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Elegant Cuisine
Found in Merced County hamletBy DOANE YAWGER

For those savoring fine continental or European cuisine found in cities like San Francisco, Frank Machado has a closer-to-home suggestion.

Try Delhi.

Frank and Karen Machado have operated the Elegant Bull Restaurant at 9666 Stephens St. in the northern Merced County town of Delhi for 29 years. Frank Machado has spent more than 50 years as a restaurateur. Nothing pleases him more than to have guests "wowed" by a meal featuring entrees you won't find anywhere close.

Elegant Bull features Portuguese fare, Italian dishes, steaks, lamb, frog legs, lobster, halibut and salmon, Petrale Sole and Chilean Sea Bass, shrimp and scallops, oysters and escargot every now and then.

"I like people to say 'Wow! that was a good dinner,' " Machado says. "I go to the source and hand-pick it myself. When halibut is in season, it comes from Alaska only. The salmon is fresh, troll-caught. It has got to be wild; I don't use those from a farm. The meat is always choice or better and we don't cut it until you order."

While Machado was born in Hilmar, his parents came from the Azores. So, Portuguese food is highlighted, such as Bife A Portuguesa, a boneless strip loin of beef and eggs sautéed with olive oil, garlic, white wine, scallions and two eggs on top surrounded with French fries.

Then there's Torresmos, featuring tender cuts of young pork marinated in three wines, herbs and spices and then roasted. Machado also offers his own brand of linguica and his own presentation of Portuguese beans. These have linguica, bacon, pinto beans, cinnamon and cumin, coriander and lots of garlic.

Machado's marketing specialist and webmaster, Gail Wilson of Atwater, says Machado is hands-on and a perfectionist.

"I like it because of the service," Wilson says. "Frank is service-oriented and I love that. It's very important. Here you can sit down and relax. He (Machado) likes to please people. People can eat anywhere. Service is No. 1."

Machado operated restaurants and bars in Santa Clara before opening the Elegant Bull in the last week of 1989. He has always loved bulls and the name Elegant Bull seemed like a natural choice for his restaurant.

Many of the restaurant's customers come from Fresno, Stockton, Oakdale, Turlock, Atwater, Escalon and Manteca.

Machado says very few restaurants still offer linen tablecloths and very few places serve dinners with soup, salad, vegetables, Portuguese beans, rolls with butter and a choice of fries, rice, baked potato or mashed potatoes.

Machado says nothing bothers him more than to see poor service. He says his customers don't have to ask for seconds or refills.

"That irks the hell out of me. That's terrible. My big deal is pleasing people, having people appreciate you," Machado says. You get what you pay for and more - his items are one price with everything thrown in.

Everything is made from scratch. The only thing that comes frozen in a box is the deep-fried shrimp.

Ironically, Machado's favorite food item is eggs. While eggs show up on some dishes, the restaurant does not serve breakfast. The 85-year-old Machado says he has had to scale back to five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, on his doctor's advice. The restaurant includes 10 servers, three bartenders, two dishwashers and three cooks, including Machado.

Another Machado pet peeve: Presentation of a fine meal is OK but don't pile food together. He stresses there are no surprises with an Elegant Bull meal.

Doane Yawger of Merced is a semi-retired newspaper reporter and editor.If You Go

9666 Stephens Street
Delhi, CA 95315
209 667-7742

HOURS: Lunch Wednesday - Friday
Dinner Wednesday - Sunday
4:00pm - 9:30 pm
Closed Monday & Tuesday