Sneak Peek at New Menu as Rocky Point Restaurant Re-Opens Today (Plus Chinese-American TV!)
March 11, 2013
There is something spiritual about the rebirth of Rocky Point (624-2933), which opens its doors today, Monday. (Update: After a booming lunch rush—130 covers—Chef Christophe Bony closed the restaurant until Wednesday for more staff training.)
Maybe it's because the reemergence has been a long time coming—and because it was so hard to see a place blessed with such a setting go from legendary to languishing as it had.
Maybe it's because its primary protagonists, owners Peter and Grace Wang and "ambassador" John Kenny, clearly enjoy long-held, deep-seated feelings for the place.
Maybe it's because the "remodel" became much more deep cleaning and code meeting than architectural design—and because deep cleaning is an operable analogy for the type of catharsis this place needed.
There's something monumental about it too, beyond the fact that it provides key connective tissue to Big Sur and has the potential to establish itself as a strong contributor to the foodie destination Big Sur has become: The Wangs' international bridge-building foundation is designed to shuttle Chinese and Americans between the two powers for cultural exchange, service learning and other educational endeavors. That experience will bring a wave of Chinese tourism—which is burgeoning already—unlike any Monterey County has seen.
Chef Christophe Bony's potato crab cakes over arugula, mushrooms and escargot and grilled artichoke will strengthen the tractor beam too.
Here's a peek at the menu that debuts tonight (interesting side note: Kenny plans to have his pastry chef do 9-11am coffee and pastries which will segue into breakfast in the summer), followed by (1) notes from the private grand opening Saturday courtesy of Weekly food deputy and ag reporter Sara H. Rubin and (2) a funky Chinese-American Ding Ding TV web episode that—while it won't come close to drawing the 100 million viewers the Monterey County Herald says Wang hopes for—does a good job of conveying some of the key personalities and philosophies involved.
Appetizers Kumamoto Oysters apple cider mignonette, 4 each 12 Potato Crab Cakes arugula salad 15 Mushrooms and Escargots Fricassee sautéed escargots and local mushrooms with hazelnut and garlic 14 Grilled Castroville Artichoke smoked paprika aioli 12 Soupe Du Jour 7 Lobster Bisque housemade lobster cream soup 9 Mezze house mix olives, feta cheese and Moroccan carrot salad 12 Fried Calamari with Cici Flour with caramelized onion and tomato sauce 13 Ahi Tuna Tartare with daikon and spring radishes 16
Salads House Salad local lettuce and radishes with a maple syrup dressing 9 Roasted Chicken Salad almond and confit garlic, arugula salad 15 Panzanella Salad and Prawns traditional Italian bread salad and tomato 18 Local Oyster Mushroom Salad buttermilk dressing, crispy shallots and blue cheese 15
Sandwiches Choice of Salad or Fries Vegetarian Panini, grilled vegetables, basil and burrata cheese 16 Rocky Point Burger half pound of natural beef or turkey patty on toasted bun 17 add avocado, bacon or blue cheese 2 Lobster Roll fresh lobster with tarragon and breakfast radishes on a soft roll 19 Traditional BLT apple wood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato on the whole grain bread 14 add avocado 2 Mediterranean Tuna confit tuna with olives, capers, and sundried tomato on a grilled bread 17
Entrees Catch of the Day 23 Skirt Steak Chimichurri country style potato, avocado salad 24 Linguini with Clams and Meyer Lemon fresh pasta in a light white wine broth 23 Baby Back Ribs honey and citrus glazed with watercress salad 25 Turkey Meatballs Marrakech with pines nuts and mints 21 Pei Mussels Belgian Style simmered in dark beer and aromatics 18
Sides French Fries 7 with truffle oil and sea salt 9 Twice Baked Potato 7 Rocky Point Cheese Bread 7
Family Style Roasted Natural Chicken fresh vegetable, country potatoes pan just with rosemary 46 serves up to 2
••• Rubin's opening party notes: Chef Bony has been presiding over the kitchen for about four weeks, readying a team of half old-guard, half new-guard. He's working with Colleen Logan of Savor the Local to source local ingredients, like pink and yellow oyster mushrooms from Far West Fungi in Moss Landing to make his local oyster mushroom salad ($15).
"We tried to keep the menu simple to start," Bony says.
But after about a month of a menu that features mostly mainstays—a half-pound burger ($17), BLT ($14), linguini with clams and meyer lemon ($23)—he says he'll start adding and changing and experimenting. (Some local purveyors in the mix: Mariquita Farm in Watsonville for produce and Pavel's Baqueri in Pacific Grove for bread.)
The small bites he and his attentive staff served up at a sneak peak before Monday night's opening bode well.
There was mildly smoked salmon with herbed goat cheese on crostini, a well-proportioned mix of fishiness, carb, and slightly salty chevre.
A stand-out bruschetta with mozzarella was doused in olive oil that with a remarkably fresh flavor and aroma; this tasted mild but green, and good enough to slurp by itself.
There were two fish tar tars, a crab/avocado and tuna option, each sprinkled with slightly bitter microgreens served in crispy bite-sized tarts. The fish tasted fresh and meaty, but the combination of a mushy interior with a super-crispy shell was a little too unbalanced.
A small sliver of asparagus on a dollop of creamy blue cheese served in an endive leaf made for a good crispy app in the mix.
Bony is also considering wine dinners based on pairings. Let's hope that launches soon, if the excellent combo of a surprisingly swwet Carmel Road Chardonnay with a platter of Pavel's breads and French cheeses (Parisian brie and Auvergne blue) offers any indication of what's to come.
••• And...the Ding Ding video!: