With few upscale restaurants and a population of just 16,000, tiny little Nipomo isn’t exactly a big pushpin on the foodie map. The owners of Adelina’s Bistro hope to change that by bringing in a big-name chef to shake up their menu.
Charles Weber is the new executive chef at Adelina’s Bistro, located inside the Monarch Club at the Trilogy Monarch Dunes golf resort on Highway 1.
Weber is hoping that a sophisticated new menu and a bit of clever marketing can turn Adelina’s into the culinary destination Nipomo is looking for.
“My No. 1 goal is putting the place on the map. It’s a beautiful restaurant that has so much to offer. It’s a wonderful facility,” he said. “My personal goal is to develop a repertoire with the wineries and the winemakers like I had up in Napa.”
Because it’s located on a golf resort, not everyone knows the restaurant is open to the public, he said. “They hear the world ‘club,’ and they think they have to be a member. We’d like to get the word out that we’re open to the community.”
Weber has worked in and helped to open restaurants around the country for more than 30 years. As a classically trained French chef, he ran the kitchens of some of Chicago’s biggest restaurant names, including Michael Foley’s Printer’s Row and La Tour in the Park Hyatt Chicago, where he raised the ratings from three to four Mobil stars. He opened the first Park Avenue Café outside New York City and was the executive chef at Grenadiers in Milwaukee, another Mobil four-star restaurant. He was awarded Chef of the Year for the Chicago area by the National Executive Chefs Association.
And then California came calling. Weber’s West Coast career started at the classic French brasserie Left Bank Restaurant in Pleasant Hill. From there, he went on to start Zuzu in Napa Valley with a friend. It was in Napa that he started experimenting with Mediterranean flavors and wine-country cooking, he said.
After three years at Zuzu, Weber traveled back to Illinois, where he helped a friend launch another restaurant.
But he missed California and its wine country. So when a job for an obscure restaurant in a small coastal town called Nipomo cropped up, he was intrigued. After a bit of research, he discovered that Nipomo, while small and perhaps not the most adventurous food town, is happily nestled between the vineyards of the Santa Ynez and Edna valleys.
And daily access to fresh, local ingredients mean that Adelina’s can enjoy the Mediterranean-style dishes Weber first dabbled with in Napa — think olive oils, fresh seafood, brick-oven pizzas and a focus on seasonal produce — year-round
“It took five years to build those relationships in Napa, and I am looking forward to doing the same thing here — meeting local winemakers, farmers, fishermen, cattle ranchers,” he said in a statement.
The biggest challenge, he said, was introducing some finer dining to the small town. “I’ve found that this area not as open to pushing the envelope as the bigger cities I’ve been in,” he said. “In many cases, we’re doing some really unique stuff that nobody else in the area is.”
Adelina’s menu changes daily, based on what’s available but popular items include Hearst Ranch grass-fed beef, Morro Bay oysters and salads highlighting seasonal ingredients.
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• SLICE OF CIELO: Cielito Restaurant, an upscale Mexican and South American eatery, has opened in Santa Barbara’s downtown La Arcada plaza. It is the latest culinary venture by Gordon Hardey, of Jeannine’s in Santa Barbara, and business partner Karen Phillips. Chef Ramon Velazquez of Mexico heads up the kitchen, specializing in fresh seafood and seasonal offerings. His Raw Bar features several daily ceviches, sashimi-grade fish, oysters and sustainable shellfish. The Cielito Taqueria offers a walk-up taco bar.
• IRISH IN AGOURA: After serving more than 6,600 pounds of corned beef and 150,000 pints of Guinness during its first year in Camarillo, Brendan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant is opening a second spot in Agoura Hills. The pub hosts a March 5 grand opening in the Reyes Adobe Plaza. Brendan’s offers traditional Irish fare and steak entrées as well as its own dishes, including corned beef and cabbage sliders and Irish nachos. Wash it all down with your choice of more than 200 whiskeys.
• Contact restaurant columnist Marlize van Romburgh at email@example.com.