Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lavanda Restaurant and Wine Bar, Palo Alto

I generally don't do restaurant reviews; there's enough things to write about just covering wines and wineries. But once in a while won't hurt, and Lavanda is certainly worth talking about.

Lavanda is on the corner of University and Emerson, in Palo Alto. The restaurant is partly owned by Howard Graham, a Pinot Noir grower from the Russian River Valley and partner in the August West label, so obviously there's a great focus on wines. The bar has a good selection of wines by the glass and the restaurant's extensive wine list features several local wineries; mark-up is typically to around 2X retail. Corkage is normally $20 but - as I only discovered when the bill arrived - on Fridays and Saturdays it's slashed to just 25c!

Chef Armando "Tiny" Maes' menu has a number of tapas-style hot and cold small plates for $5 each, along with appetisers, salads and main dishes. We initially planned to have a few small plates and then order a main course, but in the end we just kept ordering more small plates. Some highlights included braised lamb ribs, an interesting chick pea pancake, grilled artichokes with aioli and sardines a la plancha. The only dish that didn't work for us was a warm beet salad; the beets were nice but the dressing was a little too oily. I took a 2001 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon from Spring Mountain in Napa Valley; a balanced, food-friendly wine that turned out to be peaking nicely.

The total bill for two diners: a total of nine small plates, including tax and corkage was under $50; very good value, particularly in the current economy.


Mary said...

For Dave Tong,
The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a fundraiser on May 14th and we are inviting local wineries to participate in a casual wine competition. We'd also like to invite wine editors/critics to our fundraising event. I can send you an invitation if you write me at I am not with the chamber but inviting editors on behalf of the chamber.
Thanks for your attention,