News


Station 1 lights up Woodside dining scene

Click on pictures to enlarge and see captions.

By Jane Knoerle

Almanac Lifestyles Editor

Only months old, Station 1 is bringing new life to an old building and new zest to the local restaurant scene.

Station 1 is located in a former fire station built in the 1920s. Later, the little red building on Woodside Road was the site of Nina's, then John Bentley's restaurant. Today, young owners Zu and Kristi Tarazi have warmed up the cozy space with red wallpaper, mahogany paneling, and a fireplace, but the hottest thing at Station 1 is the kitchen.

It is the domain of Zach Freitas, former chef de cuisine at Commis in Oakland, who is turning out food as innovative as any found in trendy San Francisco restaurants.

He has created a three-course menu ($54) with choices: five appetizers, three main courses and three desserts. You may also order a la carte.

The menu needs some deciphering, even for experienced foodies. We asked our server to explain several terms, including mimolette (a kind of cheese) and urfa biber (pepper flakes), which were served atop smoked spinach soup. And how many local restaurants feature ramp, green garlic, sorrel, quinoa, guanciale, nettles, and parsley root on the menu?

The Tarazis have added some nice touches to the dinner service, such as an amuse bouche. One night it was salt-roasted rutabaga topped with julienne of raw rutabaga. Other extras are a palate cleanser before dessert (watermelon soda) and sweets that come with the check. These amenities, plus both owners on the floor making sure everything is going smoothly, make dining at Station 1 seem special.

There are drawbacks. The little dining room, which seats 48, is noisy, and the wooden chairs are uncomfortable. Since there is no entryway, every time the front door opens, nearby diners get a blast of cold air.

Such annoyances don't seem to deter diners. On a recent Thursday night, the restaurant was full. As the evening wore on, older well-dressed diners were replaced by a younger set, including CEO-types with their spouses and friends. The Tarazis seem to have found their target audience: young movers and shakers who expect the best and can afford it.

On a recent first visit, we settled on smoked spinach soup and nettle risotto with hen of the woods mushrooms as appetizers. The brilliant green soup was delicious, one of the best things about the meal. Blue cheese overpowered the taste of nettles in the risotto.

For the main course, I chose wagyu bavette (skirt steak). The steak was beautifully presented with fat asparagus spears and king oyster mushrooms, and topped with what turned out to be miner's lettuce. The steak was satisfying and chewy, but I would've liked bolder seasoning.

Leg of lamb was perfectly cooked and tender. It was served with parsley root, kale and fig. Neither of us had tasted parsley root before. It has a sweetness like parsnips and looked as if it had just been pulled from the earth.

For dessert, our choices were chocolate caramel cake with espresso, anglaise, and mint; and vanilla bean custard with strawberry, tangerine, and cinnamon. Chocolate caramel cake was a three-layer cube topped with thick frosting sprinkled with sea salt. The frosting tasted more of chocolate than caramel. The custard was refreshing comfort food.

Kristi Borrone Tarazi's family owns Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park. The custard made me think of "Rose's custard," a longtime favorite there.

We each had a 6-ounce pour of a French pinot noir. Wine comes in a 3-ounce pour, 6-ounce pour, or by the bottle.

For those who complain the Peninsula offers little of the innovation found in San Francisco's restaurants, Station 1 is a welcome addition. Along with its nearby neighbor, the Village Pub, the new restaurant shows that dining out can be exciting, even in quiet Woodside.

Station 1, 2991 Woodside Road, Woodside, 851-4988. Open for dinner 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. www.station1restaurant.com

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm

oh man woodside is turning into the lyon of the peninsula


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Real American
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I'll never understand this obsession with presentation. A three course meal for $54? Why would I pay big bucks just to feel hungry 15 minutes after I eat? I hope the portions are a little bigger than those pictures. It looks like the restaurant takes portion control to the extreme. I consider myself a foodie, but I'm not dumb enough to pay a lot for little.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 22, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Definitely not blown away by this restaurant. Price has already jumped $5 since it opened, due to a lot of great reviews, that seem somewhat unwarranted. I have found the food pretentious, with strange pairings, and two bite portions. Best to eat before (and after) you go.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm

My wife and I ate there shortly after it opened. We were not impressed, especially at the price. We haven't gone back.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on May 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Station 1 was the best meal we've had thus far in 2011.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thelma
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on May 23, 2011 at 10:15 am

I just don't understand the peninsula. A restaurant with awful service and mediocre food gets such high praise. Why are expectations so low.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm

We had a fabulous dining experience at Station One. Each mouthful seemed to merit savoring. The combination of flavors was terrific for every dish. Normally I wouldn't order a meal in this price range, but the quality and artistry of the food makes it very worth the price.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

I agree with Steve. We had a delightful and tasty evening at Station 1.

Any new restaurant will have start up pains but those seem to be behind Station 1 and I would not hesitate to recommend it for an excellent and intimate dining experience.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Looks very nice. It is a tough business, I wish them all the luck


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Libby
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on May 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Never been there, menu doesn't do much for me, and prices are outrageous.
3 course meals are too much food, and if my husband and I want to share a meal, neither could deceide on same entree.
No curiosity at all, and no desire to eat at Villlage Pub either!
Love John Bentleys, so that is our special place!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

portions are perfectly sized. get into a habit of eating less: you'll live longer. I am 185 lbs ripped and i go on 1000 kcal/day diet. oh, and exercise is overrated.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm

and lol at the FDA allowing the consumption of cheese mites and no young lait cru cheeses.


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