Friday, August 10, 2007

Angelica's Bistro, Redwood City

Angelica's Bistro
Salads, sandwiches, and desserts in a European open courtyard setting

We're not familiar with Redwood City, so we took the time to explore when we were there last Friday night for an art show. On Main Street, Mark found an interesting-looking bistro behind an antique store, so we decided to give it a shot.

You have to walk down a little alley to get to the restaurant proper, or through the adjacent store. The arched entrance, stone-paved alley, and antiques give it a distinctly European feel even before you get to the courtyard where most of the restaurant's seating is located (they have live music there most weekend nights, but a noise complaint, we think, kept it quiet the night we visited). Small tables, flowers, and old statues really give you the feel of being tucked away in a small patio behind a Paris cafe. It's so Parisian, in fact, that upon seeing "French toast Monte Cristo" on the menu, my mind tricked me into thinking it was a "croque monsieur." Fortunately, I liked what it was when it came, even if it wasn't what I was expecting.

The food more than measures up to the setting. We started with crostini, small pieces of toast with various toppings: red bell peppers and capers, blue cheese and walnut, grilled and marinated eggplant and mint, marinated cherry tomatoes, and cream cheese spinach and artichokes. The cream cheese might have been my favorite; it was hard to decide. For our dinner, we got a couple sandwiches: the aforementioned Monte Cristo (which is actually ham, turkey, and melted Jack cheese on slices of French toast) and a smoked chicken with roasted pepper, pesto, and melted Provolone on ciabatta. The Monte Cristo was served with fruit preserves and Dijon mustard on the side for dipping, and the French toast gave the sandwich just enough sweetness that both worked equally well. I've said before that a great sandwich depends on the bread, and both the French toast and the ciabatta were top-notch. The melted Jack cheese really added flavor to the sandwich as well as making it pleasantly gooey. I didn't notice the Provolone as much on the smoked chicken, but the chicken and pesto went really well together, the red peppers providing a nice accent.

We ordered both with small side salads. There was no choice of dressing, but fortunately the house vinaigrette is quite nice. The salad ingredients were all fresh and tasty, very enjoyable. Our only regret is that we were so full after the meal that we had no room for any of the delicious-looking desserts. Or the homemade crepes. In fact, we're planning several return visits to sample more items on the menu, and to relax in the outdoor patio. The owner was in attendance the night we dined there, walking around and talking to everyone, clearly very much enjoying his new venture and already familiar with a number of regulars. Would that we lived close enough. If you find yourself in downtown Redwood City, definitely make time for a stop to Angelica's.

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