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January 28, 2009 > Saki's Spin a Yarn Restaurant

Saki's Spin a Yarn Restaurant

Lunch, December 24, 2008

Take a drive along Warm Springs Boulevard, past tech offices, warehouses, and small strip malls. It may not seem a likely place to find a good restaurant, but just when you think you must be in the wrong neighborhood, Saki's Spin-a-Yarn sign pops up on a tall post. The low brick building with iron railings and a bow window looks like a venerable downtown restaurant back east, with plenty of parking.

Spin-a-Yarn restaurant opened in 1954 and has been an icon of Tri-City dining life for years. In 1995, Saki Kavounairis assumed ownership. Saki and his wife Jennifer recently completed a total renovation of the restaurant. According to those who know, the elegant but homey atmosphere remains, but now boasts a bright, fresh d?cor, new furniture, up-to-date lighting, and modernized restrooms.

The restaurant is divided into four cozy dining areas, two rooms with tables and circular banquettes, an outdoor patio reminiscent of a Greek trattoria, and the bar area where you can dine at high bar tables, in a booth, or seated on leather couches in front of a soothing fireplace. For meetings or parties, Spin A Yarn boasts a large banquet room with dance floor and stage.

Though the new d?cor gives Saki's a serene and sophisticated air, it is the food which keeps patrons returning year after year. During my visit on December 24, the lunch menu had something for every taste from Greek and Italian to French and American. The Greek Sampler which features exquisite lemony dolmas, olives, Greek salad and perfectly warmed pita bread, with a cup of the Avgolemono soup would be a good small lunch. But diners have a wide choice of sandwiches, specialty burgers, pasta, seafood and vegetarian dishes. The garden salads we enjoyed were fresh (not pre-made and refrigerated), the tender meat of Australian Lamb Shanks did fall off the bone, as our server promised, and the Sole Dore, with lemon butter and garlic caper sauce was simply delicious and perfectly cooked.

One intrepid member of our party ordered the Italian Sandwich Oven Baked: Salami, Ham, Proscuitto, and Cheese melted together inside a small baguette. It was a true marriage of basic down-home Italian flavors.

Saki and his chef seem to have an innate understanding of flavor and ingredient partnering. None of the dishes we ordered were bland, over spiced, or confused. Ingredients were fresh, presentations simple and clean. If you want ostentation or experimental food, go somewhere else. Next time at Saki's Spin-a-Yarn restaurant, I want to try the Linguine Calamari or Tortellini Carbonara.

Two Niles Rotary friends of mine, Bob Highbaugh and Tom Bryan, were lunching on Teriyaki Steak in the next room. Both of them said they had been coming to Saki's for years because the food was consistently very good to excellent. Each lunch entr?e came with soup or salad, vegetables, rice or potatoes. There is an extensive wine list, and the usual complement of sodas and juice. Fresh sourdough bread had a crispy crust and soft, dense crumb; butter was almost unnecessary.

Finally, the dessert tray looked and sounded delicious. We were not disappointed; the in-house desserts, Bananas Foster and the Tiramisu, outshone the Coconut Cake from La Mousse in Los Angeles. I am an enthusiastic proponent of the Tiramisu: I have tasted a lot of this popular Greek dessert, in many cities in the US and abroad. Saki's Tiramisu was absolutely heavenly, coffee and chocolate married in sponge cake, and blessed with creamy bands of pudding. This was the best I have ever had anywhere. Don't miss it.

Many restaurants these days suffer from the belief that terrible acoustics are "cool." Happily, Spin A Yarn is not among that group. In my party, we could all hear each other at lunch, with only the low hum of satisfied diners in the air. The service from hostess to wait staff was prompt, polite, knowledgeable, and sincerely friendly. Our server went out of her way to accommodate our seating requests. The kitchen was reported spotless by our party's kitchen inspector, and the Ladies Rooms were clean and well-kept, if a little baroque for my taste. I have also heard about evening live music and dancing as well as the fabulous Sunday brunch at Spin A Yarn and plan to come by to sample those treats soon.

So, whether you call it Saki's or Spin-a-Yarn, this restaurant is worth the drive. If you want delicious reliability, a gracious welcome, and attentive service at moderate prices, you won't be disappointed.

Denny Stein
TCV STARR reporter

Spin A Yarn
45915 Warm Springs Blvd., Fremont
(510) 656-9141

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