Protege, Palo Alto- 12/29/2018

Protégé, which opened on California Avenue in Palo Alto in March 2018 is the brainchild of ched Anthony Secviar and master sommelier Dennis Kellyy, who met while working at Thomas Keller's esteemed the French Laundry in Yountville.  Eight months after opening their door, Protégé received  their first 1 Michelin star.

Chef Secviar started his career in San Diego then spent a couple of years in San Sebastian, Spain, including a stint at the acclaimed El Bulli. Next came six years at The French Laundry followed by nearly five years as chef de cuisine at the highly regarded Addison Grand Del Mar in La Jolla.

Wine & Spirits Magazine named Kelly one of the best young sommeliers in America in 2010, and he honed his mastery as head sommelier at The French Laundry for seven years.  Kelly is one of only 269 people to hold a diploma as a Master Sommelier worldwide.

Phuc and Huyen went to Protégé a few months after they opened and back then reservations was impossible! they took their chance and show up around 4:00Pm with a few friends, stayed in line, and they were able to be seated at the counter (party of 6 maximum).  They enjoyed their meal and now it is our turn to give it a try.

Phuc was very impressed with Dennis Kelly, the master sommelier that he told us the story how Dennis looked at the wine Phuc bought and saw that the temperature is too warm.  Dennis recommended to chill the bottle and to increase another 5 degrees to get the maximum taste.  Only a Master sommelier would know how to do this and true to this recommendation, the taste of the wine was at the optimal.

Tonight is not exception, Phuc brought 2 wonderful bottles from his collection to share with us.


It is not everyday that you get to drink these two bottles and we so looking forward to enjoy them.  Phuc also offered Dennis a glass of each bottle and he accepted.

Dennis suggested we start with The Chateau Clinet Pomerol 2000 first.


While he is decanting and serving the Chateau Clinet Pomeral, Dennis took back the Chateau mission Haut Brion to chill it.

The menu is divided in 4 sections: Snacks, Appetizers, Main, and Desserts.

In the Snacks section we ordered the Brown butter Parker rolls with sea salt butter.

The rolls are served warm and they are simply delicious.  Nice rich texture with a hint of sweetness and perfect with sea salt butter.  We could probably eat at lot more for sure...


Fish and chips


A play of fish and chips features Hawaiian Kampachi, Serrano chili, Meyer lemon Kosho on top of an Asian shrimp cracker.  Very lovely bite!


Lobster salad

This dish did not meet our expectation.  What up with the presentation? for a 1 Michelin star I was expecting a bit more.

Taste wise there was nothing special, basically, you got cooked lobster mixed with mayonnaise and a bit of spice.


These 3 dishes were in the Snacks section.  Love the Parker roll though.


In the appetizers section we ordered the Spanish Octopus, Artichoke, Panisse, Picholine Olive, Romesco sauce


The perfectly cooked Spanish octopus was plated with panisse (a fried chickpea flour cake), artichokes, olive and romesco sauce, served on a black plate that highlighted the beauty of the ingredients.  A succulent dish that we all enjoyed.



Also in the appetizers section is the Ricotta dumpling, mushrooms, and nutty aged Parmesan


The ricotta dumplings were surrounded by a broth with tiny beach mushrooms, peas and nutty Parmesan. What a delightful dish, rich but also light and airy and so tasteful.


In the main section we ordered the Brick Chicken, Cornish game Hen, Saffron rice, Piperage, Chorizo, brown butter-Caper Jus.

Everybody been talking about this dish and it did not disappoint.  Wonderful and very flavorful chicken, perfectly seasoned with a crispy skin.


Mount Lassen Trout, Parisian gnocchi, Parsnip, Tarragon, Pomegranate, Brown butter.

 The beautiful  trout (looks almost like Salmon) was surrounded with a pomegranate sauce.  The Trout was delicate, tasty and perfectly cooked.


Green Farro risotto, chanterelle mushrooms, sunflower seed, sun choke, cured egg yolk.  Another tasty dish.

We shared these 3 main dishes among the 4 of us and it was perfect, leaving us room for dessert.


Pastry Chef Eddie Lopez, another French Laundry alum, created memorable desserts by bringing a four-tiered dessert cart to our table.

The top tier was filled with delicious chocolate canelés, a specialty from Bordeaux, France, which is small molded pastries with a caramelized crust and custard interior.  The 2nd tier is a chocolate cake with meringue on top, the 3rd tier is an almond fruit cake, and the last tier was filled with Chocolate cookies.


We went with Chocolate canelés, Chocolate cake topped with Meringue, and a vanilla ice cream.


We love all the desserts.  However, Phuc and Huyen mentioned that the last time the regular canelés were better than the chocolate one.


Prefect ending to our meal. 


I did not take pictures of the restaurant when we walked in so I am doing now that we are leaving the restaurant. 

This the lounge area that can seat 40 people with a large bar at the beginning and a semi open kitchen at the end.   


Beautiful back lit bar with 10 seats.  A la carte menu is served in the Lounge and Bar only.  You can sit at the bar just for cocktails and maybe order a few snacks or you can have a full meal at the counter.


This the view of the Lounge area as soon as you walk in the restaurant.   Tables were spaced so that conversation was easy, beside tables there are also banquettes.

We were seated at the end of the room on the left, adjacent is the spotless semi-open kitchen.  On the right is the bar, very casual ambiance.



This the main dinning room with only 10 seats and it can also be converted into a private room for special event.  The dinning room is really small compare with the lounge that can hold up to 40 people.

On the right is a picture of the dinning that is transformed into a private room for special event (max 10 people).  After dinning here, I went back to work I suggested to have a board of directors meeting here and all members loved the food and the dining experience here.


In the dinning room you only have one option: the 5 course tasting menu for parties up to 5 guests maximum.  I you want to order a la carte you have to to lounge section.


We had a very good time here for sure.  The food was very good with the exception of the lobster salad, great atmosphere, and attentive service.  What we did not realized, because we did not ask, is the corkage fee: $75 per bottle for corkage fee which is really high (the norm is $20-$30).  However, Dennis (Master sommelier) was great and I enjoyed the many conversations we had with him.  He is truly a great guy.  Protege deserve their 1 Michelin star for sure.  You can tell they pay a lot of attention to details but I would not expect less knowing the Dennis and Chef Secviar came from the French Laundry.


250 California Avenue

Palo Alto, CA 94025


Filed under: Restaurants



Our house


Photo Gallery

 Mon  petit coin