
You don’t really want to be spray-fogging your elegant Tuscan buffet to get rid of mosquitos. Stock up on Deet-free bug wipes for your guests, and please: Get rid of any standing water well before the party starts. Also helpful: a few strategically positioned electric fans.
6. Protect your assets
Set the buffet up where it’ll be sheltered from sun, excessive bugs, and (fingers crossed this doesn’t happen) rain.
7. Reduce waste
The Review Univ. of Delaware / Flickr
If you plan to use disposable cups or glasses, set up a system for your guests to ID the one they’ll use all party long. Set out wine charms, stickers, Sharpie pens, and labels on a little station next to the bar.
8. Edit the menu
Whatever kind of party you throw, you never want to be consumed by a la minute tasks, like making omelets to order. This is never truer than with an outdoor party spilling out of the house and sprawling the width of breadth of your backyard. Keep the menu simple (perfectly ripe fruit on skewers), tight (5 or 6 dishes, not 12), and as friendly as possible to everybody’s preferences (vegan and gluten-free options, please!). When in doubt, leave it out.
9. Share the love
Leave the menu partially open to your guests by asking them to bring a dish. Potlucks are perfect for the casual, open, and collaborative nature of all but the stiffest of garden parties. Provide drinks, some basic proteins, and bread or a big green salad, then let the guests fill in around the edges.
10. Tease, don’t blast
Your neighborhood pool party isn’t spring break: Keep the tunes to a background buzz that adds to the bubbly atmosphere, not an impediment to conversation. Raising the speakers above ear level helps, and pointing the speakers at a wall or the side of the house creates a more ambient sound.
11. Acknowledge your limits
Nobody expects you to be Martha Stewart (even, we’re pretty sure, Martha Stewart), so enlist some good buddies for help: arriving early to set up the buffet, helping keep an eye on the food, drink, and kids.
12. Go for the glow
Have a lighting plan for when the long summer day draws to a close. Votives in glasses, strings of café lights, a floor lamp borrowed from the family room, powered by its own secure outdoor extension cord. Think mood and intimacy, not overhead blare.
13. Keep the little ones active
A kids-only zone requiring minimal adult supervision with a cornhole game, a Slip’N Slide, lots of bubble makers—it’ll let parents and non-parents alike get down to the business of having a good time.
14. Set up the grill
Chances are good at least some of the food will need the services of a backyard barbecue. Give this area of your patio or deck at least as much attention as you would setting up a bar. Make sure everything’s clean and scraped, there’s plenty of fuel, foil, and lots of tongs, platters, and towels. Oh, and make sure the grill cook has the proper light as night falls.
15. Have a chill time
It’s summer, right? Plan to have a good time at your own party and your guests will follow your lead. If you’ve taken care of all the details, you’ll be able to enjoy your own al fresco bash.
The 10 Best Patio Umbrellas to Shade a Sun-Filled Outdoor Space
Yes, you can sit outside this spring&mdashas long as you have the right umbrella.
The much-needed arrival of warmer weather means one thing: You&rsquore going to want to spend more time outdoors. Whether you&rsquore temporarily moving your work-from-home setup to the patio or simply enjoying an afternoon glass of wine, you shouldn&rsquot have to worry about the harmful effects of UV rays (or that glare on your laptop screen). So read on for ELLE Decor&rsquos top umbrella picks for keeping you well shaded in style.
You can tilt this square umbrella in Sunbrella fabric at any angle and rotate it 360 degrees for maximum shade coverage. The LED lighting will carry you right through past sunset.
Reminiscent of simpler times when beer and a feed were the done thing to do and the question of ‘Whose round is it?’ was well…never really a question, Rose Cottage Inn is fighting contender on our list of beer gardens to visit this summer. Old it may be, but in recent years Rose Cottage has certainly lifted its game and is home to some beautiful and lovingly restored gardens—a historic feature of the Rose Cottage Estate. With plenty of space to spread out and relax, don’t worry about booking a babysitter because the kids are welcome too! And if you haven’t heard there’s also a courtesy shuttle bus!
