Exceeding expectations is what you get when you dine at Baume´ in Palo Alto. I was amazed at the food, the service, the wine and the staff at this establishment in the sleepy college town in Northern California.
You don’t expect first class dining experience in a small town like this. In New York, Chicago or San Francisco, Baume´ would still be a standout, but it you would anticipate it much more. Palo Alto is home to Stanford University the world-class institution of higher education. Baume´ is to food what Stanford is to colleges.
A simple yet elegant dining room with seating up to 22 is the entire front of the house. Warm and subtle colors of orange and brown give the place a homey and refined feel. The staff is friendly and eager to serve. They will also help educate you on the various parings of food and wine.
The wine list is deep and maintained by wine director Tim Augello. He pairs the wine working with each of the chef’s creations. You can also order bottles from their collection.
Chef Bruno Chemel does an amazing job of presentation and taste blending modern and classic French methods. This is a paradise for food lovers, with tastes of this and that making up a dinner fit for royalty. While portions are small, there are a vast number of dishes you taste so you won’t be hungry. I promise.
Baume´ features a tasting menu. The menu changes with the seasons, what’s available in the local market place and the whims of the chef. Those whims have earned Baume´ two Michelin stars and they’ve only been open for three years! Many restaurants have been in business for years and don’t have any recognition from Michelin.
Having dined around the world and at top restaurants in the United States, Baume´ is at the top of my list of places to visit again. Baume´ is not pretentious like other top restaurants, service is attentive without hovering and the food is simply wonderful. A special note about the dress code here; business casual is okay, you can dress comfortably and not be uncomfortable being over dressed.
Being over dressed can skew your feeling about a dinner. Recently in New York, I had to put my jacket back on (at the request of my server) even though it was a very hot evening and the air conditioning was not cooling. While I enjoyed my dining, I didn’t enjoy my experience as much as I could have. At Baume´, you don’t have to worry about this and that’s a good thing. You can relax and simply enjoy the food.
Simple, elegant and flavorful is descriptive of Baume´. With roughly 16 dishes on our tasting menu, I’ll highlight my favorites.
The 62° Jidori Egg is a marvel. Smooth and velvety egg yolk combines with a mushroom Velouté Gelee. The butter in the veloute´ and the gelee offsets the yolk perfectly. The earthiness of the mushroom is a great compliment to the dish. In case you don’t know, Jidori is a type of free-range chicken that is all natural. Originally developed for Japanese cuisine, soon chefs from all cooking genres took notice. The veloute´ is rich and lightly gelled. By the way, to me, runny egg yolk is one of the best things you can put in your mouth. The egg cooks slowly to reach the 62° and served. It’s a signature dish.
Accompanying the 62° Egg is Domaines Ott Rose 2011 from Provence. This is a pink wine, with a luscious nose of fresh fruit with accents of apricot and peaches.
Turbot in a light dashi (Japanese style soup) was firm and fresh. The dashi had a nice fish taste. Turbot was a popular fish in the United States years ago. For some reason turbot has lost, it’s popularity and doesn’t appear on many menus today, is making a come back in fine dining. Turbot is a great non-fishy tasting fish and I think many non-fish eaters would love it. The dish is dressed with daikon (Japanese radish) and baby brussel sprout leaves.
Next was the Caramelized Squab. Squab is a young pigeon with a slightly stronger taste than the dark meat of chicken. Game birds are a favorite of mine and this really works. Many times small poultry is overcooked, but this has a nice pink color and outstanding flavor. The whole bird is roasted and served. The Liver Jus (a juice made from the liver and is lightly reduced) is sublime and not overwhelming.
Served with the squab is an excellent 2006 Pinot Noir by Handley Holmes Ranch from the Anderson Valley. It’s ideal with grilled meats, with a big fruit forward brightness. It has cherry and plums overtones.
Desserts seem endless. Following the formal desserts are Mignardises, a selection of bite-sized samplings that extend the dining experience. Our first sweet taste was Choco Bavarois, Mint Chiboust. This is a decant chocolate Bavarian Cream, served with a mint cream. The mint was refreshing and delicate, not overpowering which ruins mint flavors for me.
A slightly sweet sparking and refreshing wine, Bugey Cedon from Patrick Bottex, capped the meal.
Baume´ is a dining adventure. It’s comfortable, without being pretentious. The food is outstanding. You will remember Baume´ for its charm, cuisine and service. You will want to go back and experience the adventure again.