|Brook and Jacob Town, Patrick Bergseid
Comfort food is our first pleasure, representing the memory and flavors of our youth. When we revisit the sensory effect it is more than taste buds and fullness, it’s literally a remembrance of grandma, our childhood, our life. When we become adults and let our palate expand, we try new tastes that are inventive and exciting. The restaurant with a palette and imagination to combine comfort and haute cuisine is miraculous. And it is here now in Grover Beach, The Spoon Trader, a new eatery and a phenomenal culinary find.
Coming home after years in the big city dining game is a gift that Brooke and Jason Town has bestowed on us in the venue of The Spoon Trader. With their partner Patrick Bergseid, they have built a culinary oasis at the end of Grand Avenue.
You immediately feel welcome with the collection of spoons on the wall, the green bandana for napkins and the open kitchen. Joined by Kathy Lee, the owner of the Cracked Crab, we sat at a special table as this whole ownership group worked at the Crab when it first opened. Chef Jason produced the first bucket of crab, and Brooke was the original one to dump the bucket on to the first table. Brooke told me that the service that evening was dedicated to Mike Lee and we both shared stories and the memories ran down our cheeks.
The Chicken Liver Mousse came out first, served in a ramekin with vinegar aspic that balanced the organ taste. I was transferred into my Nana’s kitchen as I slathered it on the crispy Grover Beach Sourdough bread. Chef Jason and his staff are making everything here including the bread, which is made with a 3 year old started that is also used in the waffles. Their beer and wine list are as adventurous as the menu and Gary order a Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout; we started with The Sea Monster white blend.
Patrick took us on a tour of the menu and told us they spent a year touring the country looking for comfort food with a twist. Everything is made in house and locally sourced. The service was attentive and speedy without hovering. Gary started with Tart and Tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. This was the genuine item with a fluffy meringue and Meyers lemon base with an old school thin crust. Next we tried the Crispy Sweetbreads that were deep fried with chorizo resting on top of summer green beans and a Dijon sauce. In the middle rested a soft-boiled egg, when mixed together this brought out the preeminent essences. I was speechless and wanted another bowl. My guest reminded me I could have them next time and I moved on basking in this flawlessness of the food at The Spoon Trader. Sharing and rejoicing over every bite, we sampled the Tri Tip Tartare. It is Neiman ranch beef chopped by the chef and topped with a tonnato sauce. It was tender and savory, and served with grilled sourdough bread. Each dish continued to impress and inspire us. Picking the wine first and the main dishes after is one of my favorite indulgences, and Kathy agreed. We moved to a bottle of the 2013 Ranchero wine a Mourvedre and Grenache blend. Decanted to bring out the essences, we admired the boldness of this wine. Gary moved on to the apple crisp, which boasted the right ratio of crispy granola over baked apples accompanied by vanilla ice cream.
Our main plates appeared and we were enthusiastic to dig in. The Spiced Albacore on white grits with a corn salsa and wilted spinach all soaking in Old Bay butter was stupendous. The fish was cooked to exactness and the girts were a lifeline to the bygone era and delight.
The Grilled Flat Iron steak was prepared in the sous vide, and finished impeccably. It is sliced slender and obliged with paper thin layers of delicious potato gratin and sliced sweet cherry tomatoes with a bit of basil. But the Fried Chicken & Waffles are the reason I will be dining here every night. Four pieces of buttermilk soaked and fried chicken pieces with the slightest drizzle of honey on top are accompanied by sourdough waffles and spicy kimchee. This was a religious experience. It’s not often I push aside albacore for chicken, this dish was that exceptional. It mirrored my all time favorite chicken from Gus’s in Memphis and we all fought to finish it. This dish is big enough for two people, unless you have a fried chicken problem like I do.
Dessert was a Chocolate Torte; a cake that was so moist inside it was like pudding. Topped with candied pecans and served with jammed market figs all floating on a anglaise sauce. If there is a dessert that seraph’s make, this is it. We also had the savory carrot cake with cheese. The carrot cake was not sweet and paired delightfully with the aged goat cheese. This could be an appetizer as well as a dessert. I wanted to applaud after the meal, as I was so viscerally stimulated.
|Cheese Burger with Waffle as a Bun
The Spoon Trader is casual dining with a bit of panache; they also have burgers, soups and salads. This is exceptional food for people who love food, didn’t know they loved food and the adventurist. They are open every night but Wednesdays from 5:00pm to 10:00pm and are located at 295 Grand Avenue in Grover Beach. You can call them at (805) 904-6773.