Known for their astounding repertoire of fresh spring rolls and collective small plates, Three Seasons Restaurant has quickly become the dining ... More
Known for their astounding repertoire of fresh spring rolls and collective small plates, Three Seasons Restaurant has quickly become the dining experience of choice among those who know. Founders Chef Hung Le and Tessa Nguyen bring their concept of fresh premium ingredients combined with innovative food presentation to downtown Palo Alto. The result is an unprecedented and thoroughly addictive spin on traditional Vietnamese flavors. The flagship Three Seasons, in San Francisco's trendy Marina District, has earned the distinction as one of the most acclaimed Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area since its inception over three years ago.
I always want Three Seasons to be what the Slanted Door used to be and what Tamarine manages to do a little better in some areas. Still, Three Seasons holds its own by offering an interesting assortment of crystal roles, a few other quality dishes (especially the green papaya salad and garlic noodles), and quiet outdoor tables.
I have to say I'm very disappointed. I went there during lunch time and thought the food might be good, but I'm really disappointed. It wasn't busy when I went there, but the wait for the food took forever. The waitress was really slow and hardly checked to see if I needed anything. If you do decide to go there don't order the mango beef, papaya salad or the chicken rice noodles. The mango beef is seriously way overcooked and dry. The noodles tasted like it wasn't cooked and you can actually count how many noodles they gave you. For the price that I paid over there you can get really good Vietnamese food in S.F. I don't even want to give it a star, but I guess I have to.
The Three Seasons in Palo Alto resides in an alley, in what used to be the Stankovich Brothers' Studio 54-like club during the 80's, at that time replete with a hot tub and a back room. Now, this old joint in the alleyway is the location of Three Seasons. The stained glass dome in the ceiling, brought in from a Pittsburgh courthouse (legend has it), adds a colonial look, along with the Spanish hacienda railings. Seven buddhas look down over the luxurious old wood bar, a relic of the 42nd street days. The bar, the black granite bar tables, and the tall tropical foliage of the piazza create walls and separate the first floor from the second floor and main dining room.
The wine list is outstanding by the glass, compared to other Palo Alto restaurants of a similar price point, and the food is well thought out. The duck spring rolls are consistently good, although the duck entree is similar to duck a l'orange from inexpensive chinese restaurants, replete with sugary sauce. The sea bass is wonderful, and the ahi/mango spring rolls are quite delicious. Beef fresh rolls are different, and quite good. Pho Xao is standard, and respectable, but the exciting thing about the PA Three Seasons, aside from the speakeasy/opium den foliage and darkness of the bar, which is contrasted with yellow light upstairs and in the main dining area, is the creativity of the menu. It has been a few years, so perhaps it is time for a change, but while here, why not try something different. The pea shoots are spectacular, lightly sauteed in garlic with a soy based spicy glaze. The fried tofu? They are finger sized chunks fried heavily in oil, and generally to be avoided. The spare ribs are okay, and similar to any sugared pork asian dish. The scallop skewers are well flavored with curry sauce, and substantial. The food is usually respectable, if not good, and popular standards such as the ahi rolls are sure to please.
It's crab season, and they have chili ginger crab on the menu currently.
The service is rather good, but it gets very busy here, and during peak hours, it's not fast. I enjoy Three Seasons PA for the ambiance, the martinis, the wine by the glass, and the pea shoots.
Also, the desserts are great. They are made in house, and even though dessert is not usually a meal element I visit, I think it should be mandatory here. The restaurant lists their pastry chefs by location, and, although I have only tried three of their desserts, they were all of high quality and not to be missed.
2.9 [Somewhere between very good and highly favored locally.]
As a former S.F. resident and confirmed foodie, I often bemoan the lack of really great restaurants in the South Bay. So perhaps it's to be expected that one of my favorite restaurants here actually has an outpost in the city (in the Marina).
That's not a complaint, I can only hope that Three Seasons' presence in Palo Alto is a harbinger of more good things to come. And Three Seasons is good. Better than Tamarine down the street, if you ask me. Start with one of the refreshing spring rolls. There are at least 8 varieties and they're crisp, simple, and delicious. Move on to the tart and spicy green papaya salad--they do an excellent version of this Thai standby here. I love the perfumed jasmine rice they serve with their dishes: from the savory, spicy shaking beef to the delicious sesame scallops. Vegetable side dishes sparkle with flavor; my favorites are the crispy green beans (a must) and the spicy/sweet eggplant curry. Three Seasons is in a lovely space, off the
not bad but nothing fantastic. for prices like these, i would opt for an eatery in sf.
the food is not as unique as xanh, and the portions leave you quite hungry. they claim that the food is meant for sharing family style, but then it is not really portioned or served properly to do so. how the heck do you expect an entire table to share a one and a half inch chunk of bass? at least serve a larger piece that can be cut into smaller pieces so that everyone can have a little more than a sliver.
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