Friday, December 26, 2008

NYE at Alembic

Oysters 3 ways
-fried with meyer lemon aioli
-broiled with bernaise
-raw with green apple gelee

Tuna pops with ponzu and wasabi tobiko

Dungeness crab salad with winter citrus

Foie gras torchon, quice, pan de mie

Poussin, lobster, butternut squash, black trumpet mushroom

New York steak, roasted bone marrow, garlic confit, brussel sprout

more items tbd, tba, fyi

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Loud Fast Rules...

So I have been doing some serious thinking about punk rock lately...
The thing is, I sort of grew up with it, still listen to it, and try to maintain something of that ethos in this bar/restaurant enterprise. Putting a finger on how, or even why, that does or should manifest itself in our work is a bit tricky. I might be setting some little traps for myself, but what the hell, wouldn't be the first time.
I started in this industry in high school, about 20 years ago, washing dishes for a little cash. I would spend my little fortune every two weeks on guitar strings, 45's, copies of Maximum Rock and Roll (still alive and kicking ) and the occasional pack of Pall Mall's. I am pretty sure a great many careers started in much the same manner.
I still get a charge listening to those records, looking at the posters, remembering the shows, and the sense of community that came with it.
Really, it's not all that different being so involved in the restaurant or bar scene. There are venues, a written discourse, fans and fanatics. There are iconoclasts and icons, boy bands and garage bands etc...
So what does 'punk' mean to a restaurant? Where is the analog?
Punk isn't always pretty (ask anyone who ever stood near the stage at a Jesus Lizard show), but it is a spectacle, an experience. I can say the first time I ate a slimy, live sea urchin, right out of its spiny shell, with just a little olive oil and lemon was nearly as much a revelation as the first time I put a Ramones cassette on in my bedroom.
Punk has an urgency, like something to say or do that can't wait. One, two, three, four.
Punk has an attitude, it's a bit snotty, not afraid to throw up the middle finger. Of course, I would not advocate flipping "the bird" to a patron. I do advocate being a bit provocative, of doing it "your way", and being flexible if not completely indifferent to rules and conventions.
Finally, DO IT YOURSELF...
If you can't find something, or buy something, make it. Enough said.
I'd like to find more of that spirit. 
Anybody got thoughts?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And you don't stop.....

December charges on, leaving far to little time to rest, recover or report here in the Alembic trench.
To recap...
Last Sunday was the re-launch of our Savoy cocktail night. Mr. Erik Ellestad was on hand, shaking and stirring with myself and the rest of the staff. A good time was had by all, big thanks to everyone who came by, to Erik for throwing down with us, to Jennifer at Small Hands for making some great syrups, and to our staff for being game. It is indeed challenging to throw out a 900 cocktail list for the night, but it does throw a little variety into the grind.
So much fun, in fact, that we are currently trying to plan it out as a monthly affair. I'll keep y'all posted on the dates when Erik and I work it out.
Last night, I had the pleasure of pairing some cocktails for the Three on Five event at The Fifth Floor restaurant. Emily Wines brought some muscle to the table, Craig from City Beer store brought some surprising flavors and finesse, and I brought some... ummm....booze. There was a bit of conversation about pairing philosophy, flavors and textures, and being a competition, some voting.
In the end, Emily held on to her well deserved title for overall best pairings. Though I did win the best pairing for 2 of 5 dishes, as did Craig. Great chance to try some new stuff. I will post the menu when I get a little more time.
This afternoon the chefs and I sat down to work out a very special NEW YEARS EVE at Alembic.
The menu is being finalized, but think "dressed up" small plates. Foie gras, lobster, oysters, caviar, and of course bubbles and cocktail pairings to start of the night right.
It's gonna be a black tie affair for us (you, however, come as you are.)
We will be accepting reservations for the first seating of the evening (5 to 6pm) though there are not that many seats, so grab 'em now. E-mail me with any questions or requests.
After that, it's on a first come basis.
Thats it for now, I gotta get back to work before the staff realizes I am not out back having a smoke.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What we're reading...

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places. I don't know where this menu is from, but I want to eat there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sutton Supper, Savoy Sunday, Seriously....

Doesn't alliteration make you want to drink and eat?

So for those of you unfortunate enough to miss last Sunday's pork and cork fest at Alembic (or those fortunate enough to have something "better" to do), it was pretty incredible. We filled up fast, ran full tilt around the dining room slinging plates of pig and glasses of Suttons wine. The biggest dissappointment of the afternoon was that upon pulling out my camera to catch a few shots, I discovered a dead battery. You'll just have to take my word for it, everyone was very good looking.

I look forward to doing more of these, hope y'all can make it.

