Sekoya [PA]

Quite excellent meal. While the price was palo alto high (about $140 with 1.5 drinks per person), the food was a bit elevated over what I’ve had at only slightly lower price points at places like Union Local. Sekoya shares some lineage with board favorite Pausa (which I haven’t been to), and what people have written (“just good execution”) seems true here.

Although my posts aren’t a parade of pictures, hopefully words still have a place here :slight_smile:

When I read through the Google maps reviews, I saw quite a few disappointed reviews. Sekoya is a place for smaller, more delicate dishes. I ordered the Oysters, Tempura Mushrooms, Crudo, Lamb Tartare, and a set of the skewers (for 2).

First, drinks. The by-the-glass wine list seemed short. The only interesting wine - a granache - they were sold out of and had replaced with a muscular fruity wine from Paso which would have overwhelmed the delicate tastes. I think there was a gruner veltner on the white side, which would have been good with the food. Hopefully they’re still figuring out their by the glass program and make some changes. As a side note, the wine store down the block (Vin Vino wine) makes a good pregame stop - and they have EXCELLENT air conditioning as they keep a majority of their stock in the store - it can’t rise to 70 degrees. The beer selection is OK but not great, leaving one to the cocktail menu, which is exceptional and well executed. I did not look carefully at the wine by the bottle list (I tend to order by the glass so I can change up with courses).

Focusing on the oysters for a moment, while the oysters themselves were good, they were topped by some kind of foam. The taste was all umami, tasted like a combination of uni and truffle. One of the oysters had a few chunks of caviar under the foam, like pearls. The use of umami instead of an acid-forward treatment (I usually will do nothing or a light squeeze of lemon, or a champagne vinegrette if simple can be good), actually worked well, as the use of a delicate foam technique didn’t overpower the oysters but did enhance. Good start.

The Crudo had a similar strength. The fish was good, but the sauce it was in was better. The “lamb Tartare” was similar. I like my Tartare with a good dollop of egg, and this dish was more on the levantine side, with a sauce that was probably more yoghurt, although could have been almost a fresh egg (eg mayonnaise) concoction long on acid. The lamb was also disturbingly grey, and there was a need for an opaque white sauce in a raw dish you expect to be pink with health. A house made flat cracker side emphasized a middle eastern or north African direction. Interestingly constructed dish.

The mushroom tempura - landed in reviews - I actually found disappointing. Tempura I consider a blunt instrument, a vehicle for good fry technique, and this was all that. However, it was hard to taste the excellent mushrooms through the fry, and I could have been in a sushi joint with a very good frier and gotten a similar dish.

Skewers they did not use any sauce tricks, and good for them. Just good meat. While the peppers where normative and the chicken was average, the tongue was relevatory. I’ve heard people wax repeatedly about the benefits of tongue, but never had a disc of it that I thought stood out from other cuts. The one I had I would call dark meat fillet, with the texture that comes with a good cut of fillet, but with a dark meat depth and tang. Exceptional dish.

Room. There’s a lot of space in there. This week, being the week of the 4th, lots of other restaunts seem to be taking the week off (bar Zola was a first choice, closed). Sekoya was open, and empty. The main room seemed a bit loud; they had the music up. The outdoor area was pleasantly shady, but the acoustics were very noisy. We could clearly hear all the other tables. They also had a back “patio” (fully enclosed and too warm because no air flow), and another back room which was rather bland. The bar itself is made of a very interesting wood and had a ton of seating. I hesitate to think of what the room’s like full, which apparently it is often, if google’s map is to be believed.

What impressed me about the meal is some dishes they were willing to go off course from the classic prep - like the oysters - and succeeded. Some dishes they went super classic (like the mushrooms) and succeeded. I think careful ordering there is the key. Probably you could ask carefully about what kinds of sauces or preps, if you like classics or not.

I could also see a meal going terribly, terribly wrong. If you are expecting oysters in the classic style with a good salty tang, you’d be disappointed. If you expect your Tartare with onion egg and parsley and bright red, you’ll be disappointed. There’s definitely an expectation game going on.

I think they have a burger, which will be interesting to experience.