Restaurant 1833, Opening Friday: A Look Back and a Taste of the Menus to Come
June 22, 2011
It's not enough.
I've been writing about Restaurant 1833—and day-dreaming about finally sitting at its glowing bar—for more than 13 months, and I have barely scratched the surface of all the relentless intrigue, enlivening elements and ambitious dreams swirling around a place that I am confident will become a landmark befitting its historic status and location.
I've covered the first signs of construction and the debut appearance at a food festival, its shocking divorce from original GM Gary Obligacion and chef Tim Mosblech, and the replacements-to-be that included one who wasn't. (PS: Thank goodness for 1833 GM Tobias Peach.
A little while after I learned the heady concepts for the former Stokes Adobe—which came after I broke news that the one-time Stokes Restaurant was going bye bye to begin with—I took you behind the scenes for a photo tour as the decorative pieces really started to click.
And then I introduced the NYC-imported savant named Levi Mezick who—as is inevitably relearned when you watch him in the kitchen last night and rap with him at the bar—only impresses me more every time I talk to him.
But yet, so much more to cover than I can get to.
Similarly, I am under-equipped to articulate all of the mouthwatering elements coming into play as 1833 opens this Friday, June 24, relatively sudden and thoroughly welcome news that the Weekly broke yesterday.
But I can't sign off without trying. Here are some things for your consideration:
The co-founder of 1833 parent company Coastal Luxury Management, Rob Weakley doesn't need me to finish the question ("What's been one of your favorite...") before he throws down, "Bacon-wrapped sturgeon." FYI: That latest link isn't what you think, wink wink, the star porky is owned by a vegetarian.
"It's amazing, over lentils," Weakley says. "Levi's killing it on that. Family-style stuff." (The entrees run $18-$36...)
I thought the grilled veal chop with crispy sweetbreads, Castelvetrano olives and basil puree looked irresistible in the kitchen, where it was great to see Mezick (a photo above, guiding one of his crew members) and CLM head chef Mark Ayers nudge a green staff to their lofty standards with timely input and time-sensitive adjustments.
The opening of 1833 comes one year and one day after the debut of sibling standout spot Cannery Row Brewing Company. What is it about this time of year for these freaks? Is it the summer solstice getting these guys all ready to harvest their hard work? Is it related to another boom in births?
It bears major mentioning that CRBC is throwing a birthday party with DJs, bargain beer tastings and special nibbles tomorrow—Thursday, June 23—that merits a mass toast.
Mezick's crispy pork is a revelation, my tastebuds told me, a medley of tenderness, patient slow-cooked preparation and fine pig. Makes me lightly Mezick-manic for his super-super-slow-cooked hen egg wrapped in proscuitto, then breaded and deep-fried to pair with asparagus and Trumpet Royal mushrooms. Or his warm goat cheese custard, or the horseradish-crusted bone marrow with brioche, which I've heard from several reliable—and not necessarily marrow-loving—sources is a-w-e-s-o-m-e-n-e-s-s.
[I am currently wrangling the technology gods to post a pdf of the menu...my people, stay with me.]
The front gate gives way to a hedge-rimmed patio, a sight not seen in these parts in terms of scope and seatability, where dogs are welcome and small plates will, I solemnly predict, fly out of the kitchen to happy reviews.
This is a peek at the re-pimped "Hattie's Room," named after the ghost who called it her adobe bedroom while living, complete with fireplace and adjacent upstairs bar.
The seven different swanky places-within-a-place (like the patio, bar and Hattie's spot) that reside here may not get people into 1833 for three different nights a week as its creators envision—an indulgent family-style dinner of whole roasted lobe of foie gras and salt-crusted dorade, also whole, perhaps, then a small bites and sexy cocktails on the patio another night, etc.—but it is pretty damn cool to have so many different dynamic environs to kick back in.
"It's truly set up for locals," Weakley says.
Here's hoping the ribeye (above) with broccoli rabe and onion rings a la excellence, with some magestic cheesy mash potatoes I tried in the kitchen, is available everywhere.
There's also the big, beautiful "Sun Room" on the downstairs south quadrant of the place, where these four fresh faces (left to right, Vinny Balestreri, Adam Serrano, Heather Serrano and former Weekly contributor Jessica Yates) talked me into tucking into a little sampler platter they prepped for me, sweethearts that they are...
Yes, it's a world-class range of flavor, with a taste of the roast chicken—which one dope chef once told me is the test of any good kitchen—with truffle butter and salt and pepper rubbed beneath its skin, and the ribeye and the "macaroni and cheese and cheese."
I had this bourbon wonder with built in smoky flavor and texture and didn't need much else in this life. In other alcoholic news, Ted Glennon, the wine director mastermind brought north from the iconic Hotel Del Coronado off San Diego, told me in the gorgeous white wine room off of the "Governor's Room" upstairs that he's got some "tricks up [his] sleeve" that will make even the seen-everything-sumptuous Coastal Luxury Management brain trust hiccup.
Weakley, meanwhile, is more excited about what's about to bubble up.
"The champagne prices are ridiculous," he says. "All champagne at retail. $15 at grocery store—that's our price. We have Cru de Krug halfs for $70. The whole wine list is extremely reasonably priced."
I could go on, but it wouldn't be enough anyway. Never is. But maybe this thought will suffice in the meantime:
This 1833 team schemed and dreamed big, got crucial talent to buy into its vision and has realized it by way of an ample amount of savvy, gumption and vision.
Mark my fried pork bite: This place is going to change the Monterey dining game, whether you like it as much as I loved that bite, or not.