Last Thursday I attended the first 520 Chef’s Table at The Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto. Executive Chef Clive Berkman and his talented staff perfectly executed the launch of a novel dining evening in Palo Alto. The themed tasting menu is a new endeavor by the Garden Court Hotel and an appreciated gastronomic addition to Peninsula dining.
Third Thursday of each month, Chef Berkman will host a small select table of no more than thirty guests. A communal dining table assured lively conversation with the stimulating and charming guests.
Delicious small plates appeared, and as Chef requested, we nibbled from right to left as if you were reading Hebrew! His explanation, amusing as well as informative, was that each plate was prepared to entice the palate and a final bite consisted of a vegetable or fruit portion to act as a digestivo.
Dinner includes pre-fixe menu, a glass of featured wine and a complimentary custom cocktail. The delectable cocktail entitled The Bee’s Knees, consisted of a sweet lavender honey concoction shaken with lemon juice and gin served in a traditional champagne saucer, garnished with a delicate floating lavender blossom. A Spring Savory!
Amuse-bouche followed by a four-course dinner. An orchestra of enthusiastic wait staff served the bites; each dish was presented with flair and a meticulous narrative of preparation and ingredients from Chef.
Starter. Asparagus and shitake wontons; Truffled Devilled Eggs with Prosciutto and crispy quinoa (this was scrumptious!); Ricotta and Chorizo filled criminis.
Plate 2. From the Sea. Shrimp fritter with mango salsa. Crusted Sea Bass and chanterelles; Grilled oyster pancetta hollandaise; Rabi Apple and watercress with sumac yogurt dressing. My dinner mate, Tim, cajoled a few extra fritters from his dining companions; Chef took notice and offered an additional serving!
Plate 3. Main Chicken fried Quail, Mole sauce crème fraiche- Exceptional! Braised wild mushrooms sherry and thyme; Beef Ribeye on a potato raft; Fava and spring pea succotash.
Plate 4. Sweets. Rhubarb crumble, Tahitian vanilla yogurt; Strawberry Pavlova; Triple chocolate truffle shot. Decadent!
Featured Wines. Wild Horse Pinot Noir, Central Coast. Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, Sonoma.
The final course was followed by a show of troops from the kitchen for questions and comments and to receive appreciative applause. Chef Berkman’s creative cooking talents are equal to his wild enthusiasm for his team and the Garden Court Hotel for providing this unique culinary event.
Second Chef’s Table Tasting event is April 17, seats will be available next week; certain to sell out as soon as announced!
Executive Chef Clive Berkman, Sous Chef Craig West
Garden Court Hotel, Downtown Palo Alto www.gardencourt.com
Photos Courtesy of Garden Court Hotel