1545 Charleston Rd
Mountain View, CA
Pintxo is reputed to be the best of the 16 restaurants and cafes on Google's Mountain View campus. It's cafeteria-style, but what you're looking at as you slide your plastic tray down the line is far from standard cafeteria fare.
The plates I assembled on my tray could have used a shot of color. Only the duck leg with pumpkin and cranberries had some contrast, although all of the dishes were appealing.
I started with a cup of parsnip-pear soup, which also contained onions, leeks, and pear liquor. The combination of flavors was unique and harmonious.
Next was an apple and celery-root "remoulade" dressed with Dijon mustard cream. No single flavor stood out; it was a pleasant crunchy salad.
The roasted duck leg was a great fall dish, rich but not overly sweet like duck with fruit can be sometimes.
Parsnip-stuffed cabbage was another surprise. Cabbage doesn't usually elicit a "wow" from me like this plate did. The leaves were stuffed with pureed parsnips and sauced with apple puree and cider reduction, an intriguing combination of sweet and sharp.
I also tried smoked trout rillettes, purple kale risotto, butternut squash ravioli, and a "pintxo" of black bass with artichokes, fennel, Meyer lemon and saffron. Each dish was just a few bites; all were tasty and expertly prepared.
Desserts didn't call out to me, although the cheese board had some interesting choices: a butter-soft Brillat-Savarin; a Spanish goat cheese, Murcia al Vino ("drunken goat"); and Humboldt Fog, a locally produced chevre striped with edible vegetable ash.
(This picture was taken around 11:45 am, when hardly anyone was having lunch yet. At 12 sharp, the line was suddenly out the door.)
For better photos than these, check out CNN/Fortune's take on Google food. (Pintxo is pictured in photos 8-14.)