Baumé (credit: Randy Yagi)
Like other parts of the country, bistros have evolved in the San Francisco Bay Area. From their humble beginnings in 19th century Parisian taverns, bistros now offer a variety of culturally distinct foods. But what all bistros continue to share is a passion to provide delicious treats while using the freshest ingredients straight from the farm. Here are five of the best bistros in the San Francisco Peninsula.
201 S. California Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Baumé has the appearance of a quintessential bistro with just 22 seats, a small staff and fabulous French cuisine. However, this fashionable restaurant led by acclaimed chef Bruno Chemel is the only two-starred Michelin restaurant in the Peninsula and one of just two in the Silicon Valley. Named after Antoine Baumé, a 19th century French chemist, the French restaurant is open for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays and an extraordinary, all-inclusive menu is brilliantly crafted Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Clearly a master of molecular gastronomy, Chemel’s impressive resume includes work with Mountain View’s Michelin-starred Chez TJ, as well as with two of the world’s most celebrated chefs – Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Jöel Robuchon.
Related: Best Bistros In East Bay
845 Main St.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
A 2014 Diner’s Choice – San Francisco Peninsula from Opentable, Cetrella is a solid recommendation for exceptional Mediterranean-influenced cuisine. Located in the seaside getaway of Half Moon Bay, the restaurant has been equally lauded for its food, décor and service and has been Michelin Guide recommended for the San Francisco Bay Area. Favorite dishes recommended by guests include the lamb shank, filet mignon, Alaskan halibut and diver scallop. Cetrella also has an award-winning wine collection with over 400 selections and more than 12 varietals from countries all over the world. Cetrella is also well known for hosting extravagant wedding ceremonies at its sister property, Liquid Sky, with spectacular views of the Pacific Coast.
520 Chef’s Table (credit: Randy Yagi)
520 Chef’s Table
Garden Court Hotel
520 Cowper St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Downtown Palo Alto’s only luxury boutique hotel offers both a pop-up bar and a lavish pop-up restaurant entertaining up to 30 guests once a month. Recently launched at the Garden Court Hotel, Bar 520 is a bar and lounge welcoming guests and neighbors to enjoy the hotel’s signature sips and delightful culinary creations such as ahi tuna tartar with avocado and wonton chips and curry chicken lettuce wraps from executive chef Clive Berkman. For a more luxurious experience, the Garden Court Hotel hosts the 520 Chef’s Table, complete with cocktails and savory hors d’oeuvres, a captivating prix fixe six-course menu and paired wines with dinner service in a elegant communal setting. As each of the main courses is presented, chef Berkman emerges from the kitchen to entertain the guests with a thoughtful and oft times humorous narrative of his impeccable culinary creations.
Menlo Grill Bistro and Bar (credit: Randy Yagi)
Menlo Grill Bistro & Bar
100 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
With three distinct dining venues, Menlo Grill Bistro and Bar is an excellent choice for classic American bistro dining. Located in the AAA Four Diamond-rated Stanford Park Hotel, the main dining section’s menu is refreshingly affordable, with no dish priced higher than its $38 filet mignon. Several selections from the menu have received consistent praise from past customers, including the house-smoked prime rib, New York steak and bistro burger. The menu also features a variety of options for vegans and vegetarians, such as roasted cauliflower, tempura pole beans and charred spring onion flatbread. The restaurant’s talented executive chef Erik Romme previously served as chef de cuisine at the nearby Michelin-starred Madera restaurant at the Rosewood Sand Hill.
The Village Pub
2967 Woodside Road
Woodside, CA 94062
Located within the Santa Cruz Mountains in the upscale community of Woodside, the Village Pub has been perhaps better described as a “Chalet Bistro” than an ordinary pub. A Michelin-starred establishment for five years running, the Village Pub is further distinguished for receiving the Grand Award from Wine Spectator, the highest honor bestowed and one of only 74 winners worldwide. Much to the delight of many first-time guests, the men is remarkably affordable, given its Michelin-starred status. Recommended dinner entrées prepared by the staff led by the uniquely talented chef Dmitry Elperin include Butter-Poached Lobster ($48), Almond Wood Grilled Wagyu Ribeye ($58) and Twelve Day Aged Muscovy Duck Breast ($39). The Village Pub’s wine cellar holds 2,800 selections, with particular strengths in wine from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Germany and Spain.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.