After winning tickets to a concert at The Observatory (Shout out to KX 93.5! Matt and Kim were fantastic!), we promised ourselves to finally check out the new menu Chef Scott Brandon launched over there. The price was right, with bites ranging from $4 to $10. And since we were there, it was a good time to catch up with Scott and learn more about his collaboration.
How did you team up with The Observatory/Constellation Room? We have been friends for several years and have talked about many different projects going back to 2010. The timing was just right now, and we put together what I think is a superior product. We have plans to remodel the space and build out a full-service restaurant in the next few months. The plan is to do lunch and dinner, and allow guests to come enjoy some great food in a cool atmosphere even if you're not seeing a show.
Where did you draw inspiration for the menu? Did they always serve food there? My inspiration with The O was to create a fun menu that could be enjoyed by all different types of diners: carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, drunks and stoners. I was fenced in by the fact that we are only serving from a snack bar like area, and that people are usually standing while eating our food. I have always tried to serve the highest quality ingredients, utilizing local artisans and local and organic produce. We serve all our foods in eco-friendly containers. We make every item fresh to order and we make all of our sauces, spreads, and dressings in-house daily. we take a lot of pride in the food we are serving, even if it is just "stoner food in a paper boat."
What are your most popular items? Do you have a favorite? What do you recommend for first-timers? The killer grilled cheese and The O burger battle on a nightly basis for most popular menu item. My personal favorite is The O burger; I think of all the burgers I have created over the years, this one is THE BEST! The combination of flavors, textures and juicy goodness make it by far my favorite. I highly recommend The O burger for your first bite at The O.
What's your favorite genre of music? One thing I've realized since taking over at The Observatory is that I really dig all kinds of music. We have access to hear so many different bands and music, and it's really cool to be surprised by one. I grew up with punk rock music-- The Damned, Circle Jerks, X...I love Fugazi, Soundgarden, Tool, Helmet, Miles Davis, Coltrane. I try not to limit myself to one specific genre, or I'd be missing out on too many great sounds.
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Have you checked out any good concerts lately? We prep food for the night while bands are doing their soundcheck. After working, we can check out the bands playing on any given night. We held Burgerama 4, a two-day event here in March. There were so many great bands that played: The Garden, Black Angels, The Oh Sees, Gang of Four, Bone Thugz & Harmony. So much great music. The highlight for me was going onto the roof to watch some of Weezer's set. It was an amazing view and they sounded killer!
Are those two venues the only ones you crafted a menu for? The O is the first menu I have put together for our Orange County venue. The Observatory North Park in San Diego has a great restaurant that has been there for several years, West Coast Tavern. They do some great food and a killer brunch, and have been very successful with the team they have built down there. I am looking forward to offering my assistance and ideas to help continue and improve the operation.