Eyeing the new Old Bathhouse, real Car Week values and steak.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
There’s new life at an old landmark.
A handful of sunny Pacific Grove city officials, local businessmen and construction workers gathered next to the volleyball courts at Lovers Point last week for free hot dogs, popcorn and good news: The former Old Bathhouse will be back in as soon as seven months now that a new group led by longtime local restaurateur James Gilbert has taken over the rebirth reins from Ted and Cindy Walter of Passionfish, who braved much of the heavy code and Coastal Commission lifting but ducked out because they preferred grandkid time over jumping-through-hoops headaches.
New Managing Partner Kevin Phillips, who plays the same role at the Wharf’s Abalonetti’s Bar and Grill, is unequivocal in explaining this will not be a resurrection, but a reinvention, as most plainly demonstrated by a name change to the Old Beachhouse.
“The Bathhouse was exclusive, small, expensive, the definition of a special occasion restaurant,” he says. “We’re not reopening the Bathhouse – there’ll never be another. We’ll be larger, with an open floor plan, a lower price point, with something there for everyone – inclusive.”
It will also enjoy a 20-seat patio and be contained entirely on the second story, with an elevator lifting diners above the kayak-and-bike rental joint below. They’re currently shopping for a chef who can do coastal American with style.
At least one thing will be consistent between then and now, though. Restaurant Design Concepts, the Oakland firm that did the original interior layouts for Bathhouse kingpin David Bindel, is back to work the new feel.
RDC principal Jerry Kirk remembers an era when the adjacent beach was semi-nude and he would order the Bathhouse’s lobster thermidor. Those days may be gone, but a P.G. pillar is happily back.
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Between Car Week’s confetti-showered, boa-draped Concours d’Elegance Best in Show scene and the cash being thrown around at the blingy RM and Russo & Steele auctions downtown, they could be easy to miss. At the event they’re working, the Quail Motorsports Gathering, Rancho Cielo Drummond Culinary Academy students helping Julio Ramirez roll out slow-roasted Pacific salmon and chorizo-shrimp paella will be obscured by Jaguar E-types and some fierce fashion.
But it’s the kids’ accomplishments which represent something more valuable for our community than any Alpha Romeo. The apprentice chefs were nearly abandoned by the legal system, but found another avenue at the 100-acre Rancho Cielo founded by Judge John Phillips and buoyed by private support.
“We do a good job of locking kids up,” Phillips says, “but not giving them a fair shot. They’re just kids.”
They’ll leave Rancho Cielo with not just a high school diploma, but vocational training, in everything from construction to fire suppression. On Friday, Aug. 12, local industry heavies Bert Cutino of the Sardine Factory, Paul Lee of the American Culinary Federation and ACF Chef of the Year Ken Goebel of Salinas Valley Memorial will join Drummond chief chef Marcus Whisenant for the program’s first ever induction ceremony. Dinners prepped by the team continue on Fridays starting Oct. 14 at the gorgeous grounds overlooking Salinas Valley. Call 444-3521 for reservations or more on how to help.
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The first salvo in Car Week’s wonderland of chrome and chassis comes Wednesday, Aug. 17, with Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Jet Center. While each of the Quails and Concourses revs up its own absurd sort of luxury, none marries brand-new debut Beemers and Rolls, classic racers and top-quality food and drink with private jets and military choppers like McCall. We’re talking five hours of Bernardus Marinus and Roederer Estate bubbly plus Bentleys, Embrauers, Bombardiers and Boeings (for more info see Calendar, p. 34).
Tickets are $250 (with a chunk going to the CHP 11-99 Foundation and Naval Postgraduate School Foundation), so this would be the time to call in that favor Leon Panetta owes you (or the weekend to get your bikini car wash marathon on): www.mccallevents.com.
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Happy two-year anniversary Monterey Cookhouse (642-9900). Bring on the celebratory brisket… Wrath Vineyard’s Carmel tasting room (678-2212) officially throws its welcoming doors open 10am Friday, Aug. 12, in Carmel Plaza. They’ll also pour for that day’s Carmel Plaza Concert Series from 5-7pm. From there good juice will be administered by personable triple threat Julie Tolentino, Kim Kulchycki and Michelle McDaid 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday and 11am-5pm Sunday… If you know Saturday, Aug. 13, is National Filet Mignon Day then you’re likely familiar with the steaks at a little place called the Sardine Factory, where they’re celebrating the date with a 14-ounce USDA bone-in filet mignon with wild mushroom gratin, sautéed Salinas Valley spinach, garlic mashed potatoes and a béarnaise sauce. Celebrate further with Bert Cutino’s recipe for tournedos regina on the blog, www.mcweekly.com/edible… “My favorite animal,” Fran Lebowitz said, “is steak.”