Place to be: Rose Cottage Inn
Where: Cnr Isabella Drive & Monaro Highway, Gilmore
When: 2pm to late (bar only) Tuesday, 2pm-late Wednesday, 12pm-late Thursday & Friday, 10am-late Saturday & Sunday
Phone: (02) 6260 1314
Vibe: Laid back and cruisy, you won’t be going anywhere soon once you kick back with a beer in hand and good pub feed in front of you. Oh and bring the kids too!
Southsiders can rejoice! Smoque has finally answered the cries of the people of Woden and blessed them with an al fresco drinking space worthy of its inclusion in this round up of beer gardens.
Offering the same all-American menu as its city sibling, Smoque Woden is perfect for after-work drinks with workmates or friends.
Place to be: Smoque Woden
Where: Abode Hotel, 10 Bowes Street Phillip
When: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday to Sunday
Phone: (02) 6260 4621
Vibe: All-American hangout perfect for ribs, beer and wings in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.
The Garden Bar & Section 57
When we added this one to list, it was under the guise of Section 57, which then posed the question ‘is this still even open?’. The short answer is yes…but they’ve also just re-opened The Garden Bar and its vibe is still very much the same—stylish, funky with a very cosmopolitan feel. Its cosseted, tranquil and private location away from the hustle and bustle of everyday going-ons outside will beg you not to leave so soon.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-mD5ifdODZO0/VFwPFyx7pII/AAAAAAAAK0s/e3oMmERokmk/s144-c-o/garden_bar01.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108454826374315674707/TheSummerOfTheBeerGarden20PlacesToDrinkAndEatAlFrescoInCanberra#6078750189248291970″ caption=”Mawson’s Garden Bar has reopened it’s doors for summer…” type=”image” alt=”garden_bar01.jpg” pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=″ ]
Relax among the lushly planted gardens and let the muted sounds of the water features soothe the senses as you indulge in a cocktail or two, or whatever takes your fancy from the full service outdoor bar. Featuring a stunning colour-backed glass wall in the appropriately named hue of ‘sexy red’, a black marble bar top and recycle North Coast redwood surrounds inlaid with copper, the bar itself is as delicious as the drinks on offer.
Section 57 also has a sun-drenched courtyard perfect for enjoying a chilled glass of win during the warmer months.
Place to be: The Garden Bar & Section 57
Where: 10 Heard Street, Mawson
When: 4.30pm-11.30pm Friday & Saturday 12pm-9.30pm Sunday
Phone: (02) 6286 1600
Web: Find them on Facebook.
Vibe: Clear your afternoon ‘cos you’re in for a long one.
There you have it, Canberra’s best alfresco drinking establishments…But if you think we’ve missed one or there’s one that’s just plain missed the mark, then we want to know about it so leave your comment below and tell us what’s on the top of your list and where you’ll rest your pint at the end of a weary summer’s day.
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BayArea’s best new al fresco restaurants
Late summer brings the Bay Area some of its best weather for dining outdoors, and restaurants, such as Lafayette's new Sideboard, are happy to oblige with inviting decks and patios. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
Late summer brings the Bay Area some of its best weather for dining outdoors, and restaurants, such as Livermore's new Pura Vida, are happy to oblige with inviting decks and patios. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
Late summer brings the Bay Area some of its best weather for dining outdoors, and restaurants, such as Livermore's new Pura Vida, are happy to oblige with inviting decks and patios. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
The calendar may say summer is waning, but the thermometer disagrees. The Bay Area enjoys some of its most spectacular weather in September, when the day’s heat turns to balmy evening and we yearn to linger and dine outdoors.
Fortunately, the Bay Area’s restaurant world understand that desire. Many of the new bistros that have opened over the last year have added al fresco-perfect decks, terraces and patios to their dining spaces. Here are nine of the most irresistible new spots to brunch, lunch or dine al fresco.
When the Black Sheep said “bonjour” to San Jose’s Willow Glen late last year, it brought its classic French bistro fare and chic decor, with a color palette reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec, to the neighborhood. Then they upped the French factor even more by adding outdoor dining for the warmer months.
The patio: The coveted sidewalk tables along bustling Lincoln Avenue allow diners to watch the Willow Glen world pass by as they sip and savor. Heaters are available for when the nights get chilly. For those who don’t score a prime patio position, a wall of roller doors are usually open to let the outside in, giving the entire front half of the dining room a decidedly al fresco feel.
