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Marché's Guillaume Bienaimé to open downtown Palo Alto restaurant

Uploaded: Mar 3, 2014
Guillaume Bienaimé, the former executive chef at now-shuttered Marché in Menlo Park, is opening his own restaurant in downtown Palo Alto.

Bienaimé got the keys to the long dormant Roast Shop space at 565 Bryant St. at the end of February. He's planning to move in a restaurant that's "market-driven and French inspired," he said. "Classic dishes, updated with modern technique and seasonal ingredients."

The restaurant will be named Zola, after French author Émile Zola. Bienaimé is hoping for a end-of-May opening.

"I've always wanted to open my own place," Bienaimé said. "This space just came up at a time when I was ready for it. Preparation meets opportunity I guess. I'm just trying to bring some honest food to Palo Alto. Inspired by the market, a menu driven by chefs, progressive wine, down to earth service."

Zola will serve beer and wine only; the wine list will be "small and progressive, focusing on natural wines," Bienaimé said. "It will be complimented with a selection of unique and tasty beers and possibly cocktails inspired by vermouths, sherries and liquors."

In order to turn what used to be a Kosher deli into a French bistro, Bienaimé is bringing in San Francisco designer Charles de Lisle to revamp the 13,000-square-foot downtown space. Bienaimé said he's thinking "casual yet elegant" with classic Thonet bistro chairs, white oak tables and no table cloths. The restaurant will seat about 40 people, he said.

Bienaimé spent two years at French fine dining establishment Marché before it closed in March 2011. The next year, he went on to open Portola Kitchen, an Italian restaurant in the Ladera County Shopper on Alpine Road.

Guillaume Bienaimé, left, and Portola Kitchen owner Mike Wallau sit and chat in a booth after the lunch rush in August 2012. Almanac photo by Daniella Sanchez.

Bienaimé was born in France but was raised in Palo Alto and Philadelphia. He eventually received a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Providence, R.I.

Stay tuned for further details on menu items and more as Bienaimé moves forward.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Marché was really really good, though expensive. Looking forward to the seeing what he does on Palo Alto!

Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Mar 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm

"the wine list will be "small and progressive, focusing on natural wines". Yum, as opposed to all those unnatural wines-created in a lab by people with glasses and tall hair.

I always laugh when a product is described as "natural". I wish that a chef from Marche (which was incredible!!! the one time I went there), wouldn't use such meaningless terms when describing wine.

Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 4, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.


You might want to look up the definition after removing your foot from your mouth.....

It is a specific classification of wine (made with minimal chemical & technological input) and has a French, Spanish, USA and Italian certification agency.

Mssr. Bienaime is indeed very specific about his taste in wine...perhaps you should try some.

Roy Thiele-Sardina

I've included a link to the wikipedia definition, to save you the trouble:
Web Link

Posted by Anon E Mous, a resident of Stanford,
on Mar 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Any idea when it will open or what the price range will be?c

Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Mar 5, 2014 at 8:30 am

Anon E Mous: No opening date yet; Bienaimé just got the keys to the space last week. I'll find out about price range. Stayed tuned for more details here!

Posted by member, a resident of Community Center,
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

We are so lucky to have a new French bistro opening in Palo Alto being headed up by Guillaume Bienaime. He is a wonderful chef!

Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Mar 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm


Thanks for the wikipedia link, I probably wouldn't have been able to find it otherwise-what with my feet in my mouth and all.

From Wikipedia "There is no established certification body and the term has no legal status. Winemakers who describe themselves (or are described by others) as "natural" often differ in what they consider to be an acceptable level of intervention."

This is why it's meaningless to me. There's not consensus on what the term actually means. The label on the front of bottles tells so much but it's all legally required definitions. You can't say a wine is from Anderson Valley if the grapes are not from Anderson Valley.

Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

By "natural wine" he means "biologique" n'est-ce pas? That is, he means organic...

Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Mar 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm

To all the comments re: natural wine, here are Bienamie's thoughts to clarify:

"Natural wine is made with grape juice, indigenous yeast and time. Minimal use of sulfites and gentle filtering.

"Yes, many wineries do use artificial yeast, add sugar to the juice, flavor the wine with oak chips, use a lot of sulfites and lots of filtrations. They may not be made by people with 'glasses and tall hair,' but a wine-making operation can be quite similar to a laboratory.

"Natural wines are just the wines I would rather drink. One isn't better than the other, just a matter of taste. But the term does have meaning to most people in the wine business. It doesn't imply organic, but often natural wine makers also use organic grapes."

Posted by une paix durable, a resident of Professorville,
on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:24 pm

The ultimate test: will Zola be as good or as deeply treasured as L'amie Donia was to so many of us long-time residents more than a decade ago. Good luck Bienaimé. We hope this too will come to pass!

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