San Francisco's Farmhouse Kitchen opens glitzy Thai restaurant in Menlo Park, indoor dining included | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Almanac Online |

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San Francisco's Farmhouse Kitchen opens glitzy Thai restaurant in Menlo Park, indoor dining included

Uploaded: Oct 4, 2020
San Francisco Thai restaurant Farmhouse Kitchen has opened a glitzy new location in Menlo Park, offering limited indoor and outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.

Farmhouse Kitchen has revamped the 4,000-square-foot space at 1165 Merrill St., across from the Caltrain station, decking it out with opulent decorations (including handmade gold Thai chandeliers and flower wall), a private dining room, a lounge area with velvet chairs and gleaming full bar. The restaurant opened barely a week after San Mateo County announced that indoor dining could resume at 25% capacity or with 100 people, whichever is fewer.

The ornate dining room at Farmhouse Kitchen in Menlo Park. Photo courtesy Farmhouse Kitchen.

But the "new normal guidelines" for dining in at Farmhouse Kitchen includes a health screening, temperature check, masks required when diners aren't eating or drinking and parties of no more than six people with reservations capped at 90 minutes. The restaurant also charges a $3 "COVID-19 sanitation fee" per table.

Kasem Saengsawang, a native of Thailand, opened his first Farmhouse Kitchen in San Francisco in 2015. The restaurant was inspired by the food he ate and cooked growing up in Loei, a rural province in northeast Thailand, but he spent much of his adult years in Bangkok.

Saengsawang now runs five restaurants, including one in Portland, Oregon. He recently moved to Menlo Park so plans to be a frequent presence at this location.

A Farmhouse Kitchen appetizer: sesame-crusted ahi tuna with cucumber, seaweed salad, lemongrass and spicy chili lime. Photo courtesy Farmhouse Kitchen.

Saengsawang describes his cooking style as "contemporary." The Farmhouse Kitchen Menlo Park menu spans Northern and Southern Thailand, including dishes like pineapple fried rice, lobster pad thai, 24-hour beef noodle soup and slow-braised short rib served with panang curry, a dish the menu says is "reminiscent" of the large childhood meals Saengsawang would cook in Thailand for his family.

The "Little Lao table set," a $120 chef's choice meal set that includes numerous dishes and drinks, is available at the Menlo Park location. Photo courtesy Farmhouse Kitchen.

Desserts include mango sticky rice, Thai tea crepe cake and the very Instagrammable "Thai vacation," a halved coconut filled with sticky rice, coconut ice cream, coconut cream, peanuts and sesame, garnished with a brightly colored drink umbrella.

Outdoor seating at Farmhouse Kitchen on Merrill Street in Menlo Park. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

One end of the outdoor patio, dubbed "Son and Garden," serves a different breakfast and lunch menu with dishes like omelets, ricotta pancakes, mascarpone-stuffed French toast, Korean bibimbap and a Wagyu beef burger.

The Menlo Park restaurant also serves cocktails, beer and wine.

Farmhouse Kitchen is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

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Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Oct 4, 2020 at 6:34 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

The food looks good (and pretty), indoor dining in tempting, and 100 customers (regardless of the size of the restaurant) sounds unsafe. Wouldn't 100 customers be a large gathering?

Posted by Angie, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 4, 2020 at 11:02 pm

Angie is a registered user.

Suuuuper excited about this!!

Posted by, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Oct 5, 2020 at 7:25 am is a registered user.

Extremely excited! An awesome experience in SF and now here!! This is too much. Looking forward to some great take out for the time being.

Posted by AuggiesMan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 5, 2020 at 12:22 pm

AuggiesMan is a registered user.

Jennifer, it's 25% capacity or 100 customers , whichever is fewer. Web Link

Posted by Happy Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights,
on Oct 5, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Happy Resident is a registered user.

This sounds like great fun. Unfortunately, it is in perhaps the WORST location in Menlo Park (proven by past restaurant failures). There is little to no parking and it is "off the path" for most residents and for anyone not willing to put up with the inconvenience of this "destination location".

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Oct 5, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I'm well aware its 25% capacity or 100 customers, whichever is fewer. Once again, 100 customers sounds unsafe. 25% capacity (in any setting) is safer, because 75% of the building is empty. 100 customers shouldn't be allowed because it's a large gathering.

Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 5, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> "Once again, 100 customers sounds unsafe. 25% capacity (in any setting) is safer, because 75% of the building is empty. 100 customers shouldn't be allowed because it's a large gathering."

^ Wouldn't the 100 diner (or 25% capacity limit) depend on the square footage of the restaurant's interior along with the fire code maximum occupancy mandate?

If a restaurant was as large as the Moffett Field blimp hangar, it could accommodate hundreds of diners.

