"Top Chef" Alums Announce California Restaurant
Shakewell, the Spanish Mediterranean restaurant and bar from Chefs/Partners Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent, announced that it will make its official opening on July 2, 2014 in Oakland, California.
The Shakewell kitchen is led by Biesty, previously the Executive Chef of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, home of Scala’s Bistro, and a participant on season four of “Top Chef.” General Manager Tim Nugent, previously the Executive Pastry Chef at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and a competitor on the first season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” oversees the front-of-house and pastry program.
Chef Biesty studied at the CIA in Hyde Park, and trained in London with Jamie Oliver as well as Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray of The River Café. After her time in Europe, Biesty returned to San Francisco where she has worked for chefs including Traci des Jardins, Richard Reddington, and Loretta Keller. After being named a “Rising Star Chef” by StarChefs, Biesty was a participant on season four of “Top Chef” in Chicago in 2007. Prior to opening Shakewell, Biesty was the Executive Chef of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. She now lives in Oakland.
After 25 years in the hospitality industry, Nugent has worked at many kitchens in the Bay Area, including Zuni Cafe, Campton Place, Liberty Café, and Perbacco. He has held a variety of positions including Executive Chef at Fresh Cream in Monterey, General Manager at Café Rouge in Berkeley, and Executive Pastry Chef at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and was recently a competitor on the first season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” in 2010. He’s lived in Oakland’s Lakeshore district for 10 years.
With Chef Biesty running the kitchen at Shakewell, the menu will be organized by small plates, greens, little fish, bombas, meats, and sides.
The menu showcases Spanish and Mediterranean flavors as well as influences from Greece and North Africa, that are infused with seasonal twists, such as Fried Sausage Stuffed Sage Leaves with ginger aioli; Bacala and Green Garlic Croquets; and Grilled Squid with charred baby leeks, artichokes, and romesco. The menu’s four seasonal “bombas” are rice dishes baked in the wood burning oven that showcase local seafood, vegetables, and meat, such as the Manila Clams & Chorizo Bomba with carrot jalepeño sofrito, saffron, and oil cured olives. Some of the meats include dishes like the Grilled Lamb Kefta with harissa, yogurt cucumber sauce, quinoa, and mint, and the Chili Chocolate Coffee Braised Short Rib with wild arugula, pickled fresno chilies, and butter beans.
In addition to leading the front of house staff, Nugent will also be creating the pastry program at Shakewell. Some of his desserts include Churros with Spiced Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce (made to order,) Espresso Granita, Saffron Ice Cream, Flan Catalan, a Chocolate Pistachio Torte, and a Spanish riff on Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese, a dessert he says defined his childhood in Vermont.
There are six classic cocktails and six rotating seasonal cocktails on the menu, including some sherry-based concoctions. There is also a wine list featuring bottles from Greece, Spain, Portugal, and California and a small, locally focused beer list featuring Almanac Beer Company and Linden Street Brewery.
Shakewell’s dining room and bar accommodates approximately 70 guests, with 40 seated in the main dining room and 30 in the bar area. The renovation of the space was overseen by The Bon Vivants, a Bay Area restaurant and bar consulting firm also known for designing Trick Dog and 15 Romolo bars in San Francisco. The team drew from Moorish, Spanish, and Mediterranean architecture. Much of the furniture at Shakewell is unique, including custom-designed wooden chairs with metal accents, handcrafted in San Francisco by Ros Broughton of Fyrn wood designs; tables and partitions made of steel; and banquettes fashioned out of Deodar Cedar planks. There are also three large pillars adorning the room that were salvaged from Kink and are made of solid Douglas-fir. These pillars are festooned with a Moroccan geometric motif that has been sandblasted into the wood with walnut husks.