A Wine Dinner, Chinatown And A Buffet

Stage Restaurant chef Ron de Guzman and his team are cooking up an innovative Ovation wine dinner May 20 | Jo McGarry photo

If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir and enjoy the many nuances the flavors of this versatile wine bring to food, you might want to mark your calendar for Stage Restaurant’s Ovation wine dinner May 20, where dinner highlights some of the foods best matched with the noble grape.

Wine dinners can be hitor-miss affairs depending on the type of cuisine and the capabilities of the chef, but Stage’s culinary team, led by Ron De Guzman, has created a menu that should appeal to any foodie looking to enjoy an evening of well-crafted dishes, quality wines and a few whimsical touches.

It’s hard to resist an appetizer that elevates the humble grilled cheese sandwich to something of a gourmet amuse bouche, as is the case of a grilled cheese sandwich with apple-wood-smoked bacon, Gruyere cheese and a Pinot reduction.

Salmon long has been hailed a near-perfect pairing with Pinot Noir, and New Zealand salmon is next on the Stage menu. Smoked kurobuta pork loin with crusted goat cheese follows, and a third entrée of prime beef and braised short ribs is paired with Pinot Noir from Carneros.

If you can, save space for a Vietnamese coffee ice cream milkshake and mini maple and cardamom spiced doughnuts drizzled with a caramel crème sauce. Seatings for the Stage wine dinner are at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., and the cost is just $45 without wines, $75 with pairings. Call 237-5429 for reservations …

The reinvention of Chinatown can be seen most clearly as you walk along Bethel Street and realize that, from top to bottom, there are excellent restaurants and bars on almost every corner. As the formerly sleazy streets morph into clean, artsy courtyards and walkways, there is a host of designer stores, trendy restaurants and bars opening up, each enjoying the unique architecture this historic part of the city offers. Brasserie Du Vin can be credited with lighting the culinary spark on Bethel Street years ago, and it has been joined in recent years by Soul De Cuba, offering a menu of classic and contemporary Cuban dishes, and J.J. Dolan’s, where thin-crust pizza, locally sourced ingredients and freshly crafted beers are on the menu day and night.

Toward the top of Bethel, Rakuen Lounge is coming into its own, offering a menu of contemporary sushi, sake and cocktails, and the restaurant has a growing following impressed by its lengthy happy hours. With sake and sushi on special between the hours of 3:30 and 7 p.m., and nightly from 9:30 to midnight, Rakuen is becoming established as one of Chinatown’s must-try pau hana and late-night spots …

With rising food costs and the high price of restaurant utilities, some smaller restaurants are forced to increase menu prices. So it makes it more of a surprise to see that longtime Yakiniku favorite, Camellia Buffet, has slashed lunch and dinner prices. The all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant on McCully Street is offering lunch for $12.95 and dinner for just $22.95 for a limited time only. Call 951-0511 for details of this hard-to-beat special.

Happy eating!