75 Types of Fried Chicken at 1833 and 71 Sierra Nevada Beers at Cannery Row Brewing Company
November 1, 2012
Chef Levi Mezick was going on hour six or so of frying chicken in the kitchen at Restaurant 1833 (643-1833) when he murmured something surprising.
"I've never done this before," he said, smiling and proceeding to pressure-fry a perfect breast of bird with a brand-new $250 pot with a rising pressure meter on its lid.
This served as a surprise because he'd been experimenting with chicken not just all morning and afternoon, but all week and all month, all year and all career.
"He's getting pretty good," 1833 co-owner David Bernahl says.
Such is life when you push boundaries. Mezick did it by way of creativity and cooking. In trying upwards of 70 different fried chicken treatments last Thursday, the 1833 leadership and I did it by way of repetition and cholesterol.
It's important to note that with 1833 parent company Coastal Luxury Management, wildly varied chicken frying is just part of the wider experiment, which is to aim awfully high with everything they do and pull the trigger with gusto. To do things they've never done before—and few anywhere have at all—all the time.
1833 Wine Director Ted Glennon managed to wrap it succinctly mid-chicken: "Let's do cool things, and push it farther than it's gone."
I guess a Guinness Book World Record qualifies. With the 30th anniversary of Sierra Nevada Brewing coming this year, Restaurant 1833's sibling restaurant Cannery Row Brewing Company is going to offer more beers from one single brewery (Sierra) than anyone has at one time, anywhere, ever. Guinness will swing by to sanction things as part of a Nov. 15-18 weekend that includes a big kickoff party Thursday with drink and food specials and the debut of 71 different Sierras in one place, $55 four-course beer dinners Friday ("cask" beers) and Saturday ("rare"), beer-and-breakfast events and even a passport challenge to stamp off as many Sierra tastes as is responsible. The Grossman founding family will be well-represented as the takeover serves as the first wave of ambitious quarterly beer events that will ultimately include cross-regional invasions and closed off streets. New beer pong tables will be on display and available all weekend too as a league and tournaments beckon.
Glennon, who also manages beverages for CRBC, seems most happily baffled by the reservoir of beers coming with the dinners, which include savory pairings, sweet pairings and courses dedicated purely to cheese-and-beer matches.
"I'm talking to [CLM Exec Chef] Mark Ayers, saying, 'Have you ever had this beer?'" he says. "I'm immersed in beer culture, and I've never heard of this beer!"
Call CRBC directly (643-2722) for reservations. Details should be up on the CRBC website soon.
Back at 1833, there's more unprecedentedness en route. Ian Cauble, brand ambassador U.S.A. for Krug, isn't spending New Year's Eve in New York or L.A., but is pairing all his favorite vintage Krugs with Mezick's best caviar, lobster, truffle mushrooms of every color and other absurd recipes for all of about 25 guests at about what it would cost to get a nice room at Pebble (at least). The point reiterates the theme: This is never-happened-around-here-style stuff.
"We're trying to pull off sexiest champagne dinner ever on the last day of the year," Glennon says. "We're talking to every seller-collector we can. It's like [late blues legend] Muddy Waters coming back from the dead and playing in your living room."
And while we're here, if you don't have Halloween figured out, 1833's pretty much ideally suited, what with the fact that it's literally a haunted house. No cover before 8pm (it then starts at $10 and goes up from there), four different kinds of exotic mixology punches from Mike Lay (like the Stokes cure-all and Hattie's Lace), and bottle service on the founder's balcony.
Finally, an under-appreciated "social hour" goes down every weekday at 1833 5-6:30pm with top-dog craft cocktails like the aged bourbon-honey-lemon Gold Rush, unbeatable Pimm's Cup and gin-prosecco-raw-sugar-syrup French 75 at $5.50 instead of $10 or $11 (plus nice Glennon-selected house wines for $6).
The most head-spinning thing about all the ambitious projects is that, even as the CLM franchise remains relatively toddler-esque, they're really just getting warmed up. As Bernahl was talking about our chicken tasting follow-up session this week, he could've been discussing the wider effort when he said, "We're not done yet."
Maybe that's the most ironic point...while they may not be doing things they or anyone else has done before, doing the new, different and unprecedented is certainly something they're familiar with.