Forbes Mill bar remodel lets customers drink in street view

Forbes Mill bar remodel lets customers drink in street view

Forbes Mill Steakhouse co-owner Dean DeVincenzi was inspired to remodel the restaurant’s bar after a pair of potential customers gave it a snub.

“One night when I was standing at the bar, I saw two well-dressed women walk in, look around and walk right back out the door,” DeVincenzi says. “The way the bar was physically separated from the tables along the window wasn’t inviting.”

While the bar’s renovation had been in the planning stages for a long time, DeVincenzi says he and his brother Darin were reluctant to undergo such a major interruption in service, accompanied by the general chaos of a remodel. Then came the pandemic and its default outdoor dining, which made indoor renovations easier.

The DeVincenzi brothers opened Forbes Mill in downtown Los Gatos in 2003 in partnership with Ron Garald, with whom they worked previously at Marie Callender’s. In addition to upscale steakhouse, they’ve owned Double D’s sports bar in Los Gatos for 27 years.

Forbes Mill has a distinctive and elegant vibe, suited for business meetings, serious dates, anniversaries and significant celebrations.  “We have always maintained a no-TV policy here,” says DeVincenzi. “When you are sitting having a drink with your date at a high-end restaurant like this, the last thing you want is for them to be distracted by a screen.”

While the full remodel at Forbes Mill was set to be completed by the end of January, the newly refinished Ceasarstone quartz bar, helmed by longtime bartender Zach Piellusch, was put in place earlier. Underfoot is the handsome new flooring made of wide plank white oak. Overhead, the elegant lighting casts a warm glow.

Guests can now relax at one of five custom-made Brazilian quartzite tables, with seating on the custom-upholstered suede banquette nestled against the window wall. The new tables are the same height as the bar, so the entire room feels interconnected.

The new custom host stand is laminated in natural American walnut burl for a welcoming feel, setting the stage for an even more memorable experience.

DeVincenzi says one of the qualities that keeps Forbes Mill a popular spot for special occasions is the consistency of the food. He recently went through all the recipes and “tuned them up,” careful not to remove any serious favorites.  “If we took creamed spinach off the menu, people would revolt!”

Over the last few years, Forbes Mill has gone beyond steak. While initially put on the menu for the ladies, the excellent seafood dishes, executed by Executive Chef Brian Weselby, have made Forbes Mill a seafood lovers destination. With experience at Michelin-starred restaurants in England and France, Weselby was executive chef at Lion and Compass in Sunnyvale and Le Mouton Noir in Saratoga in the early days of Silicon Valley.

Perhaps that explains why Forbes Mill is one of the few places you can still find classics like oysters Rockefeller, steak tips with cognac peppercorn, blackened scampi and macadamia-encrusted Alaskan halibut with English pea risotto.

With the demise of The Palms, Forbes Mill is even more attractive to those looking for creative seafood preparations. The current prix fixe menu ($95) offers a choice of lobster vol au vent or cauliflower soup with parmesan twist, followed by a bison New York steak with mashed Yukons and bok choy, and a Corvina sea bass with purple yams and mandarin beurre blanc. Optional wine pairings are $20 and include a 2-ounce pour of 2020 Coterie cabernet with the bison and 2022 Massican “Annie” white blend with the sea bass.

Come in for a drink — perhaps an Exotic Dancer, made with Hennessy VS cognac, pomegranate liqueur, fresh lemon and Carpano sweet vermouth — and see if you can resist the seafood risotto, or the center-cut filet with béarnaise.

Forbes Mill Steakhouse is open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday at 206 N. Santa Cruz Ave. in Los Gatos. Reservations are required to