Check out a selection of professional reviews below.
American Fare 2.0
36 Hours in Silicon Valley, September 5, 2010
St. Michael’s Alley seized a page straight out of the valley playbook last year by reinventing itself and moving to an ambitious new home, a few blocks off crowded University Avenue in Palo Alto. Two and half years in the making, the restaurant now has three elegant dining areas, including a bar anchored by an artful hunk of walnut. The business casual attire matches the informal cuisine, which leans toward Californian and American fare. Dishes include a cider-cured center-cut pork chop with chipotle barbecue sauce and buttermilk mashed potatoes ($27).
In Praise of Neighborhood Restaurants
By Lane Wallace, The Atlantic | Aug 18, 2010
...The same is true for my favorite restaurant in Palo Alto, California. It is on the same street where I live, less than a dozen blocks down. Like the Heirloom Cafe, St. Michael's Alley is a tucked-away place that, until recently, seated only about 40. Its menu is wonderful even though it doesn't change all that often.
The owners, Mike Sabina and Jenny Youll, recently opened up a new addition around the corner, but the inside still looks like someone's home. And when I had lunch there recently, their young son came wandering around the tables, collecting and distributing napkins as he saw fit.
Mike and Jenny aren't the original owners of St. Michael's Alley. But the original owner, Vernon Gates, can still sometimes be found having a drink at the bar. Because unlike the Heirloom Cafe, St. Michael's Alley has been a neighborhood hangout for a very long time. Back in the '60s, it was a bit more colorful and earthy, hosting local music acts like Joan Baez (who went to Palo Alto High School), Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead. Clearly, St. Michael's has settled down a lot in the years since. But so have a lot of the Baby Boomers who followed the Dead. The point is ... the place has character and history that even the trendiest new restaurant in town could never match.
I've eaten in many wonderful restaurants, from the French Laundry in California to Le Bernardin and the Gramercy Tavern in New York. But although it's fun to dress up every now and then, there's also something nice about places that invite you to kick off your shoes and enjoy the familiarity of home. Attitudinally speaking, of course. Places that are unassuming and decidedly not trendy, where regulars come from the immediate area, the staff has a casual air, and the owners—or even their children—often put in an appearance among the guests.
by Dale F. Bentson, Palo Alto Weekly
In college (OK, it's been a few years) I survived on frozen Swanson Chicken Pot Pies. My local grocery store often had them on sale as a price leader for 49 cents. Perpetually short on funds, I ate pot pies for both lunch and dinner for weeks on end. Upon graduation, I swore I'd never look another pot pie in the eye.
I changed my tune, though, after glimpsing St. Michael's Alley's chicken pot pie ($19) being delivered to another table just as we were being seated. After delightful appetizers, my deep-dish, oversized pot pie arrived, piping hot from the oven, with a golden crust of puff pastry that had oozed over the sides while it baked... Continue Reading
Zagat Survey 2011
The eclectic Cal cuisine – fresh, festive dishes that rotate with the seasons – is popular with the Silicon Valley set and “ladies who lunch” at this “unpretentious” “neighborhood gem” in Palo Alto; when it relocated to “spiffed-up digs” in 2009, it may have “lost some of its coziness”, but gained “extra space”, “lots of light” and outdoor tables that “make alfresco dining a pleasure”, all while maintaining “welcoming” service; P.S. weekend brunch is still served at the “homey” original location at 806 Emerson Street.
By Christina Waters, San Jose Metro
An attractive and stylish update at St. Michael's Alley puts this Palo Alto landmark on the fast track for big Emerson Street success
REFRESHING one of those cozy old spaces that riddle Palo Alto's downtown, St. Michael's Alley has breathed smart bistro attitude into its latest incarnation. Joining the vivacious dining scene that makes Emerson Street a foodie's prime destination, the new, improved St. Michael's Alley is a study in polished wood wainscoting, sunny yellow walls and a good-looking clientele... Continue Reading
Restaurant Review: The second time is all charm
by Laura Reiley, Palo Alto Weekly
Mike Sabina and Jenny Youll's St. Michael's Alley is a glorious reinvention of itself
... if there's any justice in this world, St. Michael's Alley will be filled to the rafters from now on.
The walls are sponged a rich ocher, and dark wood wainscoting and trim add luster to the cozy, square room. Little white Christmas lights outline the windows, and votive candles flicker in cobalt-blue holders next to tiny vases of irises. It's romantic, no bones about it, but it's inviting no matter who's in your party (my girlfriend says it's "rotic"--that's romantic even without the "man"). The artwork changes, but right now it's a moody series of Arctic photos of ice, penguins and very attractive polar bears... Continue Reading
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