Lokal Motion: Addressing Rumors of Parting Partners at Carmel Valley Fiery-Hot Spot (Plus Porcinis!)
January 24, 2013
Lokal Restaurant (659-5886) has had a buzz about it from the beginning.
Make that before the beginning, when the specter of Brendan Jones (left) bringing his Cachagua-meets-molecular creativity to Carmel Valley had plenty of people fired up.
About a year ago, the Weekly put him on the cover of last year's Winter Wine & Food special issue.
The subhead for the first real news of the fusion tapas spot was this: "Brendan Jones recruits a partner from Prague to give the area an infusion of foodie energy."
But now partner Matthew Zolan (right) is heading for Hollywood. Or communist lands.
Either way, he won't be around for at least a little while, off working in stints in stunts as he has off and on for years. (He's also worked quite a bit in restaurants.)
If I sound a little confused on where and why Zolan's heading, it's because I am.
I first heard rumors he was leaving under stormy clouds, but Jones immediately dismissed that.
"Carmel Valley was not too exciting for him," he said. "Things are all peaceful and stuff."
When I messaged Zolan to ask if he was heading back to Hollywood, he said he was—"in a round-about way"—but would return.
"I still have a percentage and I'll be back after my world tour," he texted.
Jones reiterated things were totally amicable—"it's all peace, love and tie die," he said—but didn't seem to know much about Zolan's return one way or the other.
Before he left, Zolan lived in the two-bedroom apartment that's attached to the restaurant and the bakery with Jones. Now he's trying to help catch on with a production house in Cuba and find work with Transformers 4.
"I'll be back," Zolan says. "It could be a while. [And] in what capacity is yet to be determined."
In the past few months they've managed to both wow and worry diners.
Our reviewer had a great couple of visits overall, but at least one table has run into enough friction that Jones' pops touched off a powder keg of vitriol. The other day, Jones let some stress off on some Trip Advisor folks that he felt were being unfair.
Jones continues to survive the breakneck sequence of breakfast and lunch five days a week, with dinner Thursday through Saturday. It remains one of my favorite few places in the valley.
He says at the moment he's very pleased with a poached egg-porcini dish with a half pound of mushrooms, local sheep cheese from the incredible Garden Variety ranch in Royal Oaks ($15)—and a dish featuring baby potatoes, bacon from his favorite local farm, bacon fat foam, cheddar chrisps and micro scallions ($14).
New outdoor bench seating in on the way come spring, plus big four tops from the same Monterey County Pop Festival stage the long bar is made of, with pizzas from the oven in summer.
As for any stresses of managing the outfit, Jones and his customers always have the nice beer selection at bargain rates—just $3 for 10 ounce beers like Eye of the Hawk, Blueberry Shipwreck, Celebration Ale and Old Number 38 dark stout.