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Permanently Closed - Bon Vivant - Palo Alto

4.0
389 reviews
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$31 to $50
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French
Top Tags:
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Special Occasion
  • Romantic

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About

This restaurant is permanently closed. Bon Vivant is a French bistro located in downtown Palo Alto. Our menu combines hearty and unique French dishes with moderately-priced traditional bistro fare. Bon Vivant offers an extensive wine list, as well as a range of interesting cocktails and apéritifs, including several varieties of pastis (an anise flavored French apéritif). Diners can indulge in fresh breads and desserts cooked on site by our Pastry Chef.

Bon Vivant is open for dinner daily (except Monday), as well as for breakfast and brunch on the weekends.
We are also available to host your special events.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
French, Contemporary European, Wine Bar
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Hours of operation
Dinner:
Tuesday-Thursday
5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Friday-Saturday
5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Sunday
5:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Brunch:
Sunday
11:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Bon Vivant is closed on Mondays.
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Phone number
(650) 485-3228
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Business Casual
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
University Ave
Additional
Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Chef's Table, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Entertainment, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, High Tea, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 389 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.0based on all time ratings
4.0
food
4.0
service
4.1
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Quiet
81% of people would recommend it to a friend
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4.0Dined on February 15, 2017

Great place for a quiet and romantic special event dinner. The ambience and dining is classic French upscale, with a small and intimate feel (about 20 tables total), full bar, and piano area. Overall, French fine dining is INCREDIBLY buttery rich, and Bon Vivant certainly follows that rule- definite not recommend if you've got a heart condition ; ) ! In general, the menu and food stays true to your understanding of a standard French menu, with filet, sauteed fish and brussel sprouts, creme brulee, escargot, and the like. Nothing fusion or experimental.

The Pros:
-great central location on Bryant st/Hamilton in downtown Palo Alto. Easy walking and parking.
-great quiet ambience and feel. Really excellent for any romantic/couples or small group experience.
-good food quality

The Cons:
-Price. It is definitely on the pricey side (I'd say $$), so expect spend at least $50-$70/pp with drinks, appetizers and entree.
-Health. Pretty much everything except the water is liberally swimming in butter so not a great location if you've got high cholesterol.

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3.0Dined on February 12, 2017

There was absolutely nothing wrong with our experience, they got our orders right, the food was good enough, etc, but all of those feel like they should be a given for the price tag. Neither of us felt that it was very memorable, and I doubt we'll be back.

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4.0Dined on February 11, 2017

The food was really delicious. Service was not great, but the food made up for it. My only complaint is that everything has cheese and my husband is lactose intolerant, therefore he had a hard time finding something to eat. If they could expand their menu a bit, that would be helpful.

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5.0Dined on February 11, 2017

Back again. Happy again. The service was good and the food was amazing.
I had the "Rohan Magret de Canard". My French is limited, so I will just translate as "delicious duck dish!". My girlfriend had the Seabass and seemed delighted as well. For dessert we indulged: she got the Creme Brulee and I had a Souffle. We shared. Lovely meal.

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2.0Dined on February 8, 2017

The beautiful appointments and decoration in the restaurant defy the stilted experience you have upon entering. If you can get past the unusual smell which is what I can only describe as a combination of Époisses and 3-day old Sea Bass, you are met by a rather sour Host who was clearly annoyed they had only 6 covers that evening. Sorry, not your guests fault. We had reservations, stayed for some wine and an appetizer and left. Given the location, I would imagine they will not be able to sustain themselves much longer. Unfortunate, because the restaurant is beautifully appointed and the location is perfect, only a block off university.

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5.0Dined on February 7, 2017

Another rainy night and I almost stayed home. But I'm glad that I ventured out for dinner. The escargots were buttery and delicious. After that, I indulged in the Wild Boar (with cherries and foie gras). Who cares if it rains, when you have such good food to enjoy?

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3.0Dined on February 4, 2017

Very understaff! We were there for 2 hours which I would not have minded if I had been at a rated Michelin restaurant with staff tending to our needs which was not the case. The dining room staff was highly unqualified to tend to the customers this restaurant is aspiring to attract. It is too bad because the restaurant in itself has the perfect setting and decor to become an exceptional one. As far as the food, a lot of efforts was put on plating and I really appreciate that. However, the food was not exceptional. The Chef was not able to deliver the two souffles we had ordered at the beginning of the meal. We had to wait 30 minutes after finishing our entrees, to be served a grossly undercooked Grand Marnier Soufflé, I mean the whole center was a soup, and a clearly overcooked Chocolate Soufflé, the first spoon dipped in the souffle lifted up the whole souffle!!!!! There was clearly some issues in the kitchen that evening.

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2.0Dined on February 4, 2017

disappointing second time. This time we were almost sure the servers were all in some kind of training! For a $250.00 dinner for the two of us, we poured our own $70.00 bottle of wine, moved plates around to accommodate the servers, ended up ordering an additional glass of wine as it took 30 minutes for our entrees after our salad plates were taken, ( we were out of wine by then.) My filet Mignon was over done, however it was tasty. I did order fries on the advice of the server, as she said it came with just a few vegetables, when it fact it came with potatoes as well. There are better places to go for this price. I had wanted to like it.

