Eating up news on Cannery Row Brewing Company – plus spicy sides.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Old-paned glass slices late afternoon sunlight into golden squares of dusty cement. Beneath plywood ceilings, dents in the drywall reveal old brick behind it. Things are still. And besides a mustard-colored file cabinet and large topless mermaid wall mounts in the corner – whispering of the old building’s past incarnations – the floor above the former Willy’s in the big IMAX edifice is totally empty.
The minds (and calendars) of the men standing on the spartan surface, Coastal Luxury Management principals Rob Weakley and David Bernahl, are anything but unmoving and empty. After spending the last few years land-marking the hottest restaurant concepts in the country and partnering with many of the star chefs behind them on Pebble Beach Food & Wine, the possibilities for their latest project, Cannery Row Brewing Company, are popping like Cristal in a PBF&W grand tasting tent.
For starters, the door will move from the Rec Trail to the high-trafficked corner of Prescott and Wave. The tin roof above the bar will go ciao, replaced by a wall of glass revealing 70 kegs of craft beer, the largest such selection for several counties, ready to be poured draft fresh. Gourmet burgers will give the menu its foundation, but the $350,000 smoker will still provide pillars.
It’s a hefty project, and one that just got more concrete: CLM says it signed a lease, starting Dec. 1, with Cannery Row Company. (The restaurant’s scheduled to open in the spring.) But these heavyweights train hard – bouncing from New York Food & Wine to American Music Awards to the Bouchon family and friends’ new Beverly Hills opening and keeping, oh, another 80 or so cast irons in the foodie fire.
The CLM team just put a nonrefundable deposit on the longtime Stokes Restaurant: After forming a company called Restaurant 1833 to shepherd that business, Bernahl says, “a long hard puzzle” of a final deal to precipitate the envisioned upscale restaurant is “really close.”
The rustic emptiness above what they’ve named Cannery Row Brewing Company, meanwhile, will become CLM’s corporate headquarters, the base of a head-spinning menu of epicurean endeavors including the conducting of the one-time TomatoFest they rechristened Harvest Food & Wine this fall; newly minted national management of the American Institute of Wine & Food; and party-deploying duties for the same Lexus label that backs the Pebble event – they carried out the domestic debut of the Lexus LFA Supercar in L.A. last week. Dudes are in high gear.
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PBF&W Executive Chef Todd Fisher has his own scheme going in the streets of Sand City, monkey-wrenched between shops that wrestle with glass and metal, in a tall warehouse with a big stainless catering kitchen, a funky 46-seat loft laid out for wining and dining and a bright red brick entryway to match Fisher’s trademark Crocs.
Last weekend I made it to The Kitchen for a BYOW wine event brimming with grinning Chef Todd charisma. Happiness is ever-present with this plus-sized personality, but it was out in force Friday night – it’s clear he digs the freedom to play restaurateur every once in a while between catering (Chef Todd Food Concepts, 206-8401) and teaching classes there. The guests were just as giddy, given the hyper fresh fish from Robbie’s Oceanfresh Seafood on a pink brick of Himalayan sea salt and the best “bacon and eggs” ever built: coffee-smoked pork belly with poached duck egg and fingerling home fries topped with Brussels sprout shells and a maple vinaigrette.
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Here’s something to be thankful for: Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot. Thanksgiving came early at a Zeph’s One Stop (646-5446) in Salinas last week. DeTierra Silacci, Cima Collina Hilltop Ranch Reserve and McIntyre Estate impressed – and that was just the first three tables. While Portobello’s Jasmine Honda distributed snacks, the Bill Sites and Vince Ciolino Show squeezed a river of flavor from the adorable appellation – Morgan Rosella’s, Pessagno Four Boys, Manzoni Reserve, hard-to-top Tondré, Paraiso West Terrace, Pelerin Rosella’s, Joyce Estate and more. All are in stock at $35-$60 for your own giving of thanks. (Turkey and Pinot play nicely.)
Scheid’s Kurt Gollnick will be there for a free meet-and-greet tasting at the wine bar 5:30pm Wednesday, Dec. 2, before it gets really celebratory for a likely sell-out Champagne tasting 5:30pm Thursday, Dec. 17, $50-$55.
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Caught former Casanova GM Jean Hubert fresh off a tableside crepe flambé Monday night. (“One person orders it and it’s all over,” he says.) His brand new Le St. Tropez (624-8977) is on fire in the former Siam Orchid spot – Dolores between Ocean and Seventh – where he is returning to the kitchen after playing front-of-the-house positions at ’Nova and Rich Pepe’s restaurants. Drawing upon 27 years as a chef who cut culinary teeth in two – and three-Michelin Star spots in Leon, France, he’s doing what he calls Southern France “cuisine of the sun.”
“It’s a lot of light Mediterranean cuisine, light fish preparations, a nice French style ceviche,” he says. “There’s escargot, veal scallopini… a few classics with some fresh new things.”
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As someone once said, “If we could have one prayer, a prayer of thanks would be enough.”