music in the park san jose

.Brothers Debut Dar Restaurant and Bar in Los Gatos

music in the park san jose

According to brothers Milad and Esam Shaqir, Dar means “house of” or “family of,” and symbolizes the essence of home, warmth and hospitality. These qualities were on display May 1 at the grand opening for their restaurant of that name.

Atop the Soda Works Plaza at 11 College Ave., nearly 250 people—local residents, foodies, town officials and business owners—filled the patio. The weather was hospitable, the atmosphere further brightened by flowers that arrived as the party kicked off. The mood was festive, with live music by Gypsy Tribe. Alongside other libations, an open bar served mixed drinks made with High Noon Whiskey. Beverage companies sent representatives to pour wines from around the world, including Banshee Brut sparkling wine from Sonoma.

People kept coming, and very few left. They sampled lamb meatballs, grilled prawns and eggplant crostini, olives wrapped with anchovies and caprese skewers—brought out by the trayful and quickly consumed. Chef Esam looked relaxed and thrilled at the turnout, telling me that everything was gelling at the restaurant, which opened in March. “We have the right team, good staffing levels and we are very much in sync with our customers,” he said. “It feels like we are really getting there.”

The Shaqir brothers were born and raised in the Middle East before immigrating to the United States in 1994, where they lived briefly on the East Coast before coming to California. Both have ties to the community, having worked at Bella Saratoga (in Saratoga), where they have another restaurant called Tamra Mediterranean Grill—named for the town near Nazareth where their mother sourced her spices.

It is those spices that infuse the food and atmosphere here with a Mediterranean warmth and feeling of relaxation. It’s obvious that the two have spent their entire lives refining their craft. As he welcomed the stream of guests to what had become a porch party, Milad Shaqir echoed his brother’s sentiments, saying they’re making adjustments to align with community preferences. “Everything is coming together, and I feel we are definitely getting really close to where we want to be in terms of execution,” he said. “The reception from the community has been so great.”

Chef Esam later explained they are adding some new dinner items, among them a boneless chicken dish served over garbanzo beans, butternut squash and carrots, and two new pasta dishes, which use fresh tagliatelle from a Santa Cruz provider. A Mediterranean pasta dish will star on the lunch menu. It’s made with eggplant, tomato, onion and peppers, and is topped with feta. Another, a riff on ragù, is made with slow-simmered beef and veal, whole-canned tomatoes and their spices.

“When I’m happy, I get the most creative,” Esam says. He notes that they always have branzino, sea bream and salmon (lunch only) on the menu, and the pomegranate lamb shank is one of their most popular dishes. “We also have a new appetizer of lamb meatballs,” he added. A sized-down version of this was being consumed at the open house. “These are two large meatballs—very substantial,” he continued. “I feel that you eat first with your eyes.”

To demonstrate, he stepped behind the bar and shook up a signature Dar Garden Martini, made with basil, cucumber and ginger, pouring the light-green liquid into a cocktail glass. “You must try this sometime,” he said—as it went to a table of diners outside, who were enjoying the sunny afternoon.


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