Last night I dined at Parcel 104 in Santa Clara to take full advantage of Silicon Valley Restaurant Week and the $35 set menu. The restaurant is located inside the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel and has the type of decor you would expect from a hotel restaurant. The lights were slightly dim, the decor was modern yet classic, and the atmosphere was lively yet a little reserved. The staff at the restaurant provided above par service – they were very polite, explained each course, and always served from the left. I didn’t expect anything less from Parcel 104 though since it is a pretty well known restaurant in the area.
As mentioned before, I ordered the three course tasting menu for $35. All the choices from the tasting menu were also available on the regular menu, so right away I knew the tasting menu was a good deal. Our meal started off with an amuse-bouche compliments of the chef. It was a Tomato Gazpatio with Feta Cheese that was chilled. The gazpatio had strong flavors but it was too strong on the garlic and I would have preferred it to be hot rather than chilled. I finished it nonetheless, but the amuse-bouche seemed like it would be a hit-or-miss among the diners.
For my first course, I ordered the Artichoke Soup with Sunflower Seeds and Sausage. The soup was a definite success, and the presentation was well thought out. The waiter first brought out the the bowl with the sunflower seeds melted together with honey (making it almost into a chip) sitting on top of the sliced sausage pieces. He then poured the artichoke soup into the bowl at the table and let the aroma fill the air, instantly increasing my appetite by ten-fold.
The soup had very strong and bold flavors. Although it felt creamy, the soup was not heavy at all. The sweetness of the sunflower seeds and honey paired perfectly with the artichoke soup and gave it a nice contrast. The sausage was cooked well and was definitely appreciated as an addition to the soup so it wasn’t just soup the whole way through. It was the best course of the night for me.
I chose the Tomato Braised Beef Short Rib for my main course. The short ribs were super tender and I knew it even before I took my first bite since my knife sliced through the meat effortlessly. Although I had a friend visit the restaurant earlier in the week and said the short ribs were bland, I found it to be full of flavor. However, I could tell that the sauce in the dish played a major supporting role in the flavor profile of the beef.
As good as the short ribs were, I was definitely not a fan of the farro, corn, and vegetables sitting underneath it. For those who don’t know, farro is a type of grain. It was the first time I had it that night, and the texture was similar to that of corn. I found the hardness of the farro and corn to be too different when paired with the short ribs, and it just didn’t go together well.
Finally for dessert, I chose a chocolate selection that included chipotle vanilla ice cream, brownies, and a chocolate mousse (pictured at the top of the post). The tiny brownies sat on top of an avocado puree that I found to be interesting and quite delicious. I expected the ice cream to have a kick since it was “chipotle” ice cream, but it just tasted like vanilla ice cream to me. The best part of the dessert was definitely the chocolate mousse, which was light and fluffy with just the right amount.
All in all, I had a good dining experience at Parcel 104. I admit that I’ve had better meals in my life, but for a $35 tasting menu it definitely wasn’t bad. I would consider trying this place again and ordering from their regular menu since it offers a better selection of food that are probably more suited toward my preferences than the options on the restaurant week menu. For example, I heard really great things about their foie gras that I really want to try. But if you simply want to give Parcel 104 a try at a great deal, then definitely book a table and check it out before restaurant week ends on October 21.