On to next Sunday....


Starting at the respectable hour of 3(ish)pm, we tuck away our paltry list of house cocktails and throw down the Savoy Cocktail Book in it's place. You thumb through the book and pick a drink, we thumb through it and do our best to make it.

Joining me for the occasion will be none other than Mr. Erik Ellestad from the Underhill Lounge blog, who has been "Stomping through the Savoy" for some time now.

I look forward to seeing any and all of you.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday....

Well, it's already been a busy week but we've got some cool stuff coming for the weekend.
First, I'd like to thank the people at Canton for putting together a cool competition event last Monday night at Le Colonial. All the bartenders made some incredible cocktails, it was great to try them and hang out with some friends. I'd also like to congratulate Marco from Clock Bar, who along with myself, will be moving on to the finals in St. Martin in February. Special thanks to Owen who loaned me a julep strainer.
Come by and try the Promissory Note cocktail (tequila, dry vermouth, Canton ginger liqueur, honey and absinthe).
FRIDAY!!! 75th Anniversary of the repeal of prohibition
In honor of this event, I will be pairing classic cocktails with our dinner menu. Should have those posted later this afternoon or early tomorrow.
Now for the real meat:
This Sunday, Dec. 7th, 3pm till it's gone.
Sutton Sunday Supper at Alembic
Boudin blanc, fennel slaw, violet mustard
Headcheese, romesco, parsley, pickled shallot, almond
Bacon wrapped rib and loin roulade, tamarind braised cabbage
All paired with Sutton Cellars handcrafted wines.
Fifteen dollars each.
No reservations necessary, just come on in and join us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving all the thanks we got....

Cassoulet, oyster stuffing, carrot pancakes, green bean salad, campari cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, Hirsch Gruner Veltliner, Gruet Pinot Noir, Hardcore (blend from Santa Barbara), pecan pie with Chartreuse whipped cream, Cazadores reposado, Wild Turkey, Old Pulteney scotch, Tecate, Prince, Dead Kennedy's, Hall and Oates, Steel Pole Bathtub. Myself, Karly, Boris, Andrew, Monica, Renee, Janiece, Larissa, Suzi, Cameron, Warren, Meryl and Jenna.
And that's just one day out of 365 in a year.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three hundred and Seventy Three...

60 bottled beers, 10 drafts, over 240 spirits, 16 specialty cocktails, 23 wines by the glass, 6 sakes, 2 ciders, 3 meads, 19 menu items (not including specials), 4 desserts. Most of which you won't find at the corner liquor store or neighborhood pub. Much of it subject to frequent and unexpected changes.
Keeping staff updated and informed can be a Sisyphean task.
I give this thought today, in the wake of a (yawn) management meeting this afternoon in which the topic, among many, was staff education.
The responsibility for this, of course, does not fall on any one persons shoulders. It takes a village, as they say. But who reaches out for who? 
Do we make ourselves proverbial wells awaiting those thirsty for knowledge? 
Do we become the means and message at once, tracking everyone down, and forcing information on them? Quiz them?
Do I send them out to do research on their own?
Hopefully, all of the above. 
The missing piece, however, is the interaction over the table or bar. 
I am proud of the servers and bartenders, who give thoughtful and thorough service to a rather bustling crowd. 
What surprises me is how few of our guests ask questions!!!
It seems that in a culture that calls bartenders "mixologists" and chefs are television personalities, and cooking/eating the exotic is an extreme sport, someone might be timid to ask what gobo or nocino is. 
This poses some concerns... 
One, that a guest may not know what they are getting, therefore not enjoy it.
Two, afformentioned guest enjoys said dish or drink very much, yet not know what it was.
Three, my staff will atrophy in the absence of challenging questions.
So in a nutshell,  among other strategies, I have a solution.
I am going to invite our guests, specifically blog readers, to attend a number of staff product trainings so that as a community, or better as a family, we can start a dialog.
Then, I can get back to work shaking up my menu and screwing it all up again.
Also... do sign up for our twitter to keep up on nightly specials and events.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We've got Zane from Vessel hanging out behind the bar. Be there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

99 gallons of beer on a wall....

My kitchen respectfully asks that you try some of our hand crafted draft and bottled ales, so that they might find some room in the walk-in. My back would also appreciate it, full kegs are heavy. Many thanks.
(Fantome Hiver on special, $22 for a 750 ml. )

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good times that won't break the piggy bank.

Fun stuff on the calender.

Sunday December 7, Sutton Sunday Supper with winemaker Carl Sutton. We're gonna cook a whole pig, and pour some of Carl's wines. Starting around 3 and continuing into the evening. Hope to see everyone there.

