Fleming's Steakhouse Review
One could possibly believe that either 1) I have been hired by Fleming's to write good things about them or 2) I have become enamored and addicted to the food at Fleming's. Neither is true; it could however, reasonably be argued that I am somewhat enamored of what I have found at Fleming's. The simple truth is that I very recently had the opportunity to make a trip back to my old stomping grounds on the west coast, a trip that would take me back to to Carmel and Palo Alto. And while I have enjoyed immensely the food, service and ambience at the two Fleming's I have visited in Illinois (Chicago and Lincolnshire locations), I was anxious to see if another of the sixty-odd locations in the United States are as good.
Among the differences that I noted was that at the Palo Alto location (in the Stanford Shopping Center) was a much smaller version of the two Fleming's restaurant locations in the Chicago area. Not that it made any difference -- it didn't (size is NOT everything). I would have liked to see a patio area for outside dining, but the space taken over from a previous restaurant apparently didn't allow for the addition. Unfortunately I did not have time for a full dinner, but I had invited my sister and brother-in-law to join us for appetizers and cocktails. I was definitely hoping that the food and service were as good as I had expected. Again, I was not to be disappointed.
Fleming's actually opened their door just prior to the stated 5:00pm time from their website, and it was not difficult to understand why; there was literally a line of hungry and thirsty folks waiting outside the front doors. I assumed that the draw was due to one of Fleming's newer promotional ideas: Five-for-Six-'til-seven (five appetizers and cocktails, all for six dollars -- until 7:00pm). The five-for-six menu and the regular menu were both full of taste-bud-tempting items: lots of appetizers and drink specials, making choices difficult.
The only four seats left were at the bar, so we grabbed a seat and began to determine just what items were making our mouths water the most. Starting drink selections consisted of a Stoli Bombshell, a Vintage Vodka Martini (from the Five-for-Six menu), a Bombay Sapphire on the rocks and a glass of Chardonnay. It was fun to watch the bartender work; he had obviously mixed his fair share of Bombshells, as every single one he poured from the shaker was identical to every other: perfect pours! We decided to sample the Mushroom Ravioli and the Sweet Chile Calamari from the Five-for-Six menu, as well as the Cedar Roasted Mushroom & Artichoke Flatbread (with Monterey jack cheese, roasted red peppers and Christopher Ranch garlic) from the Bar la Carte menu and the New Zealand Petite Lamb Chops (with pistachio-mint pesto, "F17" sauce and polenta fries) and Seared Ahi Tuna (on a fresh vegetable salad with spicy mustard sauce) from Fleming's "Small Plates menu.
Yeah, I know... it was supposed to be just a couple of appetizers before dinner at my sister's house. but I have to tell you, if the descriptions made me want to try those things, tasting them made me want even more. Each dish was awesome, with great flavors, spices and sauces; kudos to Fleming's Corporate Executive Chef, Russell Skall, who has done an outstanding job of menu development for all of the Fleming's restaurants and to the the chef at the Palo Alto Fleming's for some truly excellent fare on our visit. I sincerely apologize to our bartender for not remembering his name; A man of few words, he was was highly efficient and talented, too.
On our way out, I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Managing Partner at the Palo Alto restaurant, Wayne Hanseth. Although extremely busy, it was nice that he took a few moments to say hello and ask if all had been satisfactory. Not to worry, Wayne. you have a great staff; they are all working hard to maintain the same high standards that I have experienced back in the Chicagoland area and, I am certain, around the country at other Fleming's locations.
OK, so dinner at my sister's house wasn't going to be necessary
that evening; we were all pretty full. but I now know where we can
all go for a guaranteed good time, great service and excellent food
next time Lauren and I are in town: Fleming's in Palo Alto! Better
yet, you should take a trip to the nearest Fleming's and indulge
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