Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

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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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 23

When you're in the mood for sparkling wine -- but not its effects -- grab a bottle of Joyus.
When you’re in the mood for sparkling wine — but not its effects — grab a bottle of Joyus.

Joyous Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine

It looks like sparkling wine or Champagne. It’s packaged in an elegant bottle complete with a cork, cage and foil. And it’s beautifully effervescent in a glass.

But Joyous Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine is indeed non-alcoholic. It’s made like wine, but with the alcohol removed to become “dealcoholized.”

Launched during the pandemic, it’s the creation of Seattle’s Jessica Selander who proudly has 17 years of sobriety.

This is no cloying Martinelli’s trying to stand in for wine, as I happily found when trying a sample. Instead, this wine is a balanced blend of varietals, mostly Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, French Colombard, Chenin Blanc and other whites, Selander noted in an interview with Sip Magazine.

It even won bronze at the 2021 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

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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 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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Dining Outside at Birdie G’s, Santa Monica

The "World Famous'' Rose Petal Pie at Birdie G's.
The “World Famous” Rose Petal Pie at Birdie G’s.

You can tell the impact a chef has made when even after departing Northern California years ago to decamp to Los Angeles, Bay Area diners still rhapsodize about the unforgettable meals they enjoyed at his hands.

Such is the case with Jeremy Fox, former chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos, who went on to head the groundbreaking Ubuntu, the Napa restaurant that became the world’s only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant.

Because the moment I posted a photo of a dish I relished recently at his Birdie G’s restaurant in Santa Monica, the comments started flooding in from folks about how much they miss and respected his cooking in the Bay Area.

Despite the torrent of praise for Ubuntu, diners didn’t consistently flock to this unique combination yoga studio/fine-dining restaurant at at time when the term “plant-based” had hardly become fashionable yet. That never-ending stress took its toll on Fox, who suffered through ADHD and depression. Finally, it became too much, and he left.

The plentiful outdoor seating at Birdie G's.
The plentiful outdoor seating at Birdie G’s.

He eventually made his way to Southern California, to become chef of Rustic Canyon in 2012, leading to acclaim again, plus a fresh start in life. In 2019, he added to that, opening Birdie G’s, also for the Rustic Canyon Family group of restaurants.

Named for his young daughter, Birdie, and for his grandmother Gladys, it couldn’t be a more of a personal project. As Fox describes, the casual, fun restaurant embodies exactly who he is: An Eastern-European Jew who grew up in the Midwest and the Deep South, and then settled in Southern California.”

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