"You're late!" were the first words growled at us by the manager at Tamarine. We were only about 15-20 minutes late and my friend apologized profusely explaining that they'd been moving all day and lost track of time. We even called saying we were running a bit late. Now mind you our reservation was at 5:45 pm on a Sunday afternoon, not 8pm Friday evening. That's about the time I'd start thinking about an aperitif but dinner at 5:45pm is more of a Pink Flamingo Retirement Home early bird special. I looked around. It was Sunday evening in the booming metropolis of downtown Palo Alto and this restaurant was about a quarter full. Hmmmm.... This certainly doesn't warrant that attitude.
"Well we can seat you but you'll have to leave by 7:30pm." Gee Toto, I guess we're not in Paris anymore! The above experience is unheard of in France, if for no other reason that most restaurants don't open before 8pm. Secondly, and more important, is that you are never rushed out, often having to request the bill a few time, and a long, leisurely 3-hour dinner is nothing short of a God-given right along with freedom of speech and the right to vote. "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" indeed and to this I add "Manger" (mon-zhay - to eat)!
As the clock ticked toward 7:30pm, we asked our waitress for the check and she graciously offered to move us to another table so we wouldn't have to rush out. We gratefully took her up on her offer and waited for her to let us know when she needed us to move. Minutes later, the manager swooped in on her broom and cackled that she needed the table and she needed it now! The reservation for our table had arrived and we promised to leave at 7:30pm.... so we left.
The food was good, not great but good, and what could have been a great dinner was bookended by a cranky manager with an attitude. The best part of the meal was the wine, a 1991 Oreno from Tuscany, and the company.
Voila le menu...
Moon Crepes - Turmeric & rice flower crepe served with shrimp, ground pork, jicama, and bean sprouts (These were delicious - our favorite dish - and we were so hungry, we attacked these before I could snap a pic.)
Tamarine Prawns - Jumbo Prawns in signature Tamarine sauce
Clay Pod Cod - Canadian Black Cod caramelized in garlic, fish sauce, & black pepper (I loved this dish, really great caramelized flavors)
Shaking Beef - Cubed filet mignon seared with garlic and onions, served w/ watercress salad
Chili Lime Aubergine - grilled aubergine w/ onion oil, scallions finished in a fish & chili-lime sauce (this was good but tasted like it was steamed, a bit soggy, not roasted, and i love the roasted, caramelized flavor of eggplant.)
Empress Rice - rice, garlic, leeks, ginger and an egg (this was delicious!)
Chocolate Fondant & Chocolate Mousse (average desserts, certainly no crescendo to the evening)
546 University Avenue (between Webster and Cowper)
Palo Alto, CA 94301