Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Happy Campers in Menlo Park

Modern, spacious Camper is the new hot table in downtown Menlo Park.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

The sleeping bags, burnt weenies, messy s’mores, insect repellent and off-key versions of “Take Me Home Country Roads” are fortunately in short supply at Camper in Menlo Park. Considered one of the hottest debuts of 2018, this sleek new spot was intended as a hybrid restaurant fusing fine-dining cuisine with a casual ambience. Presumably, that’s what inspired the odd name, which left out the adjective “happy” and refers to the hoped-for response of guests. So far, definitely so good. Continue reading

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Heroic Dining in Saratoga

Trucker portions of wonderful food have made Hero Ranch Kitchen the new must-visit spot in Saratoga. This $200 “Ranch Platter” offers enough protein to feed a football team.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

Ancient Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder called it right regarding experience being the best teacher. Close to 2,000 years later, South Bay restaurant entrepreneur Angelo Heropoulos is the embodiment of this concept, as seen in his new smash hit in Saratoga, Hero Ranch Kitchen. His earlier dining endeavors include launching small chains (Opa!), steak houses (Willard Hicks), Mexican cuisine (Tac-oh!) and breakfast/burgers (Mo’s) but his latest creation in the former Sent Sovi digs on the tony town’s main drag soars above them all. Continue reading

A Culinary Melting Pot

A sexy, swanky Southeast Asian hot spot in Menlo Park, Black Pepper gets brisk business.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in June, 2019.)

“Fusion cuisine” is taken to a higher plane in the case of Malaysia. This Southeast Asian peninsula with Singapore on its southern foot reflects the country’s multi-ethnic population and history as a migratory crossroads.  Dining there today means experiencing complex, full-flavored dishes whose origins embrace Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Portugal, Britain and others whose citizens have wandered through over the centuries. Continue reading

French Laundry South in Palo Alto

Soft, delectable ricotta dumplings that look like artwork are among the standouts at Protégé.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in April, 2019.)

Damning a serious restaurant as “too expensive” is as common as breadsticks at Olive Garden — whose prices seem to be what such self-appointed critics somehow expect for cutting-edge cuisine. However, savvier diners understand that meals at such exalted food temples with their precious ingredients and squads of culinary school grads aren’t about full tummies but rather delivering a unique experience, which doesn’t come cheap.  The South Bay has recently acquired one of these rarified dining spots, modeled on Napa Valley’s three-star French Laundry, no less. Continue reading

Asa- Hot Newcomer in Los Altos

Restaurant Asa combines irresistible American-Spanish-Italian cuisine and friendly service in downtown Los Altos. Sidewalk seating is another plus.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December, 2018.)

Sleepy Los Altos with its affluent citizenry and cute-as-a-button downtown has long beckoned restaurateurs but the surprising failure rate over the years seems out of line considering the potential.  Fortunately for South Bay diners, this didn’t deter Andrew Welch, whose modern reinvention of his venerable The Basin in nearby Saratoga has been triumphant on tree-studded State Street. Opened in 2017, Asa, named for his baby son, is perennially packed, firmly occupying the happy role of the hottest restaurant in Los Altos. Continue reading

Santorini in Downtown Palo Alto

With its cheerful antique blue door and outdoor tables, new Taverna is a Greek hot spot in Palo Alto.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine on October, 2018.)

If only the city fathers would allow tables to be set up all the way down Palo Alto’s Emerson Street, newcomer Taverna would easily fill them all.  Visiting this boisterous munchkin of a restaurant downtown is like taking a quick trip to the Greek islands due to the blue-and-white decor, wooden chairs and festive atmosphere, which has turned Taverna into the “it” dining spot of the moment.  Its piddling size means that the limited seating inside and at outdoor tables that hug the white walls of its corner location are hard to nab without planning ahead. Continue reading

Seafood Extravaganza in the Row

Soft-shell crab sliders are crunchy, delicious, textural wonders among a vast assortment of choices.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in June, 2018.)

Imagine a restaurateur planning the menu for a new seafood place who scribbles down every beloved from-the-sea dish around, regardless of type (finger food, starter, voluminous entree)  and cuisine (European, Asian, Latin, regional American).  But rather than selecting a few, he includes them all.  This is the improbable but wildly successful premise of Santana Row’s new hit, EMC Seafood. Rumored to stand for “eat more clams,” this busy, contemporary spot serves sashimi, sushi rolls, fish tacos, Parisian-style towering platters of seafood, New England clam chowder and lobster rolls, shucked oysters, inspired seafood pasta preparations, grilled fish, elegant entrees and even that old standby, shrimp cocktail. Continue reading