Our New Years Eve included dinner for 4 couples at Spago in Palo Alto. I was apprehensive based on write-ups on this board plus other reviews I've read but we were very pleasantly surprised by our experience. We were seated almost immediately for our 7:00 pm reservations and were served an amuse of a blini with smoked salmon and a dollop of Osetra caviar; a nice beginning with our bottle of Pacific Echo. The menu at Spago changes often; almost every day so I'll talk about the dishes we enjoyed even though they might not be available all the time. Several of us had the Chilled Main Lobster Salad with Baby Arugula and a Meyer Lemon Aioli ($18). This was basically a half of a small lobster; tail and claw out of the shell beautifully plated. Very tender and tasty.
The Second Course that blew us away was Roasted Sonoma Pheasant Breast with Soft Egg Ravioli and Black Truffles ($29) - my only regret is that I didn't order this - I am lucky that my friend Sue has a fairly small appetite and always shares her dinner! She generously gave me a slice of the boned, sliced Pheasant breast that had been stuffed under the skin with the black truffles and a bite of the decadent Raviolo with an almost raw egg yolk inside that was covered with shards of black truffle. This dish had absolutely everything going for it; all the elements came together perfectly. The pheasant skin was crispy and salty while the meat was juicy and succulent; very tricky as pheasant has a tendency to be very, very dry and is easy to overcook - this couldn't have been better. The Raviolo was just decadent; the rich flavor of the egg yolk with black truffle... it doesn't get much better.
Another great Second Course was the Grilled Prime Beef Tenderloin (Mad what?) with Celery Root, Cipollini Onions and Foie Gras Sauce ($38). I had a bite of this but couldn't detect the Foie; I should have gotten another taste! Along with 4 bottles of wine, including a Turley Zin and a very nice Russian River Chard from Chasseur (we'd never heard of them but have to try to find them) dinner came to about $200 per couple which didn't seem too bad considering... Service was efficient and pleasant which, considering it was New Years Eve, was a surprise. We'll return.