At the TechCrunch 9 shindig back in July I ran into newly minted uStream CEO Chris Yeh, which reminded me that I had not yet availed myself of the opportunity to publish the restaurant review he had kindly forwarded me. Chris is a fan of Bistro Elan, the venerable but often overlooked Palo Alto eatery that is located away from the main University Avenue downtown district, calling California Avenue home. Ted Wang, an attorney I've known for years who served as company counsel to us at Photobucket, also considers Bistro Elan a fave and has been lobbying for a post on it ever since our last lunch there (hey Ted, better late than never!).
The restaurant does a good job of incorporating seasonal fare into the menu, which tends to have relatively few choices but changes frequently. Chris describes the restaurant:
One of my regular haunts is Bistro Elan in Palo Alto. This cool little fusion bistro has been serving fresh ingredients with beautiful presentation for about a decade. I go there all the time to meet my venture capitalist buddies for lunch, since it is one of the few "VC Class" restaurants near my office (the other is Straits Café).
All of their food is good, but I have to make a pitch for their latest special dish, pan-seared tuna with a spicy spring vegetable salad ($16.95). The dish was a delight, combining just-right spiciness with the mouth-pleasing textures of nearly raw sashimi-grade tuna and still crunchy green beans and asparagus. It gets my strong recommendation!
Bistro Elan's menu is constantly changing, so make your way down before the pan-seared tuna goes off the menu.
Due to my slowness in getting Chris' comments posted, I don't think the pan-seared tuna is on the menu any longer (but perhaps there's now a variation with "late summer" vegetables rather than "spring" -- yes, that's how tardy I am). However, the dish does serve as a good example of the restaurant's orientation to build dishes around what's in season.
Along with a handsomely simple high-ceiling, dark-wood interior dining room, Bistro Elan also sports a pleasant patio seating area -- a small, sheltered garden which provides the perfect setting for an alfresco meal in these waning days of summer. I count myself in the Chris and Ted camp of Bistro Elan fandom, but would note that detractors complain that the food is overpriced and unremarkable. Also, due to the smallish menu, the vegetarian options are limited. Nonetheless, I say give Bistro Elan a try, especially if you can score a patio table on a warm afternoon!
448 S. California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306