Sunday Brunch and Other Discoveries at the Cachagua General Store
June 29, 2011
“I heard about a server who was fired because she ‘didn’t approve of the restaurant’s management style,’” Chef Michael Jones (center) once told me. “With me, if you do approve of my management style, then you’re f**king fired.”
I don't work for him, but I sure as hell approve. This is a guy who once snapped a patron's plate in half with a halibut backbone because the cat questioned its local providence (then Jones called the cops and reported a trespasser). This is a dude that makes roast baby beet salad so tasty it's a delicacy, at prices that make commoners like me feel like I can afford royalty. This is a chef who uses access to his store as an incentive to help local bums clean up their act.
Besides, it’s that style and the food it ultimately creates that draws me to distant Cachagua General Store (659-1857) like a hyena to a carcass. And it’s that style that creates the context for the live Grateful Dead banjo, BYO wine possibilities and things like the mesquite-grilled pork ribs in Cachagua pumpkin-seed mole ($16) and rabbit five ways (above, $22) that have long made CGS’s juggernaut Monday night dinners hot like a Penelope Cruz-stuffed piquillo pepper. (For the record, the five ways are fried, sauteed, bacon-wrapped, stewed and terrine.)
The rogue Michael and son Brendan Jones show only gets hotter as summer allows for more daylight to travel by and warmer temps for more outdoor action, whether that’s dining al fresco, bocce ball or castanet dancing from local, loveable lech Grant Risdon.
The other night I took some New York family out there and gems like the Chesapeake oysters with roasted porcini cream ($8.50), Micah’s pizza with house-cultured mascarapone and Corralitos ham ($8 or $14), Mike’s best smoked salmon ($8.50) and Valrhona chocolate crema ($6) left them dizzy with satisfaction.
Not long after, some sun-toasted solstice celebrators and I surfaced for the lesser-known-but-no-less-savory Monday night sibling, Sunday brunch, and the rich bacon Benedict didn't dissappoint, especially at the $12.50 sticker, which includes Santa Cruz Organic mango juice and lil’ fatty dollar pancakes. That's also the same price for everything else on the menu, including the lip-smacking goat-cheese-and-veggie omelet.
A there-is-hope-for-the-food-industry discovery that came with the excursions: the renegade CGS and Jones are the lone trend-setting Peninsula participants on a website that hopefully finds some serious traction (I extracted a promise that they’ll bring aboard some top NorCal spots in the coming months). It's called Real Time Farms (650-814-7796) and its young forward-thinking Bay Area flavormakers provide smart-sourcing restaurants the resources and slick platforms to link diners to progressive chefs like Patrick Connelly (Bobo) and Alex Young (Zingermans Roadhouse) all of the various high-quality purveyors that places like CGS, L.A.’s Melisse and the White House use to stock their recipes—and the full confidence in the providence of their produce and meats that comes with that.
They also allow diners to search local farms and markets and generally ferret out those tending to their plots with wisdom and consciousness, and recommend restaurants who would dig it.
Jones says Cal Stamenov and Bernardus might join up next.
One final style note: Check out Mike's most recent blog post, one of my favorites from 2011 to date, on his Cachuagua Store Blogspot hub for "much vicious gossip."