Tablecloths, fine china, and finger sandwiches speak of refinement during high tea or tea parties at Lisa’s Tea Treasures Menlo Park. During afternoon tea services, guests sip a selection of 23 loose-leaf teas—such as strawberry darjeeling, lemon mint, and Winter Solstice—and nibble on scones and sandwiches inspired by the food of Europe’s culinary capitals. The menu lists bites from Greece, Italy, and France, including Chicken Parisian croissants, salmon mousse, and cucumber-mint cream cheese. A fresh scone with devonshire cream completes any tea party, and evoke thoughts of England other than your recurring dream of building a cricket pitch in your backyard. In addition to the fine fare, the tearoom itself oozes class with delicate trinkets on display, floral wallpaper, and small chandeliers gently lighting the space.
Singaporean cuisine claims a diverse culinary genealogy. With influences from China, Malay, and India, it's no wonder Shiok! Singapore Kitchen's menu boasts dishes ranging from beef samosas and chicken satay to Singapore pepper crab and vermicelli noodles tossed with curry. This history and tradition is embodied by the restaurant’s name: exclamations of the Singaporean term “shiok!” can often be heard ringing around the table at the conclusion of an enjoyable meal.
From-Scratch Caribbean Cuisine | Southern Barbecue | Addictive Jerk Chicken | Corn Festivals
Who's in the Kitchen? Chef-owner Robert Simpson’s techniques and recipes are the foundations for both Back a Yard locations: the one in downtown San Jose, and the original in Menlo Park. He began cooking at age 6 alongside his grandmother in Jamaica, and he went on to receive his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America.
Plantain: very popular in Caribbean dishes, these starchy fruits are a slightly larger cousin of the banana and must be cooked before serving.
Corn festivals: sweet, fritter-like treats made of cornmeal. They're deep-fried and often served with something more savory, especially fish.
Culture Lesson: "Back a Yard" isn't a typo. It's a term that means, quite simply, "back home." It refers to the spirit and welcoming nature of life in Jamaica.
At Menlo Hub, both food and art find a place on the menu. The modern restaurant's walls are blanketed in original contemporary paintings, and on some nights, the dining space reverberates with music from live bands and solo musicians. But even on nights with performances, the main attraction is always found in the kitchen. Here, chefs design casual American dishes sprinkled with elements of Mediterranean cooking.
The menus focus on simple steaks and seafood, complemented by organic produce sourced from nearby sustainable farms. The artfully plated dishes include California sea bass, New York steaks with gorgonzola demi-glace, and eggplant-wrapped lamb shanks. While most visitors sample the cuisine in the airy main dining space, private groups eat in a secluded room warmed by a corner fireplace.
At the lively bar, flat-screen TVs broadcast sporting events as bartenders mix fruit-infused martinis and pour a range of California wines, which are made from grapes that are just thankful that they never became California raisins.
“Hueco” translates roughly to “little cave,” a tribute to the Peruvian hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve ceviche and charcoal-roasted meats at any hour of the day. El Hueco attempts to capture the feeling of a hangout in the little mountainous country with traditional dishes crafted by lauded chef Jaime Laos. “Laos,” the San Jose Mercury News noted in an article, “has come a long way since his grandmother taught him to cook in a one-faucet house they shared with eight others in Lima.” He now creates a full menu of traditional small plates and entrees, which rely heavily upon the seafood, South American chilies, and sweet potatoes that make up the bulk of Peruvian cuisine.
From the steaming vats of beef stew cooked in a corn-beer sauce to the pan-fried chicken cooked in a blend of porto butter and chocolate, Laos introduces clients to the ancient flavors of Peru. Guests experience how Peruvian chefs prepare mixed vegetables and quinoa. The soft grain was cultivated by Incans hundreds of years ago, but is now becoming popular in North American health-food stores and slapstick movies about people falling into vats of different things. After bowls of ceviche, traditional desserts at the eatery pair root vegetables with a splash of sweet molasses.
At Little India Restaurant, authenticity permeates the food, art, and music. Owned by the Baidwan and Malhotra families and staffed with northern India–trained chefs, the restaurant is a multiyear winner of numerous prizes, including CityVoter's award for Best Indian cuisine. Chefs grill meats over mesquite charcoal in the tandoori oven, and season curries with onion, garlic, and ginger. Handcrafted mint-cilantro and tamarind chutneys create opportunities for 11 types of bread to sneak toward unsuspecting droplets of spice-filled sauce, whereas potatoes soften the heat quotient of fiery vindaloos. Within the dining room, calming sitar music fills the air and larger-than-life paintings of food-based revelry decorate the walls and come to life at tables.