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2.0Dined on February 3, 2017

Food was mediocre and service was terrible. Very nice waitress but there were only 2 servers with a full restaurant. Really enjoyed this restaurant last time we were there a while back but will not be coming back.

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1.0Dined on February 3, 2017

Great ambiance and wine list but worst dining experience I have had in a long time. Amateur service from the host to the wait staff. Slow service starting with our cocktails, dishes left on the table too long, refills of water not provided despite repeated requests, and worst of all the wrong entrees presented to us (I ended up telling them not to bring my entree) after they brought me a filet that the waiter said was my duck dish (which turned out to be the meal my husband ate, which was supposed to be wild boar. Horrible but we tried to laugh it off as we drank a great French Margaux. Will never go back despite the lovely ambiance and live music, only saving grace (oh and the wine).

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5.0Dined on February 3, 2017

Always reliable - a wonderful evening of music and conversation brightened by great food and great service. This time we brought friends and they were delighted by the food and drink.

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5.0Dined on January 31, 2017

We wanted something special, something fun and different. We made the right choice: I had Wild Boar and my boyfriend had the Rabbit. Really delicious and fun to try. We left enough room for a chocolate souffle and a creme brulee. It was a perfect night out in Palo Alto!

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5.0Dined on January 31, 2017

Another wonderful evening at Bon Vivant. Everything was delicious (duck, sea bass, souffle). After a long week it is just so nice to relax in this beautiful room, enjoy a luscious Pinot and savor the meal. Great experience!

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5.0Dined on January 31, 2017

I keep coming back to Bon Vivant because it is just solid, reliable and delicious. The menu has a few treats that I just don't see elsewhere around town: duck, foie gras, rabbit and now, wild boar. OK, sometimes I just have a salad or the steak, but if you want to explore: this is the place.

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2.0Dined on January 28, 2017

The ingredients were first class - but sadly that's all I can say. Ambience was weak - chipped plates, missing glasses. Cuisine OK at best - seared fois gras should be served hot/warm not cold - never had that in my life! Also main courses and vegetable side were almost cold and we were not eating salads. Duck breast main course served no more than 2 oz of meat - four very thing slices, so must have been a baby duckling or perhaps an adult duck breast spilt among several diners. Sad to say but not coming here again.

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3.0Dined on January 27, 2017

Food was good, a little pricey for the portion size. Service was decent, server was obviously new but was very sweet.

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5.0Dined on January 22, 2017

Our first time at this restaurant. It was a superb dining experience. I will definitely go again.

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5.0Dined on January 21, 2017

Great food and service
Great for anniversaries or celebrations
Friendly and professional staff

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5.0Dined on January 11, 2017

I come here often now. Always a great time.

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5.0Dined on January 5, 2017

Great food, we like this restaurant! Everything we got was delicious, including sea bass, wild boar, dessert - grand mariner sufle. Service is outstanding. Will definitely come back

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4.0Dined on December 30, 2016

This is an excellent find! I'd give it 5 stars if the service was a bit more attentive. I am used to having the table for the evening when I'm in France, but for the US...it's a bit too slow.

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5.0Dined on December 28, 2016

Fantastic experience. We loved everything about our meal. The food was divine and the setting is just so pretty. The only downside to the meal is that I ate too much - I'm not a big dessert person, but I gobbled up my chocolate souffle and was still trying to get a spoon into my husband's as well.

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4.0Dined on December 23, 2016

Great food but a little slow service . Great for date nights. Pricey but good value for your money

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5.0Dined on December 22, 2016

This is my favourite place in PA as of yesterday. The food, that comes from the kitchen makes me believe that there is someone smart and creative working there. Compliments to the Chef! Last night I had mussels, wild bore with foiegras, and souffle. Everything was perfectly cooked and plated.

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5.0Dined on December 22, 2016

Wonderful ambience and beautiful setting. The food was delicious and the service unmatched.

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4.0Dined on December 16, 2016

Bon Vivant is a great place for a date or special occasion, especially if you appreciate the opportunity to be able to speak to your dining partner and be heard above the ambient background noise. The rabbit I had was excellent--a visual treat in terms of presentation as well. The only reason I did not give them 5 stars was the poor presentation of the escargot, which presented a challenge in terms of shell extraction. Other than that minor hiccup, the ambiance, decor, and service were great. I would go back and I do recommend it to you, especially if you are looking for a quiet, romantic venue.

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1.0Dined on December 8, 2016

White wine too warm. Food had no taste at all. Server was alone due to some other servers calling in sick. This resulted in poor service.

