The Beat on your Eats: French Restaurants

Words by Johanna Harlow

Words by Johanna Harlow

firehouse bistro


Entre vous to Firehouse Bistro, a place dedicated to “a modern interpretation of classic French comfort food.” The chef here specializes in the ocean’s bounty, so make sure to sample the ahi tuna tartare with avocado, pan-seared salmon or Dungeness crab cioppino. There’s also a tantalizing seafood risotto studded with jumbo prawns and scallops in a decadent mushroom garlic sauce. Located in Woodside, the cabin-like Firehouse Bistro is encircled by trees, with hardwood floors and a ceiling to match. Artwork featuring rural scenes hangs from its walls. 2991 Woodside Road. Open daily.

bistro vida

Menlo Park

Go bold at Bistro Vida and opt for the outdoor seating, where a heated patio outfitted in billowing red curtains sets the stage for a memorable meal. If rain drives you indoors, retreat to a snug table with a steaming bowl of French onion soup. One of the most-ordered items on the menu, this hearty beef broth with country bread is blanketed in a generous layer of gooey gruyère cheese and is just the thing to combat the chill. So is the boeuf bourguignon with hearty chunks of beef stewed in red wine with pearl onions and baby carrots. Or sink your teeth into the filet au poivre, blanketed in a heavy cream sauce and balanced by the bite of coarsely cracked peppercorns. 641 Santa Cruz Avenue. Open daily.

la boheme

Palo Alto

Looking for a little piece of Paris on California Avenue? Devoted to the French classics, this Palo Alto restaurant is known for buttery escargots, sandwiches loaded with tender duck confit and mussels bathed in a creamy Roquefort blue cheese sauce. Savor your meal with sips of kir royale, the blackcurrant of the crème de cassis complementing the crisp champagne. As for dessert? Find well-loved classics like crème brulée and soufflé, as well as the harder-to-find île flottante, a meringue island floating on a lake of crème anglaise. Just like the opera of the same name, this restaurant hits all the high notes. 415 California Avenue. Open Tuesday through Sunday. Live jazz on Fridays.