A charming cocktail house with California cuisine set by the seasons, The Lexington House lends itself to a boozy evening with friends or date night as you navigate a menu of curious spirits and artfully plated dishes.

Jimmy Marino and Stephen Shelton, former bar managers of Cin Cin Wine Bar and Restaurant, opened The Lexington House to Los Gatos’ delight on Santa Cruz Avenue. The team offers local and small-batch spirits as well as hard-to-find wines and beers. In the kitchen, Chef Philippe Breneman reflects the same philosophy with local, organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Just a single room, the restaurant is intimate but surprisingly well lit and quiet. Brick walls, concrete floors and naked oak tables are the extent of decor. An eye-catching collection of colorful spirits rests on a shelf behind the bar, which resembles a mixologist’s laboratory lined with crystal jars, eye droppers and jiggers of various sizes.

On the drink menu, I found a favorite in Marino’s Apple Doesn’t Fall Far ($14), which mixed barrel-aged sherry, Laird’s Apple Brandy, Shrub & Co apple shrub and Kronan Swedish Punsch. The fall-flavored cocktail offered the right amount of sweet, perfect for slow sips. The staff is well-versed and personable. On the arrival of each course, my server proudly described what was plated and how the kitchen had prepared the dish. I appreciated this small extra step of service and admired the shared pride of the staff.

To start, a stoneware bowl arrived with colorful shades of purple and yellow roasted heirloom cauliflower ($15). Generously poured over the cauliflower was a creamy, slightly tart fondue of Humboldt Fog, a semi-soft goat cheese made by Cypress Grove Chevre in Humboldt County. The cauliflower had an al dente texture, with toasted breadcrumbs providing an additional crunch. As with many of the dishes on the menu, the plate was ample for sharing between two—or an indulgence for one.

Twice-cooked Brussels sprouts get a refreshingly different preparation with white balsamic, pine nuts and aged white cheddar ($14). The roasted Brussels sprouts are sauteed with white balsamic and a splash of orange juice before coming together with the other ingredients. The white balsamic gives a curious tartness that contrasted well with the savory, earthy sprouts.

I also enjoyed the playful dish of duck and parsnips two ways. A sous vide duck breast (cooked to temperature in a water immersion), was served alongside a pastry of duck confit, plated with roasted parsnip and garnished with crispy parsnip chips ($30). The dish was incredibly delicious. The duck confit had a sweet and savory Asian seasoning, with subtle notes of allspice. The duck breast was perfectly cooked, although the skin could have been a little crispier. Bread service of warm, peppercorn popovers were delightful for mopping up the duck jus.

Lexington House
40 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos
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