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[whitespace] Perry's
Perry Good: Lunchtime action at Perry's restaurant also includes an outdoor seating area.

Como Perry's?

What goes around comes around and the proof is Palo Alto's latest retro bar and grill with a trendy pedigree

By Christina Waters

YOU DON'T HAVE to be a lawyer to set foot in Perry's--you only need to look like one. And just about everybody plays the required part in upholding Palo Alto's bar and grill dress code--late Bauer Republic accessorized by Guess. The lineup of Cosmopolitans--blush booze in wide-angle martini glasses--was three deep last week when I met Candice at the bar of this yupscale flotation tank which is really like a peninsula offspring of the original singles bar (see San Francisco history--Union Street--for details). It's not all dotcomikazes either. Lots of the beautiful people laughing loudly over their Lemon Drops were old enough to remember the original Perry's, and that made for an interesting visual tableau. Having heard much about Perry's "best cheeseburgers in the West," I was interested in seeing what else this busy kitchen could do.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page--Perry's is a destination watering hole, a place to meet for cocktails after work. Dinner is an option, but it isn't the first option.

Bucking the trend, Candice and I both ordered glasses of red wine. My poison was a sassy goblet of Charles Krug 1996 Zinfandel ($7) and for my companion, a BV Merlot 1998 ($6)--both right on the money. A fistful of sesame-studded breadsticks roused our attention. But only for a moment. A basket of fresh sourdough would have been most welcome. Not that our curiously brusk, though smiling, waiter would have obliged. So reluctant did he seem to even get close to our table, that we had to speed-read our orders. He was actually walking away from us in the middle of each request we tried to make.

We forgot all about our dysfunctional waiter, however when he plopped down a plate of Perry's glorious, hot and steaming crab cakes ($8.95). Very rounded and decadently rich with fresh Dungeness crab, these were the best crab cakes I've had west of the Chesapeake. Drizzled lightly with fiery aioli, they were really the high point of the entire meal. Light crunchy breading and sweet, moist crabmeat powered every delicious bite.

Candice's pretty green salad of red leaf and romaine lettuces ($4.95) arrived with an excellent balsamic vinaigrette, and two tiny fresh melba toasts. These were excellent appetizers--the sort of thing you'd expect of a top quality bar and grill.

Even without the good-looking crowd filling its wood-lined interior, Perry's is attractively inviting. Wall sconces and vintage celebrity photos add a nonthreatening glow, and blue-and-white checked tablecloths encourage patrons to think of Perry's as their lounge-away-from-home. But the ambience couldn't work enough magic to save our entrees.

A pizza Margherita ($10.25) arrived only semi-clad in marinara sauce and overdressed with sluggish melted cheese. The crust was as limp as the flavor. Candice diplomatically described the creation as an 'I'm drunk and I'm hungry' pizza. I concurred, though I'll eat cheese even in its most generic form. My veal chop--which had to be sent back to the kitchen to correct its initial rawness--tasted sort of brown. Roasted shallots and balsamic did nothing to distinguish flavor, and the accompanying mashed potatoes were watery in the extreme. But the pretty green veggies on the side were crisp, and the few florets of broccoli quite delightful.

Sharing a dessert of Apple Brown Betty ($5.50), Candice and I gobbled up the vanilla bean ice cream and avoided the undercooked sliced apples and a brown mound of sugar and cinnamon on the side. Stick to the Cosmos at Perry's. And if you get the waiter who looks like a spreading Steve Martin, ask for another table.

Address: 546 University Ave., Palo Alto
Phone: 650.326.0111
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, until 11 Tues-Thu, weekends until midnight; brunch Sat & Sun 9am
Entrees: $10.25-$24.95
Cuisine: Casual American grill; full bar

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From the October 5-11, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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