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Burgers in Menlo: Bistro Vida

by Rahim Ullah on August 3, 2012

burger at Bistro Vida in Menlo Park

This is the fifth in a series reviewing burgers offered by Menlo Park establishments. 

Bistro Vida caught me off guard. With its pepper red awning, petite outdoor tables, and the glow of a smoldering ember, I thought I had stumbled into a place in Paris. So with the streets of Paris and its food on my mind, I hung up my coat, sat down and ordered a burger. I’m glad I did.

At first glance, the patty appears normal enough. Hand shapen, it has definite grill marks and sits between a super soft sesame seed bun slathered with mayonnaise. At first bite, however, the instant burst of flavor will leave your mouth tingling and lead you to understand that this is no ordinary all-beef patty.

Laced with garlic, cilantro, and secret spices, it’s a kebab in disguise. The mixing of ingredients directly into the patty definitely references owner Ali Elsafy’s Middle Eastern roots. It’s a wonder why all burgers aren’t made this way. I know it’s the way they will be made chez moi from now on.

The zing doesn’t end with the patty. With a few crumbles of buttery soft Gorgonzola, the burger is spiked with the sharp flavor stored in the cheese’s blue veins. Adding a cool sweet flavor are skinned roasted red peppers tucked underneath the patty. The typical two shards of lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a cross section of purple onion come on the side. The Vida Burger is $12.00, and it’s worth every dime.

Mirroring the diameter of a #2 pencil, the fries (no extra charge)  are lightly salted and delicately crispy. The plainness quells the flavor overload that the burger supplies. They get even better when dunked in a bowl of flaming red ketchup.

The glow of Edison style light bulbs gently floods the dark, warm-hued restaurant with a sense of romance. White subway tile guards the open kitchen, where the busy cooks can be seen searing steaks, frying calamari, or assembling tartare de boeuf. The olive green ceiling complements the pimento colored walls.

People order dessert at Bistro Vida just so they can chat a little longer in the laid back Parisian atmosphere. In the heart of downtown Menlo Park, Bistro Vida is a place of life, color and excellent burgers.

Photo by Linda Hubbard Gulker 

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