Another week, another new restaurant opening for the San Mateo area.
CENTRAL PARK in SAN MATEO.
Amy and I have tried Central Park on 4th Street a few times since it opened. On our first visit, I ordered the half roasted chicken; it arrived seriously overcooked and under rubbed in herbs. Thankfully, I'd already filled up on a pretty tasty fritto misto of calamari and fennel -- a generous portion, more than enough for two to share.
I regret to say that the SF Chronicle review is spot-on with regards to the pan-Asian fare: the best attempt, an appetizer of Thai sticks stuffed with some meat or other and served a skimpy two to the plate, was okay. The main course fare has been downright laughable. For instance, Amy ordered udon in a ginger chili sauce that arrived looking and tasting more like spaghetti in gloppy soy sauce.
Fortunately, both appetizer pizzas at Central Park are outstanding. Well, they call them appetizers, but they work for me as main courses. These thin, crispy wood-fired gems are the size of California Pizza Kithcen pizzas and come at the bargain price of $7.50. Amy really likes the apple and gorgonzola pizza with a balsalmic glaze. I'm in love with the chicken, pinenut and pesto pizza -- so trendy but so tasty! We shared these pizzas and a Central Park salad (nice mix of field greens with crushed hazelnuts) and left content.
All in all, I'd say give Central Park a try. Just don't stray too far from Italy.
TRAPEZE in BURLINGAME
This is a huge step up for the Burlingame dining scene! Trapeze opened officially this past Sunday after five weeks in soft production mode. The restaurant is contemporary and ultra-sophisticated but warm: a hopping bar up-front, starched white table cloths with tea candles and funky patterned china, pale yellow walls with splashy modern art, a pale blue ceiling, metallic track spot lighting with funky curves, and a few fantastic Art Deco chandeliers.
The wine list has some intereting international choices and plenty of reasonably priced wines by the glass. The dinner menu is a classic mix of Californian and Mediterranean flair. Amy and I shared the crab cakes with a garlic and horseradish aioli and side salad; a little doughy, but the aioli had zip and the side salad could have been its own dish. For a main course, Amy had the halibut special with cremini, chanterelle and other sliced mushrooms in a creamy but delicate sauce, served with vegetable cous cous. I had the duck breast, served sliced and perfectly pink with an outstanding currant and port wine reduction. For dessert, we enjoyed a pear poached in merlot over a nice vanilla sauce accented with tangerine and raspberry -- don't miss this if it's on the menu!
Unlike Central Park, where it seems to be pizza or bust, the Trapeze menu included a lot of other tantalizing options for starters and main courses. Amy was tempted by the tuna carpaccio and caprese salad appetizers. I was tempted by the pork tenderloin, lamb, game hen and veal scallopini, all with interesting preparations that I can't remember anymore. If you're strolling around donwtown Burlingame, they usually have menus out front for perusing. (Trapeze is around the corner from La Salsa off the first block.) Given the reasonable prices ($65 for two with wine, not twice that much like at Pisces) this restaurant is sure to catch on.
Burlingame and the Bay Area in general needs more restaurants like this: not "comfort food" as a trend, but contemporary, dynamic menus in sophisticated, warm settings. St. Louis where Amy and I grew up has tons of these restaurants. The closest comparisons I can think of in SF are Universal Cafe and Zuni, although I wouldn't compare the quality of Trapeze to those establishments by any stretch of the imagination. This is still Burlingame, after all. Baby steps!