The dish: While Black Sheep has a number of summery salads, it doesn’t get much more French than mussels ($16) in a delicate saffron cream sauce, topped with crisp shoestring fries and a drizzle of aioli. Pair it with a chilled rosé or a cocktail from the menu’s “bright and refreshing” section, like the classic French 75 ($11), a gin and sparkling wine duo, and you’d swear you could see the Seine from San Jose.
The details: Reservations accepted. Open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner Sunday brunch. 1202 Lincoln Ave., San Jose www.bsbwillowglen.com
— Jennifer Graue, Correspondent
2 ROOFTOP RESTAURANT & BAR
It’s right there in the name: This small- and large-plate eatery in the center of downtown Walnut Creek sits atop a building shared with two other restaurants, offering great views of the surrounding area.
The patio: Depending on the weather, almost the entire place is patio a central bar is covered by a permanent roof, but most of the dining area sits under a retractable roof that’s open in good weather. A separate section of smaller tables has a full roof and open-air sides. (They’re open rain or shine, with heaters ready to keep things toasty on a cold day.)
The dish: Chef-partner Justine Kelly keeps the menu fresh with seasonal selections, but on a warm day, you could make a fantastic two-person lunch out of the Grilled Little Gem salad ($10), with roasted cherry tomatoes and a tangy lemon-basil dressing, and the Tuna Tartare ($16), with tart tamari and ginger giving a bite to the big chunks of tuna and smaller bits of Japanese cucumber.
The details: Reservations advised. Open for lunch and dinner daily. 1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 300, Walnut Creek http://rooftopwc.com.
3 PURA VIDA COCINA LATINA & SANGRIA BAR
Sangria may be the ultimate summer sip, especially when dining outdoors. So say hello to the new Pura Vida Cucina Latina, which offers an entire sangria bar, complete with flights. This new addition to Livermore’s dining scene hails from Sanctuary Ultra Lounge’s Gianni Schell, whose pan-Latin menu was inspired by his family’s Colombian roots.
The patio: Schell has created a little oasis on the cozy back deck, complete with winery bottle light fixtures and metal lizards scaling the back wall. In addition to umbrella-covered tables, there are three fire pits at the ready to chase away the evening chill. If you’re lucky, you may spot Schell presiding over a big pan of his paella.
The dish: The Pura Vida sangria menu includes eight white and red versions, which you can sample with a flight ($12 for three). Dining with a group? Go for a pitcher instead ($35, serves five). Pair the libations with chunky Ahi Tartare in Mango Salsa ($13.95) served with crunchy, salty plantain chips. Paella is always a crowd pleaser, and Schell’s Colombian Paella ($14.95), with chicken, chorizo and shrimp-studded saffron rice, is savory, spicy and satisfying.
The details: Reservations accepted. Open for dinner Wednesday-Sunday. 2241 First St., Livermore www.puravidalivermore.com
Like its Danville sister, Lafayette’s new Sideboard offers an eclectic, laidback and delicious spot to nosh and linger — but Erin and Ford Andrews’ new spot offers not only a deck, but a picnic option. Order at the counter, grab a grassy spot in the small wisteria-draped park just across the way, and a server will deliver your picnic straight to your blanket. (Or theirs. They keep a stack of colorful picnic-ready blankets on hand for happy picnickers.)
The deck: Sideboard’s airy, wood-accented interior — complete with antlered animal heads — may beckon when temperatures drop. But when the weather’s balmy, it’s all about the restaurant’s popular deck, where cheery turquoise market umbrellas provide shade for diners.
The dish: We love pretty much everything here, but we have a soft spot for the BLTA, a sandwich generously filled with ripe avocado, heirloom tomatoes and applewood-smoked bacon. (Especially when washed down with a local craft brew or a glass of Hogwash rosé.) And nothing says picnic like a bucket of crispy, organic fried chicken.
The details: No reservations. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 3535 Plaza Way (the tiny line at the corner of Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Moraga Road) www.itsonthesideboard.com.
After spending a sultry summer day seeking out the best in fall fashion at San Jose’s tony Santana Row, you’ll find this whiskey-focused bar and restaurant is a hotspot for refreshment. Sleek and trendy, much like its clientele, Roots + Rye has an impressive list of craft cocktails, with a menu of sophisticated small and large plates to match. The patio is ideal for meeting up with friends. Since it’s not traditional table seating, it’s especially easy for those who get caught up in a shopping frenzy to join their party a little late.
