Fast Company sent its fearless restaurant reviewer out to sample and rate the new brand of corporate cuisine in Silicon Valley. Plan your next Valley visit accordingly. Just say, "Hey, let's do lunch!"
Marketplace Café , Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores
The corporate culinary equivalent of the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland. For ambience, the Marketplace Cafe, with its hardwood floors, zinc-topped coffee bar and fresh produce display tops the list.
Special Features: A weekly gourmet dinner-for-two special that employees can preorder, pick up as they race out the door, and reheat in minutes at home.
Hours: 7AM and 8 PM
JavaJava Bistro, Sun Microsystems, Menlo Park
Tablecloths, bow-tied waiters, and an outdoor dining area only enhance such rustic Italian dishes as spit-roasted rosemary chicken and linguine with sauteed black Tiger prawns in Sicilian pesto with toasted almonds and pecorino cheese. So popular that employees often meet their spouses here for dinner instead of eating out in nearby Palo Alto.
Special features: Spit roasting and table service.
Tunes: Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
Hours: 9 AM to 7 PM
Claris Café , Claris Corp., Santa Clara
The infectious enthusiasm of executive chef Christa Collins, formerly of San Francisco's Il Fornaio, makes this one of the user-friendliest eateries in the Valley. An authentic burrito bar, nouvelle comfort foods, and light fare on a menu that changes daily.
Special Features: Create your own potato, panini, and pasta. Fun and games: guess the weight of your yogurt and get it free.
Tunes: 40s swing on up — changes daily with the cuisine.
Hours: 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM
RNB Café , Intel Corp., Santa Clara
Like Intel's microprocessors, this restaurant is built for speed. An array of choices ranging from sausage and chicken rissotto to vegetarian quiche to chili cheese dogs with curly fries. No frills, no thrills, just a hearty engineer's lunch.
Special features: Serious fuel for bloodthirsty competitors: meat — from turkey to ostrich — prepared in the smoker.
Tunes: None, just the whir of Pentium processors.
Hours: 6 AM to 2:30 PM plus daily late night shifts from 7 PM to midnight and weekend shifts of 7 AM to 9 AM and 8 PM to 10 PM
four disks = sets the standard
three disks = bug free
two disks = high interactivity, great content
one disk = fast food
A version of this article appeared in the Dec 1996/Jan 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.