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Photograph by Chris Revell

Rock & Nibble: Dishes like the 'Britney Spears' and the 'Ozzy Osbourne' whet the club-going appetite at the Edge Bar and Grill.

Tastes Like Teen Spirit

The Edge Bar and Grill amps up American cuisine

By Aaron Robinson

IT HAD BEEN at least a decade since I visited the Edge nightclub in Palo Alto--not since the days of teased hair, eyeliner and dancing all night to techno remixes of Depeche Mode. The intent of my visit this time was not to dance, but to dine. I'd heard that the nearly year-old Edge Bar and Grill had changed its menu over to American cuisine with a rock & roll flare, a new culinary genre that sounded intriguing.

When we got there, on a Saturday night, no clan of clove-smoking goth rockers greeted us; it looked more like a pop-culture ghost town. As we walked through the security gate, we were hailed by a very friendly chap fashioned in rock-star attire, extinguishing his cigarette. We soon learned that he was our server--and the chef. He offered us any table we wanted, so naturally we opted for the only booth.

The décor of the Edge Grill matched its chef--a little grungy, but strangely refined. Framed band posters hung on the walls, and pink and blue spotlights shot up onto the ceiling. The menu was styled like a giant club flier. All the menu items are related to rock stars in some satirical sense; for example, the Tommy Lee is a large hot dog on a small bun. Every dish is paired with a suggested cocktail.

I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not, but the drinking water came flavored with an essence of maraschino cherries--hey, the girls loved it. I, on the other hand, was quite happy with my tasty nostalgaholic cocktail: the Brown-Eyed Girl (Bacardi, vanilla and Coke, $5).

One advantage of being waited on by the chef is receiving enthusiastic descriptions of the cuisine, not to mention good appetizer recommendations. We kicked things off with the Britney Spears ($6.95), grilled asparagus spears drizzled with a peanut sauce and sprinkled with toasted black and white sesame seeds. It tasted of smoky asparagus and peanut butter--I wouldn't say oops if I ordered it again. Next came the Squid Row ($7.95)--a lightly battered calamari with Japanese spices, sweet chili sauce and spicy aioli. This was one of the tastiest renditions of the tubes and tentacles method I've encountered. The calamari had a light crunch and was not chewy at all. The sweet/spicy syruplike chile sauce and the mildly salty aioli contrasted nicely.

A moment of foreboding engaged us when a big scraggly fella walked past and disappeared into the back. Nonetheless, I continued perusing the menu's intriguing salads, burgers, sandwiches and pizzas, but (apologies to U2) I still hadn't found what I was looking for. Then I saw it: The Ozzy Osbourne ($19.95)--a full rack of house-smoked baby back ribs with a side of thick-cut fries.

Unlike the Osbournes, the ribs were lean and tasteful--the unanimous favorite. The Nirvana ($17) proved a talented trio of grilled sweet and smoky salmon fillet with mashed potatoes and an erotic fruit (mango) salsa. The filet mignon dish was named the Pink Floyd ($20), probably because of the surprisingly complementary black-raspberry sake cream sauce. Unfortunately, the filet was so overcooked it was like a brick in the wall. The mashed potatoes on both the salmon and the filet mignon were tinged with turmeric, which did little for the already mild flavor but enhanced the presentations artistically.

The Aerosmith ($21), thinly sliced seared ahi tuna marinated in soy and wasabi, was accompanied by very dehydrated lemon herb rice (I was cryin' when I met it, and now I'm tryin to forget it). The one consistent criticism that circulated the table was "There is not enough sauce on anything."

The closing act consisted of two options: American Pie ($4.50)--apple pie a la mode--or Chocolate Buzz Cake ($5). The chocolate cake came with a "must have valid ID" disclaimer, but only because the previous recipe incorporated a lot of brandy in the genache. This version was a very moist torte with a drizzled Amarula Cream sauce.

The whole experience was an idiosyncratic adventure in dining. As they say in the world of rock & roll, "The group has potential, they just need to tighten up and get a loyal following."

The Edge Bar and Grill
Address: 260 S. California Ave., Palo Alto
Phone: 650.321.6464
Hours: 5-10pm Mon-Thu; 5-11pm Fri-Sat
Price Range: $5-$21
Full Bar

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From the October 9-15, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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