Northside Arcade Restaurant Offers Michelin Star Quality at Cafeteria Prices
By Carolyn Schuk
If you work in the Highway 101 corridor, your lunchtime choices are better than ever, thanks to Epicurean Group's Arcade Cafe (www.arcadecafescott.com) on the first floor of Menlo Equities' office campus on Scott Boulevard.It's a restaurant that turns cafeteriafood artisanal, and honors a bit of Santa Clara history.
The restaurant's name comes from San Francisco restaurateur Henry Scott's first restaurant, the Arcade. Scott, a Danish immigrant and former seafarer, retired from the restaurant business in 1886 and bought 16 acres of farmland on what is now Scott Boulevard, where he lived until his death.
Today's Arcade is part of Los Altos-based food service company Epicurean Group and managed by Executive Chef Anthony Kresge, formerly executive chef of Capitola's iconic Shadowbrook Restaurant.It may be a cafeteria-style restaurant, But "I'm not going to change how I cook," says Kresge.
Starting with breakfast omelets and scrambles, Arcade offers a full salad bar, ready-to-go cold sandwiches, daily pasta and grill specials, a daily "global adventure," and favorites like hamburgers and homemade French fries, and plenty of vegetarian offerings.
For example, today's menu features a pulled pork sandwich with homemade potato chips and braised cabbage, a pho bowl in both chicken and vegetarian versions, and a ratatouille calzone.
The menu changes daily and is always cooked from scratch using all fresh ingredients supplied by local farms whenever possible. Menus depend on what's available," says Kresge. "It's important to keep the farm-to-table [connection]. As chefs, it's our duty to give that message to consumers."
Prices are reasonable, the restaurant is light, roomy and quiet, and real people take your order and cook it right there – disproving the notion that "fresh food" has to be "slow" food." And the growing workday population of the area seems to like it, because business has tripled since it opened 14 months ago.The restaurant even has a farmers market on many Wednesdays (call to check) if you want to take home some ofthe fresh produce that's being served.
Arcade also aims to achieve zero waste in its operation – virtually everything is re-usable, recyclable, or compostable – and the restaurant helpfully explains what goes where for the non-composting literate.
Kresge has some special events coming up, including Chocolate Milkshake Day on Sept. 10 and on Sept.11, a Windows of the World Tribute remembering the restaurant that was on the 107th floor of the North World Trade Tower, and where 79 restaurant employees died on 9-11.
The Windows Tribute menu will feature meal-sized versions of some of the famed New York restaurant's classic items including tuna tartar, beef Carpaccio, calamari, and Spanish chorizo. All the profits from that day's menu will be donated to a World Trade Center Memorial fund.
Arcade Restaurant is at 3355 Scott Blvd. between Bowers and Oakmead Parkway on the north side of Scott – the signs are not always easy to see – and it's open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekdays.
Quantity is Often the Mother of Culinary Creativity
Since produce naturally arrives in profusion at certain times, seasonal eating means finding or creating recipes for using up the abundance of the moment.
This year cucumbers are my bumper crop, and after two straight months of cucumber salads, I asked Kresge forideasabout using them for something other than pickles.
His suggestion is cucumber water, a delicate and refreshing alternative to plain water or sweetened drinks. Peel, seed and chop the cucumbers. Mix with chopped mint (another bumper crop in my garden), cover with water and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove the cucumber and mint, press out the remaining liquid and add back in. You can add lemons, lemon zest (peel), or any other herbs you like.