Menlo Tavern has just opened at the Stanford Park Hotel, serving up elevated classics with a California touch.
The restaurant and bar offers a sophisticated yet relaxed setting for convivial tavern fare and artisan cocktails. For ambience, the restaurant draws inspiration from the history of the nearby Stanford University eating clubs. Established in the late 1890s by students unhappy with the university’s limited dining options, the clubs quickly grew into indispensable social hubs. Like those clubs, Menlo Tavern is a meeting spot for sharing delicious food and drinks, company and camaraderie, says Executive Director Roque Medina. The décor pays homage to Stanford, with books, trophies and playful collegiate touches along the back wall while four large slate panels with white outlined figures Stanford’s famous marching band. Deep blue leather booths and elegant glassware add a feeling of restrained refinement.
Like the décor, the menu from Executive Chef Jason Dalling effortlessly fuses the classic and the playful. The tavern burger is livened up with a pretzel bun, the heritage pork chop is served up with sweet potato purée, drunken blackberries and the tavern’s cioppino celebrates the classic invented by San Francisco’s Italian immigrant fishermen. The linguine pasta is made in-house from scratch.
“Chef Dalling is very creative, he cooks with passion from his heart and soul,” said Medina.
Dalling brings more than 25 years of restaurant experience with him, including several years with Fairmont Resorts.
His dishes reflect the seasonality and careful sourcing that’s emblematic of the best of California cooking. Cowgirl Creamery burrata, free-range organic chicken from Petaluma, and Marianne’s ice cream from Santa Cruz are all featured on the menu.
In keeping with the celebration of northern California, the wine list leans heavily on well-known favorites from Napa and Sonoma. There are also eight beers on draught, including hyperlocal favorites Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. and Strike, which started in a Los Altos kitchen before moving to a larger facility in San Jose.
The handcrafted cocktail program at Menlo Tavern offers sophisticated drinks with fresh ingredients. The best way to peruse the extensive offerings is to look through their vintage-inspired Mixology Guide, which includes their signature selection of cocktails with names like Respect Your Professors and Meet Me at the Terrace. They also have list of drinks inspired by famous authors, so if you feel literary you can ask for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gin Rickey or raise up a glass of absinthe in tribute to Oscar Wilde.
A variety of indoor and outdoor private dining options are available for intimate parties.
In contrast to most of the area around it, parking at Menlo Tavern is a snap. The lot is spacious, and the restaurant also offers complimentary valet parking.
Stop in for a drink in the bar, a meal with friends or gather round a fire pit in the restaurant’s inviting patio. Menlo Tavern offers a place for everyone.