Like Ken Hoffman, we too went to a cozy place in a Campbell strip mall last night to escape the rainstorm after a drenched day in Santa Cruz. Who knew that Campbell has become the sight of a hip, new dining scene? (smile)
We had been to Le Zest about six months ago for a private party when only appetizers were served, yet we liked the French/Japanese/California flavors and vowed to go back for dinner. The chef (Tadayuki Tani) is Japanese and has studied both French and Japanese cooking; his style is not unlike Hiro Sone's at Terra in St. Helena, but at much less expensive prices! Last night there were three prix fixes offered in addition to the regular menu and one was 19.95 for appetizer, soup or salad, entree, and dessert. We both had the 24.95 prix fixe. We had a smoked salmon appetizer and pumpkin soup. My husband had duck breast over mashed potatoes and baby carrots, and I had a fantastic miso glazed sea bass over wild rice with "fans" of zucchini on either side. Dessert was a napoleon/baklava type of caramel thingy that was quite delicious.
We shared a bottle of Chateau St. Michelle Columbia Valley merlot, although our first choice of Avila Pinot Noir was not available.
All in all, great food with beautiful presentation, reasonable prices, and a pleasant un-stripmall-like atmosphere -- and all served with grace during a power failure (the candles made it quite romantic). The link below is to an article about the restuarant from 2000. They do have a website in both English and Japanese at www.le-zest.com, but it seems to be down at least for now.
75 So. San Tomas Aquino Road (at Campbell Avenue)