Have you dined at the wonderful new Zola restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, which has been garnering rave reviews?
If not, you can get a taste of its comforting French-California cuisine when its chef-owner, Guillaume Bienaime, joins me for a cooking demo at 2 p.m. March 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair.
Bienaime opened Zola late last summer. After years of cooking at fine-dining restaurants, including Marche in Menlo Park, he wanted to create a more personal venue with food that spoke to his heritage and used the best local ingredients.
You gotta love a restaurant that offers you a perfectly crisp and light Belgium waffle with Nutella sauce — at the end of dinner.
That’s one of the joys of the new Portola Kitchen, which opened last month up in the tree-lined hills of Portola Valley.
It’s in the old Mike’s Cafe building in the Ladera Shopping Center, a little oasis of eating and shopping, where you’ll also find the wonderful Bianchi’s Market, an Old Port Lobster Shack, and the well-stocked Ladera Garden Center.
The restaurant space has been given a total redo with a rustic, warm vibe. Banquette dividers are constructed of unfinished wood. The bare wood tables, fashioned from old barn siding, still have grooves and knots in them to add character. Even the soaring beamed ceiling is reminiscent of an old barn. There’s a long bar with TVs, an open kitchen, and seating outside to take advantage of the temperate summer evenings.
Chef Guillaume Bienaime is the latest in a long line of fine-dining chefs to go more casual these days. He last headed the kitchen at the well-regarded, white-tablecloth Marche in Menlo Park.
At Portola Kitchen, he creates a menu friendly on the pocket and a variety of appetites. All the pastas are made in-house, as is the sausage. The wine list is half Californian and half Italian. There also are wines on tap to enjoy by the glass.