After all these years we finally tried Baumé on California St. in Palo Alto. I wish we had tried it earlier. While there are many fine restaurants in our area, this was probably the best high-end meal we've had in Silicon Valley yet.
Since there hasn't been a lot of discussion of Baumé, and you can't find a daily menu on their web site, I thought a menu listing might be helpful:
Amuse - Pine and Parsley Beignets
Brittany Blue Lobster, Tarragon, Kohlrabi Espuma
Osetra Caviar, Beet, Lemon Foam
62-degree Jidori Egg, Spinach, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Polenta
Celeraic Soup, Kabocha Squash, Celery
Noirmoutier Turbot, Curry Praliné, Grilled Cabbage
Loin of Beef, Salsify, Cocoa, Mace-Red Wine Reduction
Beaufort, Comté and Parmigiano-Reggiano Fondue, Red Pear
"Fraisier", Strawberry Gel
Banana Saboyan, Chocolate Rum Ganache
They describe themselves as French cuisine moderne and that's pretty spot on, reminiscent in style of what we enjoyed in Paris last year.
For me the highlight was the loin of beef, one of the best beef dishes I can ever recall. It was cooked sous vide - a technique that's never really impressed me before, but wow it worked with this dish, bringing out a great beefy complexity. And the portion was a reasonable size for the meat course in a tasting menu - not the mere two or three bites that other places will often offer.
The opening duo of the blue lobster and the caviar dishes was a stunning combination. It was delightful how the kabocha squash in the soup mirrored the jidori egg yolk on the polenta. The curry praliné, a mix of hazelnuts and curry spices, is an idea I want to copy for my own cooking. The double-dessert of the Fraisier and Strawberry Gel was another highlight. The only dish that didn't thrill me was the fondue; I'm not a huge fondue fan, and this did not convert me.
The fixed price menu is standard for everyone, but for wines you can choose off of a very well-selected list, or go for a 4-glass or 8-glass tasting. We went with the 4-glass whose highlight was a Ployez Jacquemart "Passion" Brut Champagne that went extraordinarily well with the caviar and wondrous on its own. The sparkling rosé dessert wine, a Renardat-Fachê Bugey-Cerdon, was a delightful conclusion with the dessert.
I loved how the flow of the meal went with the highlights at the beginning and end. At Manresa the strongest dishes are usually at the beginning, while the meat and dessert courses can be a let-down.
Baumé provides a mix of luxury ingredients, exceptional cooking technique, tremendous menu pacing, a sense of fun, and generosity of spirit that is quite rare in the Bay Area. It all comes at a high price ($198/person plus another $100/person for the 4-wine pairing, all prices with service included) but we certainly got what we paid for.
We have to get back here in the summer or early fall and see how they cook with that whole different seasonal palette.