Town Square

Has anyone tried "Mantra" yet?

Original post made by toni, Midtown, on Sep 28, 2006

Its on Emerson street. And it bills itself as
"elegant California cuisine with a dash of India"...

Any comments? Is it worth trying?


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Posted by sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 28, 2006 at 3:55 pm

The food is fine but the service is awful/creepy. I had a very disturbing experience with a waiter there the other day where he actually reached into my lap to take my napkin as he was clearing the table. Made me terribly uncomfortable and not want to return.

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Posted by Theresa
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2006 at 4:37 pm

Paly's newspaper, The Campanile, did a review of it last June. Here's a link to the article: Web Link

I haven't been there myself. The incident Sally mentions with the waiter is a little ... odd!

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Posted by Lynn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2006 at 8:44 pm

The appetizers are good, the main courses nothing special, our service was horrible, too, although nothing like Sally's. I prefer Janta.

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Posted by Don
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 29, 2006 at 1:16 pm

The food is different and good but overpriced. If you want straight Indian cuisine there are better places (Amber) but this is supposed to be Fusion, not strictly Indian. The atmosphere is great. The service is adequate. I would go back but not often because of the price.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2006 at 10:33 pm

Low grade dog food!

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Posted by ucmogirl
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 30, 2006 at 8:58 am

Try Junoon instead. Service impeccable. Food excellent.

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Posted by Larry
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2006 at 10:04 am

We tried it once and haven't returned. I'd give it high marks for ambience, average for fine food, low for value.

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Posted by diner
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2006 at 11:05 am

I was there recently with a group of six. The food was good and somewhat interesting. The service was awful. The waitress would take drink orders from only a couple of people, then disappear, then come back and spill a glass of beer, then later forget a dish, and in the end be absent for long periods of time.

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Posted by diner
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2006 at 5:20 pm

I thought the vegetable curry (lunch special) was quite
good, but not extraordinary, and it was a bit expensive
at $13. What I really remember is the incredibly bad
service. I wonder if Mantra is reading these comments!
I recommend: only go there if you have lots of time and
like a very leisurely/absent sort of service. Mind you,
I am all in favor of "slow food" and I don't have a short
fuse. But it took over 10 minutes to get my bill after
I asked (having already waited a long time, in what I
thought was an obvious way).

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2006 at 4:15 pm

I personally think Mantra is a great addition to Downtown Palo Alto as I have dined there for both dinner and lighter fare in the bar area about 5 times now. We have also had friends from SF join us, and everyone has had nothing but a positive experience. I think the dinner menu is interesting - try the sea bass or beef tenderloin and don't forget to add their unique-flavored naan. This is not a curry house, but an upscale contemporary American restaurant (10x's better than the new Mad & Fifth - ambience is the only place they score) with an Indian flair at reasonable prices. Even if you don't care for Indian food, you would still like many of their entrees. Junnoon (upscale as well) and Janta (more of a curry house) are major disappointments if you ask me.

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Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

We were taken to this restaurant last night by some Indian friends. Having checked these reviews and others beforehand, I was a little concerned. But, this place was really good.

We arrived later in the evening just as a busy evening was beginning to wind down. We found the wait staff knowledgeable and service was excellent. (As far as the napkin episode, I did notice that when one of our party left to use the restroom, the wait staff came and picked the napkin off the chair and refolded it neatly and placed it back on the table, a nice touch). The ambience and particularly the chairs were great, I have not sat as comfortably in a restaurant before.

We ordered "share plates" which meant that the food was placed in the middle of the table with serving utensils, including knives, and we could all try some of each. We ordered one appetizer and also the tandoori mixed grill (an entree) as an appetizer, and they were all wonderful, particularly the lamb. For the entrees, my favorites were the coke au vin lamb shank, and the chicken moilee. Once again, the lamb was wonderful, very lean and meaty. The various naan breads we ordered to soak up the sauces were tasty but too fatty in my opinion. I would have preferred them drier so that they could actually soak up the sauces. My one criticism was lack of vegetables, I would have preferred to see more. Only one entree came with vegetables and they were excellent. The desserts were very good although one of our choices had run out, not surprising as we were late. The creme brulee was different and pleasant, the chocolate pyramid was gorgeous and the ice cream tasters were extremely good with out of the ordinary flavors. The wines were also great.

I had a really good time learning about indian food and trying things that I would never have picked on my own. In all, it was an excellent experience. It was expensive but this is fine dining, not going out for a quick curry.