Silicon Valley restaurants come and go (high rents, scarce labor, fickle customers), so it doesn’t pay to get too attached. But Lure+Till managed something surprising for Palo Alto: to simultaneously be a comfortable hangout and a place to be seen. The restaurant will close January 2 and for fans who knew its secret, we need to take a moment to say farewell.
Lure+Till opened with, and inside, the Epiphany Hotel in downtown Palo Alto in early 2014. Both found success quickly: The hotel charges $800 and up for rooms midweek while the restaurant, after some early flack for “trying to do something a little too trendy,” flourished, founding chef Patrick Kelly said recently. The menu was California seasonal, reasonably priced. The interior was sleek and intimate. The kitchen grew quickly to handle diners, hotel guests and large events hosted by the hotel.
“It was an amazing run, we got to build something I’m very proud of,” said Kelly, who left to run Denver’s Panzano a few months ago.
He’s particularly proud of his hiring cocktail maestro Carlos Yturria, now at SF’s The Treasury, who helped the restaurant create a lively bar scene from the start. Both men were surprised by Palo Altans’ enthusiasm for cocktail culture. His biggest challenge? Finding and keeping top notch servers, no surprise to restaurateurs in Silicon Valley.
But Lure+Till’s best-kept secret was its alter ego as a bargain brunch spot, the best (in my opinion) of a handful of fancy Silicon Valley restaurants that on weekends serve high end breakfast at diner prices with zero wait time. If you have young kids and know where to look, weekend mornings are a chance to dine well on a budget and with minimal fuss. The big table in the back of Lure+Till was a safe space for grownups in need of strong coffee while kids could keep busy trying to pick out landmarks on the wall-size aerial photo of Palo Alto.
We’ll miss the rotating cast of barrel-aged cocktails, deviled eggs ($7) and duck confit arancini ($8) at the bar. At brunch we liked the sourdough pancakes ($9), an excellent omelette ($12) and a selection of dishes to piss off your cardiologist including one of Palo Alto’s best burgers ($12) and a crispy fried chicken sandwich ($15). You still have a few days to try the deconstructed carmelized banana s’mores before they’re gone. Trust me.
The Epiphany was bought last year by Oracle chief Larry Ellison and said that it will replace the restaurant with a Nobu, not a mass market chain but not uniquely local, either, and that makes us a little sad. If you still want cheap-ish fine dining on weekends, walk a few blocks to Joya on University Ave. and order a cocktail, some small plates and the paella. Just don’t expect a huge photo on the wall for your kids to gawk at.