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Jan 26, 2010 03:05 PM

Molecular Gastronomy Resto Opening in Palo Alto- Baumé

According to an Urbandaddy missive today, Palo Alto is getting a molecular gastronomy restaurant called "Baumé." Bruno Chemel from Chez TJ is the chef and the restaurant is opening on Thursday. There's no rule that Palo Alto's restaurants have to be mediocre so I'm really hoping that this'll change things up. Not sure how foams, airs, and trompe l'oeil whatnots will go over in PA, but there's enough money here to support higher prices. Now for some delicious everyday dining here please!

If anyone goes, would love a report.

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  1. thanks for the heads up! I really hope it does well although judging by the prices this would make it one of the most expensive restaurants in the area (maybe even Palo Alto) on a street that outside of Bistro Elan is really more of a moderate-priced street. Also, this specific location has not been kind to other restaurants...a few have come and gone over the years since it's a bit too far to wander for pedestrians with most of the action in the first two blocks of Cal Ave. This chef better bring some heat.

    4 Replies
    1. re: vis

      Maybe it will appeal to the well-heeled techies in the area. It really doesn't matter what the street is like if the restaurant itself is a destination (see, for example, Commis in Oakland).

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        i hope you're right - i wish it the best of luck. in the last 4 years, there have been 3 names on this corner. this is a different concept and a special occassion spot vs. the bistros that have been here before so maybe that will work.

        1. re: vis

          Yeah California Ave. is a funny, sleepy street. Also I heard they cut down all those old trees. Any way, as a destination place it could make it. After all Chez TJ in downtown MV isn't exactly hopping. It certainly wasn't when they started. Still it's seems a little dicey and sorta 10 years ago. OTOH, if it's fun, it could do well. I think the MG stuff it has to be fun.

          1. re: ML8000

            The improvements to Antonio's Nut House have been striking. By taking out a number of internal walls, and highlighting their burger grill, the place is inviting for a rowdy friday after dinner beer and burger. The place was pretty packed last night, mostly a late 20's early 30's crowd. The parking in the lot nearest Antonio's was quite full.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. They're on OpenTable already, with tables open this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mostly, pre-6:30 and post-8:00. There are apparently only 22 seats in the place.

        1. Just got back from dinner. They only have a five course ($78), no choices. A neighboring diner mentioned that their 15 course isn't slated to start until February (didn't specify when).

          The last 2 courses (beef filet with truffles and mushrom tart, chocolate sponge cake with dark chocolate sphere, orange granita, candied orange, and chocolate chip ice cream) were the best, especially the beef. The other three courses (beet "salad" with cheese spheres, pumpkin soup, some sort of sous vide fish with daikon panna cotta) and amuses bouches (flatbread, scallop sashimi, green tea eclair) were interestingly composed, but the flavors didn't really stand out. Mostly too mild, but not necessarily refined, for our palates. (It says something that we described the flavors as "wet" and "green".) It reminded me why I haven't really wanted to do tasting menus for a while now.

          Total for dinner for 2, 2 glasses of excellent Pinot Noir, tax and tip was $240. We probably won't be back to sample the 15 course, unless there are some real raves about it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: dump123456789

            Interesting to contrast with Commis opening, where they started with lower prices, and as word spread about the "value", they raised prices. I agree - at a $80 level, my expectations will be sky-high.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Thanks for trying it and reporting back. Your reactions are similar to that of Chowhounds when Chemel was at Chez TJ, which is why he's no longer there. It's a much different situation than Commis, where Kinch appeared very supportive of Syhabout starting his own place. (I guess as long as it was way on the other side of the bay from Manresa!)


          2. We just had a delightful dinner at Baumé. I did not take notes, so I don't remember course details. They give the option of 5 ($78), 10 ($108), or 15 ($158) courses. The server described the 5-course as more conventional, the 10 as having more molecular gastronomy (MG) methods, and the 15 as a combination, plus more desserts.

            We opted for the 10 course, and also had a bottle of Page Mill 2007 Merlot.

            While the MG was used in many dishes, it was always an excellent addition to a complex dish. For example, a perfectly cooked asparagus spear had asparagus purée and spherified hollandaise, as well as several other components. A few dishes and a cocktail included passionfruit caviar, always to good effect. Each dish was complex, and was composed of elements reflecting lots of work and attention for flavor and texture. The 62°C egg was topped with a dry sherry foam that complemented it perfectly, and also included a small medly of flavorful mushrooms. The sous vide fillet was accompanied by a wonderful citrus vinaigrette and a precious onion tart. The foie gras was a play with pineapple and vanilla, and was probably my favorite dish. Each dish was a work of art, both in visual appeal and in flavor.

            Baumé is not as much theater or as innovative as El Bulli or the Fat Duck, but it is not trying to be. Many of the dishes would hold up well in comparison.

            Service was well paced and friendly. They gladly answered our many detailed questions about methods and ingredients. They were happy to let us have a look in the kitchen, and we had the chance to chat with chef Chemel, who was happy and excited.

            There is no question that the price is high, but it is a special occasion restaurant, and is not out of line with restaurants of similar level. It was clear that every ingredient was of top quality, and much work went into each plate. I just would have liked to have had slightly larger portions; I walked away satisfied, but not full.

            We will go back for special occasions.

            201 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

            1 Reply
            1. re: smash

              I I had to take a girlfriend to the 3-course lunch at Baume yesterday because my husband wouldn't go after experiencing some expensive, disappointing meals at FL, Chez TJ, Chez Panisse, Manresa, and - dare I say it - Alinea!

              His loss, because the food was delicious, interesting, and fun. Since we were both designated drivers, my friend and I split the wine pairings, which were generous pours that perfectly matched the food. Three of the wines were knockouts: the 2004 Chateau Larruau Merlot/Cab and the 2006 Alfaro Pinot; the 2004 Dr. Loosen Riesling Auslese with dessert had a tight, closed bouquet, but a nice long finish. Service was professional and friendly without being chummy.

              While I didn't particularly like the pineapple tart's textures, everything else was great: the asparagus app described by an earlier poster, artichoke soup (with a bacon-topped marshmallow-like thing, and a frozen something inside the hot soup - fun!); the salmon was perfectly cooked, on a bed of creamed carrot and surrounded by flavored bubbles (great visuals); beef filet was as good as it could be, given it's a flavorless cut, IMHO; desserts were the afore-mentioned pineapple tart and three well-aged, extremely tasty cheeses with cardamom fruit/nut jams. The portions were not large, but since everything was rich and unique, we cleaned our plates and were stuffed.

              Chocolates, enrobed hazelnuts, and passionfruit candies accompanied the $130 check before t&t - a steal for quality food and wine. Will have to go back to try the tasting menus.

              Manresa Restaurant
              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

              Chez Panisse
              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

              Chez TJ
              938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041