September 27, 2011
There were Chesapeake Bay oysters that earned an OMG.
Sea-bass ceviche with nectarine salsa.
Roasted duck with mulberry reduction.
Drippy and delicious panzanella built from lush watermelon, heirlooms and basil. Crunchy sardine bocadillos. Filet in porcini sauce. Valrhona chocolate creme.
But the most exciting news out of the Cachagua General Store kitchen, though, is that the other Jones, star-in-his-own-right Brendan Jones, son of infamous Cachagua icon Mike, is opening a restaurant in Carmel Valley Village called Lokal. It’s slotted to come into the strip of stores behind Wills Fargo in the old Chatterbox.
Brendan, a veteran of Michelin-starred Mugaritz in Spain, says he's hoping to open in four to six weeks and looking to draw a younger CGS-style crowd with big tapa plates and magnetic atmosphere.
Here's what else he had to share when I caught up with him at his Prunedale home after he got done meeting with inspectors out at Lokal, where he purchased a 20-year lease with his business partner Matthew Zolan. The two ran a bar together in Prague, Czech Republic, which helped inspired the name, which is slang for, yes, local, in Czech.
On price points: "We'll do Cachagua Store prices. And wine like the Cachagua Store. Basically a Cachagua General Store [model], but a little more upscale, younger."
On Europe: "When I worked in Spain, that's where I started to love to cook…I moved to Basque in '99. Didn't know much about food. I learned to do different things with it. Put creativity into it. Not just potatoes and rice."
On tapas: "We'll do Spanish style tapas, size you get with appetizer—between Mundaka and full meal size. It'll be a Spanish style [New York destination] momofuku—the interior and design], a lot like that. It influenced me quite a bit. We have a 29-foot bar."
On rhythm to start: "I don't want to kill myself to start. We'll be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights with a Saturday-Sunday brunch. We also want to want to do breakfast and lunch for local contractors. Monday-Friday a full breakfast, with small lunch menu: a pork loin sandwich with arugula and caramelized onions with a dip. A skirt steak sandwich, salads, a veggie pasta, a fish or meat pasta, in winter we'll do a couple soups."
On his dad's influence: "The cooks are [often] slaves who don't get any respect. Not my dad. My dad's a free spirit, does what he wants. Whiny douche bag people who are going not for food, but to be served—the ass wipes—who go out because they're going to be taken care of rather than to enjoy the food and wine, he doesn't [go for that].
"It's about having a good time. It's not about dropping a fork and someone coming running over. I want atmosphere, food, wine."
On the name: "My whole thing: Try as much as we can to support local farmers and local wineries. As local as possible. Support local farmers. Local meats. Tassajara Meats. The Cokes [who own Coke Farms] are really cool. Bob Harris eggs.
"My mom has a huge garden; she'll be growing a lot of specialty vegetables. Padrons, different eggplants, different peppers. We ordered a bunch of seeds. We'll have deer-tail lettuce."
On life at a Michelin star spot: "When I worked at Mugaritz, it was a Michelin three-star. When I worked there I was in charge of the garden and salads. It was right up there with El Bulli. It's where I learned and got inspired to make good food. I learned there was no rules. Before I thought asparagus had to be done a certain way. Salad had to be this way."
On what he's most excited about: "Just the people and the purveyors. It's my hometown. Carmel's got a lot of smart people, a lot of people who like food and wine, but just a few places where you can eat really good food, only it's really expensive. Everyone deserves better food at a better price."