Azure - new - San Carlos
It's probably time this place got its own thread.
After reading early good reviews, we went tonight for dinner. Turns out it's the same people who run highly-regarded La Lanterna in San Mateo.
High ceilings, white tablecloth, spaciously placed tables and banquettes. Full bar. In terms of atmosphere, Azure could very well be the nicest restaurant in San Carlos. Attentive, knowledgeable staff, happy to help guide, and, in my limited experience, trustworthy. Hot, crispy baguette arrived quickly.
Appetizer 1: potato-wrapped day boat scallop on asparagus with salad and red coulis. Potato took on a noodle-like texture - surrounding a delicious and perfectly cooked scallop almost like a won ton. Appetizer 2: Tuna tartare in three large crispy cones with pear, apple, mint, on a more or less asian-themed bed of dressed greens. The waitress had recommended the scallops over the tartare, and she was right. It needed more moisture, more dressing. Still quite a nice dish, however. Excellent tuna.
Entree 1: mushroom risotto with shaved asparagus, black truffle oil, and mushroom broth. A tender, deeply satisfying, vegetable-rich risotto with a ring of savory broth. Entree 2: house-smoked New York steak with green peppercorn sauce and red wine/dried cherry butter, cooked perfectly rare to order. Outstanding meat quality, and the smokiness was a wonderful touch I really haven't seen on many cuts of steak. The sweet butter paired well with the peppercorn sauce. The ~12oz steak came with just-out-of-the-oil golden fries, singing with heat, and simple haricots verts.
The wine list seemed young and simple but perfectly adequate for those who enjoy wine and can drink it without getting in a huff.
Pricing was quite good for the quality and service: ~$10 for apps and $18/$24 for entrees. By the time we left at 6:45 the dining room was filling quickly (but remained pleasantly quiet). I was happy to see it. They're doing a great job.
On the whole, probably the best higher-end meal to be had in San Carlos. Give them your support!
I have to disagree that the restaurant is a "waste," or also "wants to play in the game with the city's finest." It's definitely not trying to be Aqua or Fleur de Lys. By San Carlos standards, it's in the top tier of local gourmet meals. Dishes are imaginative, and ingredients are of high quality, prepared expertly, and served by a fairly capable staff. The noise level, even when full, is typically quieter than average. Perhaps it was different on Valentine's Day.
I also disagree that their menu merits a $$$$$$$ rating, with most entrées priced in the low twenties. By way of calibrating my assertion, I would give the new French Laundry pricing a $$$$$$$ rating (that's seven $'s), relatively speaking. I would rate Azure at the more common $$-$$$ level, with most two-tops dropping around $100 for the meal.
We went for a second time last night. It was even better than out first. We also had the tuna and the scallop starters. And then the two specials for the day, vension and petrale sole. Don't miss the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert- it has to be ordered ahead It is so nice to have such a good restaurant that is quiet and relaxed atmosphere.
Finally had our long-awaited visit to this lovely place. Yes, it is "high-end", but excellent quality. If I had to nit-pic, I did have a little problem with either too much (my friend's babyback ribs and my dayboat scallops), or too little salt(my otherwise perfect lobster bisque). I noticed they did not have salt or pepper on the tables., and I missed having a vegie along with the entree. (You have to order a la carte and it is already expensive.) That being said, the scallops were the largest I have ever seen, and the truffled risotto that came with them was yummy. Also, the frites were perfect (came with the ribs). We also shared a wonderful trio of desserts, profiterole, molten chocolate cake and lemon tart which had a fabulous crust and brulee type topping.
The restaurant is very tastefully decorated. I love their flatware, and I really liked their attractive and comfortable chairs. They are now open for lunch, I believe Tues thru Fri.