Eating Our Way Through Palo Alto

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on March 16, 2011

Last week was just one of those insane weeks – where you’re so busy that you barely see your significant other (even if you’re married and living together). I remember there were like 3 days in a row where the hubby and I would wake up at different times to leave for work/school – so we wouldn’t see each other in the morning – and then we’d get home super late and have maybe one hour to hang out at home – max. So, on Friday of that week – I suggested that we disregard our responsibilities for the weekend (household chores, groceries, running errands, etc.) and spend the day eating around in Palo Alto. I think we both really needed a break – sort of a day vacation in our own neighborhood. Neither of us was in the mood to drive very far (e.g. go to SF or Berkeley), so Palo Alto was the perfect choice: no traffic, easy parking, short drive away, and tons of great restaurants to choose from.

We didn’t really plan out our day (other than buying tickets to see The Adjustment Bureau in the late afternoon), and so of course – on Saturday morning I woke up an HOUR later than I had planned, and we were already running late for our first stop – brunch at Saint Michael’s Alley. Luckily – somehow I pulled it together and we managed to arrive 15 minutes before brunch service was ending! Woohoo!

The cool thing about Saint Michael’s Alley – is that they serve brunch on the weekend in a totally separate location from their actual restaurant – so you could actually eat brunch at one of their restaurants and dinner at the other in the same day, and it feels like you visited two separate restaurants. Which is exactly what we did – but more on that later. I was so relieved that we made it on time. By that point, we were both starving so of course – we ordered with our stomachs and not our brains.

I started with hot tea – English Breakfast – served in this cool glass

I also ordered the Market fresh fruit plate – which had strawberries, sliced bananas, melon, cantaloupe, and pineapple.

The fruit tasted so fresh and juicy – it was the perfect side to my entree – which might be the best egg scramble I’ve ever had. I ordered an Egg White Curried Vegetable Scramble. It was served with cauliflower, caramelized onions, tomatoes, peas, sauteed tomatoes – all tossed with yellow curry spices.

It was SO delicious. The addition of the yellow curry spices and peas gave such a wonderful flavor to the eggs, and was a really unique take on a  scramble. If you ever visit Saint Michael’s Alley for brunch – you have to order this dish! The potatoes on the side weren’t bad too – they were seasoned with rosemary, salt and pepper – and roasted to perfection. The husband decided to order some of his own for good measure.

Don’t they look amazing? They were the perfect accompaniment to his French Toast made with Rich Challah / Egg Bread, topped with fresh strawberries and dusted with powdered sugar.

Yes, we ordered a lot of food. But it was such an awesome brunch that we polished off everything – even the extra potatoes! It was the perfect start to our day – we left Saint Michael’s Alley completely stuffed, happy and content, and ready for our next stop – Sprinkles Cupcakes.

For those of you who haven’t been to Sprinkles – you HAVE to try their cupcakes. These might be the best cupcakes I’ve ever had, and I’ve eaten a lot of cupcakes. Their shop in Palo Alto has a nice whimsical feel to it and there’s always a line out the door on weekends, but the wait is totally worth it. When we got inside, I managed to snap this quick picture before we had to make room for other people eager to get in.

I love the little circle logo on their cupcakes – each circle color corresponds to a different flavor. We finally decided on the Banana Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting to eat in the shop itself, and took the Black & White and Chocolate Marshmallow cupcakes to go.

This was the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten. The cake itself has a rich banana flavor and a golden hue, the texture is moist and light, and the frosting – while creamy and delicious – isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. Eating inside the sprinkles store was also an experience: the walls are all glass so tons of natural light comes through, and the store is kept relatively not-crowded so you can enjoy your cupcake in peace.

The bar-like table by the window is also cool and creative, and has fun cupcake designs underneath the glass. They matched perfectly with the top of our actual banana cupcake.

