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Reviews for Palo Alto's Dine Downtown prix fixe menus?

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Palo Alto is having a promo on Mondays in August, where several restaurants are offering prix fixe menus.

I am planning to hit up one of the restaurants next Monday but I'm not sure which one to choose. If anyone has been to one of the participating restaurants and had the prix fixe menu, please share your experience with us!

The text below is from: http://www.paloaltodowntown.com/whats...

Plan on dining downtown on Mondays in August to take advantage of the prix fixe menus at these participating restaurants.

Bella Luna www.bellaluna.org
Bistro Maxine www.bistromaxine.com
I Tapas & Wine Bar www.itapaspaloalto.com
Junnoon www.junnoon.com
Lavanda www.lavandarestaurant.com
Mantra Restaurant www.mantrapaloalto.com
Three Seasons www.threeseasonsrestaurant.com
Vero Ristorante www.veroristorante.com
Zucca European www.zuccarestaurants.com

* prix fixe prices vary/please check each restaurant for pricing *
* reservations recommended *
* please remember to visit your favorite restaurants on all the other nights of the week
as some are not open on Mondays*

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  1. Don't go to Three Seasons. I was giving them yet another ill-deserved chance tonight and they blew it. I ordered the tiger prawns and garlic noodles as the main. The noodles were like over-cooked lo-mein and the tiger prawns tasted like "off" seafood. The appetizer summer rolls were hardly good as the crab was stringy and there was no avocado. Worse yet was there was a shell as big as my thumb in one of the rolls. Likewise, the chicken salad was tasteless with an unremarkable vinegar. The only highlight was the coconut deep fried banana.

    Now, we went to I Tapas two Mondays ago and despite being owned by the same people, the food was much better. The salad was good. The lamb was good. The sea bass was tasty. I want to go back and taste the rest of their menu. The service was horribly inattentive, however.

    And last Monday, we went to Junnoon. They make incredible drinks there. I enjoyed the comp appetizer. The wontons were kinda unremarkable, but my husband absolutely loved them. I wasn't too fond of the sea bass there as it tasted slightly like tapioca (but again my husband loved it). The naan was good and their molten chocolate cake was good, but they could have dialed back on the cinnamon to let the cardamom shine. The kulfi, as someon else has said, wasn't sweet enough, but I enjoyed the pistachio brittle cup that it came in.

    You should include links to the menus when they have them. Here's the one for I Tapas:
    http://www.paloaltodowntown.com/image...

    -----
    I Tapas & Wine Bar
    445 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

    3 Replies
    1. re: Luthien

      A bunch of us went to itapas last week. (Posting here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/431041) I agree that the service was a bit off, but I wasn't sure if that was a general restaurant problem, or whether they didn't know how to deal w/ the fact that we all showed up at different times and maybe the wait staff was waiting for all of us to appear. They did bring the main dish while all of us were still working on the salad, which was odd. I thought that for $20, the itapas menu was a steal deal. There were 4.5 of us and we got the same salad and dessert, but there were enough main dish choices that we got 3 different things among us.

      This year is slim pickings compared to last year. If anyone tries Mantra or Lavanda, those are the other two I'd be curious to try out of the bunch and hear other's experiences.

      1. re: Luthien

        Just had the Junoon menu last night. I personally was less impressed with the drinks, but then I really hate paying $9 for a drink that I can't taste any alcohol in.

        We both ordered the same thing of the $29.99 (dinner) Dine Downtown menu - pork wontons, chicken, and molten chocolate cake. I wasn't expecting too much, due to the less than positive reviews, but was pleasantly surprised.

        The pork wontons were undercooked and not outstanding, although I did like the chutney they came with. My boyfriend really liked them, though, so maybe there is some sort of trend here :-)

        The Old-Delhi Style Chicken was essentially butter chicken, and quite good. I was also surprised by the portion size, as I was expecting it to be either plated or a teeny-tiny dish, and it ended up being more than we could finish (server told us it is the largest dish on the menu, although varies quite a bit due to the whim of the plater. Hm.). Probably would have ordered one different entree if I had known, as we easily could have chared one order. Black lentils were good. Absurdly small portion of plan white basmati rice, which we didn't even finish due to the large portion of chicken. Naan was good, too.

        Molten chocolate cake had nice spice flavor and the ginger gelato was good too. Dine menu, 2 drinks and a coffee ended up $100 with tip, though, so not exactly a bargain. I'd probably go back and share the chickan and naan, and I loved being able to sit outside.

        1. re: alis

          Just for reference, they'll bring you more rice and lentils if you run out. Their theory is that no one ever finishes them, so they don't bring out more than that quantity, but I think it takes away from the value of being able to take some home with you to enjoy with the rest of your take-away.

          I've had better butter chicken, but I really liked how the onion came through in the sauce.

      2. I just had the iTapas promo earlier tonight, along with some friends. It's a great deal at $19.95 for three courses, all quite tasty.

        The fennel salad was mostly salad greens with some fennel slices and nuts -- not remarkable but fine. The Caesar salad was gloriously garlicky and full of anchovy, just the way I like it :)

        My lamb was delicious, sweet and tangy -- I ended up picking each chop with my fingers to gnaw the last pieces of goodness from the bones. Not too fond of brussel sprouts, though. The sea bass was fine but not as good as the lamb. Someone else at our table had the short ribs but I didn't try it.

        The chocolate torte and ice cream were good. Didn't try the cheesecake but others who did said it was fabulous.

        Whatever you do, do NOT order the sangria there! We tried both the cava and the red versions, both of which we did not like. But the food itself was very good for the price, and we'd go again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PekoePeony

          Oh! I had completely forgotten about the Caesar salad! You're absolutely right that it was wonderfully garlicky!

        2. Does anyone know the pricing and details (how many courses) for Lavanda? I asked the hostess to fax me the prix fixe menu, but she is taking her time and I'm anxious to make my plans!

          1. Here are the menus that I could find:
            I Tapas $19.95 http://www.paloaltodowntown.com/image...
            Junnoon $29.95 http://www.paloaltodowntown.com/docum...
            3 Seasons $29.95 reg/$17.95 veg http://www.paloaltodowntown.com/image...
            Vero $24.95 http://www.veroristorante.com/events....
            Mantra $30 reg/$25 veg http://www.mantrapaloalto.com/events/...

            Bistro Maxine's website says they are closed on Mondays, so I'm not sure if they are really participating in this promo.