Monday, January 02, 2006

The Village Pub, Woodside

Last Friday night, we headed up the road to Woodsiiiiide! Okay, I doubt that anyone living in the upscale town would actually approve of this urbanized pronunciation. Residents here include Larry Ellison, Neil Young, Steve Jobs, Shirley Temple and Koko the gorilla (the one who knows sign language).

In the only part of Woodside that actually seems to have anything going on, sits The Village Pub. With dark wood, boxed-beam ceilings, deep-red upholstery and a big fireplace, the space has a club-like feel to it. Cozy yet sophisticated. Although business casual attire is preferred, when my husband and I dined here for the first time a few months ago, the first thing I noticed was a woman at the bar wearing riding boots. (They're big into horses here.)

On our second visit, Jon was hoping they would have the same appetizer special he had previously enjoyed: an heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad. But it was no ordinary tomato and mozzarella dish. This one was prepared table-side (they wheel a cart over to you), with the server tearing up fresh basil leaves on the spot. And the cheese? It was flown in THAT morning from Italy. I didn't actually get to sample this appetizer because Jon ate it ALL up. So I can only assume it was excellent.

Unfortunately, they were not offering that salad this time around. So Jon opted for a half-order of the gnocchi and I chose the sweetbreads. Before either of these items came to the table, the waiter brought us an amuse bouche of tuna tartare with artichoke puree. Delicious. We were equally satisfied with our starters, both of which were quite rich. The crispy sweetbreads were served with a poached egg on top of a pile of frisee, small chunks of pancetta and a brown-butter vinaigrette. Jon's truffled potato gnocchi was accompanied by mushrooms and a parsley root sauce.

Next came another complimentary treat: small espresso-size cups of fennel soup with poached lobster. I don't even like fennel much, but this was yummy. I wish I could say the same of my entree; I chose the monkfish, which was a bit dry. (The last time we were here, I had a wonderful grilled leg of lamb.) Jon chose better: his daube of beef, served with horseradish and a cauliflower mousse, was awesome.

But, it all worked out well in the end: Because I didn't finish most of my entree, I had plenty of room left for dessert. We ordered the warm chocolate souffle (which serves two and takes about 20 minutes to prepare) and the apple-butter beignets. We easily finished off both dishes.

The service here is excellent -- with silverware constantly changed out, water glasses constantly refilled, the knowledgeable and friendly server checking in on you often. The place does get busy, so reservations are recommended. If you can't get a table in the main dining area, there's always the bar... That is, as long as you can still order the amazing souffle over there.

The Village Pub
2967 Woodside Road
Woodside, CA
(650) 851-9888