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[whitespace] Tapestry
George Sakkestad

Partnership: Chef Gary Messick and his wife, Vickie Messick, take care of everything from soup to nuts at Tapestry.

Tapestry's husband-and-wife cuisinartists give Los Gatos a whole lot of what it wants

By Christina Waters

THE BUZZ HAS BEEN big throughout Los Gatos. A new bistro has bloomed in the handsomely remodeled Puccinelli house, a 100-year-old vernacular bungalow just off East Main Street. The talented Gary and Vickie Messick create food as exciting as the spacious, open-beamed interior, a glowing splash of vanilla-toned walls counterpointed by bold artwork and a pretty copper wine bar.

Messick has won awards, including one for a successful grilled filet mignon dish we sampled, and his wife and culinary partner, Vickie, finesses lovely pastries to match. Even knowing all this, we weren't prepared for the sleek sophistication of Tapestry, whose only improbability is its name. From classy menu design to attentive service, Tapestry (subtitled "A California Bistro") is a knockout.

A wine list long on almost every winemaking district save our own provided an excellent 1997 Hedges Cellars Cabernet/Merlot blend ($6) and a 1996 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel ($9) that ultimately opened into something memorable. Delicious housemade breadsticks kept us company while we combed the menu. Onion and salmon tart, rice cakes with Chinese sausage and ponzu sauce, local halibut with creamed leeks and crayfish--the menu underscores an interest in seasonal, local produce as well as the many cultural influences on California's cooking pot.

The continuing trend toward oversize serving plates reached its ultimate moment in an enormous deep-dish appetizer--refreshingly free of any herbal clutter around the margins--containing the wittily named "really expensive mushrooms." A heady mix of shiitakes and black and golden chanterelles had been sautéed with sherry vinegar and tossed with cloves of roasted garlic ($8). Gorgeous in both taste and appearance, it looked like a forest floor at sunset. My dining companion's mizuna salad appetizer ($6), which came with slow-roasted beets and goat cheese, was equally sensational, though served on a large plate almost as brightly colored as its contents.

The chef at Tapestry seems to believe that verticality is next to godliness, and most of our dishes involved playfully architectural design that reached for the heavens. Slices of roasted beets had been frosted with goat cheese and then stacked into a crimson Napoleon, atop a bed of mizuna strewn with more diced beets. Such prettiness. Such contrast between the intensified beet sweetness and the pungency of the chèvre. A confetti of garlic chives provided a nuanced echo of the roasted garlic in my plate of mushrooms.

No sooner had we finished every trace of these starters than a basket of bread arrived: two sensational varieties with tightly knit texture and superbly chewy crusts. It was a nice touch having the bread arrive after the appetizer to cleanse the palate.

Entrees, which followed, rendered us speechless.

In my order of grilled striped bass ($18), the celestial seafood was perched on a confit of caramelized shallots tossed with ultra-thin haricots verts. The sensuous vegetables gave the delicate fish a run for its money. Visually, conceptually and gustatorily, the dish was a runaway success. Across the table, my companion fell under the spell of the chef's signature filet mignon creation ($20)--vertical, of course--in which a roasted portobello mushroom provided the foundation for a soy-based sauté of bok choy. Atop this sat a flawlessly grilled filet topped with flash-fried ribbons of potato. From rich mushroom to crisp greens to deep red flesh to the crown of ethereal potatoes, it offered a crash course in great flavors and brilliant execution. Only the needlessly busy patterns on the serving plates distracted from our enjoyment of these light yet substantial dishes.

Dessert showcased the pastry chef's expertise. A lattice of berry purees and sun-dried sour cherries formed an intensely flavored underpinning for a perfect panna cotta ($5), topped with a crunchy praline and a fresh mint leaf. We also sampled a tour de force of warm chocolate souffle ($5.50) topped with vanilla cream and served on a delicious unsweetened cookie. In Tapestry not only did we find a smart, stylish new bistro. We also discovered that very rare restaurant which can make entrees even more interesting than appetizers. Kudos!

Tapestry: A California Bistro
Address: 11 College Ave.
Phone: 408/395-2808
Cuisine: New California fusion
Entrees: $13-$20
Hours: Lunch Tue.-Sat. 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Mon.-Sat. 5:30pm-10ish. Closed Sun.
Chef: Gary Messick

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From the November 25-December 2, 1998 issue of Metro.

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