Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - August 8, 2014

Tidbits

by Elena Kadvany

COFFEE AT THE THEATER ... After passing on Lytton Gateway, Blue Bottle Coffee has quickly laid claim to a new downtown Palo Alto space: the historic Varsity Theatre, which property owner Chop Keenan and tech company SAP are redeveloping into a high-tech hub. Part of the hub will be a Blue Bottle café, open to the public, inside the former Borders space at 456 University Ave. Blue Bottle Communications Manager Byard Duncan said the new café will definitely have their typical fare: single-origin and blends as pour-over coffees, espresso drinks and pastries from Blue Bottle's Oakland kitchen. The hub itself has been dubbed HanaHaus, and was backed by the city's Historic Resources Board Wednesday. "Blue Bottle Coffee is very excited to be starting with a project as unique and innovative as HanaHaus -- one that both salutes, and tinkers with, traditional café culture," a statement reads. Third-wave coffee pioneer Blue Bottle got its start in Oakland in 2002 and now operates more than 10 locations in the Bay Area and on the East Coast.

RANGOON RUBY #2 ... Downtown Palo Alto's only Burmese restaurant, Rangoon Ruby, has enjoyed such success that it's opened a second location — just blocks away from the first. Diners can now enjoy signature Burmese fare like tea leaf salad or noodle dish nan gyi dok at 326 University Ave., the former home of Italian restaurant Figo. Rodel Marquez, Rangoon Ruby general manager, said that they were looking for a larger location when they stumbled upon the open space. He said they're not worried about operating two restaurants so close to each other (Rangoon Ruby is at 445 Emerson St.). "We're pretty busy at our current location now," he said. "We think it will be a good balance for the city." The new restaurant is named Burma Ruby. Initially, the menu will be the same as Rangoon's, but he said they'll start changing things up "over the next season." Burma Ruby is open for lunch and dinner the same hours as Rangoon Ruby, which opened in June 2012 in the former Cafe Baklava.

GELATO, PER FAVORE ... Don't worry, it's not another artisan nitrogen ice cream shop. Gelataio became the first retail shop to open at Lytton Gateway this week, serving Italian-inspired, California-made gelato made on site with ingredients that are as local and as organic as humanely possible. Owners Christianne Mares and Jorge Borbolla, who originally hail from Mexico, opened up shop at 121 Lytton Ave. on Wednesday. Mares was endlessly inspired after an indulgent Italy trip during which they visited gelaterias in Florence, Lucca, Bologna, Naples and Amalfi. Gelataio flavors include chocolate, hazelnut, bacio (chocolate-hazelnut), pistachio, toblerone, stracciatella, lemon, mango and strawberry. All flavors are made from recipes that Mares has developed and are made in an open kitchen inside the shop. "Making the gelato fresh on premises daily is the key and has huge impact on the flavor and the texture," she said. "This is what we learned in Italy." Beyond typical gelato, there will also be sorbeto (vegan, non-dairy) and gelato made from almonds, soy or coconut milk to accommodate people with allergies or dairy intolerances. Also look out for gelato and sorbeto popsicles. There will also be baked goods, including torta di riso (an Italian rice cake) and gelato cake.

BANH MI CART LAUNCHES ... As of about a week ago, between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the courtyard outside of Vietnamese restaurant Three Seasons at 518 Bryant St., you'll find a cart stocked with banh mi sandwiches, fresh juices, Vietnamese iced coffee and lychee iced tea. Three Seasons executive chef and owner John Le launched this lunchtime banh mi cart to bring the traditional Vietnamese sandwiches to Palo Alto. (It's also, of course, a way of drawing people into the restaurant's off-the-beaten-path location in a downtown alley behind Nola's.) There's a total of five sandwiches, all $7 a pop. The sandwiches are all served on baguette bread with the same traditional toppings: shallots, mayo, pickles, cucumber, cilantro and jalapeno. The meat is what varies. The "Saigonese" comes with shredded chicken; the "street food" sandwich with grilled pork, bacon, chicken and pork pate; another is stuffed with pulled pork; another with braised beef; and a vegetarian option comes with lemongrass tofu (seared on both sides) and roasted portobello mushrooms. The use of baguette, pate and butter are a result of France's colonial influence in Vietnam. The cart also peddles fresh-squeezed seasonal juices for $4: orange-carrot, watermelon, pineapple-strawberry and a green juice (kale, celery, parsley, Granny smith apples and cucumber).

Check out more food news online at Elena Kadvany's blog, Peninsula Foodist, at paloaltoonline.com/blogs/.

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