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Ahead in the Clouds

[whitespace] Lindsey's at the Summit
Christopher Gardner

Summit Greeting: Lindsey Ryan, the culinary force behind the new restaurant at the Summit, provides a welcome oasis for commuters and locals.

Lindsey's at the Summit serves up flavor pizazz and a long-overdue excuse to escape the commute at the crest of Highway 17

By Christina Waters

FOR THOSE USED TO driving to and fro over "the hill"--as we euphemistically describe a roadway so treacherous it could be a proving ground for the Grand Prix--it will come as quite a shock to discover Lindsey's. Now there is not only a spectacular view from this dining room at the Highway 17 summit, but destination food to match--all the handiwork of culinary artist Lindsey Ryan, whose great-great-grandfather founded the nearby mountain community of Glenwood.

Lindsey's at the Summit is many things to many people. It's a place to fuel up on espresso and pastries before continuing on to work. Lunches of custom sandwiches and big-shouldered pastas help locals in need of commute-free real food. The deviled eggs are classic and creamy, and a pasta salad sampled last week exploded with the flavors of a superior vinaigrette, ripe tomatoes and heady fresh basil. And as far as I'm concerned after last week's dinner, Lindsey's is also a competitive dinner house graced with a listing of local wines, fine bread, astonishing salads and brasserie entrees given sassy California spin.

"What an incredible view," Max gasped as we took our seats at the back window. From here we could watch the mists rise up from the forests and San Lorenzo Valley far below, and catch glimmers of the ocean even farther in the distance. The back deck is going to be sensational this summer, I thought, after ordering myself a glass of P&M Staiger Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 ($5) to go with Max's Bear Creek Vineyard Petite Sirah ($5). After a quick toast to the fact that we weren't stuck in rush-hour traffic, we proceeded to work our way through a basket of excellent francese.

Nice pinspots, Max observed, admiring the minimalist decor that showcases the dining room's stunning views. A room with a view--and also some terrific cooking, as we quickly found out when our appetizer of stuffed roasted peppers arrived ($7.25). "I'd come back just for this dish," Max admitted, halfway into a goat cheese-stuffed ancho chile that had an earthy, almost smoky deliciousness. The chiles--which included a very spicy jalapeño, as well as a mild anaheim--were liberally napped with a high-energy tomatillo salsa squiggled with red bell pepper coulis, and even the garnish of lettuces was bold with potent vinaigrette. It's an inspired dish, and one that harks back to Ryan's earlier stint as co-owner of Los Gatos' Cafe Trio. "This is a hit," Max reiterated. He likes to reiterate.

Next came my warm spinach salad, a gargantuan creation served on a foot-wide platter and piled high with baby spinach laced with dobs of fresh goat cheese, pungent kalamata olives, loads of bacon and sweet sauteed shallots ($7). It was big enough to feed two very hungry adults as an entree--but as an appetizer it was overwhelming. So good that you want to savor every bite, it makes you feel guilty for sending so much back to the kitchen. At a third the size it would be salad perfection.

xMax's house salad was similarly oversized. The mixed young lettuces were exquisite--but it was simply way too much food to consider, given the entrees and dessert yet to come.

Two handsome plates arrived with a second glass of the richly rounded cabernet: my tender braised lamb shank, smothered with roasted fennel, red onions and crisp asparagus on a throne of world-class mashed potatoes; and Max's grilled swordfish astride a mossy landscape of French lentil ragout heightened with cilantro, ginger and chile butter ($16.50 each). Both dishes were wonderful, especially the moist lamb shank, whose potatoes seemed to get better with each bite. And yes, there was plenty to take home.

Ironically, only the very attractively presented desserts fell short of the mark, ironic because Ryan was pastry chef at Cafe Trio. A strawberry cheesecake, crisscrossed with fresh strawberry puree, was airy and lacked that desired creamy density ($4.50). Jack's free-form apple tart came with a remarkable caramel sauce, fine apples but undercooked puff pastry ($5.50). The view continued to enchant us. And probably will every time we visit Lindsey's.

Lindsey's at the Summit
Address: 23123 Highway 17, Los Gatos (south of Summit Road overpass)
Phone: 408/353-5679
Cuisine: American classics
Hours: Lunch Tue.-Fri. 11am-2:30pm; dinner 5-9:30pm (till 10pm Fri.-Sat.) Sun. 8am-2:30pm brunch, 5-9pm dinner
Price: Entrees $13.50-$21
Personnel: Jeff Heicksen/Lindsey Ryan

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From the June 11-17, 1998 issue of Metro.

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