Review: Protégé.

The hottest opening in the South Bay comes from two The French Laundry alumni.

Chef Anthony Secviar and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly both worked at the iconic three Michelin starred restaurant up in wine country and have now opened up a casual fine dining restaurant down in Palo Alto. Protégé offers two experiences where the lounge has an à la carte menu and the more intimate dining room has a four course prix fixe menu at $120. Reservations are available for both and I decided to try the lounge area. The restaurant features elegant New American cuisine showcasing the abundance of amazing local produce and products.

King Crab with Yuzu Hollandaise and California White Sturgeon Caviar (8/10).

Beautifully presented in a delicate egg shell, tender king crab pieces were the foundation of this refined snack. Topped with an airy yuzu scented hollandaise sauce and delicious white sturgeon caviar, it was a special treat.

“Fish and Chips” with Hawaiian Kampachi and Fresno Chili and Yuzu (8/10).

A refreshing and light take on “fish and chips” with Hawaiian kampachi pieces seasoned with fresh yuzu zest and fresno chili slices on a crispy cracker.

Shigoku Oysters with Lemon and Tarragon (7.5-8/10).

While the oysters themselves were briny and fresh, I did have some shell in mine. The foam on top didn’t necessarily taste like lemon or tarragon.

Brown Butter Parker House Rolls with Sea Salted Butter (8/10).

Warm buttery parker house rolls are always a good idea. The salted butter added that richness to an already fantastic bread but nothing beats Lazy Bear’s butter.

Hushpuppies with Padron Peppers, Smoked Cheddar, and Ranch (7/10).

This was my least favorite out of the snacks as I felt that the flavors were slightly muted. I barely tasted the smoked Cheddar cheese and I couldn’t taste the padron peppers at all. Also the texture of the hushpuppies was a little heavy.

White Peach Gazpacho with Avocado, Fresh Wasabi, and Cilantro (8/10).

A nice take on a classic cold summer soup but flavored with peaches. I loved the fresh pieces of white juicy peaches, creamy avocado, crunchy croutons, and hints of fresh wasabi that added a touch of heat.

Ricotta Dumplings with Summer Squash, Sweet 100 Tomatoes, and Almond Pesto (8.5-9/10).

Easily my favorite dish of the night as it had a few of my favorite ingredients (tomatoes and cheese). These pillowy tender dumplings were filled with creamy Ricotta cheese garnished with intensely sweet tomato confit, beautiful strands of summer squash, and a vibrant almond pesto underneath. Definitely hit the spot in every way.

Spanish Octopus with Artichoke, Panisse, Picholine Olive, and Romesco (8/10).

Nicely cooked octopus, tender yet browned, was served with a crispy piece of panisse (chickpea flour “cake”), artichokes, and picholine olive sauce. Really tasty.

Akaushi Beef Ribeye with Marbled Potato Confit, Melted Cabbage, Crispy Shallot, and Horseradish (6.5-7/10).

Unfortunately the main course was a bit lackluster. While the beef ribeye was beautifully cooked and medium rare, I felt like the dish was incomplete. Presentation wise it looked unfinished and the flavors were boring and unexciting. The “brick chicken” entrée looked much more appealing.

For the lounge, they have a dessert trolley with an assortment of tantalizing goodies. They also offer seasonal ice cream and sorbets.

Dessert Cart and Various Sorbets and Ice Cream Available as Well.

Canelé, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Fig Tart with Buttermilk Ice Cream (8/10).

I loved all the desserts we ordered. The canelé, a classic French pastry, had a beautiful crispy crust and a chewy moist interior. The chocolate chip cookies were warmed so the chocolate chips were gooey and the cookies themselves had a great texture. Lastly, the fig tart was heavenly with a beautiful crust and was even better with the tangy buttermilk ice cream.

Protégé is a fantastic addition to Palo Alto which doesn’t have many fine dining options for being such a wealthy community. While my experience was great, the portions were on the smaller side and the price was definitely up there but nothing out of the ordinary compared to San Francisco restaurants. Therefore my rating is a 8/10.

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