To finish off our whirlwind celebrations, I invited a couple of our friends to go out to eat to celebrate Nick's birthday at a restaurant in Palo Alto called Calafia.
Run by Google's old Chef, Calafia reflects his vision on simple yet amazingly good wholesome food. Much (if not all) of the food reflects sustainable living practices and the menu changes seasonally. We happened to stumble upon the restaurant our first night in California (I had a goat cheese and beet salad pizza and Nick had a spicy noodle bowl). For all the places we have tried out since then, I think Calafia is our favorite so far.
Thursday night we headed to the restaurant (which was pretty busy considering it was around 6:30 during the week) in a group of 5. We sat in the middle, so we had a really great view of their open kitchen. The first time Nick and I went we sat at the "bar" which was really more like the "kitchen" and got to watch everything be cooked. I had actually never done that before and both times really enjoyed watching as they prepared the food. The decor itself while plain looking from this picture from the website:
is actually warm and inviting. During the day time it seems like the perfect place for lunch, but in the evening it feels romantic and cozy. And the staff who work there add to the fun of the place.
The menu is split into two sides (meat eaters and vegetarian). Even though the vegetarian food is heavy on the Asian themed dishes (you know how I feel about a veg menu consisting of just things with soy sauce or curry), it is balanced with other options as well. I think, in reality, the food is "California" which I think means that there are Asian and Spanish hints to it. The overall theme of the menu seems to be rich and savory. So no matter what you order, you're going to get something delicious and good quality. I was really happy with my choice, but once the next table's food came the man sitting next to me had the most amazing looking beef dish (I've since looked at the menu and think it was the brisket). I smelled the beef and potatoes half the night, and my mouth watered. And since Calafia gets their food from local farms, I'm pretty sure I'm getting that next time.
For dinner this past week, I felt like our group ordered half the items on the menu! We had the BBQ chicken pizza (which was super spicy), pizza with duck and goat cheese, a burger (mouthwatering), mac and cheese (not the kiddie version), butternut squash soup (rich and creamy), and one of the noodle bowls. Everything was rich and flavorful and let's just put it this way, none of us had any leftovers and forced ourselves to eat a mountain-full of desserts as well (Pavlova (one word=amazing), whoopie pie (so rich and delicious, I wish I had ordered this), strawberry shortcake (it was ok, but I am also not a fan of this in general), banana split (compared to the rest of the food I was surprised how this was so "typical"), and apple cobbler (I didn't try it, but it smelled really good)).
Now for a couple pictures of the food from their website:
Ok, I think I'm ready to go back now.