Michelin-starred Ettan chef opens casual eatery
State Street Market has another addition to its star chef-filled lineup that includes Traci Des Jardins' el Alto and Meichih and Michael Kim's Bo B?i. On April 6, Gopinathan and Thapar of Ettan opened Little Blue Door. "We are excited to be at State Street Market with some of the best chefs in town," said Gopinathan, who also oversees San Francisco's Michelin-starred Campton Place.
Little Blue Door's cuisine is inspired by Gopinathan's native state of Kerala in India, but presents dishes that draw from street foods throughout the country. These chaat-inspired starters include interpretations of Kerala's egg puffs, which envelop hard-boiled eggs and seasoned onions in flaky pastry, and vada pav, fried vegetable patties made here with fava beans sandwiched in buttery bread. Gopinathan is especially enthusiastic about recreating Kerala fried chicken, traditionally fried in wide cast iron pans filled with bubbling oil, which will be served with an aioli flavored with garlic, ginger and fresh herbs.
As a main course, diners can enjoy roasted chicken marinated in kashundi, the fermented paste of mustard seeds and green mango, and cauliflower coated in a crunchy layer of puffed rice, both slowly cooked on the rotisserie. While Little Blue Door is the first casual restaurant from the team of Gopinathan and Thapar, they are looking to open more locations of this more informal concept.
Little Blue Door is now open with limited hours and will eventually match the opening hours of State Street Market, which are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Little Blue Door, 170 State St., Los Altos; Instagram: @littlebluedoorrestaurant.
Manresa Bread brings its flaky pastries to Palo Alto
Manresa Bread was slated to open at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto this week. The bakery's sourdough loaves made with flour milled in-house, precisely laminated croissants flaked with toasted almonds, and caramelized kouign amann have helped it grow from farmers market stalls to four retail locations in the Bay Area that ship nationwide.
Born out of Los Gatos' three Michelin-starred Manresa and led by head baker Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread Palo Alto will take over a sizable 1,700-square-foot space. Back in January, Ruzicka told the Peninsula Foodist about the location's open kitchen, which showcases the team of busy bakers and allows staff to see customers purchase their food.
In addition to breads, pastries, cakes and coffee, the bakery offers a small selection of sandwiches and a rotating seasonal salad. The team is looking to expand their menu in this new location, and a retail section stocks bags of granolas and Manresa Bread's house-milled flours for passionate home bakers.
Manresa Bread, 855 El Camino Real, Suite 138, Palo Alto; 650-384-6462, manresabread.com. Instagram: @manresabread. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.
Cheese board and flower business coming to Salvaje
Feast and Floral, a Palo Alto-based catering business that supplies flowers along with cheese and charcuterie boards for events, is opening a brick-and-mortar shop at downtown Palo Alto wine bar Salvaje this summer.
Menlo Park resident Ashley Higashi started Feast and Floral with her sister in 2019. Inspired by Pinterest pictures of "grazing tables" — artfully crafted cheese and charcuterie boards complemented by fruits and vegetables, nuts, dips and crackers and breads — Higashi recreated one at a party she hosted. After rave reviews, Higashi was encouraged to start selling the boards and approached Kasim Syed, a friend of her sister's and the owner of Salvaje, about the idea.
Syed supported the endeavor, offering his bar for Feast and Floral's launch party and later his commercial kitchen for the business' use. Feast and Floral started off catering private and corporate events, but the pandemic changed its course.
"We had to completely pivot the business and turn it into small boards, and the boards kept getting smaller as the pandemic went on," Higashi said. "It went as small as a tiny snack box so everyone could eat individually."
With demand growing again for larger cheese boards, Higashi recognized that the business was outgrowing its current commercial kitchen space in Palo Alto and told Syed she was looking for a space to open a shop.
"It's a perfect match: cheese and charcuterie and wine," Higashi said. "We're hoping to create a really unique gathering spot for dining."
Salvaje will retain indoor and outdoor patio seating and pivot its menu toward smaller bites that work well with Feast and Floral's boards, which will range from individually sized to 4-foot-long grazing tables that serve 20. In addition to serving the boards alongside Salvaje's natural wines for in-person dining, Higashi also plans to sell grab-and-go cheese and charcuterie boxes, floral arrangements and cheese board accessories. She hopes to turn the outdoor dining areas into "garden patios," with houseplants and succulents for sale as well.
"I want to make it a really beautiful place to come and hang out, but also leave with something pretty," Higashi said.
The new storefront, which is slated to open at the end of June, and the catering business are being run by Higashi and her son. She grew up in Palo Alto and attended Palo Alto High School, as did her children and her mother.
"It's a privilege to be able to be a part of my hometown and give back in this way," she said. "It's a really exciting new family business for us."
Feast and Floral coming to Salvaje, 369 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto; 650-433-1897, feastandfloral.com. Instagram: @feastandfloral.
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