Restaurant review: Asa in Los Altos proves a fine second act

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Success, as the aphorism goes, breeds success.

For some, it spreads like wildfire from one venture to the next. For others, like restaurateur Andrew Welch, success is a slow burn, realized over years of dedication and hard work. It’s been 18 years since he took over The Basin, a perennially popular spot in Saratoga, a major feat in the notoriously fickle restaurant business. Now he’s built on that accomplishment with Asa, a restaurant named for his young son that opened six months ago in Los Altos.

Like The Basin, Asa’s menu is American with Spanish and Italian influences, and there are several similar dishes including the paella appetizer, pastas and rainbow trout. But overall, the menu at Asa, overseen by head chef Steven Vu, skews more upscale with dishes such as Maine lobster on brioche ($18) or a truly indulgent snack, caviar with buckwheat pancakes ($70).

The dining room is sophisticated and modern, awash in black and gray with polished concrete floors and a high ceiling. Wood tabletops and a lighted marble bar add warmth, while giant white dahlia pendant lights bathe the room in their soft, luminescent glow. It’s a truly beautiful space, one that suits a special night out.

Welch personally greets diners when they arrive. He ushered us to our table with a brief pleasantry that felt genuine and welcoming. We had an early reservation on a Saturday evening as all the prime dining slots book up well in advance. Asa’s website makes it clear there’s a two-hour time limit on tables booked before 7 o’clock, but we never once felt rushed and managed to enjoy a leisurely three-course meal in just under two hours — thanks to the well-paced service.

Our server spent at least a couple of minutes describing the evening’s specials in great detail in an earnest yet slightly stilted manner, lacking the savoir faire you’d find in top restaurants. Still, he was always on the ball, making sure we had serving utensils before dishes were delivered and upon discovering the wine I’d ordered was sold out, proactively brought a bottle of the same varietal and vintage and offered a taste.

Starters arrived within minutes. The winter salad ($13), a jewel-toned medley of emerald-hued watercress, cumin-dusted butternut squash, pomegranate and marinated feta, was delicious. My friend and I both vowed to make a version of

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle


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