Getting a first look at Park James Hotel O+V’s patio courtyard – and taste testing its food and drink options

by Bita Arabian on October 3, 2018

The Park James Hotel in Menlo Park is now open as is the lovely patio bar, O+V Courtyard, from 5:00 to 11:00 pm daily.

Oak + Violet restaurant, featuring California farm-to-fork cuisine, will be open for dinner starting Monday, October 8. Breakfast, lunch, and brunch to follow in the weeks ahead. There is free valet parking for the first 3 hours.

The decor of the entrance and inside section of the bar is classy with elegant light fixtures and creative wall decor. It is modern, but all the wood gives it a warm vibe. There is ample seating in the indoor space. Just outside is a spacious patio with a large fire area that will be nice on cooler evenings.

My friend Lilian and I got the royal treatment starting with Michael who runs the valet services. Next was Stephanie at the hostess desk who ran out to give us a couple things we left behind at the end of the night. Finally, Reed, the restaurant and bar manager went above and beyond to chat us through the cocktail menu that he created himself – must be that friendly midWestern charm.

We chose to sit at a long table near a warm heat lamp as it was a breezy evening. The couch area looks inviting and would be equally toasty on cooler evenings when they get the fire going.

Although Lilian and I are both in the food and nutrition space,  we took a night off of eating light and indulged in some delicious tapas recommended to us by our waiter.

Our small bites included the following: mini lobster tacos – mango mojo, cilantro, avocado creme, red onion; salt cured local yoghurt – cold pressed California olive oil, stone ground preserves, rustic bread, Sicilian pistachios; craft toasts – some sort of special mayo also served on rustic bread.

The yogurt has an interesting story behind it: The texture is more of a cheese (similar to mozzarella balls) than a yogurt. It sounds like a strange combination to have jam and yogurt in the same dish but it is oddly a delicious combination.

My favorite was probably the huckleberry jam topped with pistachios – very tasty! I also appreciated the delicious olive oil. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to good olive oils and this one hit the mark.

Trying to decide which cocktail to try from a very tempting list proved to be a challenge. The staff was patient with us as we explained our cocktail quirks, and we ended up the Southside – Junipero gin, lime, butterfly tea syrup, mint, and sea salt. The butterfly tea gives it the purplish tone as well as the slightly sweet flavor.

We both agreed we will be returning to this welcome new spot in Menlo Park to try more things on the menu. The health coach in me will be keeping my eyes open for more veggies, grains, and bean/legume items. Although the white rustic bread was very delicious, I’d love to see some whole grain bread/toast alternatives…or even a non-bread toast twist like how about sweet potato crisps? More veggies please!

Of note: The hotel and courtyard are pet friendly.

Photos by Bita Arabian, who blogs about food and nutrition at Oven Hug.

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