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French Restaurant - Palo Alto or Menlo Park

Original post made by nat, Midtown, on Mar 30, 2009

Anyone want to recommend a French restaurant, for a special occasion, in Palo Alto or Menlo Park? I find the online discussions confusing as people say very different things about the same restaurants. Yes, I've looked at the menus of a couple online also and that doesn't help. I don't mind spending a lot if the food and service are worth it.

I'm turning 70 so I want this to be a memorable (in a good way) dinner. I may even have a glass of wine!

Comments (18)

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Posted by Chantilly
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Web Link

Old school fancy French and northern Italian, either in RWC or Atherton.

Enjoy your birthday!

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:52 pm

YES, the Chantilly. Bring $$$,.

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Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

You might check out Marche in Menlo Park.Web Link

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

I'm not a French restaurant fan, but I wish you a very happy birthday Nat!

(If you don't go French, I love the new Loui Loui on University. They have great food and chocolate souffle!)

Like this comment
Posted by Nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm

We tried Chantilly on my birthday and it was a bust. I can't recommend this restaurant.

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Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Does anyone know the name of the French restaurant on California Avenue that was new a year ago? It was the same location, a corner location, where many restaurants have come and gone.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Cafe Brioche - It's kind of small and crowded, but not real expensive and a decent value.
Web Link

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Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

No, it isn't Cafe Brioche I'm thinking of. This restaurant just opened up a year ago and is near the Caltrain station. I can't recall the name and don't know if it survived.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Nora's was at that corner for a bit and went belly-flop up. Can't remember the name of the current occupant--expensive and, I thought, California cuisine-y.

What did you dislike about Chantilly? "French" around here can mean a lot of different things. Cafe Brioche, which I like, has some French influences, but I wouldn't say it's like what you get in France. That's been my usual experience with "French" restaurants around here--they're Californian with some French techniques and dishes.

(In fact, that's my experience with ethnic restaurants in general--sometimes they're authentic for a bit, then they either adapt to local expectations--i.e. Italian restaurants start dumping on tons of sauce on the pasta--or go out of business. Evvia gets high marks around here, but its food is nothing like what I ate in Greece.)

I've heard some decent things about Elan on California, though I've not eaten there.

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Posted by Kathy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 13, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Bistro Elan. California Ave., Palo Alto.

Try it. The food is excellent. French precision and taste. Not exactly French pretentions, though.

Like this comment
Posted by VoxPop
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 13, 2009 at 9:16 pm

It's Bistro Basia.

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Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Chantilly. Can't recommend it. For starters,I sampled both chardonnays offered by the glass, at $8 and $15! Both were sour.

Then the blue point oysters were awful!! And those were the only oysters offered. Perhaps they weren't fresh or I just don't like that kind. The Caesar salad had a very tasty dressing. That was the only thing we liked, besides the bread.

The half duck was uninteresting. The skin was not crisp as advertised. There wasn't much taste except some sweetness from the mandarins. I think it was overcooked.

The beef tornedo, medium rare, was good inside but "chewy" on the outside (I'm quoting my companion here). And the souffle au grand marnier! Soggy, soggy. The souffle dish was so hot and the sauce so cold that the plate the souffle dish rested on cracked in half when I added some more sauce!!

Service was very attentive. This was a Tuesday night and there weren't many people there.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm


Sounds like the kitchen was lax for whatever reason. Too bad. Bistro Basia's supposed to have a great apricot souffle, so maybe that or Elan would work for you.

My sense is that you're less concerned about pure French and more concerned with a higher level of skill and care in the kitchen. I would try Elan. Chez TJ's is another possibility.

That said, the last really great meal I had was at Aqua in San Francisco. The restaurant scene is more competitive up there and I think it makes a difference. You'd think the money down here would mean more terrific restaurants, but somehow it doesn't quite work out that way. A little too casual and family-oriented around here, I think.

Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Chez TJ in Mountain View is very good; probably the best restaurant of any kind in Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2009 at 11:34 am

Anyone try Beau Sejour (sorry if my spelling is wrong) in Los Altos?

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Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Beausejour in Los Altos. Can't recommend this restaurant.
The snails: no flavor and impossible to get some out of their shells.
Worst I've ever had, not even garlic could be tasted.
Caesar salad tasty. Duck breast okay but not very flavorful. The only thing served with it was a greasy, tasteless, risotto. The bit of salad served with the duck was quite good. The seafood linguini was just okay. Mike's in Midtown serves a tastier version. The cheesecake was okay. The cholocate souffle was terrible! What a disappointment. At least it was served well, with an extra layer of plate and napkin protecting the bottom plate.

Service was poor, even though this was a weekday evening. The server would put a plate down and then immediately turned and hurried away. I had to get a spoon for my souffle from my companion.

The glass of chardonney was satisfactory and the bread was great, crisp on the outside and soft inside. It was from a baguette.

Like this comment
Posted by Le Monsieur
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Excellent real French is Le Petit Bistro on El Camino near Shoreline Blvd. Call for hours.
1405 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 964-3321

Also good in Burlingame and real French is La Boheme
1425 Burlingame Ave
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 347-3331

Like this comment
Posted by James94025
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 29, 2011 at 6:53 pm

James94025 is a registered user.

Being part FRENCH I keep seeing Chantilly - keep drinking it is about as FRENCH as TACO BELL. It has french dishes as well as Italian if you can call then that - true french and italian (which I just happen to be ) well - we are just laugh our heads off - TRUE it is old stryle and $$$ - wish there were more stylish places that had some food

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