Friday, April 8, 2011

Palo Alto: Calafia Cafe

On Sunday Justin flew back to the area "on business," so I met up with him and Max around 6:00pm, and we drove to Town & Country for dinner at Calafia Cafe.  The only three-top immediately available was outside, and given the glorious early evening weather, we chose that option over a 10-15 min wait.  Service was on the slow side - they seemed rather understaffed - but apart from being rather hungry, we weren't in much of a hurry.

Calafia was started by the former Head Chef at Google, and the emphasis is on fresh, organic and local ingredients, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and low-carb options.  The menu is double-sided, with one side being entirely vegetarian/vegan and one side being omnivorous.  From the omnivorous side, I chose the burger, asking our server if I could replace the bacon with avocado.  His response was, "I'd love to accommodate you, but unfortunately we can't provide organic avocados."  I was going to respond that non-organic avocado was just fine with me, but it turns out that because organic avocados were unavailable, the substitution would not be possible at all.  After a few blinks, I requested that the bacon simply be omitted.  This request was noted, along with the rest of the orders, using a flurry of taps on a Palm Pilot-like device.  Justin ordered the salmon open face sandwich, and Max ordered the crispy chicken breast.

My burger, with cheddar and grilled onions, was a perfect way to satisfy my post-hellish-traffic-experience-on-the-Bay-Bridge meat cravings.  The accompaniments were a mountain of fries (unevenly cut but still evenly crisp), housemade pickles, and housemade ketchup that really tasted more like a tomato jam.  Justin's salmon was the most attractive entree of the evening, with salmon, arugula, and some apple layered over a very thin piece of crisp bread.  He thought the dish was excellent but simply not very filling, given that the only carbohydrate was - to paraphrase his words - "a big flat crouton." 

Max's chicken was also carefully presented, with arugula and fennel shavings mounded on top.  This dish apparently tasted good, though the chicken was slightly overcooked.

Max shared Justin's complaint of lingering hunger, which we all agreed could have been avoided had Calafia provided a bread basket.  The salmon and chicken entrees would have been perfect for lunch or a light dinner, and Calafia is lovely in that it's both classy and casual, but some of the meals they serve are definitely insufficient for hungry 20-something-year-olds.  Instead of ordering dessert, we took care of the check, picked up some groceries at Trader Joe's and then returned to E/M's apartment, where the boys had a second dinner of Max's homemade turkey meatballs and pasta.  We ended the evening with mango mochi ice cream and leftover baklava.