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Great Escape: Café Gibraltar

The El Granada restaurant serves up some of the best Mediterranean cuisine around.

This week, enjoy creative dishes in a warm and friendly setting at Café Gibraltar in El Granada as an escape to another part of the world.

Serving authentic Mediterranean cuisine since 1998, Cafe Gibraltar offers an award-winning menu served in a unique setting with a spectacular ocean view. With the Coast’s Mediterranean maritime climate, nothing could feel more authentically Mediterranean than enjoying a meal at this quaint roadside restaurant by the sea.

Cafe Gibraltar serves only organic free-range meat and fowl, organic produce and flour, and fresh seafood. Owner and chef Jose Luis Ugalde is known for sourcing his ingredients as locally as possible, using such local producers as pasture-raised chicken and turkeys in Pescadero by Shae-Lynn and Kevin Watt.

The 2010 Zagat Guide awarded Cafe Gibraltar 27 points for food, which is the highest rating for any restaurant on the San Mateo County Coast. It has also listed Cafe Gibraltar in the "top food" category in the guide.

Fodor's has also recently ranked Cafe Gibraltar as the best restaurant on the San Mateo County coast.

The restaurant is rated a Bib Gourmand "Reviewers' Favorite" in the Michelin Guide for the third year in a row and is among the highest- rated Bay Area restaurants on both Yelp and OpenTable.

Cafe Gibraltar was also selected by Wine Enthusiast Magazine to receive its Award of Distinction two years in a row. This award recognizes Cafe Gibraltar as one of the nation's most wine-friendly restaurants.

Diners have a choice of sitting at tables or sans shoes around a low table in a pillow- and fabric-swathed nook. This setting is perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and sharing appetizers such as American wild shrimp sautéed with a savory tomato chutney, garlic and basil, or lightly floured calamari sautéed with garlic, lemon, chili, cinnamon and olive oil. The Mezza Platter features Tyrosalata, hummus, tzatziki, savory tomato jam, nazuktan, ensaladilla de piquillos, roasted garlic cloves and house marinated olives. Flatbread accompanies the selection.

Vegan options are often available, including vegan soups and salads. Entrees are exotic and bountiful with fresh vegetables, seafood and spices. Highlights include an eggplant, chickpea, tomato, roasted seasonal baby vegetable and garlic mélange, seasoned with cumin seed, mustard seed and pomegranate syrup, baked in a tagine in the wood oven and served with a side of house rolled couscous or lamb shoulder meat slow braised with artichoke hearts, pearl onions, garlic, house cured olives and baby spring vegetables in a tomato sofregit and natural jus. The dish is finished in the wood oven atop braised potatoes.

Desserts include housemade brioche and beignets, traditional Spanish churros and a Greek Float, featuring housemade ouzo (an anise-flavored aperitif) gelato topped with a warm fig-currant compote and a splash of ouzo.

Indeed, Jose Luis Ugalde has created a menu featuring authentic Mediterranean cuisine with dishes from Italy, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and France as well. Menu items with an Ugalde notation are of Jose Luis’ own creation and are generally Basque-inspired as part of his heritage.

Live music, featuring classical and flamenco guitar by Richard Patterson, is presented every Wednesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. On Thursdays, a jazz trio plays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., while on select Sundays patrons can enjoy Flamenco guitar by Stevan Pasero from 6 to 8 p.m.

Café Gibraltar’s prix-fixe menu offers a choice of the fish of the day and one of the two vegetarian entrees. Every week Jose Luis will choose one of the meat dishes from the menu to be featured as the third item.

These special menus are available for parties of up to six people at $25 per person for a three-course meal and are served from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

CAFE GIBRALTAR is located at 425 Avenue Alhambra in El Granada. For more information, call 650-560-9039.

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Cid August 25, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Mmmmm! The Mezza Platter. You won't go wanting - but be careful, after this mighty appetizer, you may not have room for dinner!

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