Wednesday, May 14

Paper Plane - San Jose

Downtown San Jose is the lobby of a corporate building -- receptionists, executives, and janitors walk daily on the same meticulously polished tile floor, their steps echoing against marbled walls in lively conversation, then retreat to different desks, lives never touching. The Blazers and Skirts wander downtown for lunch and come back again for happy hour, except maybe no blazer this time. They stay no later than 7 PM, coinciding with the end of happy hour deals, to make way for the young working professionals who trickle in with profuse apologies for being late as traffic today was shitty. This crowd barely misses happy hour and stays until midnight at the latest. Their exit is overlapped by the entrance of a rowdier and larger group, causing the kind of mischief that feeds San Jose news; stabbings and fights.

First Street is the revolving door of this lobby. All walks of life enter through First Street, their social hours are dictated by their work schedule, or events like Art Walk, or as most often the case, the opening of a new bar. Crowds flock to new hot spots en masse for months at a time until the new-new becomes the new-old and ultimately, just the good-ole. (Nomikai, anyone?) This is exactly the case with Paper Plane, only about a month old and already stealing the crowd 55 South nurtured, but then that's the same crowd 55 stole from Original Gravity...isn't it? We all get around.

Paper Plane is the result of people who have their hands in other DTSJ cookie jars and decided ultimately in the end to bake a new batch. This is all metaphorical obviously as Plane is owned in part by Dan Phan who also owns Original Gravity and George Lahlouh, former bar manager of Single Barrel. Throw in Chef Andrew Nguyen who worked at Little Chef Counter before experiencing "dat chef lyfe doe" in France for a year and you get great hand crafted cocktails and tasty bar bites in a casual environment.  

So I'm doing this new thing where I don't drink alcohol but I fake it to make it. Plane's going to get me addicted to mocktails starting with this $6 sweet, fizzy, fruity cucumber soda concoction.

($11) Williams - Scotches, Dolin Dry, Yellow Chartreuse, Bitters
If you recognize any of the alcohols I will list, good for you. Perhaps consider joining AA. Kidding. The above drink is very strong but tastes very smooth. I hate darker alcohol and even I think this is smooth.

($6) This is also a mocktail of the sweet, fizzy, fruity family with raspberries and ginger. The mocktails don't have names, just request the bartender to make you one. They do seem to take a long time to make compared to some cocktails on the menu

Someone was caught 'gramming their ($11) Old Cuban which had rum, lime, mint, bitters, and prosecco. At least he said the drink was really good.

($8) Kennebec Tater Totem - candied bacon pieces, cheddar, marscarpone
These are really good although they are just tater tots at the end of the day. 

($9) Chicken and waffle slider - there's bacon jam in the middle there and it has some maple syrup
These are good sliders, yet in comparison to the chicharrons and bone marrow dishes, the sliders become lost in the middle. The one criticism I repeatedly hear about these sliders is that people wish there was more maple syrup. If you get these, just ask for a maple syrup on the side. Treat cho self!

($8) Croque Madame - Black forest ham, gruyere, parmesan, grain mustard mornay sauce, fried egg, sourdough
Everything else on the menu may be small bites but this is a full sandwich. This is absolutely worth it. The gruyere and mornay sauce totally make this dish. Do not share, eat for yourself.

($7) Deviled Eggs - kewpie mayonnaise, marscarpone, togarashi, sriracha, forbidden rice, chive
($11) Tuna tartare - English cucumber, red onion, dijon sesame vinaigrette, sesame rice cracker
($9) Pork belly chicharron - house five spice, turbinado sugar, carrot puree

These are 3 of the other dishes we had, all of which were good. The pork belly chicharrons with the subtle but flavorful house five spice were definitely a group favorite. I highly recommend them.

($8) Bone marrow Vol-au-vent - cauliflower-pear puree, arugula and oranges
I had lots of doubts about this dish from the description to the presentation. Not that anything is wrong with those two things but it just sounded like a pretentious attempt to escalate bar food into a fine dining event. I mean, what's a vol-au-vent? These look like tiny food nipples.

On a serious note, these were divine! A vol-au-vent turns out to be much like the fluffy pastry of a pate so (that Asian meat pie thing you can get at Lee's sandwich). The bone marrow is rich and buttery. The cauliflower-pear puree, I can't see you but I definitely taste your sweetness. The orange, a surprise cut through the rich and fatty. A bite of this is so complex, you'll feel like you ate an appetizer, entree, and dessert at once and somehow the chef still sneaks in an amuse bouche.

You can order drinks and food at the bar and eat them there or move to another part of the restaurant with your order number. On crowded nights, it can take a long time to get your drink, a la Single Barrel style. If you're patient and interested in watching your bartender at their craft, it's worth it. The drinks will be made well, for sure. I've already written too much, turn off your computer or get off your phone and go to Paper Plane now.

Paper Plane on Urbanspoon


  1. Vol au vent, literally translated means flight of the wind. Was it really airy? =P It sounds like a really intense dish. I can't wait to try it!

  2. I want to go here simply because the sign is so cute. That Williams thing looks yummy.

  3. Same crowd as 55 South? Nope. 55 South took from Original Gravity? Nope. All 3 different crowds for sure. Thanks for featuring this rad new venue, but for folks looking at better insight:

    When you start drinking again I've got a couple of your rounds :)



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