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Restaurants & Bars 3

71 Saint Peter (San Jose) - for special but not wallet-blowing occasions

Alice Patis | Mar 30, 2006 01:31 PM

We took my MIL here for her birthday dinner when she came to visit last weekend. I chose it based on posts on this board, and curious about their great prix-fixe deal ($30 for 4 courses, $15 supplemental for the wine pairing). The prix-fixe currently on their website is what all 3 of us ordered, 2 of us with the wine pairing. In case the menu changes soon, here’s what it was:

First Course
Sea Scallop Galette - roasted chioga beets, fuji apple-yellow tomato chutney, mustard crème fraiche
2004 martin ray "angeline" gewürztraminer, Mendocino

Second Course
Stuffed Roasted Quail - caramelized grapes, cipollini onions, sage, arneis glaze
2004 cascina val del prete "luet" roero de arneis, piemonte, italy

Meyer Lemon Sorbet (but it tasted suspiciously as if it was the coconut sorbet we later had in our dessert)

Main Course
Five Spice Seared Venison Loin- winter roasted baby vegetables, candied garlic crème brûlée, natural au jus
2003 bridlewood syrah, central coast
Grilled Giant Prawns
shell fish risotto, belgian endive marmalade, tomato-black truffle beurre
* 2004 masi "masianco" pinot grigio-verduzzo, veneto, italy

Polenta & Pineapple Upside Down Cake - coconut sorbet, candied ginger, wild turkey bourbon gastric
2003 miguel torres "vendimia tardia" late harvest riesling, curicó valley, chile

We all kept raving about the food as the evening progressed. My MIL is pretty well-dined and she kept saying how much she liked it. I was really impressed with the presentation and how each of the ingredients worked with each other and with the sauce in a complex yet not overly complicated way. The portions are on the medium-small side; I was not stuffed by the time we finished but my MIL was I switched my entrée plate with my husband halfway through, and the venison entree is better than the prawns entree. The venison loin was seared with careful attention to get the perfect level of char on the outside and rareness on the inside. My only quibble is that the venison’s “au jus” tasted too much of the burnt meat taste. The weakest of the dishes was the desert; it wasn’t bad, just not that interesting.

The service was professional and formal, and each wine was presented with a really long description of the tasting notes. We had one blip at the start, when it took so long waiting for the first course my husband had finished his wine by the time the food came, and we were surprised to see it was the second course (the quail) being set down before us. We told our server we never got the first course and he immediately whisked away the quail and came back with the scallop dish (and assured us our quail would be freshly plated when we get to the second course).

We were seated in the quieter back room (per requested when I made my reservation), which I think was cozy and can be rather romantic. Having only 6 or so tables in the room, combined with the candles, faded brick walls and “trompe l’oeil” paintings made it seem like we were in a small town in Europe.

I was able to get a same-day (practically last minute) reservation for 7:30 PM on a Saturday, and the place was almost (but not) full by the time we arrived, so walk-ins are possible. We don’t dine out often at upscale restaurants, but at this price point, we can have a really nice meal without justifying that it be for a special occasion.

Link: http://www.71saintpeter.com

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