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June 3, 2009 > Restaurant Review: Relish at W Silicon Valley

Restaurant Review: Relish at W Silicon Valley

By Denny Stein

Here in the Tri-City area we tend to stop in at a restaurant right on our everyday routes. Sometimes it's worth it to go a little bit out of the way, especially when out of the way is right in our own backyard. And sometimes it's worth thinking outside of the box, as in... go to a hotel for lunch or dinner? Well, yes, if it's the W Hotel in Newark.

The columned portico echoes the palm trees by the front drive and there's an air of fantasy heightened by the staff's "How can we fulfill your wish?" greeting. The living room lobby exudes comfort, high-backed couches and low tables surround a stone fireplace; the cafˇ bar invites quiet conversations and relaxation. It is a good place to gather while awaiting friends, or just to spend time over a drink and a good book. You can also eat at the bar or a table if you wish.

The menu at Relish is, thankfully, compact and manageable, while creatively eclectic. Imagine a small art gallery with fascinating and original art. If you only have a short time to spend, peruse the Sandwich menu on the right: We were told that the Salmon Burger, with pineapple slaw and a whole wheat bun is very popular. But your choices aren't limited and chefs offer up seasonal works from Pastrami to Tacos.

If you have time for an unhurried "tour," start at the beginning and try Garlic Chili Wings, treat yourself to the Italian Grilled Lamb Chops, or pop the Beef Sliders, which I'm sure are exquisitely better than the latest fast food items of the same name. If you're really lucky, Relish will be serving their Crab Cakes with Avocado Sauce, Citrus and Pineapple Relish, or the Tuna Tartar, which elicited involuntary happy sighs at first bite.

Don't fill up on the fresh foccacio with three flavored butters, because there is still much to experience. Tuesday night we sampled two salads, before our entrˇes. The Classic Caesar was deemed fresh and classically delicious, while its presentation was innovative and artistic. My Tuscany Tuna Wild Green Salad included seared tuna, tomato and mozzarella with the sweet bite of fresh balsamic vinaigrette. The mozzarella was noteworthy, creamy and hearty; the tuna seemed extraneous but, if this were a dinner salad, provided a necessary extra boost.

Chef Regina Apodaca talked with us about work behind the scenes at Relish. This is definitely not "Hell's Kitchen." Apodaca is a graduate of the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell. She has been at W and Relish for two years, and works closely with the other young chefs in the kitchen. Their style centers on fresh, local, and organic dishes. They hesitate to waste or squander ingredients, so each day is an exercise in what's in season, fresh in the markets, what worked last night, or who has a new idea to test.

In this way, each night brings five surprise specials: Seafood, Risotto, Chicken, Pasta, and a W Special. We tried the Seafood and Risotto Specials: Pesto Spinach Cream Risotto, and Calamari with Citrus and Fruit Salad. The bite sized Calamari, coated with Panko crumbs were crisp and sweet, complimented by grapefruit wedges, paper thin apple slices, and purple grapes, all on a hillock of greens surrounded by a circlet of sweet dressing. My dining companion, Dr. Park, pronounced the Risotto "the ultimate comfort food: hearty, flavorful, a cheese knock-out."

Though beer and wine are not my preferred drinks, we did order a Top Shock beer. The light golden liquid arrived sporting a creamy head and a slice of orange (reminiscent of a Corona with lime). And, despite my misgivings, the mild, yeasty, orangey brew went down like honey. The wine list provides excellent choices, including well-known California wines such as Stag's Leap and Orchid Hill and a variety of organic wines.

Finally, dessert could not be bypassed, even though most of it came home in Relish's cool, biodegradable black box. Chef Apodaca created an Apple Trio: three miniature apples coated with nuts and chocolate, a jellied apple timbale, and a perfect small apple turnover. It was a delightful end to an out of the ordinary stop on the Tri-City dining scene.

Relish at W Silicon Valley
8200 Gateway Boulevard
Newark, CA 94560
(510) 494-8800

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