Finally convinced the hypercritical husband to try the Knife & Fork for dinner. Wow! Dreamy pork tenderloin, perfect steaks, authentic rack of lamb, right here on San Benito Street. If you like the northern Mediterranean flare for fresh, interesting combinations of flavor and texture, you’ll love this menu of pastas, fish, poultry and meats.

On a Friday, round 5:30 pm we found the restaurant quiet, warmed with live acoustic guitar and gentle ballads. Soon after, the tables filled with diners who clearly made a special trip for the ambience, menu variety, and tasty food. Since we had planned to meet up with old friends the next night, we convinced them to travel from San Jose to join us at the Knife & Fork. No ordinary diners, our Greek American friends managed white tablecloth restaurants, bars, and banquet operations for decades in Silicon Valley. They know food, restaurants, and service.

I cringed when our Greek compadre ordered the rack of lamb, a staple and specialty in Greek cuisine. First he noted the pleasing presentation then stopped chatting while he finished every morsel on the bones. Whew! Mrs. ordered the special of artichoke-filled ravioli with shrimp. Also an expert, she approved. My husband and I enjoyed the prime rib and pork tenderloin, delicious under a vegetable purée of red pepper and basil, a mild and colorful couli. Sheila’s famous lemon cream cake disappeared under four forks.

Plan to start your meal with garlic bread–delicate slices with irresistible flavors of tomato and oregano (this is no pizza joint). The clam chowder and salads got good reviews too. We were impressed with the abundant blue cheese crumbles on the spring mix salads.

So, how does this magic happen on San Benito Street? Look to Chef Carlos Ruiz, once an apprentice at the Tres Pinos Inn. But you’d best drop in or make reservations soon, for there’s danger a big house up north will swoop down to capture him away from us. Call owner Sheila Stevens for reservations or plan a special event at the large private table in the back. Attire casual but a fancy get-up would complement your evening. Servers are attentive and friendly. Wine options few but good local selection. Entrées average $19, matching the high quality and all around pleasant experience. Hollister’s own Knife & Fork Café, 650 San Benito Street #110, Hollister, CA 95023 831.636.2952.