Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Flea St. Cafe, Menlo Park

So it's got a strange name (Pulgas = fleas in Spanish). And it doesn't look like much from the outside. But Flea St. Cafe is one of the most charming restaurants I've experienced in the Peninsula.

Jon and I went with his parents to Flea St. on a recent Friday night. Our waiter was over-the-top enthusiastic about all of the items on the menu. He reminded me of that character Alec Baldwin played on "Friends" -- the one who is so in love with EVERYTHING. "The Chef is a genius!" "This is magnificent!" "That is exquisite!" (But the waiter managed to be entertaining/endearing instead of annoying.)

To start, Jon's dad and I both had the heirloom tomato soup with a puffed pastry crown.* It was delicious! I loved the cilantro in the soup, and it wasn't too creamy or rich. And the pastry was light and flaky. Jon had the blue corn almond vegetable fritto misto. I had just a bite of his and it was very good; the blue corn made for a nice crust on the veggies. Jon's mom went with the red beet goat cheese ravioli, which is not actually pasta. The ravioli's shell is made of thin shavings of beet, making for a gorgeous presentation.

For our main courses, it went down like this: I ordered the lamb special (served two ways -- osso bucco and thinly sliced tenderloin); Jon had the pork chop; his mom had the halibut cartoccio; and his dad had the grilled bavette. It was all so very good. I didn't finish my lamb, however, because I was saving room for dessert! (Jon's dad ate the leftovers the next day and the dish was still terrific.)

While Jon's dad abstained from dessert, Jon ordered the vanilla gelato served with a Russian tea cake cookie (the cookie was good, the gelato was -- eh -- vanilla gelato, not my favorite dessert). His mom chose wisely, ordering the bread pudding with rum sauce. And I enjoyed the rose petal lavender angel food cake served with strawberries and lemon mousse. Yum!

Since Jon's parents only visit us a couple of times a year, we try to take them to restaurants we really like. This was a little risky because neither of us had previously dined at Flea St. Cafe. But the place did not disappoint, and we all walked out at the end of the meal with full bellies and big smiles.

Flea St. Cafe
3607 Alameda de las Pulgas
Menlo Park, CA
(650) 854-1226

* By the way, the BEST tomato soup in puff pastry I have ever had was at Bistro Jeanty in Napa. I believe it's also on the menu at Jeanty at Jack's in San Francisco.