Iberia Restaurant and Flea Street Cafe
A brief return to the present so that I can make a few notes about two restaurants we ate at recently (we've been working on cooking for ourselves again, but it's so much easier to be lazy and go out to eat, especially on the weekends when we feel entitled to relax and not do much). At least we're eating locally like good community members.
Iberia Restaurant, Menlo Park.
We went there for dinner, but they also do tapas. We split an appetizer (a trio of tapas, which turned out to be potato croquettes, some sort of veal stew, and roasted vegetables) and an entree (their paella for two). We weren't really impressed with any of the food (except for the cheese scones, olives, and toasted almonds that they gave us before the meal), and it was pretty expensive for a mediocre meal. Maybe our palates aren't sophisticated enough. The paella wasn't bad, but the mussels in it were sandy, and the shrimp and scallops seemed overcooked, and it just didn't blow us away. Maybe we'll go back and try having tapas there instead. Their chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates sound tasty!
Flea Street Cafe, Menlo Park.
I really liked this restaurant. The decor was nice and simple and welcoming, and I love their philosophy of buying local produce and meat, using seafood that isn't overfished, and all that. It makes me feel good inside :) They even included a seafood watch card from Monterey Bay Aquarium with the check, which was more current than the cards we had with us. I thought that was such an awesome touch :)
Our waiter seemed kind of uncomfortable, but maybe he was just having trouble remembering all the specials. They started with really good bread (biscuits and some whole wheat sourdough bread, still warm) and a little plate with some awesome eggplant medallions and a few thin slices of watermelon radish, which wasn't hot at all (again with the watermelon radish!).
Patrick had crab cakes to start (yum!), which came with a little microgreen salad. I had a warm spinach salad with mushrooms, caramelized leeks, capers, and feta cheese, which was really yummy. The cheese was so good--not too strong. Our entrees were less impressive (maybe we're just not big entree people, and we should just order a few appetizers instead of entrees when we go out). Patrick had salmon with mashed blue potatoes and three sauces (Pinot Noir reduction; preserved lemon, olives, and chiles; some sort of winter squash with cumin?), with assorted vegetables on the side. He didn't really like any of the sauces, though I thought the olive sauce was tasty. Where's the beurre blanc when you need it?
I had a selection of four vegetarian side dishes, because I like trying lots of different things. There was some really good saffron rice pilaf that I savored happily, a so-so wild mushroom dish (too dry for me), and a variety of grilled/roasted vegetables (turnips, fava beans?, red peppers, zucchini, and a white carrot (or maybe it was a parsnip)). I guess I was hoping for a little more in the way of sauces and embellishment, but they were certainly nice vegetable specimens.
We split a piece of pumpkin cheesecake for dessert, which was awesome! It had a dark chocolate cookie crust and some sort of fresh cranberry sauce on the side (maybe in a port reduction?). Yum!
So although our entrees weren't all we'd hoped for, the meal was great overall, and we'll definitely go there again. Yay, treating the environment well and eating well at the same time!