March 24, 2015 – You think you’ve had a busy couple of weeks? It probably doesn’t compare to what Restaurant 1833 executive chef Jason Franey and team went through to get ready for reopening to the public Monday night.
“It’s been almost surreal, all the work we did,” said Franey, who noted that not only did he and his team put together a new dinner menu, cocktail menu and wine list, the tables are also sporting new handcrafted dinnerware—and even the floors got a coat of paint. “But everything is gelling right now.”
The restaurant has been bustling all weekend long with special preview dinners for friends, family and media, who dined on selections like warm radicchio salad with gorgonzola dressing, salmon with mussels and artichoke hearts, and tortellini filled with peas, mint and Parmesan.
Add to that new desserts from Coastal Luxury Management corporate pastry chef Ben Spungin (coconut tapioca, chocolate cremeux and floating island, to name a few), and a new wine list from 1833 wine director Bernabe De Luna Lopez that mixes affordable varieties with high-end gems, emphasizing local winemaking pioneers and rotating in newcomers.
The revamped menu puts the spotlight on local produce and other bounty, and the eclectic, approachable menu reflects Franey’s vision. “It’s very important for me to support our local farmers … it’s beautiful, beautiful stuff all around, and I want to showcase that,” he said.
People familiar with Franey’s resume (San Francisco’s Campton Place, NYC’s Eleven Madison Park, Seattle’s Canlis) might be a little surprised at the menu’s casual take, but the chef said it’s exactly what he intends. “I’ve been in fine dining my whole career,” said Franey, who added he’s excited about being able to “drop the pretension and just cook good food.”
Restaurant 1833’s wood-fired grill and oven inspired him to create offerings like guajillo chile-crusted baby back pork ribs wrapped in feuilles de brick pastry, and The 1833 Burger, made with Kobe beef, Vermont sharp white cheddar, tomato confit and grilled red onions on a milk and honey roll, served with a side of steak fries dusted with sauerkraut salt.
“I make a damn good burger,” Franey said, hastening to point out the careful thought that’s gone into that burger, with “layers of flavor at each step.” Although the menu offerings are more casual, he said, “Our standards are not dumbed down.”
Menu items will change with the seasons, and he’s looking forward to the soon-to-come bounty of local vegetables. In fact, Franey said the English pea soup that’s currently on the menu was a last-minute addition, thanks to an early harvest at Swank Farms of Hollister.
Creating some buzz on the menu is the “Gallatin’s Throwback” section offering whole beast dinners for six or more, including suckling pig, roasted king salmon or wood-fired baby goat. In addition to paying tribute to the restaurant’s roots as Gallatin in the 1950s and ‘60s, Franey terms these feasts “cool” and “totally my style.”
The revamped cocktail menu, a collaboration by the 1833 bar team, also channels the Gallatin era with creations like the bourbon-based One Las Vegas Memory, the pretty-in-pink Torrid Affair, and No Whey, a sweet-salty-nutty drink made with a byproduct of Franey’s housemade ricotta. However, the Restaurant 1833 martini cart is still a staple, providing tableside service of craft martinis using small-batch spirits, blue-cheese-stuffed olives and house pickled onions.
Now that the intensive work at 1833 is done, Franey won’t get a chance to rest: He’ll once more be part of Pebble Beach Food & Wine, this year slated for April 9-12. No matter. “I’m just so happy to be back here,” he said.