Apologies to Chef Anthony Secviar for my plating skills — or lack thereof — on his sublime takeout food from his Protege restaurant in Palo Alto.
Because, yes, it’s possible to enjoy Michelin-starred food to-go in the comfort of your own home.
And getting takeout does offer an alluring plus: the chance to enjoy one of the restaurant’s “family meal of the week” options. I’ve had the pleasure of dining several times pre-pandemic in the lounge of the restaurant, where an a la carte menu is offered. But before, the only way to indulge in a multi-course progressive meal was to book a table in the intimate dining room for the tasting menu.
The “family meal of the week,” however, is a much less expensive variation with typically about four courses or dishes, including dessert. For instance, the one offered last week, which I got, was $75 per person.
It began with shaved Brussels sprouts salad, the crisp julienned leaves tossed with an almost equal amount of grated cheese, as well as pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and crunchy, salty, porky bits of pancetta for a dish that hit every taste bud.
With a 13-foot-long custom grill that dominates the kitchen, downtown Palo Alto’s Rooh serves up contemporary Indian cuisine licked by plenty of flames and smoke.
It also mixes in some very unconventional ingredients in its dishes, such as goat cheese, cheddar cheese, polenta, and Japanese togarashi. But executive chef Sujan Sarkar, who oversees this Palo Alto restaurant along with its sister San Francisco outpost, somehow makes it all work.
To get a feel for what this grill can do, order the roasted eggplant ($14). It’s as smoky tasting as the best baba ganoush, with an equally spoonable texture. The whole slender eggplant is covered in cumin-scented yogurt, pickled onion, cilantro and pomegranate seeds.
Garlic naan ($15) is the perfect vehicle to spread this creamy roasted eggplant on. Or smear it on the pao ($16), pull-apart, fluffy soft rolls that come with a sweet-tangy, chunky heirloom tomato kut.
It still amuses me whenever I read comments from people visiting Camper in Menlo Park for the first time, who expect, well, yes, camping-type food.
While there are S’mores on the menu (albeit a pretty gourmet version), you’re not going to find any canned pork & beans or mounds of trail mix.
Not when Chef-Partner Greg Kuzia-Carmel hails from New York’s Per Se and San Franciso’s Cotogna.
Instead, the name is meant to evoke the great outdoors, as Camper takes its inspiration from the freshest, seasonal local ingredients.
That shows from the get-go even with a simple green salad ($14), consisting of an ample amount of fresh mesclun with peppery mustard greens in the mix. Pink peppercorns added pretty color, as well as a crunchy bite of floral heat. House-made Green goddess was the final flourish.
If you’ve already done spooky and campy with your jack-o’-lantern in Halloweens past, now’s the time to give chic a try.
Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden will host a “Pumpkin Decorating With Henna” online class, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 24.
Artist Priti Aggarwal will lead this live Zoom class in the Indian art of mehndi, explaining its history and cultural applications, and guiding you to decorate your own pumpkin with custom-made henna paste free of chemicals or dyes.
All supplies, including the pumpkin and the henna, will be provided and must be picked up beforehand at the Gamble Garden.
The class is recommended for those ages 8 on up. Price is $40 per person. For more info or to register, click here.
“Dine Downtown San Jose”
This year’s “Dine Downtown San Jose” is extended through Nov. 15, and includes dine-in, dine-out, and to-go specials, making it easier than ever to help support local restaurants during this challenging time.
Founder Becky Sunseri has been obsessed with ice cream since she was a kid, when she’d even hunker down with a bowl of it in winter while sitting atop the heater in her family’s home in Illinois. At 15, she playfully wrote her first ice cream menu, too.
A former pastry cook at Facebook, Sunseri makes a point to use the best local ingredients in her ice creams and sorbets in creative yet highly accessible flavors.
Walk up to the window to order a cone or cup or pint to take home. Or order online ahead of time, then go to the “pick-up” window for speedier service.