Cheryl is on her way back to the UK today. I took her to SFO this afternoon and she called me about 25 minutes ago to tell me they were boarded and just about to button things up. She'll be back in late March. So last night we thought we might go out and have a nice dinner. There is a restaurant in Fremont that we've seen several times that looked interesting, but that we'd never tried, so we headed off to Papillion, a French restaurant located on Mission Blvd. in Fremont.
Wednesday was a very slow evening for them; they had only one of the three dining areas in the restaurant open, and there were only about eight customers including us in the place. We were met by the owner, a somewhat garrulous older gentleman in a wheel chair, and he came by all of the customers' tables during the evening talking to them (and us) about the wines and food they served. He said he's owned the place for many years, and that all of the employees have been there for years as well. They certainly made us feel welcome.
We started with crab cakes and house-made ravioli -- both were excellent. This was followed by cream of mushroom soup for me and a house salad for Cheryl. I don't ordinarily like cream of mushroom, but this was superb; Cheryl said her salad -- much more elaborate than most "house salads" -- was also good. The owner said they start making the soup a couple of days in advance, in order to get the stock just right. For the main course, I had grilled angus ribeye in a marinade of olive oil, peppers, basil and mushrooms. Cheryl had an Ahi tuna steak. We traded portions -- mmmm! In deference to my teetotaling ways, we had a bottle of a non-alcoholic chardonnay whose name I fear I forgot. I blew my diabetic control goals (but my numbers had been very good today, so I had some room) by having a slice of cheesecake for dessert, while Cheryl had chocolate mousse. While polishing that off, the owner asked why we hadn't eaten the orchid garnish next to the strawberries on our plates. I didn't realize you could eat orchids, but at his urging, I ate mine. I don't think it tasted of much but the powdered sugar with which it was sprinkled, though.
This was an excellent dinner, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a fine dining experience served by people who know their food and their service. The decor was nice, the food was presented well, and even the owner added to the atmosphere of the place. He said that while things were slow that evening, they had been completely full during the holiday season, as many companies have their holiday parties there, and I'm not surprised. If my company were in the Fremont area instead of San Mateo, I would recommend that they look into using this place.
But it's not cheap. The full meal, starters, main course, wine, dessert, coffee, tax and tip included, came to $65/person. This is not something we're going to do very often. Like one of our other favorite restaurants, CreoLA in San Carlos, this is a place for special occasions, worth saving up for a visit. Cheryl said that in the UK, you could easily spend £35/person on a meal that was nowhere near as good as this. (I wish she was still writing, as she could do it much better justice than I can.) Although it was expensive, I would call it good value for money.
And, for what it's worth, despite the heavy meal, I found that I had lost two pounds this morning.