The patio: Just off the lounge, the outdoor space, partially protected by a wall of two by fours, was meant for mingling. Wooden benches and green leather ottomans surround three rectangular gas fire pits that have ledges for balancing small plates of food and drinks.
The dish: The loungy seating means that easily shareable dishes are the way to go, like the summery Margherita flatbread ($16) topped with burrata, tomato and basil. Whiskey is the name of the game here, and the Blackberry Julep ($13) made with fruit-infused bourbon is a potion made with produce at its peak season.
The details: Reservations accepted. Open daily for lunch and dinner weekend brunch. 3055 Olin Ave., Santana Row, San Jose www.rootsandrye.com
— Jennifer Graue, Correspondent
6 BEREVINO CUCINA & WINE BAR
When you’re craving pasta and other Italian fare, head for Dublin’s newest eatery from restaurateurs Omar Etemadi and Sadaf Shaghasi, who also own Pleasanton’s Oasis Wine Lounge and Dublin’s Coco Cabana. The couple took over the former Tomatina’s space and not only renovated the dining room, they expanded the outdoor dining area, too.
The patio: Festive black-and-white-striped umbrellas keep diners cool as they enjoy al fresco sips and bites.
The dish: Fruity red sangria ($7) hits the spot on a warm summer night. We couldn’t get enough of the light, crisp fritto misto ($13), with its batter-kissed shrimp, calamari, and green beans topped by thin, butternut squash moons, zesty fried lemon slices and crisp, flash-fried sage leaves. Follow it up with the delectable citrusy chicken piccata ($18), with chicken breasts, sauteed lemons and crunchy broccolini bathed in a silky lemon-butter wine sauce.
The details: Reservations accepted. Open for lunch and dinner daily. 4590 Dublin Blvd., Dublin www.berevinocucina.com
One of the newest entries in the rapidly growing East Bay beer scene, Drake’s is already a go-to, not only for a rotating line of California’s best beers, but also for a standout kitchen offering snacks, sandwiches, pizza and even fancier fare (duck confit, anyone?).
The patio: High walls suggesting an exclusive compound give way to this expansive gravel beer garden, with an open roof, plenty of smaller tables, bench seating for groups and Adirondack love seats around fire pits. A small stage frequently hosts live music or DJs.
The dish: About that duck confit ($23): Get it. Tender and succulent, it’s served with kimchi spaetzle and pistachios. If you’re looking for something a little less fancy, Frito pie ($7) with bacon fondue or poutine ($13) with “double duck gravy” will serve as a solid side to your suds.
The details: Reservations for large groups only open for lunch and dinner daily. 2325 Broadway, Oakland http://drinkdrakes.com/visit/dealership.
Tucked away inside the Toll House Hotel on the edge of downtown Los Gatos, Verge Restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s not something people will just stumble upon, making this comfortable, recently refurbished modern space decidedly mellower than other restaurants in the heart of downtown. There’s a large horseshoe shaped bar, marble topped tables with midcentury modern chairs and comfy cushion-lined banquettes. A seat on the balcony is a particularly relaxed spot for tucking into chef Albert Nguyen-Phuoc’s somewhat eclectic menu, whether for a sun-drenched weekend brunch or a quiet dinner under the stars.
The patio: The small balcony holds only four tables, so even when it’s full, it feels pretty private. The tables look out over the hotel’s light bedecked courtyard with shimmering mosaic fountains on either end — and a weekly dog-friendly happy hour.
The dish: The menu here is heavy on comfort foods, so while the duck confit poutine ($19) may not scream summer, it’s hands down one of the best dishes on offer. Lighten things up with one of several local craft beers on tap or a refreshing basil cucumber gin fizz ($12).
The details: Reservations accepted. Open daily for dinner weekend brunch. 140 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos www.vergerestaurant.com
— Jennifer Graue, Correspondent
9 BEAVER CREEK SMOKEHOUSE
Owner Rob Zavatero, who competed in local barbecue shows for years, finally set up a shop to show off his skills, and they are impressive skills indeed. The only downside of sitting down to a plate of his fantastic food on Beaver Creek’s patio is that you’ll be ready for an afternoon nap when you’re done — and Rob hasn’t set up any cots or hammocks for that (yet).
