A melting pot of cultural cuisines at Baltica in San Mateo 

  • mike koozmin/the s.f. examiner
It probably isn’t going too far on a limb to say that San Mateo’s Baltica is the Peninsula’s first restaurant offering a menu of eastern European, Russian and Filipino cuisines, honoring the diverse backgrounds of the owners. This isn’t a fusion-inspired place — for example, no borscht lumpia on the menu. Instead it’s a mix of specialties from each individual cuisine and some fresh seasonal California concepts like an arugula, grilled peach and pancetta salad or tabbouleh with quinoa. A meal can start with a bowl of borscht or a Filipino sour soup with pork and tamarind powder, along with a plate of pickled herring and blini ready to be stuffed with red caviar and sour cream. The more substantial fare includes Russian pastries with different fillings (called piroshki or pelmeni or varenniki, depending on the style). Entrees range from a classic chicken Kiev to Filipino sizzling plates, rice plates and barbecued meats. Prices remain below $10 for starters and salads, and below $15 for large plates. For dessert, the Philippines’ shaved ice staple “Halo-Halo” and Russia’s “Winter Palace” cake called “Zimnii” are among the choices.

33 W. 25th Ave., San Mateo; (650) 525-1488. Mybaltica.wix.com/baltica

Palo Alto

There is now a second Burmese restaurant in downtown Palo Alto — and it’s the offshoot of the first. The 2-year-old Rangoon Ruby has now opened Burma Ruby a few blocks away in the old Figo and “Pasta?” space. Burma Ruby is more spacious and modern in design than the older sibling, filled with curves, arches, abstract paintings of Burma and a rainbow-illuminated bar. Currently the menus are the same, filled with Burmese cuisine’s classic dishes like the two-dozen ingredient rainbow salad, Rangoon lemongrass chicken and the country’s national dish, “Mohinga,” a fragrant catfish chowder. Ownership plans on adding new dishes to the Burma Ruby menu as the next weeks evolve.

326 University Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 285- 2770. RangoonRuby.com

Redwood City

Just in time for Labor Day, The Grill House is open in Redwood Shores with its seasonal cuisine that, as the restaurant website states, emphasizes its “favorite method of cooking: the grill.” Almost every dish on the menu finds its way to the grill at some point. That means for starters, grilled chicken wings with house buffalo sauce or a tomato basil soup, where the soup comes with grilled cheese croutons. Sandwiches and burgers in the $10 range anchor the majority of the menu. Main dishes range from $16.95 from a barbecue chicken in a stout beer sauce with beans and grilled potato salad, to $24.95 for a 10-ounce New York steak. Not everything on the grill and the menu is meat-heavy. Diners can find a few fish dishes, a caprese costini starter, salads, a veggie burger and panini. With a “drink local” and sports bar theme, there are 16 beers on tap and all wines and beer are from Central and Northern California.

246 Redwood Shores Parkway, Redwood City; (650) 264- 8017. GrillHouseBar.com

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