I was going to name this post “Dark dining,” but thought I should continue the French theme. We had French lunch, and here’s French dinner on the same day (we should have gotten a croissant for breakfast that morning for completeness, but oh well…). Sorry for the invisible pictures, didn’t want to disturb other customers around with the flash, and like an idiot I didn’t remember to switch my camera to candle light mode. I don’t know if that would have helped any though, the candle you see in the picture above is the only light source on the table. They meant to make a dreamy romantic setting, not one for inspection.
Let’s go straight to the food: 1. they were tasty, 2. they were small. Actually the girl next to our table couldn’t help but cried out the second remark when the food was brought to her, she also made a quick approximation that you could get 20 cheeseburgers from McDonald for the price of one of these dishes. That is true, but I don’t think I would enjoy 20 cheeseburgers as much as I enjoyed my pate chaud stuffed with quail (pictured), which appeared on the menu as “quail stuffed with brioche and foie gras pithivier, black truffle ice cream, tarragon veal jus.” Don’t get turned off by all the fancy names, (as unattractive as they may sound), because the most undesirable flavor in the bundle, which is the black truffle, is on the side thus easily avoidable. If you have not tried black truffle, it’s recommended that you try so that you know it’s very much the antonym of “good”, “pleasant”, or “alright”. Just gently move your brioche to a safe area outside the reach of the melting skunk, and eat. The brioche and the quail is simply excellent. Normally a pastry of that size would take me at most 4 bites, roughly 5 minutes, to finish. But in a restaurant like this, one oughta at least try to show some manner, so I cut the poor thing into tiny little bites and mostly licked the tip of my fork. I managed to finish in 15 minutes, with long breaks in between. The brioche kinda just melted in your mouth, and the quail was so tender you don’t really need to chew a whole lot. What slows you down is your tongue wanting to savour the sweet, buttery, slightly salty juice. Eating slowly also helps your tummy feel full, so that the modest size of the meal becomes reasonable.
We also ordered Australian lamb (it could be Californian lamb, who knows, right?). The picture didn’t come out very nicely, though. There is no weirdo in that dish, so it’s safe to enjoy everything and leave nothing left but the bones. Different taste, same deliciousness. The portion is also slightly more generous than the quail. If you’re still hungry, the bread brought out earlier while you were waiting for your entree is a good filler, albeit not a spectacular one.
The place was getting busy around 8:45. We had to make reservation earlier in the afternoon, but when we came we had a choice of sitting indoor or outdoor. That’s something many would consider quite neat in downtown Palo Alto, where you can have a nice walk along the narrow streets, glancing through windows of various shopping stores, cafes, and restaurants spilling out chairs on the pavement, or you can play the spectator role, sitting outside, gazing at people passing by. We opted for indoor, which explains the darkness. The seating would have been more comfortable if the tables next to us weren’t so close. In fact, the inside of the charming restaurant is a little cramped. There was hardly enough room for two skinny persons standing between a long dining table and the glass cabinets of chocolates. Oh yes, we did have desserts, and we spent some good time looking at the desserts to decide which one to get. Bittersweet chocolate cremeux (with banana and white rum), and chocolate caramel tart. Both served with some fruity ice cream. The cremeux was good, but a little ordinary. The tart oddly resembled the chicken crepe, with a taste of butter and cheese. The restaurant is called Shokolaat, I know, but unless one day I woke up kicking and screaming for some gold in my tummy, I would always go to Blue Danube Cafe for chocolate.
Dinner with dessert for two plus tip was $70. See website.
516 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Update: the portions are now bigger, according to Food Gal.