David Kinch Brings New Orleans To Los Gatos
For the flair, fun and food of the Big Easy, you no longer have to endure a six-hour flight. Chef David Kinch and partner Andrew Burnham are bringing it to Los Gatos with The Bywater. New Orleans is the city where Kinch, of Manresa fame, “started cooking professionally and where I fell in love with the restaurant industry.”
Named after a neighborhood in New Orleans and down the street from Manresa, The Bywater showcases a different side to the Michelin three-star chef. “I’m opening up a restaurant that I dream about going to after work: casual, fun and open on the later side and a reflection of a place that I love.”
One prominent element to The Bywater is the oyster bar with a rotating choice of fresh clams, crabs and oysters. For drinks, cocktails are on tap. Including classic New Orleans cocktails like the Sazerac and milk punch, the drinks menu is designed with the help of Chad Arnholt and Claire Sprouse from San Francisco’s Tin Roof Drinking Community. Alongside a variety of cocktail options, wine and beer, the drinks menu features a large collection of American whiskeys and some choice French brandies. And they’ve got that classic sign of a true fun-loving New Orleans joint—a frozen daiquiri machine.
Focusing on great quality ingredients that you’d expect from Kinch, the dinner menu boasts the full gamut of New Orleans and French inspired dishes like po’boys, shrimp boils and gumbos. Chef David Morgan, from August in New Orleans and Cyrus in Healdsburg, helped collaborate on the menu and is the chef de cuisine.
Daily specials and seasonal changes, influenced by Southern culinary traditions, will mean something new on every visit. And the classic New Orleans music, including the jazz brunch on the weekends, features Kinch’s own playlist.
Unlike the more formal, five-star Manresa, you don’t get a table here with a reservation. Instead, it’s designed to be a drop-in neighborhood joint, with a lively, informal feel to the 10-seat bar, 30-seat dining room and backyard patio. Eaton Hall Architecture and Robert Van Horne, both from the Bay Area, came together to turn the former sports bar into a celebration of the Crescent City with lively colors and décor like vintage neon signs and shutters.
You can watch Kinch return to his New Orleans roots in a 2015 episode of the PBS show “The Mind of a Chef” for, as he puts it, “a good impression of why I have a great love for the area.”
See and taste that love at this casual spot that isn’t “trying to make a statement,” says Kinch. With the Bywater, “I’m just trying to have some fun.”
Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and a weekend brunch.
532 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos
Kristin Conard is a Santa Cruz based food and travel writer and has published work with Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Departures, Adventure Sports Journal, Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, and more.