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Italian eatery to replace Mike's Cafe in Ladera

Original post made on Jun 8, 2012

Owner Mike Wallau is transforming Mike's Cafe in Ladera into an Italian eatery, but don't call it a ristorante or trattoria. Its new name is Portola Kitchen. The cuisine? Authentic rustic Italian food prepared by chef Guillaume Bienaime.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 8, 2012, 11:22 AM

Comments (20)

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Posted by Pat
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

When I first saw the heading for this article, I was excited, and then I saw the new restaurant would be under the same ownership. I hope that Mike can improve the quality of the food and of the service. I and my friends were treated poorly at Mike's several times and the food left much to be desired, so we stopped going there. Mike's seemed busy most of the time, so I guess he figured he could get away with being third rate.

Mike, this is a 2nd chance to get your act together and give us the quality of restaurant Ladera and PV deserves.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Oops, sorry about the grammar error.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Mike's restaurants - Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Portola Valley - are our family's "go to" places.

We love it there and are looking forward to trying the new place!

Good luck, Mike!!!


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Posted by Garza
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I agree with Pat. Chef Bienamie's food deserves better service than has been the tradition at Mike's. It could be a great addition. I will try it although I have quit going because of the "service".


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Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Righto! Gone to Mike's on Middlefield in Menlo Park on a few occasions and service was quite spotty. Food ok but once waitress said hello and promptly forgot we were there for about 15 minutes nil we flagged her down again. Hope Mike gets good wait staff for this new place. Loved the decor of Ladera Mikes and the full bar too.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Maybe a discrete word to Mike about the menu and waitstaff issues at his FORMER restaurant would have been in order WHEN THESE INCIDENTS OCCURRED -- rather than spouting off in the local press as Mike plans to open a new and different restaurant.

How incredibly hostile and ignorant. The restaurant is his livelihood.

I will be sure to go up to Portola Valley to patronize it, to show that it is welcome in the area and to wish him the best of luck.



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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm

neighbor - how do you know something wasn't said to Mike or a manager or via a Yelp review? I've negged Mike's on Yelp regarding poor service. It's completely natural to post an opinion of the place here, since the place is the subject of the article. Are you Mike's friend? his mom, wife, brother or neighbor? Sheesh. And what's with the SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS??


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I never met Mike. I don't even know if that's actually his first name.

However, I stand by my opinion that saying something about his FORMER RESTAURANT (all-caps totally intended) to speculate about the quality of his new venture is just plain nasty.

If his new place doesn't please you, by all means you have the right to say so -- but blackballing him before his business opens is really tacky.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

@Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community. Discreet and comments have been made to Mike and his staff. They were ignored and on one occasion, our final visit there, our fairly mild comments were received with very poor grace. It may be his livelihood, so all the more reason to treat his customers with respect. We too work hard to have the after-tax money to spend there.

Thank goodness we are well served by great restaurants in MP and PA.


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Posted by Jeffrey
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Neighbor, I don't think Mike would be changing the name of his restaurant if he had been successful with "Mike's Cafe". Nobody's "blackballing" the restaurant just giving their opinion regarding their experiences at his prior restaurant. The fact that the article clearly states that Mike Wallou is the owner and your last post states "I don't even know if that's actually his first name" is an indication that you did not even bother to read the article. Really sounds like you're the one having a bad day.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Neighbor is apparently the newly self-appointed etiquette moderator of this board. Neighbor wants to restrict any remotely critical remark to their domain, so watch out if you question or criticize anything. In another post, Neighbor suggested I use a thesaurus. I'm suggesting the Neighbor do a better job comprehending articles & resulting comments.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

I'm certainly not opposed to critical letters....just have the courtesy to wait until a restaurant opens before you pan it, and don't attack an author just before her public debut of the book.

Given the sanctimonious remarks that Hmmm et all made in response to my call for courtesy, my point has been illustrated by the writers themselves.


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 13, 2012 at 12:16 am

I read some of these comments with such dissappointment. Some people just don't seem to realize what a toll this economy has taken on small (and family run) businesses. The recession has created almost impossible economic hurdles and for small businesses to survive they have had to cut labor and costs in ways that they would never choose to do in less difficult times. As a customer of Mike's I know his business was actually doing quite well. I think the motivation for the change was more based on making a good situation better. On another note, the largest failure of this economy is in small business,not Lehman Brothers or AIG or Fannie Mae who get all the attention. Statistics show that the greatest hardship our country faces economically is on Main Street. I am just curious if people realize this and do what they can to support small business.


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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

Neighbor can only show courtesy to unfamiliar authors and business owners but not other commenters with whom they disagree. Everyone else knows service. An be spotty at Mike's. The Palo Alto location seems to be more consistent but the other 2 have had problems - check out Yelp reviews. I just dealt with poor service at the Menlo Mike's 10 days ago.

If Main Street businesses are to thrive, make sure your employees are as expert as possible.

Mike's been playing with his business model for awhile, so this isn't a surprise. He's retained a great chef - just make sure the rest of the team is as good.


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Posted by GOLLY
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Is this really newsworthy?
It is typical this non-event manages to cause a controvery...typical of our Peninsula thinking.


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Posted by ARound
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I'm buying everybody a round of Xanax or your favorite chill pill. Take one and back slowly away from your keyboards.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hmmm states "Neighbor is apparently the newly self-appointed etiquette moderator of this board."

No, Neighbor is just expressing his opinion - which Hmmm is trying to denigrate.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I am trying to denigrate neighbor's uninformed opinion, just as they tried to do in another thread to me. Neighbor also did so to others here, w/out knowing what they've experienced at the eatery or what they did about their experience - & that includes me as well. Not sure why Neighbor decided to be the etiquette monitor of the board, but I sure won't miss him/her if they don't post again. How about you, Peter? Maybe you should hound Neighbor for not posting their real name instead of going off topic w/your comment.


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Posted by Martha
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jun 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm

We will miss the old Mike's so much! It was a great relief to come in at the end of a hard day, see familiar people, eat familiar comfort food and have a convivial non-fussy ambiance. Don't change it too much, Mike! There is nothing out there like it. Now we wait for our neighborhood favorite to reopen. Not sure what we'll do for a month!


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I went there last night and the place was truly hoppin.'

The menu and service were excellent - we had a great time!


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