My husband and I went out last night for a quick dinner. There is a new restaurant in town that just opened up called 88 Keys Cafe, and lucky for us it is right in our neighborhood! We drive past it everyday and had in fact had stopped by once before, but they were not yet opened. Hearing that it is now open, we decided to check it out.
The restaurant was wonderful! We were both pleasantly surprised. The ambiance is that of a jazz club from times past; soft lighting, great art work from Sheri Chakamian – one of our local artist, large bar, and live music.We were warmly greeted and asked if we would prefer to sit closer to the music or farther away. We choose to sit at the opposite end of the music. We were very happy with our spot, it was the quieter end of the restaurant, but we visually had a great view of the musicians and the liveliness of those sitting at the bar. We were also able to hear the music just fine. I was thinking that had we choose to sit closer, conversation might have been a challenge.
We went to dinner early in the evening, as this was dinner out, not a night out – still work to be done at home. Always. The restaurant was busy, but was filling up more as our evening progressed. Our waitress was lovely and very attentive all night.
While I am not much of a cocktail drinker, I loved the names and descriptions of their specialty drinks. What’s not to love about a drink called the Journalist? Their description of the Journalist reads, “The drink takes us back to 1930, the year of its invention. It is essentially a perfect martini with a dash of orange curacuo and lemon juice.” My husband ordered the Palmetto Cocktail, “Made with Cruzon Single Barrel Rum, this drink is based on the same premise as the Martini and the Manhattan.” He very much enjoyed his Palmetto. I love that they have included a few local wines on their wine list as well.
The menu was filled with many interesting looking items. It was hard to choose. A nice touch was that they brought us a bowl of spreadable cheese, marinated olives, and small bread slices to savor while we contemplated the many dinner selections. We eventually decided on four appetizers to share. We ordered the Poached Pear Salad, Fried Green Tomato, Thai Scampi, and the Sliders. An eclectic mix of food, but all so delicious!
The Fried Green Tomato was a green heirloom tomato lightly battered and fried served atop a bed of arugula topped with a lemon vinaigrette. There was a beautiful drizzle of basil and pomegranate balsamic reduction and topped with pomegranate seeds and a tomato “chip”. The presentation of each dish was impeccable.
The poached pear salad was very filling as there was half of a poached pear included. The greens were tasty, although It could have used a bit more dressing. The berries and candied pistachios were a nice touch! Again, beautiful presentation!
The sliders were to die for delicious! They came on a plate of three, but one got gobbled up before I thought to take a picture. The grass fed beef was cooked rare and topped with a nice piece of sharp cheddar, crispy fried shallots, and a touch of greens. The sweet rolls were lightly toasted. This was actually just the right size bite for me; however, if there were more, I would have devoured them!
By the time I tried the Thai scampi, I was getting quite full. Remember, these four appetizers were being split between two of us. There was plenty of food! The scampi had nice size shrimp cooked perfectly and sitting in a coconut peanut sauce. There was also a nice combination of mangos, peppers, and roasted peanuts added to the sauce. The taste combinations were delightful!We did not have dessert. I am intrigued however by the raspberry habanero creme brulee that they have on the menu. I will need to try that another time.
I will definitely be visiting this restaurant again soon! With it in the neighborhood, the welcoming bar, nightly live music,and happy hour from 5 – 6 pm, I can see this becoming the “Cheers” of West Morgan Hill.
88 Keys Cafe is located in the Harvest Plaza at the corner of Dunne Ave. and Murphy. If you are local be sure to check it our; you will not be disappointed.