After our amazing cupcake experience, we were all ready to sit for ~2 hours watching a movie. I just hoped my husband wouldn’t fall asleep in the movie from a food coma! (Which – I think he did for a few min here and there :) ). Overall, I’d say the movie was ok. If you can get past the fact that much of it is incredibly unrealistic (to the point of being a little ridiculous) – and focus on the themes and the love story underlying it all – it’s a pretty interesting movie. I could get past the unrealistic stuff and thought the love story and the chemistry between Matt Damon & Emily Blunt onscreen was great. My husband couldn’t get past it – and really didn’t like the movie. So I’d say, averaging our two opinions: it was just ok. But it was still fun to go to the theater and see a movie – we are so Netflix Addicted and have a huge flat panel TV in our house – so it’s rare when we actually do see a movie in a theater these days.

After the movie, it was on to our favorite coffee shop in Palo Alto – Coupa Cafe for a quick drink before our dinner reservation at, where else, Saint Michael’s Alley (location #2).

My husband’s favorite drink here is the Elephant Vanilla Chai. It’s unbelievably rich, creamy and full of that great chai spice flavor (but if you don’t like sweet drinks you won’t like this drink). Both of us have huge sweet tooths – so we love it.

I ordered a simple Green Tea – which is served in the cutest tea bags.


We were having a great day – I couldn’t believe how fast it all went! It was finally time to walk to the second Saint Michael’s Alley location for dinner. We got lucky with great weather in the Bay Area that evening, so walking around felt really good. Both of the Saint Michael’s Alley locations have amazing ambiance – the brunch location has a cozy, homey, cafe feel; while the dinner location has an elegant-casual feel with a bit of rustic charm.

We only ordered two dishes to share between us since we were still pretty full from our indulgences earlier in the day! We ordered the Roasted Beet and Spinach Tart served with Toasted Walnuts and a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce.

The beet flavor in this tart was slightly sweet, and the combination of the gorgonzola and walnuts made for a really richly satisfying dish.

I loved all the layers in the tart too – the colors were so vibrant! We also ordered the Winter Vegetable Lasagna with Swiss Chard, Roasted Mushrooms, Fontina, Parmesan, and Ricotta Cheeses, served with Garlic Levain Bread

I really enjoyed the roasted mushrooms and the combination of cheeses in this dish. It was baked to perfection, so the cheese formed a nice crust on top of the lasagna. I wished there was a bit more chard – but overall it was very tasty and a great last meal for the day.

Throughout our dinner, I kept thinking about how lucky I was: not just because we were able to spontaneously take this day off from “regular life” with no consequences, and eat at amazing restaurants – but mainly because I realized that I had been with my husband for almost exactly seven years on that day, and the excitement from when we first met hasn’t changed. We even had a random “heated discussion” in the middle of dinner that lasted quite a while, but it ended up being one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. It just made me appreciate how much we’ve grown together as a couple and grown up together (since we met when I was in college), and I felt so lucky to be with my best friend: someone who knows me and loves me inside and out. The meals that day were a perfect complement to the time we got to spend together, free of responsibilities.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Vijay March 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Wow. That beet and spinach tart actually looks hearty.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm

It really was! Super filling and absolutely delicious – didn’t miss the meat at all :)

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Vishal March 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

You are an amazing photographer.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Awww thanks Vishal!!

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Geni March 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Sounds like a great day! I’m gong on vacation from the East Coast over to CA and will be spending most time in Palo Alto…I cannot wait to try these places! I hope that beet and spinach tart tastes as good as it looks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Oh awesome!! I’m sure you will love all of these restaurants – the food was great! Hope you have a great trip out here!

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egb March 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Great pics! I am jealous!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Thank you so much! :)

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AS March 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm

This was a sweet post, and that lasagna also looks SO amazing!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Omg the lasagna really was amazing – so glad you liked this post!

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foodies at home March 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Palo Alto is so cute and yes there are adorable and wonderful restaurants downtown! I should really make the short trip up from San Jose now and then!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Oh absolutely you really should! Palo Alto is great for foodies :)

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Linda June 10, 2013 at 11:54 am

Do you have a recipe for Roasted Beet and Spinach Tart served with Toasted Walnuts and a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce? I haven’t found any online.
Thanks,
Linda

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Hi Linda! Unfortunately I don’t but I bet you could piece it together from a couple recipes:
1) Roasted Beet and Walnut Tart (add spinach to the filling)
2) Use my Gorgonzola Sauce from this recipe
Hope that helps!

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