After a leisurely day of shopping at the Stanford mall, we head to one of the following restaurants for a delicious meal.
Terrain Cafe is Philadelphia-based chef Marc Vetri’s first West Coast restaurant. The eatery is a collaboration with Terrain, Anthropologie’s garden brand, so the decor is as important as the food. The round space is greenhouse-like with large pots filled with flourishing greenery, plenty of windows, and incredibly high ceilings. Muted chartreuse velvet curtains, white subway tiles, gray walls, and wicker chairs underscore the farmhouse vibe. The open kitchen churns out delicious seasonally inspired cuisine like creamy, rich pistachio hummus and grilled avocado halves with a generous dusting of pecorino. House-made bread comes in an adorable individual-size garden pot, and the accompanying butter is whipped with cardamom and coriander. Butternut squash soup has a delicious, delicate smoky earthiness. The artisanal farm board, which allows diners to choose six items from a list of vegetables, cheese, and meat or fish, is a must order. The olive oil tuna is sublime, the seasonal vegetable plate with tumeric-pickled cauliflower is crisp and tangy, and the cheese comes with delectable house-made goodies like kumquat jam and apple butter.
Zola in pretty downtown Palo Alto is less than a 10-minute drive away from the Stanford mall and well worth the trip for its inspired French seasonal cuisine. The intimate dining room has teal ceilings and navy walls with one back wall covered in a floral wallpaper. A gorgeous flower arrangement is the focal point of the dining room and discreetly hides part of the waiter’s station. The food, from French chef-owner Guillaume Bienaimé, is traditional French cuisine with a modern California twist. For dinner, try the remarkable smoked salmon rillettes with a mustard–crème fraîche sauce. Or the short rib “bourguignon” with melt-in-your-mouth beef in a hearty red wine sauce; it’s served in a charming cocotte with a traditional French mirepoix of vegetables and crisp potatoes. You might also consider the brussels sprouts roasted until crisp with chorizo or the baby mushrooms coated in a delectable green sauce that is usually served with escargot. There is an extensive Bienaimé-conceived wine list displayed on an iPad—this is Palo Alto after all—and the staff is friendly and accommodating. The tables are placed close together, giving the space a convivial communal atmosphere. You’ll probably end up chatting with the couple at the next table, and, who knows, one of them could be a tech mogul in the making.