Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee


Fremont is not really a place one thinks of when it comes to fine restaurants. Fast food and mid-range stuff at best is more the speed of this bedroom community. But there is at least one exception, and that is Papillon in Niles. Cheryl and I went there tonight, as we have not about this time for the past couple of years. Frankly, at the price, once a year is about all we can afford; however, the food is worth it.

Given that this is an upscale restaurant, we were somewhat surprised (but pleased, because we want the place to be here the next time we want to eat here) at how full the parking lot was, and I was glad I'd made a reservation. The place was quite busy. On our previous visits (which were on Sunday evenings, as I recall, not Saturday), only the forward solarium was open; however, tonight we were seated in the inner, velvet-wallpapered dining room. In some respects it was like going through a time machine. Cheryl said her grandfather would have been comfortable here. I looked at the ceiling and noted that it looked a fair bit like some of the fancy textured wallpaper that Sarah Winchester had stockpiled in her mansion in San Jose.

We started with dessert -- not eating it, but ordering it. Having been caught out before and having examined the dessert menu online before coming here, we knew that if we wanted to try the baked Alaska, we would have to order it in advance because it takes twenty minutes to cook.

Appetizers got slightly muddled. Cheryl ordered the Truffles & Cognac Duck Pate, but they were out, and she had the Norwegian Smoked Salmon instead. I ordered the Roasted Forest Mushroom Ravioli but they brought me the Lobster Ravioli instead; however, both starters were good. They were followed by a rich corn chowder that made you want to eat slowly to savor the flavor.

For our main courses, Cheryl had the evening special, Monkfish, while I had the Seafood Wellington. I was a bit put out at it being served on a bed of spinach, but I soldiered on and ate it anyway, and it was surprisingly good. The presentation is excellent, and also a bit misleading. The plates are large, and it's easy to think that the portions are small, but in fact there is actually a lot of food there, and I found myself wishing I'd skipped eating any bread at the start of meal.

And yet there was still dessert to come, along with a bit of a show. Part of the restaurant's attraction are its tableside flambes, both entrees and desserts. In our case, the waiter brought out the baked Alaska, took a snifter of brandy, lit it on fire, and poured it over the dessert and onto our plates. After allowing the alcohol to burn off, he served half of the dessert to each of us. "For two?" I said, amazed at the size of the thing. "That could serve four, easily!" Indeed, if I were with a group of four, I'd suggest ordering one of these and splitting it four ways. I tried not to think about the effect on my blood sugar as I struggled to finish the meal.

Along the way, the restaurant's garrulous owner came by our table and talked with us for a while. He'd done the same thing to all of the other diners, and we've learned that his personal attention is part of the overall package. The staff, most of whom appear to have been here for years, have heard all of the stories hundreds of times, of course, and could probably recite them from memory themselves.

Although the restaurant was nearly fully packed when we arrived just before 8 PM, we were among the last to leave from the main dining room, although it was still pretty lively up forward, even though it was nearly 10 PM, the restaurant's closing time. Total four-course meal for two people including tip: $135, which is certainly something we don't do that often, but which Cheryl pointed out is pretty cheap compared to substantially worse meals she's had in the UK.

Papillion isn't actually that far from our apartment -- while we were out for a walk around Quarry Lakes Park this afternoon, I realized that at one point we were closer to the restaurant than we were to home -- but because the Lakes are there, we have to go around the three sides of the square to get there. Still, it's only a ten minute drive, and we got home just at 10 PM. We then changed out of our fancy clothes into more practical ones and went out for a walk, even at this late hour. All that food, you know. And much to my amazement, the expected catastrophic effect on my blood sugar didn't materialize -- I had a 124 reading an hour after eating -- possibly due to the walk and also due to having been out around Quarry Lakes on a 5km walk earlier today.

Now we can surrender to the sleep that was calling us from the moment we waddled away from the table, well fed and fully-sated. Yum.
Tags: cheryl, diabetes, food

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