ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS ... That's the way German-food aficionados might view the turn of events in the restaurant business. It looks like Esther's German Bakery and Cafe, at 987 San Antonio Road on the Los Altos/Palo Alto border, may be picking up the slack created when Elbe's, Palo Alto's only German restaurant, closed two months ago. For two years, Esther's was open only for breakfast and lunch. It started serving dinners this week, with an expanded menu featuring traditional German supper fare. "People have been asking me for a long time to open for dinner and I finally decided to do it," owner Esther Nio said. "I've done my best to try to keep reasonable prices. With this economy, who can afford a big dinner?" Despite the extensive menu that includes such items as schweinshaxn and rouladen, Nio says her best seller still is basic bratwurst.
SLIDERS HIT DOWNTOWN ... CharStyle:>A modern-day diner is about to open its front door in downtown Palo Alto. The Sliderbar Cafe at 324 University Ave. is restaurateur Ashwani Dhawan's latest venture. Applying the concept of old-fashioned sliders to popular culture, Dhawan will be serving the all-day slider. "We'll have sliders for breakfast, sliders for lunch and sliders for dinner," he said. But these are a sharp contrast to the sliders of the 1950s. The term "sliders" is thought to have originated at White Castle, a chain of restaurants known for its small square burgers. The burgers were on the greasy side and as a result, they would easily slide down the throats of the customers. White Castle even trademarked the name of its burgers, but spelled it as "Slyders." Dhawan's sliders could be viewed as several steps up from the original — nothing in the cafe will be fried. "We are going to bake our fries, chicken wings and onion rings," Dhawan said. "We use Niman Ranch beef and everything is organic," he said. In addition, breakfast sliders come in different styles. "We have the Mediterranean breakfast slider, the Italian breakfast slider and the California breakfast slider," he said. Breakfast sliders start at $1.99. The narrow 1,600-square-foot site, which is half the former Gleim the Jeweler spot, will seat 45. Dhawan said 1 percent of all sales from the restaurant will go to local charities. He also owns Mantra, a 4-year-old Indian restaurant at 632 Emerson St. in Palo Alto.