The patio: A simple patio setup with small and large tables, plenty of umbrellas for shade, and enough plants to give it a quasi-urban garden feel. The most dominant feature is the enormous pile of wood that powers the smoker once you get your first bite of one of the many smoked meats offered, you’ll see why it’s your best friend.
The dish: You can’t go wrong picking, whether you choose the chicken, pulled pork or brisket, but the spare ribs ($15 half rack/$28 full) are the stars tender and rich, holding their shape on the bone, but sliding off with the tiniest effort. If you’re there on Friday, get the smoked prime rib, which is offered only that day. You’ll thank me later.
A Fresh Take on Al Fresco
Outdoor dining has always held an inherent charm but, in the time of COVID-19, it’s also a boon for restaurant owners looking to meet social distancing requirements and draw diners. While some venues already had patios, others are adapting their spaces.
The City of Los Angeles’ L.A. Al Fresco program, which was launched at the end of May and has been extended through the end of the year, supports restaurants impacted by COVID-19 as they create outdoor-dining options. Eligible restaurants can apply to expand dining areas and the city provides planters, barricades and umbrellas to use in newly permitted spaces. Similarly, the City of Santa Monica has extended the use of outdoor commercial spaces so that businesses can safely serve the community.
Also, this year’s iteration of dineL.A. is highlighting al fresco dining, takeout and delivery. Through Sept. 18, consumers can take advantage of budget-conscious offerings from nearly 300 restaurants. “We are deeply aware of the impact that COVID-19 has had,” says Stacey Sun, Executive Director of dineL.A. “We felt it was critical to reimagine dineL.A. [and] encourage diners to keep enjoying meals together even if it may not be within the structural walls of a restaurant.”
Made in the Shade in Santa Monica
At Mélisse + Citrin in Santa Monica (1104 Wilshire Blvd.), chef-owner Josiah Citrin and his team transformed their large parking lot into an outdoor garden lined with AstroTurf and decorated it with rugs, pots of lavender, olive trees and umbrellas.
Says Citrin, a two-star Michelin chef: “We pushed ourselves to find new ways to re-imagine our restaurants. It’s been great to see the new outdoor area bustling and I’m so thankful for all of the support – both from those dining in and from those who are taking advantage of our takeaway menus.”
If you visit during dineL.A., you’ll be tempted by truffle lobster risotto and pasta stuffed with braised short rib, to name a few.
Call (310) 395-0881 or visit citrinandmelisse.com to learn more.
To be sure, patio dining is practically an art form in Southern California. For example, FIG, at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel (101 Wilshire Blvd.), serves seasonal fare in an elegant setting. For dineL.A., you might choose to nosh on Kaluga caviar chips and dip, Pacific rockfish with romanesco sauce and, for dessert, coconut panna cotta.
Call (310) 319-3111 or visit figsantamonica.com
Another parking-lot transformation took place at Santa Monica’s Rustic Canyon (one Michelin star 1119 Wilshire Blvd.), which still has three sidewalk tables out front. Huckleberry Bakery & Café (a sister restaurant at 1014 Wilshire Blvd.) added more spaced-out tables on the sidewalk.
Call Rustic Canyon at (310) 393-7050 or learn more at rusticcanyonrestaurant.com
Call Huckleberry at (310) 451-2311 or visit huckleberrycafe.com
Margo’s Santa Monica (1534 Montana Ave.) also boasts an outdoor patio. Executive Chef Devine “Dino” Johnson, who calls his grandmother his greatest cooking mentor, believes food should be fun and vibrant. A case in point, this combination from the dineL.A. menu: PEI mussels, Grandma Johnson’s grilled Jidori chicken with cilantro rice, brioche bread pudding and one free drink.
Call (310) 829-3990 or visit margossantamonica.com
At Fia’s garden (2454 Wilshire Blvd.), some tables were removed, while other elements were added: ivy, olive trees and a statue of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardens, for whom Fia is named. The restaurant has pick-up only for dineL.A., but the garden is open for regular reservations. “I love that Mayor Garcetti is encouraging take away and delivery for dineL.A., during these extraordinary times,” says owner Michael Greco.
