Tag Archives: Peninsula restaurant

Dining Outside at Flea Street

Cured and smoked half roast duck at Flea Street.
Cured and smoked half roast duck at Flea Street.

Few restaurants anywhere reach a 40-year milestone.

That such a momentous achievement happened during the height of the pandemic last year for Menlo Park’s Flea Street might have put a slight damper on the festivities that had to be held over Zoom.

But it’s a testament to this restaurant, whose doctrine of organic and sustainable has been woven into its fabric since the beginning, that after the unprecedented challenges of a pandemic it’s come roaring back.

When I dined there last week as a guest of the restaurant, every outdoor table was full of smiling patrons, clinking glasses of festive cocktails, and chatting with Chef-Owner Jesse Cool as the made the rounds. The indoor dining room is undergoing a refresh, complete with a new ventilation system, and should be ready to welcome back diners soon. Executive Chef Bryan Thuerk, all of 23 years old, couldn’t be happier to be cooking for diners in-person again, after months of doing takeout, which the restaurant had never done before.

The welcoming outdoor dining area.
The welcoming outdoor dining area.

The outdoor dining has the air of a celebratory backyard get-together with bales of hay topped with cushions for bar-service only, and wood-slatted fencing in the dining area.

Indulge in a cocktail by bartender Eloy Martinez, who’s been with the restaurant for more than 15 years. The Apricot & Sage is a blend of brandy, apricot, sage, Contreau, bitters and lemon juice that get garnished with a fresh apricot half and sage leaf. It’s fruity with a nice bitter edge and a touch of menthol.

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Chef Simona Oliveri’s Unexpected Journey to Oak + Violet

Italian-born Executive Chef Simona Oliveri.
Italian-born Executive Chef Simona Oliveri.

It was just like any morning at Oak + Violet restaurant in the Park James Hotel in Menlo Park. Until it wasn’t.

Three months into the job in December 2018, Simona Oliveri, arrived at the restaurant for her usual sous chef shift, only to find the executive chef had quit abruptly.

Faced with a full dining room later that night, Oliveri, the only woman on the culinary team of 16, did the only thing she could think of — she immediately called up all her vendors to start placing orders for the ingredients that would be needed that day.

And with that, she became the head chef of the restaurant, as well as the entire 63-room boutique hotel.

The bar at Oak + Violet.
The bar at Oak + Violet.

“I never imagined I would be doing this,” Oliveri, 42 says. “I’d never worked for a hotel before or run a restaurant before. But I know how to feed people.”

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Telefèric Barcelona Opens With A Sizzle in Palo Alto

The Catalon G&T at the new Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.
The Catalon G&T at the new Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.

There’s no doubt that Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village is a happening place. Just try to park there most any time of day or night, and you’ll be hunting for a parking spot because that’s how busy it gets.

Now, it’s bound to get even crazier than the long lines there for Boba Guys. That’s because the new Telefèric Barcelona just opened its doors last week, with plenty of Spanish flair, pulsating music, and flaming cocktails lighting up the dining room.

It’s the second Bay Area locale for the Telefèric Barcelona Restaurant Group of Barcelona, joining the original Telefèric Barcelona that opened in Walnut Creek in 2016.

Brother and sister, Xavi and Maria Padrosa took over the original restaurant in Barcelona, which their mother had started. They were lured to bring their concept stateside by a Walnut Creek developer.

Xavi Padrosa had long wanted to open a restaurant in Palo Alto, a city close to his heart since he lived there for seven years while attending Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Just inside the entry way.
Just inside the entry way.
The bar.
The bar.
Seats right in front of the open kitchen.
Seats right in front of the open kitchen.

The contemporary Palo Alto restaurant is all clean lines with a long bar, sleek open kitchen, colorful Spanish tiles, and basket-like light fixtures. When it’s full, as it was for a friends-and-family and media dinner that I attended the night before it opened to the public, it can be very loud. You will have to lean over the table to converse with your dining companion.

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The Warmth of Zareen’s

First-time restaurateur Zareen Khan has created a gem in Zareen's in Mountain View and Palo Alto.
First-time restaurateur Zareen Khan has created a gem in Zareen’s in Mountain View and Palo Alto.

This summer, when timing necessitated postponing my birthday dinner at Michelin three-starred Manresa to two months later, my husband asked me where I wanted to go instead on my actual birthday weekend. I immediately knew the spot.

It was another Michelin-recognized establishment.

One where the food would be equally unforgettable and fill me with similar contentment.

And where my husband would be especially thrilled because it turned out to be the least expensive birthday dinner he’d ever bought me.

It was, of course, Zareen’s.

Though she had never opened a restaurant before, Pakistani-born Zareen Khan decided to do just that when she opened the original fast-casual Zareen’s in Mountain View on 2014. It proved such a hit that two years later, she opened a second, larger Zareen’s on California Avenue in Palo Alto, which is the one we frequent. In 2020, look for a third and larger location to open in downtown Redwood City.

The unassuming establishment on California Avenue in Palo Alto is always crowded.
The unassuming establishment on California Avenue in Palo Alto is always crowded.
On a sunny day, the sidewalk tables fill up fast. Khan has regulars who come every week.
On a sunny day, the sidewalk tables fill up fast. Khan has regulars who come every week.

Tech workers who get all the free food they want on their campuses gladly flock to Zareen’s to stand in line and, yes, pay their own money, for her incredible contemporary Pakistani-Indian food. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have dined here. And Chef Anthony Secviar and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly, the team behind Michelin-starred Protege in Palo Alto across the street from Zareen’s, have made no secret about being so addicted to Zareen’s chicken tikka masala that they eat it weekly.

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Selby’s Sizzles — Even Before It Opens

Halibut with Robuchon potatoes at the new Selby's.

Halibut with Robuchon potatoes at the new Selby’s.

 

You know a restaurant has got it going on when nearly all of its 48 main dining-room seats are already booked solid for the next two months and its private dining rooms already are sought after for Christmas soirees — and it hasn’t even opened its doors yet.

Such is the case of the hotly anticipated Selby’s in Redwood City on the edge of Atherton, which officially opens to the public on Tuesday, July 23 to serve dinner nightly.

It’s the latest project by the Bacchus Management Group, which also operates nearby Michelin-starred The Village Pub in Woodside, The Village Bakery & Cafe in Woodside, Pizza Antica in San Jose’s Santana Row, and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto; as well as Michelin-starred Spruce, and The Saratoga, both in San Francisco.

The 10,000-square-foot property on El Camino Real has been various restaurants since 1938, most recently Chantilly’s. For more than a year, including four months of construction, the Bacchus Group labored to completely transform the interior into a sumptuous establishment, as I saw when I was invited in as a guest of a media preview dinner last week.

The main dining room on the first floor.

The main dining room on the first floor.

The mixed media "Golden State'' art work created by Lost Art Salon proprietor Rob Delamater hangs above the fireplace.

The mixed media “Golden State” art work created by Lost Art Salon proprietor Rob Delamater hangs above the fireplace.

The swank bar.

The swank bar.

Local artist Magnus Scheven's focal point chandelier.

Local artist Magnus Scheven’s focal point chandelier.

Dark emerald mohair covers the walls not only to add luxury, but act as a sound dampener. I dare you to not spend at least a few moments caressing the walls (yes, really) that feel like plush velvet to the touch. Real gold leaf glitters on the back wall of the bar, as well as the ceiling of the restrooms. There’s even a secret poker room upstairs that doubles as a private dining room.

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