The very expensive burger

Yesterday evening we walked to the San Jose Marriott to have dinner at Arcadia. This hotel restaurant is headed my Michael Mina, the Egyptian-American celeb chef of Aqua (San Francisco and Las Vegas-Bellagio) fame. We sat at the bar, where you can eat with a good view of the cooks doing their magic.

Decided to order from their bar menu, even though the entire dinner menu was available even if you were seated at the bar. I was toying with the idea of having ahi tuna tartare, but I was really hungry so I copied Bill and ordered the "American Kobe" hamburger, for 16 freakin' dollars (tax & tip not included of course).

What is "American Kobe", you ask? Well, it is beef that comes from cows that are either purely of the famed Japanese Wagyu variety (source of "true Kobe beef") or that are mixes of Wagyu and Black Angus cows. The cows are raised in America, of course, hence the name. However they are raised without any growth hormones and are not fed any animal by-products. The resulting beef is extremely tender, flavorful, and expensive - albeit not as tender, flavorful, or expensive as Kobe beef from Japan.

If you're a beef lover but can't stomach paying upwards of $100 a pound for Japanese Wagyu (more like $300/pound if the beef actually came from Kobe Prefecture), you should try this out. These days both the US and Australia have farms that raise Wagyu cows, and they can do it a lot cheaper than the Japanese can. Of course, the cows don't get their famous massages like the Japanese cows do, so the marbling of the meat is less pronounced in the American and Australian varieties.

Anyway... back to our dinner. The bartender was a mannish woman who was very good at her job. The burgers were really big, covered in melted ultra-sharp cheddar (yum), in burger buns that were perfectly toasted. Fiery red tomato slices, red onion, lettuce, and paper-thin slices of kosher pickles were on the side. Very, very good french fries (sprinkled with parsley) came with the burger. Verdict: excellent burger, and worth every penny. It's just not the kind of thing one would have on a regular basis. I mean let's face it. You can have a perfectly good burger for under $10 at most restaurants. $3 if you go to In n Out. We each had a glass of Columbia Valley Syrah with dinner. Yum! The wine was spicy and woodsy, perfect with the beef and sharp cheddar in my non-wine-expert opinion.

After dinner ($65 for two, including tax & tip) we walked over to another place downtown. I forget the name. It's a restaurant-bar that just opened recently. Appropriately dark and gleaming to be hip (as hip can be in this nightlife blackhole called Silicon Valley). Bill had pinot noir. I had cabernet. *burp* Now I have a slight headache.

PS: In case you're wondering, Arcadia is rated 22 across the board on Zagat.