Call (424) 280-4196 or visit fiarestaurant.com
Take a Culinary Tour in Culver City’s Urban Outdoors
If you have a hankering for well, just about anything, head over to Culver City, where many restaurants have extended their outdoor seating. “It’s the new normal,” said a police officer on a recent Tuesday evening as the farmers’ market was closing down and eateries were ramping up for dinner.
On Main Street, Ms. Chi Café (3829 Main St., Culver City) is making use of the front patio. Dumplings, salt and pepper shrimp, orange chicken, tea smoked duck, and mouchi doughnuts are among Ms. Chi’s dineL.A. eats.
Call (424) 361-5225 or visit mschicafe.com
In LA, barbecue spots are few and far between, so we’re lucky to have a few in the vicinity. Maple Block Meat Co. (3973 Sepulveda Blvd.), which had a patio before COVID-19 hit, has a hearty special for dineL.A. The dinner menu gives you a choice of two wood-smoked meats, two sides, plus a smoked chocolate chip cookie.
Call (310) 313-6328 or visit mapleblockmeat.com
Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ (6000 Sepulveda Blvd.), where a fire lane was converted into a seating area with sidewalk tables, is known for authentic Southern barbecue cooked low and slow, and smoked in-house with hickory wood. And don’t forget Lucille’s onion straws and fried dill pickles!
Call (310) 390-1227 or visit lucillesbbq.com
You’ll find more meat plus a lot of fish at Lonzo’s (10804 W. Washington Blvd.), a small spot with a huge menu. The dineL.A. offerings will help whittle down your choices. Try Peruvian paella or lomo saltado (starring filet mignon).
Call (310) 842-7876 or visit lonzosrestaurant.com
Family recipes are the focus at Pasta Sisters (3280 Helms Ave.) and tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce is one of the most popular dishes. Because Helms Avenue is a private street, it was natural to spread tables out, so there is plenty of space for a safe, relaxing visit.
Call (424) 603-4503 or visit pastasisters.com
Eat Clean or Indulge in Venice, the Playas or Westchester
In Venice, Plant Food + Wine (1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd.) is part of Matthew Kenney Cuisine, which spotlights minimally processed plant-based cuisine and operates 40 restaurants worldwide. On the recently renovated patio, guests might opt for this dineL.A. dinner combination: sweet corn soup, raw zucchini and carrot spaghetti with pistachio, sundried tomato and macadamia ricotta, followed by banana cream pie.
Call (310) 450-1009 or visit matthewkenneycuisine.com/plant-food-wine-venice
Urban Plates (12746-3 Jefferson Blvd.), purveyors of “wholesome, clean food at an affordable price,” have spacious patios at all 19 locations. “At Playa Vista, the patio has been a huge asset and we’ve also expanded it beyond the original space, adding additional tables,” says Steve Greer, chief marketing officer.
Call (424) 256-7274 or visit urbanplates.com
In Playa del Rey, Playa Provisions (four restaurant concepts in one 7,000 square foot, beachside location at 119 Culver Blvd.) reconfigured part of the front parking area into a fully built-out second patio, featuring AstroTurf, spaced-out tables, umbrellas and picnic space.
“Our goal is to give people the same quality dining experience that they would get inside,” says chef and co-ower Brooke Williamson.
An added enticement: Williamson has teamed up for the second time with The Bruery (a craft brewery in Orange County) to produce a trio of beers that pair well with food: the Vine (a beer-wine hybrid), the Berry, and the Spice, a thyme-spiced imperial stout. (See page 13 for more details.)
Those under 21 (and kids at heart), can also enjoy a rotating selection of sweet treats at Provisions’ ice cream counter, Small Batch. Pop in for a frozen Choco Taco treat, a unicorn-inspired “Unicone” (an inverted waffle cone filled with ice cream, dipped in white chocolate, and ringed with colorful sprinkles and stars) or a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Pop. The variety is wide and full of surprises.
