It’s not always easy to find quality restaurants in Silicon Valley, but Mountain View has proven time and time and time again that there’s some really excellent places to eat and drink on their main downtown drag. There are not many restaurants that I have loved enough to eat at multiple times out here, but Scratch has sort of become my go-to, not-sure-what-I’m-in-the-mood-for dinner and drinks spot.
The restaurant is sort of massive. Definitely by New York standards and certainly by suburban California standards as well. It’s super clean, nicely designed, upscale, and spacious and has provided me with a constant source of solid sit-down meals.
Scratch has an impressive bar with extensive liquor selection. They offer a number of mixology-type cocktails but I find myself constantly going back to the Sunset Sazerac. It’s a fairly straight-forward cocktail served up and made with Redemption Rye, St. George Absinthe, Peychaud bitters, sugar, and a twist of lemon. It tastes mostly of the rye with a hint of anise flavor from the absinthe and it drinks really easy but the portion always leaves me wanting more.
Another cocktail I’ve often enjoyed at Scratch is the Cucumber Collins. It’s a bright, citrusy drink with a very pulpy texture. It’s exactly the kind of bubbly, refreshing cocktail I could see myself drinkomg outside all day in the sun.
Since I often come to this restaurant as part of a large group, we often end up ordering a lot of dishes to share. Almost everything offered at Scratch is great, but below I’ll tell you about a few of my favorites.
We’ll start with the Pan Roasted Mussels which are served in a Thai influenced coconut milk and red curry broth. The mussels are tasty and all, but this dish, like most pots of mussels, is really all about soaking up that delicious broth with the accompanying toast and table bread if you’re still in need of more spongey carbs. It’s a delicious curry broth, though on the mild side of curries. This isn’t a bad thing though since it allows you to just drink it all up without any repercussions.
Next up is the Bacon Wrapped Chorizo Stuffed Dates which are simple, but make for truly delicious bold individual bites. The bacon is meaty, crispy, salty, and savory and pairs well with the big, sweet, chewy dates. To take this dish to the next level each bacon wrapped date gets stuffed with spicy chorizo sausage and sprinkled with salty crumbles of feta cheese. Come on now, how could you possibly not love these?
The next appetizer, the Cous Cous Crusted Crab Cake was served over roasted red pepper hummus with cucumbers, tomatoes, and spiced cracker bread. Everything about this dish was great, but the texture and flavor of the crispy, cous cous crusted crab cake really made it. There was a ton of fresh, sweet crab meat in the patty and the texture was just wonderful.
The House Ceviche was great too. It came served in two separate bowls, one with salmon and the other I think with mackerel along with a basket of thin-sliced plantain chips. If you’re a fan of ceviches, you’ll probably enjoy the one as well.
Also from the appetizer section menu, don’t miss the Carolina BBQ Pork Belly. They place a massive, meaty, hunk of extraordinarily tender pork belly atop a bed of butter beans and pickled veggies along with two bacon cheddar biscuits. It’s pretty ridiculous. This slab of meat was extremely luscious and I definitely tasted a bit of southern Carolinian influence with bold, mustardy flavor integrated throughout the sauce.
One last dish worth mentioning from the appetizer section is the Meatballs and Grits. It seems like a strange ingredient combo, but just go with it. Served over a bed of creamy grits with peppercorn studded gravy, these crispy and tender meatballs were an absolutely delicious way to start a meal. They were meaty, moist, and quite peppery and once again Scratch successfully tipped their hat to traditional Southern cooking.
Let’s move on to main courses. I absolutely loved the Braised Beef Short Rib which was a little over-the-top in terms of portion if you ask me, not that I’m complaining. The tender, meaty, hunk of beef was served over blackened tomato polenta with wild mushrooms and roasted artichokes, a good ol’ fashioned comforting accompaniment. Between the shred-apart meat, the breadcrumb topping, thick jus, and creamy, complex polenta this dish was a knock out.
And as good as the meat-focused entrées can be, the seafood options are just as incredible. In fact, I think the Pan Seared Diver Scallop dish at Scratch was kind of brilliant. I don’t think I’ve ever had scallops served over a bed of rich, gravy soaked shredded beef before or even heard of it being attempted anywhere else. It doesn’t sounds like something that should work, yet somehow these two are a match made in heaven.
The mild and tender, springy, grilled shellfish paired so well with the bold, meaty ragu below. This crazy combination was elevated even further by a bright green vegetal puree and the crispy potato stick pile which each added more interesting flavors and textures. This was very unique and quite an impressive dish in my opinion.
And finally a selection from the sides. When I ordered this dish, it felt like a bit of a wildcard, but I don’t know why I even worried. Everything at Scratch is awesome and this Creamed Spinach & Leek side was no exception. The heaping pile of dark green spinach and pale yellow leeks had a golden brown breadcrumb topping and was bathing in a rich, cream-based liquid. It was a bit runnier than I expected, but it was also bursting with so much funky, cheesy, garlicky flavor that I didn’t even mind. This is definitely the most impressive usage of spinach and leeks that I’ve ever come across.
So, as you can see Scratch is a pretty amazing and it should be obvious why it’s become my go-to Silicon Valley spot. Whether you’re looking for meat, seafood, or even a nicely made cocktail, Scratch has got you covered. Order anything because they really know what they’re doing back there.
Got another great sit-down restaurant in Silicon Valley that I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.
401 Castro St. Mountain View, CA 94041