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.
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.
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.
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.