Va De Vi- Best Restaurants in San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco bay area has long been a meccah for foodies around the world, beckoning both locals and visitors alike with its astounding array of highly rated restaurants. Only locals and frequent visitors would realize though, that there are in fact numerous notable restaurants outside of San Francisco and famed Napa Valley. In the past year I’ve stumbled upon one such little gem in the east bay where time seems to stand still and all that matters is having a great time with friends over well executed fusion tapas, desserts, cheese platters and wine.
Va de Vi has been consistently rated and voted as one of the bay area’s best restaurants with good reason. Tucked in a romantic corner off the busiest shopping and restaurant street in charming Walnut Creek, Va de Vi’s entrance is lined with little lights and a string of outdoor tables under heated lamps. Once in this wine bar and restaurant, wood shelving houses an entire wall of wine bottles with a large enough variety to please every connoisseur’s palate. Tables are spaced out just enough to provide privacy but close enough to provide an ambiance of European bistro elegance. A sit-in bar surrounds the open kitchen on one side of the restaurant, allowing true foodies to be mesmerized by the flawless synchronization of the chefs at their individual work stations, dolling out one tempting dish after another.
The menu here is best described as a mélange of childhood favorites gone gourmet with eclectic fusion interpretations of fresh seafood and savory meats. Don’t run in the opposite direction at the sound of fusion; Va de Vi is one of the few that does it right. Tender pork belly sits atop a small mound of rice with a sweet and savory chili sauce drizzled on top while a melt-in-your-mouth roasted black cod is served with Japanese wakame salad and crisp potato cake. Wild mushrooms, mac’n cheese on steroids, sage butter squash ravioli, fresh ahi tuna…each dish arrives with as much sensual prowess as the next, glistening with the anticipation of being an explosion of flavors on your palate.
Dishes are purposefully small to encourage sharing and trying of various flavors. It’s a foodie’s paradise where family and friends can share laughter over a table laden with succulent tidbits, where lovers can feed each other luscious, sinful bites. The romantically lit spot is not the restaurant for those afraid of the alluring and intoxicating scents of real, gourmet food as the kitchen lovingly billows teasers every few minutes. It’s vital to save room to share a dessert here, the sweet repertoire of Va de Vi’s chefs being no less of a palate pleaser than the savory. A holiday dessert done to perfection is egg nog crème brulée- smooth, creamy and yes, it actually tastes like egg nog.
Service once at a table is friendly and swift, never a glass of water left empty for long. Even in a full house, which it almost always is, the serving staff is professional and attentive. The only suggestion I have to improve the service would be to ensure that there is always a hostess at the welcome table lest a guest be left waiting for a table too long, or at least have other serving staff acknowledge waiting guests to alleviate the awkwardness of standing around.
All in all, Va de Vi has over time become one of my favorite local hot spots, luring me back over and over again with their consistently well done and ever changing menu of gourmet comfort tapas, lovely desserts and long list of exceptional wines (my favorite being their ice wine).