Central Park Bistro – San Mateo, CA

Another group lunch in San Mateo to celebrate a new addition to the now fully staffed group. ^_^ I am no longer the “newbie” but am still the bottom of the totem pole (all good tho). I love team lunches coz it just gives us all a break from work and just chat over a nice meal and learn a bit about one another. Got there right before noon and it was not very packed (it actually did fill up as we were leaving)

Very clean and welcoming decor; the place felt really fancy but the food prices were pretty decent at least for the lunch menu. Dinner is a tad pricier.

Lunch menu is surprisingly extensive – with lots of options; appetisers, pizza, pasta, salad.

I had:

Complimentary Bread:

The bread was delicious!!! Best I have had in a long time served in a restaurant and made in house. It was almost like a cross between focaccia and potato bread – so soft and a little sweet. Served with soften herbed butter. So good that we had to ask for more.

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Crab Cakes $11

served with Cucumber-Jicama, Tomato relish, Basil oil, Alfalfa sprouts & Chili lime

Pretty decent crab cakes, it was not lump crab meat and seemed more shredded and suspiciously like canned crab meat. Well seasoned with a nice crust. The relish was pretty bland and uninspiring – didn’t add much to the dish.

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Wood Oven Roasted Asparagus & Artichoke Hearts $10

w Fontal Cheese, Shallots & Mixed Herb Dressing


Surprisingly delicious – it didn’t sound like an amazing combination because of the cheese but it all worked. The dish was rich and buttery with sharp cheese and tangy artichokes – all tied together with the herb dressing.

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Calamari $11

Fried Calamari with Maui Onion Rings, Chili Lime Aioli & Cocktail Sauce

Calamari was very lightly battered and seasoned; crispy yet tender and went really well the condiments. The chili lime aioli was missing a kick but was citrusy, sweet and salty. The cocktail sauce needed more horseradish because it just tasted like ketchup. The onions were crispy, sweet and lightly seasoned as well – a nice touch.

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Soup of the Day $4

Minestrone

Pretty decent, nothing exciting – tomatoey with over cooked pasta.

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Duck Ragout $15

served over fresh shell pasta, Gremolata, Mire Poix & Pan Juices

Delicious! This was the entree I picked and it was the perfect lunch portion. The pasta was cooked to a nice al dente and tasted fresh made (I was told later all the pastas were made fresh in house). The little shells hold the rich savoury sauce from the duck making each bite very satisfying. The duck was braised so soft that it pretty much could be any shredded meat instead of duck. The sauce was delicious – nice balance of herbs and very full bodied packed with random veggies that added nice additional sweetness to the pasta.

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CPB Skirt Steak $18

Marinated skirt steak w French fried & Arugula Salad

The steak was well marinated – sweet and salty and cooked as requested. It was a tad tough but it is skirt steak so I was not too surprised. The arugula salad was tossed in a light vinaigrette and not very exciting. I didn’t try the fries but they looked like your average frozen store bought version.

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Penne Pasta $15

(special requested Vegetarian option)

This was actually really good for a vegetarian dish – the marinara was surprisinglycreamy. The sauce was very light tasting yet well developed.  The penne was cooked to a nice al dente (almost made in house).

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Paella $17

Sausage, Chicken, Salmon, Prawns, Green Peas served over Saffron Risotto

The name was very deceiving; the description is definitely accurate. Nothing like the paella at all other than the fact that it used saffron and a variety of seafood. Definitely a risotto – creamy with generous chunks of seafood. I tried the salmon and prawn and it was cooked pretty well. I found the risotto a little bland and one dimensional and the rice was not cooked very well.

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Warm Toffee Bread Pudding $8

w Vanilla ice cream & Toffee sauce

Best dish of the day and I could see why – the signature bread pudding is made with in house made bread and sweetened with dates and the rich toffee sauce. It was almost healthy tasting but so satisfying with the cold ice cream against warm moist buttery bread pudding. We polished off 3 orders of this.

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Gelato & Sorbets ($6 for 3 flavours)

None of the gelato or sorbet stood out for me (maybe the balsamic which I found REALLY strange).

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Total Damage: N/A (Work lunch)

Personal Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Very good)

Service was excellent – our server was very patient with the big group and made sure he answered all our questions and was very good with suggestions. The kitchen is very good about accommodating vegetarians and the server was very patient with any special requests. We even got an extra bread pudding because we figured 2 would be enough, but he thought 3 would be perfect. Food was served fairly soon after ordering, so all of us appreciated not having to spend 2 hours for lunch. Plates cleared, water refilled and multiple persons serving at each time. Great efficiency!

The food was well above average, in terms of quality and taste – definitely worth the premium price. I would not hesitate to give this place a shot for dinner!

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Central Park Bistro

181 E 4th Ave,
San Mateo, CA 94401

(650) 558 8401

Central Park Bistro on Urbanspoon

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