Chef Inspired: A new twist built on the success of Vine
By Robert Brink
944, April 2011
Almost as tired as Charlie Sheen sound bytes (but far less entertaining), the term “gastropub” gets tossed around a lot these days. According to Wikipedia, a gastropub refers to “a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food.” By that logic, for many, an Applebee’s is a gastropub.
“The term ‘gastropub’ sounds like a disease to me,” says Vine’s head chef and proprietor Jared Monson, who recently got the seven-year itch (literally, as Vine opened in 2003) and transformed Vine’s bar into St. Roy: a Chef’s Pub at Vine. “We chose ‘Chef’s Pub’ because it implies a chef’s take on pub food,” Monson continues. The name St. Roy is derived from four of his favorite wine country towns: St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville and Yountville.
“Culturally, our guests were looking for a more casual dining experience. St. Roy now gives them an opportunity to do so,” he says. “Seeing young customers pop in and start texting and calling friends to come down and to join them is great. The next thing you know, they’ve filled the communal table and are having a good time.”
The new pub boasts more seating with high-top wooden tables and a communal butcher-block bar table that offers a view of the exposed kitchen. Rustic and casual, it’s far from an Applebee’s — although the Dave Matthews Band and Goo Goo Dolls playlist is definitely comparable.
When Monson was looking to reinvent the Vine’s bar and expand the menu, he re-imported Chef Jared Cook from Crow Bar in Corona del Mar. “Jared was one of our sous chefs in the past,” Monson says. “He missed the experience at Vine and called me. It was great timing.”
The menu changes seasonally and guests are hard pressed to make a swift decision. From simple snacks like the olive and bar nut assortments, to small plates like pumpkin ravioli or mac and cheese; cheese and cured meat plates; classic and not-so-classic entrees and large plates; and even one of the best cheeseburgers in the region, there’s no way to try it all in just one visit.
Yes, there’s dessert too. Commitment-phobes should avoid the chocolate soufflé, which must be ordered 30 minutes in advance.
Monson personally suggests the duck confit salad to start, the West Coast paella with seafood as the main course and vanilla bean crème brûlée with fresh berries as an ender. Adventurous foodies should try the Mexicali burger (house ground burger blend, quasi fresco, roasted chilies, avocado, onion, cilantro, chile de arbol crème, brioche) and Fixin’ Fries (sharp cheddar mornay, bacon crème fraiche, scallions), as both are dishes that Monson calls out as “risky.”
“We’re branching out from our wine country cuisine and being influenced by our regional and cultural environment,” he says. Monson and crew go on walkabout to the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday and the produce they return with inspires the pub’s specials.
St. Roy also offers ten microbrews on tap, including local beers from Stone and Port Breweries. St. Roy’s new beer and wine-tasting bar faces a unique wine-on-tap system that houses 20 regional wines. For an enjoyable night out in San Clemente, whether for food or drinks, it’s winning.
211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente
949.361.2079 | stroychefspub.com