Our experience at Jardin is actually a part 2 of the evening spent at Picasso’s Tapas and Restaurant in San Jose. Originally, our game-plan had been to set off to find some amazing tapas, explore San Jose while on our quest for spanish flavors and then trek to Santana Row to catch a movie.

Our evening at Picasso’s had turned out to be such a hit, and we took so much time to savor the flavors and tastes, that by the time we headed to Santana Row, we knew we were barely going to make the movie on time. We discussed tactical ploys – I’d park the car while my friend would run inside to grab tickets and secure our spot in the queue …

Something about the post-tapas satiation invites this unexpected contentment and relaxed mood that gets in the way of said tactics. So we rolled in, laughed at the lack of parking spots on a weekend evening, forgot our plans to divide and conquer and just ambled about until we actually found pretty amazing parking.

In fact, we decided we actually could use the 10minutes we had before the movie to stroll around at the shops instead of fighting for the best seats at the theatre. That should have been our first inkling that the movie was not going to happen!

Of course, we had no idea we were about to enter a jewelry store. We did. And we were stuck. Its something about the glitter and sparkle of gems that just transfixes and binds, paralyzing. In 10minutes, we looked at each other, admitted that the movie was not happening, and relaxed at the sale counter.

But this is not a story of our indulgence at the sparkling counter, neither is it a sob story of our bleeding bank balances. So we’ll fast-forward to the next chapter, post-jewelry purchase, as we sat outside next to the life-size chess board at the open air promenade, hurriedly trying on our new acquisitions in glee.

Santana Row is rather amazing. Imagine a restaurant and shop lined street, mostly dedicated to pedestrian traffic, with the center island a large floating paradise with mini gardens, deck furniture, life-size chess boards, normal sized chess tables, frozen yogurt stands, and so much more. The street remains alive late into the night, with plenty of options for all types of late-night hangout options – tea shops and lounges, restaurants and dessert options and just tons of people watching potential.

Jardin is the restaurant at the furthest end of the strip. It’s a rather unique concept of open air dining: outdoor sofas, dining tables, and then bar stools against higher round tables at the far end near the bar. We have to come back for dinner, we thought, and walked past clumps of happy and relaxed diners, reveling more in the open-air vibe and ambiance rather than from the dining experience.

By the time we entered, the restaurant had maybe another half hour before closing, so we were rushed to an open spot by the bar and gently nudged to make up our minds before the kitchen closes. We quit gazing around for a little bit, focused on the fairly extensive fusion-esque menu and tried to decide what we wanted to indulge in, still fairly full and content from our tapas dinner earlier.

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Difficult decision made, we relaxed and hung out, catching up. Soon it became evident that it was way more fun to people-watch and make up stories about the diners around us. A small brawl seemed to break out not too far from where we were sitting, and we gazed on, intrigued about whether the brawl would spread enough to bring any of the heat lamps into jeopardy. Turned out to be a very civil brawl with a few mumbled raised voices and glares, but little less. Disappointing.

One of the diners seemed to effortless blend in with the service staff … did she work here, or was she a guest, or maybe both? The fluid transformation had us intrigued for a little bit – turned out she was just a very very friendly waitstaff.

For a while, I tried to capture the fake bowls of fire that adorned the back bar wall. Smart phone cameras have come a really long way, for sure, but I am not sure they are ready to handle shots of fake fire at night yet.

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Our drinks and dessert arrived pretty quickly. I am recalling a brief confusion – our drinks made it out, but our dessert had gotten lost. A couple of nods and questioning looks later, the churros made its way to our table. Thankfully, since it turned out to be pretty good – a crusty sweet exterior encasing an ooey gooey creamy center. The pool of spicy chocolate sauce complemented the sweet fried-dough texture of the churros just perfectly. What better dessert to share than sweet, crispy, creamy, chocolate-y dippity delights?

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They even made me this yummy virgin pineapple drink in a tall glass. A lovely tropical touch, perfect with the heat-lamp-y, outdoor-dining ambiance.

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Jardin was unplanned. A delight nonetheless, and complemented the evening just perfectly, helping us cap off a relaxing and low-key night just so.

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