You know a restaurant has got the pulse of Silicon Valley if Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan frequent the place.
Yes, you just might spy the hoodie-clad one at Three Seasons, the pan-Asian restaurant in downtown Palo Alto.
After 10 years in operation, Chef-Owner John Le has given the place a facelift with new furniture, lighting and patio seating.
As always, it remains a beautiful, expansive space with a soaring stained-glass dome in the center of the dining room. Sparkling chandeliers hang from the high ceiling and stone buddhas are arranged throughout the restaurant. Live music can be enjoyed on the patio regularly, too.
A mixologist was hired to reinvigorate the cocktail list, which such refreshing libations as the “Saigon Gintonic” ($12) with fresh grapefruit and juniper berries, which I enjoyed when I was invited recently as a guest of the restaurant.
At one point, Le had four restaurants in the Bay Area, including the original Three Seasons in San Francisco. After the economic downturn, he closed all but the Palo Alto location.
It remains a popular spot, as evidenced by the crowds on a Wednesday night. It’s a perfect place for sharing, especially since the menu now has even more small plates selections.
Le brought out a few small bites to try that included shots of a light, creamy and grassy asparagus bisque with a chunk of lobster hidden beneath.
A tiny pork burger on cheese toast with a fried quail egg on top was a little hard to eat, but a pleasure to dig into. A teeny crab cake was full of fluffy crab meat and accented with a sriracha mayo for a bit of heat.
There was even more crab in — and on top — of the Spider Roll ($15.75). The crisp soft-shelled crab was rolled up inside a rice paper roll with avocado, cucumber, tobiko and sesame seeds.
Green papaya salad ($12.75) is done exceptionally well here. The crunchy papaya slivers are tossed with shrimp, fried shallots, peanuts, basil and tomato. It’s one of the most refreshing salads to enjoy in the summer with its bright flavors that sing of lime and fish sauce.
Grilled prawns with garlic noodles might seem pricey at $26, but wait until you see how massive the shrimp are. Split and grilled in their shells, they are almost lobster-like in texture. The noodles are coated in Parmesan for creaminess and just enough garlic as to be evident but not over-powering.
Catfish in claypot ($20) is accompanied by pickled cabbage to cut its richness from a deeply flavored black pepper caramel sauce. I only wish there had been more sauce, as the fish had absorbed most of it, leaving very little left in the pot if you like to spoon it over rice as I do.
For dessert, the fried banana ($10) is a coconut lover’s dream. Not only is there coconut ice cream on the plate and coconut sauce drizzled over the golden-fried bananas, but even shards of coconut in the batter.
Even for the rest of us who haven’t founded gazillion-dollar tech companies, Three Seasons is most convivial place to unwind after a hard day at work.
Other Downtown Palo Alto Places: Palo Alto Grill
And: LYFE Kitchen
And: Amber Dhara
And: Campo 185
And: Chantal Guillon