Also, starting tomorrow...... Happy Hour.

Half price nibbles 5-7pm Monday through Friday.

You know where to find it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feuilles Mortes

Autumn is in full swing, clocks turned back, change is all around us. As I fight a spot of post election depression, and pre-holiday anxiety, I am feeling strangely romantic about the whole deal.
This is a time of year that finds us together in front of food and drink celebrating, and it is a season of rich sensory experiences and memories. Today I am taking a bit of time away from the schedules, inventories etc... and turning my mind to the sensations of Autumn, and get some ideas cobbled together for some new jams at the bar.

Roasted, stewed.
crisp apples and pears
roasted squash 
mulling spices
pipe tobacco
wet asphalt

Just a few impressions. Send me your own if you like.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Miss Most Unique

Tina entered a cocktail contest for Nirvino featuring Square One cucumber vodka at Elixir on Monday. The crowd was thick, too thick. I must say she handled it with characteristic cool and got voted the most unique cocktail of the night.
The C-note Cocktail
2 oz Square One Cucumber Vodka
1/8 oz Campari
1/8 oz apple cider vinegar
1/8 oz agave nectar
1 tbs basil seed
1 drop sesame oil
1 thumbnail sized chunk of fresh ginger
Muddle ginger with vinegar, Campari, and agave nectar. Add vodka and shake, strain over crushed ice and top with basil seed and sesame oil.
Come try it, watch Tina go at the ice with a baseball bat. 
More about the event at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seasoning our cocktails

We've been working on some exciting stuff behind the bar over the last week or two, thanks to a load of produce from some friends down at the farmers market. For those of you who got to try it at the Macy's Cellar event (thanks for coming out), we will be putting the Still Life with Apples (after Cezanne) cocktail on the menu very soon. For those who missed it, it is Bourbon infused with apples and a maple syrup/cider vinegar gastrique served with a little sprig of fresh thyme, though we are considering dressing it with a spiced air.
Buffalo and I have also been whacking up and cooking down figs with a little agave nectar to make a nice syrup. That one can be found in our Black Monday cocktail with reposado tequila and tawny port and a little shaved almond, thanks to a sweet little mandolin we found at Kamei. More to come soon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


One hundred pounds of syrah grapes+Five pounds of rose buds+ monk pepper+Ben=Aphrodesiac beer.

Get some.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two things you don't want to see being made....

but our nation needs so desperately right now.
Law and sausages. 
We are doing our part.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shared experiences...

I think often looking at guests in our little room and wonder how they all ended up together in the same space. As much care and thought as we put into our dishes and cocktails, I know there is something more to it.
The ambience will lend itself to a certain type of experience over another, whether one is looking for a romantic date spot, or an upbeat nightspot. In more conventional dining rooms, there is a sense of personal space, and personalized service all in the interest of preserving a small sphere for the individual party. The "pub" atmosphere is about the public. It is an atmosphere that promotes a certain amount of elbow rubbing, spontaneous conversations, and a certain democracy. Negotiations abound, for bar space, bathroom lines, attention from staff and guests alike. I find this dance sort of inspiring, people coming together to share an experience with friends and strangers, neighbors and visitors, over one of the oldest of rituals ( and drink.)

The real challenge is creating an atmosphere that speaks to this. Truth is that a lot of people don't like being around other people, and some nights draw in many different types of people. Tension happens, disappointment happens. The experience of our guests is certainly priority one, and the risks are high in the pub atmosphere. It is a challenge to be considered in every decision, from seating, lighting, menu and music. We learn more everyday, please continue your valuable feedback.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From Dust and Dead Leaves...

I have to admit that I am obsessed with stories. In the two years since we've opened the Alembic, we've amassed a good deal of type. Not just media reviews, in print and online... but bulging notebooks of ideas, scribbles and doodles on napkins, inventory and order sheets, fresh and soiled menus and chalk dust from yesterdays specials falling away from the blackboards. In these discarded leaves and swept up piles is the real story of our Alembic. That is where we place and find the inspiration behind our offerings, the hard work of a dedicated staff, the mistakes and lessons, and the successes that make the journey rewarding. 
The new addition of a blog is a way for us to archive and share some of this ephemera. As we take pleasure in inviting you into our bar and dining room each night, we also welcome you backstage to see the story unfold, from conception to consumption. We will have posts from Ted, Jordan and Jenna from the kitchen as well as a steady pour of news from the bar, and the occasional pint from the brewers at our sister pub down the street. 
Hopefully we can use this to bring together the many narratives happening in the Alembic universe to complete and enrich the story.
Thanks for tuning in. Cheers.