There are quite a few culinary gems in San Mateo. Case in point: I recently got a chance to venture outside of San Francisco and was invited to check out All Spice, a cute little restaurant featuring Chef Sachin Chopra's modern Indian cuisine.
Tucked along the busy El Camino Real, it's pretty easy to miss this place. The building itself is actually a modest Victorian house, lending it a nostalgic charm. The cozy interior is decorated in rich jewel and golden tones. I imagine this is date night central for locals. It feels very welcoming and intimate.
Chopra's menu did a good job of balancing out East Indian spices with a Californian twist. I started with the hearty Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup, which was presented with minted spaghetti squash "noodles" and fresh herb butter. It's a satisfying starter for a cold winter evening.
The Lavender and Scallops with Bacon and Black Cardamom potato sauce was also well done, but I think the bacon and cardamom overshadowed the delicate lavender. I much preferred the refreshing Ahi Tuna with Pickled Watermelon.
I can handle a little bit of heat but was surprised to see that none of the dishes were super spicy. The buttery and soft Mustard-Dill Seabass with Curried Tomato Sauce had a comforting warmth, and the rich Shortrib Vindaloo was very tender. The portions are quite generous as I was pretty stuffed by this point.
But, we made room for dessert. The rich and velvety Dark Chocolate "Kulfi" with Tandoori-spiced Macadamia Nut Brittle was finished with a dramatic wash of edible silver. The delicious Warm Date and Walnut Cake with Lemon-Ginger Glaze was accompanied with homemade bergamot-clove ice cream. All the desserts were large enough to share, so be generous with your dining companions!
For more info and to make reservations, go to www.allspicerestaurant.com.
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