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Restaurants & Bars

1 Great Dish / So-So Restaurant

doc | Mar 24, 200603:15 PM     1

OK ... for all the CH's who have indulged themselves in the chef's tasting at Manresa, the $500 special at French Laundry, or the sanddabs at Tadich ... here's a real challenge. The bay area is full of just OK restaurants that do one thing really well ... here are 3 on the peninsula for starters:

1. Mandarin Cuisine, Alma Shopping Center, Palo Alto. A very Americanized Chinese restaurant that is generally ok ... good bang for the buck. BUT ... they do a "Singapore-style Noodles" dish that is very good. Huge plate of perfectly chooked thin noodles, tender bits of chicken, shrimp, and pork, and some shredded vegetables. Comes in a too-heavy Curry sauce ... I recommend "no curry". About $7

2. Max's Opera Cafe, Stanford Mall ... yeah, I know it's a chain and I know it's mostly really mediocre. Their "Jewish Deli" attempts like corned beef and pastrami are ... to put it kindly, "not good". BUT ... try their chopped liver on Rye. Huge portion, nicely prepared, large slices of grilled onion with a decent dill pickle. Not Carnegie, Not Stage, but pretty damn good. Also about $7

3. Iron Gate. El Camino (near Ralston), Belmont. An OK place that suffers from a bit of pretentiousness (tuxed waiters eg). Claim to fame is that they were the only place on the Peninsula for awhile that served abalone. Now ... no abalone generally, BUT .... they do a Calamari steak dore ... white wine sauce, finely sliced almonds that is pounded and prepared identically to the abalone ... and if you close your eyes ... well it's pretty damn good ... $18

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