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April Openings On the Peninsula

By Carolyn Jung and Anh-Minh Le

Roost House 461 Emerson St., Palo Alto;

At the new Roost House in downtown Palo Alto, patrons will find fried chicken, roast chicken, ancient grain salads, banh mi sandwiches, house-made pickled organic vegetables galore and something else— two distinct doors for two very different experiences. One leads to the take-out counter to grab orders and be on your way; the other to a separate 36-seat dining room done up in deep red with stylish light fixtures designed to invite you to linger. Founder Frank Klein, who also founded Asian Box, aims to up the chicken eatery concept by offering both fast-casual and slower-paced in one. Eat-in diners order at the counter at lunch, but come dinner, sit down to real silverware and plate ware with waitstaff who take orders for wine served by the ounce in beakers, and specialty slushy wine drinks like mead boosted with mulling spices, then churned in a frozen-drink machine. The menu was conceived with consultants Erik Oberholtzer, co-founder of Tender Greens; Guillaume Bienaime, executive chef of Zola and co-owner of Vin Vino Wine shop, both in Palo Alto; and food blogger sensation Michelle Tam of NomNom Paleo. The chicken, currently GMO- and hormone-free, will eventually be completely organic.And plans are underway to partner with a local corporation to grow vegetables in freight containers as part of an entrepreneurial program for at-risk youth.“We want to go back to how restaurants were a place for people to restore themselves and to feel better,” Klein says.

— Carolyn Jung

Mendocino Farms 167 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto;

The former Lyfe Kitchen spot in Palo Alto will soon become the latest Mendocino Farms in the Bay Area. Slated to open its doors on April 25, the 3,381-square-foot restaurant will offer 70 seats inside, and 20 out on the patio. Diners can enjoy a gourmet sandwich or salad— the most popular are the “Not So Fried” Chicken and the Avocado & Quinoa Ensalada— along with a beer or glass of wine amid hand-painted murals by artist Liza Burns and a large hanging rope light installation. In the week leading up to its opening, the new location will host special training dinners, called Pay What You Want nights, that are open to the public and benefit local schools. (Sign up on the MendocinoFarms’ website to stay in the loop about pre-opening events.)

— Anh-Minh Le

Rituals Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto;

While there have been a string of openings at Stanford over the past few years, the just-opened Rituals still manages to wow: Like all of the Netherlands-based brand’s locations, a cherry blossom tree hand-painted in Amsterdam anchors the interior. It’s a striking element in the soothing 1,400-square-foot space. Another cool feature, called a Water Island, allows customers to enjoy a hand treatment and try out products.The company’s products range from body care to home fragrances, with the shared goal of turning everyday routines into meaningful rituals. The latest store, its fifth on the West Coast, carries all of the signature collections, each with its own inspiration.

— A.L.

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