ShopTalk: 520 Chef's Table, new Edgewood Plaza shops

COMMUNAL DINING AT GARDEN COURT ... A unique, once-a-month dining experience was quietly launched in March and has quickly become a talked-about event, particularly for Bay Area foodies. It takes place on the third Thursday of the month at Garden Court Hotel, 520 Cowper St., Palo Alto. Called "520 Chef's Table," the dining event is held at one long table that can seat a maximum of 30 people. "We purposely wanted to keep it small so that it remains an intimate event," said Barbara Gross, Garden Court Hotel's general manager. The idea for a Chef's Table began last summer when the hotel hired classically trained chef Clive Berkman for its catering service (the hotel doesn't have a restaurant). "We wanted to give people in the community an opportunity to experience what the chef had to offer," Gross said, and the 520 Chef's Table came to fruition. Berkman prepares a four- to five-course meal for diners and each course consists of three items. "I suggest that diners eat them from right to left, and that order is based on temperature, taste, then texture," Berkman said, adding that if guests have trouble remembering if it's right to left or left to right, "I tell them that Hebrew is read from right to left and to think of that as they eat." Passionate about the local food movement, Berkman said: "The dining experience truly pays homage to the San Francisco Bay Area's small farmers." Menlo Park resident Gwen Books has been to the sold-out dinners and is a fan. "There is really no other place in town that does anything like this," she said, describing the atmosphere as intimate. "It's not in a restaurant so you don't have to shout to talk to people. There is music playing and flowers everywhere. And the placemats have the menu printed on them, so you know what is coming next." The chef talks to the group and explains how the different foods were prepared, the unusual combinations, and the order in which to eat them. "It's folksy in the sense that we're all sitting at a communal table but elegant because everyone is dressed up," Books said. Cost for the dinner? $109 without drinks and $129 with drinks.

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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Community Center
on May 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Rumor has it that Specialty's Cafe backed out, and now there's going to be a Starbucks and an Asian Bakery at Edgewood.

Please, PLEASE do not allow another Starbucks. How many Starbucks does this city need? There are what, 7 or 8 already? Specialty's would have been really nice. They have decent food, good coffee and a nice bakery, not too overpriced. I don't know if anyone has eaten at The Corner Bakery yet, but it's expensive and pretty awful. It would be nice if a breakfast/lunch place came to Edgewood Shopping Center.

I also find it a shame that so many Palo Altans are living up to the stereotype and whining about various things at Fresh Market. The Fresh Market is a lovely store, a great place to shop. If candy is not your thing, there are great products on other aisles. Learn to say "no" to your kids. That works well. I have read reviews from other cities that host The Fresh Market, and nowhere are the reviews as whiny and demanding as in Palo Alto.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I hope Specialty's is still going in as a new tenant there - I have heard good things about one of them south of here. The Specialty's thing was only a rumor - not announced - as far as I have heard, but it would be convenient for me.
I would be FINE with a Starbuck's there - could then walk over, yes there are Starbuck's in PA but not near here.
I believe I have eaten at a Corner Bakery in a major Midwestern city and thought it was ok.
I agree a breakfast/lunch place would be ideal.

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Posted by Such a Shame!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I would love nothing more than to have a Specialty's here in Palo Alto. As it is, I have to go all the way to Snta Clara or San Jose to enjoy their fare, and that is just not practical!

I think Specialty's is the only thing that could save Edgewood Plaza; it would be a good anchor.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2014 at 6:13 am

Without a widely recognized logo/store at Edgewood, the center will slowly but surely fail. If it is Starbucks, so be it and please don't whine about it.

I enjoy shopping at Fresh Market. However it is obvious that, outside of the lunch hour and after work rush, foot traffic and receipts are not that plentiful.

I appreciate the affinity for Specialty mentioned above. However if they do not get a Starbucks or Peets in there, it's going to be trouble. A Starbucks will entice patronage from many who typically just drive past the center on their way into PA or to Stanford. Convenient with plenty of parking.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2014 at 11:49 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

I'm not Starbucks fan, but I'll patronize a local one to help keep the center going - I agree with Crescent Park Dad.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I prefer Peets over Starbucks...I like stronger coffee. Always add an extra shot to a Starbucks latte.

But the important thing is to get a store in there that will bring in the traffic and (hopefully) exposure to Fresh Market and the other vendors.

Like it or not, Starbucks has the highest brand recognition among the candidates.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 6, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Very true, Crescent Park Dad. We try to make it a point to tell people in the area about The Fresh Market, and how convenient it is. I really hope it makes it!

Like this comment
Posted by MV Mama
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:43 am

There's a Specialty's in Mountain View, on Ellis at 101. It has a Peet's inside (I think they all do).

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