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[whitespace] Eric Smith High Standards: A superlative view and fresh seafood prepared under the direction of executive chef Eric Smith are what's in store at Scott's.

Catch Of the Day

Once again under the guidance of its founding family, Scott's Seafood continues to dish out what's good for San Jose

By Christina Waters

UNDER THE MANAGEMENT of Belinda Stroud--daughter of the Bay Area Scott's restaurant group founder--San Jose's own Scott's appears to be flourishing. Of course location, location, location doesn't hurt, and last week culture lovers and power brokers alike were busy catching dinner before the curtain.

I've seen airport waiting areas with more decor than Scott's split-level dining room, but the view is insistent. We enjoyed glimpses of the sunset on the lush green slopes of the Diablo Range, a panorama obscured unhappily by both the Hilton and the Crowne Plaza.

Impeccable sourdough has always been a signature of this dinner house, and last week's lived up to the reputation. Fresh Dungeness crab cakes ($14) sounded appealing, as did a whole-leaf Caesar salad with shaved Parmesan ($8). Our wine choices, alas, did little to enhance the evening's fine cuisine. Sylvia's glass of Pepi Vineyard's Sauvignon Blanc 1997 ($7.50), suggested by our overly rushed waitress, was one-dimensional, as was a split of Adelsheim Pinot Noir 1997 from Oregon ($22). Entrees of yellowfin tuna ($23) and grilled deep-water prawns with snap pea risotto ($26) set a tone for the price structure at Scott's, where dinner for two with all the trimmings can top $150.

Having said that, let me rush to the defense of the expensive crab cakes. Not overly large, they were absolutely delicious. Delicate and moist with sweet, tender Dungeness crab, they survived an acrid mayonnaise of red bell pepper. A sensationally piquant slaw redeemed the presentation.

My companion adored her hearts-of-romaine salad, dressed a la Caesar, light on the anchovy and lavishly dusted with shaved Parmesan. Crisp and intensely flavored, it fired up the palate nicely.

I tried staring at my wine, hoping that I could infuse it with some structure and interest by sheer will power. But I gave up once our beautiful entrees arrived.

Sylvia's order of sesame-encrusted tuna proved to be a sensational dish. Two large triangular slices of yellowfin, briefly seared, sat at rakish angles atop a pool of outstanding wasabi-laced potato puree, which in turn topped a foundation of fresh spinach. Shiitake mushrooms bloomed from the top of this attractive dish, and an opulent scallion ponzu sauce--lots of lemon and too much soy--napped everything.

My order of enormous, sweet grilled prawns put a whole new spin on what must be the most obvious of seafood classics. A central pyre of deliciously creamy risotto, dotted with crisp, sweet snap peas, was ringed by huge, firm prawns. Each was archetypal. The risotto was dreamy--and a layer of earthy hedgehog mushrooms completed the effect. Such a great orchestration of flavors cried out for a far, far better sauvignon blanc.

Desserts were a difficult decision. Not wanting to be up half the night with some chocolate rush, we decided to sample the ginger gelato ($7) and a Raspberry Jack ($7). For $7 what we got was a single scoop of ginger gelato in a tall goblet. No whipped cream, no mint sprig, just the gelato. Looser and creamier in texture than classic gelato, it nonetheless delighted us with its sensuous, fiery flavor. Nice idea, just a little pricey.

The other dish was essentially a sundae of vanilla ice cream with fresh raspberries. The menu mentioned triple sec as well, but we tasted none. Again, we thought it was a fairly common creation for $7. But looking around the room, it was obvious that pricing is based on what the clientele can afford. (They probably didn't even mind the disagreeable post-dinner parting shot: "parking validation" takes a mere $2 off the $6 parking tab.)

Our wonderful entrees at Scott's proved that a dish can be costly yet beautifully made at the same time. But the $14 crab cakes and $7 scoops of ice cream tried our patience. Exceptions noted, we enjoyed our dinner--and so, apparently, did everybody else in the place.

Scott's Seafood San Jose
Address: 185 Park Ave., San Jose
Phone: 408.971.1700
Hours: Mon.-Fri.,11:30am-2pm and 5-9:30pm; Sat. 4:30-9:30pm; Sun, 4:30-8:30pm.
Extras: a sixth-floor view of the bright city lights

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From the May 4-10, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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