What we ate on State Street Market’s opening day

Helena V Berbie

You’ve seen the photos. You’ve read the chef bios.

But what about the food?

The highly anticipated State Street Market, the first food hall on the Peninsula, opened Monday. So we made a lunchtime trip to Los Altos to check out the inaugural menus, chat with the opening-day staff and people-watch.

Here’s the lowdown:

The interior of the State Street Market in Los Altos is expected to open soon. For now, it’s patio dining and takeout. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group archives) 

THE PROJECT: There are big culinary names lined up and a big tech name behind the project. State Street Market is owned by developer Los Altos Community Investments, with Silicon Valley leader Anne Wojcicki, the 23andMe founder and a longtime supporter of the downtown Los Altos renaissance. LACI has collaborated on food-hall concepts with Bon Appétit Management Co.

THE SET-UP: For now this is an outdoor/takeout operation only. We have the delta variant and the Bay Area’s staffing shortage to thank for that. But there are plenty of tables on the patio and in the courtyard. And from the courtyard, you can get a peek at the Spanish Colonial interior. You view the menu and order via QR code, but paper menus are available upon request.

THE DINERS: Los Altos’ walkable downtown translates into plenty of foot traffic. Dozens of customers and would-be customers found the outdoor host stand after trying unsuccessfully to get in via the closed front entrance.

Clipboards on the patio tables at the State Street Market in Los Altos explain the QR code ordering system. (Bay Area News Group) 

THE FIRST RESTAURANTS: Four eateries from Bon Appétit are now serving:

From Grains & Greens you can order creative salads in bowl or wrap form ($12-$15). The Madras Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea selection, for example, combines Riverdog Farm cucumbers, cauliflower, arugula, golden raisins, pickled red onions, mint raita and crisp chickpeas.

The Banks & Braes lineup features Hearty Roasted Half Chicken with vegetables ($21), PEI Mussels ($22) and a B&B Burger (Harris Ranch or Impossible, $15), plus flatbreads ($8) and children’s meals ($12).

At Murdoch’s, there are Grazing Boards ($15 vegetable, $20 cheese or charcuterie) and lots of Nibbles/Sides such as Marinated Olives with fennel seed, chile flakes and lemon ($5), Herbed or Sweet Potato Fries with vegan green harissa dip and ketchup ($6-$8) and Kettle Chips with Whipped Onion Dip ($5).

The opening menu at Ostro, the market’s raw bar, offers Marin Miyagi, Hama Hama and Kumamoto oysters ($4), with the promise of much more to come in terms of seafood salads and platters.

A summer ragout with tomatoes, squash and peppers atop polenta can be found on the inaugural Banks & Braes menu at the State Street Market in Los Altos. (Bay Area News Group) 

THE FOOD: We would never, ever subject a restaurant to an opening day review. So let’s just say that the leftovers all came home with us.

We started with the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with chipotle, balsamic vinegar, lime and manuka honey from Murdoch’s, then a seasonal dish from Banks & Braes — Ragout of Summer Squash, Dry-Farmed Tomatoes and Heirloom Peppers with polenta, parmesan and County Line Farms arugula and fennel. And because we were curious about those well-priced flatbreads, we sampled the State Street one, with smoked mozzarella, Silva’s Italian sausage and caramelized onions atop a pillowy focaccia.

There wasn’t really room for dessert. Besides, Tin Pot Creamery doesn’t start scooping in their new location here until Friday, Sept. 10.

THE SERVICE: Friendly, fast and very polished for opening day. Managers and servers answered questions about QR codes, ingredients and gluten-free dishes and made sure every table had a carafe of ice water on this hot afternoon.

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