If you get the inkling that Sekoya, the newest restaurant to open on California Avenue in Palo Alto, might be named for the majestic, hardy, and giant tree, you’d be correct.
From the English elm and walnut tables in the lounge, and the dramatic, curving, live-edge dining table by the bar to the plates that mimic cross-sections of trees, it’s clear that sequoias and their ilk are an inspiration for this bar, lounge, and restaurant that opened in mid-August.
It’s the latest restaurant by Steve Ugur, co-owner of San Mateo’s Pausa with Chef Andrea Giuliani, who also happens to be director of butchering at his father’s San Mateo restaurant, Porterhouse. Unlike the former, which is Italian, and the latter, which is a classic steakhouse, Sekoya draws from many global influences, primarily French and Mediterranean.
Chef de Cuisine Jason Johnson — formerly of Chez TJ in Mountain View, and Wayfare Tavern and Quince, both in San Francisco — oversees the menu that is heavy on starters and shared plates.
When the devastating earthquake hit Turkey last month, restaurateur Dino Tekdemir set to work immediately to launch a GoFundMe, and to donate 40 percent of proceeds from sales at his Anatolian Kitchen in Palo Alto on Feb. 16 to the victims of the disaster.
Born and raised in Turkey, Tekdemir, also owns the Austrian cuisine Naschmarkt restaurants in Campbell and Palo Alto.
With the people of Turkey still prominent on our minds, two friends and I took advantage of a brief respite from the savage rainstorms of late to dine outside at Anatolian Kitchen last week. With outside tables that spill onto the sidewalk and into the street that’s still closed to cars since the pandemic, it makes for a fine place to have a gal-pal lunch.
A must-order is the mix appetizer platter ($29.95) that’s perfect for sharing and noshing. It’s an assortment of cacik, a tzatziki-like yogurt-cucumber-garlic dip; a thick, coarse hummus; moderately spicy muhammara made with walnuts ground with roasted bell peppers and a touch of pomegranate molasses; smoky eggplant puree; skinny dolmas rolled around rice pilaf with currants and pine nuts; and my favorite of fried eggplant chunks in a saucy mix of tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers.