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Jul 12, 2007 09:13 PM

Cafe Renaissance & Fraiche Yogurt, Palo Alto report w/ pics

We tried this place on Wed 7/11/07 for dinner. It was empty at 5:30pm, and we were the only ones for a while. It's a casual, Persian place. Place your order at the register, food brought out to u, you can pay before the food or after.

It's a small place, about 18 tables and an Asian woman helped us. We checked out the website before coming here and printed out a coupon that was for the Kubideh special. $6.45 + tax at lunch, $8.45 + tax for dinner.

I ordered more food cuz we wanted to try more things:

eggplant & yogurt appetizer $3.5 - delicious
2 orders of domas (3 per order) $2.5 x 2 = $5 - not good
feta, olives & walnut appetizer $2.5 - just ok

Kubideh special - comes w/ salad & rice, 2 beef kabab & some bread, onions. We thought it was ok, kabab a bit salty but good w/ the rice. Tiny cup of yogurt too, I love yogurt. I must get more w/ my meal! Get a shaker of sumac to add to your rice - that stuff is hella good.

P.& hubby got wine. Don't remember the cost.

One unisex bathroom in the back. Credit cards taken.

Fraiche Yogurt

This shop is across the street from Buca Di Beppo on Emerson St, near Forest.

We loved the design of the place. The waves are very modern & like the look of frozen yogurt.

They had 3 frozen yogurt flavors when I went: natural non-fat, soy 99% fat free, and chocolate 98% fat free. My favorites were the natural & soy. Chocolate was just ok for me.

Prices are ok:

Junior $2.95
Reg $3.95
Reg + 2 toppings $4.95
Large $5.25
Large + 3 toppings $6.75
additional toppings .95c
take home pints $6.95

Toppings available:
toasted almonds
handmade granola
toasted shaved coconut
toasted walnut pieces
dried figs
crumbled graham crackers
shaved Callebaut chocolate
wildflower honey
clover honey
sage honey
Vermont Maple syrup

coffee $2: single drip, espresso, americano
mocha $4
cappucino $3
latte $3.5
tea/iced tea $1.5
hot chocolate $3

P. bought a take home pint of the fresh homemade yogurt which is really tasty too.

We got to talk to one of the owners who talked to us about how they make the yogurt right in the back of the store, you can see it if you go in the back looking thru the window on the left. Incubators & all.

Very cool. Highly recommended place.

Yelper said you gotta ask for a key for the bathrooms. The bathrooms are down the hallway and around the corner, so you can't see them immediately if you just walk along the pasteurizer hallway.

P. said they take credit cards.


Cafe Renaissance
321 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

644 Emerson St Ste 110, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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  1. Hours for Fraiche Yogurt:

    M-Th 7am-10:30pm
    Fri 7am-11pm
    Sat 9am-11pm
    Sun 9am-10:30pm

    ph: (650) 566-0055

    1. While I’m in a Persian mood, I’ll add a post here on the dinner I had here last month. We used the coupon from the website for the discount on the kubideh and ordered some additional items.

      I was quite fascinated by the Asian woman behind the counter who took our order. Turns out she is Korean from the East Coast and purchased the café from the original owner four years ago. She had intended to convert the space to a sushi bar, but the business had such a following, she decided not to risk making the changes and stuck with the Persian cuisine. The former owner trained her for two years on cooking the specialties and she’s picked up some Farsi as well. Tasting her khoresh, I’d say she was a very good student. While we have a lot of kabob houses, it’s not easy to find good versions of the various styles of khoresh or Persian stews.

      The menu of khoresh specialties, or “Persian platter of the day”, rotates by day of the week. On a Thursday night, ghormeh sabzi, was the choice. But I was informed that it was sold out already as the owner waved her hand across the room toward her customers. She said that this is one of her most popular items was justifiably proud of her Iranian clientele who come here each week to order it. I noticed a sign board offering a fresh okra khoresh and asked about it, but that was the special from the weekend. She had some khoresh bademjan (eggplant and chicken stew), so I tried that instead.

      We started with the warm borani bademjan with kashk, which was a lovely version. The rice in the dolmeh was a bit stiff, but these weren’t bad. Our dinners came with a salad of baby greens that were fresh as can be, accented by a well-balanced vinaigrette.

      The khoresh bademjan, $10.95, was made with roast chicken legs simmered briefly in a thick and tomatoey eggplant sauce. The meat was quite juicy and tender. I would have liked a little more acidity in the sauce but my brother thought it was fine as served.

      The koobideh, $8.45, was served with fragrant chelo, nicely grilled tomato, and chopped red onion. Very finely ground, a reasonable sear, and direct seasoning, the ground beef /lamb skewer was moist even though cooked well. The yogurt sauce was unexpected but we enjoyed it too.

      Then the owner came by with a small plate of tadig topped with a big scoop of ghormeh sabzi. This was the bottom of the pot, not enough to sell, so she offered it to us as a taste on the house. William and I split on this dish. I was impressed by her liberal hand with the “exotic” flavors of fenugreek and dried lime that define this dish. My brother found these flavors too out there and he also thought the beef cubes were a little stringy.

      We had noticed some block-shaped sweets in the glass-topped pastry pedestal on top of the counter when we ordered. Then we overheard the owner describing them to another party as baked mochi. While we couldn’t finish all our dinner, we had to try these. Made with gluten-free rice flour and studded with various dried fruits, they were like chewy, baked fruit bars. We enjoyed them, and I think they were something like $2.

      The place was not that busy at dinner time. The owner said that lunch is the stressful time of day.

      We ate quite well for not much money, and had leftovers for lunch. I was happy to find a reasonable eatery with interesting flavors and friendly service in downtown Palo Alto.

      Cafe Renaissance
      321 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      1 Reply
      1. I stopped by Cafe Renaissance in Palo Alto to sample their baked mochi (see photo). It's very good: sort of a mochi-based fruit/nut bar, with addictive chewiness. It also has a nice crust. However: they only make it on Tuesdays. And sometimes they either decide not to make it, or forget. And they don't always put it out where it's visible: if it's not in the glass-topped pastry pedestal, you have to ask them for it. $1.25 each.

        Cafe Renaissance
        321 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301