The Hubs and I stole away from the family events in California to have a quiet meal together just before his early departure to Alaska for work. Several restaurants in the Walnut Creek/Lafayette area were recommended to us, but we decided on Chow, mostly because it involved no driving to get to there from our starting point, but also because I went to the Chow in San Francisco once, years and years ago, and remembered really enjoying the food. The Lafayette branch is known for being a family-friendly place with more sophisticated food than your average “family” restaurant.
There was a long wait for a table at this popular place. As we stood outside debating whether we even wanted to eat in the clamorous interior, let alone wait for table there, we realized that a couple patrons seemed to be getting service at one of the outdoor tables, where there were more than enough heating lamps to ward off the chill (indeed, the people eating out there were in their shirt sleeves). After asking the hostess, she cheerily informed me that it was no problem to eat outside. And so that we did, in quiet, warm contentment.
We started off with the roasted Brussels sprouts appetizer, which was especially recommended by my brother. Boy, he couldn’t have been more right-on in his advice. It was prepared with roasted apples, which added a nice sweet foil to the sulfurous sprouts. The dish looks really greasy in the photo (actually, all the food in these pics do—it must have been the lighting), but it didn’t taste it. It was an interesting and delicious combination of flavors. The beet salad, featuring red and golden beets, along with mixed greens (though the menu stated endive), orange, hazelnuts, a simple vinaigrette, and a couple slices of toasted schmeared with goat cheese was also quite tasty. Not more remarkable than many a beet salad I have had, but tasty.
When I was taking this picture of this pizza, a patron was walking by; she looked at what I was doing, paused, opened her mouth, hesitated, then asked, “Why are you taking pictures of your food?” Oh! Those charming Californians, so unused to the food-blogging so commonplace in New York. It isn’t unusual for me to see someone else taking pictures of their food at a restaurant I am reviewing, so plentiful we are in number here. But in Lafayette food blogs seem to be a novelty. How refreshing! In any case, the wild mushroom pizza with red onions, and of course cheese and tomato sauce, was also quite good, though a bit underseasoned for my taste (but I have a salt-loving palate). The toppings were nice and gooey and the crust was crackery and thin enough to satisfy even a true New Yorker (as I understand, after living here nearly fifteen years, I can now be considered.)
All in all it was good meal. The service was pleasant, the prices were right, and the ambiance, well outdoors, anyway, was quiet, comfortable, and relaxing. Chow is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Lafayette, CA some day.