Foie Gras Deflowering: Where's the best place for a first-time foie gras experience in San Jose area?
My boyfriend has never had foie gras, and I'd like to rectify this immediately. Unfortunately, I'm still a bit new to the area, and while I could pick out five great places in New York for foie gras, I can't think of a single one in the South Bay area (San Jose). Chowhounders, I need your help!
Ideally, it'd be great to find a place where they serve the full menu at the bar (or at least foie gras), so we could just stop in for foie gras and some wine without committing to a tasting menu or a full a la carte meal.
Regardless, I just want to make sure that his first foie gras experience is as amazing as it should be--something he'll always look back on fondly!
I've had good foie gras at Parcel 104 in Santa Clara before - they show two different preparations in their menus online right now (one in the chef's tasting and one in the regular dinner menu). Their desserts, though not foie-related, are really great too. ;) http://www.parcel104.com
2700 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054
Bistro Elan in Palo Alto is a good choice for foie gras that's pretty near San Jose. Le Papillon was the first place to come to mind for San Jose itself, but it's been a long time since we've been there. But I think you would need to do an a la carte meal at both places.
448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
410 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129
I strongly second the recommendation for Bistro Elan,. Foie gras is no longer on the menu, but it is available. Call ahead if you want to be sure. I love La Foret (we went there tonight), but the one time I had the foie gras, I was very disappointed. Tiny portion, cooked to death.
448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
La Foret Restaurant
21747 Bertram Rd, San Jose, CA 95120
As you're figuring out, San Jose ain't new york. Heck, san francisco isn't new york, but you can get a fine plate of foie gras at half a dozen places. Maybe a full dozen.
Radiating outwards from San Jose:
Chez TJ in MV would be my choice, hands down. Hudson Valley Fois Gras two ways on the online menu, get the petite menu if you don't want lots of courses. Ask for a glass of Sauterne to impress the BF. Might want to check if their online menu is current, but it's the kind of place that should have foie gras every day. Michelin took away their second star, but they've still got one left!
Next up the peninsula would be Marche in Mountain View. Oddly, I've never been. It's a little stuffy-looking, food's supposed to be decent. Online menu has it. No tasting menu worries there: they're a apps/main kind of place.
231 Ellsworth in San Mateo - but if you're willing to drive to san mateo, drive 15 minutes more to Boulevard or Jardinere in SF.
La Foret in san jose actual might have it, never been.
Le Papillon is a good suggestion, with decent foie gras in addition to decent French food in general, but it won't necessarily blow you away. It's also not a place that you can typically just stop in for some foie gras as a quick bite. Manresa is a wonderful restaurant, but in the umpteen times that I've been there, I've never seen David Kinch serve foie gras as just a simple item, either prepared cold or hot. In fact, I can only recall occasionally that he has used it as one ingredient among several in a dish. Ultimately, if you want the ultimate foie gras "deflowering," I can of course name you hundreds of places in France that outdo anything locally, but you probably should at least travel into San Francisco to do it justice, with my suggestion being La Folie.
I introduced my parents to foie gras by purchasing some foie gras torchon from the Fatted Calf at Ferry Plaza and spreading it on lightly toasted Acme baguette. Ferry plaza is a bit of a drive from SJ, but since you are relatively new to the area, you might make a morning of going there with your BF. Have some Blue Bottle coffee, maybe breakfast, then get some things for the ultimate dinner. There are a lot of posts on Ferry Plaza and it's just a great place.
If you want to introduce your BF in a low pressure kind of way, maybe pick up some of the Fatted Calf foie gras, some other salumeria stuff at the many places there, such as Boccalone, and if you really feel like a splurge, some good eggs and a couple of truffles. You can have your foie gras and then follow with soft scrambled eggs cooked in a double boiler or bain marie, which is just a fancy name for scrambling eggs in a pan that's in another pan with water in it that's maintained just short of boiling, and you are in for a real treat. When the eggs are almost done, shave the truffles in.
Serve with champagne.
Of course, you could call Manresa and ask if they have a foie gras on the menu, but if you want to go low key, check out Fatted Calf. When I had my parents over, I didn't mention up front they were eating foie gras, but after they tried it, they kept asking for more. They now love it.
With fatted calf, you need to check what they're selling on any particular week and order it in advance. fattedcalf.com. Call them and they'll have your stuff at ferry on Saturday. There's validated parking there so you can shop for a couple of hours for either $4 or $6, I forget which.
Check out posts on fatted calf. They have a lot of good things, like their bacon.
Anyway, whichever route you take, have a good time. You have a lucky boyfriend!