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June 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

John Bentley's: Both his Redwood City and Woodside restaurants are open for business John Bentley's: Both his Redwood City and Woodside restaurants are open for business (June 02, 2004)

By Jane Knoerle
Almanac Lifestyles Editor

At last. After months of wondering if it would ever happen, John Bentley's restaurant in Redwood City opened its doors Tuesday, June 1.

More good news: His popular Woodside restaurant, also named John Bentley's, will remain in business.

When Mr. Bentley bought the Fabbro property at 2915 El Camino Real in 2002, he hoped to open his new restaurant at that location in January 2003. Didn't happen.

Now, after maneuvering through the maze of building permits and remodeling that took much longer than expected, he has a handsome new facility that will seat 100 downstairs, with a private banquet room upstairs seating 60. There is a state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen and separate small kitchen upstairs.

The long dining room has a sleek contemporary look and bears no resemblance to the late Fabbro's. There are accent walls of teal and Tuscan gold, with dark wood wainscoting and windows opening on the outdoors. The cool bar has seating for 10, plus three "high tops" where diners may perch for a drink or food. Banquettes run along one wall that backs up to the bar.

The exterior is painted a tasteful taupe with white accents. There are new fences and lattice work around the property, plus a large, newly paved parking lot in back.

John Bentley's name is emblazoned in handsome metal letters on the front of the building.

Mr. Bentley will be the chef at his new restaurant, which will have a whole new staff. Tom Stebenin will remain as executive chef at the Woodside bistro, and the entire present crew will remain as will, Mr. Bentley says.

Last week Mr. Bentley held preview benefits for Shelter Network, Family Service Agency of San Mateo County, and Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. The proceeds went to the organizations, with Mr. Bentley picking up the tab for food and service.

On May 26 he served 80 diners wild salmon or filet mignon and a dessert sampler as a benefit for Shelter Network. For the past 10 years, Shelter Network has been helping homeless families transition to permanent homes. The grand opening of its new "First Step for Families" will be held at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, at 325 Villa Terrace in San Mateo.

During June, Bentley's, Redwood City, will be open for dinner six days a week, closed Sunday. Starting in July, lunch will be served Monday through Friday.

The menus at both Bentley restaurants will differ; however, each features the "New American" cuisine that has made the former firehouse at 2991 Woodside Road such a favorite dining venue.

The Redwood City dinner menu features many seasonal foods. Salads and starters include: fresh mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and bay shrimp ($8), spinach and Fuji apple salad with mustard vinaigrette ($7), and watermelon, avocado and deviled Dungeness crab salad ($9).

For entrees, hazelnut-crusted soft shell crabs are paired with sweet potato and corn hash ($22); and wild salmon is served with Swiss chard, tomato, basil and beet essences ($22). A pan-fried pork chop comes with an apple and wild mushroom ragout ($18). Broccolini and creamed cauliflower accompany the grilled marinated duck breast ($20).

Regulars know to save room for Bentley's famous desserts, which are all made in house. A peach tart with cinnamon ice cream ($7) or toffee cake with caramel ice cream ($7) would be a fitting finale to dinner.

There is an extensive wine list with wines by the glass, starting at $6.50.

John Bentley's new restaurant is located at 2915 El Camino Real, Redwood City. The telephone number is 365-7777.

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