This promises to be an exciting year for the Midpeninsula food-and-drink scene.
Much-anticipated and unique projects opening in 2018 include Protégé in Palo Alto, from two French Laundry alums; Morsey's Farmhouse Kitchen in Los Altos, where the menu is fueled by products made from the owners' herd of water buffalo; and Bevri, a Georgian restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, among others.
There are also more casual, neighborhood dining concepts coming to the area and a spate of bakeries set to hit Mountain View.
Read on for more about some of the eateries coming to the Midpeninsula this year.
Protégé: Dennis Kelly and Anthony Secviar, a former sommelier and chef, respectively, from the three-Michelin-star The French Laundry in Yountville, are gearing up to open Protégé Restaurant at 250 S. California Ave. They described Protégé as a neighborhood restaurant with "approachable" food that will reflect their technical skill and background. An "upscale, casual" lounge will serve snacks, appetizers, entrees and pie for dessert (from a custom-built trolley). A separate, reservations-only dining room will offer a hybrid of a tasting and a-la-carte menu; customers can choose two to four dishes from a prix fixe menu with appetizers, seafood, pasta, meats and dessert. The restaurant's name is a reference to the owners' intent to create an incubator-like environment focused on "mentoring the next generation of restaurant professionals," Kelly said.
Joe & The Juice: This spring, look for the downtown Palo Alto outpost of Joe & The Juice, a Danish juice and coffee chain in the midst of a major U.S. expansion effort. The company's signature Millennial-pink signage recently went up in the ground floor of a new building currently under construction at 500 University Ave. Mads Højmark, branding and communication manager for Joe & The Juice, said they're aiming to open in March. Joe & The Juice serves fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, sandwiches and coffee.
Verve Coffee: In an exciting development for local caffeine junkies, Santa Cruz's Verve Coffee Roasters plans to open a cafe at 162 University Ave. this year. Verve's coffee is roasted in Santa Cruz and comes from direct-trade relationships with farmers. The Palo Alto Verve will have the typical coffee offerings and a full food menu, including baked goods from Manresa Bread, the bakery spinoff of the Michelin-starred Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos.
Taverna: Two veterans of the local culinary scene who met at Evvia Estiatorio 10 years ago plan to open their own Hellenic restaurant in Palo Alto this spring. Thanasis Pashalidis and Hakan Bala are behind Taverna, a farm-to-table, neighborhood restaurant at 800 Emerson St. There will be a "strong emphasis" on seasonality and vegetables, as well as seafood and wine (both local and international), Pashalidis said. They hope to expose diners to lesser-known Hellenic dishes.
The Chickery: The Chickery, a Washington D.C.-based chicken eatery, originally planned to open its first California location in Palo Alto last summer, but is now aiming for end of January. A quick-service restaurant, The Chickery bills itself as a "better chicken" company that serves dishes such as chicken fingers, chicken sandwiches and rotisserie chicken. The Palo Alto location is at 3850 El Camino Real.
Bevri: 2018 will likely see a first in the Palo Alto dining scene: the opening of a Georgian restaurant. Pavel Sirotin, a Russian transplant who has always had a passion for restaurants and hospitality, is opening Bevri at 530 Bryant St. with his brother and sister-in-law. Georgian cuisine centers around meat and vegetables, he said, and heavily features ingredients like spinach, walnuts, pomegranate and eggplant.
Sun of Wolf: The younger generation of a local restaurant family is opening their own project at 406 S. California Ave. this spring. Sun of Wolf is the brainchild of cousins Viari Lopez and Alexa and Paulina Sol, whose parents own La Fiesta Restaurant and Vive Sol in Mountain View, Palo Alto Sol (next door to Sun of Wolf) and Quinto Sol in Redwood City. Lopez described the cuisine as "modern California comfort meets old-world Mexican flavors and richness," with traditional dishes such as aguachile next to their take on grilled cheese with tomato soup, using oaxaca cheese in the sandwich and a roasted poblano-tomatillo soup. There will also be craft cocktails, such as the "Wolf Bite" with mezcal, tamarind and allspice dram, a liqueur. They're aiming to open March 1.
