Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cibo; Italian For Mediocre and Expensive.

It was seven PM on a Friday night and we were hungry. After making the drive through the ubiquitous no parking available district in Palo Alto we decided to head up to El Camino and find a nice place to enjoy dinner. We came across Cibo Restaurant and Bar. It was everything we were looking for, we thought, as we approached the parking spot in their own lot.

When you enter the lobby you see one of the three seating areas, this is where the confusion begins. The first seating area is mostly diner style booths, past that was room with tables that appeared to be closed and to the right; by the bar was the area which we were lead. This room had a little style with white table cloths and semi-dimmed lighting; so far so good.

Open menu, scratch head? It was really hard to tell what is going on here? The appetizer section had mix of Middle Eastern items and bar food. I felt like I needed to relax a minute from my day before wrapping my head around this menu so I turned to the wine list. Unfortunately the wine list lacked any creativity and read like the bottom shelf of the wine section at your local grocery store. By this time our server had been to the table twice and seemed as confused as we were.

We ordered the “Earth & Surf “, a calamari appetizer that turned out to be an over battered calamari with bell pepper and onion dish. I clearly remember reading the line “lightly battered”; it was served with a flavored mayo for dipping. The whole thing was served on some rough chopped romaine that quickly soaked up the grease from the dish and became dark, limp and un-appetizing.

Our entrees arrived in good time; however we quickly discovered that this was due to the lack of cooking time applied to the meals. I ordered the lamb chops and my dining companion ordered the prime Angus rib eye steak. We both ordered our meat prepared medium rare. While the steak was close to medium rare; cooked mostly on one side and seared on the other, the lamb chops were a wobbly bloody mess and had to be returned. We decided to share the steak while the lamb was being redone.

This $32.95 Angus Prime Rib Eye was disappointing to say the least. I have had better steaks at Sizzler. If that steak was actually prime Angus beef I’m a monkey’s uncle. It was tough as leather and had no flavor, there was no marbling and it lacked any recognizable characteristics of a rib eye cut. The rest of the food on the plate was the quality I would expect get at my local family eatery.

The lamb was back and this time it was prepare medium rare. I found the meat to be tasty and the gravy like sauce had a nice red wine flavor that paired well with the rosemary marinade of the lamb. The potatoes were sticky and overworked and my veggies seemed to be the original ones from my returned plate that have been re-sautéed and somewhat scorched, it was all under seasoned and bland.

When the waiter had returned with the lamb we inquired as to a verification of the cut of steak, admittedly he was unsure and charged us for the less expensive NY cut. Either way I would not expect that you are getting any prime Angus beef at Cibo.
We skipped coffee and dessert and hastened our departure as we had truly had enough of this painfully mediocre eatery.

3398 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 494-2426
Get directions

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