If you want to know where the power people dine in Silicon Valley, look no farther than the Village Pub in Woodside.
I don’t think I’ve seen this many men in suits in a South Bay/Peninsula restaurant — ever. It was kind of a nice change of pace, too, from the usual “casual Friday”-look that sadly tends to permeate every day of the week here.
On a recent Friday night, when I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant, the elegant dining room with its dark,polished wood and plush burgundy velvet banquettes was hopping, with every seat taken. Quite a few tables were occupied by an all-male party, with at least one displaying an open laptop on the table.
Chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce in San Francisco opened the restaurant 10 years ago. The day-to-day cooking now is overseen by Executive Chef Dmitry Elperin, who has worked at such San Francisco stalwarts as One Market, Campton Place and Aqua.
We had a prime table right in front of the roaring, open hearth that affords a peek into the kitchen. Dark, crusty loaves of bread (from sister establishment Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto) are kept at the foot of the fire to ensure slices arrive at your table warm each and every time.
The meal began with an amuse of mushroom consomme that was so full of loamy flavors, you would have sworn that a pound of mushrooms was hidden at the bottom of the tiny cup.
Asparagus flan ($18) arrived warm, with a vivid green hue and the silky texture of flan. Nuggets of butter-poached lobster and a dollop of sturgeon caviar made it even more luxurious.
The restaurant makes all its charcuterie and accompaniments in-house. The sampler ($20) is a must-order with its creamy duck liver mousse, mortadella with horseradish creme fraiche, country pate with port-soaked cherries, and ciccioli (compressed lard and pork) with sweet-tangy cumberland sauce heady with ginger and currants.
The chef surprised us with a dish of artichoke agnolotti, which were tender and creamy. Paper-thin slices of summer white truffles, which weren’t nearly as intense as fall ones, were showered over the top.
My husband, aka Meat Boy, couldn’t pass up the steak frites with bone marrow ($25), which is on the bar menu that you also can order from in the dining room. The meat arrived juicy with a nice crust on the edges. The fries were hot and crisp. And my husband dug inside that dinosaur-like bone for every last bit of the precious, unctuous marrow.
I enjoyed my own marrow, which crusted albacore tuna ($31), keeping this dense fish moist and flavorful. The hearty red wine sauce was the perfect match to stand up to this very meaty fish, which came with a bed of rich, pillowy ricotta cavatelli. In concept, it was almost like giving a short rib-treatment to fish. And it worked beautifully.
Dessert brought a surprise — strawberry shortcake with creme fraiche, but it wasn’t the traditional one big shortcake split in half. Rather, there were four thimble-size ones arrayed on the plate, alongside macerated strawberries. You could choose to eat everything separately or a mix of all at once.
Because Pastry Chef Rodney Cerdan always wants to make sure you really indulge your sweet tooth, he also brought out a plate of chocolate-chip and triple-chocolate cookies, as well as individually-wrapped salted caramels.
After a decade, it’s nice to see this restaurant still powering strong.