Dee Glaze and I braved the rain to check out Evvia after a long absence. We've always enjoyed it in the past so expectations were high.
For starters we had the wood oven roasted stuffed sardines with a citrus mint salad & lobster oil. The interesting ingredients led us to order this one but it turned out to be the only disappointment of the night. The wood-oven treatment only seemed to heighten the fishiness of the sardines and the less than generous amount of mint, parsley and tiny grapefruit pieces didn't come close to cutting it. The lobster oil, again, only a few smudges-worth, was totally lost. Not good at all.
Our other starter, wood grilled octopus with roasted red peppers, dried olives & frisée salad, was way better. The octopus was cooked perfectly with slight charring on the outside and a wonderfully tender texture. The smoky red peppers added to the effect and was balanced out by the crunchy frisee, the tart olives and just enough of a splash of citrus vinaigrette to bring it all together. No unseemly vinaigrette puddles on the bottom of the plate, either. Very, very good.
For the mains we had a whole fish (sole) with braised rapini, oven dried tomatoes, lemon & olive oil. This was a thing of beauty. Again, beautiful charring on the skin releasing into the soft, tender fish. Olive oil, oregano and a healthy lemon splash made this truly sublime and the bitter greens added great contrast. These folks know how to serve a whole fish.
Next came the lamb shank braised in aromatic spices, on orzo & myzithra cheese. We chose this over the house-specialty (and, in my opinion, over-rated) chops and were rewarded handsomely. A huge shank, with the meat literally falling off the bone, braised for hours in a very complex, spice-infused lamb stock, among other things. The essence of anise, cardamom, and cloves were all there but in a simply presented, comfort-food context. Delicious.
Deserts were very nice too. A great rice pudding with dried fruit on top of a crunchy nest-like pastry called 'kataifi,'and a very nice greek yogurt sorbet with citrus granita. Don't know how we finished these but we did. Two medium-sweet, thick, almost syrupy Greek coffees ended a great meal.
The tab, including a bottle of wine came to $160 before tip. Not cheap but well worth every penny.
And what dining experience would be complete without an eavesdropping report. A twenty-something couple seated right next to us, appearing to be on a first-date.
She: "What was, like, so cool about going to UCLA was, you know, like, that I actually met the cheerleaders and basketball players. You know, like, the ones you, like, see on TV during the basketball games, I actually got to meet them. It was so cool."
He: Between bites, not even looking up, "Uh-huh."
420 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301