Willow Glen is a neighborhood that borders downtown San Jose and oozes with charm. The main drag, Lincoln Avenue, is lined with restaurants, cafés, and shops. Look for the bright lime green door and you've found Braise.
Less than a year old, Braise is a quintessential "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant: delightful and small enough to feel like you've found a treasure others might not know about. The inside is so pleasing to the eye that I'm not giving it away with photos—I'll save it for you to encounter in person: the paint colors, the wall décor, the floor plan, the ambience.
Owner Josh hosted me, my husband, and our friends for a double date dinner last Saturday to introduce us to his latest venture (he owns another local restaurant as well as a bar). I asked him to show off his best dishes, and he delivered.
Josh started us off with a round of hand crafted cocktails. These meticulously mixed libations are like works of art in a glass, which makes me sip very slowly. Here is a photograph of Braise's sophisticated yet simple take on a piña colada: pure, chilled, and most importantly, not too sweet. Yes please!
Chef AJ delivers some impressive cuisine. My favorite dishes were:
- Cheddar Beignets with orange blossom honey.
- Meatballs — jalapeño, herb, and lime flavored in a delicious sauce.
- Cucumber & English Pea Salad — the dressing has puréed peas and is divine.
- Citrus Curry Chicken — I can't stand chicken skin, but this skin is perfectly crispy and I shocked myself by gobbling it right up.
- California Halibut — a scrumptious mix of flavors including squash, yogurt, and homemade pickles.
This is a small plates restaurant, so be ready to share. The problem with small plate restaurants is that the bill can add up quickly and the portions can be small. I'm married to a strong man who is a calorie burning machine. When ordering, he'll often ask: "Which dish will give me the biggest portion?" If you're hungry and want to get bang-for-your-buck at Braise, I would order:
- A beer — $8. They have an interesting selection on tap.
- Cucumber & English Pea Salad — $10
- Citrus Curry Chicken — $22. This main dish was the largest portion I experienced.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to try dessert because the children were having a hard time at home and we had to cut our evening a bit short (real life). I will be returning to the lime green door in Willow Glen. Thank you, Josh, for a great evening—I like what you've created.