Lure+Till brings farm-to-table dining with a hip Mission vibe to downtown Palo Alto. Open just a week, the place has already been packed every night — and with good reason.
Centrally located on the corner of Hamilton and Emerson (across from Peninsula Creamery), the restaurant/bar space is warm but not overdone: dark wood tables, comfy upholstered mid-century-style dining chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows on the street side, and an outdoor seating area that will likely be Palo Alto’s table-to-get as the weather warms up. The food, which has a seasonal focus, is delicious and beautifully executed. The hand-crafted cocktail list is contemporary and interesting.
I’m not usually an early adopter of new restaurants. Having worked in the back of the house in a past life, I know what it takes to orchestrate a good lunch or dinner service, let alone all of the customer-facing efforts that go on in the front of the house. Which is to say that any new restaurant has some kinks to iron out during its first few weeks. Yet, early press on this place has been positive, and it seemed like a fun addition to my extended birthday celebration.
Here’s a first look at the dishes my friend Amy and I enjoyed during our dinner at Lure+Till. I’m not a restaurant critic, so you won’t find much in the way of critique here (hint: I don’t write about food I don’t enjoy), but I’ve tried to hit the highlights of each dish. Consider this post an introduction and recommendation to visit. I know I’ll be going back for another round!
The menu has seven categories with four to five dishes in each: Raw, Appetizer + Salads, Nosh, Pastas, Entree, Sides, and Dessert. Wanting to try as many dishes as possible, Amy and I tried to choose at least one from each category.
Hamachi crudo appetizer. Hands-down our favorite among the small dishes. The hamachi was (dare I say it) supple and oh-so-fresh. The dish had a nice combo of salty, spicy, acidic, and sweet. When a food runner mistakely tried to drop a someone else’s order at our table right after we finished our crudo, there was a split second of moral dilemma.
Alaskan Halibut. Actually we tried the halibut two ways: with and without the beets, radish, and puffed rice. Due to what I’ll call a first-week snafu, our halibut showed up naked at first, leaving us wondering if there was a disconnect on the menu or in the kitchen. Fortunately, a quick question to the manager cleared things up, as he quickly and graciously remedied the situation by offered a second chance at the dish. So glad we took him up on it! While the halibut on its own was absolutely lovely, the intended additions elevated the dish by adding flavor and texture. Worth the do-over! (And thanks again to Lure+Till’s manager who was so accommodating.)
Deviled Eggs. I love that deviled eggs are retro/hipster/whatever enough to turn up on menus again.
Scallops. Yes, there’s a lot going on here, but it all plays nicely together! The scallops were cooked to that perfect point of being just tender but not underdone. The Cotechino sausage… all I can say is “little cubes of deliciousness.” As with the rest of the dishes we tried, texture and flavor are key here, both in individual components, and in the way that the dish comes together. Sweet, savory, spicy, creamy, crunchy, fresh — it’s all in there.
Kale. Our token “greens” plate. The Meyer lemon added brightness, but we were missing the Marcona almonds. The salt and crunch of the almonds would have really rounded out the dish. (It turns out that the dish was mistakenly marked for “allergy” on our ticket. Good news is that the front and back of the house are sensitive and responsive to food allergies. Make sure you tell your server at the beginning of the meal.)
Grits. Oh my — this! This is the dish I’m still craving. I was thinking, as I was eating it, that I really wanted it again for breakfast the next day. So simple, and yet, so indulgent and satisfying. The grits were cooked to a perfectly smooth consistency (not too porridge-y nor crunchy), the house-made sriracha is spicy but not overwhelming, but let’s face it, they had me at “slow-cooked egg.”
Just FYI, the dessert selections are on the back of the menu (along with wines by the glass, craft beers, and non-alcoholic beverages). If you subscribe to the “Eat Dessert First” philosophy, start here and plan your meal accordingly.
Bananas and caramel. A beautiful plate, and the parfait, caramel, and banana were lovely. Unfortunately, the canelés (a classic French pastry with a crispy exterior and custardy interior) were overbaked, which was a shame. I really hope this was just an off night for the the canelés because I’d love to try this dish again. Note to the gluten-free types: canelés are made with flour.
“Whoppers!” I enjoyed all of the elements of this pretty, candy-inspired dessert. I just felt that it needed something more than the meringue/honeycomb crumbles to bridge the gap between the mousse and the ice cream. As both are rich, frozen, creamy components, I wanted a dense cake disk or crisp chocolate component to complete the dish.
So, have you been to Lure+Till yet? If not, are you planning to go? Share your thoughts.
Where: 180 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (inside The Epiphany Hotel)
Parking: Valet stand on Emerson. Street parking. Lots nearby.
Phone: 650-666-3320, x3320
Hours: Mon – Thu: 8 am – 11 pm, Fri – Sun: 11 am – 11 pm
Bar: Crafted cocktails, wine, beer
*Tip: As of this writing, I’m still craving these must-try dishes: Hamachi crudo, scallops, grits