On the other hand, there are some smaller diner/cafes that can barely seat 5-10 diners and that size limitation in itself would easily negate both the 25% & 100 diner maximum guidelines.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Steve is a registered user.

My family of five ate here Saturday evening and really enjoyed Farmhouse Kitchen's take on Thai country cooking. Highlights: a couple unique cocktails (purple pea-flower gin anyone?) and a fried calamari appetizer with Thai curry in the breading, which made it delectable by itself and even more wonderful when dipped in the accompanying cilantro-lime sauce. My main course was southern fried chicken in a half pineapple, which was good but the chicken could have been a bit crispier.
We were seated on the very spacious porch at a corner table that gave great separation from other diners. It looked to me like maximum seating inside was around 75 with another 24 or so on the porch. Staff was good about wearing masks and reminding us to put ours on when we weren't eating.
Parking is a bit of a problem as they only have 8 or ten slots in front of the restaurant but the Caltrain lot is just across the street and was almost empty when we were seated at 5:30. Of course you'd have to pay a nominal parking fee to park there but it couldn't be more convenient. And if you're into public transportation, what could be better? Caltrain, SamTrans and Marguerite all stop just across from the restaurant.
As for other restaurants having failed in this location I can only think of Bradley's Fine Dining (BFD), which closed after a year or so. I have to say I wasn't that impressed with Bradley's menu. Before that was Gambardella's, a successful Italian place that only closed because the building was being razed. Before that it was Late For The Train, a Menlo Park institution that Jesse & Bob Cool ran back in the 1980's.
In closing, I can only report that there were many other tempting items on the menu will have us coming back soon, assuming that COVID stays under control in the county.

Posted by Riley2, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 8, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Riley2 is a registered user.

Your post made me smile. Think about it for a minute: it's 25% capacity, or 100 people WHICHEVER IS FEWER. So, for example, if the capacity is 450, the restaurant would be limited to 100 people which is 22% capacity. In other words, any time the restaurant is large enough to be capped at 100 people that means the building would be MORE than 75% empty.

Now to do you get it?

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Oct 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.


And if someone does have Covid-19, spreading it to 5 other customers at 25% capacity isn't as dangerous as 100 customers - even if they're both under 25% capacity.

Gathering 100 people at a time during a pandemic is STUPID.

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Mountain View,
on Oct 10, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

Riley2: No, she doesn't get it (writing in caps doesn't change that).

I couldn't find in this blog article the new restaurant's nominal (non-epidemic) seating capacity -- which would be useful information, by the way, and relevant in this particular context -- and Jennifer doesn't appear to know it either. But unless that number is over 400 (even 200 is a very large seating capacity for a Bay Area restaurant), the question of what anyone thinks about seating 100 is moot and off-topic -- the situation doesn't come up, under the 25% capacity rule.

Actually, per Lee Forest's comment, even 100, in a huge hypothetical enclosure like Hangar One, could be spaced so far apart as to be essentially isolated and safe -- it's not the total count, it's the density and air circulation. And by the same token, 5 or 10 (i.e. way fewer than 100) could be totally unsafe if crammed together indoors for extended periods. Bars have been especially problematic, with serious outbreaks traced to them in states where they were allowed to open. People sharing confined air, sometimes for hours, probably not even wearing masks -- a perfect recipe for airborne contagion.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Oct 10, 2020 at 4:10 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Common Sense doesn't get it either. I'm referring to the number of people that can affect others (100) or the number of people that can be affected (100) instead of a gathering of 10 or less. In a pandemic, the larger the gathering, the less safe it is, regardless of capacity. If you don't understand this, you're really dense. As far as people coming down with Covid - it IS the total count. Do you really think affecting 2-3 people is as dangerous as affecting 100 or more? The level of ignorance.

Once again a large gathering (100 or more) is stupid regardless of capacity. At a restaurant, if there are 100 people, how many customers (especially women) will be using the restroom at the same time? How many people will be paying at the register at the same time? Do you really think any restaurant has room to practice 6 feet social distancing at the register or in the restroom?

Try thinking outside of the box. Restaurant customers don't stay glued to their seats. Unbelievable.

Posted by Sparsity, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 14, 2020 at 3:53 pm

Sparsity is a registered user.

Jennifer, you seem to be stretching the definition of a gathering. My neighborhood also contains more than 100 people -- should I be concerned?

In any case, that location is definitely challenging, but happy to see something new and interesting move in!

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:53 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I'm not stretching the definition of a gathering. 100 people in a restaurant - or any indoor or outdoor gathering during a pandemic isn't safe. Weddings, funerals, Trump at the Rose Garden, etc. -- all large gatherings where a lot of people are affected - Covid-19.

100 people in your neighborhood is an absurd comparison. Your neighbors all live in their own homes. Don't be foolish.

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