Rustic Firehouse Bistro evokes pastoral Woodside 

Firehouse Bistro in Woodside occupies the historic fire station that was the former home of Station One. Its interior is striking, with rustic wood, beautiful paintings of pastoral Woodside, bare marble tables, plush velvet chairs and a handsome bar in the rear.

Chef Nathan Tauer, who hails from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro, has built a tidy menu rooted in classic French cuisine and California’s seasonal ingredients. Start with French onion soup with a touch of Sherry and Parmesan oil, or duck liver mousse and currant jam spread on rye crisps, or beef carpaccio sprinkled with watercress, gremolata and olive oil. Six main courses include homemade potato gnocchi with vegetables and a butter vegetable emulsion. Pan-seared arctic char and white beans are served in a pork and Parmesan brodo, while slow braised short ribs pair with a golden potato puree and truffle sauce. A tart of lime curd, meringue and huckleberries is the highlight of the three-dessert menu. Prices stay around $10 to $15 for starters and $24 to $30 for second courses.

2991 Woodside Road, Woodside;(650) 851-4988,

San Mateo

Already in San Jose and Fremont, Mango Garden now brings the bold flavors of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to downtown San Mateo. Roti prata and chicken satay skewers with peanut dipping sauce are popular starters to share. Soups, such as Thai tom yum, and myriad curry dishes, including green curry with chicken that goes nicely with pineapple fried rice, are wise choices. Seafood noodle soup laksa, Singapore’s hawker-stall favorite hokkien mee and Hainan chicken rice are other iconic regional dishes on the menu. Mango dishes include shrimp with a mango sauce in a mango shell, cold salmon and mango salad, and mango shaved ice for dessert. White tablecloths, a bar, palm frond ceiling fans, and an impressive mural evoking the region’s tropical forests create the island-casual-meets-upscale setting.

111 E. Fourth Ave., San Mateo; (408) 981-7668,

Valentine’s Day

It’s time to make plans for a special Valentine’s Day evening out. Enjoy an ocean sunset, then a four-course, $75 dinner at Half Moon Bay’s Pasta Moon, which offers pork chop stuffed with porcini mushrooms and asiago cheese or the signature Sicilian sausage lasagna for the entree. Redwood City’s LV Mar is serving a creative Latin seafood three-course, $48 dinner available Thursday to Saturday, while TasteVin Wine Bar and Bistro’s three-course dinner in San Carlos includes a choice of seafood bouillabaisse or beef short ribs at $55, or $85 with wine pairings.

315 Main St., Half Moon Bay; (650) 726-5125.

2042 Broadway, Redwood City; (650) 241-3111.

890 Laurel St., San Carlos; (650) 486-1740.</p>

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