Shaken not stirred; photo courtesy A Restaurant
Six years after we interviewed Chef Jon Blackford of A Restaurant, we found ourselves back in the plush dining room for a conversation with chef. And while we spent a good portion of our interview exchanging dining experiences, our main reason for meeting was to discuss his upcoming concept, CdM. Occupying a former gastropub in Corona del Mar, our concern was whether it would be able to distinguish itself from other eateries along Pacific Coast Highway. Blackford gladly explained what we should expect from his next project.
“I grew up with a very heavy Italian, Polish, German influence. Out here, I learned a very Spanish, Mexican, Asian influence in the food. I want to marry the two things together.”
If there’s one thing you should know about CdM’s menu, it’s that there’s a broad definition to calling it American fare. CdM will be an extension of chef’s personality, with hints of his East Coast/Pittsburgh upbringing. For starters, he’ll have a wood stone pizza oven (emphasis on the word ‘stone’) for a few pizzas. Blackford intends to not only create unique pasta shapes from scratch, he’s ordered special equipment for dry-aging charcuterie. Prosciutto and salami options will be found on his selection of share, small and large plate formats.
While A Restaurant is more saute, grill and steak, CdM wants to get very creative with vegetables. Examples would be recent specials at A Restaurant consisting of barbecued celery root steak or his Loire Valley asparagus. There are no plans to limit the menu, as it will change based on client demand and what’s currently available. He’s not afraid to use lesser-known ingredients such as fluke (a flavorful flatfish). Chef Jon’s intention is to broaden people’s horizons when it comes to food, but, “You’re gonna know you’re eating my food”.
Diners can most definitely expect a full bar at CdM. Those waiting for a table will be given the option of frequenting the secondary, downstairs speakeasy. Serving “uber-craft cocktails” in an informal setting, it’ll also offer an edited menu of eats. As of now, plans are to make this additional watering hole a designated speakeasy on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. And the person who will head up that bar program? That’s a very good question.
Offering, “a great dining experience in a comfortable atmosphere”, the former Crow Bar space has been leveled and stripped down for a complete remodel. With higher-end fixtures and vintage flooring, a great deal of thought and effort has been put into the design. The lighter and brighter vibe of CdM will be a contrast to A’s dark and romantic feel, with plans to include many windows.
Going Back to The Food
Small plate options allow opportunities to share and try more dishes. While the price point may be lower, this will reflect on the portion size. Elevated food will no longer be restricted to large entree portions. When they launch this summer, CdM will serve dinner only. Over time, they will roll out both lunch and an all-weekend brunch! As part of the River Jetty Restaurant Group, Chef Blackford will oversee both dining rooms. His sous chef will become Chef de Cuisine at A. CdM will be the first of a growing collection of elevated and modern cuisine and dining rooms.
CdM will be located at 2325 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.