Starting from Scratch in Mountain View

The location on downtown Mountain View's Castro Street (most recently home to uWink) seems cursed, but the team behind recently opened Scratch, which intends to unite comfort food and fine dining, has what it takes to make the place succeed. "Scratch's kitchen frankly blows away those of all the (three) other large dining venues on Castro Street," says eatzalot. The owners are no restaurant newbies, with the popular Palo Alto Creamery, Reposado, and Gravity Wine Bar in Palo Alto under their belts.

Scratch definitely outclasses the other restaurants on Castro, with big panes of glass and counter seating right by the open kitchen, with a display of cold shellfish at the end, including a raw bar.

Ahi tuna niçoise is on the appetizer menu, but it makes "a glorious light meal," says eatzalot. "It's the kind of dish many modern fine-dining restaurants offer, but this was not just well executed, it had tiny hard-cooked egg halves (looked like quail eggs) and pitted dark cured olive pieces à la Kalamata and a light lemony dressing. Thoughtfully and tastefully put together, typical of dishes I've tried there."

Ultratender short ribs bourguignon were another standout, plated on a base of smooth parsnip purée with sweet pearl onions and bits of portobello mushrooms and bacon. There are also steamed mussels in a tasty broth with perfectly cooked, thick-cut fries.

Although the circular bar looks appealing, the handles for the beer tap fixtures aren't installed yet, and surprisingly enough for a place that opened officially on New Year's Eve, there's no cocktail menu yet.

Scratch will eventually be open seven days a week, including lunch; the pizzas should be a good bet for a less pricey meal.

Scratch [Peninsula]
401 Castro Street, Mountain View

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