Kale may be trendy, but is it festive? Oh, ja. Many Danes eat kale on New Year's because the leaves look like folded currency and might bring economic fortune. Cabbage and collard greens are popular for the same reason, especially in the American South.
Other folks eat beans on New Year's Eve (the little round guys look like coins). Here on the Midpeninsula, there will be grilled quail. And bison with squash, and chicken with waffles. These dishes may not be symbolic, but they might be tasty.
Either way, they're among the New Year's Eve specials at local restaurants. While the Palo Alto area isn't the big city for midnight partying, there are meals and events planned. Here's a sampling.
Restaurants with special New Year's Eve meals include:
Palo Alto Grill is dishing up a la carte plates including crispy chicken breast and waffle, squash-and-vegetable pot pie and a "Snowfall" beet salad (goat cheese provides the precipitation). Live music and a midnight Champagne toast top off the evening. The restaurant is at 140 University Ave. Go to paloaltogrill.com or call 650-321-3514.
At the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel, the Madera restaurant is planning two dinner seatings. The first (starts at 5:30-6:30 p.m., $105 for adults, $50 for children) offers a three-course prix fixe menu including cured Arctic char and Dover sole. More elaborate is the second (8-9:30 p.m., $205 for adults and $100 for children). The five-course menu includes poached lobster, grilled quail and cinnamon-spiced cake, with a toast. Madera is at 2825 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park; go to maderasandhill.com or call 650-561-1540.
Unsurprisingly, The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse has a menu swimming with seafood. The $185 six-course tasting menu features scallops with sake-glaze fregula and lobster with caviar, beets, wasabi and tarragon. For landlubbers, there's bison. The restaurant is at 4269 El Camino Real in Palo Alto. Go to theseausa.com or call 650-213-1111.
The Left Bank NYE fete at 635 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park features a $64.50 four-course menu with herb-roasted beef sirloin medallions and salmon roulade. Party favors and a toast, too. Go to leftbank.com or call 650-473-6543.
At LB Steak, the $71.50 four-course meal includes carnaroli risotto with Perigord truffle and beef Wellington, along with a toast and favors. The restaurant is at 898 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park. Go to lbsteak.com or call 650-321-8980.
In Mountain View, Morocco's Restaurant has a five-course meal ($60) commencing with a spinach fruit & nut salad with honey-pomegranate vinaigrette. Live jazz and belly dancing are also on the menu. Morocco's is at 873 Castro St. Go to moroccosrestaurant.com or call 650-968-1502.
In East Palo Alto, Quattro at the Four Seasons is planning two seatings (6 p.m. $90, 9 p.m. $119), with the latter including an after-party and midnight toast. The hotel is at 2050 University Ave. Go to quattrorestaurant.com or call 650-470-2889.
Other local New Year's events include:
For seniors, the annual City of Palo Alto New Year's Eve Day Bash is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31, with a buffet lunch, raffle, toast and ballroom dancing. The venue is the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center at 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. Admission is $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Go to cityofpaloalto.org or call 650-387-7048.
In downtown Redwood City, the Fox Theatre (at 2215 Broadway) and its sister venue Club Fox (at 2209 Broadway) have musical nights planned for NYE. The Fox evening starts at 8:30 p.m., featuring DJ Dinero and two sets by pop-soul band Pride & Joy, with a midnight balloon drop. General admission is $40; access to the "VIP Lounge" brings a ticket to $50. At Club Fox, the night starts at 8 p.m. with the rock tribute band RockSkool playing tunes from the '70s through the '90s. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. Go to foxrwc.com or clubfoxrwc.com, or call 650-369-7770 or 877-435-9849.
Also downtown, Angelica's at 863 Main St. in Redwood City is throwing a dinner and dance party featuring blues, funk and jazz singer Paula Harris along with Beast & Blues and The Big Ass Band. The dinner show starts at 9:30 p.m.; individual table seating is $40-$60. Go to angelicasllc.com or call 650-679-8184.
Enthusiasts of English country dance can ring in 2014 with the New Year's Eve Contra Dance. The Contra Bandits provide the live music, and participants bring a potluck to the party, which goes from 8 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto at 625 Hamilton Ave. Admission is $20 general, $16 for members and $10 for students. Go to bacds.org.
On New Year's Day, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra plays its annual free concert at the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto at 625 Hamilton Ave. The 3 p.m. performance features Giovanni Bottesini's Double Bass Concerto No. 2 in B minor and Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22. Pianist Jon Nakamatsu and bass player Jared Pabilona will be featured. Go to sfchamberorchestra.org.