I saw a few messages about Marigold from last year, but nothing recent. So I thought my first Chowhound post should be about one of my current favorites.
The Silicon Valley area has been blessed over the past few years with a lot of nice South Indian vegetarian restaurants like Udupi Palace, Madras Cafe, and Saravana Bhavan. But the non-vegetarian places have tended to be more of the "same-old Indian restaurant menu" places - good, but nothing special.
Marigold takes this menu to a whole different level, even compared to some of its tastier competition like Amber. The achari dishes are particular favorites, better than any others we have had in the area. This includes the achari gosht, the achari tandoor chicken, and the Apollo fish appetizer that comes with achari-like seasoning. The biryanis are also wonderful, especially the lamb - the owner and chef are both from Hyderabad. The ginger sauce dishes are another favorite, and we've also had very good luck with the eggplant. We haven't yet gotten to some of the other Indian restaurant standby dishes, but out of about 10 meals we've only hit one "just OK" dish.
What sets Marigold apart is the vividness of the flavor - not just heat, but strong, complex, blended flavors. The way the Apollo fish balances the fish flavors against the achari-style spices is a particularly beautiful example of the high-intensity balance you find in the food here. Marigold paints in oils where other restaurants of this style will paint in pastels.
Even more remarkable is getting this vivid flavor in a nice setting on University Ave in Palo Alto, with a wine list including the Indian Sula Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah - fabulous matches for the food and great value wines in their own right. Service is a bit slower than for most Indian restaurants, but well worth waiting for. Just don't go here looking for a quick dinner.
All of this refers to the dinner menu. It looks like they have a buffet at lunch, but I've never tried it. Marigold's at 448 University Ave, just two doors down from Borders. Phone is (650) 327-3455. I have no relationship with them besides being a regular.