Carriage House to Open in Arcata


Over the phone, chef Rochelle Burgess says she wasn’t looking for a restaurant gig after the abrupt closure of her former post, the Angelina Inn, in Fernbridge. Her work as a personal chef was going well enough and she wasn’t eager to work for someone else again. But after a friend tipped her off to a Craigslist post that sounded right up her alley, she got curious. A meeting with Carriage House owner Shannon Yodowitz and a cooking test later, and Burgess says, laughing, “It’s just been both feet and arms in.” The restaurant at 937 10th St. in Arcata (formerly The Griffin), is set for a soft opening Sept. 30, followed by a few days closed to fine tune the menu using diner feedback before opening for good.
The soon-to-open Carriage House location in the former home of the Griffin. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The soon-to-open Carriage House location in the former home of the Griffin.

That cooking test, held in Yodowitz’s home kitchen, was indicitave of the Carriage House menu and Burgess’ style: udon with preserved lemon butter and shaved fennel, and, per Yodowitz’s request, a BLT. The former served as an example of Burgess’ interest in international influences and local ingredients, as well as her love of a thick noodle. (She is an unreserved fan, she says, of the underappreciated bucatini.) The latter was to see if she could perfect something simple and classic.

Chef Rochelle Burgess. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Chef Rochelle Burgess.

The menu taped to the still dark windows on 10th Street includes an udon dish, here with nduja, a soft and spicy Calabrian pork sausage, fennel and mint. A press release also describes a chocolate crémeux “complemented by the aromatic rosemary whipped cream and the burst of sweetness from the grape gelée.” Burgess says she’s “trying to be as sustainable and low waste as possible,” so when she was putting together a juniper dressing for the Dirty Martini Shrimp, she asked the folks at Jewell Distillery, whose spirits Carriage House will feature, for the cast-off botanicals from the gin mash. She dehydrates the un-distilled mash to create a gin-fragranced spice to the zero-proof dish, one of 14 “small but substantial plates,” as she describes them, all “produce forward.”

The menu has to work around some limitations, including the lack of a stove hood in the newly built, 100-square-foot kitchen. Burgess says the oven is “state of the art,” with its own built-in hood system, but she had to come up with dishes that don’t create grease vapors. “It’s a challenge,” she says. “If I’m not challenged I don’t’ want to do it because it’s boring.” All the menu items have to take the space and equipment into account, as well as the necessarily small kitchen staff, which will just be Burgess and one other person. “You just go in there with one other person and bang it out.”

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