Sunday, July 25, 2010

Passage to India and Public Transportation - Perfect Party!

My son loves all things transportation - trains, buses, trucks, cars, airplanes. Very boyish and very cute.  For his second birthday I planned a Touch a Truck Treasure Hunt via Public Transportation.  The key to this little boy birthday party was advanced planning.  We actually did all of our travel from Menlo Park to Mountain View with a small journey into Sunnyvale so feel free to swipe our path!

The itinerary was built with stops in between and a large group to herd.  I cut it a bit close in the beginning, so my recommendation is going to be adjusted slightly from the schedule we kept that day because the first leg of the trip really required more time.

We biked from The Willows neighborhood to the Menlo Park fire station on Middlefield, through Linfield Oaks to the Menlo Park CalTrain Station.  We took the train to downtown Mountain View and stopped in for Gelato.  It was delicious but not a quick stop.  We then hopped the light rail to the Lockheed Martin Station where we caught a bus which ultimately led us to Passage to India in Mountain View.

I had forgotten how awesome their Indian buffet is on the weekends.  They take reservations for groups, online through their own website, and they do have a "banquet room" off their main dining room to accommodate big parties.  This room was reserved the night that we were there for this party so we were accommodated to the left of their main bar, which meets you upon entrance to the restaurant.  We were split between two tables, which worked for us because we had adults and kids, so we had an instant kids' table!

Their food is really tasty and the variety of the buffet is always amazing. They have mini dosas and a large variety of vegetarian options, and they serve Indian "Chinese" food which is delicious too!  They never seem to mind parties bringing in kids and when they are busy, the turn over tables. The drinks came to the adults in a timely fashion and they kept our dirty plates moving off the table.  Children under 4 ate for free, children 5 - 7 ate at half price, and kids 8 and older at the adult price.

The place is decorated very casually and that is how I would describe the atmosphere as well.  I started to write that had I planned an adult birthday dinner at this restaurant and had our party been split up I wouldn't have liked that, but the truth is that if you are planning to bring a large group to Passage to India on one of their weekend buffet nights, you come knowing the atmosphere is casual and so will be the meal.  My friends would have naturally split between the two tables, only briefly to drop their sweaters and get in line for some serious Indian cuisine.

After dinner, we walked back to the CalTrain at the San Antonio Station and rode back to Menlo Park, where we biked home.  Plan to be at the train station 30 minutes before your train me it won't be enough!! We were home by 9 pm and we caught the 3:15 pm train out of Menlo Park. I used the websites of both CalTrain and VTA to figure out or routes and schedules.  It was an awesome adventure, beloved by adults as well as kids, and our group meal at Passage to India was a great fit for this event!

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