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3.0Dined on December 8, 2016

My first visit. Service was good, small restaurant that has been around for 5 years. Limited menu, full bar. We shared the chestnut soup and a beet sald whichw as presented very nicely. The cod was moist and well cooked but did not have much of a taste, the coq au vin was good but not great. the Grand mariner souffle came with a nice thick creamy sauce, but not enough of it. Hence the 3 star rating for food

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5.0Dined on December 4, 2016

We had an early dinner so it was a quiet atmosphere. It was a bit chilly in there, maybe due to a lack of people in there at 5:00pm. The food was great... the chef gave us a small taste of the Chestnut Soup which was terrific. We also ordered the cheese shuffle (yum!) and the beet melange was delicious and creative! I had steak that was tasty... maybe a potato side would be a nice addition and my wife had the duck with cherries which was delicious after she sent it back since it was undercooked (asked for it to be well done). We finished with the chocolate souffle which was very decadent. Highly recommend!

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5.0Dined on December 2, 2016

Well kept Palo Alto secret. A bit of Provence, a dash of Paris with a big splash of grace! 👍👍👍

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5.0Dined on December 1, 2016

Came for dinner with a co-worker. She had the "Duck Two Ways", while I had the Filet Mignon. Mine was perfect - juicy and expertly prepared and plated. The duck looked wonderful and judging by her meticulously cleaned plate, it looks like she was well pleased as well. We finished with the souffle and some after dinner Port.
Everything was great: beautiful setting, great food and the server was helpful, attentive and yet unobstrusive. My co-worker thanked me for introducing her to Bon Vivant.

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4.0Dined on November 26, 2016

Our experience with Bon Vivant was mixed. I had made a reservation with the intention of having their tea service. However, when we arrived at the restaurant, we found that the tea service has to be pre-ordered. There was no indication on the site that I remember noting this requirement, nor was there that option on the Open Table site. We therefore started out disappointed. However, most of us were pretty pleased with our entrees - my only complaint about the Cog au Vin was there were no veggies in the Cog au Vin tho there were some on the side, and the dish was served in pots of varying sizes which while "cute" were more pretentious than useful - and while the slate "plate" was stylish, it, too, was comparatively useless since taking the chicken out cooled it off while you cut it up to eat. The little pots also made getting at the mashed potatoes difficult since there was no spoon - basically the presentation was badly thought out, if at all - a well heated plate would have been preferable. Most of us had soufflees and these were to die for. I had the Grand Marnier which was delicious, but the Chocolate, served with a fudge sauce, was killer. Service was very, very good, the food was very tasty tho oddly served, dessert was wonderful. The coffee was a bit weak for a press-pot, but tasty. The restaurant was also one in which you could hear each other without raising voices, but there were also only 3 or 4 other couples when we were there.

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5.0Dined on November 18, 2016

We love this place. While the menu is somewhat limited, everything is good. The service is friendly but unobtrusive, the ambiance is lovely, and we love the weekend piano player.

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5.0Dined on November 16, 2016

While there are several "go to" dishes for me when I come to Bon Vivant (e.g. duck, quail, coq au vin), sometimes I just feel like a juicy steak. So on this visit I had the Filet Mignon. It was cooked to perfection. I like it medium rare, and it was beautifully juicy and flavorful inside, while seared perfectly on the outside. Heaven. Anyway, we finished with a Grand Marnier souffle and left very happy indeed.

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3.0Dined on November 12, 2016

Food was good. Nice bar. Beautiful restaurant. However, service was slow. Took 2 hours to eat. Also, as a French restaurant, it was missing some of the classics like pate, rillettes, moules and frites and duck confit. However, the menu did feature some like coq au vin, steak au poivre and souflee.

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5.0Dined on November 10, 2016

Duck was amazing. We also had the Coq au Vin - just delicious. And I feel no guilt at all for indulging in the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert. The entire experience was wondeful.

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4.0Dined on November 5, 2016

Celebrated a birthday recently. We ordered the souffle, escargots and oysters as appetizers. They were all good, except for the brioche that was served as bread for the table. It was tasteless and at one point, it even tasted bitter, almost like there was alcohol in it? Weird. The mains were great, we had the filet mignon, duck and rabbit. All 3 were good, but the duck was a little dry. We didn't really enjoy the desserts. Ordered the chocolate souffle, which was really bland - not sweet and not chocolatey enough. The Neapolitan was average, pastry was dry. We did get a creme brûlée as a birthday freebie and that was also average. Was kinda textured instead of creamy and smooth. Once again, desserts in general was so-so. Service was OK. They forgot ur truffle fries as a side and that eventually came after we were done with our mains. No truffle taste at all. They took that out of the bill, thank goodness. May come for tea or brunch just to give it another try.

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5.0Dined on November 5, 2016

We went for my husband's birthday. The ambiance was great as well as the food and service. We are vegetarian, and this is definitely not a vegetarian restaurant. However, we found plenty on the menu to eat and enjoyed our food. The presentation of the food was outstanding and we loved our cocktails!

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5.0Dined on November 3, 2016

French server was very pleasant and food tasted great. Looking forward to coming back soon!

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5.0Dined on November 1, 2016

Loved everything we tried. The quail was amazing, as was the steak with foie gras. Our server was prompt and attentive, offering some good suggestions on wine pairings for our meal. Overall, it was a great dinner. We will definitely be back.

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