Chef-restaurateur Jim Stump is back in Los Gatos after a seven-year absence.
Of course, he didn’t go far — he’s been operating his popular restaurants The Table and Forthright in San Jose and Campbell, respectively, and will soon open Lamella Tavern. But the new venture brings him back to his old stamping grounds, where in 1992 he became executive chef of the Los Gatos Brewing Co.
Now he and wife Angelique Shepherd have opened Shepherd & Sims, a contemporary restaurant with a design that she promised at the onset would “pay homage to the lush landscape and rich history of Los Gatos.”
We stopped by to check out the food and the scene.
THE LOOK: Who knew the footprint of this former Viva space was so large? A major makeover has transformed this neighborhood Los Gatos Boulevard restaurant into a sleek, airy hangout with high ceilings, natural woods and cool geometric elements that define the bar and restaurant spaces. Evocative wallpaper brings the beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains inside. In the expanded alfresco area, whimsical murals pay tribute to los gatos, the cats, and the region’s orchard past.
THE FOOD: It’s everything that South Bay diners have come to expect from a Stump restaurant: Creativity, seasonality, high-quality ingredients. Chef de cuisine Robert de la Mora, formerly at the helm at Forthright, delivered a late summer menu packed with stone fruit, corn and tomatoes, and now is pivoting to autumn. Look for fall ingredients to enhance the Bone-In Pork Chop “Al Pastor” ($29) and Air-Dried 38 North Duck, a duo of breast and crispy duck croquettes ($34). Already the Seasonal Fruit Crostata has transitioned to apple, pear and quince ($9).
Staying on the menu will be a version of the Olive Oil-Poached Spanish Octopus ($24) and the bacon-wrapped Pate de Campagne ($14), made in-house and served with two mustards, cornichons, pickled red onion and slices of rustic bread.
THE SIPS: Signature cocktails ($13) created by bar manager Kyle Stump include a Boogie Nights daiquiri (Probitas rum, banana, quince, vanilla bean, lime) and an homage to the Harvey Wallbanger called Rocket Man (Rocket vodka, Galliano, orange, bitters and seasonal fruit). The bar also makes a non-alcoholic Orgeat Fizz and Nojito ($5 each). You’ll find eight craft brews plus Devil’s Canyon root beer on tap and a long list of California and European wines by the bottle or glass.
DON’T MISS: The Roasted Cauliflower ($20), bathed in a rich red curry sauce and topped with golden raisin relish, Thai basil, mint and fried shallots and garlic. Seriously good. Buy one for the table to share.
GOOD TO KNOW: More sound modifications are coming soon to achieve the perfect restaurant “buzz.”
PERFECT FOR … those who want a fresh new dining experience minus the parking hassles of downtown Los Gatos.
DETAILS: Open Wednesday-Sunday, with happy hour starting in the lounge at 2 p.m. The dining room opens at 5 p.m. Cornerstone of Los Gatos, 15970 Los Gatos Blvd.; www.sandslosgatos.com
Read More: A first look at Jim Stump’s new restaurant, Shepherd & Sims