Category Archives: Dining Outside

Dining Outside at Rooh, Palo Alto

The paneer chili roll embellished with Middle Eastern katifi at Rooh in Palo Alto.
The paneer chili roll embellished with Middle Eastern katifi at Rooh in Palo Alto.

When Rooh opened in downtown Palo Alto in January 2020, it announced itself with live-fire, modern Indian fare in splashy surroundings. Thankfully, it not only survived the global calamity that hit a mere two months later, but continues to take Indian cuisine to new heights now.

It even added a parklet for outdoor dining. That’s where I dined recently when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant on a chilly weeknight. With plenty of heaters, though, as well as thoughtful floral decorations, the parklet was plenty comfortable. Even on a Wednesday, it was filled with diners, as was the dining room.

Husband and wife, Vikram and Anu Bhambri, who got their start in the tech industry, opened their first Rooh in San Francisco in 2016. It, too, is still going strong, along with locations in Columbus, OH, and New Delhi.

The comfortable parklet on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.
The comfortable parklet on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.

Executive Chef Sujan Sarkar oversees all the Rooh locations (except the Chicago one), with Chef Apurva Panchal in charge of the Palo Alto locale.

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Dining Outside at iChina

The Crispy Dim Sum platter at iChina/JiuBa.
The Crispy Dim Sum platter at iChina/JiuBa.

It’s rare that a restaurant invites me in as a guest twice in less than three months. And even rarer that I find a reason to accept a second invitation like that.

In August, I dined outside at JiuBa, the bar-lounge that’s part of the opulent iChina restaurant that opened last year Westfield Valley Fair. Executive Chef Eddie Lam, former corporate executive chef at Straits Management Group, oversaw the expansive high-end Chinese menu at the restaurant and the much smaller menu at the bar-lounge.

However, a month later, he departed and a new culinary team took over: Chef Zhineng Chen, former North America corporate chef for the Hakkasan Group, whose forte is Cantonese cuisine; Chef Xia An He, who specializes in dim sum; and consulting Pastry Chef Graham Hornigold, who has worked at the Mandarin Oriental and the Lanesborough hotels in London.

Now, there’s a brand new menu. And it’s the same one whether you dine at iChina or at JiuBa. So, last week, I again dined outside at JiuBa, but on dishes that were all new for the most part.

There are no heaters here, so dress warmly when dining outside at this time of year.
There are no heaters here, so dress warmly when dining outside at this time of year.

With the evenings turning chilly now, just note that the outdoor dining area is not equipped with heaters. So, you’ll definitely want to dress in warm layers. There are lights on the building that shine down on the outside tables, so you won’t be dining in the dark. The tables are quite small, though, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself balancing a dish or two on the planter wall, as we resorted to at times.

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Dining Outside at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley’s Après Village Pop-Up

How fun is this? Making your own 
S'mores at your table in the Après Village at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley.
How fun is this? Making your own S’mores at your table in the Après Village at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley.

With festive string lights overhead, holiday trees everywhere, a sleek fire pit blazing away, and even a seemingly light dusting of snow falling, one of my best friends and I recently spent a relaxing winter getaway — without actually really trekking anywhere beyond Silicon Valley.

That’s because the second annual winter pop-up at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto is so incredibly transportive that you will feel like you’re on holiday, fresh off the slopes at Whistler or Banff in British Columbia.

The Après Village is set up on the terrace of Quattro, the hotel’s signature restaurant. It’s open from now through Feb. 26, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Mondays through Thursdays, it’s available for private bookings.

The spot is truly a sight to behold, as I found when I was invited in as a guest last week.

The very cozy pop-up on the Quattro terrace.
The very cozy pop-up on the Quattro terrace.

The Après Village is fashioned into its own separate space, complete with a Sweet Shoppe at one end that’s modeled after a European Christmas market stall, where you can purchase Pastry Chef Guillermo Soto’s truffles, macarons, signature chocolate bars, and freshly made doughnuts.

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Dining Outside at Juniper & Ivy, San Diego

The hamachi tostada with pickled pumpkin at Juniper & Ivy.
The hamachi tostada with pickled pumpkin at Juniper & Ivy.

Richard Blais of “Top Chef” fame may no longer be affiliated with Juniper & Ivy, where he was the founding chef, but this San Diego establishment remains as popular as ever.

Opened in 2014 by owner Michael Rosen in an abandoned warehouse, it kick-started a new renaissance in the city’s Little Italy. The kitchen is now helmed by Chef Anthony Wells, a James Beard semi-finalist.

When my husband and I dined on a recent Saturday night while on a Southern California road trip, the place was hopping with the dining room and bar full, and a group of fashionably dressed women celebrating some sort of occasion in the private dining room.

The stylish restaurant was built in what was an old, abandoned warehouse.
The stylish restaurant was built in what was an old, abandoned warehouse.
The outdoor dining area.
The outdoor dining area.

We dined outside on the outdoor patio that has a living wall, as well as plenty of potted plants and a canopy awning overhead. One thing it doesn’t have, though, is heaters. So, be sure to dress in layers, especially if you tend to linger at dinner.

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Dining Outside at The Girl & The Goat, Los Angeles

When at a restaurant named Girl & the Goat, the goat mousse is a must-order.
When at a restaurant named Girl & the Goat, the goat mousse is a must-order.

Of all the many victors through all the many seasons of “Top Chef,” arguably the most successful has been Stephanie Izard.

On Season 4, she not only triumphed but became the first woman to do so. Since then, she’s been off to the races, opening a slew of acclaimed restaurants including the Girl & the Goat in Chicago and then in Los Angeles; as well as the Little Goat Diner, the Chinese-American-influenced Duck Duck Goat, the rooftop Peruvian concept, Cabra, and the dessert shop, SugarGoat, all in Chicago.

Along the way, she nabbed the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” in 2013 and was named a 2011 Food & Wine “Best New Chef.”

So, when my plans to travel to Chicago to dine at Girl & the Goat got foiled in 2020 — you can guess why — I did the next best thing: My husband and I dined at the Los Angeles locale instead on a recent road trip to Southern California.

How cute is this beer glass?
How cute is this beer glass?

The brick building is easily recognizable by the playful goat mascot sign on it. There’s a spacious outdoor seating area right outside, which is where my husband and I dined.

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