Call (310) 683-5019 or visit playaprovisions.com
For a side order of nostalgia, you won’t go wrong at Westchester’s Melody Bar & Grill (9132 S. Sepulveda Blvd.), which opened in 1952 and has reinvented itself a few times since. Most recently, the parking lot has been turned into a patio with a redwood gate, lattice dividers, sun shades, café lights and plants. “We’ve had a great response from the community and they feel safe,” says chef and co-owner Christian Warren.
This is Melody’s first time participating in dineL.A. Entrée choices include: a steak burger, barbecue pork sandwich, baby back ribs, skirt steak, chicken piccata, fish & chips, plus salads and two vegan options. One beer or glass of wine is included as well.
Call (310) 670-1994 or visit melodaylax.com
Argonaut Managing Editor Christina Campodonico contributed to this story.
Portuguese Food al Fresco in Tarrytown
IN summer, the charming river towns reclaim the sidewalks. Even the most humble establishments set out cafe chairs and tables under umbrellas with polychrome logos or under thick-leafed branches of matured trees. If in view, the river commands attention, but people-watching can be equally pleasurable. Caravela's position on the generous Broadway pavement makes its al fresco ''room'' particularly appealing, and the formality of the service combined with the quality of the seafood marks this as an appealing summer destination.
Whetting the appetite, a lagniappe of sausage slices and black olives made a pleasant foil for a refreshing lime aperitif called caipirinha. Then move on to a heaping melange of shiitake, portobello and oyster mushrooms in port wine sauce a garnish of lingonberries, while an interesting idea, proved somewhat intrusive but by no means spoiled this luxurious dish. A bowl of briny clams steamed in white wine and garlic made another fine starter, as did New Zealand mussels, steamed in a similar sauce, which also bore a hint of cilantro.
Unlike the ubiquitous Maryland crab cake, Caravela's Ipanema crab meat cake had very little bread binding but lots of crab and diced vegetables. This lovely version came circled prettily with two sauces: one a white butter sauce and one orange-colored from the yellow peppers employed.
An uneven application of salt made a few perfectly grilled jumbo shrimps too saline, but those escaping the overkill were fabulous thinly sliced cucumber and an 'ɾxotic sauce,'' which turned out to be of sweet red pepper, provided even more texture and contrast. Squid, an old favorite, was stuffed with a wonderful combination of tentacles, sausage, sweet peppers and just a bit of bread but, instead of filling several small squid, it filled two large ones, which were quite thick and, therefore, rather tough.
Unlike some other restaurants offering Portuguese food, Caravela will make single portions of paella (but not on Saturdays) and mariscada. Both proved outstanding. No element suffered in a paella stocked with shrimps, fresh clams and mussels, bite-size pieces of tender chicken, slices of sausage and moist saffron rice. And if possible, mariscada was even more splendid. Arriving upended in a deep bowl with scallops and chunks of tuna, shellfish like gigantic mussels, clams, hefty shrimps and langustino seemed to form the sails of a bizarre vessel. We chose green rather than red sauce for this superb dish. Cold and light, the fisherman's platter of lobster, shrimps, mussels and clams might be the very thing to have on a hot summer night.
A stew of red snapper, sweet onions, potato and black olives was consistently satisfying, as was a plate full of jumbo shrimps (Paulista) with garlic and parsley. Poached swordfish cooked unevenly because of its shape, but it proved moist in the center. Broiled langostinos, the only catastrophe, brought three dry and singed halves sprinkled with paprika, which also burned.
Take a look at the seductive desserts displayed in a case at the entrance. The fruity concoctions were first rate, but we suspect you cannot miss even choosing at random.
A more than ample three-course dinner averages $32 without drinks, tax and tip. Caravela is a few blocks north of Main Street.
53 North Broadway, Tarrytown. 631-1863.
Atmosphere: Pretty Portuguese tiles and crockery, stained glass and a few tasteful nautical touches like the model ship with pin lights in the rigging decorate this comfortable bilevel dining room and separate bar. Outdoor dining when weather permits. Good, helpful service.
Recommended dishes: Wild mushrooms in port wine sauce, crab meat cake Caravela style, steamed clams, steamed New Zealand mussels, paella Valenciana, mariscada, baked fillet of red snapper with onions and potato, shrimps Paulista, broiled scallops, fruit tarts and other desserts.
Prices: Lunch, main dishes $9 to $14.50. Dinner, main dishes $13.50 to $23.