The most ambitious new restaurant in Palo Alto may also be its best. After toiling away at The French Laundry, Craft, and Aspen's Matsuhisa, chef Robbie Wilson brought his precision with fresh fish and subtle flavors back to California, opening up Mattei's Tavern in July 2013 in Santa Ynez, and Bird Dog in Palo Alto in December 2015. The menu is comprised of mostly small, sharable plates, including the excellent wood-grilled avocado drizzled with ponzu sauce and fresh wasabi (Wilson suggests pairing it with a glass of Muscadet) and light, citrusy tai snapper, with lime, Peruvian chilies, pecan, and sesame oil. The decor is modern by way of Brooklyn-artisanal woodwork and graffiti-clad walls in their private room-with a sense of wit. Case in point: Instead of music in the bathroom, guests are treated to a recording of Julia Child. 420 Ramona St.; 650-656-8180; birddogpa.com.