The urfa and amba are among the many hints something awfully promising is in the oven over on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove.
Longtime local hospitality vet Thamin Saleh, who has played sommelier, manager and GM at a range of standout local spots since 1984—including Marinus at Bernardus, Pacific’s Edge, now-departed The Covey at Quail and most recently C Restaurant—is launching a wine bar-restaurant concept Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar (920-2662) in the former Le Normandie in the Holman building, in the heart of P.G.’s downtown.
"We just want to create a place where people can hang out," he says, adding the layout will split space between a lounge-like bar on the top of the split level along an opened-up kitchen and the restaurant below.
His credentials bode well for its chances, and particularly for the wine list. He’s found a solid chef in Jeffrey Weiss, who’s already assembling a southern Mediterranean menu starring chargrilled lamb burger and eggplant fries, a brick-seared half chicken with lemon and sumac, and a high-grade beverage program featuring housemade sodas in addition to the wines and local beers.
San Francisco native Weiss’ resume includes Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Steve Chan’s Lion & Compass in Sunnyvale, plus work with James Beard award-winning chef José Andrés in D.C., chef April Bloomfield in New York, and chefs Daní Garcia and Adolfo Muñoz in Spain.
He even has a book, Charcutería: The Soul of Spain, coming in spring, exploring his time learning various charcuterie styles of the Iberian Peninsula—techniques and recipes that diners at the restaurant can look forward to enjoying, including a selection of seafood slices.
Which brings me to what has my tastebuds most titilated: the simple but seductive preliminary menu, which looks about a month away from hitting guests given the projected late September opening.
It appears below, along with an educational—and mouthwatering—glossary, a handy indicator this place has some serious style, and already proves a revelation before its doors open. That's where the urfa and amba come in, among other treats:
filone herb & garlic cervelle de canut
fried chickpeas ras el hanout & citrus
chicken liver pate pickled green strawberries & PX sherry
fritto misto gremolata & alioli
chicken wings tahini, garlic, & chile
seafood charcuterie board potted salmon, smoked trout, boquerones, & mojama
ham of the month Benton’s Smoky Mountain Ham, Madisonville, Tennessee • market pickles, grilled filone, & miel de caña butter
chicories parmesan, anchovy, croutons, & garlic dressing
citrus & avocado salad lettuces, ajete & boquerones
bruschetta miticrema Dungeness crab, & herb zhug
mollete smoked lamb, pickled cucumbers, & yogurt
summer panzanella pecorino, chile, & mint
bucatini pomodoro dry-farmed tomatoes, parmesan, basil, & pangrattato
brick-seared half chicken sumac, lemon, & panzanella
pan-roasted salmon catalan greens & stone fruit amba
bullfighter’s steak grilled radicchio salad & salsa verde
chargrilled lamb burger feta & eggplant fries
crispy lemon potatoes oregano, caramelized garlic, & capers
pan-roasted corn berbere & goat cheese crema
eggplant fries urfa pepper, honey alioli
spiced chocolate tart whipped yogurt & chocolate crumble
corn shortcakes olive oil, strawberries & whipped sour cream
salted caramel flan cajeta & brown butter-peanut dukkah
meyer lemon & raspberry trifle ginger cake, halva,& cardamom anglaise
cheese plate daily selection & garnishes
filone our house-baked Italian bread
cervelle de canut sheep’s milk cheese spread
ras el hanout North African spice blend
fritto misto seasonal fried goodies
gremolata herbs, garlic, & citrus
mojo verde Canarian herb sauce
miel de caña spanish molasses
mojama salt-cured tuna loin
ajete spanish paprika & garlic sauce
boquerones pickled anchovies
miticrema spreadable sheep’s milk cheese
zhug yemenite herb & chili paste
mollete Andalusian sandwich
sumac citrusy Persian spice
amba Middle Eastern pickle
salsa verde Italian herb & anchovy sauce
Benton’s bacon god’s own pork candy
tarator turkish pine nut & garlic sauce
berbere ethiopian spice blend
urfa smoky turkish pepper
aioli garlic mayonnaise
cajeta goat’s milk caramel
halva sesame & pistachio candy