Carriage House readies to open
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.
That cooking test, held in Yodowitz's home kitchen, was indicative 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.
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 a staff member. "You just go in there with one other person and bang it out."
Pale Moon rises
After a decade working in other people's breweries — two years at Eel River Brewing Co. and another eight at Lost Coast Brewery, working his way from bottling line mechanic to brewer — Jeff Finn has opened his own brewery. On Friday, Sept. 22, Pale Moon Brewing Co. held a soft opening at its 600 F St. location in Arcata's Uniontown Shopping Center.
Before getting into the business, Finn says, "I was a home brewer and I was really interested in beer, and I was working as a mechanic at the Arcata pool." A friend tipped him off to a brewery job in Fortuna and he dove into the industry. "Just kinda taught myself the basics and learned from all those smart people at the breweries," he says.
Pale Moon has been in the works for the last two years and Finn is starting small with a nanobrewery operation, a size smaller than a microbrewery and typically producing only a few thousand barrels of beer a year. He plans to have five beers on tap, rotating two — "a malty one and a hoppy one" — every month or so. There'll always be a lager, too. "I'm really trying to make things true to style," he says, noting Pale Moon's German pilsner uses German ingredients and the Scotch ale is all English.
Finn says Friday night was "a packed house" with friends and new faces, even a shared drinking song from an enthusiastic patron. But he was most happily surprised by the turnout and support from other local breweries. "Six Rivers [Brewery] brought their whole crew down," he says, and folks from Humboldt Brews were on hand, as well.
The camaraderie was a happy surprise. "The people who are technically my competition," he says.
Starting out, Finn plans for Pale Moon to be open 2 to 9 p.m. Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. He hopes to open Thursdays and eventually Wednesdays, but he wants to be sure there's enough on hand for patrons. "The last thing I wanna do," he says, "is sell out."
Share your tips about What's Good with Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her), arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Instagram @JFumikoCahill and Mastodon @jenniferfumikocahill.