Looking for a place to purchase some interesting wine near Palo Alto, my husband and I were introduced to Vino Locale (Vino Locale website) where we found the wine we were looking for in addition to a delicious lunch. We were delighted to find that we could taste the wine, a dash, a splash, a glass, and a bottle. In addition to the taste of wine, we enjoyed lovely food, looked at paintings from local artists and saw the great spaces available for special events. This beautiful, private, individual setting was unique. We were so charmed by this restaurant located in a Victorian house (that we could have easily passed right by), that we decided that a San Francisco Splash Magazine review was in order for Barbara and Leon.
Two years ago Debra Szecsei, Jocelyn Alexander and Emily Mathews became co-owners of the restaurant. “Locale” essentially became their theme song as in:
Local food that is natural and organic in their efforts to support the slow food movement.
Local wine that features small production boutique wines produced in the Santa Cruz Mountains and/or within a 150 mile radius of Palo Alto, and a monthly-meet the wine maker.
Local art with an exhibit from a new local artist every other month, and a meet the artist reception.
Local musicians who play acoustic, classical guitar, jazz, folk, flamenco and bluegrass music.
The two chefs, Chef Maya Sozer and Chef Andrew Chavez, prepare a standard bistro menu during the week and offer special menus on the weekends.
These two chefs are visual artist, Chef Maya is an illustrator and Chef Andrew attended the California Institute of Art, who find that food preparation is also an artistic and creative endeavor. Their early food experiences were different, Chef Andrew’s was Hispanic and Chef Maya’s was Turkish, leading them to slightly different food creations. Chef Maya enjoys creating with vegetables and has one vegan dish on the menu at lunch and dinner. Each of them is very interested in accommodating the food needs of their customers.
Chef Andrew Chavez has been with Vino Locale for four years, predating the current owners. Since taking over full responsibility as chef two years ago, Chef Andrew has been given the opportunity to be creative and try new approaches. As he did for me (a gluten-free vegetarian) he tries to accommodate and please individual requests.
On a rainy Saturday evening we entered the clear-walled tent that provides an indoor/outdoor feeling creating one of three backyard entertainment spaces comprised of the yard, the secret garden and the fire patio. The ambiance in this space was just amazing. Candles created a romantic mood, enhanced by Levitate’s wonderful music (Levitate Website). Especially intriguing was the five string electric violin. It was a magical evening. Small tables provided cozy spaces where patrons were seated. It was the perfect place to enjoy delicious food and wine, cozy and romantic.
Servers Neil Berezovsky and Pietro Ortiz took care of us explaining the food and wines and taking our wine order. There are many wine choices, not only the wine variety, but the size and presentation. We chose to order a bottle of Rexford Pinot Gris - local, of course, from Santa Cruz-which paired well with all the food we ordered.
To meet Barbara’s gluten-free, vegetarian restrictions the following delicious dishes were served:
Warm Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese
(Dates stuffed with goat cheese & topped with a toasted pecan)
Served warm, the flavors were enhanced and the crunchy nut contrasted with the soft date. The textures and flavors were unexpected and delicious.
Organic Baby Gem Lettuce Seasonal Salad
(Delicate organic head of lettuce & seasonal veggies) The beets were firm and flavorful and the blend of lettuces very pleasant.
Roasted Veggies a la Chef Andrew – made especially as a gluten-free, vegetarian request. The veggies were firm and flavorful and very enjoyable.
Leon easily and happily ordered from the menu with no restrictions
Mediterranean Plate /Half order
(A wonderful combination of artisan cheese, cured meats & castelveltrano olives served with Mayfield Bakery whole-wheat walnut bread & baguette)
The olives were outstanding. The salami and dried beef were memorable.
Glazed Baked Salmon
(Served with Bulgur Vegetable Pilaf in a roasted Portobello)
The salmon was firm and flavorful, the Pilaf pleasantly soft but not mushy and very flavorful, and the Portobello was just perfect in flavor and texture. All items complimented one another.
(Gluten-free crackers & bread available on request) The gluten-free bread that I requested was the best I have had.
The whole-wheat walnut bread & baguettes are from Mayfield Bakery (Mayfield Bakery website).
We were persuaded to try the dessert. Lucky us. One taste and we were in heaven.
Emily’s Faux De Crème
(A perfect finish – the finest "Valrhona" chocolate, luscious Pots de Crème (no cream)).
Whether one is seated in the front dining room with fireplace, dining room, at the bar or in one of the three outdoor areas, there is an individual quality about the space. This restaurant is unique and charming and we will plan a return visit when we return to Palo Alto.
431 Kipling Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Parking: The city lot at University and Cowper, one and a half blocks away is a good choice after 5:00 p.m.. The lot directly across the street has spaces, if you are lucky.
Photos: Leon Keer