Jesse Cool

Post image for Oysterette is new dining option at Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series spotlighting the special features of local restaurants that may not be obvious or well-known. If you think one of your favorite Menlo Park restaurants qualifies, please email us at tips[a]inmenlo.com.

While not an employment criteria, there does seem to be a trend for servers and chefs at Jesse Cool’s Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park: They grew up eating at the restaurant.

We’d stopped in to experience the newly-opened Oysterette, the brainchild of Jesse and Executive Chef Charlie Parker who grew up eating at Flea Street (pictured right). It’s located on the freshly painted and decorated deck in front of the restaurant. Serving customers is Zach Wurtz and shucking oysters and preparing small plates is chef Leo Wurtz (pictured top with Zach in background). And yes, the brothers grew up eating at Flea Street.

“While I don’t want to think of myself as an elder, I’m learning to embrace the fact,” said Jesse. “It’s so great to see the young people come in and understand the core values and philosophy of Flea Street, which turns 37 on August 28.

“That’s a lot of years for a restaurant and a cause for celebration. So how great is it that this next generation is so caring and respectful. And they really like their jobs!

“One of the exciting things about having Charlie come home is that he’s endlessly inventive while being very aware of the business that I built over the years.”

Jesse explained that Leo has been working at Flea Street since high school. The brothers spent some time traveling the world and have now landed back at their hometown restaurant. “Some chefs go from place to place to learn,” she said. “I stayed in one place and everyone came through and I learned from them. Leo came back to a place where he’s learning a lot.”

The menu at Oysterette is distinct from what’s offered inside Flea Street and includes fresh-from-the-garden salads, some of which are whimisical: how often have you eaten a salad that’s hand-shaken in a jar?

Of course there’s a changing variety of East and West Coast oysters. But for those who are not fans of the bivalve, there’s a great selection of interesting small tastes including avocado toast with smoked trout as well as serrano ham with burrata and stone fruit, to name two.

Beverages include a selection of California wines along with four craft beers and made-on-the-deck special cocktails.

The casual theme continues in the first-come, first-served, no reservation policy. Added bonus for canine owners: Oysterette is dog friendly. It is open Wednesday through Saturday starting at 4:30 pm.

Photos by Betsy Sergeant Snow (c) 2017

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Flea St. Cafe is a Menlo Park fixture for 36 years

Thumbnail image for Flea St. Cafe is a Menlo Park fixture for 36 years

We stopped in at Flea St. Cafe last week, just a couple days after the restaurant celebrated its 36th anniversary. That’s one long run for a restaurant that, as founder/co-owner Jesse Cool writes, took root in “an unlikely neighborhood just outside of the city of Menlo Park, in the county of San Mateo, on an […]

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Jesse Cool and Mitchell Johnson share art, food and admiration for each other

Thumbnail image for Jesse Cool and Mitchell Johnson share art, food and admiration for each other

Think of them as bookending the stretch of the Alameda in Menlo Park between Sharon and Walsh roads. One a restaurateur feeding the body. The other a painter feeding the soul. Jesse Cool, owner of Flea Street Cafe, and artist Mitchell Johnson are joined together in what has been a mutually beneficial partnership for about five years with the […]

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Things are peachy at Cool Café in Menlo Business Park

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The Cool Café located on O’Brien Street in the Menlo Business Park is undoubtedly the most hidden of restauranteur and cookbook author Jesse Cool’s food “empire,” which includes the Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park and an additional Cool Café at the Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus. But it’s the place she’s chosen to turn all […]

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Gillian’s end of summer picks: Chilled soups made with Webb Ranch’s corn and Ace tomatoes

Thumbnail image for Gillian’s end of summer picks: Chilled soups made with Webb Ranch’s corn and Ace tomatoes

Editor’s note: Atherton resident Gillian Bostock is not only a talented, serious-amateur chef, she’s also an accomplished photographer. This is the last in her series of great summer recipes. This week I’ve chosen two chilled soups to highlight the Ace tomatoes and white corn grown at Webb Ranch in Portola Valley. Undoubtedly, the bountiful pile […]

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Family fun at Swing in the Park this Sunday (9/19)

Sunday’s Swing in the Park fundraiser for Holbrook-Palmer Park in Atherton appears to have it all – BBQ picnic courtesy of Jesse Cool, swinging music thank to the Unicorns, plus games and activities for children and adults. Add to that list a live and silent auction and raffle. All proceeds benefit the Park. The event […]

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Jesse Cool – Menlo Park’s food matriarch

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Can it be true?  Jesse Cool’s Flea Street Cafe – founded on the principles of local and organic – has been around since 1981, a very long life in restaurant terms. “It’s fabulously busy,” Cool exclaimed on a recent Saturday night. “We’re very, very lucky.” The almost 30 years haven’t always been easy for the […]

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