Going to Town

The peninsula has a shortage of higher-end, hip, sophisticated eateries.  It’s just the nature of suburbia, and a trek to San Francisco is less than 30 minutes away.

That’s why Town Restaurant on Laurel Street in San Carlos is the hippest place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.  They do a good job of combining family-friendly eatery (good kids menu and service) with hot nightspot and bar (after 8pm the noise level is overwhelming with all the crowding around the centralized bar).  If you have kids, you’re only safe from 5:30-8pm.

That being said, I’ve never had a bad meal at Town.  If you love a hearty meat and potatoes meal, this is the place for you.  Portions are large, prices are equal to a joint in the city, and the cocktails are tasty.  You should definitely go with one of their suggested martinis (love the pear flavored one w/Gray Goose vodka).

I’ve had the Chicken and Ribs, Meatloaf, and their Pork Chop on previous visits.  But this time around, I had the newly added Bourbon Glazed Flank Steak.  It was cooked a perfect medium rare and had a delicious sweet yet tangy glaze with bourbon and brown sugar.  It was the best steak I’ve had in a long time.  Juicy and tender, there was a great balance of flavors and it didn’t mask the flavor of a quality piece of beef.  (My husband makes a MEAN steak so I don’t compare restaurant steaks to his :).)

If that wasn’t enough for you, the meal came with two hugely portioned sides.  You can choose from a laundry list of enticing sides, which is half the dilemma when ordering, like heirloom tomatoes with bleu cheese, broccoli bernaise, garlic mashed potatoes or a fully loaded baked potato.

I went with the fresh buttered corn and the mac and cheese.  Man, these sides were good!  This is my kind of meal.  The kind you’ll regret when you get home but it’s damn good going down.  This is like “last meal on earth” good.  I love how the corn was fresh off the cob, tender, still slightly crisp, and full of good buttery goodness.  And the mac and cheese is now my favorite on the peninsula: creamy and gooey, but enough baked breadcrumbs on top to give it texture.  LOVE IT!

It’s great to have a spot to go to where the food is always reliably fantastic and the scene is definitely hipper than the usual hole in the wall. 

Sometimes suburbia needs a touch of the city life.

Town: Chops, Steak & Seafood on Urbanspoon

Redwood City’s Michelin Recommendation

I’ve frequently complained that superior service and truly inventive cuisine just doesn’t exist on the Peninsula.  If you’re a career waiter and take it seriously, you’d end up somewhere higher profile in the city.  And the most ambitious chefs would want the glory of cooking in San Francisco.  It’s just my opinion, though I know I’m generalizing quite a bit.

Enter Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.  The location has seen a lot of turnover (right across the street from the RC Library), but it’s a seemingly perfect spot for a restaurant like this.  There’s lots of light bouncing off the clean white walls, white tablecloths, and very rustic accents and chairs.  The place is charming and actually feels like it’d be a neighborhood joint in the city if it weren’t for it’s large size.  There’s also ample space for al fresco dining here.

Though @istelleinad and I dined here only for lunch, I got a good feel for the kitchen’s potential.  It should also be noted that the restaurant is Michelin guide recommended (but not starred).

We started with the Proschutto plate.  It was heavenly with thin slices of salty tender meat, accompanied by two small baked cheese tarts mixed with egg that had the texture and taste of a quiche, and a tiny bowl of pickled spring veggies.  It was a thoughtful combination.

@istelleinad had the risotto special that sat in a large homemade parmesan cheese crisp “bowl”.  I had the housemade radicchio ravioli with grape tomatoes.  @istelleinad’s risotto was a bit heavy with the cheese crisp it was served with, but the risotto itself was flavorful, seasoned and prepared well.

My ravioli was also delicate and simple.  I appreciated that the ravioli tasted housemade and wasn’t overly heavy.

It was a well prepared, simple meal with delicate touches here and there.  The service was nothing special, but good.  For now, this restaurant fills a niche on the Peninsula.  It’s expertly prepared Italian food with a sophisticated (but not stuffy) vibe at a reasonable cost.  It’s not a chain, its cuisine isn’t generic, and its menu is more interesting than most.  This place has character.

Donato Enoteca on Urbanspoon