The Biz Beat: Braise has the wildest PB&J in San Jose
Braise chef de cuisine Michelle Harrouff said Braise partner and chef Anthony Jimenez gives her the freedom to create in the kitchen. Photo by Robert Eliason.

    The AJ’s Original PB&J at Braise is the lunch treat you have been looking for all your life. You just never knew it until now. It might be the most decadent and delicious sandwich ever, with fresh baked bread, house made nut butter, jelly and roasted bone marrow.

    It’s the creation of Braise partner and chef Anthony Jimenez, who said the unusual sandwich is one of his best sellers.

    “It was originally made with foie gras,” he told San José Spotlight. “When they banned that, we thought about what would be the next best thing. We stumbled on bone marrow and now it has become its own thing. The jam or jelly will always be rotating, with different nut butters as well.”

    With variations like strawberry and pineapple jellies and pine nut and almond butters, the dish varies with the seasons and Jimenez’s mood. As with all the menu choices at the Willow Glen bistro, the focus is on fresh, local ingredients used with superb insight into their possibilities.

    Braise is located at 1185 Lincoln Ave. in San Jose. Photo by Robert Eliason.

    Jimenez traces his interest in cooking back to his childhood, when he helped in the kitchen as one of his regular family chores. He spent five years working in kitchens and learning the business before attending the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, now known as the French Culinary Institute.

    “Cooking is just something I felt connected to,” he said. “But I also had the classic beginnings of bussing tables and washing dishes. I made sandwiches at Togo’s before I got a job at 16, bussing at a pizza place where the cook let me come back and help him make them. So, I got good hands-on experience.”

    After graduating from culinary school, Jimenez worked restaurants like Parcel 104 in Santa Clara and the Santa Clara Marriott. He spent five years at The Table in Willow Glen before opening Braise with co-owner Josh Anoka in August 2017.

    “I put in my notice (at The Table), but I was not in hurry to find something else,” Jimenez said. “I felt like I needed a reset. When we opened Braise, I really wanted to create simple food with the flavors I grew up with. I grew up in a Hispanic household, and I wanted to intertwine the spices and techniques with things I have learned along the way.”

    The restaurant that Jimenez envisioned, which was centered around a vegetarian-based menu, is quite different than the current incarnation.

    “The main dishes were vegetarian with side dishes as meat options,” he said. “We got a little bit of pushback—guests maybe weren’t ready or didn’t understand what we were trying to do. So we went back to basics.”

    A perfect example is the restaurant’s buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, made with boneless thigh meat, honey, house-made pickles and Braise hot sauce. Creating the sandwich is a three-day process, beginning with brining the chicken, soaking it in buttermilk, then coating it in flour and letting it rest for a day.

    “We kind of let it create its own batter that way before we fry it,” Jimenez said. “We make a hot sauce by soaking habaneros and serranos (peppers) in vinegar to make an infusion and we bake traditional buttermilk biscuits. Real simple southern cooking.”

    Vegetarian options still weigh in with dishes like butternut squash chowder, made with root vegetables and toasted pepitas; beets by Braise with ash-roasted beets, al pastor pineapple, avocado, salsa macha and creme fraiche; and pan-roasted cauliflower, with tahini vinaigrette, mint and za’atar.

    Pan-Roasted Cauliflower. Photo by Robert Eliason.
    Vegetarian options include pan-roasted cauliflower, with tahini vinaigrette, mint and za’atar. Photo by Robert Eliason.

    With a small kitchen, there are just a handful of main dishes, but they are remarkably diverse. Whole roasted dorade, served with browned butter and lemon, shares space on the menu with duck legs confit in citrus curry and red wine braised short ribs with smoked fingerling potatoes.

    Among her other contributions to Braise, chef de cuisine Michelle Harrouff designs the signature cheese boards which might pair Lamb Chopper aged sheep’s milk, Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel, Quadrello di Bufala and Toma with candied quince, house-made pickles, salted figs and golden raisins rehydrated in Madera wine.

    Four Cheese Board. Photo by Robert Eliason.
    Chef de cuisine Michelle Harrouff designs the signature cheese boards at Braise. Photo by Robert Eliason.

    Harrouff says Jimenez gives her the opportunity to learn while still having the freedom to create.

    “He’s a really good sounding board,” she told San José Spotlight. “He can suggest ways of making a dish better and he will just tweak it without completely changing the whole thing or shooting your idea down.”

    Jimenez said he’s still learning new things about the job of running a restaurant on a daily basis.

    “It is like how I started cooking,” he said. “I started to learn the basics, I got pretty proficient at it, and then I became a chef. I learned those ropes. But now, as an owner, there’s a whole new set of rules that I have to learn and it’s challenging. I like the challenge.”

    Contact Robert Eliason at [email protected]

    Editor’s Note: The Biz Beat is a series highlighting local small businesses and restaurants in Silicon Valley. Know a business you’d like to see featured? Let us know at [email protected]

    Braise Willow Glen

    Located at 1185 Lincoln Ave. in San Jose

    (408) 294-2919





    • Monday 5-9 p.m.
    • Closed Tuesdays
    • Wednesday 3-9 p.m.
    • Thursday 3-9 p.m.
    • Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 3-10 p.m.
    • Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 3-10 p.m.
    • Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 3-7:30 p.m.
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