The Midwife and the Baker: The Midwife and the Baker, whose bread and baked goods have attracted a following at Bay Area farmers markets, is coming to 846 Independence Ave. Husband-and-wife team Mac and Jaime McConnell took over a production facility there last year and plan to open as a retail bakery in early 2018, Mac McConnell said. He was head instructor for several years at The San Francisco Baking Institute and Jaime McConnell is a licensed midwife. They use high-hydration doughs and favor whole-grain sourdoughs. Their Instagram feed is full of piles of baguettes, hearty whole wheat loaves, croissants and other goods. The bakery is not fully open yet, but just started selling extra bread Wednesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Maison Alyzee: Maison Alyzee is one of three French bakeries set to open on Mountain View's Castro Street in 2018. Owner and French native Laurent Pellet is bringing three pastry chefs from Paris to open the 212 Castro St. bakery in late February. Maison Alyzee will serve traditional French pastries, fresh-baked bread, coffee, wine and lunch items such as sandwiches and salads.
C'est Si Bon: This San Jose bakery specializing in custom cakes and Persian pastries is opening several doors down from Maison Alyzee at 282 Castro St. C'est Si Bon is a family-owned business that started in San Jose 12 years ago, said owner Shay Zangeneh. Zangeneh, her two sisters, mother and father run the bakery. They're aiming to open in early March.
Paris Baguette: International bakery chain Paris Baguette plans to open a new "showstopper" location at 317 Castro St. this spring. The bakery, which was started in the 1980s by a Korean pastry chef trained in France, serves coffee, tea, pastries, bread, sandwiches and other French-inspired fare. "We want to make a big impression in Mountain View," Chief Development Officer Larry Sidoti said in a previous interview. "It's a very important area."
Morsey's Farmhouse Kitchen: A one-of-a-kind restaurant is set to open this month on Main Street. Owner Kal Morsey claims Morsey's Farmhouse Kitchen will be the only restaurant in the country cooking from a wide range of water buffalo products -- not to mention they're coming from a herd of nearly 400 water buffalo he owns with his wife Yulia. Morsey's, at 134 Main St., will serve water buffalo milk, different kinds of cheeses, butter, yogurt and gelato and also incorporate them in the dishes they serve. The couple hopes to educate American diners on the merits of water-buffalo products, which are more popular and known in South Asian and European countries.
State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria: Pizza, beer and arcade games will be front and center at State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria, set to soft open this week at 101 Plaza North. Palo Alto native Lars Smith, co-owner of The Tap Room in Palo Alto, is opening the restaurant with his brother, Andrew, also a Tap Room co-owner, and Amy Betz, a former Tap Room manager. There will be hand-tossed, thin-crust pizzas as well as pub food and California beers on tap.
The Post: Vickie Breslin has been hard at work transforming the former homes of Estatements Luxury Consignment and First & Main Sports Lounge at 395 Main St. into The Post, her first restaurant. Breslin previously ran events for First & Main Sports Lounge and has worked at other local establishments. At The Post, "people can look forward to quality, locally and organically sourced where possible, comfort food and craft cocktails," she wrote in an email. There will also be happy hour daily and a late-night menu. She's aiming to open in late February or early March.
Rustic House Oyster Bar and Grill: A San Carlos seafood restaurant is opening a second outpost of Rustic House Oyster Bar and Grill at 295 Main St. in downtown Los Altos. Owner Jerry Beltramo took over the space after Turn Bar & Grill abruptly closed in August. He plans to have its soft opening this weekend. Look for a raw bar and dishes like fish tacos, lobster roll, fish and chips and seared ahi tuna.
For more local restaurants news, read Elena Kadvany's blog, Peninsula Foodist, at paloaltoonline.com/blogs.